DISCLAIMER: The Devil Wears Prada and its characters belong to Lauren Weisberger and 20th Century Fox. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks to Lunabee for editing. Written for the His Dark Materials Crossover/Fusion challenge.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
A Golden Opportunity
By The Last Good Name
"I don't think we really fit in here," Ryokin whispered into Andy's ear. She shushed him, and he wrapped his fist tighter around the hair behind her ear.
"Andrea Sachs?" asked the red-headed woman who had just come through the door. Her daemon, standing behind her, peered around the woman's hip. His neck arched gracefully; Andy couldn't help but note that the woman's eyeshadow matched the daemon's feathers perfectly.
"Emily Charlton? I have an appointment?" she asked.
"Well, Human Resources certainly has an odd sense of humor," Emily said. "Follow me." Her daemon fluttered his wings as they turned around. It looked like Emily's wings fluttered a little, too; she was wearing a weird sort of short cloak over her shoulders.
"This is the worst idea you ever had," Ryokin said. "And what is she wearing?"
"Okay, so I was Miranda's second assistant," Emily said, "but her first assistant recently got promoted, so now I'm the first."
Andy hustled to keep up. "Oh, so you're replacing yourself."
"Well I am trying. Miranda sacked the last two girls after only a few weeks."
Andy glanced at Ryokin curiously. Miranda? she mouthed. He shrugged.
"We need to find someone who can survive here, do you understand?" Emily said.
"Yeah, of course. Who's Miranda?" Andy asked.
From the look on Emily's face, and the way the flamingo stopped dead to stare at Ryokin, Andy figured that she probably shouldn't have asked that. "Oh my God, I will pretend you did not just ask me that," Emily said. The flamingo said something to Emily, but she waved him away without responding. "She's the editor-in-chief of Runway, not to mention a legend. You work a year for her and you can get a job at any magazine you want. A million girls would kill for this job."
"Do we really want to be the target of a million assassination attempts?" whispered Ryokin.
Andy gave a pinched smile. "It sounds like a great opportunity. I'd love to be considered."
Emily and her daemon both laughed. Andy flushed. Ryokin was glaring at the flamingo and flexing his claws.
"Andrea," Emily finally said, "Runway is a fashion magazine, so an interest in fashion in crucial."
"What makes you think I'm not interested in fashion?" Andy asked.
"Besides the fact that you are not, in fact, interested in fashion?" Ryokin said quietly. Andy ignored him, but before Emily could answer, her cell phone rang.
The flamingo jumped up, spreading its wings as wide as they could go, and Ryokin clambered under Andy's arm in surprise. "Oh my God. No, no, no!" Emily said. Andy and Ryokin clutched each other and stared at Emily, who looked terrified.
"Look at the bird," Ryokip whispered to Andy. She did.
The flamingo was hiding its face in under his wing while Emily was dialing her phone and barking orders to the person on the other end of the line.
"What's wrong?" Andy asked.
"She's not supposed to be here until 9:00," said a solid looking man behind Andy. Ryokin shrank back even farther into Andy when he saw the man's daemon waddling behind him and carrying a shoe box in its mouth: it was a bear with tan across its face and chest. It wasn't that big, for a bear, but it was still a bear. Andy thought it looked kind of like a huge dog. The man took the box from his daemon and said something to it Andy couldn't hear.
The bear smiled at Ryokin. Ryokin offered a tiny wave in return.
Emily said, "Her driver just text massaged; her facialist ruptured a disc. God, these people." Both Emily and the flamingo were now fluffing their plumage-the flamingo literally, Emily figuratively.
The man was flipping through some papers on Emily's desk, looking very calm when compared to Emily's excitability. The bear asked Ryokin, "So, who are you?"
"We're here about the new assistant job," Ryokin said.
"All right everyone, gird your loins!" the man shouted from the doorway into the hall, then glanced back at the bear and Ryokin and left.
"Well, good luck with that. You'll need it," the bear said, and followed his human.
"That's the only one who doesn't look like they want us to drop dead," said Ryokin.
"The man, or the daemon?" Andy asked.
"The daemon." Ryokin jumped over to an empty desk; the office and surrounding hall were in such a rush of motion and panic that Andy and Ryokin both had to step back to keep out of the way. Emily and the flamingo were fluttering back and forth doing goodness knows what, but it looked like a lot of movement for no good reason. "They're scared," Ryokin said.
Andy took a stab and guessed that the mysterious Miranda was about to show up.
Suddenly, Emily's daemon grabbed a pad of paper and a pen in his beak, and Emily gasped. They both left the office at a dead run.
Andy stared after them, wondering what she was supposed to do. Her appointment with Emily hadn't gone very well, but still: a job was a job.
For once, Ryokin had no comment.
Three minutes later, the frenetic pace in the hallway beyond had subsided to a strange, funerary silence.
The legendary Miranda was talking non-stop when she pushed open the door to enter-"Tell Richard I saw all the pictures he sent for that feature on the female paratroopers, and they're all so deeply unattractive"-and Emily and the flamingo were scurrying along behind her. Andy wasn't listening.
She was staring at the tiger.
It was huge, twice as large as the bear-"Biggest daemon I've ever seen," whispered Ryokin in awe-and moved so smoothly that for a moment Andy wondered if it was a figment of her imagination. Ryokin didn't even look scared; he, too, was completely stunned and transfixed.
The tiger strolled into the room ahead of Miranda and Emily, and then stopped in front of the desk Andy was sitting at. He reared up on his back legs and thumped his paws down on the desk in front of her, and then he stared into her eyes. Andy forgot how to breathe. Daemons never looked at humans, not like this: Andy was being devoured. He must have liked what he saw, though, because after an eternity, the tiger fell back to the floor and wandered into the office without a backward glance. Andy couldn't tear her eyes away from him as he stretched out in a patch of sunshine in the middle of the carpet and emitted a loud purr.
Andy had completely forgotten anyone else was in the room, so when the rest of the world came back to her, she was surprised. "I wonder if she's lost any of that weight yet," Miranda said, and then looked at Andy. "Who's that?" She didn't seem to require an answer, because she followed the tiger into the office. Emily stood in the doorway, not saying anything. The flamingo was pressed up against Emily's desk fluttering its wings.
Into the silence that permeated the room, Ryokin asked hoarsely, "How the fuck does anyone get any work done around here?"
Andy sighed. Auto Universe it was, then.
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