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.
It's All Relative
As Andy stood, she felt a pang of anxiety. She'd put her head in Miranda's lap. Miranda had asked for help. Miranda had blushed. Okay. Yet again, they'd done and said things that were emotionally unwieldy for both of them. Even as she felt Miranda scrambling internally to distance herself from what had just happened, she scurried to get the ice container, made a cup of apple juice and handed it to her.
"I'm going to get the physical therapist now and he's going to oversee what I do with you. You need to let him, okay?"
Miranda sipped the juice and replied, "Again. Only if it's you helping me or touching meonly that will be acceptable."
Oh boy. Andy tried to ignore the rush of feelings evoked by the idea of touching Miranda. "You need to remember that you've undergone major surgery and have serious painkillers in your system."
Miranda snorted. "I could hardly forget that, now could I, Andrea? Consider your more obvious allowances admitted."
Andy continued, "You're going to be prone to weakness, faintness or what they call orthostatic hypotension. You've been doing great in transfers to the bathroom and chair. All of that withstanding, when you stand and really walk around, your blood pressure may drop. That'll make you feel sick." She was gratified to see that Miranda was listening intently.
"So, when we're walking, if you feel nauseated, weak or light-headed, have changes in your visionlike tunneling or brown outs or bright lights, you need to tell me right away. Right away, okay?"
"In a nutshell, you're saying that I might faint."
"In a nutshell? Yes."
"I would never give anyone in this hospital that satisfaction. I wouldn't faint in front of these people if they ran me through with a sword."
Andy replied softly, "Normally no, but that brings us back to the fact you've had major surgery and are on serious drugs, Miranda. You can't always control your body under those conditions."
"Watch me." Miranda's voice was cool and accompanied by what Andy privately called the Black Ice Glare.
"Okay then," Andy answered brightly. "I'll bring them in, now?"
"If you must."
"Miranda? Is that okay?"
"Is there a problem with the acoustics in this room? I saidif you must."
Andy paused for only a moment. She was well aware the older woman was steadily working herself back into the calm and snarky, bitchy, angry mood she preferred when entering into situations that unnerved her. It was typical Miranda poor, impossible Miranda. She surprised them both by leaning forward and kissing her softly on the cheek. Then once again.
And, surprisingly, Miranda allowed it. "My God, but you're an affectionate creature, Andrea."
Andy felt a twinge of embarrassment but not enough not to answer, "I suppose I am. Do you mind?"
Miranda waved her hand vaguely, didn't look at her but answered. "Not enough to mention."
Although she had just mentioned it, Andy thought, realizing suddenly that Miranda wasn't looking at her because she was blushing again. She'd made Miranda Priestly blush twice. She immediately walked out of the room. Throwing Miranda off her game was one thingletting her know that you knew you had was quite another. She closed the door behind her.
As the door closed, Miranda slumped in her chair. Blushing! What and why on Earth? She cast her mind over the situationhmph! That had to be it. No one in her memory had ever kissed her when she was angry. People did as they were told and got out of her way when she was angry, as they were meant to. Andrea had worked for her, for God's sakeshe knew this. She knew this mood meant people lost jobs, left her office crying, cursed her up and down the halls of Runway.
Why would this girl kiss her as if she were a wayward child? Why had she let her? For that matterwhy was the girl even here? Why did she want her here, need her here? The answers to all of these questions were almost glaringly obvious, but after decades of practice at disregarding the workings of her own heart and those of others, she remained slightly mystified. She touched the cheek where Andy had kissed her and hoped the girl would return quickly.
As Serena had promised, she and Emily were eating reasonable, though large by Runway standards, portions of Ethiopian food. They'd been having a perfectly lovely time and Emily found it easy to forget that this was a woman who was interested in her in 'that' way. It was just Serena, after all, and they laughed about office gossip as they ordered.
They'd finally been served and had tucked in when Emily's cell rang. After she exchanged a few pithy comments with the person on the other end, she rang off.
"Nigel. We've been summoned by La Priestly. Six o'clock."
Serena raised an eyebrow. "Work. Even in the hospital."
Emily shook her head as she scooped her kik wot into her mouth with her injeera. "We are talking about Miranda. Of course she'll work."
"Is anyone staying with her?"
Emily grimaced. "Yes. And you won't believe who. Andy."
"Andrea Andy? Andy Sachs? I saw her on CNN."
Emily rolled her eyes. "Yes. Andy Sachsand evidently everyone saw her on CNN. I'll admit she's been useful but I'm sure Miranda can't wait to be rid of her."
Serena smirked. "You are kidding me, correct?"
"No. Why should I be?"
Serena took another bite and chewed it slowly, looking into her lunch companion's eyes. "Did you never notice the way Miranda looked at her?"
Emily felt a shiver race down her spine. "What do you mean?"
Serena decided she'd said enough. Let the woman figure it out on her own. No need to excite her unduly twice in one day. "Never mindtell me about yesterday."
As they walked the ten blocks back to Emily's apartment, the Englishwoman decided it had been a very satisfying first date if, indeed, that was what it had been. They had laughed and enjoyed each other but Serena had been horrified by Emily's recounting of the shooting. She'd also been amazingly sweet and complementary about Emily's role in saving Miranda's life. After ten minutes of silent walking, which Emily found oddly and distinctly comforting, Serena said, "I find, if you like Ethiopian food, it is something like an addiction. If you truly like it, you can not get enough of it and you find yourself thinking about it at odd times. Do you find it so?"
"Well, I really love it but I've never thought of it in that way."
"I do." She glanced at Emily. "You are like that to me, too, you know. I can not get enough of you and I think of you at odd times, all through the day."
Emily started and stared at Serena who only continued to walk, as relaxed as a lazy, effortlessly beautiful cat, a cat who hadn't just blown the roof off of Emily's mind. Emily spluttered for a few secondsso Serena helped her.
"That wasn't a question, Emily. I was just telling you things I feel. You don't have to say anything. Let's just keep walking, shall we?" She linked her arm through Emily's, which was perfectly normal, Emily thought, and they walked without saying another word.
When they arrived at Emily's apartment, Serena declined an invitation to come in. "Next time, perhaps, if you would like to date me again. And if there is a next time, I think I will certainly have to kiss you. Count on that, please."
Emily looked up into Serena's eyes and made a decision. "There will be a next time and if you don't kiss me then, I I don't know what I'll do .but it will be unpleasant."
Serena smiled her phenomenal smile. "Until next time, then. I'll see you Monday."
As Emily watched her walk down the hall, Serena said without turning, "Unless you wish to call me tomorrowor tonight, even. I wouldn't mind the telephone company. And I will miss you unless." She turned, walking backwards for a few steps, winked and blew a kiss at her.
Emily shut her door, then promptly slid down it onto her posterior.
At that moment, as Andy emerged from the room, a furious Rosy and PT man were still waiting.
Andy offered her hand to the PT man, "Andy Sachs."
He reluctantly shook it. "Jeff Johnson."
Andy took in the hostility, anxiety and bitterness of the two people in front of herall emotions she knew so well when connected to her former boss. Still. Miranda came first.
"Jeff. She just needs to walk around the nurses' station, right?"
"I can help her do that. I know you have a belt to put around her but that won't work for her. I'll let her hold onto me. I've done it tons of times and I've already told her about what might happenorthostatic BP changes, faintness, all that. Just let me help you, okay?"
"But the liability"
"Is negotiable. Please don't make her call the hospital administrator because believe me, she will. I wouldn't let her fall to save my own life and it'll be so much easier for all of us if you let me help her."
Jeff looked unconvinced but the look in Andy's eyes was even more pleading than the tone of her voice. "Please, Jeff."
"Alright. But I'll have to see what you're doing."
Andy unbuttoned her button-down shirt revealing, as Miranda had accurately surmised, a white Hanes T-shirt tucked into her jeans. What Miranda had not seen was the thick brown belt threaded through the belt loops and a large red lacquered belt buckle with the name 'Andy' written in black lacquer script.
Andy looked down at it, then at Rosy and Jeff, "I have to warn you ahead of timethis belt buckle's not going to go over well." Her smile was so warm that Rosy and Jeff had to smile, too.
Andy knocked on the door and heard a muffled 'come in.' As they entered, Miranda was, once again, seated properly and regally in the recline-a-bit.
"Mirandathis is Jeff and you already know Rosy. He's going to make sure I don't drop you on your head while we're walking."
Miranda ignored the introductions, her stunned eyes focused on Andy's belt buckle. "Andrea?" The voice was glass, ice.
Andy cut a glance at Rosy and Jeff but didn't smile. "Yes, Miranda?"
"What is that on your belt?"
"A belt buckle, Miranda."
"Yes, I see that. Are you sure you weren't dropped on your head while you were dressing this morning? You may actually need a CAT scan or an MRI and I'm quite sure you'll be accommodated immediately once any medical professional sees that thing."
To Rosy and Jeff, Miranda's voice did not sound in the slightest bit as if she were kidding. She sounded cutting, calmly sarcastic and bitchy.
Her tone didn't seem to faze Andy. "Oh, c'mon, Mirandait was a gift from my dad."
"Oh? And when was that?"
Andy hung her head.
"When was this so-called 'gift' bestowed upon you, Andrea?"
"Okay. Alright. I was nine."
"I see. And because even you know that no sane woman ever accessorizes her adult fashion with what she enjoyed in grade school, you obviously wore this to provoke me."
Andy choked back a laugh and merely shook her head. "I didn't. I promise. The belt buckle fits the beltand the belt's part of the PT."
"I fail to see how that can possibly be true."
"Watch and learn. You drank your juice?"
Miranda gave Jeff and Rosy a gimlet eye,"Of course I did, since you went to the trouble of abandoning me to the whims of hospital employees to purchase it."
Andy grinned and took her place by Miranda's chair. "Good deal. Let's keep that blood sugar up. Okay. You can stand by yourself, right?"
Blue eyes snapped fire, "Of course I can."
"Okay. Stand up and I'll show you how this belt will come in handy."
Miranda winced slightly as she stood and Andy took her place next to her. "Okay. Put your arm under this button-down, okay? Wrap your arm around me and hold onto my belt. I mean really grab it and hold it."
As Miranda did so, Andy said, "Good. Now. We're going to stand here for a minute and see how you feel." She put her arm around Miranda's waist, enough for the woman to feel the heat of her presence but without touching her.
"Here's the gigwe're going to walk around the nurses' station. You have a good hold on meand I'm ready to grab you if you need me. You're not leaning on me and I'm not supporting you. What we're trying to accomplish is your walking under your own power. Is that cool, Jeff?"
Andy nodded. "Miranda, you're totally safe. I've got you and won't let you fall, okay?"
Miranda felt a tad bit nauseated but she answered, "Acceptable."
"And remember what I said earlier, promise?"
Rosy and Jeff jumped as she snapped, "Oh, for the love of God, yes. I promise. Can we walk now? I am supposed to walk today, am I not?"
Andy rolled her eyes. "Sure. Let's go."
As they passed Rosy and Jeff, Miranda said, "I don't care what you say. I maintain that belt buckle was intentional on your part."
"It wasn'tbut it did get your blood pumping, didn't it?"
As they slowly walked down the hall, Jeff followed them at a distance.
Miranda, who almost instantly felt more weak and sick as she walked than she'd imagined she possibly could, jokily whispered to keep from throwing up on the hallway carpet, "Don't look now, Andy, but I think we gotta tail." Miranda was rightshe had a way with accents. She sounded pure street Brooklyn.
Andy looked behind her and winked at Jeff before turning back to her charge. "I think you're right. Wanna lose him?"
"Wit de price of gas dese days? Nah. Let 'im troll us. Let 'im rot. He got nuttin' on us."
Andy snickered, wondering where Miranda could possibly have heard such language. She smiled as she glanced at the women but her face fell as she looked more closelyat the pale face and paling lips. She nonchalantly wrapped her arm around her, supporting her, and whispered, "Feeling crappy?"
"Make it around or turn back?"
"Make it around."
"How'd I know you'd say that? Hold onto me, okay?" Andy felt Miranda's hand like a steel claw on her belt.
"I've got you."
She felt the woman lean into her and she held her gently but firmly by her waist. They made the second turn and took the long hall one slow step at a time. Miranda held her head high and her face was disdainful and expressionless, except to someone who knew her.
"Getting there, sweetieyou know I could get you a chair."
"No. Absolutely not."
"You got it. Keep walking."
As they finished the third turn and headed toward the room, Andy felt Miranda sinking a bit. She leaned in and quietly whispered, "Put both arms around melike you're hugging me. I'll get you there."
Miranda wrapped her other arm around Andy's stomach and grabbed her belt, which necessarily placed her head nearly on the girl's shoulder. Andy held her forcefully, one arm over the arm Miranda had thrown 'round her stomach and the other placed gently but firmly around her waist. She whispered encouragement as they walked. As they passed the nurses' station, the eyebrows of everyone who saw them rose. They looked like two lovers out for a stroll.
Miranda chuckled as she passed the nurses' station. What the nurses didn't hear was that the laugh was instigated by Andy's having said, "You can throw up when we get there."
"That's almost a promise," Miranda answered.
As they entered the room, Andy turned and said to Jeff, "I have it from hereand we'll call you if we need you." She glared at him, "Seriously."
He assented, if only because of the look on the young woman's face. Andy closed the door and was prepared to walk Miranda quickly into the bathroom.
"I think I'm alright. I think if I can just get into bed "
Andy immediately steered her forward and held her as she took off her robe. As she helped her into the bed, she elevated her feet and scampered to get her a cool washcloth. She poured some ginger ale and offered it to her.
After Miranda had taken a pull from the straw, she exhaled with disgust. "How entirely pathetic."
"No it wasn't. Are you kidding? You were shot basically only 24 hours ago. It's not pathetic to feel sick, Miranda. And I guarantee your pain meds have more to do with it than your surgery."
"Then they should just give me Tylenol."
"Wellthat might not be enough."
"I'd much rather be in pain than incapacitated. Pain is obviously beside the point. Is that clock correct?
Andy looked at the clock and at her watch, "Yepabout 4:15."
"Nigel and Emily will be here at six."
"You'll feel much better by six."
"That's not possible. The kitchen assassins will have sent up what they call food by then." She took another long pull of ginger ale, "Did you know, when you're on a liquid diet in this hospital, that they feed you nothing but hooves?"
Andy blinked. "I'm sorry. Did you say hooves?"
"Hooves. You're presented with Jellowhich I believe is made from horses' hooves."
Andy raised one eyebrow, realizing that gelatin was derived in this way in the past, but no longer. She didn't comment.
"And the beef bullion they brought me for lunch? There was nothing truly bovine about it. If there was, I'm quite sure they only dipped cow hooves in boiling water."
Andy nodded in sympathy, although she was internally writhing in amusement. "You know what? I bet I already planned to get you something better for dinner while Em and Nigel are here."
"I'll surprise you. Already cleared it with your doctor and it won't be solid but it'll be good. Speaking of that, I think you get real foodI mean solid foodtomorrow."
"I'm glad you corrected that statement. Solid food, not real. And I'm sure I'll enjoy whatever you get me, Andrea."
Andy smiled, "You won't just enjoy it. You'll love it. Now, you want to rest?"
"Absolutely not. I'm tired of resting."
"How about some UNO? I've got it in my bag." Off Miranda's astonished look, she continued, "UNO. You know, the card game."
"I have children, Andrea. I do know what UNO is. I just didn't know that you played it."
Andy shrugged, "Adults play it, too." She lowered her voice and said a bit saucily, "And, actually, it's perfect for hospitals, because even people on drugs can play it with people who aren't."
She almost laughed as Miranda's eyebrows shot up at the implied challenge. The woman was willful, capricious and often surprising, but in some situations she was entirely predictable. "Get the cards and my glasses, Andrea."
Bingo, Andy thought. Or, actually, UNO.
As Emily and Nigel walked toward Miranda's room, they saw Rosy exiting it, shaking her head. She nodded at them and said, sotto voce, "Better you guys than me."
Their hearts fell and their stomachs flipped a bit as they continued toward the room. They paused outside the room, and they stared at each other in surprise and horror as they heard a vociferous Andy saying, "You are such a such an effin' cheater, Miranda!"
The reply was cool, "Not at allI'm quite sure that's what the rules say. When you put your last card down, you say 'UNO.' That, and only that, signifies the win and the end of the hand. If you don't say the word before your opponent lays down another card, you forfeit the hand."
"But the nurse came in just as I was putting my last card down and"
"Yes, I know. You paused to be polite when you should have been focusing on winning. Have you learned nothing from me, Andrea?"
"Sure I have. Now I know how to scam my opponent at UNO."
"Oh dearanother lesson you need to learn. A poor loser is so often a poor winner."
"And you'd know that exactly how?"
"I don't like your tone, Andrea."
"My tone? Miranda, I swear to God I'm going to ." Andy paused to think of something dire enough to threaten.
Emily's eyes were starting out of her head but to Nigel's very experienced ears, Miranda didn't sound angry at all. She was amused. Deeply amused. And for that matter, although Andy sounded angry, she was amused as well.
His opinion was verified when Miranda said, "Yes, yes. That's right, Andrea. Sleep on whatever you're going to do to punish me. You forfeit and I deal, correct?"
"Whatever. You're Swami Guru UNO, not me."
"I dealand we can continue our game but not before seeing Emily and Nigel, who are standing outside the door. I can smell them."
As they entered a bit sheepishly, they were pleased to see how much better Miranda lookedalmost exactly like herself. In silken pajamas and a hospital bed, granted, but undoubtedly Miranda.
Andy gaped at Emily and said, "Holy Shit, Em!" as she pulled the rolling bedside table and cards out of the way.
Nigel looked from Emily to Andy, "I agree. I couldn't believe it."
Miranda didn't gape but she looked intently and said quietly, dangerously, "Emily?"
"Come closer, Emily."
Emily stepped forward. Miranda's quiet command tone always did something to her knees but she did her best.
"Closer." Emily stepped forward.
"Closer." Emily was at the bedside and began to feel sweat beading on her back.
Miranda peered at her through her glasses, then over her glasses for the space of perhaps thirty seconds, which Emily experienced as seven years. "Who did your makeup today, Emily? You didn't."
The Englishwoman flinched. "Yes. Right. Well. Serena met me at home today so that we could go to lunch and she said she wanted to show me a different look."
Miranda's head tilted. "Serena? My Serena?"
"Our Serena." Emily was abashed that she'd corrected this so quickly, "I mean yes, Runway Serena."
Miranda sniffed and said somewhat caustically, "Sometimes I honestly think that woman is toying with me."
Emily was horrified. Had she gotten her Serena in trouble? Miranda seemed to read her thoughts as she continued, "Only in the sense that she could so easily be a supermodeland she's evidently just as accomplished as a makeup artist. Why does she toil away in art production?"
"She likes it, maybe?" Andy's voice wasn't all that hesitant.
"Hmmm." Miranda considered this, seemed to accept it and looked at Emily again, who was suddenly feeling slightly boneless under the filleting knife of her employer's gaze. "Your makeup is exquisite today, Emily. Your style is your own, of course, and you can do what you will, but I can't say that I've ever realized how beautiful you are until now."
Okay. Miranda had called her beautiful, which made Emily feel like a boil-in-bag vegetable that had been left in the water too long. But she'd also spoken, which required a response. "That's very kind of you, Miranda. Serena said nearly the same thing."
"Smart girl. Shall we have a meeting?"
Andy jumped to attention. "Cool. Emseriouslyyou look amazing. Have fun, you guys. Places to go, people to see."
Miranda tensed and her eyes immediately clouded over. "How long will you be gone?"
Andy saw the look in Miranda's eyes and rushed to respond. "Maybe an hour and a half? Remember, I've got big liquid dinner plans for you. I'll get it and you guys can meet. No worries. Or do you need longer?"
"No." Miranda said firmly. "No longer." Her eyes looked glazed over with concern but Andy didn't feel comfortable doing what she really wanted to dokiss her. "I'll be back soon then and you can eat before I kick your ass at UNO, okay?"
"I believe the phrase is 'you wish.'"
"You'll see. You'll eat your dinner and those words." Andy grabbed her bag and Emily and Nigel were finally able to take in the belt buckle.
Emily choked back a laugh and Nigel coughed before saying "Ah, Andy. A souvenir from your saloon days?" The kindness in his eyes belied the snotty comment.
"Something like thatlittle Andy Oakley. You can laugh it up in front of my backbut it's more fun behind it so I'll get going. Mirandacall me if you need anything at all, okay?"
Miranda's tone was troubled and Andy immediately crossed back to the bed, "Can I get you something before I go?"
"Maybe some more ginger ale?"
As Andy jumped to make Miranda an icy cup of ginger ale, Emily wondered why she hadn't just asked her instead. She and Nigel watched as Miranda took it and smile, a real smile, at Andy.
Andy patted her on the shoulder "We'll get those pain meds bumped back for you later, okay? You'll be running all over this joint tomorrow. And maybe you'll be able to play UNO without having to cheat."
"Out." Miranda said. "Out. Forage or hunt and gather food and get back here as soon as you can."
"Will do chief. Promise. Later, Nigel, Em."
Emily scowled internally and Nigel said hmmm to himself.
As they discussed what was basically an autopsy of what had gone right and wrong with the Fall issue, Nigel watched Miranda glimpsing at the clock, at the door, at the clock, at the door.
After they'd gotten a surprising amount of work done in very little time, Miranda went from Runway to another tangent. "Emily, call Dennis Fuller on Monday and tell him that I want to endow a scholarship at Dalton for one child's education. I'm including a clothing and transportation stipend. I need to know the tax ramifications, etc. etc. And call Dalton and let them know I'll send the financial information over this week. They've been after me for years to do this. But do let them know that I already have a child in mind so they needn't besiege me with candidates. Find out what we'll need and we'll go from there."
"Of course, Miranda."
If Miranda hadn't been Miranda, Nigel might have said something about her generosity. But he knew she'd prefer to act as if the donation of potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars were something akin to offering someone a one-time manicure. He felt compelled enough by curiosity to ask what he hoped was an innocuous question. "Do you mind if I ask how you met this child?"
"What child," she asked, nonsensically.
"The child you're sending to Dalton."
She waved her hand dismissively, "Oh, Juan Carlo? He's the son of my nurse tech. If he's half what she says he is, he needs a good school."
Emily didn't bother to glance at Nigel. In her mind, she colored them both entirely stunned without having to verify it.
Miranda actually dismissed Emily and Nigel after only an hour, telling herself that she was letting them get on with their weekend. Actually, she wanted to fret about Andrea's absence by herself. Which was childish. Which she didn't understand. Which would not do. She opened the portable DVD player Emily had left her and spooled up the news coverage of her shooting. She sighed and sniffed as she watched item after item. Typical. Sensationalistic. But thenthere was the girl she was waiting for. Her Andrea. She was stunned to see tears springing into Andrea's eyes and incredibly impressed at how well the girl had handled herself. She replayed this section multiple times, then closed the DVD player and her eyes. She told herself she was tired but she had the nagging and outrageous thought that she suddenly felt unequal to the task of being conscious without Andrea at her side.
As Andy rode back to the hospital in her yellow cab with a cooler full of food that was so high-tech that she knew it probably usually carried vital organs, she did another emotional run-through. Okay. Yet again, she was caught up in the excitement of doing anythinganythingto make Miranda Priestly happy. She thought about her day. Had it only been just over 24 hours since they'd careened into each other yet again? It felt timeless. This time, surely, it was better, more reasonable. It was more reasonable because she wanted to do it, wasn't afraid of being fired. Or was that more pathetic? Probably, if she really thought about it. She sighed. She knew she'd put up with anything, even water-boarding, for Miranda. She swallowed and admitted to herself that being without Miranda was sensory deprivation for her, in spades. She needed Miranda. And she could see that Miranda needed her. But needed her how?
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