A/N: Written for the ongoing ficathon over at the DWP community. ^_^
Miranda, You're Drunk!
Andy tried to focus on the man across the table from her. The romantic ambiance of the cozy restaurant set Christian's curls aglow, taking some of the edge off his overly saturated smile. She allowed the murmurs of French conversations to blend into the background, the soft waves of a violin solo soothed part of her anxiety. Fairy lights lined the edge of the delicately stuccoed ceiling and everything simply sparkled.
It seemed so easy to let herself be swept up and away by this talented, successful writer who definitely knew how to charm young, impressionable women. Andy had broken up with her boyfriend a few days before they had left New York, and really, what would be so bad about a fairy tale fling in Paris, of all places? With the perfect rebound guy. It was all there, the setting of romance novels; prince charming refilling her wine glass, food that fell apart on her tongue like the richest ambrosia.
And yet, Andy felt detached. Hollow. She was aching, and she couldn't pinpoint the source of her unease. It was almost like a hunger, faintly rumbling in the pit of her stomach. For some reason Andy was aware that her current situation would not sate that sense of longing, ease the feeling that something wasn't right.
Christian was busy telling her about a recent trip to India, his stories full of self-glorification and anecdotes that, the longer Andy listened to them with half an ear, the more obnoxious they became. She forced a smile and took another sip of her wine. Her posture, so well-trained in her months at Runway, was an image of serenity, she was the perfect, attentive date; all smiles and nods. Her mind, however, began to run faster with every foggy thought she tried to capture.
Why could she not calm herself?
She was off duty and her presence wasn't required until the luncheon the next day. Miranda had made it perfectly clear that Andy was only there to do her job, and nothing else. Her chest contracted as she recalled the way her boss had looked at her, eyes stormy, and filled with a raging battle against pain and disappointment, those tears, ever hesitant to spill and reveal the human being behind them.
Andy stopped chewing, the daintily cut piece of steak in her cheek suddenly a large lump she knew she could no longer swallow. The ache in her belly grew at the memory of Miranda in her grey, cashmere bathrobe, face free of make up, her collar bones frail and exposed, and her feet had looked so small, bare toes curling into the luxurious royal suite carpet.
Christian suddenly stopped talking and raised his bushy eyebrows in question.
"I-I'm sorry... what did you say?" Andy mumbled apologetically.
He gave a crooked smirk, which he seemed to believe was a total winner, but it only served to dramatically increase Andy's nausea.
"I said, my hotel is just five minutes away. We should walk. Stroll along the Seine, maybe?"
"Oh," was all Andy could reply, her eyes falling to the lone candle between them. The flame's flickering dance was almost like a struggle to escape the wick, leaning to all sides, shrinking and growing with each attempt to pull free. Andy felt like her throat was closing up.
Suddenly Christian's fingers reached for her left hand, which she had rested elegantly beside her plate. It felt so small and cold in his warm grip and when his thumb curled around her wrist, she tensed her legs in an instinctual urge to flee. Her heart hammered wildly against her chest and cold shivers gushed down her back.
Misinterpreting her reaction, Christian widened his smile and leaned forward.
"We can have dessert at the hotel."
All Andy could think about was Miranda; her reddened cheeks, those shimmery eyes with the colour of a forest lake, and the mussed silver hair that had looked so much softer without the usual amount of hairspray. The image burned in Andy's chest, but Christian's hand felt restrictive, like a noose around her neck that made it difficult to breathe.
At that moment, her phone rang. The familiar melody immediately jolted Andy into motion, and she inelegantly spit the lump of half-chewed meat into her napkin and swiftly extracted her hand from under Christian's grasp.
"Miranda," she spoke breathlessly into the device, and her dinner companion's smug grin quickly transformed into an annoyed frown.
"An-dray-ah," came the drawled reply from the other end of the line, and the sound of it shot straight to Andy's heart.
"I see you're wasting valuable company time prostituting yourself to the enemy," the editor lulled, her voice raw.
"Excuse me?" Andy's eyes went wide, but she managed to avoid looking at Christian.
"You couldn't wait to get away from me, to... to throw yourself in the arms of the next best sleazebag!"
What the hell was going on? Was Miranda drunk? She sounded drunk, but that couldn't be right. Miranda never drank alcohol. Andy tried not to panic.
"Miranda, where are you?"
Christian appeared to pick up on the likelihood of her leaving him high and dry, and he reached for her arm.
"Tell him to get his f-filthy hands off you!" Miranda roared through the line, and Christian pulled away and shrank back in his seat, clearly having heard every word.
Andy frantically looked around the restaurant. If Miranda could see them she had to be nearby.
"Miranda, where are you?" She asked again, her heart pounding, the sudden adrenaline causing her ears to burn.
"Why would you care?" Came a pathetic-sounding sob that caused the hunger monster in Andy's belly to rear up again. She felt like throwing up.
Then she spotted Miranda.
One arm curled around the cast iron lamppost, charcoal fur coat unbuttoned and swaying in the December breeze, she glared back at Andy from the street. Even from a distance Andy could tell that Miranda had been crying.
Andy's body moved all on its own, and she barely remembered to grab her coat from the rack by the door, before she stumbled out onto the cobble stones and into the biting evening air. She hung up the phone and pulled the coat over her shoulders as she hurried over to her boss.
"Miranda. Are you alright?"
The skin on the editor's exposed upper chest and the tip of her nose were red from the cold, and before Andy could stop herself, she reached out and closed Miranda's coat.
"You... you came out." Miranda sounded lost; almost timid, and Andy wanted to cry from the longing drumming against her chest.
"Of course I came. I always come when you call," she said softly as she closed Miranda's phone and slipped it into her purse. She curled her hand underneath Miranda's arm and gently pried it away from the lamp.
"Come on. Let's get you back to the hotel. You need to rest."
"Don't tell me what I need," Miranda suddenly hissed, "You don't know what I need!" She pulled her arm away so forcefully that she stumbled backward on her heels and nearly fell into a parked car. Andy caught her, though, arms firmly wrapping around her middle.
"What the hell, Andy!" Christian's voice echoed over the sidewalk, his long stride stopping a few feet away from them. "You can't just walk out on me like that!"
"You!" Miranda leaned over Andy's shoulder and pointed a wobbly finger at Christian. "You have some nerve!"
Andy turned her head to flash her best apologetic smile at him.
"I'm sorry, but I need to get her home."
He frowned, his hands stuffed in his pants pockets. "Just shove her into a cab. Miranda is a big girl, she can take care of herself."
Andy didn't like his condescending tone. She gritted her teeth, her earlier annoyance with the author pushing through her concern for Miranda, and she forced another smile.
"I'm taking her home, Christian."
She tightened her grip around Miranda's waist and began walking, pulling the other woman along. When they moved past the novelist, Miranda had a strangely smug expression on her face.
"She's taking me home," she drawled at the man, one of her hands sliding over Andy's back and coming dangerously close to her butt.
"You're history, Miranda," he spat back, and Andy wondered how she could have ever thought of him as charming.
"You're a cold-hearted bitch who will soon have nothing, and nobody left."
Miranda tensed and Andy wanted to punch Christian. He couldn't possibly know that just earlier that day, Miranda had been served with her second divorce. She tightened her hold and glowered at the man, no longer bothering with fake smiles.
"Thank you for dinner, but I don't think I will take you up on the offer of dessert."
She began walking again, her body buzzing where it melted into a clingy Miranda. She didn't really have time to contemplate on what any of this meant, her mind solely focused on getting Miranda out of the cold and into the warmth and safety of her hotel suite.
"Come on, Andy. Don't be a tease!" Christian caught up with them.
Before she could form an angry reply, Andy felt Miranda twist from her grip and spin around at the man.
"Stay away from my Andrea!" She rammed her finger harshly against his chest, and he had to take a step back, startled by her sudden outburst.
"You're crazy. Both of you!" He gave a disgusted laugh and walked backward. "It's a real shame, Andy," he raised his hands in mock regret. "The two of us would have made a great team."
And with that he walked back into the restaurant, leaving the two women alone on the sidewalk.
The look Miranda gave her was nothing short of adorable, and Andy felt herself move toward the older woman as if pulled by invisible cables. Who would have ever thought that the Snow Queen would make such a cute drunk? She slipped her arm back around Miranda's waist and sighed when the editor rested her head against her shoulder.
"Come on, let's find us a cab," she whispered against Miranda's hair.
Andy twitched at the determined answer, but Miranda brought her hand back to the small of Andy's back and explained.
"I wish to walk along the Seine for a bit."
Closing the collar of her coat, Andy gazed up into the night sky.
"But it's cold, Miranda. I don't want you to get sick on top of everything."
Miranda snuggled closer and whispered, "but you're here. You'll keep me warm."
Andy's cheeks glowed, and not just from the biting gust of wind that decided to blow over them right then. She knew Miranda was incredibly vulnerable, mourning another marriage, worrying about her daughters, and the alcohol had lowered all those carefully erected walls, which always shielded her from everything and everyone.
It was definitely not the moment for Andy to figure out that she might perhaps have feelings of a romantic nature for her boss. Especially not when Miranda was such a clingy drunk.
"Alright," she managed to breathe. "Let's walk for a bit. Maybe it will clear your head a little."
And so they strolled, huddled together against the wind, along the river. Andy tried very hard to silence the ache in her chest that grew with every step they took together. Miranda felt so warm against her and her hair was silken where it brushed against her naked throat. The lights of the world around them sparkled, and unlike in the restaurant with Christian, they now drew Andy completely under their spell. All she could think about was how romantic their little walk was.
They crossed the Seine at the Pont Neuf, and when they were halfway across the beautifully-lit bridge, Miranda stopped and pulled Andy toward the railing.
"Look, Andrea," the older woman whispered and pointed toward the Eiffel tower in the distance that sparkled through one of its nightly light shows. Above the river the wind was stronger, as well as a lot more freezing, and Andy instinctively pulled Miranda closer.
"It's so tacky," Miranda murmured, completely focused on the flashing tower in the distance. "But I love it."
The hand on Andy's back had now definitely crossed the line into blatant fondling, but Andy couldn't bring herself to push Miranda away. This was all the intimacy she would ever get from the editor, and she wanted to make the most of it.
Suddenly Miranda turned and pressed her front against Andy's side. She brought her other arm around Andy's waist and locked her hands behind her lower back. The younger woman was terrified that her heart might give out from the sheer force of its beating. Why was Miranda looking at her like that? Raw and uninhibited; her eyes reflecting the City of Lightsand shining at Andy so openly, she felt like she was falling right into them.
"M-Miranda," she whispered, dazed. "You're drunk."
The older woman's lips stretched into a lazy grin and she lifted her head to gaze at Andy through lowered lids, her eyelashes casting intricate shadows over her wind-kissed cheeks.
"Oui. C'est vrai," she drawled, biting her bottom lip.
Andy couldn't move. She could do absolutely nothing when Miranda slowly moved closer and kissed her carefully on the mouth. Her lips were cold and dry, but Andy thought that if she were to die right then, she'd die in pure and utter bliss. Just for a moment, she could pretend that Miranda was not heartbroken over her husband, and that she was kissing her out of more than a needy, drunken stupor. Miranda's signature perfume was surrounding her everywhere and Andy shuddered when the grasp around her waist tightened.
She was so tempted to reciprocate, It would be so easy to push her tongue into Miranda's mouth and pull her into a proper, intimate embrace. But she couldn't. She simply could not abuse Miranda's trust like that. Not when she was this adorable, vulnerable, and sweet.
"You're not kissing back," Miranda suddenly whispered against her lips, and the ache, which Andy had felt in her chest all evening, roared, cutting through her like a thousand little knives.
"Miranda... you're drunk," she said, tears brimming.
The older woman pulled away and glared.
"Yes, we have already established that, Andrea." Miranda's tone was sharp, but the edges were wavering, doubt shining in her eyes.
"I know you're hurting because of Stephen, Miranda," Andy looked away, the dancing lights of the distant Eiffel tower becoming blurry. "But no matter how much I want to, I can't take advantage of that." She looked back at Miranda and sniffled. "I can't take advantage of you."
For a while Miranda just gazed at her, eyes slowly filling with tears again, and Andy's heart broke when she thought that the reality of her husband's abandonment was finally pushing past the barrier of alcohol in Miranda's bloodstream.
"You silly, silly girl..." the editor whispered, and her thumbs came up to tenderly wipe the moisture from Andy's cheeks. "You think this is about that good-for-nothing, soon-to-be ex-husband of mine?"
Andy was entranced by the softness of Miranda's fingers and just found herself nodding dumbly.
"Darling, no man could ever make me get this wasted," she said with a raspy giggle, and Andy felt utterly confused, but endeared at the same time.
"Well, technically it wasa man, but Nigel doesn't count."
"Y-you drank so much... because of Nigel?"
What did Runway's Fashion Director have to do with any of this?
"No... not because of him,... with him," Miranda drawled and her thumbs travelled slowly over Andy's lips.
"You got drunk with Nigel?" Andy whispered against the touch. "Why?"
"Well, I had just informed him that I would need to crush his dreams of freedom tomorrow." An expression of regret briefly flickered over Miranda's face. "He was hurt, of course, and he lashed out by telling me about your 'hot date' with Mr. Thompson." Her lips pressed together in a thin line at the mention of Christian, and she pulled away her fingers.
"I still don't understand why that would make you drink so much. I know you usually don't touch alcohol, Miranda."
It was true. The editor never drank anything but coffee, water and the occasional tea. Alcohol made you lose control, something Miranda absolutely hated, if not feared.
Miranda's arms slipped back around Andy's waist, but she dropped her gaze, turning almost shy. "When Nigel told me about your dinner plans with that notorious, skirt-chasing ape..." she swallowed, "I just... snapped."
She looked back up at Andy, tears now spilling freely from her darkened eyes.
"By the time we had finished a whole bottle of Scotch, I was so worked up that Nigel felt sorry for me," she hiccuped, and overwhelmed by adoration, Andy angled herself so that she could fully face Miranda, slipping her arms around her middle and finally pulling them flush together.
"So he called me a cab, to go... and stop you," Miranda finished with an almost inaudible whisper.
"When you yelled at Christian, you said 'My Andrea'," Andy spoke softly while brushing the tears from Miranda's face.
"Because you are. Mine." Miranda bit her bottom lip again, and in combination with the possessive word, it was almost like magic. "Or at least, now that I'm a free woman,... I would like you to be."
Andy rested her forehead against Miranda's, brushing their noses together as they held each other close on the windy bridge.
"I think I want to be... yours," she whispered, and Miranda's arms tightened around her, almost squeezing painfully.
"Well, it was a rather recent discovery. Tonight, actually."
"Was it the bathrobe?" Miranda breathed, their lips less than an inch apart.
"Hmmm, yes. That, and the way you looked, sitting on that couch, stripped of all make up and styling. So incredibly raw and beautiful. Simply... you."
And then there was a firm tug at the back of Andy's neck that pulled her forward and against Miranda's lips. This time, she didn't hesitate, and with one swift move her tongue dove into Miranda's hot mouth. The flavour of whiskey was strong, but Andy didn't mind, because the way Miranda sucked at her turned her knees to jelly. Besides, if it hadn't been for the alcohol, Miranda would have never come to rescue her from a lousy date.
Andy shuddered slightly at the thought of Christian, but she knew she wouldn't have gone to his hotel anyway. Miranda had been on her mind, and in her heart, all evening. Actually, Miranda had constantly been in her thoughts for weeks now. Months, even.
Miranda's fingers combed through her hair, and as their tongues continued to sensually stroke against each other, Andy was no longer cold. The hunger inside her, the hollow ache in her chest, was being sated.