A/N: I do not own DWP, Miranda or Andy and am making no money off of this work. Written for the LJ DWP site's "2nd Poke the Dragon Comment Fic-A-Thon"; thank you heartsassassin for the great prompt; I love architecture and meteorology and this prompt really allowed me to get me geek on with both.
Heartsassassin's prompt: "Caught in a Hurricane. I'm envisioning one of them freaks out...which one I don't mind, but a bit of nurturing never goes astray, and if you get some lovin' in there well, that must mean you're awesome."
A/N2: I've been away from this story for quite awhile now but am adding two chapters and have the rest of it blocked out so it will be finished. Also, I've made edits throughout the entire document as there were quite a few scenes that needed tweaking or phrasing that could have been better; there's still so much more I could have done but I had to draw the line somewhere otherwise I'd never get through it! Basically it means though that all mistakes are mine since I've not had a beta look at the revision nor the new chapters.
A/N3: Finally, thank you to everyone who's been so patient and for those who've offered encouragement; I may not have responded to everyone personally but it's because of you all that I'm coming back to this!
It was a brilliant idea, combining cutting edge architecture, the harsh lash of Mother Nature and couture. A curving roofline of pale, nearly white, plastic-skinned cement, contrasted upon an ominous, roiling, dark gray wall of clouds. Designed to allow damaging winds and waters to flow harmlessly around it while the conventional squares comprised of shingles, wood and cinderblock were obliterated, the roof became instead an artful device, its gentle slope draped by brightly colored thin figures lounging in seemingly random patterns.
It was a good thing that none of the models had a fear of heights, that would have been unfortunate, but really there was no danger; ropes, later to be wiped away by the meticulous manipulation of a skilled Photoshop editor, tethered the barefoot tabula rasas allowing the photographer, tucked safely in the bucket of a rented cherry picker, to bring to life the vision of one woman.
Miranda Priestly, Editor in Chief of Runway, the premier fashion magazine in all of the world, sat languidly upon a director's chair, the picture of absolute calm while all around her buzzed a flurry of activity. She was well pleased with the progress made; the shoot nearly complete and near perfection. Except the sky, Miranda directed her sharp gaze away from the earthbound constructs and inspected the spectacle churning at a slow pace along the coast, a safe enough distance to cause no more than a minor breeze as it aimed towards land farther south and east. That sky was awesome in its beauty, it was perfection and she granted free rein to her creative mind allowing it to wander amidst the magnificent dichotomy so terrible in its potential for utter destruction.
She shook herself free of the hypnotic sight as a loose leaf of paper from her planning folder slapped into her, a gust of wind flipping open its cover and scattering the contents like confetti as one of her staff jerkily attempted to follow and scoop them back. She looked quickly towards the photographer, she was still shooting but the truck's crew had shifted from their disinterested slouches into a state of agitation not unlike ants whose home was abruptly disturbed.
Miranda's eyes narrowed as one of the crew flashed a signal to the photographer who waved him off with a gesture universally recognized as quite rude. It was at that moment that her first assistant Andréa made an appearance at her side and she turned, skewering her with the look that sent all individuals from copy editors to a select CEO into a near cowered state. All except of course for the dark haired beauty, hair newly loosed from a professional and practical bun and freely caught by the ever increasing "breeze", who smirked as the intended intimidation gusted by her not unlike the wind, Miranda mused, around that supposedly hurricane-proof dwelling before them.
Miranda tried to pinpoint when that change had occurred; three or four months after Paris perhaps? That had been five months before, when Emily, then deemed suitably ready for the next step in her professional development, was moved into the creative department to shadow Nigel.
"Miranda, the site foreman says that the wind has increased to the point just below safety for use of the truck and for those on the roof."
"Did Magda get all of the shots needed?"
Andréa placed a laptop onto the table next to Miranda's chair and turned it towards her after several mouse clicks. "This is the first memory card and she has nearly completed the second…" Andy let her voice trail off and swiped at one of the longer strands of hair that irritated her as it slapped gently across her face, mildly aware, through her intense and nearly inappropriate focus on the enchantingly beautiful woman before her, that she was going to need to pull it back into a pony tail if the wind continued.
Andy shifted slightly from her barefoot stance in the sand; she'd given up on her shoes after the first day of this shoot and these photos, the culmination of three days of intense logistical planning, would mean the difference between a well-deserved feeling of accomplishment and abject despair for all involved.
She watched Miranda with unfettered fascination as the wind all but destroyed the carefully styled signature hair knowing that at this moment in time, when the woman was completely absorbed in the images, that there would be no awareness of her scrutiny. Andy waited patiently, anticipation heavy as she took in the signs. Clear, intelligent eyes normally so blue, now reflected more of the grayness of the sky over the Gulf of Mexico as they flitted across the entire page of thumbnails taking first a measure of the whole. She absorbed the minor shifts in Miranda's facial muscles, the slight action of her tongue…Oh goddess, her tongue… Andy's hand not occupied with pushing her curls back formed a tightly held fist as a wave of very unprofessional tingling heat cascaded from her heart to her belly and then lower.
Miranda's tongue lightly pushed forward into her lower lip, slightly peeking outwards and then retreating, just one of the complicated steps in an unconscious dance of concentration when caught deeply within a creative trance.
What Andréa didn't realize was that it had been some months since that trance had included within it the details of her observation.
The observer and the, not so unaware, observed continued their unique choreography which absorbed a minute from the hour and then three as the expanse of thumbnails was reduced in number to a dozen, then half that as images were deleted; leaving those precious few deemed worthy of the next step in assessment. It was here that Andy saw it; that spark in Miranda's eye that caused her heart to leap with joy. Yes! The shoot was a success, everyone involved would live to work another day but, more importantly to Andy, Miranda was happy.
It was in moments just like this that Andy had to forcibly restrain herself; the clench of her fist tightened until her knuckles were nearly white as the urge to breach the bubble of Miranda's personal space and trace her fingers around those delicate lines of satisfaction around her riveting eyes was overwhelming. With a harsh reprimand of, Get a grip Andy! she forced her feet to step away several paces as she turned her focus back towards the shoot.
It was getting harder and harder to be around Miranda and the awareness of the reality of her predicament flooded her heart with a black cloud of heaviness as she knew that her days as Miranda's assistant were dwindling. She would need to leave soon because her ability to fight the overwhelming tide of her desire was no longer a skillset she possessed and she had to go before she was fired for doing something completely inappropriate.
Miranda felt the moment that Andréa turned away, the loss of her assistant's focus upon her like a blanket of freezing air rushing down a chimney flue chasing after a long extinguished fire. She buried her shiver and tapped her lip as she nodded at the three images enlarged before her on the seventeen inch monitor; if nothing of use was on that second memory card it would not matter as she had these. It was so rare when a shoot managed to capture the vision of what she held in her mind's eye and her sense of elation blossomed into a full blown smile.
Andy had turned back to inform Miranda that the photographer had finished but the words died on her lips as the singular beauty of this moment slammed into her with the observation of that oh so elusive expression of joy gracing her boss's face.
Miranda felt every long dead nerve ending south of her brain clench at Andréa's vulnerable and oh so sensual expression but firmed her expression, it was getting increasingly difficult to pretend that her assistant was merely an assistant and that she was unaware that her assistant saw her as more than just her boss. They'd been dancing around one another for months, culminating in moments like this when the undisguised longing that Andréa could no longer seem to hide crackled the air between them. But Miranda didn't have a place for these feelings so it was infinitely less complicated if things would remain as they were; Andréa was the best assistant she had ever had and she didn't want to lose that for an affair that would end once Andréa had gotten it out of her system.
"Miranda…" The near silent expulsion of air was ripped from her lips as an unusually strong gust pushed her forward a step until she regained her balance, snapping the tableau between them.
Andréa's stumble jarred Miranda away from their hopefully unobserved-by-others tableau and she objectively took in her surroundings for perhaps the first time in hours. The weather had deteriorated considerably and a flicker of alarm niggled at her as she realized the wind had shifted direction.
She clicked on the internet icon and refreshed the National Hurricane Center website. Andréa flinched slightly at the look on Miranda's face.
"Andréa get me William."
Andy had made it her life's work to catalogue and interpret every inflection, every tonal change in one of Miranda's most effective tools, her voice, but this particular sharp edged demand was awash in something never before heard, fear?, and her disbelief in the conclusion kept her rooted in the sand.
Jolted by both the incredulity of the correctness of her assessment and by the urgent, strident tone, Andy hurried over to the site foreman, Bill, a former stuntman now owner of his own consulting company, whose worried eyes met her wordless request as he nodded once and headed over to Miranda.
Andy felt a hand on her forearm and she turned to look as both Nigel and Serena flanked her.
"Six, what's going on?"
Andy allowed a small smile at his continued insistence upon using that ridiculous nickname, despite her current size four, as she shook her head, "I'm not entirely sure but I think something's changed with this storm…" They all looked up at the sky overhead and then as practically one, back out to the open expanse of water.
Serena nodded as her focus on the scene softened her voice and thickened her accent, "Yes, you are right, I've seen this before… this is no good."
Fantastic. Andy mentally muttered then straightened up and ordered, "Okay, let's get everything done in half the time it would usually take. Serena, all of your setup has been put away right?" She knew that the Brazilian-born head of the hair and make-up department was in the habit towards the end of a shoot of breaking her stations down, save for one emergency touch-up kit; remaining prepared even as she efficiently ensured an orderly departure. At her nod she continued, "Help get the models changed and on the bus; all of the couture packed away and be ready to move in 15 minutes."
Serena gave Andy a reassuring smile and then trotted over to the clutch of young women, all of whom were successfully returned to firm ground.
"I know, I've got nearly everything in my car; just need to grab the rest of Serena's luggage from the house and I can be ready to go in ten."
Andy's attention shifted back towards Miranda and the tall, rugged consultant as he grimly turned and strode back to his team; barking into his walkie-talkie phone. Already the rigging was coming down and the lack of care they were using as they gathered the ropes and other gear added to her growing unease. She moved over to the photographer, taking the second memory card then back to the now forgotten laptop, glancing at the typewritten script of the newest hurricane warnings with a slight gasp before she clicked over to the folders menu and began transferring everything from both cards onto both the computer hard drive and a flash drive she pulled from her pocket. For extra measure she began an upload to the ftp site and left it to run while she took the cards and handed them back to the photographer and then the flash drives to Nigel.
Miranda marveled at both Andréa's ability to interpret the next steps needed without direction and the efficiency with which she insured both a timely exit from this island and the security of their work. The disquiet within her caused by the sudden directional change of the hurricane was soothed somewhat by awareness that somehow Andréa would make it all right. No longer needed to oversee the exodus she headed back to the marvel of engineering that had been her and her inner circle's home for the past few days to begin packing.
A half hour later everyone but Andy and Miranda had left the site, their caravan traveling the twenty minute trek from their end of the island to the only bridge that connected to the mainland; a bridge that was four miles long and low to the water. Andy was just zipping up her suitcase when a shrill beeping ripped through the silence of the beach house. She left her bag and descended the stairs to investigate and found that it originated from a corner just off the kitchen that housed an array of what appeared to be communications equipment.
"What is that horrible noise?" Miranda emerged from what had been her bedroom with a rolling suitcase in tow as she glared in Andréa's direction careful not to reveal both her alarm or slight amusement with the frantic manner that her assistant was pawing through the items cluttering the nook in her search for the culprit.
Andy winced as she searched amongst the different devices sitting on the inset counter; both at the continued annoying alarm and at Miranda's tone.
"I'm not sure; I'm trying to figure out which one right now." Another five seconds passed until one flashing light that pulsed with the rhythm of the alarm revealed itself and she grabbed, what she assumed was a weather radio and searched for the button that would shut it off. After several tries the alarm ceased but was replaced by the stilted cadence of a computer generated voice.
"…Hurricane Layla, a high Category Four on the Saffir-Simpson scale with sustained winds of 151 mph has shifted direction to the North/Northwest with an increased forward motion of 28 mph and is located 330 miles south southeast of Pensacola, Florida. Areas in the path of this storm stretch east from Biloxi, Mississippi to Crawfordville, Florida and include the cities of Pensacola, Destin, Panama City and all of St. George Island. Mandatory evacuations are in effect for all islands along nearly the entire panhandle. Please listen to NOAA weather radio for further updates on this large, quickly moving and dangerous storm…"
Andy switched the radio off and directed worried eyes towards her boss. "Jesus, we're right in the middle of all of this." They were on St. George Island and unfortunately at one of the furthest points from the only way off the island.
"Yes, but not for long. Surely we'll have plenty of time to get to the mainland."
Andy didn't wait for instructions and was grabbing the car keys as she headed for the door throwing over her shoulder, "I'm going to go get the car and bring it to the elevator entrance in the garage." She had left the rented Toyota Land Cruiser parked closer to Miranda's work station in case she had needed to run a last minute errand during the shoot.
Miranda returned to her room and rolled two large suitcases and a carry-on bag over to the elevator. The elevator, what would seem a ridiculous luxury, was actually a necessity as the three story house stood on composite pylons reinforced with fiberglass rebar, the first floor of living space elevated twenty-two feet above the sandy dunes. There were two staircases that radiated from either side of the long porch that followed the curvature of the house; fine for heading to the beach with only a light hamper of food and a blanket but not for moving anything substantial. The porch wrapped a third of the way around the house and provided spectacular views of the sugar-white beach and the normally placid gulf.
It took only moments before the doors parted to reveal a sand strewn concrete floor and rather than move her bags from the protected confines of the metal car where surely sand would be driven into every miniscule crevasse she allowed the door to close behind her as she waited for Andréa to return with the car.
Moving towards the open garage door her gaze was once again captured by the awesomeness of the surrounding landscape; the wind was steady now, she wasn't sure how fast exactly but strong enough to bend lighter trees and bushes away from their centers. A particularly nasty gust picked up a bucket that had been sitting beside the base of the stairs closest to her and threw it noisily into her enclosed space startling her and drawing attention back to the fact that Andréa had yet to arrive with the car.
Annoyance flared outward from that place deep inside that was deathly afraid of being trapped within circumstances beyond her control but after another few minutes passed without Andréa she began to worry.
"What has that girl gotten herself into now?" She wondered aloud. Her cell phone was still with her purse upstairs and she debated whether she should go get it or set off down the asphalt to find out for herself. Just when she could wait no longer and had decided to seek her out the sky opened up with a huge outpouring of water. Bloody hell! Decision made for her she went back up the elevator to get her phone. Hitting three on her speed dial she internally cursed yet again when a vaguely familiar dueling of violin and cello, Vivaldi? emanated from the oversized purse laying half open on the kitchen counter. Of course she had to leave her phone here.
The uneasiness she had been feeling ever since she noticed Andréa's prolonged absence blossomed into a fully grown worry. She noted several rain jackets hanging from a set of hooks nearest the first panel of heavily reinforced glass doors fronting the living area and with resignation pulled it over her Mark Jacobs pantsuit while grabbing one for Andréa. When the elevator door opened back to the now rain soaked concrete she had a vague hope that Andréa would have miraculously appeared. Looking down at her Prada sandals she quickly weighed the likelihood of their survival on a trek through sodden sand and chucked them back into the elevator as she rolled up her pant legs.
It took her several minutes longer to traverse the hundred or so yards that led to the spot she had used as her base only an hour before, hampered as she was by the driving rain and wind gusts which were now definitely picking up in intensity. Finally she rounded the curve in the narrow lane where the car was parked but before she could make eye contact with the vehicle the latest gust dwindled and merged back into the increasingly strong sustained wind carrying with it a long string of obscenities.
"Mother FUCK-ing, no good piece of rust-sucking SHIT!" was followed by a loud slamming of metal upon metal.