"Without You"

A The Devil Wears Prada Fanfic

by JennedyJLD / JKSophieJane

Fandom: The Devil Wears Prada

Pairing: Miranda Priestly / Andy Sachs

Rating: M / NC-17

Disclaimer: The characters? They're not mine. I wish they were; but alas. This story has been written without motive of profit, but purely for my own enjoyment and with the hope you'll enjoy it as well.

Dedication: This fic is for Shesgottaread, who generously made the high bid on my auction for Help_Haiti. I certainly hope it's worth the price of admission!

The Pitch: Andy goes missing while on assignment in Pakistan. Back in New York, Miranda remembers how to live on hope. The story starts off with Miranda and Andy as an established couple; though there are flashback scenes interspersed throughout that show them falling in love and figuring out how to make a life together.

The Beta: Thank you to the marvelous StephElisaNeal, whose notes and helpful comments have saved me from myself on more than a few occasions.

A week ago, Miranda had been intrigued by the prospect of opening the front door and finding only peace, quiet, and the freedom to do as she liked on the other side. She had said with absolute conviction that she was looking forward to a temporarily empty house.

So much for that.

Three days into the bargain, during an agonizingly brief bedtime phone call from Andrea - the much too young and altogether inappropriate love of her life - Miranda confessed that she already missed the bustling, noisy soundtrack that defined life at the townhouse. The large home seemed lonely with Miranda its only resident –empty without clumsy, inelegant feet stomping on the staircase, silent with no excited chatter carrying through its long hallways.

Miranda's twelve-year-old daughters, Caroline and Cassidy, were in Colorado, spending their spring break skiing with the father they both adored but rarely saw. She missed her twins, but had been speaking with them daily and was on the receiving end of a steady flow of e-mails chronicling their improvement on the slopes. Caroline, it appeared, had developed a penchant for making ridiculous faces on the ski lift as Cassidy snapped photo after photo. Most important, Miranda had no doubt that the girls were safe and that she would see their smiling faces in three days.

The same could not be said for Andrea, who was neither safe nor accessible. Merely thinking about it caused Miranda's stomach to turn itself into a hardened knot of anxiety. On the same day the girls left for Telluride, Andrea packed a suitcase and caught a taxi to the airport. Three hours later, she was en route to Islamabad to spend two weeks as a research assistant for a video journalist doing a piece on the rising number of anti-government militias. Andrea's excitement about this "opportunity" had been so clear and constant that Miranda had kept her own worrying mostly internal, not wanting to put a damper on something that she knew had the potential of launching the career Andrea had always wanted.

Now, arriving home for her fifth night of solitary living, Miranda resigned herself to the reality that after being part of a couple for more than a year and cohabiting for nearly six months, she was not cut out for walking through her own front door with no one but Patricia to greet her (adding insult to injury, the Saint Bernard had not seen fit to do so tonight, remaining sprawled on the den carpet until Miranda came to her for their exchange of evening greetings).

No, Miranda realized, she could not go back to living alone, or to living only with the girls. She was accustomed to Andrea, accustomed to the unexpected life they were still building.

Miranda frowned and tossed her trench and bag into the coat closet. The new second assistant, Regina, would hang them up when she arrived with the Book and dry cleaning in a couple of hours. Tonight was Regina's maiden voyage, and Miranda's mood was so sour that she was faced with a brief but powerful temptation to rearrange the tables and flowers just to mess with her.

Deciding it wasn't worth the trouble, Miranda entered the kitchen. She cleared her throat in the silence and looked wistfully at the stove. Andrea, who enjoyed cooking and insisted that making dinner for Miranda and the girls was meditative, was usually putting the finishing touches on dinner by the time the editor arrived home.

This week, Miranda's housekeeper, Pamela, had resumed the duty of preparing meals and leaving them in the refrigerator. Miranda opened the stainless steel door and peered at the second shelf. Removing the saran-wrapped crystal platter, she revealed a colorful lobster salad and glared at it with mild disdain, carrying it with her into the study, where she sank into the elegant chair behind her desk and logged into her e-mail. She scowled at the screen when she saw that nothing had arrived in the ten minutes between checking her Blackberry in the car and sitting down behind the desk.

It was eight p.m. in New York, and Miranda had performed the calculation often enough to immediately realize that it was already 6 a.m. in Islamabad. Andrea had promised to call before going to bed every night, which usually meant a call during lunch for Miranda. There had been no call today. No e-mails. Not a word.

Miranda eyed her phone, tempted to call Andrea herself – but she had promised them both that she would resist these urges. For once, she had to be the patient, accommodating girlfriend. Besides, until today, Andrea had been quite good about staying in touch. Each day had brought several short e-mails and at least fifteen minutes of conversation, usually from the hotel, but Andrea occasionally found decent reception in the field. She was a talker, that one – and Miranda knew that if Andrea wasn't calling to chatter about something, it probably wasn't by choice.

Several hours later, Miranda once again sat behind the desk in her study, having made her way through the Book and half a pad of multi-colored sticky notes. Her phone rang promptly at ten o'clock, and her concern for Andrea increased when she realized she was actually disappointed that it was her daughters calling to tell her goodnight. Feeling guilty, she hurried through the phone call so that as soon as she hung up, she could check for missed calls from Andrea. There were none.

Muttering to herself about a lack of reception, and about Andrea being, far away from the region's real dangers, Miranda checked the news sites and saw nothing about any earthquakes, freak sandstorms, or meteors crashing into Islamabad.

In bed after her nightly moisturizing ritual, Miranda tossed and turned as rest eluded her. She found herself reaching out for a warm body that simply wasn't there, listening to the phantom sounds of the other woman's breathing. Miranda frowned, unashamedly pulling the pillow that still smelled faintly of Andrea's shampoo tightly into her arms. She closed her eyes and waited for sleep to mercifully descend.

Still awake at one, Miranda rubbed her eyes, opened her laptop, and composed a brief e-mail to Andrea, reminding her that she was loved and missed (and that she'd promised to call every night, but would probably be forgiven if she remedied her transgression immediately).

Miranda arrived at the office the next morning wearing a particularly fierce Prada suit – black with a coral pinstripe, a matching scarf knotted loosely at her neck over a white silk blouse. The skirt hit at her knees, and the four-inch heels on her Christian Louboutins clapped dangerously with each long stride from the elevator toward the outer offices, where a very nervous-looking redhead stood to greet her.

"Tell Nigel," Miranda began, "that under no circumstance is he to use that awful lilac dress for the Fall Harvest shoot. That color - it looks like a Smurf threw up on a flamingo. Use the plum Prada frock instead. And show me what Manolo sent over last week because Giambattista's latest samples were very disappointing." She watched Emily's pen move furiously over the page and rolled her eyes. Why her first assistant still needed to write everything down after more than two years at Miranda's side was something she failed to comprehend. Why couldn't she see these things coming? Andrea could always see these things co–.

She stopped herself, took a deep breath, and continued. "Tell Mario that I need to see the proofs from his Wild in the Streets shoot by eleven o'clock at the very latest. I haven't seen anything since Friday, and he knows as well as anyone that I do not enjoy being out of the loop. Call my masseuse and schedule an appointment for twelve-thirty. Call Irv and decline his invitation for lunch today; I'm far too busy."

Rounding the corner, Miranda slipped off her overcoat and tossed it, along with her Hermes birkin, onto Regina's desk without raising her eyes to look at the girl. She strode into her office and sat at her chair, realizing that Emily was waiting to see whether she was expected to follow. With an exasperated sigh, Miranda turned and sighed. "That's all," she said, picking up her reading glasses and sliding them onto her face.

Emily quickly turned away, practically hopping to her desk, ready to get moving on the day's orders.

Miranda logged into her e-mail, tapping her elegant Mont Blanc pen impatiently on the glass desk as she waited for the new messages to appear. Seventeen e-mails had come in since she had checked her phone in the car. She bit her lip in nervous excitement and read through the "sender" list, and then reread it before her heart sank firmly back into place, acknowledging the lack of an e-mail from Andrea.

Miranda started to dial Andrea's number, but reminded herself of her pledge to let Andrea call when she could. The last thing she wanted was to behave like her own ex-husbands, needy and selfish. She settled for sending another e-mail: "Let me know that you're all right, will you?" She stared at the message for a long minute, trying to decide whether it sounded desperate or needling. Tearing her eyes away as though it would absolve her from responsibility for her own clinginess, she hit "send."

By two o'clock that afternoon, Miranda had still received no word from Andrea and felt herself slipping into panic mode. It had been more than forty hours since she had gotten an e-mail from Andrea, and nearly fifty since their last telephone conversation. She was sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the way back to Runway after a massage that had utterly failed to calm her nerves, and calculating time differences in her head.

It was midnight in Pakistan. Why hadn't Andrea called? Andrea had now blown two consecutive promises to "call you every night before I go to sleep." To say that this was unlike her would have been the understatement of the century. Miranda frowned at the hot Starbucks cup she cradled in her hand. She tried to work up a good anger, but only succeeded in slipping further into her anxiety.

"Christopher," she called over the privacy partition.

The driver looked over his shoulder, unused to his employer's ever acknowledging his existence. "Yes, Miranda?" he asked, hoping that he had injected the appropriate amount of deference into his tone.

Miranda drummed her fingers against the paper cup. "What do you know about Pakistan?" she asked.

"W-what do I know about it?" he asked, and then cringed. He'd been on enough car rides with Miranda Priestly, overheard enough of her conversations, to know that she didn't appreciate it when those whom she deigned to address did not have answers at the ready. "Well, I suppose that it's sort of a volatile place."

Miranda sighed. Her dog could have told her that much.

Christopher tried to keep his voice from trembling as he tried again. "The Times just ran an article about how Zardari's popularity is waning."

She "tsk"ed impatiently.

Christopher swallowed nervously. Asking Miranda a question was generally regarded as career suicide, but he was getting nowhere. "Miranda, is there anything in particular that you wanted to-"

Miranda's Blackberry buzzed in her pocket. "No!" she said, cutting Christopher off. She fished excitedly in her purse, and finally located the phone. She pulled it out, her heart sinking when she saw an unfamiliar area code on the display. She knew that Regina knew it was worth her job to make sure that Miranda's private cell number did not make it into undeserving hands, so she answered the call.

"This is Miranda Priestly," she said, already irritated at Not-Andrea.

A woman's voice – not immediately identifiable – came through the line. "Miranda," it said, through what sounded like tears.

Miranda narrowed her eyes. "Who is-"

"Miranda, this is Judy Sachs," the voice said.

Andrea's mother. Andrea's mother who absolutely hated Miranda and looked down on the fashion industry in general and Runway in particular, disapproved of Miranda's relationship with her only child, and would never in a million years be calling Miranda unless something was horribly wrong. Before Miranda could open her mouth to ask what had happened, Judy confirmed her fears.

Judy spoke again, and this time the tears were obvious. "We, ah… we got a call this morning."

"From Andrea?" Miranda asked, her voice so high that it surprised her.

"No… from Dave Leighton," Judy clarified.

Miranda's eyes widened. David Leighton was the network president – why on earth would he be phoning Andrea's parents?

"They've lost contact with Andy's crew," Judy continued. "There was an emergency transmission last night, and-"

"Emergency transmis- what?" Miranda demanded. "Where are they? Where is Andrea?"

"For God's sake, Miranda, listen to me!" Judy yelled. "They've lost contact. We don't know where they are," Judy sobbed. "Some witnesses saw men with guns overtake a car. They killed the driver, threw his body out, and drove off with the crew. With Andy."

Miranda fell silent, her eyes shutting tightly as she waited to wake from this surreal nightmare.

"She's with two others. Another researcher, that journalist Eric Clayton. The driver was their translator. Mr. Leighton said that kidnappers usually take credit within 48 hours, and they'll probably have someone to begin negotiating with soon," Judy said, her voice thick with worry.

Miranda rubbed her brow, absorbing the news. She was vaguely aware of the car stopping, but when Christopher came around to open her door, she pulled it shut. "When did you find out about this?" she asked dully.

"I told you. This morning," Judy snapped. "Less than five hours ago."

Miranda fought her instinct to attack, knowing that Judy Sachs was her only link to information. "You have known about this for five hours," she said, her voice dangerously low.

Judy paused. "Miranda, don't start. I'm calling you now. Andy listed us both as emergency contacts, and I told Mr. Leighton I would call you. I didn't… didn't think it right that you learn about this on television."

Miranda stared dumbly at the back of the driver's seat, the phone limply propped in her hand. She fought with everything in her not to go on the offensive. Instead, she asked, "When did this happen? The… the carjacking."

"Yesterday afternoon, their time," Judy said, sounding very tired. "About thirty-two hours ago. I don't know anything else…" She was quiet, and then a painful sob escaped her.

Miranda blinked in confusion, disbelieving that what Andrea's mother was telling her could possibly be true. As the disbelief ebbed from her body and was replaced by a sickening recognition of truth, Miranda felt the knot in her belly begin to rise, and choked past the large lump in her throat. "Judy," she said, her voice so small it startled her. "As soon as you hear anything at all…"

"I'll call you, I promise," Judy responded. "I'm sorry, Miranda… I know."

And then, for some time – she would never know exactly how long - Miranda closed her eyes, held the phone against her ear, and quietly wept with Andrea's mother.

Miranda did not return to the office that afternoon. She insisted that Christopher take her directly home. On the way, she called David Leighton and told him to call her directly with any information – Judy had promised to call the second she heard anything, but Miranda wasn't prepared to trust a woman whom she knew had never liked her with something as vital as keeping her appraised about Andrea's whereabouts.

The story hit before Miranda had reached a decision on the nagging question of when to tell the girls, and what to tell them. As Miranda looked on from her sofa in horror, a handsome reporter informed the world that network reporter Eric Clayton and his two research assistants, Kevin Garrison and Andrea Sachs. When Andrea's name was mentioned, her newspaper file photo was flashed onscreen, and Miranda's fingers formed a small fist, gripping a blanket and squeezing it tight.

Miranda sat, unmoving, for hours, waiting for an update. None came. She phone Leighton twice, and he promised that there was no new information, but that the network was doing all it could to locate its team. Although Andrea and Miranda had not yet staged a public coming out, their existence as a couple was an open secret among the more important players in New York. It was certainly known to David Leighton, who had not enjoyed being caught unprepared when Miranda asked precisely what was being done.

At nine o'clock, Miranda's cell rang. Whipping her head in its direction, she read the caller ID and saw that it was Cassidy's number. She steeled herself for the difficult conversation. "Hi, Baby," she said softly, wondering if it was obvious even to a young girl that she was in the middle of a breakdown.

"Miranda." The deep voice was definitely not Cassidy's.

"Jonathan," she said, realizing that the call was from her ex-husband.

"I saw the story," he said. "The girls don't know yet. Miranda… are you…" He stopped. They had been divorced for nearly twelve years, but he remembered well enough how much she hated stupid questions. No, of course she was not all right.

Miranda sighed. "I don't know what I am," she admitted, rubbing her forehead. "I'm scared to death is what I am," she decided.

"Do you know anything?" he asked, gently.

"Only what's on television," Miranda said, wiping a tear from her cheeks.

Jonathan was quiet for a long moment. He had met Andrea only once, and spoken to her for fewer than ten minutes, but he knew as well as anyone else that she was now an integral member of Miranda's life, and the twins' lives. "I'd like to bring the girls back to New York tomorrow morning," he said. "You don't need to be alone."

Under any other circumstances, Miranda would have pointed out that he had no idea what she did and did not need. In this instance, though, she lacked the energy to fight. Jonathan had flown to Telluride on his own jet, and the girls could be in the air within two hours if they needed to be.

When it became clear that Miranda would not going to say anything further, Jonathan continued. "I can stay in a guest room. You shouldn't have to worry about taking care of anyone else. I just want you to have them near."

Miranda cleared her throat, thankful she had not sobbed or lost the contents of her stomach during their brief conversation. "Thank you," she said quietly.

"I'm so sorry," he said, at a loss for anything else. "It's unreal."

Miranda nodded, and thanked him again. She hung up, painfully aware that this was very, very real.