A Mean Sleep

by Politic X

Fandom: The Devil Wears Prada

Pairing: Miranda / Andrea

"I cannot be awake for nothing looks to me as it did before, Or else I am awake for the first time, and all before has been a mean sleep." Walt Whitman

[1]

The Editor in Chief of Runway fashion magazine was listening to a rather interesting story being told to a very small group of people by a former White House correspondent. It wasn't lost on Miranda Priestly that she was the least important person in this small clique, which included a former President and an infamous CIA operative who, no less than two weeks ago, was thought to be dead. Miranda loved parties that the real news-worthy attended, and she delighted in her lack of status at these events. She loved rubbing elbows with people who assassinated kings and started wars. She loved being hidden in plain sight amongst the truly important. Which is why, when she sensed someone's eyes on her throughout the evening, it felt irritating and out of place here. But she shrugged off the unwanted attention without addressing it until later, when she had stayed longer than she intended, and most of the important crowd had thinned out.

Miranda was making her way through a clutch of CNN reporters not at all interested in her – refreshing – when she felt the eyes on her again. If she were honest with herself, it was a memory sensation more than any kind of hypersensitivity on her part, because she knew before she saw her, that it was Andrea Sachs staring at her. She willed herself into anger, revived Paris and Andrea's sudden departure three years ago, and she stared the girl down with something that felt almost like rage. Andrea, who had been posing a kind smile, blanched, but stood her ground as Miranda marched over to where she was located at the outdoor bar.

"Hi Miranda," Andrea said. She offered a smile again, though it immediately wilted at Miranda's expression. "You look beautiful."

Miranda frowned. It had been difficult, she remembered now, to become irritated by Andrea, much less keep something as strong as anger fueled for very long. Particularly when the years were proving her correct; she had always thought Andrea's splendor was yet to come, and indeed she was becoming more beautiful with age. Perhaps thirty or thirty-five would be her zenith. "Andrea," she finally managed. "You look well."

Andrea's smile resuscitated. "I am, I guess, considering. How are you? How are Caroline and Cassidy?"

Ah yes, her superstar among assistants past and present, ignoring the superfluous to focus on the essential. A flash of retrovision – Andrea charming at the Valentino party, Andrea provocative in thigh-high Chanel boots, Andrea ebullient because she'd retrieved the impossible Harry Potter book, Andrea compassionate when Stephen filed for divorce. Andrea distraught before walking away from her. It was as if the years fell away. She could have seen Andrea this morning: the slender fingers could have handed her a cup of boiling Starbucks; the full lips could have given her a gentle smile.

"They're fine."

"They must be almost fourteen now. Wow. Are they sleeping all day and listening to horrible music and ignoring you yet?"

Miranda couldn't help but smirk. "Something like that."

"It's so great to see you," Andrea gushed, and she looked as if she really meant it. Her eyes sparkled warmly and she was smiling one of her brilliant smiles. "In person," Andrea amended. "I see you now and then on Page Six. You give them plenty to gossip about, don't you?" Then she literally bit down on her tongue, Miranda saw it sticking out a little, the pink tip, and the girl blushed.

"Well, you're as charming as ever," Miranda said drily. In fact, Andrea had always been quite the charmer. Miranda supposed it was the sincerity behind the incessant chatter. And perhaps the way Andrea focused when Miranda spoke to her, listening intently, gazing directly into her eyes as if it were just the two of them in a bubble, isolated from the rest of the world. Andrea was gazing directly into her eyes now, taking a sip of her drink. "What are you having?" Miranda asked the younger woman.

"Vodka tonic," Andrea said.

Miranda blinked.

"A little goes a long way with me," Andrea said. "Although not as far as it used to. I work so much sometimes I can't unwind, and so…" she tilted her glass toward Miranda. "Care for one?"

Miranda nodded, but she wasn't certain why; she had no intention of staying and chatting, of all things, though Andrea certainly had that same pull. "I'm surprised to see you here," Miranda said. "I don't recall you being one for…" She gestured at Andrea's dress. "Events that require fashionable attire."

"Work," Andrea smiled as she turned and ordered the drink. Her hair, possibly even longer now, fell down her slender back tousled and loose. She was wearing a vintage Chanel dress, which appeared both fashion forward and understated on her - not dated at all. Miranda found this satisfying; she'd somehow known this about Andrea, that she would do this to a classic dress – bring it to the current decade. It was quite becoming. "I've been following your career," Miranda admitted. "I'm surprised someone hasn't snagged you from The Mirror yet."

"Well," Andrea said, handing Miranda her drink. "About that." Her eyes shone and she smiled widely. "That's why I'm here. I accepted a position at CNN tonight." Her eyes widened and she leaned forward conspiratorially. "And you're the very first to know."

Something stirred in Miranda, some longing kindled at Andrea's almost whispered words. "Congratulations. I knew you would blossom as soon as you escaped my clutches."

Andrea's face went from beaming to dejected in an instant. "Miranda," the girl said, her voice suddenly throaty, her eyes sad. "I'm so sorry-"

The girl's sudden change in expression was upsetting, and it put Miranda on the defensive. "No, no. Don't ruin a perfectly good evening with an apology you don't wish to say and I don't wish to hear."

"I do want to say it. I've been wanting to tell you-"

"Obviously," Miranda cut in. "It's quite apparent you've wanted to apologize. Three years, Andrea?" Her anger this time wasn't conjured.

Andrea flinched. "Do you know how hard it is to find words that mean 'I'm sorry I let you down like everyone else does, but I assure you, I've disappointed myself more than I can ever disappoint you'? And what kind of apology is that anyway?"

"Inadequate and self-centered. You left me in the middle of a very busy and painful week, and you did it spitefully. Are you glad you left? Was the disappointment in yourself worth the dramatic flourish of dropping everything to get away as fast as you could so that you wouldn't turn into me?" The anger rushed away as soon as the words left Miranda's mouth, and she was left with that other thing, that thing that had been eating at her for three years.

Andrea's eyes grew large. "What?" she asked. "Miranda, I didn't leave because of … no, I wasn't – that wasn't… How could you think that? You know I worshipped you. Don't you?" She looked bewildered. "How could you think that?" Her hand ran over her forehead. "If you only knew how I … I model myself on you. How I run up against someone tough that doesn't want to be interviewed and I go after him with the tenacity you would. How I ask myself what you would do if you were in my position on any given day, in any given situation. I can't believe you've thought all this time that I left because I was afraid of becoming you. How ironic. I'm certain that I've come as far as I have by following your work ethic and – and …" She removed her hand, and the sadness on her face was plain. "If I could become a shadow of you… that would be great success to me."

Miranda stared at her. She believed her; she had always believed Andrea, but she had been certain this was why she'd left. Three years she'd been upset by this. "Why did you leave, then?"

Andrea looked away. She drank the last from her glass. Looked at the ground. She would either lie, Miranda surmised, or she would withhold.

"I – I'd rather not say," Andrea finally said, slowly shaking her head. "I'm sorry, Miranda. You deserve the truth. I know it was a shitty thing for me to do, and I'm so sorry. I never wanted to treat you like that; I should have given you a notice. But you don't want to hear the truth, and I can't … I can't tell you."

Miranda sipped her vodka tonic and considered this. What wouldn't she want to hear? Andrea had fallen in love? Gotten pregnant? What bigger disappointment could there be? Had she betrayed her after all with that fellow, that Christian Thompson? Had Andrea been a part of the scheme to oust her from her editorial position at Runway? No, no, of course not; the girl had tried to warn Miranda as soon as she knew. But what would Andrea refuse to tell? "You must."

Panic gripped the young woman's face. "No, I can't."

Miranda had always been good at judging a person's weakness, and Andrea's was her compassion for others. Her compassion for Miranda. This is one reason it had hurt for Andrea to leave her in Paris. Such poor timing. "Andrea," she said quietly. "You said it yourself – I deserve the truth."

Andrea's gaze diverted to somewhere over Miranda's shoulder, and they were interrupted by someone Miranda had met earlier in the evening who was saying his goodbyes. Andrea tried to slip past them, tried to make an escape, but Miranda caught her hand and jerked her back, and continued holding her hand through the goodbyes to the gentleman. "You're trying to leave again," she said to the girl as soon as they were alone.

The look on Andrea's face was priceless. "Yeah, I was. Shit. As wonderful as it is to see you, I'd rather be a coward again and take off than tell you why I left."

Ah. An interesting twist. "Cowardly? You?" Miranda emphasized her words with jerks of the hand that was holding Andrea's. Andrea, whose body kept leaning away from Miranda as if she wanted to run, but whose hand held Miranda's securely. "Again?" She didn't believe for a moment the girl was anything less than a lion. She'd never been afraid of anything; she'd never been afraid of Miranda, had she?

"I just… you really need to trust me on this, Miranda. It's not going to change anything if I tell you why I left. It's not-"

"Yes, it will. I will know. That will be a change."

"Oh." Andrea took a deep breath and glanced at Miranda, and quickly looked away and exhaled. "Yes, you're right. I know you are, but." A shiver ran through her. "Why can't I ever say no to you?"

"Mmm. Why would you want to, Andrea?" It was well-placed seduction, Miranda knew it by the look on the girl's face.

Andrea blinked and swallowed, and looked at her. "Wow," she finally said. "Never thought I'd be on the receiving end of that."

Miranda felt satisfied very briefly. Then the truth of the matter was, of course, staring her in the face. Andrea had said no to her, in effect, hadn't she, when she ditched her in Paris? "You did, though. You said no to me. I confess … it was disappointing." She felt unhappy, remembering. Of all the people to run away from her.

Andrea turned away from her immediately, and tried to pull her hand away, but Miranda held it. Andrea had that look about her, that look of running, and Miranda wanted her answer. When the young woman turned back a moment later, she didn't look at Miranda, but still, Miranda could see her face and the emotions on it. "I never said no to you. I had bad timing and I know I deserted you, which is what you're talking about, I guess, but… You don't know how hard it was for me to leave."

"No, I don't. Why don't you tell me?"

After a moment, Andrea nodded. "It's the right thing to do, isn't it?" she said quietly, as if to herself. She finally looked at Miranda, and her dark eyes seemed injured. "It's a very hard thing for me to say. Especially after all this time."

Miranda looked closely at her. "Have you ever told anyone?" Everyone had a confidante.

Andrea shook her head, no.

It must be a small problem, then, Miranda thought. She squeezed Andrea's hand.

"I can't tell you here in public like this. Maybe we can meet, um… somewhere next week?"

Trying to get away again , Miranda thought. "No," is what she said. Intrigued, she jerked Andrea's hand and they made their way to Miranda's driver, stationed by the car.