Warnings -- If you want to believe that Miley and Lilly have a happily ever after ending, I'd recommend not reading this. I would really read Unsung before this, as it is a sequel. But you knew that.
So – I did some clean up on this chapter, since I wasn't happy with it. Nothing major.
I've got a hunger twisting my stomach into knots. - Sound of Settling, Death Cab for Cutie
"I can't believe you!"
"Miley, please… don't make this any harder than it needs to be…" Lilly settled her arms tightly around her waist, staring at Miley with stinging eyes.
"I just… You… Get out!" Miley hissed through clenched teeth. Her eyes were set as hard as stone as she looked at her girlfriend. Scratch that, ex-girlfriend.
"I'm sorry…" Lilly rubbed her arm sadly. Three years of her life spent with Miley only to have it end so poorly like this.
"Get out." Miley repeated. She pointed her finger at the door.
"Miles, this is my house." Lilly felt terrible – her eyes prickled desperately, but for the sake of the moment, she held back her tears. Her heart felt like it was being crushed by an overweight Russian man wearing cleats.
"Don't freakin' call me that." Miley was shaking with rage and despair and frustration and hurt and every other emotion possible for an eighteen year old on the edge of breaking. "You don't have that right."
"Fine. Miley, this is my house." Lilly was tired. She glanced down at her hand and spotted the one thing that would help Miley accept the situation, no matter how negative the reaction would be. Although it hurt her emotionally, Lilly pulled the ring off her finger and handed it to Miley. "I'd say that I hope we can still be friends… but I don't know how well that'll work out."
Miley stared at the promise ring that was now in her palm. She finally snapped – without another word, she stomped out of the Truscott house. Legs feeling like jelly, Miley headed for her car. After Jackson had gone away to college, he'd given her the keys to his car on the promise that she wouldn't get make-up all over the interior.
She sat the behind the wheel motionless as minutes eased past. For a while, the tears she had thought were imminent remained locked behind her eyes. Fumbling slightly, she hit the power button on the radio and scanned the stations trying to find something to sooth her nerves. She settled on an empty channel, letting the static wash over her. A good half hour of the white noise had calmed her well enough that she was able to drive. She shoved the key into the ignition and began to drive without any idea of where she was going.
Eventually she pulled off the road and into a parking lot. Her vision had clouded during her hour long drive to nowhere, eyes filling – and spilling – with tears. She still had that darn ring clenched in her fist and she peeled her fingers back, staring at the offensive little thing. When she finally turned her attention away from it, she found herself at an unknown strip of beach. She chuckled weakly and found she couldn't stop; if anybody saw her they might think she was crazy.
Locking the door behind her, Miley hopped out and wobbled through the sand until the water was lapping at her sneakers. She stared down at the ring for some moments and drew her arm back. Motionless, she remained in that pose for what felt like hours instead of the few seconds it truly was. As much pain as it caused her, Miley knew she couldn't throw out the ring that symbolized the promise she'd made to Lilly all those years ago. It just wasn't physically possible.
"What did I do?" She whispered, tucking the ring into a pocket. "Three years together… and I don't know what I did wrong…"
The rapid setting of the sun broke her free from the tortuous thoughts attacking her emotional core. Sighing sadly, Miley trudged back across the beach and into the car. She knocked her shoes thoroughly to rid them of sand before she let her feet enter the automobile. It was then that she realized that she had no idea where she was.
Reaching into her purse, Miley managed to find her cell phone. The first thing that met her eyes upon opening it was a picture of Lilly – Miley flipped to address book as quickly as she possibly could. She scrolled through her list of contacts and settled on one. If someone told her four years ago that she would be calling up Mikayla for support, she would have laughed herself silly.
"Hi, Miley. What's up?" In the three years since meeting Oliver, Mikayla had softened into an entirely new person. While maintaining her professional façade of polite dislike for Hannah Montana, Mikayla had grown inseparably close to Miley. Mikayla's relationship with Oliver had lasted as long as Miley's had with Lilly. Miley cringed to think now that the other two were going to pull ahead.
"I don't know where I am." Miley knew her voice was probably quaking and she tried her hardest not to break down.
"No idea? Street signs?" When Miley didn't respond, Mikayla realized something must be wrong, "Are you at least in California?"
"I think." Miley murmured, "I left Malibu and I think I was headed north."
"How long ago?"
Miley stared at her car's digital clock – the time was around eight at night. She'd gotten to Lilly's at five-thirty in the afternoon and Lilly had wasted no time breaking her heart. "Two hours ago."
"Miles…" Mikayla sighed. "Do you remember anything more?"
"I was hoping you could… I don't know… do a Yahoo map thing." Miley sniffed. "There's a sign near me that says Wachsmaler Beach."
"I'll check. Can you hold on a few minutes while I check it out?"
"Yeah… I've got all the time in the world." Miley muttered. She sat silently while Mikayla ran a quick search on the beach.
"I've got directions, but it'll take me an hour to reach you."
"I just need to know how to get home…" Miley weakly protested.
"No way, Mile. I'm coming to get you." Mikayla put her foot down. No matter how much her personality had morphed during her dating of Oliver, her obstinate nature had remained in tact.
"See you soon…" Miley whispered and shut her phone. She got back out of the car and eased the roof over the car's seats, securing the convertible's top into place. She got back in and rolled all the windows up and locked the doors. It was getting dark out and she didn't want something misfortunate to happen to her.
Sliding the key into the ignition, Miley turned it backwards instead of forward, reviving power to the radio but not starting the engine. The white noise was depressing so she pressed the scan button until some station or another bombarded her ears with a heavy metal band. The lyrics, not that she was in any mood to listen, were drowned out by the righteous guitar and pounding drums. Normally this was the last genre of music she'd listen to, but right then it felt like anything else would mean too much.
If something peppy came on, she'd remember the good times she had with Lilly and then have to realize that she'd never do those things again. If something romantic came on, she'd think about Lilly. If something sad came on, she'd think about Lilly. It was just too dangerous. And besides, she reasoned glumly, it was easy to lose oneself in this kind of music. Just letting the sometimes rhythmic beat pulsate through. No other thoughts. Just that unintelligibly mumbling.
Miley shut her eyes. Her hands fell to her the seat, nails tracing the small stitches that held the car's interior seating together. The hour passed with her mouth duct-tapped shut and her eyes red and glassy, but not wet in the slightest. She had completely zoned out when another car pulled up beside her. Its headlights seemed to pull her out of the mental hole she'd managed to dig herself into, though she wanted to stay deep inside there for the rest of her life.
Mikayla pulled her key free from the ignition but left her headlights on. There was a street lamp nearby, but she wanted as much illumination as possible. One could never be too careful these days. What she saw worried her – Miley had barely responded as the bright lights had flashed through the windows.
It was obvious to Mikayla that something had happened to Miley and also that Lilly was the cause of it. Normally when Miley had a problem, she'd go to Lilly first. But driving out to the middle of nowhere and calling on Mikayla for help definitely meant something was up with Lilly. Mikayla sighed. For someone who was very grounded as far as celebrities went, Miley's life was sure full of drama.
Mikayla stepped out of her car, locking the door behind her. Her car was a slim black Saturn that she had gotten for her eighteenth birthday; she wasn't looking to let it get stolen. Tapping on Miley's window, she tried to get the other girl's attention. Her attempt fell short. Miley's only response was to barely shift.
"Miley Stewart!" Mikayla grumbled loudly, "You drag me out here to the middle of nowhere and then ignore me?"
Miley slowly looked up, knowing how cruddy she must look. Any eye make up she had been wearing had probably been washed down her cheeks long ago. If she looked as good as she felt – she shuddered to think about how that would appear. Regretfully she hit the unlock button on the door.
Mikayla nearly tore the door off its hinges as she yanked the annoying barrier open. She pushed Miley across into the passenger seat and took the driver's seat herself. No sooner had she shut and relocked the doors when Miley tumbled across the distance between them and buried her face into Mikayla's shoulder.
"Shh…" Mikayla wasn't the best at handling these situations, but she did know the basics. "Tell me what happened."
Miley sniffled. She had already finished crying but she felt like bawling all over again. "Lilly… she…"
"Oh." Mikayla rubbed Miley's back. This was a rather unexpected turn of events. She had thought the two girls were really in love. "Why?"
Miley shrugged weakly. She was incredibly tired both physically and emotionally. "Dunno."
"She just said I'm dumping you?" Though she had gotten better at being patient, Mikayla was still Mikayla. The frustration she felt was laced through her voice.
"I guess." Miley rubbed her nose on her sleeve and leaned back into her seat.
"Miley, I could tell you not to take it personally. I could tell you that this was some kind of misunderstanding or something. But really, it's not going to change what you're feeling. So you might as well suck it up." Mikayla knew her words were rough but she didn't know how else to help. "I mean, acting run down around her is the worst thing you could do."
Miley nodded slowly, though it didn't make sense. If she acted sad, then Lilly would feel bad. A wave of guilt hit Miley like a ton of bricks. Even though Lilly had hurt her deeply, she wouldn't wish ill-feelings on the other girl in a million years.
"You're right… I've just got to… stay strong." Miley took a deep breath. "It's killing me inside, but… I can't let her see how much it hurts."
Mikayla smiled hesitantly, "I'd recommend talking to someone, though."
Miley raised an eyebrow.
"Does it have to be me?" Mikayla complained. She was only half-joking.
"You're the only one who knows what's going on. And besides, I bet Ollie's with… with her."
"Why do I get myself into these situations?" Mikayla groaned.
"Because deep down, and I mean deep, deep, deep down, you love me." Miley suggested; Mikayla wasn't sure if she was thankful that Miley's sense of humor had survived.
"Uh-huh." Mikayla rolled her eyes, "Look, it's getting late. We should get you home."
Miley leaned over the seat again to give Mikayla a small hug and a peck on the cheek, "Thanks, Mickey."
Mikayla almost berated Miley for those two small actions, but refrained. She waved a dismissive hand at Miley, "Just follow me until we get back into your neighborhood, okay?"
"Yes," Miley sighed. "I'll be right behind you."
With a toss of her hair, Mikayla left Miley and reentered her own vehicle. When both cars had their engines running, Mikayla lead Miley out onto the highway and down the long strip of road that would take them home.
Lilly sank down in the stiff chair, staring at the clipboard that hung off the edge of her father's bed. She read through the medical information in an attempt to keep herself from thinking about Miley. It was only half working.
"Daddy…" She whispered. Reaching out, she trailed the tips of her fingers along the starched white hospital sheets.