Disclaimer: I do not own The Devil Wears Prada. I make no money from playing with the characters from the movies. (I haven't read the book.)
Summary: Answering a prompt over at the Poke the Dragon by sinadino on LJ. I changed a tiny bit of it, but the idea is hers.
The Younger Lover
Poke the Dragon prompt by sinadino:
"PR – Miranda wasn't happy when her team suggested she'd get a younger lover in order to get the press away from her latest divorce, but when the name of her second assistant fell she reconsidered."
A MirAndy (Andy/Miranda) fan fiction
By Gun Brooke
Miranda stared at Nigel over her Bloody Mary. "You have got to be joking."
"Not at all," Nigel said, matter-of-fact. "It's going to get every single columnist and blogger off your as—uhm, tail." He leaned against the backrest of Miranda's plush chenille couch and smiled encouragingly.
"Let me see if I understand this correctly," she said, tilting her head. "You think I need to summon some much younger lover to turn the hounds of the tabloid press off the scent of my divorce?"
"Well, you did say that you wanted to keep Caroline and Cassidy away from all the interest now that the divorce is final. I figured if the paparazzi focus on you and your shockingly young love interest, your girls would not be in their linear sight. See?" Nigel gestured emphatically. "I'm a genius."
"I think you are inebriated." Miranda sipped her drink. "Had I known you'd go crazy after just one Bloody Mary, I would've thought twice to invite you in for a night cap." Nigel had escorted her to a function and it had seemed like a good idea at the time to have a chat between colleagues and friends. They still had some fences to mend, but unless Nigel was trying to set her up for failure, she now dared to hope they could salvage their friendship after Paris.
"Nah, I'm not drunk. I have thought about this for the last week."
"And do you have some fool in mind as well?" Miranda lowered her voice to a growl, which actually made Nigel pale some.
"Yes. But no fool. Far from it. Ha-ha. I wouldn't ever dare, or want to, do that to you. No, no, I have the perfect person. Someone who has your back already."
Completely thrown, Miranda blinked rapidly, trying to figure out who Nigel could possibly be talking about. "Surely not Paul?" she squeaked.
Nigel jumped. "Wha—Paul? Oh, God, no. No, no. Someone much closer. Andy."
"Andy?" Miranda blanched. "Andrea?" Furious now, she slammed her glass down on the coffee table, not caring even the slightest if it broke. "You're telling me that I should date Andrea? My assistant?"
"She's not your assistant anymore. She's a cub reporter at the Mirror, a job you helped her get by writing a rave review. You care about her." Nigel took a large gulp of his drink, clearly needing the pick-me-up.
"That said, are you…are you out of your mind? Yes, Andrea is younger. That is true. She's also a woman who has really every reason to hate me. You don't know how she looked at me in the car in Paris. Such contempt."
"Really? That's not how she sounds when she calls me to ask if her replacement can do the job right and, I quote 'not add to your stress these days'."
"She does? I never…Still the idea is preposterous."
"It's not. She's young, she's beautiful, and she's not one of your models."
"True, but the whole concept, it's…I'll be ridiculed."
Miranda sighed. "I'll look desperate, won't I? Going after someone that much younger."
Nigel cocked his head and smiled knowingly. "What I find really interesting is that you haven't pointed out the obvious—not even once."
Going rigid at his gentle teasing, Miranda folded her arms over her chest. "I don't know what you mean."
"You have objections. Dually noted. Among those, you haven't mentioned once that you object because Andy is female."
Caught. Miranda pursed her lips, but perhaps Nigel had found some strength through the Bloody Mary, because he didn't so much as flinch. "What makes you think she'd be…approachable? Just for the sake of argument. I still think your idea is insane."
Nigel chuckled. "I thought you might, so I was clever enough to reconnoiter."
"You did what?" Miranda looked at him, aghast. "You told her?"
"No, no. Exhale without the flames please, Ms. Dragon Lady. I'm not stupid. I didn't tell Andy. Merely encourage her to speak about you. I thought I know her well enough to read between the lines, so to speak."
"And?" Miranda gave him her best glare, but inside her heart had begun racing.
"I won't betray her confidence by going into too much detail, but she's told me more than once that she misses you. She is happy at the Mirror and she doesn't miss Runway per se, but she misses you, personally."
Really? "You're reading too much into it."
"Oh, yes? So when she says, and this is a direct quote, "Nigel, sometimes I miss Miranda so much it hurts. I can't stop thinking of her," that's me reading too much into it?"
"Oh. A direct quote, you say?" Miranda could hardly breathe. "When was this?"
"About two weeks ago, the last time. She's said things to that effect more than once."
"It does sound like she might…care. There is her boyfriend to consider though." Was she going crazy for even contemplating this deranged idea of Nigel's?
"Boyfriend? Oh, Nate? That loser left her before Paris. He couldn't accept that she was changing and growing. He's in Boston I believe."
This was news to Miranda. She thought of how many times she had overheard Andrea pleading with the young man, asking him to understand why she couldn't drop everything and come home. At one time Miranda had passed Andrea as tears were streaming down her face, and the rage she felt then should have given her a heads up. Andrea had cried in the office before, usually because of Miranda being difficult, but this was different. The young man was supposed to care and understand, not do the emotional blackmail routine that Miranda's former husbands had all resorted to sooner or later. Miranda knew she had shocked Andrea by offering her box of designer Kleenex that time.
"I would like to at least mend fences with Andrea. We didn't part on good terms, my raving letter of recommendation notwithstanding." She looked expectantly at Nigel. "All right. How do we do this?"
"We?" His eyebrows went up. "You just call her."
"Oh, please. That's not going to work. We need to meet face to face without her panicking. Invite her as your date to a function. I'm hosting a cocktail party next week. That would work."
"God." Nigel ran a trembling hand down her his face. "I should've guessed that I'd be caught smack in the middle of this."
"Oh, calm down, Nigel. She'll fall over herself to do you this favor. You were her best friend at Runway."
"True." Sighing, he finished his drink. "All right. I'll call her."
"Good." Miranda told herself that she had nothing to be nervous about. Andrea was a kind person. The worst thing that could happen was that she let Miranda down gently. No, the worst thing was if she laughed and thought it was a practical joke by Nigel. Swallowing hard, Miranda knew she had never felt such trepidation in her life.
Andy regarded her reflection and adjusted the spaghetti straps of her DKNY jumpsuit.
Serena and Emily had insisted she use their Runway discount as it cost more than 300 dollars, but even so, it was one of the most expensive garments she had ever bought with her own money.
She glanced at her watch, fighting to keep her nerves in check. Nigel was picking her up any minute and the fact they were going to Miranda's townhouse was enough to make the bile rise to her throat.
Her cell phone pinged and she read the text from Nigel that his cab was double parked and waiting down on the street. She grabbed her coat and a black clutch and left her apartment. Preferring the stairs to the unreliable elevator, she hurried down to the cab.
"You look fantastic, Six," Nigel said, beaming. "Donna Karan, I see."
"Yeah, is it okay?" Andy smiled nervously. "Think Miranda will approve."
"At this rate, I think she'd approve the old cerulean sweater and the grandma skirt." Nigel laughed. "Now, now. Don't shoot daggers at me. We're going to have fun tonight, remember. Cocktails at Miranda's and some old friends from Runway. She actually invited Emily and Serena for your sake, I believe."
"For my sake? What do you mean?"
"She didn't want you to feel uncomfortable and out of place."
It was actually rather sweet in an unexpected way. If you wanted to be cynical, you could argue that Miranda thought so little of Andy that she provided buffers. Still that wasn't how Andy regarded it. If Miranda acted so out of character, inviting lowly assistants and junior associates, she must have a reason. Curious to why, Andy reached for Nigel's hand. Hers was ice cold and he squeezed it gently.
"She asked for me to bring you. It's not like you just happen upon her without her knowing you're attending."
"Yeah, I know. I just don't understand why. You can have any date you want, any guy, I mean. Still you bring me, because Miranda seemed fit to invite me. It's weird, Nigel, you have to admit."
"Unexpected, in a way. Not so very weird. Not really."
They rode to the townhouse in harmonious silence after that. When they arrived, Nigel paid the cabdriver and stopped to allow Andy to take his arm as they were to ascend the stairs leading up to the front door Andy had unlocked so many times. Delivering the book and the dry-cleaning was entirely different than attending a cocktail party. Reminding herself not to drink too much to gather her courage, Andy took a deep breath as the door opened.
"Andy!" A young girl jumped over the threshold and hugged her. "It's been forever, but you still remember us, don't you?" The little redhead grinned up at her, but also looked little nervous.
"Of course I do, Cassidy."
"How do you know that I'm not Caroline?" Cassidy crinkled her nose, making the little freckles dance.
"Because you have a different angle of your eyebrows, taller forehead and a small birthmark at the outer corner of your left eye." Andy cupped Cassidy's chin. "How are you, kiddo?"
"I'm fine. So is Caro. She's helping Mom serve the hors d'oeuvres. This is the first time we get to attend Mom's cocktail party."
"Hey, what about me? Don't I get a hug?" Nigel pouted.
"Oh, sorry, Nigel." Cassidy hugged him hard. "Thank you," Andy heard her whisper.
"No problem, Cass." Nigel winked at the girl, which made Andy even more curious.
"Mom! Andy's here."
"Already?" Miranda's voice came from the kitchen. "She's early."
Andy had to lean against the flower decorated side table at the sound of Miranda's voice. She hadn't heard it live in almost a year, and it seemed to overwhelm her senses. Then she was there. Standing in front of Andy, dressed in a bold over-the-knee black and floral cocktail dress, probably by Dolce & Gabbana. Andy ate her up with her eyes, knowing now that though she'd missed Miranda until she hid secret tears in her pillow at night, only now, looking at her, did she realize how deeply she loved this women.
"Miranda," she whispered.
"Andrea. Welcome." Miranda leaned in and pressed her lips to Andy's cheek and then to her earlobe on the other side. "I can't express how delightful it is to see you again."
Shell-shocked, Andy merely stared at Miranda, her lips slightly parted, but void of sound.
"Andrea? Are you all right?" Miranda frowned.
"Cassidy, why don't you help me hang Andy's coat and mine as well?" Nigel ushered the girl before him. Andy heard them, but she couldn't take her eyes off Miranda.
"No," she finally managed. "Nothing's wrong. I'm so…so glad to finally see you. I mean…I mean, it's been a long time." Too long. Too hard. Andy wondered if she'd committed the worst mistake ever to agree to this cocktail party.
"Nigel," Miranda said brightly. "Be a dear and act host for a little while? I need to talk to Andrea alone."
"Uhm. Sure?" He caught Andy's glance, mouthing the words "all right?".
Andy nodded, trembling now.
"Come along, Andrea. You know where my study is." Miranda led the way up the stairs to the next floor.
The study was just as Andy remembered it and she stood by Miranda's desk, fidgeting. "Cassidy has grown a lot this last year."
"In more ways than one," Miranda murmured distractedly. "It's wonderful to see you, Andrea. Are you happy at the Mirror?"
"Very. At the mirror. Yes." Feeling like an utter fool, Andy tugged at her fingers. "I'm getting better assignments now. Guess they think I proved myself."
"And so they should. I've read everything you've written." Miranda flushed faintly. "I recommended you, after all. I feel…invested."
Andy blinked. "You do? I…I didn't know."
Miranda sauntered closer, her signature perfume, sandalwood, musk, and citrus, enveloping Andy. What is she doing? This is—dangerous. "Miranda. Why am I here?" Oh, God, why had she asked that up front? Hardly polite.
"Because I want you to be." Miranda circled her, running her fingertips where the jumpsuit was cinched at her waist. "I approve of your attire. To think there was a time when you couldn't even spell Dolce & Gabbana."
"A long time ago. A lot has change. I changed."
"I've missed you." Miranda's breath caught in her throat and she had to clear her voice. "I doubt if you can imagine how much."
"I sure can't. In my wildest dreams…"
"What do you dream of, Andrea, in your wildest dreams?" Miranda held her by her upper arms. "I don't mean to embarrass you, but I needed you to know that you're here because I want you to be. Regardless of being Nigel's date for tonight or not."
"I wasn't sure this was the right thing to do." Andy chewed on her lower lip. "It's taken me a long time to find my balance after…after Paris."
"For me as well. We have to go back to the others now, but before we do I want to ask you if you'd like to join me for dinner tomorrow. The twins are visiting their grandmother this weekend and I thought we might…talk."
Andy looked into the amazing, ice-blue eyes. Never had they warmed her like they did now when Miranda wanted her to agree. Where did this sudden interest come from, and why? Yes, they needed to talk, if nothing else, then to try and figure out what Miranda really wanted. "Yes, I'd like that. What time?"
"Let's shoot for 6 PM? I'm going into the office to try and correct some horrendous layout issues that can't be trusted to anyone else. Honestly, the incompetence…"
Andy smiled broadly. Now, this was the Miranda she knew and loved. Loved. Trembling, she began to wonder if tomorrow would entail the breaking of her heart, or the dawn of something unfathomable.
Miranda didn't like the fact that she was standing at the window, her heart fluttering every time a cab drove past her home. She checked her watch again. Ten to six. Soon Andrea would cross the threshold and Miranda would have to confess how this all came about. She had tossed and turned after the cocktail party and in the wee hours of the morning, she'd decided that she could not use Andrea the way Nigel intended. Honestly, how could the man even suggest this in the first place? He was supposed to be Andrea's friend.
The more she observed Andrea interact with her guests, and doing it with such poise and grace, Miranda knew this once so clumsy and badly dressed girl had grown into a person that anyone would be happy to be seen with. More than that, someone who deserved to be pursued for no other reason than who she was and what she meant to Miranda.
Miranda started at the knocking on the door. She had been so lost in thought that she completely missed when Andrea's cab finally drove up.
Opening the door, she let her eyes scan the young woman before stepping back to let her in. "Welcome, Andrea. That is a lovely ensemble."
"Only you would call jeans and a shirt for an ensemble."
"Perhaps. Those are True Religion jeans and the shirt is Calvin Klein, correct?" She hung Andrea's jacket and motioned for her to follow her to the kitchen.
"Yes. Outlet malls are wonderful." Andrea glanced at the counter. "Ah. Smith & Wollensky. This brings back memories. What are we having?" Oddly, she seemed so at ease.
"Steak and vegetable. I hope this will suite you pallet. Do you mind eating in the kitchen? I find it cozier."
Andrea stopped in mid-stride. "Cozier? Did I just hear Miranda Priestly say 'cozier'?"
Pressing her lips together to not smirk, Miranda nodded. "You did. Think page six would be interested?"
"I doubt it. Although, the way they've hunted you the last year, you'd think every other celebrity joined a convent or something."
"It has been difficult at times, I do admit."
"Nigel told me the divorce is finalized. Will that help ease the interest?"
Uncomfortable that they were nearing the previous reason for her to invite Andrea, Miranda held up a bottle. "Wine?"
"Yes, please." Andrea tilted her head. "You're pale all of a sudden. What's wrong?" She stood suddenly. "Y-you're not sick, are you, Miranda? Is that why you're acting so out of character? Oh, God." Tears welled up in her eyes.
Horrified that she'd inadvertently scared Andrea so, Miranda let go of the bottle and rounded the counter. Taking hold of Andrea's hands, she rubbed her thumbs against the pack of them. "I'm perfectly healthy. Breathe, Andrea."
"God, you scared me." Andrea sat down on one of the tall stools and took several deep breaths. "I swear you looked chalk white."
"Hm? I feel fine." Miranda stroked Andrea's back in soothing circles.
"M-Miranda? What are you doing?" Andrea didn't wait for an answer. Suddenly her head fell forward, onto Miranda's shoulder. "Whatever you're doing, don't stop."
"Very well." Miranda could easily touch Andrea forever, and stroking her back was a nice way to get close without overstepping too many boundaries. "Better?"
"I should say no, so you don't stop, but yes, much better." Andrea lifted her head and looked at Miranda with half-closed, dark eyes.
"Silly girl." Miranda smiled and was about to return to the food when Andrea suddenly cupped her cheek.
"It used to frustrate me when you called me 'silly girl' at Runway. When you said it just now, it was very different."
Placing her hand on Andrea's, trapping it against her cheek, Miranda smiled. "How was it different?"
"It was soft, still teasing, but so very gentle. Am I wrong?"
"Not at all."
"Are you flirting with me?"
"A little." Miranda felt her cheeks warm. "Wooing you, perhaps?"
"I should ask why."
"That would be prudent at one point."
Andrea ran her thumb gently across Miranda's cheekbone. "You're so beautiful. I have missed you. I was ready to show up with coffee out of the blue on some days, but I feared you'd throw me out on my ears."
"Oh, Andrea." Miranda pulled her in for a hug. "I wouldn't have acted on how I feel, unless Nigel had come up with this idiotic idea…a rather cynical idea."
Andrea pulled back a little and smiled brightly. "The one where you take a hot young lover to throw off the tabloid press?"
Going rigid enough for her spine to crack into pieces, Miranda gasped. "He told you?" She tried to free herself, but Andrea held on, the smile still present.
"He did, after I forced it out of him after the cocktail party. I swear the cabby thought we'd come to blows."
"What are you talking about?" Miranda gave in, but it was with dread in her heart that she listened to Andrea. Was it now when she would be scolded, or even worse, ridiculed? Her hands grew cold and she let go of Andrea's.
"He told me of his plan and how he'd talked you into choosing me for this insane plan."
Miranda trembled now. Insane plan. Of course. "I was going to tell you tonight, and ask—"
"Shh. Wait. You don't understand. I can tell that you're missing the point." Andrea kissed Miranda's cheek. "I'm onboard. Any way I can be a part of your life, I'm here. Nigel told me that you didn't seem uninterested in me. He strongly emphasized that you are honorable and that you wouldn't let someone into your home, in front of your children, unless you truly cared for this person. So, here I am, hoping Nigel is right." It was Andrea's turn to stroke Miranda's back in small circles.
"Nigel is right, in part. It was his idea." Miranda wet her lips and saw how this seemed to mesmerize Andrea. "His idea, but when it comes to how I feel…those bewildering, overpowering emotions are all mine. I think Nigel knew that too, to be honest. He probably guessed very astutely when it comes to both of us."
"Yes. When I stepped inside your home yesterday, and please don't think I'm being presumptuous because I'm not taking anything for granted, but it felt like coming home." Andrea looked at Miranda with slightly guarded eyes.
"I could only think, 'finally'," Miranda confessed. "Finally she's back. She's here." She slumped against Andrea, pushing her hands into the long chestnut hair. "You're here, aren't you?" She placed a trail of soft kisses along Andrea's cheek down to her earlobe.
"Yes. Oh, God, yes. I'm here." Andrea mimicked Miranda and laced her fingers through her short hair. "I dreamed of touching your hair. It's very soft and it smells so, so good." She inhaled and then pressed her full lips onto Miranda's.
Completely taken by surprise, Miranda allowed herself to be kissed. Parting her lips, she met Andrea's tongue. Slowly, gently, they deepened the kisses until Andrea had to cling to Miranda to not fall off the stool.
"I…I had no idea you were this passionate about me." Miranda ran a thumb along Andrea's lower lip. "I just could never imagine…"
"That goes for me too. I've kissed you in my dreams so many times."
"Oh?" Miranda raised a questioning eyebrow. "Kissed, you say? What else have we done in your dreams?"
"Oh, sweetheart, I've loved you very thoroughly in my dreams." Andrea laughed and blushed. "I look forward to compare my dreams to reality, if you're still interested."
"Interested?" Miranda kissed Andrea's velvet neck. "Hm?"
"Yeah, you know. Interested in having a younger lover." Andrea smiled brightly and looked so genuinely happy that Miranda couldn't keep the laughter down.
"Oh, I am. I most certainly am." She kissed Andrea one more time before she returned to the other side of the counter. They would eat and talk, and then, perhaps, she would see what Andrea had learned during the many heated dreams of hers.