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Andrei (Part 1A of 2)
duwinter

Title: Andrei (Part 1A of 2 )

Author: duwinter

Fandom: DWP

Pairing: Unspecified

Rating: PG

Setting: Some months after the end of the events in the movie. Movie Canon.

Summary: Miranda blacklists Andy after Paris. Andy needs a job.

Disclaimer: The Devil Wears Prada and it's characters do not belong to me. No profit being made here. I'm just playing with the characters for a short while and I promise to put them away neatly when I'm through.

Dedication: This story is dedicated to punky_96 who forges ahead each year with the July Fic-A-Thon. Thank you for your hard work on behalf of this community. Your efforts are appreciated.

Comment: Comments feed the muse and the muse is always hungry. Remember, a fat muse is a happy and productive muse. Comments and constructive criticism eagerly encouraged.

Credit Where Credit Is Due: Humble thanks to jah728 who betaed this story for me. Your efforts on my behalf make this a much better story than it otherwise would have been. Thank you for helping me. This story has been slightly tweaked since the last beta read-through so any and all mistakes are strictly my own.




Andrei

Part 1A

Andrea, “call me Andy”, Sachs sat, depressed, at a sidewalk table of a bistro in the neighborhood where she had her fifth-floor studio walk-up apartment. At least it would be her apartment until just after the end of the month. Her landlord was notorious for evicting tenants as soon as they couldn't pay the rent, and as of the first of the month, Andy would land firmly in that category.

She made a sour face as she sipped the appallingly cold cup of coffee that she had been nursing for the last hour as she sat, metaphorically licking her wounds. This morning she had made a follow-up call to yet another potential employer with whom she had interviewed. Once again, she discovered that she would not be considered for the position she had interviewed for because of a strongly worded negative reference from her previous employer. Her highly unprofessional act of four months ago was continuing to haunt her. The vaunted Devil in Prada, Miranda Priestly, Editor-in-Chief of Runway, had blacklisted her for walking out on her job without notice, during Paris Fashion week. Now, with Andy's very limited resources running out, she couldn't find any kind of work that would pay enough to keep body and soul together.

Considering the events leading up to the fateful decision to walk out on Miranda and the tumultuous month preceding it, Andy realized that she shouldn't be surprised that her life had spiraled completely out of her control.

A few weeks before leaving for Paris, Andy had taken a rare weekend off and gone home to the small town outside of Cincinnati, Ohio, where she grew up. She had gone home to have a very important conversation with her parents.

Richard and Janet Sachs would have told you that they were a typical, all-American family. The parents were small town, middle-America, born and raised and intended that their only daughter grew up just like they did. Right-wing in their politics, evangelical Christian in their religious leanings, their outlook on the world they lived in strongly reflected those influences. They had a two-bedroom house in a residential development, on which they were still paying a mortgage.

Their relationship with their only daughter had become increasingly strained from the time she had entered college and began to follow her own path as far as career aspirations. Rather than embracing her parent's long held dream of her becoming a lawyer and joining her father in his small town law practice, Andy had come home from her first semester and announced that she intended to dual major in English Literature and the theater arts program. Her parents didn't take the choices their daughter was making particularly well.

When she had been active in her all-girls' high school drama program, they hadn't thought much of it. Andy's interest in the theater was a hobby to them. They dutifully went to the plays she was involved in and jovially accepted the drama teacher's accolades about Andy's daring portrayal of male roles. Her first role was as the hunchback king in the school's presentation of Shakespeare’s Richard the Third, during her sophomore year. She then played the role of the Reverend Samuel Parris, in The Crucible during her senior year.

Once Andy had entered Northwestern University, they couldn't comprehend their daughter's desire to continue to pursue acting and the theater, nor did they support her ambition of becoming a writer. They wanted her to learn what they considered “practical” skills in college that would lead to her having a decent paying job and a middle class lifestyle after graduation. They objected strenuously to her plans, even stooping so low as to threaten cutting off the financial help they were providing towards Andy's tuition. After many arguments and a great deal of internal family stress, Andy was forced into a compromise during her sophomore year. She transferred from her English Lit major to the school of journalism. At least with this more practical major, her father now saw the possibility of future employment. She was also forced to cut her involvement in the theater arts program to a minor.

After graduation from college, Andy's decision that New York City was the place to find the first rung on the ladder of her journalism career precipitated another battle royal within the family. Again, her parents didn't understand why their daughter wanted to go to the big city. They both thought New York City too decadent and dangerous for their little girl. If her boyfriend Nate hadn't been going with her, they likely would have tried to prevent her from going at all.

Andy pushed away the cold cup of coffee as she remembered that fateful weekend trip home. It was one she would never forget.

*****

She sat at the kitchen table of the home she had grown up in with her mother and father's disapproval heavy and toxic in the air.

“You've broken up with Nate?” Her mother exclaimed, her hand wrapped tightly around a half-empty cup of coffee. “Why on earth would you do such a thing? He's such a nice boy. I thought it likely that the two of you would marry soon and we might hope for some grandkids.”

Andy shook her head. “It had been going wrong for a while, Mom,” she said softly. “A long while. My job is making a lot of demands on my time and Nate couldn't take that. He always seemed to think that his job was more important than mine. That I needed to be available when he wanted me available, and when you're working for Miranda Priestly and Runway, that's just not the way it is. Her schedule is crazy busy. I'm...” she stammered, “I'm also changing. Growing. And he wasn't. He didn't like the fact that I'm just not the same old Andy anymore.” She continued.

“I'm not sure I like the changes I've seen in you since you've moved to New York either, Andy,” her father said dourly. “You went there to be a journalist and you ended up being a gofer for some hoity-toity fashion snob, instead of doing what you went there for. I mean, my God, you were accepted to Stanford Law!”

Andy bit down on the inside of her lip and held her tongue. This was a refrain she had heard many times before. She decided in that instant that she wouldn't bring up the fact that she had also been abandoned by her supposed best friend forever, Lily. Her childhood friend had sided with Nate when the breakup occurred and was presently not speaking with her. Andy looked down at the table. “Nate and my breaking up isn't what I came home to talk about. There's something else I need to tell you. Something I've discovered about myself. Something really important.” She realized she was babbling, which she knew she tended to do when nervous about what she was going to say. For a brief moment she dearly wished that Miranda was in the room with her. Her well honed fear of the woman's patented death glare had trained Andy to be able to stop babbling in her presence. She looked from her father to her mother and took a deep breath. “There's no easy way to say this, so I'm just going to do it like ripping off a band-aid,” she began. “Mom,...Dad,...I'm gay.”

There was silence for a good minute and a half as the tension in the room ratcheted up. Her father's face was like a thundercloud and her mother looked like she was going to cry. Andy had known that this discussion wouldn't be easy, but she revered her parents enough that she knew she owed it to them her being honest with them.

“Oh, Andy,” her mother said, anguish in her tone. “You're confused, baby. Being in that awful, wicked city has got you all mixed-up. It's that horrible job you're in and that god-awful woman you work for.

Andy sighed. She had, on some level, known that her parents wouldn't accept or understand what she was desperately trying to tell them. “Miranda isn't awful, momma,” she offered softly. “Miranda is a business woman at the very top of her profession. She has the whole world looking at her every day of the year. It means that she has to have a certain kind of attitude and has to present herself a certain way. She's hard to work for because she demands the very best from everybody around her. And I'll have you know that she demands a hell of a lot more of herself than she does of her employees!” she almost hissed.

“See?!” Her mother asserted. “This is exactly what has your father and me so worried! That woman has you all mixed up! She treats you like dirt and, for a while, you seemed to realize that. But now it's Miranda this and Miranda that!” Her mother's eyes took on a hard, speculative look. “She's the one that has you thinking you're a lesbian, isn't she?! Has she tried something inappropriate!?”

“Mother!” Andy said, genuinely shocked at her mother's allegation. This was dangerous territory. Andy had been fairly certain that she had hidden the truth that Miranda Priestly did, indeed, have a great deal to do with Andy's self-realizations about her sexuality. Andy's infatuation, bordering on obsession, with her stunning, powerful, genius, drop dead sexy boss was simply a fact of her world. She knew that nothing was ever going to come of it. Miranda didn't even see her. She was just another replaceable employee in a job a million girls would kill for. “Miranda is straight!” She's been married several times to men, and she has two daughters! She has never done anything that was inappropriate in my presence!” Andy had the fleeting thought that she dearly wished the woman had done something.

“That woman is a bad influence,” her mother continued, her voice strident. “Ever since you've been working for her you don't seem to know your own mind.”

Andy's intentions had been to remain calm and collected as she explained to her parents what she had discovered about herself. She had hoped to help them understand. She should have known that this visit would be a fool's errand. Any time she had tried to talk to her mother and father about her wants and needs, it always devolved into a discussion of their expectations and how Andy had disappointed them. “I don't know my own mind?!” Andy replied, anger rising. “What I know is that I'm an adult and that I'm quite capable of making my own decisions! It's not my job to live out your and daddy's fantasies about what my life should be! It's my life, dammit!”

“Andy, honey,” her mother said, “we only want what's best for you. We raised you to believe in the Bible and you know what God says about homosexuals.

Andy grit her teeth. “I know what a bunch of men who wrote a book of parables, two hundred years after the fact, put down in writing. I have some serious reservations about what was included and the reasons behind such inclusions.”

“Oh, Andy,” her mother said in a tone of voice that indicated her long suffering in regards to Andy challenging her mother's belief in the Bible as the absolute and unquestionable word of God. It was a tone Andy had suffered through many times before and knew all too well. She absolutely hated every time it spewed out of her mother's mouth.

Andy caught sight of a sudden movement in her peripheral vision and jumped in her seat as her father's open hand suddenly slammed down onto the table top, making a terrible noise. “No daughter of mine is going to be a goddamned dyke!” he snarled. “You got one choice, little girl. You can move back home. Get a job around here and I'll help you get that conversion therapy that they talk about on Fox News. We'll help you get yourself fixed, get your head on straight!”

Andy turned in her chair and looked incredulously at her father. “I don't need to be fixed, daddy,” she exclaimed softly. “I'm not broken,” she said, her eyes tearing up. “Besides that reparative therapy stuff is bunk!” She continued, suddenly becoming fighting mad. “It's been dis-proven. You can't pray away the gay!”

“You'll do it because I'm your father and I say so,” her father insisted, his tone angry and telling his daughter, who knew him well, how badly her choices vexed him. “I know what's best for you! You don't want to be different in this world. And I'm not kidding, Andy, I won't have a dyke for a daughter. The Bible teaches that it's a sin and an abomination. Those that practice it are going to hell. The fucking queers and lesbos are ruining this country and the goddamned government is letting them do it! If you choose to follow that lifestyle then you can get the hell out of my house and not come back. You won't be my daughter anymore!”

There are moments in life that shape or scar one for the rest of their allotted time on this planet. The exchanges of words that followed were angry, ugly, and could never be forgiven or forgotten. Andy left her childhood home that evening for her new one in New York City. She cried quietly for most of the trip, mourning the fact that her mother and father had disowned her.

*****

Andy shook her head at how things had gone from bad to worse. Just a few weeks after returning to New York came Paris and the break with Miranda and Runway. Miranda had betrayed Nigel, who Andrea perceived as both one of Miranda's closest friends and her own mentor. Andy recognized that the Editor-in-Chief had done what she did in order to protect her position at the head of the magazine she had brought to international prominence and then kept it there through twenty years of concerted effort. She also realized that if Miranda was capable of doing that to one of her nearest and dearest, she could discard an errant second assistant in a heartbeat and without a second thought. Andy told herself that it was because of what happened to Nigel that she decided to leave. The truth that wouldn't go away was that Andy knew full well, in her heart of hearts, that she wouldn't ever recover fully if the day eventually came that Miranda cruelly cast her aside. She was in love with her very heterosexual, soon to be divorced, powerhouse icon of a boss. In her mind, walking away while she still could was her only choice.

The fallout from that choice was that now, months after leaving her position, she had no prospects for working in her chosen field because of Miranda's blacklisting her. She was about out of money, in desperate need of employment, and, worst of all, she was missing Miranda and the iconic woman's twin daughters terribly.

Over the course of her employment at Runway, one of Andy's duties was to deliver the Book, an in-progress mock up of the next issue of Runway, along with Miranda's dry cleaning to the woman's townhouse each evening of the often six day work week. This coupled with numerous other errands outside of the Runway offices, brought Andy into regular contact with Caroline and Cassidy, the two twelve year old scamps that were Miranda's daughters.

At first there had been pranks, one of which had very nearly cost Andy her job. It began with the infamous Harry Potter incident. It was Andy's first time delivering the Book and the twins had convinced her to take it upstairs. They told her that Emily did it all the time. Andy had done as they bid and as a result, unfortunately bore witness to a fight between Miranda and her then husband Stephen. Andy had always wondered if it was embarrassment that had caused Miranda to retaliate the next morning by demanding that Andrea, as Miranda insisted on calling her, obtain a copy of the yet unpublished manuscript for the next Harry Potter novel for her daughters. The deadline for this impossible task was before the twins left on the train for their father's home late that very afternoon. Andy had, over the course of that impossible day, managed a feat worthy of the greatest Hogwart's witch and obtain a copy of the manuscript, delivering it to the twins just before they boarded the train, as Miranda had demanded.

At some point during that insane rush, Andy decided that one good turn deserved another. Andy had always engaged in practical jokes and enjoyed a good scheme. The next time she delivered the book when the twins were in residence at their mother's home, the prank war was on.

The twins got a huge kick out of the fact that there was one of their mother's assistants they could not seem to terrorize, and who was willing to fight back in ways they found both appropriate and entertaining. Andy didn't complain to their mother, which would have done absolutely no good, as any number of previous assistants could have attested. Andy pranked back in clever and subtle ways. Soon they were seeing Andy as both compatriot and friend. Not long after that they were confiding everything to the young woman who came to their house almost daily. They missed her on the alternate weeks that they spent with their father.

Even though the twins had each other, and no bond in the world is closer than a twin's bond, the two girls were lonely and lacked a female adult intimately involved in their lives to help guide them in the complexities of growing up in the confusing times they lived in. Their mother loved and doted on them, but she still saw them as little girls. Miranda was also somewhat work obsessed and left much of the girls' day to day lives to the hired help. The twins hadn't really bonded with their newest nanny, and the Priestly twins seemed to be able to shed nannies almost as quickly as their iconic ice queen mother went though assistants. Andy, almost by default, fell into the role of advising the girls and explaining things to the twins. Somewhere over the following months of working for Miranda, Andy fell head over heels in love with the two children. She came to treasure their limited time together and took her role as their confidant and mentor very seriously.

Now four months had passed and contact between her and the twins had been severely curtailed. The twins clearly understood that Andy was suddenly persona non grata with their mother and that any contact at all had to be kept on the down low. That meant only sending messages to Andy when their mother was not around and had no chance of finding out. All that Andy had since her return to New York from Paris was a couple of brief telephone calls, a few text messages and a single long and rambling e-mail. The girls poured their heart out in the e-mail saying how unfair it was that she was no longer coming to the townhouse and how badly they missed her.

Andy was sitting at that sidewalk cafe feeling completely at the end of her rope when her cell-phone chimed from where it lay on the table. It signaled an incoming text message. It was from Caroline, Dad fired our Nanny today and is now desperate to find someone to look after us. He has to find somebody before the end of next week when he moves us up to his summer house in the Hamptons.

It was the kind of informational message that the girls had often sent Andy in the past. Telling her things that were going on in their daily lives. She sat there staring at the screen on her phone and missing those days. She dearly wished she could apply for the nanny position. It would put her in close contact with the twins, sans their mother. She could take care of them every other week. It would bring in some income but also leave her time to pursue other avenues of interest. She sighed heavily. There was no way Miranda would ever allow Andy Sachs to be her children's nanny. The woman was intent on completely ruining any chance that Andy had for employment in New York, not to mention ruining the rest of her entire life in general.

As the jumble of pain and sorrow she was feeling mixed with her past personal experience, the seed of a crazy idea sprouted in her mind. Recently she had read an article about a new trend in child care. Mannies, male nannies were all the rage in Manhattan high society. She couldn't get a job and be close to the twins as Andy Sachs, but she had, in her time, quite successfully played many male characters in plays. There were the two instances in high school and several smaller parts in college productions. She reached under the bistro table and drew her purse into her lap. Rooting through its contents she quickly came up with her Salvatore Ferragamo clutch-wallet, another Miranda Priestly cast off. Another painful reminder of what Andy had lost. She dearly wished that the memories of the woman would leave her alone. Days not in Miranda's company were hard. The nights, which brought erotic dreams of what never could have been, were sheer torture. She quickly opened the credit card section and from behind a long unused credit card she withdrew the prize she sought. It was the proof of the time that she had taken her act into the real world and proved her ability to play the role.

******

Andy and Nate had moved in together into an off-campus apartment a little more than a year before the fall semester of Andy's junior year. Prior to the coming Halloween, the Theater Department was preparing to audition a presentation of the play Dracula, with costumes and sets inspired by Edward Gory, as had been done on Broadway many years before.

From the moment that it had been announced, Andy had desperately wanted a shot at playing the lead as the sinister Transylvanian count. In order to prepare for the part, she had been spending considerable time researching all things Romanian, as well as delving into the history and legend of Vlad Ţepeş, the historical figure that Bram Stoker had based the character of Dracula on. She was also diligently working on a Romanian accent in a male register.

One evening, much to Nates amusement, Andy was trying to put herself into the skin of the larger that life figure. Wearing a cheap opera cape she'd picked up at a costume shop, she lurked around the apartment. “You know,” he laughed, “you're pretty good at that.” His look turned speculative. “I wonder if you could pull it off in the real world.”

Andy turned, hiding the lower part of her face behind her cape draped arm. “Vhat dooo you havf in mind,” she asked, hamming it up and outrageously overdoing a cartoon Dracula accent.

Nate thought a minute. “I don't know,” he said, stumbling over his words a little, obviously trying to come up with an idea. “I mean there must be some way to test your act out among people that don't know it's an act and see if you can pull it off or not. See if they'll really think you're a guy or know that you're a woman in drag.”

Andy dropped the cape and looked at her boyfriend. “What do you propose?” She asked,” She cocked her head and stared at Nate from behind the cosmetic contacts that made her usually doe brown eyes quite unsettlingly black.

“How about a bet?” he offered. “I'll bet that you can't go out to a bar dressed as a guy and get more phone numbers from girls over the course of an evening than I can.”

“Let me get this straight. You're suggesting that I go out some evening and try to pick up girls at a bar?” Andy looked at her boyfriend incredulously. “While you do the same thing at the same time?”

Nate nodded, “It's not like either of us would really be picking anybody up,” he defended the hare-brained scheme. “It would just be a way to measure if you can really do it or not. I mean, if you can pull off your man act that up-close-and-personal, then there is no way that you shouldn't be able to land the part you want for the play.”

Andy thought for a long moment. As much as she hated it, when Nate was right, he was right. If she could go out to a bar and talk to members of her own sex, convince them that she was not only male, but sexually desirable enough to get them to part with their telephone numbers for the possibility of future dates, then she would know with an iron clad certainty that she could do an audition that would floor the people responsible for casting the play. She nodded her head as ideas rushed together inside her mind. “Okay,” she said. “What do I get when I win?”

While Nate was Andy's boyfriend, her two best friends also attended Northwestern. The first of them was her childhood friend Lily who was an Art History major. The other was a young computer sciences student name Doug, whom she'd met on her first day of classes at the university. Lily and Andy shared growing up together and all the mutual experiences that implied. Doug and Andy shared a peculiar sense of humor and a love of practical jokes and outrageous stunts.

So when Andy approached the two of them about this latest proposed stunt, the three were eager to meet and discuss the possibilities. She explained the broad outline as the three friends sat in a booth of a just off campus diner that they favored. Doug was all in before she even had time to outline the whole idea. Lily thought the idea funny enough, but made it clear that she thought it a fool's bet. She didn't believe that there was any way Andy could pull it off, especially if Nate was in the same bar gathering phone numbers. “Nate was,” Lily asserted, as she had several times in the past, much to Andy's annoyance, “just too smokin' hot”. The women in the bar would be lining up for him, she insisted.

Doug leaned conspiratorially closer across the table and spoke quietly to his friend as he stirred his coffee and grinned like the Cheshire Cat. “I can already think of a few things I can do to help you pull this gag off,” he stated, watching Andy closely.

Andy nodded, also leaning close and speaking quietly. “You usually have some good ideas when I'm about to do something like this. What have you got in mind?”

Doug chuckled, “As you know, I pay part of my tuition by working as the administration offices' computer geek,” he continued. “I'm regularly there late into the evening and often I'm the only one there at night. I have the key to the office were they make student IDs and I have access to the campus administration's data-base. All we need to do is get a picture of you in costume, come up with a name, and voila, you'll have both an ID card and a student record should anybody check you out on the student informational website. You can show the ID to any potential phone number candidate to prove you are who you say you are, even though you won't be who you say you are.” Doug looked momentarily confused and it was evident to Andy that he was trying to trace exactly what he'd just said to make sure that it had come out correctly.

“Doug,” she said, speaking as softly as he was, “that's brilliant!” Andy chuckled. “It'll add foundation to the role I'm going to be creating!”

Doug nodded. “Now the only question is who is this guy? I mean we're going to need a name and all the stuff that goes on an I.D.”

Andy nodded. She was often aware that other women watched her handsome boyfriend when they were out together. More than once, one woman or another had even come up to him and made excuses to talk to him, going so far as offering their phone numbers right in front of her. Considering this, she thought on what she needed to compete with the pretty boy, “The character needs to be a dashing, romantic figure, someone that will have an edge on Nate and his damned handsome face," she groused.

Lily perked up. “Hey, you've been practicing that crazy Slavic or whatever accent. Why don't you make him a foreign exchange student. Girls always go for exchange students!”

Andy cocked her head and considered how it could work. She wanted to make sure that the accent and the timbre of her voice was flawless when she auditioned. Taking it on the road, as it were, would test her abilities to the maximum. She would have to improvise conversation, maintain her character, and stay in voice. It would prepare her for anything the people auditioning her could throw at her. “His name is Andrei,” she said quietly, “Andrei Vladimirescu. He's a history major from Sighişoara, Romania.”

The night of the bet, Doug played Andy's wing-man and Lily played Nate's. The two contestants went to a local university meet-market bar to ply their respective charms. The contest, surprisingly, was never in doubt. It was evident that Andy had it won in the first couple of hours as the women in the place flocked to the character she was portraying. After four hours of really trying, Nate approached Andy on the dance floor, where two different women were avidly competing for Andrei's attention by some up close dirty dancing. Nate gave a sour grin and touching Andy on the arm, motioned for her to follow so they could speak more privately.

“I concede,” he said close to Andy's ear as soon as he got her away from the dance floor.

Andy grinned at him. “Giving up so soon?” She asked in her character's voice and timbre.

Nate nodded. “I gave up half an hour ago when you had that senior from the Drama Department sitting in your lap and grinding her ass into your crotch. If it wasn't so damn hot, it would have been embarrassing. If you really were a guy, you wouldn't be here right now. You'd be out in her car doing the nasty.”

Just to keep things above board Andy insisted that they each count the phone numbers they'd collected. Just before Nate left, Andy asked, “So, you're willing to admit that I can do this? I can pull off being a guy in public.”

Nate nodded again and sighed. “What can I say. You're one hell of an actor, Andy.” He left the bar with only half as many phone numbers as Andy had and his tail figuratively between his legs.

Andy continued the gag until closing time, when the character she was portraying would have had his choice of which woman to go home with and take to bed.

It was a week later when Doug realized just how impressive Andy's performance had actually been. He and a new boyfriend had stopped into the same bar for a drink. In the twenty minutes he was there, he was approached individually by several women that Andy had interacted with. They universally inquired when the suave and dead sexy Andrei was likely to come back in. Some of them encouraged Doug to convince his friend to call them for a date. Doug broke all of their hearts that evening when he told them that Andrei Vladimirescu had been urgently and unexpectedly called home to his native Romania and would not be returning in the foreseeable future.

He, Andy and Lily had had a good laugh over it the next night at dinner. Nate sulked the whole evening.

As successful as the night out on the town testing her persona for the part of Dracula was, Andy quickly learned that karma is a bitch and what you do can and will come back to bite you in the ass. The drama major who had given Andy an impromptu seated lap dance at the bar, and, was very disappointed that Andrei did not 'rise' to the occasion, was front row center in the audition hall with a clipboard full of notes. It turned out that she was the director of the play. Andy just couldn’t see anything good coming out of pressing her luck. All that could be gained would be embarrassment and the likelihood of making an enemy. She left the audition hall without taking the stage and, consequently, was not part of that university production.

*****

Pushing the haze of memory from her mind, she put the fake student ID back in her wallet and brought up the phonebook function on her cell phone. She pressed the number for her accomplice in sometimes questionable schemes and in just a few rings she was connected with her friend. “Hey Doug,” she said jovially, “I've got an idea cooking that could use your special touch. Any chance we could get together after you get off work? You could come to my place or I could come to yours. Either way I'll spring for the booze.”

“You realize that you are out of your flipping mind,” Doug exclaimed as he poured another Margarita from the pitcher that sat on the small table on his apartment's balcony. The view wasn't much, considering that the apartment building was sandwiched on a smaller side street of the East Village. The only thing one saw from the perch was the street below and the buildings across the way. Still, it was cooler on the balcony than inside the apartment, it being unseasonably hot for the end of May.

Andy looked at her friend. “Why?” she asked. “I've pulled it off before, I can do it again. Remember the night I went out as that Romanian foreign exchange student? I got twice as many girls' telephone numbers as Nate did and nobody saw through me then!”

Doug shook his head at the memory. “It's not the same thing. This isn't a production or a night out on the town you're talking about. This is a job, one with irregular and sometimes long hours. It's also miles and miles from any kind of support network you could con into helping you with this nutso idea. We've managed to pull off some crazy things in the past, but this idea takes insane to a whole new level!” he exclaimed.

Andy nodded and sighed deeply. “I'm just about broke, Doug. I need to work, ” she virtually whispered, "and I can't do that here in New York as long as I'm Andy Sachs. Miranda will see to that. I'm missing the twins terribly. If I can't get a job as Andy Sachs, why not create a male alter-ego and have him get a job? It's something that Miranda would never see coming. And she'd never suspect that I'd try to go to work for her ex-husband. I'll try to get the gig as their nanny, If I manage that, I'll have some money coming in and every other week to look for something else.”

Doug thought for a long moment. “Well I could work up some fake documentation that would pass muster as long as nobody official looked at it too closely. If you're really set on this course, we'll need to get in touch with Valerie and Justin. They're the two best makeup special effects people we know. I've been dating Justin off and on and he and Val are doing some really amazing things. That said, the set up you're going to need is going to be something above and beyond. I mean, it'll have to hold up to up close and personal scrutiny even after you've worn it all day and done God knows what in it. It will have to be something you can fix yourself, on the fly, if anything goes wrong. None of us are making enough money in the real world that we could follow you out to the Hamptons and be on call there to fix it for you at a moment's notice if something goes wrong.” He sighed, seeing the hopeless look on a dear friend's face. “All I'm saying is that it's a tall order you're asking.”

A single tear leaked out of the corner of Andy's eye and started a slow decent down her cheek. “Oh, girlfriend,” Doug said softly, “you really have your heart set on this don't you?” He asked, reaching out and dashing away the errant tear on her cheek with his thumb.

Andy nodded in response to the question. “I'm missing those two girls so bad, Doug, that you'd think they were my kids,” she said, clutching her drink. “If I could just see them, spend time with them. Help them along, then the rest of everything that's happened wouldn't hurt so much.”

He got up and fetched his cell phone. “Val and Justin owe me for helping them move their studio last month,” he offered quietly as he dialed a number, “I'm not promising anything, but I'll talk to Justin and see how soon we can get over there to meet with them and talk about what might be possible.

Andy spent the entirety of the next day in the company of the two special effects artists. She had been stripped down to bra and panties and inspected far more closely than she had ever been at Runway. Casts and rubber impressions were made of many different parts of her body and a number of strange substances were either painted on her skin or wrapped around wrists or worn for a while on her chest to see if she had any allergic reactions to materials that Valerie or Justin might use. The two makeup effects people seemed very intrigued by the challenges that Andy's project offered and were happy to explain exactly what they were doing at any moment. Andy learned how each idea might fit into the whole look they were trying to help Andy create.

Valerie asked a thousand questions about Andy's character of Andrei. Where was he from? What had his life been like? What was every job he'd ever had? Was he straight, bi, or gay? Did he drink a lot of coffee or tea? Each question helped not only Valerie and Justin create a detailed picture in their mind of the young man they were modeling, it also helped Andy define the role she intended to play.

At lunchtime Andy went out to get everyone sandwiches. She took a moment to stop by a drugstore and picked up a spiral bound notebook. She wanted to be a writer and she had an inkling that what she was starting might just be one hell of a story. It could be something people might be interested in reading. While the two artists ate lunch Andy spent the time recording notes on everything that had happened that morning, as well as her impressions, thoughts and feelings about the project as a whole.

After her day with Valerie and Justin was over she stopped at a local Starbucks coffee shop and sat for hours, drinking coffee and pouring her heart out, filling page after page of the notebook with every detail she could remember of how she'd come to this place and the meaning of the rebirth of the new and more complete Andrei Valdimirescu. For the first time outside of her innermost thoughts, she recorded her epiphany about her sexuality, and her pain about her parents' desertion. In that deluge of creative writing she noted her strong attraction to Miranda Priestly as the root and branch cause of her sudden self discovery. All in all the whole day had turned out to be a fascinating and very satisfactory adventure.

*****

Two days later Doug showed up at her door at about eight in the evening. He had two bottles of inexpensive, yet tasty wine, some containers of takeout Chinese food, and a manila folder containing the forged documentation he had created for Andy's new persona.

“Okay,” Doug said as he spooned out some chicken chow mien from a takeout container. “I hacked onto Northwestern's server and found out that they've never removed the back doors I installed into their system when I was working there. It allowed me to update Andrei's student history.”

Andy busied herself opening and pouring the wine. “So what did you come up with?” she asked curiously.

Doug took a bite of food and after chewing and swallowing it, answered his friend. “He graduated Cum-Laude as a history major. It would have raised too many flags if I tried to change what we initially put in the fake transcript as his major back when we were in school to alter that. That being said, I managed to have you minor in the education program. You primarily focused on courses directed at teaching in the classroom.”

“With those kind of credentials, I'll have a real shot at getting the job as the twin's Nanny,” Andy exclaimed excitedly.

Doug sipped the wine Andy had poured for him and then grinned, “Wait till you read the letter of recommendation from your last employer,” he chuckled, looking through the folder of papers he'd brought in with him. Drawing out a sheet from the middle of the stack he handed it to the woman seated at the table with him.

Andy quickly read through the bogus letter, “Doug, this letter says that I spent the last two years taking care of five year old fraternal twins!” She looked at him incredulously. “Who is this Aiken family you used?”

That's the beauty of it, Andy,” Doug chuckled. “I found them on the internet. The husband and wife are both anthropologists. They've just left the country for a year and a half in the deep Amazon jungle to study some tribe. It'll be a little hard to phone them and check this reference.”

Andy laughed a full belly laugh, “Oh God!" She exclaimed, "I knew you were good at this sort of thing, but you should have been a criminal super villain! You could have made a fortune!”

Doug just shook his head, “I only use my super powers for good. And the best thing I can think of to do with them is help you get happy again. It's been killing me seeing how down you've been. If being back with the twins will fix that, well, that's what we're going to make happen."

They spent the rest of the evening eating the food, drinking the wine and Andy recounting her day with the two makeup artists in detail.

*****

Miranda Priestly sat, discontentedly at her desk on the eleventh floor of the Elias-Clarke Building. They were mid-way through another week and that damned girl had not returned to Runway to ask for her job back. Miranda wasn't quite sure how that was possible. She had made sure that Andrea finding any other employment in New York City that would pay enough to live on was an unlikely prospect at best. The Ice Queen of Runway had both a long and powerful reach within the city's business community and if she wanted something, she usually got it. She was fairly certain that the constraints she had placed on the errant Ms Sachs' ability to find a job had assured that she was still unemployed nearly five months after she had walked away from her position as Miranda's assistant.

It was certainly an unusual state of affairs, Miranda mused, that she had gone to the trouble of engineering things in such a way as to force Andrea to return and face her. Usually she wouldn't give a second assistant's leaving a moment's thought. An assistant leaving was certainly something that occurred frequently. Andrea was, however, different than the others. Andrea had made Miranda's life easier. They had developed a rapport that allowed Andrea to know what Miranda wanted or needed often before Miranda herself realized what that was. Andrea's presence in the office made the atmosphere of the place less frenzied. Andrea's beautiful smile could light up a dark New York winter's day.

Miranda sighed. She realized that she had been a prime mover in Andrea's desertion of her post. She had not allowed the young woman to accomplish the self-appointed task of warning her of the potential threat to her position as Editor-in-Chief. Miranda had been aware of the coup plot directed against her for some time and had taken steps to effectively neutralize it. One of her failings that fateful day, she had admitted on self-reflection, was that she had been caught up in the moment of besting her adversary, Irving Ravitz. Any day Miranda could pull the rug completely out from under that arrogant and supercilious little man was a day to be relished. After she had sprung the trap she had so carefully laid for Irving, she then completed her plan for securing her position by betraying Nigel, and giving the job he was counting on to her prospective replacement, Jacqueline Follet. Later, in the car, when she was flush with her victory and feeling invincible, she had tried to tell Andrea how alike she felt they were. She had tried to reach out and, straining the bounds of employer / employee propriety, tell the girl of her plans for Andrea's future. She had, of course, botched that, like she botched any kind of personal relationship she attempted to engage in.

Miranda shook her head, in quiet moments at home, she had admitted to herself that her interest in Andrea Sachs had gone far beyond what was appropriate. After Andrea had undergone her Nigel inspired transformation from ugly duckling to beautiful swan, Miranda regularly devoured her with her eyes. She would call Andrea into her office at the least excuse, just to interact with the woman. She missed those interactions. She missed Andrea. So she had set her course. Andrea would not find any job of any worth available to her. Eventually the young woman would have to come and face Miranda to ask that the blacklisting be lifted. When that happened Miranda would see to it that the girl groveled a bit, then she would take her back. Not only take her back, but make her first assistant. Emily's time to move on to whatever came next for her was on the near horizon. Emily would get the recommendation she coveted. There were positions within Runway that Miranda thought the English woman would bring value to. With Emily ensconced in the next step of her career, Andrea would again see to Miranda's day to day needs and all would be right with the world.

*****

On to Part 1B


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