DISCLAIMER: The Devil Wears Prada and its characters belong to Lauren Weisberger and 20th Century Fox. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: For the LGBTfest, for prompt 10. "Any fandom: Two characters (both LGBT) disagree about an LGBT issue (examples might be same-sex marriage, biphobia within the gay/lesbian community, coming out, "outing" closeted LGBT people, etc.). Bonus points if both sides of the argument are treated respectfully." Thanks to Telanu, Carla, and Lorraine for their help; any failures are entirely my own. Disclaimer: Finnerman, W. (Producer) and Frankel, D. (Director) (2006) The Devil Wears Prada United States: Fox 2000 Pictures.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
By The Last Good Name
"You and Miranda," said Nigel, stunned. "I don't believe it."
"It's not that surprising, is it?" Andy asked.
He regarded her, a thousand images flashing through his brain. "No," he said slowly. "I suppose not."
"Yeah, well," she said, and smiled at him from beneath her bangs.
Nigel sighed and settled himself more comfortably in his chair. That adorable, pleading look had better not work on Miranda, or it was going to completely destroy his sense of how the world worked. "So, how long?" he said, taking a fairly large sip of his drink.
Andy grinned. "Six months." She was practically bouncing in her chair, her wine untouched.
Nigel rolled his eyes; she was desperate for someone to tell, clearly. Humoring her, he said, "And?"
"You're happy?" he prodded.
"Yeah," she said. "It'snice."
"Nice," Nigel said distastefully. Nice. The kiss of death.
Andy scowled at him. "It's not weird or anything; we're happy. It's nice. We get together and have fun, and she relaxes a little, and ." She shrugged. "It's nice."
"Nice," he said again. "So, how many people have you told?"
Andy blushed. "Well, um, actually, you're the first."
Nigel was stunned, again. He knew he was gaping, mouth opening and closing like a particularly stupid fish, but he couldn't help himself. Thankfully, before he had to try and come up with something new to say, Andy continued.
"It's just," she said, "we were trying to be discreet, and now we're kind ofit's long-term now, and we decided to start telling people. Friends."
There was a strange gap there. "Family?"
"Maybe. I don't know."
Nigel mentally rolled his eyes; newbies and the traumas of coming out. It was always the same. "They deserve to know, Andy."
"I know," she said, "butit's hard."
He frowned. Parents were one thing, but with Miranda involved, there were a few other issues. "Tell me that you've mentioned it to Caroline and Cassidy, at least."
"Maybe?" he mimicked in derisive tones. Maybe? Didn't she know? Didn't they discuss this? He might not like Caroline and Cassidy, but they certainly deserved to know what was going on with their own mother.
Andy winced. "Miranda was going to tell them, and I started staying over a couple of weeks ago, and I think they know, but"
Nigel rolled his eyes, this time outwardly. Even now, Andy was horribly naïve and innocent. It almost didn't bear thinking about.
"They're smart," she said, her voice small. "They've probably figured it out."
"Probably," he agreed. Caroline and Cassidy were at least as smart as their mother; they probably knew exactly what was going on.
"But, uh, you're the first person we've really told."
"You've told," he corrected.
"Um, yeah. I don't know if Miranda wants to tell anyone."
For a brief moment, he wanted to shake her. What in the world was Andy doing telling people when she hadn't even discussed the matter with Miranda? He always knew Miranda was the queen of dysfunctional relationships, but this was more than he had ever expected.
Andy sighed. "I don't mean she doesn't want to come out; I mean, I don't know if she has anyone that she wants to share it with. It's kind of private, you know, and Miranda doesn't like letting strangers into her private life."
"I'm hardly a stranger," Nigel pointed out, attempting to soothe his own hurt.
"Not you. Butpeople."
"Ah," he said. That made no sense.
"You know, other people," she mumbled.
"Well, that clears things up immeasurably," he said.
"You know what I mean," she said.
"Yes. You mean Miranda does not, in fact, intend to let anyone know about your relationship."
"Um," said Andy.
"She's not going to come out," Nigel said softly. Surely Andy had realized this by now.
"I don't know," said Andy.
"You have an idea," Nigel said.
Andy stared at the table-top, looking a little lost. "What if we just don't want to come out? What if it's nobody's business but ours?" she asked.
Nigel suppressed a moment of sympathy; this wasn't the time let Andy pretend happy families. "It isn't anyone's business. But you have an obligation."
"To who?" Andy actually looked surprised at that.
Nigel stared at her, dumbfounded. Did she truly not realize? "To the world! To all the people who can't come out. To all the teenagers who are afraid, to the people who actually do get fired and can't fight back, to the victims of gay-bashings. Andy, you have to do this." Nigel realized his voice was raised and forced himself to lean back in his chair. Andy was staring at him as if she had never seen him before, and Nigel would have felt a little self-conscious, except that it seemed Andy hadn't even thought about any of this.
"This isn't about politics, Nigel," Andy said. "This is my life."
"The personal is political?" he quipped.
"I know it's your life," Nigel said carefully, "and I know you don't want to share it." He paused, and then leaped in. "But you have to balance that with the political cost of being closeted. The cost to you personally, and the cost to society at large. Can you imagine what it would mean for a woman of Miranda's stature to come out of the closet?"
"So she's a-a simulacrum of lesbianism?" Andy said.
Nigel shrugged. Needs must and all that. Maybe it was a fling for Miranda and Andy, but it meant a great deal for people like him. "Perhaps not quite that blatant, butyes."
"Nigel!" Andy squawked.
"You don't have to like it," he said. He knew she could be densethe amount of time it took her to start trying at her job at Runway illustrated thatbut this was ridiculous. As if any of it had to do with making sure that Andy Sachs was comfortable with the public's perception of her.
"And you don't have to live it," she retorted.
"No," he said, and then, pointedly, "Neither do you."
At least she had the grace to blush. "She does," Andy said.
"Yes," Nigel said. "She does. Either way, she has to live with it." She squirmed; he hoped his point was getting across. He had no idea how to make it any more explicit.
"I think she's just fine living without anyone knowing."
Nigel frowned. Or maybe not. "Are you?"
Andy stared at him.
Nigel leaned forward. "Are you fine knowing that you could make a difference in the world, to millions of people, by doing something that is simple and meaningful at the same time, just by telling people about the person you love? You could do that and you won't. Because you're scared." His voice was rising again, and the vein in his forehead was throbbing. This was why he never spent any time as an activist; he was too impassioned, and he had never gotten anywhere by yelling at people.
Case in point: Andy said, "That'sit's not like that."
"It is," Nigel said, suddenly exhausted. She was so young, so inexperienced. Maybe it would be better to bring this up with Miranda. And get his head lopped off; no, that was probably a bad idea.
"It isn't this big huge thing, Nigel. It's just" Andy stuttered to a halt and looked at him pleadingly.
He waited, and then waited some more. She stared at him, her lip trembling. "Just what?"
"It's just us," she wailed.
"And you need to share it," he spat back.
"Becausebecause you need to," he said and immediately deflated. Surely that kind of a resounding argument would convince her.
Andy immediately picked up on it. "But why does it matter? It's our life."
"Precisely," said Nigel, clenching his fist. At least he hadn't resorted to pounding on the table; small victories and all that. He inhaled deeply, then exhaled, marshaling his argument. "There are a lot of people who don't have the luxury, who don't have the position or the protection that Miranda does. That you do. It's your responsibility"
"What protection?" she said, interrupting him.
He grasped for something, anything. "Money, for one."
"Miranda has money. I don't." She was looking at him, her eyes sharp and focused.
But at least she was paying attention now, actually judging what he was saying rather than appealing to her own tender emotions. She was also quibbling about a minor point, and they both knew it. Nigel raised an eyebrow at her.
"Whatever," said Andy, and then, "Miranda can't come out. Her kids"
Nigel scoffed. "As if her ex-husband could get that one to fly. Not in New York."
"Maybe," she conceded, mind clearly whirling through the points. "But her whole life, her job, is about her appearance, and being a dyke is not part of that"
"SONDA," Nigel retorted.
"What?" Andy said.
Oh, for goodness sake, he though. How in the world could someone so well educated, someone working for a newspaper as their State political correspondent, someone in a lesbian relationship, not know about the laws that protected them? "SONDA," he repeated. "The Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act."
"I know what it is," said Andy.
Nigel remembered, again, that Andy wasn't as stupid as she sometimes appeared. "Then you know what protections it provides," he said. "You can't be fired for being gay."
"Yeah, but Irv could still come up with something"
"If that happened and Miranda objected to getting fired," Nigel said, "she would have no trouble finding a dozen lawyers willing to take on Ravitz and Elias-Clarke. In fact, I imagine coming out would secure her position in a way she hasn't been able to do before; he'd be even less likely to try to take her on with that kind of ammunition at her back." It was a position he had wanted to push a few times, especially whenever he caught Irv making one of those racist or sexist or homophobic jokes of his. Horrible little man, that. But Nigel wasn't Miranda, and Nigel's job wasn't Miranda's, and all those lawyers who would leap off tall buildings for Miranda would have to have a much better case to deal with a gay man like Nigel.
"I'm serious," said Nigel. "He would have no way to move against her without the specter of discrimination coming down on him. And Miranda would fight it, tooth and nail, if he tried. It would be a disaster for the company." And a great deal of fun for the rest of the press.
"So she should come out so she doesn't get fired?" And there it was again, Andy's adorable naïvete.
"Most people don't have that luxury." He paused, and then figured he had nothing to lose. She had to see reason. "And they'll come after you. Page Six. Wouldn't it be best to come out first, before you're outed?"
"You wouldn't" Andy said, her eyes going very wide.
Nigel's breath caught. She couldn't think "What?"
"You wouldn't, like, tell anyone, would you?"
Nigel gave her a wounded look, stung that she would think that of him.
Andy held her hands up in defense. "I mean, I don't really think you'd tell anyone."
"I can't believe you'd think so poorly of me," he said. Not that it was a bad idea; if she wouldn't see reason, he really should take it up with Miranda and see if they couldn't send some sort of anonymous tip
"I don't!" she said, interrupting his line of thought. "I really don't. But it-it seems like it's really important to you, and, well, we're not going to"
"It is important to me," Nigel said. He seemed to be repeating himself a great deal. "It's important to a lot of people."
Andy bit her lip. "It shouldn't be."
Nigel frowned. "What does that mean?"
"I mean, it doesn't matter," Andy said. "It shouldn't matter. It's nobody else's business what we do in the bedroom."
He stared at her, stunned that she would actually think that was the problem, or rather, the solution. "Do you really think that's what this is about?"
"No; you're right: it's nobody's business." She looked like she didn't quite believe him, so he tried for some humor to defuse things. "Especially mine," he teased. She smiled. That was better. "But it is about being treated like a person rather than a set of sexual perversions."
"We're not perverted," Andy objected.
"No," Nigel said. "You're not. That's the point." When she met his eyes, he nudged her just a bit more. "And if you're not perverted, what's the problem with coming out?"
Andy's brows drew; suddenly, she looked like she was five years old. "We shouldn't have to," she said stubbornly.
Nigel shrugged. "We can't reach a place where no one cares what anyone else does in the bedroom until enough people have made it clear that it is not a perversion, that it's not something to be ashamed of."
"I'm not ashamed," Andy said, "I'm just private. There's a difference."
Nigel regarded her silently until she came to the conclusion herself, and then he said, "Not according to Page Six."
"I'm not going to live my life according to what Page Six thinks," she said immediately.
"You might have to." Even given Miranda's penchant for disregarding what people thought of her.
Andy groaned. "Life was a lot easier when I was dating boys."
"Exactly," he said, and popped an olive into his mouth. Thank goodness she was coming around.
They sat in silence for a while. Eventually Andy asked, "When did you come out?"
He smiled. "I was never in, my dear," he said. "Of course, in fashion, everyone assumes you're gay and when you do show up with a woman, they just think you're in denial. Or she's a beard."
"That's such a double-standard," she said. She looked very small, slumped in her chair like that. Defeated. That would never do.
"Of course it is," he said. "Welcome to the world."
Andy glared at the world. "And we can't even get spousal privilege or anything."
"Were you planning on testifying against Miranda anytime soon?" he teased.
"No! But that doesn't mean it's fair." Good. Now she was the one leaning forward, determined to make the world see reason. All that passion, in the service of a worthy cause at last.
"This is all new to you, isn't it," he said.
"Yeah," she said, relaxing just a bit. But her eyes still blazed with righteous anger. No one did righteous anger like Andy.
After another long silence, he said, "Is this" There was no good way to ask it.
"What?" she said.
He sighed. "Is this what you really think, or are you just saying it because you think it's what Miranda thinks? Or wants?"
Now she was glaring at him again. He pursed his lips. "My life isn't for public consumption, Nigel," Andy said.
"Miranda is a public figure, though," he said. "Her life belongs, in a number of very significant ways, to the public sphere, and she is held to a different standard."
"That's not fair," she repeated, and the stubborn jut of her jaw was back.
"You keep saying that as if it were a factor," he said, trying to be gentle. He didn't think she noticed.
"So you're saying that we have to come out, for the children," she said, waving her hand at the world at large, "and also because we're might get outed anyway. And, oh yeah, because it's the right thing to do." Now her lip was quivering again, but not with sadness. This time, it was with anger.
"Yes," he said.
She looked stunned. "That's stupid," Andy said.
"And it sucks," she said.
It did suck; he had no reply.
"And," she announced. "I don't think you're right."
This was the intelligent Andy he had been waiting to see show up. Maybe she actually had an argument other than a whiny, 'it's none of their business.' "Why?" he said.
"I think you're wrong," she repeated, and now she was ticking off points on the table as she counted them out. "There are too many other issues; she's too public a figure; she has kids. I don't think we need to come out right now. I mean, I see what you're saying. And yes, it's important forfor people to come out. But it doesn't have to be us. We don't have to be, I don't know, poster children for the whole world."
"If not you, then who?" he asked.
"Someone else!" Another dramatic arm wave knocked over her glass. Luckily, it was nearly empty.
"Andy," he said.
"No," she said, mopping at the spill. "I'm serious. Not everything has to be for a higher reason. It isn't any of their business," she said. "Maybe, someday, when it's legal, we might, you know, make it legal. But not until then. If then. It's just"
He looked at her expectantly. She was very nearly back to whining.
"It's just," Andy said slowly, "that she has to deal with the media prying into every aspect of her life already, and she deserves to have one thing that's just hers, that isn't for them."
"And as for telling 'people'?" he asked, the quotation marks audible.
"We'll be discreet," she said. "You won't tell anyone; the twins won't tell anyone. Besides, it's not like people don't know how to keep secrets."
Nigel looked at her appraisingly. "An open secret, you mean." That might work. It would appeal to Miranda's sense of order and privacy, while at the same time letting her manage her life outside the public eye.
"Yeah," said Andy, excitedly. "The Post doesn't have to know, but it's not like we're going to go out of our way to hide everything."
"You'll be discreet," Nigel prompted.
"Yes," she said. "It doesn't have to be this big thing."
One more try to get through to her. "And for the people to whom it is a big thing?"
She narrowed her eyes at him, looking disturbingly like Miranda. Obviously she was picking up some bad habits. "You mean, you?"
"I mean that young man in Wyoming a few years ago," he said. Amongst other people.
"He was at a gay bar, Nigel," said Andy. "He knew there were gay people in the world; one more isn't going to make a difference."
That kind of thinking wasn't going to get them anywhere. "What if it did?"
"I can't live my life in what ifs for gay people in Wyoming. Or in California." She sounded a great deal more certain now than she had earlier.
"Andy" he said.
"Nigel. We're just going to have to agree with disagree." There was that damned confidence back. She was definitely taking lessons from Miranda.
"Besides," she said with a small smile. "I haven't even talked with her about it. She might be ready to put out an ad in The Times or something."
He sighed and then raised his glass. "To new love, then."
"To new, not-coming-out love," she corrected.
Their glasses clinked.
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