Nightmares are Dreams too.
Walking into her kitchen as she closed the fastener on her bracelet, Miranda Priestly headed directly for the coffeemaker. Reaching for the carafe, she filled the clear glass mug that her housekeeper conveniently left out for her each evening. She turned on the small under cabinet TV as she took the first sip, intent on listening to the early news before her housekeeper, Estella, arrived to get the twins ready for school. Knowing Roy, her driver, would be waiting outside, she opened the Book where she had left it on the counter before going to bed and scanned back over the notes she had made the previous evening as the news anchor droned on until a story caught her attention.
"This just in: New York Mirror reporter Andrea Sachs was found dead in her apartment this morning. Police are investigating though as yet there has been no word as to cause of death. Ms. Sachs is best known for her prize winning series on abuses in the city's foster care system. She was twenty-eight years old. More on this story as it develops. Now we go to James with today's weather report."
The twins came running when they heard a crash followed by their mother's scream, "NOOOOOO!" Terrified beyond words, they held hands as they rushed into the kitchen, followed by a curious Patricia, unsure what they would find. Neither expected it to be their mother on her knees in a pool of rapidly cooling coffee and shards of broken glass, crying uncontrollably.
"Mom! Mommy? What…" Cassidy began only to be stopped by her sister grabbing her arm and pointing towards the TV.
"Cassie, it's Andy!"
The two watched as footage of Andy receiving an award rolled on the small screen and the anchor once again recited the small amount of information he had to impart. They looked at each other with horror filled eyes before throwing themselves at their mother, seeking to both give and receive comfort.
A short time later, Estella arrived and was surprised when Miranda did not pass her on the steps in front of the townhouse. She hurried to unlock the door since she realized something must be wrong for Ms. Priestly not to be coming out the door ready to leave for the office. Hearing sounds in the kitchen, she rushed in to find the three Priestlys huddled together on the floor with Patricia huddled tight against them uttering small concerned cries. Her ponderous head turned towards the door and a low growl emanated from deep in her furry chest, warning Estella from coming too close. Turning she ran back out to the car and yanked open the door.
"Roy, you have to come in right now. There's something terribly wrong with Ms. Miranda and the girls. The dog will not let me close."
Without waiting to hear more, Roy threw himself from the car and raced into the house.
"Where are they?" he shouted back over his shoulder.
"The kitchen." Came the breathless answer.
Dropping to his knees, Roy wasn't sure exactly what to do as he too received a rumbling warning.
"Ms. Priestly, are you all right? Girls?"
One flushed, tear stained face lifted from her mother's shoulder to meet his gaze, the blue irises glowing eerily in the surrounding redness.
"Andy's dead," came the hoarse whisper.
He nodded silently as his own tears began to flow. Taking out his cell, he dialed the Runway offices. When he heard "Miranda Priestly's office," in a clipped British accent, Roy took a deep breath in an attempt to find his voice.
"Emily?" He knew his words were strangled but it was the best he could manage. "Find a TV, turn on the local news."
Arrested by his tone, Emily rose, hurried into Miranda's office and threw open the cabinet that doubled as an entertainment center. Grabbing the remote, she hit the power button on the large flat screen TV that Miranda used to view the coverage on various fashion events and designer's preview videos. She was watching a different station but the coverage was no less effecting. She grabbed for the back of a chair to steady herself while still retaining the presence of mind to hit the record button on the TIVO.
"How's Miranda, Roy?"
"It's not good here, Emily. They're all three just…shattered and the damned dog won't let us near them."
Though it was hard to imagine Miranda as less than in total control, the Brit took him at his word.
"I'll reschedule the morning. Nigel can handle anything that cannot wait should Miranda ask. I'll call her physician and the twin's father and have them both there within the hour. I'll call Andy's parents as well. You may need to pick them up at the airport later. Until then, don't leave them, Roy."
"I'm not going anywhere." He started to hang up and then thought better of it."Oh, and Emily…"
"Find her some answers." There was no need to explain which her he was speaking of. Emily had never done less than her very best for Miranda and today the Brit intended to exceed even that.
"Very next thing. I'll call when I know more."
Hanging up she dialed Nigel.
"Come to Miranda's office. Right now, Nigel." Without waiting for a response, she ended that call and placed the next one while simultaneously calling in the second assistant.
"Meredith. Call Miranda's physician and have him go to the townhouse immediately. There is no excuse acceptable for him not being there in the next 30 minutes." The cell diverted her attention. "Hello? Elliott? You need to go to Miranda's immediately…I don't bloody care who you're meeting with. Your children need you. Miranda needs you, so get your bleeding arse over there…Yes, well, she can fire me if she so chooses, but you she'll bloody well kill…that's better." Flipping her cell shut, she headed for her computer and Miranda's schedule. When Nigel entered moments later, she was firing off e-mails while talking on the phone. Tossing the remote to him, she mouthed "TIVO" and continued with her conversation.
"No, Miranda will not be able to meet with Mr. Ravitz later today. She is not available until later in the week…I'm sorry, Susan, I know Irv's schedule is packed, but so is Miranda's and she has urgent business to attend to that cannot be put off…Well, obviously it's more urgent than a meeting with Irv…I don't care what you tell him. Tell him she flew to China to breed silkworms for all I care, just reschedule…fine, I can work with that, ta."
She looked up as a very pale Nigel came back out of Miranda's office.
"I've rescheduled the entire morning and re-arranged most of the afternoon. There's one meeting that can't be cancelled because the designer is leaving tonight for Europe and won't be back for two weeks. If I reschedule that, we won't have what we need from him for next month's issue in time. Also Patrick needs to know the final dates and the models Miranda chose for the Dior shoot. I believe she gave you that information yesterday, so if you could call him back."
"Emily…" His voice was tight with emotion and unshed tears.
"I know, Nigel," she snapped and drew a shaky breath. "But that won't help Miranda right now and n-nothing can help An-," she stopped and fought for control, "…the other person. I'm waiting for a call back from Ms. Warner's PA. They ar…were close friends and hopefully, Captain Polniaczek can give me the answers Miranda is going to need. I have to do my job, Nigel. It's the only thing I can do for them both. You need to do yours too."
She held out a small stack of message slips. Wordlessly, he took them and turned back to Miranda's desk to make his calls. Emily was right and eventually this nightmare had to end.
It was two hours later before Emily received the call from Blair Warner's office. In that time Nigel had taken care of his share of the calls and Roy had brought the book to Runway so the rest of the staff could get to work on the changes. The Brit had spoken to Elliott, the twin's father, at the townhouse and learned that all three Priestly's had been sedated and were currently ensconced in Miranda's bed together, as the twins refused to be parted from their mother for even a moment, a fact that did not surprise the red-head in the least. The three had always been extremely close, regardless of the circumstances. Now, more than ever, they would need each other.
Donatella had called to inform Emily that her private jet would be landing in Ohio shortly and to call the Sachs family and inform them that a car would pick up anyone who wished to come to New York. It was Donatella's opinion that Miranda would need her family close at this time so she was making it happen. If there wasn't room at the townhouse for everyone, the Brit was to call her and she would see to arranging accommodations at the Ritz personally. Donatella had even arranged for her personal driver to meet them on this end and ferry everyone to the townhouse thereby leaving Roy free to assist the Priestlys. Emily had stammered her thanks and placed the call to Ohio. The Sachs family would be there shortly after lunch. The strange woman had even arranged for that, sending her own chef to assist the Priestlys' cook in serving the catered meal she had arranged.
Emily supposed she shouldn't be surprised. Ever since Donatella had assisted in Miranda's mad flight across country to pursue her fleeing lover, the Italian had been enthralled with their relationship. At the dinner she had insisted on as payment for her assistance, Donatella had become captivated by the brunette on sight, a fact that had caused the editor no small amount of jealousy, knowing of her lover's natural preference for older women. It had not helped when the Italian had a personal scent created for the younger woman for the holidays. Miranda had looked ready to dip her friend in a boiling pot of ambergris when the gift arrived at the Runway offices addressed to the brunette. At their next meeting, Donatella had shrugged elegantly and informed Miranda it would do her good not to become too complacent where that delicious angel was concerned. She had winked mischievously at Emily when the editor stalked away.
Shaking herself out of her revere, Emily got back to work. The Italian might be a character with a penchant for tweaking her boss' baser emotions, but right now, she was a goddess to the Brit. In a single phone call, the Italian had cleared hours of work off Emily's list, leaving her to concentrate on other equally important details. One of which was that bloody cow that sat in front of her.
Emily had taken it upon herself to send Meredith on as many errands as she could find, manufacturing them if she had to. She just wasn't able to tolerate seeing anyone sit at the desk across the office from her. It had to stay empty, if it was she could pretend the smart, fat girl, her friend, was on a Starbucks run for Miranda and just maybe Emily, herself, would survive this day. She knew it was denial, pure and simple, but it was all she had right now. Nothing else would let her stay in one piece. She had already fielded calls from Doug and Lily that left her shaking and nauseous. She had even sent a tearful Serena back to her office with a brisk, "Not now."
The Brit was surprised and yet, not, when Ms. Warner returned the call herself. It was clear the other woman was also distraught but fighting to hold it together for her wife. Captain Polniaczek could not provide any information prior to its official release by the NYPD, but Blair was a different matter. Like Miranda, she was a powerful woman who was used to having her questions answered, so she was doing the fashion maven the courtesy of providing that information. The blonde made clear to Emily that if it had been Jo, she would not have rested until she knew everything that had happened to the woman she loved, nor would she so insult Miranda as to assume the editor would accept less. When she finally hung up, Emily was shaking uncontrollably and it was all she could do to stumble into the Ladies room in time, before her stomach expelled everything she had eaten in her entire life and then tried to force itself out her throat.
She had no idea how long she sat huddled in the stall, arms tightly wrapped around her middle. Oh, god, Andrea. It wasn't right, what had happened to her friend. It was even more wrong that Emily was going to have to look Miranda in the eye and tell her exactly what that was. Blair Warner had passed on all the information that would be released at the next morning's press conference as well as everything she knew as the wife of the Captain whose unit was conducting the investigation, knowing it wouldn't be long before 'informed sources' began to leak information. Her knowledge was extensive and none of it was good. It was, in fact, more horrible than the red-head could have imagined and she would have willingly given up her entire future in fashion not to be the one to have to put those images in Miranda Priestly's mind.
Slowly she struggled to her feet. She needed to rinse her mouth out, call Roy and then find Nigel. She might have to do this, but she'd be damned if she was doing it alone. She was going to have to further shatter the heart of the woman she admired and seal the fate of everyone at Runway when she destroyed the soul of their queen. It wouldn't hurt to have Miranda's physician close by either. They might both need a sedative after this.
Her life would have been so much easier if the tall brunette had never walked into Runway, but Emily couldn't bring herself to be angry with her. With that enormous smile and those big doe eyes, she had touched each of their lives in some way and they were all better for it, especially Miranda. The editor had been walking on clouds the last six months. Emily could still remember the day she found out exactly who Miranda's new love interest was.
Emily had been keeping a close watch on her boss of late. The woman was acting entirely out of character and it unnerved the Brit. She had actually caught Miranda smiling this morning and at nothing! The editor was just sitting at her desk, gazing off into space with this self-satisfied "I've got a secret" smile on her face. While it was true she had been a great deal easier to get along with lately, it still left Emily jumpy, fearful that whatever had caused this remarkable change might too soon end it as well.
The current second assistant had lasted for an entire month and Emily was about to get the less than brilliant girl trained sufficiently that she might actually last out the year. True, Meredith had made several mistakes in that time and Miranda was no less scathing in her commentary, she was just much less quick to fire at the slightest infringement. Emily had hopes of once again having her Sunday's free, as was her entitlement as first assistant. It seemed ages since she'd been able to do more than give Serena a hurried wave as the Brazilian scurried in and out of Miranda's office during run-throughs and she was looking forward to an entire day of reading the paper and watching old Bette Davis movies together. They both adored the clothes in movies from the 30's and 40's and agreed that the storylines and acting from the time were far superior to anything offered today, especially Bette Davis.
Still, she was curious as to what was causing this strange euphoria Miranda now traveled around in. With a smirk, Emily realized that there were some habits the editor would never change, so she flipped open her phone and punched in a number from her speed dial.
"Hey, its Emily. Meet me for drinks after you get done. I'm buying. The usual place." She flipped her phone shut ending the call before the other party had time to give a negative response. She'd have her answers before the night was over.
Emily had just settled into a small booth in the back of the crowded bar and taken a sip of her martini when her guest slid onto the seat across from her. Negligently, she pushed the glass of draft closer to the other person.
"You and I have a very intricate relationship," she began with a small smile. "We need each other to make life as we know it bearable. Keeping secrets on certain issues is not in either of our best interests. So I suggest you tell me exactly what is going on with her." Emily knew she would not have to explain which her she was referring to.
Her companion gulped down half the beer before resting the glass back on the table and giving her a long, steady look.
"In your vernacular, spill it, Roy," Emily urged.
Not really happy about it, but knowing the red-head was right, the driver began to tell her everything he knew beginning with the first time Miranda had called him to pick up the girls and her at the park. To his surprise, Andy had accompanied them back to the townhouse.
"…so Andy walked Patricia into the townhouse as I was pulling away. I think that's when they started dating." He took another long drink of his beer and indicated to the waitress to bring them both a refill.
"Bollocks they are!" Emily couldn't believe the story he was telling.
"Miranda had me pick up Andy a couple of nights later and take her over to the townhouse again, stopping on the way for Andy to rent a movie. I guess they were staying in that night cause three hours later, I picked up Andy and drove her home," he continued.
"Bloody hell," Emily was too shocked to do more than mutter.
"Every couple of days, Miranda has me pick up Andy and take her to the townhouse. Then a few hours later, I drive her back to her apartment. They meet for lunch at least once a week. I tell ya, Em, they're dating."
"Buggery bollocks!" The red-head snapped and downed her second martini in a straight shot.
"You're watching too much Ab Fab, Em," Roy chuckled hoping to distract the Brit.
"What? Oh, yes, well…Saturday night, my place…we're watching three more episodes. Serena said she'd cook. Are you coming?"
"You know I have a thing for Edina and Serena's cooking," he laughed. "Wouldn't miss it, I need to get going. She's coming in extra early in the morning."
"Yes, she has a meeting with Irv. There's also a dinner meeting tomorrow night," she supplied wanting to do her fair share in the name of open communication.
"Can I give you a lift?" He asked, sliding out of the booth.
"No, Serena will be along in a bit. Enjoy the rest of your evening and I'll talk to you in the morning."
With a two finger salute, he headed towards the door.
It hadn't taken Emily long after coming to work for Miranda to realize the first assistant's job could be much easier if she had a good rapport with the woman's regular driver, something her predecessor never considered, so the Brit set out to make a new friend whenever they were alone in the car together. Upon discovering that he was a fan of British TV and the comedies especially, she had introduced him to Absolutely Fabulous, one of her favorite shows. Along with Serena, they would get together whenever they could make the time and watch a few episodes on DVD with one or the other providing the meal.
The Brit had no doubt that Roy was correct. If he said Miranda was dating Andrea Sachs, then that was exactly what was happening, nor could Emily argue with the fact that the editor seemed supremely happy in the relationship. However, the red-head couldn't help wondering what would happen if it ended. Miranda had been a harridan after Paris and as she had been particularly vicious to any new second assistant, Emily knew Andrea's leaving had more than a little to do with the editor's mood. The best the Brit could estimate things had only begun to approach normal again when the brunette walked back into her boss' life.
Well, she was just going to have to keep her fingers crossed and hope for the best. Not that she wouldn't also be paying close attention to how this little romance developed and doing everything in her power to keep it on a smooth track because a happy Miranda meant a much easier time for Emily in the office. And just maybe the Brit would get a chance at a bit of a life of her own. Serena had been dropping hints lately that she wouldn't mind being more than just a friend and Emily's mother definitely hadn't raised any stupid children. The woman was exquisite and they fit on many levels. Maybe she could convince her to stay after Roy left on Saturday and they could have a nice chat about possibilities.
The Brit couldn't keep a huge smile off her face as the woman in question walked through the door. Every eye in the room seemed to follow the Brazilian as she made her way to the back. And she wants me, Emily thought with a happy sigh. It looked like life had nowhere to go but up.
Back at her desk, Emily forwarded the calls to Meredith's cellphone and then sent the woman a quick text notifying her that she was doing so as well as one to Roy that she and Nigel were ready to be picked up. She gathered up the things she would need to assure Miranda that Runway had been taken care of. Then she sat at her desk and steeled herself for what was ahead while she waited for Nigel to join her.
What had happed to Andrea was horrendous beyond thought. Some of the horror of what she had been told must have still been evident in her face because Nigel paused as he was walking towards her desk.
She looked at him, tears shining for a moment in her eyes before she blinked them away and forced a bland expression.
"Do not ask," she cautioned. "I can only do this once and Miranda needs to know more than you." She stood and picked up the files she had gathered and her pad before stopping and staring sightless across the room. "No, no one needs to know something like this. I wish to bloody hell I didn't, but Miranda will want the details and I have to provide them." The eyes she turned on Nigel were so tortured he couldn't stop an involuntary wince. "After this, I'm done for the day, Nigel. I'm going home and I'm taking Serena with me. I may have to deliver this bomb, but you will bleeding well handle the fallout."
He could do no more than nod before following the red-head out to the elevators. He stayed silent on the trip down and as they exited the building. He looked towards Roy just as the driver met Emily's eyes and for a moment, Nigel thought he might have to do the driving himself. The tall rugged man paled at what he saw in the redhead's eyes. He tightened his grip on the door as if he needed the support to remain standing. It passed in a second and he stepped forward to assist the Brit. As delicately as if he was handling the most precious crystal, he handed his friend into the car and closed the door before following Nigel to the other side.
The silence was thick and unbroken on the ride to the townhouse, each trapped in their own thoughts, Roy and Nigel awash in memories of their smiling friend, Emily trying desperately not to let terrifying new images replace those mental pictures. They glided down a remarkably peaceful street. There were no paparazzi in sight since Miranda and Andy were still keeping their involvement under wraps. Only those closest to the couple knew they were together, though Nigel supposed it would come out during the course of the investigation. Hopefully, by then they would all be better able to handle the circus that would ensue.
As the car came to a stop in front of Miranda's home, the Brit spoke for the first time.
"Roy, you will come in with us. When I'm done, you will call Serena and tell her everything I've said. She is to be ready to be picked up and you will deliver us both to my apartment."
"Em, what about M…," he started.
"Please, Roy. Miranda will have to allow this or I can't do it. Nigel will make her understand."
Something in her voice made him simply nod and agree.
"Ok, Emily. Whatever you need."
He stepped out of the car and came around to open her door. Nigel followed her out and together the three mounted the steps to Miranda's front door. Using her key, Emily opened it and they all walked in. The house seemed eerily quiet with only the sound of whispered voices coming from the living room. It's always like that when someone dies, the Brit thought. As if speaking too loudly will make it real before it needs to be. Taking a shaky breath she led her little entourage further into the house.
Miranda was seated on the couch with someone who had to be Andrea's mother. The resemblance was so striking it brought Emily to a stop. Both women turned their eyes towards the doorway. The hollowness in their gazes seemed to echo through the room. Miranda's dull blue gaze narrowed on her assistant as if she could read the red-head's mind and share in the knowledge contained there before waving a dismissive hand at Roy in a still elegant gesture.
"You may go, R…"
"No, Miranda." Nigel cut her off. "For Emily's sake, no."
To everyone's shock, she simply nodded. "Very well. I assume that means you have information for me, Emily."
The Brit walked further into the room and sat on the edge of a chair as if she would take flight at any moment. Miranda was as composed as Emily had ever seen her, but for the first time it seemed to be caused by the lack of an internal spark as opposed to the iron-willed control the Brit was used to.
"Yes. If there's anyone else…" Her voice trailed off.
"The girls don't need to hear this," Miranda admonished. "And Richard is with them. Ellen and I will tell them what is appropriate."
Emily leaned forward and set the folders in her hands on the low table in front of her boss, feeling she needed to get the business matters over with first since she doubted anyone would want to deal with them after they heard what she had to say.
"These are the details of what was done at Runway today. Nigel can go over them when you're ready."
"Yes, whatever," Miranda brushed it aside. "What about Andréa? Are they positive it's her?"
Emily paused a second seeking the best way to word her answer.
"The police strongly believe it's Andrea. They are relying on DNA to give them a positive ID and that could take up to a week."
"Do…do I need to go and make an identification? Surely, Jo knows if it's her." Miranda was having trouble understanding. Captain Polniaczek was one of Andréa's closest friends.
"The bod…I don't know a gentle way to say this, Miranda."
"Then just say it, Emily." The editor was quickly becoming angry.
"Miranda." Ellen laid a calming hand on the editor's arm. "Let her finish."
"They can't carry out the identification by normal means," Emily hurried on. "She…there's too much damage." The women in front of her froze and the choking sound from behind could only have been Nigel. The Brit clasped her hands tightly together in her lap and focused her eyes on them. Refusing to look up again, she began to talk, explaining everything Blair Warner had told her. As dispassionately as possible she detailed the long hours of abuse and torture that had been inflicted, the methods used to make fingerprint, dental and visual identification impossible and the savage beating that had finally snuffed out a life. The silence was a tangible thing in the room when she was done, until suddenly, Miranda rose and ran to the nearest bathroom. The sound of retching filled the void. Ellen rose and went to the assistance of the only connection she had left to her daughter, the woman who loved her Andy with equal intensity.
"Roy." Emily's voice was hoarse as she fought to contain her own emotions. Just a little longer. Just until I'm home with Serena.
"I'll make that call for you, Roy. I'll make sure Serena is waiting in the lobby. Take them both home." Nigel watched as Roy led the redhead from the house, then he dropped into the chair Emily had vacated and covering his face with his hands he wept for the wonderful young woman he knew and the ending no one deserved.