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The Best Part of Me

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The Best Part of Me

 

Andy sat on the loveseat at the townhouse.  The wine was poured.  Her shoes were off.  There were several binders on the low coffee table in front of her.  Her laptop beside her as she waited.  The door opened and Andy’s heart sped up. 

“Mmm, good evening.  Have you been waiting long?  Greg just had to drone on about the girls’ latest science projects.”  Miranda sat down, absently picking up the glass of wine and sipping.  “Oh now, that is lovely.  Just what I was craving.  How did you know?” 

Andy chuckled before responding, “You usually need a drink after you see Greg.  I’ve set up the sketches and the latest layout for you.  I’ve also got next week’s schedule ready.” 

Miranda sat and Andy observed the lovely length of her legs.  It had been two years since Paris.  She almost walked away, but knew she would regret it if she did.  So instead, she grew up.  She had confronted Miranda about Nigel and to her great shock, the woman had actually apologized to her friend.  She and Nigel had actually repaired a friendship that had been suffering under the weight of too much work for some time.   

Now, they worked together with Andy as the First Assistant and Miranda occasionally gave her editorial work.  Private editorial lessons with Miranda were worth fetching coffee or 2 am phone calls.  Not only that, but they had developed this rapport between them. 

It wasn’t so farfetched to say they had a sort of friendship.  It also wasn’t farfetched to say  Andy wanted more.  She wanted it all.  She was hoping Miranda wanted the same thing.   

“I do rather love this shoot. A’lin’s designs are highlighted beautifully.  You were correct about the backdrop.  I was worried about the industrial nature of the concrete but it works well with her textures and fabric choices.”  Miranda nodded very slightly. “I may just make you into a passable editor for Fashion yet.” 

Andy grinned widely. “Oh, my greatest dream come true,” she teased. 

Miranda rolled her eyes. “One day, I will impress upon you the true importance of this industry.  One day you will understand.  Until then…I fear you are doomed to continue fetching my coffee.” 

Andy snorted, handing over the next file to Miranda. “Yeah, your coffee, your dry cleaning, taking the twins to the store for school supplies…what else is new?” 

Miranda adjusted her glasses, “Ungrateful,” she answered in a sing-song voice. 

Andy smirked, settling back against the loveseat. “ Realistic.”  But then her tone changed, becoming serious, “Miranda, you know I don’t mind doing those things for you, right?  I mean-“

 

She was cut off as Miranda raised vivid blue eyes from the layout.  Hawk’s eyes, they saw almost everything.  Miranda’s eyes warmed perceptibly while she regarded Andy, “I know.  Do not think your efforts are…unappreciated.  It…pleases me how well you adapt to the things I need from you.”   

Miranda rose smoothly, “Which reminds me.  This came in through Naomi.  Vanity Fair is accepting submissions for a small piece.  It should suit your need for 'serious' writing.”  She quipped, handing the card to the young woman before taking her seat again.

Andy’s eyes grew wide as saucers, “You think I’m ready to freelance?” 

“If I didn’t, would you be holding the email address to the EIC of said publication?  Do close your mouth, Andréa.  Gaping is not attractive on you.” 

Andy resisted the urge to pull Miranda up from the couch and dance around the room with her.  It was true she had done some editing work for Runway, but she’d not yet submitted her own pieces.  “Miranda, this is…beyond...” 

Miranda waved away the words, “It is nothing more than a chance.  Make good use of it.” 

Andy bit her lip, “Would-would you look at it before I submit it?” 

A soft look came into the editor’s eyes, “I suppose, if you feel you must.” 

Andy felt happiness radiate from her chest to her very fingers.  Miranda was going to look at her work.  She was going to help her with submitting a real piece.  And she looked happy about it. 

Arriving home that night, Andy didn’t resist any more. She put the music on in her apartment and danced around the ancient furniture like a fool. 

Maybe…just maybe, Miranda wasn’t as oblivious as she had always seemed? 

She fell asleep that night smiling and dreamed of showing her article in print to a joyful Miranda.

___

Miranda arrived at Runway the next morning and a luminous Andréa was waiting for her in the corridor leading to her office.  The girl was very easy to read and she had earned the chance that Miranda was giving her.  The young woman’s writing style had matured and she showed a natural ability to edit that enhanced a piece, rather than simply cut for length.  She was able to restructure certain passages to bring scattered thoughts together.  In short, she had actual talent.   

“Andréa, do make sure that the new racks are brought up from the closet….what they sent up yesterday….was just so abominably unsuitable that it makes me question the taste of the entire department.”  She swung her coat off, dropping it on the second assistant’s desk.  “Confirm with Donatella  for the 28th, but do remind her that I’m only available in the late afternoon.  Get tickets for that show the girls’ wanted to see for next weekend.  And then let the photographers know that I’ll want to see their proofs by the end of the week.” 

Andy nodded taking notes as Miranda fired off everything she needed for the day in the span it took to get from the elevator to her office, “Yes, Miranda.  You’ve got a lunch meeting at Smith and Wolensky’s today at 1 pm.  Roy will be ready for you by 12:30 and he’ll be there by 1:45 to pick you up.” 

Miranda looked up from her desk and tried very hard to smirk.  She remembered when she had gotten her first break.  She had felt invincible.  No doubt Andréa was feeling quite the same this morning, “I also expect to see the beginnings of a first draft for your submission.  Be to the townhouse with it by 8 tonight.” 

She could see she had surprised the young woman.  Her head bobbed in an exaggerated nod, “Sure…first draft of a 1500 word submission by tonight….ready for you to look at.”  To anyone else, Andréa looked quite confident and put together but Miranda knew her facial features extremely well. She was not quite panicking but definitely stressed. 

Miranda tried very hard to maintain her professional detachment but part of her really wanted to laugh,  “Really, Andréa…you can do anything right?” 

Miranda sat at her desk going through various layouts, photos and sketches.  From time to time, she could hear Andréa mutter under her breath and there would be a furious flurry from her keyboard.  Normally, she would not allow an employee the leeway needed to work from their desk on pet projects. But just this once, and because the office continued to run smoothly, she allowed Andréa the time.  That would all change if even a single call went to voicemail or there was any other similar stumble.

Vanity Fair was no Runway, after all.

That being said she was quite looking forward to this evening and seeing what the young woman could produce under pressure.  She tried not to think of exactly how much she was looking forward to it.  They had grown closer over the past few years that was true. 

It was….a mentoring relationship, Miranda assured herself.  Yes, that would explain everything including the idea that she had a certain fondness for Andréa.  It couldn’t possibly mean anything more than that.   The denial sounded hollow to even her own ears and so she did what she learned to do at a young age.  She put the uncomfortable thoughts aside and focused on what she did best.

Runway and her girls...what more did she need in her life? 
___

Andy sat at her desk, self-editing and correcting, deleting and rewriting her draft.  She had chosen to write about the imminent teacher’s strike and the impact on the students.  It was a topic she was interested in and something she knew she could present to Miranda eventually.   

The problem was that she was presenting it to Miranda.  The Devil herself.  Queen of the Red Pen that was wielded like a scalpel performing surgical excisions with ease.  What had she been thinking, asking Miranda to look it over? 

Running her hand over her face, she realized she still had an hour before she absolutely had to leave for the Townhouse.  Turning back to the screen she tried to decide if her conclusion would work better as her opener. 

“Andy, what are you still doing here?”  Sarah asked, arriving from Art Department carrying tomorrow's samples.   She dropped the samples on her own desk and rested against her hip. 

Andy looked up and smiled at the young British woman.  When Emily had been replaced by Andy, Andy was tasked with finding her own replacement.  That was two years ago.  She had recruited Sarah on a recommendation from Emily.  Secretly, she believed Miranda had been amused to have another British woman in the department.  Although that was as far as their similarities went.  Fond of the look of a tailored men’s suit, Sarah was a breath of fresh air. 

“I’m working on a freelance article and I have to show it to Miranda tonight…and it’s not right and she’s going to laugh me out of the townhouse.  She’ll probably tell me not to submit anything.  God!”  Andy dropped her head to her desk her voice having risen to a squeak in her anxiety. 

“You know Andy, she already knows what you can do.  She watches you all the time.  The pair of you…always watching each other.  It’s bloody unnerving.  You finish each other’s sentences.”  Andy looked up to see Sarah with her head cocked  and arms across her chest, “I don’t think she’ll toss you from the townhouse.   

Andy felt her face heat up.  They finished each other’s sentences?  Well, that much was true sometimes anyway.  But it didn’t mean anything.  Andy watched as Sarah answered her phone, her accent far more pleasant then her predecessor's.  Emily tended to be shrill…Sarah was calming.  “Well, that’s me.  The Book’s ready.  An early night for a change.  Donna’ll be thrilled.” 

Andy smiled at the obvious affection Sarah held for her wife.  Jumping up she stopped Sarah before she could head out, “Leave the Book, I’ll bring it with me tonight.  It makes no sense for both of us to go across town.” 

She was rewarded as Sarah’s whole face brightened, “Thank you.  That’s fantastic.”  Sarah grabbed her topcoat and stopped at the door, “Listen, don’t worry about it.  She expects it to be rough.  That’s why she wants you to bring it to her.  You’ll be amazing.”


Andy watched fondly as the young woman made her way to the elevator.  “Five hundred words to go….how hard can it be?” 

Sitting back down she was determined that Miranda would have something passable by the time she had to go to the townhouse.  Try as she might to concentrate her mind kept returning to Sarah’s quizzical look.  Maybe…just maybe Miranda knew how Andy felt? 

It was true she didn't go out of her way to hide it but Miranda had never let on that she was aware of anything other than a professional relationship coming from her. 

____

Andy sat quietly chewing her lip and trying very hard not to breathe.  She had her shoes off and her feet up on the small sofa.  She was watching Miranda, with her red pen and post it notes.  It was nothing new because she’d been present countless times when Miranda was editing.  The difference was this was the first time that red pen was directed at her work. It  was more nerve-wracking than she thought it would be. 

“Andréa, what is your obsession with the word 'as'?" Miranda asked, tracing the cap of her pen over her lips.  “You can do so much better than that.” She tsked striking the pen through yet another line. 

Andy tried not to fidget.  Miranda had not raised her eyes once from the hard copy she was working with.  Occasionally, she would make some side comment or a little amused noise.  She also seemed to be making a lot of notes.   

It was fascinating to watch her work, but it was also causing Andy’s stomach to roil with acid.  It wasn’t like Andy had never submitted her work before or ever had something she wrote dissected.  But never by Miranda Priestly.  Andy shifted minutely and reached for the glass of wine on the table. 

Miranda had offered it to her with a sharks grin before they started.  So far she had only sipped at it, but she had the feeling she was going to need the buffer that the alcohol gave her.  Taking a healthy swallow, she breathed deeply and tried to relax.  She allowed her mind to drift pleasantly. 

“Andréa, do pay attention now,”  Miranda said wryly. 

Andy’s eyes snapped open and she realized she had no idea how long she’d allowed herself to daydream.  “Sorry Miranda,”  Andy said, “It’s been a long day.” 

Miranda’s mouth twitched in an approximation of a smile, “And I’m sure you did not get a great deal of rest last evening.”  Andy felt her cheeks heat and knew she was blushing, “I remember well the first time I was given a chance to prove myself.  I was up until three a.m. every evening trying to decide between two entirely different layout choices, and I was convinced that neither would be correct.  It was seemed to be a trap.” 

“So, how did you decide?” Andy asked feeling a sense of comfort replace the nerves of the past hour.  “I mean, obviously you figured something out!” 

Miranda sipped her own wine, “Hmm, yes,”  She smirked meeting Andy’s eyes directly, “I created a third option and submitted that one.”

 Andy’s whole body shook with laughter and she groaned as the tension in her shoulders let go, “Of course you did!  Was it accepted?” 

Miranda nodded, “Oh yes, after the EIC at the time decided to call me on the carpet for extreme hubris he did indeed use the new layout.  And that was how I became a Junior Editor at Vogue.” 

“Wow, Vogue?  I can’t believe I didn’t know you worked at Vogue?”  Andy said, leaning forward. 

“Forever ago, of course.  Long before Runway was even a thought.  But my point, Andréa, is everyone must start somewhere.  And this,” She gestured with her red pen to Andy’s article, “Is definitely a start.  Now come, let’s go over this.  I want you to understand why I’m cutting what I am.” 

Andy’s mind was blown.  Miranda was not only editing her work but she was choosing to explain herself?  She’d be stupid to resist, and yet she found she couldn’t move from her spot on the couch, “Um…” 

Miranda’s signature eyebrow rose, “How silly of me.”  Andy watched with a mix of horror, trepidation and glee as Miranda rose smoothly picked up her article, her pen and her wine and moved to sit directly beside her on the couch.  “You could hardly perch on the arm of my chair.  Now, let’s begin.  This line here is extraneous.  You’re repeating yourself and the previous line has far more impact if you let it stand alone.  Do you see?” 

Andy nodded and dared to ask, “But the word count Miranda.  How do I make up the words I’m going to lose?  They wanted 1500 words.” 

Miranda’s blue eyes sparkled and she leaned in almost as if she was sharing a secret, “Ah yes, the ever present word count.  Would it surprise you if I told you that most word count submissions take into account the idea that the editor will cut it by at least a third?” 

Andy inhaled sharply, “So you mean they build in a buffer?  They really expect a thousand words?”  At Miranda’s smirk, Andy looked outraged, “I’ve been killing myself to get to 1500 words!  I could have done this in 1200 words! Oh my god!”   

Miranda laughed delightedly, “Well, not all writers are as disciplined as you are.  Now, let’s get back to it, shall we?” 

Andy leaned further into Miranda’s space and tried not to swoon as her signature scent engulfed her.  She no longer cared if her article was accepted…it was all worth it just for this moment.  These spaces of time alone with Miranda when she was almost treated as an equal made up the best parts of her days.  And her nights.   

The more she was with Miranda, the harder it was not to believe that the woman didn’t realize how Andy felt.  It had to be obvious.  So, despite herself, Andy had hope that maybe she was just waiting until Andy was a little more professionally settled before she made her move.  For now,  she contented herself with this time spent almost cozily with Miranda in her home.   

They worked together so well, even while Miranda shredded Andy’s article.  Occasionally, Miranda would cut something and Andy would fight back and make her case.  Miranda would consider and occasionally she would concede to Andy.  Those little victories were hard won and Andy couldn’t help but feel proud.  

Miranda almost seemed proud of her too.  Her eyes would light up when they debated and she would grow thoughtful.  Then she would render a final verdict.  When it went Andy’s way, she would concede with only slightly pursed lips, and Andy would have to restrain herself from cheering. When Miranda would decide in her own favor she would smirk, and Andy would sulk. 

It was almost fun. A kind of game between them of give and take.  Odd, yes, but for them it appeared to work because Miranda Priestly never spent extra time doing something she didn't want to.  She even had a set list of ready-made excuses to get her out of meetings with Irv!  So to be debating the merits of the use of the word "as" or when the need for a transition was present...had to be pleasant for her.  Andy felt her chest warm at the thought.

Finally, Miranda marked the last set of edits down and raised her eyes, “Change nothing else.  Send it exactly like this.  I must say, for a first draft it was not entirely deplorable.” 

Andy wanted to dance and shout, but instead she nodded at Miranda, trying to keep her voice calm, she instead answered, “Thank you so much.  I didn’t realize how much time you really put into what you do.  I mean…ok, that sounded dumb…of course I know how much time…I guess I mean.”  She broke off as Miranda tilted her head and waited, “I never thought you were careless…don’t get me wrong.  But I never realized how difficult it really is for you.  You think about EVERYTHING.  A comma, a period, word placement and thought flow."  Andy’s eyes grew soft as she smiled warmly, “It’s really true.  No one can do what you do.  Thank you for helping me.” 

Miranda flushed slightly before handing back the draft, “It’s experience, Andréa.  Experience and some natural talent.  Give yourself time to grow into your own talent and you will be fierce.” 

Andy felt herself flush all over again, “But for now, I really should go.  You’ve spent all evening with me and I know you have that meeting with A’lin tomorrow at 8.  Don’t worry I’ll push Nigel’s team back by two hours to give you time to catch up.  And I’ll reschedule Thakoon.  He prefers the afternoon anyway.” 

Miranda hummed her agreement and thanks all in one while she accompanied Andy to the door, “Goodnight, Andréa.  Be careful and I will see you tomorrow.  And do make certain Sarah fetches Starbucks please.” 

“Of course, Miranda,”  Andy grinned before walking out into the night.  As if either of them would ever forget Miranda’s coffee!  Tonight had been eye-opening, working with Miranda and refining her ideas.   

Biting her lip, she wondered yet again.  Miranda couldn’t really be clueless, could she?  She had to know how Andy felt.  The question now was what should Andy do about it?

___

Miranda sat and watched as Andréa made her way down the street towards the nearest train station.  She should have called Roy for the girl.  It was well after 11 pm.  Shaking her head at her own lack of foresight, she watched until Andréa was out of sight and then headed up to get ready for bed.  It was rather late and she still had the book to go through. 

Twenty minutes later, she was resting on a pile of pillows, notes and red pen beside her while she worked.  It had been a most enjoyable evening for her.  Secretly, Miranda had always enjoyed teaching her craft.  It was just that there weren't many she felt warranted her spending her time on.

Now Andréa, she was different.  Her article had shown real talent and her own self-editing skills were solid.  Her red pen continued to work almost absentmindedly while her thoughts continued to dwell on her evening.  The girl had shown a willingness to learn, as well as a keen mind.  She had taken the criticism stoically but had stood up for herself when she felt it necessary.

Miranda could respect that.  In fact, if she were completely honest she found it quite appealing.  And that...that could be a problem.  Miranda sighed and pulled of her glasses, closing her eyes and resting her head in her hand.  What was she thinking?  She could feel the nerves in her stomach as she thought about the idea of exploring her attraction to Andréa. 

This was ridiculous!  The two of them had a remarkable working relationship that was quite comfortable.  There was no way her First Assistant could harbor any attraction for her whatsoever.  It didn't matter that she would occasionally catch Andréa staring at her, or that the girl would blush sometimes before meeting Miranda's eyes.

It didn't matter that Miranda found her beautiful and intriguing, or that she was more comfortable with her than with any other adult in her life.  It couldn't matter that Andréa got along better with her girls than their own father did.

No, none of that could matter, but perhaps her unconscious was trying to tell her something. She had never been attracted to a woman before.  The fact that this particular woman was years younger than herself?   It had been two years since Stephen had left.  Andréa was a young woman who was an exceptional assistant that could anticipate her needs.  Everyone else around her was too busy being blinded by her, either adoring or hating her.  Perhaps, it was simply having the young woman's respect, without the added flavor of fear and desperate need to please, that was the cause for her affinity.  Maybe it was time she started exploring her options?  Yes, that had to be it.

At fifty-two, she still had certain...needs.  Maybe that was all her current fixation on Andréa meant? 

That would explain the dreams she'd been experiencing recently as well.  She felt her cheeks heat up as she remembered the last one.  All diaphanous shapes and colors, faint scents and sensuous textures, but the sounds...

Oh yes, she remembered the sounds.  The woman's voice calling her name...the same voice she had heard every day for nearly three years.

Andréa calling her name in pleasure.  The first night, Miranda woke in a sweat...gasping...her body tingling in ways she hadn't felt in years.  She'd been forced to deal with...it. 

The following day, she'd sent Andréa out of the office early and kept the girl out of it for most of the day.  That had been over six months ago.  Now the dreams came frequently, sometimes as often as three times a week. 

Miranda set the book on her night table, turned off the light and settled into her bed.  Every time she closed her eyes she would see a flash of Andréa.  Her eyes, her smile...the inquisitive way she watched as Miranda edited her work.  The intelligent questions...the wit the young woman showed as she relaxed and found the confidence to challenge "The Devil" herself.  Her joy when she won her points and Miranda conceded.  The adorable pout on her lips when Miranda stood firm.

Rolling over with a groan, Miranda forced her pillow into submission, ignoring the obvious effect that the thoughts of Andréa were having on her.  She would sleep, and deal with it all tomorrow. 

___

A month later, and Andy was on Cloud Nine.  She had received the registered letter at her apartment and had hurried back to Runway.  Unfortunately, Miranda had already left for the evening. 

"I know," Sarah grinned leaning her hip against her desk.  "She was out by 6 sharp...pretty much right after she sent you home."  Sarah ran a hand over her hair.  "Normally, I don't mind when she's here but Andy,  she been weird these last few weeks."

Andy had heard this tale from the three previous second assistants.  Miranda was always weird.  Until you got to know her and understand her habits, that is.  "Oh, I'm sure she's fine.  Maybe the twins had something going on?"

Sarah shook her head, "You keep her calendar.  You know they're with their Dad this weekend." Sarah leaned forward, "I'm going to say this and I swear if you ever repeat it, I'll never take the heat again!"

Andy's eyes grew wide.  Sarah was a tech genius, and on more than one occasion when Andy had accidentally deleted something, Sarah had stepped in and saved the day.  Of course, Miranda wasn't always privy to what was going on so all she saw was Sarah loitering at Andy's desk.  To her credit, and Andy's relief, the Brit never ratted her out.

"Ok, deal.  Cross my heart," Andy solemnly swore, grinning as Sarah's eyes danced behind the lenses of her stylish glasses.  Blind without them, the young woman used them as an accessory...it had taken Miranda to point that out to Andy. 

"OK, I think Miranda's seeing someone."  Sarah straightened as Andy broke up in laughter.

'No, no way, Sarah.  I would know!"  Andy softened her words by squeezing the other woman's arm.  "Tell you what...I'm already here, why don't you take off and I'll wait for the book. "

Sarah raised a skeptical eyebrow but Andy waved her on, "Go on. Get out of here before I change my mind!"

Andy watched as the woman fairly sprinted for the door and she sat to wait.  She couldn't wait to show Miranda!

___

It was early really, only 9:30 pm as Miranda opened the door to the townhouse and disengaged the alarm.  She stepped aside to allow her guest to enter.

"Just through here, Mitchell," Miranda spoke softly, leading him from the foyer.  Standing at 6 feet he cut quite a nice figure in his three piece suit.  A very light gray pants, vest, and suit coat set with a simple sea foam green button down shirt and patterned tie, he was rather handsome, she thought.  Even if his color palette was all wrong. His hair was dark and his eyes...well...Miranda prized his eyes most of all. 

Deep and dark, with hints of amber.  Yes, she quite liked those eyes. They had only been seeing each other for a few weeks and perhaps it was rather soon to have him in for a drink, but the restaurant had been dull and neither of them wanted to venture into the theater district.

No, it made far more sense to come here where they could converse easily and Miranda could be comfortable.  She poured his scotch from the decanter and decided to join him.  She indulged in the harder varieties of alcohol so rarely, preferring instead the varied tastes and textures of wine. Carrying the tumblers into the den, she saw that he had made himself comfortable on the sofa she had last shared with Andréa.  Shutting down that train of thought, Miranda sat beside him and handed over the drink she had made for him.

He took the glass and his eyes crinkled appealingly when he smiled at her, "A toast?" She nodded and waited for him as he lifted his glass, "To tonight and the way you make me feel."

Miranda allowed their glasses to touch before she sipped the potent liquid, feeling the alcohol warm her chest even as it burned her throat, "And how is it....that I make you feel?"  She asked, teasingly.  This was a game she knew.  She knew the plays...knew the moves...and she certainly knew the rules.  There were nothing unexpected here.

So, of course, she was not at all surprised when he leaned towards her and kissed her.  It wasn't that it was particularly unpleasant...it just wasn't quite what she expected.  His lips didn't have the softness she yearned for, and the stubble of his chin was rough.  Perhaps, it was only that it had been so long since she'd let another get close enough to her?

Leaning forward herself, now, she set both of their drinks on the table before turning back to kiss him again.  What was it they said?  Practice made perfect.

Miranda prized nothing higher than she did perfection.

____

Andy unlocked the townhouse, slipping her shoes off as she stepped inside.  She clutched the letter tightly to her chest and set the book on the table, holding her shoes in her other hand.  It was late, and those particular Jimmy Choos always caused her calves to ache.  She knew Miranda would be pleased.  She might not show it, but she would be.  She moved smoothly through the foyer, towards the light from the small den Miranda used most often when she was home.  She didn’t want to startle the other woman.  It wasn’t like she was actually expected.

She slipped around the corner and couldn’t stop the gasp.  Her eyes widened as she realized what she was seeing. 

Miranda sitting with some guy, almost in his lap, kissing him passionately.  She was no more than ten feet from the duo and she could smell the subtle scent of Miranda's signature perfume mixing with the acidic male cologne.  The pair was oblivious to Andy, who stood rooted to the spot, her stomach churning and eyes filling with tears.  Holding back a sob, Andy turned and fled to the door.  She paid no attention when it slammed shut behind her.  She didn’t even stop long enough to put her shoes on. 

No, as the tears began to fall in earnest, she made her way to the nearest subway train. Sitting in the almost-deserted last car, her tears still falling, Andy felt her heart break just that little bit more.  She had been so sure that Miranda had known how she felt and actually returned her feelings.  How stupid could she be?

She didn’t want to be by herself with a weekend of loneliness in front of her.  Wiping her eyes and grabbing her phone…there was only one person that would listen and not judge.  Dialing the number by heart, she waited.  On the third ring, he picked up.

“Hey, can we meet somewhere?  I’ve had a really, and I mean a really, bad night.”  Andy listened to the familiar voice and smiled when he gave her directions.

“Thanks, Nigel,”  She said, her voice trembling, “I’ll meet you there.  First rounds on me.”

Disconnecting the call, she wondered again about Miranda.  How blind could she, Andy, have been to think Miranda might have actually cared about her? 

Sighing, she settled back into her seat.  Two more stops, then a change of trains, and she would be able to meet Nigel.

___

 “Let me get this straight,” Nigel asked over the throb of the music, the lights washed over them both.  Despite the bright colors flashing over her, Andy looked diminished somehow.  He did not care for it, not even a little.  “Somehow you developed feelings for the Dragon. Do not make that face at me, missy…she’s my best friend and I can call her names if I want to,” Nigel said as Andy looked mutinous. “And you believed she felt the same way until you walked in on her tonight, riding some mystery man like a pony?”

Andy groaned and downed her shot quickly, “Please don’t say it like that!  But yes, that’s it.”

Nigel nodded.  In truth, it really wasn’t all that weird for Andy to have thought that.  For awhile, he could have sworn Miranda was actually developing those feelings towards the young woman.  She certainly relied far more heavily on Andy than she did any of her previous assistants.  The pair did spend a great deal of time together, and they had a certain camaraderie that was not the norm for Miranda.

So, what had happened to turn it around?  And whomever the mystery man was, he had to be a recent a development because Nigel had never heard of him.  Miranda usually at least let him know if there was a new man on the horizon even if it was only to gloat!  But this time, he was as in the dark as poor Andy.

Speaking of the young woman, he watched as she ordered another round of shots and downed both of them.  At this rate, she wouldn’t be feeling any pain until morning.  And then, she’d be feeling all of the pain.

Shaking his head, he stepped forward to take her arm, “C’mon party animal.  Let’s hit the floor!”

Andy nodded and let Nigel lead her out onto the floor.  He knew how much she loved to dance and thought maybe it would provide a little emotional boost for her.

Nigel watched as Andy effortlessly picked up the beat and moved instinctively to the music.  He had seen her once or twice before, when the Runway crew got together outside of work.  But never before had he witnessed the complete abandon that he was seeing tonight. 

She moved like a woman possessed.  Or, more accurately, like a woman trying to out-dance a broken heart.  There were spins and splits…moves that made his much older hips ache in sympathy, and it was as natural as breathing for the young woman.  Hair whips and twirls garnered the attention of those around her.

While he watched a circle formed, isolating Andy at its center. People calling out encouragement, some clapping to the beat…others whistling and shouting.  He had never seen it happen…not in his 45 years on this earth, but Andy had actually cleared the dance floor. 

That only happened in movies, right?  Well, apparently not, he thought to himself as Andy executed a dizzying spin that ended in a knee drop before she was back up, perfectly on beat and in time to the music. 

She was dazzling.  And she gave him an idea.  Oh, no doubt he would need to talk to Miranda and find out where she stood…but he believed he already knew that.  It would simply take the careful application of a 2x4 to her head to get her to admit it. 

But he could do that. God knows he pulled off the impossible fairly regularly for the Devil.

One song blending into another while Andy danced, and it was over a half hour later that she was beginning to show signs of tiring.  Leading Andy from the floor and back to the table…he ordered up some ice water.  At her rebellious look, he shook a finger in her face.

“Listen young lady, I have an idea to get you your woman…but you need to be sober to follow it.”  He grinned when she sulked, but eventually she picked up her water and drank.  Finally, he looked at her.  Her eyes were clear again…filled with pain, yes…but clear.  She wasn't exactly sober, but she would retain what he told her.

“Listen, this is what we’re going to do.  A’Lin has a minor fashion show in New York next month...” Nigel continued to outline his plan and had the pleasure of watching her disbelief transform into enthusiasm, and finally into hope.

Now, all he had to do was make sure Miranda felt the same about his young friend as he thought she did. That should be simple.  Yeah right, when was anything with Miranda simple?

___

Miranda started at the sound of the door, breaking out of her lust-induced haze.   “Stop,”  Her voice was hoarse and suddenly she was acutely embarrassed.  Here she was making an absolute spectacle of herself.  This wasn’t like her.  What had she been thinking?  “I’m sorry.”  She said standing up and looking anywhere but at the flustered man on her sofa. 

She watched when Mitchell stood, obviously sensing his luck for the evening had run out he nodded, “But-?" Blue eyes flashed fire and ice at the same time, "Miranda, what's wrong?  I thought we were pretty well-matched.  Come on now," He tried to smile and stretched out his hand obviously willing Miranda to come back to the sofa with him.

Blue eyes frosted over and when she spoke it was in the same tone she used to berate staff, "Mitchell, please do not make an embarrassing situation even more awkward."  She headed for the door, giving him no choice but to follow.

"I can't claim to understand, but I wish nothing but the best for you.”  She nodded and allowed him to kiss her cheek before he left.  She leaned back against the door and closed her eyes.  What had she been thinking?  It was quite simple.  Obviously she hadn't been.  She spied the book on the table and took it with her.

Well, that was completely mortifying, Miranda thought as she made her way back into the den to gather their glasses. It must have been Sarah who had slammed the door, she mused.  She would have a talk with the Brit in the morning.  Assistants were supposed to be invisible in the Townhouse. Perhaps she should have Andréa start delivering the book again.

Thoughts of the young woman caused Miranda to freeze in place.   The dark-haired, chocolate eyed young woman…groaning, she realized just why she had been so attracted to Mitchell.  It seemed that even if she tried, she couldn’t escape her attraction to Andréa.

Feeling even more the fool, she dropped her head and that was when she spotted something on the floor.  Setting the glasses down, she knelt to pick it up.  It was a certified letter in Andréa’s name…on the floor of her den.  She suddenly felt dizzy.  It couldn’t have been Andréa who brought the book?

Her hands shaking, she opened the letter and read the contents. The young woman’s article had been accepted.  They were going to publish it with very few minor edits to the format.  Bringing her hand to her face, Miranda closed her eyes.

It had been Andréa who had brought the Book, and she had come looking for Miranda.  Eyes snapping open, Miranda realized just what the young woman had most likely seen.  Heat flooding her face, she quickly folded the letter and placed it in the book.

Dear God, just what was she going to do about it?

____

Andy arrived to Runway on Monday morning, determined that Miranda would never know just what had transpired over the weekend.  The only thing she truly regretted was losing her letter.  She had gone looking for it on Saturday when she had woken up.  Wanting to use the happy news to fight the despair she felt, she hadn't been able to find the letter.  She must have lost it on the subway on her way to meet Nigel.  But now, she was determined to be the consummate professional.

That particular plan went up in smoke within ten minutes of her arrival.  For some reason that was currently beyond her ken, Miranda was already in the office.  Settling at her desk to begin the week's worth of Mission Impossible style errands, Andy felt her stomach flutter when she saw the envelope on her desk.  She felt her face flush and her heart pound.  Damn it to hell.  Picking up the envelope, Andy opened it and saw the distinct yellow post it note.  She read it quickly, like pulling off a band aid

            Andréa,

            For some unfathomable reason this letter arrived with the book tonight.  I can only assume Sarah   brought it by mistake. Forgive me for opening it as I didn't realize it was not meant for me to see.         But still allow me to congratulate you. 

                                    MP

Andy groaned and dropped her head into her hands.  Miranda had to realize that Andy had been in the townhouse.  So why lie about it?  Unless...she realized what Andy had been witness to, and was trying to give them both an out.

Ok, she could go with that.  Miranda didn't want to talk about it?  Fine.  That was just fine.  Andy could ignore it.  In fact, she never wanted to think about it again!  Never mind that it was always there, just behind her eyes when she blinked.  That didn't matter.

Suddenly, a cup of Starbucks landed on her desk as Sarah arrived for the day.  Andy looked up and saw Sarah shrug.

"Boss's orders, mate.  She texted me this morning and told me to bring you a mocha Frappuccino and I quote, "Whatever it is you're drinking these days as well, " to me." Sarah cocked a grin at Andy.  "Boss lady wants to buy us a drink, who am I to argue?"

Andy shook her head.  That was it.  The world was officially crazy.  Miranda Priestly had just bought both of her assistants Starbucks.  Welcome to the Twilight Zone. It was going to be a very long day.

___

Miranda sat in her office, going through her routine.  She looked at sketches, made her choices, spoke with anxious designers and took calls from Irv.  All without hearing any of it.  She was listening for Andréa. 

It was true she hadn't known how to handle the situation, but she decided a direct approach was necessary.  And when her nerves failed her on the direct approach...well, subtle subterfuge seemed the answer.  Andréa had no doubt gotten her note but here it was, ten in the morning, and aside from passing phone messages through the door, the young woman had not made mention of anything.

Perhaps the mortification went both ways?  Well, that was hardly surprising.  She was startled as the subject of her musings came into her office, standing a respectful distance from her desk.  She looked up and blinked.

"I'm sorry to disturb you, Miranda but Jacqueline is inquiring about the date for the Black and White this year.  I tried to advise her, but she wants to hear it directly from The Queen Herself," Andy answered with just the right hint of deference and exasperation, her eyes landing anywhere but on Miranda's own.

Clearing her throat, Miranda was gratified when Andréa finally looked at her directly, "Tell my esteemed colleague that the Black and White will be in November this year, just as it has been for the past ten years.  Then, advise her that I'm in a meeting with the Board for the next few hours and absolutely cannot be disturbed."

Andy nodded with a mischievous glint in her eyes, "Of course, Miranda, I'll be sure to let her know that the meeting is scheduled for all day.  Also, Donatella has her sketches for the New Year's Eve ensemble that are being sent by courier this afternoon."

Miranda nodded, "Very well,"  she looked back down at her desk, and felt more than heard Andréa begin to withdraw from the office.  Later, she would never know why she did it.  Masochism seemed the only answer.

"Andréa,"  She watched as Andréa turned back to Miranda, biting her plump bottom lip in consternation.  "I meant what I said.  Congratulations on your submission.  It was not entirely ridiculous."

The young woman flushed and she opened and closed her mouth several times before replying, "Thank you Miranda.  That was kind of you to say."

Leaning back in her chair, running the bow of her glasses along her mouth, Miranda nodded, "That's all."  Her eyes followed the young woman as she made her made her way back to her desk.  A perfectly acceptable and professional exchange all told, considering the awkwardness of the situation.

So why did she feel like she had just lost something precious?

____

Walking into her office, Miranda dropped her coat and bag on Sarah's desk and frowned, seeing that Andréa's desk was still empty.

"She called to say she would be about a half hour late.  Something about Nigel asking her to pick up a set of proofs from A'lin for the fashion show," Sarah offered before Miranda could ask.

Turning cool eyes on the woman, Miranda nodded shortly before walking into her office and closing the door behind her.  Two weeks.  It had been two weeks since the dreaded "morning after."  Andréa continued to behave competently and professionally.  Oh, there was nothing Miranda could criticize regarding her work.  But the attitude in the office seemed to have shifted.  The almost playful banter, the mentoring...the times they would meet outside of the office at the townhouse.  Well, those things were no longer evident. 

 Miranda found the change quite disconcerting, and wondered how it was that she was to repair something like this, if she was not allowed to approach Andréa to rectify it.  It wasn't like she could invite the younger woman over for dinner and say, "I'm quite sorry you walked in on something as tawdry as what you saw.  Would you like another glass of wine?"

She groaned...even in her own mind that sounded ridiculous.  Why would the young woman even bother? It was obvious she had lost whatever personal respect she had for Miranda, and why wouldn't she?  She had acted like an impetuous teenager and all because...well, in truth, because of Andréa.

"Miranda," Andréa spoke from her office door, "I'm sorry to bother you, but Nigel asked me to bring you the proofs for the upcoming show."

Raising her head, the editor simply held out her hand and resisted the urge to snap her fingers.  She was irritated, yes, but it wasn't Andréa's fault.  Not exactly.

Miranda thumbed through the proofs.  They looked good, but there seemed to be a shot missing.  "Andréa, where is the last photo?"  Miranda looked up to see the young woman looking slightly panicked.  Interesting, she hadn't looked panicked since that night in Paris when she had showed up at Miranda's door claiming temporary insanity.

"I'm sorry, Miranda, that's all there was," Andréa drew a long breath, "If you want, I can contact her people and see if there's a missing look?"

Pursing her lips, Miranda watched, gratified when Andréa paled visibly, "No, no, call Nigel and have him here by noon.  Call and make reservations at that seafood place I like that I went to with Patrick last month for 1 pm, and have Roy here by 12:10."

The young woman bit her lip, twisting her fingers, "Of course, Miranda, I'll um...just go do that now, then." 

Miranda sat back in her chair as the brunette retreated quickly back to her own desk.  Andréa had not been that nervous in her presence in some time.  Perhaps she wasn't as unaffected as Miranda had previously thought?  It was clear something would have to be done, but what could she do when all avenues of getting the young woman's attention had been closed to her?

She knew Andréa would not consent to join her at the townhouse, and the office was far too public for such a conversation.  Slowly, she began to smile, feeling just a spark of hope reassert itself.  It was time to create a third option. 

____

Nigel arrived in the office after receiving Andy's panicked phone call.  He had no idea what Miranda wanted, but it was clear Andy was spooked.  Walking over to his young friend's desk, he waited until she looked up at him.

"Easy, kid," Nigel murmured keeping his voice low, "Two more weeks.  Just keep your cool for two more weeks, ok?"

Andy bit her lip, "Nige, she keeps looking at me like she wants to say something, or like she expects me to say something.  What am I supposed to do?"

Nigel opened his mouth to speak, but was cut off as the Dragon herself walked out of her office.

"By all means Nigel, do take your time.  Perhaps we could all wait while you and Andréa gossip over your hair...or in your case, your lack thereof."

Nigel rolled his eyes.  He knew that tone.  Miranda was miffed, ye,s but the damage wasn't terminal...yet. "What can I say?  Andy's hair is lovely.  Don't you think?"

Nigel watched carefully, and what he saw pleased him immensely.  A slight widening of Miranda's eyes, a flash of almost-panic before that cool mask slammed down again, "Really, Nigel, I do not intend to stand here, gossiping about my assistants."

"Well, seeing that I was summoned with no other instructions than to be here by noon, should I conclude that you're taking me to lunch?"  He resisted the urge to laugh when Miranda pursed her lips.  "Now, now Darling, shall we? If I know you, poor Roy has been cooling his heels, and been double parked for far too long now."

Nigel held the office door as Sarah leapt from her seat, only to be cut off by Andy.  Carefully, she helped Miranda into her long coat, and then handed over the heavy turquoise bag.  Really, the pair of them were so obvious it was almost silly.  Miranda's shock manifested itself in a quick backward glance, Andy's nervousness shone through as she bit her lip and lowered her eyes deferentially. 

Poor Sarah simply looked back and forth between them, and shrugged her shoulders before sitting back down at her desk.  Nigel winked at Andy as Miranda sailed through the door, once again completely composed.

Stepping into the elevator with no fear beside his friend, he waited.  Miranda would show her cards sooner or later.  He was betting on later. 

"A'lin's proofs are good, but it looks as if there's a missing piece, Nigel.  Did you look over them before you agreed?"  Miranda looked over at him from behind her heavy sunglasses.  Nigel was not the least bit intimidated.

"I did, of course.  I think it's because it's a much smaller showing, Miranda.  It's not Fashion Week, after all.  It's a mid-season line.  Expecting a full show is a bit much, don't you think?" Nigel reminded.

"Hmm," Miranda answered, noncommittally.  Exiting the elevator, she didn't wait for him to catch up, but he knew she assumed he would follow. 

Smiling at Roy, Nigel slid into the soft seats of the town car, waited for the vehicle to begin moving, and the privacy shield to be raised before turning to Miranda, "Ok, we're out of the building.  We're away from prying eyes and ear,s and I have known you far too long to believe this is a working lunch."  Deciding to be daring, he reached over and took her hand, "Miranda, I'm your friend as well as your most loved Minion.  Spill it."

He watched the play of emotions through her eyes.  Oh yes, it started with outrage, softened to disdain, moved into guilt, and then finally morphed into the affection he knew she held for him.  "I never could lie to you, Nigel."

"Why try, it just turns your hair white," He quipped,  pleased that Phase Two of his plan seemed to be working.

"You are correct, " Miranda hesitated, "I do have something I need to talk to you about. I find myself," Here, she faltered for a moment before visibly steeling herself, "I find myself interested in someone...younger."

Here, fishy fishy, Nigel thought, resisting the urge to cheer, "Miranda, it's quite in style for a woman of a certain age to take a younger lover.  What's his name?"

"Her name, Nigel."

Nigel allowed his jaw to drop as he feigned shock, "Oh, really?  A woman, Miranda?  Anyone I know?  Is it Giselle?  No, no, too blonde...perhaps Katarina?  No, too plastic...maybe it's-"

"Andréa. It's Andréa!"  Miranda blurted it out, pulling her hand from his and looked immediately mortified and terrified.

Nigel made a show of removing his glasses and wiping them on the pocket square he kept for just such moments, "Our Andy?  Your assistant?"

"How many young woman do you and I both know that share the name Andréa, Nigel?"  Miranda's tone was so cool, Nigel was suprised his glasses didn't frost over.

"As you say, just the one,"  He reached over and took her hand again, squeezing gently, "Andy's a wonderful young woman, Miranda.  So, what's the problem?  If you're coming to me, you've already worked out whether this a fleeting thing or not.  Have you told her?"

Miranda shook her head, "No, I-I've been a bit foolish, Nigel.  I thought perhaps it wasn't so much her as it was...a general malaise.  I started seeing a younger man.  I never even realized that superficially, he resembled her.  One night, she had come to the townhouse with the book to show me her acceptance letter to Vanity Fair.  I had been working on her submission with her,"  Here, he watched while Miranda's porcelain skin flushed crimson.  "She walked in on a rather delicate moment." Shaking her head, Miranda continued, "The whole thing was a ridiculous mistake and I asked him to leave.  I've not seen him since.  I did not realize until later that Andréa was the one to bring the Book. Since then...  Well, since then, I have not seen her except in the office.  And that is not the place for any kind of a conversation."  Now, Miranda shrugged, "And perhaps there shouldn't be a conversation.  She  is 25 years younger than me, at the start of her career.  I have never been interested in a woman before.  Perhaps it really is a midlife crisis." Miranda broke off, staring out of the window, watching the streets pass by.

"Miranda, I'm about to tell you something that not many people know about yours truly."  Nigel waited, but his friend made no reply, "Ten years ago, during fashion week, I met a woman.  Oh, she was charming, educated and she made me laugh.  We kept in touch.  We saw each other whenever we could...and eventually, we fell in love."

There it was!  Miranda's head spun around, blue eyes wide and disbelief plain on her face.

"We were together for nearly two years before distance and the like caused the end of  the relationship.  I've never regretted it, though.  Renee and I still talk.  I've always been a firm believer of falling for the person and not their reproductive organs.  My point, dear, is simple,"  Nigel slid closer to Miranda and gently bumped her shoulder with his, "Who gives a fuck if Andy's a woman?  She's kind and loving, but she's also tough and smart.  She balances you, I think.  So, instead of thinking of all the reasons it can't work, try thinking of all the good things you feel when you think about her.  See if that doesn't help tip the scales."

Miranda sat back in the seat for a moment, regarding him through heavily lidded eyes, "Nigel, I never figured you for such a romantic."

Smirking now, as the car pulled up to the restaurant, he nodded, "Trust me, I'm still me.  A good set of abs...a finely tailored suit, and I am all aflutter.  Hmm, do you think if we ask Jean Carl he'd have Javier serve us today?"

Miranda startled him by actually laughing, her eyes lightened perceptively, shining with affection for him,  as she allowed him to take her arm, "Why don't we see what a well-placed word will do, hmm?" 

Phase Two complete, he thought as Miranda did indeed request his favored server for him.  He could hardly wait to tell Andy!

____

Two weeks later and Miranda was outraged!  The time had come for A'Lin's mid-season show and today of all days, Andréa had needed to leave early to deal with "personal issues."  The young woman had barely taken any time off in over two years, so how could she refuse?  But the result was that she was sitting here at the foot of a runway without her First Assistant to take notes!  Granted, Sarah was filling in admirably, but she was not Andréa! 

"Relax, Miranda," Nigel muttered, leaning over as he crossed his legs.  "It's a mid-season show!  You can do this in your sleep!"

Miranda simply raised her chin as the lights came up and the music began to play.  The bass was high and she could feel the concrete of the floors begin to vibrate with the beat.  The blue and yellow lights created an eerie atmosphere as the first of the models appeared.  Noting the style and the fabrics, Miranda was pleased, but certainly not blown away.  She would have plenty of notes for the young designer.

Half an hour passed as model after model came down the catwalk sporting similar looks done in similar fabrics.  Black and silver layers so thin you could almost see through them.  Twelve looks down, and still the music droned on and the lights flashed.

Abruptly, the music changed from the monotonous techno beat to something more up tempo, almost club-like in its intensity.  The lighting changed as the blue gels flared brightly.  The final model appeared on the catwalk and began to make her way down the sixty foot platform.

Miranda felt her face go hot and her body followed suit.  She knew that silhouette.  That fall of long  gorgeous hair.  That beautiful face.  Her Andréa.

And she was not walking down the runway. Oh no, she was dancing.  The sheer black almost see-through nature of the top of the look was a stark contrast to the solid painted-on look of her pants!  Pants!  Down the runway!  Unheard of!  And yet...here was Andréa on display...twirls and kicks....death drops and spins.  But her eyes...those chocolate eyes were always fastened on the end of the runway.  On Miranda herself?

The words to the song came through to the older woman just as Andréa dropped into some sort of catlike crawl to end directly in front of her.  Fierce chocolate eyes locked onto vibrant blue as the young woman engaged in a stare down.  Miranda realized she was actually singing the lines.

"I know the best part of me and it's you."

They each held the others' eyes, while the lights came up and the house erupted in applause.  Miranda didn't know what to say or think or do.  She simply stared until Nigel nudged her out of her stupor.

"Well!  Say something to her!" Nigel muttered, harsh into her ear.

Looking away from the young woman on the catwalk, she turned towards Nigel to see him waving frantically.  When she turned back to Andréa, she was quite dismayed to see the young woman disappearing back behind the curtain.

"Go after her!" Nigel demanded.  "If you don't, you're a damned fool."

Torn between demanding to know who he thought he was, and the realization that perhaps he was correct, Miranda finally made a choice and began to head to the back of the catwalk to where the models would be circulating.  Finally, she made it back behind the scenes to organized chaos, but the fearless young woman was nowhere to be seen!

"Miranda, did you enjoy the show?" 

Turning to the voice, Miranda's eyes narrowed, "A'Lin, your last model.  Where is she?"

"Andy?  She just left.  Did you enjoy how we included her?  It was Nigel's idea to turn the last look into something new and exciting.  Something marketable, but still fashionable." 

"Where did she go?" Miranda demanded.

A'Lin's eyes widened as she realized Miranda's mood.  She had never actually witnessed the Devil everyone spoke about.  Miranda had always been very supportive of her designs but for the first time, she could see what everyone meant.

"Uh, I believe she went home.  She said something about not feeling well."

Miranda turned on her heel and left without a backward glance.  She wasn't aware of Nigel watching her as she left, or of the smile of pride on her oldest friend's face.

___

Stupid! How could she have been so stupid!  Nigel's idea of coming to Miranda on her terms and showing more of herself outside of her Runway role to Miranda had sounded good at the time.  A great way to show Miranda, woman to woman, how Andy felt.  Actions spoke louder than words, right?

Andy drained half the bottle of beer she was drinking and sneered at herself.  She had been so stupid to think Miranda would see her and understand.  On paper it made great sense.  On that catwalk?  Miranda had only looked like a deer in the headlights while Andy herself had been way out on a limb, out of her comfort zone, in front of a billion people!

Covering her face with her hands, she wondered just how the hell she was supposed to go in to work the next day and face the Dragon.  If Miranda had shown any spark of interest, it would be different.  But she had just been blank.  No emotion at all!  What had she been thinking?

Obviously, she hadn't been.  It was torture working with Miranda every day and hoping she would see, or make a move or something.  Hope could be cruel.  A double-edged sword.  Yes, it could give you strength, but it could also sap your will.

She had gotten home and realized she was still wearing A'lin's design.  She had texted the other woman and made arrangements to return the garments tomorrow.  Thankfully, A'Lin was an affable artist and she hoped she didn't think Andy had stolen anything.  She heard the ding from her phone and glanced down at the text.

A'Lin: Of course, Andy.  Have you heard from Miranda?  She came back looking for you but you were already gone.

Andy blinked down at her phone.  That couldn't be right, could it?  She looked up when a knock sounded on her door.  It was probably the pizza she had ordered after deciding a night of comfort food was in order.

"Hang on," She called out, grabbing her wallet.  She would drink her beer and eat her pizza and then freshen up her resume.  She would move on and put all of this behind her. 

"I only have a 20 so you can...oh," Andy broke off, staring at her visitor.

" Andréa, may I come in?"  Miranda's tone was low and smooth, deceptively mild.

"Umm...maybe?"

Miranda's eyes widened before narrowing, and Andy amended her statement quickly, "I mean, of course."  Andy stepped aside, admitting Miranda into her home for the first time ever.  The other woman looked around with interest, as if trying to decipher secrets from the objects and spaces around her. 

"This place is very you, Andréa,"  Miranda said, finally turning to look directly at her. 

"Thank you?" Andy replied, not quite sure how to respond.

"Why did you leave so quickly?" Miranda demanded.  She hated small talk and the awkwardness of this situation made it all the more painful.

"There really wasn't any reason to stay! I mean...I made my point and you certainly made yours, so why should I bother hanging around?" Andy blurted out.  It wasn't what she meant to say but dammit, the woman was insufferable!  Here she was, acting as if Andy had done something wrong by leaving, when Miranda had made it plain she wanted nothing to do with her!

"What are you doing here?" Andy asked, crossing her arms over her chest.  "If you want my resignation, you can have it tomorrow but if you don't mind, I'm on my own time right now."

"Your own time, yes....let's talk about that for a moment, shall we?"  Miranda said, her voice keeping that calm, brittle false cheer.  "Personal issues, Andréa?  Your new career as...what, exactly?"

Incensed, Andy fired back, "The personal issues I had to handle were you! How I feel about you!  Everything I tried to show you on that ridiculous sixty foot platform where you live your life!  The only possible I chance I had to get you to see  me!  Don't worry! I won't make that mistake again!"

Miranda felt the words like cold water over her skin.  "So dramatic, Andréa.  You think perhaps, I do not see you every day?  So you needed to put yourself on display?"

"No! I think you never see me beyond a more sophisticated version of an Outlook Calendar...or maybe even a PDA!  An upgraded rolodex!  I thought...once, I thought maybe there was more...but then-"  Andy broke off, turning away and staring out the window.

"But then, what?  Then you came to the townhouse and saw something.  And instead of talking to me about it, you what?  Decided this was the best way to get my attention?"

"I decided you're visual and maybe this way would make an impact on you.  In your world, trying to do something you love.  You would see how-"  Andy broke off on a sob and Miranda stepped up to her carefully.

"Would see what, Andréa?" Miranda's voice was a mere whisper, but to Andy it sounded as deafening as any explosion could be.  Biting the bullet, she decided she could no longer hold it back.

Turning to the silver haired woman, she answered "How I feel about you, Miranda.  That I like you as a person.  That you fascinate me.  You, the woman behind Runway, yes, but you the woman who doesn't settle and creates her own options.  The woman with such keen vision you can pick out talent from 100 yards away, but you can't see what's in front of you.  I'm in love with you."

The tears began to fall and Andy moved around Miranda to sit on her couch, with her head in her hands.  "Please go, Miranda.  I'm angry and I'm embarrassed, and I really just want to be alone."

Andy sobbed silently into her hands as she waited for the telltale sound of the woman leaving her alone.  She could hear her moving around the studio, but she never heard the sound of the door. 

"Forgive me, Andréa, for wandering uninvited, but I believe this requires some drastic action on my part.  Look up, please." 

Miranda waited until the young woman looked at her with tearstained cheeks and watery eyes before she held up the bottle she had found in the young woman's immaculate bathroom.

"I can certainly understand your sentiment about being angry.  But why should you be embarrassed?  You did something new...you put yourself out there in a very unforgiving environment.  You did it as you say to show me another side of you.  Such courage, Andréa.  Is it your youth?  I doubt that very much.  It is who you are.  So let me repay that leap you made.  I wish to show you something very few people aside from my girls have ever seen."

Carefully, Miranda Priestly...High Queen of Fashion...began to remove her makeup.  She did it quickly and efficiently and quietly.  She never spoke...she just removed the products she had spent a lifetime relying on.  If Andréa could put herself on display to show Miranda who she was, then the least she could do was remove her mask for the brave young woman.  When it was done, Miranda sat and waited.  It was only then that she had an idea of exactly how Andréa must have felt earlier in the day...waiting for a response that never came.

Andy's eyes roamed over the face of the woman she loved.  All natural, hiding nothing, and yet...still radiant.  She could see the insecurity and the growing fear.  Part of her thought it would serve Miranda right if Andy repaid the pain she had felt earlier in the day, but that wasn't who Andy was.  No, she couldn't willfully hurt Miranda!

"You're beautiful," She said softly.  Miranda's eyes widened and she lost the look of fear, but the disbelief remained.

"I'd hardly go that far," Miranda began, but Andy cut her off.

"You're beautiful," Andy said again, her voice stronger as she held out a hand to the older woman.  A brief moment and Miranda took the hand in her own.  Andy pulled her forward to where she sat on the couch and just looked up at the face of the woman she loved. 

"I love you as well, Andréa." Miranda offered, because it was true.  How could she let another moment go by when this fierce creature in front of her had been so honest with her?

"Yeah?" Andy said, a delighted smile finally spreading across her face.

"Yeah," Miranda smirked, going willingly as Andy tugged her down into her lap until Miranda was sitting astride her.  Miranda's eyebrow rose and she wondered for only a moment how exactly she had gotten into this position.

"Was it a mistake?" Andy asked, her voice hesitant and eyes pleading, "Was he-"

Miranda leaned forward and stopped the flow of words with a loving kiss.  Here was the softness she had yearned for...the lips, so responsive to her own. Andréa's hands were on her hips and the young woman's tongue was teasing her own.  One heated kiss flowed into another, and yet another still.  Hands found skin as blouses were untucked and buttons opened. Breathing deepened and Miranda's hands were busy, tangled in the deep chestnut silk fall of hair that she had so admired.

How long they stayed like that, neither knew.  It wasn't until there was an aggressive knock at the door, startling the pair of them, that Miranda drew back with a gasp.

"Are you expecting someone?" Miranda teased, leaning back down to lay teasing kisses against the corner of the younger woman's mouth.

"Um...no?" Andy asked, angling her head to try to capture Miranda's lips in another heated kiss, just as there was another knock on the door.  "Fuck!  Pizza!  I forgot..I sort of ordered pizza before you arrived.  Let me get rid of him.  I'm sorry!"

Amused despite herself, Miranda stood slowly.  Her legs were a bit cramped, but she felt amazingly good.  "Not at all.  I quite like pizza myself.  And I have a feeling I could use the energy."

Smirking as Andréa flushed and retrieved her wallet, she simply waited while the young woman returned carrying a box.

"It's Hawaiian.  I hope you don't mind."

Miranda's eyes flashed, "Hawaiian you say?  It just so happens that it is my favorite."

Andy shook her head, "No way.  The Dragon Lady does not eat pizza."

Miranda laughed, "No she does not, but Miranda the mother of two teenage girls certainly does.  Where do you keep the plates?"

___

Hours later

Andy shifted, her fingers high and deep as Miranda shamelessly rode her hand.  In her bed, in her tiny studio appointment after an evening of pizza and bad television, she had taken Miranda to her bed.  All shyness and awkwardness at first, the pair had worked it out and before long, there was nothing but pleasure.

The woman had the stamina of someone half her age and Andy had all the enthusiasm of youth.  Together, she felt certain they could have set the building on fire.

"So good, Miranda," Andy murmured against the flawless skin of her lover while she moved hard inside of her.  The heat of her and the scent of her lover drove her higher and she knew would come again, when Miranda did.  It was their third time that evening and all of this was only the beginning.  They had talked  about what they wanted for each other and about how they would make it work.  Andy would leave Runway with a reference from Miranda.  Sarah would be promoted to a job she should have had two years ago.  Their relationship would not be hidden, but it wouldn't be shouted from the rooftops.  It would grow naturally and slowly.

But for tonight?  None of that mattered.  All that mattered was the pair of them together.  Andy shifted and felt Miranda raise her thigh for the younger woman to grind herself against her, even as Andy used her thumb to stroke over the older woman's clit.  So responsive and sensitive, it took only a few moments and the younger woman could feel the spasms start.

"Co-coming, oh...yes... Andréa!" Miranda cried out, surprisingly vocal in bed, it turned Andy on to no end to hear this woman say her name just that way.  So much so that she felt her own spasms start.

"Yes, Miranda, god yes," She whispered, guiding them both through their pleasure and down again.

Long moments, later wrapped up in each other Andy was almost asleep when she heard the question asked almost timidly.

"Did you mean it earlier?  At the fashion show.  What you said?  Did you mean it?"

Smiling, wrapped in the arms that made her feel safe, she answered, "Yes, I know the best part of me, Miranda.  I know that it's you."