DISCLAIMER: The Devil Wears Prada and its characters belong to Lauren Weisberger and 20th Century Fox. Star Trek: Voyager is the property of Paramount. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To qhfletcher[at]gmail.com
By quiethearted (QH Fletcher)
Janeway awoke to an unfamiliar soft purring sound coming from just above her head. Her face was pressed to something warm and cushiony that rose and fell steadily, and there was a small protrusion poking in the inner corner of her eye. Her mind tried to wrap around the circumstances, but it was moving sluggishly due to her high level of comfort. Opening sleepy eyes, she was met with a mound of royal blue that obscured her vision of all else. Slowly, the previous day's events came back to her. Seven. Her head was resting on Seven's breast, and a tight nipple was poking in her eye. Lifting her head carefully, Janeway looked up. The strange purring sound was coming from Seven who was sound asleep and snoring softly. Janeway's smile was tender as she watched her love sleeping.
Exquisitely beautiful and with the body of a goddess, Seven had taken her breath away from the first moment Janeway had seen her standing in Cargo Bay 2. The sight of Seven in that silver biosuit had struck a chord deep within that Janeway had thought would never be played again. From that moment on she had fought with her baser instincts, constantly admonishing herself that to acknowledge her growing feelings for Seven would be a betrayal of her mentor status in the young woman's life. Now to find out that Seven returned her feelings and had for some time but had been waiting for Janeway to sort out her own issues with a possible relationship between them, was more than Janeway could ever have hoped for.
"Kathryn, if you continue to breathe on my areola in such a manner, I shall begin to object to your wish to 'take things slowly' most strenuously," Seven observed dryly.
Janeway suppressed a chuckle. Any doubts that she had held about Seven not being ready for a physical relationship were laid to rest quite effectively by her comment. "Good morning, Darling," she greeted, turning her face up for a kiss, which Seven quite happily provided.
"Good morning, Kathryn. I seem to have slept. I was not aware I could do so," Seven commented.
"Perhaps you were tired, Seven."
"I was not aware of being tired. I was holding you and listening to your soft, steady breathing. That is the last thing I remember until I awoke to you breathing upon my mammary glands," Seven explained, giving her an accusing stare.
Janeway pressed a kiss to the silk-covered breast in question. "It's a quite impressive pillow, Darling. I think it will quickly become my favorite."
"I believe it will prove more comfortable without the silk covering, Kathryn," Seven said with a sly twinkle in her eyes.
With a chuckle, Janeway pushed up to lean on one arm hovering over Seven. "I have a feeling you are going to prove to be a handful, Seven of Nine," she teased.
"I believe it will require both your hands to cover one of my breasts, Kathryn," Seven shot back with the hint of a smirk on her full lips.
Janeway gave a surprised bark of laughter before turning an evaluative gaze on the breasts in question. "I do believe you're right, Seven. Even that might not be enough. I may have to use my mouth as well to get all that covered." Janeway smiled to herself as she felt a shiver trace through Seven's body. Oh, yes. Seven is definitely ready. She noticed a frown marring the flawless complexion of her love. "What is it, Seven? What has you concerned?"
"Kathryn, are my mammary glands too large?" She stared at Janeway's chest before adding, "They seem unusually large in comparison to yours."
"Your breasts are larger than mine, Darling, but they're perfect for you," Janeway assured her. She had never realized Seven had issues with body image.
"But are they perfect for you?" Seven asked anxiously.
Janeway smiled, suddenly aware of what Seven's concern was. "Everything about you is perfect for me, Seven. I love you exactly as you are. And once we've wrapped up this mission and are home, I plan to show you just how much." Janeway grabbed at the bedding, finding herself nearly tossed to the floor as Seven bounded from the bed. "Seven," she gasped, "what's wrong?"
"There is nothing wrong, Kathryn. I merely wish to complete this mission as expeditiously as possible," Seven tossed over her shoulder as she disappeared into the en suite with her clothing over her arm. "How does one operate a water shower?" Seven called back from the other room.
Janeway collapsed on the bed laughing. Maybe she had finally found a way to get Seven to do things she didn't agree with. Just promise her sex. Who knew? Kathryn chuckled as she rolled from the bed and strode into the en suite to help Seven adjust the shower. What she wasn't prepared for was a very naked Seven standing in the shower enclosure waiting for her. Whoa! Two hands and a mouth may not be enough.
Clearing her throat and slamming her command mask into place, Janeway stepped over to the shower. "You might want to move back, Seven. The water can be quite cold when it first comes out of the nozzle." She waited until Seven was at the back of the shower before turning on the water and adjusting the temperature, allowing the water to spray onto her hand. She needed all of her considerable willpower to resist ogling the naked blonde standing so close, a fact that didn't appear to be lost on Seven if her smirk was anything to judge by. "You're a very beautiful woman, Seven," Janeway observed as she stared intently at the tile beneath the shower head. "I could quite easily be distracted by you, and there will be times I will welcome that distraction, but now isn't one of them. I won't lose you to that bitch, Seven," Janeway growled, fully aware that Seven knew she was talking about the Borg queen. She wasn't aware that Seven had moved closer until she felt a warm stomach against the back of her hand.
"I will not distract you, Kathryn. It was never my intention to do so. I was unaware that I could affect you in such a way by simply being unclothed until you came into the room," Seven explained in a contrite tone.
Janeway nodded, accepting the explanation. "I'm in love with you, Seven. You affect me simply by existing. Add to that the fact that I find you exquisite in every way, and you will always be a distraction for me, if I allow it."
"Then perhaps it would be better if we were not to be in a relationship. I would not want to have a detrimental influence on your ability to command," Seven said, though her sadness at the idea was clear in her voice.
"Oh, no, Seven. You don't get out of this that easily," Janeway shook her head. Turning, she met Seven's tear-filled eyes. Her own were filled with the confidence she felt, knowing she was saying the right thing for them both. "We belong together, Seven. We always have. You're mine now, and I have no intention of letting you go. So you get that idea right out of your head. Now take your shower while I can still let you do it alone." She strode from the bathroom without looking back, recognizing that if she did, not only would she be in that shower faster than the water could reach the floor, but also neither of them would be leaving it to move any farther than the bed for a good long time.
Serena opened her eyes as an insistent hand stroked over her stomach before tangling in the curls at the top of her thighs. "Emily," she moaned. "You are going to kill me. I cannot count the number of times you made me come last night. I am deliciously sore this morning. You must let me rest."
"I'll be gentle," Emily promised as she kissed her way down Serena's back. She knew she was being greedy, but she just couldn't resist having Serena once more.
"Emily, there is not that much gentle in the world," Serena sighed as soft lips pressed to the skin of her lower back.
"Yes, there is, Love. Just relax, and I'll show you," Emily encouraged before sliding her tongue over swollen lips. Serena's core really was very red so she moved as gently as possible while using delicate teasing strokes. It wasn't long before her efforts were rewarded as Serena's hips arched back off the bed and her legs spread wider to allow Emily more access. A flood of arousal soon met her tongue as Emily worked over the velvety lips and clit of her lover. She loved listening to Serena whimper and moan when she hit a particularly sensitive spot. The circular movements of Serena's hips and her rapid panting were clear signals that she was approaching her peak.
Emily had learned the signs during the long hours of the previous night as she had brought Serena to orgasm again and again. She had not devoted herself so fully to learning another person's tells since first going to work for Miranda. Then she had done so out of awe for the editor of Runway. Now she did so out of pure love for the amazing woman who professed to love her in return. Emily hummed as she planted sweet kisses on the soft lips alternating with teasing flicks on Serena's reddened clit. She moved slowly and easily waiting for that tiny squeal that would let her know Serena was ready. When it came, she sucked quickly on her lover's clit and was rewarded with a rush of fluid and roaring scream of her name. She moved up quickly and pressed herself to Serena's back wrapping her love tightly in her arms. Serena liked the security of being held as she recovered, and Emily always wanted her to feel safe and loved. The devotion she had once lavished on Miranda as first assistant she intended to now show to Serena and more.
She had crushed on Serena from the moment she first had seen her, but had been unable to hope for little more than friendship from such an extraordinarily beautiful woman. It hadn't been long before Emily knew her feelings had become much more than friendship, but she knew better than to take Serena's flirty ways seriously. Since Serena seemed born to flirt, and did so as easily as breathing, Emily kept telling herself not to take Serena's overtures as anything more than a friendly teasing. She really did want it to be more, however.
Now as she lay holding Serena in her arms, Emily could not believe how dense she'd been. They had talked between their bouts of lovemaking last night, and Emily had been amazed to learn that Serena had felt the same way throughout their friendship. Emily couldn't believe what a right git she'd been. To think that if it hadn't been for Nigel she might never have realized that Serena wanted her just as much was mind boggling. Oh, sure, Andrea had said as much many times, but Emily just took that as more teasing among friends.
"Querida, we must dress or we will be late," Serena murmured and stretched languidly.
Emily felt helpless to do more than watch that long body as Serena arched flexing perfectly formed muscles. She reached out to pull Serena close again, only to find hands on her shoulders holding her off.
"No, Emily. We must go to work, and I need the rest. If you are very good today, you may have me again tonight," Serena said with a wink.
"Define good," Emily shot back.
"No fighting with B'Elanna. Whatever happened yesterday, it was unlike her. You must let it go."
Emily huffed, frowning and crossing her arms over her chest. "Bleeding cow deserves a good smack."
Serena traced a finger down the center of her lover's body. "I promise you will be well rewarded for your efforts."
"Right. Well then, in the shower with you. I'll let your fangirl live as long as she remembers her place," Emily grudgingly promised. She couldn't suppress a smile as Serena's laugh tinkled across her ears.
"B'Elanna is Latina. She might hurt you, Querida. I could not have that," Serena cautioned.
"I'd stake that bloody vamp with my new Jimmy Choos," Emily sniffed. "Now get on with you. Miranda will be there, and if we're less than fifteen minutes early we'll be late."
Miranda poured herself a cup of coffee and took a bracing sip of the steaming infusion, sighing in satisfaction. The things Kathryn had shared with her last night had her seriously concerned for her girls. It was clear that the ground work for the attitude toward relationships for at least one of them had been laid by herself and her inability to make a lasting romantic connection. Miranda didn't think that Janeway had reached that conclusion yet, but it was just a matter of time until she did. What Kathryn had said about the journals, the negativity that had appeared in some of the passages, and the general subject matter of the same passages made a clear picture for Miranda.
The turning point for Andréa had been in Paris. After sleeping for a time, they had awakened during the night and made love again. Cuddling and talking afterward, Andréa had shared much of the conversation she'd shared with Seven earlier in the den. Andréa had been intent on walking away after what Miranda had done to Nigel and the words she'd said later in the car. Faced with that knowledge, Miranda knew she would have gone after her. Perhaps not right away, but she would have eventually found her and attempted to at least form a friendship on a more equal footing. She most definitely would not have blackballed Andréa and would even have provided a reference in her own way. With Andréa returning her feelings, they would have found their way to each other before now. So much time lost, time her girls could not afford evidently.
Moving to stand before the kitchen window, Miranda looked out at the small garden in her backyard. Many of the houses on her street had small garages or paved parking areas in that space off the alley running the length of the block, but Miranda had paid to have the concrete removed and topsoil brought in when she'd learned she was pregnant. Children needed space to play and enjoy the sunlight and greenery, without having to be under the constant vigilance of a nanny or parent as was required in a park. The high walls with their motion sensors kept out undesirables and allowed her children a sense of safety. Her daughters were unaware that Miranda could sit at her desk in her study and keep a watchful eye on them as they played. They had a perception of freedom and the confidence that brought. All in all, it was one of her best investments and paid extraordinary dividends in the bell-like laughter that rang out as her girls played in the yard.
She had tried so hard to ensure they did not grow up with the uncertainty and fear that she had known in her childhood. She had married and remarried, thinking they required a stable father figure, when in truth they only had needed to see a solid, working relationship. The kind Miranda knew she could build with Andréa. There were many things she did not like about turning fifty, but one that she did was the knowledge that she finally knew how to make a relationship last. Happily ever after on its own was as much a fairy tale as the stories the phrase ended. A successful relationship was as much a job as her position at Runway. It required work and a willingness to compromise, including putting the other person before one's own selfish desires. Something neither she nor Stephen had been willing to do. Yet, it was something that she felt Andréa instinctively knew.
Andréa's withdrawal from their lives had taught Caroline and Cassidy the opposite of what they should have been learning, that love and happily ever after could truly exist. What they had learned instead was that everyone left, men and women, and that no one could be truly trusted with their hearts. It was the wrong message, and one Miranda had contributed to herself. With Andréa staying at Runway, Miranda thought it was enough to just have her nearby, unaware that her girls were absorbing the unhappiness she'd tried to hide from them. Well, no more. She had no intention of hiding her love for Andréa. It would not be easy. There were a great many things against them, but they would persevere and win. Miranda would see to that. Andréa, her children, their family together would come first. She had spent many years showing her children what could come of hard work, now it was her responsibility to teach them that those same principles could bring joy, love, and commitment to their lives. It only had required finding someone just as dedicated to those ideals as she was.
Refilling her cup, Miranda moved into the den and stood looking out a window, watching the people moving about on the sidewalks and street. Somewhere out there was a man who had tried to destroy her chance at happiness, and more importantly to Miranda, any chance her children had at the same. To say that was unacceptable to Miranda was the greatest understatement of all time. With Kathryn's assistance, she was going to find him and if it was in her power, she would destroy him personally even if that meant she had to call in every favor she was ever owed and hand out markers of her own indiscriminately. She'd toss them to Irv by the handfuls if it would undo what that bastard had wrought.
She heard movement in the room behind her, though she did not turn from the view before her. The tread was too light to be Andréa or Seven and too heavy to be one of her girls.
"Kathryn, we are going to find him and when we do, I will personally drive Louboutin's newest stiletto through his heart. No one fucks with my family, current or future, and walks away scot-free," Miranda said in the cold, level tones that had been known to release the bladders of the most stalwart of individuals. She turned and fixed her descendant with a piercing gaze. "Where do we start?"
Andy woke up alone, hand reaching out instinctively to the space beside her. She was disappointed when she felt the coolness of the sheets. Miranda had evidently been up for a while, so it was doubtful she'd be coming back to bed. Stretching luxuriously, Andy smiled at the faint twinges and lingering soreness in her muscles. Miranda had been amazing last night, wringing from her body responses even Andy hadn't realized herself capable of. Andy covered her mouth with one hand to stifle a giggle. She had thought she'd had an active sex life with Nate; he'd be none too happy if he realized a woman twice his age was more virile than he'd ever dreamed of being. Andy pulled a pillow over her face and howled with laughter. Miranda had him so outclassed. She was a fierce lover bringing the same single-minded attention to detail and obsession with perfection to their bed that she showed at work. Andy had never felt so wanted, desired, and loved as she did in Miranda's arms.
Rolling from the bed, Andy grabbed the robe laid across the end of the bed and headed for the shower, smiling at Miranda's thoughtfulness. She wanted to be clean, and then she wanted to see her lover. Andy shivered at the thought of feeling Miranda's arms around her and feeling those soft lips against hers again.
"No. I refuse to allow it," Miranda stated flatly. "No one wants to catch this man more than I do, but I adamantly refuse to have Andréa used as bait." She stood stiffly in the middle of her kitchen, arms crossed defiantly over her chest. It was clear Miranda did not intend to budge an inch.
"Miranda, I understand how you feel. I wouldn't be thrilled with the idea if we were talking about Seven, but I honestly don't see another way. He's made no attempt to hurt Andy," Kathryn argued.
"Yet! You forgot to add yet," Miranda snapped. "From what Andréa has said, he's been there every time she's waivered with staying at Runway. How could he know what she's thinking? He's clearly watching her. That much is evident, which I intensely dislike. That he seems able to read her mind is too horrifying to contemplate."
Janeway stopped. How did he know what Andy was thinking? Seven had filled her in on the conversation she'd had with Andy last night, so Janeway was aware that whoever he was, he always seemed to appear whenever Andy was thinking of leaving Miranda. How did he know?
"He is sampling the future," Seven spoke from behind her.
Janeway jumped, startled by the sudden appearance of Seven behind her. She turned to face her love. "Seven! I thought you were keeping the twins occupied."
"They are currently preparing for something they call a 'rematch.' It seems Caroline Priestly does not believe that my hand-eye coordination is far superior. She believes that she can 'beat me' with sufficient practice. I do not think she will be successful," Seven stated confidently.
"You do have a somewhat unfair advantage, Seven, " Janeway said, smirking.
"Indeed," Seven responded with her own tiny smirk.
"What do you mean sampling the future?" Miranda asked.
Seven looked at Janeway and, receiving a nod of confirmation, continued, "He is leaping back and forth in time. Based on the original timeline, I believe he has theorized that if Six leaves your side at Runway, you would confess your feelings to keep her with you in your private life. After each interaction with Six, he moves ahead in a time a specified distance and checks to see the outcome. If you have begun to form a relationship with Six at that point, he has merely to ascertain when she left your employ and return to deflect her from that path."
"He would have had to make more than three leaps through time, which means he may well have temporal psychosis," Janeway theorized, resting one hand on her hip and gesturing with the other as she spoke. "If that's true, then he'd be displaying erratic, irrational behavior, but the man Andy described seemed to be in full control of his faculties. How is he able to leap around like that and not show signs of the effects?"
"Such leaps would radically increase his risk of developing temporal psychosis," Seven agreed. "Though it would not guarantee his doing so. We have no way of knowing how advanced technology has become in the centuries beyond our own. It is possible Starfleet devised a way to avoid the symptoms."
Janeway rubbed her temples. "I hate time travel."
"An understandable reaction," Miranda observed. "How he is managing to do it seems less important at the moment than the fact that he is doing so. We should be concentrating on how to stop him without involving Andréa."
Janeway turned to face her. "Miranda, I've already told you we can't not involve Andy. She's the only one he's contacted. If he thinks she's leaving Runway, he'll make contact again, and we'll have him." Janeway stood resolutely, hands on hips.
"Unacceptable," Miranda snapped.
Janeway shook her head with a rueful grin. "That's usually Seven's line," she quipped.
"Then perhaps you should listen to Seven more often," Miranda responded.
Even with her back to Seven, Janeway knew what she would say to that. She held up her hand to stop Seven from speaking. "Don't say it, Seven," she cautioned and suppressed a grin at the disgruntled huff she heard from behind her.
"Then I'll say it," Andy's voice interrupted them from where she stood in the doorway, leaning her hip against the frame, arms folded. "Kathryn, sometimes Seven does know better than you, and Miranda, the same applies to me, so please let me make my own decisions. I take it you need me to catch this guy that's been trying to keep Miranda and me apart romantically. Would someone like to explain to me why it's necessary we catch him at all? I'm with Miranda now, and no one is going to change that."
"As of this moment, all anyone knows is you accompanied us to Miranda's last night and remained until this morning. However, once we all walk out the door and start the day, people will know what we want them to, which for right now needs to be that nothing has changed between the two of you. There's more at stake here than just your relationship to Miranda. There are lives at stake." Kathryn said, hoping Andy would just accept her limited explanation.
Still leaning on the doorframe, Andy looked from face to face. "I'm not embarrassed to say that Miranda is an amazing lover; however, I doubt she's going to get me pregnant without a bit of medical assistance, so you're going to have to do better than that, Kathryn."
Janeway wasn't sure how she was going to manage to convince Andy that they were in fact from the future. It had been difficult enough with Miranda, and there had been several secrets from Miranda's past in the journal she had kept that gave Janeway an advantage. Andy had no such secrets, and she was at heart a journalist, making it that much harder to convince her without revealing everything.
"I don't suppose you'd accept a simple explanation of us coming from the future to correct a change in the timeline here?" Janeway asked.
"Miranda?" Andy inquired, looking at her lover.
"Kathryn has provided me with significant evidence to prove her claim. I believe her, Andréa. Kathryn is my direct descendant," Miranda stated calmly.
"Whose lives?" Andy asked without commenting on Miranda's statements.
"Every successive generation between one of my girls and Kathryn with the addition of Seven and B'Elanna," Miranda responded promptly.
"And this guy that's been talking to me caused all that?" Andy continued her line of inquiry.
"To be accurate, your not leaving Miranda Priestly in Paris is the direct cause," Seven corrected. "He is the instigator of that action."
Andy nodded and stared down at her bare toes for moment. Finally, she looked back up and met Kathryn's gaze. "So what do I have to do to catch him?"
"Andréa, you will not endanger yourself in this way," Miranda objected.
Sighing, Andy crossed the room to her lover, the robe she wore fluttering around her ankles. She took Miranda's face in her palms and kissed her gently. "You're my family now. The girls are my family. That makes Kathryn my family too, as well as my friend. I know she had a lot to do with you finally telling me how you feel. I owe her for that if for nothing else. No one messes with my family if I can stop it, Miranda."
"I cannot lose you," Miranda insisted, pulling Andy into her arms.
"You're not going to lose me, Baby. We're just going to put on an exceptionally good performance for the rest of the world. You do that every day," Andy teased.
Miranda looked at Janeway over Andy's shoulder. "If any harm comes to Andréa, or if this man manages to change time again and she is no longer with me, you will regret your continued existence, descendant or no," Miranda threatened.
"That's my Dragon Lady," Andy joked affectionately, patting Miranda on the behind where she thought no one could see.
Having picked up on the subtle movements, Janeway suppressed her laughter when Miranda pushed Andy away and blushed furiously.
"Do not think you will escape a similar fate should you do something foolish like get yourself killed," Miranda warned Andy.
Andy laughed and shook her head. "If I'm dead, how will you make my life miserable?"
"I'll manage it, Andréa. Do not doubt me," Miranda snapped, pulling Andy close once again and kissing her furiously.
"I believe Miranda Priestly would manage to do so," Seven murmured in Janeway's ear, quirking an eyebrow when Janeway choked on her laughter.
"At least now I know my mother comes by it naturally," Janeway quipped. Her attention was diverted by a large furry dog lumbering into the room. Dropping to her knees beside the animal, she ruffled the fur around the dog's ears. "And who are you, you beautiful thing?"
"That's Patricia," Cassidy said. "She stays upstairs when Mom has company for dinner, but I thought it would be okay since you're still here." Her eyes widened as she noticed what her mother was doing. "Mom!" she squeaked. "You're kissing Andy!"
Turning in her lover's arms, Miranda smiled at her daughter. "Yes, Bobbsey, I am. And I plan on continuing to do so whenever the opportunity presents itself. We talked about this last night, remember?"
"I remember. But it's sort of different to see it, even if I think it's great," Cassidy grinned, then sobered. "I don't know how Caro's gonna feel about it though. She's still pretty upset with Andy."
"She seemed all right at dinner last night," Andy observed.
Cassidy rolled her eyes. "We had company." She gestured to Janeway and Seven. "We know how to behave when there are guests in the house. Think about it, Andy. Caroline was company polite to you last night."
"Yeah, you're right," Andy agreed frowning.
If Caroline is still upset with Andy, that could be the cause of the symptoms we're still having, Janeway thought. Exchanging a look with Seven, she could tell that her love was thinking similarly. If that was true, then Miranda and Andy needed to have a long talk with the child before Janeway explained how she wanted to carry out the next part of her plan. Otherwise, neither she, Seven nor B'Elanna would be in any condition to capture the man behind all this. More and more she was thinking it was Braxton, though she couldn't imagine how he'd managed to get loose in the timeline again.
"It might be a good idea if you talk to her, Andy," Janeway suggested while giving Miranda a significant look.
"I don't know," Andy began with a frown. "It might be better if Miranda talked to her."
"No," Cassidy interrupted. "You have to do it, Andy. She threw her journal out when you didn't seem to want to be our friend anymore."
"Why ever would Caroline do that, Darling?" Miranda asked in concern.
"She well, she said there weren't going to be any good things to write about. It was all just going to be different kinds of bad," Cassidy admitted.
"Caroline had an assignment to keep a positive affirmation journal, writing about the good things that happened. She fell in love with the idea and now has us all keeping them," Miranda explained at Andy's confused look.
"The beginning of a family tradition," Janeway remarked and smiled at Miranda's faint look of surprise.
"Cassidy, did you by any chance assist your sister in not losing that journal completely?" Miranda asked.
Cassidy blushed and stubbed the toe of her shoe on the tile. "I thought she might change her mind and regret it," she mumbled. "If she didn't, I could always throw it away later."
Moving across the kitchen, Miranda hugged her daughter. "Keep it safe for her," she whispered. "I believe she might yet want it. Now, how about we prepare breakfast for our guests, while Andréa speaks with Caroline?"
Janeway grabbed at the arms of the chair she was sitting in as a wave of dizziness swept over her. They had moved to the study to wait for Andy while she spoke with Caroline. Cassidy had gone to her room to shower and dress for school.
"Kathryn, are you all right?" Miranda asked, half rising from her chair only to stop at Janeway's upraised hand.
"Fine. I'm fine," she reassured, smiling ruefully. "It would appear Caroline is a bit harder to convince than Cassidy." She rested her head against the back of the chair and drew a shaky breath.
"You are sure this is the best solution?" asked Seven who stood at Janeway's side. "This man has only to leap to the future to know that the situation with Caroline Priestly is resolved."
"I'm hoping he'll do just that, Seven," Janeway said. "It will give him the incentive to try contacting Andy again, to reverse whatever actions we take to fix this mess. In addition, we can't very well be having these episodes when we capture him. This is the best way to go."
"I still don't like it," Miranda said, retaking her seat. "What's to stop him from deciding that the most appropriate action to permanently alter my life and Caroline's is to take Andréa out of the picture completely?"
"And make her a beloved martyr?" Janeway waved the idea away. "I don't think so. Too many uncontrollable variables with that scenario. He's using much more subtle methods this time."
"This time?" Miranda leapt on the phrase.
"I think I know who this may be, and if I'm right, he's tried this before. Attacking me directly didn't work for him the first time, so he's going after my ancestors. He's hoping to avoid detection by the authorities in his time frame by these sneak attacks."
"Kathryn, it concerns me that Captain Ducane and Relativity have not become involved in this situation. While they might allow for your removal from the timeline, I do not think they would be as understanding of our involvement, especially since you have now made Miranda Priestly aware of our mission," Seven said.
"They're out there, Seven. Watching and waiting to see what the final outcome will be. I'm counting on it. If we can't fix this ourselves, we can hopefully cause enough of a disruption to force them to make the corrections." Janeway pressed a hand against her abdomen. "Always have a fallback position, Seven," she advised.
They all turned to look at the door as loud footsteps were heard on the stairs.
"Six is not pleased," Seven commented just before the door to the study was thrown open and Andy stormed into the room.
"I swear to you, Miranda, the moment that kid steps into the business world, you'll lose your title as Dragon Lady. She's more infuriating than you ever dared to be," Andy raged as she paced back and forth. "I can't believe anyone that young can be that stubborn."
Miranda leaned back in her chair with a smirk curling her elegant lips and watched as Andy stomped back and forth, swinging her arms and continuing with her rant.
"You might make clackers hide under their desks, but she'll have them digging foxholes under there and setting up machinegun nests in the closet," Andy fumed.
"Andréa, are you about done?" Miranda asked in her chilliest tones, though her eyes sparkled with mirth.
"What?" Andy paused and turned to face her lover. "Oh, yeah, sorry. But damn, Miranda. And there are two of them!"
"Cassidy, as you well know, has a personality more like your own. I'm not sure quite where she gets it as her father and I are much less tolerant. Caroline is indeed very much like me. We would not be here if she weren't. Now perhaps you'd like to have a seat and tell us what transpired during your little talk. It did not go well, I presume." Miranda gestured to the couch only to find herself with a lap full of repentant brunette.
"I'm sorry," Andy sighed, hugging Miranda. "I tried everything I could think of. She just wouldn't listen."
Unused to anyone beside her daughters being so openly affectionate with her, Miranda nevertheless wrapped her arms loosely around a slender waist. "She listened," Miranda assured her. "Caroline will weigh your words against your coming actions. Only then will she make a decision."
"That's what I'm afraid of," Andy sighed and snuggled against Miranda's shoulder. "I don't like this. I don't want to go back to being mad at you." Andy curled closer, hiding her face in Miranda's neck.
"Andréa, I " Miranda glanced helplessly at Janeway who shrugged in return. Evidently Kathryn was no more experienced in dealing with an unhappy younger lover than she was, and Miranda doubted that Seven displayed such overt affection or need. She wasn't sure whether to be embarrassed by the public display or incensed by it. No one ever just sat in her lap uninvited, not since the twins were toddlers, anyway. Perhaps that wasn't such a good thing after all. The woman in her lap was warm and loving, and very much in need of reassurance at the moment. Miranda tightened her arms, pulling Andy closer and pressing a soft kiss to her cheek. "Darling, it will only be for a short time. The better we play our parts, the quicker it will be over. You explained as much as you could to Caroline, I'm sure, and I will reiterate that explanation. When it's all over, we will have years together to show her what a truly loving relationship is. We'll be a family, Andréa, and nothing and no one will separate us again." Miranda felt moisture slide down her neck and realized that her love was crying silently. Thoughts of spectators were wiped away by that knowledge. "Andréa, I love you. It has taken me far too long to find you to ever let you go again. You belong with me, and I will tolerate nothing less. I know that you're upset with the situation -- channel that. Use your anger, and show me how much you dislike being separated from me. Let him see it and think it is directed at me. Can you do this, Andréa? For me? For us?"
Miranda felt the movement of a nod against her neck followed by a series of sniffles. Andy sat up and wiped her tears with her fingers. "Okay, for you. I'll show my ass and scream about what an arrogant bitch you are," Andy said, then rolled her eyes and shuddered. "I can't believe I just said that."
"It will probably be the only time in our relationship where you get to do so without ending up sleeping on the couch for a month, Darling. Enjoy it," Miranda advised with a smirk.
Andy nodded, clearly not convinced. "So when do we do this?"
"Now's as good a time as any," Janeway said, slapping her hands on her thighs and rising to her feet. "Seven, alert the doctor not to respond to the alert sensor when I collapse. If this man doesn't already know how many of us are here, we don't want to clue him in. Miranda, you're going to have to let your girls react however they do naturally. You can talk to them afterwards. Hearing an explanation of this and actually seeing it will be two different things. Andy, be sure to leave the front door wide open as you storm out. I want him to see as much as possible."
"You're assuming he's out there watching," Andy said as she left Miranda's lap and moved to a mirror to wipe at her cheeks with a tissue she pulled from the box on a nearby table.
"Oh, he's watching. I'd be willing to bet he's keeping constant tabs on you, too. Seven scanned the house last night as we arrived. There are no listening devices here, but they could easily be in Miranda's office, your apartment, the car, or anywhere else the two of you frequent together. He's been constantly gauging your interactions, so we need to assume that no place is safe from eavesdropping from now on. If we need to speak again, I have a place that should be safe for us to talk. We'll need a code word to indicate the need to do so, something that would be common in your day to mention."
"Irv Ravitz," Miranda responded immediately. "It's well known we don't play nicely together. He insists I call him Irv. Dreadful name. Andréa refers to him by his surname. A small change in that should not be noticed. I'll simply use Irving, a much better choice of nomenclature, and Andréa will use his full name, as Seven does with everyone."
"If you ever get tired of fashion, you should consider espionage, Miranda," Janeway said laughingly.
"Mmm. It has been suggested," Miranda replied.
"Now, that's a story I have to hear," Janeway rejoined.
"Perhaps I'll include it in a journal one day," Miranda said with a significant look. "Shall we begin? The sooner this is done, the sooner I will have Andréa back with me. If you'll give us just a moment?" She waited until Janeway and Seven had left the room before turning and taking Andy in her arms. "Whatever is said from now until this man is caught will be forgotten. I want you to be as vicious as you can manage, and I will do the same. He must believe you are going to leave Runway. I'm going to give you no choice but to be at the studio this morning to retain your job. Go to your apartment, change, and have coffee near the studio. Appear undecided. Whether he contacts you or not, I expect you to be no more than fifteen minutes late, and do not forget my coffee," Miranda directed.
"Your cof " Andy rolled her eyes. "Yes, Miranda." She threw her arms around Miranda's neck and kissed her ravenously. "I love you," she whispered against Miranda's lips.
"And I love you," Miranda replied, seeking one more kiss. She slid her lips against Andy's, probing with her tongue, wanting to leave an impression that would last for as long as they were apart. Her hands moved over the landscape of Andy's body, stroking hills and valleys. She broke the kiss to concentrate on the delicate skin of Andy's neck, murmuring between nips and kisses. "Feel me, Andréa. Do not forget this. It waits for you. I wait for you. Regardless of the future, we'll be together. We'll warn every successive generation, if we must, but he will not keep us apart indefinitely." She reclaimed Andy's lips again and plundered her mouth, making love to her darling with lips and tongue. At last, she moved away and reached to smooth her hair which had been ruffled by Andy's fingers. Her lover seemed to have a fascination for her white locks that no one else had ever shared.
"I hate him," Andy snapped, fury flashing from brown depths.
"Use it," Miranda advised. She opened the door to the study and exited, Andréa on her heels. Janeway and Seven were waiting for them in the foyer, and Miranda caught sight of two red heads ducking below the railing on the floor above. It was now or never. "Really, Andréa," she began in a waspish tone. "Are you so irreparably mentally challenged that you cannot complete the simplest of assignments?" She did not leave Andy time to answer. "How difficult is it to oversee a shoot? And whatever possessed you to think your image would ever grace the pages of Runway? I only use thin models, as you well know. The lot of you are as graceful as buffalo. I am now forced to use substandard photos for sheer lack of time to redo the shoot."
"There's nothing wrong with the pictures, Miranda," Andy shot back, clearly stung by the attack. "I didn't want to do the damned shoot in the first place. I thought it would be helping you if I did."
"Thought? You thought?" Miranda scoffed. "Clearly thinking is not your strong point. I would suggest you not try to do so in the future."
Andy stormed towards the door, threw it open, and stepped through before turning back to address Miranda. "The only mistaken thought I've had is thinking you had a heart. I won't make that error again. I'm done with you, Miranda."
"You will be at the studio this morning with my coffee in hand, or you may consider yourself unemployed," Miranda snapped, advancing on Andy with every word. She ignored the faint thuds behind her that she knew signaled Janeway and Seven collapsing to the floor, as she did the strangled "Mom!" from above.
"No, I'll consider myself resigned. Get your own damned coffee. My fat ass can't be bothered," Andy shot back, fists clenched at her sides.
"Your prominent derriere will be there, or you will never work in publishing again. And remember, the coffee, extra hot. That's all." Miranda shut the door in Andy's face. She slumped forward and pressed her forehead to the door. "Forgive me, Darling," she whispered, suddenly terrified that she had gone too far. She was well aware that Andy had body image issues where she was concerned. It was the one button Miranda knew she could push and get an immediate reaction from her lover. Please don't let me have lost her.
They finished the shoot, though the day proved to be the tensest any of the Runway staff could remember. Andy arrived fifteen minutes late with lukewarm coffee for Miranda and smirked when their boss shuddered at the first sip. Miranda glared at her but didn't comment on it which surprised everyone. She went into full Dragon mode from there on out, finding fault and belittling everyone and their efforts until she had to leave to attend a meeting with a new designer and they could all breathe a sigh of relief.
"What bug crawled up her ass and died?" Emily snapped as the door closed behind Miranda.
"The love bug, Querida," Serena supplied. "I do not believe Miranda's night went as well as ours did.
"Ruddy hell, Andrea, how difficult is it to push her legs open and shove your fingers in? Can't you even do that right?" Emily asked, shocking them all when she didn't show her usual reverence for Miranda. "Has the fat blocked off your brain?" She gaped as tears welled in Andy's eyes.
"Shut up, Emily! For once, please, just shut up!" Andy yelled and ran from the room.
Emily looked at her lover, astonished by the response from their friend.
"I think you have hit a nerve," Serena observed.
"I think you danced a jig on it," B'Elanna added, frowning. "I know all of you are really concerned with weight, but do you really think Miranda would have rejected Andy over that?"
"Miranda wouldn't reject Andrea if she was the size of a bleeding house and got all her clothes from Omar, the wanking tent maker," Emily snapped. "Have you talked to Kathryn or Seven this morning? Maybe they know what's going on?"
B'Elanna shook her head. "I haven't had a chance. Miranda hasn't exactly left anyone much time to chat so far."
"She's in a right foul mood even for her," Emily agreed. "If those two don't work it out and bloody well soon, I'm locking them both in a room and throwing away the key until I hear moans of ecstasy coming out of there."
"I would not choose that moment to open the door," Serena advised. "But it is a good plan. I will help you."
The following days were even more of a trial for the staff of Runway. With the shoot over and Andy back in the office, Miranda had advanced in her torture methods sufficiently to add several rings to the circles of hell. Emily was taking bets on the actual number they would reach before flames began licking at the lower floors of the building. Seven continued in her ultra-efficient manner, overlooking even the most vicious of Miranda's attacks. Andy's moods had become even darker, and she no longer smiled at anyone, not even her friends. She was chillingly civil to Miranda, but had now adopted Emily's former hiding places. She seemed intent on being anywhere that Miranda wasn't.
Janeway and B'Elanna were working closely with the art department at Miranda's insistence. Andy's dark mood had carried over into the shoot, leaving the images with a melancholy atmosphere that had worked well with the nostalgic lines of the gowns. It was a startling counterpoint to the blazing sensuality that had been present in the images shot on the day before. The entire issue had been reworked around the theme of love and loss. The days had been long and the work challenging, but Nigel was proclaiming it to be the best edition yet.
The Voyager crew was gathered in the shuttle at the end of another long day. No one had stepped forward to contact Andy that first day or on any of the succeeding ones.
"So now what?" B'Elanna asked, slouching down in her chair. "Andy's miserable, Miranda's miserable, the group at Runway is ready to revolt just based on Miranda's mood, and we're no closer to catching this guy than we were before."
"Unfortunately, we are also out of time," Seven added. "We must leave in the next 2.43 hours, or we will not be at the designated coordinates when Voyager opens the rift."
Janeway sat, staring into her coffee. She'd been afraid of this all along and she could only see one course of action available to her. She raised her eyes to look first at the doctor and then at B'Elanna, her friends, before turning her eyes to Seven, whom she loved with every breath in her body. "You'll take the shuttle and be at the rendezvous point on time," she stated decisively.
"You mean we, don't you?" B'Elanna responded.
"No, I mean you, Seven, and the doctor. I'm going to stay behind and continue the mission. There's no sense in all of us being stuck here."
"I do not consider remaining with you as being stuck, Kathryn," Seven said in clipped tones.
Janeway reached out to pat her hand. "I know you don't, Darling, but, nonetheless, I am the captain. I'm ordering you to go back. Voyager needs you, all of you."
"Need I remind you I am not Starfleet, Kathryn. I follow your orders at my discretion. I choose not to in this instance. I will remain," Seven stated, folding her arms and adopting a stubborn look. "You have made me a promise, Kathryn. My returning to Voyager alone will not be conducive to your keeping that promise."
Blushing slightly, Janeway looked to B'Elanna for assistance only to receive a negligent shrug.
"Hey, I'm Maquis," she said, as if that explained everything; Janeway supposed it did.
"Well, Doctor?" Janeway looked to the last member of her crew.
"I came on this mission because B'Elanna and Seven have need of my particular medical knowledge. I don't see where that's changed if they're staying, Captain."
Janeway rubbed her temples with slender fingers. "You do realize this could be viewed as mutiny," she commented.
"The Federation won't even be formed for almost another one hundred and sixty years, Captain," B'Elanna corrected. "How can we mutiny against something that doesn't even exist yet?"
"Indeed," Seven agreed.
Throwing up her hands, Janeway leaned back in her chair. "All right, we stay. B'Elanna, I'm sure you can think of a way to contact the ship through the rift and let them know. I guess we'll be making a living with photography. Now, we still have a mission to complete. Any ideas on how to catch our mystery man?"
"Captain, though his actions were to keep Six at Runway, his intent has been to keep Six and Miranda Priestly from entering into a relationship. I believe our current actions have assisted him in achieving his goal," Seven observed.
"You're right, Seven. They're both suffering, and there's no reason for it. The way to draw him out is to have them together. Seven, contact Andy and tell her the good news. We're going to stake out the townhouse. If this doesn't draw him out, I don't know what will."
Andy was stretched out on her bed, staring at the ceiling. She didn't know how much longer she could continue with this. The stress was getting to them both. Andy was having trouble even being on the same floor as her lover, and Miranda was going to bring back drawing and quartering any day now. Andy kept waiting to hear the words, "Off with her head!" shouted from the editor's office during a run-through. Groaning, she grabbed a pillow and, rolling to her side, pressed it into her abdomen. It was a futile measure, though, as nothing could help with the constant ache that thoughts of Miranda brought. Even giving herself a helping hand had fallen short of the memory of what Miranda could do to her body with the smallest touch. And it wasn't all sex. She'd give anything to just be able to hold Miranda in her arms as they slept, or hold her hand while watching TV. Anything was better than this constant pain of being without her.
When her phone rang, Andy grabbed it without checking to see who was calling, snarling a harsh, "Hello?"
"Six, that is not a proper greeting," Seven's cool tones came through the speaker.
"Sorry, Seven," Andy sighed. "I'm not in the greatest of moods right now."
"Indeed," Seven agreed. "Perhaps I can assist you with the problem. Kathryn wishes you to know that remaining distant from Miranda Priestly is counterproductive to our mutual goal."
Andy was silent for a moment while she translated Seven-speak into everyday English. Her eyes widened as she realized what Seven was saying. "Oh, Seven! I love you!" she shouted.
"I do not believe Miranda Priestly would be pleased to hear that," Seven replied.
Andy giggled, having learned to appreciate Seven's unique sense of humor over the last weeks. "Thanks, Seven. I'm going over to Miranda's. Bye." Ending the call, Andy scrambled around to find her shoes and grab a coat. She didn't pause to change, having completely forgotten about what she was wearing in her haste to reach her lover for the first time in nearly a week. She ran out of her apartment, barely stopping to make sure the door was closed and locked.
Hurrying along the street, she swung around the newel post at the subway entrance and tripped down the steps, her sneakers skimming the steps as she rushed. Too anxious to sit, she wrapped an arm around a pole and tapped her toe in impatience as the stops rolled by. She couldn't suppress a huge grin at the surprise she pictured on Miranda's face when Andy showed up at her door. Reaching the correct stop, Andy raced the distance to Miranda's home and took the steps two at a time. She leaned on the doorbell, anxious to see Miranda in a setting where she could indulge her need to touch. It seemed forever before the door opened, and Andy was looking at a confused Cassidy.
"Hey, Cass. I came to see your mom," Andy grinned.
"Ummm she's not here right now," Cassidy hedged.
"Will she be back soon?" Andy asked, perfectly willing to wait until Miranda arrived.
"I doubt it. She's on a date," Caroline's voice carried from behind her sister, laced with more than a hint of vindictiveness.
"I she a date? Right," Andy stumbled over her words. Did Miranda get tired of waiting? Was all that stuff she said just her blowing smoke to get what she wanted? The only thing Andy knew for sure was that she had to get out of there before she lost it. "Okay, well, I'll just be going. You guys have a good night." She turned and started down the steps just as a long black limo pulled up to the curb. A tall, handsome, grey-haired man climbed out of the back on the far side and hurried around to assist someone from the car. Miranda. Now Andy really had to get away. She had no desire to confront Miranda and her date.
Hurrying down the steps, Andy slid by Miranda, ignoring her call as she took off down the street. She forced herself not to run, but settled into a swift stride that took her quickly away. Shoulders hunched against the sound of Miranda calling out to her, Andy tried to figure out what to do next. She couldn't go back to Runway anymore. As painful as being near Miranda every day had been the past few days, it would be infinitely worse knowing that Miranda really didn't care for her after all. Right now she couldn't even conceive of being in the same city. She could she'd just go home, back to Ohio. Miranda really wasn't any different than her mother or Lily. Andy would never forget that again. She'd call Seven and give her a verbal resignation to relay to Miranda and email a written copy to HR. Maybe there would be a flight out tonight or tomorrow morning. Andy no longer cared about the effects on the future. There was no proof that any of this was true except Miranda's word, and that was no longer good enough.
As Miranda accepted James' hand to rise from the back seat, she looked up and her heart lurched in her chest. Andréa. But why was she here? Andréa was here. She bypassed James to get to her lover, only to have Andy slip around her and hurry away without a word. "Andréa," Miranda called after her. When she received no response, she looked up at her children. Cassidy wore a defeated, sorrowful expression but Caroline hers was full of gloating triumph, a look Miranda had often seen in her mirror after besting Irv yet again. Oh, Caroline, what have you done?
Miranda shoved her clutch and wrap into James' hands and started after Andy. Five steps were enough to tell her she'd never catch Andy in the heels she was wearing. Unwilling to admit defeat, Miranda kicked them off and began to run after her lover, who still moved with a stride that took full advantage of her long legs. She ignored James' concerned cry, "Miranda!" and Cassidy's encouraging, "Go, Mom!", but she clearly heard Caroline's enraged, "No!" She and that young lady were going to have a serious talk, and the severity of her daughter's punishment rested entirely on Miranda's ability to catch Andréa. Miranda hiked up her skirt past her knees and rose up on her toes to sprint after her love, calling out for Andréa to wait for her.
Behind her, Miranda could hear the thud of a man's shoes hurrying to catch up and the lighter tread of her daughter's feet pounding behind him. She didn't have time to wait for them, pushing herself to go faster, running as if for her life, which she was. Her life was getting away from her, and Miranda could not allow it to happen. She prayed that Andréa would stick with her stiff-legged walk and not begin to run herself. Miranda didn't spare a thought for what her stocking-clad feet might be coming into contact with. Nothing was as important as reaching Andréa.
She reached out, grabbing at the back of the white trench Andréa wore. "Stop! Please, Andréa, stop!" she pleaded between gasping breaths. She pulled her lover around and clung to her, panting and fighting for breath. "Wha-whatever Caroline...said not true," she wheezed. Andy stood like a stone within her embrace, refusing to meet her eyes. Desperate, Miranda grasped her face and forced Andy's lips to hers. She searched Andy's mouth, looking for any hint of a response.
Andy tore herself from Miranda's arms. "You're no different than them. You got what you wanted and moved on. Kindly let me do the same," Andy said in cold tones.
"Who are them, Andréa? Who are you speaking of?" Miranda asked, desperate to know what Andy was referring to.
"My mother," Andy spat the words as if they had a foul taste. "And my so-called best friend Lily. They supposedly loved me, too. Right up until they walked away when I didn't live up to what they wanted from me. You're no different, Miranda. You couldn't even wait a few days before you moved on."
"Andréa, I haven't gone anywhere. I've been just as unhappy and frustrated as you've been, but I've been right here. Praying for this to be over with so I can have you back where you belong, in my arms," Miranda sought to reassure her lover, but she could tell she wasn't getting through.
"Then who's that?" Andy snapped pointing to James, who had just reached them. "And why were you on a date with him?"
"Andréa, meet James, my ex-brother-in-law, the girls' uncle. I had dinner with James tonight because I thought he might be able to give me some advice on how to stay sane in this situation. James' lover is in the diplomatic service and extremely closeted. They can't just be together for various reasons," Miranda explained. "It was not a date. It was just dinner with a friend. And, believe me, Caroline will regret her lie." Miranda looked over Andy's shoulder and glared at her daughter, the look promising severe consequences. "Come back to the house, and tell me why you are here, Darling?"
"No, I-I'm done here." Andy turned had continued on her journey to the subway.
"Who's walking away now, Andréa? I'm right here, and you're running. It isn't I who am acting like them," Miranda said, raising her voice to carry the distance. She watched as Andy stopped, her back stiffening. "Is this how it will be, Andréa? You running every time things become difficult? If you've learned nothing from them except how to run, then keep going because you're not the woman either of us thought you were." Her eyes bore into that board-straight back, willing Andréa to come back to her.
"Harsh, Miranda," James murmured, having come to stand behind her.
"I'm fighting for my life, James," Miranda snapped. "Don't expect me to do so with lace gloves and gentle words."
Andy took a tentative step forward and then stopped again. She bowed her head as if deep in thought, shoulders slumping. She stood in that pose a moment longer and then raised her head, straightening her shoulders. As she started to turn, a man stepped from a nearby doorway and spoke to her in a low voice. Andy's head jerked around, and she stumbled back a step.
"Grab him, James!" Miranda hissed. "He's the cause of all this!"
Before James could move, Seven materialized as if from nowhere and threw an arm around his neck, grabbing one arm and twisting it behind his back. Miranda ran forward, reaching them just as Janeway stepped out of the alley near them all.
"I wouldn't move if I were you," Janeway warned the struggling man in her raspy voice. "I believe you remember Seven and exactly what she's capable of."
Seven forced the man's hand higher up his back in example.
"No! I mean, yes, I remember Seven of Nine very well," he gasped in a pain-filled voice. "Further use of force won't be necessary. I won't attempt to get away. You have my word as a Starfleet officer."
"But you're not an officer any longer, are you?" Janeway mocked.
"Oh, but I am, Captain. I was re-instated," he assured her.
Janeway hesitated a moment, and then gave Seven a nod to release him.
He straightened his jacket and clasped his hands behind his back. "Hello, Captain Janeway. Hello, Seven of Nine. I don't believe I know your friends."
"Hello, Braxton," Janeway growled. "And you're a hell of a liar."
Braxton gave Janeway an affable smile. "But I'm not lying, Captain. I haven't met these lovely people. Perhaps you'd do the honors and introduce me."
Janeway took a step forward, clenching her fists. "My experience with you says otherwise," she snarled.
"Kathryn," Andy spoke up. "That's not the guy. I've never seen this man before. That's why he startled me when he spoke to me."
"What did he say to you, Andréa?" Miranda asked, laying a hand tentatively on her lover's forearm.
"He told me to go back to you and not let the past control the future," Andy admitted, laying her hand over Miranda's.
"That doesn't sound like the man that's been stalking Andréa," Miranda observed.
"No, it doesn't," Janeway agreed. Crossing her arms over her chest, she gave him a level gaze. "Talk fast, Braxton. Seven takes a dim view of people who try to end my existence. I'm sure she'd appreciate a few moments alone with you."
"May I suggest we at least take this off the street?" Braxton asked, still smiling genially.
"Miranda, do you need help?" James inquired as he walked up beside her.
"James, would you please take the girls back to the townhouse and instruct them to begin their homework? I'll be fine. Don't worry. I'll call you as soon as I can," Miranda reassured him. They exchanged true kisses on the cheek before he gathered the girls to begin the walk back to their home, Cassidy clearly protesting even as she went along. Miranda turned back to the others and reached out to clasp Andy's hand in her own. "Kathryn, I believe you said you had a place we could talk safely. I would suggest we go there to have this discussion."
Janeway pulled her hand-held unit from her pocket and pressed a button on it. "B'Elanna, five to beam up."
Miranda felt Andy's hand tighten on hers as a strange tingling sensation like nothing she had ever felt before invaded her body. When next she registered her surroundings, they all appeared to be standing in a small storage room of some type. Other than a prevalence of metal, she recognized little save two racks of bunks against one wall.
"The cargo bay of the Delta Flyer, I presume," Braxton said. "And you would be B'Elanna Torres." He nodded to B'Elanna, who stood near the doorway armed with a phaser trained on his chest. He turned to the remaining two women in the room. "So that would make you Andrea Sachs and Miranda Priestly. I've been studying you quite avidly, Ms. Priestly. I can see where Captain Janeway gets her tenacity and command presence."
Miranda gave a single elegant nod in agreement of his assessment.
"So if you're not our mystery man, who is?" Janeway snapped in an exasperated tone.
Braxton shook his head and rocked back on his heels. "Now that, I don't know the answer to," he admitted. "I had hoped to flush him out when I sent Ms. Sachs back to where she belonged." He smiled at the two women he referred to.
"I thought that was where Andy was going," Janeway said. "Why were you leaving again?"
Miranda tightened her grip, signaling Andy to let her handle the question. "We had a brief misunderstanding, and Andréa felt the need for a breath of fresh air."
"And you always chase her down the street in your stocking feet when she's out for air?" Janeway asked in an amused tone.
Miranda looked down at her bare feet and blushed faintly. Then, adopting her mantle of Dragon Lady, she straightened and glared in an icily negligent manner at Janeway. "Do you not have more important concerns, Kathryn? Or do the advancing centuries deteriorate the familial genetic sequencing for intelligence?" she asked disdainfully.
"Oh, yes, you two are definitely related," Braxton chuckled. "No wonder you're always getting into trouble, Janeway."
"I am not always getting into tr " Janeway started to object and then sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. "We meet far too often, Braxton," she admitted.
"For someone who professes to hate time travel, it amuses me to know there's a taskforce designated to track your trips through time," he chuckled in wry amusement.
"A taskforce?" Miranda asked, amazed and then turned her gaze to Janeway. "Well done, Kathryn. I must say I'm impressed."
"Thanks, Granma. I'm sure I'm just a chip off the old block," Janeway quipped with a smirk.
"You people should just be glad Miranda can't travel through time," Andy laughed. "Forget the taskforce. You'd need a division."
"I'm thrilled I can provide you all with unlimited amusement," Miranda said, pursing her lips. "Could we perhaps get on with a solution to finding this madman? And, Kathryn, if you ever refer to me as Granma again, I will create a paradox by forbidding Caroline to ever have children." Miranda gave her a warning look.
"Grand'Mere?" Kathryn asked.
Miranda gave a grudging nod and then rolled her eyes as Andy grinned. It was evident she'd have to decide these things eventually as Caroline would obviously be having at least one child. Now, seemed as good a time as any. "A solution?" she asked, deflecting them back to the issue at hand.
"He's using some type of device to mask his signature," Braxton informed them. "So I've been unable to track him by the regular means of locating a temporal distortion."
"You can do that now?" Janeway asked.
"Well, someone evidently can and Starfleet is very interested in knowing who, as well as how he's doing it," Braxton answered.
"All right, so how do we catch him?" Andy asked. "I'd like to just be with Miranda, without all this drama."
Miranda slipped an arm around her waist and hugged Andy to her side. "It might work better if you turned in your running shoes," she advised with a pointed look at Andy's sneakers. She gave a soft squeak when Andy elbowed her lightly.
"I think you were on the right track," Braxton said. "We should send these two home and keep an eye out."
"I find it difficult to believe it will be that simple," Seven commented. "He has proven to be manipulative and subtle."
"Do you play chess, Seven?" Braxton asked.
"I am unfamiliar with this game," Seven admitted.
"There's a very simple tactic in chess known as deflection. It's when one player forces an opposing piece to leave the position it occupies, thereby exposing the king or another valuable piece. I think this is what's been going on. By deflecting Ms. Sachs from her decided path, he's exposed Ms. Priestly," Braxton explained.
"Not Miranda," Janeway disagreed. "Her daughter, Caroline."
Braxton nodded. "Then he's even more subtle than I believed. I would have thought the intended target would be Ms. Priestly. If I'd gotten him sooner, we might never have realized his plan. Can you correct the damage?"
"Andréa and I will be addressing that as soon as we return home," Miranda assured him.
"Then I suggest we all get into position. He may have seen us, though I threw a dampening field around Ms. Sachs the moment she left her apartment. I believe it worked since he didn't attempt to interfere prior to her reaching your townhouse. That's why I felt it was safe to speak with you myself, Ms. Sachs." He turned his attention to Janeway. "I say we get into position and beam these two ladies back to where we all met. I'll remove the dampening field, and we'll keep an eye on them as they walk back to the townhouse. If Caroline is his target, he's more likely to make contact before you have a chance to have that talk with her."
"But will he approach me if I'm with Miranda? Isn't he more likely to do so if I'm alone?" Andy asked.
Miranda's heart lurched. "No, Andréa. I will not have you out there alone."
"My choice, Miranda, remember?"
"I don't like it," Miranda stated emphatically.
"But she's right, Miranda," Janeway said with a sigh. "We'll send Andy back to the point from where we beamed out and you to the townhouse. With luck, we'll have him before she reaches your house and this will all be over for the two of you."
"You sound like it won't be over for you as well, Janeway," Braxton commented with a frown.
"We passed our window of opportunity to get back to Voyager. We're permanent residents of the twenty-first century now," Janeway replied, frowning at the situation they were in.
"Though better than the twentieth century where I ended up stranded, I wouldn't recommend it. Relativity is cloaked and in orbit as we speak. Your shuttle should fit nicely in our docking bay. I'd be more than happy to escort you ladies back to Voyager when this is over," Braxton offered magnanimously.
"And we'll take you up on that offer," Janeway assured him with a relieved smile. "Let's get to it then, people. I for one am ready to go home, though I will miss the coffee."
Miranda exchanged a look with Seven and smiled. It was a sentiment with which she could readily agree.
Moments later, Andy found herself walking down the sidewalk toward Miranda's townhouse. Her heart was pounding as she tried not to jump at every sound. She wanted so badly for this all to be over and to hold Miranda again. Glancing up she could see a figure silhouetted in a third floor window of the townhouse. Miranda. Fixating on that image, Andy felt her heartbeat slow. Miranda was waiting for her. Her steps picked up and took on a jaunty sway as she unconsciously began to strut for the woman she adored above all others. Arms swinging, Andy began to grin the same enormous grin she'd worn when approaching the townhouse earlier that night. Whatever else happened, Miranda was waiting and that was the most thrilling thought Andy could have.
"Well, you seem quite pleased tonight." A voice came out of the darkness and Andy stopped, turning slightly to face the man who stepped from the shadows. Only this time he brandished a weapon similar to the one B'Elanna had held in the cargo bay. "I'm afraid I can't allow you to complete your journey. I had hoped it wouldn't come to this."
"You won't keep me from Miranda," Andy stated levelly.
"Oh, but I think I will," he said with a cold smile that sent a shiver up Andy's spine.
"That is incorrect," Seven said as she stepped from the darkness and, reaching for his hand, crushed the weapon and the hand holding it. He fell to the ground screaming, and Seven stood over him, arching an eyebrow as she stared down at him. "Threatening my friends displeases me."
"Glad I'm your friend," Andy muttered, unable to believe what she'd just seen. She'd heard Kathryn threaten Braxton with leaving him alone with Seven. At the time she hadn't thought much of it, but now she was aware of what a frightening prospect that was to someone who had prior experience with the tall blonde.
"Who is it?" Janeway asked, moving into the light.
Seven squatted and rolled the man onto his back.
"Ducane." Braxton stated with a shake of his head. "What were you thinking, man? You brought me in."
Holding his wounded hand against his chest, Ducane stared up at them. "Do you realize the resources wasted on a task force to keep track of this woman's incursions? And it doesn't stop with her! Her damned brats "
"Shut up," Braxton snapped. "You're in enough trouble already. Don't add to it by violating the Temporal Prime Directive more than you already have." Hauling Ducane to his feet, Braxton handed Janeway a small device. "When you're ready to leave, press the button, and we'll relay a signal to your shuttle so you can find us." He tapped the communicator pinned to the underside of his jacket lapel. "Two to beam up." The two men vanished in a swirl of light.
"It's actually over?" Andy asked, feeling a little stunned by the events of the last few moments.
"It's over," Janeway reassured her with a smile.
"You'll come to the house? Miranda will want to say goodbye before you go."
"We'll stop by tomorrow," Janeway said. "It's not finished until things are straightened out with Caroline. My existence is still threatened until that happens, though I'm feeling more myself now, so I think the odds are in our favor."
"You're sure," Andy asked.
Seven looked down the block. "You should go, Six. Miranda Priestly appears impatient for your return. She is standing on the sidewalk, waiting."
Andy followed Seven's gaze but could make out little in the shadows cast by the trees lining the street. "You can see that?" she asked Seven, astonished at her visual acuity.
"My Seven is quite amazing," Janeway smiled, taking Seven's arm. "Now go on. I can assure you the women in my family hate waiting."
"Tomorrow then. Good night," Andy said and broke into a run, following her heart home.
"I am very upset with you, Caroline. I have no idea what you thought you would accomplish by lying to Andréa," Miranda said in a cold tone. She stood over her daughter who sat on the couch, slumped in a petulant pose.
Cassidy occupied the opposite end of the couch and glared at her sister, nodding agreement with their mother's words. Miranda knew that not having her sister's support was making the entire situation even more difficult for Caroline but she needed to learn that her actions had far-reaching consequences. Miranda glanced over at Andy, who stood leaning against the side of an easy chair, hands thrust deeply into the pockets of her trench coat. She had not been able to convince Andy to remove the coat, which had only added to Miranda's irritation.
Turning her attention back to Caroline, Miranda snapped, "I would like an explanation."
Caroline mumbled something into her chest, refusing to meet her mother's eyes.
"I would much prefer being able to hear you, Caroline. Sit up this instant and speak coherently." Miranda crossed her arms and tapped her toe impatiently. It was an attitude she only adopted with her children when they had pushed her to the end of her patience. Both girls were well aware of the signs and what they meant, so Miranda wasn't surprised when Caroline immediate shift to sit in an appropriate manner.
"I knew she'd leave just like everyone else. I didn't see any reason to drag it out," Caroline huffed, crossing her arms in an exact duplication of her mother's stance.
Aware of Andréa shifting uncomfortably just out of her view, Miranda sighed. "Caroline, given the situation Andréa thought she was in thanks to your lying, she did the most logical thing. I would have done the same, as I have no doubt you would have as well if you found yourself in these circumstances. It would have been horribly uncomfortable for everyone involved had I indeed been on a date so soon after expressing my feelings to Andréa. I, too, would have wanted time to decide upon the best course of action. And if I had been out with someone else and had, in fact, violated her trust Andréa would have had every right to walk away from me. What you have done is reprehensible, Caroline."
"So what, you're suddenly going to let the whole world know you're a dyke? You don't date women, Mom," Caroline launched back. "You don't even do a very good job with dating men. How long until you drive her away, too? I mean, Cass and I are stuck with you ignoring us, but other people aren't. They get to leave and find someone who remembers they exist. We can't do that. Dad's even worse than you are." Large tears were welling in Caroline's blue eyes by the time she had finished.
Stunned, Miranda took a step toward the chair Andy was leaning against and dropped into it. She was aware of Andy's hand coming to rest on her shoulder and giving it a comforting squeeze. Miranda reached up and placed her hand over the one touching her, needing it to ground her in the moment. She had ached for Andy's pain at the treatment she had received from her mother and best friend, while all along she had been doing something quite similar to her own children. While Andy's perceived desertion had not helped the situation, it was Miranda's own benign neglect that had changed the future, and without Andy in her life to provide a reason to bring a balance between her work and home life her girls had never had the chance to see that a woman could have success in both arenas. Caroline might have been the target, but Miranda was the weapon and Andy the only defense.
Her devastation must have been apparent because both her daughters ran to her but stopped just short of reaching her. It only added to the ache in Miranda's heart that they were so hesitant to spontaneously show affection for their mother. She opened her arms, reaching out and pulling them into her lap. They were heavy, no longer toddlers, but Miranda didn't care. They were her babies, and she loved them dearly.
"I cannot promise you that Andréa will never leave us. No one can know the future," Miranda spoke softly to them. She pushed thoughts of Kathryn and her team from her mind. Knowing would only cause her to test the limits, Miranda knew herself at least that well. "I can promise you that she has no intention of doing so, and I will do everything in my power to never cause her to have reason to reconsider. We, all of us, have to give each other a chance, Bobbsies."
"Kinda hard to believe she wants to stay when she won't even take off her coat," Caroline mumbled into her mother's chest.
Miranda looked up as Andy cleared her throat and began to turn a deep shade of red.
"Ummm, it's not that I don't want to take it off," Andy said, fidgeting with the belt of her coat. "I can't."
"I'm quite sure you have the ability to remove a coat, Andréa," Miranda said, frowning slightly.
"Well, not that I can't because I'm not able," Andy hedged. "I, uh, well, I-I was kinda in bed when Seven called and said it would be okay for me to see you, and it had been so long well I just threw on a coat and shoes and rushed over. I'm not actually dressed under this. Not for being in public, anyway."
All three Priestlys turned to stare at her wide-eyed.
"You mean you're naked?" Cassidy squeaked.
"No!" Andy exclaimed, blushing even harder. "I've got on my pjs."
"If you're going to marry our mom, I think we'll see you in your pajamas eventually," Caroline scoffed. "Are they like full of holes or something?" She looked at Andy accusingly.
Miranda smirked. Caroline was most definitely her child.
"Andréa, what exactly are you wearing?" Miranda asked, hoping to simplify things.
"Shorts and a shirt."
Miranda knew it couldn't be that simple. Andy would not be so embarrassed by slightly shabby clothing.
"It's okay if they're not designer labels," Cassidy tried to reassure Andy.
"It's not that, squirt," Andy grinned shyly. "I get really hot when I sleep, so they're kinda skimpy. If I'd stopped to think about it, I would have changed, but I was just so excited to finally be able to see Miranda outside of work that I didn't think about anything except getting here."
"Skimpy?" Miranda repeated, swallowing against a suddenly dry throat.
"Well, yeah. Spanks and a belly shirt skimpy," Andy enlightened her.
Miranda could feel her own face heating up. Her girls had been visiting her at Runway and on shoots since they were infants, so they weren't unused to women in lingerie. By those standards Andy was decently clothed. What they were not used to seeing, however, was their mother drooling over a woman so clad. Miranda fought to keep her expression neutral.
"We're all girls here, Andy," Caroline said in a tone that was much like her mother's when Miranda lectured someone. "I doubt you'll embarrass any of us. If that's what you wear to sleep in, then you might as well get used to wearing it around us. I don't think Mom is going to be real happy with you sleeping halfway across the city for the rest of your life."
Miranda couldn't resist smirking at that comment. If she had her way, all of Andy's sleeping would be done under this roof from this night forward. She nodded encouragingly to Andy who, with a sigh began unbuttoning her coat. Miranda was an adult, a mature woman, not a hormone-ridden teenager. She was quite capable of controlling her reactions in front of her children. Or perhaps not. As Andy's coat slid from her shoulders, Miranda quickly rethought the situation.
"Wow," Cassidy gasped which only caused Andy to blush a deeper red and Miranda to clear her throat. Cassidy gave first her sister and then her mother a triumphant look. "I told you she wasn't fat," she said to Caroline, then turned to her mother. "You done good, Mom," she grinned cheekily.
"Yes, it would appear I have," Miranda responded before she could think better of it. She was much too busy staring at the miles of bare leg and tight abs before her. The one night they had spent together, she had not stopped to truly appraise her lover's assets.
"Okay, she's not fat," Caroline conceded grudgingly.
"I'm still here, guys," Andy objected. "And I'd really appreciate it if you'd stop staring at me."
"Get used to it," Cassidy grinned mischievously. "You're dating Miranda Priestly now. People are going to stare a lot."
"Oh, great." Andy rolled her eyes. "That'll be fun." Sarcasm fairly dripped from her tone.
Caroline sniffed. "You're a lot younger than Mom. You know what people are going to think. If you can't take it, run now before I actually start to like you again."
Andy dropped her coat and came to kneel at Miranda's feet. She looked directly at Caroline as she spoke. "I know what it's like when people who are supposed to love you just walk off and you never see them again. I won't do that to you guys," Andy promised. "Your mom and I may not make a go of this, but we are going to try. Even if we don't make it, though, I'm still going to be your friend. I'll still be there for you and Cass. And I'll be honest, Miranda and I will stand a better chance of making this work if we have both of you on our side. We can't be a family unless we're all a family. So what do you say? You willing to take a chance with us, Caro?"
Miranda could feel the tension in Caroline's body where it was still pressed against her side, then slowly she began to relax.
"Yes," Caroline nodded. "Just no more running off, okay?"
"Deal," Andy agreed, her megawatt smile bursting forth.
In a moment, the twins were in Andy's arms, and Miranda watched as the three rolled on the floor, giggling and laughing. She though it the most glorious sound she had ever heard.
Janeway shifted restlessly on her bunk, fighting with the covers that seemed to want to place a strangle hold on her legs. She had been trying futilely to sleep for the last two hours and had only succeeded in becoming frustrated with the effort. Flopping over on her side, she wasn't surprised to see Seven sitting at the small mess table at the head of the cargo bay. Janeway could barely make out her figure in the dim light, but Seven seemed to be reading intently, though Kathryn couldn't discern the reading material.
"Seven," Janeway murmured not wanting to disturb B'Elanna and knowing Seven could hear the softest of sounds. "I thought you were going to regenerate."
"I have done so, Kathryn," Seven replied, still distracted by her reading.
"Not long enough, though," Janeway admonished.
"I am not fatigued," Seven denied. "Are you unable to sleep? Can I be of assistance?" Seven rose from the table and crossed the space to kneel next to Janeway's bunk.
"Just thinking about Miranda and Andy. They came very close to losing each other completely," Janeway mused, sighing.
Seven nodded and gave her tiny smile. "We will not behave in a similar fashion, Kathryn. I will not allow it."
"Oh, you won't allow it?" Janeway chuckled. "No, I don't suppose you will." She reached out and rested her palm against Seven's cheek. "I love you, Seven of Nine."
"And I love you, Kathryn Janeway," Seven responded immediately. "Now you must regenerate. Please move to the back of the bunk."
"What are you going to do, Seven?" Janeway asked, eyes widening. She glanced fleetingly towards the bunk where B'Elanna slept.
"I am going to hold you, Kathryn," Seven replied levelly.
"This bunk is rather narrow," Janeway objected.
"Which is why I will only be holding you."
"Seven " Janeway began to voice her objection again.
"Let her in the bunk already," B'Elanna's voice interrupted her. "I'd like to get some sleep, too, which I can't do with you rolling around or both of you talking .Captain ma'am."
"Aye-aye, Lieutenant," Janeway chuckled, sliding over to make room for Seven.
Within moments she was wrapped in Seven's long arms and breathed a sigh as she felt her body relaxing instantly. She was drifting on the edge of sleep when Seven spoke quietly.
"Kathryn, what did Ducane mean by his reference to your brats?"
"Brats is a somewhat derogatory word used to refer to children," Janeway replied yawning.
Seven was silent for a few moments and Janeway once again began to slip into sleep only to be roused again.
"You will be having children," Seven stated in emotionless Borg-like tones. "I cannot give you children, Kathryn. It is only logical to conclude that you will not stay with me. It would be best if we do not continue this relationship."
Janeway sat up as far as the overhead bunk would allow and looked down at her love. "Seven, slow down. You're jumping to conclusions. It is entirely possible for us to have children together; you know that. Even if neither of us becomes pregnant, we can always adopt if we want them. There are a lot of ways for these things to work out. I love you and have no intention of losing you so you can just stop that line of thought right now. Is having a little faith in me, in us, asking too much of you?"
"I am Borg," Seven stated with her usual confidence as if that answered all questions.
"You're my Borg and I'm keeping you," Janeway said with a gentle kiss. "Now may we please get some sleep? I really am exhausted, Darling."
"Yes, Kathryn," Seven replied.
Janeway snuggled back into Seven's arms and rested her head on a slender shoulder. Wrapping an arm around Seven's waist, she hugged her close. "Do you want children, Seven?" she asked sleepily.
"I do not know, Kathryn. I had not thought of that possibility," Seven admitted. "Are they required for a relationship to succeed?"
"No, Darling. Not required, though some women never feel quite complete without them," came the drowsy reply.
"Six wanted children. She regretted never being able to have one with Miranda," Seven commented seemingly moving off onto a tangent.
"Ovafusion wasn't available in this century, and lesbians often had difficulty in adopting, though Miranda is influential enough to get around that I suppose. Assuming Andy ever mentioned it to her," Janeway said, rubbing her cheek around to get more comfortable.
"She did not. At least, she did not say she had in her journal."
"Then maybe Miranda never knew. Sleep now, Seven," Janeway mumbled as sank into the depths.
The next afternoon Janeway and Seven beamed into Miranda's study while B'Elanna went to Runway to make sure they had left nothing behind that would contaminate the timeline any more than they already had. Janeway had called Miranda earlier to let her know how they would be arriving and when, so that the twins would not receive a startling surprise.
"Kathryn, Seven, hello," Miranda greeted them. Andréa told me what happened last night. I'm very glad that madman was taken into custody. I hope things have returned to normal for you."
"I woke up this morning feeling more like myself than I have since this thing began. I take it your talk with Caroline went well?" Janeway said smiling.
"Very much so, though she's quite upset over her punishment. She is grounded for the next month, and her free time will consist of assisting Andréa with various projects. I've always wanted more elaborate landscaping in the backyard but had been waiting until the children were a bit older. It seems Andréa enjoys gardening. A little one-on-one time will do them good, I think. Now they will have it," Miranda's smile was almost evil.
Janeway laughed. "I'll have to keep that in mind the next time I have to handle a crew issue. It's practically diabolical."
"Yes. I never claimed not to have come by the sobriquet of Dragon Lady honestly," Miranda returned with a chuckle.
"You should be proud of both your girls, Miranda. Without going into detail, they're going to do amazing things."
Miranda nodded, her expression that of a mother who believes her children will accomplish anything they set out to do. "I have no doubt. It appears to run in the family," she said graciously, but couldn't resist adding, "I do hope they don't end up with their own taskforce, however."
Janeway barked a laugh. "If they do, they'll probably be in charge of it."
"Andréa and the girls have prepared a light meal. They were hoping you'd stay and eat with us."
"I'd like that. Seven?" Janeway turned to her.
"That would be pleasant," Seven responded.
"Then if you'll follow me to the dining room " Miranda said, turning to lead the way.
The meal was light and festive. Even Caroline had shaken off her bad mood to engage in the lively conversation and laughter. Janeway provided carefully edited tales of some of the more amusing events from her travels, while Miranda kept them all in stitches over various behind the scenes happenings in the fashion world. The rest of the afternoon was spent playing games with the girls and discussing various aspects of literature and music. Janeway realized she was skirting the intent of the Temporal Prime Directive if not the letter of it, but she was truly fascinated by her ancestor. Miranda was a formidable woman who was in all probability the most influential woman of her era, her reach going far beyond the fashion industry. Janeway noticed Seven deep in conversation with Miranda at one point, and a short time later, she was speaking with Andy in a corner of the room. Each of the women disappeared for a short time afterwards, but there was nothing in those activities to disturb her.
Finally, it came time to say goodbye, accomplished with many hugs and more than one pair of eyes gleaming with tears.
"You're an amazing woman," Janeway told Miranda. "I'm honored to have you as an ancestor, Grand'Mere." She grinned unrepentantly
"I'm as proud to have met you as I am of you, Kathryn. I wish I knew your future to reassure you that you would indeed get home, but somehow I think you'll do so on your own initiative. We Priestlys are nothing if not determined," Miranda said, placing a gentle hand on Janeway's cheek. "Take care of Seven. I don't believe you'll ever find anyone else quite like her."
"I know I won't," Janeway admitted, covering the hand on her face with hers. "And you hang on to Andy. She's going to change your life in ways you can't even imagine."
"I have no doubt," Miranda agreed.
Janeway and Seven, at last, took their leave, beaming out from the study and onto the Delta Flyer. It was time to get back to their lives, and Janeway couldn't keep a mischievous smile from her face. If her crew thought she could melt duranium with her lectures before, they were in for a big surprise. She'd learned quite a few tricks from Miranda Priestly. The next time Tom Paris stepped out of line, he wasn't going to know what hit him.
Seven of Nine strode through the corridors of Voyager intent on her destination. She was supposed to be meeting B'Elanna Torres in the mess hall and had been detained by a minor malfunction in Astrometrics. She had been surprised to find she quite enjoyed pinning the crewman responsible with an icy glare worthy of Miranda Priestly. Back on Voyager for less than a week, she had put it to good use on one previous occasion already. The repair had been completed in half the time under her feral look. She was still smirking as the doors of the mess hall slid open and she strode through, spotting B'Elanna at a nearby table.
"You look quite pleased with yourself," B'Elanna commented. "Practicing your Miranda glare again?"
"Indeed," Seven admitted. "I find it most helpful in improving the efficiency of the crew."
"Just don't overdo it. Wouldn't want it to lose its scare power," B'Elanna laughed.
"I use it selectively," Seven assured her.
They both looked up as Harry Kim hurried through one door, through the mess hall, and out the other door, the doctor hot on his heels.
"Harry?" B'Elanna asked, staring at Seven. "The doc is chasing Harry?"
"Yes, he found his evening with Nigel Kipling quite enlightening. He feels there is a 96.3 percent chance he can repeat the experience with Harry Kim," Seven explained.
"Must have been some night," B'Elanna laughed.
"Indeed. I do not believe the doctor will be painting nude portraits of me any longer."
"Good thing. The captain would have me reprogramming him as a eunuch if he tried that again."
Seven's lips curled in a soft smile. "Yes, Kathryn has proven to be quite possessive."
"And you like that," B'Elanna guessed.
Seven nodded with a dreamy look.
"So what did you want to talk about?" B'Elanna asked, her curiosity at why Seven had wanted to meet her apparent since B'Elanna knew Seven had a date with the captain that night.
Seven looked over B'Elanna's shoulder and gave a tiny smile. "There is someone I wish you to meet," Seven explained. Stepping to the side, she gently B'Elanna's arm and turned her around. "B'Elanna Torres, I would like you to meet Ensign Amanda Connelly." Her eyes gleamed with mirth as she watched B'Elanna's eyes widen as they met the deep brown gaze of Mandy Connelly. Seven leaned over and spoke quietly into B'Elanna's ear. "Six had a brother. I find the resemblance quite interesting." Eyes gleaming with laughter, though she gave no outward appearance, Seven nudged B'Elanna, who seemed struck dumb by the beautiful ensign. "I will leave you to talk. I have a date this evening," Seven said.
"With the captain?" Mandy asked with a megawatt smile. "You're seeing a lot of her, Seven."
"I have hopes to see more of her, Mandy Connelly," Seven said with a twinkle in her eye.
Mandy laughed. "I'm sure you do. Enjoy your date, Seven. Maybe I can convince Lieutenant Torres to join me for a drink at Sandrine's." She turned her glowing smile on B'Elanna.
"Drink? Yeah. Love to," B'Elanna responded disjointedly.
"Bye, Seven," Mandy called merrily as she took B'Elanna's arm and escorted her from the mess hall.
Smiling to herself, Seven hurried off to keep her own date.
Miranda was exhausted. She was pushing her staff hard to complete the issue by the print deadline, more determined than ever to pack as much into the day as possible so that she could get home to her family at a reasonable hour. Miranda had notified the one person in Human Resources who she trusted of her new relationship with Andy, and transferred her lover immediately to editorial so she would no longer be Andy's direct supervisor. It wasn't a perfect solution, but it would do for the moment until Andy decided exactly what she wanted to do next. Miranda would not make the mistake of attempting to decide for her. Having been adamant to make her own decision about capturing a potentially dangerous criminal, Andy would not welcome interference from Miranda in determining the path her career would follow. So far their nights have been too filled with lovemaking to waste time on that conversation; however, Miranda knew it would come soon enough.
She let herself in the door of the townhouse and had barely managed to put away her coat when she was blitzed by two smiling redheads.
"You're home!" Cassidy exclaimed excitedly.
"That's three weeks in a row," Caroline crowed with glee.
"I promised, did I not?" Miranda smiled, returning their hugs. "We will eat our evening meals together if at all possible. I did bring home some work I need to take care of later, but that can wait until after your bedtime. Where is Andréa?" She looked around, having become used to being greeted by her lover each night as well since Andy usually finished work before she did, often bringing things home herself. Andy had developed the habit of curling in the corner of the couch in Miranda's study and completing assignments for Runway on her laptop as Miranda worked at the desk. That they were together was all Andy professed to care about.
"She's lying down," Cassidy answered her question. "She was really tired when she got home. I think she might be sick, too. She didn't look so good." Worried blue eyes begged her mother for reassurance.
"You should check on her, Mom," Caroline encouraged.
Miranda smiled, running a hand over each head of silky, red hair. Caroline was trying to put the past behind her. She really did care for Andy and was never successful in hiding that fact from those who knew her best.
"I will, Bobbsey. Please check and see when dinner will be ready? We'll be down momentarily," Miranda assured them before climbing the stairs to her bedroom.
She let herself into the darkened room and could just make out the form of Andy lying on the bed. Crossing the room, she sat on the side of the bed and rested a hand on a pale forehead. "Are you all right, Darling? The girls said you were sick. They're quite concerned."
"I'm fine," Andy sighed. "Just tired and really nauseous. I don't think I want anything to eat right now."
Miranda nodded and brushed the backs of her fingers against a soft cheek. "It won't hurt to skip one meal," she agreed concerned that her lover was ill. She was shocked as tears welled in Andy's eyes and spilled down her cheeks.
"You think I'm fat," Andy wailed, rolling away.
Eyes wide, Miranda stared at her, while trying to figure out what had just happened. "Andréa, I think no such thing. You're perfect, Darling. I adore your body. You know that."
"But it wouldn't hurt me to miss a few meals, right?" Andy sobbed into her pillow.
"I didn't mean that," Miranda hurried to explain. "I was just concerned for your health. Missing more than a single meal might make you feel worse rather than better."
"Really?" Andy asked, sniffling.
"Of course. You know I love you, Andréa," Miranda assured her. "Please tell me, what's wrong? Why are you so upset?"
Andy rolled back toward her and curled around Miranda's body, laying her head in Miranda's lap. "I don't know. It started earlier today. I just can't seem to control my emotions. I cry over nothing. I've been nauseous all week. I don't know what's wrong with me."
Miranda sat as if turned to stone. It wasn't really possible, was it? Seven has assured them it would work, but Miranda had still had her doubts. "Andréa, it's been three weeks since Kathryn and Seven left? Do you suppose ?" Miranda left the question unasked.
Andy looked up at her with wide eyes. "Oh, wow. I didn't even think of that. I haven't We've been so busy, it didn't even occur to me. I should take a test or something, right?"
Miranda threaded her fingers through long, dark hair in a soothing gesture. "I believe I'll have Emily fetch one," she said with an evil smirk.
Andy hid her face in Miranda's lap, giggling hysterically. "You know," she gasped in a muffled voice, "that when this baby pops out with your eyes, looking just like you, Emily is going to be even more convinced you're a god, don't you?"
"Please, Andréa," Miranda sniffed. "A goddess."
"My goddess," Andy said, rising up to capture soft lips with her own. "Wanna try for twins?" she asked, wiggling her eyebrows.
"One will be quite sufficient," Miranda stated levelly. "Though we can practice as frequently as you wish."
"Yum," Andy murmured, pulling Miranda closer and beginning to kiss down the elegant column of her neck.
"I thought you were ill," Miranda gasped, tilting her head to provide better access for her lover.
"It comes and goes," Andy muttered into soft flesh. She continued her journey down and across Miranda's collarbone. Suddenly, she froze and then scrambled around Miranda, dashing into the en suite. The sound of retching echoed a moment later.
I have a feeling this is going to be the state of our sex life for a while longer, Miranda thought as she rose from the bed and followed to provide her love with assistance. I'll simply have to make an honest woman of her.
Seven sat on the couch in Janeway's quarters, sipping a glass of sparkling cider. Running her fingertips over the silk skirt of her blue dress, she thought about the look on Janeway's face when she first answered the door that evening. She had asked Six several questions during their last conversation and the last advice she had received was to make the most of her natural assets. Remembering Janeway's openmouthed stare and fierce blush at the sight of her in this dress, Seven thought she had done well. She smiled as Janeway joined her, drinking from her own glass of white wine.
"Seven, there's something I'd like to talk to you about," Janeway began.
"When our most recent adventure began, there were ten journals, then nine, and now there are eleven. You wouldn't happen to know who K.A. Priestly is, would you?" Janeway fixed her with a stern look.
"Kathryn Annika Priestly is the daughter of Six and Miranda Priestly," Seven supplied, flashing her tiny smile.
"Seven," Janeway growled in a disapproving tone. "What did you do?"
"I assisted Six in achieving that which she wanted most, Miranda Priestly's child," Seven explained. "You have evidently not read the journal, yet. I would suggest you do so."
"No, I've been too busy to read it and I don't have any memories of having done so before. You know you shouldn't have interfered with the timeline. If they were meant to have a child, they would have found a way to do so," Janeway admonished.
"Read the journal, Kathryn," Seven repeated.
"What's so special about that journal, Seven?" Janeway asked, pinching the bridge of her nose, her classic move when Seven's stubbornness was causing a headache to threaten.
"I was unable to pinpoint which of Miranda's children was your direct ancestor for a reason," Seven stated. "She had not been born, yet. Kathryn Priestly is your ancestor."
"Not Caroline?" Janeway asked with a frown. "But I thought when we continued to have symptoms after getting Miranda and Andy together that it was because Caroline was still so angry with Andy."
"Her acceptance of her mother's feelings for Six was necessary for them to have a successful relationship. But it was not the direct cause of the threat to your existence. Kathryn Priestly was born exactly when she was supposed to be born," Seven concluded confidently.
"A predestination paradox," Janeway said in astonishment.
"Yes," Seven agreed. "We were meant to go back and ensure the conception of your ancestor. It is also why, I believe, the Department of Temporal Investigations has not changed the outcome of our interference."
"Your interference, you mean," Janeway chuckled. "I owe my life to you, Seven, quite literally."
"Then it is only correct that I wish to share it with you," observed Seven. She slid closer to Janeway. "I do not wish to wait any longer, Kathryn. The mission is over, we are back on Voyager, and the crew is aware and accepting of our relationship." Seven leaned over to place a soft kiss on Janeway's lips.
"You're sure?" Janeway asked between kisses. "I want you to be sure, Seven. I won't be able to give you up afterward."
"I do not say what I do not mean, Kathryn. Make love to me."
Janeway nodded and rose from the couch, taking Seven's hand and leading her into the bedroom. She couldn't stop the slight trembling in her hands. It wasn't her first time making love, but knowing that it was Seven's terrified her in a very basic way. Prior to this moment, Janeway's only experience with a woman was a rather unsuccessful fumbling with a schoolmate at the Academy.
"Kathryn, what is wrong?" Seven asked, concerned.
"Just a bit nervous, Seven," Janeway admitted. "I want your first time to be extraordinary, something you'll always remember fondly."
"I am with you. It cannot help but be extraordinary."
Janeway fought back a rush of tears at the earnest words. It was true for her as well. Just knowing that it was her Seven that she held would make it the greatest experience of her life. The deeply plunging neckline of Seven's dress had her fingers itching to get at the treasures beneath. Slipping her fingers behind Seven's neck she pulled their lips together. Tasting Seven's full lips was the high point of her day and something Janeway did as frequently as possible. She loved taking her time and sharing slow, deep, wet kisses with Seven. She ghosted her tongue under a pouty lower lip, answering Seven's soft moan with one of her own.
"Let's get you undressed," Janeway murmured, lowering the fastener of Seven's dress as far as she could reach while still kissing her. Separating their lips, she turned Seven and continued to lower the zipper, while her lips began to trace over the velvety skin she was revealing an inch at a time. She traced the star-shaped implant on Seven's shoulder with her tongue, smirking when her lover shivered in pleasure. "Sensitive?" she asked.
"Yes, Kathryn," Seven gasped.
"Mmmm," Janeway hummed, tracing around the points again, eliciting the same visceral reaction. Her fingers danced over the thin bands of Seven's abdominal implant. "You're so beautiful, Seven," she said and pushed the dress off her love's shoulders, unmindful of it dropping to the floor to pool around Seven's feet. Her hands slipped around and up, cupping full breasts as she dragged her tongue across a slender shoulder. Her forefingers traced over tight nipples, and Janeway smiled as they pebbled to her touch. She dropped her hands and hooked her fingers in silk lingerie pulling it over rounded hips and down long, well-formed legs. She assisted Seven in removing the last remaining clothing along with her shoes.
Janeway sat back on her heels, letting her eyes slowly travel up the length of Seven's back. "Turn around," she said hoarsely. She knew her swallow was audible to Seven as her eyes repeated the journey up the front. "You're exquisite," she managed. She couldn't help smiling as Seven had to lean over slightly to see her kneeling on the floor.
"Kathryn, I am still waiting," Seven informed her with a smirk.
"Not for much longer, Darling. Crawl on the bed, and I'll be right with you," Janeway promised, disrobing as quickly as she could manage. Her eyes remained trained on the sight of Seven lying on her side and watching. With the last article of clothing gone, Janeway joined her on the bed. A gentle touch on her shoulder encouraged Seven to roll onto her back, and Janeway followed, reveling in the feel of their first full-body contact of skin on skin. Their first kiss as lovers was more than Janeway could have imagined. The feel of Seven's body beneath her sent shivers chasing up and down her spine. She fell into the kiss, fell into Seven losing herself in the taste, smell, and heat of the woman she loved.
Janeway tasted every inch of exposed skin, learning what pleased Seven most. Fingers danced and teased until Seven was writhing and moaning from the sensations. She spent long moments sucking and licking rosy nipples as Seven's Borg hand tore through the bedding in her frenzy.
"Kathryn, please," Seven whimpered, hips moving randomly as if seeking something that was just out of reach.
"I'll take care of you, Darling," Janeway promised, slipping her fingers into silky heat and wetness. "You're so ready for me, Seven. I'm going to make you feel wonderful." She stroked and pinched lightly at the tight bundle of nerves between Seven's thighs, loving the sounds she was forcing from her lover's lips. She drove Seven to edge, only to slow her movements and pull her back again.
Seven's head whipped side to side as she undulated beneath Janeway's touch. "More," she gasped.
Humming softly to herself, Janeway slipped a single finger just inside Seven's tight opening, circling gently, teasing the sensitive nerve endings with slow, deliberate movements. "I'm going to make you come for me, Darling," Janeway murmured as she once more attacked a tender nipple with her mouth and pushed her finger in deeper, beginning a gentle thrusting.
Seven cried out and arched up into her hand, hips rising and falling to meet her thrusts.
Janeway eased her finger out only to re-enter Seven's core, this time with two fingers. Her movements became more deliberate as her thumb brushed repeatedly against Seven's clit. Janeway could feel internal muscles tightening around her fingers as her own center began to clench and release. She had never come simply by making love to someone else, but this time she knew she would. It would only be the beginning of many firsts with Seven. "Come for me, Seven. Come with me, my Love," Janeway mumbled around the nipple she held between her lips.
Seven arched from the bed, crying out Kathryn's name as her orgasm screamed through her body.
Janeway joined her, roaring her release until her throat was raw.
Long moments later, they lay in each other's arms basking in the warmth and peace that blanketed them. Fingers idly traced sweat-dampened skin as lips moved gently together. The feeling was quiet, intimate, unable to be improved by mere words. The love between them was tangible to both, a bond wrapping around them and holding them together forever.
Return to The Devil Wears Prada Fiction
Return to Voyager J/7 Fiction
Return to Main Page