Author's Notes: Hopefully the title now makes sense. Thanks to elynittria for fielding the last-minute changes. Any remaining mistakes are mine, all mine.
Disclaimer: None of the characters belong to me, which is too bad, because I could use a Wilson to come over and cook for me.
On Saturday, Wilson called three times: once to check if she had any food allergies or dietary restrictions, once to check her spice rack — she could hear him scribbling disapproving notes as she listed the meagre contents — and once to make sure she liked Bordeaux. "At least let me supply the wine," she protested, but Wilson was as stubborn in his own way as House.
"I'll take care of everything," he assured her. "Besides, you have the hard task. You have to keep House entertained."
Cuddy groaned. "You'll need a sous chef, won't you? I'm not a great cook, but I can follow directions." She could hear him laughing before he hung up and decided he wasn't nearly as nice as he pretended to be.
On Sunday, she woke up early and went for a long run, trying to burn off some nervous energy. She wasn't sure why she was nervous — both House and Wilson had been her guests (in House's case usually uninvited) on several occasions — but she wanted the day to go well. She wasn't sure why. At the end of it all, she'd still be their boss, and House would still be an ass. It wasn't much of a recipe for friendship.
The doorbell rang just after five, and Cuddy opened it to find Wilson laden with bags and a cooler and House carrying a single knapsack. "Let me give you a hand," she said, grabbing two of the bags from Wilson. She led them to the kitchen and shook her head as House pulled out a bag of Doritos from the backpack and grabbed a beer from the cooler.
"Lead me to your remote," he said imperiously. "Trust me, you do not want to get between Wilson and his steak knives."
Cuddy raised an eyebrow when she realized that Wilson was indeed unpacking not only raw ingredients and Tupperware containers, but also a full set of knives. "I didn't know what you'd have," he said apologetically.
It would have been insulting if Wilson's knives hadn't been much better than her set. She made a note to go shopping soon — and to bring Wilson along with her.
House wandered out of the kitchen, and Cuddy was glad she'd locked half her CD collection in the trunk of her car. If House wanted to humiliate her, he'd have to work at it. She raised an eyebrow as Wilson unpacked two bottles of wine. "Bored Doe? Cat's Phee on a Gooseberry Bush?"
"Pee," Wilson corrected. "The h is silent. House insisted on picking the wine," he said apologetically. "They're actually quite good. But I drew the line at the Cold Duck," he added, pulling out a bottle of Heidsieck Demi-Sec. "It just wouldn't stand up to the acidity in the pineapple." He put the Champagne and Sauvignon Blanc in the fridge to chill.
"Is there anything I can do?" Cuddy asked, a little lost in her own home.
"You could fire up the barbecue," he suggested. "I have some snacks that just need to be grilled a few minutes. The wine should be chilled by the time they're ready." He rummaged in one of the bags and pulled out a bulb of garlic. "Do you mind if I poke around in the cupboards for anything I need?"
"Knock yourself out," she replied, shaking her head slightly. She watched as he broke the bulb apart with a firm press of his palm, then cut and peeled half a dozen cloves, carefully cleaning the skins away before he minced the garlic, the knife rocking deftly and rapidly. Finally, he crushed the minced garlic with the flat of the blade and swept it into a pile. Cuddy remembered her mother preparing garlic like that, refusing to use a press because it altered the flavour. She decided it was safe to leave Wilson alone in her kitchen. It wasn't safe to leave House alone anywhere.
She found him in the backyard, brushing down the cooking grate. "When was the last time you used — or cleaned — this thing?" House demanded. "I had to burn off an entire colony of spider webs."
"I'm sorry my appliances don't live up to your high standards. Next time bring your own barbecue," she retorted. "Or better yet, get your own backyard."
"Hey, I'm doing you a favour. Wilson's making a meal that you'll be dreaming about for months." He inspected his handiwork and held his hand over the grill to test the heat. "Go tell him to get his butt out here and start cooking. The Doritos aren't really cutting it." He took a long drag of his beer. "And I need another drink."
"Go get it yourself. I'm not your lackey." The last thing she wanted was to spend the afternoon being run roughshod by House in her own home.
House just smirked and leaned through the open patio door. "Wilson! Feed and water me."
Wilson appeared barely a minute later carrying two bottles of beer. "Sit down and relax," he told Cuddy, handing her one of the bottles. "We'll switch to wine after the artichokes. The Sauvignon Blanc would probably be fine, but beer is better. Just give me a minute to finish mixing the mayonnaise."
Cuddy stared after him. She couldn't remember the last time she'd seen Wilson so completely in his element. He'd been off-kilter since the Tritter investigation. Since the shooting, if she really thought about it. It hadn't affected his work — if anything, he'd been putting in more hours than ever — but he'd been muted, almost indifferent to anything outside of his patients. Even on their social outings together, he'd taken pleasure in her enjoyment, not his own.
"He's paired the courses?" she marvelled. "How much thought has he put into this?" Her usual idea of cooking was throwing a cut of meat or poultry on the indoor grill and steaming whatever vegetables hadn't already rotted in the crisper. Some weeks, when the workload was overwhelming, she didn't even dirty a dish.
House opened his second bottle of beer. "He came by and started prepping at ten this morning. Fortunately, he was smart enough to make breakfast first, or you'd be looking for a new Head of Oncology." His eyes glazed over slightly. "I thought the pancakes were amazing, but he did something today with French toast that was too good not to be illegal or immoral."
Cuddy couldn't imagine what House would classify as immoral, but she could think of a few things involving House, Wilson and breakfast items that might cause a protest by the American Decency Association. She turned away, but not before House saw her cheeks flush.
He smirked. "Don't we have a naughty mind today. Would you like to know what Wilson can do with syrup?" he asked. "I bet he's just as good with marinade."
There were only two ways of dealing with House when he was being perverse: ignore him or try to match him at his own game. And the former rarely worked. "Do I get to watch or participate?" she asked. She circled her lips over the mouth of her beer bottle and gave House a speculative look. He didn't blush — that would imply a capacity to feel shame — but he did shift uncomfortably.
Wilson chose that moment to walk out carrying a Tupperware container. He glanced between Cuddy and House and grinned. "Should I come back later?" he asked.
"Cuddy and I were just discussing appetizers," House replied. "What have you got for us?"
Wilson ignored him and took up position in front of the barbecue. He arranged six artichoke halves on the centre of the grate and placed the container to the side. "They should take about 20 minutes to cook," he announced. "House, could you baste them with the marinade while I get the mushrooms ready?" He frowned when Cuddy choked on her beer. "I don't want to know what you've been talking about, do I?"
House dipped a finger in the marinade and tasted. "Olive oil? Extra virginal? Oh, my."
Wilson just waved dismissively in his general direction and bustled off to prepare the next course. As soon as he was out of sight, House rummaged in his backpack and pulled out a balled-up apron. "What do you think?" he asked Cuddy, shaking it out. "I've been waiting more than a year to make him wear this."
It was a good thing Cuddy hadn't taken another sip of beer, as she would surely have choked again. It was a plain white apron with two lines of black text:
Heywood U. Blowme
Chef de Genital Cuisine
"I think that if you actually get him to wear it, you can have next week off clinic duty." She'd cover the hours herself if necessary. "I also think that if we embarrass him too much, he might not feed us."
"Ah yes. The undomesticated Wilson," House intoned. "Its habitat is the long-stay hotels of Princeton-Plainsboro, but it can occasionally be found passed out on random couches. The Wilson is a generous provider, but is quick to withhold food or other resources when angered or threatened." He looked meaningfully at Cuddy. "The Wilson can be easily domesticated by any female of a related species, but does not thrive in captivity for extended periods."
Cuddy didn't appreciate being warned off, particularly when she had no plans for domestication. "I think I read somewhere that the Wilson actually has no natural enemies, just those attracted by the antics of the nearby wild House."
House glared at her and retreated to the furthest deck chair, sullenly sipping at his beer. After a minute, he got up and basted the artichokes, though he managed to make it look like a sacrifice akin to giving up a kidney.
When Wilson returned, he was carrying a serving platter with two loosely wrapped tinfoil bundles on it. He took one look at Cuddy and House and sighed. "I take it you two finished the foreplay and went straight to the arguing."
"You'd know all about that," House sniped.
Wilson just looked at him, much the way Cuddy's mother used to look while she was waiting out a tantrum. "You promised me you'd play nice today," he chided gently.
"I was under the influence of French toast," House protested. "You can't hold me to anything I said."
"I can if you ever want to taste that toast again."
Cuddy decided to intervene before they were drawn too deeply into bickering. "House, why don't you give Wilson the present you bought him."
Wilson looked immediately wary; his expression turned to horror when he saw the apron. "No," he said firmly. "No way am I wearing that." He glanced sidelong at Cuddy. "Don't you have any sense of propriety? She's our boss."
"I don't mind if you wear it," Cuddy said, trying to look innocent. She could tell by the wounded look Wilson gave her that he wasn't buying it.
"I'll be on my bestest behaviour if you put it on," House said with an expression that might have been adorable on a six-year-old. On House it was terrifying.
"You're under the influence of two beers and 40 milligrams of Vicodin," Wilson retorted, looking pointedly at the nearly empty bottle in House's hand. "I'm supposed to believe you this time?"
"Do you want me to beg?" House asked. "Because I will. It means that much to me."
"No it doesn't." Wilson looked as though he wanted to plant his hands disapprovingly on his hips, but his hands were otherwise occupied. He glanced suspiciously at House. "What's in it for you?"
Cuddy answered for House. "A week off clinic duty. And two for you." She'd find a way to make House cover Wilson's hours and come out nearly even. "But only if I get a picture."
"Please, Jimmy?" House begged, his voice pitched to a grating falsetto. "Pretty please with icing on top."
Wilson shuddered at the sound and walked over to the barbecue. He placed the sheet off to the side and tested the artichokes before basting them one last time. "Fine," he said, snatching the apron out of House's hands. "But no pictures. I prefer my humiliation not be spread over the hospital's intranet."
Cuddy capitulated gracefully. She'd take a picture with her cell phone when Wilson wasn't looking. Between the smell wafting off the grill and the verbal exercise, the day wasn't turning out to be the complete disaster she'd feared. And when Wilson put the apron on — tying it neatly around his waist — she decided it was worth the backlog of messages and minor crises that would be waiting for her Monday morning.
Her father had been an enthusiastic — if inexpert — barbecue chef, and every summer her family had feasted at least once a week on slightly charred steak, baked potatoes, and salad, which was the extent of his culinary repertoire. She hadn't realised until now how much she missed those evenings. Nostalgia, she decided, smelled like fresh-cut grass and charcoal.
Wilson moved the tinfoil bundles onto the grill and arranged the artichokes neatly on the platter, pouring the rest of the marinade over them. "Back in a second," he said, putting the platter on the patio table. "Try not to kill each other in my absence."
"Best behaviour, remember?" House called after him. "But Cuddy can spank me if I'm bad."
"I am not acting out your fantasies," she retorted, following him to the table. "This is just the first course? How much does he expect us to eat?"
"Just enough of everything to make him happy," House replied. "If you don't like it, fake it. I'm sure you've had plenty of experience doing that."
But Cuddy suspected she wouldn't have to fake anything. House was right; her ass couldn't take a week of food like this. She was going to have to tack an extra couple of miles onto her morning run.
Wilson returned with three beers and a small dish of mayonnaise balanced on three stacked plates. "This apron sucks," he complained, pulling cutlery out of the left pocket of his golf shorts. "What kind of apron doesn't have pockets?" But he didn't take it off, and Cuddy could tell that he was pleased with the present. "Help yourselves," he told them, heading back to the barbecue. "I'm just going to turn the potatoes."
Cuddy stripped a petal off one of the artichoke halves and dipped it in the mayonnaise. There was no need to fake the sigh of pleasure that accompanied the first taste. "This is wonderful, Wilson," she said with unfeigned enthusiasm when he finally dropped into a deck chair and twisted open a beer. "I taste citrus."
He smiled and ducked his head, covering his embarrassment with a long pull of beer. "There's lemon in the marinade and a splash of orange juice in the mayo."
House frowned. "You mean you didn't squeeze that orange juice just for me this morning?"
Wilson smirked, the embarrassment gone. "Copernicus called. Apparently the universe doesn't revolve around you."
"Does everybody else know that? Because I wouldn't want people to get confused."
"I'll send out a memo," Wilson replied, stripping off a couple of petals and dipping them together in the mayonnaise. He pulled them through his teeth slowly, and Cuddy thought about maple syrup and marinade. She was glad there wasn't anything particularly sensual about potatoes. As it was, she prayed for a cool breeze.
"No double dipping," House scolded, as she absently reached towards the mayonnaise.
She jerked back her hand, realising that she hadn't discarded the first petal. She pulled off a new one and deliberately took a big scoop of mayonnaise, slowly licking it off, before scraping the artichoke through her teeth. She smiled when House looked away.
"Do I have to ask you to play nice as well?" Wilson commented, pretending to look disapproving. But a twinkle in his dark eyes gave him away. This time, he relaxed for nearly five minutes before he bounced up again to move the potatoes to the warming grate.
"You're making me seasick," House complained when Wilson dropped back into his seat and reached for another artichoke half.
"Do you want them to burn?" It seemed to be a rhetorical question, for he gathered the empty beer bottles and watched until House finished his third beer. "Where do you keep your wine glasses?" he asked Cuddy. "Dining room cabinet?"
"Dining room cabinet," she confirmed.
"I want another beer," House protested.
"Then you should have brought more than a six-pack," Wilson retorted. "Or not guzzled those down. You picked the Sauvignon Blanc. You're drinking it."
"Cat's Pee!" House proclaimed gleefully.
"That's an...odd name for a wine," Cuddy said diplomatically.
"It sounds terrible, but it means something good, really," Wilson replied. "A wine writer once described the aroma of Sauvignon Blanc as cat's pee on a gooseberry bush. Truth in advertising. But I guess the regulatory board here doesn't read wine columns, because they decided 'Pee' was inappropriate." He rolled his eyes and started gathering the discarded artichoke parts on the platter. "Do you have a place for compost?" He took the platter to the composting barrel she pointed out, then detoured to the barbecue to retrieve the potatoes. "Back in a minute."
"Let me help you," Cuddy protested. She wasn't used to just sitting around while someone else served her in her own home.
"No, no," Wilson said. "I can manage. Just relax and enjoy yourself." He glanced at House. "Or at least enjoy yourself."
Cuddy waited until he was out of earshot. "Is this normal for him?" Wilson had been attentive and courteous on their outings together — she didn't dare even think of them as dates in House's presence — but not to this extent.
"Wilson doesn't know the meaning of normal," House replied. "But this is weird even for him. Normally he bitches for hours if I refuse to get my own beer. And nobody washes dishes more passive-aggressively than Wilson." He shrugged. "He enjoys being a host. Let him have his fun."
Cuddy remembered the dinner or cocktail parties Wilson had hosted when he was still married to Julie. They had been exquisitely catered affairs, staffed by an outside company, and she'd never believed for a moment that Wilson was enjoying himself.
"I'm not talking about the dog and pony shows the wicked witch of west Princeton threw," House said, reading her mind, or more likely the dubious expression on her face. "That wasn't hosting, that was performing. Wilson likes to make sure everybody is happy himself, not stand around pretending to be an important doctor while a stranger looks after his guests. Number two was a nutbar, but at least she threw parties that were bearable."
To be fair, Cuddy thought, Wilson had been married to Bonnie before he'd become a department head, with the responsibility of hosting more formal gatherings for donors and staff. She didn't bother explaining that to House, who had never hosted — and wouldn't even have attended — a strategic dinner party for his department. And there was no point trying to defend Julie. House was, in his own twisted way, loyal. He might mock Wilson's marital woes to Wilson, but to the rest of the world Julie was public enemy number one.
"I'm surprised you ever made the invitation list," she said tartly. There had been no love lost between House and Wilson's wives. Or any of the girlfriends she'd met. She wondered if Wilson's family tolerated House. She wondered if she could tolerate House if she were ever in a relationship with Wilson. She wondered where that thought had come from. The artichokes were clearly more potent than she'd suspected.
House smirked, as if he knew exactly what she was thinking. "I always know the marriage is doomed when the dinner invitations stop arriving. They try to put up with me at first. But when they stop trying, it's only a matter of time until they're filing. I'm a litmus test for Wilson divorce."
Cuddy saw Wilson returning and gestured for House to shut up. She didn't think it would work — House had never been one to shy away from an opportunity to embarrass anyone — but he had apparently come to a natural break in his theory. Either that or he was as eager to see the next course as she was and didn't want to spook Wilson.
They had to wait while he delivered the wine and glasses — Cuddy was glad she had both the red and white Riedel Ouvertures — and then fussed over arranging the mushrooms around the potatoes. Finally, he brought the food to the table, and busied himself by opening and pouring the wine while they inspected the fare. The stuffed mushroom caps smelled delicious, but it was the potatoes that momentarily left Cuddy speechless. They were topped with dollops of sour cream, and sprinkled with fresh chervil and what looked like...
"Is that caviar?" House stared at the potatoes in disbelief. "That's it. You're out of control. This is a barbecue, not an embassy reception."
Cuddy was afraid he'd take the platter away. "Don't discourage him," she hissed. She loved caviar.
But House was still staring suspiciously at Wilson. "You're trying to impress Cuddy," he accused. "Caviar. French Champagne."
"That's redundant," Wilson interrupted.
"The whole domestic god routine in her face." House squinted. "You're courting her."
"I'm not courting Cuddy," Wilson protested, a little too vehemently for her liking. She didn't want to be courted by Wilson, but she didn't think the idea was ridiculous.
"Oh, really. How do you explain the play and the gallery?"
"You gave me the play tickets. We had a nice time, so we spent some time together as friends." He glanced at Cuddy, so she nodded confirmation. "You didn't want to go to the play with me. You'd never go to a gallery or a chamber concert." Cuddy saw House's eyes narrow and knew Wilson hadn't mentioned that outing before.
"I enjoy doing those things," Wilson continued, as if he hadn't noticed. Cuddy didn't believe that for a moment. Wilson noticed everything about House. "Am I supposed to just stop doing the things I enjoy because you get threatened every time I even talk to a woman?"
"No one's stopping you from doing those things by yourself," House pointed out. "Or with your mother. I bet she loves chamber music."
Wilson threw up his hands. "You're ridiculous. I have to go husk the corn." He stalked away, managing to look dignified despite the pocketless apron.
"Is that your idea of good behaviour?" Cuddy asked. "Because if he goes home and I don't get my dinner, all deals are off."
House rolled his eyes. "I'm sorry, Wilson!" he shouted. "You can court Cuddy all you want. You can even sleep with her, as long as you take pictures."
"I'm not going to sleep with Wilson," Cuddy retorted. And if she did, she'd make damn sure he was too busy to be thinking about photojournalism.
"You say that now, but I talked to Bonnie. I know his MO. He acts like the perfect gentleman — polite, supportive, considerate — until he's got these women sucked so deep into his vortex that they have to jump him just to survive."
"Has it occurred to you that it's not an act?" Cuddy retorted. "That maybe he really does just want to be friends?"
"Please. No guy willingly goes to the theatre unless there's a chance he might get laid."
"And yet you gave him those tickets." She put the pieces together. "Obviously you don't object to him having sex in principle, just with me." She thought that should flatter her, but his possessiveness was starting to get grating. She didn't know how Wilson put up with it. "It's none of your business who I sleep with or not. I'm not going to stay celibate just because you think you marked me two decades ago."
"You can sleep with half of New Jersey for all I care — though if you're getting some woman-on-woman action, I want to watch — just not Wilson."
"Why? Because you can't stand for him to have something you don't have?"
"Because when you two get together, it generally doesn't work out all that well for me," House snapped.
That derailed her train of argument. It didn't matter that they'd done what they had to protect House — she and Wilson had screwed up badly last year, more than once. Still, she wasn't going to justify herself, and she wasn't going to remind him that she and Wilson had also teamed up more than once to save his ass and to make life a hell of a lot easier for him.
House might even have remembered that, because he looked away. "And because one of you will end up getting hurt, and I can't take the weeping and wailing."
"I'm a big girl, House. I'm not going to fall apart over a failed relationship that doesn't even exist." But there was a relationship, even if it didn't involve sex, and she was realistic enough to know that she'd miss it if it were to end. She tried one of the stuffed mushrooms and knew she'd miss it even more now.
"Who said I was talking about you?" House replied, smirking slightly, and the last of the tension floated away on a summer breeze. "You'll eat Wilson up and spit out the gristle. And then he'll have to get a new job and I won't have anybody to pay for my lunch."
"So you're saying I can have sex with Wilson if I make sure your lunch is paid for on the off-chance that we have a catastrophic break-up." She calculated quickly. Two hundred and fifty workdays, maybe four dollars net cost on a typical House lunch. "Given that I can probably pay another Head of Oncology a lower salary not to have to deal with you, I'm sure I can find a grand in the budget to keep you in Ruebens and potato chips."
"That's mercenary," House said admiringly.
"I've talked to Bonnie too," Cuddy replied, showing her pocket aces. "From what I hear, the sex is worth way more than your lunches."
House smiled as if he'd drawn into a Royal Flush. "So you're just using him for his body. Go at it, then. For a while there I was afraid you might actually like him."
She read between the lines. Sex was fine, but companionship was crossing into his territory. Still, she preferred House off-balance. "Why can't it be both?" She glanced towards the kitchen. "How long does it take to husk three cobs of corn?"
"He's not husking, he's sulking. I told you he did most of the prep work at my place." He bit into a potato and for a moment his expression transformed into one of rapture. "The steaks are trimmed, rubbed and ready, the corn is husked, and the asparagus bundled. All that's left to do is throw them on the grill. And if he's gone off in a huff, even you can manage not to burn the rest of dinner."
"You're unbelievable," she said, getting up. He wasn't, really. Cuddy had long since expected the worst from House in terms of behaviour, on the faint hope that she might be pleasantly surprised one day. "I'm going to see if he's all right."
"If you're going to have a quickie before dinner, make sure he washes his hands. I don't know where you've been."
That was hard to believe. Like most of what came out of his mouth, she decided to ignore it. She found Wilson in the kitchen, leaning on the counter as the microwave hummed. He looked up at her entrance and smiled.
"They grill more evenly if you nuke them for a couple of minutes beforehand."
Cuddy blinked at the seeming non sequitur, and then nodded in understanding when the timer pinged and he pulled out a dish containing three corncobs. "I was wondering what was taking you."
Wilson peeled back the husk of one of the cobs and tested a kernel with his fingertip. "Sorry about that. I thought I should disappear before he goaded me into saying something one of us would regret. He means well, sort of. He just doesn't have any sense of boundaries."
"Sure, he does. One big one, right between the two of us."
Wilson smiled ruefully. "True enough. But even if he's not always right, he's never entirely wrong either. I've wanted to cook for you for a while. Not to court you," he added quickly. "At least not the way House means." There was a flicker of embarrassment again, the one she'd found so attractive at the non-Hockney exhibit. "I just wanted to do something special for you. I guess I got a little carried away."
She wanted to reach out and touch his arm to show that she understood, but there was another barrier between them that had nothing — and everything — to do with House. Then she remembered what House had said on Friday. "So you've been planning this? House told me it was his idea, that you were pining away without a barbecue of your own."
His eyes widened in a way that was far from innocent. "Then it must be true," he replied.
Cuddy was beginning to understand what House had meant when he told her Wilson was never the safe choice. "You can't both be telling the truth," she pointed out.
"Is it a lie if you believe it's the truth?" He gave up the faux innocence. "House wouldn't have come unless he thought it was his idea."
"You could have cooked for me without him." As far as she was concerned, he could come over and use her kitchen any time, especially if caviar was involved.
Wilson shook his head. "I want us to be friends. But I have to accept that if I want a relationship — platonic or romantic — to be successful, House will have to be part of it." He rolled his eyes when she raised an eyebrow suggestively. "Not like that. Though I'm sure he wouldn't object. What he would object to is being left out altogether. I figure he's less likely to complain about a play or concert if we include him in things he enjoys."
"So you convinced House that your life would be complete if you could just stand in front of a grill, so that he would convince me that he was being a good friend to you, so that you could organize an evening for the three of us together?" Cuddy shook her head in admiration and wondered how much of his nervousness on Friday had been feigned. "He's right about you. You do have a gift for manipulation." She wondered what it said about her that she found that almost as appealing as his ability to cook.
"Just trying to use my powers for good," he replied lightly, but there was too much history weighing down the words. Wilson glanced at his watch and changed the subject. "Ten dollars says he starts shouting for me to refill his glass in less than two minutes."
He won the bet with seconds to spare. When they returned to the deck after just enough of a delay to annoy House, Cuddy saw that House had evenly divided the remaining appetizers onto two plates. She took one and watched House steal a mushroom cap off Wilson's plate.
Cuddy smiled and thought about what Wilson had said about that ridiculous wine name. It seemed insane, but maybe this could actually turn into something good. She might just end up with two friends instead of one. After all, there was safety in numbers, even if they were both dangerous men.