She has a key, but she knocks. And waits.
It’s a Thursday evening. Ten minutes to seven o’clock. She’s been gone for nine months, eleven days, six hours, and thirty seven minutes.
Apprehension churns in Andy's stomach. It's been a small eternity.
“You can't go, Ms. Sachs,” the voice is firm but the hand on her shoulder is gentle.
“You have my statement,” Andy yields to the press of the detective's hand but confusion colors her tone, “I'll continue to cooperate but I have to go see my...”
“You'll be marking whoever you go see for death,” the detective interrupts the journalist, “I'm certain you're already being watched.”
Andy pales and the detective doesn't have to hold her shoulder to make her stay.
“These people won't hesitate to kill you, and whoever is close to you, to cover their tracks.” The information blows all the steam out of Andy. She deflates in her seat.
“I didn't even see all that much,” Andy's voice is thin. Realization at the severity of what she witnessed and her situation makes her physically weak.
“You saw enough. And, you saw for yourself how very dangerous those men are, and the lengths they're willing to go to shut somebody up,” the detective isn't maliciously attempting to scare her, but he is trying to make her understand.
Andy swallows and nods; her mind racing. “What am I going to do?”
“Witness protection,” comes the definite reply.
Andy is ready to refuse but Miranda's face flashes before her mind's eye. She can't put the woman she loves in the crosshairs of killers. “How long?” The question comes out resigned.
The detective sighs but answers honestly, “I don't know.”
“I won't go without saying goodbye,” Andy's voice is full of challenge.
The detective lets out a frustrated sigh. “A note. Unsigned. I'll deliver it personally.”
It doesn't seem like enough to Andy. She wants to see Miranda and explain. But the fear of someone following her and seeing her with the editor makes the journalist grudgingly accept the offer.
She hastily scribbles a few words on a blank sheet of paper, before tearing the unused part and handing the short note to the detective.
“Please,” her voice is more pleading than the word, “deliver this to Miranda Priestly.” The detective’s eyes widen at the name. “And, please be discreet,” Andy adds.
“You have my word,” the promise is sealed with a solemn nod.
The memory flashes before Andy’s eyes, making the apprehension so much worse. She left Miranda without a proper goodbye. She knows (and knew so at the time of her decision) it was necessary, but she's regretted it every second of the previous nine months.
Hearing the tumblers unlocking, Andy begins to fidget. She bounces on the balls of her feet. Her hands are sweaty. She's afraid she's about to be sick.
The door opens wide and Andy is momentarily blinded by the brightness from inside. Her mouth goes dry and she gets lightheaded when she finally sees Miranda. Coifed and outfitted perfectly from head to toe, the editor looks like she just arrived home from work. And suddenly, Andy feels frumpy standing before the beautiful creature in nothing more than jeans and a cardigan. She absently thinks she probably looks like a teenage boy with her nearly buzzed head and drastic weight loss. The last few months have been torture.
Despite her change in appearance, the intense gaze zeroed in on her features alerts Andy to Miranda’s immediate recognition. But, Andy can’t tell what the strange light in Miranda’s blue eyes means. She knows it’s partly questions, but the longer Miranda stares at her and says nothing the more unsure Andy becomes. So, she just lets Miranda stare. The million explanations she wants to say wither away as she looks helplessly at this woman she still so desperately loves. Andy feels the exhaustion that has been pulling at her bones grip her.
“Hi,” the word breaks their tableau. Andy sticks her hands in her pockets, shrugs, and gives Miranda a tired smile.
Before she knows what’s happening, Andy is enveloped in a tight embrace. Miranda clings to her as if she might disappear from between her very arms. “You finally came home,” her voice waivers ever so slightly.
“Yeah,” Andy’s voice breaks as she tightens their embrace, her eyes brimming with tears, “I’m finally home.”
And unbeknownst to Andy, tucked away quietly in Miranda’s bedside table is an unsigned, weathered, tearstained, smudged-from-so-many-finger-traces note that has two simple sentences scrawled across one of its faces:
I'm coming back. I'm coming home.