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More Than Just Baggage

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Life on holiday for the rest of the Priestly-Sachs-Walker clan was not as fun as Andy would have liked, even in the first few hours. 

They'd managed to all get on the same flight, but it had been a close call at the desk when she'd tried to transfer Miranda's ticket into Cara's girlfriend Mel's name. It was only when she flashed the card that Miranda gave her that the desk agent finally understood who they were talking to.

The villa was spectacular, right off the beach, with a pool house for Cara and Mel to stay in. The pool itself was exquisite with a sandy walk-in and countless loungers around the edge where they could relax while the kids played. 

They dumped their bags, vying for rooms while Andy wandered around with the crowd as they whooped in delight at all the features. The big beds, the glorious, uninterrupted views of both the ocean and the island. Andy paused as she looked over the master-bathroom. A hot-tub stood by the window, underneath a picture window that looked out at the Pacific. Sam hadn't let Andy go and she just held him close, staring out over the beach that was supposed to be her and Miranda's getaway. Their recovery. She heard Cara gathering everyone into their bathers and did so herself, sitting with Sam on her knee while the rest played in the water.

Cassidy and Caroline were the first to bounce back. Andy had a terrible feeling in her soul that it was because they'd been disappointed by their mother before. The little ones were not as resilient.

Mel, as it turned out, was an avid fitness nut and also incredibly good with kids. She insisted that all the kids, minus Sam who had actually growled when Mel had tried to take him, play with her in the water. Andy grinned at Cara, who smiled demurely as her girlfriend threw the Priestly-Sachs-Walker children up in the air and laughed just as loudly as they did when they came splashing back down. Andy got up from where she sat and joined their friend, slash nanny, slash sounding board on the loungers just in the shade.

"You scored," Andy chuckled, nudging her shoulder. The woman blushed but didn't look unhappy. "You could have said something you know. If you'd have wanted to?"

"I know," Cara shrugged. "But, I mean, I've been their Nanny for a long time. And it's only recently that we kinda moved beyond that, you know? And honestly, we've only been together," she thought about it. "Actually, just a bit longer than you have."

"I understand," Andy sighed, noting that Sam had fallen asleep in her arms. 

"You okay?"

"I dunno," Andy said honestly. "How can you love someone with all your being and hate them a little bit as well."

"I don't know," Cara sighed. "I should have realised. I'm sorry I didn't."

"God Cara, don't," she snorted. " I should have realised. Better yet, we shouldn't have had to realise at all. She should have talked to me, or you, or fucking Roy, anyone . But she didn't, cos she doesn't."

"A year ago I would have warned you, having worked for her for so long, that she's not ever going to change, but then she did." Cara paused. "For you."

"Not for me," Andy whispered. "For him," she nodded to Sam, brushing the blond curls off his face. "For them. As it should be. I don't ever want her to be resentful of us all but I don't know how to navigate this and," she accepted the bottle of water Cara passed to her. "I'm tired."

"Let's enjoy our time away from the dreary rain and the noisy city and we'll sort everything else out when we get home," she said gently. "Once we've had a rest."

"Yeah, I just thought she'd be here, you know?"

"I do know," Cara chuckled. "She may yet surprise you. She's been surprising me all my professional life, so don't lose hope yet."

Andy smiled, thinking back to that moment in Paris before it all began. 

"I live on hope," she whispered.

Cara smiled and they fell into a comfortable silence, chuckling at the antics of the kids all vying for another go.

"Hey," she grinned, suddenly remembering. "I called and got you a table at the restaurant at the Four Seasons. Just the two of you. You can take it any night you like and there's a car service that will come and pick you up. I'll send you the details. Accept it as a thank you, from me, for sticking with us?"

"You didn't have to!"

"I know," Andy grinned. "But I wanted to. We wouldn't be able to do anything without you, I don't think."

"You totally would," Cara scoffed. "You're a powerhouse Andy. You'd do just fine."

"Yeah, but it would suck big time. It takes a village, right?"

They chuckled and turned back to the kids, just in time to notice Mel talking quietly to Olivia who was wrapped around her neck.

"Let me take him," Cara said gently. "I think Liv's reached her limit."

Andy waded into the water and took the little girl from Mel and noticed Nick's lip trembling too.

"Hey," she muttered, letting him wrap his arms around her middle. "What's going on? You don't have to play and have fun in the water you know?"

"I miss M'anda!"

"Oh sweetheart, I know."

She navigated them back to her seat and pulled Liv onto her knee. They rocked on the lounger for a while until Nick shuffled up to Cara for a cuddle, waking Sam from his nap.

Andy let Olivia cuddle with Cassidy, who was never far away from her little sister and tucked them under some towels to ward off the breeze on their wet skin. She only just managed to catch Sam as he threw himself at her.

"I want Mommy!"

"I know baby, it's okay."

He sobbed into her neck and she sighed, kissing his hair.

"It's alright to be sad, baby, it's okay." She turned to Cara who was now soaked. "I think bath and early dinner," she said softly.

Cara nodded and adjusted Nick in her arms. Mel pulled her up and kissed her hair as Cara nodded for the twins to follow her. Andy accepted Mel's help too and thanked her quietly as she trudged the kids up the stairs and into the bathrooms. Caroline called out that she'd just change and grab a shower before bed and Cassidy said she'd do the same. Andy wasn't worried, they did so most nights but she couldn't help but smile when Olivia called out that she was going to shower later too.

"That's fine baby," Andy said gently. "But let the girls help you change. Caro, can you do her hair, please. I don't want to have to untangle it all tomorrow morning." She joined Cara in the bathroom and tried to offload Sam into the water, but he refused. She sighed and Cara squeezed her hand.

"Go shower with him, if you like. I've got this lot. It might help him being away for a bit," she said, nodding to the tears rolling down Nick's face. She did so, heading into the master suite and turning on the rain shower. She got it the right temperature and stepped into the stream, humming to Sam as he cried and cried and cried. 

It wasn't long before she realised it was going to be a very long evening as his sobs turned into angry screams.

She got out and dried them both off, pulling on a pair of shorts and a simple singlet and trying to get him into some clothes.

"Slow down, baby, it's okay. It's okay to be angry, but let me put some clothes on you first."

She just about managed to get him in some undies and a pair of shorts before he threw himself on the floor and started screaming. Cassidy and Caroline ran in with wide eyes and she soothed them gently, keeping an eye on him as he continued his tantrum.

"It's okay," she said, pulling them both in for a cuddle. "He's allowed to be angry. This is just how he's going to be expressing it for a while. We've never really had a proper tantrum, have we? This is okay. Tough to hear, but okay."

They hugged her tightly and kissed her cheek in stereo.

"I'm really glad you're here Mama," Caroline whispered as she pressed a second one.

"I love both. So much. Go down and see if you can help make us some dinner okay? Something simple. Pasta or," she waved. "I don't care. Anything, at this point. And find a movie they'll watch, okay?"

"What about -"

"He'll cry it out for a while and we'll go from there."

She turned to watch him, red-faced, slamming his fists on the floor and kicking his legs. She knelt beside him and scooped him up, getting a fist to the forehead for her troubles.

"Easy," she muttered, holding his arms out of harm's way. "I just want to take you downstairs, then I'll let you get on with being angry."

She took a fortifying breath and did as she told him she would, dropping him off on the couch and picking Nick up. He clung to her and was shaking as Sam's anger infected everything.

Eventually, as Sam tired, she could just make out what he was saying through his hiccups.

"I want Mommy. I want my Mommy!"

She passed Nick to Mel, who was admirably calm despite this whole clusterfuck and scooped up her baby. She rocked him, kissing his hair and wiping his endless tears. He had snot and tears and he'd even bitten his lip to where it was bleeding.

"Caro, baby, pass me a tea-towel will you?"

Cara intervened, passing her a half-damp one and she managed to clean him up as he sobbed and sobbed against her chest. She couldn't stop her own tears falling as he sobbed once again.

"I want Mommy!"

Andy wasn't really paying attention to anything except him, trying to get him to relax, but then she felt it. That feeling she always got, the one she could never explain but could always rely on.

"Cass, get the door."

"What?" Cassidy said, doing what she was asked anyway. "Why."

Andy smiled. 

"You'll see."

She did and Andy watched as she turned to see who she was opening the door for and stopped, dead still. 

"Mom?"

"Bobbsey," Miranda muttered. "I'm so sorry I hung up on you, my darling. I wasn't thinking and I -."

Cassidy threw herself into Miranda's arms and Andy watched as Miranda caught her, kissing her hair and her face. She bent down to whisper something in her eldest child's ear. Cassidy nodded and kissed her cheek before letting her in.

She dropped her bag and stood in the entranceway with sad eyes.

"I'm so sorry Samuel," Miranda said gently. "I am so sorry."

"MOMMY!"

Miranda's eyes widened as he squirmed out of Andy's arms and ran to her. In a testament to how quick she was, Miranda managed to catch him and pull him to her, taking the crying and the pounding fists on her shoulder. She rocked them, taking all the hits before he sobbed pathetically and wrapped his arms around tightly.

"Don't go, Mommy, please don't go. I be so good. I don't want a Daddy and I won't play likkle league. Please, Mommy, don't go."

Miranda fell to the floor, only narrowly missing the console table by the door thanks to Andy's quick hands as she joined them. Miranda wrapped him up, rocking him back and forth, her own tears falling.

"I'm not leaving, my little boy. Not ever. I love you," she looked up at Andy. "I love you all. I was very stupid and I made a terrible mistake but I won't ever make it again. I love you all so much."

Olivia and Nick run to her and wrap themselves as best as they can around her followed by the twins.

"I won't do that again. I know I broke your trust, the three of you," she touched Andy's thigh and looked at the twins. "But I'm going to earn it back. You deserve that. I will make sure that you believe me every time I say something."

"Just," Cassidy took Caroline's hand. "Don't be a butt, Mom. You hurt us all pretty bad. We love you though, so," she shrugged and knelt down behind Olivia and wrapped her arms around them all. 

"And you?" Miranda asks Andy.

"I told you I'd be with you for all of time. But you hurt me and I got angry and scared. You're going to have to do a bit of work to help me through that."

"Whatever we need to do, we'll do it," she smiled. "I've extended my leave indefinitely. I don't care what Alexi thinks. We're going to get through this," she cupped Andy's cheek. "Together."

After enjoying a cuddle for a long time, Andy suggested they put on a film and eat their sketti in front of a movie. Miranda agreed and they all untangled themselves from the floor and settled on the sofa. Andy and Caroline dished it up and Andy let Cara know that if she wanted to go it would be alright to do so. Cara hugged her gently and winked as she tangled her hand in Mel's and they left to go to the poolhouse where they'd stay for the duration of their holiday. 

The movie was only noise for Andy. She ate her sketti and helped Nick with his. He was cuddled up tightly against her and she ended up feeding him most of it. By the time the credits rolled, Most of them were asleep and Andy did her best to get them up to their beds, making several trips. Even asleep, Sam refused to let go of Miranda.

She went through the motions of going to bed and was shocked to discover Miranda already in bed with Sam still wrapped around her. She got in and sighed, looking up at the ceiling.

They lay in silence, listening to the ocean outside their window.

"I panicked," Miranda whispered. "I realised, suddenly, that I could see a future without Runway and I -"

"That was a big fucking panic," Andy sighed, rolling onto her side so she could look at Miranda, cradling Sam in her arms. "I thought we'd lost you for a moment."

"You did. Between that and not hearing that stupid label," Miranda sniffed. "I'm horrified that I contemplated giving it up. After all we've -" she took a big shuddering breath. "And then," she laughed, even though tears were running down her face. "Nigel came over and told me I was a," she growled. "Fucking idiot. And I couldn't agree more. Forgive me? Andréa? Please forgive me. I," she was shaking and Sam was stirring. "I don't ever want to be without you and our children. I see now, what everyone used to say to me. The thing I could never understand. That Runway wasn't everything. It was, Andréa for so," she sobbed. "So long and now. Now, I will resign tomorrow if you asked it of me."

"Lord, slow down will you?" Andy said gently, shifting forward and catching a few tears with her thumb. "Relax. The fact that you would give up Runway for us? That's a huge deal and I want to give it the respect it deserves. But just because you can see yourself doing it, Miranda, doesn't mean you should , or that you have to. We love you, as you. And you are Runway, Miranda. I," Andy shook her head sadly. "God, I wish you'd come and talked to me about this. You realise that you can, don't you? Come and talk to me, I mean? About anything. About these things, these fears."

"Yes," Miranda said sadly. "I didn't," she sighed. "I didn't realise until it was too late."

"Oh babe," Andy said carefully. "It is never too late. I told you, I'm not leaving you. Not ever. And I would never ask you to give Runway up, Miranda. Not ever. Not in my darkest moments. That is the difference between me, and the others. We are a part of your life, but so is Runway. I was there, remember? I know."

"Will," Miranda swallowed again. "Will you hold me Andréa?"

"Oh," she whispered sadly. "For all our lives, Miranda," Andy sighed, shifting forward and doing just that. "For every single moment of our continued existence."

They fell asleep wrapped up together, with Sam clinging to Miranda like the little monkey that he was.

-0-

At first light, Andy blinked awake to find Nick shimmying in between them and she let him, pulling him into her arms and kissing him gently. 

"Sleep, little man," she made a conscious decision, now that she had heard Miranda's inner-most fears. "Mommy is here now. Your Momma's are both here."

She lay dozing, listening to the three other occupants breathing quietly. She wished she had realised what Miranda was going through and how it was affecting her. She wished she'd realised that Miranda was struggling with her work-life balance and she wished she'd realised how much that stupid word, or lack-there-of, was hurting her. Three more sets of footsteps disturbed her thoughts and she nodded for the girls to get into bed with them. Another half-hour had everyone back asleep except Andy who just watched them all, marvelling at the peace in their tiny faces now that their Mommy was with them.

"I won't lose you again," Miranda said quietly, startling Andy. "I don't ever want to be without any of you."

"Then don't," Andy smiled, brushing that stubborn forelock from her head. "Choose to be with us. And remember that no matter what they call you," she pointed at all of their faces. "You're their Mommy."

Miranda nodded, smiling tremulously, and then a strange look came over her face. She nodded again, rolling as carefully as she could, surrounded by six pairs of arms, and reached into the draw to her bedside table. 

"I should have done this back when I decided I wanted to," she said haltingly, making Andy frown. "I was so scared that it was all going to go wrong and then there were a million moments where this would have been more romantic, but," she met Andy's eyes and opened a little box. "Andréa, will you marry me?"

"What?" Cassidy sat up, disturbing Olivia who's eyes were hand closed. Cassidy smacked Caroline who sat up looking around and squealed loudly enough to wake the boys who were too young to understand exactly what was going on, but knew it was something when Cassidy put her finger to her lips.

"Will you marry us Andréa? All of us? You are the glue that holds our family together and I cannot imagine living my life without you."

"I," she blinked back tears, too overwhelmed to say anything at all for just a moment until Cassidy, once again took charge.

"Mama!"

"Yes," she managed. "Yes Miranda," she laughed. "Always. Forever. I will marry you. And you," she kissed Caroline's cheek. "And you." Nick's. "You," Sam's and so on until she locked lips with the woman who held her very soul. "I love you."

Miranda slipped on the ring and Andy gasped at its beauty. It was exactly her style, not too ostentatious but petite and classy, while still being enough of Miranda's taste as well. That being, that it was exquisite and incredibly expensive if you knew to look closely.

"I promise to always come to you if I feel like I'm losing it. I promise to always put you all first," Miranda smiled. "I promise to always make sure to kiss you all before you sleep. And kiss you again when you wake. I promise to never forget that I am a wife and a mother first and," she cupped Caroline's cheek. "The editor of a magazine, second."

Caroline sighed and leant on Andy's shoulder in a way that made Andy reminisce back to when they'd first got the kids and they were all feeling each other out on that first morning together.

She heard a little tummy rumble and she smiled softly as Nick rolled onto his stomach and knelt up, kissing Miranda squarely on the lips before opening his mouth.

"Mommy, I'm really hungry. Can we have pancakes for breakfast?"