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Truth and Measure

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Life is trying things to see if they work.


-Ray Bradbury


Twelve: October.

Go Fug Yourself

October 14, 2007: Well Played, Miranda Priestly

I have returned, minions, and I'm fabulous.

Miranda Priestly in her green coat

Admit it. I had you worried for a couple of months, when I pretty much disappeared. "Who will devour the souls of the Garment District now?" you asked.

Plebeians, you worried in vain. Check me out. Okay, my dress would probably be boring without this crazy coat made from Scarlett O'Hara's leftover drapes, and it might have been a mistake to wear open-toed shoes with dark hose, but who cares? Look at these legs! Look at this waist! Bow before this magnificent coiffure! Are you aware that I'm fifty-one? And just had a baby? And took over a company? And shacked up with a hot girl half my age, and can't deny it no matter how many people I sue? And dumped my cheating slimeball husband, because who needs sausage on the grill? NOT ME.

Now kowtow like you mean it, bitches, because Mama's back in town. That's all.

Nigel sat back, roaring with laughter. Andy grinned and shut the laptop. "Boring?""  Nigel said.

"I would have said it was a classic, myself," Andy said, smirking so hard it hurt her face.

"Has she seen it?" he asked her. "Does she ever read GFY?"

"I doubt it," Andy said. "She doesn't look at blogs. I mean, I think she knows they exist, but she doesn't really encounter them, you know?"

"Probably for the best," Nigel said. He sobered up a little. "She did look good," he added. "In that photo."

"Yeah," Andy said, not quite meeting his eyes as she zipped her laptop up into her carrying bag. "She's been…it's been…"

"Better?" Nigel said. There was just the hint of concern in his voice. "She is better, right?"

Andy set the bag in her lap and sat back with a sigh. "Well, you know it's been rough on her," she said. That it had been rough on everybody else too was the unspoken corollary. Miranda had expected her recovery to be like it had been with the twins--but there was a big difference between being thirty-nine and being fifty-one, even if she didn't want to admit it. "But she's about up to full speed again," Andy added. "She went in to work every day this week." Which was only the fourth time Miranda had done that since giving birth.

"I'm sure that made her feel better," Nigel said, raising a sympathetic eyebrow. "I don't envy you, dealing with a convalescent Miranda." Andy's full-body shudder told him all he needed to know. "Has she been able to work from home at all?"

"Like a woman possessed," Andy said. "How did we ever survive without laptops and wireless connections? And cell phones? And fax machines? And--?" She took a deep breath. "Actually, we probably got a lot more sleep…"

"I don't remember it that way," Nigel said. "Well, at least she's getting out more. Does she like the job?"

"She was born for it," Andy said, rolling her eyes. "Stan and Geoffrey better hold on to their seats." Nigel laughed again. "She got an extra burst of energy this week," Andy added. She suddenly found her laptop case very interesting, and studied it instead of looking at Nigel. "Preston really pushed. And, you know, with one thing and another, the judge waived the rest of the time." She looked up and saw Nigel watching her in confusion. "For the divorce decree. It was final two days ago."

"Ah. And Stephen?" Nigel asked quietly.

Andy felt anger pinching her lips. "He got out of the child support."

"Jesus," Nigel said, looking shocked. "How the hell did that happen?"

Andy shrugged miserably. "Since she's got so much money, and since they both agreed he'd give up the kid, the judge ruled for him not having to pay." She tapped her foot hard against the floor as she remembered the thwarted fury in Miranda's eyes, the satisfied gleam in Stephen's. "But you know what? At least it's over." She'd told Miranda the same thing, although Miranda had taken it less than gracefully at the time. But she'd known Andy was right too, and had started speaking to her again in less than twenty-four hours, which was as good as anybody could expect.

Nigel nodded. "And what does all this mean for you?" he asked. "Does it mean anything at all?"

"I don't know," Andy said. She shrugged again. "It doesn't really change anything. You know, not in a practical sense." Although Miranda was getting tired of sending Preston after people, she reflected. The fees kind of racked up after a while. And it was a hell of an energy drain.

Andy glanced askance at Nigel. "But, you know--if, say, a real story breaks--"

"You think it will?"

"I think it might," Andy said. "I mean, with Cara living there too, everybody knows I'm not just there to help, you know? And the divorce is final, and--we're not ashamed." Nigel nodded. Andy took the leap. "Am I going to get fired?"

"You're kidding, right?" Nigel removed his glasses and polished them, sounding very casual as he said, "Paris is a week away, and you think I'll let you off my leash?"

"I'm on a leash? Is it a nice one?"

"Diamond-studded and everything," Nigel said, putting his glasses back on. "Besides, Colin would never forgive me. He thinks you're good for me." He sighed. "Don't worry. I'll make sure you get a little face-time with Vincent in Paris. Remind him of all those musicals, and you should be untouchable." He tilted his head. "Back to speaking of the Devil, have you scheduled my lunch with her?"

"Sure have," Andy said, watching him carefully. "On Tuesday. At Maxim's. It's not for long."

"Good," Nigel said gratefully. Andy grinned.

"Happy to do it," she said. Then she looked at her watch. She'd stayed late tonight, and now it was nearly eight-thirty. "Oh, crap. Are we done here? I've gotta get home!"

"We're done," Nigel confirmed. "Enjoy it while it lasts. In a few days we'll be living on coffee."

"But not tonight," Andy said, and blew him a kiss as she grabbed her laptop, grabbed her handbag, and got out of there. If she didn't hurry, she was going to be late.

She had good luck with subway cars, and was turning the key in the door by five until nine. Whew. Just under the wire. She heard the twins and Cara in the TV room, and she put her bags down as quietly as possible, hoping she could tiptoe upstairs unnoticed. She didn't want to be delayed tonight.

She did, however, detour to Archer's room on the second floor, across the hall from Cara's and kitty-corner to the one she and Miranda shared. At nine o'clock he should be sleeping--thank God, he was. Andy got the usual mushy feeling as she looked down at him, mixed with utter relief that he wasn't playing up. At least, not for the moment. And if she woke him…

Besides, it was time for her date. Date nights were special, and not to be delayed or interrupted except in emergency circumstances; they had agreed on this, too. Andy crept out of Archer's room and climbed the stairs to the third floor as quietly as she could, and then let herself out on the roof.

It was nice out tonight. You couldn't really see stars in New York, of course, but it was a gorgeous, temperate night nevertheless, especially for mid-October. It sucked when date nights had to be inside the townhouse because of bad weather, and all Andy and Miranda could do was tell the twins and Cara to leave them alone. The roof was a lot better. And maybe now that the divorce was final they could branch out from the building entirely. Who was to say they couldn't? The cat was nine-tenths out of the bag already. 'Sausage on the grill,' and all.

And Andy was ready for it. She'd wondered, for a while, when she would be. Or if she would be. But she was. She'd told Nigel the truth: she wasn't ashamed. More than that. She was proud. They had a great thing going here on 73rd Street. Why shouldn't people know that?

Miranda was already on the roof, reclining in one of the chairs and looking up at the sky. "Hey," Andy said, and Miranda turned to look at her. She looked a little tired, but much better than she had in a while, and tonight she appeared almost peaceful. Which was remarkable, since Fashion Week was all of seven days away. True, now that Miranda wasn't actually editing the  fashion magazine, she didn't have to micromanage her trip quite as much. She might even, Andy hoped, have something like fun. God knew she deserved some.

Well, she'd have some tonight, for sure. That was Andy's plan, anyway.

"Hello," Miranda said. "Had a good evening?"

"I guess," Andy said. "I'm glad to get home. You been sitting up here?"

"For a little while," Miranda said. "It's so…free of children."

"And of nanny," Andy said. Cara had moved into the house back in July, when it had been obvious that Miranda had been utterly flattened by Archer's birth, and that Andy couldn't catch everything by herself. However long she stayed, the girl was a godsend. Even if it had finally made Andy's presence as a 'helper' in the Priestly household a little less…ignorable. "Oh, and of dog."

"A bigger house," Miranda said, looking thoughtful.

"Well, maybe not," Andy said quickly. "I mean, I kind of like it the way it is--it's lively, you know? People aren't spread out all over the place, we're pretty close together, all the rooms are full--"

"Exactly. All the rooms are full," Miranda said. "We have one guest bedroom that you occasionally occupy yourself, which is completely unacceptable. We're packed like sardines."

"Across four floors?" Andy asked in disbelief.

"Just look for a few listings," Miranda said in exasperation. "It can't hurt, and we might find something we like."

"All right," Andy sighed, already wondering how to change Miranda's mind. She liked their place, liked that it really was lively, and cozy, and there was a lot of noise and chatter, just like where she'd grown up. Exactly the opposite of the cold house she'd encountered when she'd arrived at Miranda's place last Christmas. And some of that was propinquity--it would be easy to get lost in a bigger house where everybody could hide from everybody else.

But Andy was also getting better at talking Miranda into things, largely by tricking Miranda into thinking she'd thought of it first. It wasn't easy, because Miranda wasn't dumb and knew her own mind, but when it worked, it worked perfectly. Andy would have to work pretty hard on this one, but she thought it could be done.

Might as well get started. Miranda hated being pressured into stuff, for one thing. "We wouldn't have long to decide," Andy said. "Things tend to get snapped up pretty quick around here."

"Hmm." Miranda stood up, placed her hands in the small of her back, and stretched with a faint groan. Andy longed to embrace her, but it was unwise to do so outside, even all the way up here. You never knew when some jerk with a long-distance lens was lurking on another rooftop, just waiting. Andy didn't want to give them that satisfaction.

"How are you feeling?" she asked.

"Fine," Miranda said, like always.

"You look good," Andy said, sidling up to her. "Even Mom said so, after I emailed her those pictures."

"Well, now I can die a happy woman," Miranda said. She glanced at Andy, and raised an eyebrow. "I recognize that look on your face."

"Who, me?" Andy asked innocently. She tilted her head to the side and gave Miranda her most winning smile. "I'm just thinking about how much you mean to me."

"It's either sex, or you screwed something up."

"And how hot you are."

"I think I've guessed which."

"Only if you're up for it," Andy said quickly. "It's just you said this morning, maybe tonight we could, and I was thinking…"

Miranda gave Andy a slow, wicked smile, and Andy's stomach began to melt. "…yay," she finished weakly. It wasn't like they hadn't made love at all since Archer's birth, but it had only been twice, and it was such a beautiful night, and--

"'Yay'?" Miranda said. "Your wealth of imagination, and that's the best you can come up with?"

"You've got a point." Andy considered. "Hey, Miranda?"


"I'm going to fuck you cross-eyed," Andy said.

Miranda stiffened. Even in the dim lighting, Andy could see her cheeks turn pink.

"I'm going to spread you and take everything I want," Andy said. "I'm going to make you forget your name."

"Oh?" Miranda whispered, closing her eyes.

"And if you're not careful," Andy said, "I'm going to do it right here on the roof." Photographers be damned. She took Miranda's hand. Squeezed it. "Is that better?"

"Let's go," Miranda rasped. "Now."

"Let's," Andy said, let go of her, and held the roof door open for her. She brushed her hand against the small of Miranda's back as she passed, and watched the resulting shiver with delight.

The journey seemed to take a long time, as they headed down the floors, down the hallway, and past the photos which featured the twins, Andy, the baby, and Miranda, though rarely all five together. In their bedroom, though, there was one of Andy and Miranda: a candid shot, with Archer on Miranda's lap while Andy cooed down at him, no doubt saying something, as Miranda would put it, inane. Cassidy had snapped it when they weren't looking, and Miranda, to Andy's pleased surprise, had elected to print it in her home office and frame it. True, it was the only photo of its kind in the house (and, to Andy's knowledge, in existence), but that it existed at all meant an awful lot.

So Andy always noticed these pictures with pride, but sometimes she noticed them a little bit less. Like right now.

They made it to their bedroom without incident, but it was a near thing, since Andy could see Miranda's hands trembling. She wouldn't want slow and careful. Not tonight, not now that she was feeling better, not after just doing it twice in almost four months. She'd want, she'd want--

The door shut behind them, Miranda locked it, and before she could say anything else, Andy was on her. They kissed, and kissed again, until Miranda groaned and pushed Andy away just enough that she could start unbuttoning her own blouse. Andy tore off her own shirt, but as soon as she got another look at Miranda with her blouse open, she decided that the rest of her clothes could wait. Miranda kicked off her shoes, but that was as far as she got before Andy pressed her back against the door.

Andy tangled her fingers in Miranda's hair and tilted her head back, and Miranda slid her arms around Andy's waist, tugging her even closer. During the first time they'd done this after Archer's birth, they'd both been stunned by the way the space just evaporated between them, by the bump that, for the first time ever, wasn't there. Andy had been ready to take it slow and gentle anyway, but the novelty had helped--the way they could lie together, Miranda's legs around Andy's waist and Andy's arms around her shoulders, with nothing in between. They'd both reveled in the closeness, had taken their time savoring it, drawing it out.

Not tonight, though. Tonight Andy gave Miranda another hard kiss, and then dropped to her knees and rubbed her face against Miranda through her skirt. Miranda's hips jerked forward and she gasped, before grabbing Andy's hair. The smell of her made Andy groan, and she slid her hand beneath Miranda's skirt, let her palms rub up and down her thighs, moving the skirt up just a little higher each time, until she could rub her thumbs against Miranda's underwear. Mmm. Not satin tonight. Silk. So her thumbs teased Miranda through her panties, and her mouth and nose teased Miranda through her skirt, and Miranda's head rested against the doorway as she panted for it.

Finally, when Miranda had begun to wriggle, Andy pushed the skirt all the way up to her waist, and Miranda let go of Andy's hair so she could hold it up while Andy leaned in and mouthed at her through her underwear. Which was exquisite.

"This is new," Andy murmured as she placed tiny, gentle kisses all up and down, clit to slit, through the silk. Blue silk and lace, feeling so soft and warm against her lips and tongue. "Did you get these just for tonight? For me?" She slid her hands up and down Miranda's thighs again in time with her kisses.

"Uh," Miranda gulped, "uh, yes, I um--"

Aww. Too bad they were about to ruin them. "You want it?" Andy whispered, and exhaled hotly against the wetness that seeped through the silk. "You ready for it?" She licked, roughly, and Miranda gasped. "You going to give it to me?"

"G-give you--" Already Miranda couldn't talk.

"Give me this." Andy slid her hand up her thigh and cradled Miranda through her underwear. Miranda bucked her hips forward. "My favorite thing." Andy licked again, and even scraped her teeth. Miranda cried out and rose up on her toes, shoving frantically against Andy's mouth. "Give it to me."

"Yes!" Miranda whimpered. "Oh! Yes--"

It wouldn't take much to bring her off against the door like this, just like this. But Andy didn't want that, not tonight, not after such a wait. She stood up, leaned in, and kissed Miranda so hungrily that, by the time they parted, Miranda's breaths were all ending in tiny cries. She was beyond ready, and Andy tugged her to the bed, pressed her back down on the mattress, yanked off her panties. Spread her open, and let Miranda throw one leg over her shoulder.

"It's mine," she whispered, "it's mine," and buried her face in the wet. So wet, and Andy knew, then, that Miranda had been waiting all day for this, just like Andy had, and had tried her damndest to pretend otherwise. In retaliation, Andy licked again, even rougher than before, again and again. Miranda keened, arched up, grabbed Andy's hair once more. "Oh Jesus, yes, Miranda," Andy whispered against her, and licked and sucked. Miranda was writhing now, hissing, panting through her nose. "I'm taking it, I've got to have it, it's mine--"

"Take it, take it--t-take--" Miranda sobbed for air. Her leg was spasming where it hooked over Andy's shoulder. "Yours--take, oh please oh God oh please --"

Andy spread her wider, sank two thumbs in, opened her, lapped at her--

Miranda let go of Andy's hair, slapped both hands over her mouth, and screamed.

Oh, yes. Fast. Fast and good, judging by the way Miranda's legs were shaking. Andy wiped her mouth, stood up, and lay down next to her. Miranda covered her eyes with her hand, still panting. "Oh my God," she whimpered.

"You okay?" Andy whispered, just to make sure.

"Uh…huh." Miranda licked her lips, still panting. Andy looked down at her, eating up the sight of her messy hair, red-cheeked face, and heaving chest. Incredible. Fantastic. Still so new and so astonishing.

"Oh," Miranda finally managed. "I'll…for you. Just give me a moment…"

"It's okay. Take your time," Andy said, and grinned. Cara and the girls knew it was date night, and Andy and Miranda wouldn't be disturbed unless it was an emergency. Besides, it was time for the twins to go to bed anyway. And Archer could be bottle-fed if they weren't done. And…

It was a rare night, and Andy kissed Miranda.

"Oh," Miranda moaned against her mouth. Her breath was slowing down again. "This is a lot better than last year."

Andy pulled back and blinked. "Huh?"

Miranda opened her eyes, and blinked too, as if she hadn't quite meant to say that. She struggled for a moment, but then appeared to come to a decision, and said, "Archer was conceived one year ago today."

Andy's jaw fell open, but she couldn't think of a single thing to say other than, "Oh." Followed by, "Um." Then she looked down at the bed, her eyes widening.

"It's all right," Miranda said. "I changed the sheets."

"Yeah," Andy said, trying not to squirm. Yuck. "Thanks for telling me that, I guess." Or not. Her libido had definitely just hopped into the back seat for a moment.

Miranda almost looked apologetic. Or as close as she ever came to it. "I shouldn't have mentioned it."

"I guess…if you were thinking about it," Andy said feebly, though she couldn't believe Miranda had been thinking about it.

"I wasn't," Miranda said, trailing a hand over Andy's hip. "Not like that, I mean. It's just--only one year, and everything's so…" Her voice trailed off. "Life's odd, isn't it?"

'Life's odd' was about as philosophical as Miranda ever got. Thank God. "Yeah, but it's cool too," Andy said, trying not to be huffy about Miranda's little revelation, because she really wanted to get off. Besides, Miranda had a point. "I mean, life is. At least, I think so." She touched Miranda's cheek. "What do you think next year's going to be like?"

"Well, I don't know," Miranda said lightly. "Stick around and find out."

"I just might," Andy whispered, bent down, and kissed her.

When they surfaced, Miranda murmured, "I'm sorry I broke the mood. It wasn't my intention." Her voice dropped into a whisper. "Or don't you like hearing about how good you are? I thought you might like it." She dragged her fingers over Andy's ass, still clad in her pants. And then down between her legs. "Knowing that you're better than anybody else. Better by far."

Andy forgave her instantly and completely. "Y-yeah," she stammered. "Yeah…I…that's good to know…" But then Miranda pulled her hand away. Andy bucked and whined.

"There's something else you want, isn't there?" Miranda said. "Something you've been wanting, that I can give you?"

"I, uh--" Andy shook her head. "What do you--"

"Watch me," Miranda said softly.

Andy stared at her. Miranda pushed her gently off, but then, before Andy could protest, she slithered out of her wrinkled skirt and tossed it to the floor. And then she parted her legs. And reached down between them. And arched into her own touch. And sighed.

"Oh my God," Andy said, feeling like someone had just sucked all the oxygen out of the room. "Oh Jesus."

"Watch me," Miranda whispered, like Andy could do anything else. And, trying not to faint, Andy watched.

Miranda was red and swollen now, slick and wet and no doubt extra-sensitive; so her fingertips slid up, down, and around so lightly that it almost looked like she wasn't touching herself at all. Delicate and gentle, just the way she liked it. She hadn't begun to pant or anything, not yet, but her breathing was starting to get a little deeper, a little quicker. She spread her legs to give Andy a better look at her favorite thing--parted her own labia wider with the fingers of her left hand, stroked and dipped between them with her right. Swirled her index finger just around the edges of her clit, and sighed, "Mmm," through her nose as she closed her eyes.

"This is how you do it?" Andy asked hoarsely. "This is how you do it when you're thinking about me?"

Miranda opened her eyes again, warm and hazy with desire. "When I'm not in a hurry," she husked.

"When--" Andy swallowed before she could choke. "When are you in a hurry?"

"I haven't been in a while," Miranda admitted, rubbed her clit again, and shivered. Andy couldn't decide which to watch: her fingers or her face. She settled on the face, just for the moment, because Miranda was still whispering. "But before…before we ever made love--" She batted her lashes, long and slow, and gave Andy a sweet smile. "Well, I don't want to bore you. You probably don't want to hear about--"

"I will give you everything I own if you tell me," Andy croaked. Miranda laughed softly, and then sighed as she slipped one finger inside herself. Andy groaned just looking at it.

"When you kissed me," Miranda said, and arched her hips. "So many times, when you kissed me after delivering the book. Before I went to sleep. Then I did it slowly, just like I like it best."

"B-but…but sometimes…"

Miranda never turned her eyes away from Andy's. "But sometimes, I couldn't wait," she said. "I'd take the book up to my room, shut the door, I wouldn't even get undressed--" Andy had to close her eyes and breathe deeply to keep from hyperventilating. "And once I didn't even make it to the bed, I just leaned up against the door, just as you had me tonight, just over there." Andy moaned, unable to open her eyes, because if she did-- "Because I knew then, I knew, that you would be so good to me, Andrea. I knew that the moment I said yes, you'd--oh--"

Andy's eyes flew open at the whimper in her voice, she looked down, saw that Miranda had buried two fingers inside herself, and was thrusting gently, rubbing her clit with the heel of her palm.

"But it wasn't enough," Miranda said, her eyes falling shut again as she remembered. "It wasn't enough just to think about it, I had to know, I had to feel it for myself--"

It was all over, then. Andy sank to the floor again, bent to Miranda again; Miranda made a faint noise of surprise that turned into a shocked, delighted cry when Andy began licking around her fingers, when Andy pressed her tongue in between them to stroke her clit. "Andrea!"

"Keep talking," Andy growled, licked her perineum, bit the inside of her thigh. "Tell me, tell me everything."

"It was so good," Miranda choked, her legs beginning to tremble again. "I had known it would be good, but I didn't know how much--" She slid her fingers halfway out; Andy nudged the knuckles with her nose, and Miranda slid them back in with a groan. "Oh my God, when you made me come and I didn't even have my shirt all the way off--"

"So beautiful," Andy gasped, reared up, and began kissing Miranda's belly, flat again, flat and smooth. "You were so beautiful I wanted to eat you up, make you mine, I never wanted anything like that with anybody before--" She bit, as if to prove her point.

Miranda groaned, pulled her hands out, and rubbed her sticky fingers against Andy's lips. "T-take off your, take," she managed, patting at the waistband of Andy's pants. Andy pulled away just long enough until she was bare from the waist down, and then she leapt back on the mattress, pulled Miranda up into her lap; Miranda wrapped her legs around Andy's waist and her arms around Andy's shoulders, and they twined together, kissing and whimpering through their noses. Andy rubbed her sticky face against Miranda's, Miranda combed her sticky fingers through Andy's hair, and it was best like this, when they wanted so much, but could give so much too.

"I heard myself begging you," Miranda moaned against Andy's mouth, sounding drunk with it. "I'd never begged, but I thought I'd die if you stopped, I didn't recognize myself, I didn't know who I was, and I didn't even care oh my God--"

Her head fell back and her mouth fell open, because Andy had just wedged her hand down between them, and slipped two fingers inside her without further ado. Now she was thrusting them ruthlessly and holding Miranda in place, her hand pressing firmly against the small of Miranda's back while Miranda writhed and tossed her head, choking on her own breath. She couldn't get away, couldn't slow Andy's rhythm, couldn't do anything but hang on for dear life while Andy groaned against her shoulder, "I love you. I'm the luckiest person alive to be here with you, to have you like this, me and nobody else--" She bit down, hard. "You drive me crazy, you're wonderful--"

"Oh God--" Miranda's fingernails might actually have drawn blood when they scored down Andy's back, catching only on her bra hook. Then she grabbed Andy's face in both her hands and kissed her fiercely, before pulling back and staring down into her eyes as Andy fucked her.

"I," she gulped, "I--"

Andy stopped moving her hand, stopped by the…something…in Miranda's eyes. Miranda squirmed and whimpered in protest, so Andy started stroking her again, only much more slowly, more gently, just to keep things going. And she waited.

"--I do know when it started," Miranda finally choked, keeping her hands on Andy's cheeks. "I told you I didn't, but I do. The minute, the very minute I realized how I--how I--I know when it was." She leaned forward until her forehead was pressed against Andy's, still looking into her eyes. "Please," she said. "Please, now."

"Now," Andy said, only vaguely aware that she was speaking, "now." She twisted her fingers, rubbed her thumb, keeping Miranda pressed against her. And Miranda, perhaps fired up by her half-revelation, rode her hard until she convulsed, gasping so much that she didn't manage to make any other noise, though it sounded like she wanted to.

Still looking into Andy's eyes.

She closed them, though, when she finished, and slumped forward, shaking. Maybe shaking a little more than usual. Andy realized that her own urgency had abated, at least for the moment, because even more than she wanted to get off, she wanted to hear what Miranda had to say. It was something she was dying to know, and now, when Miranda was limp with bliss, was the time to ask about it.

Andy pulled her fingers out, and gently tipped Miranda over on her back. "Can you tell me?" Andy whispered, stroking her thigh soothingly. "Will you tell me? Please?"

Miranda's eyes were still closed. "London. After Christmas," she managed, still gasping. "I had a nightmare, I couldn't sleep. I came downstairs, and there you were, curled up and asleep in that armchair…"

Andy gasped too, remembering. The way she'd woken up to see Miranda standing over her in her bathrobe. The shock on Miranda's face. "The armchair?" she whispered.

"You had a book in your lap," Miranda said, her eyes still squeezed shut. "A pregnancy book, and I realized you were up in the middle of the night trying to help me, and I thought about how the last few days had just felt all wrong without you there."

She stopped, swallowed hard, while Andy stared at her, afraid she was about to clam up. But she kept going: "And you even said you'd come to me when I hadn't forced you to--I knew I had to keep you with me, I just didn't know how--even after New Year's, when I knew how you felt, I didn't know what I should…"

Then she opened her eyes, and the hazy look was gone. She was actually glaring. "I dithered for months," she said. "Because of you, and I never dither. It shows a lack of character--but obviously something had to be done. And then, during Fashion Week--"

Miranda bit her lip and looked unhappy for a second, no doubt remembering the moment Andy had finally let loose. Andy quickly kissed her, not anxious to dwell on that. "You made me totally happy during Fashion Week," she said. "I mean, at the end. You know. Whatever that's worth."

Miranda sighed and looked a little annoyed. "At any rate. I knew it was time. And then I…" Her voice trailed off, and she obviously didn't quite know what to say next.

"And then you decided we should be celibate," Andy said, and helpfully stroked her fingertips over Miranda's thigh. Miranda shivered. "That was your best idea ever."

"Shut up," Miranda said, held out her arms. Andy realized that confession time was over, maybe forever, and she was disappointed--but then Miranda tugged on her shoulders, pulled her down. Oh. Well, this was a worthwhile distraction. Andy lowered herself down onto her elbows, and the feel of that sweaty skin beneath her was still and always a turn-on.

Suddenly she took a little trip down memory lane herself. She remembered that night during Fashion Week in London, when, sick with love and despair both, she'd dreamed of making love to Miranda like this, just like this. Desire roared back through her so fast she was shocked at it, and so she bent down and kissed Miranda, because reality was better than dreaming. And if Miranda was surprised by the sheer force behind the kiss, she said nothing--just wound her arms around Andy's neck and returned the hard kisses with a languor that drove Andy out of her mind. Her head was spinning, her cunt was throbbing, and if she didn't get some relief in the next ten seconds--

Miranda wedged her thigh in between both of Andy's. Andy gasped and went rigid.

"Give it to me, Andrea," Miranda said softly, her lips curving in a soft, evil smile. "Give me what I want the most."

It only took three thrusts against that firm, smooth thigh before Andy was coating Miranda's leg with her come, trying not to scream in Miranda's ear.

"Marvelous," Miranda purred in Andy's own ear, while Andy just barely managed not to collapse on top of her with her full weight.

"Um," Andy said into the pillow. "Um yeah. Um God. Um…"

Miranda laughed softly at her, dragging her hands again--much more gently now--up and down Andy's back. "Well," she said. "If I remember correctly, I now own all of your earthly possessions. Yes?"

"Sure," Andy mumbled. "Enjoy the shot glasses."

"And say farewell to the bookcase," Miranda said, and sighed in contentment as she patted Andy's ass. It felt great.

Well played, Miranda Priestly, Andy thought, trying to get her brain back in working order. Well played indeed.



Three days later, it was Cara's night off. But even though work had been hellish from the Paris preparations (and Nigel was right about living on coffee), Andy was glad to flop down on the couch with one twin on each side and a baby in her lap. Archer's gaze roved curiously around the room, although he probably wasn't seeing much of it yet.

"He is so cute now," Cassidy said.

"When he's not screaming," Caroline replied. "And pooping and spitting up. Then he's gross."

"Oh, that's not his fault," Andy said, bouncing him a little and grinning down into his face. "That's what babies have to do to get noticed. You guys did it."

"How do you know?" Cassidy demanded. "You weren't there."

"I have a hunch," Andy said, and raised one eyebrow at her. Cassidy grinned and peered back down at her baby brother. Caroline reached over and offered Archer her index finger. He grabbed it tight, and she laughed. He laughed right back.

"He is totally cute," Cassidy said. "Shut up, Caroline."

"I didn't say anything," Caroline said, and yanked her finger away. It took some effort. "You shut up."

"Andy, tell Caroline to shut up," Cassidy said.

"Both of you shut up and somebody bring me the book," Andy said, nodding over to the bright pink paperback that rested on a nearby hassock. She'd seen it in a bookstore today and had bought it at once. "You said you wanted to hear it too."

"I can't believe this is a real book," Caroline said, hopping up and running to get it. She sat back down next to Andy. "Here. Which one are you going to read first?"

"Well, I don't know," Andy said, cradling Archer in the crook of one elbow and taking the little book with her free hand. "Let's see. Now. This Little Piggy Went to Prada ." The twins were already laughing, and Andy awkwardly thumbed to the table of contents with one hand. "Ah!" she said, and grinned. "How about this one?" She began to read:

Cobbler, cobbler, mend my shoes,
Careful, please, they're Christian Lous. 
These red soles, they'll never date,
They'll still be hot in Spring '08.

The twins laughed again. "Do another," Caroline urged.

"Sure," Andy said, and obliged. "I had a little shoe tree, nothing would it bear, but Manolo Blahniks and vintage Taittinger …"

They made it through three more before the microwave bleeped. "Popcorn's done!" Cassidy announced, and she and Caroline fled to the kitchen, nursery rhymes forgotten. Andy chuckled, and then looked down into Archer's face. As always, he looked extremely…pink. And bewildered. No wonder: the world had to be very confusing.

She angled her arm so she could look at her watch. Miranda wasn't due home until nine tonight, so they had some time to kill. Archer wriggled and yawned: his next feeding was in half-an-hour, and, as Miranda's son, he would be very punctual about fussing for it when it was time. Andy smiled down at him. "One more, baby?" she asked softly, and flipped the book open to another page. "How about this one?"

Archer blew out air between his lips like a horse, dribbling spit down his chin. Andy laughed and used the corner of his blanket to wipe him clean. Then she bent down and pressed her nose to his forehead, nuzzling him, grinning like an idiot. Archer tried to yank on her hair, but Andy tossed it back over her shoulder just in time. He was becoming really good at getting hold of things. Miranda had stopped wearing her signature hoop earrings, and Andy was never going to let her forget that the first thing Archer had ever managed to grab was her nose.

Andy had no idea how she was going to handle being away from him for a whole week. Neither did Miranda, although she'd never admit it. It wasn't like nightly phone calls were going to be a whole lot of help. Not that she wouldn't make them anyway, Andy decided, but it'd still be a long seven days. At least Miranda could leave Paris early if she felt like it. Andy thought she just might.

Just then, she heard a sound in the doorway. She looked up and saw Miranda standing there, back from the office. She looked pretty tired. But she also had an amused gleam in her eyes, which meant that everything was okay. It was eight-forty-five on the dot.

"Hey," Andy said in delight.

"Hello," Miranda replied. She raised her eyebrows, and nodded pointedly down at the book, a nearly-invisible smile twitching around her mouth. "By all means, continue."

Andy grinned at her, and continued, with a slight alteration or two.

Hush-a-bye Baby, in Andy's arms,
When she wears Tod's, you'll come to no harm.
When in her Ginas she's not quite so sound,
You're safer with Mommy, both feet on the ground

Miranda snorted and rolled her eyes. Andy laughed, dropped the book, and patted the cushion next to her; Miranda came over and sat down with an audible sigh of relief, and took Archer in her arms, bouncing him gently. Her smile was much more visible now. And softer.

Andy leaned forward, resting her elbow on her knee and her face in her palm. Something in her chest glowed very, very warm and bright. Miranda glanced up from Archer's face, and saw Andy watching them both. She raised her eyebrows again.

"Welcome home," Andy said.

"Yes," Miranda said. She tilted her head. Andy leaned in and kissed her.