Gun Brookes Advent Calendar 2012
Star Trek Voyager/Devil Wear Prada – Crossover
Dangerous by Design
Admiral Kathryn Janeway rose from her command chair aboard the Galaxy Class starship Brilliance. "Computer, locate Miranda Priestly."
"Miranda Priestly is in the arboretum on deck seven."
As much as Janeway loathed interrupting the quality time Miranda no doubt had with her daughters and Andrea Sachs, she knew it couldn't be helped. She read the encrypted message, which she'd received on a secure channel, again. Admiral Hayes and Seven's old adversary, Admiral Neyachev, had co-signed the orders, which was enough for Janeway to square her shoulders and press her lips into a fine line. Miranda's assignment was as clear as it was dangerous. Only Janeway held a higher security clearance than the fashion editor, and as far as Janeway knew, she was the only one who knew of Miranda's position as a covert intelligence agent.
Janeway tapped her comm badge. "Janeway to Miranda Priestly."
"Miranda here. Go ahead, Admiral."
"Join me in my ready room."
Only the slightest beat made it clear that Miranda realized something was up.
Andy Sachs looked up from where she sat on the grass in the small apple orchard. When she first visited the arboretum after embarking on the Brilliance, she had been amazed, and quite relieved, that there were real plants and flowers aboard the huge vessel. The holodeck could create most things very lifelike, but there was something special about the real thing. Now she watched her new lover, who was also her boss, answer Kathryn's hail. Something was clearly going on that Andy, Caroline, and Cassidy, Miranda's twin daughters, had no knowledge of.
"Mom, do you have to go? We're having such a good time and Andy created the picnic…" Cassidy frowned.
"I know, Bobbsey. I'm sorry, but I have to go see the admiral. If I can, I'll rejoin you before you go back to our quarters. Andrea, if I'm not back before dinner time, please replicate some for yourself and the girl?"
"Sure thing, Miranda." Andy smiled, knowing how it pained Miranda to have to cut their picnic short. At least they'd had a full hour together in the park area. "Don't worry. I have a few tricks up my sleeve that will entertain these little monsters." They stood and Miranda kissed her girls on the top of their head and then lifted her cheek toward Andy.
Instead of kissing it, Andy ducked to the side and gave Miranda a quick peck on her lips. She smiled inwardly at the tiny gasp the formidable woman gave before giving her a knowing look under raised eyebrows.
Andy watched Miranda move with her usual elegance along the arboretum paths. She knew this woman quite well by now and she wasn't sure she liked that barely noticeable tension around her eyes.
"Enter." Janeway looked up as the door to her ready room hissed open. "Ah, Miranda. Take a seat."
"I take it you have heard from the brass?" Miranda sat down on the opposite side of Janeway's desk. "From your expression, I take it you are not entirely pleased."
"I knew some details about your part of this mission when we embarked on this journey. I admit, I thought we'd hear from Hayes and Neyachev much sooner. Clearly Starfleet and the Federation leaders are not in complete agreement how to proceed." Janeway turned the computer around. "Here's your message. I have read the part I could decrypt, but some of it is meant to be read with both of us present and then deleted. And before you worry about anything remaining in the system, I asked Seven to write a whole new Borg algorithm for this."
"Well, that's good enough for me." Miranda leaned forward and entered her security code. She allowed the virtual lens to scan her retina.
Instead of a written instruction, a low female voice started speaking.
"Admiral Janeway, Ms. Priestly," Admiral Neyachev said curtly. "As circumstance would have it, you two on the same vessel give us hope that a politically delicate and volatile situation could be resolved. I see from the crew manifest that Seven of Nine is aboard the Brilliance. As much as I'm still wary of this former Borg of yours, Kathryn, her skills will come in handy."
"She still hates everything and anything Borg," Janeway muttered. "Sorry." She glanced at Miranda.
"Your orders are to continue on route to the pleasure planet of Risa as your first destination." Neyachev's air-quotation marks were readily audible. "There you will allow for shore leave and thus be able to blend with the tourists. Rendezvous with one of our local agent there at a club called "Minya'ar." You will recognize this woman on sight, but a genetic verification scan is still prudent. Her cover is working as an exotic dancer. She will be of assistance when Miranda Priestly initiates contact with the woman who has a strong personal connection to the individual responsible for the attack on more than fifteen Federations settlements the last year. She lost her family in one of them, so her motivation is high. This contact has gone through conditioning only comparable to yours, Kathryn, as this woman was an ensign aboard Voyager while it was lost in the Delta Quadrant."
"Andrea Sachs," Seven said by way of greeting her friend. "Caroline and Cassidy Priestly." The young twin sisters often tried to trick others by assuming each other's identity, something Seven found curious as they were decidedly different. Caroline's eyes were three shades lighter than Cassidy's and she had fourteen more freckles across her nose. It was strange that others didn't notice this.
"Seven!" Cassidy jumped up from the checkered blanket on the grass in the arboretum. "You off duty already?"
"Oh this is great. Mom had to go see Admiral Janeway and we were just going to suggest a game of four people Kadis-Kot. Would you like to play?"
"Seven might have other plans, Cass," Andrea cautioned.
"Kadis-Kot is my favorite game." Seven couldn't remember feeling so at ease with a friend since she came to the Alpha Quadrant, not counting Kathryn. In the Delta Quadrant, she had often played this with Neelix and Naomi Wildman. The thought of Neelix, the Talaxian former moral officer and ambassador that helped guide Voyager through unknown space made her heart ache. She missed him. And Naomi was in school on earth. Even if they corresponded regularly, she did miss her young friend. "I would like to play with you if you have time."
"Oh, fantastic!" Cassidy, impulsive as always, hugged Seven around the waist.
Swallowing against a sudden surge of emotions, Seven smiled brightly to hide how moved she was at the adoration in Cassidy's eyes.
"Thank you, Seven," Andrea said and returned the smile. "The girls were so disappointed when Miranda had to meet with Kathryn."
"I am happy I decided to see I you were still here. We did not have an arboretum on Voyager as it was much smaller, but we did have a hydroponic bay."
"Here. Sit here with me," Cassidy said after sitting down, patting the blanket. "Perhaps we could play in teams? Would you be in my team, Seven?"
"We're always in teams, Cass," Caroline said quietly, her eyes huge. "How come you want to be in Seven's team all of a sudden?"
Cassidy faltered, looking back and forth between Seven and Caroline. "I—I just thought it'd be sort of fun. You with Andy and me with Seven."
"I think it's a good idea, Caro," Andrea said calmly and slid closer to the distraught twin. "This way it will be a more even game as you and Cassidy are unbeatable when you're playing together. You got to give me and Seven a break, you know. Or we'd lose in the first set."
Caroline smiled cautiously. "You really think Cassidy and I are that good?"
"Ha! You're monsters when it comes to all games, but mainly Kadis-Kot." Andrea tucked a tress of red hair behind Caroline's ear. "And I would love for you to be on my team, Caro."
"Yeah?" Smiling broadly now, Caroline nodded regally to her sister. "Very well. You might regret this when Andy and beat you fair and square."
As the girls busied themselves by setting up the board game, Seven sat down next to Andrea. "You handled this potentially hurtful situation very well."
"I know them rather well. After I moved in with Miranda, I was afraid the twins might be put off by the new arrangements, but as it turned out, they really like me."
"Completely understandable. You're a very worthwhile individual," Seven said. "I am lucky to be among your friends."
"You're kidding, right? I'm the one who feel so very lucky. To have Miranda return my feelings and be friends with you and Kathryn…it's amazing. I have to pinch myself sometimes."
"Do you have time enough on your hands to work on your designs?" Seven, who was scientifically gifted, was in awe of how Andrea could design something as beautiful as a comfortable, stunning garment, just with a few pen strokes.
"Yes, when the twins are at school, Kathryn was kind enough to grant me some small quarters where I set up a drawing board and my sewing equipment. I had it in my quarters the first week, but it was in the way." Andy patted Seven's hand. "And what about you? Are they treating you well in the astrometrics department?"
"Compared to the Daystrom Institute, this is—most satisfactory." Seven had still not been able to come to terms with how they had treated her at Daystrom's, or how her then partner, Chakotay, had dismissed her pain. To work among people that were either afraid of her or disdainful because she was a former Borg, was a relief. "I find my superior officer quite impressive."
"There, you ready?" Caroline sat down close to Andy and leaned her head against her shoulder.
Seven was surprised that Cassidy mimicked the behavior as she scooted in under Seven's arm and smiled expectantly. "You start, Seven. Which color is your favorite of the pieces?"
"Green." Seven moved her first piece and drew a deep breath, enjoying the sound of birds and the smell of the different flowers around them.
"Ah," Caroline said with a toothy grin. "A classic start, and a classic mistake, dear Seven." She rubbed her hands gleefully, making both Andrea and Seven chuckle.
Seven watched the others make their moves. The afternoon seemed to promise even more of friendship and sense of family.
Janeway blinked. Tal Celes from Voyager? She remembered the awkward and not very skilled ensign that drove Seven crazy in astrometrics for screwing up constantly. She had moved on to become an undercover agent?
Miranda sighed and stood. "I'm starting to think it might have been a grave error in judgment to bring my children on this mission."
Janeway heard the desolate ton in Miranda's voice clearly. "Caroline and Cassidy will be tucked away aboard the Brilliance the entire time. They'll be fine." She hoped she sounded convincing. She rounded her desk as Miranda stood. "Our ETA to Risa is in eighteen hours. I'll come by your quarters later with a high security data PADD with all you need to know about my former crewmember. She must be our link to reach someone close to our objective. As strange as it sounds to me, as I remember this young woman as quite timid and uncertain. Losing her family just after returning to the Alpha Quadrant must have toughened her and made her go look for…" Janeway hesitated.
"I'm afraid that might be the case."
"As long as she keeps her head cool, nothing wrong with some motivation." Miranda sighed, despite her tough words. "For a young woman to lose everything is heartbreaking, of course."
"She's quite beautiful in a wholesome sort of way, at least in this picture." Miranda's eyes narrowed. "This could be an idea for her to come with us further into enemy territory. I could use her as a model for one of the mainstream spreads."
"Celes—a model?" Janeway tried to picture her former crewmember moving down the runway, or posing for lingerie or haute couture.
"I absolutely see it. In fact, her coloring reminds me of Andrea's. This could be a way to launch her clothes line."
"Seven told me, after checking with Andy, of course, that she's quite the designer."
"Now there was a surprise I didn't see coming," Miranda said, snorting. "When I learned that Andrea is in fact Sara Candes, a new, undiscovered designer with a whole new concept and excellent taste…" Shrugging, Miranda tapped her lower lip. "I will need to find a way to tell her about my double duty here, even if it is a very watered down version of the truth. I can hardly expect her to be completely honest, when I'm hiding what I do when I'm not editor-in-chief of Runway. She'll sense that I'm not being entirely truthful; she's very perceptive when it comes to the girls and me."
"Seven didn't used to be." Janeway leaned back in her chair, relaxing a little. Her neck was sore to the touch and she hoped Seven might give her one of her fabulous massages tonight. "She was far too literal when she first came aboard Voyager. As she learned the intricacies of the social structures, she began reading me very well. Too well, sometimes."
"Perhaps it's because she loves you so passionately." Miranda regarded her thoughtfully. "Andrea has understood and read me quite well for the last two years, or more. She would have the upper hand if she wasn't making herself entirely transparent to me. So you see why I need to tell her something."
"Clear it with Hayes when we have secured Celes and left Risa."
"How long do you think we will be in orbit around Risa?"
"Forty-eight hours approximately."
Miranda's smile softened. "So, time for a little shore leave when we get our hands on Celes?"
"I don't see why not. We might have to brief her together, but I don't see why you can't spend twenty-four hours at one of the resort with Andrea and your children."
Miranda's face softened. "That makes me very happy to hear. Thank you."
"I'll talk to my first officer and let her know she needs to set up a duty roster that allows as many as possible to get some downtime. It will be a while before we are off duty for any extended period."
"Going into what my superior called the 'hot zone' will keep us on our toes on a whole new level. If we run into one of those nearly mythical ships, the Brilliance will have her work cut out for her."
Janeway regarded her ready room with a critical eye. This wasn't Voyager, nor did she have her the same feeling for the Brilliance as she had for her little Intrepid Class ship that carried her and most of her crew back home to safety. Still, the Brilliance was every bit as impressive as the legendary Enterprise. With time, she would no doubt come to mean a lot as well. "We'll do what we did in the Delta Quadrant. Meet everything head on."
"Seven of Nine to Admiral Janeway." Seven's hail interrupted them.
"Go ahead Seven. Just me and Miranda here."
"Excellent. I would like Andrea Sachs and the Priestly twins to join us for dinner tonight. Would you ask Miranda Priestly for me?"
"She hears you, sweetheart."
"Thank you, Seven. I look forward to it. What time?"
"As the girls are joining us, I suggest 1800 hours as they might need time afterward to do homework."
A unison moan made Janeway smile. "Sound doable, Miranda?"
"It does." A soft smile lit a warm fire in Miranda's eyes.
"Good idea, Seven. I'll be back at our quarters half an hour before our guests arrive. Janeway out." She stood and walked Miranda to the door. "This way I can give you the PADD when you and your family join us."
Miranda nodded and left. Janeway strode onto the bridge where she listened to uneventful reports of everything working at peak performance. She might have thought that was boring, but the true nature of their special assignments made her relish in the relative quiet. Soon enough they would have to watch their backs at every turn.
Miranda helped Seven carry the last bowls from the table and placed them in the replicator's recycling slot. As the leftovers and the dishes dematerialized and was stored back as in the Brilliance's energy buffer, Miranda regarded the statuesque blond that was still such a mystery to her. There was no denying that Seven was a stunning woman, of model grade actually, but something guarded in her eyes had Miranda concerned.
"This was delicious, Seven," Miranda said as she sanitized her hands in the small alcove next to the replicator. "I don't think I've ever taste anything as good coming from a replicator before.
"That's Borg encryption technique and ingenuity for you," Kathryn chuckled and wrapped an arm around Seven's narrow waist. "I promise you, the rest of the replicators aboard the Brilliance aren't capable of such gourmet treats."
"Kathryn is being facetious," Seven said, smirking faintly. "I can easily reprogram your own replicator should you wish to recreate this dish."
"Sounds good to me." Miranda turned to her lover who was sitting on the couch with Caroline and Cassidy. "You can cook, right, Andrea?"
Andrea looked nervous. "Not really. I do know how to program a replicator, but cook, no, not really."
"Hm. We have to do something about that. I would love for my girls to develop their palates."
"They are well developed," Cassidy said cheekily. "Pizza slices and pasta rollers. Not to mention the meat-stackers."
"Junk food. We've eradicated war and greed from most of the Federation, but amazingly enough we are plagued by junk food even more when it became popular during the twentieth century."
"Hey, I like meat-stackers," Andrea said. "Don't bash my very favorite food."
"How can you possibly enjoy such a ridiculous excuse for nutrition?"
"It kept me alive while in your employment," Andrea answered blithely.
"Excuse me?" Miranda raised an eyebrow deliberately. It used to unnerve Andrea to no end, at least before they admitted to their feelings for each other.
"It's fast. It's readily available. Just what a hounded assistant need to make it through the day without fainting."
Caroline and Cassidy guffawed and slapped each other's hands. "She got you there, Mom," Caroline said and giggled.
"Oh, don't worry, Bobbsey. I'll 'get' her right back."
I hope so, Andrea mouthed, making Miranda swallow hard and coughed to camouflage it. She still tried to wrap her brain around the fact that Andrea could do that to her at any given time. One look, a few mouthed words, a quick whisper in passing, or, and this was most devastating of all, a quick, secret caress just under her hairline at the back of her neck. Andrea had learned she could not do that unless she was prepared to deal with the consequences later. That was another surprise. She didn't know, until Andrea, just how voracious she was. Before, Miranda had occasionally enjoyed sex, in a detached sort of way. What had been disconcerting back then was when she realized that masturbation was just as satisfactory as being with the man she was currently married to. Now, only Andrea's touch would do. If masturbation entered the picture, it was because Miranda loved watching Andrea caress herself. Andrea had yet to convince Miranda to return the favor, but knowing her young lover, it was just a matter of time.
"You're far away, Miranda," Kathryn said and placed a gentle hand on her elbow. "Why don't you take a seat over by Andy and I'll bring you some of the coffee my mother sent."
There wasn't much Miranda wouldn't do for the right type of coffee. She was among the few who could get her hands on un-synthesized coffee back on Earth, but somehow Kathryn's mother, a traditionalist from Indiana, had some pull with the area where they grew the beans. She sat down next to Andrea and Caroline switched to sit next to her mother.
"Mom, Andrea promised to help us with our science project," Caroline said.
"She did?" Miranda pursed her lips. "Not help as in suck her in to doing all the work?"
"No, just help. Give us pointers. We'll do all the work." Cassidy blushed faintly. "I really want Ms. Tara to be proud of me…us." Her cheeks grew crimson.
Miranda blinked. Cassidy clearly had a case of hero worship. Her teacher, of Bajoran descent, was a stern, quite beautiful woman in her mid-thirties. A flicker of a thought made Miranda stop just as the fragrant mug of coffee was by her lips. About the same age difference as between her and Andrea.
"Miranda? Something wrong?" Andrea's voice, low and soft, immediately engulfed her, so warm, so loving.
"Not a single thing." She sipped her coffee and gazed around the room at faces she loved, and others that she'd come to think of as very close friends. No, nothing was wrong. She thought briefly of her mission. Not yet.
"I've never been to Risa," Andy said as the Brilliance settled into orbit around the planet that was known as one huge world of pleasure. "Have you?"
Miranda looked up from her data PADD. "Yes, a few times. On business."
"So, no fun and games for you, then?" Andy packed a few more items into her overnight bag and then closed it.
"Not until now." Miranda smiled slyly. "I do plan to rectify that."
How could this woman take her breath away with just a few words? Andy shook her head and walked down the small, private corridor that connected her and Miranda's suite with the girls' bedroom. She pressed the buzzer.
"Come in." The door opened at the sound of Caroline's voice. "Hi, Andy."
"Just making sure you're finished packing. We transport down to the surface in an hour."
"We're done. We were actually done last night." Cassidy grinned as she turned her head go face Andy. "If only Mom didn't make us bring homework."
"Hey, what's the price of a few math pages and a history paper, when you get to spend a whole day at the Water Wonder World?" Andy rubbed her hands together. "I know that I can't wait to try those slides I saw on computer."
"Oh, they looked scary," Caroline said, looking worried. "Are you sure they're safe?"
"Absolutely safe. They have installed emergency beam-out emitters everywhere which are engaged if there is the slightest hint of trouble."
"Yeah, like if you've inhaled a liter of water and look like this," Cassidy said and goggled her eyes while inflating her cheeks.
"Cassidy." Miranda's voice made the teasing twin jump and let go of the breath she held with a resounding whoosh. "Do not tease your sister. We all have our fears. I would never even contemplate going in any of those slides. You should be very grateful that Andrea agrees to take you, as I'll be tied up with work."
"Sorry, Caro." Cassidy slumped her shoulders, but true to her nature, she was soon her sparkling self. "But you're joining us when you're done, aren't you, Mom?"
"Yes. If my meeting ends before you leave, I'll join you and perhaps watch you be daredevils."
"What about Kathryn and Seven?" Andy asked, wrapping an arm around Miranda's waist. It still mesmerized her that she was entitled to do that, and more. Just a while ago, she would have expected to be fired if she touched the untouchable Miranda Priestly. "You think they'll join us as well."
"They might. I'll ask them later." Miranda glanced at the twins. "Carry your bags out and put them next to ours. Be ready to go to transporter room two in fifty minutes."
"Sure—uhm, yes, Mom." Cassidy jumped up and ran over to her sister. Hugging her so fiercely, Caroline squealed, she laughed raucously. "Oh, we're going to have so much fun. Don't worry, sis. I'll stay really close to you the whole time, you'll see."
Andy suddenly had to blink away tears. The twins sometimes fought like wild animals and more than once had Andy been forced to act as a referee and separate them. Still, it was during moments like this, when she watched their unconditional love for each other, that she realized how much she loved these children.
"Andrea," Miranda murmured. "I worry about you sometimes."
"Wh-what?" Andy quickly wiped at her wet lashes.
"Your heart. So tender, so easily bruised. Still, I also know how brave and strong you are, so I suppose I'm a foolish old woman for worrying."
"As much as I hate for you to worry, I'm sort of honored that you do." Andy laughed, her voice a little breathless. "And you don't fool me, Priestly. You may scare most people's socks off, but you have the biggest heart of all of us. And you're not old."
Miranda tossed her head back and laughed. Andy could see the twins stare with open mouths and she knew her own expression probably mimicked theirs. Not many people ever saw Miranda laugh like this. Holding her tighter, Andy told herself she would never take this for granted.
"I wonder what goes through you head when you look at me that way," Miranda whispered and regarded Andy through her eyelashes.
"I think the planet of Risa will be the perfect place for me to demonstrate just what I'm thinking of." Andy turned to go back to their living room area when Miranda stopped her halfway down the short corridor.
"I will hold you to that." Miranda tugged at her arm. She moved in closer and pressed her lips to Andy's.
Andy returned the kiss with all of the desire she felt for this woman. Miranda gasped against her lips and wrapped her arms around her neck.
"And there they go again," Caroline said, her voice bored. "Will they ever grow tired of kissing?"
"Mom and Andy? You're kidding, right?" Cassidy snorted.
"Cheeky girls nine o'clock," Andy murmured. "Better wait to read my mind until tonight."