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The Things You Miss

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She fires the first three girls for bringing her lukewarm coffee; right from the first day, Andrea always brought it scalding and fresh.

That's the only reason Miranda misses her, she tells herself in the rare moments of quiet she can grab each day. She misses good coffee whenever she needs it most, piping hot inside the white cardboard cup that blends in seamlessly with the rest of her office. Miranda likes seamless, she likes excellence, and she likes her coffee to burn for at least the first three sips. Is that really so much to ask?

Apparently so, because replacements Four and Five tread dangerously close to messing up the coffee order too, although ultimately it's some other stupidity that gets them fired. Miranda dismisses them with cruel and effective words, averting her eyes from Emily who looks twice as harassed as usual as she stomps and clacks around the outer office. Normally Miranda is unapologetic for her high standards, but even she isn't oblivious to the additional strain on Emily while her broken leg heals.

Which is why she lets number Six make it all the way to week three, because the coffee is mostly warm enough (Miranda suspects the sneaky girl has been cheating and using the microwave) and because she knows the difference between Gucci and The Gap.

It works perfectly well until Miranda calls the girl 'Six' instead of 'Emily', right in front of Nigel, who lights up like a damn Christmas tree at the mention of that pointless nickname. He wonders aloud, because he fears Miranda a lot less these days, if Andy is happy in her new job. He knows about the Mirror no doubt, because Emily is only discreet with outsiders.

She has nothing to threaten Nigel with, because she's already taken all she can from him, and firing him would be professional suicide. He knows this as well as Miranda, and she's sure there's a hint of a smirk when he slinks out of her office. She seethes through the rest of the run-through, firing the girl for letting a phone ring more than three times and then vows to take a long overdue vacation.

By the time Seven reports from Human Resources, Miranda is feeling a lot calmer. She has a brochure for an exclusive resort in the Cayman Islands nestled at the bottom of her purse, and the first cup of coffee is hotter than the surface of the sun. It seems this one understands Emily's threats very plainly, and that should be a relief for all of them.

Which, of course, is the day that Miranda leaves later than she intended. The office is bustling with publication week efficiency, and privately she thinks this might be the best issue in a long time. Her edge, blunted by the threat of Jacqueline, is razor-sharp once more. In this brief moment of contentment, she finds Andrea Sachs loitering next to the Mercedes, which makes very little sense at all. Roy is conspicuously waiting behind the wheel, allowing Andy the opportunity to open Miranda's door for her.

It's a meaningless gesture, Miranda tells herself as she slides into the backseat, but to her surprise a Starbucks cup is pressed into her hand before the door slams shut. There's a Post-It note, gaudy fluorescent pink with just two words scribbled on it.

Forgive Me?

Well, Andrea thinks a little too much of herself if she expects Miranda Priestly to hold a grudge; that would imply she was anything more than a temporary feature of Miranda's daily life; that would imply that Miranda cared.

Walking out in Paris was hardly dramatic, not compared to the fits of hysteria, suicide threats and one fired assistant who attempted to stab Miranda with a letter opener. So maybe she can remember neither the names nor faces of those dramatic exits, while she thinks of Andrea at least a handful of times a day, but surely that can't mean anything?

The coffee is, of course, as hot as molten lava. Miranda sips gratefully as the car speeds through Manhattan traffic. There's nothing to forgive, she thinks. She'll just send a note telling Andrea exactly that.

But instead, Miranda gets home to an empty house and decides that a note will take too long. After a call to Emily, who manages to stifle a groan at the interruption, Miranda has the new cellphone details for Andrea. Before she can think better of it, she dials the unfamiliar number and is pleased that Andrea picks up almost immediately.

They don't speak for long, and Miranda doesn't say thank you. The girl is clearly as impossible as ever though, because she invites herself to Miranda's house and Miranda somehow forgets to say no. They don't discuss forgiveness, or the fact that it's unnecessary, because Andrea has hung up.

Half an hour later, she knocks on the townhouse door. Miranda debates not answering, being her usual unwelcoming self. Her feet have other ideas, propelling her towards the front door in shiny, black four-inch heels.

When Andrea greets Miranda with a kiss, quite intentionally and full on the mouth, Miranda is forced to admit it isn't just coffee that she misses. She misses inane chatter and smiles that could illuminate the entire Eastern seaboard. She misses brown eyes that show every flickering emotion like a slideshow, and lips that turn out to be very, very pleasant to kiss.

"Can you forgive me?" Miranda finds herself asking, as Andrea has her pressed against the closet door.

"That's supposed to be my line," Andrea responds, before capturing Miranda's bottom lip gently with her teeth.

"We'll forgive each other then," Miranda manages to decide for them both.

Thankfully, Andrea is too busy unbuttoning Miranda's blouse to argue.