Title: For Miranda...
Chapter 1: Realization and Denial
Disclaimer: I own nothing other than the completely twisted plot
Summary: When Andrea leaves Runway she leaves with a new problem...
It started with a single glance. In the mirror. At herself. With that Andrea Sachs was gone.
Suddenly Andy began spending hours in front of the mirror dissecting herself as if she were a specimen. The brunette saw what others could not. An apparition clouded her view and where Andrea saw pounds of fat others began to see bone. What once was an innocent, weekly trip to the gym transformed into three times a day or more.
Andy's friends tried to reason with her. When the young woman's food intake became almost non-existent her friends begged her to get help. But for Andrea their voices began to fade. Their concern was meaningless. All that Andy cared about was the feeling of disgust that haunted her. That and the sensation of invisible, piercing eyes that constantly remained on her.
Now if one listens carefully as Andrea mindlessly exercises the mantra, "Not good enough for Runway. Not good enough for Miranda," Can be heard escaping Andrea in a shaky voice.
"I want to keep it forever. I want to love you the way I do now the rest of my life. Don't you understand... we'll lose it if we leave. I can't make an entire life disappear to start a new one. All I can do is try to hold onto to both. Help me. Help me not lose loving you." – Francesca Johnson ( The Bridges of Madison County)
I observe as my overly incompetent staff scrambles to escape my line of view. Some still rushing to meet perfection before I can see how they have been slacking. Emily huffily dashes to my side; however I ignore her. Entering the main lobby of my office I glance toward the empty second assistant's desk in habit. Just as I have every day for a year. And every day for a year it has been empty.
Emily is useless in hiring new second assistants. I do not know what is so difficult to understand about my instructions, yet she fails to complete her task each time she is given another opportunity. Why I have not fired her is beyond me…oh right, if I did that I would be assistant-less.
"Emily, find another second assistant. One that's IQ is fairly low, but they can function with meager tasks. I do not want a heifer, or a brunette. To think of it; I do not want to lay eyes on them while I am in this office. You have a day. If you fail don't bother showing up here tomorrow." I fling my coat and bag at her while she whimpers miserably. "And for the love of God, Emily stop making that unattractive noise."
Tuning her out I enter my office. Nigel is already waiting for me in what promises to be a very long day.
Once again I find myself in a trance. Eyes locked on the empty desk. Quietly sighing I look back down at my computer. "Emily… Emily."
When she appears with a large stack of folders in her arms I don't bother with my snide remark. "Go pick up the skirts."
"Yes, the skirts from Calvin Klein."
"Calvin Klein…Uh, Miranda who will answer the phones?" She cringes as she realizes she has asked me a question.
"Yes Emily that is what I said. I do not understand why you find it necessary to repeat everything I say. Are you losing your hearing?"
"No, no I'm not Miranda."
Emily quickly makes herself scarce. I check out of the glass walls to assure nobody is in the immediate vicinity before entering the front office. I run a hand along the smooth surface of the desk as I walk around it. Pulling back the chair and looking around once more I lean back slightly slouching in the chair with my eyes closed. Opening them I notice a clacker ogling through the glass wall at me. Narrowing my eyes I ensure their silence as they scuttle away.
I open the first drawer on my right. Inside is a notepad, extra pens, surprisingly a copy of Runway, and a photo. Getting up I enter the small room off of the outer office and search under the counter until I find a small box. Returning to the spot at the desk I flip through the February edition of Runway assuming that it was picked up and forgotten. Carefully I place it in the bottom of the box. Opening the other drawers various odds and ends follow into the box. Next the picture frames off of the desk. I glance at them. A mocha skinned woman gins widely at the camera with her arms wrapped around her. There is one of a handsome young man, he is slightly scruffy looking. And there is one of a man in a suit. Black hair, rather feminine. Someone that might work here.
I skim through the notebook. Various notes are scribbled in a barely legible font. A small smile touches my lips at the sight of the doodles in the corners of the pages. On one sheet I find my own name written with nothing else. I run my finger over the indented portion of paper. She must not have had time to finish the note. I put the notebook in the box along with the extra pens and pencils.
Frowning I look down at the desk. There is a photo; upside down so I cannot see the moment it time it captured. It is strange how this one is not also framed, and placed proudly upon the desk. Turning the image over in my hand I take a sharp breath at the sight of it. The picture was taken at the photo shoot that we did in Central Park. I am leaning toward her. As I remember, talking softly in her ear. It is the moment when I briefly rested my hand on her arm. Her brunette hair frames her face as it is kissed by the sun. She is in DKNY dark jeans adorn with a Chanel belt, a simple black Alexander McQueen top, with black Prada pumps, her purse, also Prada, is red. Her expression however is what catches me. Her full lips are parted in a blinding smile. My own lips in a content smirk.
I rip my eyes from the image and glance around. Getting up I remove my purse from the closet before slipping the picture inside.
Closing the box with all of Andrea's possessions I carry it back into my office.
I open the town house door flicking on the hallway light as I enter. It has to be past ten. The girls' bedtime come and gone, and I missed it once again. As I place my coat in the closet here is a knocking on the front door.
I open the door an icy expression carefully created upon my face. Standing in front of me is a familiar young woman. I cannot figure out where I have seen her before. I move to close the door and the woman sticks her foot in the door. "I need to talk to you," she says with anger.
Re-opening the barrier I ask quietly, but not without venom, "Do I know you?" I purse my lips and watch her closely. Dark hair, mocha skin…
" No, but…"
"Who are you?"
"That's all." I again try to shut the door.
"I said I need to talk to you," She says forcefully. "It's about Andy Sachs." My eyes go wide in anger, disbelief, and something else.
My fingers wrap around the fabric of Lily's shirt, and I find myself pulling the young woman inside. I now remember where I saw her; in Andrea's picture. I slam the door behind Lily to block out prying eyes.
"What about Andrea?" My eyes are narrowed, voice low and threatening.
I notice that Lily is now fidgeting, suddenly nervous. Perfect. "I, um, you haven't happen to see her lately have you?" She weakly asks. I send her a glare that clearly states 'could you ask a more idiotic question?'
"Oh well, she, um, is having some problems." My heart sinks, but I don't allow myself to express it.
"And what, does that have to do with me?" My tone is impatient.
I see something in Lily's eyes snap. "Everything, and maybe if you didn't have your head stuck so far up your ass you would have realized it sooner." She pulls a card out of her pocket. "If you ever decide it's worth you time to give a damn about Andy this where you will most likely find her. Goodnight Ms. Priestly," She says harshly before storming out of the house.
If I only got that reaction every time I pushed someone's buttons.
Sighing I take a seat in my study. In one hand the picture of Andrea and I, I took from her desk, and in the other the card that Lily gave me. This has become a routine for me in the past week.
Once again I remember the disappointment, the pain, that I felt when Andrea left me in Paris. I let those emotions fill me. I welcome the pain as it tears me apart; breaks me down into the empty shell I have become.
Nothing has been the same since Andrea walked out of my life. Nothing causes the same reactions, emotions; life is dull. I go through it thinking only of the next day, the next hour with nothing to look forward to. However I have gotten used to it, my partially numb state, and have been wondering if I am ready to feel the world once more. Only to have it taken away when Andrea leaves me again.
Would Lily have showed up on my doorstep filled with rage if Andrea's issues were not serious? Will I let Andrea suffer to save myself? What if I can help?
Can I live through seeing her one more time to find out?
Part of me is desperate to see Andrea, yet I want to remember her as she was. Not the woman she is now. What if she has changed. What if she is not the innocent, kind woman I can remember. If that is true I would be more satisfied with my memories. The brief moments, and her caring smiles. I want to preserve my feelings, because I know if I see her again everything will be different. My feelings will be different, and that is the last thing I want them to be.
I feel the tears, tears that until now I have refused to shed. I have continued on with a broken heart, a frozen soul. There has been a constant lump in the back of my throat since I turned around to discover Andrea was not longer by my side. The physical pain a relief. At times I found it hard to talk, hard to breathe, but still I would not let the tears come, because I deserved the pain then and I do now. I deserved Andrea's desertion.
Will I let that fact stop me?
Sitting at my desk I can hear Emily frantically rummaging around in the outer office. I glance up from the worn card in my hand at the empty desk outside my office. New personal affects, but not once have I seen the new assistant and I prefer it that way. All of my orders go through Emily or cell phone. Emily begins to curse and I roll my eyes. "Emily, language," I scold as if she were my own child.
"Is there a problem?"
"No," her response floats to me. "I just can't figure out what Jessica did with my thumb drive."
"So ask her. And then fire her."
"Is that and order?" Emily asks cautiously.
"No it wasn't. Merely a suggestion. Why don't you start your lunch early Emily? You can have the extra ten minutes. Forward all calls to your cell phone."
"Ye… yes Miranda. Thank you." I can hear the uncertainty in her voice. She wonders why I am being so kind, when the truth, I am only being selfish. I need to be alone with my thoughts of Andrea. I cannot allow the foolish girl to interfere with my work; however I know Andrea will until I can make a decision.
Picking up my cell phone I dial the number on the back of the card that is labeled Lily's cell. "Hello?"
"How is Andrea?" I ask coolly.
"Miranda. Andrea, how is she?"
"Things are getting worse. You haven't been to see her." Standing I move to the window and watch the pedestrians below who are unaware that there are others around. Other lives, other problems, other agendas.
"Why are you so certain I will go and see Andrea, Lily?"
She takes a deep breath, "Your reaction when I said her name. Not that much could have changed in two weeks could it?" There is a hint of knowledge, of an understanding I do not yet have. "Andy will be at the address I gave you after she gets out of work tonight. She will be there for a while. You need to see her for yourself. I think it will help."
"Mmm," I respond, and then I do something that I rarely do, "Thank you Lily. Goodbye." I hang up without waiting for a response.
I dial another number automatically. " Nigel."
"Miranda, what can I do for you?" He asks in a surprisingly cheerful voice.
"Take the twins to see a movie tonight. I'll give you the money before the end of the day."
"Nonsense. My treat. It's been a while since I could spend time with my two favorite terrors," I can hear the smile in his voice.
I check the address on the card and glance up at the building once more. It is a drab looking gym that is open 24 hours a day. I glance back at Roy and he nods his certainty again. Sighing I open the door and step in with false confidence.
An attendant is sitting at a desk behind glass. Her eyebrows raise at the sight of me before she quickly stands from her chair. "M…Ms. Priestly, um, what can I do for you?" My usual annoyance with stuttering, fawning people completely diminishes when I realize this can work to my advantage.
"I'm here to see an acquaintance." I make sure my tone is bored. "Open the door." I move toward the barrier that separates me from the exercising equipment.
"I'm sorry. I can't do that until you've paid."
I turn to her. Plastering a smile on my face I say in a sugary-sweet voice, "I will only be here for a few minutes. Do you think you could possibly make an exception?"
The girl shakes her head no and my smile turns into pursing. Eyes promising death. "We..well I guess I could. I just need to know who you are visiting," She requests in a shaky voice.
"Andy! She is a regular here. A sweetheart. I didn't realize she knew you…"
"Yes. Door. Now." I hear a clicking and the door unlocks.
Stepping into the room behind it I cringe at the smell of stale sweat and BO; reminding me of why I have a personal gym.
My eyes land on a rail thin brunette. There are no other people in the room so I step forward deciding to ask whether or not she has seen Andrea. As I get closer I take in the porcelain skin, long fingers, the curve of the woman's neck, and make a shocking discovery. That is Andrea.
My heart breaks all over again. I can feel my hands shaking so I ball them into fists before flexing them. Cautiously I approach my former employee. The woman I lo…The woman I love?
The moment I think the word I know it is true. It does not matter how little I know about Andrea. I love her, and I have since the first time she said 'Good morning Miranda.'
As I approach her I realize she is muttering something. One more step and her words become clear, "Not good enough for Runway. Not good enough for Miranda." I stop frozen. Never have words hurt so much. I open my mouth and close it again. Fighting back tears, I realize why Lily came to me. I caused this, and she wants me to fix it. But how can I help Andrea when I cannot help myself?
I want to turn and run, but I am paralyzed. One more glance at Andrea and I know that even if I could move I would never leave her like this. Detaching my feet from the floor I take quiet steps toward her. Slowly and cautiously I rest a hand on Andrea's shoulder.
She stops her movement on the exercise bike and looks over her shoulder at me. Large brown eyes piercing my dead soul. "Mir…Miranda?" Her voice is quiet, broken, and surprised.
Firmly I say, "Let's go Andrea," and lead her out of the building.