Title: I Heard the News Today, Oh Boy
Rating: PG (mild profanity)
Summary: Just a day in Emily's life. A surprising, troubling, mortifying, exhilarating day.
Disclaimer: DWP does not belong to me. DWP belongs to Lauren Weisberger and . . . um, is it too embarrassing to admit I don't remember what studio filmed this? Whoever it was, they have rights too. Unlike me.
"Then go to Hermes . . ."
Emily nodded and wrote furiously. It was early Monday morning and she was still very tired, but sometimes her writing hand paid attention to what Miranda said even better than her mind did.
"Call Lagerfeld and . . ."
Just a typical day at Runway. It would be hell, and she would take it, because the alternative was always something worse.
"Why some models haven't mastered the art of resembling a living person . . ."
Her life - if you could call it that - was about avoiding incidents. Hopefully today would be one of those days.
Miranda tapped her fingers impatiently on her desk for a few moments before she went on. "Have Daphne deliver the Book tonight."
Emily's heart lurched. "You want her to take over?"
"No, I thought she could do it just for one night, for variety's sake. Honestly, Emily."
"Right, sorry, of course, Miranda."
"I won't accept any mistakes tonight, Emily," Miranda said coldly. "I don't want anything remotely close to a repeat of what happened that first time with Andrea. It will reflect badly on you if Daphne makes even the slightest mistake. Am I clear?"
Emily nodded. She'd give Daphne a full briefing. She'd provide her with blueprints, a three-dimensional model of the Priestly house, and a GPS device if she had to. "Yes, Miranda."
"Good. That's all."
Emily kept her face impassive, but she practically floated out of Miranda's office. She couldn't even bring herself to worry at this point about what Daphne might do wrong that night. Her torture was over. For the first time since Miranda returned from Paris, she wouldn't have to wait around the office until the Book arrived. She could actually leave at a somewhat decent hour, giving her time to actually liveevery night before she passed out from exhaustion.
And by "live", she meant "shag Serena".
The final weeks of Andrea's tenure at Runway had been hell for Emily. She'd needed crutches to get anywhere, she wouldn't be going to Paris for Fashion Week, and she'd lived with the daily fear that Miranda would demote her to second assistant and give that cow Andy her job. Even Nigel had seemed positively smitten with Andy, christening her with that nickname "Six" that should have been insulting, but wasn't when he said it.
Her only source of comfort had been her best friend Serena. They'd almost always had lunch together before, but since her injury Emily and Serena had begun spending evenings together as well. On some level, Emily had been a bit bewildered by Serena's attentions. Thanks to Emily's broken leg, they couldn't really go out, and so they usually ended up talking for hours at Serena's apartment or her own. It had mystified Emily why Serena had been willing to give up her social life for her. Maybe Brazilians were just more sympathetic than other people. Or maybe Emily was just that pitiful.
Then Serena had kissed her one night, and suddenly all the time together made sense.
Everything suddenly made sense. It shouldn't have - Emily should have freaked out before the kiss lasted five seconds, but she hadn't. All she'd known was that Serena was kissing her with more passion than any man before her had, and that the sensation of having someone else care thatdeeply for her had been instantly intoxicating. So was hearing an utterly gorgeous woman then tell you that you were the most beautiful thing she'd ever seen.
It didn't matter that Serena was a woman. It only mattered that Serena filled a void that had existed within Emily so long that she'd forgotten it was there. Between that night and Serena's departure for Paris with everyone else, they'd spent nearly all their free time together. Serena was beautiful, warm, funny, and a great caregiver. And best of all, she was perhaps the only person in the building who still preferred her over Andy bloody Sachs.
Naturally, everything went pear-shaped once Miranda returned from Paris without an assistant. Oh sure, Andy's name was banished from the Runway lexicon, and Emily could stop suffering from a nagging sense of inferiority. But Miranda went through two new second assistants like tissue paper before settling on a third girl who was "barely substandard". That had meant Emily was back on delivery detail. The time she was able to spend with Serena outside of the office dwindled down to one or two days a week, something that was already completely unacceptable. That void she'd forgotten? Well, she couldn't forget it any more, now that it wasn't being filled any longer.
But that would change tonight. Miranda didn't require both of her assistants to wait around all night. When she left for the day, it wasn't long before Emily could do the same.
She smiled brightly at Daphne. The second assistant smiled back, a bit uneasily. If you screw tonight up, Daphne, you will be driving a stake into my personal life. I will make sure that doesn't happen, even if I have to tattoo instructions to your hand.
"I heard the news today," Nigel said to her an hour later while Miranda was out. "Congratulations."
"Ugh, finally," Emily said. "Do you know how difficult that was when I still had the crutches?"
"You may have mentioned it one or two - dozen times." He glanced over at Daphne's empty desk. The second assistant had been mercilessly dragged along on Miranda's errand. "I didn't realize she was doing so well."
"I wouldn't go that far," Emily told him. "She's surviving, at least."
Nigel looked at her. "She must be doing a bit better than that if she's already delivering the Book. How long has Daphne been here?"
"Six weeks and three days," Emily said swiftly. She'd counted every one.
"Mm. As I recall, it was at least two months before Andy got the Book. And she was one of Miranda's quicker studies. How long was it before you earned that responsibility?"
Emily thought back with a dim sense of anxiety. "I don't know, probably two months or so."
"And it only took Daphne six weeks? Clearly Miranda must see something in her."
"Yes, well, I don't care," Emily replied. "All I know is that I have my nights back."
"Right, because Miranda would nevercall you about something in the middle of the night," Nigel said dryly.
She shrugged. He had a point.
Did he also have a point about Daphne? It had been sooner than she expected. But Emily witnessed Miranda's interactions with Daphne on a daily basis. There was simply nothing extraordinary the second assistant had accomplished, other than the fact that she hadn't lost her job yet.
Of course, "extraordinary" wasn't a prerequisite for staying on the job. Emily was still there, and Miranda had made it clear months ago that her work was no longer quite as satisfactory as it once was. Probably the only reason Emily even had her job was that there was no one to take her place.
Not yet, anyway. But there was Daphne . . .
Emily barely even noticed Nigel leave, as worry and paranoia slowly turned all of her good feelings about that night into ash.
"So it's true? You're not delivering the Book tonight?"
Emily hadn't even waited for Serena. She'd just slunk down to the cafeteria. "Yes, it's true," she said bitterly.
Serena didn't seem to notice. "Emily, it's even sooner than you predicted! That's wonderful!"
"Terrible is more like it," Emily muttered.
She wasn't so sunken in gloom, however, to realize her words hadn't come out right. Emily looked up and saw the shock and hurt written cleanly across Serena's face. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean it like that," she said.
Serena crossed her arms. "Really," she retorted.
"I think Miranda might be preparing to fire me," Emily said.
"Preparing?" Serena asked, confused. "Miranda doesn't prepareto fire people. She just throws them out without notice."
"But she can't do that with me," Emily replied. "Not with a second assistant who's only been here six weeks. Miranda will need to have someone in place to take my position right away."
"And you think she's found that person?"
Emily nodded dolefully. "Daphne."
Serena stared at her. "You're joking."
"I think Miranda is grooming Daphne to take over as first assistant," Emily murmured. "That's why she's being put in charge of the Book so soon."
"I really think you're reading too much into this," Serena said, unconvinced. Then she looked Emily in the eyes. "This isn't because you're nervous about spending more time with me, is it?"
Emily choked on her diet soda. "What?! How can you say that? Before Paris I spent every free minute with you!"
"Yes, but you're free of your cast now," Serena pointed out. "It's one thing for us to be together when we can't really leave our apartments. Maybe you think it's something else entirely for us to start dating publicly."
"Serena," Emily said, grabbing her hand in a death grip, "I want to be with you - desperately. This is not cold feet. I'm just legitimately terrified that Miranda is about to dismiss me! I know she's wanted to for weeks."
Serena's features softened. "I want you too, Emily. But I think you're diminishing your own talents. Andy Sachs is gone. She can't make you feel small any longer."
"Miranda can," Emily said. She sighed. "She does it every day."
"Then you'll be out of a job," Serena said, shrugging. "It's not the end of the world. And with your experience here, you'll have no trouble getting a job somewhere else. Is it really a big deal?"
Emily looked down. Serena had never been Miranda Priestly's first assistant. She could never understand just how "big" a deal that was, especially considering all the pressure and sacrifice involved. So she offered Serena something true that she could appreciate. "I like working with you, though."
Serena beamed at her, and it made Emily think of the things they'd be doing that night. Both made Emily feel much better.
But it couldn't banish her fears completely.
Miranda was supposed to be leaving shortly, which meant Emily would be disappearing herself soon after. Daphne simply couldn't make any mistakes tonight - Emily had prepped her for fifteen minutes and even given her a written cheat sheet. (No. 1 - Interact with the twins as little as possible.)
But now Miranda would say she'd reconsidered, and that Emily would continue delivering the Book as usual, leaving Serena waiting in the lobby for hours.
Feeling like a child who had nearly left school for the day, only to be summoned by the principal a few feet from the exit, Emily got up and went into Miranda's office.
"Close the door."
Silently Emily did so, even as ice shot up her back. This wouldn't be good.
Miranda regarded her for a full minute, as she tried not to squirm. "Emily," she finally said, voice oozing with concealed menace, "would you say that I'm an unobservant person?"
A rhetorical question behind closed doors. This wouldn't be good at ALL.
"Er, of course not, Miranda," Emily said truthfully. Miranda couldn't be more observant unless she acquired a third eye.
"Mm. I'm not wholly convinced that Daphne is ready for tonight. I don't give just anyone a key to my home."
Well, that was a non sequitur.
"That being said," Miranda went on, "I'm prepared to take that risk . . . if it means you will stop making doe eyesat Serena every time she passes your desk."
Emily stared at Miranda for a moment before she fully grasped what was said. Then her eyes bugged out and her throat seized up.
Miranda pinned her with her eyes. "I'm sure you and Serena fancied you were being - discreet, but from the way you two behave around each other, it would have been patently obvious even to the twins that you'd become involved."
"Miranda - "
"I'm not finished."
Emily's jaws snapped shut.
"I don't generally approve of office relationships, Emily," Miranda continued. "The only saving grace is that, judging from the way you moon over her, you've both managed to keep your libidos in check while at Runway. If I thought the two of you had actually done something inappropriatein the office, you both would be gone by now."
Emily tried not to pass out. How obvious had she been all this time? Did the whole OFFICE know by now? Had she gotten Serena terminated along with her? This was a disaster. A humiliating, mortifying disaster.
Emily turned an even brighter shade of red and looked at Miranda.
Miranda studied her. "Do you and Serena have real feelings for each other, or is this some cheap, tawdry fling for you?"
She swallowed. Emily thought this couldn't get worse, and now Miranda was quizzingher about her love life. "What I feel for her is real," she said weakly. "I can't speak for Serena, but I believe she feels the same."
"I see," Miranda said. "Clearly neither of you has very good judgment, but I would hate to think your judgment was so poor that you would jeopardize your careers for a few thrills."
Having spoken once, Emily found it easier to try again. "Am I being fired, Miranda?"
Miranda glared at her. "I should fire you," she said icily, "for acting like a silly child and forcing me to give Daphne duties she may not be ready for. Your recent behavior around Serena has been distracting, amateurish, immature, and frankly a little pathetic. But I think that if you were to use an ounce of deductive reasoning, it should be clear to you that if I don't think Daphne may even be ready to deliver the Book properly, then she's certainly nowhere near ready to take over your job. So no, I'm not firing you.
"BUT if you can't act like a professional when your lesbian lover is near, then you'll just become completely insufferable and I WILL have to fire you." She narrowed her eyes, and the tone of her voice became wintrier still. "And that would create difficulties for me. Is that how you want to end your tenure here?"
Emily's knees buckled. She still had a job, and Miranda hadn't even suggested that Emily needed to break things off with Serena to keep it that way. But Miranda was still scaring the shit out of her. "Of course not," she managed to say.
"Good," Miranda replied. "So save it for the bedroom, Emily, and do your job. That's all."
As Emily turned shakily and resisted the urge to bolt for the door, Miranda spoke once more. "And have Serena come here immediately."
Emily gulped. "I'll see if she's left for the day."
"I don't care if she just got in the bathtub, Emily. Call her and tell her to be here right away."
Finally escaping Miranda's inner sanctum, Emily went to her desk and dialed Serena's cell with a shaky hand.
"Serena, Miranda wishes to speak with you. Right now."
And then she hung up. She was sure Miranda was listening, and Emily didn't want to try to explain with her eavesdropping.
Serena arrived less than two minutes later. She took one look at Emily's face and blanched. "Emily," she started to say.
"Serena, come in and close the door."
Emily looked up at Serena helplessly. All things considered, this could have gone much worse. She was still Miranda's assistant, and she still didn't have to deliver the Book any longer. But Serena would no doubt be put through the wringer like she was. All Emily dared to whisper was, "She knows."
Serena's face went from alarmed to panicked before she disappeared into Miranda's office.
For an instant Emily was worried for Serena. Miranda had never specifically said that SHE would keep her job. But then she realized there would be no reason for Miranda to tell her to act more professional if Serena would be gone. Suck on that, "ounce of deductive reasoning".
And then she went back to worrying that the entire office knew about them. Miranda always did seem to assume that if it was apparent to her, it must be apparent to everyone else. Emily wondered what Miranda had witnessed. "Doe eyes", she'd said. Maybe she'd looked at Serena a bit too soulfully.
Serena finally emerged a few minutes later, and her face had lost all color. Impressive, considering Miranda had never once raised her voice. "Well?" Emily asked.
The Brazilian woman swallowed. "She seems to think we've been making fools of ourselves for weeks."
"I don't think so. Nigel could never have kept a straight face if he'd known." Serena exhaled loudly. "I still have a job, but she said she'd have her eye on me."
"Miranda always has her eye on people," Emily said.
"Can we just go?" Serena asked. "I hate speaking of this in hushed whispers outside her office. She can probably hear us anyway."
"Not until Daphne returns, I can't," Emily reminded her. "Someone has to man the phones."
As if the universe finally decided Emily could use a little slack, Daphne staggered in just at that moment, too occupied with a box the size of a television set to spare either of them a glance.
Emily clasped her hands in an unconscious gesture of gratitude. "Your place or mine?"
"Just another routine day," Emily said sarcastically an hour later from Serena's couch, once she had a glass of wine in her. "At least we didn't have a photo shoot today."
"Do you think we can pull this off, Emily?" Serena asked from her bedroom. Now she could change into something a little less fashionable and a bit more comfortable, a luxury Emily wouldn't have until she went home. Unless she wanted to go stark naked.
There was time enough for that, though.
"Pull what off?" Emily asked in return.
"What Miranda said. I mean, we didn't even realize we were doing it! And if this relationship goes on, and things really start to get serious . . . I don't know how we'll be able to act completely normal around each other."
Emily shrugged. "Maybe by then I'll be working somewhere else. If we can last long enough, by then Daphne might be an unworthy but serviceable replacement for me."
"A, um, what's the word? Successor? Not a replacement, Emily. No one could replace you."
Emily looked down and smiled.
When she looked up again, Serena was in front of her, and she didn't have a stitch on.
Okay, perhaps she and Serena had different definitions for "time enough".
"We can be as unprofessional as we want here," Serena said.
Emily stood up and slid her arms around Serena's waist. "Here's to being inappropriate."
As Serena lay in her arms, Emily reflected that maybe this could work. She could make an extra effort to mentor Daphne. She no longer had to worry about some younger upstart taking her position. Now that would be the goal. And in the meantime she'd begin looking for opportunities elsewhere.
All very secretly and anonymously, from the privacy of her own home, of course. Emily was sure Miranda hadn't placed cameras in the apartments of her top staffers - yet.
She just had to make sure Miranda wouldn't have reason to crucify her once she'd left.
Her phone buzzed. She sighed and reached for it. DAPHNE, the display said. Shite.It had better be an "all clear". "Hello?"
"Emily? I, um, have a little problem here."
"Daphne, why are you whispering?"
"Well, uh, I was just putting the dry-cleaning away, and I heard something like a stampede coming down the stairs."
That would have been the twins.
"And I panicked, because you said not to be seen, and you said don't engage the twins, and the front door was too far, so I, I . . . I hid in the closet."
Emily closed her eyes.
"And I can hear talking in the hall. What do I do?"
She looked at Serena. She looked incredible while she slept. All traces of worry had been erased from her face. Thoughts of mentoring and keeping Miranda calm suddenly seemed very far away. "Daphne?"
"You're on your own, ducky."
Then Emily closed the phone, put her arm around Serena, and went to sleep.
Author's Note: See my bio for an explanation as to why I'm suddenly posting again.
I believe I wrote this for a challenge in 2008 or 2009. I didn't post it here because, while I was happy with the outcome, I was perversely embarrassed by it. Primarily because of Miranda; I think every time I've tried to write DWP fic, my Miranda is pretty derivative of other fanfics. I always felt like I was just imitating what other people said, and that her behavior/dialogue was highly unoriginal. Plus I know next to nothing about women's fashion, and I didn't feel like doing the research to sound like my characters did. But I loved reading DWP fanfic, and I probably loved Emily/Serena every bit as much as I loved Mirandy.