Jan. 6th, 2010 04:02 am
chainofclovers: (dvl)
[personal profile] chainofclovers
Title: Isosceles
Fandom: The Devil Wears Prada (film)
Pairing: Andy/Miranda/Nigel, Andy/Miranda
Rating: M
Disclaimer: I own nothing related to The Devil Wears Prada.
Summary: Three.
Author's Note: This is my Secret Santa Exchange fic for [ profile] melanacious. Happy holidays, and I hope you enjoy it! Enormous thanks to my editors, [ profile] pin_drop and [ profile] somniesperus. Without your insights, I could not have written this story.

Miranda preferred to keep work separate from home; Andy preferred to live a life without secrets; Nigel preferred men.

You can’t always get what you want.

Even the most particular and exacting among us must eventually understand that preferences are merely tastes. Guidelines. Wishes.

That’s where rules come in. In a world where people’s preferences are frequently laughed at or stomped on or worse, rules save us from the sensation of chaos, from a total loss of control.

Here, rules were essential. Miranda was having the sort of year where she didn’t want to come in front of anyone; Andy refused to be completely naked unless the others were too; Nigel wouldn’t stand for sloppy kisses, and really could have done without any kissing during sex at all.

So, when Miranda said “Stop,” Andy and Nigel listened. They evacuated her body, and told themselves they were not so curious about what it would be like to witness Miranda at the height of release. They knew not to push her, and recognized how easily she could tell them both to get out of her bed and never come back.

Even though Miranda and Nigel were pretty enthralled by Andy’s soft skin and long limbs and rosy nipples, they didn’t begrudge her a camisole or a pair of panties if that was what made her comfortable. It was a matter of paying her back with their own older skin, baring themselves if they wanted to see her that badly. Undressing had become a string of choices only slightly less complicated than staring down one’s clothes closet in the morning, willing the right outfit to materialize.

It wasn’t at all difficult for Andy or Miranda to remember about Nigel and the kisses. They were far more interested in kissing each other.

And that right there could easily have been the downfall. Those kisses turned an equilateral triangle lopsided. On the first night the three of them got in bed together, Nigel felt briefly sidelined as he watched the women kiss. Right next to him, sitting up in bed, were the woman who made him and the woman he made, their lips pressed together, their eyes wide open. “Oh my God,” he heard Andy say quietly when they broke the kiss. Miranda nodded slightly, as if to echo the reaction. They closed their eyes and kissed once more, like the bed was a great flat world and they were the only two people on it, and a few long seconds passed before they got Nigel involved again.


It started—it being the notion of Andy, Miranda, Nigel, and a bed—in late November, over a month after Andy left Miranda in Paris. A couple weeks prior, curiosity had gotten the better of Nigel, and he’d called Andy to determine just how insane she’d gone, and maybe to find out how she was finding life as a reporter. A phone call turned into an impromptu cup of coffee, which turned into coffee or drinks a couple of times a week. The arrangement suited them fine: each found the other’s company deeply enjoyable, and the ease of conversation they achieved was rare among intentionally mended friendships.

One afternoon, a strikingly dressed woman sitting near them at the café prompted Nigel to ask, “If you had to sleep with another woman, who would it be?”

“If I had to?” Andy replied, teasing. “Like it would be such a chore?”

Nigel wasn’t entirely sure what she meant by that, and Andy used the time he spent puzzling it over to turn the tables. “What about you, Nigel? Which woman would you choose?”

Nigel sighed and settled himself more squarely in the overstuffed chair he’d chosen both for comfort and a good view of the café. He deserved the question, and it wouldn’t do to avoid an honest answer. “It isn’t original,” he warned.

“That’s okay,” Andy said slowly.

“You can probably guess.”

“Well, yeah, but I want you to tell me.”

Nigel released another dramatic sigh that was just this side of over-the-top. “I’d sleep with the devil herself. Obviously. I know it’s cliché, but at this point I really do think I’d sell my soul for the chance. I’m well aware that you…disapprove of her, and I understand, I honestly do, but for men working in fashion—gay, straight, whatever—she’s just got this incredible appeal. It probably doesn’t make sense to you, after all that’s happened with us, but I can’t help feeling that—”

“Mm,” Andy interrupted. “Miranda. Absolutely.”


“There’s something about her, all right. Gosh, Nigel, I’d probably do you if Miranda were there. Seriously.” She curved her mouth in a sweet, wicked smile. Andy liked few things better than shocking East-coasters who couldn’t seem to remember that there was a lot more to the Midwest than Vacation Bible School and corn-on-the-cob.

“Wow, Andy, way to raise a guy’s self-esteem.” Nigel paused and laughed. There was a harsh, gasping quality to the sound. “I’d do you too,” he confessed. “If she were there.” Andy knew how skeptical she must have looked when he added, “I mean, you’re gorgeous. Miranda certainly thought so.”

Eventually, they moved onto other topics, chief among them Andy’s latest fight with her parents and subsequent decision not to speak with them for a while. (“They each got on an extension and we shouted at each other for an hour.”—“About what?”—“Everything. My break-up with Nate, how the hours I work at The Mirror are no better than my schedule at Runway, their politics, my politics, and on and on and on.”) Still, the possibility Nigel raised took hold in Andy’s mind. The thought of the three of them in bed together, now that she had started to imagine it, didn’t feel like a fantasy so much as a new way of seeing. A very appealing way, and one that was far more fun to discuss than strained family dynamics. For the remainder of the afternoon—a Sunday, no need to rush back to work—they returned over and over to variations on a theme of Nigel’s increasingly forceful “it could happen” and Andy’s weakening chorus of “no, never.”

Not never. Not could.



It only took Nigel a week to plant the idea in Miranda’s brain and make it stick. Andy wondered, at first, if Miranda initially agreed because she owed Nigel a favor after screwing him over in Paris and was just interested enough to pay him back this way, or if she was following her own appetite, seizing the chance to explore a craving that was already there. Later, after she knew almost for certain that the truth was spread out somewhere between the two possibilities, she remained impressed that Nigel had managed it. She didn’t envy him that conversation.

Nigel consulted with both Miranda and Andy on the topic of schedules, and they agreed to meet for dinner at Pastis on the first Saturday night in December. With some amusement and a healthy dose of trepidation, Andy considered the fact that, if exposed for what it really was, this scene would make for one of the more interesting sexual shenanigans covered by Page Six. They were safe, though, because there were three of them. No one would suspect a thing.

Dinner was rather like show-and-tell for grown-ups. Show: they arrived on time, wore nice clothes, ordered food, acted like composed adults. Tell: not for one minute did they touch upon what happened in Paris or, more generally, the way they knew each other; instead, they talked about themselves. Avoiding a discussion of work was highly unusual for all of them. Nigel made the best effort: he was reading In Cold Blood, and wasn’t it an amazing coincidence that around the same time he started the book he’d been doing some research on Richard Avedon and initially hadn’t even made the connection? Yes, it was, Andy agreed, and Miranda concurred as strongly as she ever did about anything.

Andy figured that if they really were going to have sex later, she couldn’t be faulted for flirting, though ogling might have been a more apt term. She leaned a little closer to Nigel and breathed in his cologne. She stared at Miranda’s cleavage as frequently as she wanted. When she felt Miranda’s eyes noticing, Andy glanced up with a tiny smile. Hadn’t Miranda done practically the same thing to her every day at work? (There Andy’s ass had been the object of attention. Andy supposed Miranda would be pleased to get her hands on it.)

Once they’d finished their meal, carefully agreed to return by taxi to Miranda’s townhouse, and were standing in the foyer with their coats still on, Andy very nearly fucked it up. Her nervousness, which had been a rather mild-mannered dinner companion, increased tenfold as she entered the house. There the ghosts of her recently departed life—or rather, the life she’d recently departed—hovered in the space left vacant by the high ceilings. She still hadn’t learned to treat nerves with quiet, searched frantically for words, and came up with a bad combination: “So, I guess we’ve got the place to ourselves?”

As soon as she heard her voice, Andy realized she’d hardly ever heard anyone speak at full volume in this house. The sentence came out unbearably loud.

“The girls are spending a few weeks with their father,” Miranda said stiffly. Nigel had gone back and forth on whether to clue Andy in to the situation; his visible cringe and the tightening of his shoulders were evidence that he’d made the wrong choice.

“Ah,” Andy said, and couldn’t think of a better follow-up. No one else could, either, but it was more important that no one deviated from the previously determined path. The first thing Andy did when the three of them got in bed was to kiss Miranda with the assumption that she was going to learn more about Miranda’s family, that she was going to tell her what was happening with her own. She hadn’t expected to feel so curious, so ready to express compassion regardless of Miranda’s situation. The feeling overwhelmed her as much as the sex, which was certainly overwhelming in its own right.

It turned out that all three of them liked—had liked for a long time, in the ordinary way one appreciates the prettiness of a French phrase—how silkily ménage à trois rolled off the tongue, but none of them had ever been a part of one before. It was embarrassingly unclear what one actually did while attempting to have sex with two people at once. Done with their first kissing and watching, they looked at each other and then away from each other, stricken.

Andy closed her eyes for a few seconds, and it was in her moment of blindness that Nigel and Miranda wordlessly agreed to focus on her. Nigel reached for the hem of her skirt, Miranda unclasped Andy's bra, and they both muttered something about how lovely she was. Andy was a little bowled over: she'd never had four hands focused entirely on her own pleasure before. Nigel's fingers brushed between her legs, and she twitched through the silk of her panties. Miranda gently swirled her fingers across Andy's breasts, and leaned to kiss her shoulder.

"Wow," Andy said breathlessly after they’d doted on her a while. Nigel and Miranda were propped up on their elbows, one on either side of her. Each peered down at her, rapt. "That was..."

"What?" Miranda asked sharply. "It was what?"

"A little intense," Andy admitted. She’d come pretty hard from a combination of Nigel’s hand (clumsy, but eager to navigate) and the whispered chorus of beautiful Miranda placed in her ear. "All that focus, it was—”

“Oh, here,” Nigel said, tugging at the strip of elastic that anchored Andy’s underwear to her hip. “We didn’t even take these all the way off.”

“That’s OK,” Andy said quickly, and squirmed away from Nigel’s fingers. She reached over and ran her own fingers across his chest, hoping body language would be enough of a change in subject. Nigel wrinkled his nose at the kiss Andy gave him after she finished peeling off his shirt, but he liked the way Miranda dug her nails into his shoulders at the exact moment Andy giggled and pulled off his socks. He really liked his hand job.

Miranda’s turn—for that’s how it was at first, a series of turns—was strange. Nigel had stopped being truly frightened of Miranda years ago, but suddenly she was this pale, burning thing and his oldest terrors came rushing back. Andy, who had been alternately intimidated and exasperated by Miranda every day she worked for her, found she was in her element. But Miranda—eyes shut, panting—only let Andy’s fingers and tongue and words go so far before she said, “Stop. That’s enough.”

“Oh,” Andy said. “Did you already—um, are you done?”

Even in the dark, she could see Miranda’s frown.


As the weeks went on, they got better. Much better. The sex started to feel less like a buffet and more like a good dinner, though the arrangement didn’t turn into a true ménage à trois, at least not in the traditional sense of the term. Nigel and Andy always went to their own homes at the end of the night. No sleeping in the same bed, no lazy breakfasts, no bending of the rules.

“Is it weird at work?” Andy asked Nigel one afternoon over a cup of coffee.

“Is what weird at work?” Nigel replied, too quickly. Then he winked, so Andy would know he was suffering only from manageable delusions.


Nearly three weeks in, as she and Nigel were leaving Miranda’s townhouse late at night, Andy realized when cold air hit her neck that she’d left her scarf inside. “I’m just going to run back in,” she said to Nigel. “You go on ahead. I’ll be fine.”

Nigel consented. It was late, and Miranda wanted him at work early the next morning.

“Forgot my—” Andy started when Miranda answered the door. The scarf was already in Miranda’s hand. “Oh.”

“Do you like your job?” Miranda asked, making room for Andy to come inside. She didn’t let go of the soft plum-colored scarf, even when Andy reached out to grab it.

“I do,” Andy said, taken aback. It must have been surprise that led her to keep talking. “It’s a good distraction.”

“From what?”

“There’s—” This was what Andy had told herself would happen when she first kissed Miranda, so many days back. “There’s been some family stuff.”

And then, suddenly, they moved from standing in the foyer talking about work to sitting on a sofa talking about family. Miranda worked Andy’s scarf through her fingers and absorbed the overbearing mother and judgmental father, Andy’s guilty admission of her own self-righteousness, her sense that refusing to give in and call her parents was both foolishly stubborn and completely essential to her dignity.

“What do your friends who know your parents think of all this?” Miranda asked. It wasn’t a question Andy had seriously considered before.

“I think Lily associates my parents with, like, chocolate chip cookies and softball. Kid stuff. It’s weird to her that we’re having so many problems, and that they’re actual problems, not just the usual disagreements. She’s got my back, though. She’s a great friend.”

The conversation would have had a calming effect were it not for Andy’s awareness that she needed to decide whether to ask Miranda about her daughters’ absence. They’d seemed to finish the conversation and had almost made it to the front door before she got the courage.

“There was bad press after Paris,” Miranda said. “One article in particular. It upset them, and they could see it upset me. After I got back we had two weeks of bickering, and in the middle of a fight Cassidy said she and Caroline had talked to their father about an extended stay, that maybe it was a good idea. I said they were probably right.” She closed her eyes and heaved a sigh. “I should not have said that.”

Andy said reassuring things about the twins’ eventual return and her certainty of their love. She did not ask what the article had said. Looking back, she couldn’t remember the specific words she used, but she remembered very clearly the way it felt when Miranda pressed her against the door, raised her hands to her face, and kissed her with what could only be described as great conviction.

They kissed and kissed and kissed. Miranda badly wanted to ask Andy to stay, but swallowed the words before they turned into sound.


It was just as well they’d established the estrangements in all their miserable detail in time for Christmas.

At nine o’clock on Christmas morning (which would have felt scandalously late to her childhood self), Andy lay in bed thinking about Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve at her parents’ church in Ohio. Until now, she’d never missed a year. She thought about the baby cousin she’d never met, and would not be meeting today when the rest of her family gathered for their traditional midday meal. She checked the window for snow, knowing that a white Christmas would propel her from wistful straight to maudlin. She saw nothing but the usual grey sky and metal grating.

She picked up her phone off the bedside table and scrolled to “Mom” in her Contacts list. Shaking her head, she clicked two lines up and dialed Miranda.

Miranda sounded sleepy when she answered, though she’d picked up after only a ring and a half.

“Hey,” Andy said softly. “How’re you doing?”

“I’m fine,” Miranda replied in a voice that was not fine at all. She was alone on a day she’d typically spend celebrating with her daughters. She’d had them for Christmas nearly every year since the divorce, and on the years they’d been with their father she’d at least spent Christmas Eve with them.

“You want company?” Immediately, Andy regretted the words, wondering if they sounded like charity. She quickly added, “I’m all alone, and I’m trying to talk myself out of a phone call I’m going to regret. It’d be nice to see you.”

“All right,” Miranda said tentatively. “Why don’t you come over here.”

Andy kissed Miranda’s cheek before she’d made it all the way inside the townhouse. “Merry Christmas,” she said, and was met with eyebrows raised in skepticism. “Okay. Shitty Christmas. A Shitty, Tragic Christmas to you.”

Miranda smirked and led her to the kitchen table. There she returned to what she’d been doing when Andy rang the doorbell, which was not so much having breakfast as sitting next to a piece of toast. She was wearing the grey bathrobe Andy hadn’t seen since Paris: maybe she saved it for particularly terrible days. “Do you want anything?”

“I’d take some coffee. I can help myself.” She moved slower than necessary as she poured herself a mug, buying time to stare at Miranda and gauge the situation before sitting back down.

“It feels weird to be here without Nigel,” Andy mused as she settled in across from Miranda.

“Nigel doesn’t need us today.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean he’s with his family at his mother’s house in New Jersey. He’s probably having a wonderful time.”

“But—Nigel never mentions his family.”

“You don’t talk to your parents. I invite my children over every week but haven’t seen them in a month, and my parents are dead.” Miranda’s face looked carved from stone. “Do you really think he’d be cruel enough to blather on and on about his happy family in front of people like us?”

Andy wanted to retort that her situation and Miranda’s were completely different, but she didn’t trust a statement like that to turn out to be true. She went a different route instead. “One time he told me all this stuff about being younger and sneaking around with Runway, hiding it from his family…or maybe it was some other magazine. And something about being bad at sports.”

“Isn’t that what you do before you come out?” Miranda asked matter-of-factly, scooting the toast around her plate with her index finger. “Sneak around? It just so happens that Nigel gets along very well with his mother. And his siblings. He and his father are less close, but his family home is hardly a difficult place for him to visit.”

“Wow,” Andy said. “That’s great. I just—didn’t know. I assumed differently.”

“You assumed that for a gay man to fall into bed with the two of us he’d have to be a real ‘fuck-up,’ as you would probably say.” Miranda took Andy’s silence as a confession, and continued. “No, that’s where you’re mistaken. You can be quite well-adjusted, with a perfectly respectable family, and still manage to make a choice like that.”

“That’s not what I was going to say at all. I don’t think there’s anything particularly mal-adjusted about what we’re doing. At least, for me there isn’t. Then again, I’m not the one who can’t even take pleasure from sex—”

“Oh, is that what you think I’m avoiding? Pleasure?”

“I shouldn’t have said anything,” Andy said flatly.

“No. You shouldn’t have.”

The New York Times was on the table, so they read that instead of talking more. They took silent turns with every section.

Andy caved first. It only took an hour. “I’m sorry.”

“For what?”

“I don’t know. Just—let’s not make this day any worse for ourselves.”

“It won’t be such a long day, will it?” Miranda asked.

Andy wished with some envy that she’d brought pajamas, because Miranda made a point of not dressing all day. It was odd, feeling more dressed than Miranda for only the second time ever.

The day was long, but they filled it. Miranda taught Andy how to prepare a cheese soufflé because cheese soufflé takes a long time to make. They sat in front of the TV and watched an entire football game because football takes a long time to play. (Or rather, Miranda watched while Andy massaged every square centimeter of Miranda’s hands and, when that was done, ran her fingernails in lazy tracks across Miranda’s wrists. They both took great pleasure in it.) They left voicemail messages for two children and two parents, and the deciding to do it took longer than the gesture itself.

“They’ll call back later,” Andy said.

“Yes,” Miranda replied.


It snowed in the late afternoon, big goose feather flakes meandering toward the pavement.

When she noticed, Andy turned so she was kneeling on the sofa facing the window. Miranda, who had been sitting next to her, adopted the same position. Without asking if she could decrease the distance between them, Andy extended her left arm and pressed her hand flat against Miranda's upper back. Making sure she was balanced stably on her knees, she removed her other arm from the back of the sofa and reached for the tie that held Miranda’s robe closed. It was easy to pull the bow loose, easier still to let her hand work its way beneath the fabric.

“We can see out,” Andy said softly. She pulled down Miranda’s underwear and let it catch on her bent knees. “And anyone who can see in would think we’re just watching the snow fall.”

Miranda’s breath hitched.

“As long as you want this, you can have it,” Andy continued, beginning to move her fingers between Miranda’s legs. “Okay?”

Miranda nodded, and when she would normally have pulled back she moved her hips, her hands gripping the sofa tightly. When they reached the point where she would typically say “stop,” she whined a little and breathed faster. “Oh!” she cried, and Andy could feel Miranda’s muscles contracting. A man walking a Dalmatian passed in front of the house, close enough that Andy registered the sound of his footsteps, though he seemed worlds away from the moisture on her hand and the trembling of Miranda’s back.

“I wasn’t going to let myself come,” Miranda said in a rush as Andy took away her fingers.

“But you did,” Andy said. “You let yourself.”


That there were missed calls from the parents and children was only slightly embarrassing. They returned them in separate rooms, and started talking at the same time when they met in the living room after the conversations were over.

“They’re going to come by tomorrow afternoon,” Miranda said, relief all over her face.

“They’re going to call me again in a few days,” Andy said, happier about the way Miranda’s eyes had lost a certain hollowness than about anything else.

In bed that night, Andy spooned up behind Miranda and mouthed “I love you, I love you, I love you” directly into her hair.

Miranda rotated her head. “What are you doing?” she asked irritably.

“Shh, sleep,” Andy said.


“It’s getting complicated,” Andy confessed. She stared into her mug of coffee. It was a few days before the new year, and she wanted it to begin in a way that made sense.

“I know,” Nigel replied.

She wasn’t sure what she was going to say next, how she was going to explain, until she’d said the only thing that was always in her mind. “I really love her.”

To Andy’s eternal relief, Nigel grinned. “I can tell.”


He nodded. “I love her too. But not like you do.” And she loves both of us, but she loves you the most. His brain added the second part quite involuntarily, and he did not utter it aloud.


“We slept together,” Miranda said the next day. “On Christmas.”

“Andy didn’t tell me that!” Nigel exclaimed, trying for jovial. They were in his office, after hours. It was a very rare place for them to meet, but Miranda had sought him out quite insistently.

“What?” Miranda blushed, and hated herself as soon as she felt the heat in her face. “We agreed we’d both speak with you.”

“Oh, she did. Yesterday.” He forced himself to calm down. “She told me she loves you. Maybe she thought that would be more polite than a kiss-and-tell.” It occurred to him after the words left his mouth that perhaps Andy and Miranda hadn’t talked to each other about love yet, though he couldn’t muster up much contriteness. It would be surprisingly fitting for the very relevant number three to spill the beans about the adoration of the other two, who were tied for first place.

Then he saw the way Miranda was trying not to look happy, and it was obvious that she already knew.


It became clear to Nigel that Andy was frequently staying over at Miranda’s place and vice versa. Their love was enormous, a knowledgeable love, a necessity.

Still, they didn’t altogether stop operating as three. None of them wanted that ending. In restaurants, they took turns being the one who sat across from the other two. They continued to fuck as three, and when they did they followed three sets of rules, more malleable now.

Three did not always feel like two and one, as Nigel had feared it would.

The first night they got together after what Nigel wryly supposed had been a magical Christmas, he got a blow job and a back massage and a shoulder rub. Four hands and a mouth, all focused entirely on his own pleasure. “I’m so relaxed,” he groaned after everything had slowed.

“Stay and sleep,” Miranda suggested, picking up on the hint.

“That’d be nice, Nigel,” Andy added sleepily.

So they rested, side by side in the massive bed. Though the room was dark, Nigel could make out Andy holding Miranda’s hand and kissing the knuckles, Miranda’s other hand cradling Andy’s hip. Even through the filminess of his exhaustion, he regretted staying and began to envision his retreat. Then he felt Andy’s heel bump very intentionally against the curve where his ankle met his foot. She glanced at him and smiled, Miranda’s hand still in hers, and three felt like three.
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