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Title: Turf
Author: Chainofclovers
Fandom: The Devil Wears Prada (film)
Pairing: Miranda/Andy
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: I own nothing related to The Devil Wears Prada
Note: For "my" fic-a-thon. A response to [ profile] punky_96's prompt: "Nigel and Emily's inadvertent innuendo leads to accidental outing of the happy couple and a pregnant pause of awkward ending with some sweet perhaps..."

Miranda knows that Nigel is still angry with her. It’s been six months since Paris, and so much else has changed. Emily is walking on two feet again and, Miranda can privately admit, is outdoing herself in the realms of efficiency and professionalism. Finally, the girl has learned not to let her jealousy trip her up. All of Stephen’s things are finally out of the townhouse; Miranda is appreciative of the space, which has turned out to be very convenient. Irv Ravitz . . . why would she think of Irv Ravitz now, when there are so many more interesting people to comprehend? Like Nigel. Who is still very, very angry.

Right now, Miranda is in the Closet, which she views as Nigel’s turf. She assumes that he, like everyone else, thinks that she sees herself as Runway’s sole owner, but that isn’t exactly the case. Miranda doesn’t own Runway; she facilitates it. You can’t own a creative current. You can buy pieces of it--a dress, a pair of stockings--but an article of clothing is just a cell scraped off an infinitely larger living thing. Runway would be far less successful if Miranda failed to understand that the Closet was Nigel’s, that Emily had earned her telephone and desk, that Jocelyn was, in her own way, a trusted leader.

This morning, Miranda could not remember if they had kept any of Roberto Cavalli’s skirts from spring 2004, or if they’d only talked about it. Nigel is nowhere to be found, but it’s quick work to find the skirts--they have some, but not all, of the ones she remembered as favorites. Still, she lingers. It’s surprisingly rare that she finds herself alone among so much fabric. She’s just to the door when she hears two sets of footsteps.

“Poor Andy Sachs,” she hears Emily say in a simpering tone, surely because The New York Mirror closes its doors today. Miranda freezes. She must hear this. “I can’t spend too much time feeling sorry for her, though. She brought this upon herself. She left Miranda at a crucial point in the season, and now what does she have to show for her ambitions?”

Plenty, thinks Miranda.

“Maybe she’s good in the sack,” Nigel says, and they both laugh. Sachs, sack. Not terribly clever.

But it makes Miranda chokes on nothing, which gives away her location. She might as well step out of the door frame and into the hallway; the others are headed for the Closet, anyway. Nigel and Emily both startle, but Miranda hardly notices, because she can feel a blush burning her cheeks in spite of herself. “Good” doesn’t really get at it; Andrea is excellent in the sack. And, all of a sudden, it’s incredibly obvious that Nigel and Emily know exactly what Miranda is thinking. Together, they’ve discovered an unanticipated problem with Miranda’s insistence on such attentiveness at Runway. She requires that her employees can anticipate her every need, interpret her every desire before she completely loses her patience. Usually, this just means that the staff knows when she hates something, and understands how to fix it. Miranda has hate in her heart, and at work she’s granted herself the privilege to wear her heart on her sleeve. But Miranda also loves, and has given herself away right in this hallway, with a cough and rosy cheeks.

“Sorry, Miranda,” Emily murmurs, making and breaking eye contact and heading into the Closet as quickly as she can.

Nigel, however, as Miranda has so recently considered, is still angry with her. He moves more slowly than Emily, raising his eyebrows and grinning as he walks in.

And that’s perfectly fine, Miranda tells herself as she makes her way back to her office. Once seated at her desk, she gives herself a moment to think before diving back to work. Angry or not, jealous or not, she is confident that Nigel and Emily won’t tell anyone until she’s ready for people to know. And anyway, she reminds herself sternly, there is not yet proof that either of them knows anything at all. They’ve anticipated a love--they’re assuming love, she hopes, and not some sordid experiment--just as they’ve anticipated so many lesser things that she hates. Anyway, Nigel used to know everything about Miranda. They used to be friends, they used to do lunch, go shopping, trade books back and forth, and attend the theater on the weekends. Miranda came out to Nigel in 1989.

Miranda will let Nigel come to her, if he decides he wants to talk. It would suit her if he did, but she isn’t counting on it.

Lately, Miranda’s response to stress of all sorts has been to wish she could go home and immediately crawl into bed with Andrea, and this moment is no exception. It’s an urge that goes beyond comfort. Just the thought of it makes her feel better; the urge works as instant gratification and a promise for later. Lately Andrea’s favorite thing has been to spoon her, stroking her breasts and stomach. She asks her if she wants sex, and listens whether Miranda says yes or no. Not that she says no very often; besides, every time they’re alone together, the time feels like sex. She definitely wants sex now. It’s Andrea’s last day at work, and while it’s very likely that Andrea will be settled at a different publication within a matter of weeks, she knows today hasn’t been easy for her. Andrea has a dozen cover letters out, a resume that includes Miranda, and a strong letter of recommendation from Greg Hill, not from Miranda. Still, the waiting game is always difficult, and Miranda wants to make it a little easier. They’ll lie together tonight--quietly or not-so-quietly, Miranda isn’t yet sure--and enjoy each other’s company, no other obligations.

Nigel can’t even wait an hour. He hovers at her door until she says “Come in,” and looks almost studiously concerned when he sits down at her desk.

Stubbornly, she doesn’t speak.

“Did what I think just happened happen?” Nigel finally asks.

“That depends,” Miranda says. This is her friend Nigel, here to gossip with Miranda about Miranda. But he’s still so angry.

“Andy left because of me, you know,” Nigel says. “And so you had to have her?”

Miranda tosses her head and looks at him wide-eyed. It’s been forty years since she’s had an innocent expression on her face, and this is the best she can do. She hadn’t guessed that Nigel would place himself in her relationship with Andrea, but it makes perfect sense. Of course. “I know why she left, Nigel,” Miranda says, forcing a patience that isn’t there into her voice. “But she approached me of her own volition, three months ago.”

“And how long do you expect to keep her?” Again, Nigel is assuming ownership. He sees Miranda so differently than she sees herself--and he’s probably right to do so.

Miranda wonders if it would be possible to say "forever" without sounding like a fool. Definitely impossible. “Forever,” she says anyway. Since she’s already embarrassed herself and might as well not waste the sensation, she adds, “I’m sorry. For Paris. I hope you know that.”

“I think I did,” Nigel says, and stands. “But I can admit that it’s good to hear it from you.”

Miranda nods.

“Enjoy your girl,” he says with a short laugh as he walks out of the office. “In a few weeks, I might be happy for you.”

That evening, as Miranda is on her way home, Andrea texts to say that she is going out for a drink with some of her reporter friends. Some will stay out all night, drowning their sorrows, but Andrea will have only one drink--unless Miranda wants to join her for another drink elsewhere, at some place that’s discreet.

When Miranda arrives at that discreet place, a cavernous old bar with oaken walls and mirrors that obscure rather than reflect, Andrea is waiting. She’s seated in a booth near the back, and smiles widely when Miranda approaches. For the first time today, Miranda is looking at a face that means exactly what its features express.

“Hi, honey,” says Andrea, the same as she does when she answers the phone. At first, Miranda thought she was trying to force normalcy on their situation. She brings over movies on DVD, and sits with her arm around Miranda’s shoulders when they watch them. She says “honey.” She plans secret little dates for them, and calls them dates. Luckily, Miranda realized before it was too late that Andrea is simply unafraid. She lives and lets Miranda live, and isn’t shy about appreciating the overlap and making it expand. She observes Miranda, but doesn’t bother to frantically anticipate. She waits for the yes or the no.

“Hi,” Miranda says. “Are you all right, after today?”

Andrea shrugs. “I’m fine,” she says. “Better now that I’ve had a stiff drink.”

“I’d like one of those,” Miranda replies. “It’s been a funny day.”

Date: 2011-08-21 10:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh! That was fantastic. People are so chatty. I could just see this playing out. I love that Miranda was the one caught out with the blush. That makes it just perfect.

Thanks for putting on the ficathon and double thanks for taking my prompt. This was so fantastic. Thanks.
Edited Date: 2011-08-21 10:41 pm (UTC)

Date: 2011-08-22 01:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You are so welcome! It was my pleasure (both the fic-a-thon and taking this prompt). As soon as I saw your prompt, the idea sprung to mind.

Thanks so much for the kind comment. I enjoyed writing from Miranda's POV, which I don't normally do, and I'll admit that it was rather fun to write her flustered and stressed out.

Date: 2011-08-21 11:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, that just felt so great! I loved every second of it. Don't know why but there's a real feeling of comfort when reading your work; maybe because you make the relationship between Miranda and Andy such a comfort for each of them. That sensation Miranda has of immediately wanting that comfort is so sharp and sweet, and the fact that she gets her reward in the end is just dandy.

Also, placing Andy in the midst of a traumatic layoff just adds more layers of depth too; she smiles at the end. No frowns for Miranda.

Date: 2011-08-22 01:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you! I really enjoyed writing this, and it makes me so happy to hear that you find my stories comforting in that way.

And, oh man, I'm pretty sure I could get laid off, lose all my money, and experience all manner of professional folly and still manage a nice big smile for Miranda. Especially if she were, um, interested in being a comfort. Ahem.

Date: 2011-08-22 12:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Very, very nice.
Thanks for the read.

Date: 2011-08-22 01:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks for reading! Glad you liked it.

Date: 2011-08-22 01:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This was lovely. I think this ...

"For the first time today, Miranda is looking at a face that means exactly what its features express."

.. is the epitome of Miranda/Andy pairings for me and why I love them so much. Of all the people surrounding Miranda day to day, I like the idea that with Andrea Sachs Miranda can find something genuine and take comfort in it.

Date: 2011-08-22 01:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks so much! I'm happy that line spoke to you. I'm pretty enamored of the whole concept that their relationship grants them the space to be genuine with each other.

Date: 2011-08-22 04:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This was great! Miranda's internal dialogue is compelling, as is the way she handles Nige's angerl. I love how she has accepted Andy into her life, how sheacknowledges the comfort and joy she feels due to Andy. Thanks for the heartwarming story.

Date: 2011-08-22 12:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Date: 2011-08-22 05:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks for this, loved it.

Date: 2011-08-22 01:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh god this is perfect. I totally get what chilly is saying about there being a feeling of comfort reading your fics. Just a sense that things will work out somehow. And if things can't work out in fanfic, where the hell can they! Love it.

Date: 2011-08-24 05:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ha, where can they, indeed? Thanks so much for commenting.

Date: 2011-08-22 03:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Wonderful - I love how you don't drop Nigel's justified anger, but how the old relationship with Miranda comes through. I think the thought of Miranda seeking comfort by wanting to go home and crawl into bed with Andy is perfect. One of those thoughts to get a gal through the day.

Date: 2011-08-24 01:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks so much! I really like your observation about Nigel, and I'm so glad that you enjoyed the story.

Date: 2011-08-22 07:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Missed this one in the vacationperiod. Loved it. I love your stories and admire the style you write them in. Very realistic, as far as this genre allows.

Date: 2011-08-24 01:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That's a great compliment--thanks very much!

Date: 2011-08-24 05:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I admire the way you manage to say so much without spelling everything out. There is as much content between your lines as there is in them. Also, your characters have flaws, and realisations, and they are not one or two dimentional. I like it.

So glad they have each other for comfort at the end of a tough day! Thanks for this heartwarming moment.

Date: 2011-08-31 02:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you! I really, really appreciate that, and it's incredibly flattering that you see these characters as multi-dimensional even in this short story.

Date: 2011-08-29 11:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you. I like your writing. Very easy to get lost in the scenes.

Date: 2011-08-31 02:16 am (UTC)

Date: 2011-09-05 04:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It's great to see such a fleshed out relationship between Miranda and Nigel. As is often the case with long-time friends, there's a history there that neither party is quite willing to let go of, even after a significant (professional and also personal) falling out. They're both so stubborn, but there's hope for them yet.

And, of course, it's nice to see that Andy and Miranda can take comfort in each other (or in the thought of each other. Miranda might just be a romantic. Who knew?) after a "funny" day.

Thanks for the another fantastic read. Your stories always make me think.

Date: 2011-09-27 08:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Gosh, sorry I didn't respond to this until now! Thank you so much for the thoughtful comment. I agree that Nigel and Miranda are stubborn but that they can't quite let themselves let go of each other completely. I'm really glad you enjoyed the story.
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