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Soulmates R Us

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Paris.

 

Andy wasn't thinking when she walked away in Paris, not really. 

 

All she saw was the disappointment on Nigel's face. His half-hearted ‘she’ll pay me back' was ringing in her ears as she turned and walked away from the woman she had been singularly focused on for much longer than she was willing to admit. 

 

Her mind was blank but her feet kept moving, faster and faster until she was pushed through the mob of paparazzi. Her chest heaved as her lungs tried desperately to get enough air. Her mind whirled and her heart felt heavy in her chest as a chill wrapped around her limbs. The farther away she walked the colder she became, but she couldn’t turn around. She could never go back. Miranda doesn’t tolerate any mistakes, and surely an assistant causing this much of a scene because of her silly little feelings would leave her furious. The smartest thing Andy could do now is to go straight to the hotel and make sure that Miranda never sees her again. 

 

In her hurry, Andy didn’t see the cameras flashing behind her back or the woman stranded on the staircase; quietly pleading for her to return. 

 

 


 

One day since Paris.

 

It was on the plane ride home when Andrea came to the uncomfortable conclusion that she had fallen in love with her boss. Ex-boss, she bitterly reminded herself. 

 

Seated cramped in economy class she couldn’t stop staring at her phone. Page Six’s online fashion column had broken the story moments before she boarded the plane. Andrea always thought the first time she made the front page of a newspaper would be under different circumstances, not at the center of a sensationalized gossip story - that’s for sure. The flight attendant passed by doing her normal baggage checks and gave Andy’s phone another frustrated glance, she sighed and gave in - whipping out her credit card to pay for internet access. 

 

Turns out, there were two photos of her temper tantrum included on Page Six. First was the photo that was blown up across the header, it showed Andy petulantly throwing her cellphone into the elaborate fountain outside the Place de la Concorde. Andy didn’t even remember throwing her phone, she actually spent quite a bit of time looking for it as she frantically packed her stuff when she got back to the hotel. At least I know where it is now, Andy thought to herself trying her best to keep things positive, but all she could focus on was the probability that she would arrive home to a bill from Miranda to replace the dang thing. Especially now that she, and the rest of the world, has photographic proof of exactly what happened to Runway’s blackberry. 

 

The second photo was the one that was making the most rounds on the gossip blogs and Andy winced as the photo fully loaded on her screen. The picture was largely out of focus - showing mainly her blurry form pushing through the mob of paparazzi - but Miranda was captured in full stark display as she peered after her, alone in a sea of photographers looking more lost than Andrea had ever seen her. 

 

Everyone wants to be us.

 

That's what Miranda had said, wasn’t it? It was hard to remember over the ringing in her ears. The events of the day weighed heavy on her shoulders, her tongue felt sticky and she wondered if she was actually about to throw up on this plane. She loved Miranda. She walked away from Miranda. And Miranda looks almost… sad about it? 

 

Yeah right, Andy sighed into her seat, garnering her some suspicious looks from her aisle mates. There was absolutely no way her ungraceful exit bothered Miranda at all, except that now she probably had to call for her own car at the end of whatever show she was attending. Yup, Andy was always just the errand girl and Miranda would never chase after an errand girl. 

 

So then why was she looking at me so intently? Something needled in Andy’s subconscious but she couldn’t stop staring at Miranda's face. She looked shocked, staring after Andy. Andy's heart clenched at the realization that that’s what she had been craving all along, for Miranda to just look at her. She sold herself the lie that she had been doing all of this, contorting herself into a mold that did not fit, to one day soon cash in on the promise of her dream career. But now, on the plane home, she wasn’t mourning anything but the chance to see Miranda first thing Monday morning.

 

Everyone wants to be us.

 

That was the crux of the matter, wasn’t it? Andy didn’t want to be anything like the runway clackers. She didn’t want a single thing Runway offered. But here she was, eight months in and she had done just about anything to fit in. She had never really thought about why she was trying so hard until now. But Andy knew that without all the glitz and glamour, Miranda wouldn’t have paid Andy a single glance.

 

God, what a cliche. Andy could just about cry. Rolling her eyes at her own dramatics, Andy quickly flagged down the stewardess, she needed something to drink - preferably alcohol, and preferably quickly. 

 


 

10 days since Paris

 

Andy spent most of her first few days post-Paris waiting for the axe to fall. She anxiously paced her empty apartment for days, Nate had taken the time to clear out most of their shared belongings while she was in Paris, and since Andy had unceremoniously quit her job all that was left for her to do was to ignore all her phone calls and wait around for some letter or email or something to notify her that her carrier in journalism was effectively over before it has even begun. 

 

When no such letter came, Andys relief did not last long since practically the first thing she saw when she left her small, and now practically empty, apartment was her face plastered on the cover of Page Six. The two photos that showed up on the fashion blogs of her chucking her phone in that fountain were apparently bigger news than Andy ever anticipated and she took a shuttered breath as her own petulant face stared back at her.  The cover was a montage of sorts that combined the now infamous Paris photos as well as ones that Andy had never seen before. On one side of the cover was Miranda, all chic and impassive, and on the other were photos of Stephen and wait.. what? Intermixed with photos of Stephen at recent society events, no doubt boasting his new freedom, was a photo of Andy and Steven standing far too close together to be appropriate. 

 

Where did they get that photo? I don’t remember ever standing that close to him. 

 

Finally, Andy's eyes settled on the headline and her heart dropped - printed in large red bolded typeface was the phrase “Dragon Lady Scares Mistress Right Into her Husbands Arms”

 

Andy stared blankly at the magazine for several long minutes, slowing traffic on the busy sidewalk as people were forced to walk around her, but the headline was still not sinking in. She quickly forked over some cash and took the magazine back to her apartment. With a dramatic sigh, Andy plopped down on her bed, one of the few things Nate graciously left her, and read through the magazine. People were assuming that her less-then-graceful exit in Paris and the disillusion of Miranda's marriage were linked. Objectively, Andy could understand how the gossip rags had come to that conclusion, her timing really was terrible. And Miranda's expressions in the photos weren’t helping matters, she looked positively bereft that Andy was walking away from her and no one in their right mind would ever believe that La Priestly could care that much about a hapless ex-assistant.

 

Because she wouldn’t, ever. Obviously. Andy reminded herself and studiously avoided the twinge of disappointment she felt painfully in her gut. Andy chucked the magazine into her bedside table drawer, if she never had to see those stupid photos again it would still be too soon. 

 


 

2 Months Since Paris.

 

Organizing the drawers of her new work desk, Andy sat in the Mirror offices with a contented smile on her face. Her desk was in a cramped part of the back office, it had a wobbly leg her new workmate helped her stuff an old folded newspaper under and she wasn’t thrilled with her desk's unfortunate proximity to the bathroom, but she loved it. It was all hers, and she had gotten here all on her own. 

 

Andy was frankly surprised that she was able to get the job she had now, no matter how entry-level a position she applied for, the only papers that ever got back to her explicitly referenced her unfortunate  15-minutes of fame and Andy couldn’t stomach having to work somewhere she would constantly be reminded of Miranda. She suspected many of the online publications that reached out had wanted her to write a gossip column similar to the ones who have been trashing her for months, and truly Andy would rather work in a coffee shop for the rest of her life. 

 

Once the more tawdry rumors started to circulate, Andrea wished she could somehow know how Miranda was handling all of this. She imagined the indignation that would cross the editor's face at being even partially associated with Andy. She would be furious, Andy knew, to have her little temper tantrum linked to Miranda's marriage. But Andy suspected that the fact that the whole world was so eager to re-hash Andy’s betrayal may have upset Miranda more. A lowly assistant having the nerve to walk out on the great Miranda Priestly? It was unheard of and Andy had to constantly talk herself out of calling Nigel back just to pry more information out of him. 

 

All the new attention hadn’t been all that bad, in fact Andy had Page Six to thank for her new job. After Andy didn’t receive any word that Miranda blacklisted her - and surely if that was going to happen it would have at this point since all it would take would be one single phone call - she started to think it may be possible for her to request a recommendation. But after her face was splashed all over the internet in what seemed to be the blogosphere’s equivalent of a 24-hour news cycle, and every major news outlet assuming she broke up Miranda's marriage - Andy was far too smart to dare ask Miranda for a recommendation. The fact that she could even still breathe in New York was something close to a miracle. Yup, it was better not to risk it. 

 

Luckily the Mirror called her for an interview anyway, and Andy knew it would be the perfect fit the moment she stepped into the editor's cramped corner office; with loose papers pilled high on all available surfaces and a gruff smiling man seated behind the old, metal desk. It was the exact opposite of Miranda's office and Andy couldn’t wipe the smile off her face if she tried. 

 

The entire interview felt impossibly short and Mark, the editor of the New York Mirror, in a show of great restraint didn’t even mention Miranda until the very end of the interview. Taking one long look at Andy and her CV, Mark simply said “It takes guts to walk out on the devil, we need more guts around here.” 30 minutes later, Andy walked out of The Mirror offices with a brand new job and a new ID card. 

 

Smiling at the memory, Andy settled back in and continued to decorate her new workspace. She frowned at the lack of photos she could even display - so many of the people that felt critical to her existence a few months ago were starkly absent from her life now. 

 

Reconnecting with Lily and Doug had always been the plan, she thought that after Paris she would throw a dinner party or some other gesture and they’d all be fast friends again. But after the transition to the new job and new apartment, Andrea was surprised that she still felt angry. Time went by and months passed and she just couldn’t get the energy to reach out. If she hadn’t run into Doug at that birthday party a few weeks back, she doubted she'd ever be the one to reach out first. But Andy was happy that Doug stuck around, he was always the least judgmental out of the three. Lily was a different story altogether, Andy still couldn’t understand how her closest friend since elementary school sided with her college boyfriend over her. She expected more and frankly, she was starting to realize that she deserved more.

 

Runway was still a sore spot. She avoided Nigel's calls for months before he stopped trying. Andy knew he would take one look at her and immediately see her tantrum in Paris for what it was, and she couldn’t bare feeling so exposed right now. Not until she had this all figured out. Andy knew this little crush she had on Miranda should have faded by now. The pull she felt with the editor should have dulled once she wasn’t constantly within touching distance, but every step she took farther away from Runway had made the yearning grow and Andy suspected it would only get worse. She resigned herself to the fact that the worst possible thing had happened; enough time had gone by for Andy to miss Runway, and to miss a certain editor even more. Exasperated and tired, Andy made a note to herself to check The Mirror’s HMO policy around therapy, hopefully, she can find one specializing in Stockholm syndrome.

 

Weeks later, on a particularly dull day at The Mirror, Andy finally got the nerve to call Emily back. She expected the call to go to voicemail. Andy was counting on it actually. It would have been understandable. She had about 40 unreturned text messages from the Brit and in the modern cellular age of communication that was the equivalent to death. But to be fair, was one truly expected to respond to death threats?  

 

Emily answered on the second ring with a haughty “Oh so you are alive, I guess Nigel and I will have to cancel the funeral arrangements”

 

“Hi Em” Andy smiled into the phone at the familiar tone.

 

“Hi? That’s all you have to say after two months?”

 

“I… I’m sorry Emily”

 

“Good grief, Andrea there’s no need for any dramatics. Nigel and I will be at that wine bar we like down the street in 15 minutes. Don’t be late.”

 

That day Andy walked out of the Mirror offices feeling lighter than she had in months.

 


 

14 months since Paris.

 

Andy always arrived at the office early, she enjoyed getting to work before anyone else had the chance to ruin her productivity. She found she was her most practical In the morning. She was less easily distracted, less swayed by the many indulgences around the city. In the morning Andy could work for hours without looking up, but later in the day, she found that her ‘short coffee breaks’ became longer and longer until she was just full-on ditching work. 

 

Much to Andy's chagrin, her workmates noticed her odd work pattern pretty quickly and they were all too keen to take advantage of her regular mid-afternoon coffee runs. She’s pretty positive she’s done more coffee runs in her year at The Mirror than any of the interns combined. The fact that her daily latte deliveries were the closest she got to her old runway life did wonders to dull her annoyance. 

 

Andy was on the way back into the office from one of these coffee runs when her editor stopped her outside his office.

 

“Hey, Sachs!”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Got a new assignment for ya. Sandra’s out sick, I need you to cover the tech column.” 

 

Great. Andy sighed, she understood she was the new girl but she hatted covering all the column pieces. She had to match the original writer's voice and most of the assignments come with a pre-approved message anyway, so it felt like a waste of time to attend. “Sure, where am I headed?”

 

“The media launch of a new matchmaking software. It’s supposed to find people's genetic soulmate.” 

 

“You’re kidding.” Mark fought a smile at Andys ruffled reaction. 

 

“Nope.” Mark responded with gleaming eyes, “It’s all over Twitter, apparently they have already successfully paired like 50 couples.”

 

plastering on her most grateful smile, Andy met her boss’s eye “I’ll be there”

 

With a resigned sigh, Andy sat at her desk, quickly looking over her calendar to see how much of her schedule she would have to switch around to make sure she had time to attend this event she was now saddled with. Andy gave an annoyed huff when she realized she was going to have to reschedule her date with Doug's work friend he just swore was perfect for her. It seemed no matter where Andy worked - work-life balance was simply not in her vocabulary. 

 

In the past months, Andrea had done just about everything right. She meditated daily, drank that disgusting green juice that everyone wouldn’t shut up about, and filled her calendar until it was all but ripping at the seams. She was pleased with her life, happy even. Her new roommate, while having an unfortunate penchant for horse-themed decor, was nice and never complained when Andy ate a little more than her fair share of the groceries. She was starting to feel solid in her new life; she replaced all the furniture Nate took with him when he moved to Boston, found some great bars and restaurants in her new neighborhood, and even went on a couple of decent dates. Her life was so jam-packed she had no time to lay around and think about Miranda, she was perpetually exhausted but it was working.

 

If forced to admit it, despite her busy schedule, Andrea was still a little lonely. But Doug is back in her life, she sees Emily and Nigel fairly regularly, her job is rewarding, and her roommate is nice. Andy even felt that she was one lunch date away from turning her work friends into full-blown, real-life, honest-to-god friends. There was nothing theoretically missing from her life - a fact which she reminded herself of often. 

 

And if she kept all her copies of Runway under her bed, she chose to attribute it to the lessons she learned and the memories she wanted to keep. And if she took the long way past the Elias Clarke office building when she went for her afternoon coffee run, Andy blamed her need for exercise and convinced herself that the Starbucks on that corner was just better. And if every time she passed by that intersection where she waved at Miranda those many months ago, she slowed her stride to a crawl keeping an eye out for that iconic silver Mercedes - Andy passed it off as an overabundance of street safety. 

 

Yes, denial was the word of the moment for Andrea Sachs - for in the months after Paris Andy discovered pretty quickly that when it came to getting over Miranda Priestly, the easiest option was to pretend she never fell to begin with.

 


 

14 months since Paris. 

 

Miranda no longer bothered learning her assistants names, so few stuck around long enough to make it worth the trouble. Now more than ever before, that second assistant's chair was a revolving door.

 

After Paris, Miranda needed to get Emily out of her line of sight as fast as possible. She couldn’t stand to look at the girl anymore; hobbling around on those crutches, her heavy cast weighing down her couture. Miranda just couldn’t take any more of her kicked puppy routine and she convinced herself that if she could banish Emily from her direct periphery that nebulous twinge of guilt she felt when she saw her loyal first assistant would go away. 

 

So Emily was quickly sent to work in the Art Department with Nigel with as little fanfare as possible, and Miranda did her best to ignore the desperate look in Emily’s eye. Losing Paris had obviously done a number on the girl and Miranda was sure that her erratic moods these past few weeks did not help matters. Couple that with the increased media involvement since the divorce, and it made sense why the redhead constantly looked close to tears.

 

Miranda tried not to take it the wrong way when Emily all but danced out of her office, carrying the few personal items she dared leave on her desk in a cardboard box

 

After that Miranda had to onboard two assistants at once, it’s safe to say no candidate lasted long enough to be memorable. So here Miranda was, a year later and still scaring away another new Emily. At this point, the predictability of their incompetence was almost soothing. 

 

She had always hired the same type of girl - a loyal follower, a pretty shell; but nothing more. After Andrea abandoned her in Paris, Miranda was reminded why she surrounds herself with such vapidity; it’s far easier to rule her little kingdom when no one could ever truly come close to her. 

 

No one rode in the elevator. No one rode in the car with her. No one had ever dared. No one until Andrea. And now Miranda was left all on her own, left to miss something she never asked for to begin with. All because of this obstinate girl. With her high handed morals and happy-go-lucky attitude 

 

This little Ohioan nothing had the nerve to make Miranda miss her. 

 

How insufferable 

 

“Miranda?” The new Emily all but stuttered, interrupting Miranda’s musings. The poor flimsy creature cowered outside her office doorway and Miranda knew it would only take a well-timed quirk of her brow to blow the girl over. But instead, she just vaguely motioned for the girl to continue - she didn’t get the same kick from terrorizing her assistance as she used to. 

 

“Greg called again and would like to remind you that the launch of Soulmates R Us is tonight.”

 

Miranda rolled her eyes and got rid of the girl with a wave of her hand. She didn’t have time for such nonsense, and she never appreciated reminders - a fact of which Greg should be well aware, he was married to her for four years for christ's sake. Greg was a wonderful father to her daughters but she was growing increasingly tired of the amount of control he felt entitled to over her life. When they were first drawing up divorce papers when her daughters were just a few years old, she was happy with the deal they made. She didn’t have the financial security she has now, her salary package didn’t include any shares back then and she had made some less-than profitable investments in the early years of their marriage - a fact Greg reminds her of frequently. So Greg had proposed that all their shared investment portfolios be split 50/50 and be made into a shared hedge fund of sorts, with the caveat that if either of them were to act against the interest in any of their investments they would lose ownership of their share of the business and the other party would retain 100% of the investment.

 

Greg was an accomplished financier, and Miranda just kind of did what he advised. It’s not like it hadn’t paid off; it seemed every well that Greg dug poured liquid gold. Miranda just wished she hadn’t taken a back seat for so long, maybe then she wouldn’t have to deal with all this drivel. At first, Miranda loved the security this gave her, she knew that there would be no motivation for Greg to tank an investment just to get back at her, and 12 years ago when she did not feel as financially secure as she does now the option to retain their shared stock portfolio was too enticing to give up. But now the amount of energy it's taking to keep up the appearance that she wasn’t ‘tanking an investment’ is getting out of hand. Just last week Greg's lawyers had served her a breach notice because Runway had run a feature on the wonders of solar energy - Greg was displeased and believed she was not acting in the interest of their shared portfolio since one of their biggest money-makers at the moment was the turbine farm they own along the western Texas border. A year or two earlier he threw a fit when Page Six ran photos of a brand new smart refrigerator being delivered to Miranda's townhouse - apparently, the brand her assistant had ordered was the largest competitor to the smart refrigerator she and Greg had invested in, blah blah blah - honestly how was she supposed to keep track? She can’t remember the last time she even spared a glance at what her refrigerator looked like anyway. 

 

Over the years, Miranda had tried many times to dissolve the trust and split the portfolios evenly between them, even going so far as to take a larger chunk of the lower profiting investments, just to be done with the whole thing, but Greg hadn’t even humored the conversation - and Miranda was starting to wonder if Greg might have set this whole thing up to keep her life forever tied to his. 

 

And now, Greg's most recent hissy fit has her blocking off a full evening to attend the opening of his newest acquisition, or I guess their newest acquisition. Soulmates R Us had taken off. The company promised to find a guaranteed soulmate-level match for their customers. According to the briefing her lawyers sent over, they used a mix of genetic compatibility and an analysis of ‘social stressors’ to find their matches. Since Greg had gotten in on the ground floor of this little project, their trust owned a competitive amount of the company shares and she was told by her accountant that the sale price was now through the roof. The company’s initial testing had gone fantastically, with 100% of the initial test couples still happily together. The preliminary advertising campaign had similarly gone off without a hitch and after the launch party later this evening - the company would be opening its services to over 500 thousand early subscribers.

 

All of this would be great if Miranda didn’t need to attend the launch party. Page Six had just recently stopped crucifying her for her most recent divorce. The fact that Steven was all too gleeful to air out her dirty laundry didn’t help matters. But the editors of that rag must have run out of cruel epithets to print above stock images of her with devil horns photoshopped above her head since she hasn’t been featured in almost a week. But now, Miranda had to walk solo into a public launch of the newest matchmaking software where the whole night would be dedicated entirely to soulmates. Soulmates! As a newly three-time-divorcee, Miranda couldn’t think of anything more humiliating. 

 

If she wasn’t certain Greg was trying to fuck with her before, his absolute insistence that she attends was all the evidence she really needed.