Disclaimer: Same ol', same ol'. I don't own these characters. I just borrow and play with them.
Disclaimer: Epiphanies can come quickly, dawn on you, and change your life—if you dare to be honest with yourself…and if you dare to speak up when confronted with a fired up Miranda Priestly.
10.33 PM on a Thursday
A MirAndy fan fiction
By Gun Brooke
Andy realized the depth of her feelings at 10.33 PM on a Thursday. Delivering dry-cleaning and the Book, bone-tired after not sleeping well since Paris, since being alone in the apartment, she'd stopped in the foyer. She heard nothing from the top floors, but she still stood there, her ears straining to hear…what? Sobbing? Ranting? Plots of world domination being forged?
The vision of Miranda, free of makeup, her hair limp, and her slight frame dressed in a plain, though no doubt expensive, robe, was permanently engraved on the inside of Andy's eyelids. Maybe that was why she couldn't sleep? Every time she closed her eyes, she saw the distraught woman she worked for, so far from being the Dragon Lady extraordinaire.
As she'd turned to leave the Priestly residence, Andy stopped again. The truth should've been obvious, should've been screaming in her face long ago. She was in love with Miranda. She was not infatuated, obsessed, or experiencing a hero-worshipping crush. She. Was. In love. If that wasn't good enough reason to throw yourself on the subway tracks, she didn't know of any. Loving Miranda Priestly was a definite way to end up with a broken heart; the few pieces left in her chest would just as surely be hollow.
Her voice nearly broke the first time she spoke Miranda's name the next morning. A simple "Good morning, Miranda" nearly came out sounding like a deep groan, only saved at the last time by sheer willpower. Was Miranda looking at her funny, or did Andy read more into her usual morning-perusal-of-the-outfit? Short of risking her life, not to mention her employment at Runway, by asking Miranda then and there, Andy smiled tremulously and tried to act casual.
It was at 4.15 PM on the Friday afternoon when Andy knew Miranda was starting to notice. Perhaps she thought Andy was coming down with something, or that she was still so jetlagged? Whenever she handed Miranda some documents, or poured her a new glass of Pellegrino, Miranda tapped her gold pen against her lips, or the frame of her glasses, or, and this was horrible, horrible—ran her index finger back and forth along the beautiful pink-lipstick adorned lower lip. This made Andy come close to breaking the heel off her favorite Jimmy Choos. Miranda had to raise her eyebrows then. Of course she did.
Andy fled back to her desk, flustered and out of breath. Emily was back, in an orthosis, and oblivious to anything but the clothes Andy had brought her from Paris. She had warmed, if not completely forgiven Andy for the whole Paris mess, but it also meant she wasn't scrutinizing Andy as much as she used to. Thank God.
At her wits end how to deal with this mess. Perhaps she should refer to it as post-Paris mess? What if Miranda figured things out? As much as being fired would keep her at a safe distance from the woman that had taken up residence in her heart and was the cause of some embarrassingly wet self-exploration, it was also her worst nightmare. The only thing worse than seeing Miranda every day and knowing her heart broke a little more each time, was the fear of not seeing her again. Ever. The notion of being ostracized made Andy's hands tremble and sweat broke out at the small of her back.
Oh, God, not now. Not yet. She hadn't found her bearings after nearly breaking her ankle. Still, nobody kept Miranda waiting. It wasn't done. Dreading the idea of facing her boss again, Andy donned a non-committal expression and entered the inner office.
Miranda looked up from her laptop. Her eyes seemed darker than before. "Be ready to leave in ten minutes."
Of course. No explanation.
"Do I need to bring—"
"Just be ready." Miranda returned her gaze to the computer. "That's all."
Of course it was. They were going somewhere, location undisclosed, doing something, details undisclosed, and, oh dear Lord, they would be in the car. On a backseat. Together.
Calling Roy and making sure he knew to be in place at the front door; Andy tried to tell herself they had been on so many backseats together that this was just yet another such occasion. I didn't know I loved her then. Andy covered up the whimper with a cough. Thinking ahead she brought Miranda's coat and bag from the closet behind her desk and placed it next to her.
The minutes went by way to fast. She tried to figure out an approach that would cover up the way she felt. People always told her she had expressive, guileless eyes that told of her feelings. This wouldn't work now. She would have to let them become opaque, but how the hell was that done? Did you just go 'aooouuuwwwooooommm", connected thumb and middle finger, assumed the lotus position and took control over your body that way? Well, that would distract Miranda no end if Andy tried that approach in the town car. What the hell was she going to do?
It was 5.20 PM on the same Friday that Andy knew she was in more trouble than ever before in her life. She had pulled off handing Miranda the coat and bag, even ridden in the damn elevator with her. Roy had held the door open for Miranda to get into the backseat, Andy had rounded the car and entered with as much grace as it was possible for her to display, and taken her seat.
Then Miranda turned to her and let her ice blue eyes roam her from hair to shoes. "Roy. Home."
Home? "Home?" Andy squeaked.
"We need to talk."
Andy's heart actually stopped for about three seconds and then jumpstarted so fast, she felt faint for a moment. "T-talk?"
"It's necessary, don't you agree?"
Would she be the first in the history of Runway who Miranda actually killed? A hysterical laughter pushed from her lungs to get past her vocal chords and cackle resoundingly. Fortunately, the shock seemed to also have muted her. No cackle. Swallowing against the lump and the threatening cackle, Andy tried to answer. "Uhm. I don't know. What's up?"
"'What's up?'" Miranda pinched the bridge of her nose. Glancing at Roy's neck, she pressed her lips together. "I cannot believe even you would be so oblivious." She held up her hand, palm first to Andy. "Wait. Don't speak another word until we're home. The girls are not home until Sunday evening. We won't be disturbed."
Only glad to comply, Andy's mind latched onto the last words. Until we're home. We? It's not my home. And surely Miranda didn't expect this 'talk' to take days?
It was nothing short of a miracle that Andy made it up the stairs, trailing after Miranda, without stumbling. Her legs felt numb, as if all the blood was needed in her thundering heart, and her whirling mind. Inside, she took Miranda's coat as usual, her bag too, as usual, and hung them in the foyer closet. She took off her own and now her brain short-circuited, extra blood flow or not, and she just stood there, feeling forlorn.
Miranda sighed, but it wasn't like she was really annoyed, took Andy's coat and hung if in the closet, right next to her own. Somehow it seemed significant. There coats, in the closet, together. Andy forced down hysterical laughter #2, she was truly losing it. So much was obvious.
"May I offer you something to drink?" Miranda asked casually as she strode toward the den and the kitchen.
Feeling like Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole, Andy managed a polite, "No, thank you." She immediately changed her mind, since her mouth was all but dried up.
"Don't be ridiculous. You haven't left your desk since lunch. Have you even taken the time to rehydrate? Did you even have lunch today? I seem to remember Nigel mentioning that you give your twenty minutes to Emily every day since she can't move around fast enough."
I was actually busy dodging your radar, so that would be no. "No. On both counts. Actually some water would be lovely." Tugging at her fingers, Andy watched Miranda go pour them both a glass of Pellegrino.
"I thought of offering you wine, but the way you walk into things today, I might be accused of trying to kill you. We can order something to eat in a little while." Miranda smirked and handed Andy the sparkling water. "Have a seat." She nodded toward the couch.
Andy sat down, clinging to her glass. To her absolute shock, Miranda sat down next to her. If only she had sat down closer to the armrest at her end. If she scooted away from Miranda now, it would be too obvious.
"Now, Andrea. What is this utter nonsense going on with you?" Miranda sipped her water.
Andy nearly dropped her glass. She quickly put it down on the coffee table, afraid of spilling the entire content. "I…what?"
"You've acted so strangely ever since Paris, and today it seemed to culminate in physical manifestations. Usually you are clumsy in quite a charming way, but today you have walked into the desks several times and nearly fell in my office." Miranda tilted her head, her eyes narrowing. "You changed after Paris," she concluded and then seemed to wait for Andy to respond.
"I'm sorry," Andy whispered. Did Miranda know? Had she figured it out? Was this it? Was Miranda going to eviscerate her now, fire her, tell her she was blacklisted with all the New York publications and the only thing left for her was to leave the city?
"I didn't bring you hear to apologize to me. If anyone should apologize, it's me."
There it was. Rabbit hole. She was falling. She was actually tumbling forward and tried to right herself before she ended up slumped against Miranda.
"I should have given you something to eat right away." Miranda's voice came from far away. She was clearly not in the hole. Good. There could only be one white queen. One in each realm.
Andy felt a cool hand press her neck forward, down against her knees. "Breathe. Do not faint on me."
Andy drew a deep trembling breath and felt her vision restoring as well as her hearing. Miranda's voice now sounded closer, but all Andy really cared about was the hand. Miranda's hand. Making small circles on the upper part of her back. Burning through her sheer blouse. She slowly sat up. "Thank you. Guess skipping lunch was stupid."
"Never a good thing." Miranda looked at her with something that was so much like tenderness that Andy knew the rabbit hole was still very much a reality. "I'm sorry, Andrea."
Blinking, Andy tried to figure things out for herself, but came up blank. "Why are you sorry? I…I don't understand, Miranda."
"You changed after Paris." Miranda spoke in such a low voice that Andy had to lean in closer to hear her properly. "I made you uncomfortable by talking about private matters. I made our relationship personal because I needed…needed to talk to someone I knew I could trust. You have obviously become more and more uncomfortable around me after that—"
Andy couldn't hold back the hysterical giggle after those insane words. Snorting, she covered her mouth and laughed, tears rising in her eyes as she fought to stop the paroxysms.
"Little did I know you'd find my apologizing so hilarious." Miranda's hurt expression stopped the giggles at the same speed as if she'd hosed her down with icy water.
"I'm not laughing," Andy managed, her breaths sounding wheezy. "Chalk it up to hysteria." She wiped at her eyes. She could tell from Miranda's wincing that she'd messed up her mascara badly. "And you're wrong. I was honored that you let your guard down with me. I wanted to be there for you in whatever capacity you needed me. I still do."
"And the awkwardness?" Miranda reached for a Kleenex and dipped it in her Pellegrino. Cupping Andy's chin, she dabbed gently at the smeared makeup.
"I'm an awkward kind of woman at the best of times." Andy tried to dodge the bullet, even if she suspected she was just prolonging the agony.
"And now when it's been seriously exacerbated?" Miranda examined her cleanup with critical eyes. "Are you saying it has nothing to do with me? Either personally or professionally? That would be a downright lie, I think."
Caught. "Damn it, Miranda. Don't make me do this," Andy whispered. "Please."
"I'm a relentless woman 'at best,' and you know I want answers." As determined as her words were, Miranda's voice was soft, and her eyes a gentle turquoise. She was still holding Andy's chin lightly, her thumb moving once in a soft caress against her cheek.
"You won't like it. You'll fire me. I won't ever see you again." Andy spoke with what felt like a swollen tongue and rigid lips.
"I disagree. What can I say to reassure you?" Miranda lowered her hand and immediately Andy began to look for it, missing the touch.
"What time is it?" Andy asked.
Frowning, Miranda checked her watch. "6.15. Anywhere you need to be?"
"No." So, 6.15 PM on a Friday would be the mark of when Andy lost the woman she loved after never having had her in the first place. It seemed important to know the time, somehow. "I guess it would be smart of me to quit." Andy sighed and then pressed her fingertips against her trembling lips. "I mean, it looks better on my CV rather than having been fired, doesn't it. Maybe it'd been better if I'd merely walked away in Paris, but then…you were hurting. You'd been dumped." Andy cringed and made an apologetic gesture with her hands toward Miranda who sat so very still, saying nothing. "You nearly lost Runway, and…I felt you needed, well, if not me, exactly, then someone. Someone who knew how important it was that the girls not suffer needlessly or how much Runway is the air you breathe, your sustenance, in a way. If I'd walked away, it could've tipped the scale. I'm not being conceited. I think quitting now—"
"No!" Miranda's eyes lit up, as if a fire had simmered all along and now was stoked enough to reach her pupils. The flames reached for Andy, bathed her in the glow and pulled her in. "You are not quitting. When you leave Runway, it will be because you have a new job lined up, something you'd rather be doing. A career move. Not something you do because of some ridiculous idea that you're not important to me, that I don't care, or that your presence isn't wanted." Miranda breathed rapidly and her hands clenched and unclenched several times. "Do you despise me so much, Andrea? Do you wish to put distance between us rather than tell me why you've worked yourself into such a state?"
"I don't want any distance at all," Andy heard herself call out, her louder voice bouncing off the walls in the den. "I…oh, God, I don't believe I'm having this conversation with you."
"Keep talking." As loud as Andy had been, it seemed to trigger a need in Miranda to speak even softer, and quieter, than usual.
"No…your turn. I'm not doing this alone." Andy found the tremors reduce, and she could meet Miranda's gaze without flinching. "I need to hear you talk. Explain." This was of course something Miranda Priestly never did. She expected people to take her words as gospel, and to never, ever be questioned.
"Very well." Miranda kicked off her shoes and pulled her legs up, half sitting on them as she leaned sideways against the backrest. Her knees touched Andy's thigh, setting it on fire as ever single nerve ending that came into contact with the silk stockings. "I regretted sharing my vulnerability at first. When I sent you away to do your job, I thought of doing what I normally do when I'm displeased. I've fired people for far less. Then I thought of the expression of concern in your eyes. I read them so easily, normally, which was also why I've been so worried. Suddenly I couldn't read you at all. You were the epitome of someone sending mixed signals. Can you explain why you looked at me with resentment one second and desire the next?"
Oh, this was so much worse than she'd thought. Andy tugged at the skirt that was really much too short to sit in. Desire? Dear God in heaven. "Probably just that. You read me correctly," she murmured. "I've been tossed between so many emotions since we got back."
"And yet, today was yet another phase, wasn't it? What happened between yesterday and today that sent you into such a tailspin that you nearly toppled over?" Miranda took her hand.
She's touching me. Miranda is holding my hand. First my face, then my hand. Andy closed her fingers gently around the impossibly soft skin of Miranda's hand. She ran her thumb along the back of the faintly blue-veined hand in hers. Miranda gasped.
Andy's eyes snapped up to meet Miranda's. She gasped. Trying again, Andy slid her fingers around and made a little circle with her thumb along the inside of Miranda's wrist. Miranda gasped again and her eyelids fluttered close for a second.
"What are you doing, Andrea? Are you trying to prove how easy you reach me?" Miranda whispered huskily. "It should be obvious by now." She turned her hand and laced their fingers. "You possess this magical power, because never in a million years would I ever have thought I'd respond this way to a woman. Half my age, Andrea. I'm past my prime—"
"Liar." Andy couldn't bear to listen to Miranda berating herself, criticizing herself, when she was so precious to her. "You're amazing and stunningly beautiful and I firmly believe that your finest hour is yet to come, no matter what you've already accomplished. I may be younger, but it doesn't change how I feel," she said passionately.
"And how do you feel, Andrea?" Miranda slid closer, suddenly straddling Andy.
Rabbit hole, here I come again. This time I seem to have the White Queen right here with me. Andy whimpered and there was no time to mask it into a cough or pretend that it was anything but a sound of restrained passion. "Miranda," she whispered and cupped cheeks ten times as soft as the hands she'd just let go of. "I'm sorry, but I'm in love with you."
Fat tears rose in Miranda's eyes and ran down her cheeks. Stunned, Andy reached for the box of Kleenex and pulled out a tissue. As she mopped gently at the wetness, she saw a new light in Miranda's eyes. It warmed her, and it made her tremble, and now she knew there was only one thing she could think of to do. Leaning forward, her hands now on Miranda's hips, Andy kissed her slowly, nibbling the lower lip she'd dreamed of ever since Miranda pressed the frames of her glasses to it months ago.
"Mm." Miranda wrapped her arms around Andy's neck and held on, but she didn't deepen the kiss. It was as if she was content to let Andy lead—for now.
Running her lips from one corner of Miranda's mouth to the next, Andy finally slid the tip of her tongue inside. As if reignited, Miranda locked her lips on Andy's and let her tongue wreak havoc in her mouth.
Burning with tall, blue-tipped flames that incinerated every potential protest or fear, Andy tugged carefully at Miranda, wanting her flush against her own body. Willingly, Miranda slid forward, pressing her chest against Andy's.
"You love me." It wasn't a question, but Andy answered. "Yes."
"You don't want to leave."
This was probably the core of Miranda's fear, Andy realized. Husbands cheated and ultimately left, she nearly lost Runway, and jeopardized her most trusted and appreciate associate when she sacrificed Nigel. "I don't want to ever be without you." Andy knew this was true, no matter what her career would hold, somehow she would make sure Miranda was in her life. If she tried to figure out a way to be without her, it would be like contemplating giving up oxygen.
"Andrea." Pulling back a little, Miranda looked at her through her eyelashes. "You're ahead of me. You're braver. I'm so glad you told me. It will mean that I can reciprocate. Soon." She blushed all the way down to her décolleté. Perhaps she realized she just told Andy everything she wanted to know.
"I can wait. As long as I get to be around you, I don't mind waiting."
"I don't think I can wait. Not really. I mean for everything." Miranda trembled. "I might need you. No, scratch that. I need you."
"Anything, Miranda. I'll do anything you want."
"Are you aware of how such a blanket statement can be interpreted, Andrea?" Miranda pushed her hands beneath the neck line of Andy's blouse, cupping her shoulders. "You just can't say something like that, you can't…you can't…" Miranda bent to kiss Andy's neck, following tendons and veins with her lips, teeth, and tongue. "See? See what I mean?" She looked at Andy with the now familiar fire-filled pupils. "It's dangerous."
"No, it's not." It was suddenly so easy to let the tenderness show, to be the strong one. Miranda's vulnerable, and yet so voracious, side brought out protectiveness in Andy. Even though desire raged beneath Andy's skin, she was acutely aware of the feelings Miranda was showing, maybe without quite realizing it. "It's not dangerous because I'm here with you. Nothing bad can happen because I want to care for you and please you."
Slowly becoming somewhat calmer, Miranda relaxed against Andy. "I am a difficult woman."
"Cheeky girl. I mean, there are reasons why they leave." She nuzzled Andy's neck where the skin still buzzed and tingled from Miranda's previous attack.
"Of course. Everyone have their reason…but I don't want to leave. I can imagine I'll ever want to be away from you." Andy sighed and ran her lips along Miranda's temple. She smelled so good, her signature perfume combined with her natural scent. And something else, something…musky. Sexy. "I've been acting weirder than normal because I've been afraid. I felt like…you know, catch 22. Damn if I do and damned if I don't. I panicked last night at 10.33 PM."
"What?" Miranda raised her head and frowned. "Last night at that exact time."
"Yes. I delivered the Book and your clothes. I stood in the foyer, ready to leave. I started walking and then I stopped. I listened for you, for any sign of you being home, but it was so dark and quiet. I was afraid I'd hear you crying, or being anguished somehow. I mean, it's only been a little while since he handed in the divorce papers. I worried." Andy hid against Miranda, held her close so she wouldn't look her. Not right now. "Then I just knew. From one moment to the next, I leveled with myself. I confessed to love and was totally freaked out. So sure it was beyond hopeless…that my heart was doomed to break, you know?"
"Darling." Miranda tipped Andy's head back against the walk, rose on her knees and looked down at her. Her face away from the light, Miranda's expression was impossible to read. "Just as you don't want to leave, I don't want your heart to break. I don't want to be responsible for that."
"Then hold me. Kiss me."
Miranda kissed her again. Slowly this time, with careful lips, and a shy tongue that very gently teased Andy's to play. Andy explored Miranda's mouth with a thoroughness that had them both trembling and she knew they began to veer out of control.
"Too…too fast?" Andy gasped against Miranda's mouth.
"You're trembling so badly, I think you're hypo-glycemic. Miranda smiled. "What if we order something to eat and then I'll tell you if I think we're moving too fast."
Andy smiled broadly and felt another giggle surface. This one decidedly less hysterical.
Miranda shook her head as she stood. Extending her hand she pulled Andy to her feet. "Steak?" she pulled Andy along toward the kitchen where she grabbed the phone sitting on the wall. "I have Wollensky on speed dial."
"Go figure." Andy stood close, still holding Miranda's hand.
Miranda placed a very detailed order, some of it food items Andy was pretty sure wasn't on Wollensky's normal menu. She didn't care what they ate. What she did care about, and what delighted her to no end, was that Miranda did not let go of her hand.
"Twenty minutes," Miranda said as she hung up. "That will be at 7.32 PM. Think we can behave for that long?"
"Sure," Andy said, drawing the word out before kissing Miranda's now swollen lips again. Miranda's arms came around her waist as she kissed her back.
"Liar." Miranda chuckled against Andy's lips.
Andy tossed her head back and laughed. She knew she probably hadn't told such an outrageous lie in her life. Seeing the sparkling flames in Miranda's eyes, she knew she could never trust herself while being alone with this woman. Something about the way Miranda snuck her hands in under Andy's blouse after pulling it free from the short skirt, told her Miranda would be misbehaving just as much.