DISCLAIMER: The Devil Wears Prada and its characters belong to Lauren Weisberger and 20th Century Fox. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I can't sleep and don't feel well at all. None of you want to know how long I have been awake. So anyway…this is what you get. Happy Reading.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To brithna[at]gmail.com

Access Cards
By Brithna

 

The two Elias-Clarke access cards stared back at Andy, laying there on her coffee table as inanimate objects that had no purpose. Neither had been used in a good long time, both rendered useless due to the superior status of their owners. One owner held more superiority than the other, obviously, but the two cards were not affected by their greater or lesser value. They, by themselves, were equal and in being equal, would see the same fate today. Today would be a balancing act, the outcome of which had already been leaning toward one side for far too long. And that was not the side Andy intended to see victorious. As such, drastic measures that might hurt them more than help them—if the reaction was the opposite of what Andy hoped for—would need to be taken.

For a week, knowing that the board meeting was truly nothing but another attempt to take Runway away from Miranda—an even worse one than in Paris—Andy had tried everything she dared to bolster not only Miranda's position of strength, but also Miranda's own resolve. In doing so Andy had somehow become a person she barely recognized. In just one week Andy had become downright vicious, unwilling to yield, unwilling to allow a single inch of ground to be relinquished to Irv Ravitz or any other individual.

The amount of power and status held by those others, hardly matter to Andy. Irv Ravitz was nothing more than a fly that she would demand to be smashed into the ground. He was nothing. Yet, for some reason, Miranda Priestly appeared to lack the same feelings this time. This time around, Miranda Priestly was afraid, while Andy grew stronger every day and less afraid to do what she was about to do. And what she was about to do, was kick Miranda Priestly in the ass.

Reasons for Miranda's lack of hope were a mystery. Andy had many guesses, of course, but there was a chance that none of them were correct. But one guess held more weight than most. In this attempt, Irv was surrounded by stronger allies. Many board members, soldiers that had stood fast with Miranda for years, were now retired. These retirements meant replacements. Replacements that Miranda had been unable to influence; their pockets heavily laden with promises, and in most cases, large amounts of cash.

All out bribery using cold hard cash was surprisingly enough, not something Miranda would ever find acceptable in her conscience. It might be all right for Miranda to deprive people of positions or blacklist them, but using money stolen from coffers she'd helped to fill over the years, was just beyond her. What a surprise to find out that Miranda had a somewhat of a moral compass after all.

Finding this out, had filled Andy with as much dread as it had filled her with love; a feeling that was not at all new. But there was no time for that today if Miranda was to keep what was hers. The only thing Andy really had time for—was to kick the woman she loved, right in the ass and these two access cards and the words she planned to say, were the only weapons she possessed. And they were not weapons for defensive actions.

Andy did not let go of those two cards until she arrived at Starbucks. All through the streets, during the subway ride and through more streets, she held onto them tightly. Her arrival to Elias-Clarke was much earlier than usual; Andy needed to be in position to watch Irv walk through the building. She had to be completely sure he used his access card today even though she'd been reassured that everyone would be required to enter through the turnstiles this morning because of duplicate cards registering in the system for high-level employees. And even though she'd bribed the hell out of Rina, head of the security team's morning shift—with the promise of a date and possibly more—there was always a chance that Rina could go back on her word.

According to Rina, they'd gone through something like this a few years ago and there wouldn't be too much of a fuss made about it. Andy only hoped this was true. Just like she hoped she could get out of this promised date and something more. Rina might be a beautiful woman but she didn't stand a chance when compared to Andy's feelings about Miranda. Nothing could match that; but she was willing to go as far as need be to make this happen today. Her planned speech would be meaningless if things did not fall into place.

There was a newsstand in the lobby not far from the main desk. Andy hung out there, paying the proprietor to allow her to sit inside and watch behind a small curtain. She waited an hour before Irv appeared. He produced his access card without a word of resistance, and Andy breathed a sigh of relief that Irv was such a stickler about always carrying the otherwise useless card.

Satisfied, Andy left her hiding place after texting Rina to inform her to call off the turnstile fiasco and went back to Starbucks to obtain Miranda's coffee. Less than fifteen minutes later, she was waiting at the elevator with it and her note pad. Andy wasn't the least bit surprised that Miranda had absolutely no orders to give her this morning.

The hours ticked by. Emily was beside herself, of course, convinced of the worst and even going so far as to blame Andy for a ton of things that hardly mattered. But that was fine. Andy certainly knew how to put Emily in her place and did so with ease, having become the alpha in their equation a long time ago. Needless to say, Andy kept Emily well away from Miranda too, not wanting her stressful behavior to do any further damage to Miranda's already deplorable mood.

Forty-five minutes before it was time for Miranda to make her way to the boardroom, five floors above them, Andy pulled the access cards from her desk and hid them in the waistband of her skirt. Once she was safely locked inside the restroom, Andy pulled them back out and studying them as she paced back and forth.

The two images on the cards looked surprisingly similar despite the obvious changes brought on by age alone. There was something else. Growth that only experience, regrettable loses and more than a few emotional battles had turned them into something harder, something that left age far behind. It could be seen in their eyes. The two people in those cards had been fresh, without an ounce of hesitation, filled with nothing but hope. Today they were tired, hesitation lived inside every breath they took and hope was only found in one of them.

As she'd already decided, Andy would demand that Miranda regain whatever that was missing inside and do everything short of killing Irv to keep her job. Anything less was disgraceful and disgrace was never a word Andy dreamed of associating with Miranda. In fact, it was such an unacceptable thing, that Andy was willing to risk the feelings that Miranda might have for her, to get the job done.

And she was sure that Miranda did have feelings for her. Sometimes it was so blatantly obvious that part of Emily must be completely brain-dead not to notice. It wasn't, however, as if Miranda was doing anything of epic proportions, but what she was doing was enough. All she had to do was look at Andy in a certain way, and she knew. In those moments, it was written all over Miranda's face.

Fifth-teen minutes were all the time Andy allowed herself to pace and pray. With the two access cards in hand, she exited the bathroom strong, in control, and definitely determined to give Miranda all the motivation she would need to succeed.

Miranda was just coming out of her office when Andy reached her own desk. The stare Miranda gave her lacked her usual anger over Andy not being around when she needed her. It also lacked the sometimes noticeable affection Miranda had for her. But that was just fine.

Brushing past her, Andy motioned with her head toward Miranda's office door. "I need to see you, Miranda."

Miranda quickly replied, "Whatever it is, it can wait," sounding more than a little irritated, dismayed and nervous as hell. Andy didn't care.

"I need to see you now, Miranda," she said, standing by Miranda's desk.

With reluctance Miranda finally complied. "There isn't time for problems right now, Andrea. I have a meeting."

"That's what this is about. Please shut the door."

As soon as Miranda opened her mouth to argue, Andy went ahead and begged. It would be the only time in this conversation that Andy would allow it. "Please, Miranda. Shut the door. This is important."

Miranda shut the door, yet not before muttering something about the fact that Andy knew nothing of what was important and of course, she was dead wrong. And of course, there was no stammering or stuttering or biting of Andy's bottom lip. She had practiced this speech a hundred times.

"I do understand what is important, Miranda. Believe me. I do."

"Well, get on with it then." Miranda waved an impatient but shaking hand in the air. "I have a meeting."

"You can stop saying that. I know you have a meeting. And that's what this is about. Your meeting." Andy paused and in that pause, she took what was probably going to be the only breath she'd try for in the next few minutes. "Irv is about to do a pretty shitting thing today and I—"

"Andrea, I don't want to ta—"

"No, hear me out." Andy held up a hand and rolled on. "It's shitty. There's no one person on this floor that doesn't agree with that. No one. But I can promise you, no one is more in agreement with that than me." Miranda raised both her eyebrows but said not a word. "And that's because I care about you, Miranda. I care about you very much." Miranda's eyebrows dropped back to their normal position and she stopped breathing. Andy would be lucky if Miranda didn't pass out by the end. "But what I do not agree with, is how you're handling it."

Miranda's face turned red, just as Andy expected it would. "I seriously do not wa—"

"I don't care," Andy said with a firmness that was hardly surprising to her. There was no time for anything less. "Miranda," she said. "You're not handling this like you would have a long ago. I don't know why. I don't even want to know why. But it's got to stop. Right now, before you leave this room, it's got to stop." Andy came forward until she was hardly two feet from Miranda and she tightened her grip on the access cards. "However you accomplish it, is your business. I won't be in the room to watch this go down, obviously. So I guess I really only have one thing to say." Without hesitation, Andy took Miranda's hand. "You are going to win this, Miranda. You're going to beat him. Everyone's counting on you. But that's not the only reason you've got to win. You've got to win because I'm telling you to. In fact, you're going to do more than just win." Andy put the two access cards in one of Miranda's hands. "You're going to either bring me Irv Ravitz's access card to this building, or you're going to throw both of these into the trashcan on your way out the front door."

Miranda blinked about a hundred times as she looked down at the cards. There wasn't any doubt that she was shocked to see hers. Andy had found it tucked away in a drawer of her executive bathroom. It was from over thirty years ago when Miranda had first come to Runway as just some know-nothing girl in the accessories department. And look at her now…

"I don't understand," Miranda managed to say. "Why would you… I don't understand."

"You leave, I leave. But I'd prefer you to just bring me his card. I really don't feel like clearing out my desk today. So," Andy took one more step forward, "bring me his card. Remember that no one can do what you do. And if it helps, there's a folder by your chair in the boardroom with a heck of a bunch of spreadsheets and other bullshit that ought to show those boys what they stand to lose if they make the wrong choice." Slowly, Andy put a hand on Miranda's cheek, and Miranda did nothing about it except to stay very still. "Don't think—for even a second—about bending. About failing. About anything else besides bringing me his access card. Like I said, either come back with it, or throw these in the trash on your way out. There are no other options for you."

Andy wasn't sure if her words had been taken for good or bad, but Miranda certainly did straighten the defeated posture she'd been displaying for quite some time. And since she'd straightened up, the jacket of her sexy-as-hell black power suit didn't look quite right. There was nothing else to do but for Andy to straighten it out too. As she adjusted the collar, Miranda watched Andy's every move and finally, Andy got a little nervous, the urge to kiss the mouth that wasn't far away at all was getting stronger by the second. But there wasn't time for that today.

After everything looked as good as ever, Andy took the access cards out of Miranda's hand. "I'm gonna put these in here," she said, sticking them in the tiny pocket of Miranda's slacks which was awkward, but something she had to do regardless. "Don't forget what I said, okay?"

"I won't," Miranda said.

"Well then," Andy started to take a step back. "I guess you can go now."

"Not yet." Miranda slid a now patient, but definitely still shaking hand through Andy's hair. "You said there were no other options for me… But I would like to see if one other is possibly open for more than just contemplation."

"And what would that be?" Andy pressed her body closer until she couldn't tell where one of them began and other ended. There was nothing left between them.

"A kiss." Miranda put her free arm around Andy's waist. "Do you think that could be an acceptable addition to your orders?"

The answer to Miranda's question was only a heartbeat away when there was a knock at the door, forcing them apart.

"Miranda, I'm sorry but they're ready for you," Emily called out through the door.

"Just a moment," Miranda answered her so Emily would stop worrying, then she stepped forward, back into Andy's space. "That option?"

Andy smiled slightly. "It's acceptable."

What she thought was going to happen—did not happen at all. Instead of kissing Andy on the mouth, Miranda simply kissed her on the cheek. "Don't go far," Miranda said, stepping back, her breath still lingering on Andy's skin. "I'll be back soon… With his access card."

"Good," Andy nodded and smiled, trying to Miranda every last bit of her hope and faith. "And I'll be right here when you get back. Like always."

"Yes," Miranda called over her shoulder as she walked out the door with her head held high and shoulders straight. "Like always."

The End

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