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Diabolical aka The Light at the End of the Tunnel

Chapter Text

Patrol Officer Andy Sachs walked through the station, hauling her duty bag, craving her end of shift chamomile tea and a well deserved slumber.

“Hey Sachs.”

She heaved an inner sigh, turning back to face her supervisor. “Sergeant Riley, hat's up?”

“I know you’re coming off a shift.” He lifted a cup of coffee to his lips. “You up for a little overtime?”

“Always, Sarge. You know me.” She shifted her weight. “What’s up?”

“You used to work at that fashion magazine, didn’t you?”

Andy’s grip on her the strap of her bag tightened. “Runway. Yeah.” She answered warily.

“Got a call in from that lady who runs it, Priestly, and the mayor wants to make sure she’s treated ‘properly,’ whatever that means.”

Andy resisted the urge to roll her eyes. “Oh, trust me. I know what that means.” Andy chuckled. “She’s kind of a pain in the ass.”

Riley smiled. “Well, if she gets uppity, just remember: you carry a gun now.”

“Preach.” Andy laughed.

**

“Mom, why are you being so chill?” Caroline demanded.

“Because it’s just someone trying to scare me. But it’s not going to work because Priestlys are unstoppable and don’t let anyone try to tell you otherwise.” Miranda insisted.

Her twins looked less than convinced as all three sat together on the couch in the sitting room, the television playing an infomercial for oxyclean in the background.

The doorbell rang and the twins stiffened.

Miranda got up and walked to the front door.

“Mom!” Cassidy scoffed.

“Darlings, it’s the police. Remember, we called them?” Miranda reached for the knob and the girls voiced their objections.

“Who is it?” Caroline demanded in the deepest voice she could manage. Miranda bit her lip on an amused smile.

“NYPD, responding to your call about a threatening message.”

“See?” Miranda motioned to the stairs. “Will you please go up to bed?”

Silently, they acquiesced. They trudged up the stairs to the next floor landing, where their bedrooms were. They paused just out of sight as their mother unchained and unbolted the front door.

A uniformed officer stepped into the foyer when Miranda stepped back and they felt a little bit better. “Can I stay in your room tonight?” Cassidy whispered.

“Yes, please.” Caroline agreed and the two teenagers retreated into Caroline’s bedroom.

Andy stepped inside. She felt a familiar sinking feeling as she took in the room. It was relatively unchanged, which was what was probably made her feel the most anxious. Was it possible that, in all the years that had passed, Miranda hadn’t changed one iota while Andy’s own life had taken her in new and unexpected directions.

Miranda was just as beautiful and imposing as ever and she began to introduce herself when she faltered. “I’m sorry… you look like…”

“It’s me, Miranda.” Andy nodded.

“This is… quite a departure.” Miranda looked the younger woman up and down.

“So, you called about a menacing message?” Andy cleared her throat.

Miranda started toward the sitting room. “I called because the girls were really bothered by it, but I’m sure it’s nothing.

“It was a week old when I finally played it. The landline and answering machine are just holdovers. I never use it so I don’t think to check it but Caroline saw the light blinking so she pressed play.” Miranda motioned to the machine in question.

“May I?” Andy asked.

“I don’t recall you being someone who was inclined to ask for permission.”

Andy bit back a sigh and pressed play on the machine. The first several seconds were heavy breathing and then a mechanically disguised voice rasped, “watch your back, bitch.”

Andy felt a little unnerved after hearing the message and looked over to her former boss who looked as cool as a cucumber - maybe even bored.

Andy began to make notes in her notepad. “Did you recognize anything about it?”

“Which do you mean: the heavy breaths or the digitally altered voice?”

Andy paused, trying to remind herself that that was just Miranda’s personality. “I’m going to write down that your answer was no.” She looked back up at Miranda. “Can you think of anyone who might hold a grudge against you?”

“Andrea, really.” Miranda rolled her eyes.

“Miranda, I think you need to take this seriously.” Andy insisted.

“This is someone’s dumb idea of a prank.” Miranda rolled her eyes. “No one has this number. Like I said, I don’t use it. Did you ever have this phone number? Or even have any way of gaining access to it?”

“Not that I recall, but I didn’t ever go looking for it.” Andy admitted.

“Some child at a sleepover probably just dialed a number at random and thought it would be funny to leave a stupid message.” Miranda insisted.

Andy put her hands on her hips.

“Do you feel that that makes you intimidating?” Miranda cocked her head.

Andy sighed, dropping her arms. “You’re really not going to file an official report?”

“I’m really not.” Miranda confirmed with a terse nod.

Andy pulled a business card out of one of the pockets on her belt. “If you change your mind, or need anything.” She held out the card. “Please don’t hesitate to call.”

Miranda took the card, holding it between her thumb and forefinger, her french tips glinting as she turned it. “I do have one question.”

“Of course.”

“Why did you give up on writing?”

“It’s late, Miranda.” Andy gave a small shrug. “Have a good night.”

Miranda walked Andy to the foyer and Andy left wordlessly. Miranda turned the deadbolt and paused for a moment before ascending the stairs.

Putting her ear close to the door, she heard two hushed voices in Caroline’s room. She knocked gently, turning the knob.

The girls looked up from Caroline’s bed, looking at her expectantly.

“The officer was here and listened to the tape and she doesn’t think that it’s anything we should worry about.” Miranda stated. “And, this is amusing, the officer is one of my former assistants.”

“Which one?” Cassidy narrowed her eyes.

“Andrea.”

“Oh, great!” Caroline rolled her eyes. “The one who abandoned you in Paris after Stephen faxed you the divorce papers like the chickenshit he is.”

“Darling!” Miranda scoffed. “Language.”

“It’s the only word appropriate to describe that asshole.” Cassidy folded her arms across her chest.

“Hey, there’s another one!” Caroline laughed.

“We can’t trust Andrea to protect you, mom! You have to call back and get another officer down here.” Cassidy insisted.

Miranda smiled. “She’s a police officer, if she thought it were something to worry about she wouldn’t just pretend. Honestly, it wouldn’t look very good for her.”

The girls looked at her, unconvinced.

“How about we watch a movie in my room and have a little sleepover?”

Caroline and Cassidy broke out into a big smile. “Airplane?” They asked simultaneously.

“Fine.” Miranda feigned rolling her eyes. “You’ve seen that movie so many times you can recite it from memory, why is it still funny to you?”

“It just is!” Caroline chuckled.

“Alright, I’ll go downstairs and grab the dvd. Meet me upstairs.”

The girls ran up, wrapping their mother in a hug. “Love you.” They both murmured before scampering up the stairs to Miranda’s bedroom and her California King.

“Love you too!” Miranda called up as she started down to the first floor. She collected the dvd from the living room and paused to double check the lock on the front door as she passed.