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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. 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Andy arrived at Hotel Chelsea just after 8 pm, her near compulsion to be early to everything hadn’t dissipated even a jot since she left Miranda's employ. Stepping out of her cab she looked up at the hotel and walked into the brightly lit back gardens, Soulmates R Us had rented the entire event suite on the first floor which consisted of a decent-sized ballroom and an adjoining eating space. As she walked into the hotel Andy couldn’t help but be wooed by the scene - flowers in bright orange and pink and purple were artfully arranged around the balusters of the stairs, sweeping into the main event area and culminating at the foot of a small stage. All the marketing material for the company was splayed tastefully around the room in coordinating colors. She was impressed, a lot of money and time had obviously gone into this. 

 

It was through events like these that Andy could feel Miranda's presence in her life most of all. She used to feel embarrassed by how much she longed to attend fancy parties and be a part of the elegantly dressed crowd. Her midwestern values still reared their head when she got ready for events like this, but now most of the time all Andy could focus on was the steely eyes of a certain editor. She imagined Miranda appraising her outfit choice, from the very first touch of silk lingerie to the last piece of jewelry she adorned. Even now, with absolutely no chance of ever meaningfully running into the woman, Andy couldn’t help but pretend that Miranda could see how practiced she had become - how easy it was for her to mill about these spaces, with a glass of champagne in hand and a coy smile on her lips. 

 

Walking further into the room, Andy was stopped by a nervous employee with a bright orange shirt emblazoned with the company’s logo. Andy immediately imagined the inevitable pursed lips if Miranda were to ever see that dreaded uniform, and she had to fight hard to suppress her chuckle. 

 

“Welcome to the Launch of Soulmates R Us, please follow me to the intake area”

 

“Intake?”

 

“Yes, all the guests are welcome to a free subscription to Soulmates R Us, all you have to do is fill out our short survey and give a DNA sample. They will be announcing if there are any soulmates later tonight.”

 

Andy laughed outright. He must be kidding. When the employee returned her laugh with a blank and increasingly nervous expression Andy realized he was absolutely serious. She looked around and saw multiple strategically hidden stations with party-goers in full gala regalia sitting in front of large touchscreens, while people in scrubs, presumably nurses, were diligently taking blood samples.

The absurdity of it all took Andy by surprise, and she was shocked by how many people were just easily volunteering their DNA at a party. 

 

As if sensing her apprehension, the employee gave her a full rundown of the process. “I know it looks strange but it's a great deal. The Soulmates R Us intro package normally costs 800 dollars for the testing.” 

 

Andys eyes widened at the price tag, “intro package?”

 

“Yeah,” the employee had the forethought to look a little sheepish, “you can buy premium packages for more features, and supposedly a better match.” Andy took out her notebook and jotted down some notes as the employee lead her over to the intake cubicles in the back right corner. 

 

“So what do you say? Do you want to give it a shot? All your info will be kept private and only your name and phone number will be shared with your match … if they find you one.” The attendant was quick to add. 

 

Andy sighed, an uneasy feeling settled in her chest. This all felt rather dystopian to her, fancy people in fancy dress giving their blood to be matched to their soulmate. It’s archaic and space-age-y at the same time; with a nice helping of eugenics, her conscious added. For a second Andy felt like she had walked into the opening scene of a science-fiction film.

 

Ugh, fuck. Her curiosity had already been piqued, plus it would be a great addition to the column write-up she would have to finish later tonight. And, she reasoned, it’s not like even if she got a match she would be forced to marry someone or whatever, right? She probably wouldn’t even need to talk to them if she didn’t want to…

 

“800 dollar value for free, huh?” She smiled over at the employee and the nurse who was prepping her DNA collection, it seemed everyone around her already knew she would say yes.

 

“Yup” the employee beamed.

 

“I can never say no to that kind of deal.” With more than a little reluctance, Andy pulled up the sleeve of her dress and offered her arm. 

 


 

Walking away from the intake tables with a bandaid on her upper arm, Andy's hesitance hadn’t faded at all. The questions they asked in the survey were just as puzzling as everyone's apparent willingness to have their blood drawn at a party. Andy had expected the typical dating site questionnaire; where you grew up, your political affiliation, if you smoked, how often you drank - basic lifestyle questions. The Soulmates R Us questionnaire was as startling as it was succinct. On the touchpad were just five innocuous open-ended questions Nothing about preferences or a history of past partners. There were no questions that covered what you wanted for your future, what job you had or wanted, or even what your sexual orientation was! 

 

Even more surprising, Andy did not have to type a single letter, once she tapped the question the computer demanded a verbal answer which it automatically recorded. She asked the employee who helped her get situated about it and he informed her that the way she answers the question, both in content and in linguistic style, would be analyzed by the computer software to find her perfect match. It seemed that the tech that has gone into Soulmates R US was far more advanced than Andy had anticipated. When she arrived this evening she had been prepared to write up a nuanced but ultimately predictable piece about how the modern age of dating means inviting all sorts of tech into your bedroom - but this whole setup was more extreme than she could have ever imagined. Any kind of ‘genetic matchmaking’ has alarm bells ringing in her mind already but combined with those wacko questions and the astronomical cost of the membership, she was truly left baffled. 

 

Andy was just putting the last of her initial thoughts to paper when her attention was pulled towards the front entrance. Paparazzi were swarming someone, the camera flashes obscuring Andy from seeing who had everyone's attention until the iconic white coif that Andy never thought she'd see in person again came into view. What could she possibly be doing here?  Andys heart hammered in her chest. Her feet had all but melted into the floor. Oh, God.

 

Miranda glided into the hall, expertly avoiding the paparazzi's questions as she swirled into the main event space, her sunglasses still shielding her from prying eyes. It would be humorous how quickly Andy spotted Miranda, but the shock of white hair in her periphery caused an immediate blush to whip its way up Andys neck, and all she could feel was her own embarrassment. As if her sudden proximity to Miranda would somehow clue the editor, and every other person around her, into just how often Andy had imagined this moment. Running into her at a Starbucks, holding hot coffee in gloved hands; seeing her in the park, her fingers gripping Patricias leash with a twin nestled on either side; spotting her at an event just like this one, enjoying her signature regal decent down the stairs.

 

There was one vital difference, Andy found out, between her fantasies and reality. In her fantasies, she would meet Miranda’s eye, and watch the recognition flit around the editor's face. Andy would wave and say some charming one-liner and be rewarded instantly by one of Miranda's fond little smiles. She would get her foot back in the door; she would find a way to make Miranda understand why she had to leave; she would find a way to make Miranda forgive her. It was like a movie sequence in Andy's head that played over and over.

 

In reality, Miranda stared right past her. Storming into the reception area the editor cast a cool gaze along the room. For a fraction of a second, Andy thought those steely blues would land on her but instead, they landed on a group of men in suits that was congregated a few feet away from her. Miranda strode towards the men and was warmly greeted by the older man in the group with a quick kiss on her cheek. Andys insides twisted into a knot at the contact. The man whispered in Miranda's ear, leaning in far too close to be just a casual acquaintance and Andy bristled at the familiar hold the man has on her. With one hand securely on her lower back, the mystery man lead Miranda toward the partition behind the small stage in front of the reception hall, far away from where Andy stood stock still. 

 

Andy could just about breathe again as Miranda disappeared around the corner but her embarrassment burrowed itself deeper in her chest and she found herself having a hard time taking a breath. Fuck. She should have known another Mr. Priestly would be waiting in the wings, they always were. Nothing would ever change that.

 

This is exactly why you left, to save yourself from moments like this.

 

Andy's hands were hot and sweaty and she dragged them along her dress skirt not caring if they left marks.  All those months away from Miranda allowed Andy to forget how utterly embarrassing it was to yearn for that woman’s affections. To hold out hope for a second-long glance in her direction. She felt stupid. She was nothing to Miranda, she never had been. 14 months of daydreams hadn’t changed a thing. Andy needed to get herself together, she could feel tears threatening to overflow. She needed out. Out of here; out of New York; out of the country, she didn’t care she just couldn’t stand to be overlooked anymore. Spotting a bathroom near the front entrance, Andy quickly secured her notebook in her clutch and made her way back to the front entrance vaguely aware of the other guests she was pushing past. She had just reached the bathroom door as the event lights dimmed and the presentation began. Too overwhelmed to bother turning around now Andy slipped into the bathroom, out of sight.

 


 

Miranda found herself seated on the stage as the supposed ‘brains’ of this operation gave probably the dullest speech about soulmates one could ever imagine. She swore if she heard another thing about genomes she’d walk right out of this event hall, stock portfolio be damned. 

 

She couldn’t even believe she was seated on stage, how mortifying. If this could even be classified as a stage, Miranda noted, much to her amusement, there was barely enough room for all five board members. Of course, Greg had never told her that she was going to be puppeted around the whole evening, if she had known she would have kept her sunglasses on. This whole thing was just like him, Miranda noted bitterly, he always kept everything from her until the very last minute, and then she was forced to go along with whatever silly plan he had for her. This whole situation was dumb, all she did was partially fund the operation why on earth did she need to be paraded around like this? She didn’t even believe in soulmates, one of her (many) ex-husbands was sitting next to her for crying out loud. 

 

After Miranda realized that the dull man was going to continue being dull, she let her mind wander. The paparazzi were just as bad as she anticipated they would be, of course, they couldn’t help but bring up her most recent divorce. She had tried to switch the narrative around a little by showing up to whatever party she could with a new and more attractive man on her arm, but nothing worked. It seemed as if all the world wanted to talk about was how she was incapable of keeping a man, how tiresome. 

 

Miranda had never understood why the paparazzi insisted on yelling all those tedious epithets at her when they asked her to comment on whatever lie was currently being printed on Page Six. Throwing insults and then immediately asking her to smile was an odd strategy and there was nothing a stranger could yell at her to get her to react anymore, she was far too practiced at keeping her mask firmly in place. And thank goodness for that. If Miranda had any less of a penchant for total and utter control over her expressions, then she would have completely lost it when what had to be Andrea’s body double caught her eye briefly near the front entrance. The woman looked so similar to Andrea, with the same long brown locks, the same towering curvaceous figure, and even the doe eyes - wide and endearing - gazed back at her. But it couldn’t have been Andrea, it was improbable. Andrea left. Andrea ran away from her. Gave up her whole future because she couldn’t possibly stand to be near Miranda for a single second longer. What's worse, she ran in front of everyone. The one time that Miranda's mask had slipped in the last 20 years, and that silly girl had to cause a scene in front of the largest show in fashion week. Of course, Page Six had run the photos. They had their fun for the next few weeks. Headlines like ‘Brave Assistant walks out on the Devil’, and ‘The Dragon Lady doesn’t just scare away Husbands’, were on every major gossip site within two hours. Miranda had never wished for someone to leak her impending divorce faster, she’d do anything to get that dreaded photo off of mainstream media. She couldn’t stand to look at it - Andrea’s back to her as she stormed away and Miranda looked, well… she had never seen that panicked expression on her face before and she had no desire to ever think about why a silly little assistant walking out on her could have possibly shaken her up so much

 

Then there were all the rumors, that had been a fun couple of months. Miranda did not have much hope left for mainstream media, but even she couldn’t have anticipated that they’d be able to stretch the truth as far as they did and for as long as they did. Page six alone published gossip columns for weeks claiming Stephen and Andrea were having some sordid affair, somehow unearthing every single photo in existence of Stephen and Andrea in the same room together and quoting one “trusted source” was what qualified as journalism these days. Miranda could only roll her eyes at the whole ordeal, she would probably have been able to laugh at the absurdity of it all if the news coverage hadn’t kept those dreaded Paris pictures in the news circuit for months longer than they would have been otherwise.

 

No, Miranda decided. It was definitely not Andrea. The girl wouldn’t be caught dead in some silly self-celebratory party like this one. The little rag she worked for rarely covered society events, and even so Andrea wrote about politics, social injustices, and whatever else naive bleeding hearts spent their days thinking about - dying puppies and such nonsense, no doubt. 

 

Greg nudged her discreetly with his elbow, snapping her out of her reverie.

 

“You could at least try to look interested,” Greg whispered out of the side of his mouth. She didn’t even bother responding to him, one of the few perks of her persona is that she never had to pretend to be interested in anything. 

 

“Every one of our board members believes in this project.” The dull ramblings about DNA sequencing were apparently over as the salesman of the group was now at the mic. With a sweeping glance towards the board seated primly at the back of the stage, he continued, “in fact, all of our investors here were the very first subscribers to Soulmates R Us - they all put their own DNA on the line, that’s how much they believe in our program.”

 

I’m sorry - what? Miranda vaguely remembered answering those stupid fucking questions when Greg roped her into this ridiculous enterprise. But the DNA? She wouldn’t just forget if someone drew her blood at a board meeting. Thinking back to the only two meetings she ever actually attended in the two years she and Greg had funded Soulmates R Us, she did remember Greg hassling her to sign a bunch of consent documents when she took that sample survey, but she never gave her DNA to them. 

 

“And now comes the most exciting moment of the night, I am told our programmers have found a match in this very room.” 

 

A quiet hush spread over the crowd as the salesman amped up his performance and Miranda just rolled her eyes, tired of the over-dramatics. Looking beside her, Greg seemed to be on the edge of his seat as well and her irritation bloomed. Miranda wondered briefly if he paid off the programmers to match him with the most attractive (and presumably also the youngest) woman in the room - she wouldn’t put it past him, he’d always been terribly predictable. 

 

“This is a very exciting match. Our technicians assure me that these two are synced in all four core categories. We dare say this is the strongest match we’ve found yet. Besides my own match, of course - hello, honey.” Winking at a petite redhead standing close to the stage, the crowd murmured with quiet laughter and the Salesman paused for applause. Miranda’s distaste for him magnified tenfold, she hated being cajoled into applauding for someone when they haven’t even said anything yet. 

 

“So without further ado, let’s meet our newest soulmates. Can one miss Andrea Sachs, please come to the stage?”

 

Well, that got Miranda's attention.

 


 

Andy had just gotten her breathing under control when she exited the bathroom. She heard the presenter say something about how they were going to announce a new match they had found in the room, she was relieved to know that she hadn’t missed that part of the evening since it would make a great closing paragraph for her column piece she needed to write. No doubt, two rich society folks would be paired together and Andy could comment on how the rich and famous kept updating their breeding rituals; out with the debutante balls in with genetic matchmaking ceremonies. 

 

Looking at her watch, Andy noted that she missed about 25 minutes of the presentation and she sighed to herself, great job Sachs. All the genetic mumbo jumbo had probably already been discussed, looks like I’ve got an evening of research ahead of me. Unless maybe I could get someone too…

 

“… Can one miss Andrea Sachs, please come to the stage.”

 

What? No, no, no… What? Andys mind whirled as the gathered crowd erupted in applause. Me? Wait why do they need me to go up to the stage? Andy cursed under her breath as she wished she had paid attention to whatever had been said before her name was called, she couldn’t possibly be the soulmate, that would be ridiculous. I only answered five questions! 

 

“Um, Andrea Sachs? Is there an Andrea Sachs still here?” The announcer looked anxiously over the crowd. Andy’s body wouldn’t even move an inch, she felt frozen in place as the dread of having to make her way over to the stage worked its way up her spine. 

 

“Here she is!” The employee who helped her through the intake process grabbed her arm and waved it in the air. All Andy could stare at was that godawful orange shirt and think about how if anyone ever doubted if the wealthy hated their minimum wage employees they should just take one look at the uniforms these people were forced to wear. The booming applause woke Andy up from her daze and her body started to kick in again as the employee all but dragged her toward the stage. She could barely see anything in front of her but she could feel every single eye in the crowd follow her journey. 

 

“Come on up!” The man at the mic gave her what Andy supposed was a friendly smile but all she could see was the clean rows of teeth with lips that stretched far too wide and she grimaced. The employee pushed her towards the small set of stairs on the left side of the stage and she wobbled as she clutched the banister, she was vaguely aware of someone helping her up the remaining stairs.

 

In front of the applauding crowd now, Andy could see the first two rows of people, and she cowered at their attention. This was never the plan. She was supposed to attend this fancy party, eat as much fancy food as she could get her hands on, then promptly head home and file a boilerplate column on how tech affects the modern world and call it a night. But no, instead she was standing in front of the entirety of the New York elite supposedly meeting her soulmate. Her booming heartbeat slammed against her skull and Andy was so focused on not falling on her face in front of the gathered crowd that she forgot all about the editor seated closely behind her. 

 


 

“It seems this young lady is quite anxious to meet her match.” The salesman tried his best to cover the less-then-thrilled expression that settled over Andreas’ face. Miranda stared at Andrea in shock, she tried to meet her eyes but the girl was resolutely looking straight ahead of her. Miranda doubted she was seeing much of anything right now. 

 

“Isn’t that your old assistant that was all over the tabloids in Paris?” Greg murmured beside her and Miranda could have just about slapped him.

 

“Then let’s not drag this out, shall we?” The salesman continued, “this is quite a special match for us here at Soulmates R Us because one of our very own has found their soulmate tonight. That's right everyone. One of our distinguished investors is Andrea’s match.”

 

A cold dread that Miranda so rarely felt settled in her stomach. Looking at all the other board members seated next to her on stage, the unsettled feeling in her stomach bloomed further. They were all so old and so wealthy and so often demeaning - the thought of her Andrea spending even a minute, let alone a lifetime, with any of the men seated around her burned Miranda from the inside out. 

 

“Our board has done so much for this project. Since its conception, this particular board member has been with us since the very beginning.”

 

The very beginning? But Greg and I were the very first investors. Turning to her side, Miranda looked at the father of her children and felt sick to her stomach. Greg? No, Andrea can’t… no. Rage swept hot and fast along Miranda's body and she clenched her fists painfully at her sides. A few photographers at the back of the room seemed to understand that something of note was happening and started making tier way forward, snapping pictures as they went. The camera flashes forced Miranda to remember that her emotions were on full display as she slid her mask back in place.

 

“Every single match we have made for the last three years is still blissfully happy. We are very proud of our 100% success rate and we have no doubt that this match will be just as perfect. Please welcome Andreas’ soulmate - Miranda Priestly.”

 

Applause roared around her and as she met Andrea’s panicked expression with her own stoic one, the only thing Miranda could think was: “This will definitely get everyone to stop talking about the divorce.”

 

 

Chapter Text

Miranda did not say a single word the entire time it took to walk to the private room that Soulmates R Us reserved for their newly paired soulmates. Presumably, they were there to get acquainted, or reacquainted in their case. But, Andy noted, trying her best to flick off the irritation that was clutching tightly to the base of her neck, in order to get reacquainted one of them would have to eventually say something. But Miranda hadn’t even bothered to look at Andy. Her shoulders were squared and every muscle in her body seemed taut with tension. She looked just as snooty as Andy remembered, her head tilted proudly in the air, and she had to fight hard to squash how incredibly relieved she was that after all these months Miranda was still exactly the same.

She couldn’t believe this was happening. One moment she was hiding cowardly in the bathroom to avoid being noticed by this woman and the next she was being announced as her soulmate in front of the majority of the New York elite. I must be dreaming, Andy thought to herself, putting her hands firmly at her sides to stop herself from fidgeting. It felt like her nervous system had whiplash, she was constantly oscillating between relief that it was Miranda, and then shock that it was Miranda, and dread that it was Miranda. Her body on auto-pilot, Andy quietly fell in step behind the editor and she did her best to avoid direct eye contact. An uncomfortable sense of deja vu hit her when she felt the almost compulsory need to step away for a coffee run.

“Here you go ladies,” The gruff attendant looked between both women for a second too long before he opened up the door to their private sitting area. His face quirked into a smirk and Miranda looked like she was a second away from tearing into him.

Following Miranda inside, Andy took in the sitting room - it had large windows in the back that showed an impressive view of the hotel’s back gardens. Two wing-backed chairs sat in the center of the room with a chaise to the left side. Most of the walls were lined with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves holding what must have been hundreds of impressive leather-bound volumes. Andy had a hard time pinpointing what the hotel would have normally used this room for. Surely it couldn’t be the “meet-your-soulmate room,” although it seemed to be perfectly fitted for that purpose.

As soon as the attendant clicked the door closed Miranda made a bee-line for the window in the back corner and stared straight ahead at the gardens with her back to Andy, obviously in no mood to speak with her ex-assistant. That’s how she had been this whole time, in fact. Besides the initial moment their eyes met when Miranda’s name was called, the editor had resolutely avoided any contact with Andrea at all.

There was one single moment, where the editor's mask slipped just a fraction of an inch and Andrea was reminded of the woman she met in that hotel room in Paris; away from the public eye, stripped bare in her grey robe, she was utterly, gloriously human. But as quick as it happened, the mask slammed shut once again and Miranda just gracefully got up from her seat, acted as if nothing of importance was even happening, and then proceeded to listen to that annoying man talk for what felt like hours. Andrea did not listen to a word the man said, she was far too busy thinking about where the closest fire alarm was and burning a hole in the side of Miranda's head. Not that the editor would have noticed, she didn’t look over at Andrea once, preferring to stand on the opposite side of the stage with that stupid man sandwiched between them. Andy felt she should probably know the name of the man who changed the course of her life, but she supposed ‘stupid man’ would do for now.

Andy expected Miranda to at least acknowledge her when they walked behind the makeshift stage and away from everyone's prying eyes, but no, instead the editor looked straight ahead and Andy just dutifully filed behind. Anyone looking would have just thought Andy was an assistant again, and she had the uncomfortable realization that she would still do just about anything to not draw attention to herself. The notion grated on Andy’s nerves as she stood siloed in this too quite room; a room where they were supposed to get to know each other, get to know their soulmate, and it feels like there is just as much distance between them as there was a month ago - when Andy would avoid certain parties and only meet Emily and Nigel at bars far away from Runway.

But it was different now, wasn’t it? It had to be. It felt different. They were there as soulmates; publicly announced, patent-pending, algorithm-certified, soulmates.

Preferring to give the other woman a wide berth, for now, Andy stayed closer to the bookshelves. She had spent enough time with Miranda to recognize a power play when she saw one; Miranda held herself perfectly still, and Andy couldn’t stifle the spark of warmth in her chest at how miraculously normal this all felt. Silent, enigmatic Miranda

She knew Miranda wouldn’t be saying anything anytime soon and, knowing the woman's distaste for small talk, she instead perused the book titles absently to fill the loaded silence. When she got all the way through the alphabetized texts, Andy rolled her eyes at the woman who was still standing ramrod straight staring out the window. In all her months away from Runway, Andrea had started to forget how maddening the woman’s stubborn nature could be. In another circumstance, Miranda’s silent coup attempt would be almost comical - for goodness sakes she was pressed so tightly against that window her skin must be fused to the frame by now. Andy had to stifle a laugh at the idea of a Miranda-shaped smudge.

Deciding that she wouldn’t be the first person who gave in to this strange little quiet game Miranda seemed so hell-bent on playing, Andy picked up the book closest to her, not looking or caring what the title was, and sat down in one of the chairs to read. But as relaxed as Andy wanted to seem, she couldn’t manage to not give Miranda her complete attention, she’d barely even cracked open the book before Andy’s eyes flitted back to the woman she had spent the better part of the last 14 months actively trying to forget. What a waste of time, Andy thought, as her eyes flowed along the delicate structure of the editor's neck. Andy could never figure out, in all the many months she spent learning Miranda's mannerisms, how she was able to stay so stock still. Even now, after the tumult of the past 30 minutes, Miranda's body held the same grace and rigidity that it always had, and Andy found herself luxuriating in the familiar stillness.

Warmth pinked on Andy's cheeks as her eyes wandered further down the older woman’s frame, her book long forgotten. She hadn’t seen Miranda in person since that time on the sidewalk when she awkwardly waved at the woman across the street from the Elias and Clarke building. Andy still remembered that day so clearly; the split-second eye contact with Miranda made her feel giddy for days and she decided then that it was in her best interest to avoid everything Priestly until her little crush wore off.

Doesn’t seem to have happened yet, Andy noted with a sly smile as she continued to slowly track a path up and down the editor's body. Yup, Miranda in person is definitely a far headier cocktail, Andy felt positively drunk off of it. There goes my cold-turkey approach.

“Interested in yacht maintenance now, are we, Andrea?”

At the sound of Miranda's voice, Andy snapped back to attention and met Miranda's eyes through the reflection in the window. If Andy squinted she could pinpoint a slightly predatory smile on Miranda's lips. Caught you. Blushing, Andy quickly glanced down at the book she was pretending to read and looked at the title for the first time: “Yacht Maintenance for the New Age Man.” Well, that’s just great. She had barely even glanced at it, and at this point, she was just thankful that the book was the right way up.

To cover how flustered she was from being caught with wandering eyes, Andy did her best to steel her reaction, checking the time on her wrist watch she snapped her eyes back up to meet Miranda’s. “15 minutes,” she smiled back “I think I've broken Donatella’s record.”

“Hmm, she has always been terribly chatty.” The small, easy smile that graced Miranda’s lips threw Andrea off, she had been gearing up for more of a fight. Taking a seat in the other wing-backed chair, Miranda swept her cool gaze all over the brunette and Andrea had to fight every instinct she had to not break eye contact. “You’re looking…well.”

“Oh,” Flustered, Andy stuttered a response as the blush that she had steadily been nursing for the past half hour deepened, “you look… well you always are so - you know how amazing… “ Andy let out a long breath to compose herself, chuckling slightly at how overwhelmed she was, “you look well, also.”

“Hmm,” Miranda hummed and tilted her head in that achingly familiar way; half appraisal, half bemusement, and Andy could feel the knot in the pit of her stomach tightening. She couldn’t comprehend how she was sitting here, in this fancy hotel meeting room across from Miranda Priestly - it took a great amount of restraint to not pinch herself. She simply must be dreaming. Andy had spent so much of the past year trying her best to avoid even thinking of Miranda. She avoided all the celebrity media she could, going so far as to convince her boss to move her desk as far away from Darcy (The Mirror's head writer for their celebrity news and fashion column) as physically possible. Even so, Andy couldn’t help but hear tidbits of the gossip that was circulating. The click-bate headlines that insinuated she was involved in some scandalous sexual agreement between the newly divorced pair were particularly hard to ignore. Those theories took up far more brain space than Andrea would ever admit to.

“Now - we’re going to have to call Leslie, she-”

“I'm sorry, what?” Snapping back to reality, Andrea focused on Miranda and she was startled to see her expression had completely changed. She’d seen that look before and she did not think it belonged here. Not in this room, surely, with its cozy chairs and soft lighting. There should be no blood in this water.

“Leslie,” Miranda repeated her words to Andy like a child. “Surely you remember the PR protocols, you’ve only been MIA for a little over a year.”

“…MIA?”

Miranda rolled her eyes, obviously exasperated with her stuttering ex-assistant. “Leslie is in England with her family but she can still coordinate our response, I’ve paid her enough over the years that family holidays shouldn’t matter. We’ll need individual statements, obviously.”

“Individual statements?” Andrea could hear herself lamely parroting Miranda’s words back at her but she didn’t have the wherewithal to stop it. What nightmare reality had she woken up in? Andy remembered leaving all this behind, quite spectacularly at that. How had she managed to find her way back here?

“Yes, do keep up.” The warmth Andy picked up in Miranda's expression earlier was starkly absent now. Her tone was all business and Andy suddenly felt like she was in the wrong room, wrong time, wrong dress. The panic she’d been fighting since Miranda’s silent-act earlier reared its head and she found herself subconsciously positioning her body closer to the door. This isn’t right, she shouldn’t be here.

“I’m not your assistant anymore.” The words were softly spoken but to Andy’s oversensitive system it felt more like a shout.

“Oh really, Andrea,” Miranda’s eyes hardened. “I hadn’t caught on to that fact. The countless tabloids boasting your little Paris disappearing act did nothing to clue me in.”

The mention of Paris felt like a blow to the chest and Andy braced herself firmer on the chair. The door really was so very close; all she would have to do was take a few steps and she could get out of this room.

“Now, as I was saying,” Miranda’s tone continued its hard edge. “We are going to need to draft a response to all this,” waving her hand to indicate the absolute clusterfuck the two women had found themselves in. Her eyes bore down at Andy as if this whole mess was her fault and Andy could see herself two years ago so clearly, cowering in front of Miranda just as she was now, hanging off every whispered word.

Andy started to feel sick. That warm feeling she felt moments ago while Miranda quietly regarded her was long gone now and all that was left was a huge well of embarrassment. She was embarrassed about Paris. Embarrassed at how much she missed this stoic, difficult woman. Embarrassed at the flash of joy she felt when Miranda was announced as her soulmate. But mainly, she was embarrassed about how quickly Miranda could still anger her. She left all this in the past. She put all those magazines in a box, closed the lid, and shoved them under her bed. She should be done with all this. She was done with all this. How did she get back here? Sitting silently in font of Miranda, diligently waiting for her marching orders.

“You can’t tell me what to do anymore.” Shocked at the evenness of her tone, Andy met Mirandas eye.

“Don’t be such a child,” Miranda’s casual tone and the removed way her body angled away from Andy made it sound more like she was asking for some water, or for Andy to fetch her coat, or something. Miranda was the only person Andy has ever met that could be so casually cruel. It took until after Andy had left Runway to realize that this was Miranda’s true power: looking utterly indifferent after she had torn you too pieces. She had the uncanny ability to see the heart of a person, someone’s root insecurity, and then to throw it in their face so casually, as if she couldn’t even be bothered to use their weakness against them. There wasn’t a single designer, financier, or CEO in the world that could hold up to that.

“We will handle this,” Her tone firm, she looked Andy squarely in the eye, as if to reassure a flighty animal, but Andy had the sense that Miranda's reassurance was just as much for her own benefit. “I will not have this drag on like your last little stunt did. I am sure you had bundles of fun with your last media foray but I for one have business to do and daughters to protect, and I don’t appreciate being dragged into all this.”

“Dragged… you think-“

“I have no idea what you do or don’t do, you made plenty sure of that.” For a split second Andy saw an unmistakable flash of pain in Miranda’s eyes, but that was impossible. Andy must have imagined it, for surely Miranda would never be upset that she wasn’t kept up to date on Andy’s lonesome little life. She barely noticed the hundreds of assistants who quit before her, she wasn’t even sure Miranda would remember her name if it had not been splashed all over page six for months after Paris.

“Now, you will do everything Leslie tells you to and we will sort this mess out, quickly. That’s all.”

At this signature dismissal, Andy finished her assistant-act-revival, and quickly left the room.