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After Dark

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 How dare she.

The door slammed in Serena's face but Miranda couldn't give a damn. Andréa had left her and she was on the warpath. Nobody left Miranda and got away with it. Nobody.

She threw her one-of-a-kind Marc Jacobs clutch on the chaise and stalked to the phone in her room, her whole body twitching like a snake about to strike. 

"Where is Andréa?"

"Excusez-moi?"

Miranda rolled her eyes and launched into a tirade of perfect French ordering the concierge to find and detain Andréa until she was ready to deal with her.

"Ah, pardon Miranda, Mademoiselle Sachs has not yet checked out. She suggested that her flight is not until ze morning."

Miranda hung up without another word. Andréa was still in the hotel and she would be sorry that she left her on the steps of that show, sorry that she left her.

Miranda practically ripped off her one-of-a-kind Vera Wang and threw it on the bed to deal with later. Pulling on her comfiest pantsuit, she stormed from the room and down the hall to where she knew Andréa was.

It was only because she didn't have a key that she knocked. If she had had her way, she would have burst in there without another thought.

"Go away Nigel."

Miranda knocked again, harder.

"Nigel, please. I don't want to talk about it."

She pounded her fist on the door like a madwoman.

"For fuck's sake Nig-"

Andréa stood there in all her beautiful glory, in the most god-awful sweatshirt Miranda had ever seen (which was saying something considering their first meeting), and a pair of - she turned up her nose - Haines tracksuit pants.

Miranda blinked as the door came towards her and she stuck her foot out quickly to stop the door from slamming into her face.

"Andréa!"

"Go away Miranda, I'm not going to have it out with you tonight."

"Andréa."

"What?!" Andréa yelled, leaving her to open the door. "What can you possibly want to exact from me now? How else have I failed you, Miranda? How else can you bring me down?"

The rejoinder hurt Miranda. She realised, quite starkly, that Andréa really was like her. Her barbed defences were designed to hurt, and they did. But Miranda knew better. She knew Andréa, and this was not Andréa.

"Andréa, please. I am not here to scold you."

"Really?" Andréa frowned, all the wind going out of her sails. "Then what on earth can you possibly want from me now?"

"I," she sighed and looked up and down the corridor. "Could I possibly come in?"

"You're asking?"

"I am."

Andréa waved her in and walked away, throwing the shirt she had been clutching in her hands into an open suitcase on the bed. She turned and fixed Miranda with an unreadable look, her hand on her hip.

"I," Miranda faltered, Andréa's look flustered her more than she was willing to admit. Andréa did that to her, and she'd never understood it. "I misspoke earlier," she said quietly, not meeting Andréa's eyes. "In the car. I had," she sighed. "I was trying to compliment you," she felt a little queasy at the thought. "I realise in the wake of what you had just seen me do, that was not how it was perceived."

"Miranda," Andréa sighed and slumped on the bed. "Being compared to you is so -"

"Unwanted?" Miranda offered.

"No," Andréa sighed again, rubbing her face with her hands. "That's the ridiculous thing. It's such a double-edged sword. You can be such a bitch," she was going to argue, but Andréa's face stopped her. "But you're also so brilliant and so clever and hilariously funny, though you never let anyone see that.  I'm not ashamed to be seen to be like you, but," she shook her head. "You were so wrong earlier. Nobody would want to be us. Not if they knew. It is toxic. It's -"

"Don't leave." 

She hadn't meant to say it out loud. She'd meant to start slow and talk Andréa around to it, but there it was, hanging in the middle of this subpar hotel room like the ghost of all her terrible decisions.

"Miranda."

She had this way of saying her name that made her heart jump, even when she was upset, or exasperated. Miranda did not want to be without it. She never wanted to stop hearing her name being said like that

"I," she decided on mostly-truthfulness. "I did not mean to say that, but I do mean it. Please do not leave. Finish out your year and I will get you a position at any publication you want."

"You are so infuriating."

Miranda frowned. She did not understand.

"You're asking me for yet another favour Miranda, do you not see?" Andréa said, now pacing her way in front of the sofa that Miranda was regally perched on. "You're asking me to change my life, again, and put up with this shit in the hope that you will give me something later, providing I do exactly as you say until you say stop."

"I," Miranda's frown deepened. "But that is what I have always done Andréa. That is how our industry works. That is how life works."

And there, it seemed, was the crux of the matter. Andréa stopped pacing and stared hard, before slumping on the other end of the sofa.

"Maybe I'm not cut out for New York," Andréa whispered. "Maybe I don't want to do that," she closed her eyes. "Maybe I don't want to be that."

"Andréa," Miranda started, before trying something different. "Andy -"

"NO! Oh god Miranda, no," she chuckled. "It sounds like you're going to vomit. Andréa is fine. You're the only one that says it like that."

"Well." 

She wasn't actually sure what to say to that.

"Look, I don't want to leave," she said, breaking into Miranda's thoughts. "I don't love this job, the pay is awful for how much we do, and the hours are utterly ridiculous, but to be honest, I do like taking care of you  And I know I'm good at it. I want to stay, but I cannot handle the deceit and the competition and the awful awful cut-throat bullshit that everyone deals with and deals out every day. It is too much, and I don't really care if that makes me naive, or a hick, or whatever. I'm proud of what I've done and how far I've come. I just," she frowned. "I don't know if I can do it," she looked up as if she were begging Miranda to understand.

"You can do anything you put your mind to," Miranda said gently, recognising that the next few moments could make or break what Andréa did next. "I would like it if you stayed Andréa. To whatever end. You are," she cleared her throat, wanting to bite back what she was saying, but ploughing full steam ahead. "You are by far the most competent assistant I have ever had, and I would be loath to let that walk away." She saw a frown appearing on Andréa's face. "To let you walk away. Especially at this time. At any time." She could see she was winning, though she still wasn't sure why she was fighting. "I need you Andréa."