Title: Corruption, Purity and Desire
Disclaimer: The Devil Wears Prada does not belong to me. No infringement intended to Lauren Weisberger and 20th Century Fox. All characters are purely fictional. Thanks to various crime fiction for the inspiration behind the dialogue.
Summary: Two and a half years after leaving Runway; Andy Sachs is now working as an investigative journalist for a New York newspaper. Miranda Priestly continues her reign as The New York Fashion Queen, but under the surface the cracks are beginning to form. The unfortunate events of one cold winter’s evening force them to face the unrelenting demon that hides in the shadows. When do you run and when do you stand your ground?
A/N: Big thanks sporkmetender to for above and beyond beta duties. Any remaining errors are all my fault.
Desk phones were ringing off the hook; multiple conversations merged into one unintelligible wave as Beatrice Sharpe entered the Investigation Division offices. Senior D.As, A.D.As and I.A.B officers doubled up at desks pouring through evidence. The specialized support that had been requested from all available depots in the city had arrived en masse to help them sort the sheer volume and complexity of data obtained.
She made it to her office and closed the door; the sound from the main room reduced to a murmur and she was grateful for the escape. She sank into her chair with an audible sigh and raked one hand distractedly through her hair. This case had been exhausting, extraordinarily so and there was no end in sight.
‘Come on! Pull yourself together. You didn’t get to where you are today without knowing how to stick it to the bad guys.’ Her internal pep talk was interrupted by a brisk rap at the door. “Come!” Sharpe snapped decisively. The door opened and Captain Moore poked his head in sheepishly; unsure of what mood would be waiting for him behind it.
“Hey Bea!” He smiled at her affectionately, placing a steaming hot cup of black coffee down on her desk. They had spent many years of corruption, racketeering and white-collar cases together. The two different sides of the spectrum working for one single goal: justice. There was an unspoken affection between them, a rapport but, most importantly it was an alliance of solidarity.
“Hey Bobby! My Saviour.” She smiled as she reached for the cup.
“What’s this doing here?” He asked as he picked up the evidence bag from her desk and fingered the silver tape recorder inside. “I thought it had already been processed and catalogued.”
“Something’s just not sitting right with me.” She frowned.
“Maybe you shouldn’t have had the hash browns?” He quipped, smirking over the rim of his cup and sinking down into the chair opposite her.
“Smart-ass!” She smiled shaking her head. “The Sachs case. I don’t understand why O’Hanlon chose that pitiful rag to expose his story. Why Sachs? There was nothing in her statement that covers that, nothing to answer why they made the attempt on her life and why they didn’t finish it.” She took a big gulp of her coffee, feeling the rush as the hot liquid hit the back of her throat.
“Ballistics shows us, clear as day that it was an internal weapon, a semi-automatic AR15 rifle belonging to our own S.W.A.T team. Officers Corelli, Baum and Riley all have ties to the gun and the armoury during the appropriate time windows. We’ve made seventeen arrests now and unless the guys out there start coming up with results we might have to start releasing some of them.”
“How are the questioning and the testimony loads going?” She enquired. “Do you have enough resources?”
“It’s slow and painful. These guys know the techniques and protocol inside out. Just takes a little more time with some of them.” He paused and fingered the cardboard on the rim of his cup. You know what gets me?”
She shook her head as she swallowed her drink.
“It’s the fact that for the majority of this case the targets are people who belonged in prison. I mean, the guys may have stepped over the line, but…''
“No, Bobby.” She stopped him there. “There are no ifs and no buts. That to me is so utterly corrupt and so disgracefully corrosive to the core. The fact that they thought they had the right to do this is what’s really frightening. Innocent people were hurt. In fact, guilty or innocent, hell, we might as well just burn the constitution if we’re gonna start making exceptions.”
Moore stood and nodded. “I’d better get back to it. No rest for the wicked.” The door closed behind him and Sharpe looked down at the tape recorder still on her desk, relieved that she hadn’t actually had to explain why she had it.
The city was covered in a beautiful white blanket and Roy was manoeuvring through the treacherous conditions back to the townhouse. An impeccably dressed bodyguard sat upfront in the passenger seat, he had tediously introduced himself as Spencer—Miranda was unsure if that was his first name or surname, and quite frankly she didn’t care. The car stopped at the curb-side and the guard jumped out to open her door.
The air was bitter enough to take her breath away. She was pleased that the pavement and steps had been cleared as her shoes were quite unsuitable for ice. Miranda was not surprised to find the townhouse lit up and pleasantly warm. The house keeper, Juliana had been dismissed for the holidays and she wasn’t expecting her to return for another couple of days but, Emily had planned ahead.
Miranda turned to the young man who was waiting patiently in the hallway for instructions. She had used the same agency on more than one occasion; this was an unfortunate requirement of her social position. Each time she had been left impressed by their professional abilities, discretion and the non-imposing nature of each man. Clearly, this attention to detail was as important to their founder as it was to Miranda.
“Make yourself comfortable.” Miranda instructed. “There is food in the refrigerator; you may use the bathroom down the hall if required. I’d suggest you use the front lounge to work from and set up what you need. The house has wireless connectivity so please contact my assistant if you require the access code. What are your sleeping requirements?”
“I'll change shift with a colleague, at twenty hundred hours and return at zero five hundred hours, Ma’am. This room will be fine, thank you.”
“Please call me, Miranda.” She requested and he nodded. “I trust that all disruptions will be kept to a minimum.” Spencer assured her that this was the case and informed her of their standard protocols. With that, Miranda turned and ascended the stairs. She had a much-needed call to make to her girls.
The evening played out slowly for Miranda. She refilled the empty tumbler on the desk, watching the bottle gradually deplete, all in a vain effort to numb the dull ache in her heart. Leaving the hospital had been harder than she thought it would be.
Thoughts were rushing around in her mind. Hers was a life full of regrets and emotional debts. She had hurt herself and those around her time and time again with no one to blame but herself. It had taken a little time to put it into perspective; the demons in her head were at war. But now she knew, she was positive: Andrea was her second chance.
Waking with a start, Miranda lifted her head, the sunlight poured through the cracks in the curtains where they had been haphazardly drawn together. She had fallen asleep in her study. She was still dressed in the previous day’s clothes and an empty whisky bottle and glass sat on the desk. She winced at the stiffness in her body as she stood, another night in another chair was not doing her back any good.
Despite the physical discomfort, lack of sleep and the taste of an aged distillery hanging in her mouth there was an ebullience filling her mind. Andrea was coming home today. In the meantime, she had a corporate machine to whip back into shape. Three days incommunicado meant that she would no doubt walk back into some untold horrors.
She would enjoy the first ritual sacrifice of the year.
Exiting the Town Car, Miranda walked to the entrance of the Elias Clarke building, Spencer the body guard shadowed her every move. The crowd in the lobby parted like the Red Sea as she breezed through, all eyes averting in fear of making eye contact with Medusa herself.
They reached her preferred elevator and she smiled to herself as she heard a voice in the lobby gasp in shock as the suited man joined her in the carriage.
On the eleventh floor, a desk phone rang out to sound the pre-warning of her arrival.
Nigel burst from his office to strike the flare. “She’s in the building people! The first man gets the oyster; the second man gets the shell. Look alive!” The employees scrambled into place as the elevator doors pinged open.
Morning greetings were thrown at Miranda as her Prada pumps echoed down the hallway. As usual she chose to ignore each one until Emily rushed towards her. “Good Morning Miranda.”
“Yes.” Miranda responded as she threw her bag and coat on the empty desk of the second assistant. She caught a glimpse of the second bodyguard standing behind Emily’s desk as she entered her office. Miranda sighed in disappointment and leaned her head back through the door. “Emily, is there some reason my coffee isn’t here? Has she died or something?”
Emily fumbled for words just as the sound of clacking heels could be heard in treble time coming down the corridor. All the heads in the room turned to look down the hall to see a crazed Carrie literally sprinting down the home stretch. She skidded to a halt just inside the inner office and placed one of the five cups down on the desk, struggling to catch her breath.
Emily shot the young girl a scornful, ‘I HATE YOU!’ look and flared her nostrils.
“I’m sorry Miranda, I…” Carrie began trying to smooth the situation over.
“Please bore somebody else with your excuses.” Miranda interrupted and dismissed the girl with, “That’s all.”
As Miranda took her seat, she found the daily schedule laid out on the desk before her. She had an hour until her morning run-through; normally she would have taken great pleasure in moving it forward and making them all sweat but there was something more important to do first today.
“Emily…” Miranda called, barely above her normal speaking voice. Another ability that Emily had developed during her employment was bat-like hearing. “Close my door.” Miranda instructed. “That’s all.”
Miranda picked up her phone and found the number for the hospital. Miranda had suggested couriering over a cell phone, but Andy had insisted it was not necessary. Instead, Andrea had programmed into her phone the previous evening, as a reassurance that she was only a phone call away.
The Editor dialled the number and after what seemed like forever, the line was answered and she was placed on hold as they transferred her to Andrea’s room.
“Good morning, Miranda.” Andy greeted as she picked up the call from her bed.
Miranda could literally hear Andrea’s smile as she spoke and couldn’t help the one that spread across her own face.
“How did you sleep?” Andy enquired.
Miranda stretched her arm up and rubbed the muscles in her neck. “Terribly. And you?”
“Not so great.” Andy paused, wondering whether to continue. ‘Surely Miranda wouldn’t be interested in hearing it.’ She thought. ‘But wait. She called me?’ She reassessed and continued. “I had some bad dreams. I had to sleep with the light on…and I missed you.”
“They are just dreams Andrea, they can’t hurt you. And…” Miranda paused not quite sure whether she could say it…yet. ‘Fortune favors the brave, Miranda.’ She decided. “…I missed you too.” She heard Andrea breathe out a sigh of relief and filled the silence. “What time will you be released? I have an impossible schedule, but I could rearrange a few meetings to be there by five-thirty if that is suitable.”
“You’re going to pick me up? Personally?”
“Really Andrea, do try to keep up! What part of personal security and staying at the townhouse did you not understand? Have they messed with your drugs today?” Miranda teased. “I’m sure that I do not need to remind you that I cannot abide tardiness”
Andy didn’t even attempt a retort. She was still buzzing from the thought of seeing Miranda again so soon. “I’ll be ready to leave when you when you get here.” She stated.
Ending the call, Miranda stood from her desk and opened the door to the outer office. “Emily.” She called.
The redhead stood to attention and darted into Miranda’s office, with a pen and pad at the ready.
“Rearrange all appointments after five, move Tommy to lunch and the shoot review to later in the week. Tell Stella that I do not have time to meet her today, it will need to wait until Fashion Week; add that to the London schedule. I’d like you to inform the officer in charge of Andrea’s case, Captain-something that Andrea will be residing at the town house indefinitely. If he wishes for his officers to continue their so-called protection, they will have to do so from a discreet angle. I will not have my neighbors disturbed. Also, arrange for a suitably comfortable ensemble for Andrea, to be sent by messenger to North General immediately and a complete wardrobe, to be delivered at the townhouse, by this evening. I will require an additional guard to stay at the house during the daytime and contact a reputable agency to request a home nurse during my office hours. Both starting tomorrow; seven sharp, until further notice. That’s all.”
Andy had never known boredom like it. She was mindlessly flicking through the television channels. Who knew that with over one hundred channels it would be possible to have nothing to watch? She settled for an Oprah re-run and soon found herself sobbing to some heartbreaking story involving a dog shelter. The drugs were playing havoc with her emotions.
Several hours later—and not a moment too soon—the nurse began to prepare her for discharge. There was a full lecture, concluding in a physical exam by the Doctor. By five-twenty, Andy was dressed and sitting on her bed, impatiently watching the clock on the wall. She was armed with an arsenal of medical supplies: drugs, dressings, gauze, antiseptics and convinced that she could open her own pharmacy if she wanted. She heard the heels first, echoing down the hallway in an instantly recognizable stride. She looked back at the clock to be sure and then smiled. Miranda’s scent filled the room and Andy’s senses as she entered. “You’re late,” Andy teased, knowing that Miranda’s internal clock was set ten minutes earlier than every other person in the city.
Miranda harrumphed her response. “Do take your time, Andrea; you know how it thrills me.”
Roy greeted Andy with a gentle hug as he came to open the door for the two of them. “It’s good to see you in one piece, Andy.” He smiled fondly at her. Miranda, who was not known for her public displays of affection made her annoyance known with an eye roll.
The journey was completed in silence with the two men riding up front. Andy had needed some help manoeuvring out of the car and up the steps, but Roy had been happy to assist. Once inside, Spencer moved to his station in the lounge.
Andy suggested a tour of the house before Miranda showed her to the guest room. Determining that it was the best way to break the ice between them, in the new surroundings.
Andy’s room was on the first floor and she found herself was quite out of breath as they reached the top of the first flight. Miranda made sure to walk behind her, wary of her unsteadiness and she pointed out the rooms as they passed.
“On the left is the main study; you may use it at anytime. The first guestroom is opposite.” They carried on down the hall and Andy was still trying to get her breath back. “This is my room and opposite is the second guest room, which will be yours.” She opened the door to reveal a huge room, which was bigger than Andy’s first apartment, equipped with a king-sized bed and beautiful classic furnishings.
Andy noticed that there were several packages on the floor beside the bed and Miranda explained when she saw Andrea’s puzzled expression. “I took the liberty of arranging some clothes and comforts during your stay. I’d rather you didn’t go back to your apartment until we…until you are ready.” Andy nodded. “You have an en-suite. However, I’m sure that you agree that now is not the time to demonstrate that independent streak, that you seem so determined to flash around. The nurse will be here while I’m in the office. Do not hesitate to ask for help. Am I making myself clear?”
“Perfectly.” Andy nodded, enjoying the tour and seeing the bossy side of Miranda again. “What’s upstairs?” She asked.
“The girl’s bedrooms. Plus, another smaller study, there is a second bathroom and the entertainment room.”
“Oh no.” Andy groaned in mock disappointment. “Does that mean I have to hike up another flight of stairs to watch more mind-numbing daytime television?”
“On the contrary, there is a full entertainment system in the den downstairs. Or if you’d prefer to exercise your brain cells rather than systematically destroy them, we have a library too.”
“Miranda?” Andy asked, touching Miranda’s arm gently.
“Yes?” She answered.
“I don’t think I can find the words to explain how much this means to me.” She said vulnerably. “You were there when I needed a friend. Through one of the darkest times of my life—and you’re still here. I felt like I had lost myself.” She felt the tears brim in her eyes and she lifted her arm to wipe them away. “Maybe I don’t need you to save me, maybe I do? All I know is that I never want to feel the way I did that day again. I owe so much to you.” She looked down at her feet, lacking the courage to look her in the eye. Then she felt Miranda take her hand.
“Come on, let’s make some dinner.” Miranda encouraged.
Andy smiled again, forcing back the tears that threatened to fall again.
The next three days flew by. Miranda left the house at the crack of dawn each morning with a full security detail in tow, returning home, by some miracle of Emily’s scheduling, to share dinner with Andrea.
Andy took advantage of the quiet time to catch up on over two years worth of missed sleep. She quickly developed an unhealthy attachment to daytime soaps and, to her surprise, had found a stash of ice-cream in the freezer--a pleasant insight into the secret life of La’ Priestly. In addition, the 100% Miranda attention she was receiving each evening, Andy could help but feel that life was pretty awesome right now. Well, as long as she didn’t think about the gaping hole in her shoulder, the death warrant on her head and her career, which had been torn into pieces and scattered to the wind.
It had been a full week since the offending incident that had brought them crashing headlong together. They’d overcome the uncomfortable ‘Paris’ discussion, but the past few days had been spent skirting around deep conversations. Instead, they engaged in meaningless small talk, both choosing to forget the outside world. Andy hadn’t asked about Runway or about Miranda’s life since she’d left. Miranda hadn’t probed any more about the shooting, about her career or about her apparent solitude. Both knew that it was only a matter of time before the moratorium was lifted
The two women had been peacefully working in the study for over an hour. Miranda was seated behind her desk deep in concentration, attacking the pages of The Book with a bright red pen and Andy was sat on the sofa with her legs neatly tucked beneath her, absently tapping away on a laptop. She was trying to piece together the draft of her story, but was finding it difficult to take the spliced events in her brain and put them into coherent paragraphs.
“Slamming the lid shut on the laptop, she stood up and paced the carpet. Frustration emanated from every pore as she moved. “Oh this is ridiculous! I sound like a rotting hack!” She spat.
“Andrea, petulance does not suit you.” Miranda stated as she looked over the top of her reading glasses to watch the young woman pacing the floor.
“I’m not petulant, I’m defeated.” Andy retorted, running her hand through her hair in vexation.
Miranda put down her pen and clasped her hands together, giving Andrea her full attention. “What are you working on?”
“The Story.” She paused momentarily to define her objective. “I want to capture the sequence of events, but I can’t seem to narrate and illustrate the scene. It’s like I can see it in my head, but I can’t seem to form the words.” Her pacing had led her subconsciously around the large wooden desk and to Miranda’s side. She leaned against the edge as she continued. “If only I had the tape, I know it would all come clear. I feel like I’ve lost the passion, the reality of it all.”
“You should be focusing on getting well. Re-living that evening is the last thing that you need right now. I understand your need to work and keep yourself occupied, but I don’t think that this is the healthiest avenue Andrea.” Miranda had not yet disclosed the true depth of her intervention. She had not shared any details of her conversations with the Editor of The Post or the District Attorney. Deep down she knew her actions had been steered by her need to subjugate but she also had an uncontrollable urge to screen and protect the woman who had penetrated her own defences so easily.
“Maybe you’re right. I just hate this feeling of helplessness. I want my work to mean something! I want it to make a difference. I don’t want all this bloodshed to be for nothing.” Andy looked down at her feet as she felt the tears brimming again.
Miranda reached over and placed a warm hand on Andy’s thigh. “You are young and talented. I have said this before, and you know how I loathe repetition. However, I see a great deal of myself in you. You can see beyond want and need, you can choose for yourself. I predict great things in your future. But, sometimes Andrea we need to realise when something is out of our control and when it is time to accept help. Do you understand?”
Andy looked intently into her eyes and nodded. “Yes.” She whispered.
Rising from her chair, Miranda lifted her hand to gently cup Andy’s chin. Her thumb brushed across a smooth cheek. She moved to close the distance between their bodies, wrapping her arms carefully around the young woman, mindful of her shoulder and the position of the sling. Andy nestled her face into Miranda’s neck, breathing in her intoxicating scent and immediately relaxing into the embrace.
The Sachs family consists of two happily married parents with two strong and independent daughters. Andy’s parents were always openly affectionate around their children, and she had therefore inherited the ‘cuddle gene.’
Miranda was the youngest of eight children. Their upbringings could not have been more different. Her mother had died in childbirth. Her father, although an honest man, was unskilled and lazy, choosing to spend his day in prayer in the local synagogue rather than face the reality of his miserable life. The rivalry between the eight siblings was constant and vicious; only the strongest would survive. At her earliest opportunity, Miranda chose to flee the squalor of East End London and start her journey and meteoric rise in the world of fashion. She had learned very quickly in life that the only person she could rely on was herself. She never allowed herself to be truly intimate, fearing that if she let the walls down, she would only leave herself open to pain. Her children had been the only exception. Their love was unconditional, but she knew that one day even they would leave her.
So how did it come to pass that after fifty years of emotional isolation she could so freely open her arms to this woman and feel like she had come home?
The hot breath close to her ear sent an unexpected rush of arousal through Miranda’s body. Andy pulled back slowly from Miranda’s arms to look into the ocean of blue. Moving forward hesitantly, Miranda closed the distance. The result was a soft, heavenly kiss.
Andy closed her eyes, inhaling deeply. All she could hear was the beating of her own heart; it was deafening. She had been longing and dreaming for more since the first kiss. She had never been more physically and mentally attracted to someone in her life.
The kiss started as gentle and tender and Miranda parted her lips, allowing her tongue to glide over Andrea’s bottom lip. She linked fingers gently with Andrea’s hand and ran the fingers of her free hand through her beautiful brown locks.
Andrea opened her mouth to deepen the kiss, tongues moving together to dance the perfect tango.
Miranda had never been sexually intimate with a woman. That wasn’t to say that she hadn’t thought about it. There had been opportunities throughout her adult life, but during the early days of her career they had never been worth the professional risk and somewhere along the line her trust issues always won the battle. But this was Andrea. In some undefined way, Andrea had captured her unspoken passion, consumed her, removed capacity to walk away. She never wanted this feeling to end.
But, even with that heavenly feeling the demons were winning the battle; they always did. She knew that if they took the next step, there was no going back. Miranda pulled back gently, staring into Andy’s dark fathomless eyes.
“Are you ok?” Andy asked, searching Miranda’s face for the answer.
Bringing both hands up to cup Andrea’s face, she placed a gentle kiss on her forehead. “Everything is lovely.” She knew it would be…eventually.