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Miranda's Guilty Pleasure

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Andy's day had started off badly. The night before she had to answer the obnoxious ringing of her cell at 2 am, which had woken both her and her boyfriend, Nate.

Nate had been pissed off about the call. They ended up arguing for hours after Miranda disconnected the call, getting no further sleep. Nate had stormed off to the bathroom before Andy, hogging the shower and using all the hot water. Managing a cold shower Andy left her apartment at 6 am to collect the 14 Hermes scarves Miranda had demanded.

Once again Nate had shown his distinct lack of understanding and support for her career. He couldn't handle the fact he was no longer her number one priority. All she was asking was for his support for one year. One year as Miranda's assistant would let her have her pick of any job. It was becoming increasingly clear he resented the time she dedicated to both Runway and Miranda, but she had to be available at all times as Miranda's Personal Assistant.

Deep down Andy knew she didn't mind meeting all Miranda's needs; she could read the editor's inscrutable countenance better than anyone else at Runway and she had thrived on her ability to grasp what Miranda wanted even before she realised herself.

She arrived at Runway early clutching Miranda's hotter than the sun Triple Venti, No Foam Latte and the scarves. The office was empty. Checking the contents of her purse she smiled at the stash of chocolate knowing she would have peace sometime later that day to indulge. Pulling her chocolate stash out of her purse she placed the items in her desk drawer.

Hearing the elevator stop and the clack of heels on the marble tiles she closed her drawer quickly knowing her boss had arrived for the day to wreak her usual havoc on the unsuspecting minions of Runway.

Opening the doors to the foyer she looked up at the editor. She was gorgeous. As she stalked towards the office Andy took in her Miranda's outfit. 5-inch Black Prada heels, charcoal Bill Blass trousers, tailored to fit her perfect backside and a black DKNY wraparound blouse that showed enough cleavage to leave you wondering what else lay beneath the clothes. She looked perfect.

Miranda launched her purse and Burberry coat onto Andy's desk as Andy handed her the day's schedule and her coffee.

"Good Morning, Miranda." Andy gave Miranda one of her brightest smiles.

Giving Andy a death glare Miranda launched into her demands as she entered her office, Andy walking a step behind, her notebook in hand. "Ah-tree-ah, call Calvin Klein and tell them I need the blouses ready no later than 11 am. You will pick them up and I need you back here no later than 11:25 am sharp. Move the run through to 11:30 am. Call Patrick and advise him that the shoot will go as planned next Tuesday, I expect him to be back from Paris by then. Tell Nigel that he needs to fix page 45 of the book, I asked for clean, athletic, smiling, they sent me dirty, tired and paunchy. Phone Irv and tell him I cannot make the appointment for the budget meeting this afternoon, I do not have the time nor the inclination to discuss the budget. Get me that lamp I liked in that shop we passed last Friday."

Andy nodded and continued to smile. "Yes, Miranda."

"And AHN-tree-ah, don't forget that the car needs to go to the garage. That's all!"

"Oh my God, one of these days I'm going to either kill her or kiss her." Andy thought to herself as she hurried around her desk. "Oh, fuck where did that thought come from?" She wondered.

It was time to focus and start her day.

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She returned to work later than usual after another busy day of running impossible errands for her boss. Miranda had been on fine form today, issuing countless instructions that kept her out of the office. Looking at her watch she realised it was now after 6 pm. She still had to wait for the Book; this meant another few hours before she would get home, eat and then hopefully sleep before starting the process all over again tomorrow. The few hours would hopefully allow her to catch up with her emails and ensure Miranda's schedule for tomorrow was updated. She was looking forward to sitting down with a cup of tea, kicking off her heels and enjoying her secret stash of snickers.

She was waved through security as she sprinted through the lobby of Elias Clarke, her hands full. Throwing a quick thanks to the guard she entered the elevator they were holding open for her.

Entering the foyer of Runway she observed the lamplight coming from Miranda's office. On sitting at her desk she realised the editor was gone. Easing into her seat she kicked off the Jimmy Choo's she was wearing, unlocked her Mac and opened her mail client. Organising the email from most to least important she spotted an email from Nigel.

Sender: nkipling
Recipient: asachs
Subject: Secret Stash

Hey Six,

Before I left, I saw M rummaging around your desk. She was muttering something about Tylenol.

You may want to ensure your not-so-secret stash hasn't been placed in the trash, you know how she gets when she thinks people are eating at their desks.

Good Luck.

Nigel xxx

Opening her drawer she found one of the three Snickers bars she had hidden. Andy was confused. Why on earth would two chocolate bars be missing? She thought as she muttered. "Fuck! Is nothing sacred?" Shrugging off her displeasure she continued to work her way through the emails. As she was responding to an email from HR, she heard a moan coming from the kitchen behind her. Spinning around in her chair she looked towards the area, noticing briefly, for the first time that evening, the dim fluorescent hue lighting the room.

Getting to her feet lightly she stepped cautiously into the kitchen and nearly expired on the spot. Shocked into silence she found Miranda sat on the counter, shoes off, eyes closed, one unopened Snickers bars next to her and the other being bitten into with obvious delight.

Andy's breath hitched at the sight in front of her. Her heated gaze travelling over the length of the editor before coming to rest on the chocolate bar being delicately bitten. The treat elicited moans of pleasure from Miranda that sent an onslaught of desire right through her body. Watching the editor taking so much pleasure in eating an innocuous chocolate bar held her captivated. Looking down she blushed furiously at the flame of desire raging in her.

Hearing a shift Andy looked up again, and her eyes fleetingly met the ice blue eyes of her boss before the other woman's gaze shifted guiltily.

Pushing off from the top of the kitchen counter Miranda landed on her feet gracefully. Grabbing the second Snickers while clutching the half-eaten chocolate bar, she stalked towards the young woman. When they came abreast at the door Miranda pulled the open chocolate bar back up to her mouth and taking a deep bite, caught Andy's eye and winked before stalking from the room.

"Oh my God, one of these days I'm going to either kill her or kiss her." Andy thought again as she watched the sway of the editor's hips as she walked into her office.

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Chapter Text

Since that fateful night six weeks before, when she found her boss in the kitchen area eating her secret stash of snickers, there had been small changes in Andy and Miranda's relationship.

They experienced the trials of Paris Fashion Week. Nate had left, Miranda received divorce papers, and her vulnerability had caused Andy's flight straight into the arms of Christian Thompson, which forced the realisation of her depth of feelings for her boss. Irv attempted his coup against Miranda to replace her with Jacqueline Follett, Miranda's hand had been forced to destroy Nigel's dream career move and replace him with Jacqueline at James Holt International. Andy's ensuing escape from Miranda after she pointed out their similarities and then the subsequent return to Miranda ended the week from hell.

When Andy returned to Miranda's suite after a few hours roaming Paris Miranda had already returned from the usual after show events. They spent the rest of their evening talking over a bottle of wine and an indulgent treat or two from La Maison Du Chocolat. Andy's apologies were dismissed as unnecessary and promises were made that she would see out her contract at Runway and the hope expressed that she would stay at Runway longer.

Now in New York, they spent more of their working day together. Miranda took Andy to different meetings; from those with the board of Elias Clark to designer showrooms for previews, crisscrossing the streets of New York sat alongside each other in the Town Car.

Andy still delivered the book nightly and sometimes Miranda called her into the Study where they shared a glass of wine as Miranda spoke to her of the changes needed in the Book and if she was early enough she met the twins in the foyer and exchanged a few words with them about their lives. Other changes had occurred too. On the nights Miranda worked late Andy made her way to the kitchen to brew tea, going to her desk she grabbed two chocolate bars and then made her way into the editor's office.

They sat on the sofa, shoes off, knees tucked under them slightly angled towards each other as they drank their tea and indulged in their chocolate treats. Sometimes they talked, other times they sat silent, and, yet their silences were never uncomfortable. They had developed an understanding between each other that brought them a semblance of peace.

This quiet time spent together had become a highlight of their hectic week.

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Having left the Marc Jacobs showroom they entered the Town Car and set off for Runway. Andy could not get that night in the kitchen out of her mind, the simple pleasure that Miranda had taken, the deeply sensuous moan from the sweetness against her tongue played on a continuous loop. She wanted to be the one who caused Miranda to make that noise, repeatedly.

"Oh my God, I just want to kiss her." Andy thought as she took a glance at the older woman beside her. "You need to get a grip, Sachs. It will never happen." Andy told herself sternly as she frowned.

Miranda turned and looked at Andy, seeing a frown on the young brunette's face she asked, "Is everything okay, Andréa?"

"Yes, Miranda," Andy said lightly.

Miranda rolled her eyes at her young assistant causing the young woman to blush and avert her eyes. Pushing the privacy window up Miranda once again looked at Andy, one eyebrow raised inquiringly. "Andréa, I realise that I am not exactly approachable, and I understand that I can be blunt but... well... I hope you understand I am here for you should you need someone to speak with?"

"Miranda, I realise that. Truly I do, and I appreciate everything I have experienced at Runway and as your assistant," Andy told her.

"Why am I sensing there's a 'but' coming?" Miranda asked.

"Because there is one," Andy told her. "I cannot remain at Runway indefinitely. My tenure will be up next month and I need to move on. I cannot give up on my dreams of writing." She watched as Miranda went pale and looked away, her gaze floating towards the outside world, not seeing anything beyond. "Miranda?" Andy questioned. "Please say something."

Miranda couldn't look at the young woman knowing her time with her was now limited. She continued to gaze out of the car window. "You must do what you wish," Miranda told her coldly as the car pulled up to Elias Clark.

As the town car came to a halt Miranda launched herself out of the vehicle before Roy could open the door and stalked her way through them to the elevator banks. Jabbing the button firmly she tapped her foot impatiently as she waited for it to arrive at the ground level. She sensed her assistant behind her as Andy finally caught up to her as the doors opened. Allowing herself to glance up she pursed her lips at the numerous clackers making their way around her, all avoiding her.

Entering the now empty elevator she looked up to Andy, who was standing hesitantly outside. Nodding imperceptibly Andy made her way to the back of the elevator leaving enough space between herself and Miranda. Rather than pushing the button for Runway on level 17 Miranda swiped her card and selected the level for the roof terrace on 45. Spinning around to face Andy she noticed the look of bewilderment on the young woman's face.

"Miranda, you have the run through in 15 minutes," Andy told her.

"Cancel it, push it back... Whatever. I don't care. Tell my lawyer to notify my ex-husband I am not giving in to his ridiculous demands, clarify that Stephen rescinded all rights to alimony when he actively broke our praying by sleeping with that prepubescent harlot," Andy saw the flicker of sadness in the editor's eyes.

Looking down she fired a quick email to Emily and Nigel.

Sender: asachs
Recipient: nkipling, echarlton
Subject: Run through

Hey guys

Miranda wants the run through pushed back for the first available time on tomorrow's schedule. Quick checks show this should be 9 am. Can you please confirm this Em? Migé please try to get everyone to use the additional time to ensure everything is ready. If it's not perfect expect fireworks. I'm unsure what time we'll be in the office. Call me if you need anything.

Andy x

Andy cell went off. She was fending off emails and calls from those whose schedules she had changed. The last call caught the editor's attention.

"Hi, Nigel... No!... No! The last time we had drinks you had me in that karaoke bar singing Vogue and had a 3 day hangover afterwards... I am not going... No... Yes, tomorrow... Em will confirm... Well, obviously she explained every detail of her decision-making process. And then we brushed each other's hair and gabbed about last night's Beauty and the Geek... well yes I would be one of the geeks... Yes, even with the makeover... Do you know you're ridiculous? Okay! I'll talk to you later." Disconnecting the call she ran her hand through her hair in frustration. Looking up she caught a smirk on Miranda's face and blushed.

"Vogue? Really Andréa, I wish I had seen that." Miranda said.

Andy scoffed. "You have seen nothing until you see Nigel belting Build me up Buttercup or Emily smashing out Hit Me with Your Best Shot while knee deep in a mojito-induced haze." Miranda chuckled at the images that popped into her mind, causing Andy to smile widely at her. "You should join us for the next Runway drinks," Andy told her.

"Mm, I don't think anyone would appreciate me being there," Miranda said.

"I would," Andy told her softly as the doors opened to the roof. Miranda blushed and exited the elevator. Following Miranda towards a set of French doors, Andy came to a standstill, stunned. This was the first time she had been on the rooftop terrace as it was only accessible to the execs. As the winter sun shone through the silver strands of Miranda's hair creating a halo of light around the editor Andy thoughts returned to its new constant loop. "Oh my God, I just want to kiss her." Unable to stop herself Andy muttered. "Oh wow! So beautiful."

Miranda smirked. "I always find it peaceful up here." She told the brunette.

Glad that Miranda had misunderstood Andy took the time to absorb the rooftop terrace. It was a haven. Hedging and bamboo enclosed the space on either side of the building, there was a central partition providing privacy. The outlook was encased in a glass surround; the view of the New York skyline was breathtaking. The floor was covered a deep redwood with perfectly matching wooden outdoor furniture. The oasis included frangipanis, Magnolia's, Agaves, Bougainvillaea's, hardy plants that would survive in this setting.

Miranda led her to one of the enclosed seating areas. "Come sit down. We need to talk." Miranda told her.

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They sat opposite each other, a table between them. Andy was pulling on her fingers in her nervousness.

"Why do you want to leave, Andréa? I want your honesty." Miranda asked looking at the young woman.

"I... well... I figure out it is time to move on, Miranda." Andy told her averting her eyes.

"I asked for honesty." Miranda clarified ice filling her eyes. "You are a poor liar; it's one of your most redeeming traits."

Andy looked up into the ice-filled eyes and tried to be as honest as she could without telling the editor her deepest desire. "I don't fit, in Miranda. No matter how much I try. I may possess the clothes but I still stand out. I do not worship Runway the way the others do. If I'm honest most of the time I still don't recognise my Marc Jacobs from my Michael Kors." Andy said.

"I can see you believe that. I see the sincere conviction in your eyes, yet there's more to this decision which I will get to the bottom of." Miranda declared.

"Some things are best left unspoken, Miranda, please don't push this." Andy requested gently.

"If you insist, I will let this matter slide for now. However, be warned, Andréa, we will revisit this matter." Miranda insisted.

"Yes Miranda," Andy whispered as she looked down at her hands.

"You have been able to do this job better than most. Which is something remarkable for someone who claims they don't fit? Why do you think that is, Andréa?" Miranda asked.

"Although you still terrify me occasionally, I can see past the editor-in-chief, beyond the illusion you portray in the world. I can see you; I can read you." Andy whispered looking back up at the woman opposite.

"I terrify you?" Miranda asked. "Even now?"

Andy gave her a small nervous smile. "Not as much as you used to. There are moments though that can be tremendously overwhelming. I guess it's more the persona than the actual person." Andy explained hesitantly.

"I understand. Well, the reason for this talk is that I want you to reconsider leaving. You have almost reached the one year mark. Emily is ready to move to the Art Department, and I was hoping you would move up to the first assistant position; you are already doing most of the work now. I could arrange for you to work with the Editorial team too, with Claire's approval. There's no full-time position at this time, but you could be a good fit and it would give you that writing experience you crave." Miranda coaxed.

"You would trust me in the editorial team?" Andy gasped in astonishment.

"I trust you with my life, Andréa, you come into my home almost every night; we've spent time together, and you have shown a loyalty that has been unwavering... well except on one occasion..." Miranda stalled at this. They both looked back on those few hours in Paris when Andy had disappeared leaving Miranda at the steps of the Petit Palais. "... Then there's the way you speak to my children in a way no-one else does; you regard them as individuals rather than assuming that because they shared the same womb and look-alike that they are the same unit." Miranda explained. "But the main thing is that you are talented and it would be remiss of me not to allow that natural aptitude to flourish," Miranda said offhandedly.

"Wow." Andy breathed.

"Well yes." Miranda blushed.

Andy whispered. "I still can't stay Miranda. I'm sorry but..."

Miranda cut her off. "All I ask is that you consider your options, Andréa. Give it a few days. That's all."

"... I can't." Andy whispered, feeling the prick of tears sting her eyes and looking down quickly in the hope Miranda wouldn't notice.

Moving around the table Miranda perched by her side. Cautiously she touched Andy's chin and lifted her face so they were at eye level. Miranda saw the whirl of emotions behind the glistening chocolate eyes. "I think it's time we revisited the other reasons you wish to leave," Miranda told her gently. She noticed as Andy's shoulders shook as the tears fell. Miranda moved her hand from Andy's face and stood up. She gave the younger woman time to calm herself and herself the time to gather her thoughts.

The last thing Miranda wanted to do was to blunder her way through this conversation with her usual acerbic bluntness and do irreparable damage to the lovely young woman. She had tried over the last few months to be kinder to her assistant. Paris had opened her eyes to the risk that Andréa could walk away. By letting her go Miranda would lose the sense of peace created by this beautiful young woman's innate calmness. And that would be unacceptable.

Gathering her focus Miranda looked towards the young woman. She caught her staring, desire plain in her eyes. "Oh!" Miranda exclaimed as the heat of the gaze hit her in the pit of her stomach. Embarrassed at being caught in her perusal Andy looked down at her lap. "Look at me, Andréa." Miranda requested. At the raising of those pools of chocolate, she became flustered. "Hero worship, just like the rest." She whispered not realising Andy heard the words.

"No Miranda. Not that, never that!" Andy declared hotly as she stood and stalked towards the older woman. "How dare you even attempt to label my feelings... as... as hero worship?"

Miranda stepped back, having never seen Andy so angry or hurt, even when she had been at her most vicious.

"I didn't know who you were when I met you 11 months ago. I didn't read Runway. I had no fucking idea... I thought fashion was frivolous, doing women a disservice, leaving them with the awareness they're less than perfect due to being a size over the industry norm. I thought the clothes designed weren't made to fit anyone over a size 2 unless individually tailored. I assumed that this industry is the root cause of society's focus on body image..." Andy was furious.

"I... you..." Miranda stuttered before Andy cut her sentence off.

"No Miranda! You need to let me finish. I didn't appreciate fashion was about art and that all these perpetually skinny women allow the designers to create their art from a blank canvas. My God Miranda, this job has taught me, so much, and I appreciate all this more than you will ever realise. And I need you to trust me when I say you are distinctly human; you are flawed. I see that and I absolutely adore that part of you. I'm not like the others who place you on a pedestal as Goddess of the fashion world, an icon, some deity to worship at the Runway alter, only to grow distant when they find you have feet of clay. As I've said I do not fit in here." She tried to calm herself.

Miranda's eyes tore up at Andy's words. "You can't mean that," Miranda told her.

"I can, and I do, Miranda. You asked for my honesty, well here it is. This isn't a recent thing for me. I have been fighting my feelings for months, trying to make sure it doesn't affect my work or my relationship with you. I've let my feelings for you turn my personal life to shit, Nate left me and my childhood friends followed him. My new friendship with Nigel, Emily and Serena is one of the few things to have kept me going outside Runway, and Emily only offers her friendship under extreme sufferance." Andy sniffed back her tears. "I'm tired of fighting against my feelings Miranda, knowing what I feel for you is impossible. And that is why I need to leave." Andy told her as tears flowed from her eyes and she walked away from Miranda.

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Miranda hurried after Andy as she walked away. Reaching out she grabbed her by the shoulder, spinning her around quickly Andy stumbled into her. Miranda's arms circled her waist to stop her falling and Andy's eyes closed as she whimpered at the contact. "Look at me, Andréa," Miranda demanded. Andy looked down at the older woman and as they made eye contact Miranda saw the tears still flowing, and embarrassment clouding her features. "Don't you dare walk away from me again; do you hear me?" Miranda said to her as she lifted her hand to brush away the tears. "You cannot deposit all that on me and just walk away." She explained gently. "That's not fair."

Taking a stuttering breath Andy looked down. She was self-conscious and did not know what to say to make things right.

"Please come and sit." Miranda requested hesitantly. "I have questions I want answers to and then it's my time to talk; if that's okay with you?"

"Okay," Andy told her taking a deep breath as Miranda released her hold on her waist, clutched her hand and led back to the seats.

"Andréa, I realise you are embarrassed about your outburst and if I could take that mortification away and ease your agitation I would. What I need to understand is why today? What prompted your decision to tell me you're leaving? Have I done something?" Miranda wanted to know but was hesitant.

"I'll answer what I can Miranda. Just so you know, you've done nothing wrong, I swear. My decision is based on what I perceive is the right thing to do. I'm finding it harder to be near you and not to act on my feelings, my head and my heart are in a constant battle of wills and I'm tired." Andy closed her eyes and breathed deeply. "The last thing I ever wanted to do is put you in a situation you are not comfortable with. As I said, even amid my anger, I know the way I feel is impossible. Why today? I cannot answer concisely but it's everything I've already mentioned and possibly more than I cannot think of right now."

"I see," Miranda told her.

"I don't think you do Miranda. I told you some things are best left unspoken and yet when you lifted my gaze to yours you saw something in my eyes that made you push for answers. What is it?" Andy asked her.

"I thought it was my turn to ask questions," Miranda stated. "When I caught your eye before they twinkled with something akin to love... hunger or desire would be the most appropriate words to describe what I saw," Miranda whispered. "But your eyes before that, when I read them as I touched your face, they held fear, confusion and sadness... a world of pain. I told you earlier that you are a poor liar. It is always your eyes that give you away, Andréa; they're so expressive. I hope you never lose that. But I also hope that is your happiness I see shining in those beautiful eyes more than your pain. They are truly the gateway to your soul." Miranda told her grasping her hand.

"Your anger and frustration with me were justified. I didn't mean to call what I saw in you, hero worship; it was a random fleeting thought not meant to be expressed out loud. I know better than that without you telling me. You are no Emily; that's one thing I've learned to appreciate the most about you. I always knew if you came to respect me, it would have been earned rather than something ingrained due to my position at the helm of Runway as Queen of Fashion. I'm so sorry." Miranda said.

"You apologised... you never apologise..." Andy stuttered.

"I have been known to on the rare occasion when I am in the wrong. It's not something that happens often enough to be noticeable." Miranda smirked which caused a glimmer of a smile to erupt on Andy's face. "So these feelings?" Miranda queried. "I refuse to label them in case I incur your wrath again. May I ask when they started?"

"It's hard to define; there are numerous moments. Looking back it could have been around the time of your Cerulean rant." Andy told her eyes twinkling with mischief.

"I do not rant." Miranda sputtered the denial strongly.

Laughing gently Andy raised her eyebrow at Miranda showing her incredulity before turning serious. Taking a deep breath she attempted to gather her thoughts. "I will be honest with you Miranda. I admit that frightens me as I don't quite know how you'll react."

"As you are aware, Andréa, I would rather you bamboozle me with brilliance than baffle me with bullshit," Miranda smirked again and Andy let out a loud gasp of laughter at the editor's words.

"Never change Miranda," Andy told her.

"I don't plan to," Miranda said.

Getting her amusement under control Andy explained her feelings. "When I first worked for you, there were times I could have easily pushed you into oncoming traffic; you were that infuriating. And then one day I realised that should I do so I would probably just run out into the traffic to push you back to safety, probably killing myself in the process. You are a force of nature Miranda. I know in my heart and soul that the world would be a poorer place without you in it."

Miranda smiled gently at that. "And?" She queried.

Andy looked at her. "And as I've said there are various incidents that run through my mind that could be the defining moment of realisation for my feelings." Andy tried to gather her thoughts. "The Cerulean moment is the first; it was the first time you took it upon yourself to explain something to me, to make me understand the importance of what you do." Andy sighed. "You probably don't even realise what a gift that was. It is well known across the industry you never explain yourself." She took a deep breath. "There was that look you gave me after Nigel's makeover; I was in your office prepping for the day; you entered while you were on the phone to Patrick and stopped mid-conversation; you looked me over and there was so much approval, and I nearly melted at the intensity of your scrutiny." Andy grinned. "The final thing that comes to mind was the Harry Potter debacle. You were so surprised when I handed you that bound copy and when you looked at me as if you had never seen me before, I felt like I was magical. I was sure you wanted me to fail so you could fire me."

Miranda snorted at that. "I would never..."

"Yes you would, you've done it before now for far less." Andy counteracted. "That night with my chocolate was the final defining moment; I was so annoyed when I realised my stash had been found; I was ready to call Emily and fire a rocket up her ass, and then I heard the most divine sound coming from behind me, it was you, just casually sat there on that kitchen bench, barefoot and eyes closed, a moment of pure joy expressed in a sensual moan of delight. Wrapping your beautiful mouth around that Snickers bar, it was captivating. And then you saw me and you moved to jump down off that bench so gracefully then threw that wink at me as you stalked past, it was so unexpected and mischievous, I nearly combusted on the spot." Andy looked down and blushed. "So yeah those are just a few moments off the top of my head."

"I had no idea, Andréa..." Miranda trailed off.

"You weren't meant to," Andy told her. "I was going to leave and trying to get over this. You were supposed to let me go."

Turning serious Miranda asked. "You want me to let you go?"

"Yes... No! I don't know anymore." Andy was confused.

"What do you know, Andréa?" Miranda asked.

"This... what I have admitted today... this has changed everything Miranda. Things can't go back to what they were."

"I see," Miranda said breathlessly.

"I lost a five-year relationship and 20 years of friendship recently." Andy looked away sadly. "And although I am sad about it, it wasn't a massive loss. It hasn't filled my life with a gaping hole. The huge sense of loss and the gaping hole opened when I was walking away from you in Paris. That's why I returned to you. I decided it was better to have you in my life as my boss than lose you from my life altogether. I didn't understand how hard it would be to do this. I can't keep hiding what I feel Miranda. It's eating away at me."

"I have one final question for you and then you will let me speak. You have stated multiple times that your feelings are impossible." Miranda caught her eye. "Why?"

"Because in my head I recognise they could never be returned. If I acted on them, the way my heart tells me to, and then I could be left even more humiliated than I am right now." Andy was honest knowing she could not get away with half-truths. Feeling overwhelmed her tears streamed again.

Pulling the young woman close Miranda attempted to soothe her. "Hush darling. It will be okay. You won't lose me. I promise." Miranda told her as she rubbed circles on her upper back.

As Andy found herself surrounded by Miranda's unique scent, she found herself at peace, and gradually calmed down. Continuing to rub circles into Andy's upper back, Miranda took the time to gather her thoughts before extracting herself from the embrace.

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As Miranda got up from the seat, she paced. Andy could see Miranda was battling with her internal voices, her arms gesturing now and then and the soft muttering under her breath. She was mesmerising. Andy watched her worry clear in her eyes, but she would let the older woman speak when she was ready.

Spinning around Miranda saw Andy watching and relaxed. Walking back to the seating area she sat next to Andy again and reached over to grasp her hand. Looking at Andy she said. "I'm sorry you saw me like that, Andréa. I became aware many years ago of the negative self-talk that went on in my head. For years, I tried many ways to deal with it. I mentioned it in therapy a short time ago and my therapist asked me whose voice it was. I was so taken aback. I always assumed it was my voice telling me I couldn't do something I wanted to do, telling me I am an impostor and that everyone who ever liked me would eventually find out I am not lovable, worthy or even productive, that I am a phoney, a nobody." Miranda sighed heavily. "My therapist instructed me to ask questions to the voices and to ask them what else they had to tell me. After I asked a few clear questions, I realised I could to hear the derisive voices of my parents, the old boyfriend's, my husbands and even a few so-called friends. We are working through the reasons I hear my voice; I took over where the abusive and controlling people in my life had left off. I've continued to feed negativity about myself to my belief system. I adopted their opinions as my truth."

"I hope you realise that those things that were said to you and about you were lies. They were not true and they are not true. You are as equally deserving of life, fullness, joy, happiness, freedom and love as anyone else on this Earth." Andy told her tenderly.

"Am I? I'm not so sure." Miranda admitted sadly.

"How are you able to think that, Miranda? You are loving, passionate, sensitive, intelligent and persistent. You have a strong moral compass; you go after your goals with a drive and abandon which shows just how much you care. It takes a lot of courage to stay in the position you have maintained over the years. You're an amazing woman." Andy declared. "It's true you can be unapproachable; you're aloof; your assertiveness can sometimes come across as aggressive and you're blunt to the point of rudeness but that's due to the position you hold, not you."

"Yes well. I need you to let me talk now and I need for you to listen to me, Andréa. No interruption regardless of what I say." Miranda stated.

"Okay." Andy agreed.

"I still want you to reconsider and stay at Runway, at least for a short time. As I told you, I would like to give you some editorial work. It will look good on your resume and open more doors for you. If you left now to work at a newspaper, you would start in the bull-pen writing court reports, obituaries and filler pieces. I don't want your work; your talent to get lost. I am newly amazed by you; at the confirmation of your awareness, that fashion is art. I want that awareness, your realisation to be put to use here at Runway." Miranda declared. "My initial thought about you wanting to leave Runway is that it would be unacceptable if I lost the calmness and peace you exude and bring to my life. Upon further reflection, you are what I would miss the most. Just you, Andréa, and all you are. The spark of your laughter when you're amused, your beautifully genuine smile and the swirl of emotions in your expressive eyes."

Miranda caught Andy's eyes. "I would miss the way you meet every challenge I give you head-on, the quiet time we share in the office and in my home, hearing you take the time to discuss the latest trend or explain your views about a poem or book with my girls. I have watched you closely and seen you grow into the breathtaking woman I see before me every day, the woman I found the need to explain myself to, the one I cannot tear my eyes from every morning as I enter my office, bewildered at the transformation and the subtle twists you establish to create your own personal style. You are other-worldly; you cast your spell wherever you go, bewitching all, treating everyone with respect and kindness. I would miss being in the presence of someone I can be myself with, the person I inadvertently gave my heart to." Miranda finished the last sentence in a whisper.

As Andy tried to speak Miranda shot her a look. "No interruption, Andy." Miranda reminded. Having Miranda use her nickname caused the young woman's lips to a quirk in disbelief. "Let me finish. You were right when you said what had been admitted would change everything. Things can't go back to what they were. You have given me the hope for more. More of this." She waved her hand between them. "More of what we have been building. Hope for a future filled with love. Your feelings aren't impossible, darling, haven't I made it clear you can do anything?" At this Miranda graced the young woman with a large genuine smile and pulled her close whispered. "You may speak now if you can find the words."

"I... So I... I'm not dreaming am I?" Andy stuttered.

Pulling back Miranda looked at the smiling brunette. "No darling, this is not a dream." She clarified.

"So you did just call me Andy?" She asked Miranda teasingly.

"Well yes. I suppose I did." Miranda rolled her eyes and Andy laughed. "It was a slip of the tongue." She murmured.

Smothering her laughter Andy looked at the older woman in amazement. "How long have you felt like this Miranda?" She questioned.

"There's million moments ingrained in my mind. For me the defining moment was Paris. There were two moments that week. The night you found me in my suite, no make-up on, crying over that blasted fool and his divorce by fax. You looked at me that night without pity, but a willingness to assist, compassion and empathy. You wore that beautiful grey skirt and that black blouse; you had a hint of cleavage I struggled to take my eyes off. When you asked me if there was anything else you could do I nearly crumbled. The following night is the night we sat and drank wine after you returned and you'd bought those delectable little treats from La Maison Du Chocolat. I was so lost that afternoon without you. Even Donatella noticed and commented, that without my Andréa, I had lost my usual sparkle. I was so relieved when you knocked on my door that evening; I swore to myself I would try to be kinder, more approachable. I realised at that moment at La Place de la Concorde that I don't want to be without you, you've provided me with a peace and contentedness I have barely known before. I was terrified you'd leave me again." Miranda explained.

"Well, I hope you realise you may be quite stuck with me now," Andy told her.

"I hope so," Miranda whispered hesitantly.

"So what's next?" Andy queried looking concerned.

"Well, I think I should take you for dinner and drinks or we could do something plebeian like bowling or the movies." Miranda laughed.

"So you want to take me on a date then?" Andy asked breathlessly.

Rolling her eyes Miranda let out a peal of laughter. "Yes, I suppose I do." She responded.

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Chapter Text

Miranda stalked from the elevator into the foyer of Runway with determined steps. Looking up she swept her Gucci sunglasses off her face and looked towards her assistants, ignoring Emily she locked eyes with Andy. It had been two days since their conversation on the roof and they hadn't found time to talk.

"Good morning Miranda," Andy said grinning happily as she stood and handed Miranda her morning Triple, Venti, No Foam Latte as she took the Book from her and placed it on her desk.

Seeing the expression of approval in Miranda's eyes Andy pulled out her notebook, moving around her desk followed Miranda into her office as she fired off instructions. "Ahn-dré-ah I need you to speak to Patrick, advise him that his photos from the Barcelona shoot are sublime, we will require his presence for the Miami shoot next month. Tell my lawyer I am happy with his current proposal, Stephen may keep the Porsche, however, I want this divorce completed as soon as practically possible. Then call the Porsche dealership and tell them I want a new Porsche 911 Turbo, preferably in metallic dark teal." Miranda smirked as she eyed the brunette. "That's all." She whispered softly with a fleeting smile.

"Yes, Miranda." Andy smiled as she walked out of the office.

"What are you so happy about?" Emily muttered as Andy came out of the office smiling.

"Ah well, you know, it's Friday. Are you and Serena still up for drinks tonight?"

"Nigel wants to go bar hopping. Are you sure you can keep up?" Emily smirked.

Andy cackled happily. "You understand how much of a lightweight I am, it's probably a good thing you have a few hours drinking time on me as I wait for the Book."

"Pft." Emily rolled her eyes at the brunette as Miranda stepped from the office.

"Ahn-dré-ah is there a reason you are cackling like a hyena in the office," Miranda asked as she sauntered out of her office.

"Sorry Miranda," Andy said contritely.

"I didn't ask for an apology. I asked what the reason was. Perhaps you have a joke worth sharing?" Miranda smirked at the young woman.

Andy offered her a small smile. "We were organising drinks tonight. I admit to being glad I wait for the book. I'm not as hard-core as Nigel or Emily with the cocktails or shots. You should join us." The offer slipped out before she could consider it. Looking towards Emily and seeing her stuck dumb she smiled even wider.

Miranda looked between her assistants and smirked, her blue eyes twinkling with amusement. "I may just take you up on that offer. I need you to go to James Holt's studio now and pick up his design for the dress for next month's gala. I want more coffee on your return. Book a table for 1 pm at Pastis, be ready to leave here with me at 12:30." Miranda sauntered into her office and sat back at her desk.

"What in God's green Earth were you thinking?" Emily hissed as Andy grabbed her coat.

"I don't know...It just slipped out. How bad could it be?" Andy whispered back. She was secretly pleased with making the offer.

"Bad," Emily whispered.

"Don't be ridiculous Em," Andy muttered as she made her way to the elevators.

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Arriving back to Runway she placed the designs in Miranda's outstretched hand and the coffee on her desk. She confirmed that she had spoken to the lawyer, Patrick and the Porsche dealership. Sitting back at her desk her mac pinged with incoming emails.

Sender: echarlton
Recipient: asachs, nkipling, serena
Subject: Unexpected guest

Andy invited Miranda for drinks! She will think about it! I need Vodka and lots of it!

Sender: nkipling
Recipient: asachs, serena, echarlton
Subject: RE: Unexpected guest

What the hell were you thinking Six? Have you lost your tiny little mind?

Sender: serena
Recipient: asachs, nkipling, echarlton
Subject: RE: Unexpected guest

Hey Andy, ignore those two. It was brave of you to invite Miranda and also quite a lovely offer; it will be interesting seeing her outside Runway if she comes.

Shaking her head at her friend's antics she responded quickly.

Sender: asachs
Recipient: serena, nkipling, echarlton
Subject: RE: Unexpected guest

Hey

The offer was made, it cannot be taken back. I doubt she'll even come. Have any of you, other than Nige, ever bothered to ask her to join you for drinks or dinner? She's human, she must need people too. It must be lonely at the top. Everyone needs friends.

Sender: echarlton
Recipient: asachs, nkipling, serena
Subject: Unexpected guest

Friends? Delusional much? The only friendship you want with Dragon Lady is the one that provides other benefits Ahn-dré-ah.

Looking across at Em she saw the redhead smirking into her screen as she typed. Unable to get her attention she sighed and replied.

Sender: asachs
Recipient: serena, nkipling, echarlton
Subject: RE: Unexpected guest

Hey Em! Fuck off!

Hearing a snigger from the Brit she dropped her head to her desk and took a few deep breaths.

xxxxxxxxxx

Andy was lost in thought as Miranda called for her coat and bag. Emily threw a paper ball at her to grab her attention. Looking at the redhead nodding her head in the direction of the closet she jumped from her seat she grabbed the items and her own jacket as Miranda came out of her office.

"Emily? Tell Nigel the run through will be at 3 pm. That's all."

"Yes, Miranda," Emily said nervously.

As Andy assisted Miranda into her coat, she brushed her fingers along her neck, feeling a tremor in the older woman she let go, and got into her own coat. Walking two steps behind to the elevator banks as the door opened and Miranda entered she nodded once again to show Andy should join her.

"You seem tense," Miranda said.

"Let's just say it's been an interesting morning," Andy told her.

"The invite went well then?" Miranda smirked.

"Nigel asked if I'd lost my tiny little mind, Em declared her need for Vodka and Serena was as beautiful about it as always, she told me it was a lovely idea." Andy smiled. "So lunch?"

"Mm yes, I thought we could talk again," Miranda told her. Looking over at the brunette she said. "You look lovely today."

"That's a high compliment from the queen of fashion." Andy chuckled as the elevator doors opened to the ground floor. There was a flash of shock on the clacker's faces as Miranda swept from the elevator followed closely by a smiling Andy. Miranda provided her usual death glare as they scattered to let her through.

Roy held the town car door open for Miranda as Andy rushed around and slid in next to the editor. The privacy screen moved up as the car moved into traffic.

"So?" Miranda said with a hint of nervousness. "Tonight?"

"Miranda, you can decline if you feel uncomfortable," Andy told her.

"I'm not uncomfortable." Miranda sputtered. "It wasn't what I had in mind for our first date."

"Oh my God, no Miranda! This wouldn't be our first date. I wouldn't enforce tonight's madness on you and have the nerve to call it a date. This is just us going for a few drinks, perhaps some dancing, if Nigel has his way there will be karaoke. We always do drinks this time of the month. It's the weekend after the recent issue has been put to bed it's a relaxing few days before the madness of the next issue occurs," Andy explained.

"Oh." Miranda exhaled.

"I want you to know when we make time to go on a proper date, I want it to just be us, just us talking and getting to know each other outside our usual professional relationship, and maybe having a bit of fun together too." Andy clarified. "I'm not expecting the whole dating thing to happen right away, you are still going through the divorce and Stephen's made things difficult and has been dragging things out. I don't want to give him any reason not to co-operate with your Lawyers."

"Have you changed your mind about trying this?" Miranda waved her hand between them.

"No!" Andy was horrified that Miranda's mind had jumped to that. "Oh God! Why would you assume that Miranda? After Wednesday?"

"Well, we've not really spoken since..." Miranda trailed off and looked away as Andy captured her hand and held it between hers.

"Miranda, look at me." As Miranda turned back towards Andy, she saw the determination in the chocolate eyes. "I want this. I want you. If that takes time I'm willing to wait."

"And Runway, have you decided?" Miranda asked gently.

"Have you seen my resignation on your desk?" Andy asked.

"No. Did I miss it?" Miranda panicked.

"Sweetheart it's not on your desk, it's not happening. I am not leaving, well not any time soon that I can see." Andy pulled the Miranda closer. "I cannot leave you." She whispered into the editor's ear as the car pulled to a stop at the restaurant.

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Miranda paced around her bedroom in her underwear and bathrobe, her hair and make-up perfect. Hearing the front door she raced from the room. "Andréa?" She queried breathlessly craning over the stairwell. Looking down, she caught the eye of her assistant.

"Yes, Miranda?" Andy questioned.

"I have no idea what to wear." She confessed.

Andy held up the dry cleaning. "Let me put this away and we'll see what magic we can weave. Roy's waiting with the SUV; he knows he's needed tonight." She turned away to place the dry cleaning in the usual closet and placed the book precisely on the table before making her way upstairs to Miranda. "You really want me to help you choose?" She asked nervously. The last time she had been upstairs was when the twins had pranked her the first time she delivered the book, she had never expected to see the editor's bedroom.

Nodding slightly Miranda lead the way down the hall and opened a door and stood aside to let Andy in. Looking appraisingly at the young woman Miranda realised she had changed into a red Christian Dior Vintage double breasted flared dress that came mid-thigh showing an expanse of her tanned leg that made her breathless. "That colour looks wonderful on you," Miranda told her, appreciation colouring her tone of voice. Looking down again at Andy's shoes she raised her eyebrow at the René Caovilla Silver Snake shoes. "You mentioned dancing. Are you sure you'll manage in those?"

Andy laughed. "They may end up being kicked off at some point. I'm still a little unstable in heels but these are exquisite."

"Don't worry I shall catch you if you fall." Miranda smiled. "My walk-in is just through there." She waved in the general direction of a door to the right of the room.

Andy walked over and opened the walk-in. "Wow!" She exclaimed. "This is probably bigger than my whole apartment."

Miranda grinned. "It is a little excessive. I try to go through occasionally and downsize." Watching the young women go through her clothes, handling them with so much care, made her heart flutter.

Andy looked back at the older woman and asked. "Pants or a dress?"

"I think a dress. Choose wisely you must, my young Jedi." Miranda chuckled.

Andy burst out laughing. "Oh my God, I can't believe you tried to quote Yoda to me."

"I am a fountain of wisdom too you know." Miranda laughed at the shock displayed on Andy's face.

Looking through Miranda's wardrobe she said. "I like this side of you. Who would have guessed La Priestly has a sense of humour?" Winking at the editor she chose a cerulean Jean-Paul Gaultier knee length dress. "This will be perfect. It will bring out the beautiful blue of your eyes." Miranda blushed as Andy handed her the dress. "Shoes, shoes, shoes...Aha, here we are." She brandished a pair of Christian Louboutin Glitter Pumps at Miranda smiling happily.

"Thank you," Miranda whispered. Walking up to the young woman she brushed a soft kiss on her cheek.

Blushing furiously Andy said. "Well, I think my work here is done. I'll wait downstairs." Letting her nerves get the better of her she bounded from the room.

Within five minutes Miranda was downstairs dressed. Searching for Andy she found her in the kitchen, a glass of water in hand. "Can you help me with this?" Miranda asked holding out a necklace.

"Sure," Andy stated. Putting the water down, she took the necklace from the outstretched hand. "Turn around." She requested. As Miranda turned her back Andy stood closer as Miranda took a step back, chest to back Andy pulled the chain around her neck and after fumbling a little fastened the clasp swiftly before stepping away.

As Miranda turned her head to watch at Andy, she noticed her looking flustered. Smirking she asked. "Are you ready?"

xxxxxxxxxx

The journey between the townhouse and meeting Nigel, Emily and Serena in the East Village was quick, with traffic in their favour. Nigel had text her to advise they were holed up in the Lit Lounge, one of Andy's favourite dive bars with its bands and then DJ's playing Top 40 and eighties hits on rotation.

As they exited the SUV Miranda took in her surrounding's as they walked into the bar. "This place is interesting." She said showing her distaste.

Andy laughed. "I love the Underground no bullshit vibe this place offers. Utter, only-in-New-York-city ridiculousness. It looks like a dive but the bands are acceptable and the music and dancing later into the night is usually amazing. The crowd is usually eclectic too."

Miranda rolled her eyes. "I've been here a few times with my old friends but on Runway nights we usually only stay for two or three drinks to meet up. Em hates it. God knows where we'll end up. Last month it was Cubbyhole over in the West Village."

"Cubbyhole?" Miranda queried. "Isn't that a lesbian bar?"

"Yeah, it was an experience," Andy smirked. "There was an intense blonde that didn't want to take no for an answer. Serena had to swoop in and rescue me. Emily wasn't too thrilled." Andy told her. With a raised eyebrow Miranda queried Andy's statement. "Well, Em really likes Serena. You know like 'likes' her?" Andy clarified.

"Ah, I see. I can't say I'm altogether surprised." Miranda told the brunette as she spotted Nigel who waved them over pointing to the table of drinks.

"Looks like Nige has got the round in." Andy grinned. "Gird your loins; you're in for a treat."

Rolling her eyes Miranda stalked over to the table with Andy trotting behind her, her eyes focused on the editor's hips and ass as she strode forward.

"Wow, Miranda you look stunning. That dress really brings out your eyes." Serena told her.

Miranda smirked at the Brazilian. Looking at her she gave a subtle nod of approval at her clothing choice she said. "Thank you. I had Andréa help me choose."

Emily looked between Andy and Miranda, eyes flashing in disbelief. She'd yet to utter a word to the newcomers.

Andy sat at the table next to Serena and Nigel pushed a sticky pink concoction and a shot of tequila in front of her. "God, Nige are you trying to kill me?" She asked him laughing as she took a large gulp of her cocktail.

"You have some catching up to do Six. Same for you Miranda. Please sit." Nigel grinned. "Nice choices in dresses Six, both of you look exquisite. I guess my work as Fashion's fairy Godfather has obviously competed." Nigel commented as Miranda perched herself between Andy and Nigel.

Grabbing her cocktail Miranda sipped it. "Oh my God what on Earth is in this thing? It's like heaven in a glass," She asked.

Nigel's smile widened as he saw a glimpse of the woman he used to know. Serena responded. "It's tequila, black raspberry liqueur, white Crème de Cacao and half-and-half. They call it the Agave Kiss."

Andy grabbed salt and lemon and downed her shot of tequila. Nigel passed her another as Miranda looked on in astonishment as Andy bit into the sour lemon and shuddered. "So where too next?" Andy asked happily as she sprinkled salt onto her hand again. "I realise you only meet me here under sufferance."

Nigel grinned at the brunette, a twinkle of mischief clear in his eyes. "Maybe we should have our illustrious leader decide." He said. "We could do karaoke or go to one of the piano bars and have the lovely Andy singing for us or we could head west and hit up Henrietta Hudson or Monster. What do you think Miranda?"

Miranda spun her head and looked at the blushing brunette. "You sing?" She questioned.

Feeling embarrassed Andy stuttered. "I...well...I...Oh for fuck's sake Nigel!" Andy exploded trying to rid herself of her self-consciousness.

"Oh God, you should see your face." Nigel giggled hysterically. "It was you who mentioned Vogue the other day. I have it videoed on my cell." Nigel fumbled for his cell in his pockets, not realising it was on the table

Snatching the cell from the table Andy glared at him. "Nige, unless you want this dunking in that fuzzy navel in front of you, just stop!"

"I don't know why your embarrassed Andy," Serena told her nudging Emily for backup.

"Yes Andréa you have quite a lovely singing voice," Emily told her. As Andy looked at Emily, she caught her muttering. "It's a shame about how it sounds the other 98% of the time."

Serena nudged her harder as Nigel giggled again. Miranda also catching the muttering gave Emily a glare of such icy proportions it caused the young redhead to blush so fully her face clashed unfavourably with her hair. Andy just shook her head and gave her a glance, expressing her amusement.

Looking towards the woman next to her and capturing her attention she flashed a shy smile and admitted. "Yes, I sing occasionally. I play piano and guitar too. My parents believed in keeping their children busy with extra-curricular activities."

Miranda offered her a small smile in return before knocking back her tequila without salt or lemon. Glancing around at the table she smirked at their looks of shock before being handed another. "Either karaoke or the Piano bar sounds splendid." She told the table, laughter shining from her blue eyes.

Nigel's eyes gleamed. "Planet Rose it is."

Andy groaned and muttered. "I think I will need more booze." Getting up from the table she made her way to the bar, pulling out her phone she sent a text Roy to come get them in 15 minutes and ordered a dozen shots.

xxxxxxxxxx

Knocking back two shots, Andy walked over to the table with the drinks perched precariously in between the palms of her hands. As she sat and placed the drinks down some sloshed over her hands. "Ah, shit!" She exclaimed as she licked at the liquor dripping from her hand. Seeing Miranda's attention focused on her she smiled nervously. "Everything okay?" She asked.

Taking a deep shuddering breath Miranda looked away. "Of course, Andy." She said.

The three others at the table looked between the two women. Nigel raising his eyebrow at Andy, who shrugged nonchalantly.

Em spoke up quietly. "Since when did you become Andy? It's always been Ahn-dré-ah." She drawled each syllable in a mocking tone.

Seeing Miranda roll her eyes at the redhead's question Andy grinned good-naturedly at the Brit and replied. "Well, I understand Miranda prefers my full name, however, I'm predominantly known as Andy, I don't care what she calls me unless she's whispering 'Oi you' at me from across the office." Andy giggled. "Oh God, I should lay off the shots."

Miranda, Serena and Nigel chuckled at the brunette as she downed another shot. "Good plan Six. Are you sharing or planning on drinking them all?" Nigel asked as he smothered his laughter.

"Oh yeah. Here you go." Andy passed the shots around, two to each of her friends. Looking at Miranda she raised her eyebrow and looked shocked when Miranda downed the two in quick succession.

"Close your mouth Andy, gob-smacked is not a good look on you," Miranda told her laughingly causing the Serena and Nigel to erupt into laughter and Em to smirk.

"Yes, Miranda," Andy replied cheekily as she threw a wink at her boss. Looking down at her cell she noticed Roy had texted her to notify of his arrival. "So are you guys ready to move? Roy's here." She told them.

"God yes," Em exclaimed as she finished her drinks. "This place makes my local pub back home seem like a palace."

"I quite like it," Serena said smiling at Andy. "It has character."

Nigel and Emily looked towards Miranda who smirked. "It's acceptable." She said.

"That's the booze talking." Nigel grinned at her as he stood. Stepping forward, he held an arm to Miranda which she accepted graciously. Winking at Andy he offered his other arm. "C'mon Six our chariot awaits."

"Why do I feel like I'm on my way to my execution?" Andy grumbled half-heartedly causing Nigel to guffaw as he led them out of the bar to the waiting car.

xxxxxxxxxx

They crossed the Village within 10 minutes and entered Planet Rose happily chatting among themselves. Andy was worried about Miranda. She looked like she was well out of her comfort zone. Holding back she whispered. "Are you sure you're okay with this?"

Miranda nodded hesitantly and looking sidewards at Andy exhaled. "It's been a long time since I've done this. I don't quite know how to act."

"Just be you, just less of the Runway you and more of the Miranda you hide." Andy giggled.

"I see those two shots you inhaled at the last bar have taken effect," Miranda noted with a small smile.

"You saw that?" Andy exclaimed embarrassment flushing her face. "I needed Dutch courage"

"If I'm honest, I haven't been able to take my eyes off you. I thought you may be extraordinarily nervous with me here. Can I ask you something?" Miranda questioned.

"Maybe, I'm just a little nervous about making an ass of myself." Andy grinned. "You can ask me anything," Andy responded.

"I appreciate you said Emily offers her friendship under sufferance but is she usually so sarcastically mocking towards you?" Miranda questioned gently.

"Ah, you noticed that?" Miranda rolled her eyes. "Look I know you're keenly observant, you know everything that's going on at Runway, it allows you to run the magazine effectively. Em has always been a bit colder towards me than Serena or Nigel. She hates the fact I formed friendships with Nigel and Serena, even when I was wearing hideous skirts and lumpy jumpers. It pisses her off that I am efficient and can occasionally pull off the impossible. She was sufficiently flabbergasted at my makeover. But her biggest issue with me was me going to Paris, it was her dream after-all, not mine." She told Miranda.

"What will you do with her?" Miranda asked her curiously.

"I'll continue to be me. I will smile and laugh and ignore the barbed comments she throws at me. Occasionally I tell her to fuck off. I have to admit half the fun of being around Emily is getting a rise out of her but I hope one day I'll crack her and gain her grudging respect." Andy smiled.

Hearing Miranda snort she looked at the editor and her smile widened. "Well, I've yet to meet anyone who hasn't been charmed by Andréa Sachs. Come on, I want to hear you sing." Miranda told her.

"Your wish is my command, Your Highness." Andy laughed as she guided Miranda towards the bar where Nigel stood.

"Serena and Em have gone to grab seats." He told them.

Taking in the decor that included deep rose walls, leopard-print carpet and zebra-stripe couches Miranda was shocked into silent laughter.

Feeling the older woman's shoulders shuddering Andy looked at her. "What's wrong?" She asked.

As laughter bubbled up out of her throat Miranda squeezed her eyes shut. "The decor..." She tried to explain. "It's so...so..."

"Tacky? Funky? C'mon Miranda you are Editor-in-Chief of the largest fashion magazine in the world, use your words." Andy smiled at her teasingly.

Getting her laughter under control she looked at the teasing brunette and smirked. "It looks like the place was decorated by Elvis."

Snorting with Laughter Andy told her. "There's so much animal print in this place I always think I should bring a gun and kill the couch." Miranda giggled at her as she caught the attention of the bartender.

"Hey Andy what can I get you and your friends?" He asked giving her the once over and winking flirtatiously.

"Um..." Andy wasn't sure how to respond to him.

Seeing Miranda's eyes fill with ice Nigel stepped in. "We'll have five shots of tequila, five Corona and five Tequila sunrises." He told the barman.

"Are you singing?" He asked Andy hoping to get her attention.

Miranda raised her eyebrow at Andy who stuttered while keeping her eyes averted. "Yea...yes I will be." Glancing at the older woman she smiled. The bartender pushed a post-it and pencil towards her and she scribbled her song choice down. Smiling she handed it to him. "Thanks."

"Are you going to tell me what your song choice is? Do I get to hear Vogue? Will I have to call and tell Anna that my assistant is proactively advertising the competition?" Miranda smiled as she handed her card over to pay for the drinks.

"Nope, it's a surprise. No, it's not Vogue, I'm not drunk enough to commit that kind of atrocity again." Andy grinned as she grabbed the beers. "C'mon we'll go sit. They can take their time getting through the individual singers. They'll find me when it's my turn and pass me the mic."

"Nigel caught the barman's attention as the woman walked away drinks in hand. "Give me a post-it; I have a request for Andy." He grinned as he was handed a post-it and pencil. Scrawling his song choice his smile widened and carrying the cocktails joined the four women.

xxxxxxxxxx

Chapter Text

An hour passed with more drinks bought. Andy had started to feel the effects of the Tequila and had switched to water and soft drinks as the others continued with their beer and tequila. The conversation had flowed much more freely as everyone relaxed. Emily had struck up a conversation with Miranda and Nigel about Oscar De La Renta's Cerulean Collection, her nervousness all but disappearing as the alcohol flowed.

Leaning into Andy Serena spoke softly. "It's been good seeing Miranda outside Runway. She seems content." Sighing happily Andy offered the Brazilian a smile in agreement as she noticed the barman coming over with a wide smile and mic.

"Here you go, Andy. We are putting both songs on for you to sing now."

"Both songs?" She questioned nervously.

"Yeah, the one you chose and the one your friend there picked for you." He waved in Nigel's general direction.

"Can't you forget the song he picked?" She asked as Miranda looked over at her smiling.

"It's queued up now, no can do. Sorry." He shrugged gave her a wide smile over his shoulder as he walked away.

She sighed in exasperation. "I will throttle you one of these days Nige." She told him as she swiped his beer and took a deep drink.

Smirking Nigel said. "You'll thank me later."

The music started and Andy stood up, exhaling nervously she looked up towards the large screens attached to the wall. Recognising the opening bars of the song she closed her eyes and sang.

Swaying room as the music starts
Strangers making the most of the dark
Two by two their bodies become one

Focusing on the melody she reached the chorus. Locking eyes with Miranda she smiled hesitantly before looking away as she continued to sing.

I'm crazy for you
Touch me once and you'll know it's true
I never wanted anyone like this
It's all brand new, you'll feel it in my kiss
I'm crazy for you, crazy for you

Looking towards Emily and Serena she saw Serena whispering the words into the redhead's ear as Emily blushed. She grinned and nodded her head towards them to get Nigel and Miranda's attention. Both smirked at the couple causing Emily to blush even more furiously.

Slowly now we begin to move
Every breath I'm deeper into you
Soon we two are standing still in time
If you read my mind, you'll see

Some of the crowd cheered her on as others sang along. As she reached the final chorus she gazed at Miranda, singing from her heart, her eyes shining with happiness. Miranda looked on, eyes soft and a small genuine smile lighting up her face.

Touch me once and you'll know it's true
I never wanted anyone like this
It's all brand new, you'll feel it in my kiss
I'm crazy for you

Crazy for you
Crazy for you
Crazy for you

It's all brand new, I'm crazy for you
And you know it's true, I'm crazy, crazy for you
It's all brand new, I'm crazy for you
And you know it's true, yeah, I'm crazy for you

Andy smiled widely as she finished the song. She'd received a good amount of cheering before her second song started. Rolling her eyes she sang as Miranda looked on surprised at the change in tone.

Check it out goin' out on the late night
Lookin' tight feeling nice, it's a cockfight
I can tell I just know that it's going down, tonight

At the door, we don't wait 'cause we know them
At the bar six shots just beginnin'
That's when dickhead put his hands on me
But ya see

As Andy was about to hit the chorus she glared at Nigel showing her unhappiness with his song choice. Nigel smirked at her and pointedly looked at Miranda who was still looking at Andy, her disbelief mixed with amusement. She shook her head and continued to sing. Growling out the chorus.

I'm not here for your entertainment
You don't really wanna mess with me tonight
Just stop and take a second
I was fine before you walked into my life

Cause you know it's over, before it began
Keep your drink just give me the money
It's just you and your hand tonight

She smirked at Nigel pointing at him before giving him a rude hand gesture. As he grinned at her, she realised why he chose this song. Knowing it was meant as a warning to the flirty barman and anyone else who wanted to get too close. She allowed herself to get more into the song.

Moving around the floor she found a group of frat boys. Making everyone laugh she sang the next lyrics to the youngest of them before moving back towards her table with a wide smile on her face.

Midnight I'm drunk, I don't give a fuck
Wanna dance by myself guess you're out of luck
Don't touch, back up, I'm not the one
Buh-bye

Listen up its just not happenin'
You can say what you want to your boyfriends
Just let me have my fun tonight aight

She hit the chorus again. As she finished it she looked back out at the crowd where she found three familiar faces staring at her and her companions in amazement. Looking back at Nigel she nodded towards Lily, Nate and Doug. Nigel looked shocked and moved to whisper something to Em and Serena. She looked back at her old friends and ex-boyfriend and catching their eyes one by one she sang the next verse to them before turning her back on them.

You're in the corner with your boys; you bet them five bucks
You'd get the girl that just walked in, but she thinks you suck
We didn't get all dressed up just for you to see
So quit spilling your drinks on me

You know who you are
High five and talking shit
But you are going home alone
Aren't ya?

She realised she had two choruses to go. Giving it her all she belted the lyrics as people joined in.

You and your hand...
I'm not here for your entertainment
No No No

You don't really wanna mess with me tonight
Just stop and take a second
Take a second
I was fine before you walked into my life

Cause you know it's over, before it began
Keep your drink just give me the money
It's just you and your hand tonight
Yeah ooh ooh

She finished the song amidst massive cheers and blushed. Handing the mic back to the DJ the frat boy she sang to give her a nervous smile as she stalked past. She threw a smirk and wink at him causing him to blush and have his friends tease him. As she caught Miranda's eye she laughed happily. Moving back around the table she sat herself down on the couch between Miranda and Nigel.

"That was quite a show, Andy. You were amazing up there, I especially enjoyed you pointing at Nigel and the hand gesture was spot on." Miranda told her laughing. Emily and Serena looked on in shock.

Andy laughed loudly. "Thanks. I didn't see you purse your lips, so I knew it wasn't a total disaster. I thought the hand gesture fitting at the time." She said smiling happily as Nigel passed her a beer. "Thanks. I have to tell you that song is absolutely ridiculous, Nige." She told him as she shredded the label.

"It was an amazing performance Six. So much better than Vogue. That young frat boy didn't know what to do with himself. As for the hand gesture, I'll forgive it this once." Nigel sniggered. Andy looked at him and grinned.

"You deserved it." She told him warmly. "It's lucky I love ya." The atmosphere changed around them. Looking up she met the deep brown eyes of her ex, eyeing him cautiously, noting Lily and Doug hovering on either side, she asked. "What do you want Nate?"

"Hey, Andy. Can we talk?" Nate replied hesitantly.

"I've nothing left to say to you, any of you. You've all made your opinion of who you think I am perfectly clear, how lacking I am." Andy told them sadly.

"Please, Andy..." Nate pleaded. Miranda scoffed. Hearing it Nate eyed her with blatant animosity before tuning her out and focusing on Andy. "Andy c'mon..." He whined.

"I've told you I'm not interested in talking to you. It wasn't me that threw away a five-year relationship because you couldn't handle the fact I was growing up while you remained stuck." Looking at Lily and Doug she told them. "It wasn't me that threw away almost 20 years of friendship. That was on all of you." She told them. "And before you start in on me again yes I admit I changed, I gained more confidence. I worked damn hard and long hours for a demanding boss who expects perfection because that's what she expects from herself in order to produce the best. A boss who asks for no more from her employees than she gives herself, and mostly I've succeeded and that has given me a sense of pride in my abilities." She looked at Miranda and gave her a small smile. Turning back to them she said. "Yes it meant that I was absent from your lives, but if you honestly cared you would have understood and been supportive. Instead, you all walked away."

"Andy, these aren't your people, they aren't your friends." Lily chimed in.

As Andy went to respond she caught movement from the corner of her eye as Emily stood, anger clear on her face as she snarled. "Yes, we are her friends. Andy is one of us, she's the best of us. She makes each one of us want to be a better person. She is kind, generous loyal and loving. She is exceptional and if you can't or won't see that, it really is your loss, and you do not deserve this incredible woman in your life. Now she's told you she doesn't want to talk to you so piss off!"

Lily sputtered but stopped at Miranda's raised hand. "I for one have heard enough. Andréa has expressed her feelings eloquently and yet here you all are, still stealing our oxygen." Moving her hand as if she were shooing them away she caught Nate's eye. "That's all!" she said with finality.

"You bitch." Nate spat angrily at her.

Miranda snorted before turning ice-filled eyes upon him and giving him a glare that stopped him in his tracks. "Tell me something I do not know, I have been called far worse by better than you." She smirked menacingly at him as Doug pulled both him and Lily away.

Turning back to look at them Doug caught Andy's' eye and mouthed "I'll call you."

xxxxxxxxxx

Andy got up from the table quickly. As she stepped past Emily, she felt the redhead's arms come up around her pulling her into a brief hug. At the unexpected gesture, tears pricked at Andy's eyes. "Thanks, Em." She whispered hoarsely. "I need the bathroom, excuse me." She untangled herself from Emily's arms and rushed off.

Miranda caught Emily's eye as she got up from the couch, nodding her approval. "I'll go check on her, ensure she's okay." She told them as she moved to follow Andy. Entering the bathroom she knocked on the one locked door, hearing muffled crying she spoke. "Open the door, darling."

"Miranda?" Andy asked hesitantly. Hearing the editor sigh in exasperation she unlocked the door as it swung open she looked up and saw the editor looking at her tenderly.

"Come on out of there." Holding her arms out she said. "Come here." As Andy stood she stepped forward and pulled Andy into a hug and whispered. "You handled that situation marvellously, I understand you're hurting, but you are cared for by all of us at Runway as Emily proved."

"I'm so angry. How dare they pull a stunt like that? How dare he have the nerve to call you a bitch? He doesn't know you. I'm so sorry." Andy said as she held onto the other woman.

"As I said to him, it's not like I don't realise that people think I'm a bitch, it's not the first time it's been said and it probably won't be the last," Miranda smirked.

"I'm still sorry. It's so embarrassing." Andy admitted.

"No need for embarrassment darling. You did nothing wrong. Please dry your eyes, we'll fix your make-up and enjoy the rest of our night. Do you want to sing again?"

"Do you want me to?" Andy asked as she lifted her head from the older woman's shoulder.

"Darling I could happily watch and listen to you all night. You possess a wonderful voice. However if after this you wanted to go home we would understand." Pushing a strand of hair out of Andy's face Miranda smiled. "It's been a lovely night, I am enjoying myself immensely. Now come, let me fix those panda eyes."

xxxxxxxxxx

As they exited the bathroom Miranda took hold of Andy's hand, entwining their fingers as they navigated their way through the crowd back to the couches where Nigel was sat alone. Catching Nigel's raising an eyebrow at the hand holding Miranda smirked as she pulled Andy down next to her.

"You okay Six?" He asked quietly.

"Yeah, I'll be fine. Where's Serena and Em?" Andy asked.

"They're at the bar getting more drinks. Em thinks a song will get you out of the doldrums. I told her to speak to you before making any choice, just in case you weren't staying." Nigel said.

"Thanks. God knows she'd have me singing some dodgy 80's Brit-pop Anthem." She said laughing as she saw the two women making their way back to them.

"Here you go," Serena said as she placed a beer in front of Andy along with a post-it and pencil. "You okay Querida?" She asked gently.

"I'm good. I just needed a moment." Looking towards Emily she smiled happily. "Hey Em. Do tonight's events mean we are friends now?" She asked laughing.

"Where on Earth did you get that idea, Andy?" Emily asked sarcastically. Grinning at the brunette she admitted. "You're a good person, you deserve better than that."

"Thanks, Em. I appreciate this more than you know." Andy said.

Rolling her eyes at the brunette Em said. "Now don't get all sappy on me, Sachs, drink up, choose a song and forget this."

Smiling Andy looked towards Miranda. "Any requests?" She asked.

Miranda smiled and scooted closer as she whispered. "Beautiful."

Looking at Miranda she grinned. "You must be deluded if you think I can do Christina justice," Andy told her.

"Oh, I have complete faith. You can do anything right?" Miranda smiled.

"If you say so," Andy replied cheekily as she scrawled her name the song on the post-it. Getting up as she moved to hand her song request in.

As she came back, she found Doug stood at the table shuffling nervously as Nigel was asking him to join them. "Dougie, what's up?" She asked concerned.

Looking towards Miranda he said. "I wanted to apologise to you all. I swear I tried to stop them, Andy. What Nate said to you was unforgivable Miranda, he had no right,"

"Douglas sit." Miranda patted the seat next to her as Andy slipped past him and sat back on the couch in her previous spot between the editor and Nigel.

"Miranda and Nigel are right Dougie, you should join us," Andy told him softly. Nodding once he sat by Miranda as Andy leaned in and whispered into her ear. "He's your biggest fan. He told me when I got the job you were well known for your unpredictability, which certainly explains why I ended up working for you."

Miranda smirked at the young woman. Laying her hand on Andy's thigh and turning towards Andy she said. "You deserved the position. Your bravery that day, after I dismissed you, was astonishing. And you proved yourself at every turn. What you said before, about being proud of your abilities, you should be proud of yourself, you are an amazing woman."

"I could say the same about you, in fact, I think I may have already," Andy replied with a grin. Noticing the focus of the other four was now on them they smiled and turned away from each other.

As Miranda struck up a conversation with Doug Nigel leaned in and whispered. "What's going on with you two? She hasn't been able to take her eyes off you all night. She announced she let you help choose her dress, she's called you Andy multiple times and then there's the hand holding and random touching. Six, you realise that this isn't usual Miranda behaviour?"

"I know, Nige," Andy whispered back apprehensive. "I can't explain it, not right now."

"Just remember I am here for you," Nigel told her as he pulled her in for a hug.

Resting her head on his shoulder he heard her mutter. "You're the best. You know that, Nige?"

"Miranda is right in what she says about you. You are amazing and we all love you very much." Nigel told her.

They sat like that for a good 20 minutes before the barman walked up again and handed Nigel the mic. Smirking he said. "Your turn." Turning to Emily and Serena he said. "You two up next."

"But I didn't put my name up," Nigel said confused as Emily and Serena gave each other a look.

Hearing a snigger from the older woman next to her Andy looked at her to see her trying to suppress her laughter, mischief lighting up her blue eyes.

"Up you get Nige," Andy told him smiling innocently as she sat back on the couch as the start of Madonna's Material Girl played.

Standing up he sang. As the chorus hit, he pulled Andy to her feet and swung her into dance as they sang together, grinning happily between verses. As the song ended they laughed, arms slung around each other. Nigel handed his mic to Serena as another was handed to Emily.

Seeing the song queued to play Emily rolled her eyes. "Dead Ringer for Love?" She questioned. "Well, I must be Cher." She told Serena who just smiled beautifully at the redhead as she sang to the Meat Loaf lyrics. As they made their way through the song their eyes locked and they continued to sing to each other ignoring the surrounding crowd.

Andy looked at them and back to Miranda. "You chose that song especially didn't you?"

"Do you think it worked?" Miranda asked amused.

"I'd say those two will finally get their act together. It's about time." Andy told her as the song finished and she watched Emily drag Serena off to a quiet corner.

"Douglas has been kindly filling me in about some of your childhood escapades. It sounds like you could teach my twins a few tricks." Miranda smiled.

"Oh God! Dougie! Why?" She questioned him.

Looking over at her Doug gave her a wide smile. "Cheer up Andy, It could have been worse. I could have mentioned how we got drunk at that bonfire and made out 'til I cried and admitted I was gay or how neither of us had Prom dates and went stag."

"Oh jeez! How much have you had to drink?" Andy asked him as both Nigel and Miranda looked at her.

"You turned him gay?" Nigel said as Miranda confirmed. "You didn't have a date to Prom?"

They looked at each other and grinned as Andy blushed and covered her face. "You understand I really hate you right now Doug?"

Doug got up from the couch. Kneeling in front of Andy he pulled her hands away from her face. "Look at me Andy, I am kneeling on this hideous carpet in Armani pants and I'm looking at the most beautiful women I've had the pleasure of knowing. I've known you since Kindergarten and I've loved you every moment since you punched Billy Gray out for bullying me. Emily was right. You bring out the best in those around you; you make us want to be better. I don't want to lose you from my life. I've missed you." Looking into his eyes she his sincerity and pulled him in for a hug as he whispered. "I may have accidentally mentioned the tattoo you got before Paris too." Pushing him away he fell back on his heels as she thumped his shoulder.

"God, you're such an asshole. I've missed you too." She smiled at him as she pulled him into another bear hug.

Nigel made room for Doug to sit between him and Andy as they enjoyed their drinks and conversation, there was lots of laughter as Miranda described the first time Andy had fallen in front of her spilling scalding coffee and Hermes scarves everywhere and Nigel imitated Andy trying not to swear.

"It's all golly, gosh, fudge and shoot, when Six is at her most vocal at Runway. The first time I heard her actually cuss I nearly died on the spot. I never expected such foul language to come out of her beautiful mouth." Nigel said smirking at the brunette.

"Hey, Andy. You're up next." The flirty barman was back with his wide grin. Handing her a mic he said. "You know if you give me your number we could get together and do open mic and dinner.

"Thanks but I'm busy," Andy told him.

"Every night?" He asked in disbelief.

"Yeah. I'm kinda seeing someone so..." She shrugged. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Doug and Nigel's mouth drop in shock. Looking at Miranda she caught her smirk of satisfaction. "It's early days but I really like them."

"Ah well, it was worth a try." He replied shrugging as he walked away as Emily and Serena returned to the couch holding hands as the current song finished and hers was queued to begin.

Every day is so wonderful
Then suddenly
It's hard to breathe...

As she sang her eyes closed against the emotions brought on by the song.

I am beautiful
No matter what they say
Words can't bring me down
I am beautiful
In every single way
Yes words can't bring me down
Oh no
So don't you bring me down today

She opened her eyes, allowing every emotion she was experiencing to blaze within them. She looked at Miranda as she sang the next verse.

You are beautiful
No matter what they say
Words can't bring you down
Oh no
You are beautiful
In every single way
Yes words can't bring you down
Oh no
So don't you bring me down today

Pouring all her feelings into the song as their eyes locked each of them allowed their connection to flow and Miranda recognised the emotions from their conversation the few days prior. Feeling herself tearing up Miranda broke their intense gaze and looked down at her hands, taking a drink she tried to gain control of her overwhelming feelings as Andy finished the song

Don't you bring me down, ooh
Today

Andy grabbed her purse. "I've gotta go." She blurted before turning and walking away from the table towards the door.

"What the fuck did we miss?" Emily asked as Miranda got up and stalked after the brunette.

"I don't think you want to know," Nigel muttered.

xxxxxxxxxx

Chapter Text

A week had passed since their night out and Andy had spent the week keeping herself out of the office as much as possible as she ran all the errands leaving Emily at her desk.

Miranda, Nigel and Emily had all unsuccessfully tried to talk to the brunette, but she had shut herself off from them and had so far avoided any attempts at a deep and meaningful conversation. She was embarrassed at allowing her feelings for Miranda to blaze so brightly that night, allowing everyone to view her heart. Doug had tried to call her, but she was sending his calls to voicemail, unable to deal with the questions she understood would be asked.

Entering the office at 7 pm that night, arms full of couture she dropped the bags off at the closet and sorted the items onto rails ready for the next run through on Monday. As she sorted through the items, she heard the closet door slide shut. Spinning around, she spotted Miranda leaning against it. "I've caught you at last." Miranda breathed "You've been avoiding everyone. Nigel and Emily are concerned."

"I don't have time for this Miranda. I need to sort all this and..." Andy was cut off.

"Ah but I imagine we can find the time, after all as your employer I can ensure we make the time." Miranda frowned at the brunette. "Why are you avoiding me Andréa?"

"I'm not!" Andy said weakly.

"Don't lie," Miranda told her. "I waited all week for you to come and speak to me. You aren't here when I get to work in the morning, yet my hot coffee is there waiting upon my arrival, all I've caught is fleeting glances of you as you run in and out of the office. You sneaked into my house each evening so quietly I did not realise you are there."

"Is there something you need Miranda," Andy asked.

"I need answers. I followed you last Friday night, you kissed me and then you ran! You left me stood there in the middle of the East Village wondering what the hell had happened. Was kissing me so bad you had a change of heart?"

"Miranda, no! I just...I can't...I'm appalled at myself." She stuttered. "I sang my heart out to you in front of everyone, and if that wasn't awkward enough for you I then pushed you against that wall and jumped you in the middle of the street. I've explained before that I don't want you to be put in an uncomfortable position, I assured you I was happy to wait and then I do that to you. Jesus Miranda! I didn't even give you a chance to say no." She wrapped her arms around her waist and sobbed.

Miranda walked towards Andy and pulling her into her arms whispered. "Darling you bared your soul. It was an act of courage that left me speechless. I was amazed by it. Please don't run from me again Andréa, you pulling away from me hurts more than I thought possible." Miranda rubbed her shoulders in soothing circles. "Dry your eyes and finish up here. I'll go make us a cup of tea. Come find me when you're done. Okay?"

"If you insist," Andy said as she calmed herself.

"I do. We need to discuss this Andréa. Please don't push me away again." Miranda left the closet leaving the door open behind her.

Andy finished up her task quickly. As she left the closet, she ran into Nigel. "Hey, Nige. You're here late" She looked at him, embarrassment clouding her eyes.

"Hey Six, long time no see. You've made yourself busy this week. Are you okay?"

"Sure," Andy said hesitantly.

"You don't seem too sure." Nigel grinned at her. "So what happened last Friday?"

"Aha you know, everything that happened with Nate and Lily, it all just got overwhelming," Andy told him as she looked away.

"Bullshit! Miranda followed you out and when she came back, she looked furious. What happened?" Nigel questioned.

"Nothing happened. I went home." Andy told him. Seeing his expression of disbelief she said. "Look I don't want to talk about it. There's stuff I need to finish before the book arrives. I'll catch you later, okay?"

As she moved to step around Nigel, he pulled her close. "Drinks later?" Nigel asked as he caught her eye.

"I have plans," Andy told him.

"With Miranda?" He whispered.

"No, with my good friend Jack Daniels. Now please let go of me Nige." She said hoarsely.

Looking into her eyes he saw the tears forming. Pulling her into his office he sat down and pulled her into his arms. "Oh God Andy, what did she do to you?" He asked gently

"Absolutely nothing, it's what I did to Miranda that's the problem," Andy admitted. "I put her in a shitty position Nige and I don't see how I can make it right. I should have just left Runway when I had the chance in Paris." Andy's shoulders slumped as she fought against her tears.

Nigel pulled her closer as she cried. "C'mon Six, it can't be that bad?" He whispered.

"It's bad Nige. I kissed her and then I ran away." Andy admitted between sobs.

"What the fuck was you thinking?" Nigel exploded as he pulled away and looked at his friend.

"I wasn't thinking Nige, but she knows how I feel about her," Andy said.

"Since when?" Nigel asked her.

"Since last Wednesday, after she cancelled the run through. That afternoon I told her I wanted to leave Runway, she demanded an explanation. I told her everything."

"How did she take it?" He asked her softly.

"Which part?" Andy questioned.

"I'll start with the whole you telling her about your feelings for her," Nigel smirked. "It has been obvious for a while how deeply you care and it's clear she feels the same."

"Well, she wasn't unresponsive. We are supposed to be taking it slow, with the divorce and everything, and then I ruined it. I should never have invited her last week, it's like playing with fire and expecting not to get burnt." Andy brushed the tears away and looked down.

"And how did she take you wanting to leave?" Nigel asked her.

"Not so well. There will be fireworks later. I've got my resignation ready to give to her." Andy told him.

"You can't leave Six." Nigel shook his head. "Don't think we all haven't noticed you put your barriers up against us this week. Your usual sunny presence has been missed, even by Em. Doug warned us you would do this, or pretend it didn't happen."

"Doug should mind his own fucking business. How I deal with this is no one's concern." Andy seethed.

"Look Six, we all understand you possess a loving heart, you wear it on your sleeve often and it's beautiful. Don't push her away Andy, don't do that to her. You would break her. I saw her with you on Friday, it's obvious she cares about you deeply. We spoke to Miranda on Wednesday, she wants a chance at a future."

"This conversation is over Nigel." She told him, determination clear in her eyes.

"Just consider it Andy, that's all I ask," Nigel said sadly as she swept from the office.

xxxxxxxxxx

As she entered the outer office, she spotted the book on her desk. Grabbing it she entered Miranda's office, spotting the editor leaning against the back of the couch with her eyes closed she walked over and placed the book between two cooling mugs of tea. "Miranda? The book's here. There's no dry cleaning tonight so I'll be heading off home." She mumbled.

"You're running again," Miranda told her sadly, eyes still closed.

"Miranda, it's been a long week, I want to go home, soak in a bath, sit in my pyjamas and drown myself in a bottle of Jack," Andy admitted.

"If you need a drink so badly, there's a bottle of Scotch in my bottom drawer, knock yourself out." Opening her eyes she glared at the brunette. "It won't help though, trust me on that." She sighed heavily. "I wish you would just explain what's going on in that head of yours Andy." Andy walked forward, pulling an envelope from her pocket she laid it on top of the book. "What's that?" Miranda questioned.

"My resignation, two weeks' notice effective immediately. Goodnight Miranda." As she turned away Andy heard a gasp.

"I won't accept it Andréa." Picking up the envelope Miranda tore it in four and threw it on the floor. "You said you would stay, that you wouldn't leave me."

"I also told you I would wait, as I proved I couldn't do that either. Regarding my resignation, it doesn't matter that you tore it up. There's a copy for HR which I will send to them once I get home." Andy said sadly.

Walking towards the brunette Miranda grabbed her hand and entwined their fingers. "Don't walk away from me Andréa. Talk to me, my darling. Tell me how to fix this." Miranda spoke passionately.

"Why can't you understand that there's nothing for you to fix. I wanted this so much, and I sabotaged it. I couldn't stand by my promises to you, the assurances I made. I failed you. This is on me Miranda, not you. And I don't know how to make it right. I don't trust myself not to hurt you. Nate and Lily were right about me, I'm selfish. You deserve better than that Miranda, you deserve better than me." Andy made to walk away but Miranda's hold on her hand stopped her. "Please just let me go, Miranda," Andy asked gently.

Spinning the young woman around Miranda grabbed her waist and pulled her towards as she captured Andy's lips in a searing kiss. Letting go of her hand and waist she cupped Andy's face in her hands, she couldn't help but run them up into Andy's silken tresses as Andy's arms tightened around her waist. The kiss started gently, Miranda was hesitant. Hearing Andy hum into her mouth she allowed it to deepen, letting the intensity of her feelings take over she tasted Andy's lips tentatively with her tongue as she traced it across the bottom of her soft full lips. Andy parted her lips and allowed Miranda's tongue to caress her own causing Miranda to moan.

Breaking their kiss Andy whispered Miranda's name breathlessly like a prayer. Their face only inches apart, the warmth of Miranda's breath sent a rush of heat deep into the pit of her stomach. She could feel Miranda's gaze burning deep into her soul. Leaning slightly forward Andy brushed Miranda's signature forelock out of her eyes and in that instance she pressed her lips back to the older woman's. As she was running gentle hands up Miranda's back she nipped at Miranda's bottom lip causing a gasp from the woman in her arms. She smiled as their lips met softly before Miranda broke the kiss and pressed her forehead against Andy's.

"Come to dinner with me?" Miranda requested softly.

Seeing the uncertainty in Miranda's eyes Andy ran her thumb over Miranda's lips as she whispered. "Sweetheart, nothing would give me greater pleasure."

Grinning at the brunette in her arms Miranda whispered. "We'll see about that."

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As Andy made her way to the bathroom to clean away the tear tracks Miranda called Roy and removed the rapidly cooling teacups from her office. Trying to get a handle on her swirling emotions she hunched herself over the kitchen sink and let her tears fall.

Entering the outer office Andy pulled Miranda's and her own coat from the closet as Nigel made an appearance. "I'm meeting Doug for drinks at the Lit Lounge. Are you sure you don't want to join us for drinks? Maybe dinner? My treat?" He tried to coax.

"I'm okay, Nige. I have dinner plans sorted." Andy offered him a brief smile. "Anyway, I wouldn't want to play gooseberry."

"I must admit I'm nervous. I know Doug's been trying to talk to you this week, when he had no luck he called me and much to my surprise he asked me out." Nigel giggled causing Andy's grin to widen.

"He's a good man Nige. I hope you both have fun. Tell him I'll call him over the weekend." Andy said happily.

"I will, and I'm sure we will have lots of fun." He said with a smile as he looked down at Andy's hands. Spotting Miranda's Burberry trench he whispered. "Is Miranda still here?"

"Yes, she was in the kitchen," Andy told him. "She wasn't happy with my resignation, she refused to accept it." She nodded towards Miranda's office. "As you can see the pieces are still littering her carpet." She sighed sadly.

"I'll clean up that mess on the floor if you go check on her. Just try to be gentle, no more running away from whatever is between you." Nigel told her softly. "And Six..." Andy looked at him as he entered Miranda's office. Looking over his shoulder he said. "I hope you'll change your mind about leaving us, you'd be missed."

Giving him another small smile she placed their coats on her desk and moved towards the kitchen. Entering the room she saw Miranda hunched over crying. Rushing over she pulled the older women into her arms. "Miranda?" She questioned gently as she cupped her face and swiped away the falling tears. "Sweetheart, talk to me, tell me what's wrong." She requested softly.

"You're still leaving me," Miranda whispered as she laid her head on Andy's shoulder, trying to calm herself. "It hit me suddenly, we've not even had our first date and you're leaving. I won't get to see you every day, to listen to your laughter ring out across the office."

"Miranda even if I leave Runway I will still make the time to see you, just on a more personal level, if that's what you still want. I am not leaving you. I've crossed so many professional boundaries this past week and I don't know if I can put them back up. I don't know if I want to." Andy admitted.

Miranda stepped back. "Why?"

Andy stepped forward into Miranda's personal space and ran her fingers through Miranda's hair. "Because I like you, well if I'm honest I more than like you. You are beautiful, Miranda. You drive me crazy in all the right ways and you challenge me and don't take my bullshit. You make me want to be better." Andy told her tenderly. "It makes my heart ache to watch you so upset over this sweetheart but I want more than a professional relationship with you allows, plus I don't want whatever happens between us to affect your professional life," Andy explained. "All I've wanted to do for months is to kiss you and now it's happened I don't want to stop kissing you." Miranda closed her eyes at the words the young woman was speaking.

Taking a deep breath she looked up at the brunette and whispered. "If it's working for me that is the issue Andréa I could move you to the Art Department. You'd report directly to Nigel."

Andy pulled back in shock. "But that opening was for Emily. She's worked for you longer than me, she has more style and overall knowledge. She's perfect for the position. I still can't tell the difference between Brandeis blue and Azure or Zaffre and Ultramarine for Christ's sake."

Miranda barked out a laugh. That you know those four shades of blue shows you may possess more knowledge than even I ever realised."

"I kinda studied them after the Cerulean rant," Andy admitted with a wide smile.

"How many times do I need to tell you? I do not rant." Miranda smirked. Turning serious she cupped Andy's face. "How do you do that Andréa? How are you able to calm me and make me smile or even laugh when just moments before I felt overwhelmed?"

"Only you can answer that Miranda," Andy told her lightly. "I would do anything for you sweetheart. If you need me, I will always be here, no matter what."

"Once again I will ask that you to reconsider leaving Runway. Think about it my darling, please. Give it the weekend. If you're still determined after that I will accept your resignation." Miranda told her sadly.

"And where would that leave us?" Andy asked nervously.

Miranda looked up at her and smiled. "If you hadn't been avoiding me all week, I would have provided reassurances that there's no reason we can't remain working together even if we form a personal relationship. There's nothing in either of our contracts to forbid it, all that would be required is to advise Human Resources. I could also tell you I had spoken to Claire regarding you assisting them. She will email you requesting ideas for articles and features, you will be paid for anything published as a Freelancer, she also has some editing for you to sink your teeth into." Andy gaped at her in disbelief, unable to formulate her thoughts into words. Sighing in exasperation Miranda took her hand, smiled and said. "Close your mouth please Andy, we are not a codfish."

At her words, Andy's eyes blazed with delight and she let out a peal of loud laughter. Trying to get her amusement under control Andy wheezed. "God woman, you will be the death of me. I never know what will come out of that beautiful mouth of yours. Who knew you'd channel both Yoda and Mary Poppins in the space of a week."

Miranda smiled up at her and said. "You've found out another one of my guilty pleasures darling. I believe in time you may find them all. Now, I need to clean up and then I will take you to dinner. I know a gorgeous little Italian place I haven't been to in an age." She placed her lips on Andy's briefly before stalking back to her office and into her personal bathroom.

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Sitting behind her desk she shrugged her jacket on and leaning her elbows on her desk placed her face in her hands. Hearing the outer doors she saw Doug walk nervously into the outer office. Giving him a brief smile she asked. "Dougie, why are you here?"

He smiled back at her. "Nigel asked me to meet him here instead of the Lit Lounge. I somehow got myself lost in the maze of hallways. I saw the light up here and assumed this is where I'd find him. You look beat sweetie, a rough week?" He asked gently.

"You could say that, a hellish week of my making." She grimaced at him. "I'm such a dick sometimes Doug, I don't understand why any of you put up with me."

"The good in you far outweighs the bad. Just promise to try not to let those barriers up too much, not everyone will have the patience to knock them down." He looked knowingly at her. "Now if you could be so kind as to point me towards that bald little hottie, I have myself a date." Doug puffed out his chest and winked at her as she laughed.

"I'll do one better." Grinning, she pulled her desk phone handset to her ear and connected to Nigel. "Hey Nige, I have a tall, handsome, Versace clad accountant type here ready to whisk you away...yeah I can describe him...blondish, gorgeous green-blue eyes, a large smile and, oh-oh, there's spinach in his teeth." She pulled the earpiece of the phone away from her ear as Nigel cackled happily down the line. Hearing a snigger from the inner office she smiled widely. "Just try to give better directions next time, Dougie came out of the closet a long time ago I don't want him to get lost in there again...okay, I'll see you in a few." Looking at Doug she grinned. "He'll be down in a sec handsome."

"Andy, can I ask a question?" Doug asked. "Is that dress from the Phillip Lim Fall/Winter collection?"

Smiling she nodded shyly. "Yea, I love it, I love how it can be paired with a blazer or even a leather jacket."

"Well, you look fabulous. I can't believe you didn't stop traffic running around Manhattan in that all day." He grinned at her as Miranda stalked out of her office.

"Good evening Douglas, it's lovely to see you again. I am pleased I'm not the only one who has appreciated how stunning Andréa looks today." As Nigel entered the outer office Miranda smiled and looking at Andy asked. "And what colour is that beautiful dress?" Looking towards Doug and then Nigel she explained. "Andréa seems to think she cannot discern all the different shades of blue."

"It's turquoise Miranda." Seeing Miranda's nod she grinned. "I'm obviously not a total lost cause. I believe it would be even lovelier in Cerulean." Seeing Miranda's smirk she got up from her desk. "Nigel please take care of Dougie tonight. Miranda, I have your coat here. Shall we?" Holding Miranda's coat she held it as Miranda shrugged it on. Andy stepped away and pulled Doug into a hug and kissed him on the cheek. "Take care, sweetie." Looking at Nigel stepped in and kissed his cheek. "Thanks for the pep-talk earlier Nige. I love ya both, enjoy your night and don't do anything I wouldn't."

Doug laughed and Nigel beamed at the young brunette. Looking towards the two men Miranda nodded to them. "Goodnight Douglas. I hope you have a wonderful evening. Nigel, get out of here and enjoy your date." Miranda smirked and grabbed Andy's as hand she pulled her towards the elevator. "I know I will enjoy mine." She whispered as Andy giggled at the expression of shock on her friend's faces.

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As they made their way down in the elevator Miranda looked at Andy shyly before stating. "I hope my comments to Douglas didn't embarrass you."

"Not at all." Andy declared in her rush to reassure the older woman. "The way you gaze at me sometimes shows if you approve or not of my choice in clothing. I never expected to hear you be so vocal in your approval though." She smiled. "The look on Doug and Nigel's face when they heard you mention the date though was priceless, I wish I'd had my camera handy." Looking at Miranda she whispered. "By the way, I don't think I told you how much I will enjoy it too?"

"How much?" Miranda asked softly as the elevator doors opened. Smiling Andy guided Miranda out of the elevator and through the Elias Clarke foyer. As Roy opened the town car door for Miranda Andy skipped around to the other side. As the privacy screen went up Miranda looked at the brunette. Miranda cleared her throat. "You haven't answered my question," she breathed.

Andy looked at Miranda and noticed the happiness blazing in her blue eyes. "Miranda I didn't think the foyer of Elias Clarke was the best place to discuss it." She smiled across at the woman. "I can honestly say this is a dream come true. It's so unexpectedly wonderful." She scooted closer to the older woman, moving sidewards she faced Miranda and entwined their fingers. "Thank you for giving this another chance." Miranda squeezed Andy's hand. "So where's this restaurant?"

"I thought you may enjoy Vivolo. It's near to my home, it's a renovated Town House and is quiet enough to allow for a pleasant dinner conversation, as its winter there will be a roaring fire. The last time I ate there I had an amazing Frutti Di Mare. The only time I've had better is in Milan." Miranda smiled.

Andy smiled. "I'm shocked you thought of Italian, all those carbs."

"I believe you should allow yourself to eat what you like in moderation darling, as you have become aware I have a sweet tooth. I love eating Italian food and my girls enjoy pizza, it's one of their favourites." Miranda told her.

Andy smiled widely. "Emily's exact words when I told her I was going to Paris was; 'It's not fair! You eat carbs for Christ's sake!' Miranda sniggered at Andy's impression of the feisty redhead. "It was when she was in the hospital. She was feeding her face with bread rolls and chocolate pudding." Andy rolled her eyes and sat back into the seat making herself comfortable.

As they sat side by side, fingers still entwined, silence descended between them. Miranda let out a sigh as Andy ran her thumb along Miranda's index finger, placing her head on Andy's leather-clad shoulder she closed her eyes and settled in for the rest of the journey.

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Chapter Text

Walking into the restaurant Andy was amazed at the soft whisky-bar lighting, dark mahogany panelled walls, beamed ceilings, wooden flooring and small intimate tables. As Miranda was greeted warmly by the Maître D' they found themselves being led past the bar to a table for two, as they made their way across the restaurant Miranda went tense as she made eye contact with Stephen at the bar. His eyes were glazed as he nursed a scotch in his hand. As Miranda stalled slightly Andy stumbled into her.

"Miranda?" Stephen questioned slurring slightly.

"Good evening Stephen." Miranda nodded to him, disapproval clear in her gaze. "Come Andréa." Reaching behind her Miranda grasped Andy's elbow pulled her forward as she led her to their table.

Stephen let out a jovial laugh. "Jesus Miranda, it's a bit sad that you need to bring your assistant to dine with you. Are you now so pathetic you aren't able to find yourself decent company?"

Miranda stiffened her spine. Spinning around Miranda stalked towards her ex, looking into his bloodshot eyes she leaned in and whispered. "She is a damn sight better company than you and your fucking scotch. If you make a scene Stephen, I swear I will destroy all hopes of you gaining anything from our pathetic excuse of a marriage. Now I will enjoy my dinner date."

"Da...Date?" Stephen slurred. "You've got to be fucking kidding Mi...Miranda?" He hiccuped and waved at the bartender for a refill. "I will tell my Lawyer about this."

"Oh really?" Miranda grinned evilly. "Isn't this your prepubescent whore coming into the restaurant now? Maybe I should let my lawyer learn that you are dating a minor," She nodded towards the door as a young blonde came rushing in. Miranda rolled her eyes at him.

"She is not a minor." Stephen stuttered.

"Oh Stephen, you should really do your homework. She is 17, and only just that." Miranda grinned evilly at him. "I am aware that the age of consent in New York is 17 but I possess proof that this relationship was happening beforehand." She let ice fill her eyes. "I want you to play nice and sign the fucking divorce papers, drag this out any further and I will ensure you are hit with Statutory Rape charges, even if charges do not stick your reputation will be ruined. Do not cross me further Stephen, I'm warning you." As Stephen sputtered Miranda stared him down. "That's all."

Miranda stalked back to their table where Andy was sat nervously. Looking up at the older woman as she eased herself into the chair opposite she saw the evil glint in Miranda's eye.

"Are you okay?" Andy asked gently.

Miranda glanced at the young woman opposite. Seeing the concern expressed within those mocha eyes she said. "I will be yes. I imparted the importance of this divorce, to my soon to be ex-husband."

"Is that his new girlfriend?" Andy asked shocked. At Miranda's nod of acceptance, she whispered. "She looks about 14. Jesus he must be crazy to let you go for that child."

At Andy's genuine words Miranda softened slightly. "That's sweet of you to say, but as you realize I am not an easy person to deal with."

"That's true, but I think it'd be worth dealing with to be with you," Andy told her with a smile.

Miranda grinned back at her. "You say that with the confidence of youth darling. I have yet to find someone up to the challenge."

Andy smirked and whispered across the table. "Challenge accepted." Miranda chuckled. As they looked at each other Andy became nervous. "So this, tonight?" Andy asked. "I would understand if you wanted to leave, with him being here and everything."

"No!" Miranda told her. "You said when we made time for this it would be us talking and getting to know each other. I would like to know you better." Miranda told her causing Andy to smile. "We could start by playing 20 questions." Andy laughed as the server came to the table.

Looking up at him Andy smiled. "Are you ready to order?" She asked Miranda.

"May I order for both of us?" Miranda asked.

"Yes, of course," Andy told her smiling.

"Okay so my first question, do you have any food allergies?" Seeing Andy shake her head in a negative Miranda smiled. "Me either." Looking at the server she said. "Bring us a bottle of Chianti. We will both start with the Frutti Di Mare Antipasti, for Primo Piatto, the Risotto and the Paccheri. For desert Chocolate mouse and Cannoli. That's all." She grinned at the brunette. "I hope you're hungry."

"Wow," Andy whispered. "Sounds like a veritable feast. So what would you like to learn about me?" Andy asked.

Miranda looked at the young brunette contemplatively. "Who has been the biggest influence in your life? Mine would be Coco Chanel."

"Why?" Andy asked curiously.

"She revolutionised women's fashion, the way women wore clothes, from trousers to the little black dress and from designer perfume to possessing a suntan. She made women look beautiful, smell beautiful and feel beautiful. So who would be yours? Miranda questioned softly.

"I would say, Virginia Woolf, she believed in intellectual freedom but her writing shows her struggle to find meaning in her own existence. It is something I have been able to relate to. To The Lighthouse had the biggest impact on me, it made me reconsider how I think and find direction." Andy smiled.

"What is the meaning of life? That was all - a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years, the great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come..." Miranda quoted softly.

"...Instead, there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark." Andy finished the quote and smiled. "That's one of my favourite quotes. No matter how much you search you may never find the true meaning of life, of why we are here."

"And what do you perceive as the meaning of life? Why are you here Andréa?" Miranda asked with evident curiosity.

"I think I am here to make a difference in the world. That may sound naïve but I believe the biggest thing I can do is to go out in the world and offer kindness and acceptance. As for the meaning of life, that's something I'm still trying to work out, but I believe love plays a massive part, why else would we possess the capacity to love so freely and so very fiercely?"

"I don't think I have ever thought of it in that much depth. You make a valid point and back it up with your firm beliefs. I must admit that I had never experienced such fierce love until my girls were born. I hope they go out in the world and make a difference." Miranda told her.

"I'm sure they will. They are wonderful children now and I honestly believe they will both carry that into their adulthood." Andy said brightly. "So I have a question for you." Andy blushed. "I've heard your fake social laugh and you occasionally chuckle or snigger. I've heard your genuine laughter once or twice, which is like music. What things typically make you laugh?"

"Well..." Miranda was hesitant. "I maintain a twisted sense of humour. I love bad puns and a good sarcastic quip. My conversations with my daughters lead to lots of laughter, sometimes we don't even realize why we're laughing. I love the twins temper tantrums, their little outbursts, the things they say and do, well it can be so cute and they get even crazier the more I laugh. The awkwardness and weirdness of other people and when people fall down are other things that tickle my funny bone. Miranda told her.

"I undoubtedly caused real belly laughs when I first came to Runway then." Andy gave one of her most brilliant smiles. "Awkward...yes. Weird...yes. Clumsy...oh dear God yes."

Miranda smirked. "When you first wore heels, it was like watching a foal finding its feet after it is born. I never laughed at you directly due to your ability to laugh at yourself, but I admit it caused some chuckles. You are becoming quite graceful these days." She chuckled happily. "So what about you? What makes you laugh?"

"Oh, that's easy." Andy grinned. "Bad pick-up lines."

"Give me your best-worst pick-up line." Miranda requested.

"Oh okay..." Andy trailed off as she tried to recollect the worst ones she had been subjected to. "Okay, here goes." Giving Miranda a smouldering glance she whispered. "If it's true we are what we eat, then I could be you by morning."

Miranda snorted and clapped her hand over her mouth to stifle her laughter. Her shoulders were shaking and tears of laughter formed. Removing her hand she laughed loudly as she took up her napkin to wipe her eyes. Seeing her reaction Andy giggled, and they both sat there trying to get themselves under control.

"Oh, Jesus. That has to be the funniest yet sexiest thing I've ever had said to me." Miranda chortled. "The expression in your eyes as you said it. My word Andréa. If you looked at me like that all the time I'd have melted a long time ago." Miranda said still chuckling as the server brought their Antipasti.

Andy grinned and said. "So fair's fair. Give me one of your best-worse pick-up lines." Andy requested.

"Okay so in the spirit of fairness I'll share. This one was actually said to me." Miranda sniggered as she leaned across the table. "I may not be Fred Flintstone, but I bet I can make your Bed Rock."

Bursting into laughter Andy couldn't form a concise response. Each time she tried she laughed harder until her stomach ached. After a few minutes of uproarious laughter, Andy said. "Okay, so I can't believe someone had the nerve to say that to you."

Miranda smirked. "His actions after that were a bit of a disappointment." She told the brunette.

Andy giggled again causing Miranda to catch her eyes across the table and offer her a wide, genuine smile.

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As dinner continued Miranda and Andy continued to question each other. "So what's your favourite movie of all time?" Miranda asked as she twirled her wine glass between her fingers.

"Classic, modern or modern classic?" Andy asked with a grin.

Miranda rolled her eyes. "Trust you to throw a curve-ball. Just answer the question."

"Well, I am unable just to pick one. I prefer the classics. Gone with the Wind or A Streetcar Named Desire are my classic choices. The Colour Purple would be my modern classic and Brokeback Mountain and the Harry Potter franchise would be my modern choices."

"I think Brokeback will become a classic, it was a masterpiece." Miranda smiled. "You are eclectic in your preferences. It's good to realise you appreciate the classics. I enjoy movies as you are now aware. I love all things, Disney. My favourite's classics would be Breakfast at Tiffany's and The Philadelphia Story. Modern classic has to include Star Wars. Modern movies include Harry Potter and Memoirs of a Geisha."

"And you say my taste is eclectic," Andy smirked as they finished their Antipasti. "The Frutti Di Mare was lovely. Are you happy for me to question you more?" Andy smiled, picking up her wine she sipped it and hummed in pleasure. Miranda gasped, a jolt of desire going directly to the pit of her stomach. As Andy caught her gaze, she raised her eyebrow in question. "Miranda?" She asked. Miranda blushed and looked down. Leaning across the table Andy took her hand. "Look at me, sweetheart."

Getting herself back in control Miranda looked up, her face still flushed. "You can ask me anything darling."

Andy smirked. "Okay, so what were you like as a child?" Miranda looked shocked at Andy's question. Andy looked across at her. "You said I could ask anything."

"Yes well..." Miranda was nervous. "I don't normally talk about it...it's hard." Miranda bit her lip.

"Look I won't push you to divulge something if you don't want to," Andy told her gently as she placed her hand on top of Miranda's. "All you have to do is tell me if there are subjects you do not wish to discuss."

Miranda shook her head and removing her hand from Andy's finished her wine. "My grandmother used to tell me I was an odd child, I rarely smiled, barely laughed. I was a serious little thing, really. I was a dreamer and deep thinker, people would tell me I was an old soul. I didn't do particularly well at school, my education came much later." Miranda looked apprehensive as she poured them both more wine.

The server came and whisked their empty dishes away before returning to them with their mains. Looking up at Andy she saw her looking astounded at her large plate of Paccheri with pork meatballs and sausage in tomato sauce. She gave her a small smile.

"I was born into a poor immigrant family in the East End of London Andréa. My father was a Polish Jew, he made it to England in 1940 alongside 20,000 other men and joined the army fighting in France. While on leave he met my mother, she was from an ordinary working-class Jewish family." Miranda snorted. "Anyway they got married and a few years after the war ended they had my sister, followed quickly by twin brothers, four years later they had me and then a year later my mother found out she was pregnant again, the baby and my mother died in childbirth, at that point my maternal grandmother moved in to help with the raising of her grandchildren." Miranda sighed. "It wasn't an easy time. London was changing but the government could never keep up with the needs of the expanding population. Many areas remained derelict for years after the blitz destroyed them."

Andy was stunned. "You should be proud of who you are Miranda, you've done awe-inspiring things with your life, you worked your way up from nothing to the very pinnacle of your profession." Andy shook her head in wonder.

Miranda drank more wine as she watched Andy eat her pasta as she played with her risotto. "So Douglas told us about the teenage Andréa who had the ability to turn her best friend gay and who went stag to Prom but I want to know more."

Andy looked up, quickly swallowing her food she grinned. "I was a shy kid and really socially awkward. My little sister Jill is the one with all the feminine grace, I was a total tomboy. My older brother Brad was my closest friend other than Doug. Because of him, I played soccer and softball and he taught me to throw a punch." Andy smiled at her recollections. "Brad believed in justice, he wouldn't stand by watching someone getting bullied, even if the odds were against him, so I used to jump in too."

"Andy the brawler, protector of the underdog. I can picture that clearly." Miranda smiled.

"I've never heard mention of a brother." Miranda queried softly.

"He passed away at 13." Andy looked down at her plate.

"I'm so sorry, my darling." Miranda clasped her hand lightly.

"Anyway, puberty happened." Andy continued. "I had terrible growing pains which put a stop to the sports. I also become quite withdrawn after Brad died so my mom enrolled me in drama classes in the hope they would give me more confidence and bring me out of myself. I taught myself the guitar, and I found I could sing." Andy smiled. "I've been playing the piano since I was four. That was something my Grams, and I did together, she spent her early twenties singing and playing in jazz bars."

Miranda looked at her smiling softly in the candlelight. "And where did the love of writing and literature come in?"

"Well, that was always there. When Brad and I weren't on one of our great adventures, I was writing them down or sat out in our backyard reading." Andy smiled sadly. Seeing the sadness Miranda raised her eyebrow. "No-one in my family gets it, that love of reading and writing. They're all so very practical. Brad got it, so did my Grams." Andy admitted. "Without them, home is just another place I don't fit in."

"You'll realise one-day Andréa that you are not meant to fit in. You were born to stand out. To shine in your own uniquely brilliant way, to make that difference we discussed earlier. I expect you will make an even bigger difference with your written words."

Andy smiled brightly at Miranda's words. "I didn't put it on my resume but I was accepted to Stanford law on a full scholarship. I did pre-law for a year before I decided it wasn't the career for me. I would be good at it, I know that, and I would have walked into the family business at the end of it like my sister Jill will. Instead, I transferred to Northwestern and for the first time did what I wanted and not what was expected."

Miranda shook her head in amazement. "That just proves how much underlying strength you possess, it will take you far in life Andréa. You will be a force of nature, my darling." Miranda ate more risotto before pushing her plate to one side.

As Andy looked over at her she saw the candlelight creating a halo around Miranda's silver hair. Miranda caught her gaze and smiled. "So the tattoo Douglas mentioned. Is that the only one?"

"No, there are two tattoos. Both hold great meaning for me. They are in places that aren't easily accessible and can be covered unless I wear something ridiculously revealing." Andy smirked.

Miranda gazed at her. "I never wanted one myself but some tattoos, when tastefully done, are beautiful. The fact yours hold meaning for you doesn't surprise me. There is a hidden depth behind that beautiful smiling face."

Andy blushed as she pushed her plate to one side. Picking up her wine glass she finished her drink and asked. "Do you cook? I know you have Cara at home."

Miranda threw Andy a look of disbelief. "Yes, of course. I find cooking innately relaxing. I hired Cara as I struggle to find the time to do what I need to between home and Runway. The twins and I bake occasionally too. Do you cook?"

"I can cook yes. Nate took most of the pleasure out of it, as a chef he was often overbearing in the kitchen, nothing I did was right. Now I am living alone most of the time I don't see the point. I throw something easy together, salads and basic pasta dishes or I eat on the run. Cereal is always an easy dinner option too." Andy smiled at the older woman as she rolled her eyes. "Well we're nearly at the dessert course and we've not quite managed the full 20 questions. I'm a fairly uncomplicated open book so what else do you want to know about me, Miranda?" Andy asked as their plates were removed.

Taking a sip of her wine Miranda sat back and thought about what information she wanted about the young woman opposite. "Have you ever had feelings for a woman before?"

Andy blushed. "There has been one or two attractions to women over the years, nothing I acted upon and certainly nothing as strong as what I hold for you." She bit her lip nervously at the admission as Miranda smiled warmly.

"Well, I must admit you are the first. I've been surrounded by many beautiful women over the years and not one of them captured my attention the way you do." Miranda told her. Looking at the brunette she whispered. "I have enjoyed tonight. Would you like to do this again? You can choose what we do."

Andy gave the woman opposite a mega-watt smile. "Do you have plans tomorrow evening? I have two tickets for Les Mis at the Broadhurst."

"You like musicals?" Miranda questioned as dessert was brought to the table.

"I fell in love with them in my drama classes. I always signed up for them. My favourite has to be Cats."

"I would love to go with you tomorrow. The girls really want to watch Wicked. I should get us tickets." Miranda said.

"I'll arrange three tickets on Monday." Andy smiled.

"Four, you'll be coming too," Miranda told her gently.

"Wow, okay. So...me, you, Caroline and Cassidy? Won't they wonder why we are spending so much time together?"

"They know why Andréa. I don't have a habit of hiding things from them that may affect their lives and they are both also very perceptive. They saw how concerned and distracted I've been this past week so we had a discussion." Miranda smiled. "They like you by the way."

"Well, that's good to know." Andy picked up one of the Cannoli and bit into it lightly. Closing her eyes against the flavour she moaned happily. Swallowing the delicate cream filled pastry she muttered. "Oh my God that's delicious."

Miranda choked on her wine upon hearing Andy's moan. "Jesus Andréa." She whispered as she caught her breath, her eyes burning with desire as she looked at the young woman.

Seeing the intensity expressed in the editor's eyes Andy smiled widely and leaned forward.

"Do you want to get out of here?"

"God yes," Miranda whispered. Signalling for the check the server came over and handed it over to Miranda. Without looking at the total Miranda slipped her card into the bill folder, handing it back she sat back and finished her glass of wine. Once the server had returned, she signed the bill with a flourish and stood. "Are you ready?" She asked Andy breathlessly, holding her hand out to the brunette she pulled her from the chair and grabbing their coats they made their way through the restaurant.

Andy felt her left arm being grasped as she followed Miranda towards the door.

"Hey, Ahn-drey-ah." Stephen slurred at her.

Andy rolled her eyes. Leaning towards him she said. "Mr Tomlinson, I would very much appreciate it if you take your hands off me."

Stephen stood up and grabbed her arm in a vice-like grip as he swayed. "I'd like to see you make me. You know I was thinking, it's obvious you've never experienced a real man since you're willing to tie yourself to my frigid bitch of an ex-wife." He sniggered and stepped into Andy's personal space. "Maybe you should try me."

She closed her eyes and choked back the bile forming from the stench of whiskey fanning over her from his breath. Andy took a deep breath as the Maître D' and their server approached cautiously. "I've asked you politely once. Now let me fucking go." She seethed.

Stephen laughed and seeing red Andy formed a fist with her free hand and launched it into his nose, delighting in the crunch of the knuckle on delicate bone.

"Ow." He let go of her arm and stumbled back onto his backside groaning in pain as he clutched his nose. "Ow! You fucking bitch, you've broken my fucking nose."

Andy looked down at him and laughed. "You call yourself a real man. You are a pathetic drunken asshole, an absolute disgrace. I wouldn't touch your tiny little dick even if you were the last man on Earth, I'd chop the fucker off, That's if you could even get it up. You make me sick to my stomach Stephen." Andy was on a roll. "Frankly I'd punch you again in a heartbeat if I thought it would knock some common decency into you but you're just a fucking cretin. Say what you want about me, I don't fucking care. But at least you know the consequences of disrespecting Miranda in my presence." Andy stared him down her eyes cold. "How does it feel to a real man like you to have a young girl like me knock you down on your ass? You were asked to release your hold on me twice, you refused. What I did tonight was an act of self-defence, a pre-emptive strike. You deserved it." Andy spun around only to face Miranda. Seeing the look of shock and disgust filtering through the older woman's eyes she closed her eyes. "Oh fuck what have I done?" She whispered.

Feeling a gentle touch on her hand she opened her eyes to see Miranda's eyes filling with tears. "We need to get your hand checked Andréa. It's swelling."

"Yes, Miranda." She whispered hoarsely.

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Chapter Text

Miranda clasped Andy's good hand entwining their fingers as she led them out of the restaurant and down 74th and Lexington towards the Townhouse. Andy kept her head down, looking at her feet as she walked beside Miranda, embarrassed at her behaviour.

The walk took less than five minutes and as Andy was pulled into the Townhouse she looked up, her tears falling rapidly. "I'll call a cab," Andy told the other woman as she swiped at her tears.

"You'll do no such thing. You'll allow me to tend to your hand. Come on into the kitchen Andréa." Miranda let go and gestured for Andy to follow her. Hesitantly Andy made her way to the kitchen. "Now sit yourself down and show me that hand," Miranda demanded. Andy perched on a stool at the breakfast bar and held her hand out. Miranda looked down at the hand quickly before moving to the freezer and pulling out a bag of peas. "These should do the trick." She told herself as she moved back towards the brunette. Sitting down next to Andy she took a gentle grip on Andy's right hand and placed the frozen peas against the knuckles. "I thought you said you could punch," Miranda said catching Andy's eye and offering her a small smile.

Letting out a deep breath Andy muttered. "I guess I'm out of practice. I have hit no one in years plus he was a bit closer than I'm used to."

Snorting Miranda rolled her eyes. "It was good seeing him get knocked on his ass," Miranda told her. "I am sorry though."

"What the hell are you sorry for?" Andy demanded. "It should be me apologising. I saw how you looked afterwards, the shock and the disgust."

"You think I was disgusted with you?" At Andy's nod of confirmation, Miranda leaned towards her. "No, my darling. I was so very proud of you standing up to him, not only for yourself but for me too." Miranda explained. "My disgust was aimed at him, that he had the nerve to grab you, that he thought he could say such a despicable thing to you, that he could make you threatened enough to actually hit him." Miranda offered another smile. "Then the way you chewed him out on his behaviour was something he won't forget in a hurry." Miranda laughed. "I was especially impressed with your declaration you would happily punch him again if it would knock some common decency into him."

Andy smiled sadly back at her. "I lost it, it was all such a blur and then I saw your face and it brought me back. I thought for sure I'd totally messed up." Andy admitted as she looked down at her hands.

"How is your hand, Andréa?" Miranda asked. Getting no response she cupped Andy's face. "Please look at me and tell me."

As Andy raised her eyes again Miranda smiled, and she embraced an overwhelming sense of relief. "It's just bruised," Andy told her. "I can move my fingers." Andy moved the peas away and wiggled her fingers, wincing slightly at the discomfort.

"Do you want a drink? I know I could do with one. Or I could get you some Tylenol?" Miranda queried.

Andy looked at Miranda. "I should go home. It's getting late." She said.

"You can stay if you wish." Miranda invited. Seeing Andy's expression of disbelief she became flustered. "Well...I...well...you...there are the guest rooms, or we could stay together, nothing has to happen...I just...well I don't want you to leave." Miranda stuttered.

Andy laughed. "Oh my God Miranda, I've never seen you so thoroughly flustered. I'll be happy to stay, I'm not quite up to a cab ride across the city. A drink would be great." Andy smiled as she leaned forward and brushed hair out of Miranda's face. "Thank you." She whispered.

"Come upstairs, I will find you something comfortable to change into. You mentioned earlier you potentially looked forward to a Friday night in your pyjamas." Miranda smiled and pulling Andy to her feet she put the peas in the sink before dragging her up the back stairs to the master suite.

"I also told you I wanted to drown myself in Jack Daniels too." Andy sniggered as she entered the room for the second time. "It's strange what a few hours of someone's delightful company can do for a person."

"It's been an overwhelming week, now it's time to relax and unwind. I have a bottle of Jack Daniels in the dry bar in the study if you see the need for it though." Miranda smiled and made her way to her closet. As she looked around for something suitable, she called out.

"Do you have a preference of what you sleep in?"

Andy told her. "I usually sleep shorts or boxers and a vest or t-shirt."

Spotting a stack of clothing from Ralph Lauren, Miranda found some cotton boxers, a tank and a sleep shirt for herself within it.

Walking out of the closet she found Andy sat at the end of the bed, eyes closed. "Here you go," Miranda said hesitantly.

Opening her eyes Andy smiled as she spotted what Miranda was offering. "So you have a stash of men's boxers on hand?"

Miranda smirked. "They're new. They would have been passed along to that bastard if he'd stuck around. I forgot they were there."

"I should go get cleaned up," Andy said. "Which room should I use?"

Miranda flicked her wrist to the other side of the room. "My bathroom's over there, everything's there that you'll need. There's a spare toothbrush in the top drawer of the vanity."

"I won't be long," Andy told her as she made her way across the room and into the en-suite.

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Within ten minutes Andy walked back to the bedroom to find Miranda sat on the bed crossed legged tapping on her Phone wearing her sleep shirt.

As Andy crossed the room Miranda looked up and smiled. "I was just giving Leslie a heads up into tonight, just in case. She said she wishes it was captured on camera, she would love to see it. Can you grab me my robe from the bathroom and we'll go get that drink?"

As Andy turned back towards the bathroom Miranda gasped. "Darling, those marks on your arm, did Stephen do that?"

Andy looked back confused. "What marks?" Looking down at her arm she saw nothing, trying to twist to get a better look she still couldn't see. "I can't see anything."

Miranda got up and putting her cell in her breast pocket she stalked towards Andy. As she reached her side, she gently took Andy's arm. "You have four marks on the back of your arm darling. When I put my hand around it, it shows where Stephens fingers would have been, then there's a thumbprint just here."

"Ouch." Andy hissed.

"Just how hard was his grip on you? Jesus Christ, I could kill him for this, for hurting you." Miranda seethed.

"My arm is a little sore but not as much as my hand," Andy admitted. "I didn't think about it."

"I will take photos. I want evidence. Come along to the bathroom, the light will be better."

Andy spent the next five minutes being twirled around and her body manipulated to allow for Miranda to capture her bruising in the best possible light. When she was done, she forwarded the photos to Leslie.

As they made their way to the study Andy whispered. "What will I do if he tries to press charges?"

"He won't. He wouldn't bring his own embarrassment to anyone's attention." Miranda told her as they entered the room.

Miranda walked over to the dry bar while Andy sat in her usual corner of the leather couch. "Plus it was an act of self-defence. It wouldn't go far. Leslie will liaise with my lawyer first thing tomorrow, he needs to be aware of the new development."

As Miranda moved to the couch two drinks in hand, she saw Andy pulling her fingers in her agitation, a habit she'd not seen in the young woman since that day on the roof. Placing their glasses of scotch on the coffee table Miranda knelt in front of Andy. "Darling, talk to me, tell me what's going through that beautiful head of yours," Miranda breathed as she placed her warm hand on Andy's knee.

"If this hits the press what the hell will people think?" Andy asked. "What will the girls say? Everything was just settling down for you and them." Andy explained.

"I will speak to the girls should the need arise. They will be shocked at the extremity of your actions but they will understand the place it came from. As for anyone else's opinion, I frankly could not care less. I will speak with Sherri in HR on Monday about us even if you proceed with the resignation."

"You're ready to declare it to HR?" Andy whispered.

"Why yes? We cannot be seen gallivanting around the city to dinners and Broadway shows and not do so." Miranda's genuine smile at her coaxed one out of Andy.

"So…um...are you still up for tomorrow night?" Andy asked hesitantly as Miranda got up off her knees and sat herself down in her corner of the couch.

"Yes, as discussed earlier, it will be an acceptable way to spend the evening," Miranda said happily.

Andy grinned before turning serious. "Can I ask you something, Miranda?"

Miranda raised her eyebrow and asked. "Of course. Why would you ever believe you couldn't?"

Andy giggled. "Well, the rules obviously." Seeing Miranda's expression of confusion she stopped laughing. "You don't know about them, do you? I assumed you did."

"No darling, what are the rules?"

"Well, there's a few." Andy took a deep breath. "Phones must be answered at all times, that's all calls to the cell, even at 3 am, and all calls to the office during the day, regardless of the need to pee." Andy smiled. "Then the no touching, no questioning no matter how confused, no elevator sharing, arriving 15 minutes early for everything and the fact that heels at least 3" high must be worn at all times within Runway." Andy saw the flash of amusement in Miranda's eyes. "Starbucks must be hotter than the sun, I was advised to test it on my wrist and if it burns it's acceptable, crying is forbidden in your presence, there's no eating allowed in the office, no becoming an incubus for viral plague and the final one is the best." Andy laughed. "Upon hearing the words 'That's all" get out as quickly as you can.

Miranda giggled. "I have to say you have broken almost all of my so-called ridiculous rules. So what was your question?"

Andy looked up nervously. "Can I have a hug?"

Looking towards the young woman she scooted towards her. Opening her arms she smiled. "Come here, my darling." As Andy scooted across meeting her in the middle of the couch, Miranda pulled her into her arms and whispered. "You never have to ask for comfort Andy, I will always try to give it willingly."

As Andy snuggled in, finding peace in Miranda's arms, she felt the light brush of a kiss on her head and smiled happily.

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They sat wrapped around each other in companionable silence for a while. Andy had her head resting on Miranda's chest, soothed as she listened to the deep thrum of her heart.

Sighing she moved away, extracting herself gently from Miranda and leaning for her drink. Talking a small sip of the amber liquid she hummed. "This is good Scotch," Andy said smiling.

"It's a 15-year-old Macallan, it's another of my guilty pleasures." Andy smiled at Miranda as she grabbed her own drink. "Can I ask you a question?" Miranda asked gently. Seeing Andy's nod Miranda continued. "Why were you so nervous requesting a hug? Am I so unapproachable even now?"

"No," Andy reassured. "That's all on me. You've been extraordinary, really. I've been emotional, and you have offered me reassurance and comfort so willingly multiple times. It has been wonderful Miranda. I hope you realise that should you need me to provide the same warmth and caring you know I'll be here."

Miranda smirked. "With a punch in the nose for anyone that disrespects me." At Andy's snort of laughter, Miranda said. "I knew how kind and caring you are, and now I have the first-hand experience of how protective you can be. So please explain why you are so apprehensive about asking me for a simple offer of solace."

Andy gathered her thoughts and explained. "A few weeks before Nate and I split I'd had a rough day. I approached him for a hug, looking for the reassurance and safety he used to bring. He hesitated before complying, grudgingly. At that moment in his arms, I finally woke up to the fact he wasn't happy to offer me any sort of comfort. After five years it was like I was being held by a stranger. like I had forced him into it, it was so humiliating."

"I'm sorry he left you feeling that way, my darling. I know I'm not a particularly tactile person, that's probably the reason for the no touching rule." Miranda smirked. "But with you, since we came to that agreement up on the roof, after I allowed myself to touch you for the first time, to wipe away your tears and then to hold you, well it changed everything."

"What did it change Miranda?" Andy asked softly as she turned her body towards her, one foot tucked under her leg.

"At the time I already knew I cared for you deeply Andréa, you are like no-one else I have ever known. I already knew that I somehow found a peace in your presence I have never encountered before. But I didn't know, until that moment, just how complete I could be when surrounded by you, your warmth." Miranda smiled shyly.

At Andy's return megawatt smile Miranda pulled her in closer and brushed the hair out of Andy's face, tucking it behind her ear. "Did you know Nigel, Emily and Serena cornered me on Wednesday afternoon about my intentions towards you?"

Andy laughed. "I hope you told them to mind their own business."

"Well no. I explained to them I wanted to date you. Emily looked at me as if I'd grown a second head, Serena had the nerve to hug me and Nigel muttered something like 'God help us all'." Miranda rolled her eyes. "They are good friends, they all really love you, darling," Miranda remembered her exact words to Nigel before he left the office. 'I think I may love her Nigel. And if it is not yet love, well, I don't think it would be long before I could say it is. She's truly remarkable.'

"You really explained yourself to them?" Andy sputtered.

"Well, of course. I wouldn't want them to assume I had some nefarious scheme in place to bathe in your blood or something equally ghastly." Miranda grinned as Andy laughed loudly.

"I've missed your laughter this week. Miranda told her softly.

"I've missed you, just you," Andy whispered. Feeling her eyes droop she tried to stifle a yawn. "I'm sorry." Andy stuttered blushing. "Scotch always makes me sleepy."

"No need to apologise, it is getting late. If you're ready to sleep we can go on up." Miranda spoke gently.

"Yeah, I'm ready," Andy told her as Miranda knocked back her Scotch. Standing she grabbed the empty tumblers and placed them on the coffee table. Holding her hand out to the editor, Miranda placed her hand firmly in Andy's, and she was pulled off the couch and led her from the room.

As they climbed the stairs side by side, fingers entangled, Andy thought of how perfectly their hands fitted. Miranda's hands were so warm, their brief touches sparked the flame of her desire for the older woman. They reached the guest room first and Miranda hesitated. "Darling?" She questioned. "This is the guest room, my room is right next door if you need anything." Miranda looked down blushing as Andy untangled their hands. Turning she made to walk down the hall before she was stopped by a warm hand on her wrist.

"Miranda, look at me." Andy requested. As Miranda turned to look up at the brunette, she saw warmth expressed in her eyes. "Goodnight sweetheart." She whispered. Stepping forward, she brushed a gentle kiss against Miranda's lips. Miranda gripped Andy's waist and pulled her closer as she deepened the kiss. Andy let her hands roam up Miranda's arms until they cupped her jaw and then moved into the soft silver hair. Miranda moaned at the contact as Andy continued to tease her mouth softly with her lips and tongue. Breathlessly Andy pulled away gave Miranda one of her brightest smiles.

"Stay with me tonight," Miranda asked breathlessly.

"Are you sure?" Seeing Miranda nod she took the older woman's hand and walked her to the next room. As the door closed behind them Andy was pinned against it as Miranda snare her lips hungrily in an intense kiss. Pressed fully against each other Andy accepted the heat of the older woman's hands on her hips as they made their way underneath her tank. Miranda moaned when he hands ran along the warm flesh underneath them. Gasping for air again Miranda broke the kiss and led Andy to the bed, turning down the covers she locked gazes with the young woman, letting her see the myriad of emotions in her blue eyes.

"Just when I think it can't get better you look at me with such fire in your eyes and it takes my breath away. You'll never stop taking my breath away. You are so beautiful, Miranda." Andy whispered. Miranda blushed and looked down as Andy stalked over to her. "Did I embarrass you?" Andy queried softly as she cupped the older woman's face in her palm.

Miranda shook her head. "No, I'm just not used to this." She waved her hand between them. "It's overwhelming, my darling. I am amazed that you feel that way."

"I don't want to overwhelm you or rush into anything you may regret later. Okay? We'll take this as slow as you like. I will be content just knowing I am actually there beside you and that this isn't just a dream." Andy smiled softly and allowed her feelings to shine from the depth of her eyes. Miranda smiled back at the brunette as she stood shuffling from foot to foot. "What side do you prefer?" Andy asked hesitantly.

"Well, I usually starfish in the centre of the bed." Miranda chuckled and Andy laughed with her. "The right side is where I usually start off. I must remove my makeup, I'll be right back." Miranda told her still chuckling as she moved to the en-suite.

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By the time Miranda was back in the bedroom, Andy was sat against the headboard, long legs crossed at the ankles looking at her Phone.

Looking up at Miranda she smiled nervously. "Miranda, I should warn you the online edition of Page Six has been uploaded."

Miranda sighed. "I thought you'd be asleep. So what does it say?"

"I think you should read it yourself," Andy told her. Passing her phone to Miranda as she picked up her glasses off the bedside table, Miranda read.

Fashionista fist-fight in the Upper East Side

The rumour mill is in full swing tonight as stories have emerged regarding a certain silver-haired fashion editor's Second Assistant punching the living daylight's out of the now ex Mr Priestly.

Eyewitnesses have stated that a clearly inebriated Stephen Tomlinson and Andy Sachs went toe to toe in the Upper East Side restaurant Vivolo, which ended in Ms Sachs punching the fashion Maven's ex-husband in the nose.

To quote one highly amused onlooker; "It looked like Miranda was having a lovely evening with her assistant, there was lots of genuine laughter coming from their table, however on their way out Mr Tomlinson grabbed the young woman quite savagely and they obviously had heated words. The next thing I saw was Mr Tomlinson flat on his backside on the floor clutching his nose calling her all manner of despicable names as the young women in question cussed him out. The words 'absolute disgrace', 'tiny little dick', 'common decency' and 'disrespecting Miranda' were heard across the restaurant with a final, "you deserved it' thrown at him before she was led out of the restaurant by her dinner companion."

We questioned Mr Tomlinson outside his Soho home. Observing his patched up nose, two panda eyes and bloodied shirt we asked him how he came about his injury his muttered response was; "I walked into a door."

Upon completing further investigation Ms Sachs is known to be a pleasant, well-mannered young woman. She is highly respected by the people she comes into contact with.

Irv Ravitz, CEO of Elias Clarke, said. "Ah, Andy's lovely, such an intelligent young woman. We had quite an in-depth conversation about John Cheever at the Met Gala a few months ago and she always greets me with a beautiful smile. She's an asset to Runway and Elias Clarke."

We also spoke to James Holt at one of his infamous parties, he said; "Andy is just fantastic, she's so genuinely kind and caring. She is one of the loveliest people I've ever had the pleasure to meet and she wears my designs just beautifully." When asked about her having a potential temper Mr Holt laughed. "Andy is the calmest person I have ever met, which is great for Runway and Miranda. She's also hilarious, especially after a few glasses of my signature punch. The last time she attended one of my parties she pole-danced around Peter Dinklage to Pussycat Doll's Don't 'Cha, I also heard from a good friend that she does a wicked karaoke cover of Vogue."

It certainly seems Andy has a way about her, and she has obviously tamed The Dragon lady.

Unbridled laughter, from Miranda Priestly, unheard of!

The Dragon lady knows how to generate loyalty from her draconologist's, which begs the question, what exactly do they put in the water at Runway?

Miranda let out a loud burst of laughter. "Oh my God, this has to be the best story I've seen on Page Six." She guffawed. "Walked into a door..." Miranda continued to laugh joyfully.

"Well, I'm glad you're amused." Andy scolded playfully as she fought against her own oncoming laughter. "I can't understand why James told them those stories, I will have his guts for garters."

Miranda continued to laugh. "You may have quite a following tonight's fiasco, my darling. Stephen wasn't well liked in our professional circle. He insulted and alienate quite a few important people."

Andy smiled happily at Miranda's words. Yawning, she snuggled under the cover surrounding herself with Miranda's scent.

Miranda tucked the covers around Andy before settling herself under the covers. Turning she faced the brunette and smiled. "Go to sleep, my darling." She whispered as she placed a gentle kiss on Andy's forehead.

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Chapter Text

Andy woke up to the sound of moaning. Bleary-eyed and confused she tried to reorient herself. She was on the edge of a bed with a warm body pressed against her. Turning she looked around, realising that she was in Miranda's room meant that there could only be one person pressed so close against her. "Miranda, sweetheart?" Andy queried softly.

"No, let her go. Don't hurt her. Please...please let her go. Stop, please." Miranda begged, sobbing as she slept.

Turning more fully she pulled Miranda against her rubbing her back. "Miranda it's okay. You're safe with me. Please wake up, sweetheart." Andy spoke softly as Miranda continued to sob. "Come on, sweetheart, open your eyes and look at me." Andy requested. Sensing the women in her arms stir she brushed Miranda's hair out of her face and placed a kiss on her forehead.

Opening her eyes Miranda met the concerned gaze of the brunette in her bed.

"Shh, it's okay. You're okay." Andy reassured as Miranda's hand came up to touch her face.

"Stephen..." Miranda gasped. "He was hurting you."

"It was just a dream Miranda, he can't hurt me. I'd knock his teeth in if he even attempted touching either of us." Andy smiled gently as she pulled Miranda closer.

Taking a deep breath and inhaling Andy's scent Miranda snuggled in placing her face against Andy's chest. "So warm," Miranda muttered as she placed a kiss on Andy's sternum.

"Try to get some more sleep, sweetheart. I'm here, we are safe and warm." Andy soothed.

"You're really here?" Miranda questioned as she settled.

"I'm here, sweetheart. I am not going anywhere." Andy reassured.

Miranda's hand moved from Andy's face and around her waist as she settled. "It seemed so real darling. I was so scared." Miranda admitted quietly looking up at the brunette with sleepy eyes.

As Andy gazed down at the editor her heart clenched at the pain expressed in her blue eyes. Tilting her chin up she captured Miranda's mouth in a gentle kiss of reassurance.

Miranda sighed and let the kiss continue as Andy gently steered herself so there was space between them. Miranda's body followed as she pressed herself against Andy's warmth.

"Miranda." Andy husked against her lips. "If you continue to move towards me like that, I will fall out of this bed."

Miranda broke the kiss and looked at the young woman next to her. "You keep moving away." She frowned. "I need to be close to you, to feel your warmth."

"Sweetheart I want that too but I need a little space to exercise a modicum of self-restraint," Andy admitted.

Miranda rolled her eyes and moved back towards the centre of the bed. "Come here." She demanded. As Andy moved closer, still leaving a space between them. Miranda pulled her closer until their bodies were flush against each other. Andy groaned as Miranda entangled their legs. "Now I have you where I want you," Miranda smirked and ensnared Andy's lips in another scorching kiss.

Andy held onto Miranda tightly as she succumbed to the intense exploration of silky lips and tongue moving passionately against hers, the sensation caused by the burning lips owning her in a way her no-one else's kisses ever had. She couldn't hold back and matched the hunger expressed, the sense of urgency behind those beautiful lips. Her heart thudding wildly in her chest she felt her level of desire for Miranda increase and moaned into the kisses.

Miranda pulled their bodies even closer together as she rolled Andy onto her back landing softly on top of her without breaking their kiss. Andy's hands roamed, traversing the soft curves of the older woman above her until she could no longer breathe. Taking a deep breath Andy pulled her lips away, causing Miranda to whimper at the loss of contact.

"We've got to stop," Andy begged.

"Why?" Miranda asked as she placed blazed a trail of kisses up Andy's jaw.

"I don't...I can't...I'm going..." Andy struggled to form coherent words as Miranda nibbled at the pulse point on her neck. "Oh God help me..." Andy whispered breathlessly.

"Mm trust me when I say even the good Lord can't assist in your fight against this particular Devil." Miranda chuckled throatily.

Andy gripped her hips in an attempt to stop Miranda moving against her. "If you continue to move against me like that, I will come," Andy admitted in a whisper as she blushed.

Miranda moved back and caught her eye. "I think I would like to see that, I think you'd look spectacular coming undone beneath me," Miranda whispered hoarsely, her mouth suddenly dry. She placed her palm across Andy's chest plate. "The blush here, the sign of your desire, it is the most beautiful colour I ever saw."

"Oh, God!" Andy moaned. "You will be my undoing Miranda." Andy gasped as Miranda moved against her. "We've literally just had our first date. I want you so much but I'm scared of we rush this it will be something you regret." Andy explained breathlessly.

"I may regret letting you go more," Miranda whispered in her ear. "But I must take your wishes into consideration. We will revisit this Andréa, and soon." Miranda slid to the side and Andy turned towards her.

"I expect us to revisit this, hopefully, once my dominant hand is back in full working order," Andy told her smiling.

"Oh, God," Miranda whispered, concern filtering through her blue eyes replacing the desire. "I'd forgotten. How is it, my darling, do you need anything?" Miranda asked as she ran her hand up Andy's arm.

"It's fine. A little uncomfortable when I bend my fingers, I doubt I'll be making a fist for a day or two. I'll take some Tylenol later."

"And your arm?" She asked.

"My arm's also fine. No pain or discomfort. I've been lying on it most of the night." Andy smiled gently. "Please don't worry about me, sweetheart."

"That's like asking me not to expect perfection, absolutely impossible." Miranda smiled back at her.

Hearing a shrill ringtone she looked over at the cell on her bedside table. "It's Cassidy. I must answer." She told Andy.

"Of course you must. I'll go put the coffee on." Andy said hesitantly.

"Stay, they may have questions for you." Miranda requested. Picking up her cell she connected the call.

"Good morning Cassidy. Is Caroline also there?"

Andy could hear the happy chirp of young voices talking muffled through the cell.

"So, I'm on speaker? Okay...Yes...I...well...Yes, she is here with me...Give me a moment and I'll put us on speaker too." Miranda smiled as she fiddled with her cell.

"Okay, we are all on speaker. What is the reason for such an early morning call?" Miranda asked them, a small smile playing on her beautiful lips.

"Well we were online researching for our History paper and there was this news article. It claims Andy punched Stephen and broke his nose." Cassidy told her.

"Is it true Andy?" Caroline asked excitedly. Miranda looked at Andy, eyebrow raised.

"Yes it is true, but there was a very good reason for it, as you are aware I don't just go around punching people," Andy said softly

"Whoa! I wish I'd seen you punch him, Andy. That would be so cool." Cassidy muttered breathlessly.

"Dad laughed when he read it, said it couldn't have happened to a nicer fellow," Caroline said giggling.

"Well I am glad you are all amused by it, however, it wasn't so funny at the time," Miranda explained. "He grabbed Andréa quite roughly, enough to leave bruises, and he insulted her, and me."

"I hope he didn't hurt you, Andy," Cassidy told her.

"Not so much no, my hand is sore today though," Andy responded.

"It sounds like he deserved it," Caroline said. "Will you teach me how to fight Andy?" She asked.

Andy gasped. "Um... well...I don't...well I don't know if that would be appropriate Caro. There are better ways to get your point across. A well-timed insult for one can be vastly devastating." Andy smirked at Miranda. "That's a skill your mom could impart."

Miranda snorted and rolled her eyes.

"Cool, we've never seen that," Cassidy explained.

"Really?" Andy queried. "She's awesome at it in work, well unless you're on the receiving end."

"Have you been on the receiving end?" Caroline asked.

"Not for a while, no. Not since before Paris really." Andy smiled remembering how Paris changed their relationship.

"That's 'cause she likes you." Cassidy uttered happily as Miranda blushed. "Did you enjoy your date?"

"Bobbsey what makes you think it was a date?" Miranda asked.

"Well, the article said you were laughing. You only laugh with us so it must be special." Cassidy explained, exasperation clouding her tone.

"Don't roll your eyes at me, Cassidy Anne Priestly." Miranda playfully scolded as she grinned and shook her head.

"But how...Aww...Mom, how do you always know?" Cassidy demanded as Andy laughed loudly.

"I'm all seeing," Miranda told her daughter as she fought against her laughter.

"We had a very pleasant night barring Stephen's boorish behaviour. We made plans to see a show tonight."

"Cool. We hope it's fun, mom. Andy, take care of her for us." Cassidy said.

"Bobbsey's you should get on with that history paper, it will allow you more time this afternoon and tomorrow to do the things you enjoy. I will say goodbye for now."

"Wait...before you go, will Andy be at home when we arrive tomorrow? We could have lunch." Caroline asked hopefully.

"I don't know Bobbsey. Maybe you should ask her." Miranda stated happily.

"Please, please, please Andy." The twins chorused simultaneously.

Laughing Andy responded. "Well if you insist."

"Oh we do Ahn-dré-ah," Cassidy said laughing.

"We'll see you tomorrow Andy. Have a good day. Give Mom a hug from us." Caroline requested.

"Will do kiddo. Have a good day." Andy said with a smile. The call disconnected in a manner resembling their mother's. Shaking her head Andy smiled. "So coffee?" She asked hopefully.

"Acceptable," Miranda smirked as Andy bounded out of the bed.

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By the time Miranda came downstairs showered and dressed for the day her coffee was ready and Andy had whipped up an egg white omelette with spinach, mushroom, turkey bacon and Swiss cheese.

Placing the plate and coffee in front of Miranda as she sat she smiled at Miranda's choice of clothes. A pair of Armani jeans and a grey cashmere sweater paired with Converse Chucks.

"You look gorgeous Miranda." Andy stuttered. "I will go get dressed, enjoy your breakfast."

"Have you eaten?" Miranda asked, seeing Andy nod she looked down at her plate and smiled. "This looks delicious, thank you, my darling."

"You're welcome, Miranda." Andy blushed, as she made her way from the kitchen she brushed a kiss against Miranda's cheek. "I'll not be too long."

"I've left some items out you may find useful. I didn't think you'd want to change back into yesterday's clothes." Miranda called after her.

Walking back into Miranda's bedroom she spotted the clothes laid to one side. A pair of skinny leg True Religion jeans that would pair up nicely will with the Roger Vivier shoes she'd been wearing the day before and a yellow Michael Kors cowl neck cashmere sweater. She had even provided new La Perla underwear. Andy shook her head as she headed to the en-suite pulling off her sleepwear and heading for the shower.

After finishing her shower and brushing her teeth, she tied her damp hair up in a high ponytail and dressed for the day. As she stood in her new bra and panties she heard the door open and a loud gasp. Spinning around, she saw the shadow of Miranda in the doorway. "I'm sorry Andréa..." Miranda stammered as she looked away. "I thought you'd be in the bathroom. I left my cell." She gestured to the bedside table.

"It's okay Miranda. This is your home, you are free to go wherever you please. I forgot to take the clothes in the bathroom so..." Andy shrugged and moved towards the bedside table, picking up Miranda's cell she stalked towards her.

Miranda gasped again as she caught sight of the tattoo that sat on her upper thigh to her hipbone. As Andy reached her, she looked at the brunette as she trailed the tips of her fingers against the tattoo causing the young woman to shudder as goose bumps exploded beneath Miranda's trailing fingers. "It's beautiful," Miranda whispered. Falling to her knees she traced the script next to the blue watercolour Dragon.

Perhaps all the Dragons in our lives are Princesses who are waiting for us to act,
Just once, with beauty and courage.

"Rainer Maria Rilke?" Miranda queried looking up into warm chocolate eyes.

Andy smiled. "Yes. It seemed fitting." She clarified breathlessly.

Miranda couldn't stop herself, she allowed her eyes to blaze over Andy's delicious curves. As her eyes roved, she caught sight of Andy's second tattoo, lettering on her rib under her left breast.

i carry your heart with me
(i carry it in my heart)

Miranda stood up gracefully. "I love that poem. E.E Cummings sums up his love wonderfully, but when you had that inked it wasn't written for a lover, was it?"

"No, it was for Brad," Andy admitted. "It's his handwriting." She smiled sadly. "We studied it in one of our essays just before he died. It was one thing I kept, even now it sits in a memory box under my bed."

"What do you mean by, we? I thought he was older?" Why would you be studying the same prose?" Miranda fired questions as she sat at the end of the bed.

"He was older." Andy grinned. "By all of 32 minutes, and he never let me forget. I remember being furious with him when wouldn't take his essay seriously. He kept saying it was a cliché. I couldn't get him to understand that when it was written it was ground-breaking, I remember calling him a Philistine." Andy's laugh made Miranda smile.

"A twin? It's no wonder you experienced his loss so totally." Miranda was saddened, she couldn't imagine Cassidy without Caroline, she had learned hard about the truly magical bond between twins as she raised her own. "I should really let you finish dressing," Miranda said as she stood and took a step forward towards the door.

"Well, that's easy." Handing Miranda her cell she pulled the sweater over her head and grabbed the jeans, sliding them up her thighs with some struggling, wriggling and muttered curses. As she stepped back into her heels, she saw the look of amusement twinkling in Miranda's eyes.

"Well, that was certainly something. If they're that difficult to get on I wonder how hard they will be to take off." Miranda bit her lip in her attempt not to laugh at Andy's look of shock and the blush forming on her neck and cheeks. "Now what are your plans for the day?" Miranda asked.

"Laundry and general housekeeping would be the task of the day. I should go home and get started." Andy told her reluctantly.

"How about a walk first? I'll take you home afterwards." Miranda asked nervously.

Andy's bright smile made Miranda glad she had made the offer. "That sounds wonderful." She beamed at the editor as she was led from the room.

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They walked through Central Park side by side, arms occasionally brushing as they offered each other occasional smiles, Patricia happily walking with them.

As they reached the dog-friendly area, Miranda let the huge St Bernard off her leash and pulled Andy onto a bench as she watched Patricia frolicking with a Labrador. "I love living so close to the park," Miranda admitted. "I don't take advantage as I should, I never seem to find the time."

"So what prompted this today?" Andy asked.

"There are multiple reasons, really. I woke up to find a beautiful person sharing my bed, my children and I are happy and healthy, I'm as up to date with my work as I can ever be and it's a gorgeous winter day. I must admit it's like for the first time in a long time I can view my life and respond with gratitude for everything that has brought me to today." Miranda smiled slightly before turning her head sharply to the bushes to the left and frowning. "It's just a shame the paparazzi can't find someone else to harass."

"Do you need me to break their nose too? Or their camera?" Andy offered, grinning widely.

Miranda sputtered out a laugh before schooling her face into its usual mask. Looking at the brunette she smirked. "That won't be necessary Andréa."

"Do you mind that there may be another photo of us on Page Six?" Andy questioned hesitantly. "I know that one last night was of us at the Met Gala but..." Andy trailed off.

"I dislike the fact they need to intrude on my private life and that it often impacts my children." Miranda sighed. "Regarding having the paparazzi photograph me with you, no I can't say I mind, I hope they do justice to your beauty." Miranda gave her an affectionate smile causing Andy to blush. Seeing the blush rise from Andy's throat up to her cheeks

Miranda unconsciously licked her lips. "Watching you become erubescent is breathtaking." She whispered.

"I...Um...thank you." Andy stuttered as her cheeks flushed even redder.

"If the press presence makes you uncomfortable, we can go." Miranda offered.

"No, I don't mind, as I've said I don't want what's growing between us to impact your life, and by extension the twin's lives, adversely," Andy explained gently.

"It won't. Shall we get coffee?"

"Sure, I'll run across to Starbucks," Andy muttered.

"No Andréa, that's not what I meant." She sighed and rolled her eyes.

"Oh." Comprehension dawned in Andy's eyes.

"Would you like to have coffee with me?" Miranda asked with a small smile at the brunette.

"Could this be classed as a second date?" Andy whispered.

"Well if you want to keep count then yes, it will be whatever you wish it to be. Our third date could be me helping you fold laundry, the fourth would be Les Mis and fifth our lunch tomorrow." Miranda's lips twitched as she fought against her laughter, her eyes sparkling with joy.

"Wow. You're invested in this whole dating thing, offering a helping hand with laundry duty too? That'll mean we will be totally past the third date rule by tomorrow afternoon." Andy giggled.

"Third date rule? Really, darling, I have no idea what you're talking about." Miranda pretended to be scandalised.

Andy laughed and got up off the bench. "I'll grab Patricia, then maybe we can walk across to The Boathouse?"

"Acceptable." Miranda clarified.

"Patricia, Viens ici!" Andy called. Patricia looked towards her, head lolling to the side. "Maintenant!" She declared firmly as the dog galloped towards her.

"You've learned to speak with her in French," Miranda said as she stepped next to Andy.

''The groomer gave me the heads up. She won't listen otherwise, and yet she listens to you, Cass and Caro in either French or English." Andy grinned. "I didn't realise the Elementary French 101 I studied at Northwestern would come in so useful." Patricia bound into her at that moment toppling her onto her backside and smothering her face with kisses as she laughed loudly. "Patricia, Arrêtez." She demanded weakly between her gasps of laughter.

"Patricia, stop! Sit!" Miranda said firmly as she looked down at Andy her eyes once again sparking with amusement. Patricia sat and offered her paw which Miranda took. "Good girl." She said grinning. Grabbing the leash from Andy she hooked it up to Patricia's collar. Holding her hand out she hoisted Andy backed onto her feet. "Are you okay?" She asked Andy.

"I'm fine, it's a regular occurrence. She likes to show me who is the boss." Andy laughed again as she patted Patricia's head and grabbed her lead. "Come on I need a comfy chair for my bruised ass, coffee would be good too." Andy smiled happily as Miranda linked their arms and they made their way towards the centre of the park.

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As they made their way back to the Townhouse in companionable silence Andy recollected their conversations. Hours had passed as they continued the previous night's questioning, discussing politics, their respective religious views and hopes for the future. Miranda spoke passionately about her love of fashion and Andy discussed in greater depth of her passion for literature and her family. They found they had much more in common than either had expected, sharing the same taste in movies, music and even books.

She realised as they continued to walk she had not looked at her cell once that day. She had switched it to silent the night before upon arrival at the restaurant and forgotten its existence. The idea made her laugh out loud causing Miranda to turn to her curiosity shining in her eyes. "I haven't checked my cell once today, it struck me suddenly, and I've not missed it. Since it's been constantly glued to my hand for the last eleven months I thought it would be a hard habit to break, you prove a great distraction."

"But I am most probably the reason you have it glued to your hand," Miranda told her with a smirk. "Why would you need your cell when I am right here demanding your undivided attention in person?"

"Well, when you put it like that..." Andy muttered. "...I think I prefer being able to give you my undivided attention this way."

"I must admit I am enjoying being on the receiving end of all your attention recently, this has been an acceptable way to pass the morning Andréa. Thank you for allowing me to know you better." Miranda said as they reached the house.

"It should be I thanking you, it has been a magical morning." Andy gave her one of her brilliant mega-watt smiles before Miranda turned to open the door.

"I'll get the car keys and drive you home," Miranda told her softly. "I'll meet you at the front."

"I'll just grab my stuff." Andy smiled as she saw Miranda roll her eyes and made her way upstairs.

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As she bounded out of the Townhouse, a few minutes later she saw two photographers lurking nearby as Miranda's new Porsche idled at the curb. She made sure the house was secure before moving down the steps and towards the car, thankful that the dealership had provided tinted windows and the photographers didn't seem to realise who was sat behind the wheel.

"Hey Andy, do you have anything to say about last night?" One of them shouted.

"I have no idea what you're talking about." She told them with a small smile. "Have a good afternoon, gentlemen." She said politely as she opened the door and slid into the passenger seat.

Upon settling herself and pulling her seat-belt across Miranda moved the car into traffic and smiled. "You handled that well, my darling."

"I wanted to ignore them but assumed it wouldn't hurt to play dumb. Their questioning was tame, I don't think they know anything for sure so they're just fishing for information." Andy grinned.

"We most definitely had our photo taken this morning at the park." Miranda sighed. "I don't want this to overwhelm you Andréa. As you've stated, that outside my home just now was tame, it can be much worse."

Andy grabbed the hand closest to her. "Miranda, I am obviously quite overwhelmed just being with you like this. I'm honestly struggling to see why you'd want this, want me. I will talk to you, sweetheart if at any stage this whole situation feels unmanageable."

"Promise you'll talk to me honestly and openly, my darling. I don't think I could bear to have you walk away from me again, running away from this is no longer an option and I'm invested in making us work." Miranda admitted nervously.

"Miranda, if I leave Runway and get another position, will people assume it's due to my relationship with you?" Andy asked softly.

"They may, yes. However, you have earned a recommendation from Runway regardless of if it's from me or Nigel. I'm sure Nigel would provide one so my influence isn't brought into the decision. I however still hold the hope you stay with us at Runway a little longer." Miranda told her. "I've enjoyed working with you, the spark of amazement when you see designs brought to life, the amusement you try so hard to hide when I say something particularly cutting or witty and a multitude of emotions seen blazing in your eyes. Then there's the calm and the laughter you brought into my office which has brightened my days." Miranda offered her a brief smile as they coasted through the traffic.

"I've yet to make the concrete decision, sweetheart. You will be the first to know once it is made." Andy was still battling her confusion regarding her future career.

"You must do what's best for you Andréa. If you decide that is not Runway then I will honour your decision, my darling. I'm sorry if my actions made you think any differently last night. It was a shock." Miranda explained honestly.

Andy looked towards Miranda as she did so she realised Miranda was about to turn into her street and felt nervous. Removing her hand from Miranda's she pulled her fingers in agitation. Miranda noticed as she pulled up in front of the Apartment as she switched off the engine she grasped Andy's hands in hers.

"My darling, please look at me." As Andy looked towards the older woman, she experienced a sense of calm. "I wasn't always as rich as I am now, as you know. Many years ago, when I first moved to New York from Paris and I first worked at Runway, I lived a couple of blocks from here, over on Rivington Street and Essex Street. You have nothing at all to be nervous about, I know the streets of the Lower East Side as well as I do the Upper East Side." She smiled. "I have some wonderful memories of dinners and drinks with Nigel down here. I may drag his couture-clad arse back down here to remind him how far we have both come, him with his Soho loft and I with the Townhouses."

"Townhouses? As in multiple?" Andy whispered.

"Yes. There's the one here obviously, the London Townhouse and there's the Hampton's house and the villa in Cannes."

"Wow, okay," Andy muttered as Miranda moved from the car and walked around to open Andy's door. Holding her hand out to the brunette she smiled.

"We can talk more inside. Please show me your home." Miranda requested as Andy grasped her hand gently and peeled herself from inside the Porsche.

"Remind me when I'm a famous writer never to buy a sports car. I feel about as graceful as a dancing hippopotamus." Andy murmured as she untangled her long legs from the low car.

"It takes some getting used to." Miranda sniggered. "I would suggest investing in property if fast sports cars aren't your thing, art is also a good investment."

"Well, I'll give that some consideration." Andy grinned as she pulled Miranda into the lobby of her building. As they reached the elevator, the doors opened, and they entered Andy jabbed for the 3rd floor and said. "When the time comes maybe, I'll invest in a Hummer. It can be an extension of the penis I don't have." Andy smiled widely at Miranda's look of shock.

"Stephen had a Hummer." Miranda murmured amusement replacing the shock shining in her eyes.

Andy burst into laughter as the elevator doors opened. Grabbing Miranda's hand as she tried to leave she walked straight into Nate.

"Aw, fuck no!" He whispered as he saw their entwined fingers.

"Good afternoon Nate, excuse us." Andy made to move past the Chef.

He barred their way. "Andy, we have been trying to reach you all day. I need to speak with you privately."

"My cell died which is why there's been no answer, not that I would answer your call, anyway. As I stated last week, I have nothing to say to you. Now please move aside." Andy requested gently.

"Like fuck, I will..." Nate roared. Spinning slightly he glared at Miranda furiously. "What the fuck have you done to her? She's not the same Andy I fell in love with, she's all wrapped up in you and Runway. The two of you together it's sick, and it's wrong, she's young enough to be your daughter."

"You shut the hell up. You know nothing Nate." Andy seethed at him as she stepped between Miranda and her ex. "How the fuck dare you? To speak to Miranda like that. One more word out of you I'll knock you on your skinny ass."

"Like you did with her ex-husband?" Nate demanded.

"Damn straight." Andy was furious. "You know what I can do Nate, how protective I am of the things I love. Why don't you fuck off back to Boston and leave me the fuck alone to live my life how I see fit?"

Nate swallowed hard as his eyes filled with tears. "You love her?" He whispered hoarsely. Seeing her small nod he looked over Andy's shoulder. "She couldn't find it in herself to love me, care yes, but never love." His shoulders fell as his eyes expressed his defeat. "I still need a word, it's about Jill and your parents and the hall isn't the place for this. It's probably a good thing Miranda is here."

He stepped back allowing Andy and Miranda to make their way along the hall towards her apartment as he followed. Unlocking the door Andy gestured for Nate and Miranda to follow.

"Tell me whatever it is and get out," Andy told him, fear showing in her eyes. Miranda pulled her to the sofa and sat them down as Nate paced.

"I'm sorry Andy, there was an accident this morning. Your dad didn't make it. Your mom's in a critical condition and Jill, she's pretty banged up but...well she lost the baby."

"She was pregnant?" Andy whispered.

"You didn't know?" Nate asked looking away. "I'm sorry Andy, you've always been so close I assumed..."

"You need to leave..." Andy husked fighting against her tears. "Get out!" She demanded at him. "I don't want or need you here Nate, I have things to do...I need to...just fuck off!"

Nate stood uncertain, having never seen Andy so hurt. Miranda stood and gestured towards the door. "I'd do what she says. I'll take care of her from here." Miranda hissed.

Nate glared at her, hate and distrust filling his eyes, and refused to move. Miranda whispered. "Your new job, the Oak Room is it not?" Seeing a small nod she continued. "Are you aware the father of my twins owns it? Nathaniel if you do not leave as Andréa requested I will ensure he knows of your reprehensible behaviour towards the mother of his children. You'd be lucky to end up flipping burgers. That's all." She gestured again to the door and Nate spun around and left.

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Chapter Text

Miranda grabbed Andy's purse. Pulling her cell out she tore the battery and out and replaced it with her own. Switching the cell phone on she waited for it to boot back up. The phone buzzed with incoming texts, voicemail notifications and emails.

"My darling, where is your charger?" Miranda asked quietly. Andy nodded to her desk in the corner as Miranda stalked across the room and plugged her own cell in. As soon as she had the minimum charge she made a call.

"Emily I need two tickets for the first available flight to Cincinnati, preferably first class, ensure it comes from my personal account. I will need you to reschedule my week. If there's anything that can't be rescheduled send Nigel in my place. Nigel can take care of the book but I want the electronic copy no later than 9 pm each night. Anything Andréa was to complete needs to be pushed to one side for now unless you can find the time to do it. Get HR to send a temp to assist you until further notice. I will send further updates as I require. I do not wish to be bothered after today unless Runway is on fire. That's all."

Andy had looked up at Miranda as she launched into her quick-fire instructions. The next call left her perplexed.

"Hi James, I need to keep the girls for a week...Yes...Thank you, James...Are the girls with you now? Can you put me on speaker and I'll explain? Hi Bobbsey's, mommy's got to go away for a few days so I will need you to stay with your father...No Caroline it's not good, Andréa's parents and sister were in an accident so I am travelling to Ohio with her...Yes, I will give her the biggest hug from you Cassidy...Yes, I will tell her you are sending your love Caroline...Be good for your father...I will speak to you both soon...I love you too...Yes...Goodbye. Thank you, James...Yes, we'll have dinner soon.

As she disconnected the call her cell buzzed as another call came through. "Emily, what do you mean there's no availability? Call Irv, Donatella, anyone...I do not care. Andréa and I need to be in Ohio now...Yes, what Nigel has told you is the truth...Do not fail me, Emily. Thank you."

Miranda sighed, looking up she caught Andy's confused gaze and walked back to the sofa. Sitting next to the brunette she pulled her into her arms and Andy finally let her tears flow.

"What am I going to do Miranda? I don't know what to think or feel. I can't bear to listen to the voicemail's or look at the texts and emails. I felt so free earlier and then this...this guilt for not being available." Andy sobbed as Miranda ran her hand in soothing circles on Andy's back.

"My darling, I will get you back to Ohio no matter what, I will be there with you every step of the way. I am here for you my Andréa." Miranda whispered against her temple as her phone buzzed with an incoming call. Picking up the cell she answered. "Yes, Emily...Acceptable. Pick up a bottle of Macallan and give it to Irv with my thanks. Call Roy and tell him I need him at the Townhouse in one hour. That's all...and Emily, thank you."

"You said thank you to Em, twice, her head will be spinning." Andy grinned sadly. "Why are you doing all this Miranda? You didn't sign up for the mess my life is about to become."

"You as good as told that boy you love me," Miranda explained. "Three days ago I told my only friend I thought I loved you and I was right, I do. I love you Andréa, I can't identify the exact moment when it happened but I can't deny it." Miranda looked down. "This wasn't how I was supposed to tell you, not the first time. I'd planned it in my head, a romantic dinner, candles, wine." Miranda sighed as Andy tilted her face so their eyes could meet.

"Do you mean it?" Seeing Miranda's small nod she smiled softly. "What I told Nate was the truth. I love you, Miranda, I have for so long." Miranda blushed "So what's the plan?" Andy asked

"We pack your bags, we will return to the Townhouse and I will grab a few things. The company jet is waiting to take us where we want to go." Miranda told her softly. "Irv for once has shown he can be a good man. He asked for me to pass on his condolences."

"Cannes sounds better than Cincinnati," Andy whispered. "I don't know if I'm strong enough to face what's coming next."

"You will find the strength, my darling and I will be there by your side. Come, we should get you packed. You may also be better getting changed into something more comfortable, at least shoe wise." Miranda told her gently as she pulled the young woman into the bedroom.

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Fifteen minutes later they were packed and making their way to the car when Andy heard her name being called before being swept into a hug.

"I'm so sorry Andy." Doug cried as he held his friend close. "Nate rocked up at my apartment and told me what had happened. I came as quickly as I could."

"He was probably slower than usual because he was with me and I wasn't trailing down here looking less than fabulous." Nigel quipped half-heartedly before he turned to pull Miranda into a conversation.

Nigel and Miranda stepped to the side and murmured among themselves creating a plan of action for the coming week.

"Nate was so angry with me Dougie. He saw me with Miranda." Andy snorted. "He went ballistic at her so I told him I'd knock him on his skinny ass if he said one more thing to her, then I told him to fuck off back to Boston."

Doug looked from her to Miranda and smiled. "Well from what I read it wouldn't have been the first time this weekend. He wasn't too impressed to find Nigel at my place either, he ranted about Runway taking everything from him, so I also told him to fuck off. He's probably at Lily's licking his wounds. No doubt I will hear about it later if she deigns to speak to me."

"All I keep asking myself is why the hell he assumed it was his place to break that news to me, it was him that left. I would have stayed with him. It's true I didn't love him as I should, but I cared enough to make us work. I can't identify if that makes me selfish or not." Andy explained.

Doug shrugged. "I don't know about selfish, you deserve to love someone with your whole heart and Miranda makes you glow in a way I have never seen. Anyway, I'll grab Nigel and let you go. Text me when you have more news. Give your mom and Jill my love and Andy, if I can do anything just call, anytime day or night." He pulled her into another hug.

As they finished their conversation Miranda was surprised when Nigel took her into a hug and whispered. "Take care of our Six, she's obviously fierce, but she's also fragile. Did she tell you she was a twin?" At Miranda's nod, he smiled. "She's opening up to you, that's good. And the dragon tattoo, Doug showed me a photo, wow!"

"It's beautiful, she's beautiful," Miranda whispered. "She told the fry-cook she loves me."

"As if it's not obvious," Nigel smirked. "I know her and I know you. Please take care of each other."

"I will do what I can to ease her through this Nigel. I promise." Miranda told him.

"We should let you go, I won't let you down, Miranda," Nigel said.

"I appreciate it. I'll speak to you in the week Nigel. Thank you." Miranda offered him a smile as she slid into the driver's seat of the Porsche and watched as he pulled Andy into a hug and whispered reassurances in her ears.

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Miranda hit the Townhouse like a whirlwind packing bags and her laptop in record time. By the time she was done Roy had arrived and placed Andy's bags into the trunk of the Town Car as Andy sat at the bottom of the stairs with her head in her hands. Miranda rushed down the stairs she handed her bags to Roy and stood in front of Andy. "Are you ready, my darling?" She asked.

Andy looked up and saw the concern etched in Miranda's eyes. "Yes." She whispered hoarsely as she fought against her tears.

"Come on Andréa, we should get going." Miranda led Andy to the car and opened the door for her as she walked around and slid into the back seat. Before the privacy glass was moved up Miranda spoke to Roy. "On your way back I will need you to pick up Patricia and take her to the girl's, they are at their father's."

"Of course, Miranda, we will be at Teterboro within the next 45 minutes. Emily has arranged clearance to take you directly to the plane." Roy confirmed.

Looking at the brunette Miranda slid further along the seat and pulled her closer so Andy could rest against her. "We will be there around 3 hours from now if the itinerary Emily has provided is correct. She has arranged a car from the airport and has booked us a hotel, The Cincinnatian. Apparently, it's not too far from the Hospital."

"Yea, it's just over two miles." Andy offered a small smile. "I should text and thank her."

"That can wait, my darling. She knows you'll appreciate her efforts, she knows you are not the type of person to take it for granted."

"I checked my messages, most of them are off Jill and she's okay. Her last message said my mom's expected to make a good recovery. They were concerned as she hit her head pretty badly and they struggled to bring her around but she's awake now, she's got a concussion, a broken wrist and her thigh is fractured. She's in surgery having a rod inserted into the bone to keep it aligned as it heals."

"Did Jill say what happened?" Miranda asked gently.

"It seems a truck driver fell asleep at the wheel, my dad tried to manoeuvre so they weren't hit head-on and took the brunt of the collision. He died at the scene." Andy sobbed and Miranda rubbed her back.

"Tell me about your parents," Miranda asked gently.

"My dad wasn't always an easy man, he seemed calm and easy-going to most people he met but he could be really over-bearing and controlling. He was protective of us; he provided for us and loved us." Andy told her between sobs.

"You must get your protective side from him, it's not a bad thing, my darling," Miranda told her.

Andy swiped at her tears. "Mom's always been the calming force in the family. She went to Columbia for two years before transferring to Case Western Reserve at his request. Andy shook her head sadly. "He couldn't wait the few years it would take her to graduate. She loved him so much she gave up her dream of the big city life. When the women in my family give their heart, it's for keeps."

Miranda shook her head and smiled softly. "I am extraordinarily lucky then."

Andy smiled back as she grasped Miranda's free hand. "My mom pushed him into agreeing to my move to New York, he was dead set against it, more so after he visited about 2 months into the job. It was the night you got stuck in Miami. He threw a tantrum worthy of the most spoiled toddler when I refused to go home with him."

"Oh God, he must have thought the worst of me, I was at my most impossible that night. Deep down though I hope he realised that New York is the best place for you to be? You will have more opportunities here to succeed in your chosen career." Miranda said.

"After Brad died, he got overly protective of Jill and I. He thought I was working for the devil herself after that night. Mom admitted she thought you sounded amazing, I remember her saying you appeared to be a force of nature and that she would love to meet you. She's always appreciated strong, driven women, she said in a male-dominated world, women like you show the world we are just as good as them. I believe she's a secret feminist." Andy admitted offering a small smile.

"Your mother sounds sensible. What will she say about us being together?" Miranda asked nervously.

"She may hold one or two reservations as you are a little older." Andy offered her a smile as Miranda rolled her eyes. "She will accept this, I hope."

"Will she have a problem with you being in a relationship with a woman?" Miranda asked.

"Mom's not homophobic; she had Doug move in with us when his parents kicked him out at 16 after he told them he was gay. She helped him get the scholarship to Northwestern." Andy told her. "She's always said she just wants us to be happy."

"Your mother seems like a kind woman. I believe I will see much of her daughter in her. So who do you look like?"

"I am a mix of both. I have my dad's nose and jaw and hair colour, the height comes from his side of the family too. I have my mom's smile and eyes, she's blonde and petite though. Jill looks just like her. Grams used to tell me I had the best of both my parents, I don't know though. I think I could've done without the 5-inch growth spurt within six months of my 14th birthday."

"Miranda snorted "You're what? 5ft 8 compared with my 5ft 5ish" Miranda smirked.

"Is the"ish" a precise measurement?" Andy asked cheekily.

"Of course. When have you known me not to be exact?" Miranda replied with a grin.

They say back in silence as Miranda continued to hold Andy against her chest until they reached the airport.

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They arrived at the airport 35 minutes after leaving the Townhouse and Miranda led Andy on to the Airbus A318 owned by Irv. Andy gaped open-mouthed at the opulence as Miranda settled them in the middle cabin on a wide four-seat L-shaped sofa pulling Andy down beside her. Andy was overwhelmed having travelled Economy everywhere except on her return from Paris where Miranda had upgraded her return flight and made her swap seats with Nigel.

"Do you travel like this often?" Andy asked as they taxied along the runway.

Miranda smiled. "It's not my first time on a private plane, however, I usually travel first or business class. I actually find this whole thing overly extravagant but it's a means to an end, my darling. This is Irv's new toy, I'm surprised he's allowed me to use it."

Andy felt awed. "Why would he do this for me?"

"Irv isn't a bad man, although his business decisions sometimes leave a bit to be desired." Miranda sighed. "He likes you, my darling, he's mentioned multiple times how capable you are. He asked me if I would consider letting you go to become his assistant after the Met Gala. He has wondering hands where his young assistants are concerned, so I obviously refused. I told him the position with me was the best place to be a stepping stone for your career in journalism or editorial. You impressed him, deflecting Stephen the way you did."

"I wanted to punch Stephen that night too," Andy admitted causing Miranda to smile.

"So did I, my darling," Miranda told her. "Do you need anything?"

"I may sprawl out in a chair once we are settled in the air. Would you mind?" Andy asked softly.

"Darling there's a bedroom at the back of the plane, or we could lay here together should you wish. The cabin crew have been told not to disturb us unnecessarily." Miranda told her.

"You don't have to lie down with me Miranda," Andy told her after a few minutes silence.

"I want to lie with you, to offer you my love and support darling," Miranda explained.

"Then I think the bedroom may be the best place for us to settle," Andy said with a small smile.

"Come on then, my darling, if you think out here's extravagant you should really view the rest of this bird." Miranda smiled softly as she pulled Andy to her feet and they made their way into the executive bedroom.

As she walked into the bedroom and viewed the king size bed, she was amazed enough to shout. "Holy shitballs, you've got to be kidding me?"

Miranda laughed. "Welcome to the lifestyle of the rich and famous, my darling. Now let's get settled."

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Miranda woke up with Andy wrapped around her, looking at her watch she found they had around 30 minutes before they were due to land. Moving gently she tried to extract herself from the bed without disturbing the young woman next to her but found herself totally encompassed. "Darling." She whispered. "We need to get up."

"No..." Andy muttered drowsily. "...nice 'ere."

"My darling, we really need to get up, we have just 30 minutes left on the flight before we're due to land at Blue Ash."

Andy opened one eye and grinned sleepily at the tousled older woman. "Have I really been asleep for most this flight?"

"You have, as have I. Now I could do with a drink, do you need anything?" Miranda questioned softly.

"Mm, there are so many possible responses to that question, sweetheart. Right now I'll settle for a coffee." Andy grinned as she rolled back and unloosened her grip on Miranda.

"Okay, my darling, I'll see you out in the cabin," Miranda told her softly as she got up, picking her sneakers up she stalked out of the room.

Five minutes later Andy joined Miranda back at the L-shaped sofa as the cabin crew placed the coffee on the table in front of them. Lifting her cup Andy inhaled the coffee and relaxed back into the seat. "Thank you for today." She breathed.

"There's no need for thanks, my darling. The next few days will be tough. If there's anything I can do to make things easier, I will. You seem to be holding up quite well now considering..." Miranda said hesitantly.

"Before I fell asleep, I realised that I could have lost my entire family in one hit. I will really miss my dad and I feel sad but I am also grateful my mom and Jill will be okay. At my apartment and the townhouse, I was overwhelmed with guilt. I was also furious at Nate for his words to you and that he considered it necessary to break that news to me rather than letting me find out for myself. It wasn't his place to do that."

"No, it wasn't. What he said though..." Miranda trailed off.

"What he said was bullshit." Andy declared. "Yes I have changed since I worked at Runway, I grew up. In the five years we were together I never lied to him about my feelings for him, I always knew he felt more than I did and I told him very early in our relationship it was wrong for us to stay together, he insisted that we try, that his love for me would be enough." Andy sighed. "He walked away the night before we left for Paris, telling me the person's calls I always take is the relationship I am in. He left for Boston that week, with no notice and no explanation. I arrived back from Paris to find an almost empty apartment. He took almost everything, including the guitar he bought me for our first Valentine's." Andy shrugged. "Regarding his comments about our age difference, it doesn't concern me, Miranda. You are the most beautiful person I have ever met."

"My beauty pales compared to yours, darling. You are just starting out in the world and I acknowledge you will do great things with your life. I don't want to be the one that holds you back." Miranda admitted looking away.

"Sweetheart, look at me." As Miranda looked up into Andy's eyes she saw the love and desire blazing and it took her breath away. "I want this, I want you. I know I have nothing to offer you but myself, and you can have all of me. The rest won't mean a thing unless I have you to share it with. I've given you my heart Miranda. As I've told you it isn't something the women in my family do lightly."

"Do you believe in soul mates?" Miranda asked quietly as she sat back and sipped her coffee.

"From the Greek mythology? It's an absurd concept really, four arms, four legs, a single head made of two faces and split apart by a vengeful God and forced to go in search of their missing half." Andy shook her head and smiled softly. "I believe there's someone for everyone, someone you have a deep affinity with but I prefer the term twin flame," Andy told her.

"Aren't they the same thing?" Miranda asked.

"Not at all. Twin flames are a single soul that was created at the beginning of time but then divided. The soul mate is a separate entity with whom you have spent many lifetimes as a friend, lover, co-worker or partner, and are drawn together to fulfil a specific mission." Andy explained softly.

"My father used to tell us that our mother was his bashert, his destiny. He said theirs was a marriage made in heaven." Miranda smiled sadly. "I used to believe it was romantic folly..."

"And now?" Andy queried.

"And now I wonder why my soul sings for you and it is the only explanation I can think of." Miranda pulled her close. "There has always been an inexplicable pull between us, my darling, from that first day you walked into my office when I had to send Emily after you."

"There's me thinking it was my impassioned speech about my excellent work ethic." Andy smiled.

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Their descent into Ohio went smooth. Upon the plane's arrival, the driver was waiting for them as Emily had advised and he had their arrival at the hotel within 45 minutes of their exit from the plane.

As they entered the hotel Miranda walked up to the front desk to check them in as the driver brought in their luggage and Andy made a quick call to the Hospital. Upon announcing her name Miranda was advised they had made a double booking and could not provide the presidential suite as requested.

Andy walked to the counter to find Miranda's jaw clenched as she muttered. "That is just unacceptable."

"There's enough room for two adults in the Hannaford Suite." The receptionist said helpfully as Miranda rolled her eyes and stalked off.

"What's the difference between the Hannaford and the Presidential? Andy asked.

"The Presidential Suite is 1250-1300 sq. ft. with 2 Full Bedrooms, a separate living room area with full couch, a dining area with a wet bar. A master suite with 1 king bed, Master bath with whirlpool tub for 2 and separate walk-in shower. The second bedroom has a queen bed and a full bathroom." The receptionist reeled off the list breathlessly offering Andy a wide smile.

"And the Hannaford suite, let me guess. Half the size, one bedroom with one king bed, separate living room area and bathroom?" Andy queried.

"Yes, the room also holds a dining table big enough to sit six and a very large Roman tub." She girl smiled innocently.

"Give me a minute." Andy walked over to Miranda. "Sweetheart you should take the room." She told her.

"But Emily booked the Presidential..." Miranda muttered darkly.

"Why does having the extra bedroom and bathroom matter? In the grand scheme of things, it's not that important Miranda." Andy told her gently.

"Well...well I...well two bedrooms seemed ideal, you would have the space you need, as would I." Miranda attempted to explain.

Andy tried to grasp Miranda's reasoning. "So separate rooms? If that's what you want I can get another room here or go home. You could even come home with me and stay in the guest bedroom." Andy smiled. "Alternatively you could share my childhood bed with me, which is just a queen, or we can both stay here and share a wonderfully large king bed in a one bedroom suite. The choice is yours."

Miranda huffed and stalked back to the front counter. "I suppose if the Hannaford Suite is all you can offer then we will take it." She gave the poor receptionist a glare that would make any clacker at Runway wither. The young girl squeaked as she passed two key cards to Miranda before she spun and stalked off towards the elevator. "Come along, Andréa," Miranda smirked over her shoulder at the brunette before adding. "By all means, move at a glacial pace. You know how that thrills me."

The receptionist gave Andy an incredulous look. "Is she famous or something?" She whispered.

Andy shrugged and grinned. "She's definitely something. Have a good evening." Andy walked towards Miranda who was tapping her foot impatiently at the elevator.

"Finally." She said with a smirk as the elevator landed and they made their way inside. "I hope you don't snore."

Andy sniggered. "I've had no complaints."

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As they entered the suite Andy gasped at the elegant furnishings surrounding her. "Acceptable," Miranda stated as she looked around. A small smile playing on her lips.

"Miranda this is amazing." Andy stuttered breathlessly. "I will freshen up and meet Jill at the hospital. Would you like to come?"

"I don't think..." Miranda said.

"Miranda, sweetheart, if you're about to say it's not your place then you are wrong," Andy told her. "You got me here faster than anyone expected and Jill has expressed the wish to meet you."

Miranda sighed. "Well if you are sure I will also freshen up and will be ready to leave in 20 minutes. I will let the driver know his presence is required."

They stood side by side at the marble twin vanity as Miranda removed her make-up, washed her face and reapplied her makeup efficiently. Andy washed her face and applied a small amount of mascara and some lip gloss, looking at her hair up in its high ponytail she sighed as she noticed her hair had curled. "These goddamn curls." She snarled. "I don't have the energy to fight them."

"Untie your hair and sit." Miranda requested. As Andy complied Miranda smiled at her through the vanity mirror. She wet Andy's hair slightly and brushed it. Finding some styling foam she used a hefty amount and ran it through Andy's hair gently. "Tilt your head to the side." Andy did as she was told as Miranda swept all her hair to the side and scrunched the hair between her palms from the tip. "Now the other side." She whispered. Andy followed the instructions as Miranda repeated the previous gestures. "Now forward." As Andy tilted her head Miranda completed the action from that angle. "Let me see." As Andy's hair settled, she noticed perfectly unstructured voluminous curls. "Perfect," Miranda whispered as she placed a kiss on Andy's head

"Wow thank you." Andy was overcome with the gesture. "How did you know what to do?" She asked.

"I worked in a hairdresser's in the East End before I got into fashion. It helped me pay my way through night school." Miranda smiled gently and shrugged. "I'm just going to change, my darling. I won't be long."

Andy walked back into the bedroom to find Miranda sorting through her luggage with a frown. She was still wearing her cashmere sweater and jeans but had replaced her Converse Chucks with Giuseppe Zanotti heels. She held a Balenciaga leather jacket in her hand.

"Have you forgotten something?" Andy asked softly, concerned.

"My Prada pumps." Miranda frowned again. "I never travel without them."

"We were in a rush, sweetheart. I can always ask Emily to messenger them." Andy said.

"Never mind. I can manage without them for a few days." Miranda smiled at Andy's look of concern. "Are you going to change?"

"Yeah, I want to put on some comfortable clothes first," Andy told her causing Miranda to smirk.

"And what do you define as comfortable, my darling? Not that hideous cerulean sweater I hope?" Miranda asked laughing.

Andy pulled her luggage open and grabbed a pair of Levi's and an over-sized purple Northwestern t-shirt. "This." She grinned as Miranda rolled her eyes.

"Well, at least your sneakers match the t-shirt. Cassidy would like your indigo hi-tops."

"I'll get her a pair and Caro some green ones," Andy said happily.

"You know their favourite colours, how?" Miranda queried softly, amazement showing in her eyes.

"I pay attention, sweetheart, it is part of my job to do so, to notice what you do so I can find an obscure lamp from that place we passed three weeks earlier," Andy told her with a smirk. "And those boogie boards you made me get them for their summer break at the Hampton's were in purple and green so it was an educated guess."

"You have a good eye for detail Andréa. Now don't dawdle your mom and Jill are waiting for you." Miranda said as her cell pinged. Looking down she read the incoming message. "The driver is here. I'll give you five minutes."

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Chapter Text

They got to the hospital within 15 minutes of leaving the Cincinnatian and Andy pulled her phone out and dialled. "Hey, Jillybean we are out front of the Clifton Lobby. Where are you?" Andy asked. As she got the answer she frowned. "Ah okay. So you're with Ma? What room?" Andy started to mutter. "Eighth 08152...08152..." Listening to her sister she said. "Yes, I can hear her...Tell her I don't care if her hair isn't brushed or if her make-up isn't flawless...Tell her to chill, okay? If she's going to be all awkward about Miranda I'll leave her in the cafeteria." Andy grinned at Miranda's look of shock. "My God anyone's would think she's being visited by the Queen of Genovia...Yea...Yes, I noticed...So she hasn't cried yet...Well it will happen eventually, we have to let her deal as she sees fit...I'm glad you understand too...See ya soon sis. I love you." Andy rolled her eyes. Looking at Miranda she smiled. "Welcome to the family love, as you can probably tell my mom babbles and gets all fidgety like I do when nervous, Jill said the doctors have told her they will sedate her if she doesn't remain calm. We should go on up before she sends Jill on a search party for us."

Clasping Miranda's hand firmly she led her inside the hospital and along corridors to an elevator bank. Getting off at the eighth floor she led Miranda along another range of corridors until she reached the Orthopaedic Centre of Excellence.

"Miranda stalled. "My darling, are you sure about this? Maybe you should go in alone, be with your family, spend time with them, share your mutual grief."

Andy stopped at looked at Miranda, noticing the nervousness in her eyes she stepped towards her. "Sweetheart we were supposed to meet Jill at the front so I could take her home and talk, as soon as Mom found out you were here too she dragged Jill back to ensure she got to meet you." Andy gave her a soft smile as she cupped her face. "We've had one date and are trying to know each other better and suddenly you're about to meet what's left of my family." Andy shook her head. "I understand if this is too quick. I understand this whole day has been far from ideal and we've jumped like a million steps forward rather than being able to take our time. I appreciate how much you like to keep control of your life, and I'm in no doubt that right now you're overwhelmed too." Andy whispered. "If you don't come in, I will not think any less of you. I want you to take all the time you need to be comfortable Miranda, there's no rush."

Miranda brushed a soft kiss on her lips. "You're right, I am overwhelmed, nervous but mainly I'm concerned, not that it is too quick, but that your family will not approve of us." Miranda held her close and Andy wrapped her arms around Miranda's waist as she whispered. "I also just want to wrap you up in my arms and take away the pain you try so hard to hide, you don't have to be strong with me. You can let go, cry, shout, scream. Whatever will make it more bearable."

Andy's shoulders shook as her tears took over and Miranda continued to hold her close whispering words of love and comfort into her ear, her voice soothing the young woman, and calming her into silence as her tears dried.

"God, I'm sorry..." Andy husked.

"No apologies, my darling, not for that. You have been so strong and brave. Now is my time to be strong for you. Do not keep it bottled up, my darling." Miranda brushed a curl out of Andy's face. "At least your mascara's water-proof." Miranda smiled. "Come on, my darling, I'm ready to meet your family." Miranda straightened her shoulders and lifted her eyes to Andy and gave her a genuine smile, holding her hand out it was clasped firmly and Andy entwined their fingers as she moved them towards her mom's room.

Knocking quickly Andy entered the room with Miranda's hand in hers. "Hey, Ma..." Andy spoke before she found her little sister wrapped around her. "Hey, baby sis." Jill cried. "It's okay Jill, I'm here now." She tried to soothe her with one hand as the other was still entwined in Miranda's.

Noticing the grip tightening and an awkward silence filling the room she looked towards her mom to see shock filtering through her honey brown eyes as she gazed at Miranda. Glancing quickly towards Miranda she saw the shock replicated in her blue eyes.

"Beth..." Miranda whispered.

"Hello, Miri." Andy's mom said not breaking their gaze.

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Andy looked confusedly between the two women as she clutched her sister. Catching her mom's eye she stuttered. "What...You...I...You know each other?"

"No baby girl, I knew Miriam Princhek," Beth explained softly to her daughter.

"And I knew Elizabeth West, or I thought I did," Miranda said as she released Andy's hand and walked towards the bed. "You just fucking left Beth. No address, no phone number, no letters. You left, and you disappeared for almost 30 fucking years." She sat on the seat next to the bed and ran her fingers through her hair in frustration.

"I don't understand..." Andy whispered.

"Your Dad didn't like me talking about my time at Columbia. As you are aware, I spent four years doing my Bachelors before joining the Columbia Law School but do you have any idea where and what I studied before law school?" Andy shook her head. "I studied English and Philosophy at Columbia," Beth admitted.

Andy was gob-smacked. "English?" Seeing her mother nod she asked. "So you spent six years in New York and not two?" Beth nodded again as Jill released herself from Andy and pulled two additional chairs towards the bed. She pushed Andy down into a chair beside Miranda. "So where does Miranda come in?" Andy asked softly.

Beth looked towards Miranda who nodded for her to continue. "Well, I was your dad's high school sweetheart. We were engaged when I turned 18 and I moved to New York as he settled into his studies here in Ohio. We spent every vacation together, and it worked well." Beth smiled at her memories. "I finished my degree and got a summer internship with the legal team at Elias Clarke. The company was going through some major changes and they were bringing new blood into the fold." She waved her good hand in Miranda's direction. "They had poached an amazing associate editor from Chic Magazine in Paris and were shuffling staff between the British and French Runway to its American counterpart. Anyway I literally ran into this gorgeous gay man on my first day and as I fell over, paperwork flying everywhere, an elegant hand was held out to me, I looked up into a beautifully twinkling pair of blue eyes that hid a wealth of laughter."

"She enjoys it when people fall on their ass," Andy muttered with a small grin at the editor.

Miranda grinned back at Andy as she explained their friendship. "Nigel, your mom and I became inseparable. Your mom became my best friend along with Nigel. When I told you I had wonderful memories of drinks and dinners on the Lower East Side she was a huge part of that. I used to throw a weekly dinner." Her frown reappeared.

"So why did you leave New York?" Jill asked her mom curiously.

"Well, the trio became a foursome after about eight months as we were joined by Jacqueline Follet from French Runway. She had been given a position in the beauty department and was gunning, along with Miri, for the Editor-in-Chief position. It was well known within the building that the existing Editor was well past her prime, her ideas were stagnant and they were losing money." Beth sighed. "About a year into my law course Richard got antsy about me being in New York, he saw I was having doubts about returning to Ohio. It was a confusing time. I was changing, and he didn't like the person I was becoming."

"That sounds overly familiar," Andy whispered.

Beth smiled sadly at her eldest daughter. "You're so much like me Andy, it's scary. Anyway, to continue, one night around a week before I split for the summer after my second year Richard surprised with a visit. He found me drunk, Jacqueline was with me, she had brought a bottle of whiskey. She was making inappropriate advances, and I stupidly wasn't in a fit state to act quickly enough to push her away." Miranda' gasp of horror was audible. "It looked much worse than it was. She was beautiful in a way but she wasn't my Richie. He totally flipped out obviously. Jacqueline left shortly before him with a smug smirk on her face as he ranted at me until he stormed out. Over the next two weeks she continued her advances, she wouldn't take no to mean no."

"I will find that French skunk and destroy her." Miranda hissed menacingly.

"Get behind me love, I will throttle the bitch with my bare hands next time I see her at James Holt's," Andy smirked as Miranda rolled her eyes.

Beth turned sad eyes on Miranda. "I didn't tell you or Nigel, as an outsider to Runway I didn't want to affect your working relationship with her. So I spoke to my Dean who assisted with my transfer to Case Western Reserve for the following semester and I packed up and I came home. I eventually worked things out with Richard with the proviso it would never be mentioned. About a year later I discovered the position of Editor-in-Chief had gone to Miranda Priestly. It didn't click for me who Miranda Priestly was until this morning when I saw the Page Six online edition." She looked at her eldest daughter. "As you understand Andy, I rarely subscribe to the gossip pages and I'm not particularly fashion orientated."

"So you saw the story Ma?" Andy queried.

Jill snorted causing Beth to give her a glare to shut her up. "Yes, we all did," Beth admitted.

"Why did you give Jill your mom glare of doom, Ma?" Andy questioned.

"I don't know what you're talking about Andy. We'll talk about that article another time. I'm actually getting sleepy." Beth yawned.

"That will be the pain medication kicking in Mom," Jill said with a small smile. "At least you don't get all doo lally like Andy."

Beth grinned up at her eldest daughter who rolled her eyes. "I'll check in with you tomorrow Ma. I love you." Andy bent over her and placed a soft kiss on her cheek before standing up straight and taking a step back towards Miranda.

Catching Miranda's eye Beth whispered. "I always knew you'd grow to be a force to be reckoned with Miri." She smiled happily. "It's good to see you, you look fantastic. I'm glad my Andy has someone like you looking out for her. She's headstrong and fierce but she has a vulnerability she can't always hide."

"Nigel said something similar about her this afternoon, he'll be utterly flabbergasted when I tell him who his Six's mom is." Miranda smiled gently. "We'll let you rest now Beth, but we'll see you soon." Miranda leaned over and kissed her forehead. "I've missed you." She whispered. "And I'm sorry about Richard."

"He was a good man. He gave me my three beautiful babies." Beth's eyes pricked with tears as Miranda stepped back. "Now go home, or wherever it is you're going." She whispered. "And take care of each other." She called out to them as they trailed out of the room.

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Miranda called their driver as they walked through the Hospital and arranged pickup at the main entrance. "He'll be here in 15 minutes. Would you like dinner?" She asked the sisters.

"I am hungry," Andy admitted honestly. "It seems like a long time since breakfast."

"I'm just going to head home," Jill replied. "I need time to process."

"Would you like a lift?" Miranda asked her gently.

"Yeah, that would be good. Thanks, Miranda." Jill said. "You were told I moved out of mom and dads?" She asked Andy

"Mom mentioned it a few weeks back, said you had an apartment up in Walnut Hill. What prompted the move?" Andy asked.

"Well Dad was being Dad and laying down the law and just being utterly ridiculous and I was just over it. I thought it best to leave before our entire relationship fell apart. I'm in a sublet in the Park Flats, it's a great space and I've been helping at the firm while I'm completing my J.D."

"We have spoken little in the last three months, Jill. You realise I'm always here for you, right?"

"I don't want to burden you. You have your life in New York, an extremely busy and fulfilling one too, and this one is bound to keep you on your toes." Jill told her gesturing to Miranda with a smile.

Miranda grinned at her. "I think that will go both ways, Jillian."

"It's Jill, Jilly, Bean, Jillybean or Shithead. Take your pick Miranda, or should I call you Miri, Mira or Miriam." Jill grinned knowing she would get a reaction from her sister.

"Hey lay off it Shithead." Andy snarled

Jill laughed. "Oh God Andy, you're so predictable."

"Well, we're still navigating this whole new development to our relationship, I don't want you to scare her off." Andy sputtered.

Jill scoffed as they reached the entrance. "New? Andy the fact you told me a week into the job you wanted to push this woman into oncoming traffic told me everything I needed about your feelings for her. Mom saw it too. It's the first time someone has gotten under your skin so effectively. Who knew you'd be so extreme when falling in love."

Miranda smiled. "It's lucky I don't scare easily." She advised them both. "So Jill..." Miranda tested the name and nodded. "...how is your J.D going?" She asked.

Jill looked up surprised at Miranda trying to make small talk, knowing from Andy it wasn't usual Miranda behaviour. "It's O.K. I'm on a fast track so they think I may be done within two years rather than the usual three." Looking down she muttered. "I appreciate everyone was disappointed when I decided on the College of Law here in Cinci."

"Not me." Andy shrugged. "I can't pretend to understand why you made that decision rather than going to Stanford, Harvard or Columbia, but you made the choice and I support that. You did one better than me by starting your J.D, the year of pre-law was more than enough for me." Andy shook her head. "And if you decided tomorrow to transfer to Columbia, I wouldn't say I'd be unhappy to have my beautiful little sister nearby," Andy told her as the car pulled up.

"I made the conscious decision to stay, knowing what it entailed Andy," Jill said sadly. "It's not all bad here and mom will need me, and I'll need her too." Jill had tears in her eyes. "God, I'll be glad when today's over." She whispered as she tried to blink her tears away.

"Come on Jill, we'll take you home," Miranda said leading her to the car.

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They sat in silence as the driver moved them through traffic towards Walnut Hill. Jill kept looking at Andy and as the older sibling attempted to catch her gaze, she looked away. Miranda requested the privacy glass be raised as Andy fumed.

"Jill you need to tell me what you're hiding from me. Mom gave you the glare of doom before. Why?" She demanded.

Jill looked down at her hands, pulling her fingers in agitation in a similar manner to her sister. "I promised mom..." She whispered.

"I don't care what you promised. You'll tell me or you'll both lose me." Andy declared hotly.

Miranda looked at Andy in shock. "Darling..." She spoke but stopped as Andy glared at her, her eyes burning with thinly veiled anger.

"Miranda I need answers, they're hiding things from me and that is unacceptable. We were brought up to be open and honest with one another. That bullshit with Mom and her history in New York, and with you and Nigel has just provided proof it's always been a one-way street. You need to tell me, Jill, if you don't then I'm going back to the hospital to have it out with Mom."

"Can you at least wait until we're at my apartment?" Jill asked quietly.

"I suppose so," Andy told her sadly. They continued to travel in silence for another five minutes before the driver pulled up at the complex and opened the doors for his passengers.

As Jill led them into her apartment, she sat heavily on the armchair and waved Miranda and Andy across to the sofa. "If you want a drink, there's water and wine in the fridge."

"I'll grab us some drinks," Miranda told them softly as she made her way to the kitchenette leaving the sisters to speak uninterrupted.

"What's going on Jill?" Andy asked as she sat on the sofa, elbows resting on her knees as she leaned towards her sister.

"We were having breakfast when mom found the page six article online. She gasped as she recognised Miranda in that photo they published. You both looked beautiful."

Andy smiled. "Yeah, I like that photo."

Jill continued sadly. "Well, Dad looked over her shoulder and scanned the article and went ape. I mean he's always been extreme, in some ways you're like him, but he always took it to another level. He stormed into the office and booked a flight to New York, he had one return and a single from New York to Cinci, for you." Jill sighed before continuing. "Mom followed him and pulled him to one side. I could hear her pleading with him but it just made him angrier. He smacked her Andy, he's the reason she has that cut under her eye, where his wedding band made contact. He was calling her all kinds of disgusting names and he told her your unnatural behaviour and attachments to certain people was caused by her, by the life she led in that city of sin and despair." Jill cried. "Mom was crying and telling him she chose him and he laughed at her and told her decision meant nothing, that the 35 years together were a mistake and that he would correct the mistake made when you lived and Brad died."

"And then what?" Andy husked as her tears flowed, feeling the sofa dip beside her she shot Miranda a glance and Miranda saw Andy's heart shatter.

"He dragged her to the car, and I followed. He pushed me into the back passenger seat as if I was a toddler. He drove as he raved to us both about how he would correct this. How it should have been Sachs and Son and not Sachs and Co, that you were his greatest disappointment, his one failing. He didn't see the truck coming, mom did, and she pulled the steering wheel so the car spun, as it did the truck hit dads' side and we must have moved at least 50 feet before the car came to a standstill. Mom was trapped, and I got my cell and called for help. It was too late for Dad, he was broken beyond repair. His last word was your name."

Andy shivered. "He was going to correct the mistake made when I lived and Brad died. Brad drowned, I nearly died trying to save him. How can that be corrected? Our greatest adventure ran so terribly wrong."

"I know Andy, and mom knows," Jill told her softly.

"I'm sorry about the baby..." Andy whispered.

"Don't be, I didn't realise..." Jill faltered as Andy knelt in front of her.

"This is my fault, I'm so sorry Jillybean." Andy cried "I didn't know you were dating."

"I'm not..." Jill told her.

"Then how? Who?" Andy asked.

Jill looked her in the eye. "It was Nate, we were drunk, you were busy at Runway and had cancelled your weekend visit, he came without you..."

"Yeah...it sounds like he did." Andy let out a shocked laugh and stood. "That was three weeks before Paris, the digital copy had been lost. I turned to him after he returned from that shitty long weekend and he couldn't even find it in himself to hug me, to offer his so-called fucking love and comfort. That fucking asshole...and you? You're my sister and you fucked him?"

"It wasn't supposed to happen, sis." Jill tried to explain.

"Don't call me that." Andy hissed at her. "Not one of you understand what a family is. Not one of you knows how much I regret not being here, not being good enough, not being able to fit in...And you...you're supposed to love me and be there for me unconditionally. Did you have a good fucking laugh at my expense? Did he tell you how selfish I am? How lacking I am? How I could never give him the fucking babies he wanted so desperately? Did he tell you how much less of a woman I am compared to you with your fucking dainty little body? Did he whisper he loved you? Did he make you feel good?" Andy was furious, she was pacing and her fists were clenched.

"It wasn't like that," Jill told her.

"Frankly Jillian, I don't give a damn," Andy stated as she ran from the room. Miranda tried to follow.

"I wouldn't bother Miranda, she'll be long gone by now. It's what she's best at, running away."

"That's where you're wrong Jillian, and it shows your lack of understanding for your sister," Miranda told her coldly. "She is not running away. She is in flight, searching for a place to call home, a place where she fits. Your sister is missing a half of herself that can no longer be found. You wouldn't know how that feels, and I can only imagine the pain my twins would feel without each other. For all her fight-or-flight tendencies Andy is not broken, she just hasn't realised that yet. I'll bid you goodnight." Miranda stalked from the apartment and pulled her cell out and connected to the speed dial. The call connected and she heard the deep choking breaths on the other end of the line. "I will follow you to the ends of the world, my darling, no matter where you fly I will find you. Now stay where you are. I am coming to get you."

"Twin Lakes," Andy told her breathlessly.

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Chapter Text

Miranda stalked to the car as she driver rushed to open your door. "Is there a liquor store near here?" Miranda asked him.

"Yea...yes." The driver said hesitantly.

"I want to go there and then for you to take me to Twin Lakes," Miranda told him.

"That's in Eden Park..." the driver stuttered.

"Yes, well I needed to be there 5 minutes ago, but I need to stop at a liquor store first. That's all." Miranda slid into the back seat and rubbed the bridge of her nose as the car moved. Her heart ached for Andréa and the circumstances behind her father's death. She was overwhelmed by the emotions the young woman conjured within her, she was stunned by the fact her old friend was actually Andréa's mother. She pulled her cell and hit the speed dial for Nigel.

"Good evening Miranda..." Nigel said upon the call connecting.

"It's Beth," Miranda told him without preamble.

"Wha...who...what's Beth?" Nigel asked confused.

Miranda sighed. "Andréa's mother, it's Beth. You remember her surely? Blonde, honey brown eyes, quite petite, had a wide smile and a laugh like music, much like her eldest daughter's. She disappeared off the face of the Earth one day never to be seen in New York City again."

"You're kidding? One sec..." Miranda could catch a grumbling voice in the background before Nigel returned. "Miranda, where's Six?" He asked.

"She took flight after some secrets were uncovered. I am on my way to her now, she's down at Eden Park or Twin Lakes or some such. I've never seen her so desolate, it was like her light went out."

"Look, you are on speaker, Doug is here, and he wants answers," Nigel told her.

"Okay, I'll give as concise an answer as I can," Miranda told them.

"What's happened, Miranda?" Doug asked.

"Andy demanded answers today regarding the fact Beth and Jill were keeping something from her, she's rather intuitive as you know. Well, she found out that her father considered the fact she lived 12 years ago, when her twin died, a mistake, one that needed correcting. The crazy fool was on his way to New York to drag his daughter back from the city of sin and despair to do God only knows what. The truck took care of that. Heartbroken and riddled with the guilt she apologised to her sister for losing her baby only to find out the father of the child was that scumbag, Nate. I should warn you, Douglas, that I believe she will break more than Nathaniel's nose if they cross paths."

"Doug gasped. "Nate and Jill? But he's with Lily, I found out this afternoon after I left you and Andy. They've been fucking, excuse the language, for six months apparently. I tried to call Andy, but she isn't answering."

"That rat bastard! I will take great pleasure in dealing with the fry-cook. By the time I'm done with him, he won't be able to get a job anywhere on the East Coast. I'll also chat with Roy, I'm sure he and his Marine buddies would find lots of fun to be had with that pathetic excuse for a man." Miranda said darkly. "Give me some time with her and I will ask her to call you Douglas."

"Miranda, you are kind of scary, do you realise that?" Doug asked with a laugh.

"You sound surprised Douglas, surely tales of my lack of mercy on those that displease precedes me." She smirked. "I am just pulling up to a liquor store, I have a plan that includes a hot bath, comfort food, pyjamas and a bottle of Jack Daniels. I promise I'll take good care of Andréa. Goodnight." She disconnected the call, exited the car and stalked into the liquor store. Within three minutes she was back in the car with a bottle of Jack Daniels. "Go." She whispered to the driver with a frown.

As the car pulled into the park Miranda tried to call Andy but got no answer. "Just drop me here and find somewhere to park. I will text you when I am ready to leave." Miranda moved from the car again and walked.

Trying to call Andy again she heard her distinctive ringtone in the distance and ambled towards it. She saw Andy's silhouette in the distance sat cross-legged on a wall overlooking the Ohio River. "Darling?" She questioned softly as she approached.

"Hey, Miranda," Andy muttered as she turned to gaze at the older woman. "I was just sat here wishing I was anywhere else in this world."

Miranda stepped up to her. "I have an idea, my darling, I bought this..." She waved the bottle of Jack at her. "How about we sit here for a while and listen to the flow of the river or watch the stars in the sky? We need not talk should you not wish to, we'll crack this open and we'll just be. When you're ready, I'll take you back to the hotel, run you a bath, order you whatever comfort food you want to eat and we can watch TV or a movie in that excessively large king bed, whatever you want."

"Come sit with me." Andy held her hand out to Miranda with a small smile.

Miranda made her way to the wall, kicking off her heels she sat sidewards straddling it. "Drink?"

"Yeah sounds good." Andy caught Miranda's gaze. "Last night you said drowning myself in Jack wouldn't help."

"It doesn't make the problems go away, my darling, however, it can offer a brief respite to the pain, to give you the time required to process everything. That night in Paris after I learned of the divorce and sent you running into Christian's arms, I drank almost a full bottle of Scotch. I was disgusted with myself, for showing you what I deemed to be my weakness. I grew scared that it would be used against me somehow and then the realisation hit you were not like the rest. I reflected on the person I had come to know and I understood you would never do that."

"It wasn't weakness Miranda, and it wasn't the first time you had shown me your human side," Andy told her softly. "In that moment of time, in that Paris hotel room, I thought you were the most beautiful person I had ever seen."

"I know, I saw it in your eyes. The reason I said what I did, last night, about it not helping is that with you I found that I can't just numb my feelings with alcohol, and trust me darling I tried." Miranda smiled sadly.

Andy continued to gaze at Miranda in amazement. Breaking their gaze she asked. "How did this day get so out of control? It started off so promising."

Miranda unscrewed the bottle and took a large drink before passing it across to Andy. "I have no idea, darling. Yet here I am at the end of this crazy day, in a city in the Midwest, sat on a wall overlooking a river and I'm ending my day the way it started, in the presence of the most beautiful woman I ever encountered, with the addition of a bottle of Tennessee whiskey." Miranda leaned forward slightly and brushed a flyaway curl behind Andy's ear.

Andy looked at Miranda and gave her sad smile. "I'm sorry for running away again." She whispered before taking a large slug of the JD and wincing as it burned down her throat.

"I no longer see it as running away." At Andy's questioning look Miranda explained. "I've been thinking about it, about you, from your actions with me over the last few weeks and then those today." Miranda caught Andy's look of uncertainty. "Please do not be offended by what I am about to say, my darling." She breathed. "What I now see is that you're uncertain of where you fit in the world, you are unsure of your worth, home is not home for you. You fight against all your misgivings and then you take flight. I told Jillian as much before I left her apartment." Miranda shook her head her displeasure clear.

Andy took another large drink. "This world, this place I should call home, it makes me feel so...so lost. It always has, even before Brad, I was just too young to put it into words." Andy's eyes held tears as she tried to explain. "The people supposed to know me best don't really get me at all, they don't see me. I am always found lacking. It's like there's something missing from who I am as a person. People assume they can fix me. As if I'm broken." She whispered.

"You are strong, brave and so very smart. You may be slightly bent and twisted, as any of who fights against the world is, but you are not broken, my darling. I will tell you every day until you believe it if that is what it takes." Miranda told her pulling her close.

Andy spun around putting her back towards Miranda as she straddled the wall in the same position as Miranda. Scooting forward Miranda pulled her arms around the younger woman's waist and rested her head against her shoulder. "I feel safe in your arms like this," Andy told her as she pulled Miranda even closer. "You talked of the calm I bring to your life but it's the same for me. Your presence soothes me, it's like the world just stops and it's just you and I."

"Pass me that booze and I'll tell you my thoughts on it," Miranda whispered in Andy's ear. Grinning Andy handed the older woman the bottle, and she took a large gulp and hummed her pleasure as the whiskey coursed through her system. Miranda cuddled in closer as she spoke. "As my marriages fell apart, I thought somewhat like you do, that I was lacking something necessary to make my relationships work." Miranda took another drink. "I walked away from my marriage to James thinking I wouldn't ever find that one person who accepted me for who I am, and then I met Stephen. On paper, he was everything I wanted and needed. While we dated, he seemed to understand my responsibilities to Runway and the twins. The first year of our marriage was acceptable, but it went downhill quickly from there. He resented the time I gave to my Bobbsey's and to the magazine and it caused arguments. I don't particularly enjoy confrontation so I threw myself even more fully into my work and he found his comfort in scotch and other women. While navigating all that, you walked into my office, and in a blink of the eye, I experienced a recognition from deep within. It was as if something inside of me went 'Oh there you are, I've been waiting for you'."

Andy was dumbstruck by her incredulity. "Are you sure it wasn't something from my mom you recognised in me?"

"No, I would never guess you were mother and daughter. Upon seeing you together I can see your smiles are similar and your eye colouring but you are also very different. Your eyes are vastly more expressive than Beth's ever were. She lacks the fire you hold within you. That undefinable something that makes you so distinctly you." Miranda told her softly.

"So it was just friendship?" Andy queried.

"Yes, my darling, it was purely platonic. To explain clearly, your mom made me smile and laugh for the first time. I spoke briefly over dinner last night about what I was like as a child and that carried on through my teens and early twenties. I loved Beth, she was someone I didn't need to hide from, she got my quirks, my reticence and even my sarcasm and she offered no judgement. She was my friend, I held nothing more than gentle affection for her. It hurt me when she disappeared without an explanation. That pain became one of the many catalysts of why I am the Miranda Priestly you see today. I closed myself off, even from Nigel, so I wouldn't face that kind of hurt again."

Miranda took another drink and sighed as Andy gestured for the bottle and took a large gulp. "So why am I different? You heard my mom state how similar we are."

"The closest thing I can consider, to explain what I experienced with you, is what the French call 'le coup de foudre', the thunderbolt." Miranda smiled. "It was something far beyond my comprehension. You made me question everything, you challenged me and made me want to be better, not just as a boss but as a person. You treated me with kindness, consideration and respect even when I was at my most vicious. You made me smile despite all my best efforts. I couldn't work you out. You were like a mystery wrapped in an enigma and you got under my skin in a way no-one else ever has."

Miranda was concerned as Andy became silent, her contemplation palpable. After a few minutes, Andy turned entirely to face Miranda, cupping her face she whispered. "What chance did either of us stand against kismet?" Andy leaned forward and pressed a soft kiss against Miranda's lips.

"Not a single one. Let's go back to the hotel." Miranda whispered. "It's been a long day and I want to wrap my arms around you and forget the world." Seeing Andy's nod of approval Miranda pulled her cell out and sent a text to the driver. Standing she slipped back into her heels and pulled the brunette to her feet before walking to the car park.

"You know we're finishing this whiskey right?" Andy muttered.

"Acceptable," Miranda whispered as she led her to the waiting car.

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Andy awoke to a warm body wrapped around her and hammering on the door.

"Andy Sachs you open this door, right now!' She heard Jill shout.

Hearing Miranda mutter venomously under her breath at the noise she extracted herself gently and winced at the thumping in her head as she made her way to the door. Flinging it open she looked balefully at her sister. "What the hell do you want Jillian?" She looked at her watch. "It's 7:20 am, I have a hangover the size of Ohio, and you are the last person I want to see."

"You have a hangover? Like I even care..." Jill sputtered.

"You made that abundantly clear almost three months ago." Andy hissed grabbing her arm. "Get the fuck in here and keep your voice down before I bound and gag you and dump you on the Kentucky side of the river." She pulled her into the room and slammed the door behind them.

Stepping back Jill looked heartbroken. "You hate me." She stated.

"What the fuck do you expect Jillian? You blurt out that my dad wanted me dead and to top that marvellous news off, you complete your whole bare your soul confession about Nate. You got drunk, fucked my boyfriend and stopped talking to me, most probably through guilt, and you somehow think I will hug you and tell you everything will be okay. I've forgiven a lot of things over the years but I'm not that much of an idiot." Andy was furious.

"Is that why I had Lily call me multiple times telling me I'm a slut?" Jill asked.

"I do not understand what the fuck you're going on about, I've not spoken to Lily since Nate left. In fact, one of my friends told her and Nate to piss off just last week when they were getting all up in my face. I recently rekindled my friendship with Dougie though."

"Doug must have told her then and as a friend, she's calling me a slut..." Jill tried to find a reason.

"I haven't spoken to Doug since before the flight yesterday. He's been trying to call but I haven't exactly been in the right frame of mind to talk. And frankly, I don't fucking care!" Andy was becoming frustrated as Miranda came out of the bedroom wrapped in a bathrobe.

Giving Jillian a small nod she muttered. "I hear the word slut mentioned and find your sister in my suite. How appropriate."

"Miranda sweetheart, not helping," Andy told her as she tried unsuccessfully to suppress a smile. "Lily has been calling Jill all night telling her she's a slut, my confused, hung-over and dehydrated brain can't grasp a reason for that other than some weird alternate universe thing where Em didn't tell her to piss off last week and she's still my friend." Andy shook her head. "But that means you wouldn't be here either 'cause there's no way Lily would be my friend if I was forming a relationship with you 'cause she thinks you're a bitch. And if you weren't with me, there would be no reason for me to punch little dick in the nose as we certainly wouldn't be having dinner together. And without those things, there would be no Page Six article and perhaps my dad would not have decided I'd be better off dead. There's no way I'd be here in this hotel, not on my salary." Andy shook her head and sat down on the sofa holding her head in her hands. "Fucking hell my head hurts."

Miranda rolled her eyes at Andy's logic and language. "Lily's calls are easily explained, she has been sleeping with Nate, from what Douglas told us last night. That particular 'fuck-fest', to use Nigel's endearing term, has been going on for around six months." Miranda said. "Douglas and I told you last night, my darling, you laughed until you cried and then you passed out. Doug had to carry you to bed. By the way, you lied Andy, you do snore." Miranda told her smirking.

"Doug...last night, he's here?" Andy said. "I imagined it was a dream, Nigel, too?"

"Yes, he and Nigel flew out to ensure I was taking good care of you. They're travelling back to New York early tomorrow." Miranda said with a smile. "I promised we would meet them for lunch. Doug will visit your mom this morning with Nigel." Miranda turned and looked at Jill ice filling her eyes. "Now you've disturbed our peace enough. You now know Andy has nothing to do with Lily calling you a slut, however, I possess a firm bit of advice for you Jillian...if the cap fits wear it! You can see yourself out." Grabbing Andy's hand she pulled her off the sofa and back into the bedroom. Hearing the suite room slam she winced. Sitting Andy on the bed she said. "Darling, there's two Tylenol here and a bottle of water. Re-hydrate and I'll run you that bath I promised last night."

"You don't need to..." Andy whispered as she gulped the two tablets down with the water and lay back down.

"I want to take care of you, my darling. Let me." Miranda asked sitting by her side.

"How much did I drink last night?" Andy asked. "It's all such a blur."

"Move over slightly," Miranda asked. As she scooted back Miranda lay by her side and brushed the hair out of her face. "You probably put away a bottle of Jack on your own and a six pack of Budweiser. Nigel and Douglas came well prepared. Before their arrival, you had drunk just over half of the bottle of Jack with me."

"Ugh, if I look as bad as I feel I am sorry for you having to be seen with me," Andy said

"Nonsense. You are beautiful, my darling." Miranda whispered with a smile. "You will be better after a bath and something to eat. I'll order room service shortly."

"I think I'd be better off having a cold shower, I imagine I'd fall asleep in the tub." Andy smiled sadly. "Can I throttle my sister? Do you think I'd get away with it? I could plead temporary insanity."

"I'm sure you'd get away with it. I'd hire the best lawyers for you." Miranda smiled sadly. "It wouldn't be worth it though, my darling."

"I think what scares me the most is that I don't know if I can forgive her. I should do, she's my little sister and I'm aware she isn't perfect, no-one is. What she did though, well it has destroyed every ounce of trust I held in her. And what if mom knew and just did nothing, said nothing? They're my only family and I possess no faith they'll do right by me." Andy let her tears fall.

Pulling her close Miranda held her tight as she ran soothing circles on her back. Tilting Andy's head so she could catch her eye she whispered. "You are a part of another family Andréa. There are me and my girls, Nigel and Douglas, Emily and Serena. We are your family. A family is not always the people you hold a bond of blood with, it is the people who accept you, love you and whose commitment to you is unshakeable. We are the people who will stand by you when your world turns to Hell, unwavering in our support of you. My God darling you even have Irv in your corner, not to mention all the people outside Runway who care for you and respect you, people like James Holt. You reach so many people with your kindness and generosity. How can you not see the positive impact you have on the lives of those around you, my darling?"

"I...I don't know." Andy hiccuped as she fought against her tears. "When I returned from Paris, I called my Parents to ask for some money from my trust fund to buy necessities for the apartment, my Dad had plenty to say about it, about my life in New York and Nate leaving." Andy sighed. "It shouldn't have been that hard to get money I'm legally entitled to."

"What was the problem?" Miranda queried. "You don't have to tell me. I know financial matters can be hard to discuss in a new relationship."

"I have no problem discussing it. My Grams set up a trust for Brad, Jill and I to be provided, upon her death, on our 21st birthday, If she lived past that we would receive it upon her death as part of the legal settlement of her estate. When Brad died, she put his share in mine and Jill's trusts equally. At 21 I had no idea what I would do with $75,000 so I let Dad talk me into giving it to him to invest. Ever since it's been an uphill battle to get anything from it."

"Do you know what kind of return you have had on your investments, or what he invested in?" Miranda asked. Seeing Andy shake her head she sighed. "Well you should hear about it within the next few weeks, I can put you in touch with my investment analyst Graeme, he's a whiz with all things financial. You could even purchase that excessively large Hummer you mentioned yesterday." Miranda smiled.

"I don't care about the money, not really," Andy told her. "I'd rather have Grams here, she would have liked you. She was what was known as a ballsy woman. She adored my Grandpa, but she ruled him with an iron fist." Andy grinned happily at her memories.

"Was she the jazz singer?" Miranda asked.

"Yea, she was awesome, I have some of her music on CDs in my old room at my parents. She used to tell mom and dad to leave me be. I would be who I am meant to be, and that there was nothing they could do about it. I miss her every day."

"The people who touch your life never really leave you, my darling, they leave a bit of themselves behind," Miranda told her softly. "Your Grandmother lives on in you, it shows up in your talents, your love of music and literature is an extension of that, your ability to sing, play piano and guitar is just another way you carry on her legacy." Miranda smiled. "How's your head now?"

"Better since the water. How are you not feeling as rough as I do?" Andy asked.

"I have a fairly high tolerance, and I didn't drink as much as you. I stopped just after we finished the first bottle." Miranda smirked at the brunette. "Nigel finally got around to showing me the video of Vogue, really Andréa it was something else. You had the dance moves down too."

"Oh God, I will kill him." Andy covered her face to cover her embarrassment.

"I cannot really do without my Creative Director, my darling. I hope you will refrain from committing any acts of murder on one of the few competent staff members I have." Miranda chuckled lightly. "He said he couldn't wait to show Beth that and it also seems he has somehow captured your Pink performance from last week."

Andy groaned. "I make no promises about not killing him. I'm going to shower."

Miranda chuckled. "Do you want anything in particular for breakfast?" She asked.

"Eggs and bacon...and coffee. Oh my God coffee is a must." Andy declared as she moved from the bed and headed towards the bathroom. Spinning around, she grinned at Miranda as she was lay on the bed watching her. She walked back towards her.

"I thought you were having a shower?" Miranda queried.

"I forgot something," Andy told her. Bending down she kissed Miranda's cheek. "Thank you, sweetheart. You've been amazing."

"Go get your shower. You smell like you bathed in that whiskey." Miranda smirked up at Andy.

"Going off how I feel I think maybe I did." Andy smiled and stalked back to the bathroom.

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Twenty minutes later Miranda knocked on the door of the bathroom where she could still detect the shower running. Hearing no response she called through the door. "Breakfast is here darling." Moving to the room service cart she wheeled it to the coffee table in the living room and arranged the food on the table. Pouring herself a coffee she paced, as she sipped her drink, her concern growing with the time Andy was taking in the bathroom. Walking back to the bathroom she knocked again. "Andréa." She called. "May I come in?" Hearing a muffled response she stalked into the bathroom, which was filled with cold condensation. Hearing the sobs coming from deep in the shower she stalked over and opened the shower screen door to find Andy curled up in a ball on the floor with her arms wrapped tightly around her knees. Stripping quickly she stepped into the shower and turned the water up into a warm position. Kneeling beside the brunette pulled her into her arms. "God, you're freezing." She whispered.

"Mir...Miranda?" Andy queried teeth chattering.

"Shh, let's get you warmed up and out of here," Miranda whispered. "It's okay, you're okay. I'm here darling."

"You...well...you're in the shower with me...you're naked," Andy whispered.

"Well, of course. I couldn't very well get in here in my silk pyjamas and bathrobe. It's good to see your powers of deduction haven't been frozen with the icy water." Miranda smiled at Andy's look of shock and amazement.

Andy's eyes roamed over Miranda hungrily. "You're so beautiful." She whispered.

"As are you. Are you ready to leave the shower? Are you warm enough?" Miranda queried. "Breakfast has arrived."

"I need to just wash my hair. I'm sorry." Andy told her.

"No apologies, my darling. Let me help with your hair." Miranda said softly.

"Okay," Andy whispered as she stood

Miranda smiled as she massaged shampoo through Andy's long hair. "Your hair is magnificent," Miranda whispered as she rinsed the shampoo and began the conditioning.

"Gram's used to say we had Indian blood running through our veins. Did you know Ohio comes from Iroquois Indian word for beautiful river?"

"It doesn't surprise me, I believe the overlook we sat at last night would provide a wonderful vista in the daylight hours. I never expected to say this but Cincinnati has a certain charm, maybe it's the company here." Miranda smiled happily as she switched places with Andy and washed her own hair. "I won't be too long, it'll be good to leave the conditioner to sit for a few minutes, anyway."

Andy stepped backwards and watched Miranda as she completed washing her hair. Once it was completed, and she set it with conditioner and switched places with Andy again to rinse her hair thoroughly. "I have to say, darling, that this wasn't the outcome I expected when I've imagined of sharing a shower with you," Miranda told her with a grin.

"You've thought of showering with me?" Andy questioned a smug smile lighting up her face.

"I've thought of doing a multitude of things with you, showering is just one of them," Miranda told her with a mischievous smile. "Switch." She told her. As Andy stepped away Miranda rinsed her hair and switched the shower off. "Come, we'll get dressed..." Miranda stepped out of the shower and grabbed a towel. Holding it out, she wrapped it around Andy as she followed her before wrapping herself in one.

"Your coffee will be cold," Andy whispered.

"Well, I'll just order a fresh pot." Miranda smiled at the brunette. "Fresh bacon and eggs too if necessary." Andy looked down embarrassed. "Do you want to tell me what this was about?" Miranda asked lightly.

"I...I'm so overwhelmed, by everything," Andy admitted. "I usually have a cold shower when I'm hung-over, it clears my head. I didn't realise how long I'd been in there." Andy admitted shivering.

"We'll find you some warm clothes, my darling. Come." Miranda held out her hand and upon it being grasped led the brunette into the bedroom. Pulling her in for a hug she whispered. "Don't be scared to show me when you're overwhelmed, my darling. It's good to let it all out Andréa, but I am here, I will love you and offer you my support for as long as you allow." Stepping back from the embrace Miranda cupped Andy's face in her palms. "I can be strong for you when you believe you cannot be strong for yourself. You don't have to carry this load alone. You are not alone."

"I love you, Miranda," Andy whispered. "So much."

"I love you too, Andréa," Miranda said giving her a breathtaking smile.

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Chapter Text

Andy stepped towards Miranda as she saw her smile. "Sweetheart?" She whispered.

"Yes, my darling?" Miranda queried.

"I just...I'm...Never mind." Andy stuttered. She turned her back on Miranda and stalked to her luggage frustrated with herself for her inability to voice what was in her mind.

Miranda looked back at the brunette as she searched her bags for clothes wrapped in nothing but a towel. She took a deep breath and stepped towards her. "Andréa tell me what you want." She requested softly.

Andy continued to rummage through her luggage, unable to look Miranda in the eye. "I wanted...I was going to ask...fuck!" Andy spun around and Miranda saw the fire in her eyes. "Part of me thinks you should be at home with the twins, not here putting up with me and my family dysfunction."

"Well if you don't want me here..." Miranda stated sadly and turned away.

Andy grabbed her wrist. "I do. It's just...well you keep having to pick up the pieces as my world falls apart repeatedly." Andy shook her head. "I'm scared that you may tire of it and I don't want to lose you too."

"My darling, no!" Miranda moved closer. "Look at me!" She asked. Andy raised her eyes to Miranda's and got lost, drowning in the depths of blue. "How many times must I tell you, I am not going anywhere? I'm in this for as long as you allow," Miranda told her, her sincerity clear in the softening of her eyes. "None of this is on you, you are a casualty of other people's betrayal, their inability to cherish a genuine soul, a diamond in a world of stone." Miranda shook her head sadly and grabbed Andy's hand, looking down she realised it was used to punch Stephen, she raised her eyes again. "I'm sorry, I forgot." She whispered trying to let it go.

"It doesn't hurt Miranda, the bruising looks much worse than it is." Andy entwined their fingers and stepped towards Miranda as she lifted the bruised hand to her mouth and placed a gentle kiss on it.

"I am where I want to be, my darling, with you," Miranda told her before turning Andy's hand and placing a kiss on her palm. "To be as loyal and as protective of you as you are to me." She kissed the inside of Andy's wrist softly. "To love you the way I can see you love me." She smiled and let go of Andy's hand as she heard a slight hitch in the young woman's breathing.

"What I said about you not being here, it wasn't what I was going to say," Andy admitted.

"No? So what was it?" Miranda queried.

"I want you to take me to bed," Andy whispered.

Miranda looked at softly. "Are you sure? Once we do this there cannot be any regrets."

"Sweetheart I wouldn't have regretted it if it had happened yesterday. We met each other almost a year ago now, we had a professional relationship until recently, and over time I got to know you, and...Well...Somewhere along the way, I fell in love with you. We even had one date..."

"Two." Miranda reminded her. "We had coffee yesterday. If we had got around to folding laundry that would be three, four would have been Les Mis and lunch today would be five." Miranda reminded her of what she had told her the day before as they strolled through the park. "Now I will not take you to bed right this second, but it will happen my Andréa. We should get dressed and ready for the day."

"Well if you insist," Andy muttered breathlessly.

Miranda smiled brightly and pulled Andy into a tight hug. "It is so right holding you in my arms Andréa. You surround me with your warmth and it's like I am finally home. But we need coffee and a decision is needed on what you want to do today."

"I want to go to my par...Mom's, there are things I would like to take back to New York." Andy told her as she stepped back and turned back to her luggage. Grabbing a pair of jeans, underwear and a t-shirt. "I will not be particularly fashionable today."

Miranda rolled her eyes and smiled as she stalked over to her own luggage. Pulling out a pair of black Sass Bide skinny legged jeans and a white Ralph Lauren polo and her chucks. She found underwear and turned towards Andy who had pulled on her underwear and jeans as Miranda's back was turned. She watched as Andy pulled a red V-neck fitted t-shirt over her head and smoothed it across her toned stomach. "You are lovely, my darling," Miranda told her sincerely.

"I'm not wearing one label," Andy admitted.

Miranda stalked over and walked around the brunette. "With being as tall as you are the boyfriend jeans are perfect, even with the distressed design. Slung low on your hips they fit your backside perfectly before offering a loose fit along your beautiful long legs. The fitted t-shirt works well with them. It is casual, but it suits you." Andy smiled at her in disbelief. "What shoes are you planning on? Your converse?"

"I'll wear ballet flats," Andy told her with a small smile.

"Acceptable." Miranda offered her a smile in return. "I'd cuff the jeans though."

"I will, thank you. I'll just go do something with my hair." Andy told her as she sauntered to the bathroom.

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By the time Andy had come out of the bathroom, her hair tied in a high ponytail, Miranda was dressed. Sat on the edge of the bed she spoke quietly into her cell. "I don't care how you do it, James, if you're going to do it, do it...Yes, dinner next week sounds acceptable...I will check her availability and get Emily to arrange it. Thank you for calling." She disconnected the call and sighed.

"How are the twins?" Andy asked surprising Miranda.

"They are good, they enjoy their time with their father but they claim they are missing me. It wasn't really the reason for my call to James. We were discussing Nate." Miranda looked up. "He is being relieved of his position at the Oak Room effective of tomorrow."

Andy winced. "I didn't want him losing his job over this. Not really."

"It is not just over this. I helped finance this venture with James, I am one of a few silent partners." Miranda smiled at Andy's look of amazement. "James and I had a discussion before this about the hiring a sous chef who wasn't fitting in. He had given attitude to the head chef and alienated other chefs in the kitchen." Miranda scowled. "I did not understand who it was at the time but I mentioned to James two weeks ago that if it was me running things he would be fired. James called me this morning to ask for advice. His sous chef, Nate, hadn't arrived at work last night. He called 45 minutes after his shift started, to tell them he was stuck in New York, a death in the family."

"What? No? That doesn't sound like something he'd do." Andy whispered.

"Well, it seems he's using the death in your family to shirk his responsibilities to his employer. That is unacceptable and along with his poor attitude, that is what is responsible for his losing the position. I pointed that out to James, and once he heard what Nate said to us both I have been assured there will be no recommendation coming from the Oak Room." Miranda sighed. "It will make it difficult for him to find work in both New York and Boston and I need to warn you that there may also be repercussions from this."

"How? Andy asked.

"I warned Nate yesterday afternoon that if he didn't leave your apartment, I would have the job taken from him. It was not an idle threat at the time. I also told Doug when I found out about Nate and Lily that I would ensure he could not find a job on the East Coast. I may have also threatened to speak with Roy about some Marine style retribution."

Andy sat beside the editor and grasped her hand. "Did you speak with Roy?"

"No, Nigel did," Miranda admitted. "Roy picked Nigel and Doug up to take them to the airport and Nigel explained what had occurred since being in Cincinnati. Let's just say Roy was not too thrilled by the young man's actions towards you, he appreciates loyalty, and it is why he's been driving me for the last 15 years."

"Well, we'll handle whatever comes from this together sweetheart." Andy smiled sadly. "A restaurant like the Oak Room was always Nate's dream. I feel bad for him but it sounds like he's brought it on himself. Even if you demanded his immediate release, I wouldn't blame you. His behaviour towards you has been reprehensible."

"I was trying to remain passive, for you. It is well known I can unleash my fury on those who cross me, but after speaking with Doug I realised I did not want to take that action, that it could affect what we are building together."

"It would only affect us if we let it," Andy told her pulling her in a one-armed hug until Miranda's head was resting on her shoulder. "All I ask is that you are honest with me Miranda." She breathed, kissing her temple. "Now if you want to finish getting ready for the day, I'll order us a fresh pot of coffee and some breakfast."

Turning Miranda placed a soft kiss on Andy's cheek. "Thank you Andréa."

"It should be I thanking you," Andy whispered softly.

"You have multiple times. As you are aware, my darling I do nothing I don't want to." Miranda told her with a smirk. "James would like us both to have dinner with him soon. I said I would check with you."

"Your first husband wants to have dinner with me, your assistant?" Andy asked in disbelief.

"No, my first husband and the father of my babies would like to meet my...my girlfriend Andréa, rather than the assistant of the same name." Miranda clarified.

"What's the difference?" Andy muttered looking down at her hands.

Miranda stalked towards her, tilting Andy's chin and catching her eye she gave just a one-word answer. "Everything."

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After breakfast and a pot of hot coffee, Andy and Miranda made their way out of the Hotel and into a cold but bright winter day. Miranda shivered into her leather jacket causing Andy to look at her concerned. "The winter here takes getting used to, at least it's not snowing. Will you be okay?"

"Miranda grinned. "It's a bit chilly after being indoors. I should have brought a better jacket. You seem to be managing with yours though and mine is shearling-lined."

"Andy smiled. "I'm used to this. I had 18 years of these winters before moving to California for a year and then onto Chicago." Before entering the car Andy spoke quietly to the driver, and he gave her a quick nod of understanding as Miranda looked on in curiosity.

"What was that about darling?" She asked.

"Ah, I need to make a quick pit stop," Andy muttered as she held the door open for Miranda. Moving quickly around to the passenger side she slid into the car and it moved into traffic. Within five minutes they were at Saks Fifth Avenue and Andy exited the car quickly. Leaning back in towards Miranda she grinned. "I'll be five minutes."

Miranda smiled at her. "I'll be waiting. I'll send some emails." She waved her cell at Andy.

Andy ran through the store, to the accessories department. Finding a red scarf and beanie set she smiled happily. Looking around she saw a Burberry scarf and got it for Miranda. Within five minutes she was back in the car and they were moving through traffic to Indian Hill.

Miranda was gazing at Andy curiosity clouding her eyes. "Are you going to show me what you purchased?" She asked.

Andy pulled out her red beanie and scarf and handed the bag to Miranda. "This is for you." She smiled happily when Miranda looked into the bag and grinned as she pulled her the Burberry scarf out and wrapped it around her neck.

"Thank you, my darling. That was very thoughtful of you." Miranda told her gently.

"You're welcome." Andy blushed. "I wouldn't want you getting cold and sick because of this weather."

"I'll do my best not to become an incubus of viral plague." Andy sniggered. "Can you tell me about your childhood home?" Miranda asked.

"Well it's a shingled roofed ranch style brick house, it's open plan. It sits on just over four acres of woodland. It's all marble and hardwood floors, beamed ceilings and has multiple wood-burning fireplaces. It was built back in '78. It has 4 bedrooms and 4 1/2 bathrooms and a fully converted basement. That's where Doug made his home when he stayed with us."

"It sounds like it would have been a beautiful place to grow up," Miranda told her.

"It was...it is a beautiful home. It holds lots of wonderful memories. There are lots of sad ones too." Andy smiled sadly. "It's not seemed like home for a long time."

"What changed? Brad?" Miranda queried.

"Partly. God this is hard to talk about. Would you mind if we waited 'til we got to the house?" Andy asked.

"Not at all. If it is something you cannot talk about I understand." Miranda told her.

"It's probably time I spoke of it," Andy told her softly. "I've never really spoken about it before now, mom tried but I couldn't," Andy admitted.

Miranda held her hand gently as they continued the drive to Andy's childhood home.

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As they drove up towards the house Miranda gaped at the large house that Andy grew up in. As the car came to a stop outside the house Miranda looked at her. "It's a charming house Andréa."

Andy grinned. "Come on, sweetheart." It'll be warmer inside, and mom enjoys good coffee so I'm sure there's some available."

"That would be amazing, darling." Miranda stepped out of the car and looked around seeing the large over-sized picture windows, as Andy met her and clasping her hand led her to the door. Pulling her keys out she opened the door and stood aside gesturing for Miranda to enter.

As Miranda entered Andy followed and grasping her hand she pulled the older woman towards the kitchen as she loosened her scarf and jacket. Entering the room she frowned at the dishes and coffee left on the table. Shaking her head, she released Miranda's hand and shrugged her jacket off, placing it on the back of one of the chairs, she moved towards the coffee maker. "Please make yourself comfortable. I'm just going to get rid of this mess." Andy told her waving her hand between the Kitchenaid coffee maker and the table. "And then I'll put fresh coffee on."

"I'll help," Miranda said as she took her coat and scarf off mimicking Andy's previous movements and laying them on the back of a chair. She grabbed plates and cutlery from the table and placed them beside the sink. She looked out at the screened in porch that walked out to a wraparound deck with a built-in spa. The outlook offered great views. She ran hot water into the sink and rinse the plates.

Andy grinned at her as she cleaned out the filter on the coffee machine. "Look at us being all domestic."

Miranda smirked at her. "I have washed dishes occasionally, darling."

Andy moved the rinsed dishes into the hidden dishwasher until the table was clear of everything. Miranda cleaned out the coffee carafe carefully and handed it back to Andy as she moved to seat herself at the table as Andy busied herself with the coffee machine. "You heard my tirade to Jill last night," Andy spoke quietly. "Asking if Nate told her how selfish and lacking I am. They're feelings I carry with me every day. The selfish part is for staying with him knowing I didn't truly love him. The lacking, well there are multiple areas where I may be found so."

"You also have multiple traits to admire. Your passion, your ferocious loyalty, your ability to meet any challenge head-on. You are an incredible young woman." Miranda told her.

Andy walked over to the table with the coffee and sat down next to the older woman. Looking down she stared into her coffee cup. "I got pregnant at 20, after my first time with Nate." She let out a bleak bark of laughter. "We were drunk and not as careful as we should have been. A few days after it happened I came home for the summer vacation, as a family, we went to Hawaii and Nate visited occasionally at weekends. I was in two minds about building a relationship with him but he continued to pursue me." Andy said sadly. "Anyway towards the end of the vacation, my dad went away on business. I was here with mom and Jill when I was hit with severe pain, vomiting and bleeding. They rushed me to the ER." She looked up and offered a weak smile. "I found out I was six weeks pregnant and it was an ectopic pregnancy, as it was detected early I could be treated with drugs to stop the...well foetus...developing. I went for a further check-up and investigation showed it may have been caused by asymptomatic endometriosis. I'd had no symptoms, well apart from the irregular periods at times of stress. It had been causing damage for years. There was a chance for more children though there would always be a risk of another ectopic pregnancy or a miscarriage."

"I'm sorry, my darling," Miranda whispered clasping the brunette's hand in hers

Andy shrugged. "It's something I had to come to terms with."

Miranda looked up quickly. "You just said your endometriosis diagnosis meant you may be able to have children. But last night you asked Jillian if Nate had shared with her you couldn't give him the babies he wanted."

"Andy closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "Eighteen months ago I was diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Failure. I'd gone to seek help as I was having terrible night sweats and hot flushes, I was irritable and sex had become painful, not that I was interested, anyway. Due to the additional health implications they put me on hormone replacement therapy, I also take calcium and vitamin D supplements. Other than Nate you are the only other person I have told."

Miranda was shocked. Knowing she could start her own menopause was devastating enough. She couldn't quite fathom how her Andréa would feel, to be told at 23, the diagnosis. "Oh, my darling..." She whispered.

"There's still such a stigma associated with infertility, a lack of understanding. I've walked away from so many situations where there's been a pregnancy announcement, not because I'm not happy for the couple but because I'm sad for myself, that I'll never hold a child and see my own eyes staring back at me. Or when someone asked when Nate and I would try for babies. It is like the death of a dream." Andy whispered hoarsely fighting her tears. "The diagnosis left me feeling numb and then it broke my heart. It left me assuming I was less of a woman. And Nate, with Lily and Jill, I think it is my fault. I caused the strain in most of my relationships with people."

"Why would you think that?" Miranda asked softly.

"Before Runway, I'd been struggling to focus on completing tasks, I had difficulty concentrating. I couldn't sleep. I had continuous feelings of guilt and worthlessness. I was experiencing nothing but bitterness and anger. And because no-one could seem to understand I pulled away from everyone. After I got the job at Runway, I put all my energy into it, pulling away even further. And I found I didn't mind, the job kept me busy enough not to dwell on my pain and I became happier, it allowed me to become tired enough I can sleep so I am well rested." Andy tried to explain.

"Did you try therapy?" Miranda asked.

"Yea, talking to a stranger didn't help, and I found I couldn't talk to my family or friends either."

"Why me?" Miranda queried.

"Because I trust you," Andy admitted honestly.

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At Andy's declaration of trust, Miranda was shocked. Few people had given her their trust so willingly. "You trust me?" Miranda questioned incredulously. "Why?"

"I listened to you, got to know you, we built a relationship with one another and I saw who you are, not just through your words but also your actions. You aren't necessarily an open book Miranda, but you are a straight shooter. You are guarded but you also don't lie about who you are. Why shouldn't I trust in that? I know I have the tendency to wear my heart on my sleeve and I often let myself be too vulnerable to this world and the people in it. But like you I never lie about the woman I am."

"I learned in life, to trust very few people. I used to tell people of the pain and the happiness of my life but it seemed that people truly didn't care. There are a few good people in this world, I recognize them. Yet, mostly I find myself disappointed by the people I expected the most from. You are one exception, Andréa." Miranda admitted. "I loved James, all he knew was how to lie and cheat. How do you open your heart to someone else when everyone you have loved has only deceived you and let you down?"

"Its life sweetheart, it is bittersweet. It's making mistakes, learning and growing. And with that, you have to open your heart to trust and open your heart to life and love. Personally, I take the bad with the good and try to count my blessings. I also try so hard to be a good person. It seems I am just now getting all the shitty people out of my life but I refuse to be cold-hearted and to not love because without love we are nothing. We all need love, it is what keeps us going." Andy smiled. "And I think you recognise that."

"Whatever do you mean?" Miranda asked as she got up to grab them both another coffee.

"Well I mentioned that you're guarded, I also know how private you are. Yet I have found a willingness in you to open yourself up. You have told me things about yourself which I'm sure has made you feel exposed and vulnerable. And you have been amazingly caring and considerate. You have been there when I needed someone, we've spent much time together and you don't seem overly displeased with my company." Andy grinned at Miranda as she sat down and handed her a fresh coffee. "Thanks." She said appreciatively.

"I enjoy your company," Miranda told her softly, affection burning in her eyes. "What else makes you trust me?" Miranda asked.

"Up on the roof that day you told me I wouldn't lose you, and I believed it. It offered me a security I have not experienced before. And since then you informed me multiple times you aren't going anywhere, even when it's been an inconvenience. It's knowing you are the person who will never abandon me, never leave me alone and stranded and never give up on me or let me go." Andy's eyes started to tear. "That is why I trust you." She whispered.

"I've meant every word my darling. Now dry your eyes, we came here for a reason and we have just three hours until we meet Nigel and Douglas for lunch."

"Would you like to see the rest of the house?" Andy asked.

"I will be happy to see whatever you choose to show me, we can always return for the grand tour another time."

"Then I'll just show you the important stuff." Andy grinned as Miranda rolled her eyes.

"Really, darling?" Miranda grinned back at her as she stood. "Lead the way Andréa. I can't wait to see whatever stuff you show me."

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Chapter Text

Andy moved them around the house as Miranda took it all in. In the family room, Andy stood still as Miranda made her way to the bookcase surrounding the back wall of the room. The shelf at eye level held many photographs of the family. Picking one up, she smiled at a photo of Beth with Andy and Brad at around four years old. Andréa with her dark curls and bright smile and Brad with blonde curls and a scowl.

"He wasn't happy in that photo. He wanted to ride his trike and climb the Sycamore tree out back, not have 'stupid' photos taken." Andy told her softly.

"You look so similar yet so different," Miranda breathed. "I've seen that same scowl when you're displeased."

Andy grinned at her. "He took after mom much more than I did," Andy told her as she watched Miranda place the photograph back on the shelf.

Miranda's eye was caught by a photo of the teenage Andy. Whoever had taken the photo had captured her with her arms wrapped loosely around her knees looking into the distance with a small smile on her face. "I cannot understand why you didn't have a prom date. Looking like that I would assume that there would be young men queuing down the road to ask you. You're beautiful." Miranda told her breathlessly.

"Thank you. I had offers, no-one ever caught my interest though. The boys in my class always seemed so silly. The jocks just wanted to get in my pants because of the way I was it was deemed a challenge. The other boys just didn't understand how to talk to me, or they found me unapproachable because I towered above them or because they had known Brad. High school was shitty."

"So you decided to go stag?" Miranda queried.

"Well Doug couldn't or wouldn't take a date, could you imagine the uproar if he'd even attempted to take one? It was 2000, he was living here by then. Lily was going through a Goth phase and everyone thought she was into witchcraft. We made a good threesome. There's the photo." Andy stepped by her side and pointed to a photograph of the three friends with arms wrapped around each other, Andy's face lit up with laughter as Doug looked at her in adoration while Lily's face held a frown.

"Douglas still looks at you like that, it was the look he gave you when on his knees in front of you at that karaoke bar. If he wasn't so obviously gay I would be utterly jealous." Miranda smirked and Andy smiled widely at her words. "I can see why you said the house has good memories. These photographs show that the house was a happy home. You were obviously loved."

"There was a lot of love. It's one reason I'm struggling with my Dad's behaviour yesterday. I know he adored my mom. I guess we'll never find out what was going on in his head."

"Sometimes we aren't able to get the answers we so desperately crave, my darling," Miranda told her sadly.

"Come on I'll show you my room," Andy said as she grabbed Miranda's hand and let her down the hall to her room. Miranda took it all in, the movie posters and photographs on the wall around her dresser. The queen bed with the hand crocheted throw, the bookcase filled with the classic books and a stack of CDs. Miranda spotted the guitar in the corner of the room.

Seeing Miranda's eyes light up at the guitar Andy smiled. "That's one thing I want to take home. I miss being able to play, I find it helps me unwind."

Walking to the bookcase Miranda pulled out a well-thumbed copy of To the Lighthouse. She flipped it open to a page with a crease in the corner, seeing highlighted text she read aloud. "She had known happiness, exquisite happiness, intense happiness, and it silvered the rough waves a little more brightly, as daylight faded, and the blue went out of the sea and it rolled in waves of pure lemon which curved and swelled and broke upon the beach and the ecstasy burst in her eyes and waves of pure delight raced over the floor of her mind and she felt, It is enough! It is enough!"

"You read that beautifully," Andy told her as Miranda put the book back and made her way to the bed sitting against the headboard. Andy moved to her closet and grabbing a holdall she gathered items into a pile. Stalking over to the CD player in the corner she grinned as she switched it on. Cry Me a River played softly in the background. "I hope you don't mind?" She questioned softly.

"Not at all." Listening intently Miranda grinned. "Now I recognise this isn't Julie London, is it your Grandma?" She asked.

"Yeah, this is Grams. It's one of my favourites." Andy told her looking down as she packed her bag.

"She had a beautiful voice," Miranda said. "Now do you need any help?"

"Nah, I'm almost done." Andy pulled multiple CD's off her shelf and stuffed them in her bag as the next song kicked in, Andy hummed along to At Last causing Miranda to smile. Seeing Miranda's smile she caught her eye and sang along with the last verse. "You smiled, you smiled, oh and then the spell was cast. And here we are in Heaven, for you are mine...At Last!"

Miranda was amazed. "You can sing Jazz." She stated.

Andy blushed. "Nah, not really. Just that song, it resonates deeply. I'm no Julie London." She grinned at the editor as she walked over and sat beside her. "It seems strange you being here." She admitted.

"Why?" Miranda asked.

"Well, none of my previous boyfriends got to see my room, not even during the day with the door open." Andy grinned. "Dad told Nate that under no circumstance was he to enter this part of the house. He was made to sleep in what was Doug's room in the basement. The one time I tried to sneak down there that first summer Dad caught me and I got a 'Not under my roof' speech."

Miranda smiled back sadly. "I believe your father may have given me the same speech if he accepted me into his home."

"Then I wouldn't have been coming home," Andy told her. "I would be wherever you are. I wouldn't allow anyone I was with made to think themselves unwelcome, and I'm sure mom wouldn't either. That is not who we are."

"I don't know who your mom is anymore but the person I remember was gracious and kind," Miranda said. "Do you plan to see her today?" She asked.

"Yeah. I suppose there are arrangements to be made." Andy said sadly.

"I'll help with whatever I can darling," Miranda whispered as she pulled the young woman closer.

"Can we stay like this a little longer?" Andy asked hesitantly.

"Of course," Miranda whispered. Hearing a sigh she settled herself with Andy curled by her side, head resting against her chest and an arm wrapped around her waist. Placing a kiss on her head she whispered. "We can stay like this as long as you need."

The music changed in the CD stacker and Miranda raised her eyebrows as a cover of Bryan Adams Everything I Do, played. Miranda gasped as she recognised the voice. "You?" She asked.

"Yeah, I was trying to work on a CD for mom and dad's anniversary last year. This is just a rough cut. I forgot it was in there." Andy made to move. "I'll just switch it." She said nervously.

Miranda grasped her upper arm gently and pulled her back down so they were back in their previous position with Andy's head resting on her chest. "You'll do no such thing Andréa." She whispered. "I could listen to your beautiful voice all day."

Andy smiled up at Miranda cheekily. "Well, you kinda do already. I'm sure my consistent babbling thrills you no end."

"You do not understand, my darling..." Miranda whispered placing her fingers under Andy's chin as she tilted her head and pulled her in for a gentle kiss. "...just what a thrill your voice gives me."

Andy brushed her lips softly against Miranda's teasingly as her thumb stroked her cheek lightly causing the older woman to pull her closer, as their kiss deepened. They kissed as if their lives depended on it, pulling at each other's lips with their teeth and thrusting and curling their tongues around in each other's mouths. Occasionally one of them would pull away to take a few deep ragged breaths, but always they would return to the wild, uncontrollable kissing. A warm flush had spread across Andy's cheeks as her desire increased. The worries of the last few days evaporated. "God, I could kiss you forever," Andy whispered breathlessly as she broke their kiss and ran her fingers around Miranda's neck and tangled them at the silky hair at the nape of her neck.

Miranda was breathing hard, her heart beating furiously in her chest. She was holding Andy tight against her as she stared into molten chocolate eyes, almost black with desire, burning with an intensity that took her breath away. "Andréa, my beautiful Andréa." She whispered as she reached out and swept the hair out of Andy's face before capturing her lips in another searing kiss. She moaned into the kiss as Andy lay back pulling Miranda slightly on top of her as her hands stroked down and cupped her ass.

Miranda's heart pounded like it would burst out of her chest as she moved her tongue across Andy's full bottom lip seeking entrance and it was granted immediately their tongues entwining as they danced around. Closing her eyes, she moved slightly and her knee fell softly between Andy's thighs, denim brushing denim, protecting the hot skin beneath. She couldn't stop herself from moving against the woman beneath her, pressing her thigh into Andy as she found a thigh pressing deliciously against her, the friction almost unbearable.

Miranda kisses devoured as her fingers edged beneath Andy's t-shirt, caressing, a warm, taut stomach pressed against her, breasts soft and giving against her own. Breaking their kiss she trailed her lips across Andy's jaw before nipping the pulse point in her neck. She could sense Andy's heart beating rapidly against her lips as she placed a hot kiss on it. She breathed in deeply, taking in the scent of her hair and the sweet scent of skin. Miranda kissed her once again on her pulse point before working her way up the side of her face until she reached Andy's mouth, lips open in anticipation of more kisses. She brought her lips down one again, nipping the bottom lip before caressing the tip of her tongue against the brunettes. Andy moaned into the kiss. The passion with which she was being kissed, and the movement of Miranda on top of her leaving her breathless and bringing her over the edge, she arched into the woman above her and shuddering as her orgasm hit.

Miranda opened her eyes. Their eyes locked on each other, taking in the beauty of one another. "Did you just..." Miranda asked. Seeing embarrassment bloom across Andy's cheeks Miranda shook her head gently. "Don't be embarrassed my darling, I was right yesterday." Andy looked at her confused. Smiling softly she leaned down and whispered. "You do look spectacular coming undone beneath me."

"Oh my God," Andy whispered covering her eyes and giggling uncontrollably. "You make me respond like a horny hormone-crazed teenager."

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Miranda lay and listened to Andy's joyful laughter. Feeling a tear splash on her forehead she realised the brunette was also crying. Raising her head off Andy's chest she raised her hand and swept the tears away from the young woman's with the pad of her thumb. "Talk to me, darling. Is there anything I can do to make it better?" Miranda asked softly.

"You being here is enough Miranda. I am just so very grateful and right now I am so blessed." Andy whispered hoarsely. Looking down at the editor she smiled through her tears. "It's been so long since I felt this good. Since the diagnosis, I've been so..." Andy trailed off in the search for words. "...so broken, crushed both mentally and physically. And you make me feel so..." She exhaled a deep breath to calm herself. "...wonderfully alive."

"My darling, I am sorry if this has been too much, too soon. From our first hug to our first kiss outside Planet Rose, oh my God that kiss knocked my entire world off its axis, and the time we have shared since Friday evening, I found I hold such an irrepressible hunger for you. I can't seem to help myself where you are concerned, I can't get enough." Miranda hid her face back in Andy's chest.

"No, don't apologise, please," Andy whispered as she tilted Miranda's face up to make eye contact. "It is not too much, but it is more than I ever expected. I must admit I've been scared, that although I desire you my body wouldn't be able to follow through, that it would let me down." Andy admitted. "I understand the HRT is supposed to help but until this last few days...well I've not always been as responsive as I should or could be, not even when by myself." Andy blushed intensely. "This is different though, the yearning I experience for you has inflamed my mind, body and soul. I also can't seem to get enough."

Miranda raised her head and pressed a delicate kiss against Andy's lips. Exploring the kiss as it was returned, inviting her deeper, Miranda encountered a jolt of desire as it ran through her. Pulling away she breathed heavily again. "Darling, we need to stop." She gasped. "Otherwise I will take you here and now, and there's lunch to attend."

Andy smiled happily. "I'll take a rain check then. God forbid we miss lunch, Nigel would be furious."

"Acceptable," Miranda said huskily. Pulling away she sat upright. Closing her eyes, she breathed deeply to get herself under control. Opening her eyes she looked at Andy and smirked. "You have no idea what you do to me Andréa."

Smiling back at the older women Andy muttered. "Oh, I think I do. You produce that effect, and more, on me too." She settled back against the headboard. Miranda snuggled back into her as the CD continued to play. Miranda listened intently as Andy stroked her hair out of her face.

"Can I take this CD?" Miranda asked softly.

"Sure, it's not one of my better ones though, as I said it was a rough edit. All my final recordings are on my laptop at home. I'd be happy to let you listen and make up your own disc." Andy told her.

"Really?" Miranda questioned. "That would be marvellous. How many songs do you possess?"

"There are about 80 songs all up covering from when I left high school until last year, my mom has a good few of them she's pulled off a disc and onto her iPod," Andy told her.

"How did you manage so many over the years? Was it a professional studio? I keep thinking of so many questions." Miranda smiled.

"My friend had a home recording studio setup she let me use." Andy grinned. "She started off with a bedroom set up in her teens and it's kind of expanded from there. When she moved out of her parents, she converted her basement into a soundproof room and had everything set up there. It was awesome."

"Are there plans to do more?" Miranda asked.

"No. She moved to London about six months ago. She's working for Sony." Andy told her. "She visited me in New York before she left, we met and had a few drinks. She was shocked when she found out I was working at Runway." Andy grinned. "It was about six weeks after my makeover. She was thrilled with the changes she saw in me, she said she believed Runway had been my baptism by fire."

"Well yes, I suppose you could say that about Runway, it is a test of one's strength." Miranda's smirk grew wider. "And I'm the one stoking the Hellfire." Andy chuckled at that. "She sounds like a good friend. London Fashion Week is coming up in February. I will take you if you're still with us at Runway. You could take the time to meet with her."

"I have made my decision," Andy breathed. Miranda looked up with a frown and saw Andy's brightest smile. "Don't scowl at me, sweetheart," Andy asked.

"Well, I don't think your bed is the best place to discuss employment decisions with your boss." Miranda made to move but was encompassed by Andy's arms.

"I want to stay at Runway Miranda. God, will you stop wriggling and listen?" Andy growled as she pulled Miranda unceremoniously onto her lap. Brushing her forelock. "Fashion isn't my whole world like it is yours but it has become important to me. I want to stay and gain the opportunity to prove myself with the editorial team." Andy explained. "Now are you ready to go?" Andy asked.

"Give me a moment." Miranda smiled up at the brunette. "I had told myself that when you made your mind up, you would decide to leave us at Runway. I am so pleased you are staying...well I can't really find the words...it's like my entire world just spun on its axis again."

"Speechless Miranda? Wow. That's something I never thought I'd see." Andy smiled cheekily as she moved Miranda off her lap and back on to the bed. "I'm just going to go clean up. We can take my car back downtown."

"You own a car here?" Miranda asked.

"Yeah, it gets me from A to B when I'm here and dad always took good care of her when I wasn't around. I spent time from around 15 years old on restoring her to her former glory." Andy smiled at her memories. "Dad helped, Doug tried, but he was a big girl and threw a hissy fit when he got oil under his nails."

Miranda grinned. "I'm curious now, Andréa. I can't wait to see her. Now, it's time to get cleaned up, then I will do the same and we can leave."

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Andy spent around five minutes getting cleaned up before swapping places with Miranda. Spotting the CD from her player placed on top of her bag in her absence she smiled. Walking to the corner that held her guitar she grabbed it and placed it gently on the end of her bed, she found and pulled her guitar case out of her closet and laid it next to her instrument. Picking up the guitar again she stroked the rosewood and sat down. Unable to resist she placed it on her knee, closed her eyes and played.

Miranda moved out of the en-suite upon hearing the guitar to find Andy lost in the music. Leaning against the door frame she was amazed when Andy sang.

When somebody reaches for your heart
Open up and let them through
Cause everybody needs someone around
Things can tumble down on you

You'll discover when you look around
You don't have to be alone
Just one lover is all you need to know
When you're feeling all alone

Oh, you might need somebody
You might need somebody too
You might need somebody too

Andy opened her eyes upon hearing Miranda sigh, her fingers faltering slightly. Seeing a brief smile and nod of the editor's head telling her to continue she picked up the song and continued on to the next verse.

If there's fire stirring in your heart
And you're sure it's strong and right
Keep it burning through the cold and dark
It can warm your lonely nights

Oh, you might need somebody
You might need somebody too
You might need somebody too

Closing her eyes again she sang from her heart. Smiling slightly she continued to sing the final notes.

You might need somebody too, baby
I know I do, Oooh
You might need somebody too, baby
Yeah!

Andy opened her eyes to find Miranda stood in front of her. Looking up into a depth of blue she found herself lost in the gaze. She used to believe Miranda's eyes were ice cold but at that moment she realised why people thought the hottest fires burn blue. The heat of the gaze scorched itself through her very soul.

"My beautiful Andréa," Miranda whispered as she cupped the brunette's cheek and brushed her thumb across Andy's full lips. "You take my breath away." She smiled affectionately as she dropped her hand.

"I hope that never changes," Andy told her as she stood up and kissed her softly on the forehead. "I love you."

"And I you, my darling. I hope you don't mind I appropriated that CD." Her eyes sparkled with laughter.

"Whatever you want, sweetheart, it's yours." Andy smiled as she stepped around the older woman.

"You may regret saying that." Miranda quipped.

As Andy rummaged on her shelves, she looked over her shoulder to where Miranda was stood. "That's very doubtful." She said honestly as she found a disc sleeve. "I found a case for it." Walking over and picking up the CD from the top of her bag she placed it in the sleeve and handed it to Miranda with a shy smile. She spun around and placed her guitar in its case. Miranda hoisted the holdall on to her shoulder as Andy shouldered the guitar. "Come on sweetheart, we're cutting it close for lunch, Nige will have a heart attack if you're late. He's probably working on Miranda time." She smirked as Miranda rolled her eyes.

Andy led the way out of the room and back to the kitchen. Grabbing their coats she dropped the guitar on the table and took the bag from Miranda. She handed Miranda into her jacket before shrugging on her own. Grabbing her car keys and grabbing the bag and guitar again she headed to the garage, switching on the light she smiled. Sitting there was her favourite possession, her red 1982 Alfa Romeo Spider.

Miranda gasped as she saw it. "You own a sports car?"

"Yeah kind of, it's not as low as your Porsche though." Andy smiled widely. "And I still fancy that Hummer." Seeing Miranda's smile again she continued to explain. "It was my Grandpa's. He bought it the year Brad, and I were born. Well Grandpa died a seven years later, Gram's didn't drive, so it wasn't taken care of very well, she wouldn't part with it though. She handed me the keys and title transfer when she found I'd applied for my teen permit. Dad wasn't too thrilled, he always had his eye on it." Andy beamed a megawatt smile.

"It's beautiful my darling," Miranda told her.

"I miss driving it, it's not really an option for me to own a car in New York right now. One day though." Andy opened the trunk and placed her bag and guitar in before opening the passenger door for Miranda and rushing around to the driver's side and sliding in.

"What work did you do on her, she looks almost new?" Miranda asked amazed as Andy reversed out of the garage.

"We had basic work to do when I first got it. It had been in the garage for years, Grams used to get Dad to tick her over to blow away the cobwebs, she had tears in the roof which needed replacing, her bodywork was banged up and scratched but luckily there was no rust. She drove well and most of the damage seemed to be cosmetic. Well, she ran into issues when I was 17. Luckily one of my uncles is a mechanic so we had his garage to complete any work. He was a godsend. We ended up dismantling her entirely and when that was done I had her dipped, primed and resprayed. We gave the engine a good thorough going over replacing the old, worn out and unfixable stuff. Since she's been back in one piece, I've had no issues with her. I replaced the head gasket and had the radiator re-cored last year."

"So how long did it take you to restore her?" Miranda asked as they made their way down I-71.

"Almost three years. We finished it that summer I began to date Nate. I didn't always have the ready cash to throw at her, I worked part-time and helped at the firm when needed. Dad used to tell me to sell her, the car wasn't worth the money being spent, which wasn't all that much really and I'd spent around $7000 when she was done. I paid my uncle in cartons of beer and bottles of Jack Daniels and while I was too young to buy alcohol myself he would just take me to the store in the village and let me pay." Andy smiled." You'll meet my uncle, as soon as he finds out I'm home he usually stops by and we talk music and cars, he played drums in a band for years."

"So why didn't you sell the car?" Miranda asked her softly.

"I couldn't bring myself to get rid of her, it was the last gift I received off Grams before she died. It caused a fair few arguments. But I'm as stubborn as my dad was." Andy grinned. "I won the arguments and Dad loved the car almost as much as I do."

Miranda smiled. "Well, she runs beautifully. You all did a phenomenal job on her."

"There's a case of CD's in the glove compartment if you want," Andy told her. We should be downtown in 20 minutes."

Miranda rummaged in the glove box grabbing a CD case out she found an unopened handwritten letter addressed to Andy. "There's a letter for you in here."

Andy gasped. "Dad used to leave me notes when he knew I was due home. I'd forgotten, didn't think." Andy stuttered.

"I'll put it back," Miranda told her softly.

"No, read it." She asked.

"Are you sure?" Miranda queried. Seeing Andy take a deep breath and give a nod she opened the envelope, shook out the letter she looked at the date. "It's dated the week after Paris," Miranda told her. She read softly.

My beautiful Andy,

There's so much that I wish to say, but it seems I may run out of time, which leaves me no option but to write this.

Knowing you as I do I leave this here in confidence that the first thing you'll do when you come home is trail a blaze in your car. You'll search for just the right song to match your mood and with the roof down and the wind blowing in your hair you will chase the horizon in search of something myself and your mother could never comprehend.

I understand the loss of Brad left an immense hole in your life but even before then it seemed like you had lost something precious but had forgotten what it was. That you were missing someone you had never met. Have you found it? Will you be brave enough to grab onto it and never let go?

What were you been searching for all these years, my beautiful girl? I think I know. The last few months, since I visited New York, opened my eyes to a whole new world regarding you. Did you realise there's a certain spark in your eye when you speak of her, your Miranda? I recognise the look you get, I've seen it first hand from your mom when she thinks I'm not paying attention. I have absolutely no idea if you'll ever actually act on your feelings for her.

Right now I possess one bit of advice for you. Don't run from the opportunity to love. Love is messy and often difficult but life is short and you could miss out on so much greatness in your attempts to guard your precious heart. You are always just one decision away from a totally different life.

I acknowledge I acted like a fool when it comes to your life in New York and your job at Runway, that night I spent with you in the city had me frustrated and angry because you tried your damnedest to get Miranda home for her twins and you were disappointed with yourself, unnecessarily so. I hate seeing you doubt your abilities. There is a lot for you to be proud of, the biggest thing should be the magnificence of your heart and soul.

You're probably frowning right now, wondering where this is leading.

Do you remember how you used to call me egghead when I tested you on state legislature? Well, it's true. Doc says I am in the possession of a grade IV tumour the size of an egg in my brain. My diagnosis isn't good, it cannot be operated on as it's entangled with blood vessels and it's growing quickly. I solicited a second opinion and a third and they all advised the same. I was offered radiation therapy and chemo but they advised there would only be a 10% chance of recovery.

Your mom knows about this but I've asked her not to tell either you or Jillybean. I appreciate we raised you to speak to us with openness and honesty and my request is against every lesson we tried to impart, but I don't want my illness to affect your life. I don't want you to worry or to believe you need to come home, and Jill, well she's turned distant in the few weeks since you cancelled that weekend with us. I don't understand what has happened, but she's hurting and I don't know how to fix it. She won't talk to me or your mom and when I pushed her for answers she moved out.

I can't say how much time I have left with you all, or if I will be here when you eventually read this. Your mom has been spectacular throughout this, offering me her unconditional love and unwavering support.

There are symptoms I cannot control. The changes in my mood and feelings of irritability and anger have been by far the worst. I have experienced such lows since my diagnosis and although I have tried to hide this from you and Jill I don't know how successful I have been.

I understand I've always been intense and not always easy to handle, but your choice to study outside of the law just proved what a courageous young woman you are. You've always gone toe to toe with me, baby girl, it shows you have the strength of character to become a force to be reckoned with. I can see you've inherited my protective streak and you'll always care for those you love. I am so proud of the woman you have become. I admit to my awareness you feel you don't fit with us, that this, not your home. You are so very different from us but also have so much of your mom and I in you that there's no way you don't belong.

You are the light of my life, Andy. You, Brad, Jill and your mom have been my all. We lost Brad but I know I will be with him watching over you all soon. My only regret is that I won't see you happy and settled. Deep down I can see that Nate isn't right for you, you stayed with him out of a sense of obligation, for the baby you lost and for the feelings he claims he has for you. I know about the baby, your mom has never hidden things from me and she has worried herself silly about you over the years.

When I am gone don't shut her out of your life. I hope she'll follow the dreams she gave up to be with me. You must contact your Uncle Jay, he has all the details for the investments I have made with your inheritance. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Please don't think too harshly of me for things I may do or say. Remember one thing, beautiful girl, no matter what happens or will happen I love you with all my heart.

Dad x

Miranda had tears streaming down her face as she finished the letter. Looking across at Andy she saw her stony-faced. "Darling?" She questioned softly. "Pull the car over.

"We'll be late for lunch," Andy stated.

"I don't care. Pull over." Miranda demanded as she pulled her cell out. Firing off a quick text she advised Nigel they would be running late. As Andy pulled over she watched as the young woman jumped from the car. She walked less than 100 meters before stopping and wrapping her arms around herself as she sobbed. Miranda rushed from the car. Pulling Andy into her arms she held her close as they both let their tears flow.

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Chapter Text

Miranda held Andy in her arms for over 20 minutes as she let her grief out. Quietly soothing the brunette with her presence, no words were said, they weren't needed. She let her own tears flow at Richard Sachs words. She was glad he understood his daughter well enough to recognize that she would need answers. She was amazed, after seeing what he'd written about Andy's feelings for her, by his knowledge that the young woman may run away from her. It was exactly what had happened the previous week she was just grateful they had now come to an understanding and expressed their feelings.

She swore to herself at that moment she would try to be what her Andréa needed. To not break her trust or take her beautiful heart and soul for granted. Gently extracting herself from the embrace she stepped back. "Darling." She said hoarsely. "Come with me." Seeing Andy nod her acceptance she took her hand and led her to the passenger side of the car. She watched as Andy folded herself into the car and pulled the seat belt across. She pulled out her cell and noticed texts from Nigel and Doug. She smiled to herself as she read, sent off a quick response and got behind the wheel and moved back onto the interstate. "There seems to be a change of plans for lunch, darling. I hope you don't mind?" Getting no response she glanced quickly across at Andy to find she had fallen asleep. Deciding to let the brunette sleep she navigated around the Cincinnati traffic and within 20 minutes was pulling in at the zoo and botanical gardens. "My darling. It's time to wake up." Miranda said as she brushed the hair out of Andy's face.

As the brunette stirred and looked around, she was shocked. "The zoo?" She whispered, her voice gravelly from her tears and sleep.

"This was Douglas's idea. I hope it's okay that I said yes." Miranda was nervous.

"It's perfect," Andy told her. "I couldn't cope with a crowded restaurant."

"We will do whatever you want my darling. Nigel and Douglas are on their way over now." She waved her hand in the general direction of the two men.

"They make a lovely couple." Andy smiled sadly. "Dad would be happy, he worried about Doug too and they became close after Dougie moved in."

"They are striking together. Nigel deserves someone good in his life and Douglas seems like a lovely young man. I look forward to getting to know him better." Miranda offered the young woman a smile before exiting the car gracefully. Moving around the passenger side she opened the door and held her hand out to Andy. "Now my beautiful Andréa how about we get out and spend time walking around this place?"

"That sounds wonderful. Will you be warm enough?" Andy asked concerned. "There is a couple of sweaters in the trunk." She told the editor.

"That would be acceptable." Miranda grinned as Andy clasped her hand and exited the car.

Opening the trunk she pulled out a new black Northwestern hooded sweater and handed it to Miranda, who shrugging her jacket off pulled it over her head before replacing her leather jacket and wrapping her new scarf back around her neck. Andy followed Miranda's movements pulling another hoody out she pulled it on and topped her ensemble with her new scarf and beanie.

Nigel walked over and placed a soft kiss on Miranda and Andy's cheeks. Looking at the brunette he pulled her into a tight embrace. "You look like Hell." He whispered to her with a smirk. Punching his shoulder Andy feigned offence while Nigel pretended to be hurt. Their behaviour made Doug and Miranda smile. Nigel looked at Andy again. "In all honesty Six, you will always be beautiful. You look drained though. If you want to forget this and go sleep that would be perfectly understandable." He murmured.

"It's been a rough morning but I need this. Andy admitted. "The zoo is one of my favourite places. I used to find peace here."

Doug looked at Nigel. "I told you." He smirked as he glanced into the trunk. "You've got your guitar?" He asked. Seeing Andy's nod he grinned at her. "Well, there's no reason for us not to go to the open mic tonight then."

"Douglas, I believe you produce the most wonderful ideas," Miranda told him with a large smile.

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They spent a few hours leisurely wandering around the zoo hand in hand. Miranda had been teased mercilessly by Nigel for her reaction within the insect house as her fear of all things creepy crawly had overridden her usual coolness causing her to hold on to Andy even tighter while hiding her face in the brunette's neck. They had stopped off for lunch at the Base Camp Cafe. Before leaving Andy had found herself enthralled by the white tigers and when prompted by Doug and Nigel told them they reminded her of a certain editor.

After making tentative plans for the evening as they left the zoo and said their goodbyes Andy held back. "I should go to the hospital." She told Miranda. "I'll drop you at the hotel if you want?"

"You'll do no such thing," Miranda told her softly grabbing her hand. "I'll come with you."

Andy smiles softly. "Thanks." She said.

"No thanks needed darling. I am here with you. I am not letting go of this." She waved her free hand between them. "Would you like me to drive?" She asked. "I like your Alfa Romeo." She grinned. "She suits you."

"I'd like to drive her as much as possible for the time I'm here," Andy admitted. "I enjoyed driving your Porsche before Paris, though I had to push the chair back a fair bit and I'm less than graceful getting out. The guys at the dealership had a good laugh as I fought with my Blahnik's. I struggle to drive in heels," She grinned.

"Ah so that was you, I took quite a while to readjust the seat," Miranda smirked. "Come on then darling, we'll go visit Beth." They continued their walk towards the car, opening the passenger door Andy handed the older woman into her seat. "So chivalrous." Miranda grinned as Andy blushed as she moved around the car and slid into the driver's seat.

As they drove Andy kept stealing glances at Miranda. "So I'm curious, you call my mom by her nickname but you still predominantly call me Andréa." Andy queried. "Why is that?"

"Andréa is a beautiful name, plus I find Andy is far too boyish for such a glorious embodiment of femininity as you most certainly are." Miranda declared boldly.

"Wow," Andy muttered. "You can be quite the smooth talker when you want, sweetheart, I'll give you that." Andy smiled as they continued through the traffic. "I'm glad you're here, but I hope you realise you are free to leave if you need to, I understand your schedule was immensely busy," Andy told her softly.

"My schedule is not something Emily and Nigel can't handle between themselves. I am not leaving Ohio without you my darling, and if you wanted to drive this beauty back to the New York, I would be happy to provide company on a road trip, I possess plenty of leave and I am aware you have taken no time off over the past 11 months. You could store it in my garage at the Townhouse." Miranda said.

"You'd let me store my car?" Andy was amazed. "That's a generous offer Miranda but..."

"Just consider it, darling." Miranda interrupted. "I hope to spend more time with you outside Runway and there is space in my garage. I can even give you a key to the garage so you can come and go as you please. It seems silly to keep this beautiful car, that you've so lovingly restored, in a city you don't live in and have it sat gathering dust." Miranda believed her logic was faultless.

"What happens if this doesn't work out between us?" Andy queried hesitantly.

"Well, I don't see an issue arising. I hope even if this doesn't work we can remain adult about it and continue to be on friendly terms. I do however desire for this relationship to become long-term my darling, I enter none of my relationships lightly." Miranda smiled. "Now that doesn't mean I expect you to hire a U-Haul anytime soon but I assume you want the same. You told me that day on the roof I'm stuck with you, I want you to understand that I return those sentiments wholeheartedly."

"I want this to work, Miranda. I just..." Andy trailed off as she turned into the hospital. "...well I realise I have little to offer you."

"You are an amazing woman. You have so much to give. Your kindness and generosity and as your father said you possess a magnificent heart and soul." Miranda told her. "I hope you don't mind me saying but you do not seem self-assured in your relationships outside Runway. I hope I can change that and that what we build allows you to gain more confidence."

As Andy parked the car, she looked across at the editor. "You absolutely blow my mind Miranda, do you know that?" She grinned shyly. "Just when I think I can't fall any deeper I do. You never cease to amaze me." Andy exited the car and held the door again for Miranda.

Miranda's breath had caught on hearing the young women's words. "Ditto." She whispered as Andy assisted her from the car. The words caused Andy's mega-watt smile to make an appearance briefly. Entwining their fingers they walked hand in hand to through the hospital to Beth's room.

As they walked into the room hand in hand Andy took in the presence of a young Doctor. Spinning around, he glared at both Andy and Miranda and declared. "This patient has an immediate family only request in place. Now her son and daughter have been already. I must tell you and your mother to leave."

Walking over to Beth Andy grinned wickedly as she looked down. "Hello, Ma. Are you able to get up yet? This Doc seems quite insistent we leave."

"But...but..." The Doctor stuttered nervously.

"Come on Ma. You heard the man. Get your butt out of that bed." Andy was fighting her laughter as she recognised the twinkle of amusement in Beth's eyes. Looking across at Miranda she noticed the older woman's shoulders shaking with suppressed laughter. "My love could you grab a nurse and tell them Doc is discharging my mom, she'll need all these drips and everything removed. Oh is that morphine? Sorry, Ma you must do without that." Andy was on a roll. Looking between the Doctor and Miranda she continued her diatribe. "After you've spoken to the nurse, could you come and give me a hand to get Ma up and home?" Looking towards the doctor, who looked absolutely mortified, she smiled widely and held her hand out. "Andy Sachs."

The doctor ignored her outstretched hand and looked towards Beth. "Mrs Sachs...Beth...this is highly unusual..." He stuttered.

"What is? My daughter and her partner are here from New York as is my foster son Douglas and his boyfriend. If you check my paperwork, you will see both Andy and Jill are my emergency contacts when my husband is unavailable." Fire filled Beth's eyes as she continued to speak. "Since you apparently pronounced Richard dead upon his arrival at this hospital, you surely appreciate just how unavailable he now is. It is not my problem you made the assumption Doug was, in fact, Andy, which is short for Andrea."

The Doctor continued to sputter as Andy pulled Miranda into the chair next to her mom's bed. "A wise man once told me assumption is the mother of all fuck-ups."

Miranda snorted out a laugh as Beth grinned up at her daughter as tears formed in her eyes. "Richard..." She whispered. "...I thought you would hate him."

"No Ma, never. This explained a lot, and it helped make sense of this." She pulled the letter out of her pocket and handed it to Beth. Looking at the Doctor she asked. "Was there a reason for your continued presence in the room?"

"N...no. I was just doing my checks. I'm on call should you need anything. I will see you in the morning, Mrs Sachs...Beth."

As the Doctor made to move from the room, he heard the quiet words coming from Miranda. "Not if I have anything to do with it." Looking towards the Doctor she continued. "For a man in your profession, your bedside manner is atrocious. Maybe you should reconsider a new career path." She offered him a small smirk as he rushed out of the room. "I'm sure I can find someone who can rid you of that charlatan and provide you with a proper Doctor Beth."

Beth looked at Miranda. "He's not so bad. He was the one who recommended the immediate family only rule. Nate's parents tried to visit. Jill was here at the time, she went feral."

"You'd think she'd want to cosy up to the new in-laws," Andy muttered darkly. Miranda stood and pushed Andy into her seat. Placing a gentle hand on Andy's shoulder she squeezed softly, offering her support.

Beth looked at her curiously. "Do you want to explain that comment?" She asked.

"Nope, it's no longer any of my concern." Andy shifted uncomfortably. "If Jillian hasn't thought to share her life with you it's not my place to discuss it."

"Andy if you know something you should tell me...she's become so distant." Beth coaxed.

"I slept with Nate." The voice came from the doorway causing Beth to gasp. Spinning her head around Andy saw Jill and frowned as she saw how drawn her little sister looked. "I told Andy last night."

"And on that note, I'm outta here," Andy said standing quickly. Looking down at Miranda she saw the older woman shake her head.

"Darling, sit down." She asked gently. "Please. You can't keep running from what hurts you, my love." Sighing Andy sat down and scowled, arms folded across her chest defensively. Miranda stood and pulled her chair to the opposite side of Beth's bed. "Jillian, sit," Miranda told her.

"Don't think you can come in here and tell me what to do Miranda, I'm not one of your minions, I don't fucking work for you." Jill hissed.

Andy launched herself out of her chair and stalked towards her sister fists clenched as Jill backed up. "Don't be so fucking rude. God, you're such a...I should just drag you out of here and drop kick your fucking head off your shoulders, teach you some manners."

"Andy!" Beth hissed. "Stop now."

Miranda called out to the brunette quietly. "Andréa darling, please come here." Andy spun around, seeing Miranda's eyes pleading with her she walked back towards the woman, fists still clenched tightly as she fought against the overpowering waves of anger. Miranda was shocked at the anger in Andy, pulling her close she cupped Andy's face with one hand as the other coaxed her clenched hands to relax. She whispered. "We'll share this seat, am I okay to sit on your lap? If I go over there to get myself the other chair, I may have to live up to my reputation and throw your sister out of the window." Miranda smirked coaxing a small smile out of Andy.

Closing her eyes Andy took a deep breath and concentrated on the gentle, soothing touch of Miranda's fingers against her face and hands. Opening her eyes she was caught up once again in the depths of blue, shining with tenderness and concern. "Okay. We'll share." Andy stated softly. "I love you, Miranda." Sitting down she pulled Miranda onto her lap, wrapping her arms loosely around the editor's waist she rested her head on her shoulder. Closing her eyes, she took deep breaths, soothed by Miranda's scent surrounding her.

"I love you too," Miranda whispered as she settled into Andy's embrace.

Beth looked at them both and was amazed at the absolute contentedness within her eldest daughter and her old best friend. Shaking her head, she looked down to see Richard's letter to Andy. Leaning slightly she placed it between the pages of a book on the table in front of her. At Miranda's look of confusion, she nodded towards Jill and eyes pleading for understanding. Miranda nodded once to show her acceptance and settled into Andy more.

"Jill I think you should apologise to Miri," Beth told her. "And to your sister."

"Why the hell should I? Did you know Miranda practically called me a slut this morning...?" Jill trailed off as Miranda interrupted.

"I distinctly remember it was you throwing the word slut around. I simply expressed my amazement about that word being bandied around as you graced us with your delightfully obnoxious presence at our suite at 7:20 am. I also advised you that if the cap fits to wear it with pride. You can take that how you will." Miranda shrugged unapologetically.

"God Nate was right, you really are a bitch." Jill was furious.

"Watch that mouth, Jillian," Andy growled furiously.

Miranda eyes Jill curiously. "As I told the fry-cook last week I have been called far worse by better people. It is you that will lose from this when you alienate your sister even further with your poor attitude and disrespect towards me. You have seen first-hand just now how protective she is of me. She punched my ex-husband, not only because he disrespected her, but because he disrespected me." Miranda shook her head and looked at Beth offering a small smile. "The first thing that captured my attention when I first met Andy was the fire lighting her soul. That was a mere glimpse in comparison of the scorching blaze I have experienced in the last few weeks. You and Richard have raised an amazing woman."

"She was Richie's pride and joy. He was so..." Beth trailed off as Jill interrupted.

"Yeah right. That's why he wanted her dead. His Andy, so fucking perfect." Jill scoffed. "She was his perfect disappointment and when he saw that article he went crazy. That fucking job and that woman have ruined our lives. That is the reason my dad's dead." Jill was pointing at Miranda. "And you have the audacity to sit there Miranda, on my sister's knee, like some fucking Queen on her throne." She turned to face Beth. "And you're allowing it, mom."

Beth closed her eyes, she couldn't believe the venom coming from her youngest child. "That's not the reason he...he didn't want her dead, not really."

Jillian looked at her mother in disbelief. "We obviously heard two very different things then." At Jill's words, Beth cried.

"You need to shut the hell up Jillian." Andy seethed. "You have no idea what the fuck you're going on about. Ma, show her the letter, give it to her and stop her from fucking up any potential chance we have at rebuilding a relationship. She's already done the unforgivable, she broke the trust I had in her. She fucked Nate and got pregnant with his child 'cause she was too stupid and drunk to use protection, don't let her make this worse by spouting bullshit she does not understand."

Beth was shocked about the pregnancy, looking at Jill she saw the tears forming from Andy's words. Torn between the wishes of her husband and the tenuous relationship between her daughters she decided. Leaning forward she pulled the letter out and handed it to Jill. "I haven't read it. Read it aloud, I need to know what my Richie said." Closing her eyes against her tears she settled as Jill read.

By the time Jill was halfway through the letter, her tears were free flowing down her face, Beth was fighting against her own tears. She could easily hear the deep timbre of Richard's voice as the words on the paper were read out loud, she had always loved how Richard had communicated with his eldest daughter, she understood the letters, little notes, postcards and cards were cherished by Andy. Miranda and Andy sat snuggled, both deep in their own thoughts. Miranda had turned slightly, her cheek resting on Andy's shoulder, as her fingers unconsciously entwined in the long hair at the back of the young woman's neck.

As Jill ended the letter Beth opened her eyes and looked at her. "Anything to add Jill?" She asked. Jill shook her head mutely and placed the letter back on the table in front of her mom. "Andy?" Beth had turned her head towards her eldest daughter.

"That yesterday wasn't my dad. Yes, he was intense and hard to handle but he was never irrational or crazed, that was that fucking cancer eating away at his brain, making him into something he wasn't."

Beth nodded at her older daughter. "We talked about you often. You were always the one that concerned us the most. I need you to realise that Richie didn't have a problem with Miranda, despite what he said about Runway and your life in New York. His problem yesterday was with Miranda's ex, Stephen. Your dad had finally thought his baby had gone toe to toe with someone that could seriously hurt her. He was scared for you and concerned about the repercussions, of any retribution." Beth sighed sadly. "It got twisted in his mind."

"You don't have to explain Ma," Andy breathed. "I understand, really I do."

"No, I need to tell you, Andy." Beth's voice was strained. "You gave very little away about your work at Runway but the little slips about the inappropriate comments made to you and Em as you resisted Stephen's calls and visits to Runway caused concern. Your dad was amazed you didn't just cuss him out. Then there was the time of the Gala when you felt the urge to step in and deflect his drunken behaviour. Even then you were protecting your Miranda."

Miranda caught her eye and Beth gave her a wide smile somewhat similar to the ones Andy gave, but also lacking something Andy's beautiful smile provided. "I know Jill told you both about Richard's words and behaviour, Doug and Nigel told me that much this morning. I pleaded with Richard yesterday to leave you be. To leave you in New York with Miranda. I requested it knowing she would protect you. Having seen the photo of you together I realised that your Miranda was actually Miri and I doubted she had changed so much as to allow anything to happen to someone so loyal." Beth closed her eyes. "Your dad said your attachment to Miranda was unnatural, that was because he believed it was unrequited. We all did." Beth told her softly. "He thought what you felt would hurt you or change you. That your pain would kill the fire within you. But looking at you right now I think you have found what you've been searching for. You seem content...and that fire, well that's a roaring blaze."

Andy looked at her mom and saw the tears. Her heart broke again for the woman who raised her. That she had lost what Andy was only just finding with Miranda. "You have been told your dad hit me. Believe me when I say it was the one and only time he touched me with anything but gentleness. At that moment when I looked into his eyes, he was unrecognisable. Something had snapped, and he was no longer my Richie. When he said what he said about correcting the mistake made when Brad died and you lived I lost all hope he'd return to me. If it wasn't for his life being taken when the truck hit he would have spent his remaining days in care. Not that he had much time left. He was in so much pain and he had begun experiencing regular seizures."

Beth looked at her daughters and saw both had tears flowing. Miranda was still sat wrapped around Andy whispering words of comfort in her ear. "Andy you are not to blame for Brad's accident. We have never blamed you, but we didn't know how to handle the depth of your loss." Beth admitted. "I see who you are and how much your despair and guilt has coloured your world. I understand why you made the choices you have and how the trust you had in us is important to you. And I know why you see what Jill had done as unforgivable. But it is just us against the world now. For this family I want you to listen to what Jill has to say."

"Ma..." Andy trailed off at the look of determination in Beth's eyes. "I don't know if it will make a difference," Andy admitted. "I don't know if I have the strength to forgive her."

"All you can do is try my beautiful girl. Listen to your sister so we can try to move forward from this. We'll mend the bridges one brick at a time if that's what is needed. Please." Beth pleaded with her daughter hoping her stubborn nature wouldn't win out.

"Fine," Andy stated.

Jillian was shocked as all eyes turned on her waiting for an explanation.

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Chapter Text

Jill took a deep breath as she looked at her mom. "What makes you assume I want to discuss this?"

"Get out," Beth stated.

"What? Mom?" Jill was shocked.

"I said get out. You don't want to discuss it, fine. I don't want to see you. You are obviously not the person I believed you were Jill. I don't understand who you are anymore. The women I raised are brave enough to stand up and own their mistakes. Does your sister mean so little to you, Jill, that you can't even offer an explanation?"

Jill sagged in the chair at her mom's words. "It's not that Andy means little to me, she means the world to me." She whispered.

"If that is the case she deserves answers, Jillian," Miranda told her softly. "She was willing to stay and fight for her relationship with Nathaniel, bypassing her own happiness in doing so." She shook her head. "I was at her apartment yesterday, it was clean but very minimalistic. I can only imagine what it looked like when Andréa returned from Paris. Did you know he took pretty much everything from the life they shared?"

Jillian looked shocked. "I had no idea. That's why you asked dad to send you the money? I overheard him and mom discussing it."

Andy nodded briefly and closed her eyes, remembering walking into her apartment and seeing emptiness. "He left the shitty dining table and chairs he insisted on us buying from Craigslist when we first moved to the city and my bookcase, he took my bed and left me the tall boy and wardrobe, probably because he understood I'd find and kill him for touching my clothes. The rest, however, was gone. All the kitchen stuff, the stereo and most of my CD's, the TV. I bedded down on the floor for two nights before Serena found out. She surprised me with a bottle of wine at the apartment one night after I had delivered the book, we'd had the week from Hell in Paris. She called Nigel who came round with more wine. Between them, they organised my nights, and I crashed at their apartments for over a week. When I got the money, they took me shopping and then they helped me put the furniture together over pizza and beer." She glanced at Miranda who had a look of confusion on her face. "IKEA flat pack stuff, we trekked out to Long Island early one Saturday morning, Em covered calls, you had the girls that weekend so I knew I wouldn't be needed unless there was a major emergency. I found out Serena's handy with a set of tools, she made short work with the Allen keys, Nigel however..." She trailed off and offered a small grin. "...he was as much use as a chocolate teapot."

Miranda turned and looked up at the young woman. "I thought I didn't miss a thing concerning my staff, you especially, however, I had no idea." Miranda turned towards Jillian. "As you are now aware, we found out last night that the fry-cook has been sleeping with Lily, as one of Andréa's best friends that trust has now been broken too. It's time for us to ensure she knows she has people around her she can rely on. Nigel and Serena proved it with their generosity. Emily showed it last week when she protected Andréa and verbally eviscerated Nate and Lily." Miranda grinned as she remembered Emily's words. "I believe I have provided enough proof in other ways, the biggest being I let her in and she is knowing me, the real me that my children see. She's always been able to see glimpses that others can't but..." Miranda shrugged. "Andréa probably knows more about me than either of my husbands ever did. She now knows she has Beth, her biggest fear was that your mother had been told about you and Nate and decided to keep it from her,"

Beth gasped at that. "I wouldn't..." Miranda looked at her eyebrow raised in disbelief causing Beth to look away guiltily.

Shrugging again she turned back towards Jillian. "I don't know if Andy can forgive but her willingness to listen tells me she has hope."

Jill sighed heavily as she sat back. Closing her eyes, she tried to gather her thoughts. "You were supposed to come home that second weekend of September. It was your birthday the following week. We had a night planned to celebrate your quarter century, a dinner party with your friends and the family." Jill sighed. "You called that Friday morning you were due to fly out and told us you couldn't make it, some emergency at Runway required your presence." Jillian glared at Andy. "You had already missed out on mom and dad's 20th anniversary in August, our 4th July celebrations, my graduation. There was always some excuse for you not to come home."

"I told you at the time the digital copy had been lost. It was all hands on deck as we tried to pull everything back together using the hard copy of the book Miranda uses for editing." Andy shook her head.

"Why did you need to be there? Your job is to fetch coffee and clothes on Miranda's whim." Jill demanded.

Miranda's eyes turned cold. "Is that what you think Andréa does all day? She starts her day at 7:30 am when I arrive at Runway, often before. Most evenings I do not see the book much before 9 pm, sometimes later. Yes, she brings me my coffee and my lunch when required. And yes she runs to showrooms to pick up items, but she does so much more."

Miranda's eyes softened as she contemplated all Andy did for her. "She organises my schedule so I can do what's important for Runway and still find time for my girls, I don't think she realised I would wonder why suddenly I have more free time, why suddenly I'm able to be home for dinner with my girls." Miranda smiled softly. "She liaises with designers, photographers, models, Human Resources and Elias Clarke Board Members to ensure I have what I require. Andréa fixes everyone's incompetence before I find out about it, another instance where she assumes if she acts before I notice it I won't breathe fire and fire my entire editorial or art departments or blacklist someone in my fury." She looked at the brunette who chuckled and placed a soft kiss on her cheek. "She keeps me on track so I do not become overwhelmed by everything I need to do, in my quest for perfection. Andréa can anticipate my every need, whether it's for Coffee, Tylenol, a tampon or a chocolate bar." Andy blushed at that.

"She steps in with my girls when I cannot, attending recitals or sports events, and my girl's think highly of her, they ask for her company more than mine these days, especially to their sporting events. They talk to her about books, music and movies and they understand they can ask her for advice or to make time for me to be there for something important in their lives. They trust her to make our family life better." She looked at across at Beth who smiled. "Andy is adored by everyone who comes into contact with her. She has charmed the fashion and publishing worlds with her easy smile, the calmness that belies her strength of character, her genuine kindness and her generosity."

Looking at Jillian she continued to speak. "You think your sister is just a fetcher and carrier for a career-obsessed, crazily demanding fashion lady?" She shook her head. "No Jillian, she is an extraordinary human being who somehow surpasses my impossible expectations daily. She is spectacularly talented. Not only is she the best assistant I have ever had, she is the best person I ever encountered, she amazes me in every way." Miranda leaned back against Andy who held her tighter, overwhelmed by Miranda's words about her.

Jill looked shamefaced at Miranda's words. "When she first worked for you she made what she did for you sound inconsequential." She said to defend her words. "I was so angry with her that weekend, for once again choosing Runway over her family, but I wouldn't knowingly hurt her for the world." Looking towards Andy she continued to explain. "We still had dinner, Nate arrived with his parents, Lily and Doug used your absence as an opportunity to stay in New York. The conversation got around to the job at Runway and as the wine flowed Nate regaled us with stories about 2 am phone calls for Hermes scarves, demands for unpublished Harry Potter manuscripts and science projects that took up half of the apartment space."

"They won an award for that Project," Andy breathed. "And they do their own homework these days."

Miranda grinned. "The twins told me how irate parents stormed the school demanding testing so their children were placed at their ability level rather than within specific age brackets. I wondered why the calls from the principal had ceased. They seem to be less bored and prone to mischief."

Andy grinned. "It was easy to leave a few words of discontent in other parent's ears while dropping your name. Dalton had to do something when prominent players were about to pull their children from the school and if Miranda Priestly is displeased, there's usually a reason for it."

"You are sensational," Miranda whispered.

"Yes, yes we all agree Andy's amazing. Do you want me to explain further or are you going to continue with your mutual idolatry?"

Andy looked over at her sister. "Do you want me to drag you from this room and punch your teeth in? You're lucky I'm willing to listen to whatever bullshit you come out with."

Jill gulped nervously and closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "Sorry." She mumbled contritely. "When dinner finished Nate suggested we go clubbing. I thought nothing of it and agreed. We drank more and we danced. After about an hour everything turned woozy, I had become light-headed. I'm not like you, Andy, I usually have a reasonable tolerance for alcohol. Anyway, we got a cab together and when we got back to Nate's, he pulled me from the cab and to his room with claims he wanted to show me something."

"Yeah, his penis," Andy muttered darkly. Miranda smirked as Beth gasped.

Jill squeezed her eyes shut tightly. "He pushed me against the door as it closed and kissed me. Between his kisses, he was mumbling about how if you weren't willing or able to give him what he needed he would get it from the next best thing." Jill cried softly. "I tried to push him off, but he was too strong. I didn't want him. I tried to tell him, I didn't want to hurt you, Andy." Jill cried harder as she wrapped her arms around her middle. "I remember his laughter. He told me you didn't have to know, you were so wrapped up in Miranda and Runway you were clueless about everything outside those things. I must have passed out at some point. I remember nothing until I woke up on the floor, I ached so badly. The front of my dress was torn, my panties ripped and my bra unclasped. I woke him up and asked him what the fuck had happened. He told me we'd had sex. I grabbed his shirt and after I put it on he leered at me and told me I looked good in his clothes but would look better with nothing on. I slapped him and ran from the house. I came home and showered, I slept for two days. Mom and dad assumed I had a monster hangover, but I was so ill."

Miranda moved off Andy's knee as the brunette sat there stunned, Beth was crying softly at the anguish in her youngest child. Walking softly the young blonde she spoke. "Jillian, did he rape you?"

"No!" Jill declared. "We were drunk. I went to his house. I didn't say no."

Moving to kneel in front of Jill Miranda tilted her face and caught her gaze. "I am not talking about the legal definition of rape, which does not cover the multitude of grey areas. If you cannot say no or if you showed your discomfort, and he continued. If it was a situation that is not what you wanted and left you feeling guilty or victimised in any way. That makes it rape, Jill. Surely you realise that? You are not alone in your thoughts that because you were intoxicated and went to his home because you could not say no or forcibly stop him then you deserved it, but you didn't. He committed an atrocious act against you, he abused your trust in him as Andy's boyfriend, your trust in him as a family friend." Miranda's blue eyes held understanding and concern.

"I don't want your fucking pity." Jill seethed as she stood, stepped around Miranda and made to walk from the room. Andy stood quickly and within four strides had effectively blocked Jill's exit.

"You are not leaving this room, Jill," Andy told her gently. "Miranda isn't offering you pity." Looking towards the older woman she saw the pain and tears in the stormy blue eyes. "She is offering her understanding," Andy whispered. "Her knowledge and perhaps her own experience." She looked briefly at Miranda who offered a single nod of her head.

Looking up at her big sister, Jill trembled. "He took what he wanted with no qualms, he took everything and left me nothing." Beth and Miranda gasped as Jill swayed before falling into a dead faint. Andy caught her quickly and hoisting her little sister into her arms strode out of the room calling loudly for help. As the doctor ran towards her, he took Jill gently from her arms and headed to a free room. Andy was heard providing basic information about the previous day's car accident and subsequent miscarriage.

Miranda sat heavily on the chair Jill had vacated. Looking over at her onetime friend she placed a gentle hand on her wrist. "She' going to be okay Beth," Miranda stated. "It will take time but she will get over this pain, they both will."

Beth gazed into the clear blue eyes. "He didn't just take her self-respect that night Miri, he took her virginity. Jill was waiting for something akin to what Richard and I had, for the love of her life. She understood she'd find it, the women in our family always do. It's the one hope we hold dearest."

Miranda felt sick at Beth's words regarding Jill. "That filthy sonofabitch." She closed her eyes trying to shut out the horror of Nate's actions.

Beth nodded. "It makes me glad Richie isn't here, he would commit murder for his girls." Beth sighed. "Andy was always different from me and Jill. She was always in search of the love she craved, but never truly believed she would find it, she let herself settle for less than she deserved. Then you came into her life, it has been you since the first moment she laid eyes on you. We could all see it in her desire to do whatever she could to make your life easier, to please you. She wouldn't hear a bad word spoken about you, even when she raved at the beginning about how infuriating you were. That's the reason she stopped coming home and missed events, Richie was particularly cutting and she fought him, she hated that. She struggled to see for herself what it meant, but then that changed, I was speaking to her one day just before you went to Paris and she seemed different, more open." Beth stated. "She asked me how I recognised her dad was the one. I told her what I told you all those years ago."

"I remember you telling me how it was for you and Richard. You told me he was the person intended to help you complete yourself. You knew he was perfect for you the moment you met. You tried to explain that there was such depth to your relationship you could sense what he was thinking even if it was not verbally expressed. Having never met him I was leery, cynical. Now though..." Miranda struggled to find the words.

"Now?" Beth queried softly.

"I told Andréa about my parents' marriage, my father's claims my mother was his destiny," Miranda explained.

"I remember that story, you called it romantic claptrap." Beth smiled sadly. "I was sad for you."

"I may not practice my formative religion but I've taken some of its lessons and applied them throughout my life. Tzedakah, for example, I give to charity anonymously but I have also gifted, loaned or created partnerships that allow people to be self-sufficient." Miranda explained. "And what I feel for your daughter seems divinely foreordained. I'm not scared of having difficult conversations with her, as I said before she can read me better than anyone I have ever encountered and I can read her. She is my bashert Beth, my destiny." She whispered.

"Then I wish you both well in your relationship. I'm glad she has found you Miri. That you found each other." Beth stated as Andy walked back in the room supporting Jill. Seeing the sister's Miranda rose from the chair and helped ease Jill into it. Looking at Andy she saw the concern etched on her face and the guilt expressed in her eyes. Clasping Andy's hand she squeezed lightly.

Beth could see Andy's hurt and guilt she spoke softly. "Baby girl this is not your fault. Neither you nor Jill asked for any of this. We all trusted Nate, he stayed in our home and he was welcomed into our family."

"I should have left him years ago. I knew deep down he was unhappy. My pregnancy complicated matters, and I believed I had to make things work. I should have known I wasn't enough." Andy had tears forming in her eyes. "You heard him tell me Jill was pregnant and had lost the baby when he broke the news of the accident Miranda. He would have known it was his, Jill was…well...he knew how much it would hurt me."

"Darling, he is a shit of epic proportions. You are not to blame." Miranda stepped closer.

"But I am, don't you see? He got from my sister, by force or coercion, what I couldn't give him, not only the sex but the child. He will fight for a place in his child's life." Andy whispered. "He will never leave us alone."

"But I thought...the baby?" Beth was confused. "What do you mean by what you couldn't give him?"

Looking at her mom she explained. "I was diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Failure around Eighteen months ago. I can't have children Ma."

Beth was shocked. "You never...why didn't you..."

"Ma I've only just come to terms with it myself. Runway helped with that, it kept me busy enough to pull me out of my depression, it pulled me away from my pain." Andy explained. "Before now only two people knew. Nate and recently Miranda, it was something she needed to learn, there are certain complications from the diagnosis." Andy blushed furiously.

"There's another baby." Miranda exhaled focusing on Andy's other words and trying to ease her embarrassment.

Andy looked at Miranda. "It was twins, one was lost and one is, by some miracle, very much alive," Andy told them breathlessly. "Jill refused an ultrasound yesterday, too concerned with leaving me a million voicemail and texts." Andy glanced at her. "Her injuries were superficial other than the miscarriage but she told them she would see her OB-Gyn and discharged herself." Andy glared at her little sister. "Don't you ever scare me like that again Shithead!"

"I don't want it," Jill mumbled. "I cannot have this baby, I'm 23 and I haven't finished my J.D. I'll have no means to support it." Jill was panicking. "This wasn't supposed to happen. I thought it had all gone away."

Miranda watched as Andy sat crossed legged in front of her sister and clasped her hands, stopping Jill's fingers from performing the agitated dance that Miranda had seen before in Andy. "Jillybean stop!" Andy told her. "You need to calm down and take the time to consider this clearly. You have time to make a definitive decision, not based on panic or worry for your future. Not based on whatever bullshit Nate tries to pull." Andy tilted her sister's face so she could look into her eyes. "Regardless of the decision, it will change your life forever and live with whatever choice you make. But you have your family here to love you, to protect you, to support you and to help you through this."

"But you hate me, you hate being here. We are all aware that you feel this isn't your home." Jill whispered.

"Nah, I don't hate you, I hate the way you told me and the fact you distanced yourself. It pissed me off, but I was even pissier with Nate, I still am. At that moment I wished I could be anywhere else in the world and I didn't give you a chance to explain. For that I'm sorry." Andy told her. "You know I've always been different. It is like I was born at the wrong time, or maybe even on the wrong planet. I didn't fit anywhere or with anyone until recently." Andy offered Miranda a small smile. "The world has always seemed suffocating, isolating, and overwhelmingly foreign."

"Andy we have tried to reassure you, show you that you belong. Yes, you are different but we love that about you." Beth told her. "All we ever wanted was for you to embrace what makes you uniquely Andy. For you to stop shrinking yourself to fit in."

Jill shook her head. "You are genuinely the best of us, the dreamer and deep thinker, your ability to think outside the box is phenomenal. Miranda pointed something out last night that stuck, she told me you are missing a part of yourself that can no longer be found but you aren't broken, you just haven't realised it yet."

Andy nodded. "She told me the same. I'm sorry for threatening to drop kick you and knock your teeth out." Andy whispered.

"I'm sorry for distancing myself. I should have talked to you." Jill said sadly.

"Neither of you are at fault." Beth and Miranda told them simultaneously.

Miranda sat at the end of Beth's bed gently, careful not to jar the leg. "You need to stop assigning blame to yourselves and move on from this. Give yourselves time to heal, to rebuild trust and friendship." Miranda told them quietly forcing the two young women to listen intently. "Family makes us strong in times of trouble. As I explained to Andréa, she has a family in my girls and me, then there's Nigel, Douglas, Emily and Serena. A family is not just blood, it is the people who stand by you when your world turns to Hell as long as you trust enough to share your difficult times. Be a part of that family, stand up for and by each other. That's all."

"I see what you mean about her sis," Jill said with a small smirk. "She doesn't have to raise her voice to be heard. It's powerful and a little scary."

"Yeah, she's something else." Andy grinned at her sister.

"Rather you than me," Jill told her cheekily.

"Yeah well...let's keep it that way, okay?" Andy said with a raised eyebrow. "We best be going, Miranda. We have a date with my brother from another mother and his bald little hottie. Someone mentioned open mic." She shook her head in disbelief as Miranda smirked.

Beth looked across at Miranda her eyes twinkling with slight amusement. "You still sing Miri? That's fantastic."

The smirk vanished quickly. Shaking her head Miranda tried to speak but nothing would come out.

Andy and Jill grinned at each other seeing Miranda's obvious discomfort. "Close your mouth Miranda, we are not a codfish." Andy uttered trying to stifle her laughter. Miranda scowled at her but behind it, there was a twinkle in her eyes. "This will be epic, guitar or piano?" Andy asked.

Hearing the words Miranda gave her a mock glare and ignored the question. Standing quickly she said. "Come on, darling, Jill do you need a ride?"

Jill shook her head in the negative. "I will stay with Mom longer, then I'm gonna go home and clean up."

"I did it this morning Jilly. I had things to collect, my guitar for one." Andy gracefully unfolded her legs and moved into an upright position. Leaning over Beth she placed a gentle kiss on her cheek. "See you tomorrow, Ma."

Beth nodded. "I love you, Andy, never doubt that."

Andy pulled Jill up and gently enfolded her in her arms as Miranda said her goodbyes to Beth. "I will make Nate pay for what he's done to us." She promised quietly. "Do you still have the clothes?" She sensed Jill nodding against her shoulder. "Give me a few days to talk to my contacts."

Jill looked up at Andy and saw the determination flashing in her big sister's eyes. "I'm scared." She admitted.

"I know little sis. I'm here now, I'll protect you always." Letting go she stepped away and offered her sister a sad smile. "Take it easy tonight. I have my cell if you need anything."

Miranda clasped her hand entwining their fingers as she was led from the room and through the hospital to the car.

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Chapter Text

Andy let Miranda drive them back to the Hotel. Handing the keys to the Valet Miranda waved him off as she walked around to open Andy's door and helped her out "And they say chivalry is dead." Andy smiled down at the older woman as she stepped from the car and was thrilled to see a genuine answering smile.

"Chivalry is well and truly alive and well my darling. You bring it out in me and don't assume I have not noticed that you can be gallant yourself." Miranda told her. "Come Andréa, we'll get ready for our evening and sit down to a quiet dinner."

"Yes, Miranda," Andy said cheekily as she stepped towards the elevators at Miranda's side.

"Are you happy to eat at the Hotel restaurant? I could book us somewhere else or we could order room service." Miranda asked as the doors opened and they stepped into the elevator.

"Dinner here sounds perfect sweetheart, room or restaurant. Right now I'd be happy with McDonald's." Andy grinned as Miranda shuddered. "Don't tell me you don't eat Macca's?" She asked.

"I haven't eaten at McDonald's since the first year I moved to New York. It was the one on Broadway and 96th Street." Miranda told her. "The days have long passed where burgers and fries are thrown away if not served within a specific time-frame."

"So it was the late 70's was the last time you ate a McDonald's?" Andy shook her head in disbelief. "Wow."

"If I remember correctly, your mom was with me that day," Miranda told her. "You weren't even a twinkle in your parent's eyes." Miranda looked at Andy, concern clear in her blue eyes.

"I know what you're thinking Miranda, I don't want you worrying about the difference in our age," Andy told her. "I am not concerned by it, I love you. I adore hearing stories from your past. When you speak of the 70's I imagine Nigel with big hair, big sideburns, a pornstache and high-waisted flared corduroys. I bet he loved the platforms." She sniggered.

Miranda grinned. "I'll tell him you said that." Her smile faltered. "I believe you should hold one or two reservations about the age difference, my darling."

"No Miranda, age is just a number and a mindset. I will not let it define or limit me." Andy told her.

"You are very mature for your age," Miranda stated.

"God, do you realise how patronising that is Miranda?" Andy shook her head. "Maturity is a choice, it is learning from the experiences you have had not how many birthdays you may celebrate."

"I'm sorry darling," Miranda told her grabbing her hand. Are you aware I became Editor-in-Chief of Runway in '82? I was 24 years old, younger than you are now. I had spent just over three years before my promotion proving myself as an editor, then as the senior editor. I spent the three years before that at Chic, working my way up from Assistant to the editor to a junior editor position."

"You started off as an assistant?" Andy asked amazed.

"Yes. It is why after one year you get the pick of jobs outside Runway, after two years you can move anywhere within Runway. experienced first-hand how hard an assistant works, and I demand excellence. I realise I do not show my pleasure often but if you do a good job, you stay, and at the end of that time you are rewarded." Miranda explained.

As they exited the elevator and silence fell between them. Miranda was stealing curious glances at Andy. "Just ask me whatever it is Miranda," Andy told her noticing the glances.

"Your mom had a year left at Law School when she left New York and you were born the year after she would have graduated." Miranda grinned. "After an intense discussion one evening, I know Beth was waiting for marriage, to be intimate with your father. But then Jill mentioned their 20th anniversary..." Miranda trailed off causing Andy to laugh.

"You should really have this conversation with my mom. We were all born before they got married. It was a scandal, shacked up with three children. My maternal Grandma was less than thrilled, Grams agreed with Mom and told dad to stop pressuring her." Andy grinned. "Dad wanted to marry my mom right after graduation in the summer of '81 but Ma kept pushing back, she said a piece of paper wouldn't change anything if they loved each other if they knew they were destined to be together. She finally agreed in Christmas '86 and they got married August '87. Ma always said, her children being there made the day extra special. They'd been together around 15 years by that time."

Miranda let out a bark of laughter. "Oh my God, she used my argument against Richard." At Andy's look of confusion, Miranda pulled Andy into their suite and led her to the sofa, shrugging off her jacket as she explained. "I mentioned your mom, and I discussed marriage. We did so over two bottles of wine and dinner one evening. At the time I was dating a young man called Archer who worked at Condé Nast. Well, Archer wanted to take things further, and I was contemplating it. I was curious to find out what the fuss was about." She sat down and kicked her shoes off watching Andy shrug off her coat and hoody before patting the seat next to her. Andy sat down listening intently, happy that Miranda was sharing some of her past. "Well your mom was adamant she was waiting for her marriage to Richard and I told her it was just a piece of paper and if their relationship was meant to be, she was wasting time by waiting. I compared sex to buying a car, you take it for a test drive to see how well it fits before purchasing."

Andy giggled. "So did you test drive, Archer?" She asked.

"No, I took into consideration what Beth said. I actually ended up waiting until I married James." Miranda explained.

Andy was dumbstruck. "You waited and Ma didn't?"

Miranda nodded softly and smiled gently. "So it seems. I was cynical about Beth and Richard's relationship, but deep down I wanted that kind of love for myself. I didn't realise I would be almost 50 before I found it." She turned towards Andy and tucked her knees up under her. "So where's the open mic tonight?" Miranda asked.

"We'll be crossing over the river into Kentucky." Andy grinned. "To the Southgate House in Newport."

"Will that take long?" Miranda queried.

"Driving, around 15 minutes max, it depends on traffic," Andy told her. "It's less than two miles."

"I'll call the driver," Miranda told her softly. "I am sorry if you thought I was patronising you before my darling. It wasn't intentional."

"I realise that sweetheart," Andy whispered closing her eyes. "As I said before, I do not have a problem with our age difference, and I don't want you to be troubled about it either, I want you to trust in what we are building and everything behind it."

"What concerns you my Andréa?" Miranda asked scooting closer.

"Other people's reactions to us. They'll think I'm with you for all I can get, your wealth, your position." Andy took a deep breath. "I'm not though. What you have achieved is extraordinary, but I don't want or need all the trappings that come from your hard work and dedication. I want you, and the twins, to be happy, healthy and most of all loved."

Miranda straddled Andy's legs, so they were at eye level and gave her a soft smile. "You do, you make me feel loved and protected." She leaned in and pulled Andy's hair from its high ponytail and as she ran her fingers through the curls brushed a light kiss on Andy's lips. "You are so beautiful my darling," Miranda whispered. Leaning back again she grinned. "I should shower."

"Wait," Andy asked as Miranda moved off her lap. "I have a question for you." Miranda relaxed back and looked at Andy, curiosity shining in her blue eyes. "Earlier today when I...um...we...um...in my room..."

Miranda smirked. "When you came gloriously as we made out?"

Andy blushed furiously. "Well yeah, that. Well, what I want to know is did you come?"

"No my darling," Miranda told her.

"Oh." Andy was embarrassed.

"I wanted to, I was so close and then you came undone and it took my breath away, I was captivated, to be in that moment with you was exquisite. If we had continued after that I'm sure I would have." Miranda grinned. "What you do to me, the way you make me feel, well it's been quite a revelation my darling. I haven't made out with someone like that since my twenties, and with you, well it's not at all awkward or uncomfortable. It is like you are breathing life into me." Miranda stated breathlessly. Andy leaned forward and clutched Miranda's ass. Pulling her closer she tilted her head slightly and ensnared her lips in a searing kiss. Miranda moaned as Andy's tongue swept across her bottom lip. Pulling back she whispered. "Darling, we'll get nowhere if you continue with that."

"Suits me." Andy grinned. "I'd be happy to spend the night wrapped around you in that very large bed."

At Andy's words, Miranda's breath hitched. "Oh, God." She muttered. Glancing at Andy she saw the fire lighting her eyes and cupped her face. "I want you so much my darling, but we have made plans..."

Andy turned her head slightly and placed a soft kiss against Miranda's palm. "I'll cancel."

"Nigel and Douglas came all this way..." Miranda was cut off when Andy kissed her again.

After a few moments, she broke the kiss. "I'm sure they would understand, however, what I have in mind would not take very long," Andy smiled. "But if you insist then I'll organise room service while you shower."

"God, you're such a tease." Miranda husked. Her words causing Andy to give her one of her brightest smiles. Seeing that smile made her heart soar. "So what did you have in mind?" She asked curiously.

"Another make out session, perhaps this time I could have you coming undone for me," Andy spoke quietly.

"Well although that sounds delicious." Miranda purred. "I believe I may require some additional handling."

"Really? What were you thinking?" Andy asked.

"You and me, the shower, now," Miranda stated. Andy stood quickly causing Miranda to let out a small squeal of surprise. She wrapped her legs around Andy tightly as she was carried from the sitting room into the bedroom. Dropping Miranda unceremoniously on the bed she grinned and stepped back as Miranda huffed her displeasure.

"What do you want to eat sweetheart?" Andy asked happily. Miranda raised her eyebrow and bit her lips causing Andy to blush. "Behave yourself." She hissed breathlessly. "If you will insist on us going out tonight, you can't look at me like that."

Miranda laughed joyfully as she stood and stretched. Stalking towards Andy she whispered "My darling, my offer of a shower stands. But if you insist on backing off, I suppose I'll allow you to order me whatever you think I will enjoy." She stepped beyond Andy on her way to the en-suite when her wrist was gripped gently.

"No way Priestly! I'm not having you saying I backed off from a challenge." Andy saw Miranda's smirk as she stepped into her personal space and pulled her close and angled in for a kiss. Letting her hands roam down Miranda's back she cupped her ass and pulled her close enough that her thigh sat between Miranda's legs. "Your ass is magnificent, sweetheart," Andy told her before their lips met.

As they kissed Andy walked Miranda backwards towards the wall. As Miranda's back touched it she gasped and broke their kiss. Andy trailed her lips down Miranda's neck. "Andréa..." She whispered as Andy's tongue flicked against her ear. "I want...Oh God, I need..."

What do you need my love? Tell me exactly what you want." Andy whispered gently.

"Your hands on me, touching me," Miranda growled.

Andy's hands moved from the editor's ass around to her hips to the front of her jeans. Tugging the button Andy looked at Miranda, locking eyes she let her feelings shine. "May I?" She asked softly. Seeing Miranda nod she spoke quietly. "I need you to say yes my love. I need to know you're okay with this."

Miranda saw the desire, love and tenderness shining within Andy's brown eyes. "Yes, Andréa. I want you. I need you. Please, my darling..."

Andy unbuttoned Miranda's jeans and pushed her hand into the opening. Feeling bare skin covered in soft hair she gasped. "Mira? Where the Hell are your panties?"

"Purse...ruined...Had to take them off..." Miranda hissed breathlessly as Andy cupped her. "Oh, my God."

Andy swiped two fingers softly upwards through the folds, the tips of her fingers bringing Miranda's copious wetness towards her clit. "You're so wet my love," Andy whispered close to her ear. "Next time you ruin your panties I want them, I want proof of the effect I have on you."

Andy was teasing Miranda's clit with feather light touches as Miranda bucked against her looking for more contact where she needed it most. "Andy please," Miranda begged. Hearing the pleading tone Andy pushed herself closer to Miranda and placing her free hand under Miranda's ass hoisted her upwards holding her against the wall.

"Wrap your legs against my hips, my love," Andy told her. As Miranda complied Andy brought her thumb hard against Miranda's clit causing a gasp from the older woman. Miranda rested her hands on the back of Andy's neck as she brought their lips together. Andy moved two fingers down and rested them against her opening. "Do you want me inside?" She asked, her lips pressed against Miranda's lips. "I don't want to hurt you."

"Yes...inside...please..." Miranda was panting. "Want you so much." She moaned as Andy entered her gently with two fingers. Adjusting her stance slightly Andy thrust gently as her thumb moved over Miranda's sensitive clit. Angling her finger she found Miranda's sweet spot. With a cheeky smile, she rubbed it in a circular motion causing a deep moan to be rent from the woman in her arms. Miranda retaliated by placing a bite on Andy's shoulders causing her to gasp. "Gentle." Miranda stuttered eyes closed.

"Miranda" Andy whispered as she rubbed her finger slowly back and forth in a gentler motion. "You're so beautiful my love." Andy could hear the low hum as Miranda tensed up in her arms. "I want to watch you come," Andy told her. "Look at me please." Miranda opened her eyes and caught the expressive chocolate eyes. Without looking away Andy continued her gentle teasing as Miranda cried out her orgasm and exploded around her fingers. As she crashed from the intensity Miranda fell against Andy taking deep shuddering breaths, she buried her face in Andy's neck as Andy removed her hand delicately. Wrapping her arm around Miranda's back Andy held her close and walked them towards the bathroom. Keeping Miranda in her arms she started the water running in the tub and poured in Miranda's favourite bath oil before sitting down gently at the vanity. She rubbed soothing circles on Miranda's back.

When Miranda raised her eyes Andy saw the tears. "Thank you, my darling," Miranda whispered overcome.

"I love you, Miranda," Andy told her. Miranda continued to cry softly in Andy's arms. "Come, my love, let's get you in the bath." Standing, she unwrapped Miranda from around her and placed her on her feet. Tugging the jeans down Miranda's legs she spoke softly. "Step out." She requested. Miranda did so and blushed as Andy raised the sweater and her t-shirt over her head in one fluid motion leaving her in her bra. "You're breathtaking Miranda." She said as she saw Miranda trying to cover her stomach. "Don't hide from me, my love. You are the most alluring person I have ever met." Andy stepped forward and tilted Miranda's face towards her own. Placing a soft kiss on her lips she unclasped Miranda's bra and pulled it from her. Stepping back she gave Miranda a look of wonder. "Mm, you are gorgeous." She led Miranda towards the large tub and helped her step in. "Now relax. I'll be right back. I will order food. Would you like wine?"

"Yes please, Andréa," Miranda told her. "My darling?" She questioned as Andy made to leave. Seeing Andy stop and turn her head slightly. "I love you too." She told her lightly as she relaxed into the water.

"What's not to love right?" Andy grinned as she sauntered out the room.

"Nothing..." Miranda whispered to herself as she closed her eyes.

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Their dinner turned out to be silent and strained. They spent the avoiding deep conversation and Andy was bewildered by the change in Miranda since she left her in the bathroom to order their food. Miranda couldn't meet Andy's expressive hazel eyes.

Sat side by side in the car on the way to Newport Andy looked at the older woman as she stared off through the window. She turned her eyes away and catching the driver's eye made a motion for the privacy glass to be raised. Turning slightly she angled herself towards the older woman. "Miranda, have I done something wrong?" She asked hesitantly.

"Why would you think that Andréa?" Miranda asked still looking away.

"You have barely said two words since you got out of the bath other than to tell me your steak was acceptable. You can't even meet my eyes." Andy sighed. "If you have changed your mind about wanting to come out with me, you could have stayed at the hotel. If you regret what happened between us back at the suite just tell me, it would hurt but I would be adult about it." Andy whispered. Miranda remained silent; staring out of the window unable to say what was on her mind. "Maybe I should just stay at my parent's house tonight. I can't stay with you if I have made you in any way uncomfortable Miranda." Andy whispered sadly.

Miranda spun and looked at the brunette. "You want to leave?"

"No sweetheart! I...You...I..." Andy stuttered. "Goddamn I never want to leave you, and that's frightening in itself. I don't know how, when we get home, I'll react to not having you with me all day, not having you beside me when I go to sleep or wake up. God, it's only been three days and I can't imagine it." Andy faltered and took a deep breath before continuing. "I need to know if you still want this. Within the last hour, you've gone from being warm and loving to cold and distant. I don't know if I hurt you or not, I cannot work out what I've done wrong. I'm not a mind reader Miranda and you've shut me out."

"I hurt you," Miranda whispered. "I lost control when you had me up against that wall and I bit you." Miranda was mortified. "I saw the mark I left on you, as you changed into your blouse; it was all red and angry."

Andy was dumbstruck. As Miranda's words penetrated her brain she laughed. "You think...you...I...you..." She struggled to get her thoughts out through her laughter.

Ice filled Miranda's blue eyes. "I do not see what there is to laugh at Andréa," Miranda told her darkly.

Seeing the coldness in Miranda's eyes sobered Andy's laughter as effectively as being doused with ice cold water. "I'm sorry my love. I wasn't laughing at you, I promise." Andy took off her seat belt and slid closer. Entwining her hand with Miranda's she used her free hand and tilted the editor's face up so their eyes met and tried to explain. "You didn't hurt me, Miranda. That little love bite was like a jolt of electricity that left me wanting more. If that is you losing control then I want to see it happen more often. You are simply intoxicating, arousing and exquisite." Andy brushed her free hand across Miranda's cheek. "Tell me one thing, why did you bite me?" Andy asked softly.

"You touched me and it was so intense, like that jolt of electricity you mentioned but in waves. I wanted more and yet needed it to be gentler, less extreme." Miranda shook her head. "I can't really find the words to explain. I felt alternately hot and cold, I was dizzy, my entire body seemed to vibrate and it seemed like every cell in my body was exploding in the most pleasurable way ever. I have never had that reaction, with anyone else."

Andy was thoughtful. "You've had orgasms with your previous partners, surely?" She asked nervously.

"I thought I had." Miranda shook her head and exhaled deeply. "I don't know." She whispered honestly.

"My love, we'll talk about this again, we're almost at the venue for tonight's date. But I don't want you to be fearful of hurting me, I'm really quite sturdy and what we do together will always be consensual." Andy offered Miranda one of her brightest smiles. "Now about the biting, as long as I don't have a trail of hickeys I cannot cover up, we should be okay, and even if I did, I'm sure Serena could work her magic to cover them." She leaned into Miranda's personal space and kissed her cheek softly. Moving her lips to Miranda's ear she gently nipped it causing Miranda to gasp. "Now I'll have everything I ever need with me tonight. You, my beautiful Miranda, my best friend and your best friend who is also one of my favourite people. Add my guitar to that and tonight will be perfect."

Andy sat back and fastened her seat belt as watching Miranda's blue eyes glowing as she contemplated all that had been said. Looking up she caught Andy's gaze and blushed. "Give me your hand," Miranda asked softly. As Andy extended her hand Miranda lifted her backside and pulled her panties off from under her dress and handed the La Perla thong to her. "Another pair ruined. I will need to carry spare underwear." She declared with a raised eyebrow.

"Oh, God!" Andy exhaled. "And you seriously expect me to keep my hands to myself knowing you are commando under that perfect Chanel LBD?" Andy queried cheekily with a giggle.

"Mm. I'm sure you can extract a modicum of self-restraint my darling." Miranda told her with a breathtaking smile.

Placing the panties into her pocket Andy grinned back and whispered. "You amaze me, do you know that? You light my soul on fire."

Miranda took a deep breath at the words and spoke quietly. "I've told you I felt like something inside me recognised something in you when we met. When I finally settled in and let myself realise what it meant I could see the beauty and the rarity of you. I can't imagine my life without you in it Andréa. I don't want to." Miranda admitted.

"I'm not going anywhere, sweetheart," Andy told her softly as the car pulled up to the venue. Stepping from the car quickly she walked to the far side and opening the door, held her hand out for Miranda.

Clasping it gently Miranda allowed herself to be assisted out of the vehicle. "Thank you, my darling," Miranda whispered as she entwined their fingers and was led towards the entrance where Doug and Nigel were waiting. Her head spun to the side when a flash of camera captured her attention. She sighed. "Well, it looks like the press will know where we are by tomorrow," Miranda told Andy.

Andy spun around as another flash captured her attention. "That is just ridiculous." She let go of Miranda's hand as she stalked towards the photographer. "Hi, was there a reason you were taking my photo?" She asked sweetly.

The photographer, a well-dressed young man with long dark hair spoke. "You're Andy Sachs, you work for her, the Dragon Lady, you're holding hands with her and apparently you punched her husband."

Andy rolled her eyes. "Yes I am, yes I do, yes I was and yes I did. Please do not call her the Dragon Lady, it's disrespectful, and it makes me mad enough to want to punch someone." She grinned evilly causing the young man to step back quickly. Andy smirked. "Miranda is in Ohio with me while I organise and attend my father's funeral you stupid little..." Andy took a deep breath to calm herself. "If you stupid fuckers did what you were trained to do, some investigative journalism, you would know that." She had tears forming in her eyes.

The young man turned and met her gaze and she saw the sorrow in his eyes. "I'm sorry Andy. I'm not a journalist and I'll delete the photos." He fumbled with his camera as he tried to explain. "I just thought...well there are rumours flying around in fashion blogs after pictures of you both in Central Park appeared on Page Six, and then you were seen getting on the Elias Clarke jet together. I was shocked to see you here. I thought..."

"You thought it was fair game. I get that." Andy breathed. "I'm sorry for getting mad. What's your interest in fashion?" Andy asked him.

"I'm at the University here studying fashion design, my final year." He smiled sadly. "My parents weren't too thrilled with my choices."

"Mine wasn't either. For me, it was writing rather than law. I have one bit of advice for you. If you want to work within the industry, do not take photos of Miranda or do anything to piss her off. That includes writing about her in a blog. The last person who did that has been unable to find work on the East and West coast; she apparently now works as a seamstress in some Butt-Fuck small town in Nebraska. Miranda is a private person, and she can make or break a career. Don't let one stupid moment mess up the rest of your life." She grinned. "Now if you want, I can introduce you." She offered. Looking over her shoulder she saw Nigel and Miranda looking at her curiously as Doug grinned. "What's your name?" She asked.

"Richard, my friends and family call me Richie." He mumbled.

"Well, that's a good name, a solid name." She smiled sadly. "Come on Richie, you'll meet Miranda and Nigel from Runway. They're a lot more important than Andy Sachs from Cinci." She grinned and grabbing his wrist pulled him towards the waiting trio. "Hi guys, this is Richie. He's studying fashion at the design school at the University." She grinned. "This is Miranda, Nigel and my best friend Doug." She looked up at a fourth person joined them. "And this is my little sister Jill." She said. "Hey sis, I didn't realise you'd be here. This is Richie."

Jill barely acknowledged Andy as her eyes met those of Richie as he mumbled his way through a greeting. Raising her eyebrow she looked at the pair and shrugged.

"We should go on in." Doug coaxed gently. "C'mon Andy. I got your guitar off that surly driver Em hired." He grinned and held his hand out to Nigel. "C'mon hot stuff, this place does a Mojito that will rock your world." Grasping his hand Nigel laughed loudly as Miranda sidled up to Andy.

"So he's not paparazzi?" She queried softly.

"Nah. He was shamefaced when I told him the real reason we are in Ohio. No journalist would be affected that much. He deleted the photos immediately. I think the silly boy just wanted to impress his peers over on the fashion blogs. I have provided a cautious tale of what happens when people mess with the Queen of Fashion."

"I think he's now working at impressing your little sister. So what did you tell him?" Miranda smirked.

"Well, that will make this evening interesting. I told him unless he wants his only career prospects to be as a tailor in some Butt-Fuck City in Nebraska not to take photos or post about you on the fashion blogs." She smiled happily as Miranda gave her a genuine chuckle. "Come on sweetheart; let's find that guitar of mine." Andy smiled down at Miranda. "And don't think I've forgotten for one minute what my mom said about you singing."

Miranda rolled her eyes. "For you, maybe, just maybe, this once." She smiled up at the brunette as Andy watched Richie and Jill intently as they made their way inside. "Are you worried?" Miranda asked.

"A little," Andy admitted. "I don't want her to be hurt any more than she has been and then there's the baby."

"She is strong, like you. She will do what is right." Miranda told her softly. "Now come inside my darling."

"You seem impatient; surely your desire to sing isn't that great?" Andy said cheekily as she was led inside.

"My desire," Miranda explained huskily in her ear. "Is to get tonight started so it can end, preferably with us being wrapped around each other in that very large bed in our suite." Andy blushed causing the older woman to smirk as she leaned in and whispered. "Going off how furiously you just blushed I think it's safe to say you may also need to carry spare underwear Andréa."

Andy looked down at her True Religion Jeans paired with Chanel ankle boots. "Right now, I wish I had worn a dress too. You'd have my lingerie stashed in your purse rather than your own." Andy grinned as Miranda blushed. "You're so beautiful Miranda and as much as I want to see where that blush starts it seems we now have a triple date to contend with." Andy grinned happily as she made her way to the bar.

xxxxxxxxxx

Chapter Text

They spent an hour listening to different bands play in Junie's Lounge and having a few drinks. Miranda stalked back from the bar with a large genuine smile on her face and a round of drinks in hand. "I met the most delightful man." She told her companions. "He's about 75 years old and a pianist. He insisted on telling me he'd played for the best singer in the Midwest." She raised her eyebrow at Andy. "He seemed very interested in you my darling, he told me you were a carbon copy of his old friend Ellen who'd run off and married a lawyer named Sachs and gave up a promising music career."

Miranda smirked at Andy's expression of shock as the old gentleman walked over. "Andy girl, look at you." He husked. "You are the image of your Grams." He grinned, offering a wide-toothed smile.

"Hey, Gus." Andy smiled. "Long time, no see. You look fantastic."

"You grew into a beautiful woman Andy. The Big Apple's has been good to you. The last time I saw you, well you were still an awkward teenager. This lady here says you work for her, among other things." He smiled at Miranda. "Anyway, I was hoping you'd join me and the boys for a song, like old times."

"I don't sing jazz, Gus." Andy shook her head sadly. "Thank you, but no."

"You are well aware it's not only jazz we play. I figured..." He shrugged. "Ellen loved it when you sang together as you learned the piano. She always hoped you'd let your artistic side flourish." He smiled sadly. "I was sorry to hear about your Pa. He was a good man; he was a promising musician but gave in to his father's insistence to study the law."

Doug stood and pulled a chair up. "Sit down Gus. I don't know if you remember me..."

"The fairy boy." Gus grinned. "And you understand I'm not talking about your sexual orientation. Gus grinned. "I remember Andy and Brad's sixth birthday. You had fairy wings, a wand and a tiara. Andy was dressed like She-Ra and Brad as Superman." Nigel, Miranda and Jill laughed at this remembrance while Doug blushed prettily and Andy grinned.

"Please sit down Gus," Miranda said happily.

"I'm due on stage in a few, it wouldn't hurt to join all you young ones for a spell." He looked towards Jill as she chewed ice from her glass of diet coke. "You are like your mom." He told her. "She was always a looker. If I was thirty years younger, well your Pa wouldn't have stood a chance." He provided another wide-toothed smile. "Did you inherit any of your Grams talents?"

Jill shook her head. "No." She spoke quietly. "I'm just another family egghead. I'm studying at the law school at UC."

"Well, that's something," Gus told her with a soft smile. "The world will always need big shot lawyers to get us little people out of trouble." He looked at Andy. "You should join us, Andy. The beautiful lady here said you still sing." He waved his hand in Miranda's direction. "Your guitar is here, which shows your interest in having a bash up on stage once they start open mic. Please, Andy darlin'. It would be our absolute honour to get you on stage with us. Will you join us?"

Andy looked hesitantly at Miranda and Jill who both wore wide smiles. "Okay." She agreed. "For old times' sake, for my Grams."

He clapped his hands together expressing his obvious delight. "Just wait 'til I tell Josiah. He'll be thrilled to see you again." He stood quickly and pulled Andy from her seat. "Now we merely need to pick you a song." He offered her the crook of his elbow. Andy wrapped her arm around his as they walked towards the bar and the rest of his bandmates while discussing options. Andy's laughter hit the table and caused everyone to smile.

Within a few minutes of intense discussion, they had set up on stage and had played I Put a Spell on You and Andy had walked back to her table and sat down. Miranda looked at her softly. "You made his night. He was thrilled to see you; he didn't want to come over in case you didn't remember him."

Andy smiled softly. "Gus was my Grams best friend; he was the one person, other than my Grandpa, who she trusted implicitly. They would be married if she hadn't met Grandpa." Andy's smile widened as the song merged into What a Difference a Day Makes. They continued to listen in silence as Jill and Richie spoke softly with each other and Doug and Nigel cuddled up. "Do you ever wonder what if?" Andy asked softly. "What if I'd chosen Auto Universe over Runway? We certainly wouldn't be together like this."

"It doesn't bear thinking about my darling. Can I ask, what made you choose Runway?" Miranda asked as she took a drink.

Andy grinned. "A coin toss decided for me. Well, I had more knowledge about cars than I did about fashion, so Auto Universe was really the logical choice. My uncle Jay was disappointed."

Miranda sputtered her drink at Andy's admission. "A coin toss?" She whispered breathlessly. Watching Andy nod and offer a wide smile she was amazed by Andy's admission.

"Plus you took a chance on me, ugly clothes and all. That helped." Andy's grin widened as she saw Miranda's expression of disbelief. "I'm up soon; this is the last song in their set." She listened to the opening strains of A Song for My Father.

Miranda saw the tears forming. "He's watching over you, my darling. The ones that love us never truly leave us." Miranda gave her a tender smile.

"Harry Potter?" Andy grinned as Miranda nodded. "You are something else, Miranda." She shook her head still smiling before seeing Gus beckoning her. Andy got up and leaning down brushed a small kiss on Miranda's cheek. "I'll be right back, sweetheart."

As she made her way to the stage Gus stood from the Piano and walked to the mic. "Tonight we are finishing with a guest singer. Many years ago this band had a wonderful broad singing with us; she had an amazing voice and was a talented woman. That talent and her innate beauty were inherited by the young woman I am inviting to the stage, her granddaughter. Thank you all for listening."

As Gus stepped back from the mic and sat at the piano Andy stepped up and adjusted the mic stand. As the music started, she took a deep breath and sang.

Looking out on the morning rain
I used to feel so uninspired
And when I knew I had to face another day
Lord, it made me feel so tired

Before the day I met you, life was so unkind
But you're the key to my peace of mind

'Cause you make me feel,
You make me feel,
You make me feel like a natural woman

She looked out towards the table where Miranda sat and was stunned to see tears sparkling in the editor's blue eyes as she watched the stage.

When my soul was in the lost and found
You came along to claim it
I didn't know just what was wrong with me
'Til your kiss helped me name it

Now I'm no longer doubtful, Of what I'm living for
And if I make you happy I don't need to do more

She closed her eyes and sang the chorus.

Oh, baby, what you've done to me
You make me feel so good inside
And I just want to be, close to you
You make me feel so alive

You make me feel,
You make me feel,
You make me feel like a natural woman

She looked across and could see that Nigel was mouthing along to the words merrily while he videoed her on his cell as Miranda looked at him with amusement lighting up her face.

You make me feel
You make me feel
You make me feel like a natural woman

Oh darlin' you make me feel
You make me feel so good inside
I feel like a natural woman

She ended the song to applause. As she looked out at her table Doug wolf whistled as Nigel and Richie clapped enthusiastically. Jill swiped tears from her eyes and hugged Miranda. Miranda pulled back gently and spoke softly to her.

She hugged Gus, and he thanked her effusively. Josiah gave her a soft kiss on her forehead and the other band members said their goodbye as she left the stage making her way back to Miranda. Sitting down Andy grabbed her beer and took a hefty swallow.

Miranda leaned towards her and brushed a kiss against her cheek whispering. "That was breathtaking my darling. I do however believe Nigel may vie with me for the position as your biggest fan."

"I take it you're up to the challenge of proving your number one?" Andy grinned at Miranda's raised an eyebrow.

"Challenge accepted. You can consider it won." Miranda grinned. "What's my prize for winning?"

Andy leaned in and whispered. "Me."

"Well, what if Nigel wins?" Miranda asked cheekily. "You're not exactly his flavour."

"Ah damn. Well, I suppose a cheap box of wine will suffice. Call it a consolation prize 'cause you get me whether you win or lose." Andy grinned as Miranda sniggered. Turning serious Andy looked at the older woman. "I saw Jill crying. Is she okay?"

"She will be. The pregnancy hormones will start to kick in. She was reflecting on what you said to her at her apartment, about being lacking, implying you were less of a woman because of everything, and suddenly you started singing Aretha." Miranda smiled sadly. "She hugged me and thanked me for loving you. I told her I couldn't help but love you. That you make my heart smile in a way no one else ever has."

"Wow." Andy breathed as she got lost in the tenderness held in Miranda's blue eyes. A small cough caught Miranda's attention as Nigel pointed to Gus.

Miranda smiled up at him. "They're starting the open mic. The piano set up if you still need it."

"Oh thank you." Miranda smiled happily. "Would you like to join us, Gus? It's my round and I'm sure Nigel wouldn't mind hearing more about Doug in his fairy costume."

Gus sat down and requested a Jack Daniels and coke and regaled Nigel and Richie with stories of Sachs family parties as Doug and Jill laughed. As Miranda stood and moved to the bar. Andy followed and looked at the older woman. "So you play the piano?" Andy asked.

"Mm yes. Not of the level of my girls but I can play a few select songs. I have one in mind for tonight." Miranda smirked and turning to the barman ordered another round, craft beer for herself and Andy, JD and coke for Gus, Mojitos for Doug and Nigel and diet cokes for Jill and Richie.

"So are you going to tell me your song choice?" Andy asked.

"Will you tell me yours?" Miranda countered with a small smirk. "You can be guarded with your choices."

"I can't make my mind up," Andy admitted. "There's a few I was teaching myself before Paris that I wouldn't mind throwing out there." She grinned. Looking across at Jill and Richie. "They have been talking non-stop all night,"

Miranda looked where Andy was. "She told him about the baby when he asked about her not drinking. I thought it was sweet he joined her in the non-alcoholic drinks."

"He seems like a nice young man," Andy said sighing.

"Yes, he spoke passionately about Valentino's final ready-to-wear show." Miranda grinned. "He waxed poetic about that final vibrant red dress. I told him you had been given one, off Valentino himself, and he nearly wet himself." Miranda smirked.

Andy grinned. "I need to find somewhere to wear that dress. Em was so envious when she saw it was made especially for me." She laughed. "It was a beautiful gesture off Valentino, especially as I'm the other Emily."

"He knew your name Andréa. He knew your name before I introduced you as the other Emily. Your name is mentioned reverently across the industry." Miranda told her flippantly. "You are the one that achieved the impossible, you tamed the Dragon." She smiled widely at the brunette. Andy rolled her eyes and snorted.

As the drinks were placed in front of them and paid for, they each grabbed a handful and made their way back to their table.

They sat quietly as person after person took to the stage, some good, some excellent and some bad. Listening to a nervous performer being jeered at Miranda sighed. "I don't know if me getting up there is a good idea darling."

Andy looked at her. "They wouldn't dare heckle you, my love." She growled.

Gus chuckled as she heard the words. "They wouldn't want to mess with a pissed off Sachs woman hey Andy?"

She grinned. "Nope, forget karma, a Sachs woman will hit harder."

"You can be scarily fierce," Miranda told her softly. "I wouldn't want to get on the wrong side of you."

Andy looked at her seriously. "I hope you realise I wouldn't hurt you for the world Miranda," Andy told her softly. "But I won't stand by and let rude little assholes spoil what I guess will be an epic performance. You say I can do anything, well I'm throwing that right back at you sweetheart. You can do this, and you will be brilliant, you'll light the room up in a way no one else here can."

Gus smiled at them, "Gee, could you two be any more in love? The sparks flying between you could set the room alight."

Nigel smiled seeing Miranda and Andy blush. "Be grateful you didn't see them before they admitted their feelings; you could cut the atmosphere with a knife when they were in the same room. The tension made my knees weak and my little heart flutter." He chuckled. "Miranda's other assistant Emily has been teasing Andy mercilessly for months." Nigel grinned.

Jill smiled across at her sister and Miranda. "Those two, they're twin flames burning brightly Gus. Each fiercely protective of the other. They'll no doubt infuriate each other but at the end, they recognise what they feel is undeniably real. Now Miranda, are you going to sing for my big sister or are you too chicken-shit?" Jill gave the older woman a mischievous smile as Andy frowned at her.

"Jill," Andy warned. "Behave." She looked towards Miranda. "There's no pressure love. Ignore her." She flicked her head at Jill. "She may possess all the fashion sense in the family but she lacks all other sense." Andy grinned as Jill huffed, pretending to be insulted by her sister's teasing.

"Unacceptable. I will allow no one to suggest I cannot rise to a challenge. However, I must throw down a challenge for you Jillian." Miranda caught her eye. "I'll happily get up on stage; your challenge is to do the same. You can get up there and sing a song of your choice or quote a poem of my choice." Miranda smirked.

"You're on Priestly," Jill stated with a smile. "So what's it to be? Shakespeare, Frost, Whitman..."

"Oh no, nothing that simple. My choice is the poem is This Be the Verse by Philip Larkin." Miranda smiled at Andy's burst of laughter.

"And song choice?" Jill asked concern clear in her tone.

Miranda gave her a wide grin. "As I said, you can choose a song. Don't tell me you're too chicken-shit?" Her blue eyes twinkled at the young woman's shock.

"Andy laughed loudly. It seems you finally met your match Jillybean. So what's it going to be?"

Jill looked dumbfounded at having the tables turned so effectively on her. "I think your guitar skills will be required, sis." She looked towards Gus. "Do you by any chance own a tambourine?"

Gus smiled widely and nodded. "I may know just the person." He got up quickly and gestured for Jill to follow. Biting her lip she got up and made her way to him.

Andy looked at Miranda and grinned. "You're wicked my love. You've inadvertently made Jill's worst nightmare come true."

"Well, she should learn not to dish it out if she can't take it," Miranda smirked. "I'm looking forward to this."

xxxxxxxxxx

Jill headed up to the side of the stage with Gus and was given a choice from Josiah's instruments. Looking down at the maracas and the tambourine she grinned and made her choice. Stepping back to the table she shook the maracas at Andy who grinned widely. "Hey, big sis, how 'bout we do this?"

Andy stood and grabbed her guitar from its case. Nodding at Jill she smirked. "I think I know where this is going. We're going back to 1997?" Jill nodded and offering her hand pulled Andy onto the stage.

Looking at her sister Jill muttered. "I think I may hate your girlfriend, just a little."

Andy snorted out a laugh. "I think it may be mutual. Miranda doesn't do well at being challenged and when she is she sets out to win."

"God, I'm petrified," Jill admitted as she set the mic up. "You know I hate being in the spotlight."

"You'll be great Jillybean." Andy cupped her sister's face gently to soothe her nerves. "Remember we practised this so many times."

Jill smiled sadly. "Do you remember Dad bawling at us to shut up? He said he was sick of hearing it."

Andy nodded. "Well we'll do this for him, and we'll make sure it's damn good."

Jill smiled and stepped up to the mic. "Right this is a fun little cover. We hope you enjoy."

Andy played and Jill, taking a deep breath, sang.

I come home in the morning light
My mother says when you gonna live your life right
Oh mother dear we're not the fortunate ones
And girls they wanna have fun
Oh girls just want to have fun

Jill shook the maracas in time to the music as Andy kept up the melody.

I come home in the middle of the night
My father yells what you gonna do with your life
Oh daddy dear you know you're still number one
And girls they wanna have fun
Oh girls just want to have

That's all they really want
Some fun
When the working day is done
Oh, girls, they wanna have fun
Oh girls just wanna have fun

Andy looked out at the table and saw Miranda smiling widely as Nigel captured the song on his cell. Shaking her head, she grinned as Jill continued to sing.

Some boys take a beautiful girl
And hide her away from the rest of the world
I wanna be the one to walk in the sun
Oh, girls, they wanna have fun
Oh girls just wanna have fun

That's all they really want
Some fun
When the working day is done
Oh, girls, they wanna have fun
Oh girls just wanna have fun

Andy sang along with Jill as she picked out the song on her guitar.

Fun they wanna
Wanna have fun
Girls wanna have

They just wanna
They just wanna

They just wanna
They just wanna
Girls, girls wanna have fun

They just wanna
They just wanna

They just wanna
They just wanna
Girls, girls wanna have fun

When the working day is done
Oh when the working day is done
Oh, Girls,
Girls just wanna have fun

Andy finished the song with a flourish grinning widely at her sister as they were politely applauded. Spinning her guitar so it sat against her back she hugged Jill to her and whispered. "That was fantastic. I hope you realise Ma will see it, Nigel's got it on video."

"Your friends are a nightmare." Jill laughed and shook her head. "Nigel and Doug are cute together though. I can't believe you both found love at Runway?" Jill dragged Andy off the stage and to the table they had commandeered. Miranda was sat talking to Doug about the upcoming Haute couture Fashion weeks and Nigel was stood at the bar drumming his fingers against it waiting to be served as Richie stood awkwardly beside him. Sitting down Jill let out a deep breath and grinned at Miranda. "I think that is my side of the challenge completed sufficiently. Now it's your turn."

Miranda smiled back happily. "Oh look at that, there's someone new on stage." She took a large drink of her beer as Jill huffed.

"Don't think you're getting away with not getting up there," Jill stated causing Miranda to chuckle.

Andy placed her guitar back in its case and leaned into Miranda's personal space as she sat back down. "What did you think?" Andy asked quietly.

"You play the guitar exceptionally well, Jillian kept rhythm with the maracas, her voice is acceptable," Miranda smirked.

"Wow, high praise indeed. No frown or pursed lips and an "acceptable". Woohoo!" Jill dead-panned.

Miranda rolled her eyes at the young blonde. "I can just tell you will exasperate me as much as your sister does." She grinned at Andy who looked at her, shock expressed in her eyes.

"I exasperate you?" Andy asked hesitantly catching Miranda's eye.

"Yes, quite frequently," Miranda told her honestly. "No matter what I asked you to do, no matter how absurd my request, you completed it with such aplomb. It's extremely disconcerting and has left me extraordinarily perplexed. It was infuriating to be left stymied. I told you that you are a mystery wrapped in an enigma. You are hard to define, a paradox. You are a riddle I found impossible to solve." Miranda brushed Andy's hair out of her face. 'Don't look so concerned my darling. It is a good thing." She smiled softly at the brunette. "You told me I've looked at you like maybe you were magic." Andy nodded causing Miranda's smile to widen and her eyes to sparkle. "You are obviously quite enchanting. I'm not sure what Quidditch position you play, but I believe you're a keeper." Miranda winked at her.

Andy let out a peal of laughter at Miranda's pick up line. Doug and Jill caught each other's eyes. Raising her eyebrow Jill made Doug sputter his drink as she pulled a face and put her finger in her mouth as if she was gagging.

"Oh my God that has to be the best-worst pickup lines I've ever had aimed at me," Andy told Miranda as she blushed. Nigel and Richie sat down and handed everyone their drinks. "I unequivocally adore you, Priestly," Andy stated.

"What did I miss to cause that public announcement of adoration?" Nigel asked.

Doug smirked. "Miranda was telling Andy how infuriating she is. It was adorable and then out of nowhere she hit her with the worst chat-up line, which by the looks of that blush may have disintegrated Andy's panties."

Miranda grinned at Nigel as Andy blushed even harder. Giving her an incredulous look Nigel shook his head. "Oh, Christ I wish I'd heard it. How much have you had to drink Mira?" He asked as he laughed.

"Not nearly enough," Miranda told him chuckling. "I'm getting up on that stage while it's free." Turning to Andy she leaned in and whispered. "You are irresistible when you blush like that. I love you, my darling." She spun and stalked towards the stage stopping briefly to have a word with Gus and Josiah. She laughed at whatever they said and continued on her way to the stage area.

xxxxxxxxxx

Chapter Text

Sitting down Miranda looked out and catching Andy's eye and played the opening bars if her song. She sang softly causing Andy's jaw to drop.

Oh, why you look so sad
Tears are in your eyes
Come on and come to me now

Don't be ashamed to cry
Let me see you through
'cause I've seen the dark side too.

When the night falls on you
You don't know what to do
Nothing you confess
Could make me love you less.

I'll stand by you
I'll stand by you
Won't let nobody hurt you
I'll stand by you.

So if you're mad, get mad
Don't hold it all inside
Come on and talk to me now

And hey, what you got to hide?
I get angry too
Well, I'm a lot like you.

When you're standing at the crossroads
And don't know which path to choose
Let me come along,
'cause even if you're wrong.

Miranda continued to play and sing as Andy watched, unable to take her eyes off the older woman. She was amazed by the modulated, pure, honeyed tone of the editor's singing voice. Looking quickly to the side she saw Nigel, Jill, Richie and Doug looking at Miranda in shock. Nigel for once didn't have his phone out. Andy grinned and turned her eyes back towards Miranda. Shuffling nearer to Nigel she whispered. "I'm surprised you're not getting this on video for prosperity, no one will believe you otherwise."

"God no! She'd murder me as I slept." Nigel muttered. "I don't have a death wish Six."

"Wuss." Andy chuckled. "She's incredible though." Nigel nodded his agreement.

And when, when the night falls on you, baby
And you're feeling all alone
You won't be on your own

I'll stand by you
I'll stand by you
Won't let nobody hurt you
I'll stand by you

Take me into your darkest hour
And I'll never desert you

I'll stand by you
I'll stand by you
Won't let nobody hurt you
I'll stand by you, Yeah

Won't let nobody hurt you
I'll stand by you

I'll stand by you
I won't let nobody hurt you
I'll stand by you

Take me into your darkest hour
And I'll never desert you
I'll stand by you.

Miranda finished playing and smiled as she was given a round of applause. Standing gracefully she smoothed her dress down and stepped lightly off the stage. As she made her way back to the table someone gripped her wrist, and she looked down into bloodshot eyes. With ice filling her eyes she demanded. "Let go."

"You know you're too beautiful for a place like this." The man slurred. Miranda rolled her eyes and tugged her hand away causing the man's grip to become tighter. "You're a classy broad. You should be downtown in one of those posh bars."

Spotting Miranda being manhandled Andy stood and strode over quickly, Doug and Richie following quickly behind while Gus and Josiah made their way over from the bar.

"I have asked you to let me go," Miranda told him coldly. "Remove your hand."

Andy stepped behind the man. "The lady asked you to let her go." He spun around and dismissed Andy with a flick of his free hand. Stepping forward, she pried the man's fingers from Miranda's wrist snapping them backwards painfully. "As a visitor to The Queen City and Newport, we certainly wouldn't want to leave my guest with the impression we are all drunken savages now, would we?" She seethed.

The man hissed at the brief pain radiating through his knuckles. "Jesus lady, I was just tryna pay the woman a compliment." He growled as he stood, towering threateningly over Andy. In the work of a second, she had him on his knees as she jabbed behind his collarbone forcing him down with a cry of pain.

"Paying a compliment is fine, manhandling someone, however, is not." Andy snarled. "What gives you the right to think you can just grab someone and keep a hold on them against their will? It is unacceptable. Now apologise." Andy demanded.

"I'm s…s…sorry." The man stuttered seeing the anger blazing in Andy's eyes and realising that he'd crossed the line.

Doug and Richie looked at each other and relaxed. Andy gave the man a final withering glare before catching Miranda's eye. Letting her gaze soften she offered a small smile and held her hand out. "Come on sweetheart, I'll get you a strong drink, I don't think beer will cut it after that bullshit." As Miranda grasped her hand gratefully Andy led her towards the bar.

Miranda shook her head. "I need to get out of here, the bathroom or outside," She whispered. "What's closest?"

"The bathroom's closer," Andy told her. Miranda nodded once and Andy led her quickly through the lounge to the ladies bathroom. Looking towards Miranda Andy could recognise she was tense and there were tears forming in her eyes. "It's okay sweetheart, you're okay." Andy tried to reassure.

"I'm sorry Andréa." Miranda husked. "It just...I...God, I don't understand why I'm so..." She trailed off.

"Don't apologise, my love. You have nothing to be sorry about." Andy told her gently enveloping Miranda in her arms.

"He wouldn't let go," Miranda whispered into Andy's chest. "You had to make him." Her grip tightened on Andy's back.

"Miranda I will let nobody hurt you," Andy told her. "Where possible I will always stand by you and do my best to protect you."

Miranda took a deep shuddering breath as Andy held her tight. As she calmed down, she pulled away slightly. "He reminded me of Stephen. A few weeks before Paris he was intoxicated and he…well, he didn't want to take no for an answer, I ended up hitting him with the Book."

Andy was appalled. "God Miranda, I'm so glad I punched that asshole, I'd have done it much sooner had I known." Miranda stepped away from Andy and tried to get herself under control. Looking at Miranda Andy became concerned at the haunted expression in her eyes. She whispered. "I'm sorry if my intensity scares you. I don't want you to be frightened of me. The thought of someone hurting you though…" Andy closed her eyes, took a deep breath and exhaled heavily. "…I can't explain this; I can't explain why I am so protective of you. Deep down I know you're well able to stand up for yourself, it's done unconsciously." Andy turned away. "God, I feel like…"

Miranda hugged her from behind. "No Andréa! Don't apologise for caring. You are protective and you are trying to ensure I am not hurt. My physical and emotional care is obviously important to you. The fact you have been hurt and can still place your love and trust in me shows me the person you are my darling. It can be terrifying to make yourself vulnerable and yet you have discussed your feelings in depth with me. I believe it has been effective in encouraging us to form a solid bond and to build intimacy."

Andy tried to explain. "It's like there's a bunch of mixed feelings battling each other. There's a sense of power and happiness in me when I'm with you. Power because I will let no one hurt you, and happiness from knowing you are safe. Then sometimes it is like my heart has left my body and is just walking around, where anyone can easily hurt it." Andy sighed. "It doesn't make me feel strong, I feel weak because there's this person I care about so much, who could be hurt and I might not be around to prevent that. And if they hurt, then my heart will hurt."

"I think I understand," Miranda whispered. "I am the same way with you. I could throttle Nate, Lily and anyone else who dares to hurt you." Miranda continued. "I enjoy the attention I receive from you; sometimes I crave it, like yesterday morning. I didn't want to let you leave. I finally have a person by my side that makes the world make sense." She let go of the brunette. "We should join our friends and family my darling." Miranda gave Andy an impish smile. "I am also waiting, patiently I may add, for you to sing for me."

"I have the perfect song for you, my love." Andy breathed as she returned the smile with a brilliant one of her own. "Come on, if we are gone any longer Nige may experience the need to come hunting for us. It wouldn't be the first time he's dragged me out of the ladies room." Andy entwined their hand and leaning in lightly rubbed her nose against Miranda's in a tender Eskimo kiss before leading her from the bathroom. "Do you want a drink?" Andy asked.

"I'll stick with the beer. It's been a lovely change from the usual wine and scotch." Miranda grinned as Andy pulled her back to the table, noticing that the man who had accosted her had disappeared. Gus and Josiah had joined them and were chatting happily with Richie about the local Ice Hockey team.

"So where did you two disappear to?" Jill asked looking at them as they sat. "I don't see many dark corners for a cheeky make out session." She grinned at Andy.

"Shut up Shithead," Andy said blushing. Noticing the stage was free she took a drink of her beer and pulled her guitar from its case. "You're a menace," Andy told her as she stood. Looking towards Miranda she smiled. "So number one, are you ready for me to rock this place?"

"I have my cell at the ready; I may have to send the video to Snoop Dog." Miranda grinned as Jill sputtered her drink.

"You know Snoop Dog?" She whispered stunned.

"Mm yes. He sat next opposite me at the Valentino benefit in Paris. It was a toss-up between him and Donatella; however, Donatella was being a diva and wasn't talking to anyone." Miranda grinned. "He's quite the poet once you get past the cussing. He was particularly enamoured with Andy, he was perfectly eloquent regarding her derriere in the Chanel sheath she was wearing." Miranda's grin widened. "I must admit I agreed with him wholeheartedly."

Nigel grinned. "Yes, he was very articulate. His exact words about my Six were, 'Whoa momma, that ass be fine'." Doug, Richie and Jill laughed loudly, while Gus and Josiah looked on in shocked disbelief.

"On that note, I'm off," Andy told them with a wink. She sauntered to the stage putting an extra sway in her steps causing Miranda to smirk.

On stage, she pulled a stool up and adjusted the microphone stand. Sitting down carefully she looked out at her companions she grinned at their looks of anticipation. Crossing her legs she rested her guitar on her knee and played the opening chords of Jason Mraz's I'm Yours.

Well you done done me and you bet I felt it
I tried to be chill but you're so hot I melted
I fell right through the cracks
And now I'm trying to get back
Before the cool done run out
I'll be giving it my best
And nothing's going to stop me but divine intervention
I reckon it's again my turn,
To win some or learn some

But I won't hesitate no more, no more
It cannot wait, I'm yours

She closed her eyes and hummed a few notes as she played before hitting the next verse. Opening her eyes she caught Miranda, Nigel and Jill with their cell phones in hand, all three smirking at her.

Well open up your mind and see like me
Open up your plans and damn you're free
Look into your heart and you'll find love love love love
Listen to the music of the moment, dance and sing
We are just one big family
And it's our God intended right to be loved loved loved loved loved

She looked directly at Miranda, getting lost in the blue eyes as she sang; the older woman blushed beautifully at the emotions blazing in Andy's expressive eyes.

So I won't hesitate no more, no more
It cannot wait, I'm sure

There's no need to complicate
Our time is short
This is our fate,
I'm yours

D-d-do do you, do you, d-d-do
But do you want to come on
Scooch on over closer dear
And I'll whisper in your ear

Oh yes about love
Love love love love love
Love you loads
Love you loads

She grinned as everyone looked towards Miranda to watch her reaction to the words. Miranda offered them all a mock glare causing them all to smile at her innocently. She saw the older woman shake her head and look down with a grin.

I've been spending way too long checking my tongue in the mirror
And bending over backwards just to try to see it clearer
But my breath fogged up the glass
And so I drew a new face, and I laughed

I guess what I been saying is there ain't no better reason
To rid yourself of vanities and just go with the seasons
It's what we aim to do
Our name is our virtue

Well I won't hesitate no more, no more
It cannot wait, I'm yours

Oh open up your mind and see like me
Open up your plans and damn you're free
Look into your heart and you'll find that the sky is yours
So please don't, there's no need
There's no need to complicate
'Cause our time is short
This, oh this, oh this is our fate, I'm yours

Andy settled into ending the song with her own words for Miranda.

Singin' I'm yours
Always, always, always, always yours
I'm yours

As she stood she spotted Gus walking over. He motioned her to stay. Stepping towards her he motioned to his keyboard. "Your mom's on the Phone to Jill, will you play her Richard's favourite?" Andy nodded dumbly. He helped her set up the stage and walked away with her guitar. She watched him place it back in the case.

Taking a deep breath she played and sang.

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people, living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people, living life in peace

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people, sharing all the world,

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

By the time Andy had finished, she had tears flowing down her face. She looked out at her sister and saw she was the same; Richie had her in a tight embrace as she cried into his shoulder. She saw Nigel had Jill's cell phone against his ear as she spoke quietly. She swiped at her tears and packed Gus's keyboard away efficiently, placing it at the side of the stage.

Stepping down she found Miranda waiting. "Those songs were beautiful my darling. Your mom's on the phone to Nigel. She's finally letting herself cry over Richard. I think Jill needs you." Entwining her fingers with Andy's she gave them a squeeze.

"Jill will be okay. Richie's got her." Andy husked. "I've been trying to tell myself this is a normal visit home. It's not though; it will never be the same."

"Nothing ever is after these things Andréa. Life can never go back to what it was. Your father was an important part of your life and you will always miss him. It will get easier though my darling. I can promise you that." Miranda told her softly.

She led the young woman back to their table, a few people stopping them on their way to thank Andy for the songs and to tell her how much they appreciated them. She finally sat down next to Jill as Miranda shuffled the occupants of the table around.

Pulling away from Richie, who was leaving with promises to call Jill to organise dinner, she settled her head on Andy's shoulder. Andy held her little sister close and rubbed soothing circled between her shoulders. "We will be okay Jillybean; this is all going to be okay. I promise." Andy mumbled.

They sat in companionable silence until Nigel sat heavily and passed the cell phone to Miranda who spoke calmly and quietly to Beth. Andy perked up as she caught the words Miranda spoke. "Don't you dare apologise Elizabeth, there was never any need for apologies between us and even after 27 years that hasn't changed...no Beth, I am staying here with Andy and Jill...Yes, Nigel and Emily can manage...yes I prefer calling her Andréa...I am aware she's exquisite...no I won't call her the smart fat girl ever again...yes Beth I'm aware it was cruel and I am sorry for that." Miranda rolled her eyes. "Beth is there a reason for this? Andy and I have overcome that part of our relationship..." Miranda listened intently. "Yes, Beth. I promise...I would love that, both of you are welcome anytime...we can talk about this tomorrow...yes I will help with the arrangements...You should talk to Andy about that...oh the nurse is there...do not dare to refuse that sedative...acceptable...Yes, I will...I will tell both your...Oh, you want to hear me tell them?" Miranda sighed and looked at the sisters. "Ladies, your mom has asked me to tell you she loves you both very much...They love you too…Yes, goodnight Beth." She ended the call with a huff as Andy looked at her.

"She's in one of those moods then?" Andy asked softly as Jill snorted.

Nigel smiled at Miranda. "I still can't believe my Six belongs to Beth." He shook his head in amazement. "You are your mother's daughter Andy; she always handled Mira too, not on the same level as you do. We were all different people back then and life hadn't tainted us so much."

Miranda looked at Nigel. "You haven't changed so much, I, however…" She trailed off. "Do you know how I said you and your sister are exasperating? Your mother beats you both." Miranda gave them both a small smile. "I've missed her."

"I think she missed you too, you, Nigel and New York. She refused to go see Andy in the City. When I asked her about it, the weekend our dad visited she said her memories would overwhelm her, she didn't know how she could face them." Jill stated softly.

Andy was gob-smacked not having known how her mom felt. "She told me she worked that weekend. So she would never come see me?"

Jill sat up and shrugged. "Honestly, I don't know sis."

"She'll be in New York for Christmas," Miranda told them. Andy looked at her inquiringly. "She asked on the phone if I'd mind, she will need family around her." Miranda looked at Jill. "I may not have made a good initial impression with you Jill, but I hope you will also come. I hope the three of you will share Christmas with me and my twins, Thanksgiving too if your mom's up for travelling that soon. We have little family and it'll be pleasant for all of us to extend it." Miranda bit her lip nervously. Looking at Nigel and Doug she smiled. "You're both invited too, the more the merrier."

"Family?" Jill queried. Seeing Miranda nod she smiled. "Those that stand by you when your world turns to Hell."

Miranda grinned. "I'm glad to see you were paying attention earlier Shithead."

Andy snorted out a loud laugh causing Miranda to look at her, curiosity shining in her eyes. Andy grinned at her. "As a new member of our family, I should tell you why I call Jilly Shithead…" She trailed off as Jill slapped her hand over Andy's mouth to stop her.

"Don't you dare Andy Sachs, or I'll tell her about you and Doug at that bonfire." Jill was laughing.

"Ah, I've heard all about that." Miranda snickered as Jill looked shocked. "I have to admit this has peaked my curiosity now, however, I'm sure I'll learn it all in time." Miranda smiled serenely. "Now I believe it is time to leave, Nigel and Doug have an early flight and after today I'm sure you need to rest. I'll call the driver." She pulled her cell out and fired off quick instructions for the driver to be there A.S.A.P. Getting the confirmation she disconnected the call. "So Richard?" Miranda raised an eyebrow at Jill. "He seems like a nice boy."

Jill blushed. "We are planning on having dinner soon. We swapped numbers."

"As long as he treats you respectfully that is all that matters." Miranda told her." Please know if he hurts you, he will rue the day." She warned. "No one hurts my family."

"Nate?" Jill asked hesitantly.

"So far he has lost his job in Boston, that wasn't actively my doing. I didn't know, but he was working for my first husband, his attitude left something to be desired and he didn't turn up for work yesterday. When James heard what he had done to Andy and how he'd disrespected us both the decision to release him was easier to make. He won't get a recommendation as he breached his contractual obligations. Which means Boston is now a dead zone for him." Miranda explained. "I am well known within New York so I have Emily put the word out, I will not eat at any restaurant that uses him. That message will spread to Washington and may eventually hit Miami. Word will most certainly spread to LA, San Francisco and Seattle on the West Coast."

"Wow. I honestly didn't realise how far-reaching your opinion was." Jill breathed.

Miranda gave a small smile. "I once heard Nigel tell someone my opinion was the only one that mattered, that was specifically regarding Runway." She looked at Andy who had the grace to blush. "I sell millions of magazines every year; Runway does not just focus on fashion and beauty. It encompasses lifestyle and culture too. That's why it is the best, and I hire the best people to assist me." Miranda's cell chirped, looking down she saw the text from the driver. "The car is here. Now, who needs a ride?"

"I've booked a cab. We're heading back in around 30 minutes." Doug said.

"Jill, do you need a ride?" Andy asked.

Jill looked at Nigel and Doug who smiled at her. "I will play gooseberry with these two." She grinned. "I'll say goodnight."

Andy hugged and kissed everyone's cheeks while Miranda watched. Stepping away she made room for Miranda who followed suit. Stepping to Jillian she pulled the young woman into her arms and whispered. "If you need anything, call me." She released her, nodded once and stepped to Andy's side. "Are you ready to leave my darling?

"Yes, Miranda." Andy grinned as she clasped Miranda's hand and was swept from the bar to the waiting car.

xxxxxxxxxx

They arrived back at the hotel quickly. As Andy stepped into the lobby she was beckoned over to the front desk.

"Ms Sachs?" The concierge asked. Andy nodded the affirmative. "We had a delivery for you. One moment." He stepped back and entered the back office. Coming out he had a large bouquet in hand. He handed them over along with a card. "Have a good evening, ladies." He smiled at the two women.

Looking down, she smelt the heady scent of the flowers and spun around to face Miranda. She smiled softly. "Come along, darling."

She stepped beside Miranda as they made their way to the elevators and up to their suite in silence. As Miranda closed the door behind them she saw Andy place her guitar down gently and artfully arranged the alstroemeria, chrysanthemums, roses, gerberas and snapdragons into an empty vase that was on the side table.

Miranda kicked off her heels and stalked towards the brunette. Wrapping her arms around the woman's waist while resting her head on her shoulder she was amazed by the dazzling arrangement of bright red, yellow and purple flowers. She whispered. "Who are they from my darling?'

"I thought maybe you." Andy grinned.

"When I get you flowers I will hand them to you directly my darling. It will be worthwhile to see the expression in your beautiful eyes." Miranda told her as she watched her finished arranging the flowers. Pulling her cell out Andy took a quick photo of them.

Miranda stepped back and looked at her curiously. "Flowers last such a short time, memories, however, are forever and they are gorgeous," Andy explained. She pulled the card off the table where she had placed it and grabbing Miranda's hand she led them to the sofa and sat them down. She eased her feet out of her boots and tucked her feet under her as she opened the envelope hesitantly. Tears sprang to her eyes as she saw the card offering condolences. When she opened the card she saw it was signed by Irv and everyone at Runway. A letter fell out into her lap. She shook it open and began to read.

Hi Andy (and Mom)

We were sorry to hear about your dad, but we were glad to hear your mom and sister are doing okay. We hope this letter finds you well and not too sad.

The card is our gift to you. We wanted to let you know that everyone is thinking about you. Emily arranged for everyone to be at work, even Mr Ravitz was nice about it when we arrived with the card; he was the first person to sign it. The flowers we conned out of dad. He sends his best regards and has expressed his wishes that you and mom will agree to go a double date when you return from Cincinnati. He and Amanda look forward to knowing you better on a personal level.

We miss you both; it's weird being at dads. Amanda is becoming increasingly frustrated with the amount of fur and slobber Patricia leaves behind as she trails through the house in search of mom. We are happy that mom is with you though and not, for whatever reason, at the other side of the world. Tell her we said to be gentle with you, she's not allowed to scare you off just yet. (Cass said to tell you that's our job.)

Word has got out on Page Six about your flight to Ohio; there is some speculation online in regards to why mom went with you. Popular opinion is that you dating after the photos taken in Central Park appeared, but nothing concrete has been proven and requests made for confirmation at Runway have been met with no comment, Em is fielding the calls like a pro. Stephen seems to be keeping a low profile, his new girlfriend made the mistake of admitting to the paparazzi that you did, in fact, cuss him out and punch him. The comments online regarding these matters have been pretty good so far. Many people have stated that mom is obviously not the ice queen the tabloids make her out to be. (Duh) Stephen is being ridiculed for getting his butt kicked by a girl and a lot of people are applauding your loyalty in the face of his disrespect. People have also voiced their opinion that the press should respect your privacy and whatever relationship you have is your business.

We are looking forward to you and mom being home again. By the way, you still owe us a lunch date.

We are sending oceans of love and lots of hugs. (Mom, give Andy a hug from us)

Caro and Cass. xx

Andy had started to cry reading the twins words. Miranda pulled her closer and cradled her against her chest. "I just can't believe how thoughtful...to go to all that effort..." Andy whispered.

"I have told you numerous times how much my girls like you," Miranda told her. "Why are you so surprised? You are actually quite likeable."

Andy snorted and snuggling into Miranda further she turned her head and placed a light kiss on Miranda's sternum. "You have to say that." She whispered.

"How many times do I have to tell you? I do not say anything I do not mean." Miranda caught Andy's eyes and smiled down at her. Bending her head slightly she caught Andy's lips in a chaste kiss. "Now dry those eyes my darling." She murmured as she raised her hand to wipe the falling tears with her thumb.

Andy inhaled slowly, taking in Miranda's unique signature scent and found herself relaxing. Raising her eyes she saw Miranda observing her, her blue eyes expressed tenderness. "I am so content like this with you," Andy told her. "It's like arriving home after a long journey." She nuzzled into Miranda's neck and hummed.

Miranda couldn't help but give her a bright smile. "I think I have told you something similar. It is amazing how right this is. Now, do you need anything? Are you hungry? You barely touched your dinner."

"Neither did you." Andy smiled sadly. "If I eat now I'll never sleep. I might go have a bath."

"Do you want company?" Miranda blushed. "God I just realised how that sounded. I didn't mean..."

Andy chuckled. "I know sweetheart. Though if you did join me in the way it sounded I would not have an issue with that." Andy told her. Raising her head off Miranda's shoulder she brushed a fleeting kiss on the older woman's lips. "You are so beautiful, Miranda."

"As are you my darling," Miranda told her. Now if you want a bath I shall go and draw one up for you." Miranda made to stand but found herself being pulled back towards the brunette. She handed inelegantly on Andy's lap. "Andréa, my love. How am I meant to fix you a bath if you don't let me up?" She chuckled.

"It can wait," Andy told her. "I just remembered what I have in my pocket." She grinned. "I couldn't let myself think about it while we were out. I would have probably embarrassed us both with a very public display of highly inappropriate behaviour."

Miranda straddled her lap and gave her a gentle smile. "Do you realise what you do to me Andréa? I have never gone...well..." She blushed furiously. "...to use your words, commando. I have never been this uninhibited. No one has ever taken me the way you did against that wall. No one has ever made me feel the way you did earlier when I moved against you and you unravelled in my arms." She raised her eyebrow and smirked. "And I can certainly say no one else has ever manhandled me in the way you have. You are so firm yet so gentle."

Andy saw Miranda's blush and pressed her lips against hers. Deepening it she pulled Miranda closer and ran her hands up Miranda's legs, feeling the silky smooth, warm skin under her hands. "You're so soft my love. God, I can't keep my hands off you." Andy whispered. She rested her hands on Miranda's waist before sliding them around her back and down to her ass, her caressing each part lovingly. She watched as Miranda closed her eyes as her soft fingertips moved teasingly back down her bare thighs, sending chills through the older woman's body. Leaning in Andy in stroked up, slowly pushing Miranda's dress up, watching as her breathing deepened. "You make me feel so much."

"What? Tell me." Miranda gasped as Andy palmed her bare ass, squeezing the cheeks as she pulled Miranda even closer.

"So much love..." She kissed her cheek. "...Desire..." She brushed her nose against Miranda's. "...Passion..." She swiped the tip of her tongue behind Miranda's ear causing her to shudder. "...happiness..." Miranda moved her head to catch Andy's lips with hers. Their kiss started soft and tentative, as they relaxed into the moment Miranda's lips become eager and demanding and Andy reciprocated, matching the kiss with her own urgency, her hands continuing to knead the bare flesh beneath them.

Miranda moaned into the mouth she was owning, allowing Andy's tongue to brush the tip of her own. She found her dress being moved up even further as Andy stroked the soft skin below.

Breaking the kiss Andy whispered just one word. "Bed."

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Chapter Text

Slipping off Andy's knee Miranda unzipped her dress and let it pool around her feet. She caught the heated gaze of the brunette as her eyes traversed up her body. At that moment she had never felt more desirable. "I think someone may be just a tad overdressed my darling," Miranda whispered.

Andy met the bright blue eyes and stood quickly. Stepping towards the other woman she let her eyes once again wander across the expanse of skin. Biting her lip she nodded. "Yes, I think you may be right." Placing her hand between Miranda's breasts she unhooked the front clasping bra with nimble fingers, licking her lips unconsciously as the bra fell away and Miranda shrugged it off her shoulders. "There, that's better." She grinned.

Miranda met Andy's smile with one of her own and stepped into Andy's personal space. Entwining both their hands she walked backwards leading the brunette towards the bedroom. Andy followed without breaking eye contact. As the back of Miranda's legs hit the bed, Andy followed placing her knees on either side of Miranda's hips, letting herself be held close, still fully clothed, to the naked woman beneath her.

She placed her hands under the embroidered Andrew Gn satin tunic Andy was wearing and ran her nails lightly up the young woman's back causing her to arch gently as goosebumps erupted on her skin. "Oh, Miranda." Andy husked. Her whispered plea causing the woman beneath her to break out into a wide smile.

"I will take this slowly my darling," Miranda told her quietly, the whisper of her soft voice caressing delicately against Andy's ear. "I want you to be ready for this. If you need me to stop I will. I do not want to hurt you. okay?" Andy nodded.

Miranda moved her hands down Andy's back and around to her waist. Taking the hem of the red tunic she pulled it over Andy's head, watching as the brunette shook her long hair back into position. Pulling the young woman closer she unclasped her red lace bra and let it fall between them. She bent slightly and kissed each nipple delicately. "Exquisite." She whispered following up her previous touch with a small lick around the rapidly hardening peaks. Hearing Andy moan she drew a nipple into her mouth and bit down lightly, eliciting another lusty groan from the young woman. The noise of Andy's pleasure allowed her own desire to skyrocket, and she brought her hand up to pay equal attention to the other breast. Teasing them with feather light touches from the tips of her fingers and gentle massage of her tongue to nips from her teeth and pinches from her fingers.

Miranda was amazed at the reaction she was getting from her ministrations. Andy looked at her, her beautiful eyes filled with wonder, and she wanted all the woman in her arms would give. As if Andy knew she writhed against her as her breasts, full and shapely, showed her enjoyment of Miranda's exploration. Using her whole body weight she rolled them so she was above the brunette. Seeing the delight shining in Andy's eyes she smiled. "I need you naked my darling." She placed her hand on the button of Andy's jeans. "There is still time to stop."

"No, I want this. I want you." Andy whispered.

Nodding Miranda unclasped the jeans and tugged at the zip. Sliding herself down Andy she stepped off the bed and tugged the jeans off, Andy assisted by raising her hips and ass off the mattress. Miranda smiled as she slowly moved towards the bed, her eyes entranced by Andy's curves laid out before her. She was in only a pair of sexy red lace boy shorts. As she reached the edge of the bed, she placed her hands on Andy's calves and crawled slowly up between her long toned legs kissing and running her palms up the expanse of flesh beneath her.

Andy caught Miranda's eyes she came closer. Raising her head their lips met and Miranda sank on top of her, her fingers entangling themselves in the long chestnut hair. With her pelvis resting against Andy's she ground against her to provide and gain friction where they both needed it the most. They continued to kiss, tongues darting between lips, smooth and soft, their breath warm, breathing each other in as their breasts pushed against one another as they moved. Miranda moved her mouth from Andy's lips and followed the curve of her face with tender kisses that drifted down to her neck. She nipped at the pulse point, an action greeted with moans, as Andy turned her head to allow further access. Miranda placed a soft kiss against the bruise she had left earlier in the night.

Pushing herself up far enough Miranda moved her hand down Andy's body, as her hand met the red lace she welcomed the wetness that acted as a confirmation of Andy's pleasure. She stroked her fingers over her mound before pressing through her panties. Andy let out a high keen at Miranda's delicate touch and bucked against her hand, grinding against her. She moaned louder when Miranda's fingers pushed the lace to one side and cupped her, stunned at the force of heat against her palm. She tugged at the lace and was pleased when Andy once again raised her hips and as she pulled them over the hips she kicked the panties off.

Fully naked they writhed against each other, adjusting slightly Miranda used her thigh to press into Andy, feeling the wetness coat the skin of her thigh. Andy traced the fingers down Miranda's spine and over her firm ass. Squeezing with both hands she pressed the editor against her. Miranda sighed and ground down harder.

She looked down to see Andy's cheeks were flushed with her desire, her pupils dilated; her beautiful dark hair was splayed on white bedding and she was biting her lip trying to stifle the noises being ripped from her very being. Miranda had never seen her Andréa look so incomparably magnificent; she was resplendent in her natural beauty.

"Tell me what you need my darling, I want to please you." Miranda requested throatily.

"Anything...Everything...I need you to make me yours...please." Andy pleaded tremulously.

Unable to wait any longer, Andy took Miranda's hand and parting her shapely thighs led it downwards. Taking the hint Miranda stroked downwards across a toned stomach and below. She ran her fingers up her wet slit, her senses aflame. She sensed the heat rising as Andy thrashed under her. The sight of her coming apart took her breath away, she could smell the young woman's arousal. Her scent making her light-headed with lust. It was sweet and musky and she knew at that moment Andy was ready for more.

She moved down Andy, leaving a blaze of kisses in her wake. She outlined the words written under Andy's left breast with the tip of her tongue, intoxicated by the flavour of her skin. Before Andy could comprehend what was happening Miranda's tongue was on her, sweeping against her sensitive clit, causing the young woman to buck into her mouth and call her name hoarsely. Miranda closed her lips around it and lapped at it with her tongue, her hands holding on to Andy's hips to still her attempts to buck against her face.

Miranda hummed into her as she tasted Andy's desire. Placing her hand back against Andy's core she swirled them near her entrance. Andy bucked hand against them going through the first waves of fire rising and spreading through her.

'Inside...please." Andy panted. Miranda entered her with two fingers and began to rapidly move in and out while she continued to lave Andy's clit. "Mira...so good...waited so long..." Andy babbled revelling in the pleasure Miranda was creating within her.

Miranda was stunned, Andy fit perfectly around her fingers, the taste of her was leaving her wanting more. She was insatiable. She marvelled at how eager Andy was for her touch as she arched into her. Miranda angled her fingers up and Andy ground down on her fingers and she connected with Andy's G-spot. To relax, Andy took a deep shuddering breath but Miranda knew how close she was to coming undone. She continued her attentions as waves of pleasure overtook the brunette.

Continuing to push into Andy Miranda removed her lips from her clit and moved up Andy's body whispering. "Do not hold back my love, I know you are close and I want you to come for me."

"So...so close." Andy whimpered. "Sooo hmm." Andy groaned against the intense sensations as she exploded around Miranda's fingers, her inner walls contracting as Miranda continued to move against that sweet spot. "Miranda..." Andy wailed. Hearing Andy wail her name sent Miranda tumbling into her own climax. As they shuddered against one another, she slowed her thrusts and let Andy come down from her orgasm before removing her fingers.

Moving to one side she was surprised when Andy kissed her, tasting herself on Miranda's lips and tongue. Moaning against Miranda's lips she whispered. "How did you...God sweetheart, I love you."

Miranda watched as Andy's breathing slowed and her eyes involuntarily closed as she fell asleep. "I'll love you forever my darling," Miranda whispered as she brushed the hair out of Andy's face.

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Miranda was still awake, she had been watching Andy sleep for the last 15 minutes, captivated by how innocent she looked, how vulnerable she seemed when her eyes were closed and you could not see the fire that set them alight. She smiled as Andy stirred by her side and turned to face the brunette as she slowly opened her eyes and blinked at Miranda.

"Mm, I'm not dreaming am I?" She grinned at the woman by her side.

"No, you are very much awake my darling," Miranda told her returning her smile.

She stretched and enjoyed the ache she knew came with being well loved. Groaning she asked. "How long was I asleep?"

"Not long at all, only 20 minutes. How are you, my darling?"

Andy chuckled throatily. "Do you really want to know?" Miranda nodded. "Satisfied in a way I have never been before." Her smile brightened as Miranda flushed at her words. "However by falling asleep, I believe I missed offering you the same satisfaction, how incredibly rude of me." She moved closer to the older woman and brushed her signature forelock out of her face. "Were you watching me sleep?" She asked.

"No...Yes...Maybe." Miranda grinned shyly. "Does it bother you?"

"No, not at all." She chuckled. "Was I drooling?"

"Not at all. You look remarkably peaceful my darling. Why do you ask?" Miranda could tell by the twinkle in Andy's eye that the question was the right one to ask.

"Well because I was dreaming about how deliciously mouth-watering you are," Andy stated with a brilliant smile.

Miranda smirked. "Really my darling? Most people would consider having dreams of me a nightmare."

Andy rolled her eyes at Miranda's words. "I'm not most people." She leaned forward and captured Miranda's lips in a delicate kiss before letting her lips trail along her jaw, moving toward her ear. Hitting a sensitive spot she paid attention to it, soaking up the small moans she caused before nibbling on the delicate earlobe for a second. "Miranda, my love. I adore you. And I will cherish the memory of tonight for the rest of my life." Andy whispered as she rolled them and trailed her lips down to Miranda's chest.

She licked at Miranda's nipples and when the older woman arched her back towards her mouth, she instinctively sucked at them, giving both equal attention and causing Miranda to gasp and moan beneath her.

Miranda watched Andy's hand slowly brushing the skin of her stomach, hesitantly, wanting to explore lower but still uncertain, even after the events of the evening. "Touch me Andréa. Please my darling, I need you so much."

Miranda's whispered plea ignited Andy's courage. She had become nervous when faced with Miranda laying sprawled under her, unsure of her ability to leave her responding the way she had. Still cautious, she grinned shyly down at the woman. To her, Miranda felt amazing. Her softness a delight to the senses in a way Nate's hard body never was. "You are breathtaking my love," Andy told her quietly.

Manoeuvring the older woman into a half-reclining position against the pillows she slid between her legs. Pulling one of Miranda's legs over her hip and one of hers over Miranda in a similar position she pushed her pussy against Miranda's and moved. They found a rhythm as she rubbed herself against Miranda's aching core, Miranda matching the rhythm perfectly. Clit to clit she allowed herself to become lost in Miranda's twinkling blue eyes as they moved against each other in their mutual pleasure, gasps, moans and endearments falling from their mouths, they gazed at each other maintaining their connection. She watched breathlessly as Miranda tensed, closing her eyes, she called out Andy's name as her orgasm claimed her.

Moving gently she lay beside Miranda and ran her hands down over soft skin. She was astonished when Miranda rolled onto her side and captured her lips in a blistering kiss, sinking her hands back into soft brown hair she deepened their kiss, tongues fighting for dominance. She worked on memorising every moment of the night when Andy's hands roamed, running her soft nails over Miranda, leaving faint trail marks against the pale alabaster skin.

She arched into Andy's touch. "More," Miranda whispered. "I need you…"

Andy grinned wickedly as she moved her hands down and cupped Miranda's ass. "What do you need, sweetheart?" Andy husked into her ear. "I would give you the world if I could." She moved her hands up and over Miranda's waist and traced the faint scar across Miranda's stomach as she hissed. "You are the most irresistible soul." She let her hand cup Miranda, running a feather-light finger through the short curls between the editor's legs.

"Yes!" Miranda gasped. "There."

Andy rolled them so she was back on top of the older woman and ran her fingers through the editor's slick folds. She worked her fingers against Miranda's clit. She caught Miranda's lips in another demanding kiss that was returned passionately.

Moving her hand down she pressed deeper entering her with two fingers and thrust gently as her thumb circled her clit, Miranda moaning into her mouth as their lips continued to caress. Her free hand moved up to stroke Miranda's breasts. Miranda was overwhelmed by the sensations and broke their kiss to take a deep breath.

Pushing down Miranda's lithe body, she kissed along Miranda's inner thigh, her lips teasing the skin, and skirting towards her centre. Miranda let out a groan as Andy's tongue swiped teasingly against her as she examined her for the first time. Her lips and tongue continued to offer playful touches that aroused the editor further.

Miranda ran her hands through the chestnut curls, keeping the young woman pressed against her as she gyrated. Looking up into Miranda's eyes as she licked and moved inside her she saw Miranda's head thrown back, her breathing deep and ragged, she looked incredible. Taking Miranda's clit into her mouth she sucked hard, watching as Miranda tensed up, and pulled her head down, holding her there as she moved even more furiously against Andy's mouth and fingers before letting out a long moan as her body convulsed once again with the strength of her climax.

The intensity of Miranda's orgasm sent Andy spiralling into her own. As her orgasm subsided Andy's sucking became a gentle lapping, and she removed her fingers, as she placed a gentle kiss on Miranda's sensitive nub, causing another shudder to pass through the woman below.

"Enough, please." Miranda held Andy's head in her lap as and running her fingers through the curls looked down on the top of her chestnut head. Her breathing slowed as Andy looked up into her eyes. At that moment it was as if time was standing still.

Pulling her up gently Miranda kissed her, tasting herself on the luscious lips. Andy blushed causing Miranda to smile and state. "No, my darling. Don't be shy now, please. That was...well that was piquant." She pulled the brunette to lie beside her, taking her hand she entwined their fingers.

Andy looked across at her hesitantly through thick, long lashes. "You blow my mind, my love," She told Miranda softly. Miranda turned her head away as tears sprang to her eyes. Concerned Andy waited for those blue eyes to look into hers and when they did she saw love and amazement in their depths. "What are you thinking sweetheart?"

"How can you love me so much? What did I ever do to deserve you?"

"You love me back, at a time I'm struggling to love myself, you have given me hope," Andy told her with a bright smile. "And that was, this is, you are, the greatest gift ever bestowed on me."

Miranda wrapped her arms around the brunette and settled her head against her chest listening to her heart. The steady thrum and Andy's whispered words of love lulling her into sleep. You are safe with me my love, always." Andy whispered.

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They slept late, Miranda's cell waking them both. Turning towards the bedside table Miranda put her hand out and grasped it. Without looking at the screen she hissed. "Yes." She listened intently with a frown forming on her face. "Yes, Emily. That is acceptable...Continue to offer no comment and email all staff with a reminder about their NDA's. I will deal with this...I will be in contact with HR after lunch." She listened further. "Yes she is fine, it's been emotional...Yes...Nigel can fill you and Serena in, he should land shortly. Thank you, Emily. That's all." She disconnected the call and without looking at her bedmate climbed out of the bed, shrugged on her robe and was moving towards the balcony, her cell already at her ear.

Andy was concerned. Pulling up her cell she fired a quick text to Emily.

AS: Hey Em, what the hell is going on? The dragon has appeared in full force.

She waited nervously as Miranda spoke in privacy into her own cell, her quiet murmur making it impossible to hear what was being discussed. She looked down at her cell as it vibrated

EC: Check out Page Six online. I think the shit's about to hit the fan, Andy. Take care of each other.

Getting out of bed she wrapped herself in the sheet. Stalking to the corner of the room she connected Miranda's laptop to the guest Wi-Fi and opened the browser to Page Six. Bending over the screen she began to read.

Dating the Devil

We reported briefly in Friday night's edition about some fisticuffs between Miranda Priestly's assistant and her ex-husband.
Miranda Priestly and Andy Sachs were then seen on Saturday morning having a cosy tête-à-tête in Central Park as they walked La Priestly's large St. Bernard. Afterwards, they jetted off to an unknown destination in the Elias Clarke Private plane.
We have been speculating on their time together and the reasons behind them disappearing into places unknown, a few dates followed by romantic getaway, perhaps?

Many of our readers have expressed their concern about our intrusion into Miranda and Andy's personal lives however we are just seeking the truth.

Yesterday we were provided confirmation about Friday night's punch up from Sasha Western, Stephen Tomlinson's current girlfriend. Sasha kindly set us straight on the recent events, the details of which have left Mr Tomlinson rather shamefaced.
Mr Tomlinson did, in fact, have his nose broken by the Amazonian assistant after he grabbed her and refused to let go. He ignored warnings, made twice, as the fierce Fashionista asked him to desist. He then disrespected both her and Miranda causing the usually unflappable Ms Sachs to hit him full force with what can only be deemed a well-timed punch before cussing him out for his lack of common decency.

Sasha also advised us that photographic evidence existed of the bruising to Ms Sachs arm from where she was grabbed. Evidence that was sent to Mr Tomlinson's legal team who have been working tirelessly to get what they can from his divorce from Ms Priestly.
Mr Tomlinson was seen yesterday checking himself into the Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan. Maybe he has finally realised it's time to get a grip on his unhealthy relationship with the Scotch bottle, or it could be something to do with being hauled over the coals by his senior partners.

A recent anonymous tip-off has provided information that Priestly and Sachs have actually made their way to Cincinnati.
Not a romantic getaway after all. Our anonymous tip-off stated there had been a death in the Sachs family.
What this has to do with the Queen of Fashion we cannot say.
However, the painting on the door of Priestly's Townhouse provides us with enough to believe our initial speculation was in fact correct.

Andy looked at the photograph of the front of Miranda's townhouse, plastered in spray paint across the door was two words; Dyke Bitches.

Andy was furious. She knew of only two people that would stoop to something like this, only one person who would have ready access to the paint. "Fucking Lily." She seethed. "I'm going to..." She trailed off and sighed as warm arms wrapped around her.

"Did you know I have security cameras installed? They are being viewed as we speak. Emily and Douglas will check on your apartment once Nigel arrives at Runway. Both he and Doug have been told what has happened." Miranda told her. "Did you read the rest my darling?" Andy shook her head and continued to read.

Everyone here at Page Six hopes that the culprit of this atrocious act is found and has the book thrown at them.
(Runway's fabled tome would do the trick nicely.)

Due to the nature of the reason for their trip to Ohio, we offer our condolences to Andy and the entire Sachs family.
It made my jaded little heart jump a little with joy that Andy has Miranda by her side through this difficult time.
We are hoping for their return to New York soon so we can find out more about the fashion world's newest (and hottest) pair.

To Mirandy; you make an extraordinarily beautiful couple.

"Mirandy?" Andy croaked in an effort to stifle her laughter.

"Mm yes. I think it's quite clever." Miranda chuckled. Andy heard the magical tenor of Miranda's laughter she let her own laughter to flow. "It could be worse I suppose." Miranda murmured.

"You seem to be taking this well," Andy told her lightly spinning around to look at Miranda.

Miranda stepped back from their embrace and shrugged. "It would have happened, regardless. I think we may have gathered one or two enemies."

Andy's laughter subsided. "I'm sorry I have brought this mess into your world sweetheart." She shook her head as an email pinged on Miranda's laptop.

Opening it Miranda studied two grainy photographs and sighed. "Well, it looks like your old friend Lily wasn't acting alone."

Andy looked at the photographs, one showed Lily side on, the other showed a full faces shot of Nate. "Stupid fucking idiots." Andy seethed. "Of all the moronic things to do."

"Unfortunately it is now in the hands of New York's finest," Miranda breathed. "My neighbour reported it and Emily, Leslie and my lawyers are dealing with it on my behalf." She pulled Andy back into her arms. "This is not your fault my darling, I will not allow you to take the blame for other people's incomparable idiocy." She stroked Andy's cheek tenderly. "Now we have a choice my darling, we can shower and have breakfast or we can go back to bed." Miranda smiled at the brunette in her arms.

"How about breakfast in bed?" Andy counteracted.

She smirked as Miranda shivered looking appalled. "What about crumbs?" She asked.

Andy chuckled and pulled Miranda in for a soft kiss. Breaking the kiss she whispered. "Who said anything about food? The only thing I want to eat in that bed is you."

"Mm in that case breakfast in bed sounds delightful." Miranda husked dragging the brunette back to the large bed as she unwrapped the sheet from around Andy and unfastened her robe.

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Hours passed with them wrapped around each other, talking, making love and occasionally napping. By 1 pm Andy was wide awake and watching Miranda sleep. Creeping from the bed she pulled on her pyjamas and made her way to the living room. Picking up the phone she connected to reception and called down for coffee, juice, pastries and a fruit platter.

Once again she felt arms wrap around her waist. "Come back to bed." Miranda husked as she nuzzled the back of Andy's neck.

"I need sustenance." Andy giggled. "I've ordered coffee, juice, some pastries and fruit."

"Coffee sounds divine. I believe this is the longest I've gone without since the twins were born." Miranda smirked.

"God, help us if the Queen of Fashion isn't sufficiently caffeinated," Andy whispered mischievously as she spun in the older woman's arms and gave her a brief kiss.

"I never realised how cheeky you could be my darling." Miranda smiled softly.

"I never dreamed of how insatiable you would be my love." Andy grinned widely.

"Only with you," Miranda whispered as there was a knock at the door.

"That's quick for the food," Andy said. Looking down she smirked. "Maybe you should put your robe on, we wouldn't want to give the hotel staff here an eyeful."

Miranda huffed and stalked to the bedroom closing the door gently as Andy answered the door. Opening it with a smile she found Jill. "Jilly, what's up?" Her concern wiping the smile from her face.

"Nate's here. I was sorting stuff at home as I'm moving back for when Mom gets out of the hospital and he pounded on the door screaming for you." Jill explained as Andy led her into the suite. "I didn't answer, he looked so angry and I just couldn't..." She shuddered as tears formed in her eyes.

"Come in. Just give me a sec, okay sis? Miranda needs to hear this. Did you see Page Six today?" She saw Jill shake her head, she pulled up her cell and scrolled to Page Six and handed her cell to her sister before she crossed the room.

Miranda turned as Andy entered the bedroom, her cell clasped to her ear. "One moment." She said. Pulling the phone away she whispered. "I assume it wasn't room service?"

"Jill's here. Nate arrived at my parents' house looking for me." Andy explained.

Miranda pulled the phone back to her ear. "Detective, I can confirm that Mr Cooper has in fact somehow escaped New York and is in Cincinnati. Now unless you want me to speak with the Chief of Police about this blatant display of incompetence, then I would suggest you liaise with the Cincinnati PD. He seems to be in search of my assistant Andréa Sachs." Miranda listened intently before sputtering. "I do not see how my personal relationship with Ms Sachs is any of your concern. Just fix this. That's all."

Miranda shook her head as she disconnected the call. "The Police are dealing with this. Your mom is okay. The police will monitor the hospital entrances. It looks like Lillian gave police information regarding Nate, the paint job was his idea of retribution. Apparently, your declaration of love didn't go down too well. He also tried to break into your apartment. One of your neighbours, a Mrs Babisch, chased him off with a baseball bat before any serious damage could be done."

Andy snorted out a laugh. "Mrs Babisch is over 75 years old but I can imagine her wanting to smack Nate. She never liked him. She told me tales of her time in Kraków, she's formidable."

Miranda smiled sadly. "Mrs Babisch reported it to the police. And then told the story to Douglas and Emily when they went to check on things. Emily is having security features installed, with the permission of your Super. I will just put clothes on and I'll be out. I will see if there's a room for Jillian. We'll keep her near, it will also allow you the time to reconnect with her and to overcome the pain of the last few months. I know you are hurting but so is she. She needs her big sister now more than any other time."

"I know," Andy whispered. "I am trying, I want to be there for her, I just don't know how. I brought Nate into our lives. He is from Kentucky, which as you have seen is close to Cinci, but he is not someone I would have met in passing. If I'd have stayed at Stanford, none of this would have happened."

"You cannot dwell on what ifs my darling. Think about it this way, if you had stayed at Stanford, not met him, come back to Ohio and to the family business rather than to New York and Runway then we would not be here now. And that my beautiful Andréa does not bear thinking about." Miranda told her.

Andy pulled the editor into a hug. "I'd like to think fate would have intervened but part of me knows you are right, sweetheart. Destiny is not always a matter of chance, it's about choice too. I'll leave you to get dressed." She pulled away gently and gave the older woman a small smile before leaving the room.

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Chapter Text

Jill was sitting on the couch having arranged the room service on the coffee table. She looked up when Andy entered the room. "Nice hickey." She sniggered.

"Fuck off Shithead." Andy hissed embarrassment flaring up her cheeks as she snatched the mug of coffee out her sister's hands.

"Children behave." Miranda sniggered as she walked into the room dressed in a pair of jeans and one of Andy's oversized t-shirts.

Jill laughed. "Wow. You're wearing one of Andy's Northwestern shirts. It must be love. So Miri..." She grinned wickedly. "...how did my sister mark you?"

Miranda quirked her eyebrow and seeing Andy blush even brighter she grinned. "Mm now that would be telling and I'm not the sort to kiss and tell." She sat opposite the blonde and patted the seat next to her showing Andy should sit. As Andy sat, she poured herself a cup of coffee and looked at Jill. "I will ask if there's a room for you here if you wish. Or we can check out and all go to your parents. We should be together until Nathaniel is in police custody."

"You'd do that?" Jill queried softly.

Andy looked at Miranda and seeing the determination nodded. "Yeah, we'd do that. Whichever you would prefer. So what were you doing at the house?"

"One girl from my J.D is looking for a place so she's taking over my lease. I struggled to sleep last night, so I was packing up and I spent the morning moving home. I will take the basement." Jill looked down. "Mom needs someone, I'm here, and it seems stupid for me not to step up."

"You realise I'd stay right?" Andy murmured ignoring the expression of shock on Miranda's face at her words. "If I was needed I would stay," Andy explained.

"No!" Jill exclaimed. "I don't mean this nastily Andy but this isn't your home, it has never been home for you, not really. I know you never believed you fit with us, you were adrift in the world, even more so after we lost Brad and then Grams. I grew up watching my big sister, who I idolised, staring out at the horizon in search for something I didn't understand, seeing your eyes filled with a yearning we did not know how to help you fulfil? You believe we don't see you, sis, we do, and it's true we don't understand you, but that doesn't mean you don't belong. You do, you belong in this world, making a difference by being you." Jill crossed her legs and looked at her sister. "New York is your home Andy, scratch that, Miranda is your home. Don't throw that away to become buried here in a life you are not meant to live."

"But...but..." Andy stuttered tears forming. "Damn it, Jilly. I want to do the right thing for once. I want to make this better." Miranda clasped and squeezed her hand.

"You can't," Jill told her sadly. "After Brad, there was a time I climbed into your bed every night. Do you remember?" Andy nodded. "I wanted to make it better but I couldn't bring him back for you and I wasn't him. I held you every night for months when you cried as you fought against your nightmares. During the day you were withdrawn, you wouldn't talk, you barely ate, you wouldn't write. I remember the day you cut off your hair and then smashed the shit out of that old junker of Uncle Jay's with a crowbar, and you screamed, you screamed all your pain out and then withdrew even further into yourself."

Andy turned her face into Miranda's neck as the older woman pulled her into her arms. Anchoring her to the moment and making her feel safe.

"We weren't able to get through whatever barrier you put up against the world until you started to sing, and from there, your writing flourished. You created so much beauty from your darkness, from your voice and from your written words, but we never really got you back." Jill hugged herself. "You were never the same. You grew up, and you moved out into the world, you sometimes dated and then you got with him, and he wanted you, he wanted to be the one to break you down and to make you whole again, but you never really let him in. You hold so much beauty within you Andy but you cannot see it, you offer your unfailing kindness but you are self-contained, you wear your heart on your sleeve but you also held everyone at arm's length, until now. It is only in our pain now you have returned to us, with your strength and your fire."

"But you don't need me, do you?" Andy stated hoarsely.

"We have always needed you, Andy, what you need to ask yourself is, do you need us? Because it is only by you letting us in, by trusting in us, that we can be that family Miri talks about." Jill explained.

Andy pulled herself out of Miranda's arms and looked at her sister and then at Miranda. "I want that family. I want to go forward from this point with the belief you'll do right by me because I'll always do right by you. I won't allow any hurt come to you, my family." Andy told them softly.

"Well then..." Jill clapped her hands together. "It's time we went home. Mom is being released from hospital tomorrow, they had her on her feet for the first time this morning." She stood and pulled Andy off the couch and into a hug. "I want you to adopt the baby." She whispered hesitantly.

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Andy stepped back from the hug, shock highlighted in her hazel eyes. "What?" She whispered stunned.

Jill rolled her eyes and sat back down as Miranda looked between them curiously, concerned over Andy's reaction. Andy walked to the window and looked out into the distance.

"What's going on?" Miranda demanded of Jillian. "What did you say to Andréa to garner that reaction?"

"I told her I want her to adopt the baby," Jill admitted quietly.

"You sprang that on her and roll your eyes when she reacts with shock?" Miranda let out a bark of derisive laughter. "You really are something else, Jill."

"Who better than the sister I adore? The one I recently found out can't bear children?" Jill asked. "I spoke with Mom about it, and she agreed with me. I realise I wasn't especially tactful but..." Jill sighed. "...Look, Andy, you can say no." She spoke softly at the brunette's tense back.

"I need to think about it, Jill. That decision wouldn't just affect me and..." Andy spun around to look at her sister. "...Have you considered what it would mean? I'd be raising your child and you would still see him or her." Andy paced. "Would you view him or her in disgust because of the way he or she was conceived? And what's to say you wouldn't eventually change your mind and decide you want your baby? Am I supposed to bond with him or her and then just hand the child back?"

"I wouldn't do that to you, I can't raise this child but I want to give him or her a chance at life Andy. You are the best person I know and the child would be cherished. The way he or she has been conceived...Well, that's not the child's fault." Jill explained sadly. "I would help you be a mom to your own ice-hockey team if that's what you wanted." Miranda looked at her confused. "Andy decided at nine years old she would produce six children and pit them against the Cyclones after they lost in the first round of the playoffs," Jill explained causing Miranda's eyes to widen.

"I can't..." Andy stalled. "I can't think of this now...I need...I will shower and get dressed." Andy muttered as she stumbled from the room.

Jill looked at Miranda. "I didn't mean to upset her. I hoped...God knows what I was expecting! It was wrong of me to tell her." Jill said.

"I may have done the same in your shoes. I'm not particularly well known for my tact either." Miranda sighed, "Andréa is a little vulnerable in fact, she has been hiding her vulnerability for quite some time. We have also experienced a bit of uncertainty over the last two weeks since admitting our mutual attraction, and well I'm not known for making things easy. I'm not known for my warmth and..." Miranda shrugged. "...I'm trying to be there for her and in many ways, I am so out of my depth...But I can't just switch on my usual ice queen persona, not with her and certainly not when she needs me to be the soft place she falls."

"If Andy hadn't needed to come back do you imagine your relationship would be where it is now?" Jill asked.

"We would have definitely had a few more dates, we had plans to see Les Mis and planned lunch with my twins. I even offered to help her fold laundry." Miranda smiled softly as Jill chuckled. "I wish we had come here under different circumstances but I needed to be here with her. I couldn't let her come here and face this alone."

"And the press? Andy showed me today's Page Six but..." Jill stalled. "...my sister isn't a celebrity Miranda, she's just a regular person..."

"I don't want to change the amazing person who Andréa is Jill. I appreciate how hard dealing with the press can be, and I will do my utmost to protect her. The article today was favourable, which was surprising. Stephen's behaviour has assisted somewhat. My Andréa acted in self-defence against him. I hope he now gets the help he needs."

"That's very magnanimous of you. The divorce though..." Jill faltered. "...I don't mean to be nosy." She grinned shyly.

"The divorce will go ahead and my lawyers will ensure he walks away with only slightly more than what he entered the relationship with. He knows not to make things any more difficult, there are certain things even he wouldn't want to be made public. I accepted his request to keep the Porsche we purchased together, and he also has the Hummer I bought him for his 50th birthday,"

"You bought him a Hummer?" Jill grinned.

"Yes, Andréa has also expressed her interest in one, apparently it would act an extension of the penis she doesn't possess." Miranda smiled at the remembrance of the shock and amusement that statement caused as Jill burst into laughter. "And as for the Porsche, it was no real loss. Andréa organised an upgrade."

"So what you're saying is that you can just buy whatever you want, without having to save for it?" Seeing Miranda nod she whispered. "Wow." Jill was stunned.

"I worked hard for many years to ensure I am financially secure, not just for me but for my daughters. I wanted to give them the best life, most importantly the best education. Dalton is the best. I didn't always have money Jill, I understand what it's like to be hungry." Jill was amazed by Miranda's admission. "My investment broker is exceptional, a friend of my first husband James." Miranda tried to explain. "He has somehow tripled my net worth in the last five years alone. I can put you in touch if you wish."

"Thank you but no. I wouldn't know what to do with large sums of money. My trust fund is sat in my bank generating the usual interest and that's enough, Dad invested Andy's. From what I understand she will be pleasantly surprised at the return. He wanted her to hold enough to fall back on if she decided she wanted to change careers. He said it wasn't necessary for me, the law provides a stability that journalism may not." She sat back thoughtfully. "She's taking her time," Jill mumbled.

"Yes, she is, however that is not unusual when she has things to process. If she is not out in five minutes, I will go check on her." Miranda advised softly.

"You seem to understand her," Jill stated.

"It has been a steep learning curve. I imagined I knew her however she has a hidden depth I didn't quite account for when I eventually let myself face my feelings for her." Miranda smiled softly. "It is like I have known Andréa forever, it is like we met each other in countless other lives and yet it also feels like my soul travelled endlessly until it finally met hers. I am brave enough to say I never experienced the warmth that love can bring, not until I had my daughters and then once again when your sister stormed into my life."

"I recognise the importance of the connection you're speaking of," Jill replied sadly. "I was hoping I would find it, and then Nate..." She swallowed hard. "Regardless of what was said yesterday morning, I am not a slut and..."

Miranda cut her off. "You need not explain Jill, and I am sorry for what I said to you. I was intentionally cruel because Andréa was hurting."

"You're as protective of her as she is for you," Jill stated. "I'm glad she has people who have her back."

"Andréa is a phenomenal person. What I told you and your mom has been the truth. I didn't realise she had such a fierce protective streak until Friday evening, I saw it again on a couple of occasions on Saturday and then as you experienced yourself and saw last night. I had heard rumours in the past about her cutting people off as they insulted me but..." Miranda shook her head. "...in our industry, you take such rumours with a pinch of salt, most of the people in fashion are prone to hyperbole. I didn't realise that whatever she did was from more than a sense of loyalty."

"Well I read what happened Friday and last night but Saturday's events are still shrouded in mystery." Jill smiled.

"Oh, there's no mystery. The first instance of my Andréa wielding her protective streak was her offering to break a paparazzi's camera or nose depending on my preference. We were taking a leisurely walk through the park with Patricia." Miranda smiled at Jill's look of confusion. "Patricia is my St Bernard who refuses to listen to Andréa unless she speaks to her in French and who also has the tendency, from what I gather, to knock Andréa on her backside while offering very slobbery kisses."

Jillian laughed loudly. "Now, that I would like to see."

"Also on Saturday afternoon as I took Andréa home we exited the elevator in her apartment complex to find Nate there. He, unfortunately, made the mistake of barring our progress to her apartment and then shouted at me." Miranda pursed her lips, her displeasure clear.

'What he said must be bad for Andy to go feral on him." Jill said.

Miranda sat back and crossed her legs at the ankle. "He asked me what I'd done to her, telling me she wasn't the same person he fell in love with because she was so wrapped up in me and Runway. He then told us that being together is sick and wrong because of our age difference. Well, your sister stepped between us, told him to shut up and threatened to knock him on his, I will use her words, 'skinny ass'. He was understandably shocked when she reminded him of his knowledge of how protective she is of the things she loves."

"I can't imagine that went down well," Jill said.

Miranda thought about the look on Nate's eyes when Andy admitted her love. "He looked heartbroken...defeated. I was sad for him. His words were; 'She couldn't find it in herself to love me, care yes, but never love'. That's what's confusing me the most. If he loved her as much as he claims why didn't he celebrate her growth and offer his unyielding support as she navigated a stressful job? I used to hear her apologising to him, unnecessarily so. And the night of my gala, Emily was sick, so I also requested Andréa's presence, his actions that day left the impression his birthday celebrations were more important than her career." Miranda shook her head. "If it was me, I would move Heaven and Earth to rearrange the night. If he loved her as he claimed to why was he sleeping with Lillian? Why did he do what he did to you?" Miranda looked at Jill. "Did you tell him you were pregnant?" She asked softly. "As you are aware, he knew and broke the news to Andréa."

Jill shook her head. "No, I had no contact after that night, I told Lily hoping that she could get hold of Andy when I struggled. I didn't realise she had abandoned her for Nate. I imagined 20 years of love and friendship would mean something to her and that her loyalty would be to Andy."

Miranda looked angry. "That's how it should have been Jill. Unfortunately, Andréa lost all three for a time. Douglas, as you saw, came around. He knows his actions and behaviour were wrong and Andréa has forgiven him for his lapse of judgement. She has had Nigel and Serena in her corner, and unknowingly she had Emily too. Now if you'll excuse me a moment, I'll check on her." Miranda stood and made to walk towards the bedroom.

"I have one more question," Jill mumbled. Turning slightly Miranda saw Jill looking nervous. "Andy said the decision wouldn't just affect her, and she's right. As new as this relationship between you is if she wants a future with you she has to consider what you want. So I have to ask would you support her if her decision was to raise this child?"

"By support, I assume you mean would I stand by her?" Jill nodded quickly. "I will not willingly walk away from her, not now. I will stand by whatever decision she makes. If it is to take you up on your offer..." Miranda smiled. "...Well, I'm sure that my girls would be overjoyed. They spent many of their younger years asking for a sibling." She smiled. "I do not know what Andréa will do but she will give your request great consideration." She walked into the bedroom closing the door softly behind her.

Andy looked up from where she was sat on the bed wrapped in a towel. As she heard the door snick shut, she offered Miranda a weak smile.

Miranda shook her head as she saw the telltale trail marks caused by Andy's tears. Sitting by the brunette she wrapped her arms around her and pulled her close, tucking Andy's head in the crook of her neck.

"Talk to me, my darling," Miranda asked.

"I don't know if I can do this Miranda. I always wanted children but..." She faltered.

"I was fairly shocked to hear you wanted enough children to create your own ice-hockey team," Miranda spoke softly. "If I could grant you that wish I would my darling."

"You would?" Andy whispered. Feeling Miranda nod Andy snuggled in more. "I don't see how I could do this alone. I always assumed...Well I want a career and I raising a child at 25 wasn't part of the plans I had, but it may be my only chance." Miranda could feel Andy's tears splashing against her neck.

"You will not be alone Andréa," Miranda told her. "If you do this for Jill, then I will stand by your decision. I understand this relationship is in its early days however I have faith in this, in us. Given time we could naturally progress to..." She hesitated. "...Well, I can see us living together and being a real family."

Andy raised her head from its position on Miranda's shoulder. "What would you do Miranda?" She asked.

"If it was me?" Andy nodded. "I believe I would do it, however, there are certain things to consider. I understand you possess a lot of love to give any child, but this child could be a constant reminder of Nate, would you be prepared for that?"

"I...I don't know." Andy stuttered.

Miranda nodded her understanding. "If you are in any way unsure, then you shouldn't do this darling. Jill would understand." She whispered.

"Would she? I can't imagine I would in her shoes." Andy said.

"My advice, reflect on it more. I'm relatively sure Jill does not require an answer straight away." Miranda caught Andy's eyes and offered her a smile. "Now are you going to spend the afternoon distracting me with nothing but that towel or are you going to get dressed?"

"Well if someone hadn't 'borrowed' one of my favourite t-shirts..." Andy grinned widely. "...And don't think I don't know they're my Levi's you're wearing either." Miranda looked embarrassed.

"I didn't bring enough comfortable clothes," Miranda admitted hesitantly looking down. "And the t-shirt is so soft..."

"Well, tomorrow I think we should go shopping Andy Sachs style." Andy smiled and ran her thumb along Miranda's jaw causing her to lift her head. "I like the fact you are comfortable enough with me to help yourself sweetheart and I must admit I love that t-shirt on you. I want you to keep it."

"Really?" Miranda asked.

Andy licked her lips and nodded. "Yeah. I have a few more that I can fall back on. And that t-shirt, the way it falls off the one shoulder..." Andy swallowed her eyes sparkling with mischief. "...Well, it makes me think of stripping it off you and kissing every inch of the skin underneath."

Miranda's eyes darkened. "Hold that thought my darling..." She husked. "...We have a guest and need to prepare to vacate the room."

"Yes, Miranda." Andy grinned cheekily before bending and kissing the bare skin of the editor's shoulder. "I love you." She whispered.

"I love you too my darling." Miranda stood and walked to Andy's suitcase. Pulling out another pair of Levi's and a fitted t-shirt she smiled and threw them at the brunette. "Now get dressed darling. We have things to do."

Andy caught the clothes and grinned.

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Within the hour they had packed everything up from the Cincinnatian and pulling the car around Andy was placing their luggage in the trunk of her Spider.

Jill looked at her sister. "You know I didn't expect this?" She said.

"It will be good for us all to spend time together. Plus we still have to sort the arrangements out. The coroner's report should be ready soon and dad's body released shortly after. You and mom shouldn't have to deal with that alone. And I don't think mom will be on her feet for a while. Not with the broken wrist and thigh...it's a shame the damage is all the right side."

"The P.T was there this morning. They had her on her feet using a walker. She was swearing like a drunken sailor." Jill smiled. "The titanium rod allows Mom to weight bear with the help of the walker or crutches, it was a clean break but it could take up to six months for her to be back to her usual self."

"Knowing mom she'll be running around again in half the time," Andy said.

"Where's Miranda?" Jill asked.

"She's on the phone to Human Resources at Elias Clarke," Andy admitted looking down. "She's telling them about us, she has to."

"Well here she comes, and she looks less than amused," Jill told her.

Andy looked up and saw the Dragon was out in full force. As she reached Andy, she looked at the brunette and handed her the cell. "Can you please make this imbecile see that the relationship is, in fact, consensual and that as my employee I have not coerced you into this relationship with the promise of a promotion or committed any acts that could be deemed as sexual harassment." Miranda seethed. Andy nodded and handed Miranda the car keys and slipped into the passenger side as she placed the call on speaker and Jill climbed into her own car and set off.

"Hi, this is Andy Sachs."

Hi Andy, this is Sherri. How are you?" A chirpy voice said.

"Well, you know, I've obviously been better." Andy dead-panned.

"Oh yes, how silly of me." Sherri stuttered nervously. "So I have had Miranda explain about the new relationship you have entered, and although there's nothing in either of your contracts against forming personal relationships within the workplace there are certain things I have to cover. So..." She trailed off. "...We have seen it where junior-senior relationships in the office can hurt morale and even harm the company, There have been situations where the people involved forget their professionalism, do you think it may be a problem?"

Andy snorted. "You have met Miranda right?" Her tone of disbelief made Miranda smirk as she followed Jill through the Cincinnati traffic. "If you think Miranda could put our relationship before her position within Runway you are mistaken. She has given Runway almost 25 years of her life. So far I've had the weekend."

"Oh well...yes. We have seen where relationships like yours can lead to claims of favouritism or cause other co-workers to become uncomfortable and create a hostile work environment. What are your thoughts about that?"

"Emily Charlton, Nigel Kipling and Serena Oliveira already know of the relationship. Nigel spent a day in Cincinnati with us this weekend, helping myself my sister and my mother in our grief, before returning to New York this morning. Anyone else who could claim favouritism would be sadly mistaken. Miranda will tell you their incompetence is already known to be legendary." Andy shook her head. "Look, Sherri, is this necessary? As you may realise, this is not a good time."

"I have a few more points to note," Sherri admitted nervously. "Um, well, if things don't work out for you, and Miranda provided a poor performance review it would make claims of sexual harassment and retaliation a possibility. What would your actions be in this instance?"

"I would tender my resignation with immediate effect, no claims of harassment, no claims of Miranda acting in retaliation," Andy explained causing Miranda to gasp.

"We are putting policies in place, we want you to be assured you should not feel coerced into dating your boss, you will be protected if you wish to end the relationship. We could look at implementing a 'love contract'." Sherri breathed.

"You have got to be kidding me?" Andy hissed. "You think Miranda has pressured me into a relationship, have you seen her compared to me? My God, she could snap her fingers and have anyone she wanted."

"Well, I'll explain these 'love contracts' in more detail. The contracts show that the employees are voluntarily engaging in a romantic relationship, that the relationship will not affect the workplace, and that the participants know of the employer's sexual harassment policies." Sherri said. "The main purpose of the 'love contract' is to limit employer liability in the event that the romantic relationship ends." She explained. "As part of the contract, both employees agree that should their relationship end there will be no work-related retaliation and they will not sue the employer for sexual harassment. The love contract will also set forth guidelines for acceptable and unacceptable romantic behaviour in the workplace."

"I think I know what's appropriate behaviour for the workplace," Andy said, getting frustrated. "No public displays of affection around the office or at company events, they can make others uncomfortable and make you appear unprofessional," Andy stated. "Honestly Sherri, if this was a fling do you think Miranda would have reported it to you? As the person in the senior position, Miranda has done the right thing in telling you about this hoping this will become a long-term relationship. My role as her assistant does not affect this, in fact, it's not like I can influence her business decisions." Andy explained. "I have seen a year out as her second assistant, I hope to see out another year and be able to move into editorial, in the meantime I will do my job, as I always do, to the best of my abilities."

"Thank you for speaking with me Andy. We'll also be speaking with Irv about this." Sherri advised.

"Tell him I hope he enjoyed his whiskey," Andy smirked and disconnected the call. "Stupid woman. A love contract, really?"

Miranda looked at her hesitantly as they pulled up at a red light. "Would you sign it?"

"Yea, I'd sign anything to keep your position safe," Andy told her softly.

Miranda rested her hand on Andy's knee as she coasted behind Jill on their way back to Andy's childhood home.

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Chapter Text

Miranda pulled Andy's sports car behind Jill's sensible Honda Civic. Looking at the brunette she raised an eyebrow and smirked. "Andréa, I forgot to ask, am I to be set up in the guest room?"

"God, no!" Andy exclaimed before blushing at how emphatic she sounded. "I mean...well, I...that's up to you. You are welcome to stay in my room, or..."

"Acceptable." Miranda grinned as Andy let out a sigh of relief. Miranda opened the driver's side door and slid from the car gracefully as Jill opened the front door and looked over her shoulder at them.

Andy grinned as she moved from the car and made her way to the trunk to remove their bags. "Oi, Shithead, are you gonna stand there all night?" She hollered.

"Yeah, yeah," Jill muttered as she stalked towards the car. Picking up the two smallest bags she poked her tongue out at her older sister before offering Miranda a wide smile. "Did Andy give you the grand tour the other day?" She asked.

"She showed me the 'important stuff'." Miranda's grin widened as Jill looked her sister in disbelief.

"The important stuff?" Jill scoffed and looked at Miranda. "I take it that included the kitchen, family room and her bedroom?"

"I glimpsed the den, home office and dining room too," Miranda smirked.

"So you didn't show Miranda the other bedrooms, basement and attic?" Jill spoke softly as Andy grabbed Miranda's heavy case from the trunk.

"No, I didn't think the guest or mom's room was suitable for viewing. The basement was full of dad's gym equipment the last time I was home and the attic..." Andy trailed off. "...well, that was...and...I don't...No, I did not show her the attic. Go ahead though, Jillian." Andy shook her head and walked towards the house quickly.

"Have I missed something?" Miranda asked quietly.

Jill closed her eyes and exhaled deeply. "Me and my damned mouth. For fuck's sake, I should apologise to her." Jill stated.

"Why?" Miranda asked as she pulled Andy's smaller case from the trunk and held her hand out for one bag that Jill had in her hand. Jill held it closer and scowled.

"The attic was Brad's bedroom, she hasn't been up there since the day after the accident. She'd just returned from the hospital and ran up there. She ended up on the roof and it took Mom hours to talk her down." Jill explained as Andy charged out of the house towards them.

"Jeez, what the hell are you two doing stood out here? It's freezing." Andy grabbed her case and both small bags from Jill and charged back towards the house. Looking over her shoulder she caught Miranda's eyes. "Come on in, sweetheart. I'll light a fire and organise dinner." Miranda frowned as Andy blanked her sister.

"Leave her be, for now, Jill. I'll talk to her." Miranda shook her head and sighed. "Come on, before she charges back out here and hoists me over her shoulder to carry me in."

"You know, she would, too," Jill smirked.

Miranda looked up and saw Andy leaning against the front door. "God forbid," Miranda smirked at the young woman before stepping towards the brunette. As she reached Andy's side she caught her hand and entwined their fingers. "Now, my darling. What can I do to help us get settled?"

"Coffee," Andy smiled sadly and led her into the house. "You know where mom's good stuff is."

"Oh, yes. The coffee I can do." Miranda brushed a kiss on Andy's cheek and stalked off towards the kitchen, unfastening her scarf and jacket as she moved.

Andy stiffened as Jill stepped beside her and closed the door. "Andy?" She queried softly.

Andy shook her head. "Just don't, Jill. I'm this close to losing my shit, right now." She squeezed her thumb and index finger together. "Just give me time and then we'll talk, okay?"

"Okay, sis. Do you want me to do anything?" Jill asked.

"Nah, There should be enough wood to start a fire up in the family room." Andy caught Jill's eye. "You should rest, Jilly."

"I may curl up on the sofa." Jill smiled sadly before making her way towards the family room. Spinning around, she called out to Andy. "I am glad you're both here."

"Yeah..." Andy trailed off as she watched Jill enter the family room. "...I wish I could say the same." Her voice echoed along the empty foyer.

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Andy had lit the open fire in the family room and they were sharing a pot of coffee. Untangling herself from where she was sat wrapped around Miranda, Andy stood quickly. "I will grab more wood."

"I don't think there's much chopped. Dad and Uncle Jay felled a tree last week and..." Jill trailed off as Andy grinned.

"Well, I'll just have to spend the next hour chopping," Andy stated with a shrug. "I'll just change my shoes and find a sweater. I'll have my cell."

Miranda stood up. "Would you like company?"

"I won't be overly long, sweetheart," Andy reassured. "Stay here and keep warm."

"Okay, if you insist. I'll bring you a warm drink a little later." Miranda offered a small smile. "Now, I may have a bath."

"There should be plenty of hot water. I'll see you soon." Andy kissed Miranda's cheek before nodding at Jill and running to her room.

Pulling boots on to her feet, Andy sighed. It would be good to do some physical activity. She was feeling anxious about everything. It had been such a whirlwind few days with the start of her relationship with Miranda, her run-in with Nate, finding out about his assault on her sister and the death of her father, she was struggling to process everything that had happened.

Rummaging through her clothes she struggled to find something to wear over her t-shirt. Sighing she stalked to her closet and rummaged through a stack of clothing. Her hands touched the soft, worn materials, and she sighed as she pulled an item from the stack. Looking down at a red check flannel shirt she grinned. It was something she used to wear when helping her dad chop kindling and when working on her car. As she was pulling it over her head, Miranda entered the room.

Miranda let out a tinkle of laughter at the sight of the brunette. "Well, look at you." She got her laughter under control. "You look like a lumberjack, my darling."

Andy grinned. "I didn't think it would do to ruin my latest designer casuals." Stepping towards the older woman she swept her hair out of her face and spoke softly. "You look tired, sweetheart."

"I'm fine. It's been a busy few days." Miranda clarified.

"I will put a load of washing on. Do you need anything put in the machine?" Andy turned and rummaged through her bag pulling out the items she had worn over the last few days.

"Yes, these." Miranda pulled out her lingerie and t-shirts and smiled.

"Okay." Andy smiled and took the items from the older woman. "Um, will you be okay? I can have Uncle Jay come bring us a stack of wood but..."

"Go, do what you need to. I will have my cell if you need anything." Miranda brushed a soft kiss on Andy's lips. "I understand this last few days have been hard for you. You need an outlet to let it all out. Use the axe and the wood and let go."

"How did you know..." Andy trailed off and bit her lip.

"I see more than you think, my darling." Miranda cupped Andy's cheek. "You will come back from all this stronger than before, physically and mentally."

"I hope so," Andy whispered as she closed her eyes and leaned into Miranda's touch. "I don't know how I can get past all this, Miranda. I don't know if I have the strength to bounce back this time."

"Well if you find you do not always have the strength, I can be strong for both of us, you can lean on me," Miranda told her. Stepping back she looked at Andy. "Now, I will bathe, for some strange reason I ache."

Andy smirked and stepped towards the older woman. "Mm, I'd apologise for that, but it would be a lie." She stepped path the older woman and received a gentle swat against her ass. Gasping she turned and saw Miranda biting her lip to smother a smile.

"I'll get you back for that, Priestly," Andy smirked as Miranda blushed. Shaking her head, she moved from the room and moved towards the back of the house.

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Andy made her way out to the workshop at the side of the house. Looking around she saw the logs that her dad and uncle had prepared. She checked the remaining wood for nails. The last thing she wanted was to damage her axe or be hit by a flying nail. She could see they had been prepared into manageable ready-to-split logs.

Walking towards the wall she found a pair of gloves and safety goggles and picked up her dad's maul. It was a little heavier than her usual axe, but it offered a wider head. Walking towards the chopping block she used her booted foot to clear the twigs and debris that was underfoot. Shaking her head, she realised she was doing exactly what her father would have done. She took comfort in it.

She picked up a piece of wood and balanced it on its end. Standing with her legs shoulder-width apart, she took her maul in both hands, her right hand resting near the head of the tool. Lifting the maul over her head she swung with a straight arm as her hand moved down the handle. She hit the wood dead centre and watching it split slightly. Finding satisfaction in the thud of the maul on the wood she wrestled the maul from the wood and once again hit it dead centre. It took four swings for the wood to split and the maul to do its job. Smiling she pulled another log into the block and repeated the process, the steady rhythm quietening her mind and leaving her with a sense of peace.

Continuing to split wood she lost track of time, only stopping once to pull her shirt over her head and toss it to the side, as the pile next to her rose steadily. It was the sound of a branch snapping underfoot that broke her attention and taking a final swing at the piece of wood in front of her watched it split down the middle with satisfaction. Stepping away from the block she kept the maul in her hand and turned, expecting to see Miranda. Instead, her eyes met the dark brown of her ex-boyfriend. "Hello, Nate," Andy stated lightly as she removed the safety glasses and dropped them to the ground. She watched as Nate's eyes raked over her, coming to rest on her glistening chest, where it showed at the v-neck of her fitted t-shirt. He licked his lips and she only just stopped the shudder of disgust she experienced at his heated perusal. "You shouldn't be here." Andy turned slightly and put the maul down, Putting her hand in her pocket, she pulled out her cell. She decided that the police could deal with him as required.

"Like you're in a position to tell me where I'm supposed to be," Nate spoke slowly, each word clearly enunciated.

Andy pressed her contacts list absentmindedly. "Well, I know if you were in New York you'd be in the care of the NYPD for vandalism, criminal mischief, aggravated harassment and trespassing. If they charge you under hate crime misdemeanours, you could be up for a lengthy stay in prison." Andy let him know she knew of his actions. "The detectives looking for you will also be advised that you are a rapist, even if those charges don't stick, word will get out. I will tell Lily the story of how my sister cried as she recounted the events of my birthday weekend when you drugged and then fucked her. She may not have been able to fight you off or say no, but it doesn't stop it from being rape. Lily will hate you as much as I do, now." She heard Nate step towards her.

Turning her head she watched as Nate ran a hand over his scruffy stubble. "She was asking for it, as were the others I have...Well, I wasn't getting what I needed at home, Andy. How dare you judge me?" His tone was frustrated as he took another step towards her.

"You may not have been getting any at home, and obviously Lily has proved over the last six months not to be enough for you either. You ended up being just another fragile little man obsessed with his penis." Andy turned again and catching his eyes let her disgust of him flow freely. Channelling Miranda, her eyes filled with ice. "How disappointing that you turned out to be so pathetic. I should have left you years ago." She looked down and continued to scroll through her contacts.

"What are you doing with your cell, Andy? Put it down, now!" Andy clicked a button as Nate reached out and snatched the cell from her hand. Looking at the screen he saw Miranda's name highlighted and dropped the cell. "You're calling her?" He was furious. "You and that old dragon bitch? I'll say it again, it's disgusting, Andy."

Andy became furious. "Don't you dare, Nate. You don't know Miranda, you do not understand." She glowered at him, fists clenched.

"Fuck, Miranda Priestly." Nate roared, losing control.

Andy smirked at him. "Oh, I have. Multiple times." Her tone was calm as she watched Nate's jaw clench. "She is exquisite."

"Shut up." Nate spat between clenched teeth. "I don't want to hear it."

"Would you prefer it if we spoke of how she makes me feel? How gentle? Or how about how wet she makes me?" Andy asked. Nate's hand lashed out in an open-handed slap against Andy's cheek, leaving a red stain in its wake. "You are pitiful." Andy hissed as she dodged another open-handed slap. She launched herself towards the man. The first punch glanced Nate's cheek, and he yelped in surprise. He noticed too late that a second punch was about to hit as Andy hit him in his solar plexus, knocking the wind out of him. He stumbled backwards and a warm hand in the middle of his back stopped him falling.

Nate straightened and stepped quickly away from the touch. His eyes bulging with shock at the sight of Miranda behind him and Jill hovering in the doorway. He stared at Andy, rage in his eyes as she rolled her eyes at Miranda. "My love, why did you stop him falling on his skinny ass?"

"Shit splatters, my darling" Miranda stated with a smirk as she moved past him towards Andy.

"You…fucking…" Nate took a lurching step quickly towards Miranda, his fist clenched. He stopped at the sound of two familiar clicks behind him. He looked around to see Jill raising her hands, holding a gun. "You would shoot me, Jill?" Nate offered a disarming smile.

"Damn fucking straight I would," Jill spoke softly. "I would end you in a heartbeat for how you've made my sister think she's lacking, not to mention what you did to me." She shook her head. "You are trespassing, Nate." Her voice shook and her eyes held fear. "In the State of Ohio, I can shoot to kill and claim self-defence. You are the one who committed a crime of hate against Miranda in New York. You are a threat."

"You wouldn't shoot me, Jill. You're weak." Nate tried to stare the young woman down, to call Jill's bluff.

Lowering the gun she pulled the trigger and took out Nate's knee causing him to scream. "Do not underestimate me, Nathanial." Jill thundered above his howl's of pain. Andy and Miranda stood in shock as the petite blonde walked towards him and pulled him to his feet by his shoulder, almost tearing the collar of his shirt. They heard the slight rasp of material ripping as she pushed him awkwardly towards the chopping block as he whimpered. "You will sit there. Move another inch and I'll take out your other knee." Pulling out her cell she dialled quickly. "Hi, I need to report a trespasser. He is currently wanted by police and...Yes, Nathanial Cooper. He's wanted in New York and detectives here have been notified...Yes, Jillian Sachs...that's right. I should warn you he has a bullet lodged in his knee...Yes, Fox Hollow Lane, Indian Hill." She ended the call and looked at Andy and Miranda before turning her eyes away from them to look at Nate, who had tears streaming down his face. "I want you to apologise to Andy and Miranda," Jill told him. "I want an apology for what you did that night in September."

"No." Nate spat out through his clenched teeth.

Jill shrugged and raised the gun again. Andy rushed in front of Nate and the gun. "No, Jilly. Please, he's not worth the cost of a bullet."

Jill frowned. "He's done nothing but hurt us. He cheated on you, made you believe you were lacking and he did not support you. He hurt me, took my virginity, gave me a child I then lost, gave me..." Andy interrupted her quickly.

"And he will be punished for his actions," Andy stated stepping towards Jill and holding her hand out. "Give me that gun, Jilly."

"No, he needs to pay." Tears lept into Jill's eyes as her hands shook. "You said so yesterday."

"And he will. Legally. You know the police will handle this. His actions will not go unpunished." Andy tried to reassure her sister as she detected the crunch of tyres on the drive. She watched over Jill's shoulder as Miranda stepped out of the workshop and move towards the front of the house. "Please, Jill. Think about it if not for you then for Mom, she needs you now. For me, I'll need you. And for your future children, they'll need you. You can come back from this, Jill. You can still create the future you want for yourself, you can still find that one person who makes your soul sing."

"Like Miranda?" Jill questioned softly.

"Exactly like my Miranda." Andy smiled softly, her back still towards Nate.

He charged, knocking both women off their feet. The gun clattered away from their reach. Andy could feel Nate's full weight against and a groan escaped her lips. She could feel the press of his erection against her ass as he pinned her. "I think I should have taken advantage of this position in our bed. I should have taken it from you rather than finding those gullible girls who were..." He trailed off and fumbled with his pants as Andy tried to arch her back and throw him off. His hands came up around her neck and he squeezed. "..they weren't you, however much I wished they were...And if you think I'll let you live happily ever after you are mistaken."

Nate was overwhelmed with his need for release, unfurling himself from his jeans, he tried, one-handed, to undo Andy's jeans as his remaining hand continued to squeeze at Andy's throat as she choked, clawing at his hand to release his grip. He was so busy he did not see Jill roll to the side and grab the first thing that came to hand, a metal pipe. Scrambling to her feet she saw Andy's lips turning blue, swinging the pipe over her shoulder she watched as it connected with Nate's skull. She heard the crack and saw the blood pour as Nate shook the disorientation away with a groan. Raising the pipe again she caught the movement behind her and caught Miranda's gasp at the sight in front of her. Placing a warm hand on Jills back she felt herself relaxing as officers pulled Nate off Andy forcibly.

Andy's wheezing breath caught their attention as she gulped for air. They watched as Nate frowned, confused about the sudden interruption, blood flowing from his curls as the police restrained him. They overheard the dispatcher's confirmation that two ambulances were in transit. Miranda closed her eyes as Andy rolled onto her knees and retched.

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Miranda was pacing the hospital waiting room. The doctor's had advised her that as she wasn't listed as Andy's next-of-kin she could not be in the room with the young woman as they rushed her into treatment. She was furious. Moving towards the doors she was amazed to see Jill pushing Beth through the doors. Stopping her pacing she knelt in front of her old friend. "They won't tell me a fucking thing." She hissed.

"Relax, we'll fix this," Jill stated softly. She gestured for Miranda to get up and wheeled the chair towards the main part of the waiting area. Leaving her mom and Miranda, she moved to the desk. Placing a firm hand on the desk she spoke quietly. "Where is Andrea Sachs?"

"Are you family?" The nurse asked.

"Yes, her sister. Her mother is also here as her partner has been made to wait for a fucking update because of your bureaucratic bullshit. I will advise her to sue." Jill stated menacingly.

"Her partner?" The nurse stuttered.

Jill smirked. "Yes, and I would advise you that Miranda Priestly is not someone to be trifled with."

"Mir...Miranda Pr..." The nurse was amazed. She had listened to her fourteen-year-old son explain to her husband that Miranda was in Ohio for the funeral of her assistant turned girlfriend. He had admitted to her recently that he wanted to be a fashion designer and move to New York. She was happy that he knew exactly what he wanted, so many teenagers didn't. "Um, Andrea has finished being treated. You can all go through." She looked at the older woman and shook her head. She seemed far from the rumours of the editor that graced Page Six in her jeans, loose-fitting t-shirt, leather jacket and Converse.

Jill sighed and caught her attention. "Which room?"

The nurse blushed. "112. Go through the door take a left and it's about seven doors down."

"Thank you." Jill spun on her heel and stalked towards Beth and Miranda. "Go on, Andy's waiting for you."

"Finally." Miranda hissed as she moved at an almost run through the door.

"112, Miri," Jill called after her. Looking down at her mom, she whispered. "Are you okay, mom?"

"I will be, once that monster is locked up." Beth had been furious when Jill had arrived upstairs and told her about the events at the house. "Give them a few minutes, Miri was never very patient and they'll need time."

Miranda stalked down the corridor quickly, looking at the door numbers. Spotting 112 she tapped the door before poking her head around. Andy was curled up on the bed, her eyes closed tight. Miranda stepped up to her quickly and eased her sneakers off. Climbing up beside the younger woman she pulled her close as Andy let her tears fall. She held Andy close without saying a word. As Andy's sobs turned to snuffling hiccups Miranda turned her gently and gasped at the bruising that had formed on Andy's cheek and throat. Running the tips of her fingers over the marks she closed her eyes and whimpered. "I will ensure my legal team decimate him. He will rue the day he crossed my path and yours."

"I'm okay, I thought..." Andy's voice was hoarse. "...when I woke up alone..." She swallowed and moaned. "...I thought this was the moment you finally decided enough was enough. You didn't sign up for this, Miranda."

"That is true, but I will not leave you, my Andréa. I am not one to give up and walk away when things get hard." Miranda placed a gentle hand on Andy's face and watched as she took a shuddering breath.

"Why weren't you here?" Andy asked.

"I am not family, my darling." Miranda tried to soothe Andy as she frowned. "Not in the eyes of the hospital. Jillian sorted it, and here I am. Your mom and Jill are here, they'll be along in a few moments."

"Ma's here?" Andy whispered. "I will kill Jill. Mom doesn't need this additional worry."

"It is a mother's job to worry, my darling," Miranda advised gently. "Now, let me dry your eyes." She pulled a box of tissues off the bedside table and swiped gently at Andy's eyes. "Perfect." Miranda pressed a brief kiss on Andy's lips as there was another tap at the door and Jill and Beth entered the room.

"Hey, Ma." Andy husked, turning on her back as Beth was wheeled to her side.

"Hi, baby girl. I hear you had a rough few hours?" Beth spoke softly and reached her hand out to stroke Andy's hair from her face, taking in the bruising. Her heart broke at the sight and she swallowed a lump forming in her throat as she continued to soothe her daughter. "I want your opinion on something, Andy..." She looked up at Jill as she placed a chair down and sat beside her. "...You too, Jill."

Miranda made to move off the bed. "I shall leave you to talk." She spoke softly.

"No, stay," Beth told her. Nodding, Miranda sat with her back resting against the metal frame of the hospital bed. Andy caught her hand and entwined their fingers. Beth looked at the three women surrounding her. "I am thinking selling the house. I will go back for a short time but once I'm back on my feet, I will look for work elsewhere. Chicago, L.A, Boston or Seattle."

"Why not New York?" Jill asked. "It is where Miranda, Andy, Nigel and Doug are." She took a deep breath. "And I could transfer to Columbia before the baby..."

"I don't think Andy and Miranda want us descending on them, Jill," Beth smiled sadly as Andy raised her head and frowned.

"You'd be wrong, Ma." Andy husked. "If New York is where you want to be. If you want to be a part of mine and Miranda's life and the life of your grandchild, then you would be welcome."

"My grandchild?" Beth whispered. Looking at her daughters she saw Jill with tears in her eyes as Andy held out her hand to her little sister.

Jill jumped up and launched herself at Andy, causing the brunette to let out a little oompf as her sister climbed on the bed and pulled her into a tight hug. Andy's hands soothed Jill as they ran circles between her shoulders. Looking up, her eyes held uncertainty. "Are you sure?" Andy nodded. Jill looked into Miranda's shining blue eyes. "Miranda?"

Miranda's face split into a genuine smile. "Acceptable."She whispered pulling both women into her arms and wrapping her arms as far around them both as she could. "Now, which one of you will tell my twin's they will be big sisters?" Miranda rolled her eyes at the squeak of panic that escaped from Jill's lips as Andy chuckled.

"Oh my word, I will be a grandma," Beth whispered.

"To ten-year-old twins too," Andy told her softly. The comment caused Miranda to squeeze her tighter and place a kiss on the top of her head.

"Oh shit," Beth exclaimed. Looking up she grinned and excitement sparkled in her eyes. "I can't wait to meet them."

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Chapter Text

The doctors insisted Andy stay in the hospital overnight to make sure no damage had been done to her throat where Nate had squeezed. She was displaying trouble talking, her voice deepening to a husk, she had neck pain and difficulty swallowing. When she had retched after being freed blood had been in her vomit.

The doctors were concerned about bleeding and swelling inside her neck or damage to the carotid had advised her and Miranda that although everything may seem okay, the effects could manifest weeks and even months after an assault with problems sleeping, and impairment in memory and concentration."

Andy was frustrated. All she wanted was to go home and curl up beside Miranda. Looking over to where Miranda was dozing in a chair she frowned. Miranda had refused to leave her to go back to the house with Jill. Her sister had left, wheeling her mom back upstairs. But knowing Jill would be safe alone was a small consolation.

"Miranda, sweetheart. Will you come up here?" Andy spoke hoarsely.

Miranda cracked one eye open and sighed as she eyed the space beside the brunette. "The bed is too narrow, my darling. I would prefer knowing you are comfortable."

Andy smiled. "And what if I told you the most comfortable place in the world is your arms?"

Miranda smirked as both eyes opened. "I would assume you are delusional, my darling. I am perfectly content here. It is not, nor will it be, the last time I fall asleep in a chair. Now you are meant to be resting your voice, amongst other things."

Andy's smile widened. "Well, okay." She caught Miranda's eye. "But what if I told you it would make me feel better knowing you are comfortable for the night?" Miranda cocked an eyebrow and continued to look at Andy, waiting for her to continue. "What if I told you that the only way I will sleep is wrapped around you?" She pouted.

Miranda snorted and raised herself from the chair. Stepping up to the bed she sat next to Andy and brushed her hair out of her face. "How can I deny you anything, my darling? It is impossible when you pout so delightfully."

Andy let out a breathtaking smile as Miranda's fingers trailed over her cheek and jaw. Moving up the bad she stretched herself out on her side alongside Andy and pulled her gently against her. She stoked her palms up Andy's back causing the young woman to nuzzle into her neck and shoulder. Miranda caught the low words Andy spoke against her neck. "I love you, Miranda."

"As I love you, my Andréa, now rest," Miranda whispered. She was at peace surrounded by Andy and her eyes fell closed as Andy's breathing deepened as she settled into sleep. "You are safe, my darling," Miranda whispered softly before letting herself sleep.

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The sound of voices in the hallway had Miranda opening her eyes, she could have sworn...but no, it couldn't be...it must be her imagination, a dream. Closing her eyes again she tried to settle again as the familiar once again voice accosted her. "But our mommy's in there."

"No, honey. You must be mistaken. That's one of our patients." A gentle voice advised.

"Yeah, we understand that. But mommy would be there with Andy. Why aren't you listening?" Cassidy's tearful voice had Miranda launching herself from the bed and stalking towards the door as Andy stirred.

"Cass?" Andy whispered, disbelievingly. Easing herself from sleep she scrubbed her palms over her eyes and winced as her hand caught the bruising on her face,

Miranda flung the door open and before she knew what had hit her two pairs of arms were wrapped tightly around her waist and her arms had come up around their shoulders to encircle her girls, pulling them close. "Bobbsey's, what on Earth are you doing here." She looked down the corridor and regarded James gesturing to the room. She smiled at him and he grinned back shyly.

"Daddy and Amanda brought us, we wanted to make sure Andy was okay. The news..." Cassidy trailed off as she cried into Miranda's stomach.

Caroline looked up at her mom before untangling herself and running into the room. Seeing Andy sat up, a smile on her face, she slowed. "Hey, Andy."

"Hi, Caro. What's all this about?" Andy asked, her voice hoarse.

Caroline stepped towards the bed, her eyes roaming over Andy's neck and face. "Your voice sounds different." Caroline sounded upset. Patting the bed beside her Andy helped Caroline climb up and settle in next to her. "You're hurt."

"I'm okay, Caro. I promise. It looks worse than it is, and my voice will heal when my neck and throat does. It'll please your mom to have me quiet, you remember just how much she enjoys listening to my incessant babbling." Andy tried to ease the young girl's concern. "Now, it's great to see you, but it's unexpected."

"We asked dad to bring us when the news broke," Caroline explained as she snuggled into Andy's side. "We heard your ex-boyfriend was arrested and that you had been rushed to the hospital. We tried to find out what was happening but no-one would tell us anything because we aren't family. So here we are."

Andy rolled her eyes, she knew James wouldn't be able to deny his girls anything, especially when they turned their pleading eyes upon him. "Yes, my ex-boyfriend was arrested, he's in the hospital too, right now. My sister shot him in the leg and bashed him over the head with a metal bar."

"Good." Cassidy's teary voice stated from the doorway. Andy spotted Miranda and James, with their heads together, talking quietly. Cassidy stepped to the other side of Andy's bed and climbed up. Sitting crossed legged she also roamed her eyes over Andy's face and neck. "Does it hurt?" Cassidy asked gently.

"A little," Andy admitted. Cassidy's focused gaze was on a vivid fingerprint-shaped bruise on her throat. "They did a few tests last night to make sure I hadn't sustained a laryngeal fracture, and they wanted to keep me in the hospital overnight." Andy grinned. "They told me not to speak."

"And so far you haven't listened, my darling." Miranda stepped into the room and grinned at the sight of her babies with her Andréa.

Andy grinned. "Well, you weren't here to explain."

"Hush, my darling," Miranda told her as she sat down in the chair. Looking down at her watch she noticed it was almost 9 am. "Your father told me you were both up at the crack of dawn and woke him to insist he bring you here. Well, we have an hour until the doctor's arrival, you have a choice. You can go with your father and stay in the hotel Amanda has booked into or you can stay here with us and wait for Andréa to be served breakfast and then discharged." She observed Andy's grimace of distaste and smirked. "They held off with your breakfast as you were sleeping, my darling."

Cassidy smiled and stretched out on Andy's side. "We'll stay."

"I'll go tell dad." Caroline shuffled off the bed and ran from the room. Within moments she was back and Andy hoisted her back up on to the bed with her and Cassidy.

"Your mom is being discharged today, Andréa," Miranda told her softly.

"Has been discharged." Beth's voice greeted them from the doorway and Andy was amazed to observe her mom on her feet albeit with a walker. Cassidy and Caroline hid their faces shyly into her chest.

Miranda stood up and stepped up to Beth. "Come, sit. Why aren't you arranging your journey home?"

Beth made her way carefully to the chair Miranda had vacated, feeling the warm hand on her lower back as Miranda guided her slowly. "Jilly's borrowing my brother Jay's SUV, she'll be here shortly." She peered at the twins and grinned as Cassidy looked up. "Well, it looks like it may be needed. Hello, which one are you."

Cassidy smirked. "Caroline. The other one is Cassidy." Andy's raspy laughter hit them all, and she poked the little girl in the stomach gently. Cassidy let out a boisterous laugh of her own.

"Well, it's nice to meet you, Cassidy." Beth caught the little girl's eye and smiled. "If you don't think I could tell you apart from the little Andy has told me, then I'd make a terrible lawyer."

"But...but...how? No one...Sometimes Daddy doesn't even realise." Cassidy was amazed. "Andy always knew though...Caro, are you hearing this?"

Caroline looked up and noticed Andy's smile greeting her from an older woman, who looked different. She recognised her face, although it was older, from a photo that was in their mother's studio. "Beth?" She whispered. Looking at Miranda she saw her mom's nod.

"Andréa's mother," Miranda explained. She looked at Beth. "Caroline and Cassidy have grown up seeing your face. There's a photo of you with me and Nigel in my studio."

Andy was confused and Cassidy took pity. "Mom has a studio on the top floor of the house. It's where she paints."

"You paint?" Andy rasped. "Wow."

Miranda raised an eyebrow and grinned as Andy bit her lip and then made a zipping gesture across her lips. Cassidy giggled and Caroline lifted one of Andy's arms to place her head on Andy's chest. She smiled as Andy laid her arm across her back and used it to pull the young girl closer. "You're warm," Caroline mumbled.

Andy couldn't help but raise her eyebrow at Miranda as she chuckled and pulled another chair beside Beth. "I think you have a way with the three Priestly women, Andréa. We all seem to find your warmth enchanting." She turned to look at Beth. "So what did Andy tell you about my daughters to let you differentiate between them?"

Beth smiled. "Her first words about them was that they looked angelic, but on closer inspection, you could detect the identical devilish light in their eyes that made it hard to discern which was which. She called them imps." Beth grinned at Cassidy. "But after a short time she said she could recognise the goodness in them behind the mischief, she knew they were precocious and they were as individual as she was from Brad. She never told me what she observed to make them unique, but she mentioned Cassidy's laughter one day, describing it as rambunctious, playful, uncontrolled and full of energy. Hearing it allowed me to realise that I was being tricked."

"Oh yes, that sounds like my youngest daughters unbridled laughter." Miranda smiled. "They do their switch often. Other than myself, only Andréa has seen it every time, from what I gather she goes along with it, while in the company, but then reverts once they are alone. Emily just points at either and addresses them as, twin."

Beth was gobsmacked causing Andy to grin and nod to show it was the truth. Beth rolled her eyes. "This is the quietest my eldest daughter has been since she found her voice at four months old."

Cassidy and Caroline watched the two older women in the chairs. "Mommy, did you know Beth was Andy's mom?" Cassidy asked.

"No, Bobbsey. It was quite the surprise when we met again on Saturday." Miranda explained softly as the nurse entered the room and frowned at the crowded bed.

Pulling a table over Andy's leg she set down a tray, and the twins giggled at Andy's groan at the display on the plate. Although Christ Hospital was known for their reasonable catering, the hour delay had left the scrambled eggs congealed and the toast cold. The meal was paired with an insipid looking juice. "I can't eat that." Andy husked, suddenly teary and overwhelmed, all she wanted was some hot food, a change of clothes and coffee. She pushed the table away and untangled herself from the twins before rushing to the bathroom and slamming the door closed.

Miranda winced as the lock snicked and stood. She looked at the breakfast offering with pursed lips. "I can understand her dismay. That looks unappealing." She ignored the nurse's huff of displeasure. Catching the twins eyes she spoke softly. "Come Bobbsey's, we'll go on a treasure hunt and find us some food and coffee. Maybe you can have hot chocolate." She looked towards Beth. "Will you try to coax her from the bathroom?"

Beth grinned. "Of course, but knowing my Andy she'll come out as soon as she smells fresh bacon and coffee."

Miranda turned on her heel as the twins clambered off the bed. Gesturing for the nurse to follow, Beth heard the muttered. "Now, where can we get food for ourselves and the patient?"

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Andy poked her head from the door and saw the room was empty apart from one person, her mom. She looked panicked for a moment until Beth stood. "No, Ma. Sit." Andy stepped towards her, her hands held out pleadingly.

Beth eased herself back into the recliner with a wince. "Why did you hide, Andy?" She could spot the faint tear tracks down her daughter's cheek.

"I felt like I was being the most inconsiderate and ungrateful person." Andy moved Miranda's chair and sat with it slightly facing her mom. "The staff here have been wonderful. I just..."

"Shh baby, it's okay. I understand. You want hot food, coffee, a shower and clean clothes." Andy nodded, grateful that she hadn't had to voice the words.

"Miranda?" She queried

Beth chuckled. "Finding you hot food and even hotter coffee." Turning serious she grasped Andy's hand in hers. "Are you sure about raising the baby?" Andy nodded and Beth let out a sigh of relief. "And Miranda?"

Andy winced as she swallowed. Looking around the room, her eyes landed on a pen and notepad one doctor had left for her. Standing quickly she grabbed both and scribbled furiously, frowning in concentration. She handed Beth the notebook and sat back down.

Beth looked down and read her daughter's tidy scrawl.

I love Miranda, and I want to spend my life with her. I can't say any more than that, but I am petrified. What I feel for her is intense and all-consuming. I've never responded this way to anyone else before.

Beth looked into Andy's eyes and recognised the fear, love and determination. She handed the notepad back to Andy. "I don't want you to hurt, baby girl. Jill told me Miranda had spoken to H.R about your relationship." Andy grinned and wrote quickly as Beth read what she wrote.

They want to put a love contract in place. Ridiculous, right?

"A love contract? Oh God, I can't wait to hear Miranda's view on that." Beth chuckled.

I told her I'd sign anything to keep her position safe. She's spoken about her upbringing in London. I appreciate how hard she's worked to achieve what she has, not only for herself but for her beautiful twins and I would hate to jeopardise that.

Beth caught Andy's eye. "What scares you the most, honey?"

My fear comes from knowing she may leave me. I wouldn't just lose Miranda, but also the twins. I know it would break me. I love them all so much.

"She wouldn't. Between you and me, she sees this as a forever thing." Beth grinned. "And I remember from years ago she considered those thoughts romantic claptrap."

But she didn't sign up for any of this, mom. Not Nate or the baby and...

Beth's hand landed on top of Andy's stalling her sentence. "I know you don't think love is all hearts and flowers. Andy. You are a dreamer and deep-thinker but you're also very practical. You appreciate love is hard work, communication and the unwillingness to give up on one another. You have already shown Miranda this. And by being here, standing by your side and offering her unwavering love and support to you, Miranda is showing you the same. It's time to put your fears to the side and enjoy the rollercoaster ride that love is."

Andy's eyes raised, and she saw the older woman stood in the doorway, looking uncertain, her hands holding two bags of food containers. She gestured for Miranda to join them and watched as she shook her head and made to move from the room. Standing quickly Andy strode towards the older woman and grasped her shoulder, As Miranda turned, Andy's head bent forward and she caught Miranda's lips in a toe-curling kiss. "You heard mom's words but you can read mine." She rasped against Miranda's lips. "I will explain all of this to you."

"Shh, my darling, you are supposed to rest your voice," Miranda whispered as she continued to kiss Andy softly.

"Ugh, you two need to get a room." Cassidy grinned as Andy blushed. The twins brushed past the two women, drinks in hand. "We found a new friend on the way in." Cassidy waved towards the direction of the door where Jill was stood grinning.

Dropping her drinks down on Andy's table Caroline looked in disgust at the tray of food Andy still hadn't touched. "Well, this needs to go," She mumbled. "It looks worse than the slop they feed us at school." She emptied the food into the waste bin and poured the juice away.

"I should hope they don't feed you slop at school," Miranda stated. "If that is the kind of rot they feed you, I shall consider having Cara make up healthy lunch bags for you."

"Lunch at our school isn't so bad, mom. Caro's still enraged about the PS6 experience we had last week. It was all tater tots and processed mac cheese. There wasn't a salad leaf in sight." Cassidy was sat crossed legged on Andy's bed, sipping happily from a hot chocolate.

"Mm, mac cheese." Andy husked. She smiled at Miranda's widening eyes.

Jill laughed. "That was one of Andy's high school staples. Total comfort food."

Cassidy patted the bed next to her. "Will you tell us more about Andy's childhood while we eat?"

"Sure thing, Caroline," Jill stated. Andy and Miranda chuckled and Andy raised an eyebrow at Cassidy.

As she pulled Miranda further into the room Andy's stomach grumbled. "Oh my God, is there a dying walrus in here?" Miranda muttered cheekily. Andy blushed. "Alas, it is just Andréa's stomach advising us it is time to eat." She smiled at the young woman as she led them to their seats.

Jill sat on Andy's bed with Cassidy and Caroline as Miranda grabbed another chair and pulled the table, with the coffee's on towards her. Seeing the notebook in hand Miranda read Andy's words and caught her eye. "I will not leave you broke, my darling." She whispered handing Andy the notepad.

Andy looked down and scribbled a response before passing the notepad back to the older woman who had busied herself arranging bacon and eggs and toast. Looking down she saw the response and her smile brightened.

Yes, I know.

xxxxxxxxxx

The doctor discharged Andy, but not before providing gentle warnings regarding the consequences of being strangled. She had to watch out for prolonged difficulty swallowing or breathing, ear pain, vomiting blood, vision changes, tongue swelling, and lightheadedness. They advised her to go straight to the emergency room if she had any concerns and to seek a therapist if she struggled to overcome the trauma of the assault. The doctor's final words rang through her mind. "There is no weakness in seeking help, Andy."

Miranda followed Andy to the bathroom to help her dress in the fresh clothes Jill had brought for her, looking in the bag she found her own clean clothes ironed and folded neatly and smiled at Jill's thoughtfulness.

Andy sat on the closed toilet lid as Miranda dressed quickly in her Armani jeans and the yellow Michael Kors sweater Andy had worn the Saturday before.

As she helped Andy, she saw her looking thoughtful. "Will you tell me what you are thinking?"

Andy sighed. "It felt like the doctor was treating me as if I was a victim of domestic violence." She frowned slightly. "That final comment about seeking help, it not signifying weakness, well it made me wonder how many women come into the E.R with similar injuries. And if so, how many women do not." Her voice trembled.

"My darling, most domestic violence has strangulation involved. Many men would use it as a method to gain control. It would be extraordinarily intimidating, leaving the victim terrified. They would see how easy it would be for the abuser to take..." Miranda faltered. "...their life."

Andy looked at Miranda and watched the pain flicker in her eyes. Pulling her close she soothed the older woman the best she could. As Miranda stepped away Andy spoke. "I assumed Nate was being a dick. I didn't consider he was trying to control the situation, to make me fearful enough to stop fighting. The only thought I had was that I couldn't let him beat me, I wouldn't let him take from me what he wanted." She frowned. "I don't know what that says about me."

"That you are a fighter, you will let no one turn you into a victim." Miranda pulled back from their embrace. "I'm glad he didn't take away your fighting spirit, Andréa. I am also exceedingly happy he's nowhere I can get my hands on him, the filthy bastard would be castrated, slowly." Miranda turned away, not wanting Andy to see her so furious. "If he managed what he intended, I would have killed him."

"You didn't pay attention to my jeans yesterday when you threw them at me, did you?" Miranda shook her head. "He wouldn't have succeeded." She passed Miranda the Levi's, and the Editor unfolded them, looking for a reason for Andy's claim. They were stiff with Nate's blood, as was Andy's t-shirt, but looking closer she saw they were button jeans. Looking at Andy she saw the smirk. "He wasn't the most coordinated with buttons. That's partly why they became my favourite, that and the fact they're worn and comfortable. I'm pissed they're ruined."

"We will see what the dry cleaner can do with them. It surprises me he could even...what with the pain he must have been in with his knee and then the clout Jill gave him," Miranda whispered. Andy hummed her agreement. "He went flaccid soon enough though. The police made him pop himself away before cuffing him. Now, enough talking. Are you ready to go home?" Andy nodded and grimaced. "We'll stop at the pharmacy and get you the soluble pain relief," Miranda stated. "The doctor thinks it will be of some help."

"Okay." Andy agreed.

Miranda rolled her eyes as Andy grinned. "Your chatter seems to be unstoppable, my darling. You can't help yourself." She couldn't help but return the smile Andy offered so freely, amazed she could do so after the events of the previous day's events. Stepping into Andy's personal space she pulled her into her arms. "Do you realise just how special you are, Andréa?" She murmured. "Your ability to smile amid so much turmoil shows your strength and ferocity. You are a force of nature in your own right, and it amazes me."

Andy stepped back from the embrace and pulled her cell out and frowned at the small crack and the scratches from where Nate had dropped it. She typed quickly and smirked as Miranda's cell vibrated on the counter.

Stepping around the brunette, Miranda grabbed her cell and saw Andy's name on the screen. Pulling up her messages she read.

Since I'm not supposed to talk, this will have to suffice. I'm nothing special, I may be fierce but I am also fragile. I am flawed.

Miranda shook her head and caught Andy's eyes. "We are all flawed, my darling. It is what makes us human."

Andy looked down and tapped on her cell again with a smirk.

Miranda read the words with a smile.

I need a new cell. Do u wanna go shoppin' l8r.

"You send me one beautifully crafted text and follow it with one filled with abbreviations." Miranda shook her head as Andy chuckled.

"Quicker," Andy explained.

"Shopping is an acceptable idea," Miranda stated. "We can also get the twins the hi-tops you spoke of and me some comfortable clothes."

"Awesome." Andy husked with a wide smile.

xxxxxxxxxx

They piled into the seven-seater SUV Jill was driving, Cassidy had called shotgun to Caroline's disgust and Miranda had helped Beth ease herself into the front passenger seat as Andy folded the walker and placed it in the trunk. Miranda had seated herself behind Beth and had Caroline snuggled into her side as they chatted happily together. It made Andy's heart smile to see the older woman so carefree, surrounded by her family. Sitting in a single seat she closed her eyes as Jill started the engine and they once again made their way through traffic towards her childhood home. The chatter surrounding her lulling her into a relaxed state as she stretched her feet out.

She woke with a start, a shadow looming over her. Scared and confused, her fist clenched and lashed out blindly. She heard the clatter on the gravel path and a familiar groan. "God's teeth, Dandy. What the hell are you playing at?" Her eyes widened, and she looked around to see everyone looking at her. Miranda's eyes held concern, Caroline's eyes were filled with awe, while her mom was holding back her laughter.

Sliding quickly from the car she sniggered at the sight in front of her. "Whatcha doin' on the floor, Unc?" She rasped innocently. Stepping towards him she held out her hand and helped the older man up off his ass, it looked like her fist had caught his jaw and he was rubbing it furiously. "I'm sorry, Jay." She whispered.

The man looked at her and his heart broke a little more. Losing his best friend had been hard, but seeing his beautiful niece with pain in her eyes and vivid bruising on her face and throat made his heart hurt in a different way. He pulled her into his arms and held her close, rocking her slightly. Pulling away he swiped his eye and met the piercing gaze of an older woman, she was smiling softly at his Dandy, and he knew she must be someone special to her. "You going to introduce me, honey?" He asked softly.

Andy turned and provided Miranda with her biggest smile. Gesturing her over she wrapped her arm around Miranda's waist as she stepped up. "Miranda, this is my uncle, Jason West. Jay, this is my girlfriend, Miranda Priestly." She smiled at the shock filtering through her uncle's eyes.

"Oh, honey. That was not what any of us expected." He breathed. "Your dad suspected you had feelings, but..."

"It won't be an issue, will it? I'd hate to punch you again." Andy's tone was firm and Miranda's arm tightened around her in reassurance as she looked at the dark-haired bear of a man stood in front.

"Not for me, nor my Jenny. The West's are a tolerant bunch. Ole Chuck Sachs may have an issue though, you remember how narrow-minded he is." He grinned and held a hand out to Miranda. "Welcome to the family, Miranda."

Miranda rolled her eyes. "Thank you, Jason." She watched as he stepped to help Beth. "For siblings, they're very different."

Jill stepped over with the twins and grinned. "You wouldn't recognise they're twins by looking at them, would you?"

"Twins?" Miranda whispered. She'd known Beth had a brother but not that he was her twin.

"Oh yes, we have a long line in every generation on our maternal side. Jay's boys are identical. Mom and Jay, like Brad and Andy, are fraternal."

"We didn't realise you were a twin too, Andy. Will we get to meet Brad too? Does he look like you?" Cassidy's voice came from behind and Andy stiffened before stepping away from Miranda and turning to face the twins curious eyes.

"Bobbsey's..." Miranda tried to deflect their questions, not wanting Andy to experience unnecessary pain.

"It's okay, sweetheart," Andy whispered. She watched as Andy knelt in front of her girls and offered them a sad smile as she stroked their wild red hair from their faces. "No, kiddos. You cannot meet Brad. He passed away many years ago in a tragic accident and..." She trailed off as both twins threw themselves into her arms and squeezed her tight.

"We're sorry, Andy," Caroline mumbled as tears streamed down Cassidy's face.

Wiping the young girl's tears gently she whispered. "Hey, you weren't to know. Okay? Come on inside and we'll get you settled before we go shopping for some necessities."

Cassidy caught her hand and looking at her shyly, leaned forward to brush a kiss on her cheek. "I'm glad you're okay, Andy. Mom would be sad if anything happened to you."

Andy pulled the young girl into her arms and standing held out her free hand to Caroline. "Come on, my beautiful girl's. I'll show you all my hidey-hole's. My mom still hasn't found them all." She smiled widely at Miranda. "Come on, sweetheart" She rolled her eyes as Cassidy and Caroline giggled at the term of endearment. "I'm sure between Jay and Jill there's coffee on the go."

"Will you tell me about Chuck Sachs?" Miranda smiled at Andy's scowl. "I would like to understand what to expect from the remaining Sachs family members."

"Sure." Andy husked.

"And I would also appreciate it if you told me where the nickname Dandy comes from." Miranda smiled at the low chuckle that produced.

"I promise you'll know it all, Miranda." Andy's eyes met hers as they walked through the front door together.

xxxxxxxxxx

Chapter Text

Drinking coffee, Andy outlined a plan for the afternoon with Miranda and the twins, jotting down places they could go.

Borrowing Beth's Camry Solara to head out with Miranda and the twins. She hit I-71 South heading towards Louisville as Miranda chose music and chatted happily with the twins filling them in on the time they had spent in Cincinnati so far. Miranda didn't notice when Andy took I-65 but looking up she noticed the signs for Nashville. "Please tell me we are not driving into Nashville?" Miranda smirked as Andy shook her head and the twins laughed.

"I want to go to Dollywood." Cassidy chirped happily.

"Shepherdsville today, Dollywood tomorrow." Andy grinned.

"We are not going to Dollywood." Miranda was laughing. "I cannot imagine anything worse."

"Aww." Cassidy pouted and Andy chuckled.

"So, what's in Shepherdsville?" Caroline asked.

"Zappos," Andy stated. Her throat ached, and she winced as she swallowed.

Miranda noticed the wince and placed her soluble pain relief in an icy bottle of water from the cooler at her feet and handed it to the young woman. Pulling her cell out of her purse she started Googling. "Zappos offer authentic brands and a huge variety of fashion footwear, apparel and accessories." She told the twins."

"Oh, we're clothes shopping?" Cassidy seemed disappointed.

"Well, Andréa believed you may want a pair of indigo Converse hi-tops and Caroline a pair in green, if she was mistaken we can turn around." Miranda turned and frowned at her daughters. "I also need more casual clothes. I do not believe Andréa meant for me to wear all of hers."

Andy swallowed water and grimaced. "I don't mind..."

"Hush, my darling." Miranda took the sting from her words by taking Andy's hand in hers and placing a soft kiss on it. "It will be good to give Beth the space to settle. We did not account for my twin tornadoes making an appearance."

"Oh," Caroline muttered.

Andy observed the flash of sadness in Caroline's eyes. "Caro, it means a lot you wanted to travel all this way to make sure I was okay. Your mom and I are glad you are both here."

"Promise?" Caroline whispered.

"I promise, honey. I know just how much your mom hates to be away from you." Andy told her. "You will always be welcome wherever I am. I think the absolute world of you guys. And by the look of things, you are family now. Once the Sachs and West family make you one of their own, there's no escape." Andy grinned as Miranda rolled her eyes.

They continued their drive with the twin's dancing in their seats to Andy's choice in music as she tapped her fingers on the steering wheel and Miranda sat back and relaxed. She took out the list of things Andréa had written.

Zappos in Shepherdsville
Hyde Park Square
Oakley Square
O'bryonville

"From the little I have read regarding Zappos, I envision a sea of hideous shoes reminiscent of those you wore when you first worked at Runway." Miranda gave Andy a mischievous smirk and laughed when the brunette rolled her eyes.

"Nah, Jill shops at Zappos, my usual fare is Target and when feeling lavish Walmart." Andy chuckled at Miranda's look of horror. "I promise there will be no hideous cerulean sweaters in sight."

The twins laughed remembering how their mom had told them about her words, spoken off the cuff, about the history of the colour.

After almost two hours after they left the house, Miranda was stunned when they pulled into the carpark of the large Amazon Fulfilment Centre that housed the outlet store. As they looked around at the shoes, in the clean, well-lit store, she realised they were at least 50% off the retail price. There was plenty of merchandise to look at and keep them busy.

Miranda looked through the shoes from Stuart Weitzman, Betsy Johnson, Burberry, Vince Camuto, Badgley Mischka, Sam Edelman and Tory Burch, but the pair she took an instant liking to a pair of BCBG Max Azria shoes with a price tag of $30 from the clearance section. Some items looked like someone had worn them and she took great care to ensure the pair she had chosen were new.

Andy led the twins straight over to Converse and Vans and searched through the options, easily finding what they wanted. Cassidy chose her indigo hi-top converse and a pair of black and red checked slip-on Vans and Caroline her green hi-tops and a pair of white and red checked Vans. Andy picked herself up a pair of Vans too with a black and grey check, and it thrilled the twins they would match.

"I like shopping with you, Andy," Cassidy trilled happily. Caroline nodded emphatically at her sister's words. "We will go look in the kid's section." The twins ran off quickly, dodging a few other shoppers.

Andy walked over to Miranda balancing the five shoe boxes and Miranda smiled at the sight before taking two of the boxes on top of her own.

As they moved further into the apparel sections, Miranda saw everything from slacks and jeans, swimsuits, golf wear, yoga wear, prom dresses, jackets and even a few wedding dresses. Focussing on jeans, Miranda chose a pair of dark-wash NYDJ and black True Religion jeans, both at 70% off. "Many of these items are acceptable, my darling," Miranda whispered to Andy as she hunted the rails for t-shirts, blouses and sweaters, pulling out items from BCBG, DKNY, Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren.

Andy snagged herself a bargain, finding a beautiful Ralph Lauren wool overcoat for $60. She grinned at Miranda. "Be glad it's not one of their wacky Wednesday Sales or the weekend, it's bedlam." Andy smiled when Miranda pulled a long-sleeved DKNY sweater onto her pile and she found herself a few Levi's, Nike, Adidas, Converse and Vans t-shirts and a few shirts and sweatshirts.

Moving to the underwear section, Andy checked out items from La Perla, Agent Provocateur and Wacoal. Miranda found socks for at 70% off the usual price which she grabbed. Looking over at Andy she watched her handling a cerulean modal chemise carefully. "That is beautiful." Miranda's words had Andy jumping.

Turning to look down at the older woman Andy bit her lip. "Well, buy me cute underwear and I will let you see me wearing it."

"If I buy you nothing, can I see you wearing that?" Miranda's eyes twinkled with amusement as Andy blushed bright red.

"Um, yeah," Andy whispered. "Anytime."

Miranda leaned around the brunette and saw the size of the chemise. "My darling, this is not your size."

Andy pulled the item from the rack and winked at the older woman. "Nope, but it is yours." Miranda's laughter hit her back as she made her way to where the twins were squabbling. "Hey, what's up?"

"I want one of those too," Caroline muttered, pointing at the white long-sleeved Colours Ignite t-shirt by Adidas Cassidy held.

"Oh, okay. Let's see what we can find." Andy searched the racks with growing despair as Caroline stood by her side shuffling from foot to foot.

"Can I help you?" A gentle female voice hit Andy and Caroline stiffened.

"Um, maybe." Andy turned and looked at the young woman who worked at the store. "The little one here wants the same t-shirt as her sister has found, now I know that isn't always possible, but..." Andy bit her lip as she felt the woman's eyes trailing from the bruises on her face to her neck. She detected the spark of recognition in her eyes. Her eyes flittered away searching until they landed on Miranda. Caroline huffed impatiently.

"We may have one or two out back, what size?" The woman asked.

Andy gestured for Cassidy's t-shirt and looked down as she handed it to her. "Medium, 10 to 12 kids." Andy husked.

"Okay." She moved away quickly as Miranda stepped close.

"Is everything okay, my darling," Miranda asked.

"I think we may have been recognised by staff." Andy husked. "If you want to pop everything in the trolley, I'll sort it. You can go wait in the car, I think we are nearly done here."

"Unacceptable," Miranda stated, softly. "Once we are done here, we need to get you a new cell. Do you have a preference?"

"I thought the new iPhone or a Blackberry," Andy stated.

"Acceptable. I may upgrade too." Miranda smirked. "Now, the iPhone interests me greatly."

"We can head up to Kenwood Towne Centre Mall when we are done here," Andy told her.

"Perfect." Miranda smiled as the shop assistant rushed over with a black t-shirt in the same style as Cassidy's.

"Will this suit?" The assistant asked nervously.

"Caro?" Andy raised an eyebrow as Caroline looked at the t-shirt and gave them all a wide smile.

"The same but different, it's perfect." Andy felt the rush of relief as Miranda led them over to the cashiers.

After some tussling, Andy gave her card to the cashier. Miranda frowned. "My darling, this is unnecessary..."

Andy shook her head. "I have money and I want to spend it on those I love. Is that going to be a problem?"

Miranda couldn't do anything but shake her head, knowing how stubborn the young woman could be. She would. however, be the one that paid for their new iPhone's.

xxxxxxxxxx

Their return to Andy's childhood home had Andy's eyes stinging with tears as she spotted the cars parked up outside the house. She understood people would want to pay their respects, but she wasn't ready to face the questions that were sure to come. Trying to swallow her panic she parked Beth's car and gripped the steering wheel.

Jill came to the door and looked out. Stepping towards the car she knocked on the window catching the twin's attention. "Hey imps, come on in, we have Aunt Jenny's cupcakes to eat and Hot Chocolate." She nodded once at Miranda and gestured for the twins. They launched themselves out of the car and wrapped themselves around the blonde telling her about their new cell phones and the clothes they had found.

Unbuckling her seatbelt, Miranda turned toward Andy. "My darling, should we take a walk?"

"I should go in," Andy muttered. She looked at Miranda. "Chuck's here, he won't be happy once he realises you are here as my...well..."

"Girlfriend," Miranda stated, entwining their hands. "Don't trivialise this, my darling."

Andy swallowed and winced. "I'm not, I would never trivialise us. It's...I...They'll have questions about Nate that I don't know how to answer."

"Surely those people in there will not be insensitive enough to ask?" The idea appalled Miranda.

Andy chuckled darkly. "They aren't bad people, not really. Nate and I were together a long time."

"Well, you have a valid excuse not to talk, Andréa." Miranda leaned forward and brushed a light kiss against her lips as someone yanked Andy's door open.

A red-faced older man peered at them, disgust in his eyes. "I see the big city has allowed you to become depraved." He pulled Andy by her bicep away from Miranda and out of the car as a small crowd formed. "You should be ashamed of yourself Andy Sachs." He shook her slightly.

Miranda slid out of her seat and rushed around the car. Giving the man her best glare he let Andy go before stepping back. "It is you that should be ashamed. How dare you lay one hand on this woman? Who do you think you are?"

"I'm the head of this family." The man thundered.

"Well, fuck that." Miranda hissed. "With family members like you, it is not surprising she sought to make her own elsewhere in the world. And she has that with me."

"And who the hell are you." He roared.

"Your worst fucking nightmare if you ever lay a finger on Andy again." Miranda glowered, her tone deadly.

"Miranda, please, drop it." Andy husked. "Chuck's just being Chuck. An ass." Andy looked at him. "No wonder my dad fucking hated your guts, you're an ignorant piece of shit," Andy growled. "Why don't you fuck off back to Dayton?" Andy looked at him and shook her head. "If I find out you have, in any way, upset my mom, I'll punch your teeth so far down your throat you'll have to brush them via your asshole."

Jill and Jay's chuckles reached them from the porch. Looking around Miranda saw Jay and Jill smirking. She took in the other people watching the altercation and shook her head. Not one of them had stepped in to help. Beth and her twins were nowhere to be seen. Miranda turned and focussed her glare on the man as she held her hand out to Andy. As Andy gripped it, she gave it a tight squeeze of reassurance.

"Miranda?" Chuck was furious. "Priestly?"

Miranda smirked and bowed her head once in acknowledgement.

"You're bringing that woman into my brother's home?" Chuck was apoplectic, his face growing even redder.

Jay bound down the steps of the porch and onto the gravel and looked at the man. "Chuck, just back off. You haven't spoken to Richie since your mom passed, and then it was to spew your bitterness at him because Ellen left her 'bastard' grandchildren an inheritance. It was you who cut all ties with your parents when they supported their youngest son and my sister's decision not to get married. It was you that pushed your brother away when you told him his son's death and his daughter's fight to live was Gods way of punishing them for the sin they committed when they had children outside marriage. What gives you the right to come here and judge, now? You are far from perfect." Jay pushed Chuck back. "Richie wouldn't want you here, Chuck. Beth certainly doesn't. You came in here and upset my sister, Jill and now Andy and her girlfriend. Just leave."

"You upset my mom?" Andy's anger flared, and she took a step towards her uncles. "You motherfucker." She snarled, her fist clenching. Miranda held onto her hand tighter fearing the woman would launch herself at the man.

"Andréa, no. He is not worth it." Miranda stated softly. "You are better than him because you have nothing but love and acceptance in your heart for those who don't quite fit into the mould society expects. People like Doug, Nigel and even, in some ways, me. It is thanks to your father, mother, Brad, Jill and your grandparents." Miranda turned Andy and brushed her hair from her face. "Don't forget who you are in the face of this man's ignorance, my beautiful Andréa."

"You're right." Andy breathed, letting go of her anger. "Just leave, Chuck. You may be the elder Sachs now, and you can lord it over your own family all you want, but the Sachs-West's aren't interested in anything you have to say."

Untangling her hand from Miranda's, Andy made her way towards the side of the house towards the workshops. Making to follow a warm hand on Miranda's wrist halted her progress. She looked into Jill's eyes. "Just leave her for a few, let her calm down. We'll make coffee and then I'll point you in the right direction."

"Acceptable." She glared balefully at Richard Sachs brother. "Are you still here? I believed you may be sensible enough to skedaddle, I would hate for Andréa to find you still here upon her return, she broke my ex-husband's nose for much less than the insults you have provided today." Miranda brushed past the man and moved up onto the porch and entered the house.

xxxxxxxxxx

With two travel mugs and a warm jacket in hand, Miranda followed the trail Jill past the workshop and between two trees. Walking carefully through a wooded area she stepped out into a clearing beside a fast-flowing river. Miranda saw Andy, her head on her legs as her arms encircling her knees. "My darling," Miranda's tone was hesitant, she didn't want to disturb the young woman if she needed to be alone.

Andy looked up as Miranda placed the travel mugs down and settled the jacket around her shoulders. "This is where Brad...we pulled Dad's old canoe down here, he'd finally agreed we were old enough to come on to the river, but he was called into the city and we decided not to wait for him...the canoe rolled but Brad mustn't have been prepared and smacked his head...he...he didn't surface. I jumped in, I was always the better swimmer, but the current was strong. I got to Brad, but we were swept downstream until I hit something, I think a branch. I somehow inched us to shore but Brad wasn't responding and his lips were blue." Andy took a staggered breath. "I wrapped myself around him, trying to keep him warm, whispering in his ear that dad would find us, he always came when we needed him, but he...it was too late."

Miranda wrapped her arm around Andy and held her close. "You are not to blame."

Andy's shoulders shook. "Chuck said...I heard him when I woke up in the hospital...he said it was God's punishment, taking his only son and leaving him with me, and Dad...I used to think maybe he felt the same, we were always at loggerheads."

"Chuck is a fool." Miranda hissed. "The letter proved how much your father adored you all. A thirteen-year-old girl, rushing into icy water to save her brother shows a sheer level of bravery that is astounding. It was, as you said to the twins, a tragic accident, my darling. You did all you could."

"I wasn't strong enough, I should have been firmer with Brad. Dad told us to wait. I argued with him and refused to get on the water." Andy admitted. "If I'd been tougher with Brad, he might have listened."

"Did he listen often?" Miranda was curious about the boy, wondering if he was like his sister.

Andy snorted out a bark of laughter. "No, he was always so pig-headed." Andy nuzzled into Miranda's shoulder, seeking her warmth. "I think he'd have liked you and the girls, he'd probably be doing his best to charm the three of you. He had a way with the ladies, his smile lit up the room. Lily used to say he was swoon-worthy."

"Much like his sister then." Miranda placed a kiss on Andy's cheek.

Andy turned her head and caught Miranda's lips in a soft kiss and Miranda deepened it, bringing her hands up to cup Andy's face lightly. Pulling away, Andy smiled sadly. "Sweet talker."

"I mean every word, don't think I am the only one who is charmed by your beautiful smile. Nigel, the most sceptical person at Runway, melts in a puddle of goo at the mere sight." Miranda smirked as Andy blushed. Miranda picked up her coffee and sipped, sighing at the warm drink slipped down her throat.

Andy did the same, humming her delight as it soothed her throat. "I shouldn't have reacted like that with Chuck, word will spread through the family and they 'll make me out to be the bad guy."

Miranda pulled Andy closer. "Those that matter will know you were right in your reaction. Your mom locked herself in her bedroom, Jill and the twins were trying to coax her out when I left."

"I want to rip his head off." Andy's tone held her frustration.

"I wish there was something I could do, to make all this better," Miranda admitted.

"You being here, is enough, Miranda. Do not sell yourself short. I could not have got through any of this without you." Andy's spoke quietly but emphatically.

"You are not alone, Andréa. You will always have my love and support and that of our children." Miranda ran her hand through her hair hoping had not spoken too soon.

"Jesus, I almost forgot about Jill and...Oh God, we haven't spoken to the twins." Andy panicked.

Miranda tightened her hold. "Shh, my darling, we will speak to them tonight. It will surprise them but I doubt it will displease them. They want you in our lives."

"I hope you're right." Andy husked.

"I will be, you'll see." Miranda placed a kiss on Andy's head as they watched the river flowing.

xxxxxxxxxx

The evening settled into quietness as Andy's extended family left the family home for their own.

Jay had stayed beside Beth as Andy's cousins arrived and paid their respects while his wife, Jenny, and their children provided hot drinks and an array of snacks.

No-one mentioned the bruising on Andy's face and neck or the reports that Nate was heading to jail, no-one batted an eyelid when Miranda sat beside Jill and they talked softly or that the twins cuddled into Andy as if she belonged to them and no-one mentioned Chuck Sachs rapid departure from the house as if the Devil was chasing his tail.

Miranda could see that Andy was getting tired, she barely spoke to anyone, sitting deep in thought as people came and went, and while they ate dinner. It was only once the six of them were alone that she seemed to shake herself from her funk.

"So, kiddos, where did you dump your stuff? Andy asked. There was the guest room or Jill's room free now her sister was in the basement. They could even have a room each.

Caroline grinned. "We are in Jill's room, it's further away from you and mom so we won't disturb you..."

"...Or vice versa." Cassidy smirked.

Miranda blushed at her daughter's words. "Bobbsey's?" She asked for an explanation gently.

It shocked Andy, surely, they were too young to know what adults did together?

The twins giggled at their mom and Andy's reaction.

"Mommy, you've gone bright red," Cassidy stated.

"Andy, close your mouth, it's not pretty." Caroline grinned as Andy's mouth snapped shut.

Andy raised an eyebrow at Miranda, who shook her head.

Jill's interruption broke the moment. "The twin's thought, if Andy had a nightmare, it would be better to be further down the corridor. Caroline explained that they had a few bad dreams just before Stephen left. They hung a dream catcher over your bed and my old one."

"Yes, things became a little tense at home, it affected both my babies." Miranda was stunned they had admitted such to an almost stranger. "Andréa was the one to get them the dream catchers."

"That sounds like something my hippy-dippy big sis would do." Jill sassed trying to lighten the mood, she grinned as Andy flipped her the bird. She turned to see her mom yawning. "C'mon Mom, I'll help you to bed."

Beth sighed dramatically. "If this is what old age will be like, kill me now." She muttered as Jill grabbed her walker and eased Beth to her feet.

Andy and Jill caught each other's eyes and grinned.

"Ma, you'll still be running rings around me and Jill when you're eighty," Andy smirked as Beth perked up.

Beth grinned and gazed at her daughter affectionately. "You bet your little ass, I will." She stated.

Andy and Miranda stood up and Andy swooped down to place a kiss on her mom's cheek. "I love you, Mom."

"I love you too, baby girl." Beth smiled at Miranda. "See you tomorrow, Miri."

"Yes, you will. Sleep well, Beth." Miranda smiled.

"Cass, Caro." Beth looked pointedly at the twins. "Andy's on pancake duty tomorrow." The twins whoop followed the woman from the room as she made her way slowly towards her bedroom with her youngest daughter by her side.

Andy sat and gestured for the twins to sit beside her again. "Kiddos, your mom and I have something we need to talk to you about."

"Are you splitting up, already?" Cassidy asked, her eyes sparkling with tears. Caroline frowned.

"No. Bobbsey's." Miranda sat down and Caroline moved from the far side of Andy to sit next to her mom and sister.

Andy pulled Cassidy on her knee while Miranda did the same with Caroline. They sat close together and Andy found she did not know how to start the conversation. Closing her eyes, it shocked her when Miranda spoke and her eyes blazed open.

"You know the one regret I had in my life, Bobbsey's, was never having more children," The twins nodded at Miranda's words. "Well, as you know it was not possible for me to do so after your birth, not without putting my life and the life of the unborn child at risk." Miranda sighed. "Andréa found out, a few years ago, that she could not have babies of her own." She looked into Andy's eyes to see glistening tears. "Someone has offered Andréa an opportunity to raise a child, biologically, it will be Andréa's niece or nephew, but she will raise it as if it were her own..."

Cassidy interrupted. "Andy will have your help though, right? You'll be the baby's other mommy?"

"Is it Jill's? She doesn't look pregnant." Caroline asked.

Miranda answered Caroline first. "Yes, it will be Jillian giving birth to the baby, but it is still very early days in her pregnancy. She does not feel like she can raise this child. Jillian is still young, and she has not yet finished her studies." She looked across at Andy and Cassidy. "And yes, I will help Andréa raise the child if she is willing and if you are happy for us to extend our family further."

"Will you get married, so we are all Priestly's?" Cassidy asked.

Andy hiccupped as she laughed. "Kiddo, we are literally less than a week into this relationship, I don't think..."

"Yes, once again, if Andréa is willing." Miranda interrupted.

Andy looked at Miranda, catching her eyes. "Sweetheart..."

"Think about it, my darling," Miranda murmured, once again interrupting. "You do not have to answer right now."

"Yes, you do." The twins chirped in unison, bouncing where they sat on the women's laps.

"That's no proposal, Miranda," Andy stated, chuckling at the twin's exuberance.

Miranda bit her lip and frowned, realising the young woman was right. Leaning down she whispered in Caroline's ear and smirked as her eldest daughter caught her sister's eye and they communicated silently. Cassidy smiled at her mom as she slid from Andy's lap, while Caroline mimicked the movements. Each grabbing one of Andy's hands they looked into her eyes and spotted her confusion.

"Andy, will you do mom the honour of becoming her wife?" Caroline asked.

"And our other mom?" Cassidy reiterated.

"And let us all love you and the baby, too?" Miranda asked, stepping between her daughter's and placing a hand on their shoulders.

Andy looked up into three pairs of beautiful blue eyes, each pleading with her for an answer. "So, this is how it will be, you three ganging up on me?" Andy couldn't stop the twitch of her lips, showing her amusement. Andy rolled her eyes at the three warm smiles bestowed on her as Caroline and Cassidy nodded. "Weeell," Andy teased. She saw the anticipation in Miranda's eyes. "How can I refuse the three of you anything?" Andy asked. "My answer is yes, to it all. But this will not happen overnight." She looked at Miranda and wiggled her finger. "And I'd like a ring, even if it's a Ring Pop." Her smile stretched as Miranda's eyes widened at the words.

"You...you..." Miranda's mouth open and closed as she processed the fact Andy agreed.

"Close your mouth please Miranda, we are not a codfish." Andy laughed as Miranda pursed her lips before stalking forward and leaning over Andy.

"If you were words on a page, you'd be what they call fine print," Miranda whispered, her words tickling Andy's ear.

Andy couldn't help but burst into laughter at the pick-up line and pulled Miranda into her lap. The twins jumped on the sofa with them with squeals and after a few minutes, they settled into their happy moment.

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