UNFINISHED BUSINESS

By Scribes and Scrolls

Author's note: This is my crack at a Mirandy fic after Helebette, my 500th follower on Tumblr, gave me this prompt: Set five to seven years in the future after Andy is well established in a different career. Also: NC17 action.

CHAPTER ONE: ACHE

I saw her out of the corner of my eye. How long has it been now? Five years? Six? I quickly do the sums again. Five years, two months.

She wears her age well, with a newfound poise, which is not surprising given how far she's come, how exceptional her career has been since that day in Paris that she left my side.

She moves with a confidence and a stillness she never had as my assistant. She seems to be gifted with an awareness of who she is and what she's doing. That's also new.

Has she found love? How could someone so full of life, and now so famous, be still alone? Has there been no one since cook boy?

I ache for her.

Wasn't that a shock to discover. Denial only lasted the first three months.

The day I forced her to go, I had no idea what I'd done. No one has come close to filling the void, no flirtation since has ever reached the heights of that one night when her brief touch redefined forever what I'd come to think of as erotic. All who followed were just sallow, empty imitations that left me feeling cold.

I ache for her.

She is under my skin. At the end of our first year apart, I briefly considered looking her up. Inventing some excuse to be in her orbit and seeing where it might lead. Then, quite by accident, Nigel let slip she'd been avoiding me. That wherever I was, she wouldn't be.

So, it was a one-sided ache, then.

I gave her her space. It was the least I could do after my deplorable behaviour. I pledged that I wouldn't make a move unless she appeared at an event she knew that I'd be at. That would be the criteria.

I've stuck to it religiously for five years and two months. But here she is tonight. At a Runway-sponsored party. She had to have known I'd be here.

My heart hurts looking at her again in the delectable flesh after all this time. I'd forgotten how breathtakingly beautiful she is when she smiles.

Andrea's hair is still straight and brown but less youthful in its style, no longer in bangs framing those expressive wide eyes. Well, less wide now, but no less expressive.

The way she looks at people these days is in the eye, direct, unwavering. She is in control. At ease. She owns this room. Look at the pathetic salivating men orbiting her - they can't take their eyes off her.

Neither can I.

She is magnificent in that gown. It's a stunning silver Valentino - the Italian collection - with a plunging neckline and crystal trim. It would have cost a pretty penny. I suppose she can afford it now, with her rise and rise.

And the heels - dear God, is she wearing Prada?

Prada for me?

My heart skips several beats as I consider that thought before instantly dismissing it.

Andrea Sachs most likely does not consider me at all. Not since that night in Paris, when everything changed.

That night I had sat on the couch, half a decade ago, stripped of make-up and artifice, trying not to be pulled into chocolate brown eyes of an assistant who had impressed me more than I cared to admit.

I'd lost my husband an hour before. The divorce papers still felt warm from the fax machine. The coward couldn't even do it to my face. So, just perfect, even the hotel concierge now knew about my crumbling home life.

My daughters were all I could think of - their humiliation at the hands of vultures in the press.

And Andrea sat there across from me and so earnestly asked: "Is there anything else I can do for you?''

Well that's what her voice said in those soft, concerned tones. Those were the words she spoke aloud.

Her eyes blatantly asked for something else.

I remember wondering about that for a moment, surprised she would choose to let me see something so naked, so needy. She'd hidden it better than most. Oh, she wasn't the first assistant to be attracted to my bright but deadly flame. But this daring little moth actually wanted me to see it.

And then I realised why. She was mirroring my own vulnerability. She was giving me something awkward and intensely private of herself, so I wouldn't feel so one-sided in my evening's humiliation.

Having a goodness that pure - oh Hell, she'd ruin us both. I knew it even as I was irresistibly drawn to it.

Now who was the moth and who the flame?

I turned slightly on the couch, pivoting so I was in profile to her from where she faced me in a seat opposite. My robe slipped slightly, as I knew it would, off my right shoulder. I was quite naked beneath the thin grey silk. I glanced at her from under my sweep of white hair.

"I'm quite stressed," I husked softly. "Knotted up. It's most ... irritating."

And humiliating, I wanted to add. Being dumped by husband No. 3 by fax will do that. But I said nothing more, pressing my lips together firmly. My shoulders jiggled once in a seemingly indifferent invitation. My robe slipped slightly further. I brought my hand up to clutch it in front of my chest, in the vee, still leaving my shoulders bare.

I wouldn't ask outright. We both knew her résumé stated that she'd trained in massage as a sideline while studying journalism. I wondered if she would leap into some overly bubbly explanation about how her part-time massage job at that wellness centre near Northwestern University had paid for her student loans.

I didn't look at her, staring at the non-descript cream paint on the far wall, but I could sense her hesitation. She knew exactly what was being asked.

She always was the smart girl.

I swallowed sharply as I felt her move across to the sofa and take position behind my back. Her left bent knee slid along the sofa's high back, coming to rest just past my left hip, and her right leg stretched out, its foot still resting on the floor. Her core was pressed lightly into my backside.

She leaned forward and I felt the slightest huff of soft breath. Her fingers paused just above my skin, as if half expecting me to change my mind, and then she began to work.

The first touch was warm and smooth; so gentle. She was feeling her way around me, learning me, finding my knots and dips and rubbing carefully, thoroughly. Intoxicatingly.

I frowned at that thought.

I could smell her now. A hint of shampoo, maybe a dash of perfume - applied hours earlier, I decided. I tried to place its brand as her fingers dusted exactingly across my pale white skin. I'd never been much for the tanning, even in my youth.

I could hear her breathing deepen and noted her fingers were drawing lower down my back, across the tops of my shoulder blades. Her thumbs were working hard, pushing, probing, and I realised to my surprise she was actually exceptionally good at this. Several knots were unkinking. I hadn't been lying about those.

Her hands floated down to the barrier of my robe stretched taut across my upper back. It would not drop further so long as my hands clutched the front firmly to my chest.

"Let go," she whispered brazenly in my ear.

I wondered for a brief moment whether she meant metaphorically. Or did she mean the robe? If it was the latter, I'd be bared - topless - although with her facing my back she wouldn't see anything.

Whatever she meant, both options were impossible. Miranda Priestly does not simply "let go".

"Please?" she whispered, her warm hands stilling and becoming soothing, waiting.

So, she had meant the robe.

As if I didn't feel vulnerable and on the edge enough. But I could see her point, as her fingers could only get so far in their magic trails. And they WERE magic.

Her hands resumed their delicate circles higher up as she let me decide. The movement was so sensuous it caused ripples, a swathe of goose bumps across my flesh, and my nipples tightened appreciatively.

Traitorous nipples.

"Please, Miranda,'' she spoke again. "Let go. For me?"

For me?!

For ME!

My eyes shot wide open, askance.

Who did the girl think she was? What hold did she imagine she had on my life?

She was an assistant like any other, albeit one talented in soothing out one's stress knots. And tomorrow she'd see exactly how I treated those who worked for me when necessity dictated it.

She'd no sooner willingly touch me when that time came nor beg me for anything, than my dearest friend Nigel Kipling would want to look me in the eye.

So no, I would not allow this, this, this ... overstepping. This need.

I could not imagine what insanity I'd been thinking even letting things get this far. Before I could voice an opinion on the matter, she leaned her chin against my shoulder, her lips touching my ear. I felt her warm breath tickle over the shell and it stirred me in a way I never expected and wished I could unknow.

"You've gone all tight again, Miranda." I could almost see the breathy pout. A pause. Then: "Are you sure there isn't something more I can do for you?"

Her voice was like a dollop of fine Yellowbox honey, dripping with innuendo - but not that knowing, predatory innuendo of one versed in a lifetime of sexual experience. Hers was shading to the hopeful. I could also virtually smell the fragility on her, the fear of rejection, and feel her heart thumping anxiously against my back.

This had to stop.

I would make it stop.

"Yes," I said coldly, and pulled my robe back up, her hands inadvertently snapping away due to my abrupt action. "What I need is for you to Do. Your. Job."

I pivoted ninety degrees in my seat so I was now flush against the back of the couch, my expression frozen. I pressed my knees tightly together. It wouldn't do if their faint shaking could be observed.

Her shocked face, her immediate distance as she instantly stood, robbing me of that wall of warmth, were reminders I'd done the right thing. There was no way this could ever end well.

And if, by some miracle, Andrea even dreamed of hunting for my good side after tomorrow, after I'd crushed Nigel's career dreams into a faint wisp of dust, I would simply make her go. I'd done it before, with others who wanted too much from me, even if this time felt unusually less one-sided than others in the past.

Not the point.

I considered my options for cleanly detaching her from my side, without firing her and unfairly affecting her career options.

Some perfectly cutting speech would do it. Something about her selling her soul.

It would be for the best. For both our sakes.

A wave of self-loathing washed across me as I watched Andrea hold her head up, trying to hide the tears brimming in her eyes as she reached the door. I felt like I'd just stomped Bambi.

I reassured myself, pursing my lips as the door clicked shut, that she probably wouldn't even miss me. Give it a month or so. I'd write her a reference. Nothing too flowery, but enough.

And Andrea Sachs would barely remember me - this hollowed out shell of faux humanity - let alone miss me.

Because, really, what on earth was to miss?


Five years, two months later, my eyes lock with Andrea's on the other side of the room.

The woman pauses mid stride and my breath stills. She stares back at me, curious. Confident. Beautiful.

Only one thought enters my mind.

I ache for her.