DISCLAIMER: The Devil Wears Prada and its characters belong to Lauren Weisberger and 20th Century Fox. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To http://marygriggs.livejournal.com/
Spread Your Wings
By Mary Griggs
I'm no angel, but I've spread my wings a bit. ~Mae West
Andy Sachs was having another in a series of terrible, horrible, no-good, bad days.
For the past week, she went to bed dizzy and woke up nauseous. Even though she hadn't been with anyone since the debacle with Christian more than two years ago, she took a home pregnancy test in an effort to figure out what was plaguing her. She would have been more grateful for the negative sign if she hadn't been so light sensitive she could hardly focus on the readout.
Her skin felt too tight, like it had shrunk two sizes. She had begun going commando and forgoing a bra because the constriction was unbearable. Last night, she woke up to find herself scratching her back against the doorframe to the bedroom like Baloo the bear. She had never been so glad to live alone so that she hadn't had to explain her weird behavior to anyone.
Her boss had yelled at her twice this morning as she kept spacing out during the editorial meeting. The chaos of multiple conversations and flickering fluorescent bulbs in the conference room had been hell on her concentration. Unable to articulate any ideas of her own, she ended up with the non-challenging assignment of getting quotes for other people's stories.
Traveling around town and talking to people was usually something she enjoyed. Andy wasn't having much fun today, though. Her memory was so shot that it wasn't until the woman burst into tears that she realized she had already interviewed this grieving family member earlier in the day.
But as embarrassing as that was, things were definitely worse now. She held onto the faint hope that she was just having a bad dream and that none of this was real.
She had been in Chelsea heading for another interview but, now, somehow, she was now on the Upper East Side, standing in a very familiar entryway. There was the closet where she used to leave the dry cleaning. She noticed that the vase on the table where she used to place the Book was filled with fresh flowers. Everything else seemed to be the same. Including the last person she ever expected to see again.
Miranda was dressed like she had just gotten off work in an A line, pinstriped power suit. Andy noticed that Miranda's feet were bare and she wondered if her ex-boss' feet were cold as hers. That was when she noticed that her own feet were bare. As were her legs. And arms. She was starting to really panic about her nudity when Miranda spoke.
"Andrea? How did you get into my house? Did you keep a key?"
She was wondering that herself. She had no explanation for why she wasn't on the other side of town talking to a small business owner about traffic disruptions. Miranda had a look in her eyes which reminded her of those scary days when she first started working for the demanding editor. It made her already nervous stomach feel even worse. She was near tears as she reached out a shaking hand. "Please," she begged. "Help me."
"What's wrong with you?"
Andy wanted to answer but excruciating agony erupted down her back. She arched like a bow for a long, misery filled moment before her legs buckled. Breathless from the pain, she collapsed onto the marble floor and tried to curl into a ball. Soon, the suffering became too much and she welcomed the wave of darkness that rose to meet her.
She woke up in a darkened room. She was lying on her stomach and there was a sensation of heaviness on her back. Her instinctive reaction of rolling over was a mistake. Her back quickly reminded her of the agony she had suffered earlier. While nowhere near as intense, the flare of newly awakened pain was enough to make her whimper.
"Andrea? Are you awake?"
She thought Miranda had been a figment of her imagination. She watched in disbelief as her ex-boss snapped on a light and knelt down beside the bed. Miranda reached out an elegant hand to brush her bangs off her face.
Andy squeezed her eyes shut for a moment before reopening them. She was surprised to see Miranda was still there, looking at her with what almost seemed like tenderness.
"M'randa?" she mumbled.
"Yes." Miranda stroked her hair and then seemed to catch herself and removed her hand. "I want you to remain calm. Please do not try to move."
Andy blinked up at her, wondering if she was still dreaming.
"Good. Now, how do you feel?"
"Sore." Andy licked her dry lips. "Thirsty."
"I'll get you something to drink."
Andy was so surprised by Miranda's solicitude she just made an affirmative noise and enjoyed the view of Miranda's backside as she left the room. As much as Andy hated to see her go, she had always loved to watch Miranda walk away.
When Miranda returned with a tall glass and a bendy straw, Andy's eyes brightened in anticipation. She groaned from the simple pleasure of the sweet, cool liquid sliding down her parched throat.
"It is my secret recipe for an electrolyte drink," Miranda said. "I needed it often when the girls used to get stomach viruses. I added a little something to help with the discomfort."
Andy wanted to be upset that she was being drugged but her back was really starting to ache so she just sucked more down. "Thank you." Andy felt much more agreeable with nearly an entire glass of Miranda's concoction in her system.
"Do you feel up to talking?" Miranda asked.
"We didn't part on the best of terms. Why did you come here instead of, I don't know, a hospital?"
"I don't know," Andy replied. "I don't even know what happened."
"No. I mean, I've felt off for the past couple of weeks but nothing that would explain traveling across the city in an instant and losing my clothes in the process."
Miranda sighed. "I think your true nature asserted itself."
"I have a true nature as an exhibitionist?" Andy tried to inject a little levity into their discussion.
"Obviously, I put too much muscle relaxant in that drink." Miranda shook her head. "What is the last thing you remember before you showed up here?"
Andy closed her eyes and thought. "I was hurrying down the street and nearly twisted my ankle when I stepped off the curb. I was so dizzy." Her eyes popped open. "I don't remember taking another step. I don't know how I got here or where my laptop went. Or what happened to my phone." Her voice kept getting higher and her pulse raced.
A cool hand pressed down on her shoulder. "Its all right."
Andy blinked at Miranda. "Why are you so calm?"
"I've had a couple of days to deal with this."
"A couple of days? How long was I out?" Andy flailed out with one arm, becoming quiescent only after Miranda gently took hold of her hand between both of hers. "Am I fired?"
"I called your boss and you're taking a few sick days, although I'm not sure you're going to be going back."
"What? I don't understand. What's wrong with me?" Ignoring the spike of pain, she tried to sit up so she could protest properly. Her vision tunneled and she collapsed back onto the bed. She floated in a sort of semi conscious state as Miranda's trembling fingers combed through her hair.
"Wake up. Please, wake up."
Andy could feel the puffs of air from Miranda's breath on her cheek and hear the worry in her voice. When she opened her eyes, all she could see were the prettiest blue eyes on the planet. She tried to tell Miranda just how much she loved the way the color of her eyes changed depending on her mood and her clothing but she couldn't get the words out.
"You frightened me, Andrea. Please stay still." Miranda patted her shoulder and noticed that she was trying to talk. "Here have another sip before you say anything."
Andy just blinked and parted her lips to accept more of the drink Miranda offered. She felt horrible and a little humble. Andy always used to hate it when she upset Miranda. "I'm sorry," she said. "I know you didn't have to help me."
"I couldn't just leave you to bleed to death in my foyer!"
"Bleed to death? What? Please, what's wrong with me!"
"I wish I knew, Andrea," Miranda said. "I've never had somebody show up at my house and sprouts wings before."
"I'm sorry. What did you say?"
"You heard me. I said wings," Miranda answered.
Andy asked, "Did you have some of what you've been giving to me? Because people don't just grow wings."
"You're right. People don't." Miranda stared down at her. "Which begs the question of what exactly are you?"
Andy shook her head. "I'm just me."
"Now with wings."
Miranda started to pace. From Andy's position on the bed Miranda was in view for two steps and a turn before taking two more steps and out of her range of vision.
"What are other things that have wings?" she muttered. "Birds but you obviously don't share their hollow bones or appetite."
"Hey!" Andy was offended by Miranda's disparaging remarks about her weight. She was still a size four, after all.
Ignoring her, Miranda kept pacing and thinking aloud. "Guardian angels have wings," she said.
"They aren't real. And, if they were, I couldn't be one."
"Really?" Miranda stopped pacing and stared down at her. "Why not?"
"Angels are pure. I've had sex and, uh, done stuff."
"God gave us these bodies with their pleasure centers to honor his creations. Abuse and violence are wrong, sex is not."
"You how do you know these things?"
"I read books and I keep an open mind."
Andy moved restlessly on the bed. "I'm not good enough to be an angel."
"And what sins have you committed?"
Andy struggled to find an answer. She finally confessed, "I'm always late returning library books."
"How quaint." Miranda smirked. "Nothing else? No sloth, wrath? What about gluttony?"
Andy scowled at her. "I'm not fat and I'm not an angel."
"But you have always been my protector."
"The effort you made in Paris to warn me. Or when Stephen was drunk and you intercepted Irv."
Andy open and closed her mouth like a fish.
"It wasn't your job to defend me to your friends, your parents, your lover." Miranda shook her head and her voice softened. "I could hear you on the phone sometimes, begging them to understand why your job was so important. Did you even understand why you did all you did for me?"
"I didn't want to let you down."
"But you left me."
"I left Runway!" Andy nearly yelled. "You told me all you wanted me to do was my job and I failed! I didn't know what they were planning and I didn't get to you in time to warn you!"
"I didn't need your warning."
"It doesn't matter. I failed. You sat in the car and told me I was like you and that was a lie. I wasn't strong. I was a coward and a fraud and I had to leave before you realized that I would always disappoint you." Andy was weeping now. "But you already knew and you said so in that recommendation." Andy could hardly talk through her tears. "So that's how I know you're wrong. I can't be anybody's angel, especially yours."
Miranda stared at her for a moment before she knelt down beside the bed. "Andrea, please don't cry," she whispered. "I was hurting after Paris. My divorce, the attempt to take Runway away, the loss of my calendar and contacts when your damn phone hit the water and, most of all, the loss of you." Miranda stroked Andy's hair back, the soothing motion calming them both. "I couldn't bring myself to blackball you, so I did what I had never done before and wrote a recommendation for someone who left me before their year was up." Her voice was husky with emotion. "You were always different. Always special. You are one of the strongest people I know and I'm proud of you."
Andy's intense emotions were lulled by Miranda's words and nearness. Without another word, she fell into a restless sleep with tears drying on her cheeks.
When she woke again the light was off. She was careful to only move a little bit, in case Miranda was around to scold her. However, her bladder was full and it was hard not to squirm on the bed.
When Miranda finally came into the room, Andy blurted out, "I need to go."
Almost growling in exasperation, Miranda replied, "You are in no condition to go anywhere."
"I don't mean leave! I really need to use the bathroom, though."
"Oh." Miranda looked nonplused. "I think it is best if we find a way that you won't strain your back."
"Even breathing does that," Andy confessed.
"Well, let's start by swinging your legs off the bed and easing you over the edge. Once you're sitting up, put your arms around my neck and I'll guide you to your feet."
Andy nodded. It wasn't until she was standing, with her arms around Miranda's neck and her breasts rubbing against the silkiness of Miranda's blouse, that she realized she was topless. "Um, clothes?"
"I'm working on modifying a few shirts for you. Something tasteful that won't bind your wings."
"I was under the impression that you had decent education but, I must say, your vocabulary is extremely lacking."
"Sorry. It's just I mean I have wings!" Andy felt helpless and being half carried to the bathroom didn't help. They were both red faced when the pajama bottoms she was wearing were dropped and she was lowered to the seat.
"I'll wait outside. Call me when you're done."
Andy waited for the door to close before she was able to relax enough to pee. She managed to wipe, flush and make it back to her feet without too much effort. Stumbling across the bathroom, she leaned on the counter and looked into the mirror.
She had felt the pull of the wings weight on her back but, for the first time, Andy was able to see her new appendages. The tops of the wings were visible over her shoulders and were as white as a swans. Wanting to see everything, she tried to stretch them out but had to stop with a gasp. It was too painful and she blinked back tears as she let them droop back down.
"Are you all right?" Miranda's voice came from outside the door.
"I have wings."
The door opened and Miranda stepped inside. "Indeed. Now, let's get you to back to bed."
"I need to wash my hands."
Miranda rolled her eyes but she stood behind Andy and put some soap on her own hands. Her touch was exquisitely gentle as she washed each of Andy's hands. After rinsing them, she dampened a washcloth and wiped off Andy's face and even inside her ears.
Giggling, Andy tried to move away but Miranda was stronger than she looked. She tossed the cloth into the sink and half carried Andy back to bed. Andy was only too grateful to sink onto the soft surface.
She felt Miranda move away and reached out. She remembered about the rule of not touching Miranda so she let her hand fall away before she made contact.
"What is it?"
"Stay," Andy whispered.
Miranda stared at her for a few minutes, biting her lip. Taking a deep breath, she nodded. "All right. I'm going to close up the house and get the Book."
Andy was nearly out when the bed dipped with Miranda's weight. She felt better knowing Miranda was close. Half asleep, Andy edged closer, until her head was nestled against Miranda's hip. She felt even more relaxed once Miranda's fingers began combing through her hair.
After a while, Miranda closed the book and turned off the light. She scooted down in the bed until her head was next to Andy's. Sleepily, Andy put her arm around Miranda's waist and, entirely naturally, her wing unfolded and covered them both. For the first time since Andy's appearance at Miranda's house, they both slept soundly.
Andy woke up alone in the bed. Moving carefully, she rolled to her side and then sat up. Trying to adjust to her new perspective, she looked around the room. The furnishings looked to be well cared for antiques. Instead of being unwieldy, they seemed to fit the large room perfectly. The wallpaper, curtains and bedding were all shot through with threads of gold, unifying the space through color.
There was a half full glass on the nightstand with a note in Miranda's familiar scrawl to drink it before trying to get up. Andy traced her finger over the flourished M with which Miranda signed the note as she swallowed the electrolyte drink.
She was desperate to be clean and, though she was weak and lightheaded, she managed to make it into the bathroom without incident. Standing under the shower spray felt good until she realized the feathers were just soaking up the water. After only a few moments, they got really heavy, throwing off her center of gravity. Andy nearly lost her balance when she tried to step out of the bathtub.
Wet feathers also stick together was her next discovery. She tried rubbing them dry with a towel and only ended up pulling several out. That was annoyingly painful. Using the blow dryer, she attempted to dry them but the awkward angle and muscle soreness put a quick end to that. Finally, she just stood there until they stopped dripping on what was probably an incredibly expensive rug.
She borrowed Miranda's cinnamon bark comb to get the tangles out of her hair. As an added bonus it also made her hair smell terrific. Finally dry enough, she stepped out of the bathroom with the towel held awkwardly in front of her. With wings sprouting from her back, it was impossible to wrap it around herself. In the chair outside the door, she found a modified tank top with Velcro closures along with a pair of yoga pants and another note. This one directed her to come downstairs when she was presentable.
She dressed and followed the sound of laughter downstairs to find Miranda, Caroline and Cassidy in the kitchen.
"Ooh, they're so pretty."
Whatever reaction Andy had expected to get when she saw Miranda's daughters again, this was not it. They were gentle as they petted her, cooing softly at the feel of the feathers.
"Why are they all wet?"
"I tried to dry them but couldn't figure out how to do it without pulling them out."
"Why don't you flap them to dry them?"
Andy hunched the wings closer to her body. "I'm afraid I'll knock something over."
Walking over, Miranda stood before her and studied her for a moment. Slowly she slid her hand around Andy's neck. Cool fingers stroked up and down the tight muscles until the anxiety that Andy had been feeling since waking up without Miranda beside her dissipated.
"You can go out into the back yard. It has a privacy fence that goes up ten feet." Miranda let her hand slide over Andy's shoulder and down her arm to grasp her hand. "Just don't fly too high."
Andy blinked at their clasped hands. She couldn't believe how right it felt and glanced up into Miranda's eyes when she felt a gentle squeeze.
"Are you all right?"
Nodding, Andy squeezed back. "Yeah, there's just a lot to take in at once." She paused. "I'm in your home, holding hands, having wings."
"Let's handle one thing at a time." Miranda released her hand. "Go out with the girls and dry off. I'll finish fixing lunch and bring it out."
Andy nodded and let Caroline and Cassidy take her hands and lead her into the enclosed yard. The area was sparsely furnished with a large doghouse and some patio furniture but the wall was as tall as Miranda promised.
Feeling safe with nothing near her, Andy spread out her wings for the first time. There was a sense of relief in stretching them out and she smiled at the looks of wonder on the young girls' faces. Figuring how to bring both wings down in unison took some effort but, before long, the girls were fighting to stay upright in the draft created by the coordinated flapping.
Andy felt her feet leave the ground and it surprised her enough to stop moving her wings. She stumbled forward. The girls reached out to prop her up and Andy was surprised at how she weak she suddenly felt.
"Help her to a chair."
Miranda spoke calmly as she walked by with a tray of food. Andy's stomach rumbled at the thought of finally having something more than liquids in it. She had to restrain herself from gobbling down her sandwich as soon as she sat down but she was still finished before the others.
Without pausing her conversation with Caroline about an upcoming piano recital, Miranda handed Andy the other half of her sandwich. Andy ate it and drank a second glass of the electrolyte solution. She barely managed to cover her mouth before burping loudly. Turning bright red when the girls laughed, she murmured, "Excuse me."
"Of course." Miranda leaned forward and poured her another glass. "I've spiked these, so you will want to go lay down after we're done here."
"I'm tired of being in bed."
"You're still recovering but, if you insist, we do need to talk about several issues."
Andy swallowed nervously. "On second thought, maybe a nap would be a good idea."
"I thought as much." Miranda wiped her mouth and set her napkin to the side of her plate. "We will talk eventually, though."
"Talk about what?" Cassidy asked.
"All sorts of things." When Cassidy opened her mouth, Miranda added, "Grown up things. Now, you two clear the table and load the dishwasher while I assist Andrea upstairs."
"Why is she staying in your room?"
"Because I want to keep my eye on her."
"Do you like Andy?"
"There is more to it than that."
Andy had enjoyed watching Miranda being interrogated until two sets of nearly identical eyes turned to her.
"Do you like Mom?"
"Yes," she blurted out without hesitation. She looked across the table at Miranda and was relieved when she smiled back reassuringly.
"Girls, this is a conversation Andrea and I need to have first."
"But you will I mean, you are "
"We'll see." At their crestfallen looks, she added, "I can definitely say that we are." Her cheeks pinked when all three members of her audience grinned. "Anyway, you have chores to do and you need a nap."
The last was said as she extended a hand to Andy. Feeling slightly surreal from the conversation and the painkiller, Andy took her hand and leveraged herself up. When Miranda put her arm around her waist, she nearly swooned.
"Are you all right?"
Andy struggled to get her knees to work properly and to ignore the sensation of Miranda's warm body next to hers. "Yeah. I'm uh a little lightheaded."
"Perhaps three glasses was going a little overboard." Miranda supported her as they reached the stairs. "I thought you'd need it after the morning's exertions."
"I didn't do that much. Just a shower."
"You haven't been on your feet in several days and, besides the shower, you came downstairs and exercised."
Swallowing thickly, Andy tried not to let the steep staircase intimidate her. Pulling with one hand on the banister and leaning most of her weight on Miranda, she focused on lifting her suddenly very heavy legs.
Her muzzy mind noted idly how strong Miranda was as she was manhandled back into the bed. Rolling onto her side, she pulled Miranda's pillow close for a hug.
"Do you really like me?"
Miranda leaned over her and kissed her forehead. "Yes, I do, Andrea. Now sleep tight."
The kiss was permission to fully relax and Andy fell asleep before Miranda had left the room. She napped restlessly for most of the day. It wasn't until Miranda came to bed that her nightmares were banished and healing dreams began.
The next morning, Andy again awoke alone. She didn't want a repeat of the other day's wet feather fiasco, so she just brushed her teeth and hair before she wandered downstairs.
She heard Miranda before she saw her. Miranda was standing beside her desk in the small downstairs study issuing a rapid-fire series of commands into the phone. Andy shivered a little, remembering when it was her on the other end of the line, writing as fast as she could to get everything down but always afraid of forgetting something. That was the part of the job that used to tie her into knots.
Andy was shaken from her memories by Miranda's warm welcome. "Uh, good morning," she answered, getting lost in the blue eyes.
Blinking, Miranda shook her head slightly to break the spell. "Do you think you're up to some detective work?"
"What do you mean?"
"There has to be some reason you appeared in my house and sprouted wings."
Andy nodded. "Yeah, you're right. I think I should call my parents."
"Do you think that's wise?"
"I've never kept secrets from them. I don't want to begin now."
"Do you think they will understand?"
"I don't know. They were so mad when I moved here and started to live with Nate but we never stopped talking." Andy wiped her suddenly damp hands on her yoga pants. "I have to believe they want the best for me and that they'll have some idea about why this happened."
Miranda looked unsure but she moved away from the desk. "Use this phone." She stood near the chair but didn't sit. "Do you want me here for it?"
"Yes, please." Andy swallowed nervously. "I don't know how to begin the conversation."
Miranda smiled and settled onto the arm of the chair. "Maybe make sure they're sitting down."
Nodding, Andy dialed the number she memorized before beginning first grade. She pushed the button for speaker and counted the rings until her father answered the phone.
"Go for Sachs."
The ritual answer brought a smile to her lips. "Dad?"
"Andra-saurus Rex! We didn't expect to hear from you until tomorrow."
"Sunday. You know, the day you always call?"
"Um, sorry. I sort of lost track of days." She swallowed. "Can Mom get on the phone, too?"
"Sure thing." Richard Sachs yelled for his wife. "Andy's on the phone!" He asked her, "Is everything okay?"
"I uh I," Andy stammered.
"Hello? What's wrong, sweetie?"
Andy sighed to hear the worry in her mother's voice. "I don't really know how to say this."
"Are you in jail or the hospital?" Richard asked.
"Then it is going to be all right. Just tell us."
"Okay. I uh I grew wings."
"Really?" Her mother nearly squealed. "I'm so proud of you."
Andy looked up at Miranda and echoed, "Proud?"
"Yes, I was so afraid when you got involved with Nate that you would never be free to achieve your potential."
Andy cradled her suddenly aching head in her hands. "Okay, you need to explain this to me. Use small words."
"You're a angel from a long line of angels."
Glancing up at Miranda, Andy rolled her eyes at the smug look on her face. "Seriously, Mom? An angel?"
Her father answered. "Sweetie, we probably should have told you this sooner but the goal of our kind is to be soul sealed with our consort for their protection."
"Consort? Soul sealed?" Andy was close to hyperventilating. Miranda reached out and interlaced their fingers together. The feel of Miranda's soft, warm skin grounded her. "I don't understand."
"The manifestation of your wings happens during a time of crisis and in the presence of your true love." Her father answered. "There is no greater joy than to find your life mate and your life's purpose."
Andy's brain was struggling to comprehend what her father was saying when a thought struck her. "Um, are you two angels?"
Her mother spoke up. "Yes we are, although we never manifested wings. There is only one soul mate for us but we can love. If we find this love first, our angelic natures are never triggered." She sighed. "I can never regret loving your father or the children we brought into this world but sometimes, I wonder what it would be like to be winged and bound."
"Huh. So that's why my being with Nate upset you guys."
"Exactly," Kathleen answered. "We knew you were not in love. If your affection for him had deepened, it would have cut you off from the happiness you can now feel."
"Are there other angels in our family?"
"Of course. Both sides of our family are part of the choir of angels. Your Aunt Rebecca is the latest who earned her wings and that was almost a decade ago."
"I remember when she got married."
"Typically, an angel weds their ward, so as to be free to be near them at all times to offer them comfort and to be their champion."
"I'm just me. How am I supposed to be anyone's champion?"
"You have a big heart and over fifteen years of martial arts training."
Andy blinked as a lingering question from her childhood was answered. "That's why you insisted on all those years of karate, aikido and judo."
"So many of our kind were killed during the last world war. We tried to do all we could to give you the skills and discipline to respond to whatever threats and dangers you may be called to face." Richard sighed. "I tried to get you into ROTC but you were so resistant to military service that, short of telling you why, we couldn't get you to do it."
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"It isn't something that that you can just blurt out, especially if no-one around us had wings to make it real," Richard explained. "Besides, we didn't know if you'd ever manifest."
Kathleen spoke up. "For whom did you manifest?"
"Your wings only appear in the safety of your chosen and their family."
"So I can make them go away? I was wondering how I was supposed to go to work."
"It is more that most people don't see what they don't believe. Your wings will still be there but no-one who can't also perceive the real you will notice them."
"They'll notice when I knock things over."
"Hmmm, I had hoped that a side effect of manifestation would take care of the case of the clumsies you've been suffering from your whole life." Richard laughed. "I remember that one time, you "
"Dad! Seriously, this is not the time." Andy covered her eyes and hoped that the muffled noise Miranda was making was a cough and not laughter.
"Of course, pumpkin. We need to focus."
Andy took a deep breath. "Are you telling me that I'm going to be able to walk down the street with my wings out and no-one is going to say anything?"
"Well, you are in New York City. Those folks won't notice if you were naked or wearing stilts."
Andy growled at his oft repeated maligning of her adopted city.
"Seriously, though, you do have to be careful of the mentally ill. Many of them are unwillingly able to see your wings. Otherwise, you are pretty safe among the general population. It helps that they won't show up in pictures, either."
Kathleen laughed. "That's mirrors but the principle is the same."
"Hold on." Andy thought about Caroline and Cassidy. "Children can see me, right?"
"As long as they are imaginative. Of course, imaginative children are so rarely believed," Kathleen answered. "So?"
"Honestly, Andy, don't keep us in suspense. For whom did you manifest?"
Andy coughed and carefully kept her gaze on the desktop. "Miranda. Miranda Priestly."
There was silence on the phone.
Quickly, before anything could be said that couldn't be taken back, she blurted, "And she's here now, on speakerphone."
"I see," her Dad replied.
"Not entirely unexpected, I must say. She certainly affected you strongly when you worked for her." Kathleen mused. After a pause, she said, "Welcome to the family, Miranda."
Miranda inclined her head slightly. "Thank you."
"That's it?" Andy chewed on her lip. "You're just going to accept it? No lectures on same-sex attraction, the age difference, or the power imbalance of dating my ex boss?"
"Whatever concerns we have," Kathleen answered. "Our faith tells us that the truth is in the wings."
Richard added, "What is most important is if those things are going to be issues for you, not us. Is being with her good for you?"
Andy looked into Miranda's eyes and felt her ruffled feathers settle and her heartbeat steady. "It's complicated but yeah, its good."
"Then blessings on you both."
Richard cleared his throat. "Miranda, do you know the nature of the crisis you are facing?"
She shook her head. "I'm not sure. There are issues lately with the magazine and the publishing company but I wouldn't have characterized them as being worse than usual."
"And your children? You have twins, right?"
"They are fine. My ex-husbands aren't being any more contentious than usual, either." Miranda leaned closer to the phone. "What sort of crisis do you think is coming?"
"You never know but it is usually more than missing your child's recital."
Miranda flushed but her voice was even when she replied, "Not my finest hour, Richard, but being a professional woman, I have already made plenty of sacrifices. Missing milestones of my children's development is not something I easily tolerate. I'm sorry I interrupted your time with your daughter but she and I were able to work past it long ago."
Squeezing her hand, Andy spoke up. "It's okay, Dad. That isn't our dynamic anymore. Besides, she isn't my boss and hasn't been for years."
"All right. I will accept that and believe the wings." Richard cleared his throat. "One bonus of being bound is that neither of you can harm the other."
"How can we learn more about this bond?" Miranda asked.
"We answer to the Principality. You will be visited soon by a messenger who will answer your questions."
"I don't know who your contact will be," Kathleen responded. "They will reveal themselves in time."
"You can call us, though," Richard added. "Each pairing is unique but we can reach out to the rest of the family to find out some things."
"Thank you." Miranda pursed her lips before admitting, "I appreciate your support."
"We love her and, by extension, that includes those who she loves."
"That means a great deal." Miranda lifted Andy's hand and kissed her knuckles. "You've answered a lot of our questions and given us a lot to talk about. Perhaps we can speak more about this tomorrow, when Andrea calls you at her usual time."
"Sounds like a plan."
"Goodbye, Andy," Kathleen said. "Goodbye, Miranda. We'll talk more tomorrow."
"Bye, Mom and Dad. I love you."
Andy disconnected the call and looked at Miranda. There was a strange look on her face. "What's wrong?"
"I was just thinking about something they said."
"They said a lot."
"They kept mentioning being bound." Miranda smirked. "I must say, seeing you grow wings was one thing but I can hardly wait for when the bindings come out to play. Seeing you spread out before me, restrained and stimulated and entirely under my control for your release is something I can hardly wait to experience."
Andy felt her entire body blush and dropped her eyes, hoping that the sudden hardness of her nipples wasn't visible.
"Mmm," Miranda purred. "I can see that I'm not alone in wishing to explore our changed relationship, in all its dimensions."
Andy swallowed nervously. "I haven't really done much uh, stuff like that."
"Stuff, Andrea?" Miranda raised her right eyebrow. "I'll break your habit of using that word if it is the last thing I do." Smirking, she added, "And I think we'll both enjoy it."
Miranda pulled Andy out of the desk chair and led her over to the couch. Sitting down in the seat, she tugged Andy into her lap. They fit together beautifully and cuddled for a few moments before Miranda asked, "Do you trust me, Andrea?"
Andy immediately nodded. "Of course."
"There is no 'of course.' I want you to think before you answer. I was not entirely pleasant as your boss and you probably have some lingering resentment of my treatment of you. On my side, however valid your reasons, you left me without notice at a very vulnerable time."
Andy tried to speak but subsided when Miranda placed a finger on her lips. "Let me talk, darling. Even without those issues, we haven't had any other contact than a smile and a wave since that day in Paris almost twenty-six months ago."
"You know how many months ago it was?"
Miranda nestled her closer and rested her chin on top of Andy's head. She whispered, "It was seven hundred and eighty four days ago."
"Wow." Andy felt her heart warm to know that Miranda had been as affected by her leaving as she had been. "I really missed you."
"And I you. But, if we are to make a successful partnership, we need to clear the air of old issues and grievances. For example, I need to know that you won't leave when the going gets tough."
"I won't. I've never regretted anything more in my life." Andy swallowed. "When my parents talked about being soul sealed, it was scary but, on the other hand, it also felt so very right."
Miranda dragged her fingernails up and fingertips down Andy's upper thigh. "I agree. I like the idea of being bound to you and not just in the sense of fur lined cuffs." She smiled to feel the shiver that traveled down Andy's frame. "But part of being safe, sane and consensual is making sure our desire for gratification doesn't cause either of us to lose our sense of perspective."
"I don't understand."
"You've admitted you're new to playing with power. I don't want to steal your consent and have you submit to things because you think that is what I want."
Andy wrinkled her forehead. "But that is what you want."
"I want you to be present and willing even more."
"Any where you are, and any thing you want, will be fine with me."
"Thank you. I'm honored by your trust." Her arms tightened around Andy. "There are plenty of things I disagree with Dan Savage about but his idea of the three G's has merit."
"That lovers need to be good, giving and game. We need to find a safe place where we can be honest about our needs, our fantasies, our likes and our dislikes. We need to be willing to try to fulfill those of our partner."
"I'd like that," Andy murmured. "I've been reluctant in the past to ask for things because I didn't want my lovers to think I was weird."
"Good. We will start as we mean to go on." Miranda placed a kiss on Andy's forehead. "We also need to prioritize passion. There are endless forces working against intimacy. God knows my job has come between my husbands and me often enough. I don't want the same thing to happen to us."
"Me, neither. I don't want to become another lesbian bed death statistic."
Pulling away slightly, Miranda raised one eyebrow. "Have you ever been involved with a woman?" she asked.
"In college, before Nate. She broke up with me because she wanted something someone more exciting."
Miranda hugged her. "That won't be a problem with us. I find you rather stimulating."
Blushing, Andy ducked her head at the jolt of arousal she felt at Miranda's words. She had never felt such a combination of safety and sexual stirrings as she did in Miranda's arms.
They both drew strength and energy from their closeness. After a few more moments, Miranda roused and said, "I think we've been serious enough for a while. Why don't we go in for some brunch?"
"I'm also going to ask Emily to come by to pick up the Book."
"Emily? I thought she had been promoted."
"She was. She is now the Associate Editor for Accessories." Miranda patted Andy's butt to get her to stand up. "I figure if your parents are wrong about the wings being visible, it is better to have someone who knows you and who would be willing to keep your secret."
"Okay. That's smart." Andy bit her lip. "But do you think Emily will do that? We didn't part on the best of terms."
"You gained her loyalty by gifting her those Parisian fashions. She wouldn't let anyone badmouth you in her presence, despite her anger at how you did it."
"I'm sorry about that. It was very unprofessional."
Miranda reached out and pulled Andy into her arms. "I know. I now also have the benefit of knowing what was going on in your pretty little head when you did so. It makes it that much easier for me to forgive you." Miranda kissed her gently before taking her hand and leading the way to kitchen. "Can you cook? I'm thinking French toast."
"Carbs?" Andy squeaked.
"I've never advocated abstinence from carbohydrates. Only moderation."
"Oh, goodie. I was so afraid being with you was going to mean going cold turkey on all the foods I love the most." Smiling with happiness, Andy squeezed the hand holding hers. "Things are definitely looking up."
After a leisurely brunch, Andy washed the dishes while Miranda put additional comments in the Book. Once Andy finished, she fidgeted nervously in the hallway while waiting for Emily's arrival. This would be the first test to see if she could return to some semblance of normality.
"Hey, Em. How are you doing?"
"What are you doing here?"
"Seeing Miranda? Please tell me I'm misunderstanding American slang."
"I'm visiting her and the girls."
"That better be all." Emily set down the bag she was carrying and picked up the Book. Narrowing her eyes, she said, "You look different."
"It must be the haircut." Emily nodded. "Short hair suits you."
Floating in from the kitchen, Miranda walked towards them. "She's going to be growing it back out."
Andy looked over at Miranda in shock. "Excuse me?"
Stepping close, she reached up and tugged on the short hairs at the back of Andy's neck. "I need something more to pull." She murmured before proceeding to kiss Andy thoroughly.
Andy closed her eyes as she was overwhelmed by sensation. Miranda's words, her fantasies of hair play and the kiss were enough to short-circuit her brain. When she opened her eyes again, Miranda was winding up rattling off a list of tasks for Emily, who then headed out the door.
Miranda locked the door and turned to smirk at her. "You should have seen the look on her face!"
For a moment, Andy went cold as she wondered if the intimacy they shared was just an act for Emily.
Andy looked confused.
"It is not an act but we won't go any further before an audience."
Andy blushed to think she had said her worries aloud.
"You have a very expressive face, my dear. Trust that you mean more to me than any cheap statement at your expense."
"Thank you." Andy ducked her head. "May I have a hug?"
"Most definitely." Miranda stepped close and enfolded her in an embrace. They both sighed at the feeling of rightness they found in each other's arms. "I noticed yesterday that we seem to need physical contact for reassurance."
"Yeah, I get anxious when we're apart."
"That is going to make work a little awkward. Unless you come back to work for me."
"I think that Irv would have a field day with that."
"True and what I want to do with you is hardly work safe." Miranda smirked at the immediate blush. "That glass desk has fueled many a fantasy of mine."
Andy's brain failed her again and she could only blink at Miranda.
"It looks like it is fueling some of yours now, too." Chuckling, Miranda said, "I need to work for a while. The girls are picking out movies for you all to watch in the upstairs entertainment room."
"I need to read my email. I've missed at least one deadline."
"That reminds me." Miranda let go and picked up the bag Emily had left. "This is for you."
"What is it?"
Andy pulled out a heavy, rectangular box. She looked at Miranda, who was just smiling at her. Ripping off the brown paper, she revealed a brand new MacBook Pro. "Oh, wow." After a moment, her smile turned into a frown. "This is too much."
"No, it isn't. You needed a replacement."
"But this is expensive."
"I have more than enough money to ensure that my family always has the best. I'm not depriving my children by giving you gifts nor am I attempting to buy your love."
"I think my heart knows that but, this is something we are going to need to talk about. I won't be comfortable being kept."
"I respect your independence, Andrea. Please let me use the means at my disposal to gift you from my heart."
Andy bit her lip as she studied Miranda. What she saw in her eyes gave her the confidence to nod. "All right. Thank you."
She noticed that Miranda relaxed slightly and reflected that Miranda really did care about what she thought and felt. It gave her a greater sense of security in what a relationship with the dynamic and powerful woman would be like.
Stepping closer, she gave Miranda a hug. "I really do love it. Thank you."
Miranda returned the hug. "You're very welcome. It should be fully loaded."
"I can't wait to play with it." Andy grinned. "And I had just backed up my old laptop, so as soon as I can get a hold of that drive, I will be good to go."
"You can make a list and I can send Roy over to your apartment."
Andy sighed. "There is more than just the hard drive. I need to get my clothes and stu uh things. I can't keep wearing your clothes."
"You are welcome to the content of my closet. I hope your sense of taste hasn't deteriorated too badly since you left my employ," Miranda said.
At Andy's outraged squawk, she smiled. "Now, now, you know I'd love you no matter what you wore."
Andy swallowed. "Love?"
Enfolding the younger woman in her arms, Miranda kissed both her cheeks before kissing her deeply on the lips. "I probably won't say it enough to you but I do love you." After a moment, Miranda raised one eyebrow. "Well?"
Andy couldn't help but laugh at her impatience. "I so totally love you and have for longer than I want to admit. Don't worry, I won't be bringing anything that would make you ashamed to see me in it."
"I know that."
"But I do need to go and pack up my life." To her dismay, her eyes filled with tears.
"Are you sad?"
"A little." Andy looked at Miranda. "Not about being with you and the girls, or the wings and everything else but that there is a door closed between me now and the me I used to be."
"When one door closes, another opens."
"I know. I think that is what makes all of this bearable."
"Let me know what else I can do to make things easier for you." Miranda kissed her again. "I would use my considerable fortune to make sure that all my girls are happy."
Blinking away more tears, Andy nodded.
Miranda brushed her fingertips over Andy's cheek. "Why did that make you cry?"
"I like being your girl."
"How fortuitous." Miranda kissed her gently and then stepped away, sliding her hand down to grasp one of Andy's. "Come along." Miranda left her at the door of the entertainment center with an admonishment for her not to choose a scary movie.
Andy took her computer out of the box and had plugged it and settled on the couch when the girls arrived. After much discussion on the movies to watch and snacks to eat, they settled in beside her.
"What's that?" Caroline asked.
"My new computer."
Cassidy wondered, "Are you going to work in here?"
"I was hoping to play with it and hang with you guys. If that's okay?"
In a dull voice, Cassidy said, "Yeah, its okay."
"What is that tone for?"
"I just I guess I just wanted you to pay attention to us."
Andy nodded at the insecurity. "No problem." She set the computer on the floor and turned slightly on the couch. "You've got it."
"Wow. That was easy."
"I want you two to know that you are important to me. Work or other things will not come between us."
Both girls smiled and snuggled close. Andy enfolded them in her arms and her wings and they settled in to watch the film.
As the credits rolled a few hours later, Caroline said softly, "We don't mind that you sleep with Mom."
"Really?" Andy whispered back.
"Yeah. She sleeps better with you here."
"What do you mean?"
"We wake up when she wanders into our room at night."
"She paces through the house for hours."
"Sometimes she doesn't even come to bed."
"Yeah, we find her sleeping at her desk downstairs."
The girls passed the conversation back and forth and Andy nearly got dizzy trying to keep up with which one was talking. "And now that I've been here?"
"She slept in yesterday."
Cassidy nodded. "We woke up before her for the first time in, like, forever."
"Do you sleep better with her?" Caroline asked.
"I don't remember all the nights since um, since the wing thing but last night was the best sleep I've had in recent memory."
"That's cool you can fly."
"I don't know about that." Andy spread her wings. "I only barely left my feet yesterday."
"You nearly blew us off ours."
"And it wore me out." Andy rolled her shoulders. "It will certainly add a new dimensions to my exercise regime."
"Exercise is boring. How about we play a Kinect game?"
"What do you have?"
"We have the sports package with volleyball, soccer, ping pong, track and field and bowling, as well as the UFC Personal Trainer."
"Mixed martial arts."
"That sounds like fun but I don't know how good I'll do. I was pretty clumsy before I got these wings to even further through off my balance."
"It is new to us, too, so we'll all learn together," Caroline said as she jumped up to start to the program.
Miranda could hear the music and the laughter and it drew her from her work. Standing in the door, she smiled to see the three pieces of her heart gyrating and gamboling on the cleared space between the couch and the television console.
It was Andy who noticed her first and she was struck again by the young woman's beauty as she stood there, panting from exertion, her cheeks flushed and brown eyes flashing. Miranda stalked to her, never breaking eye contact. She felt her own cheeks flush as she asked, "Caroline, isn't there some decent music in the cd player?"
"You got it, Mom."
Miranda inclined her head slightly and held out her hand. "May I have this dance?" she asked.
Smiling, Andy stepped closer and took her hand. "As long as you don't mind me stepping on your toes."
"Nonsense. You have never failed to rise a challenge, Andrea. Yours now is to waltz." Miranda took Andy's right hand in her left and slid her other hand around her back. "Move with me," she breathed as she stepped off on her left foot.
They danced together in the small space like they had practiced the choreography for years. It was a pleasure to feel the heat of Andy's body against her. There was tease and torture in the flow of their steps and spins. It only took the slightest pressure of her fingertips for Andy to respond to her cues to twist and turn and twirl.
"I knew you could do it," Miranda whispered.
"Because, in your arms, I feel like I'm floating on air."
Miranda smiled at her and then heard her children cheering. She looked at them at they were both bouncing and clapping their hands.
"Show us how to do that!" Caroline demanded.
Nodding, Miranda released her partner and they both took a child. Miranda counted off 1-2-3, 2-2-3 to give them the measure of the music. "Turn your shoulders and your feet will follow," she said, after seeing how stiff her children were.
Soon, both sets of dancers were gliding across the floor. They would occasionally bump each other or falter but Miranda was proud at how quickly her children picked up the new skill.
Before another waltz began, she had them switch partners. This time, she took Cassidy around the room. While she didn't have a facility for music like her sister, she was still graceful in her movements.
They switched partners once more. Miranda was very happy to have Andrea back in her arms. By her quickened breath and heightened color, it seemed that she was pleased as well. As the song ended, she couldn't help but laugh at Andy's pout.
Pulling her close, she said, "Tonight, we will take this dancing horizontal."
"Are you alluding to the dance with no pants, Miranda?" Andy threw her head back to laugh.
Miranda laughed with her. "I love you," she said softly.
They leaned toward each other but stopped at the stereo "Aww" from Caroline and Cassidy.
Miranda raised her eyebrow. "However, we'll continue this later. Without the peanut gallery."
"Oh, goody," Andy husked. "I can hardly wait." She winked at the girls and asked Miranda, "Will you join us for a movie?"
Miranda agreed and they spent the rest of the afternoon snuggled together on the couch.
After the girls had been sent to bed, Miranda led Andrea into her bedroom and locked the door behind them. Andy's steps slowed as they neared the bed.
"What's wrong, darling."
"I don't want to disappoint you."
"You won't." Miranda stroked her cheek before tugging her down for a kiss. "I have every hope our joining will be marvelous. And, if it isn't at first, we'll just have to try," she gave another kiss. "Try." Another kiss. "Try again."
"Mmm," Andy murmured.
Miranda's tongue teased with gentle strokes. Andy opened her mouth when Miranda's tongue pressed for entrance and moaned when the tip of the hard muscle flicked against hers.
Andy's wings settled as her pulse sped up.
"I'm going to undress you now." Miranda tugged at the Velcro closures and gentle removed Andy's shirt. She stepped close and hooked her fingers into the waistband of Andy's pants.
"Is this okay?" Miranda asked.
"It is more than okay." Andy closed her eyes when Miranda's lips trailed down her neck and her fingers divested her of the rest of her garments.
Miranda was unable to keep her lips off Andy's and she kissed her again. This time, Andy was more active and her tongue reached out for Miranda's.
Their lips slowly parted after their tongue's duel ended. Foreheads touching, they lost themselves, staring into one another's eyes. They didn't need to say a word for their eyes were connecting them even closer together.
"Come to bed, Andrea," Miranda purred.
The timbre of voice went right to her nervous system and Andy's knees sagged a bit.
Miranda chuckled at Andy's reaction. Pushing her backwards toward the bed she asked, "Can you lay on your back?"
"I don't think that would be comfortable." Andy flapped her wings uneasily.
"Try. Spread them out."
Andy did so. "This would be easier if I was on top," she complained.
"Anything worthwhile is never easy."
Andy was focusing on the way the wings felt beneath her when a very naked Miranda straddled her. Then her wings were the least of her concerns. Miranda's heat against her stomach had her entire attention.
"You're so wet. Is that for me?"
Miranda leaned down and kissed her. "It is all for you," she whispered, flexing her thighs and smearing herself on Andy's skin, marking her lover as her own.
"Please," Andy whimpered.
"You don't have to beg, pet. At least, not this time." Miranda slid down Andy's body and between her legs. She rubbed her cheek on Andy's stomach and plucked at both nipples with her fingers. "I can feel your essence on me, Andrea. You are ready for me, aren't me?"
Miranda slid further down and nuzzled into the wiry hairs at the junction of Andy's legs. "Mmm, you smell so good." She drew her tongue along Andy's labial lips. "You taste even better."
"I don't think you're allowed to blaspheme any more, Andrea."
"Miranda, you're killing me."
"Don't be silly, sweetie. If I was going to kill you, I'd use my hands." Miranda glanced up at her. "Like this."
She leaned forward and pressed her middle and index fingers into the wet heat of Andrea's core. They met some resistance but she pushed on, slightly downward and back, past the tight outer muscles. Andy's walls closed in around Miranda's fingers and she marveled at the feeling of Andy's inner strength.
Miranda began to move her fingers in tight circles while licking around Andy's clitoris. As Andy's breathing quickened, she moved her other hand up to Andy's breast and began to play with her nipple, squeezing and releasing in sync with the fingers inside her lover.
Hearing Andrea making those helpless, breathy moans drove Miranda wild. She began to move her tongue faster and to increase the tempo of her fingers. She added a third finger and thrust deep into Andy's pussy before drawing them nearly out.
With one long groan, Andy's body began to tense and she clenched around Miranda's fingers. "Miranda," Andy cried as she shuddered before going boneless.
Miranda continued to lave Andy's pussy until she realized the younger woman was no longer conscious. She panicked only briefly as the strength of Andy's internal contractions was reassuring that her partner was only passed out. In fact, Miranda was feeling rather smug. She was a little concerned about Andy's comfort, though, so she gently pulled her fingers out and rolled Andy over.
She straightened Andy's wings and saw that several of the feathers were mussed. Miranda spent some meditative minutes realigning them and smoothing them back into place. It reminded her of those first scary days when the feathers were first coming in. Miranda had frantically searched for a bird grooming website to try and figure out what to do. She ended up spending hours bathing and oiling Andrea's new wings to ease the pinfeathers through her skin.
Miranda found it calming to touch her in this way but she was grateful when the younger woman's eyes popped open.
"Oh, my goodness. Did I pass out?"
"You certainly did." Miranda leaned over and kissed the back of her neck. "I can now say that I have heard the angels singing."
Andy elbowed her lightly and rolled over. "You are insufferable."
"But you love me."
"And I love what you do to me." Andy shivered and bit her lip before confessing. "I've never felt so much before. And I've certainly never passed out before."
"You are such a pleasure to touch and taste and love." Miranda kissed her lips, her face still damp with Andy's fluids.
The taste of herself on Miranda's lips ignited a fire in Andy. She rolled over and tugged Miranda on top of her. "Please, I want to taste you."
Miranda kissed her thoroughly before walking forward on her knees until she was hovering over Andy's face. She waited for a nod from Andy before lowering herself.
They both moaned at the first touch of Andy's tongue.
Miranda joyfully gave into the pleasure of Andy's touch. She stared down into lust darkened, brown eyes as she climbed closer to her release. Their gazes remained locked until she climaxed and closed her eyes in euphoria.
She moved with as much grace as her still throbbing body could muster to lie back down on the bed. "And now I hear the heavenly choir."
Andy laughed and sat up before extending her wings. She shook them out before folding them and curling up on her side against Miranda. "That was lovely. Thank you."
"I should be the one thanking you. That was wonderful." Miranda stroked her hand down Andy's side. "Let's rest a while, my love. I'm going to want you again soon."
Andy yawned. "Goody," she mumbled before beginning to snore.
For a short while Miranda lay awake beside her, just thinking of the miracle that had brought them back together. She knew that some would consider her relationship with a female, former assistant much more improbable than the wings, one of which moved to cover them both.
It was going to be okay, she mused to herself, patting the living cover. Whatever crisis may come, she knew they would see it through together.
She had faith in the wings.
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