DWP Secret Santa 2010 for associatedbears
Pairing: Miranda/Andrea, The Devil Wears Prada
Rating: NC-17 eventually
Special Thanks to my betas who did a stellar job, peetsden, quiethearted, law_nerd, and shesgottaread. You caught tons of mistakes, smoothed out the rough areas, and made me think twice about the way I crafted the story. Thank you!
Disclaimer: I do not own The Devil Wears Prada, its characters, or any New York restaurants. I am not profiting from this story (except through positive comments which feed my Muse). It is created through the fair use doctrine or some such pish-posh.
Prompt: erotic, smutty, Xmas Mirandy. Writer's choice.
A/N: This is a bit AU in that Andy did not leave Miranda in Paris, although she came close.
This story consists of five parts and an Epilogue. All parts are posted and linked. When I first wrote this it was much fluffier. In fact I had kind of ripped myself off from another story, so I rewrote it and added a little more Miranda-ness to it. I hope you enjoy. Happy holidays!
Every year the board of Elias-Clarke attempted to instill a sense of friendliness and unity by encouraging everyone on staff to attend their holiday party. Employees for all their magazines, including their flagship Runway, were encouraged to attend, as were their leaders. Normally, Miranda would make an appearance and leave rather quickly on the pretext of needing to get back to her family. This year, however, with Irv's obvious malevolence, Miranda's imminent divorce, and her children's visit with their father over the weekend, she found she would just have to resign herself to mingling with the plebeians.
Miranda viewed attending this event as akin to volunteering at a soup kitchen or donating the past season's couture to those who normally wore Wal-mart's finest—she hoped fervently that she would not have to talk to people, just smile and nod while they attempted to ingratiate themselves into her world.
As another forgettable person waylaid her to wish her happy holidays, Miranda pasted on a fake smile and stifled her frustration. Oh, well, a few hours making nice could only strengthen her reputation and reinforce her hold over Runway. In addition, this would provide her with an opportunity to observe her second assistant outside the office.
Andrea Sachs, with her bright eyes and vivacious disposition, came to work each day with a smile on her face and a spring in her step. Miranda had found it as increasingly annoying as it was uplifting. Since Paris, though, Andrea seemed to smile a little less brightly and laugh a little less often when Miranda was around. She seemed skittish and introspective. Cautious and tense. It gave Miranda pause.
Appearing to be a lost cause in the beginning, Andrea had demonstrated a stubborn streak a mile long, accompanied by a determination to succeed. That spark, that unwillingness to accept failure quietly, had prompted Miranda to hire her in the first place. Over the months, Miranda had watched her mature in many compelling ways, fascinated despite her wish to remain unaffected by the brunette. If only she could determine what was causing Andrea to act differently around her. Miranda knew she shouldn't care—Andrea was merely her second assistant—but her heart did not listen to logic. She cared.
Although loathe to admit it, Miranda took comfort in hearing Andrea chatter incessantly to Emily outside her office each day. After Paris, Emily had been aloof toward Andrea, but eventually she had thawed under the onslaught of so much warmth. During those one-sided conversations, Andrea had revealed trouble in her love life. Evidently, her boyfriend had left her. Join the party.
Miranda was in the middle of an acrimonious divorce, despite many wasted nights spent pleading with him to remain by her side. She had tried to salvage the marriage—she had. Yet, no matter what she did, it was never enough. Stephen refused to make allowances, drowning his sorrow in alcohol night after night, complaining about her work, her girls, her house (Our house, she reminded herself. After all, hadn't she redecorated to suit his tastes?), and, of course, their lack of intimacy. Honestly, how could he have whined incessantly about her in such ways and then have expected her to desire his touch? As it was, she worked hard well into the evenings and returned home exhausted.
He used to understand. He used to admire her dedication to her career. Not anymore, though, and eventually she had become too tired of trying to convince him that she was the same person he had married three years ago. She had stopped defending herself, and the bastard had served her with divorce papers during Paris Fashion Week three months ago.
Turning on her bar stool, Miranda acknowledged Nigel's snide remarks with a slight curling of her lips. He pretended to hate these festivities, but Miranda knew he enjoyed watching the peons drink themselves into moronic stupors and pair up with inappropriate partners under the mistletoe. Miranda chose to sit at the bar and intersperse caustic observations within pregnant pauses. Since circumstances had forced her to nix Nigel's opportunity to work with James Holt, she had taken great pains to make it up to him. Miranda was confident that he had noticed and understood. After commenting on an Auto Universe meathead's ridiculous attempt to capture a pretty if vapid Runway makeup tech, Miranda noted with interest Andrea's entrance into the event room. She must have arrived earlier since she bore no Secret Santa offering.
Another ridiculous requirement for this little shindig. Each person was required to bring a wrapped, unmarked gift for a Yankee Swap. People could spend at most one hundred dollars for the gift, although free items could be used. That made it much easier for Runway employees since they constantly received free samples of the newest clothes and accessories.
"Are you planning on staying for the Yankee Swap?" Nigel drawled. Miranda raised an eyebrow while shooting him an "obviously you have either drunk too much or not enough" look. "Right. Of course." Miranda turned back to her perusal of her second assistant, not deigning to dignify his absurd question with any more of her time.
Tonight Andrea wore a black pantsuit ensemble and a shimmering gold blouse. She looked delectable. Miranda savored her Macallan Scotch while wondering whether Andrea had a new boyfriend. Miranda grimaced.
"Good evening, Miranda, Nigel. How are you?" Andrea's melodic voice caressed Miranda's ears as she approached the bar.
"Six! If it isn't the sunshine queen herself. What, no boy-toy tonight?" Nigel greeted her as she caught the bartender's attention.
Miranda watched as she batted her eyes while ordering a glass of wine. She became amused by how easily Andrea wrapped the infatuated bartender around her pinkie. She'd never actually seen Andrea in action before, never seen how charming she could be. Miranda knew well how to use her feminine wiles to smooth the way, and she bit back a smile while watching Andrea add a touch of genuine sweetness to the interaction. Miranda found it compelling.
"Oh, no. I'm taking a break from all that," Andrea answered, sadness lacing her words.
What a schmuck her ex-boyfriend is, Miranda thought disparagingly. That boy should have jumped at the opportunity to spend time with Andrea instead of uprooting to Boston, leaving her alone to the tender mercies of those who would love the chance to sweep her away. He obviously has no idea what he gave up.
Evidently, he had lost his desire for her as she became more dedicated to her job. It was clear to Miranda that Andrea was just beginning to come into her own. The younger woman would undoubtedly blaze a path on her way to the top. Yet, as with any profession, one had to start from the bottom, working long hours and developing a healthy work ethic. Soon Andrea's year would be up, and she would move on to a job more worthy of her talents. Miranda liked to think she'd had a hand in Andrea's success. It's why she'd pushed her so hard.
"Hm. If you don't watch out you'll soon sound like the rest of us poor, single chumps," Nigel commented before sipping more of his Manhattan.
"Oh, well, it's fine. I'd rather not be with someone who wants to be able to place me in a neat, little box. That relationship was destined to fail." Andrea shrugged her shoulders as she leaned against the bar, wine in hand. "As they say, the writing was on the wall. It was all over but for the crying." Nigel hummed in sympathy. "Anyway, we just drifted apart."
Miranda chose to say nothing even though she knew Andrea was minimizing the reason for her failed relationship. She was undeniably concerned for the younger woman, but what could she say, after all? I understand? I'm experiencing the same challenges finding someone who understands me, supports me, loves me for who I am? Let me braid your hair while I whisper how foolish he was to let you go? Miranda took another sip of her Scotch.
"Miranda, how are you this evening?" Andrea asked.
"Fine," Miranda answered because they weren't at work, and she could be pleasant when it served her purposes. She looked around the room, pointedly not focusing on Andrea. She could already feel the younger woman's presence quite forcefully. There was no need to gaze at her.
"That's, that's good. I'm glad," Andrea said brightly. Miranda could have sworn she heard Nigel snort, but no, that couldn't be accurate.
"The Secret Santa Yankee Swap will be starting soon. Everyone needs to pick a number out of this Santa hat. Just one. Come on, everyone," Irv's smarmy voice grated on Miranda's last nerve. Rolling her eyes as she watched Andrea pick a number, Miranda conceded that she was not yet ready to leave. She would admit to no one that she always had intended to remain if Andrea was in attendance. Miranda finished her drink and signaled the barkeep for another round.
"I'll settle my tab now." Miranda instructed him, "Add another round of their drinks, too," as she waved in Nigel and Andrea's direction. She smiled slightly at their thanks. Andrea sounded shocked. As she should be. It must be the holiday cheer seeping into Miranda's bones. She just suddenly felt benevolent.
Sliding gracefully off her stool, Miranda sashayed over to the odious CEO of Elias-Clarke to pick a number from the cheap Kmart Santa hat. One hundred and fifty-two. She'd be here all night. Perhaps she had been too hasty closing her bar tab.
Soon all the participants gathered near a long table strewn with wrapped gifts of all shapes and sizes. Miranda just barely kept herself from sighing. Instead, she pressed her lips together.
"All right, then. In case you have never participated in a Yankee Swap before, the rules are fairly simple," Irv began with his pompous voice. "Does everyone have a number?" He looked around to make sure before continuing. "Great. The person who has the number one will begin. That person will come up to the table and choose a present to unwrap. Then number two will have the choice of either taking number one's present or taking a gift from the table. Number two cannot take number one's gift after opening a gift from the table, so if number two chooses a gift from the table and doesn't like it as much as what number one received, that's too bad. If a person takes another person's gift, the person without a gift can choose another gift from the table. Number three will be able to take the gift that number one or two received or can choose from the table. And so on. Once everyone has chosen a gift, number one can choose from any of the opened gifts. So being number one is the best. No surprise there." Irv preened under the chuckles. "A couple of other rules: you have to keep your gift out where others can see it, and you have to open a gift when your number is called. So, who's number one?"
"I am," Andrea said as she rose from her chair.
"Ah, this way then," Irv urged. Andrea stepped in front of the table and studied the various offerings. Finally, she picked up a box wrapped in silver paper.
"Wow! This is heavy," she exclaimed in surprise. Quickly she opened the gift and smiled. Miranda could see that it was a bottle of Macallan Scotch. It looked like a 21-year vintage. Not bad. Andrea showed everyone the bottle before sitting down.
"You won't have that for long," Nigel said loudly.
The next person opened a spa basket with a gift certificate for a spa treatment. The third participant took Andrea's liquor. With a resigned grin, she opened a gift to find a roll of toilet paper covered with Christmas jokes. Everyone howled with glee. Even Miranda found herself fighting off a smile. For the next several rounds Miranda watched as Andrea gamely tried to convince people to take her toilet paper roll, claiming that laughter was important in a person's life, even in the bathroom. She got no takers, but that bottle of liquor became a hot commodity.
Some of the gifts weren't bad—some showed ingenuity, humor, or thoughtfulness. A junior editor unwrapped scented candles with a silver candleholder while an accountant found himself stuck with a chipped porcelain vase, the off-center picture of Odysseus holding his famed bow causing much mirth. Nigel took the Scotch from Irv, who opened up a box to find a yellow polka-dotted tie on a horrendous orange background. Miranda did smile at that.
Emily's gift revealed two tickets to the Rockettes' Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. She seemed pleased. Miranda idly wondered whether Andrea would enjoy such a show. Hearing a gasp, Miranda refocused on the presents. Serena had just opened hers. She stood looking down at something framed.
"What is it?" someone asked.
Serena replied, "It looks like it's a first issue of Runway from May 1986 and two pencil drawings of Miranda, one when she was younger and the other as she looks now. I'm willing to bet this is the first issue Miranda produced once she became the editor-in-chief."
Serena tilted the frame so people could see the drawings. Miranda sucked in a breath. They were startling. Wonderful. Surprising. Miranda, well-versed with the emotions an artist could instill in a drawing, could see affection and warmth through every line. The first picture showed her with shoulder-length blonde hair. Her smile was unforced, crow's feet practically nonexistent, and her demeanor not quite so fierce. She looked happy and strong. The second picture showed her as she looked presently, but again the artist had somehow created a sense of strength and ease in the facial expression. The picture expressed her feelings while gazing at her girls—relaxed and vibrant. Her smile was smaller in this picture, tempered by years of denying herself the pleasures of lighthearted banter and camaraderie with others, yet her eyes seemed to sparkle with some joke. Someone sees me this way?
"That magazine must be worth a mint by now. It's in perfect condition," someone said. People discussed the gift for several minutes before Irv brought attention back to the Swap, pointing out that they had fifty-six more gifts to go.
Prada shoes, stuffed animals, a Starbucks travel mug and gift card, designer sweaters, Christmas CDs with iTunes gift cards, lottery tickets with a tin of Godiva's hot chocolate and a bottle of Kahlua, and all the typical gifts one would find at such an event were opened fairly quickly. Once in a while a joke gift would appear, inciting much laughter and commiseration for the recipient. Miranda noticed someone from accessories opened the gift Miranda had contributed. She had brought a Donna Karan print blouse with a matching cerulean blue scarf. The colors matched beautifully. Miranda couldn't help thinking that Andrea would look particularly fetching in them.
Finally it was Miranda's turn. Walking up to the table, she noted she was the last person to choose. Picking up the gift, she opened it. Her eyes widened. She had received Anna Wintour's unauthorized biography and a pair of Chanel sunglasses. Miranda glared as people noticed the gift and began laughing. Miranda could not see the humor. At all.
Holding them delicately by the very edges, Miranda found Jocelyn and offered them. The younger woman took them with a sigh and handed over the framed treasure she had taken from Irv's personal assistant. Looking at the drawings of herself closely, Miranda once again was dazzled. They were simply stunning. Smiling with satisfaction, Miranda returned to her seat as people lightly teased Jocelyn.
"Ok, then, Andy, you get to choose from any of the gifts opened." Everyone held their breath as Andy got up and began walking past each person slowly, overtly eyeing all the loot. When she arrived in front of Miranda, the editor shot her a warning glare. She would Not. Be. Happy. if Andrea chose to take this item from her. Miranda swept her gaze at the assembled employees as, fortified by booze and that damned unity Irv was so focused on building, they urged Andrea to take Miranda's present. Andrea smiled as Miranda's glare intensified. Instead of signing her death sentence, however, Andrea winked and turned away. Blinking in surprise, Miranda watched as Andrea crossed to the girl who had opened the gift she had contributed and held out the toilet paper. Several people tittered. Andrea took the scarf and blouse reverently with a large, toothy grin. "Thank you!" Andy crowed.
"Let's all give each other a round of applause for being such good sports. Happy holidays, everyone," Irv said as people clapped appreciatively. Nigel leaned over to look at Miranda's present.
"I wonder who drew those. They are extremely flattering to you, Miranda. I don't recognize the artist's style, though. Do you?" Nigel continued to stare at them, as did Miranda.
"I do not, but you are correct. They are beautifully drawn," she agreed softly. She didn't know who had created the drawings, but she hoped to find out. She would find out.