By Gin (akasarahsmom)
"She's gone insane." Lisa's eyes glittered. "She's finally, totally, gone off the deep end."
Andy dragged her eyes from her computer screen and looked up at her co-worker, puzzled; the woman's words only now sinking into Andy's brain. "What? Who?"
Lisa laughed. "Your infuriating, Prada wearing, devil of an ex-boss, Miranda Priestly. She's gone nuts."
Now Andy's full attention was on the laughing woman. The last time she'd seen Miranda, in real life, was at a charity function six-months ago and even then they hadn't spoken; she doubted the woman had even seen her there. Andy had sat in the back with the press while Miranda had a seat at the head table. That was the last event she had attended before The Mirror hired Lisa to be their full time Fashion columnist. It was only just last night, however, that the intriguing woman had made yet another appearance in her dreams. Shivering at the pleasant memory, Andy's eyes narrowed and her voice lowered without her conscious thought. "Why would you say that?"
No more laughter from Lisa, but still a smile, as she tossed the newest issue of Runway magazine onto Andy's desk. "See for yourself."
Looking down at the cover of the magazine, Andy didn't see anything out of the ordinary. The emaciated brunette's brown doe-eyes staring back at her were oddly familiar, but otherwise it was just another Runway cover. She glanced back at her co-worker who gestured back to the magazine.
"Go on… open it."
Andy shrugged and lifted the cover, a wrinkle appeared between her eyebrows and she turned the page, eyes widening, page after page, one layout after another. Oh dear God, Miranda, she thought as she turned another page. What are you doing? When she reached the end, she closed the magazine and her eyes, pressing the palms of her hands reverently against the slick paper. Even her thought sounded breathless in her head.
Miranda, what have you done?
"I'm sorry Miss." The security guard at Elias-Clarke shook his head. "I can't let you go up."
"I've got to go… please… you don't understand!" Andy had become more and more upset as she'd made her way there from The Mirror. She had no clue what was going through Miranda's head, but as she walked she had managed to look around and see that there were far more brunette's with very familiar hairstyles than she was ever aware of before. It took three blocks before the reality hit her and she couldn't decide if she should be incredibly pissed off or deeply touched. Now this asshole was stopping her from talking to the one person that could tip the scales of her decision.
Even her editor at the paper had seen how important this was and had given her the rest of the day, and by extension the weekend, off. He'd just looked at her and said, "See you Monday." It seemed like a huge deal even if it was only a couple of well deserved hours.
Andy tried to keep her volume low, but remained emphatic. "I've got to go up!"
The guard shrugged. "You and every other beautiful brunette in the city. You all think you can be models now."
Andy growled and then her brain suddenly kicked in. She grabbed her cell phone. It only took two rings. "Nigel! Thank God… come down here and get me past security. I've got to talk to Miranda."
There were five stunned seconds of silence before the man's clipped tones responded. "Be right there."
She barely waited for the elevator doors to close before she went off on Nigel.
"What the hell were you thinking?" Andy shook her head. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"I couldn't. You know that."
Andy took a deep breath and nodded. They'd all had non-disclosure clauses in their contracts. Anyone discussing the magazine's contents before it was issued could, and probably would, be fired. It wasn't like they had actually kept in close touch since she'd left either. "Why didn't you stop her?"
Nigel's eyes widened. "You want to actually listen to that question and remember who the 'her' is?"
Andy rolled her eyes. Of course, no one stopped Miranda from doing anything she actually wanted to do. "Sorry. I just don't understand why."
"You don't? Really?" Nigel shook his head. "I was sure you were smarter than that."
"But… the only three things I could possibly think of are just… well, one is… totally unthinkable, and the other two are just so…insane, I can't imagine even thinking them!"
Three? "And those are?" Nigel prompted.
"Drugs?" Andy ventured a guess; the most logical, however improbable it was.
Nigel snorted. "Miranda doesn't do drugs, alcohol occasionally, but drugs, no. You're right, Miranda doing drugs is an insane idea." Knowing eyes held hers. "Guess again."
He thought they both knew full well why this had happened. It was obvious to him that Miranda, for some odd reason was infatuated with the girl, but unlike Nigel, the young woman was still in denial. The reason he was thinking of was conveyed quite nicely through his gaze.
Andy ran her fingers through her hair. "That can't be it…" She swallowed hard as Nigel just raised his eyebrows. She ground her teeth together as she glared at the numbers showing their slow ascent and repeated forcefully. "It can't be!"
He held up his hands in surrender. "Whatever you say."
"So those were the insane ideas." Nigel studied the elevator's control panel. "What's the unthinkable one?"
"Do I really have to say it?" The prospect chilled Andy to the bone. She knew Miranda was older, and she knew all too well certain dangers that accompanied that condition. She knew it affected some people younger than others. She managed to whisper her fear. "Alzheimer's."
Nigel remained silent for the rest of the ride, quietly agreeing with Andy; that was unthinkable.
The elevator doors opened and as Andy stepped out she felt like she'd entered the Twilight Zone. "Oh you have got to be kidding me." With a glance at Nigel, she shook her head and pushed forward through the sea of brunettes. Miranda's door was open so she wasn't in a meeting and Andy didn't even stop as she moved between her old desk, empty at the moment, and Emily's. An upraised hand halted any comment the once-red-headed, now faux-brunette woman, was about to make. "Not now, Emily."
Miranda looked up when she heard the long absent voice and for a brief instant the magazine editor's face reflected pure joy. Then she realized what she was doing and took a sip of her appallingly cold coffee before she schooled her expression into its normal superior, slightly bored look. She hoped the butterflies in her stomach didn't betray her and was pleased that her voice held steady. "Andrea, so nice to see you." She was however unable to keep her hungry eyes from feasting on the sight before her.
The sound of Miranda's voice made Andy's heart flutter for a moment, the eyes on her made everything else quiver. She was proud of herself though because when she spoke, eternal seconds later, her voice was clear and unwavering. "What is this?" She tossed the magazine onto Miranda's desk barely missing the Starbucks coffee cup sitting there.
Blinking, Miranda mentally cursed the familiar, fuzzy, feeling in her head. Not again. Not now, she thought, please. Sitting quite still, the older woman produced a thin smile and raised her eyebrows. "I believe it's the current issue of Runway. Are you a subscriber now?"
"You know what I'm talking about!" Andy sighed and looked directly into Miranda's eyes. "Talk to me." She saw the subtle motions in her former boss' facial muscles and even after a year of being gone, she could read reluctance in the older woman. So she did the only thing she thought might possibly work. She let a bit of concern show in her eyes and softly said the magic word, "Please."
With a small sigh of acceptance, Miranda nodded once. "Close the door, Andrea."
Emily watched as the door to Miranda's office swung closed and she looked at Nigel. "Bloody hell."
The man nodded once as he turned to leave. "That, sounds about right."
Andy took the seat in front of Miranda's desk and waited for the editor to speak.
"How have you been, Andrea?"
Andy blinked. "Really? That's what you're going to start with, small talk?" She raised her eyebrows and shrugged slightly. "Okay, if you insist." Andy forced herself to relax and answered the question with as much false cheerfulness she could muster. "I'm fine Miranda, thanks for asking and yourself?"
"Apparently not so well as you." Miranda gestured to the magazine in front of her. "I find I'm missing something…"
"Missing something?!" Andy jumped up from her seat. "Like a few million brain cells maybe? Jesus H. Christ, Miranda, what the hell were you thinking?"
"Why, I believe it is obvious what I was thinking." The white haired woman actually sighed. "I was thinking of you." Cloudy ice blue eyes gazed at her visitor. "You're all I can seem to think about lately."
Andy had trouble catching her breath and sank back down into the chair. She stared at her former boss long enough to make the older woman shift uncomfortably in her chair then finally spoke, her voice intensifying the longer she talked. "Why didn't you call? Why didn't you have Emily call? Send flowers or an email, write a letter, let a damn messenger pigeon loose for God's sake… not.. not…" She waved in the general direction of the magazine unable to continue.
"You wouldn't have taken my call. You would have returned flowers, not answered emails or letters."
"You know that for sure? You knew what I would or wouldn't do and just decided to…to…"
Miranda filled in the blank for her. "Commit professional suicide?"
"Why?" Andy slumped down in the chair, knowing it would annoy Miranda, wanting to annoy her as much as she was annoyed herself right now. "Even Irv is going to realize that all those models look the same."
"Irv is an idiot and I don't care what he thinks. I wanted to talk to you, see you." Then Miranda gently corrected her. "And they don't all look the same."
Throwing her hands in the air, Andy jumped up and began pacing in front of the desk. "Every one of those models has brown hair and brown eyes… brown hair just exactly the shade my hair is Miranda… brown eyes... just like me… how can you possibly say they don't look the same. You made them all look the same! You made them look like me!"
"Andrea." Miranda's voice seemed small but still firm as she drummed her fingers on the issue on her desk yet kept her eyes on her pacing visitor. "You… are more beautiful than all these models put together."
Andy stopped in her tracks, stopped pacing, stopped breathing, she thought her heart actually stopped for a second before she turned to fully face the seated woman. "Oh. My. God. Lisa was right. You have gone insane." Her eyes widened as Miranda's voice lowered to a dangerous tone.
"The fashion columnist at The Mirror."
"Ah." Miranda took on a superior note, tinged with something else. "So her opinion is one I should value, as you value it, I suppose."
Andy tilted her head and smiled. "You sound almost jealous."
Miranda mumbled something and Andy called her on it. "What?"
"I said, 'no almost about it.'" Now piercing blue eyes raked over the younger woman. "I remember the privilege of spending the greater part of the day with you. I envy anyone who gets to do it now."
Andy shook her head. "Where's this coming from?" She ran her fingers through her hair, exasperated. "You never once…ever, indicated anything like…" She fell back on her first theory. "Say… you haven't by chance been going home at night and doing a big ole bunch of drugs have you?"
"Of course I haven't!" Miranda's eyes widened at the volume of her voice then modulated it down somewhat. "And don't be ridiculous, of course I didn't say anything…You were my assistant and I was married, it would have been…inappropriate and unacceptable."
Both Andy's eyebrows rose and she gestured toward the magazine. "And this is acceptable?!" She began pacing again. "You've created an army of… me's!"
"They don't know it." Miranda's smile lacked any humor. "But they all want to be you. They all want to be like Andrea and not one of them is even half the woman you are." She watched the tall woman stop pacing and turn toward her slowly. "You looked lovely at the charity ball six months ago."
"You saw me there?"
Miranda admitted. "I continually sent invitations to The Mirror, hoping you would attend the events."
Nodding, Andy laughed helplessly. "I was too scared to talk to you. And after so many invitations kept showing up, Greg hired Lisa to cover them."
"Ah…" Miranda sighed, massaging the bridge of her nose lightly. "Shot myself in the foot with that one then, hmmm…?"
"Why didn't you just call me?" Now Andy circled around the desk to stand next to Miranda's chair. "You could have just called."
The editor insisted. "You would have hung up."
"Oh for the love of…" Andy dropped to her knees next to Miranda's chair, laying her hands gently on the armrest. She was very careful not to touch Miranda in any way. She would not be the one to initiate anything like that. "You are the most infuriating, stubborn woman I've ever had the pleasure of knowing." Brown doe eyes locked on Miranda's face. "Please tell me next month's issue isn't all brunettes again." She watched as the older woman's eyes glazed over slightly. "Miranda, tell me you haven't chosen all brunettes again."
"Oh yes." Miranda responded and let her hand float up to gently stroke the silky brown hair next to her. "Every one of them, trying so very hard to be like my Andrea."
Oh God. Andy instinctively moved into the touch. "Tell me there's time to change it." Reaching up she caught the wandering, distracting, hand and held it firmly in her own. "Please Miranda, will you change it, for me?"
"For you?" Miranda smiled and drawled, "I can change the world for you."
Damn, she does sound like she's on drugs. But that was good; it meant the unthinkable could be dismissed, right?
"You did." Andy squeezed the hand in hers for emphasis. "You did change the world for me, but now, now I need you to change it back."
"Yes," lost in Andrea's deep brown eyes, Miranda spoke almost in a haze. "Yes, of course." She held the hand in hers tightly not wanting to let go just yet. "You must do something for me though."
"What is it?" It must be something huge. She thought. What would Miranda risk Runway's reputation for?
"Have dinner with me."
"What?" Andy was sure she hadn't heard correctly. "Have…"
"Dinner with me," Miranda repeated and continued. "Tonight, at the townhouse. The girls are at their father's this weekend, we can talk."
"Dinner," Andy repeated then asked logically, "But this is Friday, don't you have some important event to attend?"
Miranda's eyes softened. "Nothing is more important than you."
Despite herself, Andy smiled at the words, even if she didn't believe the person speaking them knew exactly what she was saying. "Okay," she agreed. "What time?"
"Hmm…" Miranda didn't want to push her luck. "Eight?"
Bolder about touching now, Andy pressed the back of the hand in hers against her cheek and countered, "How about seven thirty?"
"Even better." The older woman exhaled in relief. "The car will pick you up at seven."
"I'll be ready," Andy promised.
"I'll see you then? You won't cancel?"
Andy's heart clenched at the uncharacteristic insecurity in the questions and she stood slowly pulling her hand away from Miranda's, reassuring her, "I'll be there." She looked directly into Miranda's eyes. "Just change it back, okay?"
The white head nodded. "Yes, I will."
"Until tonight then." Andy picked up her magazine and, out of habit, the half empty, cold, coffee container before she crossed the room and opened the door, stopping at Miranda's voice.
Purposely not looking back, Andy kept her eyes on Emily as she answered. "Yes Miranda?" She barely contained her laughter at the British woman's jaw dropping as Miranda's voice floated out the door.
Andy glanced back over her shoulder and winked at her ex-boss before continuing out the door and toward the elevator. She heard Miranda behind her issuing orders to a stunned Emily
"Cancel my dinner reservations…Someone bring me some hot coffee…Emily, take off that ridiculous wig…and for God's sake someone find me some blonde models!"
Andy chuckled and murmured to herself as the empty elevator car descended. "Now that's the Miranda I know." Her mind finished the thought silently. And love.