DISCLAIMER: The Devil Wears Prada and its characters belong to Lauren Weisberger and 20th Century Fox. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: For the Wake the Muse comment fication on the DWP comm on LJ. Prompt by michi6877: Andy comes out to her parents, and Cruella and Miranda meet the in-laws.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To qhfletcher[at]gmail.com
We're Having A Baby Series: In-Law Wars
By quiethearted (QH Fletcher)
Andy sat in the physician's waiting room between her two lovers. Miranda, for all appearances, was bored and shooting off texts to various people, not pausing in her work for even this. She kept her back pivoted toward them. Miranda habitually acted as if she didn't know them whenever Cruella approached the borderline of an all-out eruption in public, or even when they were in private. Cruella, on the other hand, was glaring at all and sundry, curling her lips and snarling, daring anyone to come near her precious Andy Darling. Andy was beginning to have concerns for the doctor's well-being as Cruella's clawed glove started to rake parallel cuts in the armrest of her chair. Placing a restraining hand over Cruella's destructive appendage, Andy leaned over and murmured, "Cruella, baby, calm down. It won't be much longer."
"Really, Cruella, medical costs are ridiculous enough without you adding redecorating costs for the waiting area to the list. Not that it couldn't use it," Miranda sniffed disdainfully.
"He's going to touch her, Miranda," was Cruella's only explanation.
"If you can't behave, you'll be confined to the waiting area for the duration of the visit," Miranda warned.
"Ummm, Miranda, do you really think that's a good idea?" Andy asked, sudden visions of an irate Cruella let loose on the other patients with no one to rein her in.
Huffing, Miranda turned in her chair to look at them both. "Very well, Andréa. You might be right." Holding out her hand to Cruella, Miranda snapped, "Gloves. Now."
Cruella's eyes widened. "But they're new! The tips were diamond encrusted by Harry Winston!"
"They are also lethal weapons on your fingertips," Miranda insisted. "Think of it as evening the odds for the poor physician."
"He could have a scalpel or some other medical instrument of torture," Cruella argued with narrow eyes. "I might have to protect our precious Andy."
"As I said, evening the odds. One scalpel against one schizophrenic lunatic," Miranda snapped.
"I am not schizophrenic!" Cruella hissed.
"Yes, yes, I know a mild dissociative disorder," Miranda said in a bored tone. "Which makes you no less dangerous when you perceive Andréa to be threatened. Now, the gloves, if you please."
"I don't please," Cruella snapped, folding her arms to hide her glove-encased hands protectively in her armpits. After a moment, she took on a placating visage. "I'd protect you, too, Miranda."
Rolling her eyes, Miranda glared at Cruella. "As if I'd need the protection of one such as yourself, who cannot control her baser instincts. The gloves, Cruella."
Sitting between the two, Andy was beginning to feel as if she were at Wimbledon as she swung her view back and forth between them. There was a definite love/hate relationship between her lovers, though Andy was never sure if they hated loving each other or loved hating each other. Either way, it definitely kept things interesting. She could only imagine what it would be like when the baby arrived. They'd be like two rabid mother bears, a grizzly and a polar. Andy smiled to herself at the aptness of the description. Cruella would be all teeth and roar, while Miranda's expression would never change as she moved from placid to ripping out someone's throat with lightning swiftness.
Andy was startled from her thoughts as Cruella's hand entered her field of vision to lay the offending gloves in Miranda's palm. She had lost track of the conversation during her musings.
"You can have them back when we leave," Miranda said.
"And I get Andy Darling to myself for an entire hour tonight?" Cruella asked.
"Yes, Cruella. That was the arrangement," Miranda assured her, patting the hand that was still suspended between them as if to snatch the gloves back if Miranda should renege on her promise.
It was Andy's turn to roll her eyes. She wasn't quite sure when she'd become Miranda's primary bargaining chip in controlling Cruella, as she was Cruella's in getting Miranda to do her bidding. Andy had to hand it to them, it always worked. There was always a little thread of jealousy between the two where Andy was concerned. It wasn't so much that they each wanted Andy to themselves exclusively insomuch as that they each wanted to assume the Alpha role in their relationship. Somehow time alone with Andy had become the indicator of that. Andy covered her secretive smirk with one hand. The truth was that she, Andy, was the Alpha, but it wouldn't do to let the two ruthless, egotistical overachievers know that. As long as they were battling for perceived control, Andy could steer them where she wished. She wasn't sure she'd have as much luck being in a relationship with just one of them.
"Andrea Sachs," the nurse called from the door.
Cruella leapt to her feet. "What about her?" she snarled, curling her now disarmed fingers warningly.
Andy rose to look down at Miranda. "She's yours for the duration. Handle her. I have enough to deal with. I hate these exams."
Sighing, Miranda rose and moved to take Cruella's elbow. "Darling, do you trust me?" she asked the irate Cruella.
"Yes! Of course! How can you even ask, My Love?" Cruella's eyes reflected hurt that Miranda wouldn't just know.
"Then trust me to tell you when it's time to go on the offensive. Until then, be the sweet, gentle Cruella I know you have hidden somewhere beneath that mountain of lunacy," Miranda encouraged, patting Cruella's forearm.
"You'll tell me? The moment I need to rip and destroy? The exact instant?" Cruella asked, searching Miranda's eyes for assurance.
"The split second," Miranda replied.
Convinced Miranda had their more excitable lover well in hand, Andy followed the nurse, not waiting to see if the other two were behind her. She always knew when they were near. She could feel their presence lifting the fine hairs on the back of her neck. To the right, was a barely controlled, enraged heat and to the left, icy restraint. Each affected her, but together they had her nerve endings tingling constantly. Andy shook her head, chuckling softly. Trust her to fall in love with two women that most people couldn't handle singularly. Taking on them both left Andy thinking at times that it wasn't Cruella who was the crazy one in their relationship. A person would have to be a raving lunatic to take on both a dragon and a witch and love every moment of it!
The exam wasn't as traumatic as Andy had expected. Cruella for the most part refrained from acting out, though every time the doctor came near Andy she'd growl low in her throat and look at Miranda hopefully, asking, "Is it time now?" At the negative shake of Miranda's head and murmured, "Not yet, Dearest," Cruella would return to glaring and growling. By the end of the session, the doctor pronounced that Andy should have no trouble getting pregnant, though the poor man had developed a pronounced tic in his left eye, the one nearest Cruella.
An appointment was made for two days time to begin the insemination procedure, arranged by Miranda who had spearheaded the selection of a donor, though with a female fertility specialist as insisted upon by Cruella who had the current doctor considering a change of profession. Why a strange female was preferable to "touch Andy Darling down there," as Cruella continued to refer to the procedures, than a male, Andy had no idea. The workings of Cruella's mind were often a mystery to her, which might explain why the volatile woman intrigued Andy so completely, but then Miranda's thought processes were equally as mysterious the majority of the time. Never let it be said Andy didn't love a challenge.
,Andy wasn't looking forward at all to the next step in the series of challenges that was her life. This involved telling her parents and not just about the baby. She hadn't yet told them about her romantic situation. Groaning, Andy rubbed her eyes and stared out the front windshield of the car, wedged as she was between Miranda and Cruella in the back of the town car. Her mother was going to freak out, and her father wouldn't be far behind.
"Are you all right, Andy Darling?" Cruella asked, concerned. She reached for Andy's hand, though carefully, since she had re-donned her now returned gloves.
"I'm fine. Just thinking about telling my parents."
"Whatever for?" Miranda asked as if it had never occurred to her that anyone needed to know their plans but them. Well, outside of her girls, of course.
"They're my parents, Miranda. What if it were Caroline or Cassidy? You wouldn't like finding out from some third party or the gossip rags," Andy explained patiently.
"That is entirely different, " Miranda sniffed.
"No, it is entirely not different," Andy insisted. "They have a visit planned in two weeks anyway. I'm telling them then. It's better to do it in person."
"If you feel you must," Miranda acquiesced grudgingly.
"Will we be meeting them?" Cruella inquired with a sly glance.
"I don't know. I suppose," Andy commented offhandedly as she rubbed her forehead, trying to ease the tension headache that was forming. Then it hit her what Cruella had actually asked. "Meet my parents?" she squeaked, visions of total disaster amping up her headache exponentially.
"You're not ashamed of us, are you?" Cruella asked, her voice dripping hurt.
"No! Of course, I'm not," Andy denied.
"Just me then?" Cruella offered with a broken-hearted sigh.
"Damn. No, Cruellla, I'm not ashamed of you at all. I love you both so much. It's just that my parents are ultra conservative. And," she glanced worriedly at Miranda, "they still remember what it was like when I worked at Runway."
"They think I'm the devil personified," Miranda guessed accurately.
"Nonsense!" Cruella objected. "If anyone is the devil, it's me. You're the epitome of patience and kindness, Miranda." That Cruella truly believed her pronouncement was clear in the adoring gaze she turned on Miranda.
"Only in comparison, Darling." Miranda returned the affectionate look. "To the rest of the world, I'm a royal bitch of the diamond jubilee variety. You must remember that I don't treat my assistants the same as I do Andréa and yourself, and Andréa was my SECOND assistant, so she caught most of what I flung."
Cruella shifted, her expression disgruntled. She didn't like to be reminded that Miranda had ever treated their precious Andy as anything less than the goddess that Cruella felt she was. Knowing this, Andy squeezed her hand.
"It was my job, Cruella, and long before any of us began to have feelings for each other," Andy tried to reassure her.
"That is not entirely true," Miranda offered quietly.
Andy looked at her in surprise. "Which part? I mean, it was my job, right?"
"Yes, yes," Miranda agreed, waving the question away. With an exasperated sigh, she continued, "It is not, however, true that it was before feelings developed, on my part at least."
"Keeping secrets, Miranda. How delicious! Share!" Cruella released Andy's hand to rub her own together greedily.
A faint blush covered Miranda's cheeks and she turned her attention out the window beside her causing Andy to smile affectionately. Miranda could never look at them directly while confessing to something that embarrassed or frightened her. She'd been the same way the first time she had professed her love for them.
"Andréa's interview. Not at first. It was much less than impressive to begin with, but at the end when she stood up and stated her attributes so intently, I felt a stirring. It was something I hadn't experienced in a long while, not since the first time I met you, Cruella." Miranda glanced lovingly at them before returning to her intent study of the passing scenery. "It frightened me just as much the second time. Like you, I knew Andréa would want things I couldn't give, though I couldn't allow her to just walk out of my life either. So I sent Emily to bring her back."
"You let me walk away," Cruella said, sniffling.
"At the time, there was not another viable option, Darling." Miranda reached back blindly and unerringly found Cruella's hand to form a tight bond. "Had there been, I would not have let you escape either. My treatment of Andréa during that time was directly proportional to my desire for her. Then she walked away. I was devastated. To have lost you both in one lifetime was more than I could bear. When you came to New York and I read the interview you had done with Andréa, I was terrified that the two of you would form a bond that I would be excluded from, so I sought you out."
"You seduced me to keep Andy and me apart? How deliciously Machiavellian of you!" Cruella crowed.
"I seduced you because I was helpless to do otherwise," Miranda corrected. "Though I will admit the other did cross my mind. I am not a saint, far removed from it, I'd say. Learning that you were also enthralled by our Andréa was both enlightening and titillating. It was only then that I began to maneuver events and situations to bring the three of us into contact."
Having suspected Miranda was behind their all getting together, Andy leaned over and pressed a gentle kiss to the velvety skin of her cheek. "I'm very glad you arranged events to suit your purposes."
Miranda offered them one of her rare, glittering smiles. "Then you're not angry? Either of you?"
Andy shook her head in the negative as Cruella practically vibrated with excitement.
"Not at all angry," Cruella assured her. "I find your machinations to be arousing in the extreme, Darling. You make me exquisitely hot and wet when you're at your most devilish. It makes me want to eat you alive."
Glancing toward the back of Roy's head, Andy sighed. It's not like he hadn't heard worse. Cruella seldom tailored her speech to the presence of others.
"As long as I'm still alive when you're done," Miranda said calmly.
"You most assuredly will be," Cruella assured her, grinning maniacally. "However would I do it again if you weren't?"
Andy chuckled lightly and then pressed back into the seat as they both turned their attention to her. "Oh, no, you don't! Both of you, hands in your laps! Sit on them if you have to. I will not be mauled in the back of this car in broad daylight!" Andy could see Roy's shoulders shaking as he fought laughter. "Touch that privacy screen button, and you're a dead man, Roy," she warned. He was much too quick to have the other two's backs in these situations for Andy's comfort. Everyone in Miranda and Cruella's employ was. As Emily had explained to Andy once, "Better they should shag you to death than kill the rest of us with suppressed hormonal rage." Though she applauded their strong self-preservation instincts, she wasn't as thrilled that she personally was their first line of defense. When Roy chuckled openly, Andy decided to up the ante. "Think about what would happen if I insisted on sleeping in the guest room ALONE for the next week and blamed you for it." She smiled smugly as the man visibly cringed when Cruella growled and Miranda hissed. She hadn't watched her two lovers manipulate the world in general all this time without learning a few things.
Andy had no sooner stepped through the door of Cruella's mansion than she found herself grasped and woman-handled into the nearest powder room. Glancing at the small box waiting for her next to the sink, Andy sighed. "You could have at least waited until I got my coat off!" she called through the closed door to the four she knew were pacing the foyer. The twins had gotten as bad as Miranda and Cruella since learning of the possible baby in all their futures.
Folding her coat, she left it and her bag on the counter to begin reading the directions on the box. Opening it, she dumped out the test stick and the more explicit instructions inside. She was only halfway through reading those when Miranda knocked firmly on the door.
"Are we pregnant?" she demanded.
"I don't know yet. Hang on," Andy called back.
"Buggery bollocks, how long does it take to ruddy whiz on a stick?" Cruella snarled loudly to the hysterical giggles of the twins.
Andy grinned as she prepared herself to urinate for the test. Miranda had given up trying to control Cruella's vocabulary in the privacy of their home. She had given Caroline and Cassidy a stern lecture about not adopting the same habits, though.
Their home. It sounded so nice. So many changes had taken effect in the past twelve days. The night after her insemination Andy had commented offhandedly that as her stomach grew, the beds in their respective domiciles would become too small to house all of them, not that Andy's wasn't already. An utter stillness had descended over the room as Miranda and Cruella had looked at each other in alarm. Sated and drowsy from their hours of lovemaking, Andy hadn't paid enough attention to the tension in the other two. Who'd have thought that the idea of sleeping without her in the middle for a couple of months would cause the two to go into Domineering Field Marshall mode?
In four days time, the three households had been combined into Cruella's mansion; plans had been drawn up to expand the current Master Suite and to convert the nearest bedroom into a nursery; and the second floor of the west wing was to become their new study while the twins had been given control of the east wing's second and third floors for bed, entertainment, and study rooms. Construction was already nearing completion for the changes, and the current, too small, temporary study was made even smaller by the vast number of sample books and fabric swatches that covered every spare surface. How Emily and Alonzo had managed it all, Andy would never know.
Thankfully, Miranda and Cruella seemed to be working in something that could almost be described as in harmony. Andy had her fingers crossed that it would continue. So far she'd only had to referee one major explosion over the decorating themes when Cruella had wanted to decorate their bedroom in Jungle Modern while Miranda had been leaning strongly toward French Provincial. Andy had solved the problem by having all their various bedrooms' furniture spread out in the massive garage and insisting they pick from the lot to furnish their current sleeping space. She'd stated firmly that she wanted familiarity for the nesting phase of her pregnancy, and the two had leapt to combine their disparate styles into one cohesive vision. Andy had learned quickly that as she was their primary bargaining chip, the pregnancy was hers. Miranda and Cruella would do anything for the child they weren't even sure existed yet, and Andy was careful to never take advantage of that love. She played the baby card only to keep harmony in their family.
That tonight was the soonest she could take the home pregnancy test was an indication of just how excited Miranda and Cruella were about the addition to their family. As she sat waiting for the time to pass until the results, Andy could hear the sharp clicking of two sets of stilettos augmented by the gentle thud of dual pairs of sneakers pacing outside the door. The sound lulled her as she thought of the baby that might well be growing within her womb even now. She jumped at a rapid pounding on the door.
"Drink some bloody water!" Cruella shouted.
Glancing at her watch, Andy grinned. "Two minutes, Cruella, and you'll know."
"ARGHHHHHHH!!!" Cruella screamed. "That's a bleeding eternity!"
"Cruella, histrionics do not help," Miranda chastised.
"Babies don't like yelling," Andy heard Cassidy add. From the first, Cass had always had a soft spot for Cruella, and was often found playing the dual roles of Cruella's protector and mentor in navigating the unfamiliar waters of family.
"They don't?" Cruella sounded surprised at the pronouncement. "Are you sure? They always seem to do enough of it themselves."
"That's just how they communicate. They cry less as they talk more," Cassidy explained, her voice drenched in patience and affection.
"I'm expected to translate the baby's crying?" Cruella shrieked in horror. "I don't speak crying!"
"Cruella, you have caused enough people to cry in your lifetime that you should be fluent by now," Miranda snapped.
"In fear, yes! As have you! I have no experience with 'change my diaper 'cries or 'heat my bottle' cries. This is too much!"
The staccato beat of one pair of stilettos picked up drastically, and Andy could imagine Cruella pacing frantically while flailing her arms about. She was uncommonly happy to be locked in the bathroom with a urine soaked stick during this discussion.
"If it is a diaper issue, that will be readily apparent. No, don't ask, Cruella. You don't wish to know at this juncture. Just trust me when I say it will be apparent," Miranda explained, her tone colored with what resembled patience dipped in exasperation. "As to the bottle issue, I imagine Andréa will wish to breastfeed."
"Breastfeed! But that's my job! You didn't say I'd be replaced!"
Andy, who had hopped up on the counter to listen, almost fell off in her attempts to muffle her laughter. Cruella really did love her breasts, but then so did Miranda.
"Girls, please go upstairs," Miranda said tightly.
"Mom, you can't kill Cruella," Cassidy cautioned.
"Yeah, Andy wouldn't like it, and she might be pregnant," Caroline joined in.
Checking her watch again, Andy peeked at the stick and decided now was the best time to head off the impending argument. Her news should divert everyone nicely. Hopping down, she opened the door and leaned against the jamb. "You all need to quiet down. You're going to wake the baby."
Four pairs of blue eyes stared at her in amazement and then a joyous shout went up from all of them. The twins were jumping around and yelling while Miranda and Cruella fell into each other's arms, hugging happily. "We're having a baby!" they congratulated each other.
"Hey! I'm the one that's going to be doing all the work," Andy objected in mock anger.
"Darling!" Cruella gushed, enveloping Andy in a tight hug.
"Squishing the baby," Andy yelped as those deceptively thin arms squeezed her ribs.
Cruella jumped back, and Miranda took her place, embracing Andy gently.
"I'm so happy, Andréa. You'll stop working immediately, of course," Miranda instructed.
"Whoa! Don't even start with the barefoot and pregnant thinking, Miranda. I'll continue to work for as long as possible," Andy stated.
"But.." Cruella began, only to snap her mouth shut as Andy pointed a warning finger at her.
"Now that that's settled," Andy gave each of them a warning glare, "who's up for taking the expectant mother out to celebrate?"
Four hands shot up, well, five since Cruella voted twice, and they all went to change while Cruella shouted for Alonzo to bring the Rolls around, which earned even louder squeals of approval from the twins, who loved the unique vehicle. Andy smiled and chuckled softly. Damn, she loved her family.
Andy paced the hotel lobby. "Mom, Dad, I want you to hear me out before you get upset. Right, Andy, like that won't panic them from the first word. Dad, I know you didn't receive the best impression of Miranda when you visited while I worked for her. Oh, yeah, remind him of that disaster. I want you both to be as happy for me as I am. Mom, Dad, I'm pregnant!"
Andy jumped with a squeak. She'd been so intent she hadn't realized her parents had walked up behind her. "Ummm, yeah. I took a home test two days ago, and it was positive."
"So it hasn't been verified by a physician?" her father asked, ever the attorney.
"Well, yeah, he did a test yesterday morning. I'm definitely pregnant."
"That will help," he commented as her mother rushed to embrace Andy.
"There won't be a paternity test, Dad," Andy informed him, rolling her eyes. "We used a donor, and he has no rights at all."
"We?" Ellen Sachs jumped on the pronoun. "You're involved with someone enough to become pregnant, and you haven't told me before now? You had to be trying for a while if you've already had fertility screenings."
"It's sort of a long story, Mom. See there's no man involved, other than the donor, that is."
"No man? Then how " Ellen grabbed for her husband's arm as the picture evidently clicked into focus. "A woman? Since when?"
"About a year. Listen, there's more, but it might be better if we talk in the car." Andy glanced around uncomfortably. Paparazzi were everywhere, especially in the lobbies of the finer hotels. It was a truth Miranda warned her about repeatedly before allowing Andy to pick up her parents alone. She escorted them out the door and across the sidewalk to where Roy stood waiting. It had been decided that this would be easier to explain than Alonzo and the Rolls. It was going to be hard enough to explain living just outside the city on Cruella's estate. Once they were all settled in, Andy shifted slightly to see both her parents better. "It's, ah, a bit more complicated than you think. You see, I'm not just involved with a woman. There are two of them, and there are already two children."
"A married couple? You're the plaything of some rich, married couple," Richard hazarded a guess, his disbelief apparent.
"No, Dad! Nobody's married!"
"So the three of you are just living in sin and randomly producing children?" he asked aghast.
"Mom, help!" Andy turned to her mother for assistance as she always had when trying to explain something complicated to her father.
"Help?" Ellen asked in disbelief. "I'm on your father's side with this one. Though I do think it might help if you let her present her evidence and hold your questions for the cross-examination, Richard."
He nodded, though clearly grudgingly.
"There's no gentle way to say this, so I'm just going to blurt it all out, okay?" Andy wiped moist palms on the front of her trousers and took a fortifying breath. "Here goes. I'm involved with Miranda Priestly and Cruella DeVil in an exclusive relationship. We all live in Cruella's mansion along with Miranda's twins, and we're having a baby together. They're all my family, and I love them very much."
Dead silence met Andy's pronouncement. She fidgeted nervously, waiting for someone to say something. When it came, it wasn't quite what she'd expected. She'd thought they might think it, but never had expected it to be their first comment.
"Our daughter has lost her mind, Ellen."
"Andy, Miranda Priestly is a royal bitch, and Cruella DeVil is a homicidal maniac. What were you thinking? Were you brainwashed or threatened?" Ellen asked, staring at her daughter as if she'd never seen her before.
Roy grunted in displeasure, which only fueled Andy's anger. "Miranda is a wonderful woman, and Cruella is just a bit eccentric."
"She kidnapped puppies! To make a coat! She's a criminal!" Richard snapped.
"She is not! That was just a misunderstanding," Andy lied quickly. Cruella had been under a great deal of strain when all that had happened and now realized that her actions had been wrong. Okay, maybe not wrong exactly, she'd simply developed a dislike for incarceration. Andy had cinched Cruella's intentions to remain on the right side of the law by explaining how lesbians couldn't have conjugal visits. Cruella still had a fondness for black spots, though. "They love me, and I love them."
"Andy, see reason," her father encouraged.
"Okay, here's reason for you. I'm an only child." She rested her hand on her stomach. "That makes this little one the only possible grandchild. Do you really want to risk losing both of us?" If she'd learned anything from her lovers, it was how to play hardball. "I can take you back to your hotel, and we can go our separate ways." She waited a moment to let the option and its consequences sink in before continuing. "Or we can go on to the mansion for dinner. You can meet my lovers," she used the word intentionally, "and two more potential grandchildren. What's it going to be?"
"You've never spoken to us in such a way in your life, Andy," her mother admonished with tears in her eyes.
Their eyes were so similar that Andy saw what always caused Miranda and Cruella to rush to her side when she was upset. She couldn't let that deter her, so she hardened her resolve. She wanted her parents in her life and knew them well enough to know that a grandchild was the key to dispelling her mom's objections while cold, hard fact worked best for her dad. Though she felt a twinge of conscience, Andy was fighting for her family, all of them. "Nothing has ever been this important before."
"You don't leave us much choice, Andy," Richard said, sighing. "I suppose we can at least meet these women."
"Then dinner it is," Andy said with a smile. She only hoped Cruella wouldn't decide to go for the shock factor. You never knew with Cruella, though. She hated authority figures and perceived her lover's parents to be just that. When Andy had left the mansion, Miranda had been intently explaining the importance of this visit to Cruella. At the same time, a perverse side of Andy's personality, the side that was attracted to Cruella in all her amoral glory, wanted her lover to show her extreme side just to get the whole thing over with.
Alonzo was there to meet the car as it pulled up in front of the imposing, somewhat gloomy mansion. Though Miranda had spread her influence throughout the interior, she and Andy had agreed that the exterior of the American version of Hell Hall should remain a testament to Cruella's unique personality. So, their home looked a bit like the set for a really gory horror movie; the twins thought it was awesome and couldn't wait to have their friends over. Andy tended to agree with them and was looking forward to a similar event.
Richard and Ellen paused on getting out of the vehicle and stared at the edifice wide-eyed.
"If Dracula is hiding in a closet, I will walk back to Cincinnati," Ellen joked weakly.
"It is kind of unique, but I promise there are no vampires in residence. Just a dragon and a witch," Andy teased.
Richard gave a half-hearted chuckle. "Why doesn't that reassure me?"
Andy laughed. "Don't worry, Dad. They're housebroken mostly."
She led the way into the mansion. After directing Alonzo to take everyone's coats, she escorted her parents into the vast living room.
Miranda stood before the fireplace looking every inch the fashion queen, resplendent in draped, black silk. "Andréa, dinner will be served shortly," she said coolly.
A step further into the room revealed Cruella, posed regally in a high-backed, elaborately carved chair. Andy bit her lip to keep from laughing at her choice of apparel, a black over white suit that was divided in color from the tip of one shoulder diagonally to just above the opposing knee and trimmed in imitation black-spotted white fur. Andy shot a glance at Miranda, who lifted an eyebrow in response, her eyes brimming with a humor that was not reflected in her chilly expression. Miranda had evidently given up attempting to control Cruella and decided to join her little rebellion instead. It was going to be an interesting evening.
Once everyone was introduced and seated while Alonzo retrieved their drinks orders, Andy sat on the arm of Cruella's chair nearest Miranda. It grounded her to be between the women she adored, and she felt the need for a little grounding right now.
"I suppose under normal circumstances this is where I'd ask your intentions towards my daughter," Richard began gravely. "But seeing that Andy has informed us she's pregnant, that seems to be a moot point. So instead I'll ask what happens when the two of you tire of your little game?"
"Daddy!" Andy gasped.
"Richard!" Ellen admonished.
Cruella growled while Miranda looked decidedly bored. "You clearly do not know Andréa well, if you imagine anyone could tire of her in several lifetimes," Miranda drawled. "She is remarkably skilled for one so young."
Andy groaned, wondering if it was too late to go sit on the opposite side of the room, away from the fall out.
Richard's jaw tightened, but like the good attorney he was, he leapt on the most vital, to him, aspect of Miranda's statement. "She is young, too young to interest the two of you for long."
There was a creak as Cruella's glove claws bit into the other arm of her chair. Andy hoped it wasn't a priceless antique, though she suspected that wouldn't slow Cruella down at all. Since Cruella didn't respond verbally, Andy suspected the two had elected Miranda their spokeswoman.
"Therein lies the fallacy of your argument. Andréa, despite her youth, is the linchpin that holds us together. It is her large, loving heart that keeps our more volatile personalities from self-destructing. If you knew her as we do, you'd understand her power to bring out the best in her partner, or partners as the case might be, just with the sheer power of her love. So do not assume this will end as long as there is breath in either one of our bodies."
"Which will be long before Andy goes, since you're both much older," Richard shot back. "What then? How does she care for the child then?"
"I told you to just let me kill them," Cruella said, shooting an accusing glare at Miranda. "It would simplify things drastically."
Andy rolled her eyes as her parents blanched. "Killing equals prison," she reminded Cruella. "And you know what that means."
"Only if I'm apprehended," Cruella responded with a winning, though maniacal grin. "Horace and Jasper are remarkably adept at hiding bodies."
"There will be no killing of parents, Cruella," Andy stated firmly.
"I am having absolutely no fun," Cruella declared, looking away and pushing out her lips in a pout.
"The very idea of causing harm to Andréa's parents is a marvelous example of your inability to connect with reality," Miranda snapped icily. "How could you even begin to think she'd condone such an action? Concealing the bodies protects you from the law. It doesn't address the pain you would cause Andréa. How many times must I explain this?"
"The simplest solution is the best," Cruella stated firmly. "I don't have your squeamishness to contend with."
"Sanity is not squeamishness," Miranda charged.
"I'm as sane as you are, you bloody cow," Cruella snapped, rising to tower over Miranda.
Sighing, Andy propped her elbow on the back of the chair and rested her head on her knuckles. It was always best to settle in and wait for the right moment to deflect them. She glanced over at her parents and smirked at their shocked, fearful expressions. Andy supposed a full out DeVil/La Priestly battle was scary for the uninitiated, but she'd seen far too many of them to be impressed.
"You're as crazy as a ruddy bedbug," Miranda hissed, her long-buried British accent rising to the fore as it frequently did when Cruella pushed her buttons just so.
"I'm crazy? I'm not the one trying to reason with two blighters who hate our bleeding guts," shrieked Cruella.
Though shorter than Cruella, Miranda glared up at her unafraid. "I should have you committed like the lunatic you are!"
"I can just as easily hide three bodies," Cruella threatened.
"Are you two about done?" Andy asked calmly.
"Which part of 'Please don't show your asses in front of my parents' did you two not understand?" Andy asked coldly. "Was that entirely too much to ask of you two?"
"Andréa, you know that Cruella"
"Cruella wasn't arguing with herself, Miranda," Andy cut in. "You know how important this is to me. Yet, you couldn't behave yourself for one evening, either of you." She shared her disappointed glare between them. "What kind of life is this going to be for our child with you two at each other's throats all the time? Am I going to have to find a separate residence for me and the baby so I can limit your influence?"
They were instantly contrite, moving to assist Andy from the arm of the chair and into its seat. They knelt on either side and embraced her.
"We'll endeavor to be more cohesive in the future, Andréa," Miranda promised.
"Please don't leave us," Cruella asked, tears shimmering in her eyes. "We can't make it without you."
Slipping her arms around their shoulders, Andy held them to her breast. "I don't want to leave you, but it's not just me anymore. I'm going to be a mother, and I have to do what's best for my baby."
"Our baby," Miranda corrected.
"Yes, our baby," Andy agreed, smiling. She released them and cupped a chin in each hand. "I don't want our baby thinking the two of you hate each other."
"But we don't!" Cruella gasped. "We only fight because making up is so much fun."
Andy threw back her head and laughed. "I love you both so much. I know how you feel about each other and about me, but babies don't understand that kind of thing. You're going to have to do a little better about getting along peacefully."
"Why do you put up with us, Andréa?" Miranda asked, the Sachses' clearly forgotten.
"I just told you--I love you," Andy responded, placing a soft kiss on Miranda's lips.
"Even me?" Cruella asked. "I'm so much more trouble than Miranda. She's always very controlled until I incite her."
"I've always known Miranda was a passionate woman, but only you bring it out where we can all see it, Cruella. It's just one of the many things I love about you." Andy kissed Cruella before continuing. "You don't seem to realize that I can't live without you both. You're the two halves of my heart. We talked about all the risks when we started. The differences in age, money and social standing didn't mean anything then and don't now. " Andy looked at her parents. "Cruella could clear the national debt and still live well the rest of her life. Her family comes from nobility. Miranda is a self-made woman, but she may yet catch Cruella in wealth if half the things they have planned work out. I've insisted on palimony pre-nups with both of them."
Miranda and Cruella turned and sat on the floor, leaning against Andy's lower legs with their own tucked to the side away from her. Andy's fingers played gently in their hair.
"And we had insisted on establishing irrevocable trusts for Andréa and our child before we went to the clinic for insemination," Miranda added. "We want an equal partnership, you see, and the only way to do so was to insure Andréa's financial security. Your daughter is now a wealthy woman in her own right. She doesn't need us for that."
"Our precious Andy's grandchildren will be able to live well off the trusts we established," Cruella said with pride. "We all have such plans! We're each strong women alone, but together we're a force to be reckoned with."
"Yes, we are, Darling," Miranda leaned over to kiss her lover across Andy's thighs. "It is always preferable to be on the winning team, don't you think, Richard?" She gave him an icy smile that barely curled the tips of her mouth while Cruella offered her own sharp toothed grin.
Richard and Ellen returned to their suite after a mostly comfortable meal.
"Is it all right if I'm slightly frightened of the fact that our little girl can control those two barracudas?" Richard asked with a shiver.
"When they placed Andy in my arms the day she was born, I never imagined I would see the day she turned Miranda Priestly and Cruella DeVil into lap puppies," Ellen responded as she dropped on the bed, obviously exhausted.
"Don't mention Cruella and puppies in the same sentence!" Richard yelped.
"She can't hear us, Richard," Ellen said in an exasperated voice.
"Somehow those two would know," he said, shivering once more.
Ellen shrugged. "We're going to be grandparents."
"Yes, I suppose we are," he agreed. "I just wish we had slightly less lethal in-laws to go with the baby."
Smiling, she extended a hand to him. "Don't worry. Andy will protect us."
"But who's going to protect Andy?" Richard groused, joining her on the bed.
"Cruella and Miranda," Ellen answered him emphatically. "And heaven help anyone who so much as looks at our daughter wrong. Even the monsters in the closet and under the bed won't dare go near that house."
Richard nodded agreement, strangely satisfied to know that his little girl was safer than Fort Knox, even if her lovers did scare the pants off him with just a look. He couldn't help wondering, though, what would happen to the obstetrician who dared to slap that baby's butt. Shuddering, Richard rolled to the side and kissed his wife. Some things were better not to contemplate.
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