DISCLAIMER: The Devil Wears Prada and its characters belong to Lauren Weisberger and 20th Century Fox. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To qhfletcher[at]gmail.com
We're Having A Baby Series: Friendly Fire
By quiethearted (QH Fletcher)
"What is that?" Cruella asked, staring at the blurry white image.
"It's our baby," Miranda explained patiently. "Andréa had her last ultrasound today."
Cruella turned the rectangle of paper this way and that before looking up at Miranda with a concerned gaze. "Our child is an alien!" she gasped.
"She is not!" Miranda snapped. "She's a perfectly normal baby. The doctor found nothing wrong with her."
"But look at this!" Cruella shoved the paper into Miranda's hands. "It doesn't look human. E.T. had a smaller head!"
Narrowing her eyes, Miranda glared at her lover. "The baby looks exactly as she is supposed to at this stage of her development. You are not to say such things to Andréa."
"The baby will get better, right?" Cruella asked desperately. "She won't look like this forever, will she?"
Sighing, Miranda rubbed her temples. She was trying to be understanding of Cruella's concerns when what she really wanted to do was shove the image down her throat. Balancing the conflicting desires was, yet again, causing a massive headache. "She will be perfect, Cruella. And even if she were not, she is our child. We will love and care for her regardless. Just as we do you," she finished waspishly, unable to resist getting in at least one dig.
Cruella huffed and crossed her arms. "My head is perfectly normal."
"On the outside, yes, but appearances can be terribly deceiving," Miranda replied off-handedly.
Smirking cruelly, Cruella nodded. "Except in your case," she shot back. "You're exactly as old as your hair color implies."
"While yours is indicative of the existence of at least two of your varied personalities," Miranda snarled, stalking toward where Cruella sat on one end of the couch.
"I have told you repeatedly that I am not schizophrenic, nor do I have multiple personality disorder! I have a"
"Mild dissociative disorder," Miranda finished for her with a sneer. "Believe me when I tell you it is not so mild."
"You ruddy bitch!" Cruella leapt to her feet, clenching her hands into fists.
"Better a bitch than a raving lunatic!" Miranda balled her own hands into fists and glared up at Cruella.
"Better a raving lunatic than a frigid bloody ball-buster!"
"Frigid!" Miranda roared, fueled by anger and her pounding head. "If you weren't so completely inept as a lover, I'd have no reason to be frigid!"
"If you were the least bit sexy, I wouldn't find being your lover such a hideous challenge!" Cruella shrieked.
"Then far be it from me to force you to challenge your oh so pathetic imagination in such a manner again!" Miranda roared. More furious than she could ever remember being, Miranda strode out of the room. Barely pausing to grab her bag and coat, she stormed out of the house and shoving on her sunglasses, got in to her waiting car without a word to Roy. She didn't speak throughout the ride to Runway.
She mentally berated herself both for losing her temper to that extreme and for not waiting for Andréa to be present to share the ultrasound image with Cruella. They had intentionally not shown their excitable lover the first image, but Miranda had thought the fetus sufficiently developed not to frighten or confuse Cruella this time. She had been spectacularly wrong.
Tears shimmered in eyes hidden by dark glasses. Miranda had heard each of her ex-husbands accuse of her of being frigid. To have Cruella do so Cruella, who more than anyone, other than Andréa, should know how untrue the accusation was to have her do so had been a searing shaft into Miranda's heart. If that was truly how Cruella felt, then Miranda didn't know how she would ever find happiness again. She had given everything to the two women she loved, opened herself in ways that she never had with anyone before. Once again, she had failed to maintain a relationship.
Emily met her as she exited the elevator. Miranda strode down the corridor, giving her usual rapid fire list of instructions. Tossing her coat and bag on the second assistant's desk, she continued with the list. It was only after taking her seat behind her desk that she finished with, "Book me a suite at the Ritz for tonight. Make it an open-ended reservation. That's all!" Miranda didn't bother to look up. The dead silence and lack of movement from Emily was a clear indicator of her surprise, though it only lasted a moment before Emily squeaked and hurried from the room.
The twins were on vacation with their father for the next week during a break from school, so Miranda was saved from explaining her actions to them until after she'd had time to make her plans. She would need to contact her attorney tomorrow to arrange some form of custody agreement and visitation schedule for the new baby once it was born. That is unless Andréa should choose to live with her instead of Cruella. Miranda doubted however that Cruella found their beautiful lover to be frigid in any way. If anything Andréa's hormone-driven libido would crush just one of them. Of late, Miranda and Cruella had taken to trading off just to keep up and get adequate rest. Andréa. How do I explain this to her? There was no way Miranda could bring herself to admit to such a humiliating truth, nor could she face Andréa and lie. Opening her email, Miranda opted for the only course of action she felt was left open to her.
"What the fuck?" Andy gasped, reading over the message from Miranda again. Oh, she is so not getting away with this! What the hell does she mean "the relationship has run its course"? Cruella, what have you done? Gathering up her things, Andy hurried from the newsroom, texting her driver as she went. This was one of the few times she was glad her lovers had insisted on her having ready transportation. She took deep breaths and tried to calm down knowing that being so upset wasn't good for the baby. Andy knew that, after dropping her at the interview she had scheduled, Miranda had intended to share the ultrasound image with Cruella. Sufficient time had passed for that to have happened, so whatever was causing Miranda to pull out of their relationship must have something to do with Cruella. She knew they both had been extremely stressed over work issues lately. Though one or the other seemed always to be there and ready whenever Andy gave the smallest hint that she was aroused, she couldn't recall the last time they'd all been together or that Miranda and Cruella had taken time for themselves. Andy groaned, realizing she should have noticed and taken steps to correct the situation. Those two were too volatile together to not have the more intimate interactions to balance out their clashes.
Alonzo was there to meet the car and helped Andy out. Her baby bump was more of a boulder at this point, so the assistance was appreciated.
His face was a study in concern as he greeted her. "Oh, Miss Andy, I'm so glad you're here. Miss DeVil is quite upset, and Ms. Priestly left here very angry. I just know something terrible has happened."
Andy patted his hand consolingly. "Yes, it has, but I'll get it straightened out. Send my driver home and get the Rolls out. Once I've got Cruella calmed down, she and I will have some damage control to take care of in the city."
The sound of violent sobbing intermixed with short rants and breaking glass led Andy to Cruella's location. She stood in the doorway and watched as Cruella paced the room, stopping now and then to scream invectives at her reflection in various shiny surfaces, before throwing the nearest object to shatter the glass or mirror. Though mostly incoherent mumbles, Andy was able to pick up enough to know that Cruella was blaming herself for whatever had happened. Deciding it was time to put an end to the destructive rant, Andy stepped further into the room.
"Cruella, baby, what's going on?" Andy asked gently.
"Oh, Andy!" Cruella sobbed. "I'm evil! You should have me locked away! Miranda's right! I'm insane!" She dropped to her knees and crossed her arms over her stomach. "Oh, my poor, poor Miranda! What have I done?"
Andy struggled to kneel next to her and took Cruella into her arms. "What happened, Cruella? Can you tell me?"
"I called her f-f-frigid!" Cruella wailed.
"What?" Andy gasped. "Cruella, you know that's not true."
"I knoooow," she sobbed. "We were having one of our usual discussions, and it just went too far. I've missed her so, and it just slipped out before I realized. Oh, Andy, you should have seen her face. She was devastated!" She dissolved into hysterical wailing.
Andy sighed and stroked the silky, bi-colored hair. "That explains a lot. Sweetie, I need you to get control of yourself. We need to fix this."
Cruella looked up, her expression eager, though soggy. "Do you think we can?" she asked hesitantly. "I could apologize when she gets home. Beg her to forgive me."
Andy smiled sadly. "She's not coming home, Cruella. She's taken a suite at the Ritz."
"Are youare you going with her?" Cruella asked fearfully.
"No, Sweetie, I'm not leaving you and neither is Miranda," Andy stated firmly. "We're going to bring her home. So you go change and fix your makeup. Alonzo has the car waiting."
"Oh, yes! Of course!" Cruella scrambled up and started for the door. "I'll be right back."
"Ummm, Cruella?" Andy called after her.
Cruella paused and turned back. "Yes?"
Andy looked up at her from where she still knelt on the floor, a wry grin twisting her lips. "A hand up here?"
"Oh!" Cruella hurried back and helped Andy to her feet. "Back in a bit!"
Andy smirked at the rapid staccato of heels hurrying up the staircase. How those two could move so fast on those stilts she'd never know. Collecting her phone, she sent a quick text to Jasper to get the mess that was their study cleaned up while they were gone. Thankfully, Cruella had left the antiques and the more sentimental items intact during her rampage. Andy just hoped it would be as easy to smooth over the damage to Miranda's feelings, though she seriously doubted it would be.
Getting past the reception desk at the Ritz had taken a bit of ingenuity. Well, really, Andy had just unleashed Cruella on the poor man after implying to her lover that he was all that stood between them and Miranda. In truth, Andy couldn't really say that she'd actually unleashed her lover entirely. She'd merely introduced Cruella by name and informed her of his lack of cooperation. The fiendish glare Cruella had focused on the man had done the rest. The poor guy had even offered to have a bellboy carry Andy to the suite when Cruella had growled he was keeping her pregnant lover standing and waiting needlessly. Andy had quickly declined when Cruella had looked as if she'd take him up on the offer.
Now here they were knocking on the door of Miranda's suite. Truthfully, Andy was attempting to knock when Cruella had quickly taken over, pounding violently at the wood.
"Miranda! Open this door immediately!" Cruella shouted.
"Sweetie, you need to calm down," Andy cautioned. "We don't want to be thrown out before we see her."
"How can we see her if she won't open the door?" Cruella continued to beat on the door. "Open this door this instant!" When Miranda did not do as she requested, Cruella narrowed her eyes and smiled slyly. "Miranda, hurry! Our Darling Andy is about to collapse!"
"Cruella!" Andy hissed, ready to tear into her lover for lying. She rethought that inclination when the door flew open and a concerned Miranda appeared in the opening.
"Your sanity is once again in question, Cruella," Miranda snapped. "You cannot keep a woman in the advanced stages of pregnancy standing around indefinitely."
"And you're blaming me when you didn't put that on the checklist you made for me?"
"I didn't think I had to," Miranda shot back, taking Andy by the arm and leading her gently to the large sofa in the seating area of the suite. "It's common sense."
Andy sank back into the soft cushions, glad to be off her feet, though she had no intention of throwing the fuel of that knowledge on the conflagration the two were engaged in. Unfortunately, they might have to call a crane company to get her back out of the deep seat, but for now it felt heavenly.
"As you take great joy in pointing out that, that's an area in which I am sorely lacking, why would you suddenly assume I had developed the trait in the past eight and half months?" Cruella sniffed and made her way to sit beside their lover.
Miranda pursed her lips, clearly without a ready response for that particular nugget of logic.
Andy patted the cushion on her other side. "Miranda, come sit with me, please?" When her silver-haired lover showed no inclination to do so, Andy sighed. "I can't exactly hop up and go to you, Miranda. Just like it's not good to keep a pregnant woman standing, it's also not good to make her try to climb out of this ridiculously cushy sofa. Please, come sit." Andy held out her hand and waited.
Huffing, Miranda perched on the edge of the cushion. "I don't know why you're here. Cruella made herself quite clear when we spoke earlier." She kept her eyes fixed in the opposite direction.
Andy stroked the backs of her fingers over a silky cheek. "The two of you don't speak, you bicker, and you know she didn't mean what she said. Neither of you ever do."
"I don't know why you suddenly chose to listen to me, anyway," Cruella added. "You never have before."
Pressing her lips tighter, Miranda clearly could not refute that statement either.
Andy took Miranda's hand between her own. "I know why it hurt, Miranda. Just like you know that, that is one word neither of us could ever apply to you. You're wonderfully passionate and loving."
"What I said was unforgivable," Cruella admitted. "But I'm truly hoping that you'll overlook that and forgive me anyway. You're correct that I am in all probability insane."
"It's merely a mild dissociative disorder," Miranda murmured, though still looking away from her lovers.
Cruella rose and moved to kneel in front of Miranda, taking her free hand and pressing a kiss to the knuckles. "For years, you haunted my dreams. You were my one unattainable desire. Just catching a glimpse of you during a showing would leave me aching for days, Miranda. There was and is a fire between us that would have consumed us both without our darling Andy to balance us. If anyone has thought you frigid, it's because they themselves lack the ability to see and ignite your passions. The lack is not yours."
Andy's eyes welled with tears. She'd never heard Cruella be so eloquent toward Miranda. They were usually much too busy sniping at each other for grand declarations, but their witticisms, though barbed, were their way of showing their feelings for each other. What they could say to each other with impunity would have hurt them each drastically if voiced by Andy.
Miranda drew a shaky breath, her eyelids blinking rapidly. "You hurt me."
"I know, my Darling, and I am so dreadfully sorry. Please, please, forgive me." Cruella rested her head in Miranda's lap, her shoulders shaking lightly as she cried.
Miranda freed her hand from Cruella's and Andy held her breath, afraid that the action signaled her rejection of their lover. She released the breath slowly as Miranda threaded her fingers in the bi-colored locks and leaned over pressing her lips to the head in her lap.
"I love you, Cruella. If I didn't you could not hurt me so terribly," Miranda explained. "I forgive you."
Cruella surged up, claiming Miranda's lips in a kiss of fire and passion.
Andy watched them for a moment before finally speaking. "Why don't you two take this into the bedroom. I think you need some time alone."
They broke the kiss and looked at her, back at each other and then at Andy again.
"What about you?" Cruella asked hesitantly.
"Are you kidding?" Andy laughed. "We're at the Ritz. I'm going to drop your names and have some of Laurent Tourondel's Warm English Custard sent up. That stuff is to die for." Andy licked her lips in anticipation. She laughed as their eyes followed the movement of her tongue. "Go!" Andy fell over in hilarity as the two practically ran from the room. For a moment she thought Cruella would try to vault the sofa. Gaining control of herself, she looked across the room at the phone before, with a sigh, she pulled out her cell and placed a call to the hotel she was sitting in. Hopefully, room service would use their passkey. No way was she getting up off that sofa without help.
Miranda was just preparing to verbally tear several strips off her staff for the abysmal run-through she'd been subjected to when the sound of her own name being shrieked down the corridors of Runway caused the hair to stand on the back of her neck and the words to die on the tip of her tongue. She barely had time to register the looks of shock and fear written on the faces around her before Cruella stood in the doorway, shoulders heaving as she panted heavily.
"Our darling Andy is in labor!" Cruella gasped.
Putting aside the schism of fear that shimmered down her spine, Miranda arched a brow at Emily who nodded and rushed from the room to call Roy. Turning her full attention back to Cruella, whose diamond-clawed gloves were gouging holes in each side of the door frame, Miranda gathered herself. She and Andréa had discussed this at length, and it was her responsibility not only to coach her pregnant lover through the delivery but to keep the more volatile Cruella from creating mayhem in the hospital at large. With that in mind, they had instructed Cruella to fetch Miranda while the fierce woman's "minions," as Andréa laughingly referred to Horace, Jasper and Alonzo, saw to getting Andréa to the hospital when the big day arrived. Once again Miranda was cognizant of just how foresighted that plan was as the sound of wood splintering filled the silence Cruella's pronouncement had created. Snapping herself into action, Miranda stepped carefully toward her overly excited lover.
"Cruella, please be kind enough to leave the structure of my office intact," she said crisply, knowing Cruella would respond to her instinctively whereas gentle words from Miranda would only fuel the fire that burned in blazing blue eyes. "Get my coat and bag from Emily and do not poke holes in them with those ridiculous talons of yours."
"When have I ever accidentally shredded anything?" Cruella snapped back right on cue. "Really, Miranda, you give me very little credit. I am quite capable of controlling my glove tips."
"Tell that to the new Chanel skirt you shredded," Miranda responded, intent on keeping Cruella too involved with the conversation to continue panicking.
"That was entirely different and not at all an accident. I had already told you I intended to have you and if you had wanted to keep your apparel intact you should have removed it immediately. It isn't my fault you decided to play coy. If your moans were any indicator, you were not overly concerned with my shredding the skirt at the time. And, I might add, Darling Andy found it extremely arousing as well."
The slight pinking of Miranda's cheekbones was the only indication she gave of being aware that her sex life, in all its explosive glory, was being shared with her staff. She would simply have to deal with that embarrassing reality later.
"Andréa was not as pleased when you destroyed her new peignoir," Miranda countered. If her dignity was going to be dented she might as well make it a large one. Besides which, talking about their sex life always deflected Cruella from more upsetting topics. Her staff could have the fear of the Dragon put back into them later, though a bit of rumor about her ability to satisfy a far younger lover as well as a fashion demon with an overcharged libido might not hurt her reputation at all. Her lips curled in the hint of a smile, as she knew what Cruella's response would be.
"Then you should not have torn it from her body after I made that tiny rip in the neckline," Cruella huffed.
Ignoring the gasps from her quickly vacating employees, Miranda took the coat and bag Emily held for her and, grasping Cruella's hand, mindful of the lethal diamond tips, pulled her along toward the elevator.
"Must you always spread the more salacious aspects of our union out for general consumption, Cruella? It's enough that the world knows I'm in a relationship with two women. Must they also be made aware of our bedroom activities in detail?" Stepping into the elevator, Miranda swung her coat over her shoulders before reaching out and punching the button for the lobby.
"Yes!" Cruella snapped decisively. "Let them all know and envy what I have, the two most beautiful, erotic, and arousing women in the world. There isn't a person alive who can satisfy even one of you, but I have you both!"
Smirking slightly, Miranda patted the arm nearest her. "Darling, a bit of megalomania goes a long way, but you are correct. You do have us both, as we have you and each other. I am sure the world at large is hideously jealous of that fact." She slipped on her sunglasses to hide the merriment in her eyes. Cruella really was too easy at times. From the corner of her eye, she could see Cruella preening with the knowledge that she was envied above all others. Sanity really was just a casual acquaintance for Cruella. She was almost entirely self-involved, seeing the world and inhabitants only in light of their usefulness to her at any given moment.
The exception to that was Miranda herself, along with Andréa and their children, and to a smaller extent her beloved "minions." Her obsessive love for those Cruella considered to be her family was the sanest part of her, and perhaps all that kept her from slipping irreparably over the edge. Miranda was fully cognizant of that fact. In truth, it was what had kept her from claiming Cruella for her own for all those years. She could never be all that Cruella needed and would not be the cause of her fiery lover losing any final grip on reality. No, it required Andréa's calm, gentle nature and enormous capacity to love to soothe Cruella's voracious need for affection and approval. From Miranda she received a strength of will equal to her own, a bulwark against which to batter herself when self-control became more than she could manage.
Miranda felt warmth suffuse her chest at their image reflected back in the glass doors of the Elias-Clarke lobby. Cruella had also donned her shades, and they strode like queens through their kingdom. She knew this was how their Andréa saw them. Strong, powerful, yet elegant and achingly feminine. Miranda knew that she and Cruella struck awe and fear into the hearts of those who saw them together. It was Andréa who gave them their humanity, Andréa and their children. She drew a shaky breath, her mind just for a moment touching on the danger their love could potentially be in. While women gave birth daily, there was always the possibility for the worst to happen. Miranda glanced at Cruella in surprise as a soft, suede glove wrapped around her hand.
"Our Darling Andy will be fine," Cruella assured her in a murmur meant only for Miranda's ears. "The doctor's life depends on it, a fact she well knows."
Miranda barked a laugh at the cruel lines of Cruella's face in that moment, but somehow, she felt better all the same.
"She's in pain!" Cruella shrieked. "You will fix it this instant!"
Glancing to where Cruella had backed a terrified nurse into the corner, Miranda continued to encourage Andréa to breath, mimicking the small pants of her lover. "That's right, my Love. Breathe through it. You're doing wonderfully."
"Don't let Cruella kill anyone," Andréa gasped between short, staccato breaths.
"No, Darling, I won't. I confiscated her gloves before we left the car. She's merely keeping herself amused," Miranda assured, as she dabbed gently at Andréa's brow with a cool cloth. "She knows I'd have to stop assisting you to help hide the body were she to actually do so. Cruella, Dear, could you moisten this for me?" Miranda held out the cloth she'd been using which was promptly snatched from her hand as Cruella hurried into the bathroom to soak the small towel in cool water and wrung it out viciously.
"You did not tell me our Darling Andy would be in such pain!" Cruella chastised Miranda, as she gave the cloth back. "I would not have agreed to this had you done so."
"I'm fine, Cruella," Andréa assured her, as the contraction eased to where she could speak without sounding like she was gasping out her last words.
"But there are drugs! It's a hospital for god's sake. It's full of drugs!" Cruella looked around the room wildly as if she expected bottles of pills to be piled in every corner.
Andréa chuckled, shaking her sweat drenched head against the pillow. "I opted for natural child birth. All those chemicals can't be good for the baby. Yes, it hurts, but I don't want to miss a moment of this."
"I can't stand for you to be in pain." Cruella stood at the end of the bed, wringing her hands as tears slowly made their way down pale cheeks.
"This is Andréa's choice. It's her body and we have to respect that," Miranda snapped. "If you're not able to deal with this, then leave. Otherwise, woman up and be supportive which does not include frightening the medical staff to the point I have to deliver our baby myself." Miranda's infinite patience with Andréa did not extend to Cruella at the moment. As much as she loved her and wanted her to be part of this wonderful event, she'd much rather Cruella be out terrorizing the others in the waiting room rather than distressing Andréa at the moment.
Cruella visibly shook herself and lifted her chin haughtily. "I am equally as much woman as you are, Miranda. Now give me that cloth."
As another contraction hit, Miranda looked down to hide her smirk as Cruella gamely allowed her hand to be crushed while she valiantly mopped a sweaty brow. Wincing as her own hand was squeezed violently, Miranda couldn't help admiring the way Cruella had pulled herself together. She only hoped it would last throughout the rest of the delivery.
Miranda leaned back in the chair, their new baby daughter held snuggly in her arms. She looked to her right where an exhausted Andréa lay sleeping. She was so proud of her beautiful darling for giving her this exquisite gift. Turning her head to the left, Miranda smiled softly at Cruella who lay asleep in the adjoining bed, a white bandage on one side of her forehead.
They had made it safely into the delivery room and all was going well. The doctor had commented that the head was crowning and asked Andréa to bear down and push. Before Miranda could stop her, Cruella had rushed to the end of the table to glare down at the woman, as if daring her to drop their child. The sight of a small head squeezing out of Andréa's body had proven too much. The Demon of Fashion had hit the floor, not only fainting but managing to strike her head on the way down. Miranda had found herself momentarily torn, as Andréa cried out from a strong contraction while Cruella was carted out the door on her way to the ER and x-rays. Knowing she couldn't be in both places, Miranda had sent a silent prayer that Cruella's hard head would keep her in good stead, Miranda focused on Andréa.
Miranda had been unable to quash a niggling worry until word had come that Cruella was fine, only requiring two stitches to close the small gash above her eyebrow which would be seen to by the head of cosmetic surgery as soon as someone could catch Cruella, who had been tearing through the hospital reportedly sliding around corners in her blue paper booties. Sighing with relief at knowing their irascible lover was fighting her way back to the delivery room, Miranda had not been surprised when Cruella had burst through the door, arriving just in time to wrap her hand around Miranda's as they both had cut the cord. Miranda had smiled lovingly at the crazed woman with the streaks of blood drying in her hair and on her cheek. With Cruella's long arms wrapped around her, Miranda had watched Andréa's face suffuse with love as their child was laid upon her stomach, Cruella sniffling loudly in her ear, the big softie.
It had taken a bit of doing, not to mention several phone calls, but Miranda had managed to keep Cruella from being locked in the psych ward and instead conveyed to this joint room after her wound had been stitched. She had her two lovers sleeping nearby and their new baby in her arms. What more could she want?
"Isn't that right, Mirella?" Miranda cooed at the sleeping infant. "Though why your mommy felt it wise to name you after the two biggest bitches on the planet I shall never know."
"Miranda, language," Andréa murmured sleepily. "I named her after her other mommies who just happen to be the two women who would give their lives to insure her safety and happiness. I can't think of a better name."
"It could be worse," Cruella growled. "She could have chosen Cruanda. Now do be quiet. You'll wake the baby, and I have a frightful headache."
Chuckling softly to herself, Miranda rested her head against the back of the chair and listened as soft snores emanated from both beds. She truly loved her life, even with its resulting fireworks. It just made it all the more interesting somehow.
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