NOTE: Written for the MirAndy Pile Of Stuff Prompt Challenge 2020 organised over on the DWP - MirAndy - Andy/Miranda group over on Facebook. Feel free to let me know what you think.
Andy walked through the park, the storm raging around her. Her long dark hair was plastered to her face and she was soaked to the skin.
Thunder crashed through the rapidly darkening sky and she sped up through the wooded area. A bolt of lightning hit a tree to the side of her, bringing a branch crashing down in front of her. Andy jumped and turned back the way she came as another rumble of thunder sounded and another flash of lightning lit up the sky.
She hadn't expected to be caught up in the storm of the decade, but after arguing with Nate once again, about her long hours at Runway and being at Miranda Priestly's beck and call at all hours of the day and night, she didn't want to be cooped up in their small apartment with him. Escaping the apartment hadn't been easy, but Nate's behaviour had left her feeling a little intimidated and not for the first time. The last few weeks had been rough but she had never seen him so close to losing control of his temper. He was so angry with her and she could kind of understand why but Nate also worked long hours as a line cook and although it was true she couldn't just drop everything as she once had. It didn't make her a bad person.
All she ever wanted, was a quiet life, with a partner that supported her, not someone who made her feel like she couldn't do anything right.
She wondered if Miranda ever felt like she did and if so, how she coped. Thought if her beautiful boss flooded her mind and she felt calmer and slowed her pace. Miranda had been different since the Harry Potter incident. On that day it had been so clear that she had surprised the editor by handing over the impossible to get manuscript and telling her the twins already had copies for their journey to their grandma's. Since then, it seemed Miranda trusted her more, she'd given her more responsibility and more importantly, there was the occasional whispered words of thanks and the all too brief smiles.
She understood that she had the biggest crush on her enigmatic boss and initially it had left her feeling torn. Part of her desperately wanted things with Nate to work out and she often found herself wishing there was some way they could go back to how they were before Runway.
Deep down, she knew it was useless to hope for something that couldn't be. She had changed and even if he didn't recognise it, so had Nate. They were two entirely different people now to how they had once been.
A crashing boom rang out and out of the corner of her eyes she caught sight of a lightning bolt as it shot down into a puddle before a huge flash went off right in front of her face, blinding her. It felt as if she had been slammed hard in the shoulder and an excruciating jolt of pain travelled through her, locking her limbs momentarily before she was lifted off her feet and thrown backwards, tendrils of smoke curling off her body.
Andy only wanted an easy life, but there was lightning, quite literally, in her bones.
Glancing down at her cell, Miranda wondered who was calling her from an unknown number. Sighing, she answered. "Yes?"
"Miranda Priestly?" The man's voice asked."
"I am she," Miranda admitted.
"This is Dr Duroseau, from Lennox Hill Hospital. You are listed as the emergency contact for an Andrea Elizabeth Sachs. I'm sorry to have to tell you this over the phone, she was brought into the emergency room, having suffered a massive cardiac arrest." The man explained calmly. "Her heart did not resume beating until she was on the way to the hospital."
Miranda sank into a chair, stunned by the news. She held the phone tightly against her ear. "Cardiac arrest? She is a healthy twenty-five year old." She hissed disbelievingly.
"It seems she was struck indirectly by lightning while walking through the park this evening." The doctor stated. "She is currently in a critical but stable condition. She had been placed in an induced coma to allow her body to recover and she is on a ventilator. We are considering surgery so need to know if there is anyone else that should be informed?"
"I shall find the relevant details and make contact. Once it is possible, I would like her to be moved to the Presbyterian." Miranda stated, formulating a plan quickly. "I shall be there shortly to see what's what. That's all." She disconnected the call and pressed one of her speed-dials. "Nigel, are you still in the office?" She listened to the man. "I need you to go to my office and find Andrea's employment record. Ask Emily for the password. Once you have it, I need you to text me Andrea's address and any relevant contact details for that boyfriend or her parents. She is currently at Lennox Hill and needs them." She sighed at Nigel's rising panic. "I need to contact Roy and Cara now. I shall let you know more when I do."
She disconnected the call and sent a text to both Cara and Roy. She knew she was asking a lot from her nanny turned housekeeper, but she couldn't simply leave the twins alone. She received the replies back quickly and sighed as she eased her way up the stairs.
Miranda was grateful that Stephen was gone from the townhouse. What was happening now would be just become another thing he would berate her for. She knew, even if he was still at home, she would do what she had to, regardless of it keeping her from the house more than her work already did.
Entering her children's bedroom, she saw Cassidy was still awake, but her eyes were heavy. She sat beside her, stroking the fine red hair from her face. "I have to go out, Bobbsey but Cara will be here if you should need anything."
"You have to work?" Cassidy asked rubbing her eyes sleepily.
"No." She breathed. "My assistant, Andrea, has been rushed to the hospital. It seems she is rather poorly." Miranda explained.
Cassidy's eyes widened. "What happened? Is Andy okay?" She sat up, looking panicked.
"I don't quite know yet." Miranda fibbed. "But I'm sure she will be fine." She attempted to reassure. "I didn't realise you were on such good terms with her, Cassidy." She inquired.
"Andy's the best," Cassidy exclaimed happily. "She's kind and funny too. She brought us the green and purple boogie boards, the Harry Potter manuscript that day and she helped with our solar system for science. Caro thinks she's magic because she can tell us apart and no one but you can do that, not even dad and don't get me started on Stephen, he was the worst."
Miranda listened to her daughter wax poetic about the younger woman and bag out her husband. She marvelled over the fact that Andy had charmed all three of them and thought of how tense the younger woman had been in recent weeks, the dark shadows concealer didn't always hide, the occasional jumpiness. She had grown worried about the woman but hadn't quite known how to breach the boundaries she had enforced over the years and broach the changes.
The front door opened and closed again quickly and she heard Cara move towards the stairs, calling softly to her. Leaning down, she pressed her lips against Cassidy's forehead. "I love you, Bobbsey." She moved to Caroline's bed and offered her sleeping child the same, whispering the words softly once more. "Sleep well, my darlings."
Waking up, Andy had no idea what had happened. Looking around the darkened room, she heard the steady beeps of a heart rate monitor and saw the silhouette of a petite woman against the dim light coming from the open blinds. The figure was staring out at the world, brushing a slim finger against lips. It was such a familiar sight, her heart sped up and the monitor reflected the changes. "Mir..." She croaked, her voice rough. She was desperate to know why the older woman was with her. She tugged at the tubes on her face, pulling the nasal cannula away.
Miranda spun around on her heel and moved quickly towards the bed and putting the lightweight tube back into position. "Hush now, Andrea. You need to remain calm. The oxygen is there to help."
"Wha'..." She licked her dry lips and Miranda leaned in holding a spoon of ice chips towards her. She took the small mouthful and let them melt on her tongue. "Wha' happened? Where 'm I?" Andy asked, her eyes roaming around the room again.
"You are at the Presbyterian. You have been here for ten days after I arranged for you to be moved from Lennox Hill." Miranda sat on the edge of the bed and she saw concern in the depths of the editor's blue eyes.
"The lightning?" Andy remembered, feeling dizzy.
"Yes. It was touch and go if you would make it after you went into cardiac arrest. If it wasn't for a stranger witnessing the event and pulling you to safety before performing CPR for almost fifteen minutes until paramedics arrived, you..." She took a deep shuddering breath. "...you wouldn't be here." She whispered brokenly.
"Miranda, I..." Andy wanted to apologise but wasn't sure how welcome it would be. Miranda was notoriously unpredictable. "Nate?" She queried instead.
"The fry-cook?" Andy nodded and winced. Miranda fed her another spoon of ice chips. "He came to Lennox Hill on that first day while Nigel and Douglas were with you." Miranda pursed her lips showing her disapproval. "He stayed a few moments while the nurses cleaned your wounds and prepared you for surgery then left."
"My mom and dad?" Andy questioned.
"Your parents..." She trailed off. "...well, your father answered my call and he wasn't exactly open to letting me reveal what happened to you," Miranda explained.
"He hung up on you?" Andy gasped, closing her eyes in horror.
"You could say that, yes. I also reached out to your friend Lily when I couldn't speak to your parents and..." Miranda shook her head. "...she likewise wasn't particularly receptive to me either." She sighed. "Between Nigel, Serena, Jocelyn, your friend Douglas, Cara and I, you have not been alone much. We have been waiting for you to awaken."
"You said something about wounds and surgery?" Andy whispered.
"Did you know it takes around three milliseconds for a lightning bolt to advance through your body?" Miranda asked. Without waiting for a response, she continued. "After you were struck by lightning, your clothing was scorched and your hair somewhat singed. It will need to be cut when you are up for it" She sighed. "The electric discharge when the lightening exited your body, created what they call Lichtenberg figures down your neck, shoulder and right arm. It is somewhat like having a tattoo that may eventually disappear, but there's also some blistering that has needed attending to. Surgeons fitted an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator through a small incision above your right breast, but under your shoulder. It will restore your heart to a normal rhythm if you suffer another cardiac arrest."
Andy felt tears welling in her eyes and her breath hitched as she became overwhelmed by all she had been told.
Miranda glanced away and straightened her shoulders and let her usual facade fall back into place. "As you can imagine, this has been an inconvenience with Emily being out of action with her broken leg and Paris approaching." She looked towards the window. "Now, I should leave you to get some rest, Andrea."
Miranda was furious with herself, knowing she should have stayed with Andy and reassured her. The fact was, she couldn't bear to have the brunette break down on her, she simply wasn't strong enough to witness that pain. Instead, she had shut down, with talk of Paris, rather than offering comfort to the woman.
There was much she could have told Andy. She could have stayed and assured her that the feather-like marks etched into her skin were beautiful beyond measure, having been branded by mother nature in a truly unique way. She could have told her the truth, that it could have been much worse, that she could have been left blind, deaf or even paralysed. The fact she was even alive was a blessing and the initial predictions were dire. She had been told Andy was unlikely to recover, or she would be seriously brain damaged after having waited so long to have her heart started. Now she knew, by some miracle, Andy's heart would recover, she would return to full strength and live a long, happy life.
Miranda remembered the heart specialists words when they spoke of completing the surgery. "Andrea may never need the ICD, but if she does, you'll want it there."
She had done much research over the days since receiving the call about the incident. There was a slight chance neurological afflictions could appear if the lightning strike had scrambled Andy's brain's circuitry. There was a chance of behavioural changes, personality changes, mood swings, the inability to multitask or concentrate and even memory loss. She had even read about people developing super talents.
Miranda wanted to be there for the young woman at every step of her recovery, but with Paris just a few weeks away, she needed to ensure everything was perfect. Her spies on the board had explained to her how Irv was manoeuvring against her, to put Jacqueline Follet in her place. She had advised Nigel that although he had been accepted for the position at James Holt International, she had plans to place Jacqueline into the position in his stead. She had sworn him to secrecy and knew he should take the secret to the grave.
Then there was Stephen. He had come home from his last business trip drunk and reeking of perfume that certainly wasn't hers. She knew at that moment, their relationship was over and she told him to get out of her house. Now she just needed to find the time to organise that part of her life and speak to her attorney and draw up the necessary divorce papers.
The fact was, upon much reflection, she knew she felt more for the brunette than the mere employer-employee relationship that had developed between them. She had continued her vigil in the young woman's private room at the hospital each night, taking comfort in the steady beeps of the monitor recording her heart rate, waiting for her to awaken. And now she had, Miranda had no idea what to do for the best. She did not know how to comfort the younger woman or even if her presence would be wanted.
Pulling her cell out of her purse, she made a decision. Catching Roy's eyes she spoke. "Turn around and head back to the hospital and raise the glass"
Roy nodded once and muttered his agreement. "Yes, Miranda." He pushed the button and the glass between them started to rise.
Scrolling quickly, she connected the call to her attorney. "John, I want you to start divorce proceedings against Stephen." She paused, wondering if she should tell him everything. Biting her lip, she forced the words out. "He has been cheating on me with his business partner's wife for the last eleven months."
She was surprised when Doug arrived shortly after Miranda's departure and he spoke of how concerned everyone was and how her colleagues from Runway had rallied around when Nate, Lily and her parents refused.
Andy wasn't surprised by the behaviour of Nate and Lily. After everything, she had begun to realise her relationship with them was beyond repair. It was the way her parents had acted that saddened her. They had always been so supportive, and she had hoped they would continue to be so, even if she continued to lead her own life.
The doctor arrived and introduced himself before checking her vitals. He assured Andy that she was strong and that her heart should recover, hopefully with no lasting damage from the lightning, but the implant would keep her heart rhythm normal. He told her they wanted her to stay in the hospital for further monitoring before being transferred to a cardiac rehabilitation unit. Tiredly, she agreed and he left.
Letting her mind wander, she focussed her thoughts onto the woman she had found in her room upon waking up. She had found Miranda's presence surprising, but more so was the new-found knowledge from the nurse that she had been there every night, diligently working on the book while talking softly to her. "So what's been happening?" She asked Doug, happy they were finally alone to talk freely.
"Oh, it's been interesting." Doug grinned at her. "I think Miranda has been the most affected by all this. She has barely left your side, except to change clothes each morning and have breakfast with her girls. She comes back, then leaves for Runway for a few hours before bringing the twins once they've finished school. They leave to have dinner and she returns once they are in bed." He told her, his hand on Andy's, his thumb running soothingly over it. "I don't think she's spent any time with her husband while you have been here and there have been small murmurs from the Runway crew about her possibly divorcing him."
"Oh." Andy breathed. "I can't say I'm overly surprised by that. Stephen's a bit of a dick. I told you about his behaviour at the benefit. didn't I?"
"You did." Doug grinned. "But none of that explains why she felt the need to be here, so often."
Andy yawned. "I dunno, Dougie. She told me what an inconvenience this has been and..."
"And you believed her?" Doug gasped. "Oh, Andy, I don't think you could ever truly inconvenience Miranda. She was adamant about you having the best care which is how you ended up at this hospital, in a private suite of rooms. When she heard about Nate, she was furious. I think she only just stopped herself blacklisting him from every decent restaurant in the city. She cares, sweetie and I think she's only just realising how much."
"Dougie, what did Nate do?" Andy asked. "Miranda pursed her lips when she said he'd only visited once."
Doug frowned. "He took one look at the blisters and the patterns in your skin and was horrified. When the nurses had finished treating you and left to ready themselves to take you to the O.R, he started ranting about how ugly they were and how he had not signed up for taking care of someone who..." He clenched his jaw. "...was so horribly scarred." He sighed "Nigel helped me to throw him out of the room and I told him not to come back. Later that day, when I knew he was in work, I took your keys, put his shit in black bin liners and asked the super to change the locks. I dumped his stuff at Lily's and sent him a text to tell him to stay the fuck away."
Andy felt tears sting behind her eyes. "Scarred?"
"Sweetie, you have a two-to-three centimetre incision in your chest. We don't know how permanent the Lichtenberg figures are, but regardless of either, you'll always be beautiful," Doug told her, gathering her up as best he could into his arms.
"Douglas is correct." Miranda's voice reached them from the doorway. She moved forward and sat on the edge of the bed, reaching her hand out and placing it on top of hers.
Andy felt the little jolt of electricity from the light touch and her eyes fell closed when she heard Miranda gasp and she pulled her hand back quickly.
Andy was confused by everything. Her life had changed so much.
It was clear she now had no boyfriend and her childhood best girl-friend and parents wanted nothing to do with her. Alone, she would struggle to make rent on her tiny Lower East Side walk-up. More than that though, the one time Miranda Priestly had touched her, she had given her an electric shock.
She watched Doug as he stood and brushed Andy's hair from her forehead before leaning in and pressing his lips against it. "I need to go. I love you, sweetie.' He stood stroking her hair tenderly before casting her eyes across the bed at her and nodding. "Tell her." He mouthed.
Miranda bent her head in resignation, knowing that the people closest to her had seen through her entirely. If she wasn't honest with the younger woman, it was likely someone else would provide their interpretations into her actions. Refusing to hesitate a second time, she placed her hand on Andy's once more and welcomed the small current that flowed between them from the light contact.
The first time she had touched the brunette after the accident she felt the ebb of electricity flowing between them. She had never experienced anything like it with anyone else.
It wasn't a spark of love, although she was aware her feelings could potentially tumble over into that emotion. It wasn't just some metaphorical spark flying between them. She quite literally felt an electrical current flow between them when they touched. And yet it was more than an electrical shock. There was a heat accompanying it that ran up her arm and stopped her ability to think, her heart pounded so fast and loud, it left her dizzy. She felt connected to Andy and these new feelings intrigued her. There was a chemistry between them and she felt like a magnet drawn to its polar opposite.
Hearing the soft snick of the door closing behind Doug, she glanced up and saw Andy's eyes resting on their joined hands. Her thumb moved over the soft, warm skin of the hand almost unconsciously and she was tempted to snatch it away. "I apologise," Miranda whispered.
"What are you apologising for?" Andy asked, her eyes holding surprise and a hint of curiosity.
Her thumb didn't stop moving over the smooth skin of Andy's hand. Now she had started to caress it, she did not want to stop. Miranda wondered if the rest of her bare skin would be just as smooth. "For leaving, for telling you this had been inconvenient." She whispered. "The only inconvenience, truly, has been the concern I have felt. I shouldn't have felt that way about a mere assistant, and yet, if I am honest, you have not been merely my assistant for quite some time."
"Miranda, I..." Andy trailed off. "...well, I dunno what to say." She admitted.
Miranda closed her eyes and lifted her hand away but Andy grabbed it quickly and pulled it against her chest while entwining their fingers. "Andrea, please." The whispered plea was almost inaudible.
"Your honesty and bravery deserve a reward. Miranda." Andy stated. "D'ya realise, I think you are the most beautiful woman I've ever met?" Mirada shook her head in disbelief. "It's true, I think you are stunningly beautiful and what you do, the impact you have on the world is amazing But right now, although my relationship with Nate is over, you are still very much married and that means I can't act on my feelings. That being said, I would love to become your friend."
"My fr..." Miranda stalled and considered the offer. "...I don't have many..." She blushed at the admission. 'Friends is acceptable, for now. But as my friend, I should warn you I have initiated divorce proceedings."
Andy lay back against the pillows, stunned. "Why?" She husked.
Miranda shifted on the edge of the bed before sliding from the mattress onto the nearby chair without letting go of Andy's hand.
"It has been a long time since I saw any goodness in my husband, Andrea." Miranda started to explain, feeling relief wash through her at finally being able to talk to someone about her relationship with her soon to be ex-husband.
Miranda left the following morning, as she had done every day Andy had been in hospital, leaving her to reflect on everything they had spoken of the night before.
They had talked well into the early hours of the morning until Miranda eventually outlined her plans for Andy, which included a stay at the townhouse to aid her recovery as she went through her rehab. Once Fashion Week was over, Andy would start to look for a new position and eventually leave Runway, hopefully getting into a job somewhere more in line with her ambitions as a journalist.
When Miranda had spoken of her wishes to further their connection, her cheeks had flushed adorably and Andy had felt herself melting into the moment.
Andy's eyes had finally closed, as waves of fatigue flowed over her and Miranda turned silent as if sensing her need for quiet. The last thing she remembered was the gentle press of lips against her forehead then her cheek and Miranda's soft voice whispering in her ear. "Sleep well, love. I will be here when you wake."
The words were hushed and she wasn't sure if she had heard correctly, but then, just as she was leaving that morning, Miranda had leaned in again and pressed her lips against her forehead, followed by her cheek. "I shall see you in a few hours, love." Miranda was heading home to shower and change before breakfast with the twins, giving Cara a well-deserved break.
Miranda had explained how Cara had been staying at the townhouse on and off for some months, despite Stephen's protestations, simply because she got to the point she no longer trusted him to remain sober enough to take care of her babies. His drinking had caused her increasing concern and it became a rare occurrence to see him without a glass of scotch in hand while home. In his intoxication, he was often combative and hard to handle.
Miranda admitted she was not always easy to contend with, but she claimed to have never hidden who she was or how important her work was to her. It was Stephen's beliefs that had changed after they married and she refused to become what he suddenly expected her to be. Mrs Tomlinson, the perfect, placid, agreeable little wife.
Andy had no expectations for Miranda to change. In all honesty, she adored Miranda's single-minded determination to be the best at what she did, and her focussed dedication to Runway was awe-inspiring. For Miranda, the only thing more important than Runway was her children. She knew there was a chance if she gave things with Miranda a chance, that she would come third to the twins and the magazine but she found she was okay with that. To have any place in Miranda's life would be so worth it.
Tapping on the door caught her attention and turning her head, Andy caught sight of Nigel peeking around the door at her with a smile on his face. As he moved around the door and towards her, his laughter was startling. When he leaned over her with his handkerchief in hand, she recoiled slightly. "Chanel's Rose Eclatant isn't quite your colour, Six." He grinned, naming Miranda's preferred lipstick and offering up his handkerchief once again.
Snatching it from Nigel's outstretched hand with her left hand, she swiped furiously at her cheek and blushed scarlet. "Don't start, Nige."
"Oh, I wouldn't dream of it, Six." Nigel sniggered and pointed to her forehead, watching as she rubbed her skin furiously. "Now tell me, I'm curious, how do Miranda's kisses compare with being hit by lightning?"
Miranda settled into her large bed with a sigh. It had been one of the longest months she had ever encountered, but her life could now return to normal.
And yet, life was far from normal. She now had her second assistant firmly settled in the rooms next to hers, which she'd had Emily arrange to have decorated in warm, neutral tones while she was in Paris.
That afternoon, the twins had been euphoric to realise Andy had come home with her after her discharge from hospital and they had spent the early evening snuggled up on the sofa, chatting happily about school. Cara had remained, working quietly the kitchen, preparing a feast of roast beef and seasonal vegetables. A hearty, somewhat healthy meal that would allow the young woman to build up her strength.
Miranda had seen out Paris Fashion week the week before. She had sent the twins off to their father and had left New York grudgingly. The knowledge she would not have either of her assistants by her side was troublesome, but Runway France assigned someone to assist her and the young woman wasn't the most inept she had ever encountered. In fact, she was sorely tempted to bring the woman to Runway US. The only thing that had stopped her was that she had no idea when or if Andy would be ready to take up her full duties. It wasn't ideal but she needed to give her the time to continue her rehabilitation.
Stephen had signed the divorce papers without any hesitation. He had been advised if he kicked up a fuss and tried to fight their prenup, she would expose his affair and he would lose far more than her wealth if things came out and his behaviour became public knowledge. The press had yet to comment on the state of her marriage and for that she was grateful.
Yes, life was about to settle into some semblance of normality, and yet she still felt unsettled.
Throwing the blanket off, she moved on bare feet out of her bedroom and padded towards the guest room. Tapping the door lightly, she was greeted with silence. Opening the door slowly, she peeked around it and saw Andy, curled up on her side in the middle of the large bed, sleeping peacefully. The sight of the brunette sleeping easily settled her discomfort a little as she continued to keep vigil from her place in the open doorway.
She had spent almost two weeks of nights on a chair in the large private room her name and contributions had procured at the Presbyterian. She had gotten used to the sounds of heart monitors and ventilators in that time, and once they were removed, Andy's deep snuffling breaths. She found comfort in the rise and fall of her chest, of knowing that her heart still beat within its cavity.
What no-one hadn't accounted for, the day after Andy woke up, was the pain she experienced, and not from the incision site. The younger woman felt like her neck and back were burning as the nerves started to heal. They were advised neuropathy was a common occurrence after being struck by lightning, but the pain ensured Andy remained heavily dosed up on medication.
She had missed the younger woman when she'd had to leave for Paris and being with her now, after the week from Hell, was soothing. When Andy stirred, she stepped back and made to close the door quickly.
"Stay." The words were whispered sleepily, but she couldn't ignore the plea in the tone.
Moving into the room fully, Miranda closed the door and stepped nimbly towards the bed. She sat on the edge as sleepy hazel eyes opened and locked on her.
"Stay," Andy asked again, shuffling from the centre of the bed to make room.
Lifting the comforter, Miranda slid into place and settled on her side facing the brunette. "I didn't mean to wake you." She muttered.
A small smile formed on Andy's face. "It seems I can sense your presence, even in sleep." Placing a hand over her mouth, she yawned hard enough for her jaw to crack. "The meds are making me sleepier." She mumbled. "I don't like it."
Miranda smiled softly at the petulant tone. Leaning close, she pressed a kiss on her forehead then her cheek. "They are prescribed to help. Now, try to sleep, love." She watched as Andy fought against the swirling tiredness for a few minutes before her eyes finally closed and she slept.
Andy woke up surrounded by heat, with soft breasts pressed against her back and an arm was thrown haphazardly over her midsection. Groggily, she glanced down and saw the small, elegant hand and slim fingers and realised Miranda was beside her.
Her request for Miranda to stay and the editor joining her in bed seemed like a dream and she was stunned by the reality of it.
Turning slightly, she groaned as the pain in her neck and shoulder made itself known again, causing Miranda to stir. She caught the patter of bare feet in the hall and the whisper of Miranda's bedroom door opening and closing quickly. She knew the twins finding Miranda in bed with her wasn't ideal.
Shuffling out of Miranda's warmth and towards the edge of the bed, the editors blue eyes blazed. "What..."
"The twins are looking for you," Andy explained gently. "I was going to head them off."
Miranda frowned and moved closer, gripping the back of her t-shirt. "Wait. They will need to get used to this if we wish for it to continue." She murmured.
Tapping on the door heralded the twin's arrival. "Mom, you in there?" Caroline whisper-shouted.
Miranda sniggered. "Come in, Bobbsey's."
Andy attempted to break loose again, only for Miranda's arm to tighten its hold again. She squeaked before realising it was futile and turning her head, she caught sight of the twins, hovering nervously.
"You have bad dreams, Andy?" Cassidy asked.
"Nah. Not last night, little one." Andy smiled. "I slept well."
Miranda chuckled and sitting up slightly, she loosened her hold and turned onto her back before patting the bed beside her. Caroline jumped up beside her.
Andy didn't move, worried about the pain it would cause and Cassidy settled beside her carefully before laying her head against her chest and wrapping her arm around her waist.
"I'm glad you didn't have any bad dreams," Cassidy mumbled softly.
"I bet no nightmare would dare appear while mom's here with you." Caroline grinned across her mom at her sister and they held a silent communication with each other.
Cassidy shifted away before easing herself off the bed and hopping from foot to foot next to it. "Breakfast in bed." She exclaimed. "C'mon Caro."
Caroline jumped off from the end of the bed, completing a perfect roly-poly across the floor towards the door before straightening into the perfect finish. "I'll race you, Cass."
They were out of the door, with Caroline having the head start, and bounding down the stairs noisily, Cassidy yelled loudly how her sister was a cheat. Their loud voices and laughter fluttered up the stairs.
Sighing, Miranda turned carefully again to face Andy and smiled softly before pressing her lips against her forehead and cheek. "They like you," she mumbled.
"What's not to like?" Andy breathed the question out hesitantly.
Miranda pulled back and smiled down at her affectionately. "Absolutely nothing." She stated.
Miranda had been pleased, if somewhat surprised when various staff members from across Runway took it upon themselves to fill Andy's position. This started after the temp hired to substitute for her had lasted no more than an hour before Miranda had her banished from the building entirely.
The young woman's crime, taking it upon herself to clear Andy's desk, throwing everything in a box and breaking the brunettes favourite mug. The loud crash of breaking porcelain had been more than she could handle and her fury at the disregard of Andy's things had seen her stalking towards the blonde, her pointed finger outstretched and pointing to the elevators as she hissed for her to get out of her sight and never to return.
The weeks had passed quickly, with Emily hobbling around the office on her crutches while Jocelyn, Serena, Lucia and various others ran around the city, seeing to her every whim. The clunk of Emily's crutches admittedly drove Miranda to distraction and yet she knew to have someone available, who knew her needs, was preferable to having two people in the office that had no idea. And now, each evening, when she went home at a decent hour, she found happiness with the three people happily situated within the four walls of whatever room they were in.
Andy's pain had grown manageable after a few days and although she struggled with the stairs, she inched her way up multiple times a day, between her rehab, often stopping to catch her breath. Cara, who was keeping her eye on things when Miranda wasn't present, had told her that the brunette slept quite a bit after this exercise.
The younger woman admitted to being nervous about starting cardiac rehabilitation. She was worried about not being able to do as much as others in the same situation and being one of the youngest people there but she was adamant she would get to full strength sooner rather than later so she could be ready to assist her by helping her find a suitable replacement.
Miranda was still doing her best to support Andy and life felt easier and far less stressful. Things had changed for the better. She loved watching Andy become fitter and stronger and noticed how her mindset changed as fear was replaced with confidence. The younger woman had made contact with people in a similar position to her, from all walks of life. People who understood the trauma that came from sudden cardiac arrest.
There had been no further talk of the future and yet each night she settled in bed beside the younger woman. She continued her new custom of pressing her lips against the warm foreheads and cheek and offered the same gentle touches each morning when they woke wrapped around each other,
Miranda had learned some necessary lessons. Everything had changed in the blink of an eye after receiving the phone call from the Doctor at Lennox Hill and she now appreciated life was short. Too short to hold back. She could recognise the significance of her feelings for Andy so much more than she would if this situation had not occurred. She was in no ways stressed about their growing relationship, understanding it was a positive thing they were experiencing. She had been able to let go of some of her past hurt, all the stuff that kept her barriers high.
Thanks to Andy, she could see things through fresh eyes, and she knew she had been given an incredibly rare second chance. A chance at real love, if only she could find the courage to tell the younger woman.
Andy sometimes felt the darkness of the world overwhelming her, and yet she kept the smile forced on her face and told herself to remain calm and thankful. Some days it felt like the pain entwined her heart and clouded her mind, blurring her memories.
When she first woke up in critical care and the days passed with visits from her friends at Runway, Miranda, the twins and Doug, it had been so easy to focus on the positives of being alive, but the recovery process sometimes became quite frustrating. She couldn't walk far without becoming breathless and it was one of the most demoralising things she had ever experienced. In those first days, while in hospital, she pushed herself, adding a minute or two to each short walk every day.
The support from her friends was also helping her. Not a single person treated her any differently and she sometimes found herself wondering if Miranda had something to do with that.
She thought of the people she had lost, and those she had gained. She knew, no matter what, she couldn't undo the past, but the future was hers for the taking. Her whole life had been turned upside down from one decision, to escape from a situation that left her uneasy. She had lost a boyfriend, her best friend and her parents but she still had so much to live for, more support than she could have ever dreamed possible.
She had Miranda and the twins who had offered her so much strength and encouragement and, dare she say it, love. She had no idea how she would have managed without them.
Her follow-up appointment, three days after leaving the hospital, saw her having her pain medication adjusted to a lower dosage and she was checked over thoroughly by the heart specialist. Her chest, where the ICD had been inserted, would leave a thin scar, but the tattoo from the lightening showed no signs of disappearing.
She started her cardiac rehab a week after that first appointment with her new heart specialist and in her initial meeting, she quickly learned the main aspect of this form of rehab was to navigate ways to reduce the risk of further cardiac arrest and to protect her heart. By the time she was three sessions in, she began to enjoy taking part in the activities arranged by her doctors while she was watched closely. She was assessed for anxiety and depression and given tips to deal with everyday stress. Most importantly, she now understood what she needed to do in an emergency.
The team at the cardiac rehab centre were understanding and shared their expertise, wanting nothing more but for her to regain full strength, to make her journey towards a full recovery as easy and straightforward as possible.
She had just one long-term goal, to return to Runway, at least for a short time. Yet, she was urged to set herself little milestones as she worked towards regaining her strength. This included driving and, though she didn't know how to approach the subject with the person she wanted to be with, having sex.
She'd started eating far more regularly and much healthier options. Living with Miranda meant grilled cheese or a bowl of Cheerios was no longer a legitimate dinner option. Cara prepared her lunch, as she did for the twins, and each evening she cooked the Priestly's a healthy, hearty meal, that more often than not, were enjoyed as a family.
Andy focussed on her sessions and began to slowly build up her strength through the exercise regime her cardiac team had implemented, starting with walking. She also began some light weight-training and was stunned by the changes in her body as it became firmer and even more toned. Running or going to the gym hadn't been something Andy had ever consciously done in the oast, having always preferred to sit with a good book and a hot cup of tea.
Rehab, held in a gym with a bunch of strangers, was initially hard but the people she spent time with often shared their life stories with her, they spoke of their hopes for the future and she found inspiration to start writing again in the form of a journal and then a feature for the Cardiac Rehab website.
Her confidence returned and although the twice-weekly sessions left her tired, she was euphoric when she met each milestone as she worked her way from walking to a slow jog and her weights became heavier. She found she enjoyed being on the move as she jogged on the treadmill and knew running could be something she took away from the situation.
On the day's Andy didn't have rehab, she sometimes met with Nigel or Doug, and on one occasion both of them, for lunch. She learned about the things Miranda didn't tell her. She was told in hushed tones about Irv's attempt in Paris to remove Miranda from Runway and she saw through Nigel's pretence at being disappointed over the James Holt job. She somehow understood that Miranda had put things into place to reward her friend and longtime colleague, but he wasn't telling and she didn't have the energy to wrangle the truth from him.
Nigel was exceptionally good at keeping her mind off work, regardless of how much he spoke of Runway. He kept her supplied with books and articles that interested him and they spent most of their time together discussing them heatedly. Their time together often ended with them laughing together about the ridiculous demands Miranda made of whoever was manning her desk and of how Emily spent her days muttering how she loved her job and gazing longingly at Serena.
Finishing up her rehab, she showered and dressed for warmth in jeans, a t-shirt, her favourite baggy Northwestern sweater and a thick sheer-lined jacket Miranda had given her, claiming it was something she wouldn't wear. She wore her leather converse hightops to stop them from getting wet if it rained.
Walking slowly through midtown foot traffic, she saw Elias Clarke looming ahead and diverted across the street to the nearest Starbucks. She was recognised immediately by the barista and offered a small grin as he turned to prepare her a tray of coffee, without being asked. She leaned against the wall off to one side and waited until she was gestured over. Paying for the coffee in cash, she was stunned by the words.
"You've been missed, Andy. There are whispers the Devil is impossible to please." The barista stated.
Andy nodded and offered a weak smile before picking up the tray of coffee and crossing the street, moving around yellow cabs and town cars with practised ease. Entering Elias Clarke, she was greeted warmly by security and the central gate was opened with a flourish and she was waved through without having to provide her pass. She stalked straight towards the elevator banks and stabbed the button with her free hand and tapped her foot impatiently. When the doors finally opened, clackers streamed around her, a few greeting her warmly as they passed. Stepping into the box, she pressed the button for 17 and Runway before closing her eyes.
She let her mind turn to Miranda. God, she just wanted to kiss her, but she was petrified of making a wrong move and ruining things by pushing for more than the editor was willing to give.
Miranda had not long returned to work from a vastly disappointing showing at James Holt's studio and was sat facing the window, her finger trailing over her lip as she considered how quickly James was floundering since the announcement he was going international. She wondered if there was some way she could help him without it being seen as an act of weakness.
Hearing the sound of a coffee being placed on her desk, she spun her chair and her eyes widened in surprise at the sight before her. She couldn't stop the involuntary smile that came as she reached for the drink. She sipped and sighed as she placed it back on her desk. It was absolute perfection. She watched as the younger woman stumbled back slightly and standing, she moved around her desk, her hand reaching for Andy's arm. "Are you okay, love?" She lifted Andy's face to catch her eyes. "Andrea?" She demanded an answer.
"I think my defibrillator went off," Andy mumbled. "It feels like a slingshot went off inside my body. Like my heart was grabbed until it was stretched as far it could go, then let go." She breathed out.
"But why now?" She asked, leading Andy towards the large white sofa. "Why here?" They sat and Miranda wrapped her arms around he holding her close.
"I saw you, with the sunlight in your hair and it took my breath away. I felt my heart sped up and then..." Andy grinned. "...bzzzzzzzz." She teased
Miranda let out a burst of laughter and she heard the touch of hysteria in it. She eased Andy down, so she was lying on the couch and tucked a throw around her. "It's lucky I love you." She whispered as she knelt beside her.
"What's not to love?" Andy beamed at her.
Miranda knew it was love between them. It was far more than the feelings they shared, more than the happiness they felt when together, more than the rush of electricity that flowed between them when they touched. it was being able to lean on each other when life hit hard. It was a healing love that left them both feeling safe and free to fall apart knowing the other would be there to catch them. She understood their life together wouldn't always be easy, as much as Andy wanted that. It would be like riding a rollercoaster with its ups and downs but their relationship would be worth it. Together they would take a journey of self-discovery, towards greatness.
Leaning in, she pressed her lips against Andy's forehead and cheek before smiling down on the pouting woman. Unable to resist Andy's full, luscious lips, she captured them with her own softly, kissing her properly for the first time. "There's absolutely nothing unloveable about you." She breathed. "You are like no one else in this world, my love. You carry lightning in your soul and I've tasted thunder in your kisses. Those are things that cannot be taken away from you now."
"I love you, Miranda, so much," Andy admitted with a shy smile.
"Mm, good." Miranda stood up and straightened her clothes. Now, I suppose it's lucky for you, I do not suffer from Astraphobia." At Andy's blank look, she smirked. "I'm not scared of the storm that rages within you, my love." She sat behind her desk and picked up her coffee. Taking a sip she hummed in delight as Andy watched open-mouthed.