DISCLAIMER: All television shows, movies, books, and other copyrighted material referred to in this work, and the characters, settings, and events thereof, are the properties of their respective owners. As this work is an interpretation of the original material and not for-profit, it constitutes fair use. References to real persons, places, or events are made in a fictional context, and are not intended to be libelous, defamatory, or in any way factual.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Apparently in the movie they think that Runway is 72 years old. I didn't realize that until too late and have chosen to disregard it. Elle was established in 1945 and that seems quite early to me. So I think that American Runway was established in 1957 about twelve years after French Runway was established in 1945. Jacqueline uses the term robot monkey because she doesn't like the assistants that are allowed to be close to Miranda. Thanks to Rage for her help! And to acceb23 herself for her wonderful writing to help me set the tone here.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To punkee96[at]gmail.com
BETA: bem9 and ragelikeafire

By punky_96


You always hurt the ones you love.

Sometimes we do things out of anger. Sometimes we do them out of spite. The worst things we do by accident. A heart trampled on because you were careless or didn't care enough to pay attention. These 'things' cannot be repaired easily, if ever at all.

After The Benefit, New York--2006

Stepping into the chilled hotel room alone I floundered for the lights not wanting to trip and die in my heels. I was already mortified enough tonight at the benefit, I do not want to give her anything else to sneer at me about. I turn the light on and sigh once more. I am thinking of her again. Really, it's no surprise, since I think about her all the time. How come our youth sticks with us so much? How come we do not get to re-write our history the way that we want it? We remember things that way sometimes but then the truth starts to seep in and you are left with the trouble you've caused yourself and others.

I am thankful that the room is small. Holding on to the edge of the wall I slip out of my heels and tuck them into the closet near the door. I reach back and awkwardly fumble for a moment thinking of days gone by when her soft and smooth hands did this work. The zipper pulled, I step from my gown and hang it. Turning out the light I move to the bed in the dark not waiting for my eyes to adjust. I can't bear to turn on the light and look at myself again. It doesn't matter. I won't know where I am when I wake up alone in the strange room.

I will always think I am back.

In Paris.

With her.

It was only two years, no, not even that if I am honest. But we were so happy in the tiny run down Parisian apartment. She had so much to give in those days and I was not tied to anything. The cracks in the paint were easily ignored. The large wardrobe filled with clothes from designers from her modeling days and then our time at French Runway together. It should have been her fingers unzipping my dress and her mouth covering my skin slowly with her heat. I only glimpse the passion in flashes and muscle memories that my body feels, more than my mind remembers. We had a kitten named Dragon. Part Siamese, he was white with blue eyes and the most adorable collar with the tiniest of bells.

Tonight as she stalked towards me from across the room, I saw what she had become: the dragonlady of New York.

The fake greeting of the formal air-kiss was irritating.

It took all my will power to not take her by the hand and drag her away from the robot monkeys behind her, and Irv the power monger between us. I could have told her the plan and maybe we could have made something of the future together.

But that was too long ago to resurrect now. Too many cuts have come from her razor-sharp wit to cut me down in size. I made a bed and now I must lie in it. Like this cold hotel bed I am tucked into alone in the darkness.

Why do these details dance in my mind?

Are you at the beginning of the end of the love that would last forever? Are you in the future in the love that you've always dreamed of? Are you in the beginning of a new love and wondering if it will last? Do you compare those before and what you imagine after? Are you alone trying to sleep on the coldest night of the year and you can't because your toes are cold, but the floor is colder and so you hunker down with your thoughts until fatigue takes over?

Runway Financial Meeting, Paris—December 2006

Before the financial meeting I stood on the upper walkway overlooking the lobby and the Christmas decorations. Like so many others my thoughts took various turns to find memory lane. Inevitably I ended up on the same memory lane every time since coming into the offices December of 1988. I was 22 and had been at Runway for two years. I was living the dream—in Paris, living with a lover, working in fashion. I had no idea that my life was exploding, only that I thought I was going to share my first Christmas together with Miranda in our small flat. After the holiday I was going to tell her about my promotion. I was filled with expectant joy.

Even now, nearly twenty years later, Christmas decorations signal the beginning of the end.

I have tried to move on. I have married and had other lovers, but I always return to wonder about what was and the ruin of my relationship with Miranda. As a model Miranda had seen the power of designers to select who would be the public face of their line. She had seen designers limited by those with the power to choose one over the other for fashion magazines or to be featured at fashion week. Reaching what she felt was the apex of her modeling glory; she had set her sights on becoming a puppet master in the industry instead of one of its pretty puppets. The fashion department at Runway had been made over in the two years she had started there and she was poised to become the assistant general editor. I had power marched my way through the features department in that same amount of time although I was considerably younger. People had begun to whisper about us: the enigmatic genius and the girl prodigy.

Our relationship was no secret within the halls of Runway and we were a force to be reckoned with throughout the magazine.

Miranda was ready to make the final jump to the top, but I was hesitant. Besides French Runway only had one top and I wasn't ready to leave the nest. Features Editor was still a challenge and the team I worked with made the job dynamic and enjoyable. As Fashion Editor, Miranda was restless. She still saw things that limited her and did not lead to the best possible outcome for her, the magazine, or fashion. I was certain she was going to get the job.

Swimsuits in December—no wonder the weather was unsettled, Miranda had to race down to the coast to work out the kinks in the photoshoot. Everyone was bracing for the possibility of a white Christmas in Paris. The assistant general editor got the flu from his children and had been confined to his bed. The issue was up against a deadline and I was pulled up to oversee the final checks of the magazine. Working close with the department heads or their assistants and the editor in chief was an amazing experience. The level of stress was consuming but I went out of my body and just thought of the steps and what Miranda would do. I couldn't wait to tell her when she got back. It was amazing.

Miranda returned the day before Christmas. I wanted to properly welcome her and gush over how much I had missed her and the craziness while she was gone, but work came first for both of us. It was a busy day as we prepared to go dark for Christmas Day.

At the end of the day I was called into the editor in chief's office. He greeted me with a smile and a job offer.

I had no choice.

Turning him down would have meant the end of my career at Runway. I knew that if I said no here, I would never make it out of the features department that century. That wasn't good enough.

Miranda was tired and I decided to save my news until after Christmas.

She always went into the office earlier than I did so I thought nothing of it. I arrived as usual and began my morning. After an hour or two of work I needed Miranda's input from the Fashion Department. Her phone just rang, no answer. Her assistant was evasive. I went in search of her myself only to find the few belongings that she kept in her office were gone. Her blubbering assistant finally confessed that Miranda had an early morning call with American Runway, met with the chief and then packed up her office. She had left. Her assistant apologized for her absence and congratulated me on the upcoming promotion. My thoughts crashed to a halt.

Dread had settled into my stomach and worry was sitting on my shoulder whispering horrible benedictions of the future. Nearly falling in my heels, the chief intercepted my frantic footfalls to the elevator. Miranda was as decisive then as now and she moved with the speed of lightning. She had a few hours head start on me and I knew I was racing for my life. He confirmed that Miranda had accepted the general assistant editor job at American Runway. He smiled good-naturedly at my shock that there was even an opening at the other magazine. "That's business," he had said to me with a pat on my shoulder that sent dread up to my other shoulder and made room for nausea in my stomach.

Little had changed in the apartment and I had almost convinced myself that it had been a misunderstanding.

Dragon's bowl was gone from the kitchen, his little bed was not on the comforter, and when I flung the wardrobe doors open my worst fears were confirmed. The cupboard was bare.

Waiting for the other editors across Elias-Clark to arrive I stood on the upper walkway until the cold took over—the draft of the air outside, the now cold coffee in my hand, and the glacial chill of blue eyes looking up and then through me. In nearly twenty years I have not shaken off the effects of the cold chill that descended over the both of us. The annual financial meeting, like the Christmas decorations signaled another end with Miranda, another year gone by and wasted.

Is this the bed of love? A soft sheet, a blanket, and a small blanket for the cat—this bed has seen love come and love go. The press of its feet weighs in, crushing the carpet. Is this bed alone? I lie there alone feeling the weight of the blanket as heavy on me as my thoughts. I know the other side of the bed is not mine, but has it yet to be claimed or has it recently been abandoned. I feel as if I am in a tunnel—a vertical tunnel, it is ever changing and the sides are spinning. Then I realize, I am inside a tornado, trapped and lonely.

It is like coming to and not knowing how long you were out. Have seasons come and gone or just minutes? Minutes of unfathomable despair are the flash of realization. And how do those minutes pass anyway? Each one is an eon of pain blasted at you only to explode and splatter you as a paintball, staining you forever. At the end of the tunnel I see a smile, a glimmer, yes, that is love there. But which love? Love gone. Love now. Love solo.

The house is empty. The only heat is in the bedroom. I cannot bear to be here in the house—it suffocates me. I lay down on 'my' side, but I may as well lay diagonal and admit I am alone. There will be no more body heat driving me away or a kitten purring at the foot of the bed. I breathe again and I am surprised. It doesn't even hurt now. I cannot even cling to the pain.

Planning Meeting for the 50th Anniversary of American Runway, New York—2007

At a benefit people swirl around the room trying to hob knob and make good impressions so that they will be remembered and get ahead in life and business. Perhaps they truly wish to get ahead in business and then life. I suppose I cannot account for anyone's priorities than my own. I chose to get ahead, but I sure didn't mean to. I have lived in the cold shadow of that decision ever since. Benefits have the benefit of having other people to buffer between you and an adversary. Seeing Miranda there involves only a cold greeting and some fake pleasantries.

The financial meeting in December provided a chance to look although the busyness of the meeting didn't allow for any personal crash and burn interactions. In that way they were better than smaller projects like planning for the 50th Anniversary of American Runway. I shouldn't look forward to seeing Miranda because it hurts every time, but I do. The face to face of a planning meeting however provides even more opportunity for pain. French Runway celebrated it's 50th last year so of course I had to be part of this planning. Irv wouldn't want anything less than for Miranda to squirm every chance he got. He knew that I was a sure fire discomfort maker. To the untrained eye Miranda did not even flinch, but I could see that he was knocked by my attendance, though he would never know why.

The day had ended without much calamity. It had been agony of course to be in her presence. At least there had been no incidents. Nigel and Jocelyn were dispatched to the fashion department while the assistants were blindfolded and made to run around all of New York fetching the impossible. The realization that we were alone in the room my blood pressure rise. I brought one of the pictures from French Runway's celebration over to her and made a suggestion about the décor.

She let loose on me with both barrels as they say.

Her low voice sent a shiver down my spine. "Jacqueline." Her voice dripped with disdain. "Irv may have brought you here. However you know and I know that American Runway will never, ever follow in the footsteps of your little rag." Miranda turned and walked out of the door without so much as a dismissal.

Irv's call at that moment was serendipitous—his latest plan for ousting Miranda dovetailing with my growing desire to crush her. We had precious few weeks to implement a plan that would change everything.

I am awake again turning into the cold side of the bed to embrace the cold. I wish that I could sculpt the cold into the shape of you and then place it in a faithful heart to beat and break the spell and revive this shell of life. It is not dinnertime and you have taken the cat and gone to live across the ocean. I do not count the minutes: every breath is a lifetime. We have not spoken in days and I lie awake waiting for the alarm to spur me on and on and on.

The house is quiet. The only heat is in the bedroom. We leave the rest of the house to the cold and forget the world. Our world is in the bedroom. I am surrounded by love and excitement. I am wearing the fuzzy socks that make you grimace and under the blankets you are wrapped around me sleeping. I can hear you breath and see your beautiful sleeping face. I breathe again and I am surprised. I am so in love; I have fallen into the depths of cliché and I can cling to every corny overdone love statement in the world.

I am awake again turning to embrace my love. I wish that I could sculpt the love we share into a house big enough to shelter us together until the day we die. It would be a house of love to fulfill our every need and desire. It is not the night of our first kiss, but the night of our 342nd night together with only a handful nights apart since the day we fell for each other. I do not count the minutes: every breath is a lifetime. We sleep in each other's arms and I lie awake waiting for the alarm clock to begin a new day of our love.

James Holt Luncheon Fashion Week, Paris—2007

Sitting at the benefit I caught James' eye. His smile was not the confident one I thought it should have been and I wondered briefly if he could sense my own misgivings. It was too late now. My first decision to throw Miranda under the bus might have been on accident, but this time it was deliberate. Miranda never did listen to my simple explanation about the job—she left thinking that I had betrayed her. The loving woman that I knew would have at least heard me out, but she had poisoned herself to any possibility of misunderstanding. Initial anger became pathological coldness that I could not stand any longer—so this plot with Irv finally would make the truth of her understanding match the reality of practice. I thought that if I could get rid of her and all the reminders of what I had lost, then it was worth it to live down to her expectations. I would have her job, she would be separated from Nigel, and Miranda would be out of the picture. The power to influence ripped away from her after too long a hold on the reins of my world.

"Miranda Priestly is the finest possible guardian of that beacon…" Nigel would do a fine job with James and I looked forward to keeping him close. Miranda's right hand man would have been great as my assistant general editor if they hadn't split the job after Miranda and I moved forward. I knew that he wouldn't work for me, but working with James he would be in New York and at my beck and call. "…Setting a standard that inspires people across the globe." He looked happy to be presenting his boss one last time. "Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Miranda Priestly."

I looked at Irv as Miranda took the podium. I expected him to meet my eye with a triumphant gleam in his own. Instead he looked down at the ivory tablecloth looking defeated. Once again dread sank into my stomach and worry perched on my shoulder. Had another loop been formed and I was left out of it? Miranda began to address the gathered fashion elite. "Thank you, my dear friend." Nigel smiled at her fondly and took his seat next to Miranda's robot monkey with the brown hair. "Bonjour." She greeted everyone with a chuckle. I couldn't stop the butterflies racing around my body. I hated that I wanted her. I hated that hate was so close to love. She looked marvelous as always. "Thank you very much for coming today…" I looked around the room knowing that she was going to announce James' line going worldwide. "…To help celebrate our dear friend, James Holt. But before I talk to you about James…" Worry threw up his hands and leaned to whisper in my ear. Dread wiggled in my stomach making it flip flop. She was supposed to announce the accomplishments of James not anything else. "And his many accomplishments…" I adjusted in my seat hoping that my anticipation would not show on my face. I was never as good at hiding it as Miranda was. Years on the modeling catwalk had taught her to have the best public face. "I would like first to share some news with you."

Miranda paused and dread crawled up to my other shoulder while nausea took a firm grip of my stomach. "Um, as many of you know…" Just as the others in the room I sat forward on my chair to find out what Miranda was going to say. "… Uh, recently Massimo Corteleoni…" I glanced at Irv who was watching Miranda with a grim look on his face. "… Has agreed to finance the expansion of the James Holt label…" Looking at him I wondered why I felt so uncertain while he looked grim. This was our day. "… Transforming the work of this visionary artist into a global brand, which is really an exciting enterprise. Runway and James Holt share many things in common…"

I looked around again at James, Irv, and Nigel wondering if they knew what she was going to talk about. "… Chief among them, a commitment to excellence." Except for Irv's grim look they seemed to be as curious as everyone else in the room. "And so, it should come as no surprise that when the time came for James to choose the new president of James Holt International…" Suddenly it was clear where she was going with this and I knew it was not on the script I had been reading from. I knew that just as Irv and I had made some behind the scenes changes, that it was entirely possible that Miranda with her red pen had made her own changes as well. "… He chose from within the Runway family. And it's my great happiness today…"

I swallowed hard against the lump that was trying to escape up my throat. I didn't know what she was up to, but it couldn't be good. "…To announce to you all that that person…" She paused looking into her reading glasses and then with a faux smile looked at me. "... Is my friend and longtime esteemed colleague…" My dread suddenly took shape and her plan was executed immediately. The knife in my back was sure and true to its aim. "Jacqueline Follet."

I was once again in a position of taking a job I had not planned on taking, but had no choice but to accept.


Miranda continued as if she had only uttered the most picayune of facts. It had become her way to hurt through trivializion when she could not directly attack. I sat bewildered at the table looking around the room. Nigel looked shocked beyond words. Irv looked sheepish. James looked uncertain, but polite. Miranda just began her original speech. "Thank you. Merci. And now to the main event: our celebration of James Holt. We at Runway are very proud to have been…"

I am awake again turning into the cold side of the bed to embrace the cold. I wish that I could sculpt the cold into the future and ease my path toward you. I would break the spell and refuse to repeat the patterns of my life.

It is not the thrill of a lifetime morning and I have not met you yet. I do not count the minutes: every breath is a lifetime. Each brings me closer to you, but each marks the time you are not in my world. I lie awake waiting for the alarm to burst my bubble and spur me to action.

Before Christmas, New York—2007

The style of the decorations at Elias-Clark revealed that Miranda was still in charge of American Runway. She would not let Irv have even that. I was glad that I only had to deal with the red headed robot monkey when I ventured into American Runway. I could have killed Irv for sending me down there. It could have been handled with a simple phone call, but Irv took his small pleasures where he could get them. I was relieved to not see the doe-eyed brunette robot monkey. I had hoped that she was fired. The blush she caused Miranda every time she whispered in her ear made me insane.

"Did the other one get fired?" I asked with what I hoped was a nonchalant look at the empty desk.

The red head stifled her urge to vomit as she looked at me as if I had grown two heads. "Miranda took her to the financial meeting." She said flatly.

I tilted my head to look at her because obviously she was insane.

"Paris again." She muttered as she bustled into Miranda's office for the files Irv sent me for. "Bloody cow." I heard her again as she returned to me. "Here you are."

Numbly I took the file from her outstretched hand. I left without saying a word.

Christmas used to signal the beginning of the end. Now it just signaled the new level of hell I had been placed in.

You always hurt the ones you love.

Sometimes we do things out of anger. Sometimes we do them out of spite. The worst things we do by accident. A heart trampled on because you were careless or didn't care enough to pay attention. These 'things' cannot be repaired easily, if ever at all.

The End

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