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
By HbH


Part Four

Andy grinned as she rode up on the hospital elevator carrying her precious cargo from Scotty Peace, Miranda's favorite chef. She suspected that this was not only because he was a great culinary artist, but was also as notoriously difficult as Miranda herself. As young as he was, he'd already started a number of stellar restaurants, only to leave all of them in whatever fit of pique suited him on any particular day. Despite his talent, the only reason he was not persona non grata to investors in current ventures was because he invariably left exceptionally well-trained sous chefs to pick up the pieces. Whatever he started flourished—whether he was there or not.

He was hopelessly talented, incapable of accepting anything except perfection to the point of absurdity and a maverick to boot. Hence, Andy assumed, the appreciation and association. It hadn't been hard to get in touch with him. She'd never given her psyche a real 'talking to' about why she'd kept every one of Miranda's important numbers on her personal cell phone, even after changing carriers. Because what did that matter, right?

When she'd called Scotty, he'd remembered her immediately and praised her media appearance. He'd commiserated and moaned dramatically over Miranda's plight and had sworn to feed her, "As a queen—as an injured empress deserves. I know what they're doing to her palate in that hospital—sheer brutality. Leave this to me, Andrea. I will make her sing like a nightingale."

Andy had rolled her eyes as he'd said this. He'd always been a bit over the top verbally when they'd spoken but Miranda swore by him, so here she was with the space shuttle of all coolers. Which she decided as she winced, shifting the weight on her shoulder, might not be all that much lighter than the actual space shuttle.

She didn't know whether Nigel and Emily would still be in the room. She didn't know how Miranda would be, how she'd act when she arrived. Who knew? You never knew. A minute—an hour could change everything with that woman. A snippet of T.S. Eliot's Prufrock poem flashed in her mind, "Prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." She'd learned that lesson, painfully and with a vengeance, at Runway and particularly with Miranda. She had a face for every face Miranda presented to her. Or had had before, anyway.

Now, she didn't know which face to prepare for how she was beginning to understand she felt about the woman. Or how the woman might feel about her, whatever that was, although it was obviously something more than either of them had thought. She raised her chin, took a deep breath and reminded herself of some important facts. She was not an employee. She was an adult woman who was not entirely inexperienced and not entirely an emotional idiot. Which didn't mean she didn't feel terribly conflicted—wanting so much to reach out and wanting almost equally and desperately to protect herself from what she felt must inevitably be a crushing, humiliating rejection.

As she quietly opened the door to the room, she found Miranda alone and sleeping. At least, she thought she had been until the woman said, without opening her eyes, "I've been waiting for you, said the spider to the fly."

Although the effect was slightly creepy, Andy smiled and said, "Ha ha." She turned on the overhead light. "Rise and shine, cupcake—your dinner is here."

As Miranda pressed a button to rise into a sitting position, she said with some asperity, "I'll put up with 'sweetheart', Andrea, but 'cupcake' is out of the question."

Andy ignored her as she unburdened herself of the cooler. "You'll let me call you any damned thing I want to once you see what I've brought you."

"It would have to be quite impressive, then."

"Maybe it is—maybe not. Scotty said so—but who knows."

Miranda crowed with delight, "Scotty?! Scotty's in there?!"

Andy's reply was dry, "Well, no. Not Scotty himself because, even for you, I draw the line at carting dismembered chefs around in coolers. But yeah—Scotty cooked for you."

Miranda's eyebrows rose, "Why? Did he see the news? Did he call you?"

"No—I called him and asked."


Her anxiety at seeing Miranda's inscrutable, yet slightly mocking expression, made her suddenly exasperated enough to answer honestly, "Because I wanted to make you happy…." then mumbled something under her breath Miranda was sure she hadn't heard correctly.

"Pardon me? What was that, Andrea?"

Andy glowered. "I said I wanted to make you happy, you dumb-ass."

Miranda's face didn't change for two seconds but then she smiled—beamed, actually. "Dumb-ass? I don't remember anyone ever calling me that, Andrea. To my face, that is. Of course, simply everyone calls me worse behind my back. Bitch is my usual sobriquet, I believe. Congratulations for your originality."

Andy hung her head, "I wasn't trying to set a precedent."

"Nonsense. Precedents are important and they're always noteworthy for a reason. I'm impressed. What's for dinner?"

Jesus, Andy thought. Just like her. Her coffee's not hot enough and she has a conniption. You call her a dumb-ass and she's happy. Go figure.

She opened the cooler and began unloading as she recited the menu. "You've got some sort of beef bouillon here….then tomato aspic iced with scallop and lobster foam and lemon sorbet with candied lime zest. How's that sound?"

As Andy turned for a reply, she felt as if she'd been punched in the solar plexus, beholding the first openly sexual expression she'd ever seen on Miranda's face. "Andrea, I'm so hungry for good food right now that I may need a cigarette afterward."

Andy cursed herself for blushing, yet again, but continued, "Let me get it plated first—then I can leave you and your romantic dinner alone."

"Of course you won't. You're not leaving me. I know Scotty—I'm sure he sent enough for an army. You'll have dinner with me."

Not looking into those eyes, Andy thought, as Miranda's words came to life in front of her. Sure enough, there was china and silverware for two, as well as a….what? Yep. Two perfectly blooming roses, one pink, one white, in a slender, gorgeous piece of silver art. Must be nice.

"First thing's first, Miranda—let's get you in the recline-a-bit."

Miranda swung her feet over the side of the bed quickly and stood up, then swayed. Andy was at her side instantly, gently grabbing her and hearing herself sounding exactly like her third grade teacher, who was a total bitch but invariably correct (which hadn't quite seemed fair at the time).

"Damnit! What'd I tell you, Miranda? No sudden changes in elevation!"

"I wouldn't let them give me pain medication this afternoon—I thought I'd feel better than this."

Andy counted to five, quickly. "I'm sure you will soon. This food will do you a world of good."

As Miranda settled into her chair, her face again took on a rapacious look. The woman was starving. Fair enough, Andy thought. She ate like a bird generally, had had major surgery, had taken a shit-load of morphine and then had starved herself by refusing the crappy hospital food. No wonder.

She set the rolling table with two place settings and added the rose as she scooted it forward. Miranda smirked when she saw it. "Nice touch."

Andy snorted and didn't think before replying, "Well, yeah. Of course. But your life is chock full of them, isn't it Miranda?"

The pressure in the room changed immediately. Something about the tone of Andy's voice had not pleased Miranda. At all. The seconds stretched by and then the woman's voice was deadly and cool. "And I worked for every one of them, Andrea."

Andy felt her heart drop into her stomach. "I'm sure—I mean, I know you did."

Miranda replied, "No, no. Actually, I'm quite sure you don't know anything about it at all."

Oh shit. Andy began to shake as she sat opposite Miranda.

"Did you know, by the way, that Martha Stewart served as a maid to pay her bills when she was a young woman?"


"She did and she's not ashamed of it. Did you know that I worked as a seamstress to put myself through college?"

Andy's voice was quiet. "No."

"Did you work in college, Andrea?"

Andy gulped, then answered truthfully, "No. I had a full scholarship."

Miranda's voice and even her quirking smile were acidic with scorn. "Well, wasn't that nice for you? But surely you understand that not all of us are as smart as you are."

Andy squirmed internally, "Miranda, please. I know I'm not as smart as—"

Miranda ignored her—"No, you think I'm 'to the manor born.' That I've had people bowing and scraping to me from my infancy. Isn't that what you really think of me?"

Andy felt like dirt. Actually not dirt—like a worm writhing in dirt. "No—I mean—of course not. I guess…no. I mean, I never really thought about it."

"Your rhetorical skills fail you when you're emotional, Andrea. You need to work on that if you want to get anywhere—even in journalism. For your information, the way people treat me, the things they give me, the services they render to me, are the results of decades of work. Do you understand that? Can you wrap your mind around that? Decades of grueling and tireless work. Work that began, frankly, before you were even born."

She looked pointedly at the roses, then at Andy, "I will not have anyone sneering at a polite gesture from a dear colleague that demonstrates respect for what I've accomplished, which I needn't tell you is quite considerable. And don't think I don't understand that much of what is showered upon me is sycophantic bullshit from people who do not like me or respect me or even hate me but want something from me. I may not be as smart as you are but I assure you I'm not stupid. Now, we should eat. Our dinner will be getting cold—or warm, as each case may be."

Andy didn't feel like eating—she felt like throwing up. She served Miranda, then herself, poured Pellegrino into the crystal glasses Scotty had sent and sat down with a flaming red face. She didn't know how she was going to even attempt to eat because she wanted to cry. She couldn't look at the woman because….oh fuck, she was totally going to cry and then Miranda would see and then she would laugh and then….


Two fat tears fell down Andy's face as she looked up. "I'm sorry," she whispered.

Miranda looked at her quizzically then dipped one of the linen napkins Scotty had sent into her glass of Pellegrino. "Don't be ridiculous, Andrea. Just because I chose to make a point—a valid point, mind you—does not mean that I'm truly angry. Lean forward, you silly girl."

Andy did as requested and Miranda gripped her chin, wiping her tears away with her napkin. "There, there, Andrea" she said, as if to a child. "Do you always blush this much?"

Andy didn't know what imp of her conscience continued to compel her to tell the truth, "I've blushed more around you than I have in my entire life—ever."

Miranda almost smiled, then released Andy's chin, saying softly "Incarnadine suits you very well, Andrea. You're a writer—you know the word, don't you?"

Andy blushed more deeply.

Miranda chuckled, "So you do—let's eat."

"Thank you but no. I don't think I can—you go ahead."

Miranda regarded her for a long moment and Andy felt her damned eyes welling again. Miranda knocked the breath out of her by asking, "Did I hurt your feelings, Andy?"

Andy nodded, then whispered, "A little."

"I apologize." Miranda said, letting her eyes drop, tracing patterns on the edge of her soup bowl as she added, "But you hurt my feelings first. I do have them, you know, despite my reputation. But it's one of my host of failings. Where my feelings are concerned, I seem incapable of turning the other cheek. If you hurt me, I always, and ruthlessly, hurt you right back."

Andy was so stunned by this entirely uncharacteristic bit of personal honesty from the other woman that it took her a few seconds to reply. "I'm sorry I hurt your feelings, Miranda. But you can—and have—turned the other cheek." Miranda's eyes shot upward. "You did in Paris—I mean, after Paris. You didn't hurt me right back."

Miranda's cheeks reddened and she knew that Andy saw it, so she flapped both hands, "Enough of this. Remember me? The starving, bullet-ridden patient? We've established that I'm sorry, that you're sorry. Can we not consider ourselves kissed and made up so that we can eat?"

Andy felt a sudden surge of confidence, and wiped her eyes as she smiled and stood. "Nope. Not yet." She leaned forward and kissed Miranda's cheek. She drew back slightly and whispered, "Now, turn the other cheek." Miranda's eyelashes fluttered but she turned her face and Andy kissed the other cheek, which was now deliciously rosy and incredibly warm under her lips. She leaned forward, so closely to Miranda's ear she was nearly touching it, and whispered, "See? You can do it." She was gratified to feel Miranda shiver at the words. As she took her seat, she smiled again and said, "I think we're good now."

Miranda couldn't look her in the eyes. "Thank God! Eat now or I promise that I will kill you and eat it all myself."

Andy didn't care if she ate or not because she was as happy as a cat having just swallowed a canary the size of a pterodactyl. After feeling like a worm only minutes before, she felt a soaring feeling of pure joy. This was one of the hazards of dealing with the Wizard of Oz that was Miranda. You were forlorn, pained and miserable in your black and white world, then you were whirled around in a fucking tornado, scared out of your wits and then you landed in a world full of color and amazement and happiness. And found yourself ready, willing even, to click your heels together and start all over again. Rinse and repeat.

They started with the soup. Miranda had steak nearly every day of her working life and Andy had always enjoyed a well-prepared cut of beef. Miranda sipped one spoonful and looked, to Andy's desiring eyes, as lustful as she'd ever seen anyone look. Andy sipped a spoonful and realized she had to look exactly as smitten. The soup was the very richest essence of a perfectly marinated medium rare cut of beef. It was, Andy thought in the privacy of her mind, fucking heaven in a bowl. Evidently, Miranda could see what she was thinking because she said, with a quirk of an eyebrow, "I assume we'll be sharing that cigarette afterward?"

Andy smiled, relaxing, "Absolutely." She looked at her quivering slice of aspic. "I've never had that before."

"Really? Tomato aspic? Your taste buds are going to explode—if you like tomatoes and scallops and lobster, that is. You do like tomatoes, I assume."

"Who doesn't?"

"I'm sure I don't know—some people used to think they were poisonous."

"Yeah—but in the really late Middle Ages, right?"

Miranda waved her hand vaguely, "Middle Ages, Mid-West. You are from the Mid-West, correct?

Andy gave this comment the look it deserved and Miranda's eyes twinkled as she continued, "Well—the tomato part will be astonishing—Scotty grows his own organic tomatoes—so you'll be tasting the very essence of the perfect tomato. And he knows I'm fond of scallops and lobster, which have quite distinctive flavors but are certainly lighter in piquancy. It should be a lovely combination. Let me see." She took a bite and looked almost feral in her appreciation.

As Andy took her first bite, she could feel Miranda's gaze. "Tell me what you think, Andrea—exactly what you think."

Andy let the incredible morsel dissolve in her mouth. "Wow. Even though it's chilled, the tomato tastes like…warmth and earth and summer. And I can taste the scallop and the lobster individually—but they only enhance the deeper, sharper…savory flavor of the tomato. It's entirely the essence of red…." She grinned, "It's incarnadine—but with a gently mixed, subtle flavor of the sea. It's the most delicious thing I've ever put in my mouth."

Nothing about Miranda's face changed except for her eyes, "Well. We'll see about that. You're young yet, Andrea. I'm sure you have other delights awaiting you."

Okay. If that had been a guy, that would certainly have seemed like more than a bit of a…forward pass, if that's how Miranda had meant it. And God knows that was how Andy was ready to receive it. She suddenly wanted to swallow her fork, her spoon, her entire place setting but instantly reminded herself that she was a woman, not a girl. So, in for a penny, in for a pound. She raised her glass and looked at Miranda with eyes that withheld none of her desire, "To future delights, then."

Miranda's eyebrows lifted a bit and then there was a smile—but only in her eyes. She lightly touched her glass to Andy's. "Indeed. To current and future delights."

As they ate, they discussed Miranda's plans for Juan Carlo's scholarship. Although Andy was delighted by the idea, Miranda was pleased that the girl offered many suggestions she would never have thought of. After finishing their sorbet, which was every bit as lovely as the rest of the food, Andy began to clean up after the feast. As she did so, she asked, "Miranda—isn't that a lot of money to spend on a boy you don't know?"

"I'll know him from his test scores, which we'll have to produce to get him into the school. Beside that, I fully intend to meet him and frighten the life out of him, which will be good for his character."

No one better at that, Andy thought, grinning as she wiped the dishes clean with a towel the hospital was probably going to have to discard. "Uhm…..one more question."


"You do know that a lawyer would probably tell you not to make such a large financial commitment while you're….under the influence of drugs and….hmmm….after having had such an emotionally shocking experience. I mean—you know, like being shot." Andy winced. Miranda was right—her diction went to hell when she was nervous. She looked back at Miranda, "You see what I mean?"

Miranda looked at Andy for a few moments and Andy quailed internally, ready for anything. "Andrea, as I understand it, I'm under the influence of opioids, not hallucinogenics. Does something about my behavior suggest that I'm not in my right mind?"

"No! I mean—of course not. But you've been a little bit—"

"Nicer? More personable? More approachable?"

Andy sighed, "Yeah. All those things."

"Stop your char-girl work for just a minute and sit down, please."

Andy sat across from Miranda and watched as the woman offered her a gentle, tender smile. "Andrea, don't imagine that the woman who carries Runway on her back is the sum total of who I am. How do you imagine I would treat a personal friend who came to help me in a time of need? Do you think I would keep myself as walled in as I must professionally with a person I truly and dearly value personally?"

Andy was too stunned to speak.

"Let me tell you, Andy, if you don't know. I would treat someone like…let's say for the sake of example….you as kindly as I know how—which I'm well aware is insufficient by normal human standards. I can't help but know that my version of velvet glove treatment is the equivalent of a normal hand covered in chain mail. In the armor sense, not the epistolary sense, naturally."

At this, Andy gaped, "How'd you know that? Vocabulary wins me over every time." She leaned forward, patted Miranda's hand. "I can feel the velvet but I'm completely accustomed to your chain mail."

"Which is one of the reasons I think we get along so well."

"I think so, too."

Miranda began to pick at her pajamas with one hand, and looked away from Andy. "So all in all, I think this was a very successful first date, don't you?"

Andy's eyes, which were gorgeously large to begin with, widened into saucers. She croaked, "Date?"

Miranda waved one hand languidly, "Yes. A date. I'm sure you've had at least one, since you ended up with that fry-cook. We shared a lovely dinner, with roses, no less. And because I'm in the mix, we necessarily had a small fight that was soothed over with kissing, then we had pleasant conversation and now we're talking about our relationship. Isn't that considered a date? Even in the Mid-West?"

Andy swallowed hard. Leave it to Miranda to talk around a point but then go from zero to 150MPH in two seconds flat. Although she was a woman, Andy instantly manned up. "Absolutely, Miranda. The best first date I've ever had."

Now Miranda did look at her. "I agree….now, can you help me to bed?"

Andy waggled her eyebrows, "On our first date?"

Miranda rolled her eyes but Andy ignored it, too busy rejoicing internally with a big brass band of happiness. "I think before you get into bed, we should take a walk around the nurse's station. Nan will not only be proud, it'll be good for you."

"Nan is acceptable—Rosy is not."

Andy helped Miranda up as she said, "You like Nan because she's no-nonsense and kicks ass. Rosy's efficient and skilled but…"

"Officiously and unnecessarily loud."


"Take it from me. One never needs to raise one's voice if one has true authority."

"Well, you're certainly the expert on that. Now, just put your arm around me and—"

Miranda looked into her eyes with a steely glance, "Just know that if I put my arm around you and even if I enjoy it, this doesn't excuse that belt buckle.'

Andy's face was wooden. "Of course not, Miranda."

As they walked around the nurses' station, Andy whispered, "I'm so glad you said something first—I thought it would take months for us to—"

"Nonsense, Andrea. When you see a thing—see a decision to be made, make it and follow through. I recognized how I felt—I made the decision and I followed through." Her voice softened, "But I am gratified that you saw it, as well."

Andy whispered, "I didn't just see it, Miranda—I felt it, too."

Miranda suddenly really felt it, too—like a jolt to her spine and other pleasant places—but she continued to walk with only the lightest touch on her companion.

Although this turn of events, or Miranda's expression of it, had hit Andrea like a bolt of lightning, it was something the older woman had mulled over after Emily and Nigel had left. After tossing and turning, unable to sleep, she admitted to herself that as outrageous—as impossible—as it was, that she was miserable, simply miserable, without Andrea. Which might, she suddenly understood, explain why she'd been at least twice or thrice the tyrant she'd ever been to her assistants over the past four months. The main fault in all of them was that not one of them was Andrea. She also realized she wasn't entirely surprised Isabelle had shot her—she'd nearly wanted to shoot herself.


Other people might have taken weeks or months to understand themselves or decide what they should do. For Miranda, it took only a few minutes. This was one of the reasons she was who she was. She always saw the little picture—she always saw the big picture. And she always understood both in a flash. She made decisions instantly, trusted them implicitly, and let the pieces fall where they may. She'd put her mental budgetary line items up in her mind:

1. Andrea must never leave her.

2. She wanted Andrea. And Andrea was obviously interested, if her behavior was any clue.

3. Andrea was straight. She was straight.

4. She didn't care. They would both have to deal with this.

5. Waking up with Andrea was lovely—even necessary.

6. Going to sleep with Andrea and waking up in the middle of the night with Andrea close to her was more than lovely—it was essential.

7. Andrea would never work for her again but she must never leave her. Ever again.

And so, given these facts, she'd made the decision to pursue Andrea Sachs romantically.

And so, she thought, as they walked down the hallway, what had she done? She'd nearly immediately picked a fight over a relatively innocuous comment Andy had made as soon as she'd seen her. How entirely typical of her, if she did say so herself. She grasped Andy's belt more tightly.

As they passed one particular picture in the hallway, Andy felt Miranda shiver as she said, "There's the abomination."

"You saw it the first time around? But you were so sick and—"

"Pardon me? Could you possibly think I wouldn't notice that someone hung a picture with the left side skewed one-quarter of an inch lower than the right? Of course I noticed it—I could be fainting or even dying and notice that."

"Yeah. I think maybe it's a built-in obsessive-compulsive personality test—I tried to straighten it last night but it's screwed into the wall that way."

Miranda said, quietly, in an indefinable accent, "Screwed inta da wall? Geez Louise, Andy, it's like a true-ta-life horror-show, innit?"

Andy snorted her appreciation and asked, "Do you do these accents for your friends, Miranda?"

Miranda's voice was cool and proper again. "For one thing, I have very few friends. For another, I found out a very long time ago that I'm a natural mimic…which accounts for the voice you know as mine. Believe me, my accent and intonation are entirely intentional and manufactured, although they are natural to me now. But to answer your question, I never 'do' accents for anyone. Ever. Except for you, apparently."

Without thinking, Andy said, "You prepare a face to meet the faces that—"

"Yes, yes, Andrea." Andy was stunned as Miranda continued to quote the poem from memory:

"And time for all the works and days of hands

That lift and drop a question on your plate;

Time for you and time for me,

And time yet for a hundred indecisions,

And for a hundred visions and revisions…"

"I actually learned quite a lot from that Prufrock poem—that the mundane and cowardice and indecision kill you quickly or agonizingly slowly—but they always kill you or leave you wishing you were dead. I chose otherwise, very early in life."

They continued to walk as Andy responded, "True enough—you'd certainly be Prince Hamlet, not an attendant lord."

"In the Prufrock poem's sense, yes. In the dramatic sense, I think Hamlet was nuts."

"Oh, c'mon. That's arguable, Miranda."

"Arguable? Hamlet took, I seem to remember, perhaps a billion pages of dialogue to do what I would have done in five minutes."

"But then we'd have missed out on one of the gems of the Western literary canon. It's drama, Miranda—if you wrote it, it would have been five pages long."

Miranda sniffed, "True enough. I am considered a rather ruthless editor. Shakespeare and I would have certainly clashed and probably violently."

For the second time that day, the people in the nurses' station watched the two women laugh as they passed by.

At that moment, Emily was sifting through her feelings about her brand new Sapphic tendencies while watching an inane game show she could never have tolerated if she hadn't been nearly beside herself on her own couch. She pulled her legs up and wrapped her arms around her knees. She was certain about a few things and wondered about a few others. Yes to Serena. Yes to continuing whatever was happening between them. But what about Andy's continued presence in Miranda's hospital room and what had Serena meant by that comment she'd made about them?

That she was personally more than slightly obsessed with Miranda was no news to her but she wouldn't appreciate a broadside and would avoid it if possible. She wouldn't be blown out of the water by the Good Ship Andrea if she could help it. She looked at her phone, and then at the game show. Phone. Game show. Phone. Game show. Fuck it all to hell. Serena had said she could call but….

Wouldn't that seem a bit thick? Or too eager? Desperate even? Shouldn't she show Serena she could handle an incipient Lesbian relationship coolly and quietly with the best of the other…possibly incipient Lesbians?

She leapt up to make tea, which she considered an Englishwoman's prerogative in times of stress outside of tea time. As she poured cream into her cup, she scowled. Call her. She'd call her.

She sipped her tea and glared at her game show and then at the phone. Then again. And again. And almost jumped off the couch when the phone rang. She picked it up.


"Are you thinking about me? Because I'm thinking of you." The tea was not as warm as Serena's voice.

Emily smiled at the room—at the world. "Actually—I was—and I was just thinking about calling but I didn't want to seem—"



"No problem, my dear—I'll be the desperate one. Does that suit you?"


"Good—and my pleasure. What's wrong?"

"Why do you assume something's wrong?"

"You're drinking tea—with cream—which makes your voice sound a bit different."

"How did you know th—"

"I've been studying you for a year. I know your habits. Tea with cream means something's wrong. The cream makes your voice one half-tone higher than usual."

Emily had forgotten that Serena had told her she'd had extensive musical training.

"Yes. Right. I'm just still a bit flummoxed by what you said about Andy and Miranda at lunch today."

Serena knew this would be sore—would have to be an incredibly sore spot for Emily. She tempered her response. "I only meant that Miranda seemed to trust Andy in a way that she trusts very few people—for whatever reason. Much in the same way she trusts and depends upon Nigel."

"But why? Why her? Why that silly girl?"

Serena knew better than to answer entirely honestly but she would never be entirely disingenuous, either. She wanted a real friendship or relationship with Emily, not a sham.

"Emily, you cannot honestly say that Andrea is silly. True, she is not one of us—she is not a part of the fashion world. But she is very intelligent, hardworking and incredibly and honestly kind in ways we are not. I'm sure I needn't mention that she's also quite lovely. Miranda valued her tremendously—and it showed—that was all that I was saying."

Serena heard Emily take this in—with a snort into the phone. "Well. If you put it that way."



"There's a beauty pageant just starting on channel 287—you have the same cable I do, don't you? I believe I saw that when I was there."


"Turn to it and let's watch it together—we can be catty about the gowns and talent together, okay?"

Emily took a happy sip of tea, "Delicious."

"Me? The idea—or the tea?"

"All three of you. But you're first."

After they'd finally hung up, three hours of chatter and howling laughter later, Emily realized that she'd just had the best time of her life. And that she might conceivably, sometime in the future, find herself in love. With Serena. Who knew?

Before the end of the pageant, Miranda had made a much more successful circuit around the nurses' station than she had earlier, which she entirely attributed to Scotty's food. Andy had assisted her into the bathroom and they'd both brushed their teeth. And then…and then…Miranda had swayed toward her and Andy knew, without having any reason to know, that Miranda had just wanted to hug her. So she gently hugged her.

But this was not a regular hug—it was a full body hug. Andy could feel Miranda's breasts slightly beneath hers, could feel their thighs touching and she was instantly breathless. Of course she knew she was slightly taller than Miranda and of course she was used to holding the much larger presence of a man. But she instantly realized she'd thought of Miranda as so much larger than life that it was nearly impossible to understand that the woman was so small in her arms. Because of this and because of Miranda's injuries, she held her lightly and tenderly and sighed with the sheer bliss of it. Despite the lightness of the touch, it was still electric and she knew, as lovers do, that Miranda was feeling exactly the way she was.

She felt Miranda move her face, her lips brushing as close to her ear as was possible, "I have the feeling this is going to work out quite well. Don't you?"

Andy pulled away gently and looked into Miranda's eyes. "It's going to be a….hydrogen bomb."

Miranda's smile was so sweet that Andy sighed yet again. "You'd better get this bomb into bed, Andy. I don't think I'm feeling up to my blood flowing hither and thither yet."

Andy instantly pulled away further, just enough to assist Miranda to her bed. After she'd gotten her settled in, she asked, "Just for future reference, exactly where on your body would be hither? Or thither, for that matter?"

"At some point you may form an exploratory committee for that information. Plan on it."

Andy blinked. Miranda had really just said that.


"Now kiss me goodnight and let's get some rest—does that suit you?"

"Kissing you, absolutely. I'm not that tired so I might read a while, okay?"


Andy leaned forward and gave Miranda a perfectly chaste though tender kiss on her lips. "You've made me very happy today, Miranda."

Miranda touched Andy's cheek, "I'll always want to make you happy. I won't—because I'm me—but I'll try."

Andy smiled and waved her hand in a studied Miranda fashion. "I'm used to you, Priestly—no problem. Get some rest, sweetheart." She kissed her again, astonished that she could kiss her at all. She took a seat at bedside as Miranda settled in for the night. Before the woman closed her eyes she looked at Andy and said…something...something so obvious with her eyes.

"Never. Of course. Miranda, I won't leave you. For coffee or the bathroom--but not--never you."

Miranda nodded and finally closed her eyes.


As Miranda sank almost instantly into sleep, Andy thought, with no little consternation, about what had just happened. She drew up a little PowerPoint in her mind.

1. They had not discussed the fact they were both, presumably, straight.

2. They had not discussed the fact that Miranda was twice her age and had two children.

3. They had not discussed the fact that one day together, after four months apart, had made them leap into each others' arms.

4. They had basically only discussed UNO and tomatoes, which weren't actually all that romantic or even salient topics to the issue at hand.

5. Miranda was impossible and yet Andy suddenly realized she wanted her as she'd never wanted anyone or anything before—and evidently, astonishingly Miranda seemed to feel the same.

6. What were they thinking?

7. No really. What were they thinking?

Andy thought—really thought for a while, and then she knew what she was thinking. She was falling in love—and was already halfway over the cliff—with Miranda Priestly.

She looked up at the sky and said, "God help me."

Part 5

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