Miranda hates coffee.
At least that’s Andy’s working theory. She’s not looking at anyone in the long line at the Starbucks she frequents as she skips right to the front. If she pretends she doesn’t see them, they tend to grumble but keep their complaints to themselves.
Today isn’t her lucky day. She’s not really listening to the angry voice or the rude comments being thrown her way, but she recoils at his touch. He seems to come to himself and puts his hands up in small apology.
“Yeah go fuck yourself, buddy.” She flips the guy off for good measure, almost dropping the coffee in the process.
Her steps back to Elias-Clark are brisk and sure, but her thoughts are scattered and uncertain. What am I doing here? Just last year, I was awarded the most prestigious college journalism award. I could be editing at a major magazine. Or doing anything involving writing. Why am I subjecting myself to the whims of this woman?
And maybe, Andy thinks, if she’d chosen any city besides New York, she’d be working her way up from junior editor. Or perhaps, she’d be writing for a respectable magazine or newspaper. But here, brilliant, driven, well-educated, career-seeking geniuses were a dime a dozen. Even if the award she’d earned gave her an edge over someone else, Andy knew no one in the city. It doesn’t really matter that she’s smart and already ahead of anyone in her field, she has no one to reference in relation to her published work.
She sighs loudly fogging up the shiny metal doors of the elevator.
Andy is just another anonymous nobody in New York City.
That’s why she’s delivering a fourth cup of steaming latte to Miranda’s desk after she’s thrown away the previous three. Cold and untouched.
There is no word of thanks. There isn’t even an acknowledgement of her presence in the room. Andy grits her teeth and walks out silently. She wants to stomp out, be petulant, and have Miranda’s attention focused solely on her. She doesn’t contemplate the reason why she wants that, or why Miranda’s indifference hurts.
“Emily, would you stop that?” She snaps at Emily’s unconscious tapping.
“Who died and made you queen?” Emily sneers, tapping her pen louder and harder.
Andy rolls her eyes. She has an impulsive urge to tell Emily to fuck off. “Why don’t you go home?” She says instead, offering an olive branch. “Miranda doesn’t need us both here. And, I can get anything else she needs for tonight.”
Emily stares pointedly as if preparing to refuse. Andy knows she won’t. If Emily were the one offering, she wouldn’t refuse it either.
“This doesn’t mean I owe you anything.” Emily tugs her coat on, her back to Andy.
“Of course not.” Of course it does, they both know that.
Miranda walks out when the elevator doors close, signaling Emily’s departure. She’s holding the Starbucks cup. Her eyes find Andy’s.
“That tapping was annoying you, too, wasn’t it?” Andy stands and walks around her desk. Ready to do whatever Miranda bids.
“The latte has cooled.” Miranda says instead of answering the obvious.
“You can’t drink it scalding hot. That would burn even your tongue.” Andy hears the impropriety of the words as soon as they leave her mouth. She feels the blush crawling up the back of neck.
Miranda arches an eyebrow and her blue eyes twinkle. Her lips twitch but she doesn’t smile.
Andy’s stomach fills with butterflies at the realization that Miranda likes impudence. Or doesn’t mind it in private and small doses.
Miranda takes a small, delicate sip of the latte. Her face immediately scrunching in distaste. Andy thinks she would spit the drink out if she weren’t standing there watching every movement. Instead, Miranda swallows what’s in her mouth quickly and as primly as possible.
“You don’t like coffee do you?” But it’s more a statement than a question. Andy has enough evidence to point to the fact she doesn’t care for the beverage at all.
“I’ve tried to,” Miranda offers without thought. “Everyone likes coffee.”
Andy marvels at her. That she would compromise even this tiny thing seems incongruous to her persona. “You don’t have to like it just because most people do.”
Those blue eyes cut to hers. “If I concede this small thing, there’s no need to concede anything bigger.”
And it feels like they’re having some other conversation. About something much more important than coffee.
“I don’t think you have any need to worry about your preferences anymore, Miranda.” And that doesn’t come out quite how Andy intends, but she doesn’t try to resay the words.
“Yes. Well.” She flutters her hand and is already dismissing Andy. She’s already throwing the latte in the trash and moving back into her space, shifting easily out of Andy’s space.
“I can get you anything you want.” Andy says it all at once without a breath between the words. She doesn’t want to be dismissed out of this conversation. She needs Miranda to know. Know what exactly, she’s not sure. But, it’s important.
Miranda turns back to Andy, stopped between the threshold of her office. Her eyes lazily trace the contours of Andy’s face.
Andy stands still and traces Miranda with her eyes, too. Because, if Miranda can look at her like that, she can certainly return the favor of an unmitigated regard.
The space between them seems to both expand and condense. An impossibility, Andy knows, but it feels that way. Like the universe is pushing them together and pulling them apart, allowing them to make a choice of which direction they choose to go.
“Hmm—” Miranda half turns, eyes still on Andy, “—maybe you can.”
Reality snaps back into place. Miranda is seated behind her desk before Andy shuffles back to her desk to wait on a command.
Andy’s heart beats erratically in her chest and she doesn’t know a lot of things about much of anything at this moment…
Except that Miranda hates coffee.
And if that universal truth is untrue. Then, anything, anything is possible.