Pairing: Miranda/Andy, Andy/Cruella, M/A/C. Because why the hell not?
Warning: Sex. Glenn Close is hot in Damages, dammit, don't judge me. THIS ISN'T WEIRD AT ALL.
Disclaimer: I do not own The Devil Wears Prada nor am I making any money from this fiction. Written for the IDF Big Bang.
Beta: Revan2011 and d-lady. Thanks to the both of you!
*Special thanks to the brilliant, talented writers who've brought Cruella to life in DwP.*
Summary: What will Miranda do when Andrea is snatched from Runway by a rival fashionista?
Actual summary: OK, listen, we can be real. I have no idea what's been happening for the past 21,000 words. All I have are these vague, far away memories of graphic situations between Cruella, Andy and Miranda. And there's like a moose throwing a discus somewhere. I don't even know who I am anymore.
Please, please please don't flame me. I will be sad and cry and send you a picture of a sad kitty which will make you cry too.
One more month, Andy thought longingly, until she was out of Runway's chilly, clicky-clacky hallways forever.
"Andrea," Miranda hissed.
Andy didn't flinch. "Yes, Miranda?"
"Find whoever is the source of that horrific screeching sound and arrange to have them disemboweled. I'm trying to work."
Andy was pondering the consequences and benefits of visiting the question 'what sound' when she became distracted by a frantic Emily waving behind the glass wall. Andy turned her head carefully away from Miranda and raised a discreet eyebrow. Emily responded with a pointed tug of her scarf, which Andy hadn't noticed before.
Emily's red scarf.
The DEFCON One scarf.
"Of course, Miranda," she said smoothly, making a graceful exit.
As soon as the glass door had clicked shut, Emily was tugging Andy's sleeve across the hall to a side room. "God, tell me she hasn't heard it, please."
"That – ugh, that awful music, don't you hear it? Listen."
Andy cocked an ear. Emily jerked her sleeve insistently. "Well?"
A quirky electronic tune, like a cell phone ringer, was emanating from the direction of Nigel's office – it abruptly stopped.
"It's Nigel's signal, do you not pay attention to anything I've taught you?"
"I don't hear anything," said Andy, crossing her arms. "What's all this about? You said the red scarf was for life or death emergencies only."
"It is, it's – oh thank god, Nigel!"
Nigel pressed his back against the door, panting. "Good lord, she's here. She's really here. Oh god, my mother is still named on my will. Why didn't I change that? Why did I never change that?"
Emily yanked him forcefully by the collar. "Nigel, get a hold of yourself, for pity's sake. We need to focus on survival – build yourself a bridge and get over it, will you? We need a plan."
"Could someone please tell me what's going on?" Andy broke in. "Who are you talking about?"
"Who?" hissed Emily. "Cruella, that's who."
Andy frowned - the only Cruella she'd ever heard of was... but no, that woman in the halls of Runway? Associating with Miranda? "Cruella de Ville? That insane fashion designer? You can't be serious. Besides, she's got to be in prison or something, right?"
Attempting to murder over a hundred puppies for a single spotted coat? That had to lead to some kind of jail time, right? Or at least some form of state psychiatric care, for god's sake.
Emily ducked her head out the door, glancing around quickly before popping back in.
"She was released last week – good behavior. They say she's reformed or some other bullocks. She's been trying to get a hold of Miranda since Monday, but I've been blocking all her calls."
"Did you tell Miranda?"
Emily snorted. "I'm still alive, aren't I? Don't be ridiculous – Miranda absolutely cannot know."
"Well she's going to know pretty damn soon, isn't she?" Nigel jerked his head toward Miranda's office, who they could see through the window was rubbing her temples distractedly. "She'll be here any minute."
"I can pay maintenance to emergency stop the elevators. But they'll only do it for so long..." Emily wrung her hands worriedly.
"I don't hear anything," Andy repeated.
Emily and Nigel exchanged looks.
"Hey, it's Nate. Listen, I'm coming back from Boston for a few days. I left all my cooking shit under the sink, so if you could like, take a break from your super busy, high speed life to be home on Saturday to let me in, your peasant ex-boyfriend would appreciate it. See you Saturday."
"Yes, a table for two. Yes. Le Piazza. Thanks. Thank you so much, Candy."
Nigel hung up his desk phone, breathing a sigh that was half relief, half trepidation.
"I don't believe I've ever heard of Le Piazza, Nigel."
Nigel jerked in his seat. "Miranda! How did you sneak in here?"
Miranda derisively rolled her eyes. "I didn't sneak, Nigel, I walked right in while you were blabbering."
"Le Piazza? It's a new age mix of Italian and French. And they have an excellent steak. You would love it, Miranda."
"I want the new layout on my desk by lunch. That's all."
Nigel breathed a sigh that was one hundred percent relief as she left, then quickly re-picked up the phone and dialed Emily's extension.
"I got it."
One more month, Andy thought.
Emily gasped from where she sat at the first assistant's desk. "Can you believe this? A disgusting sauce stain on a thousand dollar Prada bag? I don't even eat anything that goes with sauce."
"What a shame," said Andy unconvincingly. She clicked on a cell in her spreadsheet and turned it red. A few more clicks and she had made a happy face of cells in Miranda's schedule.
She overheard Emily picking up the phone – talking to Nigel, it sounded like.
"Thank goodness," Emily said into the phone. "I'll tell maintenance to release the lifts. Go cut her off at the elevators and make the pitch, I'll keep Miranda distracted. God, we're cutting this so close. I love my job..."
"I don't," said Andy bluntly.
"More wine, Miss?"
"Ah... I think I'm good for now," Andy told the waiter. "Water, please?"
Under Emily's emphatic advisement, Andy had arrived thirty minutes early to the renowned Le Piazza restaurant to get properly sauced. It was the most sympathetic she had ever seen Emily, if she were being perfectly frank with herself – although she could not forget the fact that it was due to Emily's idea that Andy was being thrown under the bus in the first place.
Andy checked the time on her phone. As a matter of fact, said bus was due to arrive any minute.
The handsome waiter's hands flinched as he poured ice water into her glass, eyes bulging in an expression Andy normally associated with Miranda's arrival... except that this particular expression had more than the usual tinge of fear the queen of fashion's appearance normally heralded.
The waiter cringed. "Who is that... woman?"
Andy was throwing him a confused look and about to look behind her when a waft of pungent, grape-scented smoke pervaded her senses.
"Mirannnda darling, where are you?" Called out a hair-raising, sing-song voice. "She's... where is she? Who is this? Who the bloody hell is this?"
The maitre d' escorting her tugged his collar nervously. "I'm so sorry Miz de Ville, zer must be some misunderstanding. We 'ave her signed on the books for zis table-"
Andy stood up politely upon being addressed, a large (and extremely fake) smile plastered onto her face. "Ms. de Ville, I'm afraid Miranda couldn't make it. She was hit with a bad case of tuberculosis and had to be hospitalized this afternoon."
She attempted to guide her eyes to find some safe point to focus on, away from the bizarre half white, half black hair... the ridiculously villainous cape... the clawed... gloves? Andy blinked furiously, starting to feel her eyeballs burn. "Of course she's hiding her condition to maintain an outward appearance of health."
Emily's carefully crafted story had sounded so much more reasonable before Andy had said it out loud.
"She doesn't want to get anyone sick, you see. Especially someone of – uh – someone like you. You're so dear to Miranda's heart."
Andy watched in dreadful anticipation as Cruella's pale face grew paler and the woman's thinly painted lips twitched in something akin to anger.
"So she sent me in her place," Andy drove on, throwing in as beaming a smile as she could muster. "I would have called ahead but she didn't let me know until the last minute – she thought she would be well enough to make it, you see."
"I see." The lips twitched again, seeming to crave turning into a vicious scowl – but then forcefully upturned into what was probably meant to be a smile... Andy hoped. "You. You're one of Miranda's little underlings, then?"
Cruella flicked her long stemmed cigarette in distaste and a tumble of ash fell to the plush carpet. Andy wondered how a woman of even Cruella de Ville's stature could get away with carrying a smoking cigarette into a restaurant. The maitre d' didn't seem too keen on telling her, in any case.
"I'm her personal assistant, Andrea Sachs," she answered in a genial fashion. She resented the underling comment... even if it was true. "You can call me Andy."
Cruella's mouth twisted, and at first Andy thought the woman was going to shout. Enormous olive eyes blinked at Andy as though seeing her for the first time. Andy, used to Miranda's death glare scrutiny, didn't fidget while Cruella inspected her up and down.
"Personal assistant, hmm?" said Cruella, seeming to be making a private joke.
Andy frowned. Would she always be judged poorly for not being a clacker? "Yes."
Apparently having come to a decision, Cruella abruptly pulled out a chair and threw herself into it, crossing one leg over the other after adjusting her large, white fur coat. "I suppose since the dearheart is trying so hard for my health's sake, I can deal with you. I want House de Ville's comeback line to be featured in Runway."
Emily had warned her this was what the mad fashion designer had been after in her harassing phone calls.
"Okay," said Andy.
"In this month's Olympics feature."
"Sure," said Andy.
"I will have full control over the shoot. Everything will go through me. Darling Miranda will have no say."
"Sounds reasonable," agreed Andy.
Cruella took a drag from her long-stemmed cigarette, eying Andy suspiciously.
"Just agree to everything she wants, eat a giant steak in front of her and then leave," Emily had told her. "We'll give her a fake copy of Runway at the end of the month. She lives so secludedly in that freaky mansion she'll never know the difference."
Cruella's stare bored into her long and hard... and her face relaxed. She sniffed.
An appropriately frightened looking waiter immediately stopped the order he was taking at a table three meters away and scurried to Cruella's side.
Andy couldn't believe the insane plan was working – Emily had said Cruella was naive, but really.
"You first, please... Andy."
Cruella grimaced (smiled?) at her encouragingly.
"I'll have the sixteen ounce ribeye," said Andy. "As close to rare without being gross as you can get, please," she added.
"Another reason it has to be you," Emily had reasoned earlier,"you're the only one on the whole floor who can finish an entire cow in one sitting. She'll be impressed by that."
Cruella's grimace grew wider. Was she in pain, Andy wondered?
"Salad," sniffed Cruella. She twitched her thumb casually and a pile of ash from her cigarette landed on the waiter's finely shined shoe. Shit – had Emily passed Andy bad information?
"I've gone vegetarian since my... rehabilitation," Cruella said of her own volition. "I don't mind if those around me partake in the finer delights of carnivorous behavior, however."
"Good to know, Ms. De Ville."
"Call me Cruella," she purred in response.
I'd really rather not, thought Andy, smiling brittlely.
Andy waved over the waiter to ask for a bottle of wine. She had been a fool for thinking she'd had enough earlier, that much was for sure. Perhaps the waiter had been expecting that sentiment, since he produced a bottle of the same vintage remarkably fast.
"Ms... er, Cruella. Miranda tells me you hardly ever leave the London area. Was Runway your only reason for visiting New York?"
"Miranda," she answered ambiguously, eyes flashing.
"Er..." Andy frowned when Cruella failed to explicate.
"Oh, oh, do forgive me dear Andy, I mean yes, I came here for Runway." Cruella's eyes hardened, focusing on Andy's ridiculously expensive, ridiculously good looking dress. "Miranda owes me a few favors, and I need to get House De Ville back to being London's most prominent fashion designer. I'm pleased we were able to come to an agreement so quickly – it should satisfy one of the favors Miranda has pledged to me."
Andy shifted uneasily. "Well, that's good."
Cruella's hawk-like gaze hadn't left her dress. Was Cruella a fan of whatever namby pamby designed this? John somebody? John... Galliano? Yes, that was it.
"Mr. Galliano is a good friend of Miranda's," she interjected. "He sends a lot of excellent dresses to our closet."
"I'm sorry?" Large eyes blinked at her.
"My dress." Andy indicated herself. "John Galliano? It seemed like you were interested in it, I'm sorry if I assumed..."
"Oh, of course, the dress... it is lovely – oh my."
Cruella's eyes became, if at all possible, even larger.
Andy's steaming pink steak settled in front of her.
"Are you sure you don't mind me eating meat...?"
"Oh no, please." Cruella wiggled her claw-gloved fingers in a go-ahead motion, not even noticing the salad being placed in front of her. "I adore meat-eating, really, I do. It's like when I quit smoking, it aided me immensely to be surrounded by the smell of nicotine."
Yes, I can see how it helped you, thought Andy warily while Cruella utilized the holes of the salt shaker as an impromptu ash tray.
Andy cautiously cut out a section and brought the juicy piece to her mouth under the other woman's rapt attention.
"Are you sure I'm not...?"
"Yes, yes, yes."
One more month.
Emily manifested beside her the moment Andy stepped foot into the office.
She sighed, collapsing into her seat. "She bought it, but she wants to meet with Miranda personally after the de Ville shoot."
"That's fine and all, we can recycle the same excuses later." Emily waved her hands dismissively. "But she's not ever coming here, is she? To visit Miranda?"
Andy gave a noncommittal shrug. "As for next week I have no idea, but according to her, she's leaving for the Canadian wilderness tonight to shoot what I'm sure is going to be an affront against naturists everywhere, and not coming back until late on Monday."
Both women froze.
"What, am I interrupting a lesbian powwow? No, that can't be true, because Nigel's missing. Would someone mind telling me where my scarves are?"
"Right here, Miranda," Emily answered quickly, proffering a thin package to the editor who had managed to approach them in heels without them noticing.
The editor-in-chief eyed the redhead suspiciously before finally accepting the package. "More coffee."
Miranda turned to leave, but not without a final, apprehensive look.
"What was that?" asked Andy, disturbed.
"I'd reckon she suspects we're hiding something. But when are we not hiding things from her? It's our job."
"Are you sure?"
"Don't worry about it, she'll have forgotten all about it by dinnertime, sometime between one photoshoot disaster and the next." Emily thrust a large bag of ladies' underthings into Andy's lap as a beauty director's assistant leaned on – and subsequently tipped over – an expensive-looking piece of equipment with a resounding crash. "See that? The fashion gods smile on the assistant above all others, Andy, that's why they boon us with these little fiascos. To cover up our fuck-ups."
"Andy, it's Mom. Grandma called – she told us about Nate. You really need to call him. He's coming back to New York on Saturday. You can still try to fix what you did. I tried talking to him but – well, just call him. I can't keep fixing your mistakes, you know. Love you."
Miranda peered through her reading glasses at the photos her private investigator had just faxed over.
...Cruella arriving at airport security, a TSA bomb dog cowering fearfully in her presence. Typical.
...Cruella attempting to pay a taxi driver in gold nuggets... Typically bizarre.
...Cruella entering the Elias-Clarke building.
...Cruella leaving the Elias-Clarke building, twenty minutes later.
Now that was unusual. Miranda pursed her lips. She had been certain Cruella was visiting New York for the sole purpose of either harassing her for apparently 'owed' favors or driving Runway into the ground. Either way, Miranda had expected a visit from the notorious puppy-napper, if not at least a dozen unpleasant phone calls.
Who would Cruella be visiting in Elias-Clarke if not her? Miranda flipped to the next photograph, which was of Cruella sitting in a restaurant with...
The redhead exchanged looks with her brunette counterpart, then promptly scurried to Miranda's doorway. "Yes, Miranda?"
"What sort of restaurant is Le Piazza?"
Emily blushed scarlet. "I've never been, Miranda. I'll find out right away." Miranda peered at her skeptically.
"But you've heard of it."
"Is it the type of place you might go for a business dinner, perhaps? Business informal, business casual, business corporate?"
The first assistant's eyes flickered, widening and tracking slightly to the left. "No, Miranda, none of those."
"Definitely not," said Emily more firmly. "It's ah, romantic. No one would ever have a business meeting there. Not ever. It would be strange."
Miranda blinked at her, as though she had not considered the possibility. "Romantic?" Her eyes darted to a document on her desk which Emily couldn't quite make out from her angle.
Emily waited, holding her breath.
"Why would...?" Miranda blinked again, then seeming to recall Emily's presence, her visage hardened. "That's all, Emily."
Emily scuttled from the room.
"Emily." Nigel waved from beside Andy's desk. "Just heard the good news."
"Ohmigod ohmigod – oh, Nigel, she knows something!"
Nigel looked appropriately aghast. "Oh god, what does she know?"
"I don't know, she kept asking about Le Piazza, and what sort of business meeting could be there? I don't know what it means!"
Andy calmly sipped her mochiatto and clicked on a minesweeper square.
"Oh! Good lord, don't frighten me like that. I mentioned they had good steak to her the other day, I recommended it."
Emily was ventilating heavily through her nose.
"It's alright, Emily," he reassured her.
Nigel nodded reassuringly. "I hope you didn't give anything away?"
"No," she gasped. "I just kept denying any business could happen there. I told her it was a romantic restaurant."
Nigel visibly relaxed, shoulders slumping. "Well that's something, then. That means she won't go near the place for the next year or so, anyway, until she finds a new male to lure to her web and eat. We can keep using it for meetings."
"Oh damn," said Andy. "I clicked on a mine."