She Likes a Prizefight
By Telanu

Rated: M (for Mature)
Fandom: The Devil Wears Prada (film)
Pairing: Miranda Priestly/Andrea Sachs

Disclaimer: None of the characters you recognize are mine.

Warning: This is set after the film ends, so, spoilers for the movie.

Feedback: Please!

Thanks: To Tradescant, for the lovely beta.

Summary: "Love is the difficult realization that someone other than oneself is real." -Iris Murdoch

Do not archive this story.

Social circles spin too fast for me.
My Hobohemia is the place to be.

It's her day off, and her cell phone rings at ten in the morning. The ringtone is the Imperial March from Star Wars, so even though her hands are scrubbed raw and red, Andy picks up. "Hey, there."

"What are you doing?" Miranda demands.

"Cleaning my bathroom," Andy says, and presses down hard on the sponge, grunting for emphasis. "Not coming to Runway."

"I wasn't going to ask you to come to Runway," Miranda says, enough ice in her voice to solve the global warming crisis. And like she'd 'ask.'

"Oh," Andy says, momentarily nonplussed. "Well. That's good. Because I wouldn't have come anyway. Like I said."

Miranda snorts. Andy knows that repeated reminders of her independence get on Miranda's nerves, so she gives lots of them. "I suppose killing the no-doubt sentient bacteria in your bathroom is a good cause, even as you're ruining your nails and getting lots of abrasive little calluses."

"S'okay," Andy says, bearing down on a particularly stubborn spot of mildew. "I'll wear kid gloves next time you come over. Is that gonna be tonight?"

"No. The girls have a dance recital, which I told you about." The tone is snooty as all hell, but Andy knows Miranda is disappointed. So is she.

"I bet they'll be great," Andy says, hoping it's true. Nothing perks Miranda up like her daughters excelling at something. Well, almost nothing. "I'll make it up to you later. Try and think of some places where these calluses will feel good."

There's a noise on the other end of the line that might be Miranda catching her breath. Andy grins. But there is no trace of breathlessness when Miranda says, "Are you free on Friday night?"

"I, uh." Andy frowns. She hasn't been given a weekend assignment, though in the world of newspapers, 'last-minute' is code for 'standard' which is often code for 'oh crap, too late.' "So far. But isn't that your benefit night?"

After a pause, Miranda says, "Yes. It is." Andy blinks. Miranda couldn't possibly have forgotten about that, so she must have more to say. After another pause, it comes.

Andy had been working at the New York Mirror and enjoying it a lot, thanks, for almost two months when Miranda Priestly swept through the door. Miranda Priestly. In person. No lackeys. At a grubby newspaper office, where half the people didn't even recognize her, and the ones who did just stared at her as if she were a mirage.

Andy saw her the minute she entered the door. She supposed that was a leftover of her training at Runway--that instinctive ability to know when Miranda was around, electrifying the air with her presence. But…here? She rose from her desk to say hello, knowing she looked like a total idiot with her forehead all crinkled, but unable to straighten it out because seriously what the hell?

Only Miranda strode right past her and walked into the editor's office without even knocking, or looking at any of the people she'd passed. Andy heard John say, indignantly, "Who--" before cutting off abruptly. The door slammed behind Miranda.

Leann at the next desk turned to Andy. "Isn't that--didn't you work for--?"

"Yeah," Andy said, still staring at the door as she slowly lowered herself back into her chair. They couldn't hear anything, nor even see anything, really, through the frosted glass and the closed blinds.

It was totally nothing to do with her. Just because Andy worked at this paper, and that was Miranda in there and Andy used to work for her…but Miranda pretty much recommended her for this job, in her own way, so there shouldn't be any bad feelings, and oh Christ, Miranda had come to demand that Andy be fired and probably executed, she just knew it. Miranda'd had a bad day, and for some reason had thought of Andy and decided, "I changed my mind, the traitress must die," and any second now John was going to come out of his office and announce that Miranda had a firing squad all lined up outside, and she had a special dispensation for it from the NYPD so it was all legal, because Miranda could do things like that.

Andy stared at her computer screen and gritted her teeth. Ridiculous. Miranda hadn't even glanced at her. They hadn't seen each other in two months, since that one time Andy had waved at Miranda on the street and gotten no acknowledgement in return. She walked past the Elias-Clarke building almost every day, sometimes several times a day, but never caught a glimpse of Miranda, or really, anybody else she knew at the magazine. So, wow, talk about overreacting.

A period of time passed that could have been five minutes, or five hours, in which Andy kept reading over the first five words of her article because she couldn't figure out what the sixth word should be, and wouldn't be able to until Miranda came out of that office. Which she did, finally, and a little more sedately, opening the door and saying "Goodbye" without looking at anyone in particular. But it must have been to John, because he followed her out of his office, stopped, and watched her walk through the room and out the front door again. Just as before, she made no eye contact with anybody.

When the door had closed behind her, the volume of chatter rose, and all eyes turned to John. For his part, he turned to look at Andy, and the look of pure bewilderment in his eyes only made her more nervous.

"Adspace," he said in wonderment. "She came to tell me Runway needed more adspace and I'd better bump somebody else so she could get it."

Andy stared at him. The words were English, but still didn't make any sense.

"Adspace," John repeated, staring at the door through which Miranda had just departed.

Andy shook her head. Hard. "She…Miranda came here herself to say that?" To make a request--okay, a demand--that any low-level flunky with an IQ of four could have made over the phone for her?

"Well, obviously," John said, still staring.

"And…that was it?"

"What? Oh. No, actually." John appeared to shake himself out of his stupor. "She wanted to know why we didn't have anybody currently covering that Black-and-White Ball thing she's doing this weekend for, I don't know, some disease or other--"

Had Miranda finally lost her mind? The Mirror didn't cover those stories--that was for Page Six in the New York Post. In her months working at Runway, Andy hadn't seen anybody from the Mirror poking around or interviewing anyone or taking notes. Ever. "But…we're not…"

John glanced sharply down at her. "And she wants you to cover it for us. You. Specifically."

Andy slumped back in her chair. She'd known it was too good to be true. Miranda was out for blood, or at least up to something, because when wasn't she? But this…what was the point? Did she really think she could just waltz into a paper she'd never had contact with before, that wasn't owned or run by anyone who liked her, and start ordering people around like she was back in her own office?

"I'll call her," Andy said. "I've still got her direct number. I'll call her, John. I'll tell her no. You won't have to worry about it." And good God, no matter what else, how sweet was that going to be? Telling Miranda Priestly, 'No. Sorry. Not doing it--find someone else to boss around.'

Andy grinned exuberantly up at John, only to find out he wasn't grinning back. Her face fell.

"John," she said. "John, we--we don't--"

"That woman just bought twenty-five thousand dollars' worth of advertising space," John said grimly. "We do now."

"I wondered," Miranda says carefully, "if you would like to attend."

Andy blinks. "The benefit?" Stupid question, duh, the benefit. "I mean, sure."

"Are you certain?"

Okay, something is up. Miranda never asks for things like this, and if she did, she'd never double-check the answer. "Um, yeah," Andy says. "I mean…I'll have to clear it with John, but I don't think he'll say no. Do you want me to bring a photographer this time?"

There is a sharp hissing noise over the phone. At first Andy thinks it's interference, but all too soon she realizes it is Miranda pulling air through her teeth in extreme irritation. "No," she says.

"Okay," Andy says quickly, hoping to avert a tantrum. "No photographer--"

Miranda's voice drops down into a furious whisper. "No photographer. And no Blackberry or charming pad-and-pencil or whatever it is you use. I want to know if you would like to attend the benefit."

Andy's about to tear her hair out in frustration when the penny drops. "…oh," she says.

"Please tell me the light has dawned," Miranda says.


"With me." Miranda's voice actually shakes a little, but then she clears her throat, so it might have been nothing.

No. Not nothing. This is big. This is huge.

Because Andy, for all intents and purposes, is Miranda Priestly's dirty little secret. And mostly, that's okay. She understands why it has to be like that. There are a million reasons, good reasons--and two of them are Miranda's twin daughters. A third is Miranda's bitter ex-husband (the first one), and a fourth is the custody battle he's been anticipating for years.

So whenever Miranda tells Andy 'Come to Runway,' what she really means is 'Come meet me four blocks down from the office at that nasty little hole-in-the-wall enchilada place where nobody dreams I'd go in a million years, and where I will walk, scuffing my Manolo Blahniks because I can't risk taking the car, for you.' (Andy never feels much sympathy, because she has to endure the subway to make the trip, and her newest pair of shoes cost her forty bucks.)

But now Miranda wants Andy to attend the annual benefit with her--the one Runway throws in the ritziest locations, and that's always wall-to-wall with everybody who's anybody in New York. The one that has to be absolutely perfect, down to the last detail; the one where the designer-of-the-moment personally dresses Miranda in some couture gown he or she (okay, he) created specifically for her. That benefit.

"Well?" Miranda demands. Andy jumps and almost drops the phone.

Alas, I missed the Beaux Arts ball,
And what is twice as sad,
I was never at a party
Where they honored Noel Ca'ad.

Andy was just glad she could still fit into some of the clothes she'd kept from her otherwise-thankless tenure at Runway. She'd given most of them to Emily, and had sold a few pieces to vintage clothing stores for some much-needed cash, but there had been one or two things she couldn't bear to part with--although she'd never thought she'd actually have a reason to wear them again.

But now she did. And, while it was a pain in the ass to re-learn how to walk gracefully in stilettos, Andy thought she didn't look half bad as she tottered into the lobby of the WaldorfAstoria. She couldn't say the same for Ethan, whom she'd had to fight just to get him into a jacket and tie.

"Nobody's even going to notice me," he'd whined. "And if they do, I'll just blind them with the camera flash and disappear."

But she'd told him, in no uncertain terms, that if she had to suffer, so did he. What she didn't say was that she wasn't actually suffering, since sometime in the last year she'd really started to enjoy looking hot.

He was still grousing now, as he threw the SLR around his neck, probably dislodging a few vertebrae in the process. "I can't believe we're reduced to this shit. You know what my last assignment was? Bolivia. Cocaine running in Bolivia."

"Did you get any free samples?" Andy asked. "Because when I worked for Miranda, I got free samples of stuff."

"Laugh it up. I'm surprised you're not as bitter as me. Weren't you talking about going to Boston to see your boyfriend this weekend?"

Andy stopped, and Ethan almost ran into her. She swallowed hard and didn't look at him. "No. Nate and I decided that I would not, in fact, be visiting him in Boston."

"Oh," Ethan said after a second. "I'm sorry."

"I don't really want to talk about it," Andy said, picking up her pace again, and leading the way through the lobby towards the main banquet hall. The whole place was festooned with flowers--no freesias, of course. Miranda hated freesias. Soon enough, it became impossible to move in the crush of people, all of whom appeared to be wearing tuxedoes or identical black dresses with spaghetti straps. Andy knew better, of course. No woman in this room was wearing the same dress. They'd all die first.

"Just take pictures," Andy said to Ethan, who was grumbling as he and she were pressed ever closer together in the crowd. "Any pictures. We only need one to come out okay. Hey, I bet the mayor's here somewhere."

"Great," Ethan grunted. "We can snap a shot of him, and then you can caption it with something like--"

"Don't tell me how to caption a photo, Ethan--"

"Something like, 'Mayor Evanston enjoying himself at Runway's Black-and-White Ball while people are suffering in the low-rent districts he refuses to clean up.'"

"I'll consider that," Andy promised, as she spotted someone she knew. She waved excitedly, until that someone noticed her back. His eyes went wide and he began hurrying over.

"Nigel!" she cried as he approached, trying not to squeal. Her memories of Runway were hardly a hundred percent positive, but she really liked Nigel. Liked him enough to leave the "dream job" behind when Miranda had screwed him over. He'd called her a moron at the time, but deep down she still thought he was just jealous. She hadn't seen him since.

"Oh, my God," he said when he reached her. "What are you doing here?"

"Hello, Nigel, it's great to see you too," Andy said.

"She'll take your head off," Nigel said.

"Why?" Andy asked in genuine surprise. "She's the one who wanted me to be here."

"What?" Nigel's eyes almost popped out of his head. "She…what…"

"Don't ask me," Andy said, putting up her hands to forestall the questions. "She just told my editor to send me. She didn't even speak to me." Or look at her, for that matter. "She came down to the Mirror to tell him. Herself."

"Yeah," Ethan said next to Andy. "It was a real honor. I thought I'd just die."

"Oh!" Andy looked at him apologetically. "Sorry. Nigel, this is Ethan Scrubbs. He's a photographer with the Mirror."

"I've missed your helpful observations, Andrea," Nigel said, looking at Ethan's heavy camera.

"Ethan, this is Nigel. He's Runway's main fashion consultant. He gave me a complete makeover."

"I see you haven't forgotten all my lessons." Nigel gave Andy an admiring up-and-down glance that made her blush with pleasure. "Very nice, although it's trending towards 'last season' at an alarming pace."

"Well, we can none of us stop the forward march of time," Ethan cut in. "Look, is anybody important here?"

"You're here, Mr. Scrubbs," Nigel said sweetly. "We dare not hope for more." He took Andy by the arm and gestured at a nearby waiter holding a tray of champagne flutes. "Bubbly?"

"Love some." It was excellent, as she'd known it would be. Even Ethan looked sourly impressed as he sipped at his glass. She'd forgotten how cool it was to be surrounded so completely by luxury.

Then she saw a toothpick-thin woman turn away a waiter carrying a tray of hors d'oeuvres, and remembered why it really wasn't worth the trade-off. Ignoring Nigel's disapproving glare, she happily plucked a stuffed mushroom from another passing tray. "Ooh. Do these have pesto?"

"I see you've reverted to being a hopeless bumpkin," Nigel said. "How charming. Emily's here, of course. Have you spotted her yet?"

"No. We just got here. Has Miranda arrived?"

"She's got a suite upstairs for the evening. I'm sure she'll be descending on us in a cloud of glory at any moment."

"Oh my God," Ethan muttered, and reached for another champagne flute.

"Almost, yes," Nigel agreed, and then waved at someone over Andy's shoulder. "Ah! There she is."

At first Andy thought he meant Miranda, but when she turned around, she saw Emily heading towards them. Some time in the last few months she'd tried a new haircut. It looked good on her, but the overpowering thing was still her eyeshadow--flourescent violet, tonight. She was wearing one of the gowns Andy had gotten in Paris, a Chanel thing that made her look kind of like an upside-down, black-and-white tulip.

As Emily arrived and opened her mouth to speak, Nigel held up his hand. "I already asked her. Miranda wants her to be here, she doesn't know why that is, and I believe somewhere a flock of pigs is taking flight."

Emily put her hands on her hips and glared at Andy. "Well. I suppose you're just delighted to be back on the scene."

"It's, uh, unexpected," Andy said. "Emily, this is Ethan--"

"Charmed," Emily said, not even glancing at him. "You're here to write an article? For that little rag?"

Andy set back her shoulders. "Yeah. It'll be a stretch, fitting it between the pieces on the Darfur massacres and the strikes in Queens, but hey, priorities."

"Well, I see it didn't take you long to find your self-righteousness again." Emily tossed her hair and looked down her nose. "Although you do look passable."

"Thanks," Andy said, wondering how Ethan was taking all of this. As for herself, she was mostly sure Emily didn't mean her bitching seriously. Mostly. "You've lost weight."

"Oh, stop sucking up." Emily looked towards a nearby staircase and pressed her gloved hand to her breast. "Oh! My God! There she is."

And there she was. Miranda gracefully descended the stairs in the company--but not on the arm--of some guy in a tux who was probably important, but whom Andy didn't recognize. Or maybe it was Husband the Third, already? Who could tell?

Anyway, she looked great. Unlike practically everybody else, she was wearing all white--cream, anyhow--and it made her complexion look like marble. That enormous rock of a pendant, which emphasized her long, graceful neck, had to be real diamond. She wore some filmy, gold chiffon thing on her shoulders that floated around her as she walked.

"Oh," Emily moaned in ecstasy, and fled towards the foot of the staircase to begin her duties. Andy wondered, with astonishment, where all that admiration, all that worship came from. Miranda treated Emily no better than she treated anyone else in the office--which was to say, badly. And she'd made it patently clear that she didn't reward loyalty or love, which took her down a whole lot of notches in Andy's book. Into sub-notch zone, practically.

Miranda didn't even deign to notice Emily when she reached the foot of the stairs. Instead, she tilted her head back and laughed at something the tuxedo-guy said. The soft light of a nearby candelabra caught her silver hair and the line of her throat; the diamond at her breast sparkled brilliantly.

"You're gaping, dear," Nigel said to Andy.

"Uhh…" Andy didn't really have a response to that. "Well, good grief, aren't you?"

"Always," he replied, spotted someone in the crowd, and hurried off with the most perfunctory of goodbyes.

"I can tell you made a whole lot of great friends here," Ethan said as he hoisted his camera, aiming it at Miranda. "Tell you what. Let's get a shot of Kali over there, you get a few soundbites from the least boring people you can find, and we get the hell out."

Before Andy could reply, he snapped a shot of Miranda--who noticed the flash, turned her head, and looked straight into Andy's eyes. Andy froze for a moment, then managed a weak smile, and raised her hand for an even weaker wave. Miranda raised an eyebrow, and turned away, saying something to Emily, who flashed a glance at Andy before looking away as well.

"Nice," Ethan said.

"Typical," Andy sighed, and took her pad-and-pencil combo from her beaded clutch. "You stay here and take a couple more pictures. I'm off to get my blurbs."

She should have expected it, she told herself later. She should have realized that somehow, circling around the room and trying to ask questions without being a jerk, somehow she would gravitate into Miranda's orbit. Everybody did. And before she quite realized it, Andy was standing with her little pad and pencil at the fringe of Miranda's circle, wondering how the hell she'd gotten there and whether or not she could slip away without being noticed.

She couldn't. Just as she began to sidle away, Miranda said--without even looking at her-- "Well. Andrea Sachs. So you made it."

Nobody said her name like Miranda did. Most people called her Andy, and those who didn't called her AN-dree-a. Miranda was the only person who called her Ahn-DRAY-ah. Andy kind of liked it, actually. It made her feel expensive.

But right now, she just felt extremely self-conscious, as the fireflies around Miranda turned to regard Andy with polite smiles.

"Andrea worked for me for some little time," Miranda said, giving Andy a frosty smile, while Emily winced over her shoulder. "Alas, she was too good for this world." She gestured at the room, the gold bracelet on her wrist flashing in the light. "Well, the world of fashion, anyway." She gave a tinkling little laugh.

Andy laughed, too, though she wished she could disappear. Was this Miranda's plan? To call her an ingrate in front of all of New York's movers and shakers? "Oh, that--that's not true," she tried. "I was very grateful for the opportunity…I just…"

She trailed off as Miranda looked her up and down very slowly, touching her chin with one perfectly-manicured finger. Her face betrayed nothing. "And how are you?" she asked after a moment, her voice neutral. "Upholding the spotless honor of the Fourth Estate?"

The people around her chuckled appreciatively. Andy swallowed hard. "I'm good. I mean, I'm well. Thank you. It's going well." She had to do better than that. "Um…how are you?"

Behind Miranda, Emily closed her eyes, obviously consigning Andy to the grace of God. Miranda's lips curled up into a little smile--the malicious smirk she always wore right before telling Andy to do something awful or impossible. "Just fine," Miranda said, somehow managing to make it sound like an insult. "I do hope you enjoy our little soirée. Don't hurry off too soon. I'd like to be able to tell your editor that you did as thorough a job of covering this as possible." Miranda tapped her lips with her finger this time, and added, "I've been pleased with the response to the magazine's increased adspace in the Mirror. I'd hate to see the arrangement come to an end." With that, she turned around and presented Andy with her perfect white shoulders.

Oh, God damn it. It simply wasn't fair--the way Miranda could buy anything and anybody. The way that Andy wasn't free of her, even when she'd taken another job. The Mirror always needed money. There was no way John would thank her for depriving the paper of potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising.

Please God let this be it, Andy prayed as she slunk off towards the quietest corner she could find. Let this, whatever it is, be enough for Miranda to make her point, whatever it was. Maybe after tonight, Andy would finally be free.

Ethan found her nursing a whiskey about ten minutes later. "Are you ready?" he asked.

"You go ahead," she said tonelessly.

"What? You're staying?"

"I have to. Look," she said, loudly overriding him, "just go home, okay? No reason for you to suffer too."

He didn't have to agree so fast, she thought grouchily, as she watched him sprint for the door. She hoped he fell on his face and smashed his Digital Rebel into a million pieces.

The rest of the evening passed in one long haze of boredom and resentment. Andy kept an eye on the party, but apart from the odd word with Nigel or the occasional exchange of glances with Emily, she didn't feel like communicating with anybody. She'd let Miranda put her into an epic sulk. Nothing new, there.

By the time the party was winding down, she'd ended up at the bar, had had two more whiskies, and was feeling a little bit beyond tipsy. Maybe downright drunk, in fact, because she was hallucinating too much to be just tipsy. Like, she kept imagining that Miranda was looking at her a lot--every time Andy turned around, practically. And that was just ridiculous.

Andy was finishing her fourth whiskey when a horribly familiar voice purred, "Well, now," over her shoulder.

Andy whirled, unsteadily, to see Miranda standing behind her, hands folded demurely together, looking like the cat who stole the cream. "All alone, Andrea? What a shame. I do hope you enjoyed yourself."

Alcohol gave Andy the courage to say, "No, not really. Why are you still here? You always leave these things early."

"Yes, well." Miranda looked down as she adjusted her bracelet. "Perhaps this particular evening was exceptionally entertaining."

"Entertaining? These things?" Andy rolled her eyes.

"Oh, that's right," Miranda said. "I'd forgotten how above all this you are."

"Don't start that, for Christ's sake," Andy snapped. "Why'd you want me to come here?"

"I don't think I care for your tone, Andrea," Miranda said coldly.

"Yeah?" Andy said belligerently, hoping her voice wasn't too loud. It was hard to tell, when she was drunk. "Well, I don't think I care for being summoned like a lackey when I don't even work for you anymore! Thank God." She tossed back the last of the whiskey and slammed the glass down on the bar, gesturing for the bartender to bring another.

Miranda took the glass and pushed it away, shaking her head at the bartender. "I think you've had enough, Andrea. You've begun saying things you are going to regret."

"So you'll call my editor and get me fired?" Andy asked, hearing her words slur, but not able to do a whole lot about it. She wondered where Emily had gone. Or Nigel. Or any other of Miranda's hangers-on. "What is your problem?" she continued. "Why'd you drag me back here? What are you trying to say? Or prove?"

"Prove?" Miranda drew her shoulders up very straight. "I have nothing to 'prove' to you, or anyone, Andrea."

"Yeah?" Andy gave her a bitter grin. "Okay, then. Maybe you just missed me."

Miranda's cheeks went pink. Must be getting warmer in here. Thinking herself very funny, Andy continued, "I mean, you did tell me I was 'fetching,' once."

Even as the words left her mouth, she regretted them. Miranda had called her 'fetching,' all right--in the middle of pouring her heart out about how her latest husband was divorcing her. Shit.

But Miranda didn't explode in rage, or even turn into the Ice Queen. She just pursed her lips. "So I did."

Relieved that she wasn't about to be murdered, Andy grinned again. "So that's why I'm here? I'm fetching?"

"You're drunk," Miranda said quietly.

"Yeah. So?"

"So I don't particularly want to have this conversation. Tell me, your work at the paper, it's going well?"

There was no way Miranda gave a rat's ass about this. There had to be a catch. But even if she were sober, Andy knew she wouldn't be able to guess what it was. "Yeah, it's great. I like it a lot," she said honestly. "I feel like I, um, fit there. You know."

"I'm sure." Miranda inspected her own fingernails, appearing bored out of her mind. "And it pays the bills? You can still afford that ratty apartment where Emily picked up her borrowed feathers?"

Whatever this was, it couldn't be good. Could not, could not. "I like my apartment," Andy said defensively. "And yeah--it pays the bills. Better than Runway, actually," she couldn't resist adding. It was true. She'd gotten all kinds of free goodies, but the salary for Miranda's second assistant was shit.

"Delightful," Miranda said, glancing around as if looking for someone more interesting or sober to talk to. But she stayed with Andy, saying, "I see you sometimes. Trotting up and down the street, to and from your shabby little building."

"I pass by Elias-Clarke every day," Andy acknowledged, absurdly pleased that Miranda had noticed. Then her brain caught up with her, and she added, untruthfully, "It's not shabby."

Miranda didn't say anything in reply. She just kept staring at Andy, looking her right in the eye. Until Andy couldn't take it anymore, and burst out with, "What?"

"You could have had it all," Miranda said softly. "But you left without a word--without even two weeks' notice. I looked over my shoulder in Paris and you had just walked away. People do not walk away from me, Andrea."

"I did," Andy said. "I had to."

"Why?" Miranda demanded. "It's not that you think fashion is trivial--not anymore. I know you. When someone like you opens her eyes, she doesn't close them again. What I want to know is, why did one of the most promising young women I have ever known choose to turn her back on the chance of a lifetime?"

Was the whiskey a blessing or a curse? Andy didn't know. But it gave her the strength--or the idiocy--to raise her chin and say, "Because of the way you treated Nigel, and the way I treated Emily, and because I didn't want to do anything like that again." She grabbed her clutch purse from the bar. "I didn't turn my back on a 'chance,' Miranda. I turned my back on you."

Andy had just enough time to see Miranda's face go white and her lips pinch, before she headed unsteadily towards the lobby to call a cab, wondering if she'd just thrown away her career for the sake of a parting shot. Again.

"Of course," Andy says. "Of course I'll come. This Friday? What time?"

"My car will pick you up at eight-thirty sharp," Miranda says, and now she sounds breathless. Relief, maybe. Had she really thought Andy would refuse?

"Sounds good. Will you be in it?"

"Yes. So be ready. What are you wearing?"

Some people can make that sound like a come-on. Or, in Emily's case, a reprimand. Miranda, however, gives it the distinct overtone of a Spanish Inquisition. Andy decides not to play along. "Pair of old shorts and a t-shirt. I don't want to get mildew on anything nice." After a moment of very pointed silence, she relents. "I don't know. Got any suggestions?"

"I have something that should work," Miranda says. "I raided the vaults for it this morning. I'll bring it by next time I call--tomorrow, maybe. You are still a size six, aren't you?"

When Andy had gone back up from a four, she'd had to put her foot down very firmly, or she'd never have heard the end of it. "Last I checked," she says, and opens the cabinet door beneath the kitchen sink, wondering where she's put the Comet. "Not likely to change by Friday."

"See that you don't."

Andy ignores this. "So what does the 'something' look like? It's not pink, is it?" Pink is very in right now, and Miranda insists that she'd look passable in at least a few shades of it. "Because you know I hate pink."

"No, you uninspired Philistine, it is not pink. You'll just have to trust me."

"I do," Andy says, and she does. Most of the time. "Miranda, I'm…really glad you asked me."

"I suppose you've been waiting for it long enough." Miranda sounds resigned. And a little tired.

"No," Andy says quickly, "that's not what I meant. I just meant--I'm glad. That's all."

"That's all?" Andy is delighted to hear the slightest hint of teasing in that tone. So delighted, in fact, that she feels a warm, unmistakable rush, followed by a very lovely tingle that is reserved for Miranda alone. And she knows what that means.

"No, that's not all. What time is the dance recital over tonight?" she asks, unbuttoning her shorts.

"Ten," Miranda sighs. "Well past their bedtime…anyway--"

"That's too bad," Andy says. "I was really hoping you could come by." She kicks off her shorts, slides her left hand beneath the waistband of her panties, and sighs.

There is silence on the other end of the phone. Then Miranda says, quietly, "What are you doing?"

Andy presses gently at her labia, enjoying the slight pressure, before sliding a finger in between them. "Thinking about you. What do you think I'm doing?"

"I…" Miranda clears her throat. Andy marvels at how new this is to her, even after all these months--she'd thought, once, that Miranda had seen and experienced everything. But this, this love affair, seems to be surprising Miranda at every turn. "I believe I can imagine."

"You can? So I don't need to describe it?"

"Oh, for heaven's sake." But Andy knows that tone of voice. Miranda is probably turning red. Not from embarrassment, though.

"Sorry," Andy says, and hums happily as she slides her fingers up and down, a little surprised by how wet she already is. This is something they haven't done yet, not over the phone--maybe that's why she's so turned on. "Can't help it. Just wish you were here."

"Do you."

"Yeah. I do. I wish I--aah." Andy's hips jerk as she traces a finger over her clit. "Damn," she muttered. "I wish I could hold out for more than five seconds…You in your office?"


Andy grins. "You just turned your chair towards the window, didn't you?"

"Very perceptive." Not really. Of course Miranda's turned her chair towards the window--she won't want to risk looking any stray passers-by in the eye. Andy wonders if Miranda sometimes regrets having such an…open arrangement in her office. As it is, now she needs to do her damndest to sound as if she isn't listening to her lover getting herself off over the phone.

"So I really am wearing just a nasty t-shirt and pair of shorts. But you want to know what I have on under them?"

"Enlighten me."

"You know those green-and-black satin panties from the May issue? The boycut ones?" Miranda's breath definitely catches now. "Yeah. Those."


"No bra, though. Just me and a slightly damp t-shirt."

"How spring break of you." But her voice wobbles, just a touch.

Andy rubs a finger over her one of her nipples through the thin cotton and gasps. "God. Feels great. Wish you could see. And touch."

"I…" Miranda stops and clears her throat. "Yes…well…" Then her voice rises even as it fades slightly, as if she's turned her head from the phone. "Go away. I am busy." Andy hears the faint voice of some poor minion abjectly apologizing in the background, and laughs softly through her pity.

"Poor Miranda," she breathes as she slides her hand back between her legs, deciding that Miranda should be punished for being so mean. "You're in a bad way? Me too." When she touches her clit, this time, her whole body jerks, and she can't stop a whimper. "I can't last."

"Try," Miranda says, and that word alone is enough to drive Andy almost--almost--over the edge.

She parts her legs wider. "I've got…two fingers in," she pants, suiting deed to word, and rolling her hips in pleasure. Miranda inhales sharply, and at the sound of that, it's all over. "I can't stop," Andy moans, moving her fingers faster. "I can't, I--"

"I am not accustomed," Miranda whispers, "to hearing the word 'can't.'"

Yeah, that does it. "Too--bad--oh!" Then the orgasm hits her, and she tosses her head back as she humps her own hand, whimpering and making all the little noises she knows Miranda likes. It's good. Really good.

When she's done, she's gasping, and her ears are buzzing. She can imagine the look on Miranda's face right now: it's the same look she always gets when she watches Andy come--flushed cheeks, wild eyes. She fancies that she can hear Miranda panting, slightly, over the phone.

After a few deep breaths, she says, her voice husky, "You still there?"

"Go to hell," Miranda croaks, and hangs up.

Andy stares up at the ceiling and feels a big, dumb, doofy grin spreading all over her face. She wonders if Miranda is about to take a bathroom break, and the thought makes her grin even more.

If Miranda thinks she's irritated now, boy, she'd really be pissed if she knew that Andy is actually wearing plain white cotton briefs.

I like the green grass under my shoes.
What can I lose?
I'm flat! That's that!

A week had passed since the ball. Andy had written up a limp little piece with a few quotes that John accepted without a word. At her request, Ethan had submitted a photo with the chief of police and some Broadway actress in it--no Miranda at all. The expensive adspace for Runway hadn't vanished overnight, so Andy could only assume everything was okay. Even better, John apparently hadn't received any calls demanding Andy's head on a silver-and-Swarovski platter.

Nevertheless, Andy stopped walking by the Elias-Clarke building on the way to work. She wouldn't entirely put it past Miranda to have a sniper waiting on the roof, if she got in a bad enough mood one day.

"Why the hell does everyone run around in terror of her?" Ethan had demanded on the morning after the ball, when Andy had staggered into the office with a wicked hangover. "What's she going to do? Tell you she thinks your shoes are ugly?"

"For starters," Andy had mumbled, pouring herself a big cup of coffee. "And then you'll never work in this town again."

But that hadn't happened. She still had a job. She was happy about that. And if she had the odd feeling of disappointment, of something left unfinished, she tried not to dwell on it. Because she was fairly sure she'd never cross Miranda Priestly's mind again, so there was no reason to return the favor.

Then, a week after the ball, Andy found out she was really, really wrong.

It was ten-thirty at night. Her apartment still smelled pleasantly of Chinese take-out. She missed having Nate around to cook for her, but screw Nate anyway. Him and the Boston hippie chick who was so "real" and so "committed." Like Andy used to be, she guessed.

Oh well. She didn't really get the old 'zip' when she thought about Nate. Not anymore. In spite of her new job, she knew she'd changed too much in the last year to go back to the way things were before. And Nate hadn't changed at all. Maybe it was for the best.

Andy set down her glass of wine and turned off her laptop, finally averting her eyes from the umptieth revision of an article for Sunday. She could barely keep her eyes open, and besides, she had to be at work by six-thirty tomorrow morning. That wasn't the early shift, by a long stretch. She was pretty sure the Mirror building was never, ever empty or dark.

She brushed her teeth, washed her face, and padded into her bedroom to change into her decidedly unglamorous t-shirt-and-flannel-pants pajama combo. Ah. This hadn't changed--how great it felt to put on really comfortable clothes at the end of a long day. She'd lay money that nobody at Runway even allowed themselves that much leeway.

She was just turning down the light when someone rapped sharply at the door.

Andy paused, frowned, and looked at the clock. Ten forty-five. New York might be the city that never slept, but it was still odd that someone would come calling unannounced at this hour. Emergency phone calls, last-minute emails, sure, but not a visit in person. Maybe it was one of her neighbors. She hoped it wasn't anything bad. Like the first floor being on fire.

She walked to the door and looked through the peephole. And then she abruptly decided that it would be much better if the building was, in fact, burning down. Or, at least, it would be a lot more comprehensible than the fact that Miranda Priestly was standing outside the door to her apartment.

As she squinted through the peephole, Miranda reached out and banged on the door again. Andy jumped, gasped, and fumbled with the latch.

Then she opened the door. Miranda jerked her head back as it swung open, almost as if she hadn't really expected Andy to be there. Or to answer the summons.

"Uh," Andy said brilliantly. "What--uh--"

Miranda's lips thinned as she folded her hands together. "Good evening, Andrea."

"…hi," Andy said, and then remembered her manners, which was more than she could say for Miranda, obviously. She stood to the side. "Um. Come in."

Miranda swept through the door. She was immaculately dressed, as always--a smart fur-trimmed jacket, an ivory blouse that probably cost more than Andy made in a month, a sleek silk skirt, Prada pumps. She set her bag--the crocodile Birkin personally given to her by the president of Hermes--on the sofa, and turned to face Andy.

Andy ran a hand through her hair, aware that it wasn't brushed, and that she didn't have on any makeup, and that she looked like a total slob. Also that she hadn't cleaned her apartment in days. A fact that obviously wasn't lost on Miranda, as she looked around the place with raised eyebrows.

"Hi," Andy said again, and asked the first question that came to mind. "Um…how did you know where I live?"

"Your address was on file," Miranda said absently, still scanning the place and no doubt finding deficiencies in every corner. "And you confirmed yourself that you still lived here. During the party."

"Oh." Was that why Miranda had been grilling her? But it still made no sense, and it was late, and Andy had to be at work at a godawful hour the next morning. "Why are you here?" she asked bluntly.

To Andy's astonishment, Miranda looked uncertain. Andy didn't think she'd ever seen that look on her face before--not even on that night in Paris, when she'd been stripped of nearly all her defenses. She'd been sad and resigned, but not uncertain. Uncertain, Andy decided, was worse. And oddly appealing, which worried her.

Miranda took a deep breath, pressed her palms together, and stepped forward, closer to Andy. She looked at the floor. "You don't walk by the building anymore," she said after a moment, her voice thoughtful.

Andy decided she'd entered the Twilight Zone. Either that or Miranda had really, truly gone insane at last. Or…was she drunk? Or high? No, Miranda would never touch drugs, and she didn't smell like booze.

"No," Andy said faintly. "I guess not."

Miranda looked up again, and the look on her face had gone from uncertain to downright bewildered. "I watch for you every day," she said. "You said things to me that I have never allowed another human being to say without reprisal, and…I still watch for you to walk by. I came to your newspaper office to…and then…" She shook her head, raised a hand to rub at her right temple, and looked at Andy pleadingly. "Can you tell me why I am doing these things, Andrea?"

Andy's jaw sagged. All of a sudden, instead of seeing Miranda in front of her, she saw her as she'd been at the ball last week, all cream and gold. And then in Paris in her bathrobe, and then at the benefit when she'd been a goddess in black, and a thousand other images that Andy realized now she would never forget. She wouldn't remember Nigel in his tux, or Ethan in his stupid coat and tie, she wouldn't remember what Emily had worn to the ball, but she knew all these images of Miranda Priestly would be with her until the day she died.

"Oh God," she breathed, her eyes going wide as the room seemed to tilt a little.

High color mounted in Miranda's cheeks and she lifted her chin. She looked as if she might make a break for the door any second--Miranda, who never fled from anything. All of a sudden, Andy wanted more than anything for her not to leave the apartment. For her to stay.

"I like the way you say my name," she blurted.

Miranda took in a quick, sharp breath. Then she stepped forward again. This close, Andy could smell her perfume. It had notes of myrrh and ylang ylang, a scent Dior had designed just for her. No one else on Earth wore it. Miranda's skin warmed it, made it smell softer and spicier than it would in the bottle.

"It's just, nobody says my name like you do," Andrea mumbled. "I like it."

Miranda's lips parted, but she didn't say anything--just nodded.

She was a cold-hearted bitch who did whatever it took to stay on top. She took for granted the people who would do anything for her. She rewarded loyalty with a stab in the back. She'd treated Andy like shit on her shoes for months. She smelled really good. She was the most beautiful woman Andy had ever seen. She looked completely lost, standing here.

Andy had never been so scared in her life. Even when Miranda had given her the worst flesh-melting look, even when…she'd never been so scared.

Andy kissed her.

Miranda didn't even wait a nanosecond before kissing her back, fiercely, grabbing at her shoulders with shaking hands. Andy opened her mouth and slid her arms around Miranda's neck, then slid her fingers into Miranda's hair, feeling the crinkle of enough hairspray to make its own hole in the ozone layer. She flexed her fingers and mussed it at once. Miranda moaned, kissed her harder, and slid her hands beneath Andy's t-shirt, sliding them up and down her back. Her hands were smooth and warm.

Scared was gone, then, and hot took its place. Andy pulled her mouth away, tilted her head, gasped, "Here--in here," and tugged Miranda towards the bedroom. She hadn't made up the bed. Andy collapsed onto the rumpled bedspread, and pulled Miranda down with her. They pulled Andy's t-shirt off, and Miranda spent a few moments nuzzling her throat, squeezing her breasts, while Andy fumbled with the buttons of Miranda's jacket and wondered if she'd come two minutes into the encounter. She'd never made love with a woman before. Had Miranda? Miranda bit her on the neck, and then sucked at the bite mark. God.

The jacket was off. Now the blouse. Andy wanted to tug at it, pop the buttons, and she might have if her fingers could have remembered how to do it. Miranda rose to her knees, looming over Andy, and slipped it off in what seemed to be one fluid movement, revealing a beautiful lacy white bra underneath. Then she went to work on her skirt, while Andy kicked off her pajama bottoms and realized that in spite of everything she was too shy to get rid of her underwear too.

Miranda slithered out of her skirt--good lord, she didn't even need control-top hose--and gave Andy an impatient glance. She tugged at the panties' elastic waistband and kissed Andy again, every movement communicating that she didn't have time for this 'modesty' nonsense, and after another kiss, Andy agreed with her. So in very short order she was naked, and Miranda was on top of her, in her underwear. Lingerie. Miranda did not wear 'underwear.' It felt lacy and scratchy as Miranda slid down Andy's body, mouthing at her skin, kissing her breasts and stomach as she went.

Andy panted, sobbed, and stared at the ceiling. She worried a little bit about those sharp white teeth and that razor tongue. It was only natural to worry about that, when Miranda Priestly's head was between your legs. She had her hands in Miranda's hair again, trying not to tug or pull, but unable to stop moving and grinding her hips against that deadly mouth. Miranda was really going for it, maybe not with expertise but with enough desperation that it didn't really matter, pressing her tongue against Andy's clit so hard that it was almost, almost painful. "Andrea," she murmured in a pause for breath.

Andy thought: Miranda Priestly is going down on me. Then she arched her back, whined, and cried out Miranda's name, wondering how long she'd been waiting to do that when she came.

Miranda kept working her tongue all the way through it, rubbing her thumbs against Andy's shaking thighs until Andy couldn't bear it anymore and had to beg, "Oh, stop…stop…God. Christ. Oh!" Miraculously, Miranda stopped when Andy told her to, and raised her head, wiping her mouth on the back of one trembling hand.

Somehow Andy found the strength to forego the afterglow, to sit up and take Miranda back in her arms, kissing her and tasting herself. She slid her hands over Miranda's breasts, cupped them through the lace, and unfastened the front clasp on the bra, pushing it down Miranda's shoulders and then off. Then she looked down to see what she'd uncovered. Gorgeous. Full and blushing and…Andy was hardly an expert on women's boobs, but she was pretty confident these were perfect. Entranced, she cupped them again, feeling the hardened nipples press against her palms, feeling Miranda's heartbeat slamming against her right hand.

"Don't," Miranda gasped, surprising her, as she took Andy by the shoulders and nuzzled into her hair. "I'll…I'm…"

Andy kissed her neck. "Close?" she whispered. She felt Miranda nod and heave for breath. The thought that Miranda was that close--that even touching her breasts could make her come--was so hot that Andy almost felt ready to come again herself. She was drowning in the smell of Miranda's perfume and Miranda's skin. She could still taste the wine she'd had earlier, and salty sweat (Miranda sweated), and her own come on Miranda's lips.

Feeling half-delirious, Andy brushed her lips over the perfectly soft skin at Miranda's throat and shoulder, reveling in the heat and the texture. "So go ahead," she breathed, ghosting her fingers over Miranda's nipples again. She latched onto what seemed to be an extra-sensitive spot and began to nibble.

"Oh--God. I…"

"Go ahead," Andy repeated, sliding her fingertips down Miranda's stomach and into her panties. Soaking wet, already. Andy crooked and flexed her fingers against the damp heat. She really didn't know how to do this, but hopefully, with Miranda so worked up, it'd be enough to--it was. Miranda's thankfully-short nails dug into Andy's back, her mouth exhaled something that was between a whimper and a cry, and her thighs locked and quivered around Andy's hand. Andy followed her example and kept moving her hand until Miranda stopped scratching her and started squeezing at her shoulders and her back in wordless supplication.

Andy pulled her hand free, and they sank against each other, still sitting up. Then Andy decided her head was spinning way too much for her to be upright, and she tugged at Miranda's arm until they were both lying down again. Miranda, still panting, stared blankly off into the distance, pausing every once in a while to take in an extra-big gulp of air.

She still looked lost. Now more than ever.

Andy couldn't stop the tenderness that welled up inside her, though God knew Miranda didn't deserve it. Miranda had a way about her, after all--a way that made people want to lay the world at her feet, even though she already had it. Andy wondered if she could manage to give Miranda something more useful. Or at least, whatever it was she'd come looking for tonight.

Andy had walked away, and Miranda--unthinkably--had chased after her. That had to mean something. Didn't it?

She reached out and stroked a stray lock of silver hair out of Miranda's flushed face. At the touch, Miranda jerked out of her trance, and looked at Andy with wide eyes. She licked her lips, looking as if she wanted to say something; then, instead, she closed her eyes in exhaustion.

Andy felt that too. All of a sudden, her earlier fatigue returned in full force plus one, and nothing--in spite of the fact that her life had just gotten more complicated than ever--seemed more appealing than a really deep sleep. She reached for the bedspread, which had gotten kicked halfway off the bed, and drew it up over them both. Then she nestled down inside, trying not to kick or otherwise budge Miranda, who probably didn't take any more kindly to pillow talk than she did to elevator chitchat.

But then Miranda, without opening her eyes, said, "What time do you have to be up in the morning?"

Huh. Hadn't quite expected that. "Alarm's set for five-thirty," Andy replied, squinting at the clock. It was 11:15 now. Only a half-hour had passed since she'd let Miranda in.

"God," Miranda muttered. "Journalists."

"You can stay as late as you want," Andy offered hesitantly. "I mean, after I'm gone. The door'll lock behind you." She'd cursed that feature more often than not, after being locked out of her own place way too many times, but once in a while it came in handy.

Miranda opened one eye, then raised one eyebrow and said, "Mmm," before closing it again. Andy was too tired to work out what the hell she was thinking, so instead, she turned over and put out the lamp. She was halfway to sleep when a thought occurred to her.

"Oh, shit," she said. "Is your driver waiting outside?"

"Of course not," Miranda said. "I took a cab. Now go to sleep."

To her bemused surprise, after very briefly contemplating the mind-boggling idea of Miranda in a common taxi, Andy did. After what seemed like four seconds, however, someone began aggressively nudging her awake.

"Andrea," Miranda hissed in her ear, sounding furious, "wake up."

Andy jerked out of the dream she'd been having. "Nnh? Uh?"

"It is freezing in here!"

Andy squinted at the blinking red numbers on her clock. 2:30 a.m. She could have sworn she'd just closed her eyes. But Miranda was right, the room was icy cold. The building's heat must have gone off again. Fuck.

"Okay," she grunted, and slid out of bed, fumbling her way in the darkness to the space heater she kept (against regulations) in the corner. She dragged it out, flipped the 'on' switch, and crawled back into bed as it started humming. "Jus' give it a second."

"Does this happen often?" Miranda demanded as Andy settled the covers around them again, sounding every bit as alert and sharp as if she were discussing the latest mockup. "I'm sure for whatever you're paying for this place you could find--"

Andy mashed a finger against Miranda's lips. "No talk. Sleep now," she said, closing her eyes again. "I was having a dream about porcupines."

"Oh," Miranda said.

"Mmhmm," Andy said, and let her hand drop to the pillow. She felt Miranda's arm slide around her as she drifted back to sleep.

Twenty seconds later, the alarm went off. This was getting kind of tedious. Andy pried her eyes open, already feeling that something was a little bit off about today, but not quite sure what it was yet.

She heard water running. The spot on the other side of the bed was warm. Andy wasn't wearing any clothes. Oh. Right. Miranda Priestly was in her bathroom the morning after having sex with her. Um.

Andy got out of bed, found her pajamas, put them on, and wandered into the kitchen to make coffee. She usually let it brew while she showered and dressed--assuming she dragged her ass out of bed in time to get a shower--but today Miranda was in her bathroom, and knocking on the door and requesting entrance was simply not an option. Not before coffee. Conundrum, there.

Then the bathroom door opened and Miranda stepped out. Andy was perversely pleased to see that even she was not exempt from the cardinal rule of mornings-after: looking like shit. Of course, Miranda's version of 'shit' was still better than some people looked during their weddings, but it was a decided step down from her usual elegance. Her coiffure was less than coiffed, and her blouse and skirt were wrinkled. But the fur on her jacket nestled comfortably around her shoulders and wrists, and she must have brought spare makeup in the Birkin, because her face looked flawless. Although, given what Andy had seen of the rest of her skin last night, it wouldn't take all that much to achieve the effect. Which was good, because otherwise she might have been forced to use Andy's stash of cheap makeup, and Andy only kept neutrals around these days, which Miranda had always said were a sign of cowardice and that's why she'd decreed that berries were in this season…oh, hell. This was not happening.

Miranda glanced around as she exited the bathroom and saw Andy hanging around in the kitchen. Andy managed a smile. "Morning," she said.

"Good morning," Miranda said evenly, her face betraying no emotion in particular.

"Um, coffee?"

"No thank you. I need to go home and change."

"Oh. Sure." Andy remembered what Miranda had said last night. "Do you want me to call you a cab?"

"I've already done so," Miranda said, opening her bag and peering inside before snapping it shut again. "It should be here at any moment, so I'll just be on my way."

Oh. It was going to be that kind of thing. Andy swallowed against the hard lump that suddenly settled in her throat. "Right," she said. "Well…have a good…"

The door closed and locked behind Miranda.

"…day," Andy said to it.

Andy's hands still feel dry and raw after cleaning all day--it's what she gets for forgetting the latex gloves--and her muscles ache, but she's still happy. She'd begun cleaning her apartment pretty regularly sometime after Miranda started coming by, and is still surprised by how satisfying she finds the process. It's a great stress reliever, scrubbing the hell out of something, and when she's done, she has a sparkly clean apartment. Well. By her own standards, anyway. Which, she tells herself many times, are the standards that should matter the most. She's started to believe this, which is good.

The rest of her day is spent in going through the notes she's written for Sunday's special feature, and emailing John at least three times. One thing that's a constant in any job, she's learned, is that 'day off' usually means 'sleeping in and then working from home.' She doesn't mind. She loves her job. Now more than ever, when she loves a lot of things about her life.

It's about 11:30 and she's rubbing lotion into her hands before bed when somebody knocks at the door. Andy's jaw drops. No. Way. But sure enough, there's Miranda waiting beyond the peephole.

Andy hasn't given her a key. She doesn't plan to. The apartment is hers, and Miranda has to ask entrance. Andy's never said that out loud, but they both understand it.

So now she opens the door and Miranda storms in, tossing her purse and a huge garment bag onto the couch like they don't weigh a thing, and unbuttoning her blouse before the door's even closed behind her. She doesn't speak a word of greeting. Her cheeks are flushed, her hands are trembling, and Andy decides that she must not have taken that bathroom break after all. Oh, boy. Suddenly it's okay that Miranda has broken the rules and stopped by without calling first.

Andy abandons all plans to get any sleep tonight and presses Miranda back against the door, kissing her, slipping her hand inside her blouse. Miranda gasps, and Andy drops her hand down and slides it up under her skirt. No time for preliminaries, if Miranda's been waiting for this all day. To Andy's shock, her fingers immediately find flesh. No panties or hose or--

"Took them off in the cab," Miranda pants against her mouth, anticipating her question and already rubbing herself against Andy's fingers. She's as wet as if they've been going at it for hours. "They're in my bag."

Definitely no time for preliminaries. Andy drops to her knees without a word, hikes Miranda's skirt up, and dives in. Miranda grabs her head. Andy's long had a sneaking suspicion that she's not all that skilled at this, but whatever she does seems to work for Miranda, who's already coming at the first lick to her clit. She spasms, moans, and then does it again so quickly that Andy can't decide if it counts as one orgasm or two.

Whatever it is, Andy decides it's not enough, as Miranda's shaking knees bear her down to the floor. So she tips Miranda gently over onto her back, and Miranda lies right there on the shabby (but clean) runner as Andy spreads her legs, bends down, and goes for it one more time. It's great, this round, and Andy knows because Miranda writhes and sobs, and she keeps going until Miranda's actually squeaking and trying to wriggle away from Andy's mouth because it's too much.

Andy sits up then, and looks down at Miranda, splayed out on the floor, messy and flushed and half-naked and looking better than any photo shoot. Miranda's got that glassy, stunned look she always gets if it's really good. Andy licks her lips in satisfaction, enjoying the way they taste. The taste of pussy took some getting used to, but now she really likes it. They'll be sending her Lesbo Card in the mail any day.

She gives Miranda another minute before asking, "So, how was the dance recital?"

"Fine," Miranda says faintly, making no move to get up. "Well, Cassidy twisted her ankle." Andy winces in sympathy. "But they both appreciated the flowers you sent."

Okay, so she'd felt guilty about almost forgetting the recital. Andy's pretty sure florists don't like making last-minute deliveries when all you're ordering is a ten-dollar bunch of carnations, but it was the best she could do. The rent's due next Tuesday.

She hadn't put her name on the card, of course, but the twins would have known. They haven't spilled the beans to anyone yet, either. They really like Andy--probably because she's never told Miranda about the way they'd tricked her into going upstairs and overhearing Miranda's argument with her ex. Miranda spoils them terribly, which won't lead to anything good, but Andy keeps well away from that part of it. She's glad she's not a parent. Being "Mommy's friend" is enough of a strain sometimes.

"My pleasure," she says. "You should bring them by again. We can have a movie night."

Miranda snorts--Andy knows she finds such ideas of domesticity too plebeian for words--but dollars to doughnuts she'll bring the twins next week, anyway. The girls will like it, and that's all that counts. Besides, it's good for them to spend the occasional evening being nice to someone who doesn't have a seven-figure income.

Suddenly, Miranda's eyes widen. "Damn it," she mutters. She rarely swears, and Andy lifts her eyebrows in inquiry. "I don't think I put my things in my purse," Miranda says. "I think I left them in the cab."

Ha! "That's one lucky driver," Andy says, and grins. She lies down next to Miranda and props herself up on one elbow. "It occurs to me," she says, "that four orgasms have taken place between us today, and I did all the work for each of them."

Miranda narrows her eyes. Andy grins even more. She knows that look.

Challenge accepted.

Somehow Andy made it through the morning. Four cups of coffee helped, but that meant that by the time noon rolled around, she was a shaking wreck. Well, she blamed it on the coffee, anyway.

She was due to meet Lily for lunch at twelve-thirty, and considered canceling because she probably wouldn't be good company, all things considered. But she'd be damned before she let Miranda fuck up her schedule, and besides, being comforted by a girlfriend after a shitty night was a time-honored tradition.

Only Lily didn't seem to notice that Andy was upset when she sat down in the bistro. Instead she started chattering happily about her latest exhibit, about how her dealer had made noises about doing a show in Rome, about how she'd sold something to a university in Toronto.

Lily, Andy thought bitterly, had been pretty quick to condemn her when she'd been seduced by the fast pace of her job at Runway. But she'd sure liked getting the occasional Marc Jacobs bag or Hermes scarf for free. And it looked like she was taking to the life of a hot new artist like a duck to water.

Still, Andy nodded and smiled and made the right noises. She held out pretty well until the end of lunch, when Lily started talking about Paris. Apparently she wanted to start a new photo series based around the Rue Richelieu. But as soon as she heard the word 'Paris,' Andy thought of a posh hotel suite, and of Miranda sitting in her bathrobe on the sofa, and of walking away from her at the end of it all.

Because she was a pathetic loser, she started crying, and Lily finally jerked to a stop. "Oh my God," she said, as she offered Andy a paper napkin for a tissue. "What's the matter? What's wrong?"

"Nuh-nothing," Andy sniffled as she abraded her nose on the rough texture of the napkin. "I just had a bad night."

"Must have been pretty bad," Lily said, eyes wide. "What happened?"

"I, uh…I…I didn't get a lot of sleep, and…" Andy dabbed at her eyes and decided, why the hell not? "I slept with somebody who treated me like crap this morning. Plus not enough sleep. That too."

Lily winced. "Jesus, Andy. I'm sorry. Here I am, running my mouth off…have another napkin." Andy took it. "Is it because you broke up with Nate?" Lily asked gently.

She hadn't thought of that. "I don't think so," she said, and blew her nose, hiccupping a little. "I mean…I don't know. I don't know what the hell it was." Christ, she was a mess. But Lily, whether she knew it or not, had a point. Andy hadn't felt this bad after breaking up with Nate, who'd been her boyfriend for three years. One night with Miranda, and she went to pieces. It figured.

So Miranda'd had the last word. Was that what it had all been about? Wanting to prove to Andy that she could get whatever she wanted from her, whenever she wanted it, no matter what? But she'd said all that stuff about watching Andy walk down the street, which didn't seem to fit in with revenge. None of this made any sense.

"Well, whoever they are, it's their loss," Lily said, shaking her head. "If they can't appreciate you, fuck them. They're not worth it."

"No, she isn't," Andy said, before her brain caught up with her mouth.

She glanced quickly at Lily, who looked stunned. Andy blushed, felt queasy, wanted to apologize or say she'd just been kidding. But then a huge grin slowly bloomed on Lily's face. "Andrea," she said. "Damn, girl!"

Andy looked down into her lap, blushing even harder, smiling in spite of herself. "Lily," she began.

"Look at you, Miss American Pie. I never thought I'd see the day. Who is she? Do I know her?"

"No," Andy said firmly, trying not to shudder at the thought of what Lily would say if she knew the truth. "You don't know her, you haven't met her, and you never will. It was a mistake, and it's over. Please God let's leave it at that."

"All right, if you say so," Lily said, and added more kindly, "I really am sorry, though. Whoever she is, she's not worth the mud on your shoes." She reached across the table and took Andy's hand. "Trust me on this one."

"I--" Just then, Andy's cell rang. She sighed, withdrew her hand from Lily's, and pulled the phone out of her bag. "Sorry. It's probably John. I'm supposed to--"

She froze. The screen read, 'Miranda.'

"What is it?" Lily asked.

"Nothing," Andy said, mashing the 'Ignore' button as hard as she could and stuffing the phone back in her bag. "I mean, it's just John, like I said. Thanks for lunch. I have to go."

"Let me pay for it," Lily said. Since it wasn't expensive, Andy did, and gave her a grateful kiss on the cheek. "Call me, girl!" Lily added as Andy hurried out of the bistro.

The phone rang again as Andy walked back to work. It was Miranda, of course. Andy set her jaw. She couldn't deal with being jerked around right now, not feeling like she did. She'd probably start blubbering like a little kid. No. She would not answer that phone. She'd call Miranda back when she was good and ready. Thus resolved, Andy set the ringtone to 'silent,' and made very sure she walked right past the Elias-Clarke building on her way to the Mirror.

By three-thirty that afternoon, when it felt like she'd been checking layouts since the dawn of time and she felt slightly more composed, Andy checked her voicemail. Miranda had left her four messages.

Andy took a deep breath. Maybe she'd misjudged the situation. Maybe Miranda hadn't been trying to make a point this morning. She'd said some pretty personal, revealing stuff last night, after all. She might just have been really freaked out by the whole thing, and had wanted to escape, to have time to think. Andy supposed she could understand that.

She listened to the first voicemail, resolved to be open-minded and charitable. By the time she got to the fourth one, though, she was seething. The messages were no longer than three seconds each, and they were: "Call me back," "I know you are there, Andrea," "Answer your phone," and, "I do not find these childish games amusing. Call me when you're ready to grow up."

It would probably be wiser if Andy were to give herself a little more time to cool off, but instead, she called Miranda's number right away, shaking with anger. Miranda picked up on the second ring. "Well. Finally," she said.

"Hello? Is this the office of the Queen of England?" Andy demanded. "Because I'm pretty sure that's who just left me all those voicemails. Nobody else would have the brass balls to--"

"I beg your pardon--"

"--leave messages like that after walking out on me this morning as if--"

Miranda hung up.

The world hazed red in front of Andy's eyes for a few deadly moments. If Miranda Priestly had materialized in front of her at that moment, Andy would have throttled her with her bare hands.

Then she closed her eyes and stood up. "I'm taking a quick walk," she announced to nobody in particular. It was okay, because John was still reviewing her article, and she was due to go home in twenty minutes anyway. She walked out the front door, taking very deep breaths all the way, and dialed her phone outside on the sidewalk, knowing full well that she was in Miranda's view. If Miranda was looking.

Miranda waited for four rings before picking up this time. "Yes?" she asked coldly.

Andy took another deep breath. "Right," she said. "Okay. I'm calm. I'm good."

"I'm glad to hear it," Miranda said. "I have quite enough high drama going on up here already."

Andy gritted her teeth. "What did you want?"


"When you called me. What did you want to say?"

The phone went silent for so long that Andy checked the screen to make sure they were still connected. "I wondered," Miranda finally said, "if I might…stop by again sometime."

She didn't say anything else. Andy stood there, as stunned as if she'd taken a blow to the head.

After another moment, Miranda said, "But it seems as if you'd prefer--"

"Call first," Andy said.

"--for this to--what?"

"I said call first, next time," Andy said. "That way I'll know you're coming and I can get the place cleaned up a little. Or at least make sure I'm home."

"That's…not unreasonable," Miranda said.

"And, uh," Andy continued, her mind racing, "stay for coffee, too."

"That would be awkward," Miranda said flatly.

"Oh, come on--"

"I don't like awkward."

"It won't be awkward. What's awkward about drinking a cup of coffee before you go to work in the morning? I won't yak your head off. I never talk much in the mornings. It won't be awkward."

"Perhaps," Miranda replied, sounding as though she'd just been forced to surrender a solid gold Rolex to train robbers.

"All right," Andy said, and then added, "all right?"

"Yes, all right," Miranda said, clearly ready to be done with this conversation. "I'll--you'll hear from me later."

"Fine," Andy said. Miranda hung up.

Andy looked up towards her office window. Then she closed her eyes. "I am the biggest sucker in the world," she muttered, to whomever might be listening.

Girls get massages, they cry and they moan.
Tell Lizzie Arden to leave me alone.
I'm not so hot, but my shape is my own.

"It's not too dreadful," Miranda says thoughtfully, taking Andy by the shoulders and spinning her around like a top so that she nearly falls over. The dress is basic black, low-cut and made of velvet and damask fabrics that catch the light in weird ways, making the black sometimes look red or bronze. And, not that Andy's trying to be crass, it has to be worth at least five thousand bucks. "I like it. Accentuates your bust. Hides your hips."

Andy rolls her eyes. She knows Miranda is around size-zero models all day, and really, she does pretty well with not calling Andy 'fat' most of the time, but once in a while the little barbs slip out. Miranda probably doesn't even know she's doing it. Probably.

"I like it," Miranda repeats, adjusting the lace on the cap sleeves.

"I like it too," Andy says pointedly, since Miranda hasn't once asked for her opinion.

"That's good." Miranda's tone is absent as she circles Andy around like a shark. A well-fucked shark with a blouse button missing, anyway. Andy grins. "No necklace with this, I think. Black elbow-length gloves…plain diamond studs for earrings. A grey silk wrap. Old Hollywood glamour--that should do it. We'll put up your hair…"

Andy is reminded of being treated like Nigel's living mannequin. She also gets the feeling Miranda's been wanting to dress her up again for ages. It's not so bad, but she can't resist saying, like some snot in junior high, "What kind of underwear?"

"Push-up corset. Strapless," Miranda says, not even rising to the bait. Andy's lungs start aching just thinking about it. "Anything else is up to you." She shoots Andy a glare. "Though I highly recommend you avoid the House of Hanes."

"I'll think of something," Andy says. "What about shoes?"

"Didn't you have a pair of black Gucci slingbacks? I trust you didn't give those to Emily. She's not even your size."

"No, I still have those. What are you wearing?"

"Something quite stunning from Josef Rabbini. Up-and-comer from Soho. I'll put him on the map." Miranda stands back and clasps her hands, looking at Andy up and down. "Yes. Acceptable."

"I guess if you don't compare me to any toothpicks."

"Don't worry," Miranda says, reaching out and taking her by the elbows. "We'll seat you next to Tyra Banks. Just make sure she doesn't mistake you for a lamb kebab."

"Ouch," Andy says, grinning in spite of herself. Miranda's eyes sparkle. She loves being a bitch.

Andy loves her. She wonders if Miranda realizes this.

"Will there be dancing?" she asks.

"Of course," Miranda says. "I'm not sure how far we should push our luck, however."

"We'll see how it goes," Andy agrees. She likes to dance. If they're not pelted with any rotten tomatoes (or at least frowned at by the stockholders), maybe they can take a spin around the floor. That sounds like fun. There is only one problem. "Can you lead?"

"You're joking, aren't you?"

Andy grins and heads over to the CD player. Within moments, Ella Fitzgerald is warming up the room. Miranda's cheek is soft against Andy's. She is an excellent dancer.

"You're okay with this, right?" Andy murmurs into her ear. "I mean, I am. But we don't have to do it, if you don't want to."

"Oh, we're doing it," Miranda says, in what Andy thinks of as her woe-betide tone of voice. "If I never have to set foot in that disgusting enchilada place again, it will be too soon."

"I never bother with people I hate," Ella sings.

Andy wants, kind of, to ask if Greg (the first ex) is going to cause trouble, or if Miranda's cleared this with the twins, or if anybody's suspicious already. But Miranda obviously doesn't want to talk about that. So instead, she just says, "Well, I guess we better go for it, then. And if I embarrass you, you can always knock me over the head and drown me in the punch."

"Don't be ridiculous," Miranda says. "That's why I have assistants."

They dance silently for a few more minutes. Andy enjoys the warmth and the movement, less urgent than the kind of dancing they were doing earlier.

So, she's the one who always has to be home in a clean apartment when Miranda wants to come over. She's the one who has to come up with excuses when her friends and co-workers want to set her up with 'the nicest guy' (or, in Lily's case, girl). She's the one who has to hem and haw when her parents ask her when she's thinking about settling down. She's the one who drops everything when something comes up, because her schedule is a little more flexible than Miranda's. She's the one who bites her tongue.

Andy makes all the sacrifices. But Miranda takes all the risks.

When she thinks about it that way, Andy gets the feeling that she is loved very much, indeed.

Andy got a call from Miranda two days later, after she'd about bitten her fingernails to their nubs in spite of herself. As far as sweet talk went, it left something to be desired.

"Will you be home this evening?" Miranda asked as soon as Andy answered the phone.

"I, uh, I get off work at eight," Andy stammered. "So by nine I should be--"

"Fine. I'll arrive at nine-thirty, if that suits you."

"Well…sure, that's--"

"I'll see you then. Call me if something comes up." Miranda hung up.

Andy snapped her phone shut. Of all the…she was almost tempted to call Miranda back and say sorry, something had come up, and it was Andy's self-respect. But she didn't. She wasn't sure why, but she didn't.

"Andy!" Ethan said, glaring at her.

"Oh! Sorry," Andy said, and shoved her phone back into her pocket before turning to the distraught woman before her. "Sorry. All right, ma'am…how long had you known the murder victim?"

After she dodged out of work at 7:50 that evening, and practically flew to the subway, elbowing weaker commuters out of her way, Andy actually made it into her front door by 8:30. That gave her an hour to clean the place up, assuming Miranda didn't decide just to arrive early or something. Which would suck, but Andy wasn't sure she'd have the strength of character to make her wait in the hall.

Then, once the bed had been made and remade (for all that Andy assumed they would mess it up later), and the floor vacuumed and the dishes put away, Andy started to wish she'd arrived home later. There were still a good twenty minutes before Miranda was due to show up, which left her plenty of time to develop a healthy case of nerves.

Sure, it--the, the sex and all--had been good last time. Great, even. But she hadn't had time to think about it, to worry or plan or develop a complex or even wonder if she was, in fact, gay. But now she had plenty of time to do all those things. And if they went about matters more slowly, tonight…would Miranda notice Andy didn't know how to do it? Of course she would. Miranda always noticed incompetence. And accepted no apologies. Oh, God, what if Miranda wanted Andy to go down on her? Or do anything else that required some degree of finesse?

Maybe Andy could explain, before they started. "Miranda, just so you know, I've never done this with another woman before, but I'll try really hard." Oh, great. That was pretty much how her job interview had gone, too. Then again, she had been hired.

Did she have time to look any lesbian stuff up on the internet?

Somebody knocked at the door.

Andy's panicked eyes flew to her clock. Oh, shit--how had 9:25 rolled around so fast? She fought off the urge to howl at the door, "I still have five more minutes!" Also, the urge to throw back a quick shot of tequila.

Steeling herself, she took a deep breath, decided she would adopt Nigel's practice of thinking positive, and marched to the door. When she opened it, Miranda tilted her head to the side and swept her gaze up and down Andy's body. Andy's cheeks flamed. Without a word, she stood to the side, and Miranda entered.

All the work Andy had done cleaning the apartment seemed for naught, as Miranda didn't even look around this time. This time, she kept her eyes on Andy.

Andy had called Miranda's gaze 'flesh-melting' before. She was pretty sure she hadn't meant 'flesh-melting' quite like this, though. It felt way too hot in here. She managed a smile, and said, "Hi." Miranda didn't reply. "So, uh, how are you? How's the magazine?"

Miranda tilted her head again. "Have you done this before?" she asked.

Andy opened her mouth to ask, 'What?' before realizing the question was so inane that Miranda's resulting contempt might very well bring her apartment into a new Ice Age. "Not with a woman," she said instead, trying not to hunch her shoulders, but sticking her hands in her pockets before she could stop herself.

"Then you haven't done this before," Miranda said flatly.

"I guess not," Andy said, trying not to sound defensive. Something about Miranda's tone got her dander up. "But you have, right?"

She'd expected a condescending nod, or a smug smile, or something. She had not expected that Miranda would purse her lips, stick her tongue into her cheek, and then say, "No."

Andy's eyes widened. "What?"

"I…said…no," Miranda said, enunciating very precisely. Then she smiled bitterly. "Or did you suppose that I had a train of nubile young assistants going in and out of my office for that very reason?"

"I, uh," Andy said, "I hadn't thought about it." She narrowed her eyes. "But--I mean, you must have. You knew how to…with me, when you…"

Miranda drew off her gloves and tossed them onto the sofa. Her bag followed shortly. "I believe the technical term is 'muffdiving,' Andrea." Before Andy could faint dead away from that, she added snidely, "And your belief in my skills rather testifies, I should think, to your ex-boyfriend's lack of same."

Andy's face went scarlet. "Well--Nate--he--"

"Was that his name?" Miranda advanced on her. Andy felt rooted to the spot. "I saw his picture on your desk. Not bad, I suppose. But not good enough." She reached out and touched Andy's chin.

Andy didn't know what the hell prompted her to speak then, but she said, "Are you good enough?"

Miranda dropped her hand. "I suppose that's up to you." Her voice had cooled considerably.

Andy tried a smile. "Well…we'll work it out as we go, I guess…" Though whether she was referring to the sex, or--or something else, she wasn't sure.

To her dismay, Miranda turned away from her, but she didn't seem angry. She seemed, well, concerned. "I suppose I don't have to tell you, of all people," she said slowly, "that I am currently in the middle of a divorce that, while hopefully not long, is likely to be bitter."

"Oh," Andy said. "I mean, yeah. I'm sorry--"

"I have an ironclad pre-nup, of course," Miranda continued, "but nevertheless…any--complications--"

She stopped and glanced at Andy. Andy's mouth made a small 'O' of understanding. "I haven't told anyone," she said.

Miranda looked as close to ashamed as Andy had ever seen her, then. "That's for the best." She brushed her hair out of her face, distractedly. "I…and there are the girls to consider, of course, and Greg would jump at the chance to…" Her voice trailed off.

Andy took a deep breath and told herself she wasn't wringing her hands, just clasping them. "Are you, uh," she said, "are you telling me why this isn't going to happen?"

Miranda glanced sharply at her. "That was not my intention, no."

Oh. Well, then. "So, this…is this, like, a rebound thing, or…"

"No," Miranda snapped. "This--I don't know what this is. It--it is what it is."

Andy understood then that Miranda wasn't going to apologize for leaving so abruptly last time, or make any promises, or explain herself, ever, and that had to be okay, for now. She nodded and breathed deeply again. "All right," she said, and stepped forward until they were almost touching. There was that perfume, again--fainter than before. Miranda held still while Andy cupped her face in her hands.

"You just tell me if I do it right," she whispered, and Miranda, without replying, leaned forward and kissed her.

It went well, all things considered.

This time, when they were done, they didn't go right to sleep. Instead, Miranda rested her head at Andy's collarbone and lazily stroked her left breast, giving Andy pleasant little postcoital shivers. It was probably payback for the amount of time Andy had spent at Miranda's own breasts, which really were pretty amazing and deserved every moment of attention. And for once, Miranda seemed to have appreciated Andy's best efforts, if the scratches on her back were any indication.

Miranda stretched out next to her, looking far more relaxed than Andy had ever seen her (and she couldn't help the rush of pride that gave her), and sighed. Then she said, "I suppose we'll have to come up with some kind of arrangement."

"Mood-killer," Andy said, stroking Miranda's hair to take the sting out. It was hard to be afraid of her right now. In fact, after listening to her beg (Don't stop please oh don't), Andy wasn't sure she'd ever fear her again.

"Mmm." Miranda actually smiled. "I'd forgotten how well-liked I am for the way I lighten the atmosphere."

"That's okay. I bet people like you for other reasons."

"Name one."

"Well--you know how to get things done, you're motivated--"

"I meant name one person."

Andy wished she didn't have to think about it so hard. "Emily likes you," she said, though she wasn't sure 'likes' was really the right verb. 'Slavishly adores' might have worked better. "She'd do anything for you." She would probably even want to trade places with Andy right now. In fact, the more Andy thought about it, the more she was sure of it.

But Miranda didn't seem impressed. "Emily," she said, "after all that she has seen, is still naïve enough to believe that at the end of her tenure I will throw her a party, give her a gold watch, and personally sing her a rendition of 'You Are the Wind Beneath My Wings.'"

Andy snorted with laughter before she could stop herself. She wanted to defend Emily, she really did, but God, Miranda had spoken nothing but the truth. All the same…was it really wrong of Emily to hope she'd be rewarded for her backbreaking efforts?

She'd just opened her mouth to say so when Miranda glanced up at her. Her eyes were deadly serious. "Don't try to influence my decisions at work, Andrea," she said quietly.

Andy's mouth snapped shut again. After a moment she nodded, and then, in a burst of inspiration, imitated Miranda's voice as she said, "That is not…unreasonable."

Because, she guessed, it wasn't. If this was going to work…whatever "this" was…well, trying to come between Miranda and Runway, in any way, would be like sticking her head into a meat grinder. Runway was off-limits. Had to be.

"Don't tell my editor what assignments to send me on either," she added.

"Your work is sacrosanct," Miranda yawned. "I have what I wanted from that little deal, anyway."

Andy stiffened. "Which would be…me?"

"So it would seem," Miranda mused. "I didn't entirely expect this. But yes, I suppose so."

"John said you bought twenty-five thousand dollars' worth of ads."

"He exaggerated. Twenty-three."

"That means I'm worth less than your Mercedes."

"And more than my shoes. May we go to sleep now?"

"My alarm's set for seven," Andy grumbled. "Need it any earlier?"

"No. I'm not due at the office until 9:30, and frankly, they can always wait."

"God," Andy said. "You're lucky I like you."

Instead of retorting, Miranda stroked her fingers over Andy's belly. Which might have been her way of saying that she liked Andy, too.

That would be nice.

If Anthony, Miranda's driver, recognizes Andy, he gives no sign. It's been well over a year since he's last seen her, after all. He merely takes her overnight bag and lets her into the car. As she settles in comfortably on the buttery leather seats (with their own heating and massaging functions), tucking her wrap around her, Andy hears the thump of the trunk door closing.

Miranda glances up from a proof she's been studying by the overhead light. Andy leans forward for a quick kiss on the cheek--air-kiss, that is, so they don't smudge any paint. "You brought your bag?"

"Yep," Andy says, giving her an admiring look. Miranda was telling the truth--her dress is a deep wine-red and, indeed, quite stunning. "Wow. Don't you look hot?"

"Mmm." Miranda takes Andy by the chin and tilts her head around so she can get a good look at Andy's earrings, makeup, and updo. "You as well," she says, settling back against her seat in satisfaction. The car pulls away from the sidewalk.

Whew. It's all well and good to tease Miranda, or even deliberately provoke her, but Andy really wants to do things right tonight. She doesn't want to embarrass Miranda or make her regret her decision for one instant. And that means doing exactly what she says.

Except, well, okay, she's not wearing the corset. With the way she feels now, she'd probably pass out if she couldn't get enough air. Anyway, with a push-up bra and control-top hose you can't tell any difference, no matter what Miranda thinks.

"So," she says casually, trying to think of something other than her nerves, "did they give you the suite overlooking the garden or the one with the skyline view?" She should have said 'us,' maybe. Because she and her overnight bag are going to be staying there too.

"Actually," Miranda says, looking at her proofs again, "I rather thought we'd go home instead." She flips a page. "My home, of course." Another flip. "It's not too far a drive."

Andy blinks, and then feels her face splitting in a smile. "Oh," she says. "Cool."

"The twins will be in bed, naturally."

"Well…I can see them in the morning, can't I?"

Miranda smiles, still looking at the proof. "Yes. You can." Then she finally sets her work aside, looks up, and looks at Andrea, still smiling. Miranda doesn't smile much, even now--not really happy smiles. She's a knockout when she does. Andy can't figure out why they don't just put her on the cover of Runway, oh, every other month. It would save a fortune on having to hire models or lure actresses.

"I'm nervous," Andy blurts, and then regrets it. She hadn't meant to pile any more pressure on Miranda, but the words just slipped out. "I mean, just a little," she adds quickly, looking out the window to watch her neighborhood go by. "Not a big deal or anything."

"Never let them see you sweat, Andrea," is Miranda's helpful advice. "Remember: you have nothing to be ashamed of; you are better than they are; they are lucky to be talking to you." Andy would be flattered by this, except she knows it's the exact same philosophy Miranda applies to herself. Had she started out like this too? From a place of squirming stomachs and sweaty palms? "You did quite well in Paris. I'm sure you'll have no problems handling yourself here."

"Right," Andy says, nodding hard. Miranda's right: she did do well in Paris, getting along with everybody. And, unlike Miranda, she'd been able to do it while being polite and friendly to her subordinates. Good karma has to count for something, right? "But, uh…" She probably should have asked this before. "What do I say when people ask? You know, about us."

Miranda turns to her with raised eyebrows and a faint, mocking curl of her lip. It is a gaze of utter contempt. Andy cringes, until she realizes what Miranda is up to, and then she huffs in exasperation. "Okay, I can't look at people like that. I can't pull that off."

Miranda shrugs, reaches up, and turns off the overhead light. "Then you tell them the truth. Preferably avoiding the part where we got involved while I was still in the divorce process." Andy nods. That could lead to speculation on whether or not they'd been 'involved' before the divorce process. The divorce has been final for months now, but there's no point in opening up that whole can of worms, especially taking the twins' feelings into account.

It would be so easy to make this sordid: the young, fresh-faced assistant seduced or coerced by the wealthy, powerful, domineering boss. A boss who is apparently a lesbian, no less--not that New York would ever admit to being shocked by that--and who knows? Perhaps she'd left her long-suffering husband for the assistant in the first place!

Or it could go the other way: Miranda could be the older woman having some pathetic midlife crisis, and Andy could be the opportunistic gold-digger. Never mind that Miranda would rather be caught shopping in The Gap than admit she is anywhere near 'midlife.' Whichever way it goes, Andy's betting nobody will take the high road and say, 'Hey, maybe they've just got something special going on.'

Special. It is that. And it's worth defending. Andy balls her hands into fists, like she's ready to punch anybody who says otherwise.

Then Miranda's hand covers one of her fists, and pats it. Andy takes a deep breath and gives her a smile. "If anyone is rude to you, Andrea," Miranda says, trying to be comforting, "let me know and I will ruin their lives." This time, her smile isn't the happy one, but one of thousands of variations on the scary one.

Andy gulps. From anyone else that would be an empty threat. "I, uh, I don't think that'll be neces--"

"Ah," Miranda says, nodding out the window. "Here we are."

They're pulling up to glittering lights, glittering people, and what seems to be a thousand paparazzi cameras. Andy's stomach writhes. She wants to bite her lip, but that'd leave lipstick on her teeth. I love Miranda, she tells herself, I love Miranda, I love Miranda, and this is only going to be a few hours out of my life.

As instructed, the driver lets Miranda out first, and then circles around the other side for Andy. By the time Andy's Gucci heels hit the sidewalk, the camera flashes are almost blinding. Miranda gently links arms with her and they head up the red-carpeted stairs. This is actually the part Andy's been dreading most--tripping and falling flat on her face. But she's been practicing walking and dancing in these shoes for days, trying to get the hang of them again, and she's surprised at how easy it is now.

She is peripherally aware of people staring and murmuring as they pass by, nudging each other, looking puzzled, or--once they've figured it out--shocked. At the door to the hotel, Andy can see Emily and Nigel. They're waiting for Miranda, of course: it's their lot in life. Andy feels more nervous about looking them in the eye than she does about anybody else, but she does it, summoning a happy smile, like nothing could delight her more than seeing them again.

Emily is looking at Andy as if completely unable to comprehend the fact of her presence here tonight. Nigel, who's quicker on the uptake, looks undeniably stunned, for all his consummate self-control. Andy wishes whole-heartedly that Miranda had given in to her requests and at least informed them, if nobody else, of their intentions tonight. Andy doesn't mind dropping the bomb of the season on the rest of New York, but…not on Nigel and Emily.

"You're doing very well," Miranda murmurs, which are words of praise she's never given any employee. Andy's pretty sure of that. Speaking of employees, she can see that Emily is finally figuring things out. Her lower lip starts trembling. She is almost certainly about to cry. Andy knows what she's thinking--Andy is the one who betrayed Miranda, who walked away from her and the magazine, who hadn't stayed faithful through thick and thin, and now she is Miranda's chosen companion? Nigel will probably be more charitable about the whole thing, but he'll need time to get over the shock first. Everyone will.

Their affair is not without consequences. Nothing is, not forever.

But Andy, for better or worse, is on the arm of the belle of the ball. The place might be filled to the brim with models, actresses, starlets and socialites, but Miranda eclipses them all without even trying.

Goddamnit, Miranda is right--Andy should be envied, acutely, by everybody here. She makes Miranda happy, and Miranda makes her happy too. She's not naïve enough to think that's all that matters, but…it does matter. She learned a lot in her year at Runway, but she's learned even more in the year since.

She sees a woman in a blue dress gliding forward, a shit-eating smile on her face. The first viper of the evening. Andy glances at Miranda, who nods beatifically at the woman before glancing at her in turn.

"All right, Andrea," she murmurs, and smiles wickedly, herself. "Let's knock 'em dead."



LUNCH WITH THE "BONNE CHANCE": An Interview With Andrea Sachs
By Ricarda Delgado, Contributing Writer for Herself Magazine
May 9, 2007

Okay, okay: we all saw the photos, read the e-columns, and shared the water-cooler gossip. Miranda Priestly rocked the fashion world once again at Runway's April benefit, but for once it wasn't because of her outfit--okay, not just because of her outfit. She stepped out of her iconic Mercedes on the arm of an attractive, much younger woman, and a month later, our jaws are still flapping.

I'm the lucky winner of the first official interview with Priestly's new--what should I call her, anyway?--companion, Andrea Sachs. Sachs, 25, is a former junior assistant at Runway and currently a reporter at the New York Mirror. At her suggestion, we meet for lunch at the Butterfly Blue Restaurant & Bar, one of Harlem's best-kept secrets. Follow along as she shares her thoughts on life, love, and--of course--La Priestly.

RICARDA: Okay, Andrea, I have to ask--when you're involved with the editor-in-chief of the most influential fashion magazine in the world, why does your first interview go to another magazine like Herself? Didn't Miranda have something to say about that?

ANDY: Call me Andy, please. Everybody does. And, well, I actually think it's less weird, doing it this way--giving an interview, I mean. Because, wouldn't it be strange, giving an interview about Miranda and me in the magazine she runs, with someone who works for her? Anyway, we talked about it, and she agreed.

RICARDA: Well, we're so pleased she did! Now, Andy, you graduated Northwestern University almost three years ago with some very impressive credentials in journalism. By all accounts, you've always been interested in 'serious' reporting--what made you end up at a fashion magazine like Runway in the first place?

ANDY: (laughs) Well, first let me say that after my time at Runway I learned that fashion is no joke! But honestly, I didn't appreciate that at the time. I ended up at the magazine because, really, nothing else had panned out and I thought it might be a good stepping-stone to something else. The more "serious" stuff you mentioned. I never dreamed I'd learn as much as I did.

RICARDA: Miranda Priestly has a reputation for being very difficult to work for--and with.

ANDY: Yes, she does. She's very demanding and expects only the best from her employees.

RICARDA: Doesn't that create a very uncomfortable work environment, though? How does anybody get anything done, when they're under that kind of stress?

ANDY: (laughs) Oh, believe me, plenty gets done. No worries there. It's definitely sink-or-swim. If you can't make it, you're out. And if you can make it…well, then you can make it.

RICARDA: Does this mean you didn't make it? You left your position as Miranda's assistant before a year was out.

ANDY: Well…I wouldn't say that I 'didn't make it.' I mean, I think I was doing pretty well, actually. But I just realized the job wasn't for me. So I moved on. That's all.

RICARDA: And--you know I've got to ask this--did your leaving have anything to do with your relationship with Miranda?

ANDY: No, that's okay. I'm glad you asked, actually, because now I can clear this up. There was nothing going on between Miranda and me while I worked at Runway. Our relationship was strictly professional.

RICARDA: But you obviously stayed in touch.

ANDY: Well…yes, sort of. We met up again at a social event a few months later. Nothing happened then, of course, she was getting divorced editor's note: Priestly and her second husband, Stephen Jameson, officially divorced in November 2006. But that's how we came back into contact.

RICARDA: You kept your relationship private for quite some time.

ANDY: Well, yeah. Miranda's a very private person, really, and so am I. When you're working through a relationship with somebody, you don't want people staring at you all the time. And it's been so overwhelming, this past month--the response to our relationship. Photographers follow me down the street. I'll be trying to do a story for the Mirror, and somebody else will be doing a story on me. I don't know how Miranda's put up with that kind of stuff for so long. I mean, I can't be that interesting.

RICARDA: Well, Miranda's an object of constant fascination to the fashion world, and you're a part of all that now.

ANDY: I'm discovering that, yeah.

RICARDA: What about the more personal angle, though? Miranda's much older than you, she's your former boss…how did your family and friends react to the news that you're seeing her?

ANDY: It's been…mixed. Everyone seems to think it's a little strange, I'll admit. But it's only been a month. I'm giving it time.

RICARDA: Every relationship takes work, I guess.

ANDY: You said it. It's totally worth it, though.

RICARDA: Is it? I don't suppose you'd be willing to share the, um, compensations with us?

ANDY: With you? I don't…oh, my God. (laughs) No. I know people are very curious about--but no. Not going there. Definitely not!

RICARDA: Oh, all right, all right. Moving on to tamer topics: you seem to have a very positive relationship with Miranda's twin daughters. There were photos of you walking with them through Central Park last week…

ANDY: I'm not surprised! But yes, Caroline, Cassidy, and I all get along very well. They're great kids, and they mean the world to Miranda.

RICARDA: And what about you?

ANDY: What do you mean?

RICARDA: She's this fashion icon, this internationally famous woman who flies all over the world at the drop of a hat. When she finally commented on your relationship, she called you "une bonne chance"--a stroke of good fortune. But how do you fit in with her life? How do you two make time for each other?

ANDY: Well, um, that takes work, of course. Like it does in any relationship. She's got her job, and I've got mine, and we don't interfere with each other in that area. But she makes time. We both do.

RICARDA: She's a famously, uh, aloof woman. She's not known for being demonstrative.

ANDY: (laughs) Yes.

RICARDA: So…how do you know she cares for you? How do you know she thinks you're special?

ANDY: She lets me ride in elevators with her.

RICARDA: Oh…really? (pause) Wow.

I like a prizefight that isn't a fake;
I love the rowing on Central Park lake;
I go to opera and stay wide awake--
That's why the lady is a tramp!
-Lorenz Hart & Richard Rogers, "The Lady Is A Tramp"