C.J. sat down at the table, glancing quickly around the restaurant. She picked
"Planning to order something messy?"
"I haven't decided."
Andrea smiled and took a seat. "I like the lobster bisque here, but it's
"I'll have to think about that." C.J. set the napkin down and picked up the
"Things have been a little rough lately, but you watch C-Span. You knew that."
"Alvarez and MacFarlane are stalling everything that wiggles. Is it--"
Andrea waved a hand. "That can wait. We haven't had lunch in a long time.
C.J. nodded. "It really is. The other day, I had a hundred pages of HIV
"Stealth mode," Andrea chuckled.
"Yeah. It was Crouching Ziegler, Hidden Seaborn."
"You run with a sneaky bunch."
"Yeah." C.J.'s smile faded rapidly. "I--"
A waiter approached suddenly. "Can I take your drink order, ladies?"
"Diet Coke," Andrea said.
"Um, water's fine."
As the waiter walked away, Andrea looked at C.J. "You were going to say?"
She reached for the napkin again, crumpling it in her hand. "There's something
"You're usually pretty good at that."
"I manage. Look, there's this thing. I've been -- this is about Toby.
"You can stop torturing that poor, innocent square of linen," Andrea said
C.J.'s eyes widened. "You already know?"
"That's what I said."
She dropped her hands into her lap. "Talk about stealth mode."
"Are you honestly surprised?" Andrea paused as their drinks were placed on
"I didn't think people, in general, knew."
"People in general probably aren't paying attention." Andrea sipped her soda.
"I'm just -- I'm surprised, that's all."
"You shouldn't be."
C.J. stirred the ice in her glass with a straw. "Shouldn't you be?"
"Well, I've been his friend a pretty long time."
"I've known you as long as he has," Andrea pointed out. "Granted, he's
"I wasn't expecting this to happen," C.J. told her. "It crept up on me."
"It could have happened earlier."
C.J. stared at her. "What?"
"It could have," Andrea repeated matter-of-factly. "Do you remember when
"And you're trying to tell me you never thought--"
"Well. That makes one of us." She scanned her menu. "Are you ready to
"I guess so."
"Great. I'm starving." Andrea flagged their waiter down. "I'd like the
C.J. hesitated, then ordered the lobster bisque.
Andrea raised her eyebrows and looked at C.J. steadily. "You could easily have
"It's really not." She pushed back a stray lock of hair. "If you hadn't
"I'm not..." C.J. began.
"If you could have believed that, and he could have let you believe that,
She shook her head. "I'm not that kind of woman."
"He's not that kind of man," Andrea added.
C.J. sighed. "I can't believe you're saying this."
"Don't get me wrong. I know you're not a homewrecker. I don't think of you as
Andrea shrugged. "I've been paying attention."
"Okay. This is absolutely not the conversation I thought we'd be having
"Your ice is melting."
"In your water." Andrea gestured at the glass.
"Oh. Thanks." C.J. picked it up but didn't drink. "Andi, I really don't
"Are you having a good time?" She had to laugh when C.J. blushed. "I
It took her a moment to answer. "I think so. It's... mostly. Yes. Mostly
"Considering it's Toby, mostly is a pretty good start."
"Let me just say again that I can't believe we're talking about this."
"I am your friend, C.J. At least, in a way. Anyway, I'm the one that ended
"...No," C.J. admitted.
"No. And it wouldn't stop him. Not with you."
"It wouldn't." Andrea folded her hands. "You've never been married.
C.J. craned her head and watched the waiter emerging from the kitchen. "I
"Yes, we should."
"You're really okay with this?" C.J. asked. She spread her napkin over her
"Don't worry so much," Andrea said. "You know, if he hurts you, I'll
The waiter set a bowl in front of C.J. She looked at Andrea. "Thank you."
"No problem." She reached for her fork. "Of course, if you hurt him,
"Okay," C.J. said awkwardly, and tasted a spoonful of the soup. "The
Andrea smiled softly. "I know."
* * *
End. Please send feedback.