Summary: Andy knows she's going to be fired-soon-she can feel it. Having studied Miranda closely for years, she can tell when these things are about to happen...and this time, it's going to happen to her. Hence the tequila.
Notes: A/N: If you haven't read the first part (the same story but from Miranda's POV) I think you might enjoy this more if you do. :-)
A MirAndy fanfic for FicAthon 2021
A companion piece to "Andrea Goodbye" from Andy's POV.
It's a huge mistake even trying to open my eyes. I wouldn't even have attempted it if I didn't have to locate my phone and switch off the ear-deafening alarm signal. It tears a hole in my head before I locate it, squinting against the bright screen. My stomach churns and I imagine the tequila from last night still swimming in there.
I manage to shut the cell up and slowly sit up in bed. Only to hastily regret that when dizziness makes me fall back onto my pillow. Groaning, I know I'm in trouble. There's no way I can go into work right away and Miranda is going to kill me. No, worse, fire me on the spot. It's not that I haven't seen signs of her being displeased with me lately, but this transgression, getting plastered in the middle of a workweek to this degree, will seal my fate. Groaning, I cover my face with both hands, forgetting I'm still holding the phone in one hand, thus smacking it against my nose.
"Fuck!" I roll over on my side and shove the phone under my pillow. Feeling my nose, I don't think I've actually injured it, but it will no doubt throb for a while.
Plucking the phone from where I shoved it, I use voice command and call Lucia, Miranda's second assistant, my underling. She picks up after just one signal, startling me.
"Lucia. I need you to cover for me this morning and deal with Miranda's office. Coffee will have to wait unless you can rope someone in." I curl up when my stomach makes another roll.
"What? Andy, are you sure? She'll be so displeased about the coffee…" Lucia goes from chirpy to panicky in one second flat.
"It can't be helped. Just state the facts. I'll try to come in as fast as I can."
"What shall I tell her when she asks why you're late?" Lucia asks, not sounding very much calmer.
"Nothing. I'll explain when I get there. Bye." I disconnect and manage to get out of bed and wobble to the bathroom where the toilet becomes my best friend for a bit. The shower is long, reasonably hot, and comes with the added bonus of using the lovely, expensive shower products that is a perk for working at Runway, the biggest fashion magazine in the world. I'm starting to feel almost human, but with that comes the realization that Miranda's not going to be pleased. Wrapping a towel around me, I walk into the kitchen, needing something to settle my stomach.
I make a gentle, green smoothie and move over to the couch. There, on the coffee table is the proof of my sins of yesterday. A tequila bottle sits in the center and is only twenty-five percent full. Three shot glasses surround it, but I know that I refilled min a lot more than Serena's and Emily's. They kept me company during my pity party and had a couple of shots, but mainly they tried to reassure me about my job, about how my heart was sure to mend one day, and, eventually, that I'd had more than enough tequila. I vaguely remember them tucking me into bed.
Oddly, I'm not so worried about finding another job. I've worked long enough at Runway, that even with a mediocre letter of recommendation from Miranda, I'm still going to be all right. If she's not too peeved that is. Lately, no matter how I've bent over backward, and been at her beck and call, even taken over the delivery of the book, since Lucia doing that task seemed to annoy her, Miranda keeps glaring at me, frowning, and, damn it, pursing her lips. That telltale sign of her being displeased sure fucks with my mind.
But even so, the work part will sort itself out. I'm sure Nigel will see me off with a glowing review.
No, the part that's going to take a long time to recover, if it ever does, is my sad, broken heart. Normally, I've managed to keep afloat and reconcile with the fact that Miranda is straight, rich, much older, and completely out of my league, and the fact that I love her desperately and have for so long is never going to amount to anything at all. That's what I'm used to thinking, of telling myself. Then there are those odd days, like yesterday, when something happens that sends me into a tailspin, and I lose the grip of that reasoning. All that matter-of-fact thinking and realism go out the window. And yesterday it was because she motioned for me to ride up in the elevator with her. It's not that she makes me take the stairs if we're together entering the building, but the way she studied me in the reflection of the metal inner door of the elevator, perhaps not realizing it was obvious, caught me off guard. She often gives me a once-over, when she comes into the office. She does the same to Lucia, if not as thoroughly. Yesterday, she did more than that. She seemed lost in thought and her eyes seemed to scan every part of my body.
And all my futile hopes, dreams, and desires, came flooding back. My entire body clenched, and I had to force myself not to gasp, or worse, begin to pant. The oxygen in the elevator seemed thinner, and my heart raced so fast and beat so hard, I was sure she had to hear it.
When we reached our floor, she looked confused for a fraction of a second, but then strode off the elevator as always. I, on the other hand, nearly fell when my heel hit the part where the two floors meet. A big no-no at Runway. A rookie mistake. Miranda turned her head and raised her eyebrows in the way she does, and for a fleeting moment, I thought I saw her smile, but then…there was the pursing of the lips.
I had Lucia deliver the Book last night because there was no way I could do it. Instead, I called for reinforcement, and Serena and Emily came to the rescue. They are the only ones who know my secret. Perhaps Nigel has guessed, but if so, he hasn't commented on it.
My cell lights up and I see Serena's name pop up.
"How are you doing?" Serena's warm voice, so charming with her Brazilian accent, caresses my ear. "I'm about to take a latte to our boss. What should I tell her?"
My thoughts whirl. "I'm okay…ish. Just tell Miranda I'll be in after lunch." I should have been able to eat something by then and regained more of my humanity.
"All right. Give me a call if something comes up. Emily says hi." Serena hangs up.
And I go back to bed for two more hours of sleep before I eat something and prepare to meet the dragon.
The elevator ride up sends more flashbacks of the expression on Miranda's face when she studied me yesterday. I try to decipher it, but it's hard. If I didn't know any better, I'd say she was imprinting my form…but why would she do that? Even if I'm sure I'm on my way to be fired, why would she want to remember a single thing about me? All those little instances that I have already committed to memory, that mean the world to me, surely those were total flybys for Miranda?
I walk down the corridor toward the office that holds my desk. I spot Serena at a distance, and she nods and then blows me a kiss. I smile, but I'm sure it's a pale version of my usual broad grin. In a way, I have reconciled with my fate and know that all I can do is go in, perform my duties until Miranda deems it's time to talk. There might not even be much of a talk. For all I know, I could be dismissed on the spot.
Lucia is at her desk, on the phone. Through the glass, I see Miranda is too. She's not talking, merely listening as she locks her gaze on me. She speaks quickly into the phone and hangs up.
"Andrea." Miranda sounds entirely normal.
I put away my bag and grab my notepad and pencil. Entering her office, I stop at her desk. "Yes, Miranda."
"Close the door. And go sit over there." She points at the small excuse for a couch in the corner, out of view from the glass doors.
I close the doors and take my seat. What is she going to say? Or do? I remember when I was new, and I heard rumors of Miranda threatening to throw underachieving assistants out the window. And here Miranda wants me to sit out of sight of anyone looking through the doors. This almost makes me giggle from sheer nervousness.
"What's going on?" Miranda asks after taking a seat next to me. Far too close. Our knees nearly touch.
I put aside my notepad and pencil on the table in front of the couch. "I'm sorry I'm late."
"Why are you late?" Miranda scans my face, her eyes narrowing, and I just know she notices my extra layer of foundation and concealer. I looked too pale, ashen, really when it was time to get ready. It was makeup or zombie-style. Looking at Miranda, I notice more than her usual scrutiny. The skin around her eyes is tense and her lips void of lipstick and pale. Her hair is slightly tousled, indicating that she's pushed her fingers through it, something she has done on a few occasions when stress has gotten to her. It used to happen a lot right after her divorce. Something inside me mellows. I'm nervous, yes, but is it possible that Miranda is too? It sounds insane, but the way she sits so straight, her shoulders pushed back, and, oh, Jesus, now she bites her lower lip. I take a deep breath.
"As I'm in trouble, either way, I might as well tell you the truth," I say, clasping my hands. "I had too much to drink last night and woke up with the worst hangover." I try to look calm, but I think I might sound more defiant than serene.
Miranda raises those expressive eyebrows. "I've never known you to drink in the middle of a work way, at least not enough to miss work because of a hangover. What's going on?" It's strange, but it's as if she's nearly apprehensive about asking. I can't even begin to fathom why that is. Miranda never backs down in any situation and she certainly never shows fear or trepidation. This woman, who barrels through life, at least the professional part, now regards me with slightly widened eyes and so rigid, I expect to hear her bones grind together.
"I never drink like I did last night. Serena and Emily tried to tell me I'd suffer for it, but at the moment, dulling, well, everything, seemed to work. Next morning seemed far away." I can visualize how my admission will bring out the Miranda who is feared by all. The dragon, the devil, the icy cold snow queen. Oddly, as I'm sure of what's going to happen, I'm calm, but also entrance to a degree where I can't take my eyes off Miranda's for a second. "I know what's coming."
She blinks rapidly, her lips tensing. "What do you mean?"
I wish I could just get this over with, but like a small rodent in front of a cobra, I'm spellbound and know I have to play this out, see the scenario of where Miranda cuts what access I have to her with her mental katana. I know damn well that once you're out in the cold when it comes to Miranda Priestly, you're frozen solid and never allowed back. Seen it happen. Wasn't pretty. I open my mouth to speak, fully intending to be more subtle, even wrap my words into cotton, but instead, I'm as blunt as she can be. "I've seen the signs so many times. You're about to fire someone and I know this time, it's me." Somehow all I can do is laugh, but at the same time, I can barely breathe. "You have two ways to get rid of people." I describe the difference between mere underlings to long-term employees because there is a clear difference. The underlings are gone in a second. As for the rest of us, who have forged some type of working relationship with our boss-she takes her time with us. It's as if she lays traps—or perhaps she's simply misunderstood, as the testing phase can also be seen as a second chance, I suppose. I swallow and then continue. "I have been waiting for the ax to fall and…last night I let it get to me."
Miranda actually looks floored. Now there's something you don't see every day. She recoils, I can tell, even leaning back a few inches physically. "You blame me for your decision to get yourself into a drunken stupor?" And of course, she goes on the offense. Attack mode is familiar territory for her. I want to roll my eyes like she's so good at it, but I don't.
"You're not listening. You asked me why I'm late. I'm explaining. I said I let it get to me. Doing endless tequila shots was my mistake." My words seem to trigger another bout of headache and I wince and rubs my temple.
"Oh, for heaven's sake. Have you had any painkillers?" Miranda does indeed roll her eyes, but her voice has softened.
I shudder. "This morning and—"
She gets up without warning and rummages around at her desk. Returning with a glass of mineral water, the perpetual Pellegrino, and a bottle of paracetamol. She hands them to me and literally taps her foot while she waits for me to down the pills. Once I'm done, she's sitting next to me again. Closer this time and not taking her eyes off me. It might be the residual tequila talking, but I feel as if she's searching for something on my face, or in my eyes. "I have thought of your future with Runway," she says quietly, and I tense up. "You've by far reached a level that makes you over-qualified for your work as my assistance. It's not even what you came to New York to do. Your sense of style has improved, but your heart's not in it." She mimics my movement earlier and rubs her temple.
I have to object while there's still a chance. Though, who am I kidding? Once Miranda's made up her mind, that's it. "I love working with…for you." I sigh as I stumble on my words. "I just want to know, what did I do wrong?"
Miranda lowers her head, but not her gaze, looking at me through her eyelashes. "Nothing. Not a thing." She sounds honest, but this is confusing as hell. Is she truly under the impression that she's doing me a favor? "I'm trying to repay you for everything you've done for me ever since Paris and after the divorce." She speaks faster now as if trying to get this over with, telling me how Nigel will add to my praise from Runway.
Trying to stall, I sip my water again. "Let me get this straight," I say, slowly placing the glass back on the fragile-looking little table. "You're firing me and calling it a favor?" I'm starting to get angry, and it's marginally better than the hurt lurking underneath. I make an effort to look calm.
"Yes, that, and…for reasons of self-preservation." Miranda looks caught at her own words. I desperately try to wind the conversation back a few beats, having lost track of the logic, of what she's saying. Miranda seems to hold her breath and her hands are clenched into fists on her lap.
"Wait…what? Self-preservation?" I finally regain my voice, but I know I sound completely stupid. Miranda on the other hand looks shell-shocked and I lower my voice, sensing that between us, I'm the one who is less panicky about her words. "What does that even mean?"
A gasp for air and then Miranda manages to say, "It means that this is the only solution. You will get the chance to follow the career path you were meant for, and I can move on." These words don't help to calm her down, I can tell. Still, she studies me, trying to judge my reaction.
I keep my tone gentle. "Move on from what, exactly?" "What do you mean by that, Miranda?" Perhaps it's the way I use her name because I can hear how my voice betrays my feelings for her when I do because her shoulders go down a notch.
"I don't think I can be that brave," she says, fiddling with her rings. "Take my word for it."
Uh-uh. No way. We're going to get to the nitty-gritty details about this or I'll never be able to "move on".
"No," I say firmly. She jerks her head back up after having studied her rings, now staring at me.
"Excuse me?" There is the stirring of the dragon, for sure. I don't care.
"I'm not calling you a liar, but now, I can't just take your words for it. In return I promise to elaborate on why being fired from Runway sent me into, what did you call it, a drunken stupor." God, now I've gone and done it. But if that's what it takes for her to be forthcoming, so be it. We've come too far in this surreal talk to back down, either of us, whether she realizes it or not.
I can see the wheels turn as she weighs my words against her desire to remain aloof about it all. She's curious, or, more than that, she has an urge to know. Even a desire, perhaps.
"Miranda?" I say, barely audible. She shivers and it's clearly visible. Not sure where I find the courage, or if I'm simply foolhardy, I raise my hand to cup her cheek. "You're shaking." She nods after looking briefly at her hands. "I spent the last weekend in a state of panic since I knew something was up," I continue, my hand still against the silken skin on her cheek. She doesn't pull away. "Not sure what, but I could tell the signs that you were going to make changes and as you appeared to be focusing on me more than anyone else, I knew I was going to lose my job and, hence the panic, my only access to you. When Serena and Emily came over to watch a tv-show with me, as we do on Wednesdays, they found me already hugging a bottle of tequila."
Miranda gasps. A small, barely audible intake of air between slightly parted lips, but it's obvious. "What do you mean, access to me?" She wets her lips.
"Let me put it this way," I say. "Will you miss me when I'm gone?" This is it. That's the question I never thought I'd dare to ask, and the answer can shatter me. Probably will, but I have to know.
Miranda leans in, still not swatting my hand away. "Desperately," she whispers.
My tears well up and obscures my vision. My heart swells, caves in, and swells again, faster and faster. With each beat, it appears to push more tears to my eyes until I feel I'm drowning. "Same goes." I have to smile and that releases my tears and they run down my hot cheeks. Miranda wipes at them and I too lean in closer, needing to explain further. "Not seeing you, being with you, even if it is just at work, or occasionally for a moment when delivering the Book, is unbearable."
Miranda's lips stretch into a half, unsteady smile. "I found it a particularly devious way of torturing me when you took back that task from Lucia." She slides her fingers along my jaw and shocks me completely by then doing the same with her thumb along my lips. I instinctively kiss it, and she gasps again, which sounds almost like a whimper. "Don't keep me guessing, Andrea." Miranda sounds more together than she looks. Her eyes are burning through mine, and I realize I've never heard Miranda this close to begging. "Am I wrong to interpret your words to mean that you care for me?"
It's easy now. I don't know why, but it is. "I care," I say willingly and then throw my arms around her. "More than I can say."
"Oh, God." Miranda wraps her arms around me and in that moment, I forget to breathe for several moments. She holds me so close, and I can feel the outline of her body against mine. She feels strong and fragile at the same time, and I don't ever want to let go. Still, I know she's right when she starts speaking again. "We can't do this here. You're still my assistant, Andrea."
"I know," I plead. "Just a moment longer. I've…I've been so miserable." I hold on tighter, and she doesn't object. In fact, she does the same.
"So have I," she murmurs. "I never even dared to dream, to think you might see me the way I see you. In fact, I saw it as impossible."
Me too. "Yeah," I say. "Exactly that. Impossible."
We embrace for a while longer and I inhale her signature scent, feel the sprayed hair gently scratch my cheek. Then she slowly pulls back. I follow suit and take in Miranda's expression, not without nervousness. She has lipstick smears on her neck, where I've hidden my face just moments ago. Her blue eyes are glittering like brilliant sapphires. She's more stunning than I've ever seen her, despite her slightly tousled hair.
"Why don't you make sure you deliver the book tonight?" Miranda asks. "In the meantime, I'll start the process with HR, and you can begin sending out resumés. You have several weeks of paid vacation to use, which might come in handy."
I can't stop smiling now. "Sounds like a good plan."
Miranda moves as if to get up but stops and sits down again. Her gaze is locked on mine, but then travels down my face, to my mouth. I shiver, much like she did earlier, and feel sweat break out at the small of my back at the hunger on her face. Then she gives what can only be described as a growl and grabs me by the shoulder. Pulling me close again, she presses her lips to mine. Yes. Yes! This is what I want. What I've dreamed of for so long. I part her lips with mine and deepen the kiss without hesitation. I need this like I need air. To feel Miranda return the kisses, lose all inhibition, and show how she feels about me, is all I could ever ask for. She takes over again, and it is as if she needs to show us both how right this is. I can only moan and cling to her, to not fall off the mini couch.
Eventually, we have to slow down. Someone could actually break the unwritten rule and walk in on us. I see the arousal so evident in Miranda's eyes and in the way she sucks in her lower lip, and I want to transport us to somewhere where we won't be interrupted. Where I can take all the time in the world to show Miranda how much I love her, and how good we'll be together.
I do my best to harness my feelings for now. "I'll go relieve Lucia. She'll make a good first assistant for you." I get up and walk to the door, smiling as I look back over my shoulder at Miranda.
"Good," she says, her voice not quite steady yet.
I see her move as I reenter the outer office, nodding to Lucia that I'm taking over so she can get something to eat. To my left, I see Miranda fetch a mirror and her makeup bag and go back into the stealth corner, no doubt about to erase the traces of our kisses. That's all right. Tonight, in about eight hours or so, I'll create new ones—and if she's agreeable, in places she won't have to hide them.