DISCLAIMER: The Devil Wears Prada and its characters belong to Lauren Weisberger and 20th Century Fox. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To qhfletcher[at]gmail.com
We're Having A Baby Series: An Uneasy Truce
By quiethearted (QH Fletcher)
The alarm clock had not yet sounded when Andy's eyes flew open and she rolled across Cruella, who gave a loud "Oof!," in a mad dash to the bathroom, slamming the door closed in passing. The sounds of violent retching echoed through the otherwise quiet bedroom. Cruella shook Miranda, causing her head to flop back and forth on the pillow.
"This had better be good," Miranda bit out, eyes still closed.
"Our darling Andy is sick! You must wake up at once!" Cruella cried, still shaking Miranda.
Delicate eyelids rose, and one eyebrow continued the movement, arching as Miranda opened her eyes. "I don't believe I talk in my sleep; therefore, I am awake," she snapped. "Desist woman-handling me!"
"Oh!" Cruella squeaked, releasing Miranda's shoulder. Another round of retching caused her head to whip toward the door. Her hand followed her eyes to point out Andy's location. "Andy's sick!"
"And you're telling me this instead of being in there, why?" Miranda sneered, even as she rose and walked around the bed.
Cruella's eyes grew round. "She's vomiting!" she hissed. "You have children. You're experienced."
"Cruella, you have vomited in your life." Miranda had reached the door and was reaching for the knob.
"Yes, I have, but I've never dealt with someone else doing so. Well, except that one time, but that was a poisoning and he deserved it," Cruella snapped.
Miranda shook her head, not wanting to know the details. Opening the door, she saw Andréa kneeling on the floor. "Are you ill or is it something you ate, Andréa?" She dropped to her knees behind Andréa and gathered her long hair back.
"Morning sickness," Andréa choked out before beginning to heave again.
Miranda slid an arm around her waist and held her until the spasm passed. Rising, she wet a cloth with cold water and bathed Andréa's face. "I'll see that crackers are left next to the bed. They helped with my pregnancy."
"No chance," Andréa sighed. "The sickness woke me. I barely made it here what with climbing over Cruella."
"Perhaps it would be better if you slept on the outside until this passes," Miranda suggested while rinsing and re-wetting the cloth to press on the back of Andréa's neck.
Andréa rested her hand over Miranda's, holding the cold cloth in place. She nodded weakly. "You tell her."
Miranda groaned. Cruella would not take the news well.
"Absolutely not!" Cruella shrieked.
Miranda pinched the bridge of her nose and sighed. She had helped Andréa back to bed and then dragged Cruella off to the study. She now stood leaning back against her desk, facing Cruella who sat on the long, leather couch. "Andréa cannot continue to vault over you while dealing with morning sickness. If it continues beyond the norm, her abdomen will be much larger and harder to manage."
"Beyond the norm! You mean she's going to keep being sick indefinitely?" Cruella shuddered. "I will not stand for it! It will stop immediately!"
"Cruella, you can't just demand that it stop. This isn't about you; it's about the baby," Miranda explained, trying to be reasonable.
"The baby is causing this?" Cruella demanded, narrowing her eyes.
Miranda nodded and was surprised when Cruella leapt to her feet and started toward the door.
"Where are you going?"
"To speak to the baby. She must stop this as once! I won't have it!" Cruella called over her shoulder.
Miranda rushed over and grabbed Cruella's elbow, pulling her back to the couch. "Get down off the chandelier and listen to me," she snapped. "The baby isn't doing it per se. Andréa's body is adjusting to the pregnancy. Producing hormones to promote the baby's growth. It's the excess of hormones that are making her ill. She'll adjust soon, and the sickness will stop. We simply must be patient and supportive."
"I don't do vomit!" Cruella growled.
"If you plan to be this child's parent, I suggest you change your attitude. This baby was your idea. Now you will just have to deal with the rest," Miranda directed sternly.
"Bu-but, I'll be sick, too!" Cruella confessed, looking away.
Miranda sighed, taking Cruella's hands in hers. "Very well. I'll handle the morning sickness, and you will see to the cravings."
Cruella frowned in concentration. "What will I be craving?"
"Not your cravings--Andréa's," Miranda snapped.
Sighing in exasperation, Cruella pursed her lips. "What will Andy be craving?"
"I have no idea. Whatever takes her fancy. Ice cream and pickles for all I know."
Cruella looked decidedly green. "At the same time?" she gasped.
"Must I watch her eat them?" Cruella asked, shuddering.
Miranda glared. "You will if Andréa requires it for her comfort. Now stop being such a big baby. One infant in this family will be entirely enough."
"I'm not being a baby," Cruella sniffed, blue eyes glistening with tears. "I've never been pregnant. You have."
Sighing, Miranda looped her arm around Cruella's shoulders and drew the bi-colored head to her shoulder. "Each pregnancy is different. I have experience but not with Andréa being pregnant. We'll manage this together, Darling. If something concerns you, come to me. We will take turns sleeping in the middle until the morning sickness resolves, though we may have to do so again if Andréa finds it difficult to maneuver during the last weeks of her pregnancy. Whatever happens, you and I must not argue in front of her. We promised and we don't want Andréa upset. It's not good for the baby."
Cruella nodded. "Yes, Miranda."
Something about hearing Cruella say those words filled Miranda with an almost overpowering sense of dread.
Miranda was in the middle of a run through when Emily stepped in to tell her there was a call on line one.
"Do you not see that I'm busy? I believe answering the phone and taking messages is your job, Emily. If you're unable to do so, I can remedy the failure quickly," she snapped. Miranda knew she was being more waspish than usual, but Andréa did insist on being ill in the early hours of the morning, long before the alarm clock even got close to chiming. Between that and Cruella tossing and turning from being displaced, Miranda was getting very little sleep.
"It's Ms. DeVil," Emily said by way of defending herself.
Miranda sighed and rubbed her eyes. "Five minutes. That's all you have to fix this atrocious display. I suggest you make use of each second." She turned her back on her staff, who hurried from the room, and moved to her desk to take the call. "Cruella, dear, what's wrong? Why are you calling on the office line instead of the cell?"
"Andy threw my phone out the window," Cruella said, sniffling.
Miranda dropped into her chair, flabbergasted. That did not sound at all like Andréa. "Why ever would she do that?"
"She doesn't love me," Cruella whimpered.
"Nonsense. Of course she loves you."
"No, no, she did, but no more. I should probably pack or something," Cruella said, sounding far too pathetic for Miranda's liking.
"Cruella, it's your house," Miranda pointed out.
"It's our house," Cruella corrected. "I had papers drawn up transferring the title to the three of us. They're on my desk. Just scratch my name out. I'll go quietly."
"I'll be home shortly. Do. NOT. Leave." Resting the receiver back in its carriage, Miranda rose and strode into the outer office. "Coat, bag," she snapped, tapping her toe impatiently. "Tell the three stooges they have until 9 a.m. to fix that disaster. Cancel the rest of my day and anything for this evening. That's all!" She didn't wait for an answer as she swept from the office.
In the car, Miranda stared blindly out the window. There had to be some misunderstanding. There was no way Andréa had simply ceased loving Cruella. Why she would throw the phone out the window Miranda couldn't imagine. Now if Andréa had thrown Cruella out the window that would be different; Miranda had had that urge many times in the past herself. She'd find out soon enough. Miranda just hoped Cruella stayed put until she got there.
Miranda remained locked in her thoughts throughout the trip. As Roy came to a stop in front of the mansion, Miranda watched Alonzo hurry out with a suitcase under each arm. She rolled her eyes as he tried to jam them into an already overflowing trunk. It looked like Cruella was attempting to pack half the enormous home into one Rolls, and the ever faithful Alonzo was doing his best to accede to her wishes. Miranda slipped from the car and mounted the front steps.
"Where is Cruella?" she snapped.
"Sh-she's in the s-s-study," he gasped, trembling in fear.
Miranda stalked into the house and mounted the staircase. Entering the study, she found Cruella trying to shove a too-large book into a too-small bag. "That isn't going to fit," she observed.
"Yes, it will!" Cruella snapped, shoving the book in. She held it up, hands grasping the sides of the bag. "See!" she crowed triumphantly.
Miranda looked at the lower half of the book extending out of the torn bottom of the bag. "I do indeed see. Now please sit down, and tell me what's going on."
"I don't have time. I must finish packing. Andy will be back soon and I must be gone." Cruella hurried over to the shelves and pulled down yet another oversized book.
"Darling, Andréa will be brokenhearted if she comes home to find you've moved out. Now do sit down." Miranda settled on the couch and patted the cushion beside her.
"Miranda, I don't have time for this. There is still a great deal to do."
Opening her coat, Miranda relaxed into the cushions and draped her arms along the back of the couch. She watched Cruella twirling about the room like a mad dervish for a moment. "Have you worked out how you're going to manage leaving Andréa without leaving me?"
Cruella froze in mid-twirl and looked at Miranda, dumbfounded. "Wh-what?"
"I still love you and have no desire to be parted from you. So you must have a plan for remaining with me while also leaving Andréa," Miranda remarked reasonably, though truthfully she wanted to toss Cruella out that window after her phone. This entire situation was ridiculous.
Cruella looked down at the figure she now had in her hands as if it held the answers she needed. "I don't suppose you could go with me?" she asked hopefully.
"Then who would care for Andréa?" Miranda responded. "And what of Cassidy? Have you explained any of this to her? She adores you and will be devastated if you just disappear."
Frowning, Cruella dropped the figurine into a chair. Miranda cringed, hoping it wouldn't continue from there to the floor. The artwork was quite old and priceless.
"Cassidy?" Cruella gasped. "Oh, my poor little darling will be so upset." She brightened suddenly. "You could let me take her with me."
Miranda shook her head. "I'm afraid not, Darling. They're a matched set. I really can't break them up."
Cruella seemed to melt as sadness replaced her frantic energy. "I'm losing everything, aren't I?"
"Mmmm," Miranda hummed, nodding. "Perhaps if you told me what happened, I could help you find a way to keep some little part."
Glowing, Cruella hurried to take the seat beside Miranda. "Oh, would you? Now let's see. I was on my phone dealing with this terribly irritating little man who absolutely refused to understand that I simply will not pay for substandard material, and darling Andy was taking a nap. I had barely gotten to the part where I was going to threaten him with bodily harm if he didn't credit my account when Andy suddenly shot up from the bed." Cruella threw up her arms, startling Miranda as she demonstrated. "Then she grabbed my phone and tossed it out the window. Then she told me to leave. I came to the study and tried to figure out what I was going to do. When I went back to the bedroom to speak to her, Andy had left a note telling me to move out while she was at the doctor's office." Cruella sniffled as tears welled up. "I called you and began to pack."
None of it made sense to Miranda. "Could I see the note, please?"
Cruella drew a crumpled slip of paper from her pocket and held it out with a trembling hand.
Miranda took the note, noticing that it seemed rather long and narrow with a jagged edge to one side. Frowning she read:
Something was terribly wrong. "Where did you find the note?"
"It was in Andy's book on the bedside table," Cruella explained, wiping ineffectively at the tears that rolled down her cheeks.
"Hmmm. Stay here. I'll be right back." Miranda hurried to their bedroom and found the book in question. Opening it, she fluttered the pages and quickly found what she was looking for. Going back to the study, she aligned Cruella's note with the piece she found in the book and held them out for Cruella to read.
Cruella stared at the note and then looked up at Miranda with shining eyes. "She doesn't want me to leave?"
"No, she doesn't. But she might when she sees the mess you've made of the house," Miranda said, sighing. "It all needs to go back and quickly."
"Oh. Oh!" Cruella leapt up and rushed from the room, her frantic cries for Alonzo echoing through the house.
Miranda collapsed to the couch and dropped her head in her hands. She slowly counted to ten and then did it again, and again. Holding her temper throughout this little escapade of Cruella's had nearly caused her to implode; how ever was she going to get through another seven months?
James Holt was attempting another hideous showing when Miranda's cell phone began to play the tune to The Twilight Zone. Ignoring the barely concealed smirks of those around her, Miranda retrieved the phone and answered. "Hello, Cruella. What now?"
"Our darling Andy's ankles are swollen! We must take her to the doctor immediately!" Cruella shouted, clearly in a panic.
Rubbing her temples to stave off the headache that was forming, Miranda rose and walked to the back of the studio, away from prying ears. "That's perfectly normal. Andréa has been on her feet too much. She needs to get off them."
"Off them? Right, I'll see to it."
And just that quickly Cruella ended the call. Glad to have found a simple solution, Miranda went back to her seat and indicated that the preview should continue. The next model had barely entered the room when another song was heard. This time the tones of Endless Love broke into James' monologue. Smiling slightly, Miranda answered. "Yes, Andréa?"
"Please tell me you didn't instruct Cruella to have Jasper carry me everywhere I go?"
Miranda sputtered into the phone. "Wh-what? Of course not. I told her you needed to get off your feet." Miranda slowed down as she realized the inference Cruella had taken from her words. "Put our dear companion on the phone please," she growled in an icy tone. After a moment, Cruella's voice was in her ear.
"Our darling Andy is not cooperating in the slightest," Cruella lamented.
Not bothering to move away from the others, Miranda hissed back, "Have you gone totally insane? I meant to have Andréa prop her feet up."
"But you didn't say that. You said to get her off them, and she will be with Jasper carrying her," Cruella defended herself.
"Cruella, send Jasper back to do whatever nefarious little things it is he does and ask Andréa to please prop her feet up. I am in the middle of a ridiculously disgusting preview and have no time for your idiocy."
"You needn't be so harsh!" Cruella snapped, ending the call.
Miranda looked back to James, who had dropped to his knees and was sobbing into his hands. Turning an incredulous gaze on Nigel, she asked, "Whatever is his problem?"
Nigel rolled his eyes and shrugged.
Trying to take a nap on the study couch to catch up on some of the sleep she had lost due to Cruella's continued restless sleep and Andréa's early morning bouts of sickness, Miranda had just managed to doze off when she was pulled awake by frantic whispering.
"I don't care! I want them here, and I want them here now!" Cruella hissed.
Opening her eyes a slit, Miranda watched her lover pacing restlessly while talking into her phone.
"Of course I know what time of year it is!" Cruella stalked to the window and looked out, or she would have if it were not obscured by snow. "My darling Andy wants fresh-picked strawberries. You are a produce supplier, so supply them."
Miranda groaned softly. Trust Andréa to crave the one truly seasonal fruit. With sleep no longer an option, Miranda curled up to see how Cruella would manage to handle her part of their agreement.
"Tomorrow! She isn't craving them tomorrow; she's craving them now! Therefore, you will deliver them now! And none of those hard, little tasteless ones. I want the fat, juicy, sweet ones." Cruella's eyes narrowed as she listened. When she again spoke, her voice gave even Miranda a chill. "Perhaps you don't realize who these are for. This is Cruella DeVil, and the young woman in question is my mate, mine and Miranda Priestly's. She is pregnant with our child and wants strawberries. I don't care about seasons. I care about Andy and our child. You have one hour. If I do not see strawberries on my dinner table when I sit down with my family, you won't be concerned with seasons or fruit ever again. Do I make myself clear?" Snapping the phone closed, Cruella stalked to the door and threw it open. "Alonzo!" she roared as she stalked from the room. "Find that fruit man and get those strawberries!"
Pulling the throw closer to her neck, Miranda snuggled in to try for her nap again. Having Cruella be in charge of cravings was the right choice, Miranda had no doubt there would be strawberries at Andréa's place setting by dinner. As she mentally calculated all the places where she could get her hands on ready cash for bail money if the need arose, she dropped off to sleep.
The Twilight Zone theme had only begun to sound when Miranda grabbed her phone. "Yes, Cruella?" she answered as she looked at the pile of work on her desk that wasn't going to get done today.
"Darling, I need a wee bit of a favor," Cruella breathed into her ear.
Arching an eyebrow, Miranda leaned back into her chair. "What type of favor?" she asked suspiciously.
"Might you have a spare 50,000 dollars lying around?"
"Why do you need 50,000 dollars, Cruella?" Miranda inquired, though truthfully she didn't want to know. Some things were better left a mystery.
"There was this small misunderstanding," Cruella began.
Groaning, Miranda pulled open a drawer and began to search for headache tablets. "Go on."
"Our darling Andy was craving the mango chutney from that little place in the Caribbean that we went that time. You know the one. Well, Alonzo and I took my jet to retrieve some and it seems there was some question about the paperwork," Cruella explained.
"Cruella, you can't bring food into the country without an import license," Miranda snapped after swallowing the pills. "You do have one, correct?" The muffled, "Hurry up, Lady" and clanging sound in the background led Miranda to believe Cruella didn't.
"Well, for couture, yes," Cruella said trilling laughter.
"You've been arrested for smuggling," Miranda guessed.
"I have not!" Cruella huffed indignantly.
"Then why do you need the money?" Miranda asked, narrowing her eyes though she knew Cruella couldn't see her. "You're not trying to bribe a customs official, are you?"
"Of course not! Really, Miranda, you have so little faith in me."
An exasperated sigh came over the phone before Cruella answered. "How was I to know the judge would take such a dim view of me defending myself?"
"A bit more information, please?"
"Very well. The odious man at customs tried to confiscate our darling Andy's chutney. He made a great to do about it being in my purse and tried to seize it. The very idea! That was the latest Marc Jacobs that you gave me for my birthday! Somehow," Cruella stressed the word, "his head contacted withthe bag. I don't know what the fuss is all about. He barely has a mark on him. A few stitches and some dental work and he'll be as good as new."
Miranda groaned and dropped her head to the desk. "You really are quite insane," she muttered.
"What's that, Darling? I can't quite hear you? Why ever would you need to take the train? Are you at an out of town shoot today? Should I call Andy?"
"No! No. I'll be there to bail you out soon. Do not call Andréa. She'll only be upset."
"Ta, Love. Do hurry. Your American jails are quite disgustingly dirty."
"It's a jail, Cruella. Not the Ritz. Just stay out of trouble until I get there. Which precinct?"
Scribbling down the information, Miranda ended the call and stalked out of her office. From then until she arrived at the precinct, Miranda spoke not a word other than to snap the destination to Roy. Instead, she counted...and counted and counted and counted. If she didn't kill Cruella before the baby was born, it would be a miracle.
Plastering on her most professional non-expression, Miranda paid the bail and waited for Cruella to be brought out. As soon as her lover signed for and received her personal items, she grasped an elbow and marched Cruella out the door. As the car pulled away, Cruella opened her mouth to speak, but Miranda held up her hand. "Not one word. Not even a peep. We will discuss this when we get home and not before."
Looking especially put out, Cruella huffed and glowered out her window.
They were both settled in the study behind a closed door before Miranda spoke again. "You are trying my patience, Cruella. No more. No more threats to produce men. No more trips out of the country to retrieve anything at all that doesn't directly relate to your business concerns. Do you understand me?"
Cruella lifted her chin and looked away, glancing at Miranda from the corner of her eye. "How do you expect me to see to Andy's cravings?"
"Like every other partner of a pregnant woman. Legally!"
"You're being needlessly difficult," Cruella sniffed, playing with the fur that made up the lapels of her coat.
"Cruella, you will have a very hard time holding the baby while wearing a strait jacket," Miranda pointed out.
"I was arrested! Not committed! I do know the difference!" Cruella hissed.
"Really? How could you tell? The lack of padding in your cell?" Miranda's words were punctuated with icicles.
"No, the marked absence of foolish men in white coats wanting to talk about my mother!" Cruella responded, glaring fire.
"You are absolutely insane! I should have left you locked up when I had the chance!" Miranda advanced on her.
Cruella started toward her with a stiff-legged gait. "Then why didn't you? Too difficult a decision for your doddering old mind?"
The conversation deteriorated from there.
They were nose to nose, glaring death at each other when the door suddenly opened and Andréa walked in.
"What's with you two?" she asked, glancing from one to the other suspiciously.
Miranda jerked Cruella to her and kissed her fiercely, nipping harder than normally at her lip. "Behave," she whispered too low for Andréa to hear. Keeping an arm around Cruella's shoulders, she turned to face Andréa. "Hello, Darling. How was your day?" Miranda bit her lip to suppress a yip when she felt a sharp pinch on her right butt cheek.
"It was fine," Andréa continued to move her gaze back and forth between them, frowning slightly. "Have you two been fighting?"
"Of course not, my darling Andy. Why ever would we fight?" Cruella gushed, not quite convincingly.
"Oh, I don't know. Maybe because you got arrested today, my sweet Cruella?" Andréa asked with a smirk.
They stared at her openmouthed, before they both began to deny the accusation.
"Nonsense " Miranda began.
"Pure gossip " Cruella offered.
"Hello? Remember me? The reporter girlfriend?" Andréa taunted them. "It came over the police band."
"She has completely lost her mind," Miranda snapped, having finally reached the end of her rope. "She attacked a customs official with her bag. She broke his nose, blacked both eyes, and knocked out his front teeth! She's a menace. It's a miracle she wasn't locked up in the loony bin she belongs in. You have no idea of the types of things she's been doing."
"Me?" Cruella shrieked. "You're the one stomping around and making ridiculous demands! See to Andy's cravings, Cruella! But don't do anything illegal! How am I supposed to get freshly made mango chutney from the Caribbean legally? How, I ask you?"
"Lunatic!" Miranda snarled.
"Anal witch!" Cruella roared back.
They both turned in surprise when Andréa laughed loudly. "Thank heaven! You're back to normal! You have no idea how stressful it's been with you two tippy-toeing around each other."
"We thought the arguing would cause unnecessary stress," Miranda said in confusion.
"You said so," Cruella backed her lover up. "It was part of the deal we made."
"And that's what I thought I wanted," Andréa admitted. "Until I realized life just isn't normal if the two of you aren't at each other's throats fifty times a day. You're not meant to be nice to each other. Nice to me, yes, but not each other. It's unnatural."
"You really mean this," Miranda said in surprise.
"Of course, I do," Andréa laughed. "So starting right now we go back to the way we were. Deal?"
Miranda and Cruella looked at each other for a moment and then reached out and pulled Andréa to them, mindful of the ever growing baby bump that kept them from getting as close as they were used to.
"You'll sleep in the middle again?" Cruella asked hopefully.
Andréa nodded. "I haven't had morning sickness in over a week, so, yes, back in the middle for me. At least until it gets too hard to get in and out of bed from there."
"I still handle the cravings," Cruella insisted.
"It might be better to let Miranda do that now that I don't need her on sick detail," Andréa responded.
Seeing Cruella's face fall, Miranda thought quickly. "Foot massages!" she barked out. "Every pregnant woman needs foot massages and back massages!"
"They do?" Cruella asked, studying Miranda's face suspiciously.
"Oh, those are a must," Andréa agreed. "And I'd be so grateful, Cruella."
"You would?" Cruella's eyes began to gleam.
"Totally," Andréa assured, pressing her lips to Cruella's.
"We could start now," Cruella enthused, beginning to lead Andréa from the room. "I know of some wonderful massage oils they only have in Paris "
Miranda leaned back against her desk and sighed. However did Andréa manage to always defuse Cruella's lunacy with just a few words and a soft kiss? Then it dawned on her what Cruella had just said.
"Cruella! You raving lunatic!" Miranda roared as she ran after them, once again furious with her lover. Damn, but it felt good, Miranda thought fleetingly as she tore out of the room.
Andréa's laugh rang through the house. Their family was back to normal, or what passed for it.
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