Written for the Halloween comment fic-a-thon at the LJ community.
PROMPT: Miranda/Andy, Miranda uses Halloween as an excuse to disguise herself and gather intel at the Runway party.
My two beta readers, Susi and Jiggles, without you I wouldn't be able to pull this off so polished! Thank you so much for all your help! Lots of hearts your way! :D
Miranda sluggishly pushes through the crowd, as if the party were a marshland, and her legs were sinking knee-deep into mud. She's hot, and a thin layer of sweat has already gathered on her upper lip. People do not step out of her way; their chatter does not cease, and it's surreal, but oddly comforting. She moves unseen past kings and wizards, their muffled voices flying by like swarms of insects, and not one of her subjects, often so fearful of her presence, seems to be aware that she is here.
Beneath a crown of golden laurels, she finds a red-faced Irv Ravitz leering after the young waitress who has just topped off his champagne. His toga hangs too low, revealing that what he lacks in height, he makes up for in body hair. Miranda crinkles her nose and feels instantly grateful for her disguise. It took a lot of goodwill to bend to her twins' wishes, but now she is glad that she did not opt for a classic, predictable costume that would force her to shake hands and exchange air kisses with this vertically challenged Roman emperor.
Completely oblivious to her presence, Irv resumes his conversation with one of the board members impersonating a surgeon.
"And see, what did I tell you?" He chuckles before taking a swig from his glass. "The old bitch isn't going to show up."
The group of men around him collectively murmur their agreement, and Miranda feels her fingers curl into fists when Irv continues.
"The budget cuts left her bleeding," he laughs again, and Miranda thinks he should have dressed as Rumpelstiltskin instead of Julius Caesar. "I put my foot down, and she didn't like it, so now she's off sulking in a corner somewhere, licking her wounds."
The men laugh and Irv holds up his drink in a salute. "To an evening free from the Dragon Lady!"
Miranda has heard enough, and she carefully moves through the crowd once more. Her steps are quiet, not the usual clacking of four-inch heels that has her employees scrambling with ample warning of her approach. A few times she nearly stumbles, but nobody pays any attention, too wrapped up in their unrestrained gossip. There were a few raised eyebrows and disapproving glares earlier. However, finding the queen of fashion in such a pedestrian outfit isn't something her staff would readily believe.
An almost perfect copy of Nefertiti gently snakes past Miranda with two drinks in hand and walks up to Cleopatra.
"Here. Calm down and have some champagne. This is a party, you need to relax," the exotic beauty tells Emily.
"How can I bloody relax when I have no idea where Miranda is?" Cleopatra hisses while looking around. She gazes right past Miranda, fooled by the ridiculousness of the costume.
"Emily, you know she doesn't like social gatherings. Maybe she's decided to stay at home. And besides, if she shows up after all, Supergirl will find her."
Cleopatra's eye roll is quite dramatic.
"Fine." She snatches a champagne flute from her friend and pouts. "I'll let Andrea deal with it."
"Good," the Nefertiti smiles and pulls Emily by the elbow. "Now let's go dance!"
Miranda snorts softly as she watches her first assistant disappear somewhere on the dance floor. All in all it seems like a successful company Halloween celebration, and it hurts a little when she considers that her perceived absence may be contributing to the good mood everyone is in. Usually she prefers the distance her demeanour and authority create. Not comfortable with pointless, inflated interactions, she often meticulously plans her appearances at such events, keeping them brief and to the point. She doesn't want to admit it, but tonight it bothers her that nobody seems to miss her.
Frustrated with her decision to walk among her staff incognito instead of simply donning her usual fake smile for ten minutes and going home early, Miranda decides to leave. The prospect of having to cut through the crowd again to make it to the elevator doesn't thrill her. But when she turns to stake out strategic routes through the masses she sees Andrea stumbling through the entrance.
The colours of her costume are almost painful, but Miranda doesn't have much time to scowl. As soon as she looks in Miranda's direction, Andrea freezes. They stand on opposite sides of the room, the busy crowd writhing between them like an unbridgeable wild river, and yet it seems as if Andrea is looking directly at her. Not the bulky, uncharacteristic costume, but her. It causes Miranda's heart to pound and drown out the already muted music. Sweat pearls at the back of her neck and rolls down her spine where it leaves wet tracks that cause chills despite the heat.
She knows it's me.
Andy stops, and she feels the Lycra of her cape settle against her back as her body stills. Miranda is standing in the corner of the room, but nobody else seems to notice the queen of fashion. A group of models, made-up as African wildlife, step around her, annoyed by the obstruction, and the general atmosphere of the room lacks the tightness that usually accompanies Miranda's presence. And yet there she is, and although Andy cannot see her face, she knows Miranda is looking at her.
Maybe the costume throws people off?
Granted, the big, furry shape stands out in a crowd of cowards who only chose generic, flattering outfits, but Andy knew right away. As she stares back at Miranda, she feels like everything around her is part of a time lapse photograph. Only the two of them stand clearly defined amongst the blur of an oblivious crowd.
Slowly, as if not to disturb the surface of a peaceful lake, Andy raises a hand and waves. She isn't sure what she expected, but when Miranda turns around and walks away, Andy isn't surprised. Ignoring the glares and occasional smiles at her choice of costume, she makes her way through the throng of party guests and follows Miranda out onto a balcony.
They are alone outside, and a biting wind that grips her ponytail and whips around her bare legs quickly helps Andy understand why. It is the last night of October, and Manhattan lies below them in a layer of spooky mist. She tries to fight the shivers as she steps next to Miranda
"Hi," she says lamely, and of course Miranda doesn't reply, but simply stares out into the night skyline.
Commenting may seem suicidal, but Andy is delighted by Miranda's costume, so she cannot stop herself.
"So. A panda." She grips the railing tightly and risks a sideways glance.
For a moment the fluffy bear doesn't move, but then Miranda turns and cocks her head.
Her voice is muffled, but Andy can hear the teasing in it. She smiles and looks back out over the city.
"Someone told me once that I can do anything."
Panda Miranda snorts and looks out into the night again.
"Is that so?"
It really is too cold to be out on the balcony of a penthouse in nothing but a synthetic mini skirt and a skin-tight top, and Andy has the urge to wrap her cape around herself to keep warm.
"Was it the twins' idea?" She asks, managing to keep the clatter of her teeth to a minimum.
"Hmm," Panda Miranda answers.
They stand in silence for a while, and although there is a warmth in the pit of her belly, Andy can no longer hide her shivers. She pulls at the corners of her cape and snuggles into it.
"You know... it's strange," Miranda suddenly says. "No one has a clue." She looks at her again, and Andy is struck by the surrealism of staring at this talking panda head and feeling such overwhelming affection for the woman behind it.
"But you... You knew right away."
"Of course," Andy manages to say. The big panda face regards her, as if waiting for further elaboration, so Andy points to her eyes and leans closer. "X-ray vision."
Miranda Panda begins to shake, but before Andy has time to worry, she is startled by a beautiful, melodious laugh. It's music to Andy's ears.
"Oh, Andrea." A fluffy, black paw grabs her shoulder as its owner tries to calm herself. "You are the most ridiculous creature I have ever known."
The words cause her heart to flutter like hummingbirds on a warm summer morning, and the elation makes Andy feel bold.
"Says the Dragon Lady dressed in a panda suit."
Even through the thick fabric she can feel Miranda stiffen, and the wonderful laughter stops. Before Miranda can pull back her hand, though, Andy quickly covers it with her own, curling her fingers into the soft, fake fur. She places her other hand against the panda's cheek and stares directly through the net below its snout into Miranda's eyes.
"I love pandas, but not as much as I love dragons," Andy whispers with a shiver, and she hopes she didn't ruin anything by being too cheeky.
Miranda is quiet for a while, but doesn't remove her hand. They gaze at each other, and Andy feels more than just the icy night air licking through her veins. She is trembling.
"You're cold," Miranda says thoughtfully. "Not much of a super hero."
Andy can't stop herself, and she leans forward, reaching around the wide, furry torso. The crush that has been brewing in Andy's heart for the past few months, bursts and drapes itself all over her skin when she realises that Miranda is hugging her back. She feels warm and dangerously happy.
They remain like that for a while. The wind toys with Andy's hair, but big, fluffy arms are keeping her warm. After what seems way too short a moment, Miranda loosens her grip.
"Andrea. Call Roy."
Reluctant to move, Andy merely nods into the soft costume and tightens her hold.
"I would like to talk to you, but not here. And not dressed... like this," Miranda tries again.
This time, Andy listens, and she pulls her cell phone from her belt to call Miranda's driver. When she is done, a furry paw points at her panda phone charm.
"And I knew that you liked pandas."
"Oh." Andy feels herself blush.
"Yes. Well, at least your super hero brain seems to be in working order," Miranda Panda mumbles with mirth. She takes Andy by the arm and leads her back through the ignorant crowd.