A/N: The idea for this story came from part of one of my favorite songs - "Where've You Been", by Kathy Mattea - and some great ideas from two great friends of mine. So it is to them, Gail and Miss V, that I dedicate this story. I'd also like to dedicate it to Kurrent, who is still my favorite author :) I hope you all like it...
"BACK TO YOU"
Susan Olivia Truscott-Stewart made her way slowly through the antiseptic white lobby of Good Samaritan Hospital, nodding to the nurse on duty at the admissions desk as she passed by. The nurse smiled a little in greeting. Susan had become fairly well known to most of the hospital staff, having been a constant visitor for over a month now. Everyone understood why she was there, and did their best to act as friendly towards her as they could.
A long white passageway connected to the lobby led to a row of elevators, and soon Susan found herself on the sixth floor, approaching the room she'd spent so much time in lately. The sight that greeted her when she entered Room 612 was almost exactly the same as the last time she had been there, not quite 24 hours ago.
"Hey momma," she called out softly. An older woman with long curly brown hair turned to look at her, smiling when she did so.
"Hey baby girl," Miley greeted her daughter. "Glad you came back."
"Like she had a choice," another voice said jokingly. "You two would've disowned her otherwise!"
"No one had to make me come here, Uncle Oliver," Susan responding, walking over to hug her mother. "This is where my mom is, so this is where I'm gonna be."
"I know Susie," Oliver replied, smiling gently. "Just giving you a hard time, girl."
"You wouldn't be my Uncle Oliver if you didn't," Susan said with a grin.
"Well, now that you're here, I'm gonna go," he announced, standing up from the chair he'd been sitting in.
"You don't have to go, Ollie," Miley said to him.
"Yeah, I do… the three of you need to spend some time alone. I'll see you tomorrow, Miles." He hugged her warmly, and gave Susan a quick kiss on the top of her head. Then he walked slowly over to the hospital bed they were all gathered around and gently kissed the forehead of the blonde haired woman lying there.
"Let her know I was here, if she wakes up," he said softly. Miley nodded.
"I will," she said simply. Oliver smiled sadly and quickly left the room. When they were alone, Susan sat beside Miley at the foot of the bed and took the unconscious woman's free hand in her own; Miley firmly held the other.
"So how's mom doing today?" Susan asked carefully.
"A little better," Miley replied hopefully. "The doctors said the pressure's gone down some. She could wake up at any time."
"She will, momma," Susan said softly. "She'll come back to us; we just gotta give her time."
"I know," Miley responded. "I know she will. I just… miss her so much." She lifted her unconscious wife's hand to her cheek and squeezed her eyes shut, refusing to let her beloved daughter see her cry.
"Momma… please don't cry," Susan whispered.
"I'm sorry," Miley managed. "I just can't bear the thought of losing her…"
"You're not gonna lose her," Susan said firmly. "Mom knows how much we both love her, and she's gonna come back to us." Impulsively, she wrapped her free arm around her mother and hugged her tightly.
"Have I told you how much I love you, baby girl?" Miley managed through her tears, returning her daughter's hug.
"Only every day since I was born," Susan replied with a smile. "You and mom always made sure I knew how much you both loved me." Miley smiled as well.
"You were our precious angel… our miracle," she told her beloved daughter, her voice growing husky. "You always will be."
"Trying to make me cry now, momma?" Susan teased, feeling tears prick her sapphire eyes. "I love you too… both of you. I've always felt like the luckiest girl in the world, having two wonderful mothers like you."
"We were the lucky ones," Miley said softly. "We almost lost you… but God gave you to us, and we cherished every single day we had together." Susan was stunned.
"Momma… what do you mean, you almost lost me?"
"We never told you, did we?" Miley asked her. Susan shook her head. "I guess we were too afraid to talk about it… 'cause it would've been like reliving it; but I s'pose enough time has passed now that I can finally talk about it again." She looked up at her daughter then, and took a deep breath.
"Lilly… your mom… was a little over eight months pregnant with you when she went into premature labor…"
"Miley!!" Lilly cried out from the bathroom of the room she and her wife now shared in the Stewart residence. Miley was at her wife's side in moments.
"What is it? What's wrong?" she asked hurriedly.
"I think… I think my water just broke…!"
"What?! Are you sure?" Miley gasped. Lilly was only barely eight months along, and it was still way too soon for her to have the baby. Miley paled slightly when Lilly gestured at the small drops of liquid slowly falling near her feet.
"It just… started happening…" Lilly stammered, her voice trembling. Miley felt her heart begin to race, but for Lilly's sake, she knew she had to stay calm.
"Okay, don't get upset, baby," she managed. "You're going to be okay… both of you." She rested her hand for a moment on Lilly's swollen stomach. "Hurry up and get dressed and I'll get daddy to drive us to the hospital!" Lilly nodded and Miley raced downstairs, where she found her father getting ready to make dinner.
"Daddy!" she called out to him. Robbie Ray looked up sharply, alarmed at the urgency in his daughter's voice.
"What is it, bud? What's wrong?" he asked as she came running up to him.
"It's Lilly!" she gasped, feeling out of breath. "She thinks her water just broke! We gotta get her to the hospital!" Robbie Ray didn't argue – he knew better when it came to his daughter and her wife. Instead, he just nodded.
"Okay bud, try to stay calm. I'll get the car and meet you by the front door!"
Not quite an hour later, Lilly found herself lying in a hospital bed in the maternity ward, getting ready to give birth. Her water had indeed broken, and despite the doctors' attempts to stop it, she was already in hard labor.
Miley, of course, refused to leave her wife's side. She held Lilly's hand, carefully brushed the damp strands of hair away from her face and told her over and over again how much she loved her and that everything was going to be all right.
"Miley, I'm scared…" Lilly whispered. She stiffened as another contraction hit her.
"I'm right here, Lils; I'm not gonna let anything happen to you."
"I'm not worried about me," Lilly replied, sucking in a breath. "I'm scared for the baby!"
"The baby's gonna be fine," Miley replied softly. Lilly frowned.
"Miley Ray Truscott-Stewart… I know you better than anyone, and I know you're lying to me!"
"You don't know the baby is gonna be all right! How can you say that?!"
"Lilly, please calm down," Miley pleaded with her. "Please, you might hurt yourself!"
"You don't know that," Lilly managed, wincing from the pain of another contraction. "How do you know I'm not gonna die right here?!"
"You are NOT gonna die!" Miley snapped, Lilly's terrible words finally hurting her enough to unleash all the emotions she'd been trying to hold in. "You're not gonna die, 'cause I can't live without you, you hear me?! I need you in my life, Lillian Danielle Truscott-Stewart, so don't you even talk like that!" Tears began to stream down Miley's cheeks, and Lilly felt a terrible pang of guilt for making the woman she loved more than life itself cry. Carefully, she reached up to wipe away her beloved wife's tears. Not surprisingly, she began to cry as well.
"I'm so sorry, Miley… please don't cry. I'm not going to leave you, I promise." She squeezed Miley's hand gently. Their tender moment was interrupted by another contraction, the strongest one yet.
"Ow, ow, ow, OW!!" Lilly shouted in pain. The various monitors and machines in the room began to emit shrill beeps and alarms. A doctor and a nurse hurried into the room a few moments later, and after quickly checking all the monitors, announced it was time for the baby to be born.
"I'm sorry miss, but I'm afraid you'll have to leave now," the nurse told Miley.
"She's my wife, and she's not going anywhere," Lilly managed, the protectiveness in her voice making Miley smile.
"Al right," the nurse said, backing away. Smiling, the doctor took his position.
"Okay, Miley, now help Lilly remember her breathing exercises. Lilly, when I tell you… push." The delivery went very quickly, and not even fifteen minutes later, a small, weak cry echoed through the small room.
"Congratulations," the doctor said. "It's a girl!" Miley looked at Lilly and smiled, joyful tears shining in her eyes.
"You did it, Lilly-bear," she whispered lovingly to her wife.
"Where is she?" Lilly asked softly. "Where's our baby?" Miley looked over at the doctor, smiling. Her smile quickly faded when she saw the serious expression on the doctor's face.
"What's wrong?" Miley asked him, her voice tight.
"I'm afraid she's having some trouble breathing," the doctor said heavily. "When babies are born prematurely, as yours was, their lungs may not be fully developed. We need to get her to the NICU right away!"
"What?!" Lilly gasped, struggling to sit up. Miley had to fight to keep her from doing so.
"Lilly, stop! You'll hurt yourself!"
"What about our baby?!" Lilly shouted. Miley swallowed, feeling tears spring to her eyes again. She looked over just in time to see the doctor place their newborn daughter in a small incubator. She looked so small, and so fragile…
"Doctor?" Miley managed, trying not to cry. "When can we see her?"
"I'll let you know," he responded. "It may be a while; but we'll do everything we can for your baby, you have my word." Then they were gone, leaving Miley and Lilly alone. What should have been a joyous occasion had suddenly become a frightening one.
"So how is she?" Robbie Ray asked his daughter a few tense days later. Although Lilly had been released from the hospital the day before, their infant daughter still remained in the NICU, fighting for her life.
"I don't know, daddy," Miley replied sadly. "The doctors have been giving her this stuff to help her breathe, but…" Her voice broke.
"Oh, daddy!" She broke down, sobbing, in his arms. "Why is this happening?!" Robbie Ray held his daughter close, gently stroking her long auburn hair as he tried his best to comfort her.
"I don't know darlin'," he said softly. "I really don't. Only God can answer that."
"She's our little girl, daddy," Miley whimpered. "We can't lose her… we can't!"
"Listen to me, Miley," Robbie Ray whispered to her. She looked up at her father, her face stained with tears.
"I have never known anyone as loving and devoted as you and Lilly are; you're gonna be wonderful parents, and I don't believe for a moment God is going to take that away from you."
"Thanks… dad," a quiet voice replied. Robbie Ray turned his head to see Lilly slowly coming down the stairs.
"I thought you were supposed to resting," he said lightly as she walked towards them. Lilly was taking things even harder than Miley, if that was even possible; she blamed herself for their daughter's condition, and nothing anyone said seemed to convince her otherwise.
"I can't rest while my… while our little girl is still in that awful place," Lilly said solemnly. She looked exhausted – neither she nor Miley had been able to sleep much - but the old fire was there. Robbie Ray held out an arm to her, and she gratefully allowed him to wrap it around her in a hug.
"Love you, dad," Lilly sniffled.
"I love you too," Robbie Ray said softly. "Both of you; and I'll always be here when you need me… that's what us daddies do." His words finally coaxed a small smile out of Miley. They remained that way, the three of them silently hugging each other, for a long moment. Then Robbie Ray gently released his daughters and took a breath.
"Now, we're going to do what we Stewarts have always done when things look bad and we need a little guidance," he said calmly. Miley nodded and took her father's hand. He held out his other to Lilly, and she uncertainly took it, wondering what her father-in-law had planned. When she saw Robbie Ray and Miley lower their heads, she realized they were going to pray. Lilly herself had never been a very religious person, but if ever there was a time she needed faith, it was now. She lowered her head as well, and Robbie Ray began to speak.
"Lord, please bless our little Susan and let your grace and mercy carry her through the trials and tribulations she's already had to endure so early in life. Miley and Lilly love her more than life itself, and they'll be the best mothers she could ever hope for, if you'll just give them the chance. In Jesus' name we pray… Amen."
"Amen," Miley & Lilly echoed simultaneously.
"Thank you, daddy," Miley whispered.
"Anytime," Robbie Ray replied with a small smile.
"Feel any better, Lils?" Miley gently asked her wife.
"I'll feel better when I can hold our little girl in my arms," Lilly replied sadly
"You will," Miley told her. "We both will, I promise."
Sometime later, Miley and Lilly again visited the NICU at Good Samaritan, where little Susan rested in her incubator. The doctor caring for her stood nearby, checking her charts.
"How is she, doctor?" Lilly asked quietly, never taking her eyes off of the precious child in front of her.
"She's not responding to the treatments as well as we'd hoped," the doctor said gravely. "I'm afraid there may not be much more we can do." Lilly whirled around to stare at him, her face distraught.
"What?! W-what are you saying?!" Lilly gasped. Tear shone in her eyes. The doctor drew in a breath.
"The ventilator is doing all her breathing for her," he said heavily, staring down at little Susan. "If she doesn't start doing so on her own, and soon…" He left the sentence unfinished, but its terrible meaning was all too clear. Lilly couldn't respond. Overcome, she sagged against her wife, sobs shaking her body. Miley wrapped her arms tightly around Lilly, holding her wife to her as they cried together.
"Why can't she breathe on her own, Doctor Burns?" Miley managed through her tears. "What's wrong with our baby?!" Doctor Burns, a middle-aged man with thinning gray hair, sighed deeply.
"Like other babies born prematurely before her, little Susan's lungs didn't have the chance to fully form before she entered the world. In her case, the air sacs in her little lungs aren't doing what they're supposed to. They open just fine, but they stick together and won't stay open, because her body isn't producing enough of a special lubricating substance called 'surfactant'."
"Can't you do something?" Miley demanded, tears streaking down her face.
"Normally, yes," Doctor Burns said quietly. "We've been giving her doses of artificial surfactant, hoping it would help her until her body began to produce enough on its own. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be helping her at all. Unless she begins to show some improvement soon…"
"No…" Miley whimpered, feeling Lilly's sobs worsen. "No, please… this can't be happening! It just can't!!"
"I'm very sorry," Doctor Burns whispered, though he knew the words were terribly inadequate. Finally, knowing there was truly nothing he could do to help the poor young couple, he turned and walked out of the room. Miley and Lilly remained in each other's arms, sobbing together, for long moments afterward.
Finally, Miley led Lilly over to poor little Susan's incubator. Although they couldn't hold her, surrounded as she was by all the tubes and wires from all the machines trying to keep her alive, small open holes on either side of the clear incubator allowed Miley and Lilly to reach inside and offer their daughter a comforting touch at least. Slowly, carefully, Miley reached inside the incubator to touch their infant daughter's tiny hand. Susan responded by wrapping her little hand around her mother's gentle finger, cooing slightly. Miley flinched slightly, the brief loving moment between her and her daughter becoming almost painful.
"Lilly," Miley whispered to her beloved wife. "Baby, I know how much it hurts, but we've got to try and be there for her right now. She needs us." Lilly managed to nod, and she looked up from where she'd had her face buried in Miley's shoulder. Blinking back tears at the sight of their beautiful baby girl, Lilly reached her hand into the second opening on the incubator and gently rested her hand on little Susan's head. Again, the baby cooed softly. For the briefest of moments, a tiny smile appeared on her innocent little face. Then she slowly closed her eyes. Moments later, shrill alarms began to sound from the various monitors and machines around them.
"NO!!" Lilly cried out in despair. "No, please…!" She gently stroked her thumb across the soft skin of little Susan's forehead.
"Please, God, no…" Miley whimpered again. "Please don't take her from us!" Doctor Burns chose that moment to rush back into the room, flanked by a pair of NICU nurses. Miley and Lilly were forced to back away to let them do their work, and could do nothing but stand and watch helplessly.
Tears blurring her sight, Miley watched as Doctor Burns immediately began applying a gentle form of CPR on the too-still infant before him. He repeated the motions over and over again, each time with more urgency, but the heart rate monitor stubbornly refused to change its offensive monotone.
Unable to continue watching, Miley turned away and buried her face in her wife's shoulder. They stood there together, clinging to each other in their shared grief, finding comfort only in each other's arms. After a moment, Miley reached out and took one of Lilly's hands in her own and softly began to whisper the words of a prayer. Lilly heard her and joined in.
Suddenly, the sound of the heart rate monitor started to grow louder, the slow, steady beeps slowly becoming more rapid.
"What's going on?" Lilly whispered through her tears. Miley shook her head.
"I don't know," she said sadly. She watched as Doctor Burns began checking the various monitors and machines, his face betraying no emotions. Swallowing, Miley looked over at the incubator where little Susan still lay… and was astonished to see her brilliant blue eyes were now wide open, and staring back at her two mothers. Miley's own eyes widened to match those of her daughter.
"Lilly!" she gasped. "Lilly, her eyes are open again!"
"She's… she's looking at us, Miley!" Lilly whispered loudly.
"I'm not sure how this is possible," Doctor Burns announced, "but her heart rate has returned to normal!" He sounded truly astonished. Miley and Lilly looked at each other with tearful hope in their eyes. Then little Susan did the last thing anyone had ever expected her to do… she coughed.
"Doctor!" one of the nurses called out. "The baby… I think she just took her first breath on her own!" Doctor Burns sprinted over to the incubator, where he quickly examined the precious infant lying inside it. He then looked up at another of the monitors.
"My God," he whispered. "She did. It was only for a moment, but…" He looked over at Milly and Lilly incredulously.
"I don't know how this is possible," he said, his voice filled with awe, "but your daughter… is breathing. A moment ago I could've sworn we were about to lose her, but now…"
"I don't understand," Miley said hesitantly, refusing to get her hopes up after everything that had happened. "Are you saying… are you saying she's going to be okay?"
"I don't know," Doctor Burns admitted, "but she's certainly made an incredible turnaround, and for no reason I can medically determine."
"Maybe it doesn't matter," Miley replied quietly. "Maybe all that matters… is that she's still here with us." She turned to Lilly, and they walked hand in hand back over to the incubator together. As soon as little Susan saw them, the precious little girl smiled happily up at her tearful mothers. Miley couldn't help but smile back, a single tear trickling down her cheek. She carefully reached her hand through the access hole and into the incubator again, and to her surprise, little Susan reached up to grasp her mother's finger all by herself. Lilly reached into the other access hole and began to gently stroke the baby's full head of dark brown hair. Little Susan responded by cooing happily.
"She's so beautiful," Lilly whispered.
"She's an angel," Miley replied softly. "Just like her momma." She looked up at Lilly and smiled, the first time she'd done so in days.
Little Susan slowly continued to improve each day, gradually overcoming the difficulties that had nearly ended her young life. At the end of her first week, she was finally able to breathe well enough on her own to be taken off the ventilator. Even so, she still had to remain in the hospital for another full week before the doctors finally released her to go home.
When Miley and Lilly walked in the front door of the Stewart home, finally bringing their baby home, they found Robbie Ray, Jackson, Oliver and Heather Truscott waiting for them. A large banner that read 'Welcome Home' hung from the ceiling. Miley walked in first, diaper bag slung over one shoulder, followed by Lilly, who carried little Susan in her car seat.
"Welcome home, girls," Robbie Ray greeted them warmly. "How's she doing?"
"See for yourself," Miley replied, smiling happily. They walked into the living room, where Lilly set down the car seat and carefully removed the protective blanket covering it. Little Susan cooed happily as Lilly lifted her gently out of the seat. Holding the baby in her arms, Lilly walked over to Miley, who gave them both a gentle kiss. She looked up at her father.
"Come meet your granddaughter," Miley said happily, beaming as she wrapped her arms around her beloved family. Robbie Ray carefully stepped forward, feeling his breath taken away when his eyes finally met the deep blue eyes of his first granddaughter.
"She's beautiful, bud," he said quietly. Susan gurgled happily and reached out towards her grandfather, eyes wide.
"I think she wants to see her grandpa," Lilly said with a smile. She carefully handed little Susan over to her grandfather, who reverently held her in his arms.
"I think grandpa wanted to see her too," Jackson said, chuckling. Miley didn't reply; she was absorbed in watching her father holding his granddaughter – her daughter – for the very first time. Though he would later deny it, she could see tears in his eyes.
"and that's how it happened," Miley finished. "God gave you back to us… and we cherished every single moment with you." She looked up at her now-grown daughter and smiled.
"Momma, I… I had no idea…" Susan stammered.
"Of course you didn't, sweetheart," Miley replied. "There's no way you could possibly remember any of it. The important thing is, you're still here with us… and I couldn't be more proud of you if I tried." Susan managed a watery smile and pulled her mother to her in a fierce hug.
"I love you, momma," she whispered.
"I love you too, baby girl," Miley whispered back in a voice full of love and pride. They stayed that way, in each other's arms, for several long moments, until they began to notice sudden movement beside them. Susan looked up to see her unconscious mother beginning to groggily moan and stir.
"Momma!" she cried out. "I think she's waking up!" Miley pulled away from her daughter's embrace and darted towards the head of the bed, just in time to see Lilly finally open her eyes.
"Lilly!" Miley gasped. "Baby, can you hear me?" Lilly blinked her eyes a few times and struggled to take in her surroundings.
"Where… where am I?" she asked weakly.
"You're in the hospital, baby," Miley whispered to her, blinking back tears. "You were in a bad accident, but everything's going to be okay." Lilly looked up at Miley, an uneasy expression on her face.
"Who are you?" she asked quietly. With those words, Miley felt her world come crashing down.
"I'm afraid amnesia is not uncommon with head injuries," Doctor Thompson said calmly. She was a tall, slender woman with a faint English accent. She wore her dark auburn hair up in a tight bun, and regarded Miley from behind a pair of silver-rimmed glasses.
"I know this is difficult for you, Miss Stewart, but please understand that there are no definite answers when it comes to this kind of situation," the doctor continued. "Your wife could regain her memory at any time… or not at all."
"Is there anything I can do to help her remember?" Miley asked sadly.
"You can try to show her familiar things, see if she recognizes them, but there's no guarantee it'll work," Doctor Thompson replied. "Right now, he best thing you can give Lilly is time." Straightening her glasses, she turned and slowly walked away. Miley took a deep breath and walked back into Lilly's hospital room. The last few weeks had been hell – and it seemed the fates weren't done tormenting her yet.
"What'd the doctor say, momma?" Susan asked as Miley walked in. She stood near Lilly's bed, arms crossed over her chest like she was trying to hug herself. Though she was trying to show it, for everyone's sake, she too was extremely worried about Lilly's condition. All she wanted to do was hug her mother and tell her how much she loved her, and how much she'd missed her, but Lilly didn't seem to remember her daughter any more than she did Miley… or anything.
"She said there's no way of knowing how long Lilly's amnesia could last," Miley replied softly. "It could even be permanent." Unable to look at her daughter once the terrible news had been delivered, Miley walked slowly over to Lilly's bed.
"How are you feeling, Lils?" she asked her wife carefully.
"Okay, I guess," Lilly replied uncertainly. "Miley, right?"
"That's right," Miley answered, trying to hide the pain in her voice. "I'm your… best friend." She felt Susan's gaze on her then, and knew what her daughter must be thinking, but had decided that there was only so much she could ask the amnesiac Lilly to accept all at once.
"Oh, that's right," Lilly said, sounding embarrassed. "You told me that before didn't you? I'm sorry."
"That's all right; I know you're going through a tough time right now." Lilly swallowed.
"Yeah, I guess you could say that. It's really scary, not remembering anything about yourself or about your life..." She looked up at Miley. "…or the people important to you."
"You will, Lilly," Miley told her, her heart aching. "Just give it time." Lilly nodded uncertainly. Swallowing again, she looked over at Susan, who was standing nearby.
"I'm sorry… what was your name again?"
"Susan," her daughter replied quietly. "My name's Susan."
"That's right," Lilly said distantly. "Thank you for staying here with me all this time. You've been really nice to me, and I can't even remember your name…" She looked away then, tears filling her eyes. Swallowing, Susan walked over to her.
"Please don't cry," she whispered to her mother. "You'll remember everything in time, and then we'll all have a big laugh about this." Her voice cracked as she said it though, and Lilly could tell she wasn't being entirely truthful.
"So how do I know you?" Lilly asked her. She had a feeling she knew this young girl very well, though she couldn't quite put her finger on exactly how. Susan looked over at Miley, silently asking her mother how she should answer. The expression on Miley's face seemed to plead with her not to tell the truth, but Susan just couldn't bring herself to do it.
"Well, actually… I'm your daughter," Susan answered Lilly honestly. Lilly blinked.
"My daughter?" Lilly repeated. "You're my daughter?" Susan nodded.
"I have a daughter… and I can't even remember her." Lilly turned away, unable to deal with all the emotions that now threatened to overwhelm her. "If you're my daughter… where's your father?"
"I, uh… I don't have a father," Susan managed. "I have two wonderful mothers instead." Lilly blinked.
"Then who's…?" She didn't finish the question; she didn't have to. Somehow, she just knew.
"You," she said to Miley. "You're her mother too... aren't you?" Miley nodded slowly.
"Yes," she said after a moment. "Susan is our daughter, Lilly." Lilly's damaged mind was racing.
"Tell me the truth, Miley – we're more than best friends, aren't we?" Swallowing, Miley said the only thing she could think of.
"Look at your left hand," she said quietly. Lilly did so, and gasped audibly when the saw the beautiful diamond ring adorning the ring finger of her left hand.
"Oh my god," Lilly managed. "Miley, this is… we're…"
"Take it easy Lilly, please," Miley said to her, fighting to keep her own voice calm. "I know this is a lot to take in…"
"How could I have forgotten all this?" Lilly stammered, fighting back tears. "I have a daughter… and a wife… and I can't remember any of it!" Tears streamed down Lilly's face.
"This isn't fair! This isn't right!" she wailed.
"Lilly, please… it's going to be all right…" Miley tried desperately to calm her wife down, but Lilly would have none of it.
"How can you say that? How can you know that? I want to remember all these things, and I can't!!"
"Lilly…" At that moment, a nurse walked in, alerted by the Lilly's shouting. Noticing Lilly's elevated vital signs on the monitors, she turned to regard Miley and Susan.
"I'm sorry, but I'm afraid you're going to have to leave," she said gently. "Too much stress could cause her condition to deteriorate. She needs to rest now." Miley looked like she was about to argue, but Susan quickly stopped her.
"All right, we'll go," she said simply. She looked over at Lilly. "We'll be back tomorrow morning, mom." She had to practically drag Miley out of the room, and knew she was in for a stinging rebuke once they were alone.
"Why did you do that?!" Miley demanded angrily when they were out of earshot.
"Mom," Susan said calmly. "I know you wanted to say, but you were both getting way too upset and it wasn't helping anything." Miley opened her mouth to argue again, but Susan interrupted her.
"We'll find a way to help mom, I promise… but right now you both need to rest." She fixed her mother with a pleading stare. "Please." For a brief moment, Miley looked like she might argue again, but the words refused to come. Much as she hated to admit it, her daughter was right.
"When did you get so tough?" she said instead, smiling despite the turmoil of her emotions. Susan smiled back.
"I got it from my moms."
The following day, Miley and Susan returned to the hospital to see Lilly again. Susan fervently hoped everyone's emotions would be much more under control than they were the previous day, but she had a terrible feeling that wasn't going to be the case.
"You know momma, I've been thinking," she said to her mother as they rode upstairs on the hospital elevators.
"About what, sweetheart?" Miley asked her, though it was obvious her attention was not truly on her daughter at that moment.
"About how you might be able to help mom remember," Susan replied. Miley looked over at her then, fully focusing on her daughter for the first time.
"What do you mean?"
"You want to show mom things that are familiar, right? Have you thought about just, y'know… just acting normal and acting like you always do with her?"
"You saw how upset she got when she found out we were married…"
"She got upset because she couldn't remember any of it," Susan reminded her. "She still loves you, momma." Miley swallowed.
"You really think so?" she asked.
"I know so, momma; I could see it in her eyes," Susan replied. She carefully took her mother's hand in her own.
"Come on; let's go show mom her family is right here waiting for her." They got off the elevator and walked down the hall to the room they had come to know so well. Lilly was sitting up in bed, trying to watch some television, when Miley and Susan walked in.
"Hi, Lilly," Miley called out weakly. "How are you feeling today?" Lilly looked over at her and smiled.
"Oh, hi Miley," she greeted her. "I'm glad you came back; I'm sorry about last night."
"You don't have anything to be sorry about, Lils," Miley said quietly, walking over to stand beside her amnesiac wife. "We threw an awful lot at you all at once."
"Maybe," Lilly said carefully, "but I'm glad you did."
"You are?" Miley asked her, slightly stunned. Lilly nodded.
"I may not… remember… having a wife and daughter, but you're still my family and I don't want to lose you." Miley blinked back a tear.
"We're not going anywhere, Lils, I promise."
"Yeah, we'll be right here whenever you need us, mom," Susan agreed. Instinctively, Miley reached out and gently took Lilly's hand in her own.
"If this bothers you just let me know, okay?" Miley told her. Lilly swallowed.
"It doesn't," she said quietly. "Actually, it feels… nice." She looked up at Miley.
"Did we, um… did we used to hold hands a lot?" Lilly asked hesitantly. She winced and shook her head. "That's got to be the stupidest thing I've ever said; we're married, of course we did." Miley couldn't help smiling a little bit.
"That's all right, Lils; it was an honest question."
"Thanks," Lilly replied, smiling as well. "This amnesia thing is just really confusing!"
Did she just make a joke? Miley thought to herself. Just like… the old Lilly
"I can imagine," Miley said to her, idly stroking her thumb over Lilly's hand. "Don't worry, we won't hold it against you." Lilly laughed at that, and the sound pulled at Miley's heart strings. She knew they were just little things, but already it was beginning to feel like having the Lilly she remembered back with her again.
"Can I ask you something?" Lilly asked. Miley nodded.
"Of course you can; what is it, Lils?"
"Tell me… tell me about the accident you said I was in; the one that put me here, and took away my memory." Miley swallowed.
"Are you sure? It was pretty bad… you might not want to remember it."
"I wanna know what happened," Lilly said stubbornly. "Please, Miley."
"All right… but don't say I didn't warn you," Miley told her. She took a deep breath.
"We were driving back home after visiting my father, and it was really late. I was driving, and I guess I was more tired than I thought. Of course, you were doing your best to keep me awake…" She smirked a little when she said the last part, and Susan felt herself blush listening to her mother's tale. Much as she loved her mothers, there were some things she didn't need to know her parents were doing.
"Okay, you can just skip that part!" Susan playfully complained. Miley and Lilly both laughed.
"Anyway," Miley continued, "we were almost home, and my mind was definitely on something other than being tired…" She paused when she saw Susan blushing furiously again, and flashed her a grin. "How was that?" she teased her daughter.
"You can skip that part too!" Susan whined.
"Sorry, sweetheart; I'll try to keep the story G-rated from now on, okay?"
"Please do!" Susan said with a laugh of her own. Miley chuckled, then turned back to face Lilly.
"So, just when we were almost home, this…other car… going the opposite direction suddenly swerved right in front of us. Turns out he was drunk. I tried to stop, but it was too late. The last thing I remember is the horrible sound of squealing tires and broken glass… and you screaming." Miley swallowed again and lowered her head, unable to look Lilly in the eyes for a moment. Lilly herself had gone utterly silent. Miley's description of the terrible accident had triggered something deep in her subconscious. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she could see a blinding flash of white light and hear the terrible, thunderous sound of the impact echoing in her ears.
"I woke up in the hospital just like you did," Miley continued on with her story. "Somehow though, I only had a few cuts and scratches. Daddy and Susan were here waiting for me. When they told me you had been badly hurt, and were still unconscious, I… just about lost it. I told them I had to go see you, that you needed me…" Miley's voice broke, the unwelcome memories of that night proving to be just too much.
"Please don't cry," Lilly whispered to her. "I'm still here.. and I still need you." There was one more question she knew she needed to ask though.
"How long was I unconscious?" Lilly asked her tearful wife. Miley drew in a ragged breath.
"Three weeks," she said at last. "You were in a coma for three weeks."
"Momma's been right here with you ever since," Susan added quietly. "She wouldn't leave your side, unless the nurses made her. Even then she threw a fit." Lilly blinked.
"You were here with me… all that time?" she asked in quiet voice. Miley nodded weakly.
"Of course I was; I couldn't leave you." She hung her head. "I love you." Tears stung Lilly's eyes when she heard the confession. She might not remember the love she shared with this woman, but the kind of devotion Miley had just admitted to had touched her deeply. She felt her heart begin to beat faster.
"Come here," she whispered to Miley. Miley took an uncertain step closer to Lilly's bed, their hands still joined, and was astounded when Lilly suddenly pulled her down into a deep, passionate kiss. Susan pretended to avert her eyes, but in truth, she was actually happy to see parents seemingly rediscovering their old feelings. After a long moment the kiss ended, and Miley found herself staring at Lilly in wonder.
"Lilly?" she managed.
"I'm sorry, it's just… that felt right."
"One thing you don't ever have to apologize for is kissing me like that," Miley replied, smiling. "I love you, Lilly." Lilly smiled shyly back.
"I love you too, Miles." Miley blinked.
"What did you just call me?"
"Miley. That's your name, isn't it?"
"No… you called me Miles. Just like… just like you used to."
"I did?" Lilly replied, sounding confused. Miley nodded.
"Yeah you did. Are you feeling okay, Lils?" Lilly shrugged.
"I think so." She rubbed her temples. "Getting a little headache though. Maybe I better lie down for a bit."
"Sure, no problem Lils; we can leave for a while."
"No, please… stay with me, Miles?" she asked pleadingly. Miley swallowed back the lump she felt forming in her throat.
"All right," she said quietly. She pulled a chair over to the side of the bed and sat down, taking Lilly's hand in her own again.
"Now go to sleep," she said softly, reaching out to begin gently stroking Lilly's hair. Lilly smiled and slowly closed her eyes.
As Lilly slept, she began to have a terrible dream. She found herself all alone in an empty, unfamiliar house. Walking along, she stared at rows of pictures on the walls, all of people she didn't recognize. The place felt cold and dark, and eerily quiet, and she began to feel afraid. Then she saw Miley in the distance, standing there smiling at her.
Lilly turned and began to hurry towards her, but suddenly, a crowd of people she didn't know surrounded her, preventing her from reaching Miley. She tried to push her way through them, but it was no use. She could see Miley beginning to walk away, and Lilly cried out.
"Miley!" she shouted at the top of her lungs. "Miley, don't leave me!!"
"Miley!!" Lilly's panicked voice rang out across the small hospital room. Miley, who had dozed off for a moment, jerked awake.
"I'm right here, Lils! What is it?!" she gasped. Lilly threw her arms around Miley and pulled her close, sobs wracking her body.
"Please don't leave me, Miley… please…" she cried. Miley held her and comforted her, running her hands gently up and down Lilly's back.
"Never," she whispered to her beloved wife. "I'll never leave you, Lilly. I love you."
"I l-love you too, Miley… s-so much…" Lilly managed, holding Miley to her. Finally, after a few long moment, Lilly recovered enough to slowly pull away. She looked at Miley, eyes searching her face.
"June," she said quietly. "We were married… in June." Miley nodded slowly.
"Yes… yes we were." At that moment, Susan ran into the room, alarmed by the screaming she'd heard.
"Is everything okay?!" she gasped. Lilly looked over at her.
"You were born… in November," she said slowly. Susan's eyes widened.
"Y-yes, I was," she stammered. "M-mom?" Lilly turned back to look at Miley. The beginnings of a faint smile made their way across her face.
"You are my life, my breath, my heart and my world…" she whispered. Miley felt her heart hammering in her chest.
"Lilly, that… that was what you said…"
"When we got married," Lilly finished for her. "That was part of my vows to you… the day you made me the happiest woman on Earth." A single tear trickled down her cheek.
"Miley, I… I remember! I can remember!!" She practically leapt into Miley's arms, now freely crying tears of joy. "I can remember!!" Miley was crying too, and soon Susan had joined them in a fierce group hug.
"Mom!" Susan cried happily. Lilly kissed her gently on the forehead.
"My sweet baby girl…" she whispered.
"I don't understand," Miley interrupted. "How is this possible? Just a little while ago you could hardly remember anything, and now…"
"I don't know," Lilly answered honestly. She grinned happily. "Does it really matter?"
"No, not really," Miley told her, smiling through her tears. "All that matters is that we have you back."
"I'll always come back to you," Lilly whispered. Then she pulled Miley to her again and kissed her deeply.
"Um… guys?" Susan squeaked. "You know I'm still in the room, right?"