Poor judgment was reserved for other people-- people who made rash decisions and had no common sense and who put little thought into choices and consequences. Not people like Andy Sachs. People like Andy were smart and rational.
Except, apparently, on nights like these. People like Andy had the good sense to stay indoors.
Andy, on the other hand, was trudging around the Upper East Side in the middle of an ice storm.
In Andy's defense, she hadn't actually known that there would be an ice storm. Ice storms were unpredictable and therefore Andy couldn’t be considered entirely idiotic for choosing to follow a lead at eleven o'clock on a Thursday night.
The lead turned out to be a bust and, to make the night worse, the freezing rain was really starting to hurt. The ice felt like razors slicing into her face, ripping her open, raw and numb. She kept her head low, her eyes staring at each hazardous step she took on the pavement. The sheets of black ice crunched beneath her sensible Doc Martens (see? not entirely idiotic) and as she crossed her arms tightly to her chest for warmth, she snuck a glance at the road.
The good news? There were no cars to speak of. Avoiding the possibility of a car skidding off the road and pinning her against a telephone pole was a definitely relief.
The bad news? There were no cabs either, meaning she'd be forced to face the elements a little longer.
Andy was beginning to panic. It wouldn't be so bad if she'd had the option of ducking into a restaurant or a coffee shop, but being this late at night and this far uptown meant that her options were seriously limited. She still had a considerable hike to go before she reached the subway.
She lost the option of calling for a ride ten minutes ago when her frozen fingers fumbled with the buttons on her Blackberry and dropped the small phone on the ground. It slid two feet down the sidewalk and fell into the gutter.
As she began to consider the possibility of freezing to death in front of a posh brownstone, she ran the headlines in her head. "Journalist Becomes First Human Ice Sculpture." "Ice Storm Claims Life of Idiotic Journalist." "Mummified Journalist Discovered by Chihuahua." "Former Runway Assistant--"
Miranda only lived a few blocks away. It would take fifteen less minutes to reach her townhouse than it would to reach the subway station.
The remaining functional part of her brain reminded her that it might be extremely imprudent to beg for the help of a former employer. And it was Miranda Priestly of all people and Andy somehow suspected that she might be the type of woman who would watch Andy freeze to death on her stoop from the warmth of her living room.
As Andy volleyed pros and cons in her brain, she slipped, falling on her knees. She could feel the give of the denim at her knees, tearing and allowing the ice to bruise and cut at her flesh. She swore, inventing a few new cuss words, and decided she'd rather brave Miranda Priestly than impending doom in the storm.
Walking to the townhouse seemed to take hours. A tree branch fell a few yards in front of her, startling her so badly that she slipped again, this time landing on her ass. She blinked back tears, worried that they'd freeze in her eyes.
As she neared the Priestly home, her body shook violently. Nerves and freezing to death from the inside out definitely was not a good combination. She stood in front of the stairs, gazing up at the front door. She could see a light on and would have let out a sigh of relief if her lungs didn't feel like they'd explode.
Though there were only a few steps, it seemed never-ending. Perhaps this was how she'd die; she's make it to the top, slip, and break her neck before being frozen to the bottom step. She wondered who would find her first. Roy? The twins? Miranda?
Andy precariously took each step, thanking every religious deity she could think of as she made it closer to the door. She was whispering thanks to Krishna as she made it to the top step and stood in front of the door. She considered going back until a seven-inch icicle dropped from above, slicing into the fabric of her charcoal pea coat.
She raised her hand, surprised to find that it was already balled into a fist. She couldn't feel her fingers. She began to knock on the door and winced, feeling as though every bone in her hand were shattering.
Andy felt out of time. She knocked, her head heavy and numb and her hand broken into a thousand pieces. No one was coming. She'd die out here.
She wasn't sure how she came to be crouched on her knees. She slouched against the doorframe, pressing a few exhausted raps against the door. Curling into the fetal position, Andy pressed her forehead into the door and blocked out most of the freezing rain.
"What in God's--Andrea?"
Andy blinked, staring up into the face of Miranda Priestly, before the blackness descended.
She didn't pass out, per se. If she had, she wouldn't have been conscious to feel Miranda's surprisingly strong arms wrap around her midsection or walk her into the guest bedroom on the second floor.
She was dizzy and disconnected and floating somewhere high above her body. It was a shame, too, because Miranda's deft hands were pulling off her wet clothes. The pea coat was flung aside. Her combat boots were dropped to the floor. Her horrendous plaid flannel shirt was quickly unbuttoned and cast off, shortly followed by the long-sleeve shirt beneath it. She really wanted to have been able to enjoy Miranda's reddened cheeks (a blush? Did Andy make that up?) as she contemplated whether or not to remove her bra. She did.
Miranda worked on her jeans next, which proved to be quite the feat. The wet denim stuck to her like a second skin and without Andy's assistance, Miranda grunted (no, Miranda didn't grunt…) as she struggled to get it off. Andy really would have liked to enjoy the look on Miranda's face when she finally freed Andy's legs, but she began to shiver uncontrollably at that point and began to rub her arms frantically to generate heat.
"Don't rub your arms."
"S-s-so c-c-old," Andy mumbled, crouching forward. Under normal pretenses, she'd be freaking out about being in front of Miranda Priestly in her skivvies. But, possibly being hypothermic was definitely not normal. And Miranda being nurturing? That was borderline Twilight Zone.
"Lift your arms," Miranda said, and Andy did as she was told, raising her stiff, numb arms above her head. She blinked, surprised that she'd only managed to life her arms partway.
It seemed to be good enough for Miranda, who passed a towel over Andy's body. She was gently caressing the cloth against every inch of damp skin. After quickly toweling Andy's hair, Miranda set to dressing her. She began by pulling a thick cotton shirt over her head. Andy was vaguely surprised that Miranda owned cotton pajamas. She seemed like the silk type. As the fabric slid around her body, she marveled at its smoothness. It must be eight million count or something.
It was with great effort that Miranda maneuvered the matching cotton pants around Andy's legs and hips. Andy vaguely enjoyed watching her struggle. It was probably the most physical work she'd done in a year.
"Get under the duvet. I will be back in a moment."
"Can't I just get into a hot shower? Or a furnace?"
"Not until I check with a physician." Miranda's eyes were stern. "Under the blankets. Now."
Andy's body jerked violently as a sudden chill snapped her body in half. Miranda turned down the bed and assisted Andy in shifting under the thick comforter. It felt like a matting of air. Her body felt frozen.
"I'll be right back."
Andy nodded and curled her aching body into the fetal position, pulling the thick comforter over her head. Cupping her hands, she blew her breath between them, looking forward to the moment she'd feel her fingers again.
Was this really happening?
The weight of the bed shifted and Andy furrowed her brow. Miranda was back already? She peeped her head over the top of the blanket and gasped to find herself staring into the large brown eyes of a St. Bernard.
Patricia panted and settled her weight onto the bed with a heavy flop. Within seconds she was asleep and Andy, vaguely aware of the dog's considerable bulk and warmth, curled her body around it. She pressed her face into the freshly shampooed fur and shivered again, her eyelids drooping heavily. She was tired. So tired.
Patricia huffed and shifted, snuggling further into comfort of the mattress and plush duvet. Andy wondered if this were some sort of luxury for the dog. She somehow didn't believe that Miranda Priestly would stand for animals on the furniture. Of course, that didn't explain why Patricia had shown up out of the blue, but Andy didn't really care. The dog was warm and that was all that mattered.
"Will I ever be w-warm again?" Andy mumbled.
Andy blinked and felt as though she should turn around to face Miranda but couldn't find the strength.
Andy pouted as the dog jumped off the bed and watched as she trotted towards her mistress. Miranda stood in the doorway, a mug in one hand and a dog treat in the other. "Good girl. Downstairs."
Patricia eagerly accepted the treat and obediently left.
"Sit up. You need to drink some tea."
"I hate tea."
"You show up on my doorstep and you're going to refuse my hospitality?" Miranda set the mug on the nightstand. "Up."
Andy realized that any generosity on Miranda's part should be taken advantage of and pulled herself into a sitting position with a grunt.
"My physician believes you might have a mild hypothermia."
Andy sipped the scalding tea and hissed as it burned her tongue. "Should I go to the hospital?"
"If your symptoms worsen, yes." Miranda sat beside Andy, studying her intently. "Drink."
"Are you sure it's not serious? I feel like death."
"Don't be overdramatic. Your color is already starting to return."
"I didn't realize it had left."
Miranda rolled her eyes. "We'll leave the blue lips to the drag queens, shall we? It doesn't suit you."
"It was as bad as that?"
Miranda nodded. "How long were you out there?"
Andy creased her brow, straining to remember. Her head hurt. "I--I don't know. Not long. Thirty minutes maybe?"
Miranda shook her head. "Do you have any idea how foolish that was?"
"It's not like I planned on trotting about in an ice storm." The tea wasn't that bad. It tasted citrusy.
"This is serious, Andrea. You made an incredibly dangerous, rash decision."
"What's it matter to you?"
Miranda paused. "It…matters. Last winter a classmate of my daughters was killed in an ice storm. They were greatly affected by it."
A child. That stung worse than the nicks on her face. "That's awful."
"Yes, it was."
"I'm sorry. I--are the twins here?"
"Winter break. With their grandmother."
Andy nodded knowingly, thinking back to the days when she'd been privy to that information. "Are they well?"
Andy stared at the cup. "Why are you being so nice to me?"
"I don't know. You certainly don't deserve it after the way you left my employ."
Miranda held up a hand. "No. Not tonight. We can have that discussion another time."
Andy opened her mouth but promptly closed it. "You didn't have to let me in."
"I couldn't very well leave you to freeze on my doorstep. The press would have had a field day."
Andy sneered into her cup. The tea lost its sweet flavor. She took another large swallow and, draining the mug, set it on the nightstand. She shrunk into the bed and lifted the covers over her head.
"Don't be a child, Andrea," Miranda said, pulling back the blanket. She raised an eyebrow. "Did you really think I'd leave you to the elements?"
"Is based on speculation. I would have thought you'd know better."
Andy shrugged and looked away.
"You could at least pretend to be grateful."
"I am grateful! What do you want me to do, kiss your feet? Bow? I'm sorry, Miranda…I had nowhere else to go. I was cold and scared and in pain…"
"And you came here."
"Yea, well, the subway was too far away."
Miranda pursed her lips and nodded, looking down at her hands in her lap.
"I don’t want to fight with you," Andy mumbled, guilt settling like a rock in her gut.
"Nor do I." Miranda licked her lips. "Do you feel warmer?"
"Can you touch your pinky to your thumb?"
Andy held up her hand and attempted it. With some effort she managed to bring the two together.
"Good. That's a good sign."
"I should go."
"Don't be absurd, Andrea."
"I don't want to impose on you."
"You have already. There isn't much more that you can do."
Andy sighed and pushed down the blanket, swinging her heavy legs over the side of the bed. "Why do you have to do that?"
"Do what?" Miranda stood. "Lie back down."
"That." Andy stood, her body swaying slightly. Okay. So standing wasn't that great of an idea.
"Back in bed. You will spend the night. You can make some grand exit in the morning." Miranda pulled the blanket back over Andy's body as she resettled against the pillow.
Andy watched Miranda flip off the light switch and stalk back towards the bed, settling in on the other side. "What are you doing?"
"Body heat will help raise your temperature."
"Oh." A shiver of another kind coursed down Andy's body as Miranda pressed her body against Andy's.
"Will you explain to me now what your outburst was about?"
"You have these moments of being all normal and kind and human and then you go…cold."
"Page Six does call me 'The Ice Queen.'"
"Yea, well, they didn't make that up all on their own. You don't have to become what the papers call you. You just have to be you."
"Perhaps that's all I am."
"Ice queens don't take care of idiotic girls who abandoned them."
Miranda was silent for a moment and then her arm circled around Andy's waist. "Perhaps I'm thawing."
"I don't have an answer to that question."
Andy turned around, staring at Miranda in the darkness of the room. Her silver forelock had fallen over her eye. She'd have brushed it aside if her arm didn't feel as though it were encased in cement. "Because of me?"
"I don't know."
Andy nodded, her chest heavy.
"I really am sorry. For everything."
Miranda nodded and pulled Andy against her, rubbing her hand in circles over Andy's back. Andy curled onto her side, resting her head on Miranda's shoulder as she stroked absently at her cold, damp hair.
"You could have died."
Miranda's voice was low. Broken.
"But I didn't."
"But you could have."
"I could die any time. I could die on the subway or in Starbucks. Death happens."
Miranda shook as if meaning to protest. Andy looked into Miranda's face, searching for some sign, some access into Miranda's thoughts.
"You could have died," Miranda repeated with a whisper.
And then Miranda's hands were cupping her cheeks and her mouth was on hers and they were kissing, hot and desperate. Andy's lips felt raw and chapped and rough but she didn't care because Miranda's tongue was sliding into her mouth and it burned everywhere it touched.
It was as though Miranda were kissing the life back into her.
Miranda released Andy's mouth and turned her attention to Andy's neck, biting and sucking and pressing the flat of her tongue against her pulse. Miranda's hands slid down Andy's side, gripping at her waist and hips, pulling her close. Where Andy was cold, Miranda was scorching. She'd never had taken Miranda to be so…warm-blooded.
Andy's fingers ached as she attempted to cup Miranda's cheek. She groaned in frustration, wanting nothing more than to touch the woman who had all but saved her life.
"Let me," Miranda mumbled, taking Andy's hand on her own. She pressed it above Andy's head and kissed her once more, her mouth searching and taking more. Always more.
Andy's head spun. The goosebumps that had broken her skin the minute the rain hit her body returned and she shivered. Miranda bit her lip and, without hesitation, slid her hand into Andy's pants.
The second Miranda's fingers touched her sex, she felt on fire. She spread her legs, gasping as Miranda simultaneously stroked her clit and began to grind her hips against Andy's thigh. Miranda's motions were frenzied; she kissed and stroked and rocked as if she'd die without it.
"You can't--unh--leave--me--" Miranda gasped, sucking Andy's bottom lip into her mouth. "Not again."
"I'm here," whispered Andy, arching her hips into Miranda's hand. Her undulation forced her thigh further between Miranda's and the other woman moaned.
Miranda's fingers worked furiously, fumbling through Andy's slick folds with a discombobulated sort of focus. It was clear that Miranda had never done this before and the knowledge gave Andy a surge of pleasure that she'd been the one to ignite an unbridled passion in New York's Ice Queen. She was obscenely wet and, as Miranda began to make short, quick gasps in her ear, she knew she was on the verge of coming.
"M'randa…I'm--ooh--I'm gonna---yes--I'm gonna--" Before Andy could tell Miranda just what she was about to do, she did it. She came with a loud cry, her body convulsing in sharp, quick pulses. Her entire body tensed and released with such a force that she felt completely drained. As her body shook, Miranda let go. She drove her hips hard against Andy's thigh, riding it until she came with a strangled cry that sounded remarkably like 'Andy.'
Both women breathed deeply. Andy's chest burned, her lungs attempting to accommodate the much needed air from having previously only come in slow, shallow breaths. Miranda, on the other hand, was exhaling sharply against her neck. Andy shivered.
"Are you still cold?"
"Not so much anymore."
Miranda's lips twitched against Andy's neck. She wondered if she was smiling. "Good. You should get some sleep."
"What about you?"
"I'm not the one who frolicked about in an ice storm."
"I wasn't frolicking. I was following a lead."
"And look at where it got you."
"I can't really say that I mind." Andy looked up at Miranda, holding her breath.
Miranda's face was blank for a moment before she smiled. "Nor can I."
Andy wiggled her fingers through Miranda's hair.
She felt warm.
She felt alive.