Something had happened.
Andy knew that something must have happened; knew it from the way Miranda suddenly seemed to deflate as she answered the call. Her pursed lips had nothing to do with the beautiful rosé gown Zac was showing. Nigel was practically vibrating with fervour in his seat, but Miranda suddenly stood and walked from the room.
As quickly as everything stopped, Andy waved them on, leaving Nigel to watch the last half while she tried to work out what had happened to their illustrious leader. She found Miranda, stood before a window, listening intently into the phone with one arm wrapped around her middle.
Checking the corridor for people, Andy walked quietly up to her side and touched her arm, just briefly so she would know she was there. Miranda hardly looked up, but reached out with her arm and took Andy's other hand as she spoke quietly, softly.
Six months ago, Andy would have baulked at the continued hand-clasp Miranda had on her, but now she'd come to yearn for it. A lot had happened since she'd come crawling back after leaving Miranda in Paris. She'd left her with the intention of returning to the States and finding a 'real' job, but as she logged onto the net to purchase her plane ticket home, she couldn't bring herself to do it. She'd marched to Miranda's room, knocked once before barging in, and practically demanded that Miranda take her back.
She'd blushed later when she'd returned to her room; her behaviour had been atrocious but the message had been received. When Miranda rang her later, she demanded something totally accessible in a thinly-veiled attempt to have Andy talk to her for a moment. It became a pattern. Before a big event or function, Miranda would pull Andy aside and wait. It took Andy ten minutes the first time to realise that Miranda was waiting for her, and so she'd started rattling off the arrangements for the evening but had barely started when Miranda shook her head.
"Tell me something else," she'd said quietly.
Andy had looked confused for a moment before taking in the barely-there twitch Miranda had in the corner of her left eye and realised Miranda needed to take her mind off the speech she was about to make. So she'd talked about her childhood cat of all things. By the time she was finished, Andy's hands were shaking, but Miranda didn't seem to notice; taking Andy's hand in her own and squeezing it gently.
"Thank you," she'd said, disappearing into the crowd and up to her seat where she gave her speech without so much of a stumble.
Everything had changed after that night. The quiet conversations that were originally reserved for speech-making had bled into their everyday lives, taking over some of their car and elevator rides together, and even some of the late nights when Andy delivered The Book.
And so it didn't surprise Andy that much when Miranda touched her hand, but it did rather startle her when she held on for dear life. Scenarios of doom and gloom ran through Andy's head in an instant and she desperately hoped that the twins were alright. She stayed by her boss for another five minutes before Miranda hung up the phone and looked out of the window once more, remaining silent, still clinging to Andy's hand.
"Alec and his wife were in an accident. They're dead," she said three minutes later.
Andy frowned, wondering which Alec they were talking about until it hit her between the eyes.
"Hmm," she said quietly, refusing to look up.
"I'm so sorry Miranda," Andy whispered, squeezing the smaller hand in hers.
"They had three children," Miranda scoffed, finally looking away from the vista and dropping Andy's hand. "Three children and do you know who they named as guardian? Me."
"You?" Andy repeated dumbly, looking at the way Miranda rolled her eyes, though without the malice she usually had.
"Can you believe it? I haven't seen Alec for nearly six years and in that time he's had time to spawn three children, but not find a suitable guardian for them. It's ridiculous of course, I won't be taking them, but it is so like him."
"What? Miranda, I -"
"I don't wish to talk about this anymore. Thank you for your comfort Andréa. Excuse me."
Andy watched as Miranda stalked back into Zac's showroom, leaving her in the corridor with her head reeling. She would make some phone calls back at the office for there was nothing that she could do now, but she desperately hoped that Miranda had simply been too stressed to deal with the information for the time being. God knows anything was better than abandoning three children who had just lost both their parents.
Andy knew how that felt. Intimately.
The rest of the day had gone much the same way. Miranda had soldiered on, as though the news of her ex-husband's death had not phased her, but Andy knew better. She could see the tension building in Miranda's head and shoulders, and before Miranda could send out for coffee again - her fifth of the day - Andy had brewed her a chamomile tea and poured it into a spare Starbucks cup that she had on hand for that very purpose.
She smirked as she left Miranda's office, hearing the tiny sigh as she took her first sip. Crisis averted.
"Hiya Six," Nigel said, sitting on the edge of her desk as he always did when he gossip to share, or a new date for her to go on.
"Afternoon Nigel," she sighed, with a barely concealed smile.
"So I know this guy -"
"No," Andy said, cutting him off as she sat down behind her desk.
"No," she said again, getting up to go to the printer to fetch the schedule for tomorrow. "I don't need you to set me up, I'm perfectly happy as I am. Besides which, if he's anything like Jean-Pierre was, then quite frankly, you suck as my fairy-godfather."
"He's not like Jean, I promise," Nigel chuckled.
"I can't believe you'd think I'd listen to anything you have to say after you sent me on a date with a man who picked up more numbers from guys than I did," Andy growled.
"Yes that was a little unfortunate," Nigel agreed with a snigger.
Andy tapped Nigel's chin so his mouth shut as Miranda called out for her, interrupting them and summoning her into the lion's den.
"Has he not given up yet?" she asked, leaning back in her chair with a hint of amusement dancing in her eyes.
"No, he hasn't," Andy smiled, happy that Miranda's mood seemed to have evaporated with her tea.
"Are you bringing the book tonight? The girls would like you to look at their English assignments. Why they won't let me go through them first I can't imagine, but they have asked for you, and as such, I am also asking you."
Andy smiled. The girls were, as they had always been since Andy had first met them, royal terrors. They did, however, grow on you once you got past the scary twin thing. Since Andy had started trying to win them over after that fateful day at the house delivering The Book, they had become firm friends and often regaled Andy with tales of their day as Miranda watched on.
"They just don't want their Mom looking at their homework," Andy soothed gently.
Miranda hummed, glaring a little at Andy's cheekiness.
"I think it's something to do with wanting to strike out on their own," she added.
"They're 13!" Miranda deadpanned.
"Yes, but they're going on 23," Andy chuckled. "I'll help them, don't worry."
"Would you -" Miranda paused and shook her head. "No, never mind."
"No, it's okay," Andy nodded. "Go on."
"I was wondering if you would like to join us for dinner tonight. Perhaps help the girls with their homework, and then Roy can drive you back to pick up The Book?"
"I," Andy stopped, looking at Miranda with some interest.
They had so far not blurred the lines between work and social. Not completely anyway. The talks and the hand-holding were signs of comfort for two very lonely women, and although Andy wasn't completely immune to the effect's Miranda's touch had on her, she reconciled the thought with herself that she was just going that little bit further as an assistant.
"I would love to," she answered quickly before she, or Miranda, could second-guess herself.
"Alright, if you would wait until whats-her-name has finished then join us at the townhouse, we'd be delighted to have you."
Andy simply smiled and nodded as she left the room, forgetting that Nigel had been there the whole time.
"That was interesting," he said absently.
"Not really," she said, pressing a kiss to his cheek to take the sting out of her next words. "Goodbye Nigel."
"Yeah, 'night Six," he said, shaking his head as he exited the outer office.
Andy sat down and rearranged the keyboard a little before looking over at Melody. Miranda knew her name perfectly well, but Andy couldn't help but smile at all the things she called her instead of her actual name. Emily had been promoted shortly after they had returned from Paris, and was now working under Nigel. They'd developed a sort of friendship now that she wasn't grovelling at Miranda's feet, but Andy had an inkling it was the subtle gentleness of Serena that was rubbing off on her. So to speak.
As soon as the clock hit 17:26 Andy stood up to retrieve Miranda's coat and bag. It was actually the job of the second assistant to gather Miranda's things, but Andy couldn't bring herself to tell Melody this. There was something so gallant about getting out Miranda's coat and waiting with it, before helping her slip it on and up over her shoulders, smoothing the collar slightly before pressing the purse into her hand.
"Goodnight Miranda," Andy said quietly as she did the very thing she was just thinking about.
"And to you Andréa," Miranda whispered. "I'll send Roy back."
"No, you don't have to -"
"Andréa?" she said, turning slightly to meet Andy's eyes. "I'll send Roy back."
Andy grinned then, realising that although the tone had been gentle it had not been a request.
The iconic woman nodded once, checked that she had her phone in her purse and strode towards the elevator. Andy stood there like an idiot watching as the doors closed, before letting out a breath she didn't know she was holding.
"Oh dear," she sighed.