Author's Note: I make no claims on any of Disney's, Miley Cyrus' or Hannah Montana's trademarks or copyrights, and no infringement is intended. Be forewarned that this story most certainly will contain femslash. If love and affection between two consenting young adults of the same sex bothers you, I suggest you turn right around and find something else to read. Keep any flames to yourself and remember that what our world needs now is more love and acceptance, not more hate. Reviews are always welcomed and appreciated!
You and Me, Together
by Jo P.
Chapter 1: Awakenings
I hold the key
To both realities
The girl that I want you to know
If only I could show
The other side, the other side
I want you to see
The other side, the other side
The other side of me
--Hannah Montana, "The Other Side Of Me"
The shrill beeping of the alarm clock on the nightstand woke fifteen-year-old Miley Stewart from her slumber. Not exactly an instant awakening, it was more like a gradual slide into something resembling consciousness. As Miley became aware of the clock's beeping, she felt her dream fade out of her awareness. What was I dreaming about? She reached over and clicked the button, turning off the alarm as she sat up on the side of her bed.
She stretched her arms far above her head, feeling a few pops in her shoulders as she got the kinks out. Well, whatever it is I keep dreaming about, it sure as heck makes me toss and turn all night, she thought. As she stood and walked to her bathroom, she yawned involuntarily. She hadn't slept well for over two weeks now, and while she had blown off her father's questions about her fatigued appearance, she herself was starting to worry now.
She flipped the light switch for the shower, turning on the single bulb directly over her shower. She preferred to not turn on the vanity lights until she had taken the time to fully awaken, because the sudden light from twelve separate bulbs was more than a bit uncomfortable while her eyes were still adjusting. As she started the water running, she took off her pajama top and bottoms, tossing them in the laundry hamper. These were soon followed by her panties, then she staggered over to the toilet to relieve the pressure in her bladder.
Finishing up, she stood and walked over to the shower. Opening the glass door, she stepped inside just enough to close the door, checking the water temperature with her hand. Reassured that it was warm enough, she stepped back into the spray, enjoying the warm heat that now flowed over her body. She glanced at the waterproof clock hanging on the wall. Six-thirty, she thought. Plenty of time to get ready for school.
Getting her shampoo, Miley turned and leaned her head back under the spray. The water quickly soaked her long, chestnut-colored hair, hanging all the way down her back. Miley opened the bottle and squirted out a generous amount of shampoo, enjoying the orange-lemon scent as she worked it into her hair. The length of her hair made shampooing a significant amount of work, but she loved her hair, which she had most definitely inherited from her Mom. Plus, she wanted to look especially good for Lilly today, since Lilly was going to be spending the night tonight.
Miley sighed as she turned, bending her head down under the spray, and now rinsing the shampoo from her thick hair. Sometimes life was so simple, so straightforward, and other times it was so unbelievably confusing. Like with her feelings for Lilly. She loved Lilly with all her heart. Since the two girls had met four years ago, they had become good friends at first, and now the best of friends. Whenever possible, they were together, either by themselves or with their mutual friend Oliver. Miley felt more comfortable around Lilly than around anyone else, even her father. So why can't I tell her that I'm in love with her, she though angrily. Over the last year, Miley had slowly realized that her feelings for Lilly ran deeper than just friendship. Much, much deeper.
When Miley had been dating Jake Ryan, she had missed several important clues. First, she felt guilty for even dating the cute guy, even if he was a dream catch for all the girls in the school. Well, almost all the girls, Miley thought, as a smile crept onto her face. Lilly had never really fallen for his cute face; in fact, Lilly was barely able to stand being around him when he was hanging around Miley. And that made Miley uncomfortable. She had initially thought it was because Lilly had become a fifth wheel, being left out of her and Jake's romance, but Miley soon realized her guilt stemmed from another source: it was really Lilly she wanted in the romance with her, and having Jake instead was slighting Lilly, even if Lilly didn't really know it. Second, even though Jake was cute and made her heart swoon at times, she knew that he didn't really see her as anything special. Her appeal for him was that she didn't fall all over his celebrity like most of the girls and guys in school, making her a novelty. Inside, she knew that eventually that novelty would wear off, and he'd probably move on to someone else at that time. For all his looks, Jake was thoroughly shallow. In contrast, Lilly would always be there for her. Even after Miley and Jake had pushed her aside, Lilly was still there, trying bravely to plod along, to be there for Miley when she needed someone. Third and most importantly, there just wasn't that spark, that jolt of emotion that her Mom and Dad had always talked about when they had kissed for the first time. They had both described it differently, but both made clear that it was like the whole world around them just stopped and went away for a while, and all that could be felt was that connection, that surge of passion for each other. THAT certainly wasn't there with Jake, or with any of the other boys Miley had gone out with.
As Miley's thought came back to the present, she dumbly realized that she had already conditioned her hair and was just about done rinsing that out as well. Grabbing her fluffy body sponge, she squirted the body wash onto it, rubbing it in, then quickly washed the rest of her body. After turning the water temperature down a bit, she rinsed off, then stepped out of the shower and grabbed her lavender towel. Toweling off, she wrapped the towel around her body and started brushing her hair. After the initial brushing, she picked up the dryer and started on her hair. She was planning on leaving it in its natural state of slight curls today, since Lilly thought that looked best on her.
Oh Lilly, I can trust you with Hannah Montana's secret, so why can't I trust you with MY secret? Miley had tried to work up the nerve to tell Lilly how she felt for several months now, but she was still afraid that Lilly wouldn't reciprocate, or worse, that she'd be offended or repulsed by her feelings. She knew Lilly loved her as a friend, but could she love her as anything more?
Down the block, a very similar mental thought process was percolating in the head of Miley's best friend, Lilly Truscott. Unknown to Miley, Lilly had carried the same type of feelings for Miley for nearly three years now. Several times, Lilly had come perilously close to blurting out her feelings for Miley, but each time something had happened to stop her. Like Miley, Lilly was most concerned about how her best friend would take the true depth of her feelings. Would it be the end of their sleepovers, or their laughing and playing with each other, of their frequent hugs and whispers? Or would it be the start of something more, something altogether deeper and more profound? Every time, Lilly had chosen the safe path, the sureness of their friendship over taking a chance on something so much more.
I swear Miley, I love you so much, but I can't take the chance of losing you as a friend. So many times already, Miley had been there when life had threatened to overwhelm Lilly, and Lilly had always been there for Miley when the situation was reversed. Shrugging off further contemplation, Lilly finished getting dressed. She packed a change of clothes and her overnight bag, because she and Miley were off to a local Hannah appearance immediately after school. Afterwards, she was going over to Miley's to spend the night. Mr. Stewart and Miley's brother Jackson were going deep-sea fishing tomorrow, and they expected to be gone most of the day. Since Miley didn't enjoy spending all day alone, she had asked Lilly to stay with her. Lilly, of course, was happy to accept.
"Lilly! Time for you to go to school!" Her Mom's voice called up from downstairs.
"OK Mom! I'm finishing up right now!" Lilly yelled back. She ran down the steps, grabbing her skateboard and helmet on the way out the door. "Love you, see you tomorrow!"
As she slammed the door behind her, she tossed her board down and clipped her helmet on. She then hopped on and started pushing, building up speed as she went toward Miley's house.
Miley saw Lilly approaching, and she couldn't help but grin. Lilly always looked so cute on her skateboard, and as she got closer, cute gave way to beautiful. Her silky blonde hair blowing behind her, her adorable omnipresent smile, even the way she carried herself went straight to Miley's heart. Miley adored the way she skated, riding fearlessly right up to that section of sidewalk that the city had started tearing up. It was like she had no concern about the broken concrete at all. Hey wait... "Lilly! Look out for that-"
The warning got Lilly's attention, but unfortunately, it made her focus more on Miley and not on the concrete. As her wheels dropped into the cracks and the board pitched her to the side, she was just barely able to leap off, aiming fairly well for a large shrubbery beside the sidewalk. Shoouuushh!!
"Sweet niblets!" Miley yelled, as she dropped her books and ran toward Lilly's legs, which were poking out of the top of the shrubbery, waving a bit wildly. "Lilly! Are you okay? I am so sorry, I didn't even think about that bad place in the sidewalk, I mean they just started working on it yesterday evening, and I so hope you're okay-"
"Mmmpmhtthphh!" Lilly was trying to say something, and that was enough to stop Miley's running off at the mouth, at least for the moment. Finally, Miley was able to grab the top of Lilly's shirt and pull her out of the shrubbery. However, just as she got Lilly upright, she stepped back onto Lilly's skateboard, with predictable results. "Eeeeepp!!" The board surged forward, Miley surged backward, and poor Lilly was just along for the ride again. This time, Lilly's landing was a bit softer, as Miley broke her fall. Thankfully, Miley was able to get her arms behind her in time to partially shield her head, but that left her stomach unprotected, and Lilly knocked the breath out of her when the two girls hit.
For Lilly, this fall was worse than the first, not physically but emotionally. She heard the thump as Miley hit the sidewalk, and the audible rush of breath leaving her friend's lungs was scary. She quickly rolled along with the fall, getting off Miley as fast as possible, then she scrambled around, crawling over to Miley.
"Miles! C'mon Miley, are you okay?" Lilly yelled, checking her friend, who appeared to be stunned. "Miley, I am SO sorry, I tried to roll off you, but I know that hurt you!" she yelled, now rather scared. She checked Miley's eyes, which seemed to be having a bit of difficulty focusing, but she noted with relief that the girl she secretly loved was breathing steadily. "Miley, can you try to stand up?" Lilly asked. Not getting a response, she started helping Miley stand, which was an iffy proposition. "Okay Miles, you can start helping here any time," she muttered.
Finally getting Miley on her own two feet, Lilly cautiously relaxed her grip to see what would happen. Not surprisingly, Miley's legs started to buckle, and Lilly found herself holding up all ninety-nine pounds of Miley. Going with the flow and more than a bit fueled by adrenaline, Lilly bent down and swung her left arm under Miley's knees, lifting her off the ground and into her arms. "Okay Miss Stubborn, if you're not gonna walk, then I'll just carry you to your house!" Lilly said, as she set off, staggering a bit but making fairly good time.
Thankfully, they were just a block from Miley's house, so Lilly reached the front door quickly. Not wanting to try to set Miley down, Lilly got close to the door and started kicking it. After a few thumps, she waited for Mr. Stewart to open the door.
As the door swung open, Robbie Ray's expression quickly turned from annoyance to concern as Lilly pushed past him, carrying Miley to the couch. "What the Sam Hill happened, Lilly?"
Lilly laid her best friend on the couch as gently as she could, then she settled a pillow under Miley's head. "We kind of had an accident, Mr. S. Well, two accidents. Well, actually, I had two accidents, and Miley only had one, but I think she got the breath knocked out of her, and she might have hit her head on the ground when she fell," she spit out rapid-fire. Without even thinking, Lilly swept a few strands of hair out of Miley's face, a look of deep concern on her face as she studied Miley, who was starting to stir.
Robbie Ray noticed the look that Lilly was giving Miley, and he quite correctly interpreted it as more than just friendly concern. He had watched the growing connection between the two girls for the last few years, and he figured the time would soon come where he would have to have a slightly different "birds and bees" talk with his daughter. "Lilly, you watch her while I get an icepack, 'kay?" he said, moving to the kitchen.
While Robbie Ray went into the kitchen, Lilly gently lifted Miley's head, feeling for any bumps on the back of her skull. Finding a fairly large one, she winced for her friend. Glancing over at Miley's dad, who was busy getting ice out of the freezer and stuffing it into a Ziploc bag, Lilly boldly placed a gentle kiss on Miley's forehead, her heart thrumming rapidly as she did so. "C'mon Miles, wake up," she murmured. "Please, I am so sorry that I landed on you, now you need to wake up and tell me you're okay." Lilly felt the tears start to form, and she was surprised that it had taken this long for them to begin. Maybe the shock and the need to get Miley here had suppressed her fear up to this point. Running her left hand through Miley's dark brown hair, Lilly kept talking to her. "Miley, you need to wake up, sweetie, please..."
Miley's eyes fluttered open as Robbie Ray turned and started walking over to the couch. "Wha ... Lilly? Are you okay, Lils?" Miley muttered, her face weakly turning toward Lilly.
Lilly's tears flowed a bit more freely, but she smiled as she said, "I'm okay now, Miles. Now that you're awake." Again, without even thinking, she leaned forward and kissed Miley on the forehead again, lingering just a bit this time. ARGH! Could you be ANY more OBVIOUS!?! she thought. Leaning back a bit, she looked down into Miley's eyes. The stunning blue orbs were teeming with tears as Miley gazed intensely up into Lilly's matching blue gaze.
"You're sweet, Lilly," she said gently. "Don't remember getting back here, the last thing I remember was trying to stop you from falling again." She closed her eyes momentarily, her head pounding. "Owww! What happened to my head?" she said weakly.
Lilly took the icepack from Robbie Ray, who handed it to her. Lilly found it slightly odd that Miley's dad wasn't putting the icepack on her head himself; he seemed to be holding back a bit, letting Lilly nurse Miley for the time being. Lilly lifted her gaze to look him in the eyes, giving him a smile that wordlessly conveyed her sentiments: Thank you for letting me take care of her. He smiled back, a warm smile that Lilly found comforting and ... accepting. In that moment, Lilly felt that something had passed between them, something now implicitly understood, but not until later would she take the time to think about what exactly it was.
Turning her attention back to Miley, she gently lifted Miley's head off the pillow. "Miley, you hit your head on the sidewalk, I think. Let me get this icepack on the big ol' knot you have back here." She slipped the icepack under Miley's head, then gently eased her head back onto it, settling it softly.
"Thanks, Lilly, you're so good to me," Miley said, a bit more strongly than before. She managed a smile as she opened her eyes again, looking up into Lilly's eyes. That smile surged into Lilly's heart, suddenly making things seem better.
"Well, someone has to be there to catch you when you fall, clumsy," she said with a smile. "Of course, this time I think you were the one who broke my fall, and you definitely got the worst of it." Lilly was glad the tears were slowing at this point.
Miley lifted her left arm up, gently cupping Lilly's helmet and giving it a soft shake. "Maybe I should wear one of these all the time, huh?" she said.
Lilly hadn't even realized she still had her helmet on. "Yeah, that might not be a bad idea, Miles," she said, while thinking, But then I wouldn't be able to see that beautiful hair of yours.
"Wha' was that last bit, Lils?" Miley mumbled, her eyes fluttering closed again.
CRAP! Did I actually say that out loud? Lilly thought furiously. Oh well, might as well fess up. "I said, then I wouldn't be able to see that beautiful hair of yours," she said.
Miley smiled. "Hmm, then I guess no helmet for me," she said softly as she drifted into sleep.
Lilly looked at Miley's face closely for another minute or two. Satisfied that Miley was safely asleep and not having any difficulty breathing, she arranged the pillows around her neck and head, then stood, unclipping her helmet and taking it off as she did so. She tossed it onto the nearby chair, then sat down on the floor beside the couch, leaning next to Miley as she slept.
Robbie Ray walked over to Lilly and said, "Lilly, here's a washcloth to wash your face. I'll get some alcohol to clean off those scrapes you got there."
Lilly reached up to her face, wincing as she felt a stinging when she ran her hand over her right cheek. Looking at her hand, she saw smears of blood on her fingers. She hadn't even thought that she might have been hurt, she had been completely focused on getting Miley back to her house.
As Robbie Ray came back from the bathroom, he sat down next to Lilly on the floor. He took the washcloth from Lilly's hand and rubbed it across her face, getting the bits of sticks and blood off. Next he took the alcohol-soaked cotton and swabbed it across the scrapes on Lilly's cheeks. "Sorry Lilly, but this needs to be done," he said apologetically.
"Owwww!!" Lilly cried as she reflexively jerked back. "Sorry Mr. Stewart, I know you're just helping, but that really stings," she said. Looking back over at Miley, she said, "Do you think she's going to be okay?" While Miley seemed okay, Lilly knew that sometimes blows to the head could be tricky.
Robbie Ray took a moment to quietly assess Lilly. That girl had blood running all the way down her face onto her neck, and she didn't even know it, she was so focused on getting my girl back home. "I think she's going to be just fine, Lilly, thanks to you getting her back here." He smiled. Leaning over, he pulled Lilly into a hug. "Thank you darlin', for getting Miles back home like you did. Did you realize that you carried her the whole way back here? I didn't know a little thing like you was quite so strong!" He released the hug, but Lilly held on.
"I was so scared, Mr. Stewart! I mean, I ... I had fallen into a bush when my skateboard hit a bad patch of 'crete, and I guess that's when I must have scraped my face. Miley was pulling me out, but right as I was getting back on my feet, something happened and she fell and pulled me backwards. I couldn't do anything about it – I landed right on her, and I think that's when she hit her head! It's all my fault!" Sobs overtook Lilly at that time, and anything else she was trying to say was drowned out.
"Awww Lilly, it was NOT your fault," Robbie Ray said. "You said yourself there was nothin' you coulda done, it all happened so fast." He stood, helping Lilly up. "Here," he said, setting Lilly down into the nearby chair and grabbing her helmet. He then scooted the chair next to the couch, so the two girls could be next to each other. "You sit right here and close your eyes, because I think Miley needs someone next to her when she wakes up, and I bet you could use some rest too. I'll go get the rest of your stuff from outside."
Lilly was more than happy to comply. "Mr. Stewart, will you call my Mom and tell her where I am, please?" She took Miley's left hand in her own left hand, lying back in the soft chair. "Oh, I guess we're not going to school today, huh?" she said, her eyes closing against her will.
Robbie Ray smiled as he looked back, opening the door. "I'll be happy to tell her what happened, Lilly, and I'll call the school, too, so they know where you girls are. I'm just glad you girls are alright."