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Smoke break

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If anyone had told Andy Sachs her day would go as it had, she would’ve told them to seek a therapist or even better: check themselves into a mental institution right away.
But apparently the universe had decided to have some fun. Weird fun.




It was a hectic day at Runway. Even more than usual. After news of Miranda's divorce hit the papers, the phone line had practically been on fire. A disgusting amount of Andy's day had been filled with repeating „No comment.“ again and again to different reporters calling Runway in hopes of getting a scoop.
Vultures she thought after yet another reporter from some gossip rag asked for a statement regarding New Yorks one and only Ice Queen. Frustrated and hungry Andy blew a stray strand of hair out of her face as her hand moved to the drawer she kept her cereal bars in. Across from her sat an equally stressed blonde woman currently talking into two phones at once.

Kathryn, a young and ambitious major in fashion, the only one out of more than fifty applicants that hadn’t disappointed Miranda completely. She was only one week into her new job as second assistant and had a lot to learn, but it wasn’t an utter disaster Andy thought as she slammed the phone down. She grabbed her snack and started unwrapping it quickly. Miranda had promoted Emily to Junior Director of the Art apartment, working directly under Nigel right after Paris Week leaving Andy as First Assistant.

Taking a bite and chewing quickly, Andy allowed herself to reminisce for a moment.
Paris Week.
What a week it had been. She had planned to leave after witnessing Miranda backstab her colleague and friend of 18 years so ruthlessly. But when she halted after stepping out of that limo after Miranda and saw the look in the other woman's eyes, she found that she couldn’t. That look. Appalled at not finding Andy directly behind her. But also something more, something deeper. It almost seemed as if Miranda was panicing, as if she needed Andy to be-

Click Clack

The sound of -no doubt extremely expensive- high heels approaching at a fast pace shook Andy out her moment of contemplation.
Miranda was approaching her office with the expression of a woman on a warpath. And she definitely was. After a photoshoot had to be cancelled this morning due to an error in planning on the photographer's side and another memo from Irv Ravitz going on about budgeting, Miranda's mood turned sour quickly. With pursed lips and an everlasting air of annoyance she had stricken fear in every employee unfortunate enough to cross her path all day. And now it looked as if it had gotten even worse.
She strode past Andy‘s desk while carelessly throwing her coat and bag on Kathryn‘s who struggled to catch them due to the blunt force behind it as she strode into her office.

Oh boy.

Andy knew she was returning from a lunch with an associate and apparently it hadn’t gone well. Quickly swallowing the last bite of her bar she managed clear to her throat just as Miranda returned from her office and muttered a frustrated „Andrea“ as she headed to the elevator.
A notebook and a pen were grabbed as Andy practically jumped out of her seat to follow, casting a look that said „Sorry to leave you here alone“ to Kathryn when she passed the young woman who now seemed in dire need of a paper bag to breathe into.

Entering the elevator Miranda turned around and raised an expectant eyebrow to Andy who understood the invitation and stepped in. Miranda rarely shared the elevator with anyone, but it seemed she was willing to make an exception for her first assistant more often these days.
Not saying a word, the editor in chief pressed the button for the highest floor and stood in silence as they slowly ascended to the floor only a few levels up. Next to her Andy was holding her breath, knowing better than to ask Miranda what had happenend. She could feel the anger radiating off the older woman and was relieved when the doors finally openend up. Miranda wordlessly strode ahead, her brunette assisant following her every step. Down the hall, turn to the right, through a door, taking a left, climbing up a few stairs and finally through a heavy metal door, leading them outside and onto the rooftop of the Elias Clarke building.

They were greeted by the sight a couple of employees having a short break in the summer sun which quickly scrambled to leave as soon as they saw The Miranda Priestly enter the large space with fury in her eyes. No matter how often it happenend, Andy was always impressed with the sheer amount of fear Miranda was able to spark in the people around her without even trying. Like a goddess of war , she thought as the last spooked employee left through the door leading back into the building.
The door closed with a quite click and they were left alone.

Miranda turned her attention to the small metal case in her hand. Opening it quickly, she pulled a black cigarette from it and proceeded to light it with the lighter Andy had just realised was in the editors hand. She must’ve grabbed those while in her office but Andy hadn’t noticed, too occupied with waiting for the outburst that seemed to build up with every passing second.
Another moment of silence passed while Miranda took her first drag and slowly exhaled the smoke.

Andy had noticed the habit only in Paris after the last gala when Miranda had surprised her by casually taking out a cigarette after the party had died down. Apparently Miranda Priestly smoked when stressed or angry. It wasn’t the most healthy habit in the world, but then again it was better than turning to a bottle of scotch, Andy had thought back then.

„Cancel the dinner with McQueen tonight, it needs to be rescheduled. And you’ll take Patricia to the vet tomorrow, she hasn’t been eating properly. Also the designs sent in yesterday were absoultely atrocious, call the designer and tell him come up with something more fitting for this season if he intends to ever have a career in fashion.“

The instructions were fired off quickly while Andy wrote everyting down in her notebook.
„And tell Marco that if he doesn’t want me to blacklist him from every publication in this god forsaken country he will stop referring these incompetent designers to me, immediately. What does it take to get people to simply do their jobs. Am I asking too much?“

The last part was spit out with pure venom in the silver haired womans voice and Andy started to wonder if she would make it back to her desk alive after being in direct vicinity of her bosses fury. She looked up from her notes to see Miranda taking another drag from her cigarette and could smell the faint scent of chocolate coming from the smoke. Some imported brand that Miranda insisted on smoking, not willing to walk around with the stench of normal tobacco clinging to her priceless designer clothes.

Okay, cancel, reschedule, make an appointment at the vet, call Marco from the design department, get Mirandas afternoon coffee-

„And why is there no ashtray here!?“ an apalled Miranda muttered as she looked around.

If it wasn’t the devil of fashion herself asking, Andy would’ve laughed at that. Because despite her infamous ruthlessness, Miranda Priestly still had impeccable manners. And Andy had learned that that included not ashing on the ground. Ever.

But she was right, none of the usual ashtrays were to be found around the two women.
As the cigarette continued to burn, the ash starting to look as it would fall off any moment, Andy took her notebook and pen into her left hand and held out her right. Cupped, palm up, just beneath the burning stick.

And when it finally registered with her what she was doing, the world halted.

For the first time this day, her boss looked at her. Properly looked at her. Piercing blue eyes seemed to slightly widen as the assistants big brown ones met them. Andy forgot how to breathe. WHAT was she thinking. So accustomed to serve Mirandas every wish she had forgotten herself for a moment and offered her hand as a substitute for the missing ashtray. Looking into her bosses eyes she felt her cheeks grow hot and her ears burn. She felt slightly sick and knew she must’ve looked like it too. Here she was, on a rooftop with one of the most powerful women in New York, offering her fucking hand as an ashtray as if that was the most normal thing to do.
What was she thinking??

Pull back your hand, NOW a voice in her head all but screamed at her.
No, keep it there another whispered.

The woman in front of her still wasn’t moving, her almost confused gaze not wathering and the smoke from the cigarette wafting between them, disappearing into the warm air.
The silence stretched on and despite it all, Andy couldn’t help but think So that‘s all it takes to render the goddess of fashion speechless. Said goddess was still looking at her, now with a seemingly contemplative look, lips pursed and hand hovering over the offered palm, while her assistant waited for the insult she was sure to come.
One.
Two.
Three.

Tap

The noise of a finger tapping against tobacco wrapped in paper travelled to her ear as she saw the movement in the corner of her vision. The ash that landed in her palm was so light, she almost thought she imagined it as she continued to hold Mirandas gaze.
„And make sure to reconfirm my appointment for the facial tomorrow morning,“ Miranda murmered, her voice sounding more husky that before. „This day has been disastrous enough, I don’t need a repeat tomorrow.“ The regal woman broke their stare off to look ahead and onto the skyline surrounding them.
„Yes, Miranda“, Andy said, her own voice coming out more breathy than she expected.

What is happening. Pull yourself together.

And yet, her arm remained in it’s position, her hand never moving.
Another, long drag of the cigarette and even though one should faintly hear the traffic on the streets beneath them, Andy could swear the only sound around them was the faint sizzling of tobacco being burned as pink lips took a drag before releasing a breath of smoke into the air.
Mesmerizing.

Andrea Sachs had never liked smoking. Like most american girls, she had been brought up to despise cigarettes, seeing them as nothing but unhealthy, stinking little sticks. But here she was, on a rooftop in New York City, holding out her hand and she couldn’t help but think about how Miranda Priestly managed to make smoking look like.. like fucking art.

Silver hair shone underneath the unrelenting glare of the midday sun as the older women turned her head to Andy's direction once again. She wasn’t looking at Andy directly, her gaze wandering over the outfit Andy had chosen for the day instead. A flowy Chanel dress exposing a little cleavage and her arms and stopping mid thigh seemed like a good choice when she had laid it out last night, but under the Devils stare she started doubting herself. Trying her best not to squirm while waiting for an insult, Andy desperately tried to form a coherrent thought. But she couldn’t. For the love of all that was holy, her brain apparently had decided to shut down completely.

Miranda's arm slightly moving caught her attention and she watched in awe as her boss tapped the cigarette again, more ash tumbling onto Andy's palm.
Too nervous to meet the other womans gaze, Andy looked down instead, taking in Mirandas body. The black blouse and skirt combo, adorned with no doubt priceless jewelry and finished tastefully with black high heels, was without a doubt fashionable and powerful. But that wasn’t what caught her attention. It was the body language of her superior. Where there was tension coiled deeply into shoulder and neck before, there was now what almost seemed like.. like relaxation. Openness. And caution. What a curious mix Andy thought as she raised her eyes just in time to see Mirandas hand move above her palm, tapping the cigarette again, leaving more ash in her palm.

Something inside her moved and reared it's head, demanding attention. What it was, Andy couldn't say. All she knew was that she wanted to please the Editor in front of her.
And for some unknown reason, she wanted her to repeat the action, to tap against the cigarette once more. To make use of Andy.

Wait, what?!

„And I want the preview of the photos from last week on my desk before 3.“ The older woman muttered, her voice still huskier than Andy remembered it being.
„Of course,“ she answered almost on autopilot. Because she never questioned any task Miranda gave her, not anymore. And in that moment, with yet another tapping and more ash hitting her palm, she realised it wasn’t about it being her job but because there was nothing she enjoyed more than doing as Miranda told her. To have this powerful woman command her and in a way depend on her was.. exhilarating.

She looked up and watched as those lips took another drag of the black cigarette in these graceful hands and then her breath hitched once again as she noticed the icy blue eyes look directly into her brown orbs. She’d been caught staring, again. This was it, surely a snide comment would come.
But instead something akin to curiosity seemed to swim in those pools of blue that were darker than usual as they trapped Andy underneath their stare.
With a dry mouth she watched Miranda put out the now almost burnt up cigarette on the railing next to them and after a moment of hesitation, her boss moved her hand and let the dead cigarette fall into Andys hand.

„3 PM. My coffee. Try not to disappoint me,“ was barely whispered and then the editor turned on her heel, striding towards the door leading back into the building, leaving a frozen Andy behind.

It wasn’t until the click of the metal door signalled Andy that she was alone now, when she finally found her voice again.

„What just happened.“