Author's notes: This fic is based on the movie The Graduate, though not exactly a crossover. Miranda is still the editor-in-chief at Runway – but not that this is pretty much AU when it comes to a few details: Stephen is the twins' biological father, he and Miranda has the same name, and Stephen is Andy's dad's business partner. As for the rest, well, it's in the fic! According to comments on LJ, this should be totally readable even if you haven't seen The Graduate (if you haven't, prepare to develop a crush on Anne Bancroft!), a very good movie, with some major flaws I try to fix with this story. ;)
The Sachs family was proudly celebrating their daughter Andrea's graduation. To Andy herself, it wasn't such a big deal. She liked books, she had always been a bookworm, so why shouldn't she study? But to her parents, everything should have a purpose beyond pleasure, and they had hinted more and more often that they expected something big from her in the future.
The big party was their way of showing that. It wasn't so much a gesture directed towards her, she thought, as towards all their friends. They wanted to show off their clever daughter and brag about her achievements as if they had been their own. All the guests who enjoyed the barbecue, the drinks, the snacks and the company, they didn't care about her, but they talked enthusiastically about her future, asked about her plans, and shook her hand.
Perhaps she was being unfair. But Andy was getting tired of it already.
"Andy dear", her mother called, "come and say hello to the Priestlys. You remember the Priestlys, don't you?"
Yeah, sure, Andy remembered the Priestlys. She knew almost everything about all her parents' friends, at least as much as she cared to remember, because she had been brought up to be attentive and polite. And the Priestlys were kind of hard to ignore. The husband, Stephen, was her father's colleague; a loud, over-enthusiastic man who had loved to call Andy 'my dear boy' when she was younger and refused to wear girly clothes.
Mrs. Priestly rarely took any notice of Andy when she was little. Andy on the other hand had always admired her. But she had been intimidated by her, too, because of her impressive elegance and her way of staring so coldly at people, especially at anyone who dared to contradict her.
Miranda Priestly was a fashion queen, the editor of Runway magazine. Andy had never known what to say to her except 'hello' and 'goodbye.' The couple had young twin daughters and Andy used to babysit for them sometimes when she was in high school, but it had almost always been Stephen who made the arrangements.
Now Mrs. Priestly was there in the Sachs home to congratulate Andy, together with the rest of the world, or so it seemed. The whole idea was absurd. Andy admired the way the fashion queen's white hair fell softly around her head. She shook her own head at the sudden desire she felt to touch it, to know what it felt like, and hardly listened as the woman said something to her mother.
"Oh yes, we're so proud of our Andy. Proud, proud, proud! She has always studied so hard, ever since she was little. She hasn't even taken the time to be interested in boys, as far as I know. And I would love to know!"
"Mom!" Andy hissed, and couldn't help that she blushed. It was nobody's business, if she was interested in boys or not.
"Is that so?" Mrs. Priestly said, scrutinizing Andy while sipping her drink, "and apparently, I don't think the young lady ever has taken the time to read Runway either… or any other fashion magazine…"
"No", Mrs. Sachs giggled, "I daresay she hasn't… But now that she's graduated I'm sure she'll change her mind about that. She's not a child anymore."
"Hm", Mrs. Priestly agreed, "no, definitely not…"
Andy turned around, even if it was impolite. But wasn't her mother rude, too? What gives parents the right to talk about their children's private lives and make fun of them in front of their guests? As if children never grow up.
And why should she be interested in boys or something as boring as fashion anyway? She did not have time to date, and besides, no one worthy of her attention had showed up. When all her friends were being silly over boys, Andy focused on her writing.
She didn't know how to answer people's questions; she never knew what to say. She didn't want to let anybody down, but she didn't have any plans, none whatsoever, apart from writing. Andy wanted to become a novelist, a poet, or a playwright, or all of that, but that wasn't 'real' and she had stopped talking about it long ago. Becoming something as bohemian as a writer just wasn't good enough, not in their world.
Andy decided to sneak away upstairs and hide in her old room for a while. She couldn't take it anymore; she needed the sound of silence to be able to breathe properly.
She looked at the desk where she had written her first short stories and poems when she was so young that she hadn't even learned to spell yet. That hadn't mattered at all. And her parents and older relatives had cooed over her little writings and called them 'adorable', and sure; they were proud of the prizes she won sometimes for her essays and her articles in the school paper, but the older she got, the more the concerned wrinkles in their foreheads deepened when she talked about what she wanted to be when she grew up, and they said 'Yes, darling, but what are you going to do?' Andy sighed. Now they had their whole house filled with people who had opinions on her future. Law, science, education, even medicine? Or 'plastics', as one old fool suggested. He was some kind of bigwig industrial designer her father knew. Never mind her major was English Literature… Or politics? Or marriage? A boyfriend at least?
Andy frowned. She had had a boyfriend once, two years ago. His name was Nate. He was cute, ambitious, kind, and he seemed to like her. But Andy only went out with him because it felt like the right thing to do. Her friends dated, they always talked about men, sex, relationships, love. So Andy decided to give it a try. And it wasn't Nate's fault; she liked him, she just didn't feel anything for him, and least of all when he tried to touch her.
They kissed, and that was all. It hadn't been disagreeable, but hardly as amazing as she vaguely had expected – was it not supposed to be amazing, according to the books and the movies and the magazines? But it wasn't, and she avoided sleeping with him for so long that he got tired of waiting and broke up with her. Andy only missed his friendship
Andy laughed mockingly at herself the way she supposed that other people would laugh at her if they knew that she was still a virgin. But that, at least, was something that she didn't think anybody was going to ask her about, not even her mother, or so she hoped.
Why did everything have to be so difficult, so hopeless? Why did she have to feel so uninspired, without any sense of direction? If only some of her short stories could get published somewhere. But it didn't happen.
Andy's gloomy musings were suddenly interrupted by Mrs. Priestly who entered the room as if she was totally in the habit of doing it every day. What on earth could she want?
"Oh! I guess this isn't the restroom, is it?"
Oh, wrong room… that explains it, Andy thought, and told Mrs. Priestly that the bathroom was down the hall.
But Mrs. Priestly ignored her explanation as if she hadn't heard. She walked into the room and scrutinized the slanting roof and the striped wallpaper just like she had scrutinized Andy before. Then she said, casually, almost bored, as if she didn't pay attention to her own words:
"How are you, Andrea?"
Later, Andy would realize that Miranda Priestly hated small talk almost more than anything else.
"I'm fine, thanks, Mrs. Priestly… The bathroom's down at the end of the hall."
Again, the older woman ignored Andy's words as she sat down on the small couch and lit a cigarette, asking if there was an ashtray in the room.
Most certainly not! Andy wanted to say, but instead she just mumbled something incoherently. Why was there a smoking woman in her bedroom? She looked so out of place there… More importantly, why did her being there make Andy so nervous? Her palms were sweaty, and her voice was slightly shaking.
Just to do something, and to avoid getting ash on her carpet, Andy moved the wastebasket closer to the older woman, who looked at the thing as if she had wanted a gold and diamond plate instead.
She exhaled, and the gray smoke lingered in front of her face. Andy wanted to open the window but she couldn't move.
"Is it a boy or a girl?"
"Is what a boy or a girl?" Andy didn't understand the question.
Miranda stopped looking at whatever it was that she had been looking at and turned her head to look straight at Andy, and for the first time, her voice sounded a little friendlier.
"Whatever is upsetting you?"
"Oh no… nothing", Andy said quickly, "I'm just sort of disturbed about things."
"That's right", Andy said with a nervous little laugh, knowing that Miranda must think that she sounded really stupid. But she didn't feel like telling this woman how she felt about this party and the future the party was meant to be celebrating.
"Well…" Miranda sighed, threw her cigarette in the wastebasket and stood up. "Congratulations."
"Thank you", Andy mumbled. Miranda walked out of the room without looking at her. Andy hurried to try to find the cigarette and make sure she put it out properly.
She found it. Suddenly footsteps were heard again, and Miranda swept back in with her coat over her arm.
"Oh, Andrea. Would you take me home?"
"But don't you have a driver?"
Miranda sighed impatiently at Andy's unwillingness to assist.
"I do, but as Stephen wanted to drive for himself tonight he gave Roy the night off. And yes, I already asked my husband to take me home and he would rather stay. Now, will you drive me home, Andrea?"
Andy tried to give her the keys to her new car, the one her parents had given to her as a graduation gift, but the older woman just looked at her.
How could anyone argue with a woman with such a commanding stare?
When they finally arrived to the Priestly townhouse after a drive in complete silence, something Andy was grateful for, she expected Miranda to find her way in for herself, but Miranda refused to be dropped off in such a manner and demanded that Andy follow her inside until she turned the lights on.
"But aren't the twins at home?"
"No, they're at a friend's house. And even if they had been here, they would have been asleep because it's late. Are you coming?"
Andy got out of the car and hurried to the other side of it to open the door for Miranda. She had never done that for anyone before, but with Miranda, it seemed not only appropriate, but required.
"Walk ahead of me to the porch", Miranda said, "The house is dark."
Andy stared at her for a second but did as she was told. It seemed easier that way.
The Priestlys had a large bar in the living room with a black marble counter, shiny and dark. Miranda got in behind it, fixed Andy with her incredible eyes, and said:
"What do you drink? Bourbon?"
The words had the shape of a question, but not the sound of it. That was odd. Andy tried to say no, but Miranda didn't want to be left alone. Why would Miranda want her company inside? But she seemed to be wanting just that, as odd as that seemed. Was Miranda really feeling that lonely? Andy accepted a drink and sat down to wait for Stephen to get there.
Normally, Andy didn't drink much. Not that she minded a glass of wine for dinner, but she believed that too much alcohol made people stupid, and she preferred to keep her head clear. This time, however, she accepted the heavy glass with its golden brown liquid because she found no reason to refuse.
Why does she want to drink with me? Andy asked herself, and sipped nervously at the drink. She didn't really like it, and she was unsure if she liked those sparkling blue eyes that were fixed so intensely upon her either.
Miranda put on some music, seated herself on a white chair in front of the counter, and told Andy that she was going to ask her a question.
"What do you think of me?"
She sounded like a professor asking a question in the lecture hall, but her eyes had a peculiar fire in them.
Andy tried not to gulp.
"What do you mean?"
"You've known me nearly all your life." Miranda sounded like she hated to state the obvious. "You must have formed some opinion."
"Well, I always thought you were a… very nice person."
Andy wondered if that was the right thing to say. Miranda didn't seem to think so.
"Did you know that I'm a workaholic?" she asked. "Did you know that?"
Of course Andy knew that. Everybody knew. Miranda Priestly was a perfectionist, dedicated to her work with body and soul, and people called her 'The Dragon Lady', amongst many other things.
But Andy didn't feel comfortable discussing that with her, and she tried to excuse herself. After all, there was a party on her behalf going on in her home.
"Sit down, Andrea."
"I'm sure Mr. Priestly will be here any minute now…"
"No." Miranda cut her off. "My husband should be gone for several hours."
Miranda was sitting there with her back against the counter. She was silent, and yet she looked like she wanted something and that Andy should know what it was.
What does a woman mean when she looks at you like that? Andy looked right back at her, took her in like never before, not quite like that, and then suddenly she couldn't look at her anymore. She blushed slightly and to her own embarrassment she found herself thinking that if this had been a scene in a movie it would have been when the characters starts having hot sex on the floor – and now why the hell was she thinking something like that? What did she know about having hot sex on the floor, or anywhere at all for that matter . Why would she get it into her head that Miranda was having those kind of intentions towards her? What exactly were her intentions anyway?
She blurted out, "Oh, no. You didn't think… that I'd do something like that?"
"Like what?" For the first time, Miranda seemed to be a little amused, but to Andy it suddenly all seemed to make sense.
The woman was a workaholic. The rumour had it that she was very… cold, and that her personal life was as unsuccessful as she was successful in the business world… And there they were, drinking, alone, with music on, for no real reason. And when she said she expected Stephen to stay out for hours she had made it sound like that was the norm, and perhaps this was Miranda Priestly's way of dealing with her loneliness?
"Mrs. Priestly, you're trying to seduce me!"
The white-haired woman laughed. Andy thought that maybe she was wrong. Yes, probably.
Andy bowed her head.
"Please forgive me for what I just said."
Andy couldn't bring herself to look at the older woman and her smirk.
"It's all right."
"It's not all right, it's…"
"Sit down", Miranda ordered, but Andy didn't. She began pacing around the room, trying to think of something to say. She was sweating. What had she said? And why?
"Please forgive me for what I just said. I'm just mixed up. I don't think of you that way."
"Forget it", Miranda said as she moved closer to Andy who moved backwards until her knees met a chair that she then sank into. "Forget about it and finish your drink."
Andy took one more sip of her drink. A small one. She was driving, had Miranda forgotten about that?
"Elaine's your age", the older woman said, "do you want to see a picture of her?"
"Elaine?" For a moment she couldn't remember who that was. "Oh, that's right… you have another daughter."
"Yes, from my first marriage. She grew up with her father. You have met her, haven't you?"
Andy tried to remember as she nodded insecurely. There was that girl she played with one summer, several years ago, when the twins were very small and Andy hadn't begun babysitting yet.
"She sent me a picture last Christmas", Miranda said, "Would you like to see it?"
"Um", Andy said, "yes, very much."
Finally, she thought, the woman is behaving almost like a normal person.
She followed the other woman upstairs and Miranda took the picture out of a drawer and showed it to her. Andy looked politely at the young woman and found it a little odd that Miranda didn't have it framed.
"She's, um, an attractive girl. I don't remember her having brown eyes. I thought she was blue-eyed like you."
"Andrea… Will you come over here a minute."
Again, it was not a question.
Andrea walked over to the woman at the other side of the bed and looked at it a little nervously. Did Miranda make love to her husband in that bed? Or was that exactly what she was not doing?
Andy blushed. She didn't want to know, she didn't want to think like that – she couldn't understand what was wrong with her all of a sudden.
"Unzip my dress", Miranda said and turned around. "I'm going to bed."
"Okay. Um, good night!" Andy turned around too and tried to leave, but the sound of Miranda's voice froze her step.
"Unzip my dress."
Something told Andy that she had to do it, or she would quite possibly meet her death. And even if she did it, she would die. What ever she did, she was doomed. She was going to touch this woman even if it was the last thing she was ever going to do.
"You're not still thinking that I'm trying to seduce you? Come on, it's hard for me to reach."
I'm exaggerating, she told herself. Miranda just needs help because she's alone here. She has assistants, normally, and her husband or children at home…
She took a step forward and as she took hold of the zipper, she nudged Miranda's skin at the back of her neck, just below her hair. She tried not to touch her as she pulled the zipper down, careful not to cause any damage to the designer dress, and exposed Miranda's pale, smooth skin.
Then she turned away again as soon as she could.
"What are you so afraid of?"
This time it was a question.
"Then why do you keep running away?"
The mere sound of the voice itself seemed to pull Andy over. She turned back to face the other woman again, and she couldn't help but to gasp a little.
Miranda was taking off her dress. She was standing there in lingerie that covered her like a second skin, and it was impossible not to look at the beautifully shaped breasts, because they seemed to be made to be looked at.
Oh, so beautiful. Why had she never known before how beautiful Miranda Priestly was? Well, of course she had known, but not really… known.
"You're going to bed", Andy said, "I don't think I should be up here."
"Haven't you seen anybody in a slip before?"
Andy gulped. What did those blue eyes want with her?
"Of course I have, but, if your husband comes home he might get the wrong idea."
"Andrea, I'm a woman twice as old as you are." Miranda moved closer. "Don't you think he trusts us together?"
"Of course, but… please, Mrs. Priestly…"
"Do you want me to seduce you? Is that what you're trying to tell me?"
What if I say yes? Andy thought, and there was a flood of wetness between her legs.
"Um, I'm going home now…"
But Andy didn't have time to go before Miranda walked right past her, closed the door and placed herself in front of it.
"Oh god, let me out," Andy whispered.
"Don't be nervous."
Miranda paused, and said:
"Andrea, I want you to know that I'm available to you."
"Mrs. Priestly, what do you mean by that?"
"Oh, please", the white-haired woman sighed impatiently, "call me Miranda, 'Mrs. Priestly' is so dull."
"Yes. But that's irrelevant. You don't have a boyfriend, do you? You're not seeing anyone?"
Andy shook her head slowly. This conversation was beyond anything she ever could have imagined.
Still placed between Andy and the door – as if Andy would have the strength to make a move anyway, held capture as she was by Miranda's intense eyes – Miranda kept on talking.
"Tell me, did you have a girlfriend at college? No, I suspected as much. Your mother seems to think that you don't have time to be interested in dating. I think that you simply aren't interested in men, am I right?"
I'm not? Andy thought to herself, how can she know? It's true that she's the most attractive person I've ever met, but does that mean…
She looked at Miranda's face for answers. She looked, quickly, at the body between her and the door, and she saw a smirk on Miranda's face when she looked at it again.
"I, um… why…" she stuttered, and with one part of her mind, she wanted to shout 'yes, please. Do with me whatever you want!', but the other part of her was too confused, too scared, and totally at loss for what to do. Surely Miranda was just mocking her because she couldn't help but notice how much Andy feared and admired her?
How much Andy wanted her?
But that thought seemed too outrageous, too much to handle, and she walked up to the door and pushed Miranda aside. She could do this, because Miranda did not try to resist, she just let it happen, and Andy ran down the stairs and out to her waiting car.
"Andy, dear", said Mrs. Sachs, "listen to this. How would you like to work for Miranda Priestly over the summer?"
Andy lowered the newspaper with which she had been covering her face, and showed her mother the dark rings under her eyes.
"For Heaven's sake, child, did you stay up all night again? Just because it's summer doesn't mean that you should turn night into day. You're not a little kid anymore."
Andy took a mouthful of coffee.
"What was that about, uh, Miranda Priestly?"
"Oh, yes. Stephen called last night. I would have let you take the call if I had known you were awake. He said that Miranda is in need of a second assistant, and he said that he had suggested you, totally out of the blue, and she had said 'okay, call Andrea Sachs for me.' I think it's just great, don't you? You get to work at a magazine, and you need work experience…"
"But…" Andy felt lost for words. "But Runway is a fashion magazine, mom. I don't even read it."
"I know that it's not really your thing, but it's a magazine at least. It could be the first step towards a real job as a journalist…"
"Who says", Andy interrupted, "that I want to be a journalist?"
"Now what?" Her father entered the kitchen just in time to hear her comment. "What did I miss? I thought that you wanted to be a writer."
"Yes – I want to write novels, you know that! I guess I could write for a magazine, like book reviews and things like that, but being a journalist is just not… and to write about fashion, seriously, mom?"
"But I thought you'd be happy." Andy's mother sounded disappointed. "And as far as I understand, you wouldn't really get to do much writing as Miranda's assistant anyway. She wouldn't expect you to know a lot, she just needs an assistant. And from what I've heard she's very picky, too, so you should consider it an honour…"
"Great," Andy sighed. "All right, then. I… I'm not thrilled, but I guess I'll do it…"
"Yes, you should do it", her father said, "it's okay for you to drift around for a while and enjoy your summer, but you need to start thinking about your future. What else were those years in college for? Miranda's magazine could be a first step."
"Yeah, that's what mom said…"
What was the woman thinking, first propositioning her like that, and then offering her a job? Andy was confused, but at the same time curious. Every time she thought about Miranda Priestly she blushed and then she'd think that she never wanted to have to face her again. But at the same time she did want to see her again and she would not run away this time.
Yes, it was confusing. She didn't dare to believe anything other than that the older woman had made fun of her. But why would she do that? Miranda Priestly didn't strike her as the joking sort… And yet she had seemed amused by Andy's confusion and awkwardness, and that look in her eyes seemed to imply that she meant serious business.
And as if that wasn't enough, Andy had felt a part of her wanting to touch the older woman, to find out what it felt like to be kissed by her, and she felt a hot throbbing between her legs when she drove home that night. She had taken care of that, later that night...
Had Miranda Priestly's deep, blue eyes seen something in her that she hadn't been aware of herself? 'Tell me, did you have a girlfriend at college? No, I suspected as much. Your mother seems to think that you don't have time to be interested in dating. I think that you simply aren't interested in men, am I right?'
Right there and then, she had denied it, but what if she had been lying, both to herself and to Miranda? What if she really was a lesbian?
But if I were, she told herself, I would have known… On the other hand; she wasn't interested in men – as daydreams perhaps, of a Mr. Right one day, and those thoughts could get pretty heated too… but in real life, no.
She was a failure, then, because despite all her academic achievements, she had failed to find love, and according to some people, love was all that mattered in the world. Andy wouldn't know. All she knew was that she felt lonely sometimes, and then she wondered if she was ever going to find someone whom she truly wanted to be with.
That seemed highly unlikely. If Nate hadn't been good enough for her, then she really was too picky. At least that was what her friend Lily said. Andy supposed that it was true, but what could she do? She was not ready to lower her standards just because she might want some company, at least not yet. Her fantasies when she masturbated, though she didn't do it so very often, were vague and blurry. She only knew that she wanted something, some day, but not what or who.
But now? If Miranda Priestly had that effect on her… She was going to be honest with herself. Sleeping was nearly impossible since that night, because just thinking about Miranda made Andy wet and aching with need. She was hesitant to indulge that need; it seemed wrong. Miranda was married, after all. Regardless, if Miranda had that effect on her, maybe it was a sign? Maybe she had just been blind and simply needed someone to open her eyes?
So Andy decided to take the job offer and start working at Runway.