Disclaimer: I don't own anything originating from The Devil Wears Prada – movie or novel. Just borrowing the characters to play.
Summary: Nigel as the narrator regarding what he saw in Paris.
What Nigel Saw
A MirAndy Short Story by
People who ask me who my closest friend is, tend to do a double take when I answer 'Miranda Priestly'. I know they automatically surmise this woman who scares the designer pants off the toughest of men, and the four-inch-heels of the most driven of women, couldn't have friends whatsoever. When I counter with 'but you don't see her like I do', they merely shake their head and regard me with pity. Pity that I'm clearly delusional, or pity that it might be true and it ought to be a fate worse than death to be friends with the Dragon Lady.
Not very many people know it was I who came up with the moniker she most often goes by. Dragon Lady. Those other ones, Snow Queen, Devil in Prada, etcetera, have nothing to do with me. Dragon Lady fits her well. When you know her like I do, she's all fire. No matter if she's angry or excited, she spews fire. Never in a million years would anyone who actually knows her call her cold. Snow Queen, indeed? The only thing resembling frost with this woman is the color of her hair.
Oh, yes, I'm responsible for her 'iconic hairdo' as well. When she took over the reins at Runway, she knew she'd need that special look as it's not only practical, but would help with her brand. "I'm already going grey, Nigel. Create something that will last. Something that looks stylish, but easy to form with a little practice." I did a few sketches and when she saw the one with the big, S-shaped forelock. That was it. She's kept it for more than twenty years now. With each passing year, it becomes whiter, but dammit, she's stunning.
Miranda picks her own clothes. Nobody, not even I, can outshine her sense of fashion and what fits her best. She can do pretty crazy blends sometimes, and the jewelry she wears is almost always custom. She finds splurging on diamonds worse than wearing fur, even if she doesn't do that either these days. "You have to roll with the times, Nigel," she told me ones and nearly throttled me for laughing for ten minutes straight at this preposterous statement. For staying so current and running a magazine that is first with everything new in the beauty and fashion industry, Miranda is surprisingly conservative when it comes to certain things. She uses an iPhone, but she prefers landlines with 'real buttons.' She has an iPad, but prefers her laptop. She doesn't google herself, or visit blogs, and the last person who suggested to Miranda she needed to be present in all the social medias out there was never seen or heard from again.
Miranda's been married twice. First husband, the father of her twin girls, was so wrong for her; even I would've been a better match. He wanted her to stop working once the girls were born, and she had already hired a nanny the same day her pregnancy test came back positive. He hated dogs and never did accept her former canine, a Jack Russell terrier named Nero. When Nero died, she bought Patricia, the lovingly slobbering St Bernard, which turned out to be the last straw. Husband #1 moved out. Husband #2, Stephen, was interviewed over time and she actually had a list where she checked box after box according to his answers. When he'd past all twenty-seven main questions and forty-six sub-questions, without missing one, she maneuvered him into marrying her. I'm sure he thought it was his idea.
As it turns out, Stephen couldn't have been more wrong. Clearly, there were a few things about him Miranda didn't even think he might hide or lie about. His fondness for alcohol, for instant. As he felt more and more lonely, turned into a bit of a father-figure-turned-manny, he increased his intake of the most expensive whisky you can buy on Manhattan. Something one of the twins once said made me suspect Stephen occasionally used cocaine. I never caught him in the act though. Miranda kept up appearances for a long time, even with me, but I started seeing signs of her distress and worry, little by little. I take pride in knowing her well and when I saw how her application of under-eye concealer became more and more extensive, I knew she wasn't sleeping.
The twins hadn't been asked, and they ended up disliking Stephen with a vengeance. When they weren't pranking the latest second assistant, they made his life miserable. The thing was, as much as those little girls could pester him, what he did, making them feel unwanted, unlikable, and generally the spawn of the devil, was far worse. Miranda tried everything to make this marriage work, but as it turned out, Stephen had his eyes on one of the junior partner's at his law firm. She was twenty-eight, stunning, and flattered by his attention. Then she was also pregnant, so he filed for divorce. He could've waited and not sent the papers overnight to Paris where Miranda and I, and half or Runway, were attending Paris Fashion Week. Instead, he probably figured this would mess really well with Miranda, and off the legal documents went. I'm sure he thought it was the perfect way to get back at her and he could've destroyed so much if it hadn't been for the presence of one special young woman.
He hadn't figured what difference Andrea Sachs would do. Miranda was actually crying over the bastard on the couch and what he'd done to her and the girls, when Andy walked in on her. Later, Miranda told me just how embarrassed and how utterly vulnerable she felt at first.
"Nigel, you know I'm not vain," Miranda said to me, shaking her head in dismay. "But my first thought when Andrea came to a screeching halt, was 'god, I must look like I'm sixty-five, no makeup, limp hair, and red eyes and nose'." She chuckled unhappily. "As it turned out, she was rather…sweet about it. I kept her at arm's length, of course, that goes without saying, but I confess, her caring warmed me."
When she told me this, after the last of the day's fashion show, Andrea was no longer with Runway, or for all we knew, still in Paris. Pivoting on my bar stool, I raised an inquisitive eyebrow, Miranda-style. "Something, somewhere, went wrong. What have you done with her body?"
"What?" Miranda jerked and spilt some coffee. "Dammit, Nigel. What are you talking about? I haven't touched her!"
I had been joking. I knew the rep she had about assistants going missing since she tossed them out the window and then paid someone to hide their bodies. She and I had laughed about this many times. In Miranda's opinion, being perceived as scary was mostly a good thing. Now I tried to figure out what she'd just said. "What do you mean, you haven't touched her?"
"Just that. I haven't. Ever." Miranda stood from her bar stool and hoisted her purse. "I'm going to go back to my room. There's that function tonight and now I'm going to have to do without an assistant as she bailed on me."
"Despite you not touching her. Ever." I dropped a few euros to pay for out coffee and walked next to her toward the elevator. We stayed at the same floor and I needed some rest as well after this morning's mayhem. Our ultimate boss had tried a power play against Miranda, and lost. Miranda had sacrificed me in the process of keeping Runway under her wings, which she'd spent the last hour apologizing for, and promising to rectify. She had already talked to two Italian designers who wanted to move their business to New York—and they needed someone like me to head up their business.
"Yes." Miranda snapped her head around and stepped into the elevator. Two men, dressed in rather dreary looking suits, scurried out. I wondered if the rumor had spread all the way to Paris about Miranda preferring to ride alone in elevators. Well, except with a select few. I was usually welcome, as was Andrea and of course the twins. Huh. This revelation made me squint as I tried to figure out the importance of this.
I was starting to see a pattern, but lost all focus on that when the elevator stopped at our floor and we stepped outside. Right into a pale Andy Sachs who was clutching a black carry-on. Her eyes and nose were red and she wasn't wearing any makeup.
"Miranda," Andy gushed, paling even further. "Hi, Nigel."
"Andy." I took her by the shoulders and was shocked at how badly she trembled. "You're freezing."
"I…I've been walking. I just came back to get my, my luggage and…and…I knocked on your door, and Miranda's, 'cause I couldn't leave without telling someone—"
"Why not?" Miranda spat the words and I felt how they impacted Andy. Her body jerked as if she'd been hit by a bullet.
"It'd be inconsiderate," Andy whispered.
"That would have been inconsiderate?" Miranda snarled. "Perish the thought you'd be inconsiderate right after you abandoned me in the street when I—when I—" Gasping for air, Miranda stepped into Andy's personal space. "When I really needed an assistant."
I cringed at the look of devastation on Andy's face. I hadn't been angry at Miranda for throwing me under the bus, not really, and she was in the process of making it up to me. Now, however, seeing how the girl I suspected cared way too much about Miranda than was appropriate, shrunk back and trembled even worse, I knew this was cue. "Miranda. Don't." I used her method and spoke so quietly, Miranda had to almost lean in to hear me. "You may think you're the only one hurting here, but if you want to count on my friendship to remain undiminished from now on, you need to stand down and listen to Andy."
Miranda opened her mouth and was about to say something scathing, I could tell, but either my threat to pull back from our friendship, or whatever she saw in my eyes…or in Andy's…made her close her mouth. She lowered her gaze for a moment and then looked up at me. "Fine," she said calmly. "Reinstall Andrea in her room. Have her come to my suite in an hour."
I refrained for reminding Miranda that Andy was standing right there, hearing every word. Something about Andy made it impossible for Miranda to address her directly. I was curious as to why, but merely nodded and began walking toward Andy's suite.
"Wait," Andy said and stopped. "I've checked out digitally from the room."
"No big deal. I'll call the front desk from my room." I led Andy into my room and dialed. After a few minutes, I looked at her and knew we were in trouble. "They've already given your room to someone else. There's nothing else in the entire hotel." Gazing at the queen size bed, I shrugged. "You're welcome to share."
"Oh, God, Nigel. That's so sweet, but I won't take your bed. I'll just tell Miranda I'm going home—"
Right then and there I knew this was the moment that could change a lot for these two women. I had watched Andy grow increasingly protective and infatuated with Miranda. Miranda depended on Andy like she hadn't on any other assistant I'd seen her harass. I'm not sure why I decided to tempt fate the way I did. Perhaps I had this romantic idea I could really help them see each other in an authentic light? I don't know. I merely grabbed Andy's suitcase and told her to come with me. As I knocked on the door to Miranda's suite, I was literally holding my breath. This could become and epic fail on so many levels.
Miranda opened the door and looked demonstratively at her watch. "I said an hour. It's been less than ten minutes, Nigel."
"Her room is already gone. No other room available. I only have a queen size bed and despite the fact that I'm gay, it's not appropriate for Andy to bunk with me. You have a suite. Several bedrooms." I smiled encouragingly. Normally it would've been highly entertaining to watch Miranda's eyes bug out as my intention dawned on her. Now I just prayed.
"You're kidding," she said weakly.
I took that as half a yes and nudged Andy to enter. I placed the suitcase inside the door and headed for the small kitchenette. "Something to drink, ladies? Coffee? Tea? Juice?"
"A large scotch." Miranda's voice was dark and husky.
"Some juice, please, Nigel." Andy on the other hand sounded steady.
I stood with my back toward them, tinkering with the espresso machine, as I wanted coffee, but kept an eye on the two women I cared so much about, in the mirror in front of me.
"As I see it, I either go home right away, or you allow me to stay, and I'll work the two weeks my contract stipulates after giving notice." Andy clasped her hands behind her back, tugging at her fingers. I glanced over at Miranda who stood staring at Andy with dark eyes.
"How could I possibly trust you?" Miranda murmured.
"Because I came back. I may have tossed my phone in a fountain, but I did come back. I thought you might worry about my safety, so…" Andy shrugged, coloring faintly.
"I was. I did. For hours, I wondered what got into you, if you were all right, and how I could possibly find you as you weren't answering your phone." Miranda took Andy by the shoulders and shook her, not gently, but not roughly either. "You dismissed everything about me and then you left. How could you do that?"
"I didn't dismiss everything about you? I was worried for how you treated Nigel, how you were betrayed by Irv and fucking Stephen, and what it all would do to you. You dismissed me already last night. You made it perfectly—perfectly clear—" Andy's voice broke and I was about to turn around and break the two of them up, when Miranda suddenly pushed her from Andy's shoulders, up along her neck and into the long, brown hair.
"I had to keep you from being touched by anything as sordid as my dead marriage," Miranda said, her voice a mere groan. "Don't you see? He made everything ugly by sending me those papers with all his demands and accusations when he knows I know about his…indiscretions. You, along with my girls, are good influences in my life and you're someone I can rely on always being kind and honest. Why would I want my life, my truth, to tarnish that?"
"Because I'm not all good," Andy shouted, sounding desperate now. Clearly they had forgotten about my presence and I stood very still, monitoring the two women I loved in the mirror. "I'm not very good at all. A huge part of me was glad he filed for a divorce so you could be rid of the bastard." Andy wrapped her arms around Miranda's waist. "He doesn't deserve you. And then there's the not so pure fact I was freaking jealous of him. So you see. Not very noble, am I?"
"Jealous?" Miranda was standing so still, only her lips moved as she uttered the word.
"Yeah. I'm a petty, horrible person." Wiping at her eyes, Andy returned her arm to hold Miranda by the waist. "And still so cold."
This sparked some action in Miranda. She pulled Andy in for a full-body embrace. "I have you. You don't have to be jealous. Do you understand me? There's no need for you to be jealous. Every again. Or cold."
Something burned behind my eyelids and I blinked to get the reflection of the two women back in focus. Miranda's face held an expression I had never seen before—at least, not entirely. I'd seen her be gentle and filled with adoration for her daughters. I'd seen her look proud at their piano recitals. Now, I saw gentleness, adoration, and something else, something looking a lot like passionate, all-overshadowing love, on her face as she held Andrea close.
"Are you sure, Miranda, because you'll be seriously fed up with me if you're not?" Andy rubbed her nose against Miranda's ear.
"Don't be ridiculous," Miranda said dazedly. "Why would I be that?"
Whimpering slightly, Andy hid her face against Miranda's neck. "Because I totally love you."
I think Miranda's knees must've given in at hearing the truth in Andy's confession, because she merely sank down onto the couch and pulled Andy with her.
I knew now it was time for me to make my exit. I took the expresso I'd made while supervising Andy and Miranda, and tiptoed toward the door. As I passed the couch, Miranda looked up at me over Andy's head. I winked at her and gave her a thumbs up, which of course made her purse her lips and roll her eyes. Blowing her a kiss, because I'd also seen the tears clinging to her eyelashes, I made my way back to my room.
Kicking of my shoes, I sat back against the pillows on my bed and turned on the television. As I flipped through the French channels, looking for the fashion news, I couldn't stop thinking about what I'd just witnessed. If Miranda didn't screw this up, and something told me Andy wouldn't let her, and nor would I, today might be the start of a fantastic romance. I'd become good at reading Miranda and Andy was something of an open book as her nature was basically guileless. Unless I was delusional, and trust me, if you've been Miranda's friend and colleague for more than twenty years and you're still vertical, you're not, Andy and Miranda would go on and thrive as a couple. I sipped my espresso and vowed to make it my mission to ward off naysayers, haters, ex-husbands or former boyfriends—anyone who may have an agenda to destroy this for the two of them.
Smiling to myself, I was genuinely happy. For them. For myself, for having been privy to their very first real moment together. They could trust me and I knew Miranda counted on that as well.
I would never tell a soul what I just saw.