DISCLAIMER: The Devil Wears Prada and its characters belong to Lauren Weisberger and 20th Century Fox. No infringement intended.
WARNING: Discussion of strong physical violence and the aftermath. Nothing graphic, however.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Competitive Genes
By quiethearted (QH Fletcher)


Since she had walked away from Miranda in Paris, Andy had seen the editor a number of times as the white haired woman left the Elias-Clarke building and made the short trek to her car. Each time the brunette waved, and mostly she got no response from the editor, the last time, however, Miranda had nodded just slightly. Andy supposed it was silly but she could not help the warm glow it gave to be acknowledged by the other woman. Truth be told, she missed Miranda. Oh, she did not miss the hectic pace, the ridiculous demands or the lousy hours for little pay, but she did miss the woman.

'Ok, so I've got a little crush on my ex-boss. Half of Runway felt the same way. Emily would have kissed her feet if Miranda said she wanted it. No harm, no foul.' It really did not concern Andy all that much. After all, it was not like she would ever be around Miranda again, other than to wave from a distance, that is. So what if she had not gotten over the crush in the last year, she supposed she would in time, when she met someone else. Besides, she did not have time for it right now, she was much too busy with her new job. It seemed like she was at the Mirror around the clock, probably because she was. The last two nights her boss had thrown her out, telling her to go home and get some sleep before she keeled over. Like she ever would. The Mirror was like playtime after Runway, where Andy averaged 4 hours of sleep a night.

So she found herself walking past Elias-Clarke on her way to the subway just as Miranda walked out of the building. Andy was surprised to see the editor leaving this late on a Friday night. There must have been one hell of a disaster to keep Miranda there until this time of night.

As she had each time before, Andy lifted her hand in a small wave. The only difference was that this time Miranda stopped walking, looked directly at her and seemed to be waiting. Andy paused and just stared at her dumbfounded, even from this distance, the line of the editor's jaw told Andy her lips were pursed. Some instinct told her that Miranda was waiting for her and becoming more irritated with each passing moment. Her old Runway reactions clicked into place and she ran across the street, dodging taxis, until she arrived in front of the editor.

"Really, Andréa, one would think you were waiting for sunrise."

Andy fought to suppress the shiver that soft voice caused. She had not realized just how much she had missed the whispery sound of Miranda's voice until that moment.

"Hello, Miranda. It's been a while."

"I assume you're finished for the evening."


"We'll have dinner."

Andy stared open mouthed after her as the editor walked to her car. Roy held the door as Miranda slid gracefully into the back seat. She glanced back to where Andy stood.

"Is there a problem, Andréa?"

The journalist heard herself answering, "Yes, Miranda. There is definitely a problem."

One eyebrow arched over rapidly chilling blue eyes. "And what might that be?"

"That might be that I don't work for you anymore. These days even my real boss asks me to do things. He doesn't order me to do them." 'My lord, what am I saying? She's going to kill me. No one talks to Miranda like that and lives.'

Andy felt her skin sizzle as icy blue slid over her body from head to toe and back.

"Very well. Roy, close the door it's chilly." She turned her head back into the car and Andy watched as the door closed. Roy shot her an 'I'm sorry' look and walked around the car to slide behind the wheel.

Andy could have kicked herself for passing up the chance to have dinner with Miranda, but she had to stick to her principles. Maybe. With a sigh, she turned back to re-cross the street when her phone rang. Pulling it out, she answered absently as she watched for a break in traffic.

"Yeah, Andy Sachs."

"Andréa, would you like to have dinner with me tonight?"

Andy pulled the phone from her ear and stared at it, stunned. 'You've got to be kidding me.' She looked over at the car and then back to the phone before moving it once again to her ear.


"Well, of course. Who else were you expecting a call from?"

"I wasn't expecting one from you. Why are you calling me? I'm standing right behind your car."

"Did you bump your head today? I know where you are. Did you not hear me tell Roy it was chilly? I have no intention of freezing while you make up your mind. If you want to have dinner, just get in the car, but do be quick about it. I'm tired and hungry."

"Yes, Miranda. I'm coming." Shaking her head, Andy walked around to the other side of the car. The woman never ceased to amaze her. Opening the door, she slid in beside the editor. She could not help her huge grin, as the older woman nodded to Roy.

She had never thought to be this close to Miranda again. Andy could see the signs of strain around her eyes and mouth, but otherwise she looked as perfect as the younger woman knew she had walking into work that morning. 'She's so unbelievably beautiful.' The journalist put the brakes on that thought fast. 'That way lies madness.' Knowing how the editor hated small talk, Andy sat silently, looking straight ahead but watching the older woman from the corner of her eye. She was shocked to see the normally composed woman seemed to be fidgeting.

"Are you liking your new job?" Miranda asked.

'Miranda's making small talk? Did the world end and no one told me?'

" Yes, I like it very much. It's what I've always wanted to do."

They sat in silence for a few moments more until Andy decided she needed to do her part. "I assume it wasn't a good day for you since you're leaving so late."

Miranda pursed her lips and rolled her eyes. "Do not get me started. The incompetence of my staff reached all new heights today and that person Emily hired as a second assistant…"

"That bad, huh?" Andy grinned.

"Yes, I can't begin to tell you how many have been hired and fired since…" Miranda seemed to catch herself, realizing what she had almost said. "Well, the idiocy is astounding."

"Since I left, you mean?" Andy was not going to let this go by.

"Really, Andréa," the editor sniffed, "you have a very inflated opinion of your own importance."

"All right, Miranda. If that's how you want to play it, I wouldn't dream of disagreeing." The reporter could not help the little self-satisfied smile that curled her lips. After months of learning to read the editor, she knew exactly what Miranda was trying not to say. 'She misses me too.'

"I have no idea what you're talking about. Must you babble?"

Shaking her head slightly, Andy turned to stare out the window refraining from further comment. The silence stretched on for a few more minutes.

"Don't pout," Miranda snapped. "It's unbecoming."

Andy could not stop the laugh that bubbled up. "I'm not pouting. I'm simply not babbling."

"I did not mean for you to stop talking all together."

"Then what did you mean, Miranda?" Andy turned to look at the older woman. She really wanted to know the answer to this.

"I don't know," the editor murmured. "I just…it's not the same." She seemed to be forcing the words out.

Andy frowned. "What's not the same?"

One elegant hand waved in frustration. "The office…work…home, none of it is the same."

"Well, you are getting a divorce," Andy offered, trying to help.

"I am divorced, which you would know if you read anything besides your own paper."

"Sorry, I've been working a lot lately. I missed that part." She really was not sure what else to say about the divorce. What she wanted to say was more along the lines of, I knew. I practically danced a jig the day it came through. Not that your being single would do me much good.

"Then you are the only person in New York who didn't know. The tabloids had a royal celebration the day it was announced."

"I'm really sorry, Miranda." Andy meant it too. She never wanted to see the editor hurt.

That same hand waved negligently. "It's not important. I was glad to have it over. Stephen and I were never well suited. I had hoped marriage would change that. I was wrong," her lips twisted at the admission. "So, no, the divorce is not the problem. You are."

Andy gaped at her. Had Miranda finally lost her mind? "I am?"

"Yes, nothing has been right since you left in Paris. I cannot continue to produce a top quality magazine given the current situation. The only solution is for you to return." Miranda pinned her with an intense blue gaze.

"It ain't happening, baby," Andy responded before she could stop herself.

Now it was Miranda's turn to stare. Andy watched the porcelain column of the editor's throat move as she swallowed.

"Miranda, are you ok? Look, I'm sorry but…"

Miranda broke in before the reporter could finish. "I liked that," she whispered, clearly talking to herself. "Why did I like that? I've always hated it before."

Wondering if the editor really had lost it, Andy kept her voice steady and quiet. "Liked what, Miranda?" She noticed the car pull to a stop in front of Miranda's townhouse. 'This is where we're having dinner?'

"I…I don't think dinner is appropriate at this time. Roy will drive you home. If you need to eat, he can stop somewhere. I need to go."

'Now who's babbling?' As Miranda reached for the handle to let herself out of the car, something Andy had never seen her do, the reporter grabbed her other hand. "Miranda, what's going on?"

The editor gave her the usual freeze-you-in-place look, but there was something else there. A flicker of something that came and went so fast it was hard to place. For a moment Andy almost thought it was fear, but why would Miranda Priestly be afraid of her? The reporter was beginning to feel concerned.

"I have to go, Andréa," her voice was strained. "Release me at once."

"Miranda, you're scaring me," Andy tried again. "What's going on?"

"I…I don't…" Suddenly Miranda leaned over and kissed her. It was little more than a soft brush of lips, but Andy totally forgot to breathe as a result. Then Miranda was out of the car and running up the steps of the townhouse. She disappeared inside as Andy drew the first shaky breath.

"What the fuck just happened?" She asked still staring out the open car door to the door of the townhouse. Since when did Miranda Priestly run? Everybody else ran while Miranda watched them do it, not the other way around.

"If you don't know, don't ask me," Roy responded, shrugging.

She reached out and pulled the car door closed as she realized it really was getting colder. "Roy, what do I do now?" They had become friends during her time at Runway and he was one of the four people she had kept in contact with.

"What do you want to do?" he shot back., watching her in the rearview mirror.

"If I understood any of what just happened, I might know the answer to that," Andy laughed ruefully.

"I've worked for Miranda for a long time," Roy mused. "In all that time, I've seen each of her husbands try to call her baby exactly once each. I thought she was going to commit murder right here in the car both times."

"Oh, damn," Andy gasped. "I called Miranda Priestly baby. I've got to have a death wish."

"She didn't look like she wanted to kill you to me, Andy. She looked like she wanted to do just what she did."

"You mean that's what she liked? Me calling her baby? Miranda? Our Miranda? Kill them all, fire any that are still breathing and ask questions later Miranda?"

Roy chuckled. "Yep, that's the one."

"Oh, she so doesn't get to kiss and run like that," Andy was getting more and more pissed off as she thought about it. "Besides which she promised me dinner. This is by no stretch of the imagination right." Throwing open the door, she climbed out of the car.

"Andy, you want me to wait?" Roy rolled down his window to ask willing to do whatever would help his friend.

"What? Oh, no. I'll take the subway."

"It's kind of late."

She smiled and reached out to pat his shoulder. "It's ok. I've ridden the subway at much later hours. If it gets too late, I'll call a cab."

"Ok, good luck, Andy."

"Thanks." She shut the car door and turned towards the townhouse, aware that Roy would at least wait long enough to see if the door was opened or not. She marched up the steps and knocked loudly. Miranda had not had time to go to sleep yet, so Andy knew the editor could hear her. When there was no answer, she pounded harder. She waited a moment but still nothing happened. Beating on the door as hard as she could, the reporter yelled loudly, "Miranda!! Open this door! Miranda!!" The door swung open so fast she almost knocked on Miranda's forehead.

"Have you taken leave of your senses?" the editor hissed.

"Yes," Andy snapped as she shoved through the door and pushed Miranda back against the wood causing it to close. Without giving the other woman a chance to say more, Andy pressed her body tightly against Miranda's and kissed her the way she had always wanted to. The editor whimpered as full lips caressed her mouth over and over. The brunette angled her head bringing their mouths into closer contact, her tongue stroked over Miranda's lips seeking entrance. Acting on instinct, the editor opened her mouth and sucked the strong, wet muscle deep inside. All Miranda could think of was consuming the woman who had so disrupted her life by walking away. Maybe if she pulled Andréa into her, she could keep the younger woman with her. She tried with everything in her to kiss the younger woman in a way she had never been kissed before, to imprint herself on Andréa so no one would ever compare.

'This is what it should always be like,' Andy thought. The only sound she could make was a low, feral moan that sent a thrill up Miranda's spine.

'I did that. I caused that sound,' the editor thought with an answering moan.

Finally, her lungs starved for oxygen, Andy pulled back and rested her forehead against Miranda's as they both struggled to breathe. When she could finally speak, the reporter said, "I won't come back to Runway, but anything else is negotiable." She could not help grinning as the woman in her arms threw back her head and laughed in utter joy.

Miranda stepped back and took the younger woman's hand. "Come on, I'll make us something to eat. It seems we have a lot to talk about."

"Why do I have the feeling I'm going to really enjoy these negotiations?" Andy teased.

Eyes sparkling with happiness, Miranda smiled at her. "I never lose, you know."

"Somehow I don't see either of us losing," the younger woman smiled as she willingly followed the editor through the house. "So what's for dinner?"

"My housekeeper will have left something. It's always too much for me to eat alone. She seems to be of the opinion I need fattening up."

As Miranda looked in the refrigerator, Andy came up behind and slid her arms around the small waist. "You're perfect."

The editor snorted. "I'm hardly perfect, Andréa."

"Maybe, but you're as close to it as I'll ever need," the brunette assured her.

Miranda turned in her arms, blinking back what looked suspiciously like tears. "I hope so," was all she could manage to say.

"I know so. But in the spirit of not rushing things, I'll leave it at that."

"All right," Miranda smiled. "Sit down and I'll get dinner together."

"Can I help?"

"Can you cook, Andréa?"

"Nope, can't say that I can," the reporter admitted.

"Well, since I don't like burned food, better let me see to it. Sit." Miranda pushed Andy towards a chair at the table that sat to one side of the kitchen.

The reporter relaxed and just watched the other woman moving around from cabinet to refrigerator to stove as she heated up pasta and grilled salmon. Finally, the editor sat a plate in front of Andy.

"What would you like to drink?" Miranda asked.

"Whatever you're having is fine." Andy was surprised when Miranda sat a large glass of milk in front of her.

Noticing the look on the reporter's face, she smiled. "The calcium is good for you."

"I know, but really, Miranda, milk? I've never seen you drink anything but coffee, Pellegrino and wine."

"You've never sat in my kitchen at midnight before either."

"True," Andy laughed. "Good choice by the way. I love milk. Always have."

"I'm sure that pleased your parents," Miranda remarked and took a small bite of fish.

Andy looked thoughtful for a moment. "Yeah, I'm sure it did my dad. My mom…that's another matter entirely."

"I thought you had the perfect Midwestern parents," Miranda teased with a small smile.

"Like I said, my mom's another matter," Andy snorted. "And not one that's conducive to a nice dinner and talking about what's happening here."

Miranda sat back and watched the other woman for a moment.

"What is happening, Andréa?"

Andy sipped her milk to buy a few moments while she put her thoughts together.

"Well, I think we have both made it very clear that we're attracted to each other. I'd like the chance to get to know you outside of Runway. I mean, I'd like to think there's more there than Miranda Priestly, editor and icon."

The white haired woman sighed and rubbed her forehead. "Sometimes I'm not so sure there is anything else."

Andy shook her head. "I refuse to believe that. I've seen you with the twins. You're so warm and loving with them."

"But they're my babies, Andréa. That's different."

The younger woman set her fork down and folded her hands tightly together.

"I can't have a relationship with Miranda Priestly. She'd end up hurting me and destroying my heart. So if you don't think you can let me in, then say so now."

She waited for a moment with her head bowed. Time slowly ticked away until at last with a sigh, Andy pushed her chair back and stood.

"I guess I should go." She turned and walked from the kitchen. Her hand was on the door knob when she heard the clack of heels behind her. Miranda forced her against the door and pressed her body into Andy's back.

"Don't leave. We'll take our time. I'll try. I promise you I will try. I want this chance. I'm not ready to give up so easily," the editor whispered with her lips next to Andy's ear.

Turning, the reporter pulled Miranda to her and kissed her slowly and gently. She sipped the editor's lips like an impeccable vintage of wine. Releasing her, this time Andy took her hand and led her back to the kitchen. "We haven't finished dinner."

Miranda allowed herself to be led, thankful that Andréa was still with her. She took her place at the table again and made every effort to carry on a pleasant conversation, asking about Andréa's day and stories she was currently working on.

Much later as she closed the door behind the younger woman, Miranda felt it had gone well. Not the most traditional of first dates, but a good one nonetheless. They had plans for Sunday afternoon as well. Andréa wanted to take her on a picnic. The editor could not remember the last time she had been on a picnic, she had to admit she was looking forward to it, especially if it came with more of the deep, slow kisses they had shared before Andréa left. Smiling, she turned off the lights and headed upstairs to bed. The book could wait until morning. Right now, she just wanted to lie in bed and savor the memory of tonight.

Two months later, Andy sat at her desk at the Mirror finishing up her last story for the day. She read back over it for the last time and then sent it to the queue for John to proof. Andy knew nothing on this one would get changed so she was pretty safe in leaving now. Gathering up her bag and coat, she stuck her head in the editor's office to make sure there wasn't anything last minute that needed handling. Assured there was not, she headed out. She walked briskly along the street in the direction of Elias-Clarke, planning to take the subway from just above there to her neighborhood. Andy wished she was seeing Miranda tonight, but the editor had to cancel their plans due to work and since the reporter understood about needing to work unexpectedly, she had been supportive when Miranda called earlier in the day.

Just as she passed in front of the building, she looked across the street. What she saw made her step back into the shadow of the doorway behind her. Miranda had just exited the building. Normally, Andrea would have waved and crossed to talk to her for a moment if the editor indicated she had time to spare but there was nothing normal about what she saw. Miranda was walking arm in arm with, and smiling at, a tall, slender blonde. She stepped back to let the blonde precede her into the car.

Andy waited until they were both seated and Roy closed the door. As he came around the car, he saw the reporter standing in the doorway across the street. There was sadness on his face as he met her eyes for a moment before he opened his door and got in. The car pulled away and disappeared down the street before Andy stepped out.

So that was the work Miranda had to do. The reporter was a fool to think it would work out. It was time to go home where she could do her suffering in private. No way would she ever let Miranda know how much this had hurt her, Andy would make it easy on them both and just disappear from the editor's life. The solution was simple, the journalist would just go back to working non-stop.

She made it home before she let the first tear fall. From there on, she drowned in them for the rest of the night. At eleven her phone rang. Looking at the screen, she saw it was Miranda calling and silenced the ringtone. There was no way she could talk to the editor right now nor anytime soon. Rising from the couch, she walked into her bedroom. Stripping down, she slid into bed and cried until sleep overtook her.

The alarm clock woke her the next morning. Andy dragged herself out of bed and staggered into the bathroom for a shower. Twenty minutes later, she left her apartment and took a different route to work that brought her out above her office in the opposite direction from Elias-Clark. As she walked, she pulled out her phone and checked for messages. There were two from Miranda. 'Probably to say how sorry she is it didn't work out.' It was not something Andy wanted to hear so she deleted the messages without listening to them.

Arriving at her office, she threw herself into her work. She ran out to do interviews and came back to write the stories, working late into the night until sheer exhaustion forced her to go home and sleep for a few hours. She got up the next morning and did it again.

Andy continued this way for almost a week. She paid no attention to tiredness, ignored the dark circles that developed under her eyes and the listless way she moved outside of the actual motions of working. The concerned looks from her editor and coworkers went unnoticed as she locked her feelings deep inside and kept plowing ahead. All messages from Miranda on her cell phone were deleted unheard, any that were handed to her at work were wadded up and tossed without reading them. It was done. It was over and that was all there was to it.

When her phone rang that night, it was not Miranda. This time it was her mother.

"Hey, Mom."

"Andrea? What's wrong, Darling? You don't sound well."

"You remember I told you I was dating someone?"

"Yes, you sounded so happy. Did something happen?"

"Yeah." Andy swallowed several times to try to clear the lump from her throat. "We broke up." Just saying the words caused the tears to start again. She drew a shaky breath and continued, "I don't know why. I guess she just got tired of me."

"Andrea, I'm leaving now. I'll be there by morning."

"Ok," Andy whispered and they hung up. She and her Mom did not always get along but they always supported each other when there was trouble. Undressing, she crawled into her bed and let the tears drag her down to sleep. She didn't know how much time had passed when she was awakened by a loud noise. Opening her eyes, she groaned and pulled the covers over her head. It came again, louder this time. Someone was beating on her front door. She glanced at her clock, 3 a.m. Who would be at her door this late?

Worried that one of her friends was in trouble, she got up and pulled on a bathrobe. Stumbling to the door, she looked through the peephole. Miranda! What was she doing here? Andy backed away from the door. There was no way she was letting the editor into her apartment tonight.

"Andréa! Open the door!" Miranda pounded again.

Walking up and resting her forehead on the cool metal of the door, Andy said, "Go away, Miranda. I haven't bothered you. Please, just show me the same courtesy."

"Not bothered me? What are you talking about? Stop this nonsense and open the door right now." Miranda's irritation was becoming apparent.

Turning, Andy leaned back against the door fighting tears. "Go home. It's over. There's no need to talk about it."

"Over?!" Andy could hear Miranda's gasp through the door. "Why? What did I do? Please, let me in. We have to talk. There's been some misunderstanding."

"Go home, Miranda, before someone calls the police." Andy walked slowly back to her bedroom and fell onto the bed. She lay staring at the ceiling as tears tracked down the sides of her face into her hair. She could still hear Miranda at the door.

"Andréa! Andréa, please! Talk to me, Darling."

After a time there was silence though Andy lay awake until the alarm sounded. She forced herself to get up and begin her routine once again. She knew her mother would call as soon as she checked into a hotel, so until then she would work as she always did. Opening the door of her apartment, she stopped just short of plowing into Miranda, who pushed her back into the room and kicked the door shut.

Andy stared at the older woman, blinking slowly, not quite sure if she was dreaming. Had Miranda been outside her apartment this whole time? She knew Miranda could be relentless when she wanted something, but to stake out her apartment was a bit much even for the Dragon Lady.

"Now, we will talk, Andréa. I, at least, deserve to know what I've done to upset you." Miranda gasped as she looked at her girlfriend for the first time in a week. 'What's happened to her?' The reporter looked as if she had not eaten or slept since the last time Miranda saw her. The brunette appeared dreadfully ill.

Andy just shook her head in the negative and reached to open the door. The brunette just did not understand why Miranda was insisting on forcing this conversation. She did not want to hear this; she never wanted to hear it. But Miranda kept herself between the brunette and escape. Whatever was going on, her Andréa was clearly suffering and the editor intended to fix it, she had to fix it. Seeing her girlfriend like this was more painful than she could have ever imagined and to think she, Miranda, had done something to cause it was almost her undoing.

Andy stood frozen, arms folded around her middle, staring at the floor. She wished Miranda would just leave and let her get back to her work.

"Andréa, when was the last time you ate?" Miranda asked gently.

Surprised at the question, Andy tried to think. "I don't know," she finally answered with a shrug. "It hasn't seemed important."

"Have you been ill?" Miranda tried again. "Is that why you haven't answered my calls?"

Again Andy just shook her head. This needed to stop. She could not hold herself together much longer. As Miranda took a step towards her, Andy stepped back. There was no way she could let the editor touch her.

Miranda saw the young woman move away and the rejection stung. What could have happened? At first, she had just thought Andréa was busy with work but as the days passed with no word from her, the editor knew there was something wrong. She still could not figure out what it was. The last time she had spoken to the young woman was to cancel their dinner plans. Was that it?

"Is this about me cancelling dinner? I told you how sorry I was. I had to work and I couldn't get out of it. It was very important."

The reporter turned away from her. The brunette was trembling so strongly that Miranda could see her shaking from several feet away. So that was it. But Andréa had said she understood. She seemed fine, even teasing Miranda about her long hours. It still did not make sense. Not knowing what else to do the editor moved cautiously forward and wrapped her arms around the young woman, pulling her back against her own body. She held tight when Andréa tried to twist away. The brunette was too weak to break her hold and the feel of Miranda's arms just broke Andy, great shattering sobs poured out of her. The editor maneuvered them over to the couch and turned her girlfriend so her face was resting against the older woman's neck. She pulled Andy almost into her lap and just held her, rocking and murmuring words of reassurance just as she would with one of her girls. Miranda kept hoping whatever it was could be fixed. This past week the editor had had a taste of what losing Andréa now would be like and she hoped to never feel that kind of desolation again.

As Andy quieted to an occasional hiccup or sniffle, Miranda pressed her cheek to the top of the dark head and hummed softly to her. Anything reminiscent of dealing with one of the twins, the editor could handle. It was the grown-up relating that proved a problem. Since it was safest, she decided to stick with the maternal.

"Darling, can you tell me what's wrong?" She kept her voice warm and soothing. She felt the young woman stiffen so she hurried on. "I know it has to do with my cancelling our dinner plans but you didn't seem upset at the time."

Andy buried her face deeper into the editor's neck. "I saw you." Her voice was barely above a whisper.

"Saw me? Saw me where?" Now that she was getting answers, Miranda was more confused than ever.

"Leaving work…with her."

'Her? Her? What her?' Suddenly Miranda had an idea of what their problem was.

"Andréa, were you across the street when I left work that night?" She felt the young woman's nod against her chest. "So you saw me leaving with Sarah?"

Hearing the blondes name almost set Andy off again, but one total meltdown in front of Miranda was enough for a lifetime.

Miranda, who never explained herself to anyone, continued, "Sarah is Irv's niece. He asked me to give her a ride on the way to my dinner meeting. Runway's budget is up for review this month. I felt a little good will might not go amiss."

Which all sounded good to Andy except for one thing, which she could not get past, she pulled back and met Miranda's eyes for the first time since the editor walked in the door. "No one touches Miranda Priestly. You never ask her questions and you never, ever touch her."

And suddenly it all made sense. The editor closed her eyes for a moment thankful that she could explain this so easily. "But if that person is the chairman's niece and affectionate by nature, even Miranda Priestly smiles when her arm is taken and makes small talk as boring as that may be."

Andy searched her eyes for what seemed like hours, looking for any sign of deception. All she found was honest affection. "I thought…" She was a little ashamed to admit what she had thought.

"Yes, I can imagine what you thought. I wish that you had trusted me enough to talk about this." She watched as tears welled in doe eyes though Miranda could not imagine the girl had any left to shed. She was not surprised by the effect it had on her own heart. She took a slow, deep breath in an attempt to ease the tightness in her chest that had been there all night.

For the first time, Andy realized how pale Miranda was. "Are you okay?"

"No, Andréa, I am not. My girlfriend disappears without a word, I cannot contact her and my messages go unanswered. I have only repeated stories in an unimportant newspaper to let me know she's even alive. I can't begin to imagine what I have done to make her shun me so completely. My daughters are concerned about me. My entire staff is hiding under their desks as we speak. Emily has developed a nervous tic that it truly irritating, the impossible girl just keeps twitching. So, no, Andréa, I am not, as you put it, okay" She fixed Andy with a steely glare. "This cannot happen again. Do you understand me? Promise me. No more jumping to conclusions. You will talk to me if you have any concerns at all."

For the first time in a week, Andy smiled. "I promise."

She pressed her lips against the other woman's. It felt so good to have Miranda back in her arms. She promised herself that she would never let anything come between them again. She had been a coward this whole time. Never again. Whatever happened, she would fight to keep Miranda. She would not let go until the editor said the words directly to her face. Right now she had a long, lonely week to make up for and her girlfriend's soft, warm lips to reacquaint herself with.

An hour later, they lay entwined on Andy's couch. The brunette loved being with Miranda like this, holding and being held in warm, loving arms. They would talk, murmuring against each other's lips while their fingers explored the skin left exposed by their clothes. By unspoken agreement, they were both careful not to cross certain lines, though Andy loved to slide her hands under Miranda's blouse and stroke the soft expanse of the editor's back. The interplay of muscles under delicate skin kept her fascinated for hours while Miranda seemed to enjoy caressing Andy's stomach with the back of her fingers, tracing a lone nail around and into the brunette's navel.

"Why do you always do that?" she wondered aloud.

"I like innies," Miranda teased. "Besides there's a direct connection between the navel and other parts of the body."

"There is?"

"Yes. Perhaps a demonstration is in order." Miranda curled her fingers and flicked her nail just inside the upper edge of Andy's navel. The editor laughed softly when the brunette shivered.

"I get your point," Andy gasped. She had felt that clear to her toes.

"I love how responsive you are," the older woman whispered as she licked along Andy's upper lip.

"I don't remember being like this with anyone else."

"Mmmm, lucky me," Miranda chuckled softly.

Andy grew quiet, her fingers tracing a particularly sensitive spot beneath her girlfriend's right clavicle. The editor waited, hissing when the feeling became especially good. As impatient as she was in her professional life, which was more about wasted time, Miranda loved this game they played, reveled in the almost constant simmer of arousal they maintained.

After several years of feeling like her libido had ceased to exist, it was pure joy to discover it had merely been the lack of an appropriate partner, more particularly a lack of Andréa. Like the younger woman, she could not recall ever responding to anyone in this way, to such an extreme that she just wanted to luxuriate in the slow build up of desire. Right now, she needed to focus on her girlfriend who still had not spoken.


"Yes?" the brunette mumbled, her mind clearly elsewhere.

"What's wrong, darling?"

"Hmmm?" Doe eyes lifted to meet the editor's. "Sorry. It's nothing. Mostly just tired and hungry, I guess."

A slight frown marred Miranda's porcelain brow as her eyes reflected her concern. "When was the last time you ate or slept properly?"

Andy looked away, unable to meet the editor's gaze, as she hedged, "I've been really busy this week."

Miranda shifted to lie partially on top of the journalist so she could look down and capture the evasive brown eyes with her own. "We both know you chose to be that busy. Now answer my question. When?"

Andy sighed, knowing Miranda would not give up. Relentlessness was as natural to the editor as breathing.

"Eating…a day or two, I guess. I really haven't slept much at all. A few hours here and there."

"Because you thought I was seeing someone else? It meant that much?"

"Of course it did. I care, ya know?" The journalist met the searching eyes above hers and chose not to hide her feelings.

"I didn't realize you cared so much. I thought…"

"You thought what, Miranda?"

Deciding to be as honest with the brunette as she was with herself, Miranda continued, "I thought this," she gestured between them, "was just something you were doing until you met someone more appropriate."

"Yeah, well, I thought the same about you which is why it was easy to believe you'd found that," Andy admitted.

The older woman rolled away to sit with her back to her girlfriend who remained lying where she was. Miranda felt the need to put some distance between them as she asked, "What if…what if I've found what I want?" She glanced over her shoulder to meet Andy's startled expression before facing forward again, her body tensed as if expecting a blow.

The journalist pushed herself up until she was leaning against the arm of the couch. She needed to buy herself a few moments to figure out what to say next. Did Miranda mean she wanted to be with Sarah or someone else?

"I…um…I guess if you've found someone who can give you what you need, make you happy, then you should go for it. Life's too short to be alone, or with the wrong person, if you have the choice," was the best she could offer, feeling her chest start to ache again.

Miranda glanced sharply back at her. "You think I mean someone else," she accused. "Did we not just talk about jumping to conclusions?"

Doe eyes widened in surprise, "You mean…me?"

"Of course I mean you. Do you honestly think I'd be here with you like this if I meant someone else?"

They were both so intent on each other that they did not hear the locks turn on Andy's front door, nor did they hear it swing open.

"I have never cheated, Andréa," Miranda continued. "Nor would I use someone as a replacement for the person I truly wanted to be with."

"Oh, now, we both know that's not true, don't we, Mira?" a third voice chimed in.

There was a moment of stunned silence as both women looked sharply towards the door, then they found their voices at the same time.

"Mom?" Andy asked.

"Rachel?" Miranda gasped, at the same time.

Andy looked at the editor as the older woman dropped her head into her hands with a groan. "You know my mom?" she exclaimed with incredulity.

Rachel Sachs laughed as she closed the door and flipped the lock.

"She definitely knows me, Sweetie," Rachel answered her daughter. Walking further into the room, she crossed her arms over her chest and studied the editor who had yet to speak again. "Hello, Miriam."

Miranda dragged her hands slowly down her face as she looked at the elder Sachs. She ran her hands through her hair to bring it into some order before resting them in her lap.

"Andréa is your daughter?"

"You were always quick on the uptake, Mira," Rachel grinned clearly amused by the situation. "How do you know Andy?"

"Mom, this is Miranda…Miranda Priestly," Andy supplied, confusion written clearly on her face.

"You've changed, Mira, but I'd know that voice anywhere. So you're Andy's Dragon Lady boss." Rachel couldn't hide her surprise.

"Yes." Miranda kept her answer short with no intention of elaborating on their current relationship. She winced when Andy chose to do it for her.

"Mom, Miranda's my girlfriend."

Rachel stared from one to the other, unsure if she had heard right. "This," she pointed at the editor, " is the person you were so upset over last night?"

"Yeah," Andy blushed, embarrassed to admit what had happened after she had been such a basket case with her mother on the phone. "It was just a misunderstanding though. We've worked it out," she hurried to add. Inwardly, the young brunette groaned as her mom stared at her girlfriend like she had two heads, neither of which was particularly attractive.

"My lord, Miriam," Rachel snapped. "Would you like my sister's phone number too. She's not dating anyone right now. While you're at it, I think my mother is free Saturday night."

Miranda rose from the couch, her eyes turning icy, though both Sachs women could see a flame of anger flickering deep within.

"I had no idea Andréa was your daughter, not when I hired her and certainly not when I began dating her. As for other members of your family, you sister is less than intelligent and your mother can't stand me, a feeling I assure you is entirely mutual," the editor sneered in her best 'people are going to be fired, if they're lucky' voice.

Rachel stalked toward the other woman, hands clenched at her sides. "So if you had known, then what? You wouldn't have fucked her, or you wouldn't have screwed around on her?"

"Mother!" Andy jumped up, not sure which shocked her more, her mother's language or the almost instant anger between the two older women.

"I can assure you, Rachel, neither scenario has happened nor are they likely to," the editor defended herself.

"Wha…wait…what?" Andy exclaimed as she stepped between them.

"Be quiet, Andy," her mother snapped. "This doesn't concern you."

"Hello?" Andy came back, "Remember me? Your daughter?" She jerked her thumb at Miranda. "Her girlfriend? I have a vested interest here." She turned to face the editor. "Now, what do you mean neither is going to happen? I mean, the not screwing around on me part I can agree totally with, but the other is a different subject."

Miranda lifted one hand to touch the young woman's cheek but stopped short and dropped her it to her side. She really did not want to say what she now believed she had to. The prospect of facing a lifetime feeling as she had over the past week was more than she could bear, but she really had no choice. Andréa was Rachel's daughter.

"I'm sorry, Andréa. I can't continue to see you." Her voice ended in a whisper so low only the utter silence in the room allowed it to be heard.

Andy tried to smile. "You're joking, right?"

"No," the editor shook her head. "I'm afraid not. I should go." She gathered her bag from where it lay on a side table and stepped around the journalist.

"No!" Andy grabbed Miranda's hand. "You don't get to just say that and leave."

Rachel broke in to reproach the editor. "Well, you certainly have perfected the art of running away, haven't you?"

Miranda studied the elder Sachs, who had changed little over the years. Why she had never seen the resemblance between the two, the editor could not understand. An older version of Andréa, Rachel had short salt and pepper hair, the same large doe eyes and hourglass build though she was a few inches shorter than her daughter, which put her closer to Miranda's height. Unlike the journalist, the older Sachs had the same innate sense of style she had shown in her youth. Miranda could remember being amazed that Rachel always seemed to know just what to wear without once resorting to pouring over the fashion magazines the way most of the girls they knew did. While not haute couture, her clothes were up-to-date, stylish and obviously from some of the more minor designers. Her red wrap blouse and black pantsuit draped well and clung in all the right places. Miranda had to admit Rachel Sachs was still a very beautiful woman.

The editor's fingers squeezed the younger woman's for a moment before she gently shook her hand free. This truly was between her and Rachel. She faced the older brunette squarely.

"What do you want from me, Rachel? What happened between us was a very long time ago." The editor's face was expressionless, her mask firmly in place.

"Not long enough for me to let you hurt Andy the way you did me," Rachel shot back.

Andy felt lightheaded as it began to dawn on her what was going on.

"You dated Miranda?" she gasped.

"I wish it was that simple. Just, please, stay out of this, Andy," her mother requested.

The younger Sachs looked from one woman to the other with escalating horror. I'm dating my mom's ex-lover! That's just…it's…

"You two have to leave right now. I can't deal with either one of you."

She looked over at the couch where she and Miranda had been lying only a short time before. A wave of nausea twisted her stomach.

"Get out!" she hissed through clenched teeth before running to the bathroom and slamming the door.

Miranda sighed. She knew what Andréa was thinking and perhaps it was for the best. It seemed the editor was never meant to be happy and it was probably Rachel's mother that had cursed her. The old bat had hated Miranda on sight and took every opportunity to let it be known. Her personal life had been one disaster after another since that woman interfered in it. Rachel's speaking startled the editor.

"She isn't eating, is she?"

"No, nor sleeping. I-It was a difficult week for us both. I had thought it was resolved," the editor conceded. "I never wanted to hurt her. She so deserves to be happy."

Rachel glanced sharply at the other woman. She knew that tone; she had heard it before. "You love her."

"Yes." It was just one word, but it held a wealth of feeling. There was silence for a moment before Miranda spoke again. "I had hoped…well, her reaction to seeing me with Irv's niece made me hope that she might feel the same. However, it's a moot point now. She'll never be able to look at me again without seeing you."

The other woman stroked her chin in a gesture the editor remembered well from years past. "My daughter and I do not have the best of relationships, too much alike, I guess. That is definitely going to influence the situation," Rachel spoke almost to herself. She thought for a moment before she seemed to come to a decision.

"You and I need to talk. For our own sakes and for Andy's happiness, we need to settle this."

Miranda's lips twisted slightly. "She believes we were lovers."

"We were, weren't we?"

Blue eyes swept the other woman. "After a fashion, I suppose we were."

"Then let's settle this, Miriam, one way or the other," the older brunette beseeched.

"Very well," Miranda acquiesced. "I'll call my driver."

"No need. I have a car waiting downstairs. I came straight from the airport. I wanted to pick up Andy before I checked into the hotel."

As Miranda nodded her acceptance, Rachel walked over to the door that separated them from her daughter. She tapped softly.

"Andy, we're going. I'll call you later, Sweetie. I love you." Turning, she gestured for Miranda to proceed her out of the apartment.

"Shouldn't someone stay with her?" Miranda was hesitant to leave the young woman alone, despite the fact Andréa had told her in no uncertain terms to get out of her apartment.

"Not a problem," Rachel assured as she walked beside the editor to the elevator. Digging out her phone, she dialed quickly. "Hey, Lily. Get over to Andy's, please. She needs a friend right now…Thank you, Dear…I'll call you later. Bye." Dropping her phone back into her bag, she glanced at the woman beside her. "Taken care of. Lily will be here in five minutes. She's right around the corner."

"You seem to know Andréa's friends well," Miranda commented.

"I should," Rachel laughed. "Lily and Doug spent more time at my house than they did at their own growing up."

"What was she like?" The editor's voice was wistful.

"Pretty much the same as she is now. She's always been kind. Dougie was picked on a lot when they were small, he was always a bit effeminate and Andy simply wouldn't tolerate it. I treated more black eyes than I want to remember. Some bully would hit Doug and Andy would jump in swinging. She's still fighting for the underdog."

"She was a tomboy?" Miranda pushed the call button for the elevator which opened immediately. They stepped in and the door closed before Rachel continued.

"Oh, yes. Nor did she understand the concept of fear, though I did. I thought my heart would stop the day I walked out the back door to find her hanging from the porch roof by her pant's leg. She had climbed up there to spy on her older brother."

"You have more than one child?" She waved her hand in irritation. "Of course, you do. Andréa is hardly old enough to have been…," she trailed off unwilling to finish the thought.

Neither spoke as the door opened and they exited the building. The driver held the door as first Rachel and then Miranda entered the backseat. The editor supplied her address and the car pulled away with each woman distracting herself with the view out her side of the car.

When the car pulled up in front of her townhouse, Miranda addressed the driver. "Bring the bags in and then you're through for the night." Glancing at Rachel, she added, "I'm sure this will take a while. My driver can take you to your hotel or I will."

"All right." Rachel followed the editor from the car and into the townhouse. She knew she was gaping as the other woman thanked the driver, locked up and led the way upstairs to a small sitting room. Miranda dropped her bag on a table and moved over to begin pouring herself a drink.

"Do you want something?" she asked.


The editor glanced over at the other woman. "You used to get tipsy on wine," she commented.

"And you would get the giggles from sniffing the cork, Mira. What's in your glass now? Bourbon?"

"Mmm," Miranda hummed as she drained her glass in one long swallow and began pouring another. "Yes, well, times and tolerances change."

Crossing to a chair, she handed the other woman her drink before sitting and crossing her legs at the knee, gesturing for the other woman to be seated.

Rachel sat on the couch and dropped her bag beside her feet. She sipped her drink and studied the other woman. Except for the white hair, Miriam looked much the same physically, possessing an ageless beauty the brunette had secretly envied. Rachel had spent many hours trying to figure out what it was about Mira, her features taken separately were not that astounding. There was an air about the woman though that made you feel her beauty as something intangible and ethereal. It was a natural, effortless sexiness that reached out and snared anyone who saw her.

In some very important way the woman had changed a great deal, if you were to believe Andy, Richard and the tabloids. By all accounts, Miranda Priestly was a demanding, unreasonable, frigid bitch, not at all like the Miriam Princek she remembered.

"What happened to you, Mira?" Rachel was shocked to realize she had spoken aloud.

"You happened to me," was the quick rejoinder.

Eyes wide, the brunette searched for some sign that the editor was joking. She should have realized from the things Andy had told her, Miranda Priestly never joked, but Miriam Princek had, and Rachel realized that was really what she was looking for, some sign that Miriam still existed within this ultra-elegant fashion maven.

"Miriam, I hardly think-"

Miranda cut her off. "Very few people truly do."

Rachel flushed at the implied insult. Losing her temper would be counterproductive so she bit back the first comment that came to mind.

"I thought we were going to talk, Mira."

One finger circling the rim of her glass, Miranda pursed her lips. "I see no need to rehash the past, it's better left buried."

"Better for whom? It's certainly not better for Andy."

The editor's lips thinned. "I have no desire to discuss Andréa with you."

Deciding nice was not going to work, Rachel changed tactics. "Well, you better discuss something with me or my daughter is never going to be more than a used-to-be in your life and I really don't think that's what you want."

Abruptly, Miranda shifted to her feet and moved to stare out the window. The lines of her body were so tense the brunette was afraid the editor would break if she moved too quickly.

"Besides my daughters, Andréa is the most important person in my life. I don't believe she is aware of just how important she really is to me."

"Ego has never been her downfall," Rachel agreed. "If anything, she's too self-effacing."

Miranda turned in profile, her face lit by a gentle smile, she looked more like the woman, Miriam. "I spend my life surrounded by enormous egos, Andréa is unbelievably restful in comparison. Though you are right, she does not realize her own potential and self-worth. She believes herself lucky to be with me when, in fact, the opposite is true."

"All right, Mira, I'm convinced."

Miranda's confusion was evident. "Convinced?"

Rachel settled back and took a healthy swallow of her drink. "I don't want my daughter involved with Miranda Priestly." She held up her hand to stop any comment as the editor bristled. "Relax, you just convinced me Mira is still in there somewhere. And if Andy is going to love a woman, Miriam Princek is exactly the kind of person I want her to be with."

"Even though she wasn't good enough for you?" There was hurt just beneath the surface of the sneer.

Now we're getting somewhere. "Is that what you think?"

Miranda moved to pour her third drink, an advanced state of inebriation was becoming more attractive by the moment. It had gotten her through living the events they were referring to, why shouldn't it get her through the discussion ahead of them.

Fully aware of what the other woman was doing, Rachel could not resist commenting. "Do you really think that's going to help?"

Reseating herself, Miranda raised her glass in a toast. "Like the man said, 'It couldn't hurt.'"

"Why did you leave?" Rachel decided to get right to the point before the editor had anymore alcohol.

Miranda choked as she attempted to laugh and drink at the same time. "Leave? I didn't leave. I was thrown out."

"I don't understand," the brunette shook her head. "Who threw you out?"

Miranda looked at her one eyebrow arching in surprise. "You really don't know, do you?"

Rachel grimaced, "Would I be asking if I did?"

The editor seemed to consider this. "No, I don't suppose you would. Very well, I'll do my best to explain."

She set her glass aside on the small table at her elbow and clasped her hands together in her lap. She took a deep breath to settle herself.

"The last time I saw you, after I had left your room, your mother met me at the bottom of the stairs. She made it quite clear that I was never to see you again, nor set foot in her house. I tried to explain, but what could I really say without betraying you? She alluded to having done something to insure I complied with her demands. Not knowing what else to do, I left, thinking I would speak to you the next day and we could straighten things out."

"Then why didn't you? I never saw you again. I was left to deal with everything alone," Rachel accused.

Miranda scoffed. "Hardly alone. You had Richard there. I'm sure his assistance proved sufficient."

The brunette leaned forward, hands clenched together in her lap. "It wasn't the same. You promised me."

"How was I to keep that promise?" the editor defended. "I had nowhere to go, no one to turn to myself. I couldn't go to you with all you already had to deal with."

"Miriam, you've lost me. Why didn't you just go home?"

The editor stared at her in disbelief.

"My god, did they bury you under a rock? I did go home. Unfortunately, your mother had been there first, so I walked into a living hell, and I barely got back out alive."

A weak laugh was the brunette's response, "You're overstating. I'm sure it wasn't that bad."

"Rach, you know what my home life was like. After your mother got done filling their heads with filth and lies about you and me, about how I'd corrupted you with my unnatural ways, how do you think my father reacted?" the editor sneered, as she watched the other woman visibly pale before her eyes.

For a moment, Miranda thought the brunette would faint. In an expressionless voice she continued, "He beat me, Rachel. He beat me to the point I couldn't stand. I crawled out of that house, dragging myself through backyards and several streets until I finally collapsed. The police found me and took me to the hospital. Since I refused to give my name and I was not easily identifiable due to the beating altering my facial structure, they listed me as a Jane Doe and transferred me to indigent care. Two weeks later I was moved to a rehab center and a month after that I walked out of there and never looked back. It was made very clear to me if I tried to return, if I tried to contact you, he would kill me. I came to New York and changed my name."

She finally glanced at the woman who sat across from her. Tears streamed down the brunette's face, dripping into her lap though she had not made a sound the entire time Miranda had told her story. She opened her mouth to speak but was stopped by a wave of the editor's hand.

"Don't. It's history. Learn from it and move on." Miranda retrieved her drink and waited while the other woman got herself together.

"I can't believe my mother did that," Rachel's voice was still shaky. At a look from the editor, she added. "I don't doubt she did it. I just have trouble believing it. She knew about your father. She had to have known what would happen."

"You're a mother, Rachel. How far would you go to protect Andréa? She never liked me; I was trash to her. I doubt she even gave thought to what it would actually mean for me."

"I was terribly upset when I couldn't find you. Your mother hung up on me when I called, shut the door in my face when I went to your house and finally threatened to tell your father if I didn't stop. I didn't want to put you at risk so I backed off. When Richard and I eventually told my parents the truth, she almost collapsed. My father barely caught her in time. She just kept repeating, 'What have I done?' over and over. It was three days before she spoke to me and then it was just to ask what I was going to do. She changed after that, she hasn't interfered in my life in any way since. I guess now I know why." Rachel rubbed her face as if she could rub the reality of that time away.

"Your mother doesn't interfere?" Miranda laughed at the irony.

"Yeah," Rachel smiled in return. "It's been rather nice." The smile faded. "Though, she and I have a lot to talk about when I get home. I knew she didn't like you but I always thought it was because she blamed you for my running around with Richard. I never realized she thought that about us. I thought it ended with the whispering at school."

There was a rueful twist to Miranda's mouth as she admitted, "It was better than them knowing the truth. Being gay was some amorphous concept best left unspoken, being pregnant would have gotten you thrown out of school."

"I still don't understand why my mom thought that. She should have known me better."

"She thought it because it was true, Rachel." Miranda waved off the other woman's surprise. "I had a terrible crush. You were my first love. Why else would I have let those rumors go unchallenged? It certainly didn't help my reputation any and I knew what my father would do if it got back to him. You were worth the risk."

The brunette gaped at her. "You…I mean…I don't know what I mean," she finished lamely.

Miranda laughed. "Don't panic. That is all long over. I never felt that way about anyone again. I never let myself."

"Until Andy." Rachel commented.

"Yes." That soft look was back, it seemed to return anytime Andy was mentioned.

Rachel realized the look was familiar because it had been directed at her so many years ago, but never with such depth and totality. It seemed to radiate from the editor's very cells. Over the years, the brunette had always regretted that she had never gotten to see her friend truly in love. She was getting that chance today, now she needed to make sure that look stayed in place.

"So much would have been different if we'd just been able to talk," she mused.

"Perhaps situations, and to an extent, even we, would have been different," Miranda conceded. "But every step of this journey has brought me to today, to Andréa, I would repeat it all without thought to end up here again."

Rachel flew off the couch and across the room to end up in the editor's lap where she locked her in a tight hug.

"Damn, what is it with you, Sachs women and living room furniture?"

The two in the chair looked over at the doorway where Andy stood with one hand resting against the frame.

"There's just something about brunettes from Ohio I find hard to resist," Miranda quipped.

"May I assume you're here to talk about the current situation?" she finished more seriously.

"Yes, after talking to Lily, I realized this might well be another miscommunication, though it would be much easier if my mother wasn't sitting in your lap…I mean, ewwwww, Miranda."

Rachel laughed as she stood up and went to hug her daughter. "Big misunderstanding…huge…goes back years," she whispered in an ear before releasing the younger woman.

"And just so you know," the older brunette added, "I never slept with your girlfriend. I've only ever been with your dad, though I could have timed that a bit better. Ok, since you need to eat, I'm going to go find the kitchen and leave you two to talk."

They both watched as the elder Sachs strolled out seemingly without a care. Andy looked back to where Miranda sat.


"In a nut shell, I grew up with your mother, she was my first crush but she adored your father from the day she met him. Since I was also her best friend, I did the only thing I could and supported her entirely, including letting everyone we knew think she and I were lovers to take the focus off her and Richard. In hind sight a rather ridiculous choice, but it made sense at the time. I will be glad to explain in more detail if you feel it necessary."

Andy studied her for a moment. There was such love and hope in those smoky blue-gray eyes, but more importantly, she saw complete and utter honesty. Releasing a breath she had not known she was holding, the reporter crossed the room in a few long strides and slipped into the place that her mother had just vacated, though her show of affection did not end at just a hug.

That was where Rachel found them a half hour later when she stuck her head around the doorframe. "Oops, didn't mean to interrupt, but we really do need to feed that girl, Mira."

Miranda slowly separated her lips from Andréa's, though she continued to press soft kisses over her love's face to punctuate her words. "Your mother's right, Darling, as much as I'm enjoying this, you should eat. I wouldn't want you to become ill."

Andy rolled her eyes. "I can see now that you two are going to gang up on me every chance you get."

"At last," Rachel joked, "an ally!"

Andy just could not believe the way her mom was acting. "You don't have a problem with me being with Miranda?"

Rachel leaned against the doorframe. "Sweetie, your father is eight years older than I am," she responded as if that explained everything.

"That's not such a big difference, Mom."

"Not today it isn't," her mother laughed.

Seeing the confusion on her girlfriend's face, Miranda took her chin between finger and thumb and turned the dark head to face her. "Your parents fell in love the day they met, Darling. I know, I was there. The problem was Rachel was only fifteen at the time."

Andy's eyes were huge. "Ohhhhhhhhh. Gotcha. At least, we're both adults."

"Don't get the wrong idea, Andy," her mother was quick to correct. "We waited until I was eighteen."

"Who waited?" Miranda teased.

"Ok, fine. Richard wanted to wait," Rachel conceded.

"And you, if I remember correctly, made it as difficult for him as possible," the editor laughingly added.

"Damn good thing your dad is so stubborn, Andy, since I got pregnant the first time," Rachel joined in the editor's laughter.

Andy blinked. "So Rick Jr…"

"Yep, it was a race to the altar," her mom admitted.

The reporter could not believe the difference in her mom in just the last hour. The older woman would never have admitted such a thing to her daughter, much less joked about it. Even Miranda seemed more peaceful, though no less intense. A longer explanation from the editor was definitely called for, but right now food sounded wonderful. Reluctantly extricating herself from her girlfriend's lap, she held out her hand to the woman.

"Can I interest you in lunch? My mom is a great cook."

"Really?" Miranda cocked an eyebrow. "I seem to remember she set the kitchen on fire trying to boil water."

"I did not! Old age has affected your memory, Mira."

Andy froze, wincing. No one made age jokes to Miranda, especially not about the editor's own age. To her surprise, her girlfriend threw back her head and laughed.

"Speaking from experience, Rach?" she teased in return.

A really, really, long, long explanation, Andy thought watching the two old friends continue to banter back and forth as she offered an arm to each to escort them into the kitchen.

A month later, Andy met Lily and Doug for lunch on a Saturday. She dropped into a chair at the table looking decidedly disgruntled.

"Bad day?" Doug commiserated.

"No, good day actually."

"Then why the long face?" Lily questioned.

"It's my mom." Andy grumbled.

"I thought things were going better between you two. She seemed really happy about you and Miranda the last time I talked to her," Lily offered.

"That's just the problem," Andy griped. "I had a romantic evening all planned for Miranda and I."

"Okaaay," Doug clearly did not see the problem.

The report huffed blowing the bangs off her forehead. "Mom came into town unexpectedly and they're going to dinner and the theater tonight."

Her friends burst out laughing.

"Oh, damn," Lily gasped. "I can't believe your mom is your biggest competition."

"It could be worse," Doug chimed in. "They could hate each other."

"If only," the reporter snorted. "They're always on the phone together, they email, mom comes to visit and now they're talking about a joint family vacation!"

"Most people would be thrilled that their mom got along so well with the person they're dating."

"I know, Lils, it's not about them getting along."

Doug laid a hand over the reporter's. "What is it, then?"

"You'll think I'm crazy," she mumbled.

"No, we won't," he assured. "Tell us."

"It's just that Miranda's so nice all the time. It's like she's a different person, the one mom grew up with."

"And that's a problem?" Lily queried.

Exasperated, Andy snapped. "Who the hell wants a nice Miranda? Where's the fun in that?"

Once again her friends dissolved in laughter, this time taking the brunette with them. She had to concede it was funny. When she'd worked at Runway, Andy would have given anything for Miranda to be nice to her just once. But seriously, what the fuck? What can you do with a nice Miranda?

Which is why we are at…THE END

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