DISCLAIMER: The Devil Wears Prada and its characters belong to Lauren Weisberger and 20th Century Fox. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Heartfelt thanks to Telanu for all her help; thanks also to lunabee34 for making sure I don't do strange things with commas. More dubious thanks to thatfangirl, theholyinnocent, and wizened_cynic amongst others, who all thought this thing might actually be a good idea. (Whether or not they were right stands as an exercise for the reader.) I'm fudging the movie timeline a bit. (I made Miranda a college football fan, so clearly I'm fudging the rest of the movie a lot.) In this story, Paris Fashion Week spans the first weekend of September, 2006.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Making History (One Saturday at a Time)
By The Last Good Name


September 2: at Tennessee (L, 35-18; 0-1)

Her flight home was terrible.

Andy couldn't think, could barely breathe, and she couldn't shake the feeling she had made a huge mistake. But then she would remember the look on Nigel's face at the luncheon, the way Miranda expected Andy to understand that kind of backstabbing, the way Miranda had said, "I see a great deal of myself in you." And Andy knew she couldn't have stayed. Not if she wanted to maintain any sense of self; Miranda was dangerous like that, and Andy was already in too deep.

But that didn't mean she couldn't regret it, just a little.

September 9: vs. Minnesota (W, 42-17; 1-1)

According to Nigel, Miranda had been in a foul mood the next morning in Paris, and it didn't let up at all when they got back to New York. Andy wasn't at all surprised.

"I can't believe you quit. What were you thinking?" Nigel demanded.

"I don't know," Andy said. "I was just—" She couldn't tell him the truth: that after seeing Miranda in her robe, there was no way Andy could go back to work in an office with her. Not with that image in her head, not with her overwhelming desire for Miranda. It was hard enough just to see Nigel, to know that Nigel had spoken to Miranda earlier that day. Had stood next to her, smelled her perfume. She'd never be able to concentrate in the same room as Miranda again.

But she couldn't say that to him. Instead, she said, "—she's insane. And I decided I couldn't be like that anymore."

"Like what? Successful? With a promising future? Honestly, Andrea."

"What? I can't believe you're more upset that I quit than that she—"

"There is more going on here than my feelings," Nigel said archly. "Or my workload."

Andy flushed. "I guess she's a little upset with me?"

"I don't think she slept at all that night," Nigel said. "The next morning, she had dark bags under her eyes. Miranda never has bags."

"No?" Andy said, her voice very small.

Nigel shot her a look. "And she's been vicious since we got back; I don't think I've ever seen her this angry."

"Well, Stephen, and Irv, and—"


"I'm not that important," Andy protested. Unfortunately. If she were that important, maybe things would have turned out differently.

"Oh, but I think you are," Nigel said.

Andy frowned and changed the subject. Despite everything, despite breaking up with Nate and moving on, despite quitting Runway and landing some really great interviews, despite the fact that she just wanted to get over these inexplicable and unwelcome feelings, she glowed a little at Nigel's words. She was important to Miranda.

"Andy, honey, I thought you were going to let this all go," Lily said.

"Well," said Andy.

"No, sweetie. Remember? We talked about this when you first told me. You agreed—"

"I know it's just a stupid little crush, Lily. I know that. But Nigel said I was important to Miranda, and I like that idea. It makes me feel—"


Andy's face burned. Lily wasn't wrong. "It makes me feel good about myself."

Lily smiled indulgently, reading the expression on Andy's face perfectly. It wasn't fair: she was the one who always got crushes on inappropriate authority figures or people already in relationships; Lily just got crushed on, usually by really great guys and sexy women. It wasn't fair at all.

"So, I know this guy," Lily said.

"Slow down," said Andy. "Even if I wasn't completely hung up on my former boss, Nate and I just broke up. I'm recovering!"

"Recovering from what? You and Nate were over the minute you started working at Runway. You were having trouble already."

Andy glowered. Even if it were true, Lily didn't have to say so out loud.

"Besides, he's great--he's a kindergarten teacher, and he's got the most gorgeous eyelashes--"

"You know, you always thought that was Nate's best feature," Andy mused.

"And you thought it was his ass," said Lily.

"He does have a nice ass," Andy agreed.

"As nice as Miranda's?" Lily said.

Andy laughed. "No one's ass is as nice as Miranda's." No one in the entire universe had an ass as nice as Miranda's. Or legs. Or cleavage.

"Huh," said Lily. "You're really stuck on her."

"Yeah." It wasn't good, or healthy, but it was there, and she was going to have to live with it. Unfortunately.

Lily sighed, too. "What are you going to do?"

"Nothing," said Andy, shrugging. "I mean, it's not like she'd ever be interested."

Lily nodded and let her mope for a few more minutes before briskly changing the subject. "So, you have an interview already?"

"Yep," said Andy. "With a real live newspaper."


"Yeah. Where were all these jobs the last time I was out of work?"

"Well, you didn't have a recommendation from Miranda Priestly then."

"I might not have one now," said Andy. "I mean, I did quit kind of abruptly."

Lily shook her head. "She hasn't blackballed you, obviously."

"No, I guess not," said Andy slowly. "But—"

"What?" Lily asked.

"I can't believe I acted so—so—stupidly," Andy said. "It was completely unprofessional, and stupid, and wrong. I can't believe I did that."

"Well, yeah," agreed Lily lightly. "That wasn't so smart, I guess."

Andy glared at her. "Just because you've walked out on seven million jobs since fifth grade—"

"Don't even go there, Andy," Lily said. "Just don't. We've had that conversation. You do not get to comment—"

"I'm sorry, Lily," said Andy. "It's just that I've never done anything like this. I should at least apologize to her, or something."

Lily nodded. "Yeah, you should send her a thank you note for being such a bitch you just had to walk out."

Andy barely managed to hold her mock scowl for a few seconds before she laughed. One good thing about quitting Runway was that she was laughing a lot more than she had in ages. "You mock my pain," Andy said, and Lily laughed, too.

She could do this. She could live life after Miranda.

September 16: vs. Portland State (W, 42-16; 2-1)

A week after her lunch with Nigel and two weeks after getting home from Paris, Andy saw Miranda in person again for the first time, and it shattered any hope she might have had that she was getting over her ridiculous crush.

Andy was coming home from the most successful professional interview she'd ever had; interviewing for the Daily Northwestern didn't count, and that was the only other interview she'd had where she was offered the job right away, before she hit the lobby. In a coincidence Andy was willing to chalk up to this being the best day of her life, at the very moment Andy passed by Elias-Clarke Miranda was crossing the plaza to her Mercedes. She had forgotten how gorgeous Miranda was, and it took her breath away now. It really was wonderful, the way Miranda's hair hung on her forehead and her wrap curled around her shoulders in a caress. Miranda's posture looked weary, though, and Andy imagined that maybe there were still some dark crescents to be seen under her eyes.

Refusing to let the opportunity pass her by, Andy nodded, and then waved. Miranda didn't even blink. Oh, well.

Andy's shoulders hunched automatically, a defensive posture she had gotten used to at Runway. She was so out of Miranda's league, professionally and personally, it wasn't even funny. But it hurt all the same. She had taken two steps down the street, away from Miranda, when the Mercedes suddenly pulled out and swung across four lanes of traffic. Cars honked and people shouted, but neither Roy nor Miranda seemed to care; the car slid gracefully across the street as if there were no one else in Manhattan.

Andy stared, mouth agape, as they pulled up beside her.

The window rolled down.

"Get in," Miranda said.

Andy stared some more.

"Get in," Miranda repeated, her teeth clenched. She didn't look very happy to see Andy. In fact, she looked very displeased. And now that Andy could see her better, she really did look tired. Exhausted, even. For a day that had been going so well, it sure had gone downhill fast: seeing Miranda from a distance was a gift; being in her presence was a lot more terrifying. Andy wondered why her life wasn't flashing before her eyes—if this was it, if she were about to die, shouldn't she get some sort of highlight reel?

She got into the car.

Miranda didn't say anything and didn't look at Andy for so long Andy started to wonder if she really was going to end up in the East River. Maybe Timbuktu was a viable alternative to death; there were newspaper jobs there, and no insane, and insanely attractive, former bosses around to screw with her head.

Except that eventually they pulled up in front of Dylan Prime and, calm as anything, Miranda got out of the car. "Aren't you coming?" she said over her shoulder as she walked away.

Andy made a high-pitched and fairly terrified sound. Miranda's shoulder's trembled. If Miranda had been an entirely different person, Andy might have thought she was suppressing a laugh, but Andy knew from her not-quite-year at Runway that Miranda never laughed. It was probably just the result of so much time spent dashing after Miranda, but it never occurred to Andy not to follow.

One thing had changed since Paris, though, and despite her confusion and outright terror Andy couldn't stop herself from asking, "Don't you have a lunch meeting today?"

"I rescheduled," said Miranda.

Okay. That was weird. Especially since Miranda hadn't made any phone calls since Andy had gotten in the car.

Miranda didn't say anything the entire time it took the waiters to give them menus and to serve them drinks, nor did she look at her. But Andy couldn't take her eyes off Miranda. She really was gorgeous. She wasn't stupid enough to open her mouth again, but that didn't mean she couldn't admire the scenery.

Once they had finally ordered, Miranda turned to Andy and regarded her, meeting her eyes for the first time that day. "Tell me about your job."

Andy was pretty sure her jaw dropped and her eyes bugged out. "M-m-my job?" Andy swallowed; the stutter was back. Again. The stutter had made her life miserable through third grade, until intensive speech therapy had gotten rid of it. And then she met Miranda, and it had come roaring back. "Um. It's g-g-good. Th-there's a lot to learn. It's going to be intense."

"Newspapers can be overwhelming; I was not adept at handling the pressure," Miranda said.

Andy blinked. This was not the conversation she had been expecting. If she were honest, she had never expected to be in the same room as Miranda ever again. A personal audience had been out of the question. This was intimate, and Miranda was almost conversing like a normal person. Like a person who was actually interested in what their companion had to say. "You worked for a newspaper?" Andy blurted.

Miranda's lips quirked. Having never seen it before, Andy decided immediately she liked Miranda's smile. Maybe she could make her do it again sometime.

"Copyeditor," Miranda answered, "my first job out of high school. But you worked for the Daily Northwestern."

"Yes?" Andy asked, and then, "Yes."

Miranda nodded. "For the sports section, for a time."

"Yes?" Andy asked again. She had no idea where Miranda was going with this, and once more, Andy cursed her tendency to turn into a shaking, uncertain wreck around Miranda. If she weren't so terrified that Miranda could read her mind and tell how badly Andy wanted her, maybe she could expend a little energy figuring out what Miranda really wanted. How in the world did Miranda know all this? "Th-the regular person covering basketball and, and all the winter sports, was out with mono for all of Winter term my freshman year, and since I was the low person on the totem pole, I had to do all the sports write-ups when no one else wanted to. I guess some people like that, but—"

Andy winced; she should have known this would have turned into the lunch from hell: she only babbled around people she was attracted to, and now, sitting across from Miranda at lunch like a normal person, almost like normal people on a date—Andy stopped that line of thought. If Miranda ever found out she was thinking like that, bad things would happen. Very bad things.

"Yet you continued," Miranda said, as if she hadn't noticed Andy's rambling.

Andy clenched her fists under the table, determined to speak in short sentences. "Well, only for my freshman year. And the next summer. And a little bit of that fall. Not a long time." New resolution: one short sentence.

"For nearly a year."

"Well, yeah," Andy said. Evidently Miranda had done her homework. On Andy. Wow. "Until the guy covering Chicago city politics left for his semester abroad, and then I got to do that."

"But you did sports? For a newspaper. That is—" Miranda paused and met Andy's eyes. "Intense."

Andy shivered. Miranda's gaze was more than intense, it was searing, and Andy could feel herself flush. Her heart was pounding, the rest of the room receded, and then Miranda licked her lips. Andy's entire body clenched.

Miranda was flirting, blatantly. With her. It was the most amazing thing she'd ever seen, and she loved it.

But before she could do something ill-advised like rip their clothes off and throw Miranda onto the table, a waiter plunked two plates down on the table.

Miranda's gaze snapped to her steak, her eyes bright and hungry.

After a few moments, when Andy's pounding heart had slowed somewhat, she tried to spark the conversation again. "It was okay," Andy said. "I mean, I didn't know anything at first, but then, I didn't know a lot about fashion, either." Andy gave a half-laugh, hoping Miranda would think it was a joke rather than the horrible truth. Hoping Miranda would think she was flirting, too.

Miranda hummed. "You are a quick study."

Andy squirmed as Miranda's words raced down her spine. "When I'm feeling passionate about something," she said hoarsely.

Miranda smiled again. Andy throbbed, low down in the pit of her stomach.

"And this is something that you feel—passionate—about?" asked Miranda.

Miranda was gazing at her intently, gauging her, looking for something. Andy gulped, and prayed she had guessed right. "Yes. Yes. I feel very passionately about this."

"Good, good," Miranda said, looking extremely pleased. In fact, Andy had never seen her look so happy. It was a huge change from the way she had looked when Andy first got in the car.

And right on cue, Andy's heart stopped at the implication: sex on the table might be out, but Miranda's intent looks and pleased smile meant she shared some of Andy's desires, and that was wonderful. Fantastic, even. A glow started building, making her shiver.

"Yeah, I think it's pretty good," Andy said, grinning.

Miranda flashed another smile—just a moment, a brief flare in the darkness, but it was enough to whet Andy's appetite. "This is marvelous. Quite wonderful. I'm sure your experiences will come in handy. After all, you are a quick study, and extremely bright. It's not rocket science, after all."

Oh, wow: best day ever.

Afterward, as Roy took Andy back to her apartment, Miranda made sure she had all Andy's new contact information—Andy didn't need to get Miranda's; it was still seared into her brain—and they arranged to meet again in two days. Another date. Lunch, of course, because it was easier and more acceptable. But still: a second date with Miranda! Andy could hardly contain herself.

When she showed up on Thursday, Miranda's hungry and possessive gaze followed Andy across the room. It seemed Miranda couldn't contain herself, either. Except when Andy sat down, Miranda started in on the middle of a conversation Andy was pretty sure they hadn't been having. "The Midwest," Miranda said, "has perplexed me lately: such excellent personnel, and yet so unproductive at the higher levels."

"Um," said Andy. This wasn't going how she expected. For one thing, she was from the Midwest, and Miranda knew it. For another thing, this had to be the most crowded, public restaurant in Manhattan. They were surrounded by people, probably even people who cared what Miranda thought of them. Or vice versa, if there were any people like that.

"Of course," said Miranda, seemingly uncaring about their listening public, "better the Midwest than the South. I hate the South, Andrea. They have no sense of—anything, really. Least of all fashion."

"Oh?" said Andy. This was not at all what she expected.

"But the Midwest. More men in the trenches, more in the skill positions, large population base. Entire professions are built on the strengths of the Midwest, but the amateurs act like—amateurs. It doesn't make sense."

"No?" said Andy. She shouldn't have been surprised that leaping into dating Miranda Priestly would be exactly like leaping into working for her—Miranda wasn't the sort to slow down enough to explain anything to anyone. Least of all her obsessions with…manufacturing?

"No," echoed Miranda. "Of course, Northwestern, which is an excellent academic institution, has never confronted this particular problem. Nation-wide recruitment base, I understand?"

Andy opened her mouth to answer, couldn't think of anything say, closed it again, but it didn't matter because Miranda was still talking.

"Stanford as well. Vanderbilt. None of them particularly good at sports. Although I have wondered about Duke; perhaps the mascot is an indication of the true source of their sporting successes." She grinned at Andy.

Andy stared. Miranda was smiling at her. Miranda had just made a joke, and it wasn't at Andy's expense. And it was about—sports?

Andy's complete confusion was probably making her look like an idiot. She couldn't for the life of her figure out where Miranda was going with this, and then suddenly, their conversation from two days earlier came back to her: maybe this was Miranda's way of reaching out to Andy's past. The thought was so foreign and so completely out of character that Andy started to hyperventilate.

Miranda's eyes got wide, and she leaned over and rubbed Andy's back. "Deep breaths, Andrea. My goodness, I didn't think it was that funny."

"N-n-no," Andy heaved. Miranda was trying to talk to Andy on Andy's terms; it was the most adorable thing she had ever heard. Sexy and sweet; Miranda never did stop surprising people.

"Or hadn't the thought ever occurred to you? I know people say similar things about me."

Andy, who had thought that things couldn't get any weirder, realized that they had just gotten weirder. Miranda had made another joke, and this time, it was kind of, sort of, at her own expense. Andy chuckled then, because Miranda seemed to expect it, and almost immediately thereafter realized that Miranda's hand was still on her back. It was warm and gentle, moving in soft circles. It made Andy melt.

"So," Miranda said, leaning across the table, "do you have any insight into Michigan's future?"

September 23: vs. Arizona State (W, 49-21; 3-1)

The following Monday, Miranda was practically glowing.

"I had the most wonderful weekend," she said as she sat down across from Andy. "The girls and I went to a concert, and of course Saturday was simply divine."

Andy nodded; she'd read about a Missoni party that Page Six had claimed was the event of the season.

"It is so nice to be ticking on all cylinders again," Miranda continued. "I admit, the last few weeks have been hard—" Andy's breath caught, suddenly afraid that Miranda was going to ream her out for Paris, but she didn't seem to even notice what she was saying or who she was saying it to, because she kept on talking as if Andy hadn't had any part in making Miranda's life miserable "—but this weekend everything seemed to be coming together once more. And the weather is simply marvelous."

Andy glanced out of the window. It was rainy, and windy, and impossibly grey. You could barely see half-way up any of the skyscrapers the clouds were so low, and the wind was blowing the rain horizontally. "Yeah, it's great," said Andy doubtfully.

"Oh, not here," Miranda said, waving a dismissive hand. "I mean in general. Fall is my favorite time of year. Such crisp air, and the leaves. There is possibility in the air, Andrea."

"And wood smoke," quipped Andy.

Miranda smiled at her, and Andy's heart thumped again. So what if Miranda was insane, and demanding at work, and thought nothing of wreaking devastation on the entire world in order to get her own way? She was gorgeous, Andy was pretty sure she was falling in love with her, and Miranda seemed to enjoy Andy's company, too. Andy could work with that. Even if Miranda wanted to move excruciatingly slowly. This was their third lunch, and they still hadn't done anything more than talk and exchange air kisses. Wasn't the third date the go-all-the-way date for people Miranda's age?

"I'm so glad you understand," said Miranda.

Andy's stomach swooped, and she straightened her back. She opened her mouth to tell Miranda just how well she understood, but Miranda continued speaking.

"It's so hard to find other people who truly appreciate the discipline and determination necessary to succeed in such a brutal arena. And to find them in the company I keep, well, I had nearly given up hope. But you, Andrea, you have returned it to me."

Andy's breath caught. That was the most romantic thing anyone had ever said to her, and that it was Miranda Priestly of all people—the most glamourous, most powerful, most beautiful woman in the world—made it so much better. "You're welcome?" she said.

Miranda patted her hand and smiled. "Soon enough we'll be able to get together alone and really chat."

As her heart started thundering again and her breath caught, Andy thought that just maybe, the anticipation was going to kill her.

Not to mention: discipline? That sounded fun.

"She's into stuff like that?" asked Lily.

"I have no idea," Andy said. "I have no clue what's she into because she still hasn't kissed me."

"Maybe that's how people in Miranda's world do stuff."

"Like what?"

Lily smirked. "Lunch for a few years and then a courthouse marriage?"

Andy knew her eyes were going glassy, but she couldn't help herself. Miranda rarely wore white to the office, but it was one of those colors that she looked gorgeous in—much like all the other colors, come to think of it.

"Earth to Andy," Lily said, waving a hand in front of her face.

"What?" Andy demanded, ignoring Lily's laughter. "I'm dating a fabulous woman, and you're laughing at me."

"I'm not laughing at you, I'm laughing with you."

"I'm not laughing," Andy said dryly.

"You're not laughing because you're not getting any," Lily said.

Andy whimpered. "I have no idea how much more of this I can take. She gets more and more beautiful, and did you know she was funny? She cracks jokes all the time now."

Lily nodded.

"And she smiles! Oh, God, Lily, her smile lights up a room. It lights up the city."

"Uh huh. Sure it does."

Andy beamed at Lily. "I can do whips, if that's what she likes. I can learn, right?"

"Oh yeah," said Lily, laughter bubbling up again.

Andy's mind was racing with plans. No wonder Miranda wanted to go slow; this was kind of a big deal. "You'll have to take lessons with me, though."

"What?" Lily blurted.

"I can't take them alone, and Miranda doesn't like incompetence. She's not going to teach me."

Lily sighed and grabbed Andy's shoulder. "Andy—"

"Come on, Lily," Andy said. "What are friends for?"

As Andy was leaving her office for their next lunch on Thursday, Miranda called.

"I'm so sorry, Andrea, but I must cancel," she said, and she sounded extremely irritated and not a little upset.

Andy wondered why she had bothered to call, if she was in such a bad mood. Andy would have understood if she had just not shown up, or even if she'd had Emily call. The proportion of work she delegated was directly related to how annoyed she was feeling: she delegated the most when she was feeling the worst.

"The shoot is going poorly," said Miranda, "and Irv is fussing about overruns, and Nigel has spent the last few weeks glaring at me."

Wait: not just called to cancel, but also explaining? Something was very wrong.

"Oh," said Andy. "Well, you know—"

Miranda didn't let her finish. "I know Nigel has cause, and Irv just isn't getting over his snit, but at this time of year, I can't be stuck at the office at all hours. It is simply not tenable."

"Of course not," Andy said inanely. Miranda had said she liked fall, but this seemed a little overboard, even for Miranda. The fall fashion shows were almost over, and the March issue was still six months away. "Um, so you're canceling lunch?" she said, trying to get back on topic.

"I am sorry. I was looking forward to—and it's Thursday!"

Andy had a sudden moment of fright: was there something special about Thursday? They had gotten together on Thursday last week, but that didn't mean it was their special day or anything. Before she could think better of it, she blurted, "Thursday?"

"Yes. Today isn't that interesting, not like two weeks ago—West Virginia is quite something this year—but it is still not a day to be trifled with. So long as it doesn't impact my weekend, I suppose."

Andy almost didn't ask. She tried not to ask. She had a completely different sentence halfway out when—"What's happening?"

"The photographer is an idiot. Demarchalier is out of town, so I'm stuck with Youmann. That man has no sense of color."

"Oh," Andy said. That didn't answer the question at all. But before she could clarify, Miranda was off and running again.

"Irv thinks that just because he nearly unseated me in Paris he can get away with distracting me all fall with mindless irritations."

Andy didn't think the budget was all that mindless, but obviously Miranda thought differently. Andy made appropriate listening noises, since it was pretty clear she wasn't going to have much to say in this conversation for a little while.

"Not to mention the run-throughs have been so boring. Where are all the interesting clothes, Andrea? I know I've seen fascinating pieces elsewhere, but why not in my magazine?"

"Um," Andy said. "Well." She bit her lip. Of course, now Miranda sounded either completely distracted, or waiting for an answer. That was a real question? Andy decided to skip ahead to the good stuff: "What about tomorrow?"

"Tomorrow's run-through? Why? Do you want to come?" Miranda sounded—eager? What?

"No!" Andy said. She liked Miranda a lot, but nothing in the world was going to get her back in the Elias-Clarke building. "No. I was—lunch. Can we reschedule lunch for tomorrow?"

"Oh," said Miranda. "Yes, of course. I'll have Emily—I can make 2:30. Is that too late?"

First she was sorry, now Miranda was actually asking Andy when she wanted to get together. Rod Sterling was definitely falling down on the job, because Andy had moved into the Twilight Zone and no one had told her. "No, that's fine," Andy said. "I'll see you then?"

"Yes. And I am very sorry, Andrea."

"That's okay. Thanks for calling, Miranda," Andy said. She hung up the phone, and then, indulging in a fit of whimsy, wrapped her arms around herself and spun in the middle of the street. No one would notice if she burst into song, but the Midwestern in her wouldn't allow it. She could do a little waltz of pure joy, though.

September 30: at Oregon State (W, 41-13; 4-1)

Another Monday, another lunch date. When Miranda walked in she was on the phone, reaming out a poor hapless minion. Andy couldn't quite suppress a shudder at the sound. Despite all appearances over the last few weeks, Miranda wasn't a very forgiving woman.

Miranda hung up the phone and asked Andy distractedly, "How was your weekend?" Given the way she was examining her menu, her distraction was probably just hunger. Andy hoped, anyway. And Andy didn't work for Miranda anymore, so maybe Miranda wouldn't take out whatever problem Andy's former co-workers had put on Miranda's desk out on Andy. Boy did she hope. Not to mention had been two weeks, they hadn't even kissed, and if Miranda were in a bad mood, they might not get a chance to kiss today.

"Fine?" Andy said. "It was nice. The weather was pretty good, so on Saturday I went to a street fair."

"Atlantic Attic?"

Andy hadn't thought Miranda paid attention to stuff that was so low-rent. "Yeah. It's pretty cool."

"I seem to recall that." Miranda finally looked up from her menu. "Do you often do things like that on a Saturday?"

"Um, yeah? They're usually on the weekend, and—"

"I thought you had plans."

"Not—not really. Were we supposed to—did we have—" Andy couldn't quite get the question out before Miranda continued.

"Hmm," Miranda said. "Well, I suppose things from your part of the world were late, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and there wasn't really much else of interest. The Yellow Jackets, of course. Impressive. Did you see any of that?"

Andy could feel her eyes get comically large, she was so confused. What the fuck did that even mean? "What? Yellow jackets? Really? And you—liked them?"

Miranda laughed lightly. "I wouldn't say like, Andrea, but they are—interesting. Calvin Johnson is one of the most incredible people alive, of course, but the rest of them are fairly uninspired. Although they did come together fairly well on Saturday."

Calvin Johnson. That name sounded incredibly familiar. Was he a new designer somewhere?

Later that night, in front of her laptop with a glass of wine in her hand, Andy tried to find some answers. Google turned up absolutely nothing. All of the hits for Calvin Johnson were about a wide receiver from Georgia Tech, and from the language the writers used he was the second coming of Christ or something. The second coming of Larry Fitzgerald, anyway. Andy laughed a little about the enthralled quality of some of the stuff she found; maybe she should have stuck with sports, because a lot of these guys were clearly not writers so much as fanboys.

But more than that, no designers were showing yellow jackets for spring and no one had been showing them for the fall. And Miranda didn't know anything about football.

Either way, it was all very confusing, because even if Miranda did care and was trying to connect with Andy's long-forgotten stint on the sports page, surely she had picked up that Andy didn't exactly like sports. She had covered them because it was her job.

This whole thing was completely maddening. They had been dating for three weeks, but they hadn't spent any time together in private. They did lunch, lunch, and more lunch. Andy had been to the townhouse too many times to count delivering the book, but she hadn't been invited over yet as a guest.

On the other hand, trying to comprehend Miranda's thought process was a lot more confusing than, and not nearly as pleasant as, the fluttering in her stomach whenever she thought about Miranda, or the warm flush she got whenever Miranda looked at her. Or the way Miranda's eyes danced when they sat across the table from each other. No matter what weird things Miranda was into, Andy had a feeling it wasn't going to take much for Miranda to get her off.

Then again, despite all of their mutual attraction, Miranda hadn't made a move yet or even suggested that a move might be in their future. Maybe Andy was supposed to go first, clear up any concerns about harassment or something. Not that Andy worked for her anymore, so it couldn't have been harassment. But maybe Miranda knew about Andy's crush, back when it had just been a crush. Maybe she had a crush in return.

It would have been nice if Miranda explained herself, though.

Their next date, Andy was late. She dashed in, still panting from running the two blocks from the subway, and immediately spotted Miranda across the room: she was perusing a sheaf of papers with narrowed eyes. The woman never stopped working. When she had worked at Runway, Andy had often wished she found it a little bit less attractive. Now, however, she could ogle to her heart's content.

"I'm meeting Miranda Priestly," she said to the maitre'd, when he finally got around to noticing her.

Andy kept her eyes on Miranda as they made their way to her table, drinking her in. It was rare that Andy got a chance to watch Miranda without Miranda knowing she was being watched. It was probably overused to call her graceful, even when flipping through paperwork, but Andy was too enamored to try come up with a better word.

Miranda was always powerful, always magnetic, but when she wasn't looking at you with that consuming, concentrated stare, she seemed ethereal. Focused on her work, she floated above the coarse chatter of the restaurant; maybe she wasn't quite a goddess, but she was certainly divine.

"Hey," said Andy, breathlessly. She was always breathless around Miranda; she always had been, even the first weeks she worked for her. There was something in Miranda's aura that sucked all the oxygen out of the air and left Andy feeling drugged.

Miranda glanced up and briefly smiled.

Her smile blew Andy away every time. Her legs gave out and she collapsed into her chair, but before she could greet her, Miranda's concentration returned to her work, carefully filing it away.

As usual, Miranda didn't bother with pleasantries before launching into conversation. "Can you believe the latest shenanigans that the SEC has pulled? I am—how dare they? I realize that individuals within the SEC may possibly be intelligent or interesting people, but as a group, the entire lot of them are blood-sucking zombies intent on reliving the excesses of the past—"

"Zombies eat brains," said Andy.

Miranda glanced at her momentarily, but didn't let the interruption impede the flow of words. "And this, despite the fact that the entire world has moved on. We are no longer beholden to the machinations of a few grizzled, grey old men at the SEC, we have options now, wide open and sprightly. And their conception of speed, well. It boggles the mind, really. They are as slow as molasses in January." She laughed. It sounded unpleasant.

Andy blinked. "Um."

"If I were in charge," continued Miranda, "I certainly would have reorganized a great deal of the rules and regulations a long time ago, made things a bit more transparent and certainly more sightly. Less of this infantile championing of ridiculous causes." Miranda threw down her papers. "In short, Andrea, I hate the SEC and refuse to discuss it any more."

"Okay," said Andy. "Um, I—"

"Let's talk about something else. Anything else. Take my mind off all this, Andrea." Miranda gave Andy a look that could only be interpreted as entreating.

Andy gulped.

"Tell me more about the Medill School," Miranda prompted.

Miranda was reaching out again. She could talk about Northwestern, she could entertain Miranda for a little while, share something of herself. This was how you built a relationship: talking and listening and getting to know each other. Andy scrambled to organize a few choice anecdotes, and then opened her mouth.

Miranda leaned back in her chair and smiled.

Thursday, Andy had an appallingly long morning during which she spilled her coffee all down her shirt and then slipped in blood from a murder victim and wrenched her knee. To top it off, Miranda called to cancel lunch at the last minute. Again.

She said, "I was looking forward to seeing you; I'm so sorry I have to cancel. Tomorrow?" and while Andy was sputtering her agreement, Miranda continued in a light voice, "Well. I can imagine tonight will put us both in a better mood, and it will be even better when we see each other tomorrow."

For the rest of the day, Andy was in a state of high anticipation, waiting for Miranda to call that evening, to "put them both in a better mood." Andy had never had phone sex before, but given the amount of time Miranda spent on the phone, she was probably excellent at it.

It wasn't until 2:00 am that Andy accepted that Miranda probably wouldn't be calling her. At least not tonight. Andy knew Miranda's schedule was impossible, that Miranda had to deal with everything, the magazine, her kids, her own life. But she was starting to understand—viscerally, if her sudden stomachache was any indication—what Stephen had been talking about that night at the townhouse. Twice-weekly lunches and mixed messages were not going to cut it.

When the phone woke her up less than five hours later, Andy knew without looking that it was Miranda. She answered anyway.

Miranda said, "Something has come up; I can't make lunch. Breakfast?"

Forget confusing: this was disturbing. It was one thing to start a romantic relationship with your former boss. It was another thing entirely to be promised things that never came through. When she worked for Miranda, she could deal with the constantly changing plans and shifting targets. Now, she wanted a little consistency. Or at least a little consideration.

And then she found herself mumbling, "Um, yeah, sure." Wait, no, that wasn't what she was going to say.

"That place with the wonderful french toast in half an hour," Miranda said and hung up.

Andy groaned and buried her head under the pillow. Great: now she was one of those pathetic women who would accept any hint of attention from someone who was actually kind of a jerk. It was the only way to explain why she was so happy to be stumbling out of bed in the middle of the night to meet Miranda for breakfast after having been completely stood up the night before.

The worst part was, she wasn't even upset about the realization, because she hadn't seen Miranda in three whole days.

Miranda had only been able to spare 35 minutes for breakfast, but that afternoon, Andy received an email. The subject line—Dinner, 7:30—seemed innocuous enough, but it made Andy smile anyway.

For two weeks, they had been having discreet lunches, but dinner at "the steak house"—it had to be Pastis; Miranda loved Pastis—was a huge step. Andy would have started to freak out, except that evidently, Miranda thought that everything that needed to be said had been said, because the remainder of the email was simply "do not wear black."

Okay, then. No black. Maybe she'd wear the jeans she'd worn to work. Or a yellow jacket; Miranda seemed to like those.

Andy spent nearly an hour putting together an outfit, on top of the 45 minutes it took make sure that if—when—Miranda saw her naked she looked presentable, and she still arrived 15 minutes early.

Miranda was late, of course. Andy felt a brief spasm of empathy for poor deluded—and now disappeared—Stephen when Miranda looked right past her in favor of gesturing for the waiter. So far, their first real not-lunch date was not going according to plan.

"Did you look at the website?" Miranda asked, suddenly vibrating with intensity and looking at Andy for the first time that evening.

Andy blinked in surprise. "What website?"

"I included a link at the bottom of my message."

"Um," said Andy. Really not going the way Andy had hoped.

"Beautiful, isn't it?" Miranda said. She sounded transported. "The rich optimistic glow of the gold balanced perfectly by the authoritative and determined blue. Simply perfect. And tomorrow, the world will see a vision in vibrant gold and powerful blue." She blinked and seemed to come back to herself. "None of this orange nonsense," she said brusquely.

"Um—yeah, sure," Andy said. What in the world was that link to?

"The site name is changing, of course, after tomorrow. Well, after 8pm, I hope. Wouldn't want to give away the game too early, would we?" Miranda smiled at Andy. It was a lovely, secretive smile, a smile that invited Andy in on the joke. Andy wondered what, exactly, the joke was.

"Of course not," she said, and tried to smile back.

Miranda glowed on seeing Andy's smile, and very quickly they were beaming at each other across the table. Andy's body thrummed pleasantly. She had never realized how gorgeous Miranda's eyes were, how deep and inviting. If only she could concentrate and figure out what the hell Miranda was talking about, it would be even better.

"Well," said Miranda, "I'm starving. What about you?"

Starving. Yes. Andy blushed.

Miranda babbled aimlessly throughout dinner. Andy enjoyed listening to her, now that she didn't have to take notes about everything that came out of Miranda's mouth. Except, maybe she should have been taking notes, because suddenly, Miranda was talking about Paris. About that day.

"I will have you know," she said, "that was the worst day of my entire life: first Stephen, and then your little stunt, and then I stayed up all night in anticipation and—and—it was horrible, Andrea. Absolutely horrible."

"I'm sorry," Andy said meekly. She should have done this a long time ago, but better late than never. "I'm so sorry, Miranda."

Miranda frowned and waved a hand. "Never mind. Everyone seems to have recovered well enough."

"I—I'm really sorry, Miranda. I—" Andy swallowed and sat up straight. "I shouldn't have done it, and I'm sorry." There was nothing more to add. She was sorry, and she was wrong.

"I said it doesn't matter. Besides, it wasn't all your fault, was it? You had no control over what Irv or Stephen were going to do, did you? Or Philip Fulmer," she snarled.

Philip Fulmer? Maybe Andy really should have been taking notes, because who the hell was Philip Fulmer? Other than the coach at Tennessee, of course, but why would Miranda know that? Was there another Philip Fulmer in Paris, and if there was, what did he do to Miranda? Maybe he was a friend of the mysterious Calvin Johnson, she thought absurdly. Except that Tennessee was in the SEC and Georgia Tech was in the ACC, so the famous versions of Calvin Johnson and Philip Fulmer—the ones that everyone knew about—didn't even know each other.

Miranda had a distant and distinctly displeased look on her face, no matter what she had said about it not mattering, but Andy had already apologized and Miranda had accepted it and there wasn't anything more to say. She decided to change the subject.

"How are rehearsals going for the girls' recital?" she said.

Miranda beamed. Obvious the right decision, then. "They are quite wonderful, of course. They really are exceptionally talented; perhaps in the future you might be able to attend—"

Andy relaxed into her seat, watching Miranda talk about her daughters. She had a huge smile, and her hands moved animatedly. In the candlelight, Miranda glowed. Beautiful, Andy thought.

Two hours later, Miranda finally laid her napkin on the table. "I'm sorry, I really must go. Another interminable party, you know. And I promised the girls I wouldn't be too late tonight."

"Of course," said Andy.

"Come over tomorrow night," Miranda said. "The girls will be with their father, and now that Stephen has finally removed himself, I can relax in the privacy of my own home once more."

"Uh, sure," Andy said. At least, that's what she thought she said, because suddenly her heart was thundering so loud she couldn't hear her own voice.

Oh God, finally Miranda wanted Andy to "come over to relax." Yes, of course, Andy wanted to shout, and she squirmed a little in her excitement. Miranda was probably really good at sex, with the way she moved and talked and—Andy had to calm down. Deep breaths. She could wait until tomorrow night. She wasn't going to push; she wasn't going to blow it. Not after all this time.

"Good," said Miranda, and kissed Andy's cheek.

It took Andy 20 minutes to be able to stand up, and the spot on her cheek burned all the way home.

October 7: vs. Oregon (W, 45-24; 5-1)

When Andy knocked on the door of the townhouse at 7:30 the following night, she wasn't sure what to expect. But Miranda Priestly in khaki trousers was not one of the things. Nor was the top she was wearing—was that a cardigan? Miranda Priestly was wearing khakis and a cardigan?

"What is that?" Miranda was staring at Andy, appalled.

"Huh?" said Andy eloquently.

"You're wearing a green shirt," Miranda said.

It was Prada. It was Prada from the spring collection, in fact, from Paris. It was the first time Andy had worn it, and now Miranda was dissing it. Miranda's tone made this top sound even worse than the shoes she had worn the first day at work.

Her feelings were already all over the place and rocketing off the charts, so Andy had no chance to stop herself from opening her mouth to say something ill-advised and entirely emotional, but Miranda was already off and bounding up the stairs. Andy trailed, dumbfounded.

"I'm sure I have something you can borrow," Miranda said. "Not one of those unattractive shirts—the most poorly made dreck, I'd never have accepted it in my Closet, but we must support the cause—perhaps a jersey—" Miranda stopped at the top of the stairs and examined Andy. Andy stood as still as she could manage, but her lower lip quivered just a bit. "Yes, a jersey," Miranda said. "Take that off."

"What?" Andy said.

Instead of answering Miranda reached for the hem of Andy's top and pulled it up.

Oh, Andy thought. Oh. Maybe she was supposed to show up naked. Except that as soon as her shirt was off, Miranda was halfway down the hallway, Andy's top dangling from her hand. Andy shivered slightly, clad in her Balenciaga skirt and a bra that cost a week's rent, and wondered why Miranda was walking away from her. Maybe the bed was over there.

Before she could say anything, Miranda's voice drifted down the hall. "Aren't you coming?"

Andy bit her lip. I thought I was about to, she wanted to say. Instead she followed Miranda into what looked like a sitting room.

It was decorated in creams and greens, all very understated and elegant. If Miranda liked green enough to use it in her room, why was it such a problem that Andy was wearing a green shirt? Surely she had better lines to get girls out of their clothes. Andy wasn't about to ask her to explain, though; Miranda was currently hidden behind a door, deep in the confines of a cavernous closet. Maybe that was where the whips were. Andy cautiously approached the doorway.

Miranda was on her knees at the back of the closet digging through a box filled with clothes in the most unappealing fabrics Andy had ever seen. Obvious synthetics, cheaply printed t-shirts, and even ragged sweatshirts filled the box. The rest of Miranda's closet was as completely disorganized as the Runway Closet, and Andy briefly wondered how Miranda ever managed to find anything. Given the growing pile of clothes that she was tossing over her shoulder—including Andy's new top—it looked like Miranda didn't know either.

"Here," Miranda said finally. She was holding up a striped shirt in navy and mustard. It was polyester, Andy just knew it. She was beginning to get a very bad feeling.

"Um," said Andy.

"Well, put it on," said Miranda, and glanced at small clock. "The game starts in fifteen minutes, and I still haven't made the dip," she said and dashed out of the room.

Andy legs suddenly gave out and she sagged down onto the floor.

Calvin Johnson, who was from Georgia Tech. The SEC. Ohio and Michigan. Philip Fulmer. Oh God, Tennessee wore orange. This was hell. It had to be.

Andy put her face in her hands as the hysterical laughter started. So did the hysterical tears.

The game. The game. Oh, God.

It was a nice floor. They could have had excellent sex on this floor, could have had being the operative phrase.

On the plus side, at least she wasn't worried about being able to follow Miranda's conversation anymore.

And she definitely wasn't worried about the whips. Lily would be relieved to hear it.

It took Andy a long time to recover her composure, but once she had washed her face and put on the shirt—it was cotton, soft and old, perfectly fitted, and it make her look very collegiate and very well-endowed—she made her way back to the stairs to find Miranda. The house was a lot bigger than she had ever imagined, and she had no idea where Miranda might be. The process of elimination set aside the third floor, where she was, and the first floor, with the marble lobby and the horrifying memories of the twins peering down at her. She ruled out the basement, which left the second and fourth floors. Ten minutes later, Andy admitted that Miranda was not, in fact, on the second floor.

Eventually, she located Miranda in a small room at the back of the fourth floor, with leather couches, tons of plush carpeting, and a massive wooden entertainment cabinet. Andy had never seen anything so ostentatious—and that was before she noticed the absolutely enormous television.

Miranda was perched on the larger of the two couches, peering at the TV. Andy glanced from Miranda to the screen and back again, trying to make her brain work. She had suspected this was coming, had even tried to prepare herself while prowling around the house, but seeing it in person still blew her mind.

Miranda was watching football. Miranda Priestly was watching football. Miranda Priestly was watching college football. In HD.

A second round of laughter started in the pit of her stomach and roared up uncontrollably.

Miranda turned at the sound and glared at her, and Andy thought perhaps she should at least try to stop laughing. She gave up almost immediately: it was impossible.

"You missed the kickoff," Miranda accused.

It only make Andy laugh harder.

Miranda rolled her eyes and turned back to the TV. "Hmph. Sit."

Andy collapsed in the doorway, still shaking with amusement.

After a few minutes of listening to Andy snicker, Miranda, the back of her neck now slightly pink, said, "How in the world did this team lose to those—those—those rednecks?"

"I have no idea," said Andy. Her sides were starting to ache and she lowered herself on the couch, as close to Miranda as she dared. Just in case she was wrong about the potential for sex.

"You missed the kickoff," Miranda repeated, "and you missed Dixon throwing an immediate interception. I expected nothing less of him, to be honest, but you missed it."

Miranda sounded almost petulant, and Andy noticed a note at the top of the screen that read Cal 7, Oregon 0. "They scored?" she asked.

"We did, yes," Miranda said. "They are tremendous, these linebackers, so crisp, so disciplined." If Andy had thought Miranda sounded transported when talking about the team colors, she sound positively orgasmic talking about the players. Andy shifted uncomfortably in her new shirt. Maybe this wasn't that funny, now that it seemed all Miranda wanted was a football pal. "Listen to the crowd, Andrea."

Andy frowned. It sounded a little loud, she guessed, but—something suddenly occurred to her. "Why isn't Oregon wearing green?"

"I have no idea. Their uniforms are a disaster in every way. Unlike Cal, of course."

Cal was wearing—what were they wearing? Andy didn't think there was a word for that color. The entire ensemble made her eyes wibble, and she blinked rapidly, trying to dispel the effect. "They're wearing—mustard," Andy said.

"Gold," Miranda said.

"It's—It's everywhere."

"It's perfect," said Miranda, sounding orgasmic again. "It looks so much better than I had ever imagined it might. Finally, the ideal outfit."

"That—it's yellow."

"Gold. Isn't it lovely?"

"Um," Andy said.

"When I phoned Jeff—Coach Tedford—last spring and suggested a new uniform—to be developed with the players, of course, subject to their needs on the field—he thought it was a wonderful idea. He is such a charming man, so smart and well-spoken. I've been waiting for this day for quite some time, Andrea; I'm so glad you could be here with me."

"Um," Andy said.

"It's a shame I couldn't be in Berkeley. I would have loved to see the crowd when the team ran out on the field in those lovely outfits. But of course, the girls had their recital this morning and I'm leaving for Virginia for the shoot early tomorrow morning. One must make sacrifices for career and family, Andrea."


Miranda turned to her and smiled. Andy's heart stopped; it was a huge smile, a brilliant smile, a happy smile. It was the kind of smile she had been pretty sure Miranda didn't know how to give. It was a smile that promised everything.

"I'm really glad to be here, too, Miranda," Andy said without thinking.

Miranda reached over and patted Andy's hand, and then said, "We're going to kill them."

Promised everything, and delivered nothing.

Three hours later, Miranda said, "They have yet to announce the schedule for next week, but I'm sure it will be televised. I hate these interminable delays; there is no point to arbitrarily changing people's schedules on such pernicious whims."

"Of course not," Andy said, not bothering to hide her grin. Miranda obviously had no idea of the irony of her comment. It didn't matter; Miranda was wrapped up in the TIVO'd highlights from game.

"But the time shouldn't change," Miranda said. "The game begins at 5:00 pm, so be here no later than 4:30. Keep the shirt; I'm sure I have others you can wear if you'd like, but that one looks very good on you." Miranda suddenly turned to her and her eyes narrowed. "Purple is not your color, Andrea."

"No?" Andy asked. She wasn't wearing purple. She never wore purple. She couldn't remember the last time she wore purple. Not that facts ever stopped Miranda.

"No," Miranda said, and refocused on DeSean Jackson juking a poor Oregon defender out of his shorts: Miranda played the move again and again, transfixed by it. "Nothing matches the regal gold of California."

Andy rolled her eyes. "I thought purple was a royal color." And in no universe could any purple match that horrible mustard color, so it probably didn't matter.

"Well, yes, but not the impossible color Northwestern wears. I realize it's your alma mater—"

"Believe me, I didn't choose it for the colors," Andy muttered.

Miranda ignored her. "—but purple is so difficult to do well in sportswear. I can't think of any team that does it justice. Unlike Petro Zillia; last fall Tochterman introduced a wonderful spread of purples. Lavenders, puces, violets. Lovely. Some very nice pinks as well. I had hoped others would pick it up as more than an accent, but no one has yet." Miranda sighed. "Perhaps for next winter's collections."

"You have some purple stuff," Andy said.

"Plum. I can only wear plum. My skin color is terribly unfortunate."

Andy boggled, for about the millionth time that evening. Miranda, who had the most perfect skin, flawless in every way, thought her skin was unfortunate?

Miranda noticed her astonishment. "I'm much too pale," she said and then she frowned. "I can't carry gold at all."

Except that they had been talking about purple. Andy looked down at her shirt. Actually, she didn't think anyone with skin lighter than Alex Wek could wear that color and look good. It was hard to look good in mustard. "No, I guess not," she said.

"Well," Miranda said, "I'll see you next week."

"What about—" Andy started to say but cut herself off immediately.

It wasn't soon enough: Miranda raised an eyebrow in question.

"I-I mean," Andy said, "we've been—we've been—never mind."

Miranda narrowed her eyes. "Of course we have plans for lunch on Tuesday when I get back. Wednesday is going to be difficult, and I have an 11:00 meeting on Thursday, but if you're available afterwards—" she said, standing up and leading Andy out of the den and down the stairs.

Andy nodded. "Sure—"

"I didn't think your schedule would permit you coming here until the weekend," said Miranda. Andy had the disconcerting thought that Miranda looked completely sincere, worrying about Andy's schedule. "But Thursday's game should be quite interesting, if you'd like to come—it starts at 7:30, Virginia Tech at Boston College. I won't be home until after 8, of course, but the girls will be here—"

"No," Andy said quickly. "No, I'll wait until Saturday."

"Oh," said Miranda. She almost looked upset, but Andy figured that couldn't be right, since evidently they wouldn't be having sex any time soon. Or ever. Because despite all appearances to the contrary, they weren't dating. No: they were friends. Friends who watched football together.

Andy made a small, annoyed sound, and then, to distract them both, said, "Tuesday?" It worked.

"Yes," said Miranda, "Tuesday. And keep me in mind for Thursday lunch, if not for dinner."

"Yeah, sure," said Andy. They were at the door.

"It was lovely to have your company tonight, Andrea."

Andy sighed. "Good night, Miranda."

"Good night," Miranda replied.

The last thing Andy saw as Miranda closed the door behind her was another sparkling smile.

Well, shit. She wasn't dating Miranda Priestly, and they were probably never, ever going to have sex.

Andy managed to keep her composure through lunch on Tuesday, during which Miranda acted exactly like she had every single other time they had gotten together, talking non-stop about glorious efforts and graceful movements and heartstopping moments. The only difference was that this time, Andy knew she wasn't flirting.

But as soon as Miranda had dashed off to another meeting, Andy called Nigel.

As soon as they sat down at the bar, she blurted, "How do you tell if you're dating someone?"

"Excuse me?" he said.

"I mean—I can't ask," said Andy. "So how do I figure out what's going on in her—"

Nigel gazed at her speculatively. "Her?"

Andy's cheeks flamed.

"I see," said Nigel, not hiding his amusement.

Andy whimpered. "This is so different. I have no idea what's going on."

"Well," he said with a grin, "Share: what's going on?"

"We've been meeting for lunch two or three times a week for almost a month. A month."

"She must like you a little—" A strange look crossed his face. "'We' who? Because I know someone who has been rearranging her schedule with alarming frequency lately, and it's driving Emily batty. More batty, I mean."

Andy's eyes got huge. "Someone you don't know," she said very fast. "Someone you have never met. Someone who is—"

"My boss?"

"Oh, God," said Andy and buried her face in her hands.

Nigel looked completely thunderstruck. "You and Miranda," he said slowly.

"Yes," said Andy, her voice very small. "No! Because I have no idea what she's thinking—I thought maybe, but now—" she trailed off.

It took him a little to realize she had stopped talking and rejoin the conversation. "Now what?" he said.

"I was over at her house on Saturday, and we—"

"Yes," Nigel drawled.

"We didn't do anything," Andy wailed. "We sat and watched TV for three hours, and then I went home. She never even touched me." All she had done was rip Andy's shirt off her; the memory made Andy shiver.

His eyebrows shot up. "I had no idea she owned a television."

"It's huge," Andy said, momentarily distracted.

Nigel pursed his lips, obviously holding back a laugh. "So you've been having lunch regularly, you've been to her house. Andy, I have to say, I can count on one hand the number of times I've been to Miranda's house in 20 years. I think you're dating."

"Yeah, but what does she think?"

"I—" Nigel paused. "You're right. I have no idea."

Andy squirmed in her seat. "Has she mentioned this at all?"

Nigel grimaced. "Even if we did have that kind of relationship, which we don't, I can't imagine that after Paris she would confide in me."

"You're still mad, huh?"

"I—No. I am not mad," Nigel said, frowning at her. "I'm still upset, but there are whispers that Sorbier is looking for someone to take the brand international. Not to mention a position at Debonair might be opening up."

"Wow." Andy grinned briefly. "That would be cool."

Nigel nodded. "It's not James Holt, but it's not chopped liver, either."

Andy groaned again. "I might be."

"Chopped liver?"

"I can't get this wrong, Nigel. I can't."

This time he didn't hold back his laugh; Andy had never realized how mean he could be. "Unlike your other interactions with La Priestly?" he teased.

"Shut up," she said. "Oh, God, what am I going to do?"

"When are you seeing her next?"

Andy perked up immediately. And of course Nigel noticed. Andy ferociously tried to keep her blush under control, and failed. "She said she might be able to do a late lunch on Thursday. You know, she keeps wanting me to come for dinner on Thursdays, and I can't figure out why. She has to read the Book, and the twins have school in the morning."

"She wants you to come to her house for dinner, and you don't know what her intentions are?" Nigel clucked at her. "For goodness' sake, Andy, how dumb are you?"


Nigel leaned forward. "Miranda never allows anyone or anything to encroach on her time with the twins, and she certainly never has people over for dinner casually, much less for an afternoon of television. Surely you of all people should remember that."

"I—I hadn't thought of it like that," Andy said.

"So it seems," he said.

"So you think she might—"

He shrugged lightly and grinned at her. "There's only one way to find out."

That wasn't very reassuring, and she said so.

That only made him laugh harder. "Keep me updated."

Andy buried her face in her hands and whimpered. His amusement lingered in the room long after he'd left.

October 14: at Washington State (W, 21-3; 6-1)

Miranda met Andy at the door with a wad of bluish cloth in her hand. "Here, put this on." Andy was already wearing her designated bumblebee striped jersey, but if Miranda wanted her to change, Andy wasn't going to argue.

Andy peered at it: it was a t-shirt in a fairly indefinable color that definitely wasn't navy, and it was strangely faded. It looked like a million other trendy t-shirts, and it was nothing that Andy had thought Miranda would ever have allowed in her vicinity. On the other hand, across the front it proclaimed, "Cal Golden Bears Football 2006," so Andy figured it was probably pretty important to Miranda.

Miranda herself was wearing the same sweater as the week before, this time paired with amazingly well-fitting jeans. Andy had to discreetly wipe her chin a few times as she followed Miranda up the stairs.

When they arrived in the back room on the fourth floor, Caroline and Cassidy were crouched in front of the TV.

"Well?" said Miranda. It had the tones of an interrogation.

Caroline shrugged. "We can't get it to work. I don't know what's wrong."

"Did you call the help line?" Miranda said.

Caroline nodded. "Yeah, and they don't know, either."

"It's supposed to work, Mom," said Cassidy.

"I know it's supposed to work," said Miranda. "They're showing it in Berkeley. It works in Berkeley. Why doesn't it work here?"

"What's going on?" asked Andy.

Cassidy sighed. "The game's not on TV; it was supposed to be, but it's only on in Oregon and Washington. There's this slingback—"

"Slingbox," said Caroline.

"—that you can hook up and watch TV over the Internet, but we can't get it to work, and the game starts in—"

"Five minutes," said Caroline.

Sounding slightly frantic, Miranda demanded, "Why do we live in New York? What possible need is there for us to live 3,000 miles away from—"

"Pullman, Washington?" Andy asked.

Miranda rounded on her, eyes flashing. Caroline and Cassidy took identical—and huge—steps backwards.

"Excuse me, Andrea? Did you have something to say?"

"Miranda, surely you have GameCast—"

"That electronic abomination? That dim-witted infinitesimally small toy, that gives none of the flavor of the game? That shoddily-designed burp of useless information that makes Emily look like Keith Jackson? Is that what you were talking about, Andrea?"

"No?" Andy said. Behind Miranda, edging ever closer to the door, the twins gave Andy sympathetic looks. They were the kind of looks you offered to a person about to be executed. Hanged for treason, the way Miranda was talking.

"I will not suffer through that insult. You will fix that slingshot immediately and save me from the horrors of—"

"Isn't the game on the radio?" Andy asked desperately.

Miranda eyed her suspiciously. "KGO. Why?"

"We could listen to it?"

"But then we wouldn't be able to see the game, Andrea," Miranda said.

"It's better than nothing, right?" Andy smiled winningly.

Miranda glared. Andy smiled even more winningly. Finally, Miranda stalked out of the room to get her computer.

Andy let out a pathetic sigh of relief, and the twins edged back into the room to pat her on the back.

"Is she always like this?"

"You have no idea," Cassidy said.

Caroline peered up at Andy from behind her hands. "Wait until they start winning."

Much to Andy's horror, Caroline was right. At no point was Cal behind in the game, but Miranda was acting like—Andy didn't even know what Miranda was acting like. Worse than she ever had at the office, that was for sure. Which reminded Andy of something that Nigel had said.

At the half, when Miranda wandered off to refill their bowl of crudité, Andy decided to take action. "Cassidy," she hissed.

Cassidy, hunched in a corner of the couch, looked up.

"In Paris—was there a game that weekend?"

Cassidy nodded, but it was Caroline who answered. "Tennessee. She was looking forward to it all summer, and then—it was awful."

"Yeah," Cassidy said. "They got beat badly."

"Really badly," Caroline echoed.

"And Mom didn't want to talk at all. To anyone."

"She didn't even tell us about Stephen and the divorce until forever later—" Cassidy said.

"Stephen told us," Caroline said. "He sat down with us and explained, and he wasn't even surprised that she didn't tell us."

Andy was horrified. "She didn't tell you about the divorce?"

"Well," Caroline said thoughtfully, "she never told Stephen about football."

Andy's jaw dropped.

Cassidy took that as leave to shift over and sit next to Andy on the couch. "She used to hide her Sports Illustrated in the Book."

"So he couldn't see it," explained Caroline.

"And," said Cassidy, "she made ESPN send her a half-sized version of their magazine, so she could hide it better."

"It's really big," said Caroline. "Do you know about the website?"

Andy nodded hesitantly. "It—did she just change the name?"

Cassidy rolled her eyes. "'The Gold Jerseys Rock.'"

"But they don't," said Caroline. "They're really ugly."

"Don't let Mom hear you say that," warned Cassidy.

Caroline glared at Cassidy. "Like I would. But they are."

"Um," Andy said, "she, um, she's really proud —"

"They're pee-colored," said Caroline.

"They are not," said Cassidy.

"Yes they are."

"Your pee better not look like that, or else—"

"Or else what?"

"I'll tell Mom!" said Cassidy triumphantly.

"You will not," Caroline retorted. "Besides, you don't like them any more than I do."

"I will so! And they're not that bad, just kind of ugly. Like those dresses with the scaffolding."

"Girls," said Andy weakly.

They stuttered to a stop and looked at her. She looked back.

"Football?" Andy asked, her voice still sounding weak and maybe even a bit thready.

They stared at her for what felt like a very long time, and then Cassidy announced, "She likes you."

"Um?" Andy was completely off balance. She had a feeling she should probably get used to it. Wait a minute: maybe they really were dating after all.

"She likes you," Cassidy repeated. "She invites you over all the time, and she always talks about you."

"You went to Northwestern, right?" Caroline said. "Mom was really impressed."


"She wants us to go to an Ivy League," Cassidy said.

"Not Cal?" Andy asked. She wanted to get back to the "she likes you" part of the conversation.

"Well, yeah," said Caroline, "but if we stay on the East Coast, it's Columbia or nothing."

"Even though they don't play Division I-A—" Cassidy said.

"Football Bowl Subdivision," Caroline interrupted.

"—whatever," Cassidy said, glaring at her sister. "They don't play real football. But Northwestern—they're smart, and they play football."

"So does Stanford," said Caroline.

"She mentioned Vanderbilt?" Andy said.

"We're not allowed to go to the SEC," said Caroline. "But since you went to Northwestern, she's probably going to start buying us stuff from there."

"I like purple," said Cassidy.

"I don't," said Caroline. "We already have a ton of Cal stuff, and she always asks why we don't wear it."

"I'd wear stuff from Northwestern," said Cassidy.

"You still have some time to decide," Andy said, rather desperately trying to get the subject back to Miranda. "She really said—"

"Do you like her?" asked Cassidy.

Andy blinked. "Uh?" Weren't they too young to know about this sort of stuff? And how in the world did one tell a couple of eleven-year-olds that you really wanted to bang their mother?

"Do you?" Cassidy repeated.

"I—" Andy couldn't think of a single thing to say. Now that the tables had been turned, that very simple question had suddenly become a lot more complicated. The obvious answer was yes, which had the benefit of being true, but she and Miranda weren't even dating—

"You're dating, right?" asked Caroline.

"I—" Andy said.

"So you must like her," said Caroline.

Andy tried to reply, but Cassidy interrupted before she could get anything out. "Don't hurt her."

"What?" Andy said again.

"Don't hurt her," Cassidy said again.

"Stephen hurt her," said Caroline.

"But you said—" Andy said.

Caroline shook her head. "She trusts you more than she ever trusted him."

"Yeah," said Cassidy. "She even let you wear her shirt."

Andy glanced down at her chest. It was a little tight across the chest, but Miranda was a little smaller than she was, shorter, and her breasts were— Andy looked back at the twins.

"Don't hurt her," Caroline echoed her sister.

"I—" Andy swallowed, and said, "I won't. I promise." Well. That was the answer to her question: even if Miranda didn't know they were dating, her daughters had a good idea of what was going on. Besides, there was no way Andy was going to hurt Miranda again; she was way too committed already.

When Miranda came back into the room ten minutes later, the three of them were sitting on the couch together, staring at the blank television, not talking.

"Well," said Miranda, "are we ready for the second half?"

Andy looked up at Miranda's happy face beaming down on the three of them and swallowed. "I guess we are."

When Cassidy opened the door on Thursday night, Andy said brightly, "So, uh, North Carolina, huh?"


"Your mom—she invited—can I come in?"

"Sure," Cassidy said, and then turned around and gave Andy a suspicious look. "Wait, are you here to watch football?"

"No. Well, yes. NO," Andy said.

Cassidy raised an eyebrow in an eerie imitation of her mother.

"Your mom's been inviting me to come over for dinner on Thursday night football for weeks."


At that moment, a voice floated down the stairs, saving Andy. "Andrea! How wonderful; I had no idea you were going to be able to make it."

Andy grinned up at Miranda, and mounted the rest of the stairs. "I got off work early."

"Lovely," Miranda said, and grabbed Andy's elbow, steering her into the dining room. Andy's arm burned pleasantly.

Caroline gave Andy a small smile and then went back to setting the table. Cassidy threw herself down onto a chair, and said, "Is there a game on tonight?"

"Virginia, I think. Virginia Tech. West Virginia. Something like that," Miranda said, not letting go of Andy's arm. She might have even caressed Andy's elbow a little.

"Huh," said Cassidy.

"What?" asked Miranda.

"Nothing," said Cassidy. Andy glanced over at her, and their eyes met. Nothing, indeed.

"Let's eat, shall we?" said Miranda.

October 21: vs. Washington (W, 31-24; 7-1)

Caroline answered the door for Andy on Saturday. Maybe they took turns or something. Andy had no idea how to cope with twins; the sibling rivalry had to be fierce. But before she could even begin to think out about the fact that she was dating the single mother of two preteen girls and that she might someday have to parent those same girls, Caroline said, "I hope you can calm Mom down."

"Excuse me?" blurted Andy, her momentary meltdown pre-empted.

"She saw the lawyers yesterday. Stephen's really mad."

"Oh," said Andy. She wondered what his relationship with the twins had been like; she thought he was an ass, but evidently Miranda had liked him enough to marry him.

"He's an ass," Caroline said.

Andy flinched. She had always been spooked by that little mind-reading trick whenever Miranda did it. It figured her kids could pull it off, too.

Caroline continued blithely, "He hated when Mom did anything all by herself, and he played tennis, and made us join some club he played at. Mom hates tennis, but he wanted us to be a family, and he said families do stuff together."

"Oh," said Andy.

"Cassidy and I had to take lessons and play with him on the weekends. It sucked." Caroline turned on Andy with a sharp gaze. "You don't like tennis, do you?"

Andy laughed nervously. "No."

"Good," Caroline said, and disappeared into a bedroom at the far end of the third floor. Andy continued to the fourth floor, where Miranda was waiting in front of the TV.

She was wearing the same shirt Andy had worn last week. Andy's whole body froze up and she stumbled to a stop in the middle of the room.

"Andrea, there you are," said Miranda.

Andy had to swallow a gazillion times to relieve her suddenly dry mouth. "I'm n-n-not late, am I?" she said.

"No, no," said Miranda, and patted the seat next to her.

Andy's legs trembled and then gave out. She collapsed into the seat next to Miranda; good thing she was already near the couch, or she would have ended up on the floor again.

That shirt, the same one that was hugging Miranda's curves today, had been stretched across her own chest last week. It was practically like their breasts were touching. Andy couldn't breathe.

"Who's playing?" Cassidy asked from the doorway.

"Washington," Miranda said tersely. "It's been 15 years since one of the most important games of Cal's modern history, almost 15 years exactly, against this same team."

"Oh?" said Cassidy, but she was looking at Andy when she said it. Andy's face was bright red, she just knew it, and she also knew that no matter how she tried to hide it, Cassidy knew what she was thinking. Kids were horrible, Andy decided.

"Yes," said Miranda, and turned to face Andy. "1991, the best Cal team in decades. Since Joe Roth, in fact. Pawlawski at quarterback, Russell White. Sean Dawkins."

Andy tried to drag some air into her lungs. "I see," she mumbled.

Miranda's breasts beamed at her. "It was a magnificent day, clear and sunny. The teams were well-matched, and Cal was down only a touchdown in the final minutes, driving for the end zone."

"They scored, right?" said Andy hoarsely.

Miranda slumped back against the cushions, her face contorting in displeasure. "They did not," she said. Their legs brushed.

Andy whimpered.

A few moments later Miranda had shifted but Andy could still feel the echo where their legs had been pressed together. She wasn't going to be able to move ever again.

"It was horrible," said Miranda. "We finished 10-2, of course, won some piddley little game in Florida at the end of the season, but everyone knows that there were only two games of importance that year, and we lost both of them."

Andy waited for her heart to stop pounding. It took an extraordinarily long time. "Cal is 6-1, though, right?" she said, as soon as she thought she could manage. "And Washington is, like, really bad this year?"

Miranda harrumphed. "They nearly beat USC."

Andy shrugged. "Well, Cal is better."

"Yes," said Miranda. She straightened up again, and nodded at Andy. So did her breasts. "We are. We are very good this year, Tennessee notwithstanding. Past performance is no indicator of future success."

Andy contemplated reminding Miranda that adage was a warning, not a positive suggestion, but then Miranda dropped her hand against Andy's thigh and every thought she'd ever had flew out of her brain. Even the ones about Miranda's breasts.

Miranda hadn't moved her hand by kickoff.

Andy didn't notice anything else happening for a very long time.

When, hours later, Miranda jumped up out of her seat, Andy jerked out of her trance. Completely confused, she blurted, "What's going on?"

Miranda gestured toward the screen. "I don't like this."

Andy blinked a few times and tried to focus on the screen. She could still feel Miranda's hand on her thigh, the press of their legs together, Miranda's body's heat. It took her a while to comprehend the score: 24-17. Cal was kicking off, and the game was almost over. "It looks pretty good," she said, dubiously.

Miranda was pacing back and forth in front of the couch. "I don't trust our defense in situations like this."

Andy's eyes were transfixed to Miranda's ass as it roamed back and forth right in front of her face "I'm sure it'll be fine," Andy said; her voice sounded husky and seductive to her own ears, but Miranda didn't seem to notice.

As the last few minutes of the game ticked down, Miranda became more and more upset: she slowed her pacing and took up nibbling on a thumbnail instead. Andy stared at her; even on the most difficult of days at Runway, Miranda had been cool and collected. Whether she was facing down Irv Ravitz or reaming people who had fucked up, she was completely in control and completely relaxed. But now, standing in front of the television, Miranda looked like she was about to fly apart.

Out of nowhere, Miranda shouted, "Fuck!" and threw the remote control across the room.

Andy jumped.

She'd never heard Miranda swear, and as for breaking things. Well. Miranda just didn't do stuff like that. Andy's heart was thundering again, but this time it wasn't from arousal. At least, that's what she kept telling herself. If Miranda's flushed skin and heaving chest made Andy's clit throb, it was probably best to ignore it for the time being.

Five minutes later, Andy's heart was pounding out of her chest. A glass had met the same fate as the remote, and Andy had discovered that Miranda could swear like a sailor when properly motivated. Miranda was practically clinging to the TV and was completely ignoring Andy. Andy thought maybe it was better that way. And it definitely wasn't arousing anymore. Too bad her tight nipples thought otherwise. "Down, girls," she whispered. "This is not the time."

On the last play of the game, when the Washington quarterback dropped back to pass, Miranda started chanting, "Sack him, sack him, you fucking idiots, sack him!" When the Washington quarterback heaved the ball in the air, Miranda chanted, "Intercept it, drop it, get it on the ground."

When the Washington receiver caught the ball and threw himself into the end zone, Miranda collapsed to the floor, jaw hanging open, all the energy drained out of her.

Andy immediately scrambled over to Miranda. "It's okay," she whispered. "It's okay."

Miranda gave her a wide-eyed, what-kind-of-idiot-are-you look, and just as Andy was about to release her bowels, she blinked and turned the glare on the television.

Andy reached out and patted Miranda's shoulder. Miranda's skin was hot under her shirt, and she shivered. Andy slowed her hand to glide across Miranda's back, and when Miranda didn't object or move, Andy figured it was probably okay. Of course, Miranda looked altogether numb, so she probably had no idea what was going on.

"I really don't like this," Miranda said again.

"Overtime is no fun," agreed Andy.

"If we have to depend on our defense—bend and then break—" Miranda turned to Andy.

Suddenly, Andy was drowning in Miranda's blue eyes.

When those same blue eyes narrowed in displeased confusion, Andy scrambled to say something, anything. "It's going to be fine."

"I don't believe you," Miranda spat, and turned back to the television. But she didn't shrug off Andy's hand, so Andy didn't move it.

Five minutes after that, Miranda was bouncing with joy, clutching Andy's hands and twirling the two of them around the room. "We won! I knew we would. We won! Palms of victory, palms of glory, palms of victory we will win!" she sang, slightly offkey.

Andy grinned and threw her arms around Miranda, jumping up and down with her. "Go Bears!"

Miranda paused in her exuberance to look up at Andy's face, and Andy couldn't stand it any more. She couldn't wait anymore, either. Andy leaned forward.

Miranda froze. Andy leaned a bit more. Their lips touched.

When Andy pulled back, she couldn't breathe. Miranda looked pale and stunned.

They stood, staring at each other for eons. "Andrea," Miranda finally said, still not moving, "I—I had no idea."

"Come on, Miranda," Andy said. "What did you think, that I actually liked football? That I've been spending so much time with you because I think the gold jerseys are going to revolutionize fashion?"

"Well," Miranda said, "yes."

"No," Andy said, and kissed her again.

"Holy shit," said Lily. "She really didn't know?"

"That's what she said," said Andy.

"Wow. That's totally—" Lily was looking at her skeptically, but that was okay: Andy felt a bit skeptical herself. This whole thing—their whole relationship—was incredibly weird, and the fact that Miranda honestly, truly, hadn't known they were dating just seemed par for the course at this point.

"Weird, right?" said Andy. "The twins knew. Nigel knew."

"And they're fine with it?"

Andy nodded. "As long as I don't hurt her, or make the twins play tennis, they say they're great with it."

Lily asked, "Tennis?" It sounded like she didn't really want to know.

Andy shrugged. "Seeing as how I've never played tennis, I don't think it's going to be very hard to fulfill that requirement."

"So let me get this straight," Lily said. "She had no idea you were dating. She had no idea you were sitting there creaming your pants every single time you saw her. But she's okay with it?"

"She seems to be," Andy said with a grin. "I mean, we spent a long time on Saturday—"

"Andy and Miranda sitting in a tree," Lily sang. "K-I-S-S-I-N-G. Oh God, Andy, I'm not sure I can deal with this."

Andy could feel the dreamy look steal across her face again. "She's a fantastic kisser, Lily."

Lily poked her. "She might be a good kisser, or you might just be totally infatuated."

"I think I can tell if someone is a good kisser or not. I can be objective."

"You were never able to be objective about Miranda and you know it."

"Well," said Andy.

"Don't bother. It is not worth it to lie to me."

"I know. Believe me, I know."

"So—you're really dating Miranda?"

"Lily!" Andy said. "We've been dating for weeks."

Lily made a face. "Well, yeah, you kept going out with her. But—"

"But what?"

"But I didn't believe you. I mean, she's Miranda Priestly, and you're—you're you."

"What does that mean?"

"It means," Lily said, and then rather obviously changed her mind and pasted a smile on. "It means I'm happy for you. She's nuts, but I guess so are you."

Andy sagged. "You don't think this is a good idea."

"It's not that. It's not that at all. You love her, and if she likes you, you're totally on your way to happily forever after. But—"

"Another but."

Lily wrapped an arm around Andy and pulled her close. "But the twins are looking out for Miranda, making sure she doesn't get hurt. Who's looking out for you?"

Andy leaned against Lily. "Isn't that your job?"

Lily laughed. "I'm supposed to march over to the Upper East Side and give that woman a piece of my mind?"

"You're my best friend; you're allowed to use the shovel speech."

"She's probably never seen Buffy, poor woman," Lily said. "It wouldn't have the appropriate impact."

"I think threatening someone with a shovel is always going to have an impact, Lily."

"Well, if she hurts you, I don't think a shovel is going to cut it."

Andy smiled. "Thanks."

October 28: Bye

Except that when Andy arrived at Miranda's house on Saturday, she realized that if she had expected to spend a day with Miranda that wasn't focused around Runway or football, she was going to be sorely disappointed.

Caroline opened the door, and when Andy asked where Miranda was, she wordlessly pointed up the stairs. "Where do you think? She's been in there for hours already."

Hours seemed like an exaggeration, until Andy pushed open the door to the den and saw the piles of coffee cups and chip bags.

"There you are, Andrea," Miranda said. "You missed the Northwestern game; they lost, naturally. And it's already the third quarter of the South Carolina game; they are winning, thank goodness."

"Oh?" Andy asked. Since when did Miranda have an opinion on South Carolina? And then Andy noticed who they were playing: Tennessee. Well, that made sense. And that orange did look a little like a creamsicle. Tennessee probably deserved to get walloped by a bunch of chickens. Cocks.

Miranda absently leaned over and let Andy kiss her cheek.

"So, you've been in here a long time, according to Caroline," Andy said.

"It's rare that I have a chance to see Northwestern on television," Miranda replied. She turned to look at Andy, and she sounded disappointed when she said, "I thought you might be able to make it, to share with me some of your expertise."

"My expertise?"

"On the Wildcats," Miranda said. "It's too late now, and I'm not sure when they're going to be televised again this year. Shame, really, they're an exciting team."

"Miranda," Andy said, "You know I don't actually root for Northwestern, right?"

Miranda looked scandalized. "You don't?"

"No," Andy said. "My dad went to Ohio State, and my Mom got her PhD there. If anything, I'm a Buckeyes fan," she said.

"Oh," Miranda said. "Then you already know about the home-and-home scheduled with Cal. We'll have to go, of course. I'll have Emily put in the schedule right now," Miranda said and reached for her phone.

Andy was horrified. "No!"

Miranda looked at her.

"Do they—do they even have a date yet?"

"Well, no, but—"

"I'm sure we can figure it out later. Next fall, right? That's a year away."

"The games are scheduled for 2012 and 2013," Miranda said, her attention already back on the television.

"Oh." That was six years in the future.

Miranda wanted them to make plans for something that wasn't going to happen for six years. They hadn't even been dating for six months; they hadn't even been dating for six weeks. In fact, if you had asked Miranda, she'd say they'd barely been dating for six days. Andy wondered, not for the first time, if Miranda were certifiably insane. Probably.

"No, I suppose not." Miranda sounded dismayed. "But we will go—I have never experienced the Shoe in person, and I am quite looking forward to it."

"The what?" Andy said.

"The Horseshoe—Ohio State's stadium?"

"Oh. Right."

"Surely if you reported on Big Ten football—"

"It's, um, it's technically just called Ohio Stadium."

"Humph," said Miranda.

Andy grinned and ran her fingers across the nape of Miranda's neck.

Miranda shivered and leaned into her touch. "We'll go."

"Of course we will," Andy said.

In six years.

The rest of the day passed pleasantly, with no more conversation about their long-term plans. And after dinner, once they were safely in the den and the girls were in bed, Andy got the feeling Miranda had let go of long term plans and was focusing on short-term ones, because Andy had just realized Miranda had quit talking and was staring at Andy. Or more precisely, at Andy's lips.

"You want to?" asked Andy.

Miranda nodded, and the slammed herself into Andy. A little stunned by the force—and by the lack of finesse—Andy rallied, smashing her lips into Miranda's with several months of pent-up lust driving her. It was all heat and movement and very little care or consideration, but Andy didn't care. And then Miranda's hands slipped beneath her shirt, and Andy really didn't care.

Miranda's hands really were hot—Andy had assumed it was her own overactive libido, but maybe Miranda just had really good circulation. And when she put her hands on Andy, it burned. Every touch, every scratch, every breath tuned to flame when it hit Andy's skin. And not just on the surface, it bored deep into her stomach and in between her legs: she was on fire, and she wanted her clothes off. The fabric tore at her suddenly over-sensitive skin, and she swore could hear the crackles of the flames. Or maybe that was just her pulling at Miranda's own clothes. She wasn't sure if it would be enough, to have that skin-to-skin contact with Miranda, but if she could just feel her, it would be better. It had to be.

Miranda was going slowly, so slowly. Taking her time. Teasing Andy, mitigating her force just a little now, and Andy so did not need to be teased anymore. Foreplay was over; it was time to get down to the main event. Now.

But when she tried to take off Miranda's shirt, she brushed her hands away to set Andy's neck on fire. And when she reached for Miranda's pants, she pushed her away again and ran trails of flame across Andy's legs. In her more lucid moments, Andy wondered if she would simply combust as soon as Miranda got her clothes off, but then Miranda finally, finally, slipped two fingers under Andy's pants, and that was enough. Andy gasped, and whined, and thrust, and was about to come--

Miranda quickly pulled her hand away.

"What?" Andy panted. "What?"

"I don't--We should--"

"No," said Andy. "No, it's fine. We'll just go slowly." Any more slowly was going to be agony. Slowly was for the dogs. Slowly was going to kill her.

"Slowly?" said Miranda. "I didn't mean—" She stood up and headed for the door, stepping very carefully as she went.

Andy was dumbfounded. This was the second time she had thought that they were headed somewhere interesting, and the second time Miranda just walked away.

Until Miranda got to the door and realized Andy wasn't behind her. "Aren't you coming to bed?" she asked, confused.

Bed. Oh yes, Andy was coming to bed. Andy was coming in bed in about two seconds, if she had anything to say about it. "Oh God, yes. Yes."

Miranda smiled.

Andy exploded.

A bit of enthusiastic commentary pulled Andy from her sleep; she was still exhausted--Miranda, it turned out, was insatiable once she actually got started and everyone got naked--but whoever she was listening to was demanding attention. And the bed seemed strangely cold. Or rather, not nearly as warn as it should have been. She rolled over to reach for Miranda, but she wasn't there. No wonder Andy was a little cold. Of course, the thin blanket might have had something to do with it. There was a weird glow in the room, too and as Andy blinked herself awake, she spotted a dark form at the end of the bed, backlit by a blaring television. Miranda.

Who would have thought Miranda had a TV in her bedroom? And then Stuart Scott said, "And in today's biggest news, Oregon State did something no team has done since California in 2003. Stay tuned to find out what it was."

"What're you doing?" Andy asked, her voice thick with sleep. She reached out with her toe, but Miranda was too far away to poke. Damn. She'd have to actually move to touch her.

"I didn't have a chance to watch the rest of today's games," Miranda said absently.

"So you're watching highlights?" Andy said, shifting slowly over. The rest of the sheets were completely cold, which meant Miranda had been up for a while.

Miranda glanced at Andy and then turned back to the TV. "USC lost." Her voice had that weird distant quality again, from before she decided to drag them both to the bedroom.


"That teaser—" Miranda said, and cleared her throat. "We were the last Pac-10 team to beat USC. Triple overtime. Back-up quarterback. Amazing game."

"Oh. How did you know that?"

"About the Cal-USC game?"

"About whoever it was who beat USC today."

"Sportscenter is on repeat until—I have no idea, actually. All night, possibly."

"You—You—you've seen this before?" How long had she been up? How long had Andy been asleep? Not to mention it was a bit of a hit to her ego that Miranda clearly wasn't as wiped out by Andy as Andy was by Miranda.

She nodded.

Andy hauled herself up to sit next to Miranda and wrapped an arm around her. "What's wrong?"

Miranda lifted her chin and squirmed a little. She didn't move away, though. "You have to leave."



"Yeah, that's a good answer."

"The girls—"

"They know I'm here. We had dinner together."

"They know you were here for dinner; they do not know about—" Miranda waved her vaguely hand between them. "—this." At least she sounded more direct now than she had earlier. More focused. Andy shivered a little and had to drag her attention back to the conversation. This is important, she reminded herself.

"Miranda, they know about us. They already gave me the 'beat you to death with a shovel' speech."

Miranda looked at her like she was nuts, and then said, "They do not know this about us."


"They will not wake up tomorrow morning and discover you stayed the night." Miranda had an imperious look on her face, one that quite clearly said this was non-negotiable. She had also somehow moved to the edge of the bed without Andy noticing. The space between them looked huge, and Andy's exhaustion washed over her suddenly. Maybe it would be better to go to their separate corners for a little while so Miranda's freak-out could pass.

"Fine," said Andy. "But I'm telling you—"

"Andrea. We will tell them, but it's far too soon. Now," she said, standing up.

But it wasn't too soon for them to be making plans for 2012? "Right, sure," said Andy, and crawled off the bed. "I have to call a cab."

"Yes." Miranda was back to staring at the screen, now showing a graphic of how many Pac-10 games USC had won in a row.

When Andy was finished getting dressed, she hesitated.

Miranda didn't turn around.

Sunday was unbearably long, even with two short calls from Miranda during which neither of them said anything of importance. Monday was merely unbearable, plastered as it was with meetings and work crises and three delayed trains when she could least afford them. When Tuesday and lunch with Miranda finally rolled around, Andy felt like she was going to jump out of her skin.

"The girls want you to come over to dinner on Thursday," Miranda said without preamble.

Andy stared, and then took a deep breath. "Hi, Miranda."

"West Virginia-Louisville; it should be an excellent game."

"Miranda—" Andy tried again.

"Do you have to work on Friday?"

"Yeah, but—"

Miranda frowned thunderously. Andy could read the sentiment clearly on her face: the sheer nerve of The Mirror, expecting their reporters to actually work. She didn't have to say it. "You should stay over this weekend," she said instead.

Evidently, Miranda might not have realized they were dating before, but now that she had figured it out, she was more than happy to reap all the benefits of it. She wasn't going to even get a friendly kiss on the cheek, but Miranda wanted her to stay over?

Miranda, of course, didn't notice and plowed ahead. "It's UCLA, at home. It should be—we will kill them. Karl Dorrell won't know what hit him. Especially now that Drew-Jones has moved on. After last year—"

"Wait, so suddenly I can—"

"The girls were upset that you weren't there for breakfast. They were looking forward to—"

Now it was Andy's turn to glare. "I told you."

Miranda turned pink. "We'll make pancakes—"

"I told you. I said they knew about us and were okay with it, I said—"

Miranda's pinkness turned a bit red, but she continued on blithely. "—the girls like pancakes. And the polls will be released at noon on Sunday, and we should gain position, after we crush the Bruins." She blinked. "I despise baby blue, Andrea."

"You—I—" Andy shook her head and gave up. "I'll come over on Saturday and spend the night. Now, say hello to me properly."

Miranda's blush get even worse, but she stood up and offered her cheek to Andy.

November 4: vs. UCLA (W, 38-24; 8-1)

"Eight in a row, Andrea!"

"Yeah, I know," Andy said, and began pulling at Miranda's wrist, guiding her downstairs to the bedrooms. "I guess they recovered from that first loss pretty well, huh?"

"Eight wins. In a row. Did you see that hit? It was a marvelous hit, wasn't it," Miranda said, her eyes glowing.

"I saw it," said Andy.

"So forceful. The grace and power, Andrea, lovely."

"And the mustard uniforms," Andy said, and pushed open the bedroom door.

"Gold," corrected Miranda. "Yes, they are truly spectacular."

"Yep," said Andy. She pulled off her shirt and tossed in the corner, and then started in on her jeans.

"Eight in a— what are you doing?"

Andy grinned. "What does it look like I'm doing?"

"I think—I think—" she blinked and turned scarlet. And then she turned away from Andy to fidget with knickknacks on the side table. "Andrea," she said, her voice sounding a little a choked, "I really think that this might be it. Now, of course you're coming with us to Pasadena, and—"

"What?" Andy said. Miranda had a transfixed look on her face. Unfortunately, she wasn't looking anywhere near Andy.

"Pasadena," said Miranda. "The Rose Bowl. I realize you will probably have to go to—Ohio is it?"

"Sure," said Andy. "Ohio." Here she was, standing around in a bra and panties—a very sexy bra and panties, Miranda had said so when they shot them for the December issue—and they were talking about Ohio; no wonder everyone under the sun wanted to wring Miranda's neck.

"—for Christmas, but the Rose Bowl is on the first, and the girls and I will be in California from the—I think from the 28th or 29th. I wonder if they'll let us wear the gold uniforms for the Rose Bowl."

"I have no idea," Andy said, and rubbed her forehead.

Miranda cocked her head, still not looking at Andy. "Do you even know if the Pac-10 is the home team this year?" she asked. Her voice sounded very far away.

"No." Andy threw back the covers and flopped down. If anyone had asked her what Miranda was mostly likely to do to make Andy's libido shrivel up and die, Andy would have said Miranda was most likely to make a bunch of fat comments in bed. Talking about football instead of jumping her girlfriend was nowhere on the list of possibilities.

"Oh," said Miranda. "Neither do I. Let me just look—" she said, and headed toward the door.

"Miranda, where are you going?"

Miranda's face was the picture of surprise. "To check who the home team is."

"No," said Andy.

"Excuse me?"

Andy stalked across the room. "You're not going anywhere," she said, and pushed up Miranda's shirt. "And you're not going to check anything."


"No," said Andy and unzipped Miranda's pants. "You can check in the morning. We're going to bed now."

"Oh," said Miranda as Andy slid down her jeans, pulling Miranda's panties as she went. "Oh!"

"You are amazing," said Andy.

"Thank you," Miranda said as Andy finished stripping her and pushed her onto the bed. Andy rolled her eyes. Miranda said, "I didn't think you—I didn't want to assume you—"

"Whatever," said Andy. She glanced at the juncture of Miranda's legs, right in front of her eyes and licked her lips. "Do you want to do this, or not?"

"Yes," said Miranda, vehemently. She was looking at Andy, and her face was florescent red. "Yes, I want this, of course I do. I just didn't want you to think—"

"What?" asked Andy. She crawled forward, settling herself on top of Miranda and resting her body on her forearms. "What didn't you want me to think, Miranda?"

Miranda's body language was completely open and welcoming, but she couldn't meet Andy's eyes and she couldn't seem to answer.


"I don't just want your body, Andrea," she blurted, and then she looked a bit terrified. "I want that, too, I mean, of course I do, you're lovely and so generous and last week was wonderful but I—"

"I get it," said Andy.

Miranda blinked. "You do?"

Andy closed her eyes. "Yes, I do," she breathed into Miranda's skin, and then kept going, mouthing her way across Miranda's breasts to her thighs. "The questions is, do you?"

"Do I?" said Miranda, running her hands through Andy's hair. "I want—I want—oh!"

"Mmmm," said Andy. Her mouth was full, and she wasn't really paying attention anymore, now that she had Miranda right where she wanted her.

"But I don't want you to think—I'm not just—I—oh, oh, oh! Andrea—"

"Shut up," said Andy.

The next morning, Andy woke up with Miranda pressed against her back, arms wrapped around her.

"Good morning," Andy said, rolling over.

"Yes," said Miranda, staring down at Andy sincerely, and then her expression became slightly vague.

Andy braced herself.

"—do you think that young man is okay? Bosley, or whatever his name is?" Miranda said.

"Bosworth," said Andy. "I'm sure he's fine. He's a football player."

"He didn't look okay," said Miranda. "They crashed into each other awfully hard."


"Neither did Thomas. I hope he's okay. He's an excellent player, Andrea; did I ever tell you about his penchant for blocking kicks? Absolutely marvelous, Thomas."

Andy closed her eyes. "You said that already," she mumbled into Miranda's skin, deciding that another round sounded like a great idea.

"Did I?" said Miranda, running her hands through Andy's hair. "Well, it's true. That hit! And it sprung Jackson free, that split second was all he needed."

"Mmmm," said Andy.

"It was just like that juke in the Oregon game, Andrea, do you remember? Jackson moves so fluidly, so quickly, he requires hardly any space to make a move—"

"Unlike you," Andy said.

"What?" said Miranda. "Never mind. He just jumped backwards, Andrea. That's all; just a little jump. And he made everyone miss, and DeCoud—"

"Miranda, are you going to keep talking about this?"


"No," said Andy, and unceremoniously thrust her fingers into Miranda. She was dripping already, and she arched up into Andy's hand.

"Oh," Miranda said, and then moaned, "No."

"Good," said Andy emphatically.

When they woke up again, they had switched spots and Andy was now curled around Miranda. "Good morning," Andy murmured into Miranda's neck.

"That was a marvelous hit," said Miranda.

Andy groaned and buried her head under her pillow.

Breakfast was better: Miranda didn't mention football at all.

Everyone had finished eating, but Caroline and Cassidy were still sitting at the table expectantly. Andy wondered what was coming. It didn't take long to find out.

"So, Mom," drawled Cassidy.

"Yes?" asked Miranda.

"When is Andy moving in?"

Every inch of Miranda's visible skin turned scarlet. "When—Cassidy—I—"

"I don't think you need to worry about that," Andy said, laughing, and Miranda instantly went from scarlet to white.

"I have to—I have to—I'll be in my office," she said, sounding weirdly brittle, and then she stood up so fast she knocked over her chair. She was out of the room practically before the chair hit the floor.

"Wait, no, Mom—" said Cassidy, leaping up to follow.

Fast on her heels, Caroline said, "She didn't mean it like that—"

Andy sat at the table, completely unable to move and wondering what the hell had just happened.

"Mom, wait a minute—" Cassidy say from the hall.

"That's not what—" said Caroline.

"Mom—" they said together.

Miranda's only response was the distant slamming of a door.

Andy felt frozen to her seat, staring at the remains of breakfast. Two minutes ago they had been having fun, laughing, and now— "What the fuck was that?" she whispered to the empty table.

"You're not supposed to swear around us," Caroline said softly from her stop huddled in the doorway.

Cassidy, right next to her, said, "Yeah, even though we know all sorts of swearwords already."

"What was that?" Andy repeated.

"She's upset," said Cassidy. Caroline nodded.

Andy sighed. "I got that. What I don't get is why."

Cassidy and Caroline exchanged glances and approached the table. "Maybe—" Cassidy started.

When Cassidy didn't finish, Caroline said, "Maybe she thinks—"

"I think she's afraid you don't want to live here," said Cassidy in a rush. "With us."

"What?" Andy said.

Caroline said slowly, "You said it wasn't something we need to worry about."

"That wasn't—I just meant—it's only been a few weeks!" said Andy.

The twins stared at her. Andy stared back.

"That's not what I meant," she said.

Caroline was playing with her fork, not looking at either of them, but Cassidy was staring right into Andy's eyes, practically hypnotizing her. "What did you mean?" Cassidy asked.

"I meant—I meant—I just meant we don't need to worry about that now," Andy said. "We have a lot of things to figure out, like how to tell people, and what to tell them, and—"


"And I'm not sure—I'm not sure—"

"I told you!" shouted Caroline, jumping up again. "I told you not to hurt her—"

"I'm not going to hurt her," Andy said. "I'm just not sure if I'm ready for all this yet, okay?" Now Andy was practically shouting herself. "I'm not sure I'm ready to publicly date one of the most famous women on the planet, or to be a stepmother, or even to think about moving in with anyone. I just got out of a relationship."

"You did?" the twins asked in unison, curiosity overtaking their ire.

Andy nodded. "Yeah, I did."

"With who?" said Cassidy.

"A guy I met in college."

Caroline's eyes widened. "A guy?"

"I thought you liked girls," said Cassidy.

"I like both, but see: this is what I'm talking about. There's so much more we all need to know about each other before we can start talking about me moving in." Although they might possibly need to have this conversation before 2012.

Caroline looked glum but Cassidy was frowning just as thunderously as her mother ever did, and for a moment, Andy's vision blurred, and she could see clearly what Miranda must have looked like as a child. It was extremely appealing.

Andy took a deep breath. "Cassidy," she said, and Cassidy shrank back in her seat. Andy kept her voice very low. "Why did you ask your mom that?"

Cassidy hunched even further into herself. Caroline was looking at her sister curiously, obviously wondering the same thing.

"Cassidy?" prompted Andy.

"I just wanted—"

"What did you want?"

"She's happy. You make her happy. I thought it would be a happy thing, you living here." Her lip trembled, and she blinked back an onslaught of tears. "I guess not."

Andy sighed and started clearing the table. A look prompted Cassidy and Caroline to hop up and help her, Cassidy periodically wiping her face with her sleeve. They had almost finished silently clearing up when Andy said carefully, "I think she's probably pretty happy with the idea of us all living together in the abstract—I know I am—but she's probably nervous just like me, and my answer didn't help things."

"So it wasn't my fault?" Cassidy asked in a very small voice.

Andy smiled at her. "No, sweetie, it wasn't your fault."

"Good," said Cassidy and threw her arms around Andy.

Andy stared up the stairs in trepidation. The twins stood next to her, also looking up the heights of Mount Doom.

"You have to go talk to her," Caroline whispered.

"I know," said Andy.

"She probably feels really sad," said Cassidy.

"I know," repeated Andy.

"She might not even be mad at you," said Cassidy.

Caroline added, "I mean, not really mad. Just a little bit."

"I know," said Andy again.

Cassidy pushed her, gently. "You should go."

Andy looked at them both, and then sighed. "Wish me luck."

Their chorus of good lucks followed Andy up the stairs, in contrast to the twins' voices following Miranda mere minutes before. God, thought Andy: had it really only been 10 minutes?

Andy finally found Miranda on the fourth floor, curled up on the couch with a throw over her legs. The TV was tuned in to an NFL game, but Miranda's gaze was curiously blank. Andy had never seen anything like it.

Andy paused in the doorway, but Miranda didn't look up. Gathering all her courage, Andy edged into the room, and perched on the couch near Miranda's feet. She reached out to touch Miranda's foot.

"You know that's not what I meant," she said eventually.

Miranda didn't answer.

Andy swallowed, waiting for her judgement.

After a small eternity, Miranda spoke. "It's all so professional."

"It's the pros," said Andy.

Miranda nodded. "They play for the paycheck, not for the love of the game."

Andy watched her for a moment, and then said, "I think you have to love it, to do it. Otherwise it's not worth it."

After another pause that lasted forever, Miranda finally met Andy's eyes.

"I'm sorry," Andy said, the words tumbling out of her. "I'm so sorry, Miranda, I just meant I'm not ready to worry—we've only been dating for a little while—"

Miranda snorted, and then shifted on the couch to curl into Andy. Andy welcomed her, cradling Miranda's warmth and adjusting the little blanket so they could both be nested in their little cocoon. They sat quietly for a long time, just watching the game, but eventually Miranda heaved a huge sigh and pecked Andy on the cheek. And then she said, "Do you follow the Bengals at all?"

"I need you to not freak out," Andy said.

Lily's eyes immediately narrowed. "What did she do? And I am going to get arrested when I talk to her about it?"

"No!" said Andy. "No, it's just—"

"What did she do, Andy?"

"She—We—I—" Andy sighed. "We kind of had a fight."

"A fight."

"Yeah, it was—"

"What'd she say?" Lily demanded. "She's got a big mouth, but she can't say shit about you—"

"Nothing!" said Andy. "She didn't say anything. I was the one who said something."

Lily looked completely confused. "What did you say?"

Andy winced. "I kind of made a joke about moving in."

"A joke?" Lily's eyes were huge and incredulous. "What kind of a joke?"

"The kind of joke where it might have sort of sounded like I thought moving in with Miranda was a joke. But that wasn't what I meant!"

Lily frowned. "You want to move in with her? This is long term?"

Andy pursed her lips, wondering how much to tell Lily. It was too soon, she knew it was. It was a bad idea, and it was too soon, and she wanted it. Andy took a deep breath and nodded.

"Holy shit, Andy. Holy shit. This is big. Oh my God, Andy. Holy shit."

"You said that."

"I mean—I knew you were serious. You're always serious. But this—you want to move in with her?"

Andy nodded again. "Not now, obviously. But someday."

"Long term?"

"Really long term. Really, really long term."


"Forever," agreed Andy.



"This is me not freaking out," Lily said.

Andy smiled. "Thanks."

"So, um, your fight?"

Andy buried her head in her hands. "Yeah."

"Tell me about it," Lily said.

November 11: at Arizona (L, 24-20; 8-2)

A week later, the most agonizing afternoon of Andy's life ended with Arizona rushing the field. It seemed wrong that so many people could be so happy with something that made Miranda so miserable. Miranda stared at them, aghast, and then sputtered, "I can't believe that man—he—that was a flag—he—I should call—" Her face was turning red. Andy stared, a little worried. Maybe Andy was wrong; maybe Miranda wasn't miserable, maybe she was mad. That reminded her of the last time Miranda had been mad, only a week ago.

"Let's go do something," she blurted. "Something else."

Miranda whirled on Andy. "Something else?" she spat. "Something else? I don't think so, Andrea. This is—there is nothing else. He should have—he was in bounds!"

"Miranda, it doesn't matter, it's—"

"It doesn't matter?" Miranda snarled.

Andy shrank back. "I—"

"Andrea Sachs thinks it doesn't matter, so of course we should all just see the light and go about our merry way. Because Andrea Sachs said so."

"Miranda, that's not fair," Andy said.

"Not fair," Miranda said, and her voice dropped to its lowest register. "Let's talk about fair, Andrea."

Andy quailed. Miranda sounded somewhere well beyond mere anger, cold and distant and brutal.

"Is it 'fair' when other people drop the ball?" said Miranda, pacing the room furiously. "Is it 'fair' when ordinarily reliable people let down others through their inattention? Is it 'fair' when those who are doing their best have to pick up the slack?"

Andy's stomach dropped through the floor, and she curled into herself against the tirade. They had talked about Paris, Andy thought blindly, although not in depth, and besides Miranda had said it didn't matter. Now, faced with the the invective streaming out of Miranda's mouth, she was completely floored. Nigel had said that Miranda was upset afterward, but the twins claimed it was the fucking football game and not Andy at all. Fucking twins; she had thought they were on her side. Too bad Andy had never thought to force the matter with Miranda herself and get it out of the way before Miranda flipped out. Because Miranda had said it was fine, but obviously that was a lie.

Andy was shaking so hard she couldn't breathe, but Miranda wasn't done yet.

"I don't think it's 'fair' at all, Andrea. It seems you think differently."

"M-m-m-miranda—" Andy said.

"What? Have you changed your mind? Do you have some explanation for me?"

Andy opened her mouth and willed words out, but nothing came.

"So you don't have an explanation? You don't have any commentary on what it takes to be part of a team, to be depended on by everyone else to do their job? You have nothing to say?"


"'I—I—I—'" mocked Miranda. "You what?"

Andy gaped, tears suddenly streaming down her face. "You c-c-can't—"

"Can't I? I thought more of you, Andrea. I really did." Miranda paced to the window and spoke without turning around. "Go. Leave. Do whatever you want. You always do."


"Obviously this is not where you want to be, with me and my little preoccupations that 'don't matter'. So go."


"Go," barked Miranda.

Andy fled.

By the time she hit the subway, she could barely see for crying. She tried to ignore the well-meaning stares and interested whispers, but eventually she couldn't stand it anymore and fled the subway, too.

Miranda's voice followed her, mocking her as she went, never ending her angry words and vicious jabs, right where it hurt the most every single time.

Finding an empty corner in Manhattan was a lost cause, but Andy just needed to be alone for a minute to catch her breath, to pick up the pieces of her shattered life.

She had no idea where she was, but that didn't matter; it was dark out, and cold, and there were people out there with warm beating hearts who loved and were loved in return, but it didn't matter to Andy anymore either. Nothing mattered. Miranda hated her.

"Andy?" someone said, grabbing her arm.

She reflexively tried to jerk away, but she couldn't move. It didn't matter anyway; whoever it was could have her wallet, or her life. Whatever he wanted. She didn't need it anymore.

"Andy? What's going on?" asked Nigel.

Nigel? Nigel was here? Andy finally registered where she was: somehow, she had managed to get off the subway down the street from Nigel's house. "She, she—" Andy said, and the tears started again.

"There, there," said Nigel, patting her awkwardly on the shoulder and simultaneously grabbing her arm to guide her down the street.

"It was—" Andy couldn't get the rest of her sentence out.

"Bad?" Nigel prompted.

"Oh God, Nigel," said Andy, wiping her face. "She's still so mad about Paris, and she said—" she stopped again, more tears coming.

"Are you sure? I haven't heard anything—"

"I know I messed up," Andy wailed, not listening to him. "I know I hurt her. But she said stuff that—the last two months didn't matter—she said horrible things." She flinched at her own words, and buried her face in her hands. She felt raw, flayed open, and the loss of Miranda's warmth hit her suddenly.

Nigel gently tugged at her, and she turned her face into his shoulder. He tsked a bit, but Andy didn't care; her chest was cracking open and her head felt swollen a thousand times and about to burst. Everything hurt.

"There, there," said Nigel again.

Andy spent the rest of the weekend crying, ranting at Lily, and furiously clearing her apartment. She had navigated their little tiny fight the weekend before just fine, but Miranda mocking her stutter was even worse than calling her a smart, fat girl. She had known that dating Miranda would be difficult—God knew Miranda never made anything easy for herself or for anyone else—but she hadn't been prepared those kind of malicious comments. She probably should have been.

By Monday, she had convinced herself that it was for the best, that a relationship with Miranda was pure madness, and that she should be thankful she had gotten out when she did.

And then, around mid-afternoon, the phone rang.

"Hello?" Andy asked warily.

"The girls have a friend spending the night on Friday—" Miranda said without preamble.


"—so we're expecting you by 5:00 on Saturday at the latest. We'll eat dinner before the game—"


"It's USC," said Miranda.

"What?" said Andy. Miranda wanted to see her? After everything she had said, how hateful and vicious Miranda had been, she still wanted to see her?

"It's USC," Miranda repeated. "This is the biggest game of the year—barring the Big Game, of course—not to mention you left early on Saturday so we didn't get a chance spent any time together."

"You kicked me out!" Andy said. And made fun of me.

"What in the world are you talking about?" Miranda said. "Now, I have an extremely busy week so lunch is out the question—and you know how much I love to watch you eat—but—"

"I'm n-n-not coming over," said Andy, cringing even as the words came out of her mouth. Stuttering was humiliating enough; stuttering in front of someone who had already made fun of her stutter was even worse.

"What?" said Miranda. "What in the world are you talking about?"

"Miranda—" Andy said, and then, "Saturday—"

Miranda inhaled sharply. "Yes, well, Saturday was an aberration. We momentarily lost focus. This week will be different. We are tied with USC in the Pac-10 standings, and a win—"

"That's not what I meant," Andy said, her throat thick with unshed tears. More fucking tears.

"Andrea? You sound congested." Miranda's voice was soft, gentle. "Is something wrong?"

Andy opened her mouth, and then closed it again. "Wrong?" she said, her voice rising again. "I—you—wrong—"

"Have you seen your physician?" Miranda asked.

"My—" Andy's breath left her in a huff, and she rubbed her forehead. "I don't need to see a doctor," she ground out.

"Are you sure?" Miranda said. "You don't sound well."

Andy gave a frustrated laugh. "Oh really? I'm the fucking picture of health, Miranda."

"Well, that's good," said Miranda. "I'd hate for you to be coming down with something. So: there is nothing keeping you coming over for dinner and the game on Saturday. The girls are looking forward to you spending the night, and perhaps on Sunday as well, if you can manage it. My schedule on Monday morning is surprisingly free—"

"Spending the—Miranda—" Andy dropped her head against the back of her chair and stared at the ceiling. Miranda was acting like nothing had happened, like she hadn't broken Andy's heart into a million tiny pieces and then ground them into the dirt.

"Is work going to prevent you from staying?" Miranda made an annoyed sound in the back of her throat. "I hope you're not working too hard, Andrea. I've become accustomed to seeing you on a more regular basis, and this week is going to be extremely difficult—"

"Miranda, we didn't see each other because we broke up," Andy said.

There was a dead silence on the other end of the line, and then a faint crash. "What?" Miranda said, nearly inaudible. "What?"

"You threw me out," Andy said, her voicing rising. "You said awful things on Saturday—" Andy broke off, devastation destroying her words. The memory of the things Miranda had said still lashed at Andy, the echo of her voice loud and clear in Andy's head.

"What are you talking about?" Miranda said, still sounding very faint. "We—"

"You said all that stuff about Paris, and then—"

"Paris?" demanded Miranda, her voice suddenly stronger. "What did I say about Paris?"

"You said, you said—" Andy pushed through her tears. "Miranda, you said all this stuff about letting people down and abandoning their responsibilities—I know I fucked up, but—"

"Andrea, I wasn't—did you even watch the game?" she asked suspiciously.

Andy's head swam. What the fuck? "Did I—the game?"

"Yes, the game. That horrible, abominable—I can't even think about it."

"The game," said Andy. Holy shit. "You were talking about the game?" Incredulous didn't even begin to cover it.

"What did you think I was talking about? We played awfully out there; we deserved to lose, even though we are by far the better team. But if we do not execute—"

"I thought—" Andy said, in complete disbelief. "You said—"

"You thought I was talking about—Andrea, Paris was—it happened. It happened, and now it is over, and the outcome, well, the outcome turned out much better than I ever would have hoped. Although I think you could do more in the editorial arena than as a reporter, but—"

Better? Paris turned out better—because now they had each other? Nothing made any sense anymore, and Andy was never going to be able to figure out how Miranda's head worked. Because evidently she spent the last two days absolutely devastated for no reason at all. Because Miranda hadn't been talking about her. "You weren't talking about me," Andy said.

"Of course not. That is over and done with. Honestly, Andrea, you are a strange creature," Miranda said. "Lovely, but strange."

"I thought you—I thought we—"

"You thought we broke up," Miranda said, and now there was a catch in her voice. It was subtle, of course, almost unnoticeable, but it was there. Not that Andy wanted to make Miranda cry, but in an awful way, it felt good to share the agony a little.

"Yeah, I did. It was awful." Andy was probably never going to share with Miranda exactly how much of an understatement that was. "You made me feel awful, Miranda."

"Yes," said Miranda. "I understand that. And I—it was truly not my intention. You must believe me."

And then the tears subsided and anger took over. Justified anger. Rage, even. "You said miserable, horrible, hurtful things about me—"

"I wasn't talking about Paris."

"I didn't know that!" Andy was furious now, and shouting. In a distant part of her mind, she reveled in how cathartic it felt to yell at Miranda. An even more distant part of her mind wondered at the fact that Miranda didn't seem bothered by being yelled at. "And that's not what I'm talking about, anyway!"

"Well," said Miranda. "Well. I wasn't talking about you, Andrea," she said, her voice soft. Not faint anymore, more like pleading. Apologetic, even.

"Yes, you were. And it hurt, Miranda. A lot."

"I don't—what did I—what are you talking about?" There were rustles on the other end of the line; Andy imagined Miranda standing up and walking over to the window or fiddling with her clothes. Anything to distract herself and make the conversation easier.

"You m-m-mocked me, Miranda."

"I have never mocked you—"

"You made fun of my stutter!"

"I never—I didn't—"

"Yes, you did. I can't believe you don't remember this. You mocked me, and you made me cry—Miranda, you hit way below the belt."

Miranda sucked in a breath. "I honestly do not recall ever saying anything that would make you think—Andrea, I respect you completely."

"That's not what you said."

"Whatever I said, however you understood it, that was truly not what I meant."

Andy huffed, waiting.

Miranda didn't say anything else.

"I need an apology, Miranda," Andy said. At the very least, she needed an apology.

"But it wasn't my intention—you misunderstood completely—"

"I don't care what your fucking intention was. I need an apology, now."

Now Miranda huffed, and the seconds ticked by as she contemplated Andy's request. She was taking so long, Andy thought about hanging up on her, mostly to prove the point, but then maybe they'd really be broken up and Andy didn't think she could survive going through that again. The ticking of her kitchen clock sounded absurdly loud, compared to the slience at the other end of the line. Finally, finally, Miranda took a deep breath, and said stiffly, "I apologize."

"For what?"

"I already said—" Miranda said.

"Miranda, you have to—you know what? Google 'how to apologize' and call me back when you've learned to take responsibility for hurting other people," Andy said, and slammed down the phone.

Except that just before the line cut off, she heard Miranda on the other end desperately saying, "Wait. Wait, Andrea. Wait."

So Andy waited.

"I—" Miranda said. And then she stopped talking, so Andy had to wait some more. "I'm sorry—" Miranda tried again.

That wasn't good enough.

"I apologize for making you feel ridiculed," Miranda said softly. "I don't always—I can't promise never to say things in the heat of anger that hurt, but I promise I will never disregard your feelings like this again."

Andy's eyes closed, and she swallowed against the lump in her throat. Right on cue, there were the tears again, but at least this time it was good to feel them pricking the corners of her eyes. "Thank you," she whispered.

There was a long period of silence on the other end, and then something that sounded suspiciously like a sniffle. Miranda quickly followed that with a brisk, "You're welcome. Now, I'll see you tomorrow?"

"I thought you were extremely busy—" And Andy wasn't sure she wanted to see Miranda anyway. Maybe she needed some space to think about things. Miranda could be brutal when she felt cornered, and no matter what she promised today, Andy knew that the next time they fought, she'd pull all the same shit. And the more they got to know each other, the better Miranda would be at pushing her buttons. Fuck. "Actually, you know what? I'm really busy—"

"Yes, well. Under the circumstances, I think it might be—I'd like—I think it would be for the best—"


"I'm not sure you believe me, Andrea," Miranda said softly. "That I'm sorry, and that I truly did not intend to disparage you at all. I just—I need to see you. Just for a moment. Please."

"Fine," said Andy. "I'll see you for lunch tomorrow—"


"What?" said Andy.

"I'd prefer to see you tomorrow morning. Or even—"

Andy closed her eyes. "What?" she asked flatly. This was so stupid, and she couldn't even pretend that she hadn't set herself up for it. She was just going to let Miranda walk all over her, manipulate the hell out of her emotions, leave her wrapped in misery for almost three days for no reason

"Tonight?" Miranda asked. "I—I'm sorry, if you have plans—I would prefer to see you tonight."

"Oh," said Andy faintly.

"Whenever you can come over, I'll be up. I have dinner with Derek and Diego, but if you were to stop by after ten or so, I will make sure to be home by then—or I can cancel—"

Cancel? Cancel dinner with Derek Lam? Maybe Miranda really did mean it. Maybe Miranda was turning over a new leaf. Maybe the moon was made of blue cheese. "Uh, no, that's not necessary," Andy said, and then cleared her throat. "Ten. I'll be there at ten."

"Good," said Miranda. "Good. I'll see you then. Good."

Andy dropped her phone onto the desk and her head into her hands. "Well, shit," she said.

November 18: at USC (L, 23-9; 8-3)

Andy spent the week sleeping over at Miranda's house, but they hadn't had a lot of time to talk; Andy hadn't been lying when she said she was busy, and Miranda might have been cutting meetings and dinners and goodness knows what else short all week, but she was still hugely overbooked. Come Saturday, though, they werefirmly nested on the couch curled up with each other. Miranda might have been looking at the television and watching her team get demolished, but she didn't seem to be paying attention, because she had hardly reacted to the carnage. She didn't seem to care much at all, in fact.

"If we had just accomplished our very clear and easily achieved goals and not unduly fucked up," she said quietly as USC's kickoff went out of the endzone for a touchback and Cal began another series deep in their own territory, "things this weekend wouldn't be quite so tense."

"You didn't 'unduly fuck up'," Andy said mildly. Somehow, now that she knew that Miranda truly was sorry—now that she had gotten her apology—her own feelings about their argument were very calm. She wasn't as upset anymore, and she definitely wasn't going to cry. "You need to choose your words more carefully."

Miranda was quiet as Nate Longshore threw three straight incomplete passes, and as the punt team jogged onto the field she said, "You must believe me that I didn't mean—"

"Do you even remember what you said?"

Miranda shrank into herself a little bit.

Andy sighed, and took pity on her; she looked so miserable. Suddenly her shoulders were tight and her jaw was clenched.

Andy secured her arms a little tighter around Miranda and said, "So you know why what you said was—"

"Unforgivable?" Miranda finished. Her voice was even but her fingers dug into Andy's arm.

"Not unforgivable, no," said Andy. "Just really mean."

Miranda didn't reply, and as they watched the highlights after the game—if you could call them that—Miranda started fidgeting. She didn't get up, but it was getting more and more uncomfortable to sit next to her.

Eventually, Andy couldn't stand it anymore "Um," she said. "You're upset."

"Of course I'm upset, Andrea! We're 8-3, but we're so much better than that."

"Maybe you just don't appreciate what you have," she said. "Nobody's perfect."

Miranda shook her head impatiently. "It's not about appreciation, it's about execution. We simply did not execute, and we should have. Twice, now, we didn't do what I know we can, and—"

"Sometimes people don't live up to their potential," Andy said. "Sometimes, people don't live up to your expectations."

"They should!" said Miranda, surging off the couch. "People are perfectly capable of perfection if they just apply themselves—"

"Maybe they aren't," said Andy softly.

Miranda stared at her.

"Maybe they aren't capable of everything you want them to be," Andy said. "Maybe they're not that good."

Miranda continued to stare, not saying anything. Andy had the feeling Miranda might have thought they were actually talking about football; Andy wasn't going to let her get away with it. "I think—" Andy said. "I-I think maybe you're asking a lot."

"And you don't think they can deliver."

"I just—"

"You don't think that, given the opportunity, people can rise above their own limits, transcend them, and create something truly spectacular? That even ordinary people can do this?"


Miranda looked disappointed. "Then I am truly sorry for you, Andrea."

"Miranda, that's not—"

Miranda merely shook her head.

"Look," said Andy. "Just, maybe, you're asking a lot of people, and you should be more understanding when they—"


Andy nodded slowly.

Miranda thought about that for a moment, and then shook her head. "You may think that. I think, with enough effort, anyone can do a sufficiently good job to accomplish their goals. Lofty goals."

"Some people just aren't as good. Some people can't—"

"Don't give me that wishy-washy idiocy. Everyone is good at something, Andrea. Even Emily," Miranda said. "It's just a question of applying that expertise to any given task."

"Miranda, I don't think that's the whole story."

"Don't be ridiculous. Emily is very good at following precise orders; she has no creativity to speak of, but given exact details to take care of, she does a very good job. Ideal temperament for an offensive lineman, I would think."

"Don't they have to be smart?" Andy asked.

"Yes, of course; but neither does Emily weigh 300 pounds. Not yet, anyway."

"Okay, we're getting totally off topic here."

"What was the topic?" Miranda was sliding into a mocking tone again. "Your insistence that people don't need to be held to high standards?"

"No!" said Andy. "It's my insistence that people sometimes fail to reach their own high standards. Sometimes people fuck up—sometimes they fuck up really badly—but it doesn't make them bad people, and it doesn't make them worth less."

Miranda was standing very still now, and staring at Andy intently. "Are we talking about me, or are we talking about Cal?"

Andy sighed. "Maybe we're talking about me."

Miranda looked flabbergasted at that idea. "You've never 'fucked up' in your life, Andrea. I, on the other hand." She sighed.

"That's not true, Miranda," Andy said, and grabbed Miranda's hands.

"Isn't it?" Miranda said, not meeting Andy's eyes. "I said—I said—"

"Oh, believe me, I remember what you said, but it's still not true." Andy took a deep breath. "You didn't fuck up, we had a couple of disagreements. Miscommunications. That's all."

Miranda ripped her hands out of Andy's and paced away again. "You thought that I ridiculed you! You thought I said something vicious and horrible and—Not to mention you thought I wanted all this to end, that I threw you out! That's a great deal more than a mere miscommunication."

"God," Andy said and thrust her hands into her hair. "Okay, maybe it is. But you're sorry, right? You're sorry you said that stuff, and you're sorry you told me to get out, and we're okay, right? We're okay?"

Miranda closed her eyes. Her lips were folded tightly together, and trembling.

Andy waited.

Seconds, minutes, hours later Andy realized that Miranda was trying not to cry and failing, and she dashed across the room and threw her arms around Miranda. "It's okay, Miranda. We're okay."

Miranda collapsed into Andy, suddenly very small in Andy's arms and shockingly vulnerable. They stood by the window for a very long time.

Much later, arms still wrapped around Miranda but both of them wearing decidedly fewer clothes, Andy nuzzled Miranda's hair. "You're not upset anymore."

"About what?" Miranda asked, tensing.

"About—never mind."

Miranda frowned at her apprehensively. "What are you talking about now?"

"I don't know. Cal lost. Badly."

"Oh. That," Miranda said and relaxed into Andy again. "I had forgotten about it entirely, Andrea, until you reminded me."

"Well, I'll just have to convince you to forget again."

"You do that," said Miranda.

Thanksgiving: Bye

Andy's flight home was terrible.

There was turbulence, and her connection was delayed, and her mother was late picking her up from the airport. Worst of all, she wanted to be in New York, where Miranda had taken off five days, five days without Runway, five days on her own with the twins in a cozy cottage with a fire and with no work to be seen.

Five days without Andy, who had to be in Ohio.

Andy felt a little pathetic, being so bereft without Miranda even though some weeks they went Saturday to Saturday without seeing each other and the last two weeks with Miranda had some pretty horrible moments, too. But at least they were in the same town then, not a thousand miles apart.

The fact that she was standing outside in the freezing wind waiting for her ride didn't help matters.

Her phone rang.

Hoping it was her mom, Andy rummaged for the phone. "Hi?" she said, teeth chattering.

"Have you gotten in yet?" Miranda asked. "I expected you several hours ago."

"My flight was delayed," said Andy, wrapping her coat more firmly around herself and adjusting her scarf. Damn the wind; somehow it felt colder in Ohio than in New York.

"Ah; well, that explains it. How is Ohio?"


Miranda chuckled. "As is Long Island."

"Yeah," said Andy, "but I bet you have a fire, and blankets, and heat."

"Do you not have heat?" Miranda asked skeptically.

"I'm waiting on the sidewalk for my Mom."

"You've only just gotten in?" Miranda said, and then, "Go buy yourself a coffee! For goodness sake, Andrea."

"My mom—"

"Will be thrilled when she discovers you a block of ice outside the airport. Andrea, really."

Andy laughed. "I'm glad you called."

"Because otherwise you would have never thought to get out of the cold?"

Andy shook her head and pushed her way back into the airport. "So are you excited about tonight's game?"

"The one day of the year that I actually have time to watch football, and there is nothing on but an insipid ACC match-up," Miranda grumbled.

"Tomorrow should be good, though, right?" said Andy absently.

"Yes," said Miranda. "Although—"

"What?" asked Andy. Whenever Miranda stopped in the middle of a sentence like that, she was thinking something very interesting. Usually something related to their relationship, in fact. Maybe someday she'd learn to stop in the middle of the sentences that hurt instead.

Miranda paused again, and then said, "I'm sure you'll have a lovely time in Ohio. I'll speak to you tomorrow."

"What? Wait—"

"Happy Thanksgiving, Andrea."

"Yeah. You, too. Tell the girls I said—"

"I will," said Miranda and hung up.

Andy stared at the dead phone in her hand. She had been sure Miranda had been about to say something else.

The next day, around lunchtime, Miranda called again. "Andrea, are you watching this?"

"Watching what?" asked Andy.

"The game, Andrea. What else?'

Andy frowned and waved her mother off. "No, I'm sitting down with my fam—"

"Well, it's one of the best games of the season! Turn on the television."

"Miranda, we're about to serve—"

"You will regret missing it. If you were here—"

Andy slipped out the back door into the yard. "What?"

"I—I should have invited you. I realize that now. If you were here, you could be watching this most extraordinary game with me."

"With you," said Andy. She could still hear her family and friends inside, getting ready to sit down, but it was quiet out here, and still. She imagined being with Miranda today, with the twins, eating in front of the television.

"Yes," said Miranda.

"Watching a game." Andy smiled, and listened to Miranda breathing on the other end of the line.

"Yes," Miranda said quietly.

"With you," Andy repeated. The image in her head was gaining details, and the longing to be somewhere else tugged at her breastbone.

Miranda huffed. "Yes, of course, that's the important part of my comment. My goodness, Andrea."

Andy smiled, and waved off her mother, who was frowning at Andy from the doorway. "Watching who?"

"Boston College and Miami," Miranda said. "22 years later. With a fire, and blankets."

"And you," Andy said, grinning. "You're hot."

Miranda laughed; it sounded light and delicate and happy. "I certainly am."

"That's not what I meant," said Andrea, but she glowed. She made Miranda laugh. She made Miranda happy, even from a thousand miles away.

"Of course not, darling." Miranda sounded smug, and suddenly, Andy wanted nothing more than to be with her, watching Miranda watch football. To be with Miranda, even when she eviscerated her employees and made Andy or the twins feel like shit.

"Miranda?" Andy said.


"I wish I were there, too."

"Yes, well."

She hadn't said it yet, and after what Miranda had put her through the last few weeks, she wasn't sure if she should, but she wanted to. It was the truth, and it was straining to get out. Andy took a deep breath. "I love you, Miranda."

Miranda's breath caught, and she was silent for a long time before she spoke. "I love you, too, Andrea."

Andy's mom frowned at her through most of dinner, but thank God no one else seemed to notice anything wrong. Her mother waited until everyone had finished eating and Andy was trapped wrist deep in suds to begin the interrogation.

"Are you sure this is what you want?"

"Yes, Mom. I want this." I need it, Andy thought, the image of Miranda and her girls still warming her.

"But that woman treated you horribly, she didn't appreciate you, she called you names—"

"That was a long time ago, and I don't think it matters anymore. Why do you?"

Her mother sighed. "I just want you to be happy, Andy."

Andy reached out for her mom. "I am, Mom," she said. "I really am."

"Well," her mother said. "So long as she's good to you."

Andy laughed. "She's learning."

December 2: The Big Game vs. Stanford (W, 26-17; 9-3)

Miranda was strangely quiet after the game.

"Tied for first place," Andy said.

"USC is going to get the BCS bid. We don't have the ranking."

"Yeah, but first place." Andy rubbed Miranda's back. "For the first time since 1975."

Miranda snorted. "For the first time since I was a student, you mean?"

Andy was shocked. "Really? You went to Cal?"

"Why do you think I root for them?"

"Um, well," Andy said, and then decided there was no good answer to that question. It was clearly a trick question. "I have no idea."

"I suppose it is a step in the right direction," said Miranda slowly.

"Sure is. Pac-10 champs!"

Miranda smiled. "I imagine the celebratory shirts are going to be awful, as usual."

"You'll still buy one."

"I'll still wear one, Andrea," said Miranda, "but that won't make it anything other than a—"

"Poorly made piece of dreck?" Andy said.

"Yes," said Miranda.

"I know," said Andy and pulled Miranda in for a kiss. When they let go, Miranda was smiling, but it looked a little false.

"Okay, what's wrong?" Andy asked.

"Five years in a row. It's very nice."

"Then why do you look so miserable?"

"I'm not miserable."

"C'mon, Miranda. What can I do to make you happy?"

Miranda's gaze turned contemplative. "You do make me happy. But not even you can give me a Rose Bowl."


"This fall has been so magical," Miranda continued. "I had hoped—I thought—I wanted—"

"You're right," said Andy. "I can't give you a Rose Bowl. But, um, I can do other things to make you happy."

Miranda smiled at Andy, suddenly looking like a shark. "What did you have in mind?" she asked.

Andy reached for the buttons on her shirt and teased open the first one. "Well," she said seductively.

"I see," said Miranda, her smile now genuine and very large.

Much later, nestled in bed and suitably sore, Andy was just contemplating drifting off to sleep when Miranda spoke. She said, very slow and measured, "I know that you're likely to go to Ohio for Christmas, but the girls and I are going to be in the Hamptons for the holiday—"

"You want to meet in San Diego?" offered Andy.

Miranda pursed her lips and continued, stiltedly. "I—Thanksgiving was—" She stopped talking and met Andy's eyes. Finally, thought Andy: Miranda deigned to look at Andy while they were discussing something important, rather than ignore her or completely circle around the subject.

"Thanksgiving was pretty unfun," said Andy. Especially after the rest of their November.

"Yes," agreed Miranda. But still, Miranda didn't finish her thought.

Andy decided to take pity on her; if she were completely wrong, Miranda would say so, but Andy was a lot better at reading Miranda than she had been in September. Maybe this getting to know each other thing went both ways. "Do you want me to go to Long Island with you guys?"

Miranda's eyes lit up. "The girls would enjoy—It would be very—I don't expect—"

Andy stared at Miranda for a long moment. This was it: she could say yes, and the rest of her life would be beholden to Runway and Elias-Clarke, suffering the caprices of Miranda Priestly. Or she could say no, retain her sanity, and give up—everything. Again.

In the end, it wasn't even a choice.

"Yeah, sure," Andy said. "I'll spend Christmas with you."

"Oh, Andrea," Miranda said, and melted into her.

Christmas in the Hamptons was a lot more peaceful than Andy had expected. The girls were thrilled to have Andy there and teased her all week about making them play tennis in the snow. For Christmas, Caroline gave her a gorgeous (and expensive) pen and Cassidy a leather-bound case for her notebook.

Miranda gave her lingerie. Blue and gold lingerie.

"Isn't this a bit much, Miranda?"

"What?" Miranda looked completely confused.

"It's Cal lingerie! I'm not wearing sports stuff to bed with you."




"No," Andy said.

Miranda pouted.

Andy held firm.

Miranda pouted some more, looking completely unnatural and kind of weird and utterly beautiful, and that was all it took: Andy put it on. Miranda beamed.

A long time afterwards, Andy blinked blearily at the walls, heart still thundering and breath short. At least the bedroom wasn't painted mustard, she considered.

"I was thinking of redecorating," said Miranda.

Andy didn't have the energy to laugh, but she wanted to.

December 28: Holiday Bowl vs. Texas A&M, San Diego, CA (W, 45-10; 10-3)

Sitting in a luxury box in San Diego, with the game playing both on a television behind them and in person in front of them, for once Miranda felt no need to be perched on the edge of her seat scowling at the poor college students wearing mustard. Andy was relieved. Especially since by the time halftime rolled around, Miranda was practically sitting in Andy's lap, and even if her eyes were fixed on the game her hands wandered quite a bit. At least she let Andy keep her clothes on; the girls were watching, after all.

"If I didn't know better, I'd think Kirk had a secret passion for the Bears," Miranda said.

"Not so secret," said Andy.

Miranda laughed and snuggled closer into Andy's side, fondling her hands. "No, I suppose not," she said, and then surged up again. "Look at that block! Where's the flag? That was completely unacceptable, not to mention illegal. You could hurt someone doing something like that. My goodness."

Andy sighed and tugged at Miranda's waist. "I'm sure you could get hurt."

Miranda settled down again and then said, "You're mocking me."

"Humoring. Not the same thing."

"It was a flagrant hit."

"If it were bad, they would have thrown a flag," Andy said. "You can write to the director of officials for whoever these guys work for—"

"Big Ten," Miranda and Caroline said simultaneously.

"—and complain," said Andy. "But for now, I think it was probably a good call. Flow of the game and all that."

Miranda made a displeased sound.

Andy bumped her shoulder. "Kirk agrees with me." In the background, the announcers were debating the merits of the non-call.

"A fate worse than death," said Miranda dryly. "You Ohio State people are all the same."

Andy laughed again and tightened her arms around Miranda.

Ten minutes later, Texas A&M punted the ball for no yards, and Kirk started crowing about the awesome powers of DeSean Jackson.

"Looks like Kirk agrees with you, too," said Andy. Miranda frowned thunderously, but didn't move a millimeter away from Andy.

Cal won the game, 45-10, and finished the season 10-3, their best finish since the early 1990s; "That was before my first divorce," Miranda confided to Andy. A lifetime ago.

"This year was truly wonderful. Wonderful," she repeated. "Not that I had any doubt in my mind that it would be magnificent."

Andy just smiled.

Later that night as they were getting ready for bed, Miranda said, "Wait until next year." She undid Andy's bra and, with her hands molded around Andy's breasts, she said, "Next year will be even better. Next year, we're going to the Rose Bowl, Andrea. I know it."

Something Miranda had said to her the first time they had really talked suddenly flashed through Andy's mind: "Hope," she had said, "my God, I live on it." Andy offered Miranda a grin.

"Yes, Miranda," Andy said, and then leaned in for her kiss.

The End

Story References

The Tennessee game. It was horrible.

The bumblebee striped shirts (which are very soft, once you've worn them a million times).

The yellow jerseys. They really exist, and they look weirder in person than you think they do.

The shared t-shirt, and also the source of the story title. (I have this shirt. I wear it all the time.)

DeSean Jackson's punt return against UCLA, and Thomas DeCoud taking out two UCLA players. The Bosworth brother were, in fact, okay. Eventually.

The Arizona game. Worse than Tennessee. They rushed the field; there's nothing worse than having your opponent rushing the field after beating you.

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