It had been over a year now. Andy's mind was occupied again by the thought. Over a year since she had walked away, tossing the phone with Miranda's name bilking on the caller ID into the water of the flowing fountain. She had been so sure then that escaping RUNWAY, leaving the older woman behind was what she had to do to keep true to herself. To not become the kind of person she knew the editor had to be to maintain her power and position.
But now, as she walked down the street, staring up at the Elias-Clarke building as it loomed above her, the feelings her fear had kept hidden moved again to the forefront of her mind. She missed the strong woman. Missed the confidence and elegance she exuded to the world around her. She missed the daily challenges her former boss never doubted she could accomplish. She missed her beauty and grace. She missed those icy, glaring eyes. She missed Miranda.
Andy looked up at the window that was a voyeurs entrance to the editors world and sighed. A sigh that did indeed mean regret. Of all the changes in her life that happened during her tenure at the magazine and after leaving, she regretted the loss of being at Miranda's side the most.
A familiar voice, screaming, pulled her from her thoughts. She looked into the shifting crowd around her, her eyes moving directly to two heads of red hair and took off at a full run in their direction.
"CASSIDY!" The voice rang out.
As she approached she could see Miranda's daughters fighting the hold of a tall man with a hood over his head. One twin, Caroline she knew, had pulled loose from his grasp and was swinging and flailing her arms at him. He pushed her to the ground and started to move away with Cassidy wiggling under his arm. Not one single person on the street acknowledged the scene. Typical New Yorkers. Andy's mind raced back to the girls. She stopped at Caroline and helped her up as a security guard was exiting the building.
"Andy!" She screamed when she recognized the young woman. "He's got Cassidy!" She was frantic.
Andy placed her hands on the girls shoulders keeping an eye on the retreating figure, "I'll get her! Go! Get your mom!" She glanced a look at the guard, "call 911 and get Miranda!" Then she was off in the same direction as the kidnapper, running like her life, no Cassidy's life depended on it. She focused on the parting crown in the distance that was making room for the assailant and a squirming Cassidy. Out of the corner of her eye she spotted his obvious destination, a white panel van.
"OH HELL NO!" She sprinted to the parked vehicle.
The security guard had called it in and was running to keep up with the young redhead as she made straight for the elevators. Tears were streaming down her face as it rose to her mother's floor. She burst out as the doors opened yelling into the RUNWAY halls. "Mom! Mom!" As she turned the corner, she met the fear stricken eyes of her mother.
"Caroline!" She grabbed her into her arms. "What is it, what happened, where is your sister?" She pulled back to look at her child.
She was frantic now. "He grabbed us and I got loose, but Cassidy couldn't then he knocked me down then Andy said to come get you and she ran after Cass." Tears were streaming down her face and the girl was trying to catch her breath.
Miranda's panic and fear for her daughter moved her to action. "Emily, call the police. Take Caroline to my office." She looked at Caroline. "It will be okay. Cassidy will be okay." She hugged her tightly, kissed her and moved her to Emily. Miranda then rushed to the elevator with Nigel on her heels.
Once inside the steel box she told him what Caroline had said.
"Andy? Six? Our Andy?" He looked at her questioningly.
"So it would seem." Our Andy she thought. Her Andrea. She felt a small reflex of relief. Andrea would not fail her.
Just as the side doors of the van slid open and the man was moving to throw Cassidy in she tackled his back, sending all three into the open doors. Andy was able to pull Cassidy away from the would-be kidnapper, while they detangled themselves from their fall into the van. She pushed the girl to the ground outside, away from the van as the man turned on her and threw a punch crossed her face, then a blow to her chest. The woman stumbled back, tasting blood in her mouth when she tried to catch her breath. She grabbed at his hood. It came away from his face and she looked into his eyes as he turned to her. He kicked out at Andy catching her in the ribs, sending her backwards. The door slammed shut and the van drove off into traffic. She looked at the plate memorizing it along with every detail of the man's features, while trying to catch her breath. It was hard to breathe when she stood up straight.
Suddenly she felt a jolt against her as Cassidy wrapped her arms around her waist, squeezing her. Forgetting her pain, Andy knelt down to look at the girl, and took her into her arms. "It's okay. Shhh, you're okay now. I've got you." On rubbery legs she lifted the girl into her arms fighting the need to wince at the pain in her chest and began to make her way back to Elias-Clarke.
Cassidy's tears slowed as they got closer, but her grip around Andy's neck never loosened. Andy continued to talk quietly to Cassidy as they walked. "Are you hurt?" She felt the child shake her head in a negative against her shoulder. "Okay. We're almost there. Shhh. It's okay."
Miranda and Nigel exited the building just as the police pulled up. The editor's eyes scanned the streets, looking for an answer to the question of which direction her child had disappeared.
An officer approached and began questioning her. She started to tell the story Caroline had told to her when her eyes fell upon a pair of beautiful brown eyes and the back of a head full of red curly hair moving toward her. In Andrea's arms, clinging to her, was her Cassidy. She pushed the officer aside and ran in her Prada heels to intercept them.
"Cassidy!" As she reached the two, her arms went to grab her daughter. Cassidy turned in Andy's arms. "Mommy!"
When the weight of the child was finally gone from her arms, Andy collapsed to her knees. The adrenaline that and maintain her throughout the chase, rescue and return of the twin was now completely evaporated. She knelt down in front of Miranda and Cassidy, holding each other tightly, and smiled.
Nigel bent down beside her and wrapped an arm around her waist to help her stand. She flinched at the pain. "Come on hero. Let's get you back up to the office." She let Nigel hold her weight and helped her to stand, breathing heavily. Her eyes fell on the editors tear stained face.
Miranda couldn't speak, couldn't find the words. For now, she blinked slowly and nodded to her former assistant, then turned to lead everyone back to RUNWAY with Cassidy in her arms.
The four entered the elevator, Miranda still holding Cassidy tightly in her arms, and Nigel supporting Andy. The box moved upwards and Miranda reached down to grasp Andy's hand. She squeezed it tightly and felt the younger woman react in kind. The ride was silent except for Cassidy's sniffled breathing in Andy's labored breath.
When the doors opened, Andy reflexively losing her grip on Miranda's hand to release it but the older woman held on. They moved slower than the editors normal pace, allowing for Nigel to help Andy, weak with her exhaustion and injuries.
They entered Miranda's office and a squealing Caroline made her way to her mother and sister. Miranda had no choice but to release Andy's hand to hold both of her daughters. Nigel moved Andy to sit on the couch. She leaned her head back and closed her eyes. With her body finally at rest she noticed the pain in her face. Her hand moved to her now swollen and bloodied lip. "Ouch" she winced as she touched it.
The sound caught everyone's attention. Cassidy and Caroline left the safety of their mother's arms to sit on each side of Andy. Caroline looked at her, "you're bleeding."
Miranda, now relaxing from the fear that had been gripping her heart, moved into action again. "Emily, call for an ambulance. Give me a damp cool cloth and go to the closet for a clean shirt for Andrea."
"That's not necessary Miranda." Andy said as she tried to stand up. Feeling the room spin, she fell back down to the couch.
"Really?" the editor raised her brow. She moved closer to the young woman. "You may have just saved my daughter's life Andrea, let me help you, please"
There was a kindness in the soft-spoken words that sent a shock of electricity through her system. She nodded and leaned her head back again. As she closed her eyes she's felt a small hand take each of hers. She smiled, not opening them are raising her head.
"Thank you Andy" Cassidy's voice was just a soft as her mother's. She squeezed the girls hand.
"Anytime." And she smiled again.
Miranda watched the interaction of her children with Andrea. The feeling that a whole in her was being filled, this time all the way, ran through her like being wrapped in a warm familiar blanket. She had her Andrea back, and this time she would do whatever was necessary to keep the woman in her life.
Following on the heels of Emily's return were the police. "Miranda, the police said they need to interview the girls and Andy."
Miranda crossed to Emily and the waiting officers taking the damp cloth from her first assistant, "very well." She motioned with a nod in the direction of the couch. She followed behind but stopped to kneel in front of Andrea. Gently touching her knee she spoke." Andrea." The girl raised her head to meet the woman's eyes. Miranda could see the pain in her beautiful brown eyes. "The police need to talk to you."
"Oh, yeah, okay." She leaned forward, but was kept from leaving the couch by Miranda's hand on her shoulder.
"Let me clean up your lip while they talk to the girls." As she spoke, she raised the cloth, almost to the young woman's face, but waited for confirmation before she touched her.
"Okay." Andy said softly. She closed her eyes and winced slightly as the editor began to gently wipe the now dried blood from her lip and chin.
Miranda leaned into Andy's legs to get better balance and both felt the jolt of energy run through them. After a moment, the rest of the world returned to Miranda senses and she heard Cassidy, telling how Andy had dove and tackled them, freeing her from the man's grasp, then pushing her out of his reach. Only to take a hit in her face and chest and be kicked by him before he made his escape.
Miranda met Andy's eyes, not at all trying to hide the tears of gratitude showing in her own. But it wasn't until Andy began to relay her version of events that the older woman realized just what length she had gone to, how far she pushed herself and the pain she was now in because of it, to make sure Cassidy was safe again in her arms.
When Nigel laid his hand on Miranda's shoulder, she became aware that tears were falling freely down her face. With a shaky hand, she took his and allowed him to help her to stand then sat down in a chair Emily had pulled up next to the couch.
Andy finished her version of the events by giving a fairly detailed description of the would-be kidnapper and the license plate number on the van. The detective looked up from his notes and asked "you remembered that much detail in the midst of being physically exhausted, attacked and the total chaos of the event?"
Andy looked at Miranda sitting across from her at the edge of the couch as she replied to the Detective. "I learned from the best." She saw a small smile of pride lift the edges of Miranda's lips.
"Well," he stood up. "This information should be plenty to get us started. I have officers stationed here and at her home Ms Priestly."
Miranda stood and shook his hand. "Thank you, Detective. My assistant has already contacted our private security, and they will be here shortly." She looked at her daughters then fixed her gaze on Andy when she spoke, the next words. "My family will be protected around the clock until you find this criminal." She looked away from Andy's eyes and back to the officer as Nigel escorted him out of the in her office.
When Miranda looked back at Andy she saw for the first time that day tears in the younger woman's eyes.
Andy felt a wave of relief wash over her at Miranda's words. She blinked slowly and knew when she opened her eyes the tear she could no longer fight would fall. But this time, she didn't care. Because this time, she knew Miranda cared, about her.
As the detective was leaving the EMTs were entering the office. Caroline moved from the couch to her mother's side as they sat down their equipment next to Andy on the couch. Cassidy refused to move or let go of the young woman's hand, giving them a glare that her mother could be proud of at the request for her to do so. Andy squeezed her small hand gently, "it's okay." She smiled at her, "why don't you go help your sister take care of your mom."
Cassidy relinquished her hold and moved to stand next to Miranda. The older woman could tell Andrea was having trouble breathing and knew she was trying to protect her daughter from any guilt she might feel due to the circumstances.
Once Cassidy was out of earshot Andy told the medics that she was having trouble breathing and thought she may have a cracked rib or two. They immediately began to check her vitals and one left in a hurry to get a stretcher.
Miranda watched the look pass between the two EMTs and pulled her daughters closer to her as she watched one of them jump up and dash out of the office. She was immediately hit with the seriousness of Andrea's injuries. The remaining EMT moved Andy to stretch out and lay on her side on the couch.
Miranda decided it was time to have the girls taken away from the scene. "Emily"
Emily was instantly at her side.
"Call Roy to pick up the girls and take them home. Call Cara to meet them there. Make her aware of the situation and prepare her for the security waiting for them."
"Of course Miranda."
"Also Emily, I'd like you to accompany them. Then meet me after at the hospital."
Emily nodded, turned and went to her desk to call Roy and Cara.
When Miranda turned from Emily she saw her girls had returned Andy's side. She could see the fear in their faces as they hovered around their heroine.
Caroline turned to her mother and asked "is she going to be okay mom?"
Miranda looked into her eyes. "Of course she is darling. You know our Andrea, she can do anything." She looked to meet Andrea's chocolate eyes, sharing her glint of amusement. "Now, I need both of you to go with Emily and Roy to meet Cara at the house. I promise I will call you as soon as I have news from the doctor about Andrea."
Much to Miranda's amazement, both girls, in turn, bent down to give Andy a goodbye kiss on her exposed cheek, then they walked back to hug her before they left for home with Emily.
After she pulled out of the hug, Cassidy looked into her mother's honest eyes, "you'll let us know as soon as you know anything and you'll take care of her for me?"
The editor knelt down so she was eye level with Cassidy. "I will take as good care of Andrea as she took of you baby." Miranda gently cupped her daughter's face and smiled with the promising words. Then she stood up and patted their backs lovingly, "now go with Emily. I love you both."
As Cassidy, Caroline and Emily left, they passed the EMT entering the office with a stretcher. The three looked back then headed to the elevator.
Miranda and Nigel watched as they lifted Andy's pale, weak, semiconscious body onto the stretcher. Once they had her strapped in Miranda move to her side and took her hand into her own. Andy opened her eyes at the touch and offered the older woman a small smile. She squeezed the young woman's hand and looked at Nigel.
"Nigel, please call the hospital and alert them that we are on her way. Contact my personal physician and have him meet us there." Nigel nodded.
Andy spoke without opening her eyes." Miranda, that really isn't necessary. I'm sure I just have a couple of bruised ribs." As soon as she finished the sentence she began coughing. Miranda watched in horror as the crimson liquid began to run out of the corners of her mouth.
The female EMT roused the editor out of her daze, "we need to move her, now!" Without another word they began to push Andy out of the office toward the waiting elevator with Miranda still grasping her hand.
At some point during their descent Andy lost consciousness and her grip on Miranda's hand went slack. As they exited the elevator they were immediately met by Miranda's security detail. They escorted them out of the building and held off photographers and reporters.
Once Andy was secure in the ambulance and the oxygen mask was secured to her face, Miranda took her hand again. Silent tears ran down her pale cheeks as she leaned over her, placing her lips near the younger woman's ear and whispered. "Don't you dare leave me again Andréa. Don't you dare. I promise the girls you'd be okay and you know how I hate to disappoint them. You stay with me, do you hear me. I won't lose you again." She gently brushed her thumb over Andy's hand. Miranda leaned back slightly then brushed Andy's sweaty bangs off her forehead, never taking her eyes from the younger woman as they drove to the hospital.
Miranda reluctantly released her hand as the back doors of the ambulance opened to a flurry of activity. They pulled Andy out of the bus and she followed, helped by one of her private security agents. She watched as her personal doctor followed along with Andy listening to the vital information from the EMTs.
They rolled her into a small room, where Miranda was stopped at the door by a nurse. "You'll need to wait out here Ms Priestly. The doctor will be out to talk to you as soon as he can."
Miranda stepped back into the body of her security agent, grateful for his gentle hands on her arms. For the first time in her adult life, she thought she might faint. He carefully moved her to the chairs to help her to sit.
After what seemed like an eternity of waiting, her doctor exited the room. She stood to meet him. "John, how is she?" Miranda was uncharacteristically wringing her hands.
He motioned for them to sit." We've got her stable. Mind telling me what's going on?"
Miranda sighed. "Andrea was injured saving Cassidy from an attempted kidnapping. Based on her and my daughter's statements to the police, she sustained her injuries from being punched and kicked by the criminal."
"Well that would explain the damage." He looked at Miranda, "she has a punctured lung from one of her broken ribs."
Miranda gasped and placed her hand over her mouth.
"We had to insert a chest tube to help re-inflate her lung and put a tube down her throat to help her breathe. I don't think there is any internal bleeding, but we will monitor that closely." He rubbed her arm soothingly. "We've given her something for the pain and to help her sleep. She was very lucky Miranda. Much longer, and she might not have survived."
She nodded her head slowly. "Thank you John. Can I see her now?"
"Sure, but be prepared. She has tubes and machines hooked up to her. She may not even know you're there, she's going to be pretty out of it for quite a while. The next twenty-four hours will be crucial to her recovery."
"I understand." They walked over to the door that separated her and Andy. He pushed it open and stepped aside to let her enter. Her eyes fell instinctively on Andy laying quietly in the bed in the center of the room. All around her machines were beeping, humming, pumping but all she could see was her beautiful Andrea.
She walked over to her bed and gently took her hand. Miranda lifted it to her lips and kissed it tenderly and rested it on her cheek. She closed her eyes and prayed to any deity that would listen to bring her Andrea back to her safe and healthy.
Miranda sat next Andy's bed for a long time, watching her sleep and listening to the ventilator pump steadily.
Emily entered quietly to find her boss stroking Andy's hand lovely as she stared at the prone woman in the bed before her. Taking in the scene she realized she was seeing the real woman that was her boss. Something in her entire tenure of working for the fashionista she never dreamt she would see. The dedicated first assistant looked on, quietly, watching expressions on the older woman's face moved between helplessness, frightened, forlorn and love. She gasped silently, never had she seen so much love in any person's face. Her iron willed stubborn icon of a boss was hopelessly in love with one Andy Sachs.
Emily smiled. 'I wonder she knows Andy feels the same way.' She thought. Unknown to Miranda, Emily and Andy had become close. After Andy had given her the clothes she had received in Paris, Emily discovered that she truly admired the other woman. Andy had a spirit and will she truly wished she could find in herself. Becoming friends seem to be the logical step in helping herself find those qualities. Along the way, Emily found an easiness in their friendship she had never expected. Andy accepted her for who she was without question. She also found in accepting Andy for who she was meant accepting how Andy felt about the woman who once dominated both of their lives. In truth, Miranda still dominated their lives, just in different respects. Emily was surprised at the ease with which she was willing to accept Andy's feelings for the older woman. And now, seeing with her own eyes that it was mutual, she would make sure the two women she cared most about would find the happiness together, her heart knew they deserved.
Emily cleared her throat gently, not wanting to startled the older woman, then spoke softly. "Miranda."
Miranda looked up and Emily knew she'd never seen her look more beautiful. Her tear stained face and red rimmed eyes glowed with feeling.
"Emily" she spoke softly, never removing her hands from Andy's. She tried to replace her iconic mask for the assistant, but upon seeing the younger woman's knowing smile abandoned the attempt.
Emily walked to the end of the bed and without thought laid her hand on Andy's blanket covered foot. "How is she?" She asked taking in the younger woman's prone unconscious figure.
Miranda turned her eyes back to Andy as she spoke. "Resting, comfortably. The silly girl almost got herself killed. She has a punctured lung and several broken ribs." The older woman looked at Emily, "honestly, what was she thinking." It wasn't a question. They both knew she wasn't thinking about her own safety, just Cassidy's.
Emily looked at Miranda, holding her gaze, "I'm sure, knowing her as I do, all she was thinking about was getting your daughter back to you."
Miranda turned back to look at Andy's paleface, "but why?" She asked.
Emily felt bold and answered for Andy. "The same reason you are sitting here with her now Miranda." Miranda snapped her head to look at Emily in disbelief.
Emily just nodded her head and smiled.
Miranda placed her hand over her mouth as she gasped. Then turned back to face Andy and spoke through her fingers. "I never," she took a deep breath, "never let myself dream it."
"Andy did Miranda." Emily smiled and gently squeezed Andy's foot.
"How do you know this Emily?" Miranda, eyed her suspiciously.
Emily took a deep breath. She moved to the opposite side of Andy's bed and gently ran the backs of her fingers against Andy's cheek then looked at Miranda, "because she told me."
Miranda was definitely skeptical now. When Andy worked for her, the two barely got along. Surely this was a ploy by her first assistant to somehow undermine Andrea. "And why, pray tell, would she do that?"
Emily saw the iciness returned to her bosses eyes. It was time to explain she and Andy's relationship.
"Miranda, a lot has happened in the time since Andy left RUNWAY. The short version is that we became friends, close friends," she chuckled looking back at Andy, "best friends. Obviously, you are correct, there isn't anything she can't do."
Emily watched as Miranda visibly relaxed, but questions still remain in her expression. So she began to tell her boss the story of she and Andy's unlikely friendship from the beginning. They talked quietly as they sat vigilance over the woman who had wrapped herself around both of their hearts.
"I never realized" Emily spoke softly, "that letting someone care about me could make me a better person." She smiled at Andy's sleeping form. "But she does. She lets me be who I am and encourages me to be what I want to be. I feel very lucky to have her in my life." She looked up to meet Miranda's nervous gaze and was caught by the tension in her posture. Suddenly it dawned on her, "No Miranda, I'm not in love with Andy." The older woman's shoulders relaxed. "Not romantically" a sly smile crossed her lips with the thought of the woman she did hold those feelings for. "Not in a romantic way. But I do love her with all of my heart, losing her would kill me, just as I know now, it would kill you too."
Miranda nodded and looked at her Andrea.
"Why don't you go stretch your legs. Call the girls and let them know what's going on. I know they're worried sick. I'll stay here with our girl."
Miranda looked at her skeptically. But she had promised her daughters an update and Andrea wouldn't be waking up anytime soon. She knew she was in good hands with Emily. "Perhaps you're right. Is Roy downstairs?"
Emily nodded confirmation.
"Good. Maybe I'll run home, talk to the girls and put them to bed. I need to call Nigel and tell him what needs to be taken care of for the next few days while I am here." She leaned over and kissed Andy's forehead tenderly. "I'll be back soon darling."
Emily turned her eyes away to give the older woman a sense of privacy when she leaned in and kissed Andy. A warm feeling filled her when she heard the whispered words.
Miranda stood to leave. "Emily is there anything you need?"
Emily shuddered internally at the boldness she was feeling today. "Yes, please. Could you call Serena for me and let her know I will be home after you return."
Miranda's brows raised her hairline. Emily had the decency to blush at the older woman's smirked. She gently shook her head as she chuckled. "Of course. Anything else I need to know?"
Emily smiled, glanced at Andy and then back to Miranda. "Only that you're in for one heck of a ride. I hope you're ready for it."
Miranda looked at the woman she loved lying there; still unaware of the turn her life had taken. "Indeed. I just hope she's ready."
Emily laughed. Miranda looked at her shocked. "Miranda, she's going to be the one driving."
Miranda allowed herself to laugh softly. "We'll see about that." She walked over to Emily and placed her hand on her shoulder. "Thank you Emily."
Emily smiled up at her and laid her hand the top of her bosses. "Don't thank me yet." She nodded to Andy, "she's probably going to be pissed when she wakes up, and trust me that is no fun." She patted the hand under hers. "I'd rather spend a day with you on a bloody rampage than an hour of her angry silent treatment."
Miranda squeezed the thin shoulder under her fingers, "well, good to know." She patted Emily. "I'll be back soon."
Emily watched the retreating form of her now human boss. She turned back to her friend only after the door closed behind her, leaving them alone. Once more the silence was broken only by the noises of the machines monitoring Andy. The young Brit finally allowed a few tears to fall as she took Andy's hand.
"You bloody idiot. What were you thinking? Here you are, lying unconscious, while I bear your heart for you. I know how bloody pissed you're going to be when you wake up and find out I told Miranda how you feel about her. Bollocks Andy, I couldn't let her suffer anymore. You should have seen her when I walked in. I've never seen her so… so broken. I didn't know she could be. Miranda is hopelessly in love with you, you prat." Emily chuckled, wiping her eyes. "Consider it payback for the way you woke me up to Serena's affections." She stroked her hand. "Hurry up and get back here, will you. We all need you, and you bloody well know how it kills me to admit that."
She sat quietly, holding Andy's hand and waited for Miranda's return.
The ride back to the townhouse was quiet. Miranda sat silently looking out of the darkened windows reliving the events that transpired in the recent hours and how her life had been irrevocably changed. The older woman released a long sigh. How would these changes affect her life and the lives of her babies? If she was to believe Emily, when Andrea woke up, all of their lives could possibly be turned upside down.
Miranda had decided over a year ago after Paris, when the younger woman had walked away from her and she had realized how deep her feelings for her second assistant went, that her unrequited love would remain exactly that. Unknown and unspoken. She let Andrea leave. Allowed her to move on with the life she wanted to pursue. But now, she sighed again, now she would have to rethink how their relationship should continue.
The editor was snapped out of her daze when Roy opened the car door. They had arrived at the townhouse. She was home. Now she had to face her daughters and tell them of Andrea's condition. Cassidy was going to be very upset. Of the two, she tended to be the tenderhearted one. Taking things personally, even when there was no reason to.
She contemplated not giving them all of the details. However, that decision was negated before she reached the front door. Keeping anything from her girls was out of the question. In their whole lives, Miranda had never once lied to them. And she would be damned if she was going to start now. If Andrea chose to be a part of their lives, as she hoped, then Cassidy and Caroline would know only the truth in any regard to the younger woman.
Taking a deep breath, Miranda inserted her key into the lock and she turned the knob. As she pushed the door to open it, it was pulled a jar nearly tugging her off of her Prada heels.
"Mom!" choired her twins as she regained her balance and entered the house. "Where's Andy? How is she? Can we see her?"
The editor placed her bag and keys on the table at the entrance and turned to her worried daughters. With only a look, they ceased their questions and stood holding hands waiting for their mothers reply.
"Let's go into the kitchen and see about getting something to eat." She followed her girls watching as they held on to each other for support. Maybe, one day, if I can open up to her, I could have that closeness with Andrea, she thought. In the whole of her adult life she never met anyone, not her husband's or even her children, with whom she could let her walls completely down. She felt an almost desperate need to have Andrea be that person. She gathered her emotional strength as the Priestly women made their way into the kitchen.
Her girls seated themselves on the stools at the breakfast bar and Miranda moved to the fridge. "How about grilled cheese tonight?" Not normally not what she would allow for dinner, but it was what her babies enjoyed as comfort food. It was definitely a day to comfort them in any way she could.
"That's fine." Caroline settled into her seat.
"Mom. What are you not telling us?" Cassidy asked worriedly.
Miranda took a deep breath as she started their meal. She looked up into two pairs of terrified blue eyes that she knew were mirroring her own.
"Andrea" she leaned on her palms, "has a punctured lung and several broken ribs." She watched in pain as tears began to make their way down her girls cheeks. Miranda continued, deciding it better to get all of the information out at one time, pull the bandage off, so to speak. "The doctors have given her something to sleep to help her heal. She probably won't wake up until sometime tomorrow." The older woman moved around to stand next to the girls. They both wrapped her arms around her waist and snuggled into her. "She was very lucky." Miranda closed her eyes. "Very lucky." She whispered as she tightened her hold on him.
After dinner Miranda sent the girls to watch a movie and went to take a shower before returning to the hospital.
She removed her clothes leaving a trail as she made her way into the bathroom. The steam from the hot water spraying against the tiles filled the room and the editor felt her muscles begin to relax before she even stepped under the streams. She stood letting the hot droplets cascade down her body. If only the water could wash away the pain she was feeling. Without realizing it, Miranda had slid down to the floor and was sitting with her arms wrapped tightly around her knees sobbing uncontrollably. The impact of the day's events crashed down on her. She had almost lost her beautiful Cassidy. Her Andrea had come back to her, only to be nearly taken away again. Emily had told her her affections for the younger woman were returned. In less than twenty-four hours, her world had turned completely upside down. She allowed the tears to fall, allowed herself to feel the uncertainty and pain she held so close to keep others from seeing behind her mask. She sat crying until she was finally exhausted and every fear she kept hidden to protect her heart was put back, locked away. At least now, she had hope that Andrea held the key.
Once dressed with her iconic hair and makeup back in place, Miranda again donned her mask to face the coming night she'd spend by Andrea side.
The girls were tucked into bed with a promise from their mother that she would call first thing in the morning with an update on Andy's condition. Cara was staying in the guest room she used on occasion. She felt confident in her babies safety. The security team was still stationed outside, to watch over her family. The family members that were tucked in safe and sound at home. It was time to go be with the woman she felt was part of that family, but was separated from her by regretful actions and events.
The older woman settled into the backseat of her Mercedes. Then she pulled out her phone to call Nigel as Roy pulled away from the curb and headed to the hospital.
"Miranda. How are you? How's Andy and the girls?" Only under these extreme circumstances would Nigel allow their longtime relationship to fall into such an informal inquiry.
"I'm fine. The girls have settled and gone to sleep. Cassidy only suffered a few scrapes." She gazed out the window at the passing city. "Andrea" she took a breath. "Andrea is in the ICU. The silly girl punctured a lung during her bout of heroism."
"Yes. Apparently, one of her broken ribs did the damage. Anyway, I am on my way back to the hospital to relieve Emily. I was quite unaware my first assistant and former second assistant were so close."
"Yes, well…" Nigel stuttered.
"Don't tell me you knew as well."
"Miranda." He took a breath. "We have all remained close with Andy."
The editor raised an eyebrow. "All?"
"Myself, Serena, Emily."
"Really" her heart's desire had been keeping company with her closest staff members, right under her nose and she had no idea. How oblivious could someone be?
Nigel chuckled, "it was hard not to. Six has a way of wrapping herself around your heart without you knowing it. And it's a good thing."
Indeed, she thought.
"I know I'm a better person for knowing her." Nigel grinned, "Anyone with half a brain or heart would be. She is a truly good person. Of course not everyone can see her that way. But she never holds that against anyone."
Including me, she smiled to herself
"Well, enough about Six. I'm sure you have instructions for me."
Enough, I'll never have enough of her. "Yes. I will be staying at the hospital until I'm convinced her health and well-being are satisfactory. My girls are insisting on nothing less. Cassidy seems to think we should adopt her."
Nigel grinned, the girls, sure, he thought. Miranda was finally waking up to the possibilities that someone cared for her, just because.
"So I will need you to take care of things until I can return. Move things around and inform those who need it that I'm dealing with a family emergency. I'm sure the papers will be full of the attempted kidnapping in the morning. Emily will be able to help you with whatever else you may need."
"I'll handle everything Miranda. You just take care of our girl. She needs you now."
Miranda felt a tug in her chest. "Does she Nigel, does she need me?" She asked him in a moment of self doubt.
"Yes my dear friend, as much as you need her."
He knew. The older woman closed her eyes. "Thank you Nigel."
"No thanks needed. I'll talk to you in the morning. And don't worry, were several weeks out before the next issue goes to print. Everything will be just fine."
Miranda snapped the phone closed and held it to her lips. How much time she had wasted because her foolish pride and ego? What had hiding behind her Snow Queen, cold hearted image cost her? There was so much about Andrea she didn't know. As Roy pulled into the hospital driveway she made a decision. She would find out everything there was to know about the woman she loved and more importantly, she would share and open up to her as well. Miranda would be everything Andrea wanted or needed, if she would let her.
Miranda entered Andrea's room to be greeted by the beats and pumping sounds of the machines monitoring her. Emily was sitting in a chair alongside the bed with her head resting next to it Andy's arm, holding her hand.
The older woman walked over and gently rocked the young Brit's shoulder. "Emily" she used her soft nurturing voice that was usually reserved only for her babies.
Emily stirred and mumbled "not now Serena."
Miranda grinned and added a bit more iciness to her voice, "Emily."
That tone Emily even knew in her sleep. She popped up and looked into the Devils blue eyes. "Yes Miranda." She responded like Pavlov's dog.
A smirk reached the corners of the older woman's lips. "Go home Emily. I'll stay with Andrea tonight."
Emily rose and stretched the kinked tight muscles from sitting for several hours. "I don't mind staying Miranda."
"I know. And I know Andrea would appreciate it, but I need you rested and ready to help Nigel while I'm away. I won't tolerate incompetence due to lack of sleep."
"Yes Miranda." Her first assistant moved to gather her belongings.
Miranda walked to the bed and brushed her Andrea's beautiful chestnut locks away from her peaceful face." How has she been?" She asked while gazing at the younger woman.
"She slept peacefully." Emily said softly. "The doctor came in to check on her and seemed pleased with the progress. He will be back in the morning to check on her again. He's hopeful they will be able to wake her sooner than they thought," she snorted, "figures, stubborn thing would make her body heal faster even in a coma."
Miranda looked at her and smiled. Emily was staring at her friend lying there and spoke to no one, "wouldn't be the first time."
Miranda looked back at Andrea then to Emily confused. Just as the younger woman glanced up to meet her bosses gaze, the door to Andrea's room opened and an unfamiliar man walked in.
Emily immediately moved to him and he took her into his arms and hugged her tightly. The older woman watched in awe as her Emily began to cry into the man's shoulder. He held her tighter and spoke soothing words into the Brit's bright red hair.
"It's okay Em. I'm here now. She'll be okay." He smiled. "You know she's too stubborn for any other option." He patted her back as she nodded and smiled up at him.
Miranda looked on at the interaction between the two.
Finally, they separated and he wiped the tears from her cheeks. "Better?"
Em punched his shoulder, "Prat!"
"Yep, you're fine now." He finally acknowledged Miranda with a nod but walked past her to Andy's bedside.
The editor watched him entrance by his confidence and single-mindedness for Andy.
He brushed Andy's hair gently with his fingers. "What have you done to yourself this time my little monster?" He whispered as he leaned in and kissed her forehead.
The room was silent of words for the few minutes he stood stroking her hair lovingly.
Miranda felt a ball of jealousy begin to build in her stomach. Who was this man to be showing so much affection to her Andrea? Again, it her, she knew little to nothing about the life of the woman she loved. Nerves replaced jealousy as she realized this person could possibly be a help or a hindrance in her plans to keep Andrea a part her life.
As if reading her thoughts he turned and smiled at her. Emily moved to stand next to the two of them. "Miranda, this is Doug. Andrea's oldest friend and her other emergency contact."
Doug moved to shake the older woman's hand, surprising herself, she accepted, placing a second on top of them.
"It's a true pleasure to finally meet you Miranda." His smile was honest and warm. Of course her sentimental woman would have nothing but sincere warm friends.
"The pleasure is mine Douglas." She turned to look at Emily. "Other contact? Have you contacted her family, are they on their way?"
Doug and Emily looked at each other, Doug spoke as he and Miranda's hands separated. "No. Emily is Andy's other emergency contact."
Miranda turned to look at her first assistant confused.
"Miranda, Andrea hasn't had any contact with her family for almost a year now."
The older woman gasped. One of the few things she thought she knew about the younger woman was her close relationship with her parents. She remembered her father had made trips to New York to visit her during her tenure at the magazine.
"I don't understand. I thought Andrea was close with her parents."
The two friends looked at each other again before Doug spoke. "That's something Andy needs to tell you about herself." He glanced at his comatose best friend. "It's not our place to tell you what happened." He looked back at Miranda. "I'm sorry." He chuckled, "she may look harmless right now, but there's no way I want my monster mad at me when she wakes up."
The older woman grinned as she looked at Andrea's sleeping form. 'That's the second time someone who was close to the younger woman made it clear she had a temper not be trifled with.' She thought.
Doug turned to Emily. "Go home Em. You're exhausted and I'm sure Ser…" he cut his words off with an apologetic look.
Emily waved her hands. "She knows."
He sighed. "Good. I know Serena will be worried until you get home. And I know she'll want to know how Andy is doing."
The young Brit looked at Andy.
Doug laid a hand on her shoulder. "I'll stay with her and I'll call you if there's any change. Go on, get some sleep." He snickered and bumped shoulders with her, "don't want those Louis Vinton's showing under your baby blues, now do you."
She hrumpfed. "I bloody well do not." Her expression softened as she looked between them then to Andy. "You'll call?"
"Of course Emily. Please go, I need you to help Nigel until I can return."
Emily still didn't look convinced.
Doug spoke up, "you know how pissed she'd be if she knew you lost sleep over her." The younger woman finally relented. "Go, go home to your beautiful girlfriend." He looked at her and put his hand on his hip. "And get some rest. Sleep!"
Emily blushed. "Jealous?"
"You know it."
Miranda was surprised at the comfort she felt in the midst of their teasing.
"All right. I'll come back in the morning before I go to the office." She walked over to Andy's bed kissed her head and whispered, "Rest my friend. The two people you love most in the world are right here with you. I'll see you in the morning. I love you, you bloody cow!" With that she turned to leave.
Miranda reached for and grabbed her first assistance wrist, spinning her to face her then spoke softly. "Thank you Emily." She looked Andy. "Thank you."
Emily nodded, winked at Doug and left.
Andy's loved ones took their places on the side of her bed. They sat quietly, both lost in their own thoughts about the young woman. Doug finally broke the silence when his gaze caught the older woman, holding his best friends hand and stroking it gently with her thumb. He nodded to that action, "I guess Emily told you?"
Miranda tightened her grip on Andrea's limp hand and looked lovingly at her. "She did," then turned her eyes to him. "I truly had no idea" she sighed. "I had resigned myself to never having my feelings returned. I…" she took a breath and looked at her love, then back to Doug, not finishing her thought. "Tell me about her, please"
Doug smiled. "What is there to tell? What you see is what you get with Andy. Her heart is as big as she is. And when she gives it to you," he looked from his friend to the woman she loved, "let's just say, you'll never want for anything ever again."
Miranda inhaled a sharp breath.
He was serious now, "I hope you realize what a true gift that is"
She felt a lump growing in her throat. All she could do was nod, she couldn't speak.
"Good, because I don't think she would survive losing you again Miranda."
The older woman allowed a single tear to run down her smooth cheek, "I know I couldn't survive losing her again Douglas."
He believed her.
A comfortable silence fell between them. This time it was Miranda, who broke it, "How did you two meet?" She continued the physical connection with the younger woman, gently caressing her hand, willing Andrea to know she was there with her.
Doug smiled large and bright. "Now that's a story I can tell you" he leaned back in his chair. "I wasn't always the handsome sophisticated man you see before you today."
She grinned at him.
He continued. "We were eleven or twelve, I think, anyway, I was a scrawny wimpy slip of a boy. I was picked on constantly by bullies because I was different."
Miranda raised an eyebrow.
"Yes, that kind of different. I knew back then, even at a young age. Anyway, I was being pummeled by a bigger boy, covering my face, bawling, when all of a sudden the boy was knocked off of me. When I sat up, all I saw was this Mass of long dark hair swaying back and forth over the other boy and he was squealing like a stuck pig." He was chuckling at the memory. "When it was finally over, the bully had a black eye, busted lip and broken pride. He had never been stood up to before, let alone beat up by a girl."
Doug looked lovingly at Andy, "she ended up with a broken arm from tackling him off of me and I ended up with the best friend in the world and the only woman I knew I would ever love."
"Is this something I should get used to, this innate sense of heroism she seems to have?"
"Yep." He smirked, "Andy is as complex as she is simple. She will always fight for the underdog, usually at a cost to herself. She stays in constant control of a violent temper by keeping her pain held inside and letting her anger never surface."
Miranda glanced at the peaceful body of Andrea resting. She looked angelic. The older woman doubted Doug's words, and he sought in her eyes.
"I am aware that the side of Andy that you have seen wouldn't lead you to believe what I'm telling you. Don't get me wrong Miranda, at heart, Andy is the kindest, gentlest most loving person I've ever known." He smiled at his friend and then stroked her warm cheek. "But as I am sure you are totally aware, you can't have one extreme without an opposite to balance it. I only ever saw Andy lose her temper one time." She watched him physically shake at the memory. "I can honestly tell you it was the scariest thing I have ever seen. It was like she transformed right before my eyes." He was quiet for a moment and closed his eyes. The older woman watched him as he visibly relaxed. When he opened them again, she could see he had let the memory go.
The rest of the night, and early morning of their vigil was spent in periods of comfortable silence and Doug telling Miranda bits of information about Andrea's life. Only Andrea could bring out the need in her for small talk, the need to gain any and all information about the woman she loved so dearly.
When the young woman had worked as her assistant she learned to read Miranda's almost every need or desire. She was constantly surprising the editor with being one step ahead. It dawned on the older woman, that it was because of her love and devotion to her that allowed Andrea to predict her thoughts. Unfortunately, Miranda wasn't aware herself of her true feelings for the silly girl until it was too late. Maybe Andrea could have read that in her too if only she had known herself. Maybe she wouldn't have walked away in Paris.
Maybe, what if, it could have been… Miranda, lost in her thoughts sighed deeply, gaining Doug's attention again. He smiled at her.
"Kind of an amazing feeling once it stinks in, huh?"
She looked at him. "Douglas, I've never felt so strong and so weak at the same time."
"Yeah, she sort of brings that out in people." He shook his head. "She will definitely keep you on your toes, but I have a feeling you'll be able to handle that."
"I make hundreds of billion-dollar decisions every day without a second thought." She shook her own head slightly, "already, one single choice or decision regarding her has my head spinning." She turned Andy. "What if, what if I do or say the wrong thing?"
"You will." He replied. It earned him a glare that would've sent any clacker running in tears. Doug however, just chuckled. "So that's where she learned that."
"Just love her Miranda. It will be one of the easiest things you've ever done. The rest will follow."
"You have an enormous amount of confidence for someone so young Douglas."
He nodded to his silent friend, "she never ceases to amaze me. I know that I am the man that I am because of knowing her."
Miranda lifted Andrea's hand to her lips and kissed it gently, "then perhaps there is a chance still, for me to become the woman I never dared to be."
Around 5 AM the Dr. returned to check on Andy. He was indeed pleased with her rate of recovery. There had been no internal bleeding discovered through the night and he was confident that waking the young woman to find loved ones surrounding her would add to her healing in a positive way. He decided to begin bringing her out of the drug-induced coma around 7 AM. The results would have Andy awake sometime around noon.
After he left Miranda moved outside the room to call Emily and filled her in on what had been decided. Douglas would run home to shower and change and Roy would pick him up when he picked up Emily, bringing them both back before seven.
While alone with her love, Miranda made use of Andrea's private en-suite bathroom to shower and dress, wanting to be as fresh as possible after a night of sleepless vigilance, when Andrea woke. She hoped in her heart to be the first thing the younger woman would see when she opened her eyes.
True to his word the doctor returned at seven. Doug and Emily arrived a few minutes before. The nurse asked the three of them to step out while they removed Andrea's breathing tube. Miranda stood next to the younger woman's bed holding tightly to her hand and refused to move. One looked from her convinced the woman assisting the doctor not to push the subject.
The editor moved her eyes to the doctor before she spoke. "John, what happens next?"
He finished adding notes to Andy's chart. "I'm going to take out the breathing tube. She needs to start breathing on her own. We'll leave the chest tube in to keep her lung inflating until she's conscious. We've stopped the drugs to keep her sleeping. She should start waking up in a few hours. You need to keep her as quiet as possible, at least until tomorrow. Sleep is still the best thing for her right now." He looked from Miranda to Andy. "She's incredibly strong. With a couple of weeks rest she should be able to go back to work."
The Dr. moved to Andy and the nurse assisted him in removing the tube from her throat. They then checked her other wires and machines before leaving.
Miranda returned to the chair she had occupied before and settled in to wait for her love to wake. She once again lifted Andy's limp fingers and brought them to her lips and kissed them tenderly. "I'm here darling." She whispered into the pale digits, "I'm with you my love."
Doug ran to get them something to eat a little before noon. Miranda protested, saying she wasn't hungry, but Doug would have none of it. He told her, "if I let you get sick while Andy is out of it, she'll kill me when she wakes up. You will eat something."
Miranda glared at him.
He chuckled. "Not so scary anymore lady. I take care of those I care about and lucky you, I've begun to like you."
Despite herself, Miranda allowed a grin to reach the corners of her lips. Obviously, she would be getting more than just Andrea in the bargain. She couldn't find fault with that. Douglas had worked his way into her heart as well.
"Fine." She responded.
He winked at her. "Be back soon."
Shortly after Doug left, while Miranda sat watching the clouds move past Andy's window, she felt the other woman's fingers twitch in her hand.
She stood quickly, holding the delicate hand firmer. The older woman ran her fingers across Andy's forehead and down the side of her face, brushing the backs of her fingers against her cheek as she spoke softly. "Andrea. Andrea, darling. Wake up sweetheart."
Andy's eyes fluttered, a small smile gracing her dry cracked lips. Then she was out again.
Miranda's heart exploded in her chest. Her Andrea was okay. She would be okay. They would be okay. She leaned down and brushed her lips across the younger woman's cheek. Miranda whispered thanks to any deity that cared to listen. She was the first thing the lovely woman she loved had seen when she opened her eyes. Maybe her life was going to take a positive turn she had been secretly hoping for for so long.
Doug returned within thirty minutes, carrying a plastic bag with to go boxes weighing it down. He set them on a small table in the corner and began taking the contents out.
"She woke for a moment." Miranda told him.
"Did she? That's great. Won't take her anytime now, she has always worked drugs out of her system very quickly. Andy hates to not the control of her own body." He turned and smiled at the editor. "We should eat now. I doubt we will have much time in the coming hour."
Miranda rose and crossed the room to stand at Douglas' side as he prepared their lunch to eat. "Well Douglas, what delicacies did you bring us?"
He smiled as he opened her container and showed her the beautiful steak inside. "I believe medium is your preference."
"It is." She raised an eyebrow, questioning his knowledge.
"She's been talking about you for over a year Miranda," he smirked. "I just listen well."
"Indeed you do Douglas. Indeed you do." She accepted her lunch with a nod and moved back to her chair.
The two finish their meal and what Miranda decided was an exceptional steak considering, she had eaten it with plastic utensils out of a Styrofoam container. She excused herself and retreated to the bathroom to wash up.
While she was gone Andy began to stir and Doug was at her side. The young woman saw her oldest and dearest friend as her eyes began to focus.
Her throat was dry. She was hoarse as she spoke, still in that between sleep and wake stage. "Dougie." Her shaky voice whispered.
He whispered back, "Hey monster. Welcome back." He brushed her cheek.
"Mmmm. Good drugs. Had wonderful dreams." She closed her eyes just as Miranda exited the bathroom.
"Dreamt Miranda was here with me, holding my hand and talking sweetly to me." She smiled with her eyes closed.
The woman in question move to Andrea's side, took her hand and leaned down to press her lips across the younger woman's cheek and spoke. "It was no dream darling. I'm right here."
Andy froze and opened her eyes to stare into beautiful blue pools, rimmed with tears? She looked at Doug smiled at her and then back to Miranda. She must still be dreaming. Did the woman who owned her heart for so long just kiss her cheek, take her hand and call her darling?
The woman's smile the most breathtaking smile Andy had ever seen. "That's the name people who don't despise me call me."
"But, but…" she swallowed hard, it hurt and she flinched at the pain.
Miranda moved to get her a cup of cold water and held a straw to her lips. "Here, take a sip, slowly."
Andy did as she was told, never taking her eyes off of the older woman. Miranda withdrew the drink and set it back down. Then moved back to her seat and took her hand again, squeezing it gently.
The younger woman finally turned to look at Doug. "What happened? How long have I been out?"
"You punctured your lung and broke several ribs, you big dope." He grinned. "You've been out since they brought you in yesterday." He squeezed her hand, "just can't do anything half ass. Can you monster?"
"I strive for perfection." She smiled and looked at Miranda who now had tears rolling non-stop down her pale cheeks. Andy tightened her hold on their clasped hands.
Her face took on a confused look. "Why are you here? You should be at work."
"Last time I checked Andrea, you were not my superior. I believe I am still in charge of my own schedule, therefore I will decide when and where I choose to be." Although her words were crisp, they held no ice or malice and a smirk tipped her lips as she finished. "Do you wish me to not be here, should I leave?"
Andy grabbed her hand tighter and tried to sit up. "No! No, of course, you can stay."
Miranda and Doug tensed to her panic. Doug rested a hand on her shoulder to move her back against the pillows.
"Hey, hey, calm down their Tiger. She's not going anywhere." Andy looked at him confused. Then he saw the realization in her big brown eyes and he smiled.
Miranda laid her other hand atop Andy's for confirmation.
Andy's eyes narrowed at him. He quickly turned the blame away from himself. The last thing he wanted was to be on the wrong side of his friend's ire. "Not me!"
She closed her eyes. The word formed on her lips as she spat it. "Em!"
"She was concerned for your Andrea." Miranda said soothingly, trying to calm her. "Please don't be angry with her."
'Please'? Had Miranda just said please in reference to her long-suffering first assistant? Andy looked at the older woman. "It was not her place to tell you." She spat out between pursed lips.
"I disagree." Miranda stated.
Doug decided it was his cue to take a walk and give the women their long awaited time together.
"I believe as my assistant it is her job to keep me informed of all and any matters that may affect me or my life." She stood and sat on the edge of the bed next to Andy. "Especially once she became aware that the situation was not one-sided, that your feelings were not unrequited."
Andy took a deep breath gasp. There was a glint in the older woman's eyes. "Wh-What?"
"Must I repeat myself Andrea?"
It could've been the drugs, but the younger woman smiled evilly. "Yes, please. I want to be certain I understand exactly what you mean."
Miranda leaned forward, "I will try to speak plainly. So you can comprehend fully." She leaned in until they were breath apart. "I love you too Andrea Sachs." She closed the distance and softly touched her lips to Andy's. Both women took a quick breath at the contact.
When Miranda pulled back she rested her head against Andy's and smiled. "I thought I'd never be able to do that."
"Please do it as often as you like."
"That's why you love me." She grinned.
"One of the many reasons." Miranda said seriously.
Andy pulled back to get Miranda to lean away so they could see into each other's eyes. "I love you Miranda. I love you very, very much." Andy was incredibly relieved to finally speak the words from her dreams.
Both women smiled at each other.
Theirs would no doubt be a rollercoaster love affair. But it would be the best ride either could ever dream of and a chance to truly be happy.