A/N: This is a suspenseful mystery that will eventually contain some romance. Set during Paris, moments after Andy walks away.
Warning: I have no beta, all mistakes (and I'm sure there are some) are my own.
Disclaimer: I don't own any characters from Devil Wears Prada, I just wanted to play with them for a little while.
"Obviously, not here," Miranda answered Nigel in a good facsimile of her normal tone. He knew her well enough to know, however, that something was wrong.
"Shall I take your notes, then, or is Six going to make an appearance?" Nigel pushed, just a little, to see if whatever was wrong had to do with the erstwhile assistant.
"Take notes, Nigel, that's all," Mirada wanted the conversation to end. She couldn't focus. She was in shock. She left. Being compared to me was the final straw. I've been pushing her and pushing her for months and finally, when I thought she had reached the peak of her potential and was ready to be nudged from the nest, she flew away all on her own. She left me to walk alone. Silly old woman, how could I have thought that look in her eyes last night meant anything other than pity.
True to form, like any other Runway employee, Nigel sat quietly and watched Miranda watch the show. He took careful and precise notes on what she thought of each piece as well as detailed descriptions of the clothing, accessories and models. The only person who could have taken notes as well as Nigel was Andy. Though her notes would have been different, they would have been just as effective.
**A few blocks away**
Oh, my God. What was I thinking? What the hell am I doing? Why would it have been so bad to be compared to Miranda? I respect her. I admire her. She's a strong, powerful woman at the top of her industry. People will do anything to make her happy and the moment I had the chance to do just that, I took off. I ran away from her. How could I do that to her right now? I know what she's going through and I treated her just like her loser husband. She was complementing me for goodness' sake! I am an idiot. An idiot in a foreign country with no phone. At that, Andrea turned and walked the ten yards back to the fountain, reached in and took her ruined phone out. I won't be an idiot without a phone for long. There has to be a wireless store around here somewhere. Then I'll go back, throw myself at her feet and beg for absolution. Which she'll never give. I am such an idiot. I will fix this. Andy looked around for store that could help her, seeing none she found someone to ask. As soon as she had directions, she practically sprinted. She knew she had less than an hour to get a new phone and get back to the show before Miranda was done and she was determined to do so. In fact, she was more determined than ever to do what she had to for Miranda.
**Back at the show**
Nigel could tell Miranda was distracted throughout the show. Her eyes would check each model before flitting anxiously to each entrance, watching for someone, it seemed. She'll show up. Andréa is much too professional to abandon me here. Runway, abandon Runway here. She left the magazine, not me. She was only my employee, my assistant. She only worked for me. This pain is just heartburn. I am fine.
As the last model entered the runway, Miranda suddenly felt her body break out in a cold sweat. She felt absolutely terrified. Her adrenaline shot through the roof and her heart rate skyrocketed. Something was dreadfully wrong.
"Nigel, I have to go," she said quickly.
"Miranda, the show wasn't that bad," he laughed.
"No, Nigel, something's wrong. I have to go. You stay. Schmooze for me. The show wasn't that bad; there were some useful pieces. Please, Nigel, I have to go."
Blown away by the timbre of Miranda's request and the fact that she had said please, Nigel quickly agreed. "I'll meet you later, Miranda. No problem." As the woman started to leave, Nigel briefly touched her arm to stop her. "Miranda, whatever's going on, I'm sure it will be fine. Nothing to worry about. I'll come by for drinks later and we'll talk." She at least owes me a conversation after her little stunt with James Holt and Jacqueline Follet.
Miranda merely nodded and turned quickly for the door, already dialing her driver as she stepped outside. She saw the car pull up as she heard her name fall from lips she thought she'd never see again.
"Andréa," Miranda breathed, still feeling the suffocating sense of dread.
Surprising them both, Andy stepped forward and hugged Miranda tightly. "I'm sorry," she whispered, "it'll never, ever happen again." Miranda felt tears in her sunglass shielded eyes and held them back through sheer power of will alone. Just as Andy was going to let go of the stiff-backed woman in her arms, Miranda reached around the taller woman's waist. Her palms pressed into the lengthy spine of the younger woman, bringing their bodies into full contact. Andy felt a shudder go through the smaller body. "Miranda," she prayed, "Miranda."
Miranda sniffed gently and stepped back from her assistant. Without waiting for someone to do it for her, Miranda hurriedly opened the car door and gestured for Andréa to climb in ahead of her.
Once the door was shut, Miranda ordered the driver back to their hotel.
"Your schedule, Miranda?" Andy asked.
"Something's wrong, Andréa. I don't know what but something's wrong. I thought," Miranda uncharacteristically stumbled over her words, "I thought, maybe, that it was you. You're here, though. You came back and something's still wrong."
"Miranda, what are talking about? What do you mean something's wrong?" Andy was confused.
"I don't know, Andréa!" Miranda practically shouted, "I just know something's wrong. I have this, this feeling. My heart is pounding. My skin is clammy. I thought I was having a panic attack but it's different."
Andy took a risk and reached toward her boss, gently grasping her hand. "We'll figure it out, don't worry. Maybe you just thought I messed up your schedule?"
Miranda turned her face to the younger woman and whipped the glasses off her face, "I will not be patronized. Something is wrong."
"Okay, okay, I believe you. Should I," Andy paused, "I don't want to upset you but should I call the girls?"
"Yes, let's call them. You call Cass and I'll call Caroline. Just to make sure they're fine, you know," Miranda was trying to convince herself.
The women pulled out their phones and, taking deep breaths, were about to call the girls when Miranda stopped them.
"I'm going to call Stephen first. No need to unnecessarily alert the girls; they're at school still, I think."
"Would you rather I call him, Miranda? I don't mind," Andy offered.
Miranda was about to snap at the young woman for her gall when she looked at Andy's face and realized that the brown-eyed girl was truly trying to help and support her.
"No need, Andréa, I'll call him. I believe he still lives at my townhouse, though he spends so little time there it is hard to tell. He is supposed to be looking after my children while I'm here," Miranda scrolled through her contacts looking for her soon-to-be ex-husband's information.
The white-haired woman put the phone up to her ear while the fingers of her left hand twitched nervously on her lap. Andy steeled herself for rejection and reached over to entwine the fingers of her right hand with Miranda's left. Her heart skipped a beat when she felt Miranda grip her hand in return. Maybe she really is forgiving me for taking off. After all, I did come right back. And I do love her. Not that she knows that. I'll just stay here, at Runway, by her side. I'll show her every day how loyal I can be and eventually she'll see she just can't be without me. She's already holding my hand and she DID hug me back.
"Stephen, it's Miranda… I'm sure you're busy…Yes, I'm sorry for interrupting a meeting but…No, I just…Dammit, Stephen, I am allowed to call to check up on my children. You know, those two little people that look so alike you can't tell them apart? How are they doing?...No, they're not going to their father's today…They're supposed to be going directly home after school today…From whom?...Their driver shouldn't be sending you messages about them…Please, Stephen, hold on for just a moment…Please, these are my babies we're talking about, just hold on for a moment…Thank you," Miranda pulled the phone away from her ear and turned toward Andy, "I didn't approve a change in the girl's schedule this week, did you?"
"No, Miranda," Andy was already rifling through her calendar, "Well, kind of, I have in here that the girls had soccer and piano yesterday, nothing today and their riding lessons tomorrow and dance class the next day were cancelled because of testing at school. I actually have written down that they are not to have any extra activities this week so that they can get enough sleep to do well on the tests. I don't know what this is about." Andy was starting to get worried, too.
"Stephen says he got a text from their driver that he would be taking them to their father's house in the Hamptons today and they would stay there for the rest of the week. He claims he questioned the driver and was told it was approved by my, and I quote, 'fucking assistant' earlier this week," Miranda said quickly.
"Well, not by me, Miranda. I would never do something like that without you telling me to. I'm calling Emily," Andy defended. The British assistant's phone was already ringing in Andy's ear.
Miranda returned to her call with Stephen. "Stephen, I know this isn't your problem but something's wrong. I never agreed to send the girls to their father's, they have testing at school this week…That's right, Dalton Mids…I'm going to call James and see if he did this without my approval…I doubt it, too, which means this is terrible…Okay, I'll call you after I talk to James…Thank you, I'll call you right back." Miranda hung up.
She turned to Andy to listen to her side of the conversation with Emily. "I didn't think you would, Emily, and neither did Miranda but we had to check. Do not say anything about this to anyone. Start quietly arranging for a flight home for Miranda and myself as soon as possible…No, I don't have to ask her for approval, I know what to do…Emily, just do it!"
Miranda reached over and took the phone from Andy's hand, "Emily, just do what Andréa says. Assume any orders from her come from me. That's all." Miranda hung up.
Andy blinked stupidly before getting back to the matter at hand, "Call James, Miranda. I'm going to text Cass and Caro and ask exactly where they are."
At that precise moment, Andy's phone binged with a text from Cassidy Priestly. Andy was momentarily relieved…until she read it.
Wats wit nu driver? Tell us nxt time! We almost didnt get in r car
Andy gasped and grabbed Miranda's hand in panic, "Shit, Miranda! Shit!" Andy quickly texted back:
Get out of car. Now. Lie, say anything, just get out of the car with your sister.
"What? What is it?"
"The girls don't have a new driver do they?"
"Of course, not! They've had the same driver since Pre-K. He loves them, he buys the birthday and Christmas gifts," Miranda was nearing hysteria.
Andy leaned forward and instructed their driver to divert to the American Embassy immediately.