Rating: M for later chapters
Summary: Miranda recognizes Andrea's desire to leave Runway, and offers to help her find a new job on the condition that she remain loyal to the magazine until then. Their relationship develops, and Miranda finds herself in an interesting predicament.
"Don't be silly, Andrea, everyone wants to be us," Miranda said before she stepped out of the car.
As she walked up the stairs, she paused, sensing Andrea was not behind her. When she looked out towards the car, she saw her assistant standing in the plaza next to the fountain. With a groan, she turned around, pushing photographers out of her way as she stormed down the steps and ran across the street in her Prada heels.
The young woman jumped as if jolted from a daze and stared at Miranda, wide-eyed and trembling.
"Andrea," Miranda said, reaching for her hand, "sit, just for a moment." She took a seat on the ledge of the fountain, gently leading the brunette to sit next to her.
Miranda held up her hand. "I need you to stick with me for the next eight hours, do you understand? Eight more hours. And then, we can talk. I know you're not happy, and I, well, I think I know what you must think of me."
"Miranda, I'm sorry."
"Please. Save your apologies. I brought you here because you are the best and brightest assistant on my team. Eight more hours, Andrea. Just give me eight more hours."
"Okay," she said, nodding and wiping at the tears forming in her eyes.
Miranda pulled a tissue out of her purse and took Andrea's face by the chin. "Look up," she said, dabbing the moisture away. She tossed the tissue back in her purse and pulled out an eyeliner pencil. "Hold still," she said as she touched up the corners of Andrea's eyes. "There…perfect," she said. "Are you ready?"
"Yes," Andrea said, standing and smoothing out her skirt. "Thank you, Miranda," she whispered.
"For what? I don't know what you're talking about, Andrea. Come along," Miranda said.
The next morning, when the Runway team was assembling at the airport gate, Miranda walked over to Andrea, who was furiously typing something on her computer.
"Andrea," Miranda said.
"Yes, Miranda?" she asked, digging for her notepad.
"No no, I don't need anything. Well, not like that." Miranda held out a ticket to Andrea.
"Sit with me on the flight home. We can…talk."
Andrea's eyes widened. "B-but, you always have a spare seat. Y-you don't like to sit by anyone."
Miranda rolled her eyes. "I don't like to sit by others when all they do is try to kiss my ass for seven straight hours. For some reason, I don't think you have plans of doing that."
Andrea smiled. Maybe it was Miranda's sense of humor, or the fact that the editor knew her better than she thought. "Okay, but only if I can get a few hours' sleep at some point," she said.
Miranda raised an eyebrow. "Well, you certainly don't think I plan to spend seven straight hours listening to you. Of course," she said, walking back towards the gate.
Neither Andrea nor Miranda spoke to each other until the plane was in the air. After the flight attendant brought them coffee, Miranda turned to look at Andrea. "What happened yesterday?"
Andrea took a slow sip of her coffee and set it down. "You mean before or after you screwed Nigel?"
"Wow, I didn't see that coming," Miranda said softly. "After. Wait, no. Before. What were you thinking when you showed up at my suite, looking like a hooker crawling out of a back alley? And in front of Irv Ravitz nonetheless? What happened to that jacket you were wearing anyway?"
"Yeah, that wasn't one of my brightest moments. I, uh, went on a date. I don't know why I'm telling you this… When I woke up, the pieces just fell into place and I wanted to warn you."
"Pieces don't just fall, Andrea. In this game, they are expertly placed. Was it James? Or Jacqueline? She's been known to fancy the young women."
"What!? No. No. I'm sorry. It was a bad decision, but it was my decision."
"I'm touched that, even in that state, you showed up at my door."
"Bullshit. You just want to hold it above my head. Use it against me. Keep it in your arsenal for whenever you need someone to screw over," Andrea said.
Miranda sighed. "So that's why you left."
"I didn't leave."
"Do you mean to tell me you would have turned around if I didn't come get you?"
"Save it, Andrea. I know you want nothing to do with me. You think I'm pathetic."
"I didn't say that. I just—I needed air. I needed to think about what you said. It—it was true," she said. "And you're far from pathetic."
Miranda nodded and took a sip of coffee.
"It's true. I screwed Emily like you screwed Nigel. If I would have refused to come, I would have lost my job. We do what we need to in order to survive."
"You just didn't want to think of yourself stooping to my level. That you were as cruel as the devil herself. That others would dispose of you so quickly without a second thought, that is, unless there's blackmail."
"No!" Andrea said, turning quickly to Miranda. "Really, I don't think—I mean, it's an honor to be compared to you."
Miranda raised her eyebrow. "Be serious."
"I am," Andrea said, lowering her eyes. "You're brilliant and sexy and powerful and really funny, and I mean that."
"And old and vulnerable and pathetic and alone."
"Is this about Stephen?"
Miranda cringed. "I don't want to talk about him. We're getting a divorce. I should have never married him."
"Why did you?"
"I thought the girls needed a father-figure. I thought the tabloids would leave my personal life alone if I had the perfect family. It never was—perfect or a family."
"Miranda, I don't think you're pathetic. The other night, in your suite, I—I didn't know what to say. I meant that I was sorry. I wished there was something else I could do like hug you or something."
Miranda laughed. "Oh Andrea, I was just starting to believe you. A hug? Seriously?"
"Yeah, I'm serious. I'm a hugger, Miranda, sorry," she said, shrugging her shoulders.
After some time, Miranda spoke again. "You want to be a journalist. You're just putting up with this job so you can get my recommendation."
"Yes. But I'm not 'just putting up with this job'—I take it seriously, and I want to be the best damn assistant you've ever had."
"What would you have done if I didn't come get you?"
"Umm, well, probably looked for a job at a local paper or something."
"Andrea you can do better than that."
"What? I—I have no experience. I haven't written anything in a year. I need something that pays the rent."
Miranda leaned back and looked out the window. "I have a proposition for you, Andrea. You are by far the best assistant I've ever had. But I can see you want more. And frankly, you deserve better than fetching my coffee."
Andrea stared at Miranda, her mouth wide open.
"Yes, I know I don't give compliments often. But Andrea, you are most deserving. You're different than the other girls in the industry—you know that as well as I do."
"So, what's the proposition?" Andrea asked.
"Don't worry, I'm not asking you to sell your soul. Let me help you find a worthy position."
"And in return?"
"And in return, you remain at Runway. I will promote you to first assistant, which includes a 15% raise."
"What's the catch?" Andrea asked.
"There is none, really, though you must understand that if you leave unprofessionally, or do anything that requires me to terminate you, I can no longer provide you with a glowing reference."
"That's it? Just keep doing my job?"
"Yes. Well, and continue to put up with me for a few more months."
"Wait, you said until I find another 'worthy' position. You wouldn't purposely hold me back, would you?"
"No. I would not. I was merely thinking that late spring is generally when we see turnover in the industry, and that you'd be more likely to find a good position then."
"But if I find something tomorrow, I can go?" Andrea asked.
"Yes, if you're so anxious to leave. I just don't want you leaving out of desperation. Promise you will come talk to me if things get bad…if you 'need air' again?"
"Okay," Andrea said, shaking her head. "Okay. And thank you."
"My pleasure, Andrea."
A/N: Happy New Year! I've been working on this story for a few days, but several ideas came from some of the prompts I've been receiving here and on tumblr. Hope you enjoy!