Andie took a year off after high school. Her father knew it was so she could work and save up for college. She'd gotten into design school in New York, but they were a long way from New York and living there was going to be expensive. So she took the year off, worked at TRAX, listened to Iona's periodical existential identity crises and tried not to take it too hard when she and Blane broke up a month after he started at Columbia.
"It's not like it was ever going to last," she sighed, perched on the stairs while Iona prodded the new printer, which had sputtered to a halt halfway through printing their monthly inventory.
"Oh, sweetie," Iona said, glancing at her. "Was he a jerk about it?"
"That's what makes it even worse," Andie moaned, leaning her head against the railing. "It was all so... sensible. He's in New York and I'm here and he's got classes and I've got a job and you know I never even met his parents?"
"Yeah, I know," Iona said. Because Andie had mentioned it several times. The McDonnaghs had spent the whole summer somewhere tropical and expensive. Andie had learned they owned a home on some island that you had to charter a boat to get to, and, as she'd mentioned to Iona, she couldn't make bathing suits as easily as she made clothes. But they'd never gone, and the McDonnaghs hadn't gotten back until after Blane left for college and then they'd just... not kept in touch. Not like Andie had hoped. And not like Blane had hoped, if what he'd said was true.
"He said when I get to New York next year, we should try again. I don't know, Iona. What do you think I should do?"
Iona kicked the table the printer was on, then went over to Andie, leaning in a little to hang on the railings. "Andie, honey, you deserve to be treated better. If you meet someone this year, go for it. If not, and you get to New York, and he's not a total shit-head? Try again. Follow your heart, hon. Just use your brain too."
In retrospect, it was kind of funny, the way Andie finally met Blane's parents. They'd been back together for all of a week after a month of pretending they weren't still interested in each other and that they were both too busy to date anyone, really, so it was fine. But a random meeting had led to lunch, which had led to a movie, which had led to Blane offering to make Andie dinner at his apartment. And that had been when his parents had swept in (of course they had keys - it was their New York apartment, after all, owned outright) and made it the most awkward evening Andie had ever experienced. Including the prom. So that took some doing.
"So, you're Andie," his mother said, holding out her hand and then giving Andie what had to be the limpest handshake in the known universe. Mrs. McDonnagh was perfectly coiffed, dressed to the nines in something designer and yet bland. Andie eyed her clothes critically, mentally adding a scarf and switching out the modest pumps for something that would add a kick of color. And yet the outfit probably cost as much as Andie spent on food for two months. More.
"Yep. I mean, yes. Hi. I'm Andie Walsh." Andie shook Blane's mother's hand, then his father's hand, then stepped back to listen while Blane tried to get his parents to leave them alone for the rest of the evening.
"You guys didn't call," he said. "Or I'd have, you know, made more."
"Oh, darling," his mother said, laughing as if her only son had just made the most hilarious joke. "We'll just order in. That wonderful place that catered our anniversary party is still where it used to be, isn't it? We'll just have them send something over. Isn't it adorable, you cooking."
Blane glanced at Andie, silently allowing his mother to usher him from the front hall into the dining room while Andie followed. His father had gone directly for the liquor cabinet and was already seated in the living room, briefcase open and scotch in hand.
"Now, Andie," Mrs. McDonnagh said after she'd called her caterer and made a ridiculous order that could have fed an army. "Blane tells us you two dated back in high school! Isn't that funny, he never had you over!"
"Mom," Blane said, interrupting before Andie could stammer out a response. "I told you, it was while you were visiting Aunt Carol out here and Dad was in Tokyo."
"Of course. Andie? It's lovely to meet you. Now you must tell me all about yourself. Did you and Blane go to school together? I don't remember seeing you before, but then I was always too busy for things like the PTA. Are you at Columbia now?"
"Oh, no," Andie said, on firmer footing where her current plans were concerned. "I'm at Parsons. I'm studying fashion design."
"She's really great," Blane added, beaming at Andie, which was enough of a confidence boost to keep Andie talking.
"I'm planning on staying in New York, trying to get a job this summer. Get some practical experience."
She could see that it was the wrong thing to say and it took her a few moments to figure out exactly why. Trying to get a job. Needing practical experience. You didn't bother with things like that when you had money, because when you had money you had connections. And when you had connections you just got a job. And practical experience wasn't necessarily a requirement.
There was a polite chill over the evening after that. A remoteness that Andie was distinctly familiar with. Blane's mother had realized that Andie didn't belong.
Andie was present when Blane told his parents he was switching majors. He did it over the phone, so they couldn't get mad in person, and Andie could still almost feel them in the apartment with them.
"Dad, look, really, it's going to be fine. I've already got enough credits in computer science to graduate on time."
On the other end of the line, Andie could hear Mr. McDonnagh yelling at his son that graduating on time wasn't the point. That he was going to do what his father told him, or else he was cut off.
They all knew that was an empty threat. Even if Blane's father carried through, his mother would channel him funds until his father came around. Andie had listened to Blane reason it through for two weeks before he'd gotten up the nerve to actually tell his parents. She knew what he expected. She knew he'd probably heard this sort of rant before and she knew he'd spent most of his life trying to avoid being the target of it. So she sat next to him and listened to his father's tinny voice through the phone and she held Blane's hand and squeezed whenever something his father said hit a little too close to home.
"They'll come around," Andie whispered to him, even though she wasn't entirely certain it was true. Yes, his father would probably relent in time, but things would never be the same.
Blane hung up the phone and looked at Andie, smiling weakly at her. "Maybe. My father will probably figure out I'll still be useful even if I don't end up with an MBA. But you know, maybe I don't want to be useful to him."
Andie kissed him. "Come back to my place," she offered. "You shouldn't have to stay here. It's all your parents' stuff."
That got a laugh from both of them. Andie's apartment was a studio she shared with one of her classmates. It shared a bathroom with the studio next door and the hot water had been unreliable since October. It wasn't at all like Blane's apartment - he'd offered to let Andie move in but she'd refused every time. The last time, they'd fought over it enough that they'd broken up for six months. And now here was Andie, inviting Blane to her place. But he nodded.
"Yeah, that sounds good," Blane said. "Let's go."
The three months Andie spent in Paris the summer before her senior year were both the best and the worst three months of her life to that point. On one hand, she had an amazing opportunity and she'd had a (small) hand in a few pieces that would actually walk the runway in Paris. It was that sort of experience that made careers for design students like her. And she loved Paris. She'd kept up her French from high school and by the end of July her roommates weren't wincing at her accent.
But on the other hand, the fight she'd had with Blane in the airport had been epic in proportions and she hadn't heard from him since. Two weeks in, she'd tried to explain to one of her roommates after having to stop working on the dress she was making because tears weren't great for silk charmeuse.
Her roommate had lit a cigarette, even though they'd agreed not to smoke in the tiny room they all used to work in. She'd taken a long pull, then let it out through the window. Then she'd dragged Andie out of the room and out of the apartment and gotten her slightly drunk. Okay, more than slightly drunk. The club they'd gone to had reminded Andie of CATS at home and for the first time in two weeks, she had relaxed.
When a letter arrived from the US with an unfamiliar return address but a familiar name above it, Andie didn't open it. She let it sit for a week, untouched, on her worktable next to her sewing machine. She was busy, for one. The piece she was working on had to be done by the following Monday and it had to be hand stitched and then she was heading home. But she picked it up every so often and wished she had time to deal with it, or the money for a transatlantic call. But she didn't have either.
So when she walked off the plane at LaGuardia and Blane was standing there, waiting, she almost didn't believe her eyes. He had that old look to him. The one that said he knew he'd been an asshole and he wasn't quite sure he deserved to be forgiven. Andie made him wait a few moments, before dragging her bag over and giving him a hug.
"I missed you," she told him.
"I wrote," he offered.
"I didn't read it."
"Just as well. It's a mess of a letter. I'm sorry. You were right about the job at my father's company. I quit a month ago."
She hugged him again. "Are they blaming me this time?"
"Nope. It's all on me. But you know, I can take it."
They held the five year reunion in the same hotel as they'd held the prom. It looked the same as it had five years ago, which was enough to start Andie snickering as they walked down the hall to the ballroom. Blane glanced at her, then shoved her shoulder.
"Come on, it's not funny."
"Yes it is! It's ridiculous!" Andie insisted. "Why are we even here?"
"Because it's our reunion?" Blane suggested.
Andie rolled her eyes. "Why even bother with a five year reunion? It's not like anything monumental has happened in five years. People'll still be the same. It's going to be prom all over again, just with more posturing and fewer consequences. Not like there were consequences in high school. You know what I mean."
Blane stopped, tugging Andie to a stop beside him. He moved around to stand in front of her, looking her in the eyes. "Andie, if you really don't want to do this, we can go. We can go to the record store, we can go surprise your father early. We can just go sit in the car."
Andie looked back at him, biting her lips together. On one hand, it really did feel ridiculous to be walking into a reunion full of people who'd never given her the time of day in high school and who definitely wouldn't care about her now. She shrugged. "I dunno."
"I'm serious, Andie. We can just leave if it bothers you so much."
Andie waited a moment, then shook her head. "No. You know what? Let's go in and be fabulous and have a few drinks and leave. Besides, I've got a personal bet that Duckie won't show his face and we'll have to go hunt him down at his boyfriend's or something. And then we can tell him what he didn't miss."
"Sounds like a plan." Blane smiled at Andie and linked arms with her as they continued to the ballroom. There was music playing inside. Something bland and inoffensive and dated. Andie looked around, trying to spot even one friendly face. Instead, she found Steff, who was headed in their direction.
"Blane? If I slap him, will they throw me out?"
Blane chuckled beside her as Steff came up to them.
"Blane! And Andie! Wow. Still slumming it?" Steff was drunk. Steff was very obviously drunk. But not drunk enough that Andie could pass his words off as being entirely alcohol-induced. A drunk Steff was a Steff without even the thin filter he had while sober. "See, here I thought we'd finish school and you'd find someone more worth your time."
Andie gave Steff a brilliant and thoroughly false smile. It was the smile she'd picked up at school. The one that you gave to someone as they criticized your work and artistic vision and you couldn't say a damn thing against them but you knew they were full of shit. And she was about to say something. Anything. Tell Steff everything she hadn't been able to tell him in high school, about how she wasn't interested and Blane wasn't interested and no one was interested, but before she could say anything, someone tackled her from behind.
"Andie! Oh my god, you look amazing. Boys? I'm stealing her away. You two play nice."
Before Andie could protest, Duckie was dragging her away from Blane and Steff, who seemed to be staring each other down now.
Duckie spun Andie around once they were a safe distance away. "Andie, my dove! My jewel! My rapture! Please tell me you almost kneed him in the balls."
Andie laughed and gave her oldest friend a hug tight enough that he made an involuntary squeak. "Almost," she assured him. "Verbally, but still. I can't believe he's still so stuck up."
Duckie led Andie over to the open bar and soon had two glasses of something the bartender claimed was punch. He pressed one into Andie's hand and took a sip of his own. "Well, last I heard, he was doing something with the Information Superhighway with some company in LA. He's probably trying to reel in your beau there. He's asked just about everyone to invest."
"Well, you know me. I laugh in the face of business and finance."
"Yeah, that I remember."
They only stayed for another half hour. By then Andie was ready to go, Blane looked like he was going to punch Steff himself and Duckie had invited them to join him at the club his band was playing at. Later that night Andie and Blane headed back to her father's house, tiptoeing in, so they wouldn't wake him. And as Andie fell asleep in her old bed, Blane on the couch in the living room, she wondered if she was the same person she'd been in high school and if Steff knew he was stuck in place.
The knocking on the door was insistent and Andie would have answered it but she had several pins in her mouth and was frantically restitching the hem of her dress.
"Andie!" Duckie called through the door. "Andie, I'm coming in! I'm not the groom! I get to see the dress!"
Andie quickly got the pins out of her mouth, stabbing them into a pincushion next to her. "Come in!" she called to Duckie as she placed the last stitch and carefully hid the end of the thread.
The door was opened and closed so fast she wasn't sure how Duckie got through it, but there he was, staring at her, mouth agape. Andie carefully laid out the train of the dress, then stood up to pack away her sewing kit. On the dress form it didn't look quite right, but she'd tried it on throughout the process of making it. She undid the mother-of-pearl buttons in the back, then the zipper.
"Come on and help me get it off the form," she told Duckie, who was still standing there staring. "Duckie?"
He snapped out of it, grinning. "Wow, Andie. You have outdone yourself."
"Yeah, well, that's what happens when you get a little training and good materials," she told him. So what if she hadn't told Blane's mother what precisely she was spending the money on? The woman had no fashion sense beyond what she was told in the stores, so Andie wasn't about to look to her for approval on the dress.
"You remember I told you I'm not wearing a dress, right? I might be your attendant, but I'm wearing pants for the wedding."
Andie had picked up her scissors to take care of a stray thread and brandished them at Duckie. "Don't tempt me," she told him. "Besides, it's not your size."
"Oh good, cause I've got that tux all rented and everything."
Another knock on the door preceded Iona, who gave Andie a hug, then shoved Duckie towards the door. "Shoo. Go get dressed. That's an order."
Duckie gave Andie a little wave, then disappeared to go get dressed while Iona went back to help Andie with the dress. It came off the form easily enough and Andie locked her door before getting undressed to put it on.
"You doing okay, hon?" Iona asked as she worked her way up the buttons in the back. Andie had been quietly fussing over the front of the dress, making sure it was layering just right. She nodded in response to Iona, then sighed.
"Mostly? No cold feet or anything!" she assured Iona. "It's just weird, you know? Even when I had this silly crush on Blane, I didn't really think we'd ever get married."
Iona smiled at Andie in the mirror. "Oh, Andie. It'll be fine."
"I think it will be," Andie said, squaring her shoulders. "Even if his folks still don't really like me."
"Oh, they like you. They just don't know how to deal with you or how to deal with their son now that he's got you. That's a good thing, Andie. Keep 'em guessing."
"Think the dress will scandalize them?" Andie asked.
Iona laughed and nodded. "Oh yes. It's perfect."
Andie smiled and looked down at the dress. Each rose had taken her two hours to get made just right, and there were forty three in the neck piece alone, and that wasn't mentioning the ones strewn throughout the ruffles down the part in the back below the buttons. Finding just the right fabrics had been a three week affair on its own but she'd finally settled on the perfect combination, each one setting off the other in layers. The chiffon, the satin, the tulle, it was all exactly as she'd envisioned. Who cared what Blane's mother or any of her friends thought? If Andie was going to get married, she was going to do it in pink.