A/N: Okay so the inspiration for this oneshot came from my new song which I obsessively play, Beyonce's "Halo" and also I'm quite alarmed at the amount of fanfictions which are based on Beyonce's song titles (ie more than one lol). Anyway, I also decided that we needed more oneshots of this kind because they've sunk into decline recently. You'll know what I'm talking about when you've read it.
Disclaimer: I do not own Hannah Montana or the rights to any of Beyonce's music.
Remember those walls I built?
Well, baby they're tumbling down
And they didn't even put up a fight
They didn't even make a sound
It is the year 2009 and I never thought the resolution that I made when the clock struck twelve at New Year would come true. I was stood out on my balcony, underneath the twilight with only the sound of the waves to serve as my company. My life had been far from mundane until this point as being Hannah Montana was bound to keep everything flowing in a surging interest. Yet then, however, I had just turned sixteen years old, officially something more of an adult and was waiting to see what the world had in store for me.
"This year, I'm gonna fall in love." I swore to the stars above me, relentlessly keeping them in my gaze, as if I expected them to defy me. I did not know how much they would hold me to my word, it was almost like there was some other force out there which drove me to where I am today, but I will begrudge them nothing of my journey.
I have not written my story down yet, since memories burn brighter than words, which tend to fade and grow ever dustier if not enough attention is paid to them. I do not even know where to begin if I am honest because this thing goes back many years, only I did not realise it until I completed the last chapter.
I shall start with Hannah Montana, because it is with my other identity that everything becomes more problematic anyway, but without complication this would not even be a story. I was only fourteen when I started out, yet as I grew older things inevitably changed, including the kind of people that I attracted to my shows with the development of my adolescence. Thus, in 2009, I was the unhappy recipient of my first proper stalker.
During the early day's, fanatics who came to every show, promised arms and legs for an autograph and practically threw themselves underneath my limousine seemed almost endearing to me. These were the Oliver-types (before he realised I was Hannah of course) and I thought of them as harmless. Heck, I would probably be one of them if my life did not exist within the Hollywood circles. My young crushes on stars like Jesse McCartney are my not-so-proud evidence of this. However, this guy was different and we did wrong to ever even consider underestimating him. His name was John and he was my age at another high school in Malibu. It was unlike my own school though, it was designed to help kids who had issues and I think he had something like Asperger syndrome or a strange branch of autism, which could make him violent. They did not explain this until after it happened though.
He first became a problem to me when I did a show in Albuquerque. Lilly had tagged along and I liked going to that venue because it meant that dad got to stop off and be sentimental. We always visited the diner where he and mum first met; it became a tradition after the day when I almost got struck by lightening. The only way that John strikes a chord in my memory was after the show, he had tried to get backstage but the security threw him out again. I had caught sight of him first though and he looked like a normal guy who had just gotten lost. Now that I look back on it, this was just how he wanted us to see him and I think that is what scares me the most about John. Lilly had been the only one between us to have taken him into any form of account. I remember her now cocking her head to one side as we watched his retreating back; he had already lost my interest.
"Who was that?" She asked me quietly, half questioning him to herself rather than discussing him with me.
I just shrugged her off whilst we walked to my dressing-room, "Just some guy…" That was all he was to me, along with all of the countless other individuals who hung around at my shows, all craving a piece of Hannah Montana.
The next time John resurfaced in my life was while we were leaving a venue in Nashville. He was pressed up against the window of the car and looking for me beyond the tinted glass. His eyes were gazing unseeingly, but that is how I registered him also, without seeing him for what he was. I remember Lilly though, she reached across the back seat to me and squeezed my hand to gain my attention, "Miley, who is that guy? He looks familiar." She noticed him for the second time, yet I did not think to care.
"I don't know. Just some fan." I replied, along with the customary idle shrug before I told the driver to move on. We must have almost run over his foot, but I think that Lilly was the only one who noted this.
This was how it continued for the following months, until my father actually raised the idea that I might have an intense admirer. It came through in the Hannah mail when he would send long letters of love which Jackson delighted in reeling out for me, in a simpering voice which I would laugh at. It still did not cross my mind that I should take this boy seriously. I was Hannah Montana, and I was untouchable.
I performed in concert one night at home in early March that year. I believe it was March 6th and it was a Friday night. I had been pumped about the show and had taken my dad, brother and Lilly along to escort me, although I was becoming gradually more independent in my ability to cope alone. Lilly had become increasingly distant to me during the whole stalker incident and I remember her professing a desire to watch me from the audience, instead of backstage like she normally did. Her wish to do this deflated me somewhat; it was uncharacteristic and untraditional of my best friend to behave in this way. I had to accept what she wanted, because I never had been able to resist her pouting face.
The show was good and I could see Lilly dancing in the front row, next to Jackson who had offered to keep her company. It was one of my flaws, actually, becoming too concerned with people I knew in the audience. I had a tendency to focus in on my friends when I was aware of them in front of me, eyeing my performance. I could barely draw my eyes away from Lilly and I smiled as I saw her singing along to all the words. If I had bothered to open my eyes a little wider, I would have seen the guy who had been haunting my footsteps for the past two months, only four seats away.
Music is softly playing out from the speakers beside me as I keep my eyes on my reflection in the mirror. I am humming whilst I repair my eye-shadow, ready to party tonight whilst my mind is still buzzing with the remaining adrenaline after my show. I tap my foot in time to the beat and life is good for Hannah Montana.
The door of my dressing room opens behind me, but I do not bother to turn around, it is only Lilly after all. "Hey Lilly," I call out lazily, whilst applying mascara to one of my eyes, "can you look in my purse for my lipgloss?"
She does not reply though and I frown to myself. I turn my head to pretend to glare at her, but before I can see her, the room is plunged into darkness. I gasp since now the place is pitch-black, there are no windows backstage and I forgot to turn on the lights of my vanity mirror.
"Ha ha." I laugh drily, "Very funny Lilly, now turn the lights back on." I cross my arms and sit waiting in the dark. I quirk an eyebrow upward, which she cannot see, yet I hope that she can feel my displeased expression burning in her direction. The room remains eerily silent however, and I cannot even make out the sound of people in the hallway. When daddy awarded me privacy, he really meant it. "Come on Lilly, we need to get going." I whine and hope that she gets the message; it is not fair to mess with me like this.
Footsteps shuffle across the room toward me and, as my eyes adjust to the gloom, I become aware of a presence, which is most definitely not Lilly Truscott. Now I feel fear. It instils itself in my chest, constricting tightly and my heart begins to beat faster. I shrink into my chair as heavy breathing reaches my ears and the person who I am certain is a man gets closer to me. I find it hard to speak because my throat has become so taught, yet I dare to raise my voice to him, "Who are you?"
A strange laugh is the only reply that he allows and it merges with his breathing, ending in a hiss. "Hannah Montana." His voice breaks through the silence and it is crackly, sounds unused and hardly able to conceal some form of desire. My nose crinkles up as the sharp tang of sweat plagues my senses. I feel as if I want to gag because he smells so bad. He steps ever closer to me and the potency of his stench grows stronger. He is body odour and cheap aftershave and terrifying.
His hand suddenly connects with my throat and I gasp, unable to scream from fear. His thumb sweeps down my neck, stroking the soft skin which is now still; I cannot breathe. Another hand finds my hair and fingertips dig into the fake, blonde locks where the other hand soon joins it. He is running his hands through my hair, believing it to be real and cooing over it with an affectionate warble that escapes his throat; he makes me want to be sick. My mind is stirring and a survival instinct becomes gradually more prevalent in my startled thoughts. I quickly dive to one side, ignoring the blinding pain in my scalp as the wig is wrenched from my head and the pins tear at the hair which had kept it in place.
My body falls to the floor and fills the room with a dull thud, which I can only hope they will hear in the hall. He emits a squawk of rage and is undeterred, made only more relentless that his prey could be so defiant. I can feel him scouring the room with his hands, held out blindly before him, reaching to me where I lie, a huddled wreck, upon the floor. He is quick to find me, and brutal, heaving my body up and pushing me up against the wall. The breath is crushed out of me as he presses his shoulder into my chest. When he eases up for a moment, the only thing I am capable of is a dry sob which I croak, since I am too frightened to cry. His hands are at my shoulders, holding me to the wall whilst his body is no further than an inch from mine.
I had heard the stories about what deranged men would do to women and that was the only thing that crossed my mind during that moment. My eyes squeezed shut as I tilted my head toward the ceiling, silently calling out for a saviour or that I might die and be spared the turmoil of what was to come…
It's like I've been awakened
Every rule I had you breaking
It's the risk that I'm taking
I ain't never gonna shut you out
I am sorry, but I had to pause there in my story. Whenever I reach that point, I can feel my body curling up from disgust of that night and of him. I need to take a break from thinking about it, to refresh my mind, to breathe. I settle deeper down into my bed covers, snuggled up in the warm and smiling against the breeze which brushes my face from my open windows. The sea smells good in the light of this warm, weekend morning and I feel my body ease up slightly from its previous tension. Besides, the sun is only just rising and it is too early to get up yet.
That incident in my dressing room is not even where the whole thing begins. In fact, I would say that it is even closer to the ending of the story. Even I cannot identify the starting point for myself. If I had to find a place to return, I would say that it was International Relations week when I was fourteen, or perhaps it was the dance I went to with Jake Ryan, or even before then. All I know is that something changed a couple of years ago, but it took me a lot longer to notice the difference.
One of the first events that caught my mind every time I look into the past years is the fated day when Oliver announced an interest into joining us backstage during a Hannah Montana concert. I believe my reaction was the raising of an eyebrow, accompanied with a shrug, but I was the only one who took his proposition lightly. Lilly had fumed against the suggestion, I remember that well, (she had good reason to be angered later since Oliver attended the performance dressed as Count Dracula) yet the single word which Oliver accused her with was jealous. He had dared to claim that Lilly Truscott, my best friend, would be jealous of him being present. I do not know why I did not think that he should have been taken seriously, the fumbled tennis match which took place later that week only confirmed his suspicions, yet as usual I was blasé and looked beyond the incident.
That word is an interesting phrase to use, but I would never have connected it solely with Lilly. I remember times when Oliver would be jealous, of my success, of our spending so much time together. Lilly and I would have weekly 'friendship-aversaries' as a sign of our devotion to one another. Sometimes I would envy and belittle others of the time that they got to endure with her. I remember a single dream which haunted me on one particular night when I was fifteen. Lilly and Jackson had expressed an interest in one another and the entirety of the night vision consisted of my attempts at keeping their attraction a secret. This was a disaster, most of my plans are and I grow to be predictable like that. Within my dream, Jackson and Lilly only desired one another more and I had to accept that. Yet, when I awoke that morning to Lilly standing beside my bed, watching me with twinkling blue eyes, I felt my heart reaching out to her in a silent plea for it all to be false. It turned out that it had only been my over-active imagination, fuelled by my dad's pork-scratchings before bed, but something began to stir inside of me, the very moment I hugged her on the end of my bed.
The following time when my relationship with Lilly was put to the test was when she was trying to find enough money to go on the class fieldtrip to Washington. She was not as fortunate as I, but then I have the whole Hannah fund minding my back for such things. Still, I felt this incessant, nagging need for her to come with me. It would not be the same without my best friend, I continuously told myself this, and I resulted to a "harmless" little lie so that she could tag along. I remember the train journey on the subway, sitting next to Oliver and boasting that I was the one who was making her smile and laugh whilst she stood talking to another bunch of people. Every time she grinned or giggled my heart fluttered with these warm feelings which she induced in me. Of course I felt like that though, I convinced myself, she is more than just my best friend. Lilly is like a sister to me, and when I put that argument to her later, her face lit up at my suggestion, that we could be so close.
Hit me like a ray of sun
Burning through my darkest night
You're the only one that I want
Think I'm addicted to your light
… His face hovers closer to mine and I can feel his hot breath on my cheeks. He is inhaling and exhaling loudly and the sound is raspy in my ears. My face grows damp from the condensation which forms under his breath and I cannot help but shudder in disgust. I am unable to move and all my thoughts are focused on what is to happen next, what he will do to me. I do not have to wait long for an answer. His face grows nearer, eradicating the distance between us, since he does not consider the need for boundaries. I suffer him rubbing his cheek against mine and it feels surprisingly soft and downy. The hands which grip me in place are smaller than I imagined they would be and his crackling voice makes me realise that he is only a boy, and that he is young like me.
I release a whimper whilst he nuzzles himself lovingly closer to me. I sense him sniffing at my skin, down my neck, at my collarbone and cleavage, whilst the first tears which I dare to cry fall from my eyes. "Please, stop." I quietly beg of him, hardly able to emit any further sound since he has me pushed so painfully against the wall, using his greater weight and masculine strength to keep me in place.
His head slowly resumes its original position close to my face and I know that he is staring at me through the darkness. His eyes burn and I squeeze my own shut, as if that could ever wish him away. I am disgusted when I feel his lips against my own. I gasp involuntarily from the shock, but I only succeed in drawing him nearer to me. The taste of his mouth is sour and I retch from the sensation, forcing him away as I cough my evident revulsion.
Nothing will stop him though and a hand flies to my face, cupping my chin and wrenching my head round once more. His mouth is upon mine again and there is not anything I can do. I am paralysed with fear and beyond hope that someone will be able to find me. There is no noise from the hallway, no one can hear us and I cannot stop him from getting what he wants. He is keeping me in place by tightening his grip on my throat whilst his spare hand roams my body, seeking a way downwards until he finds the fastenings of my jeans. "No!" I manage to cry out and the intensity of my voice startles him, but only temporarily as his hand races up to cover my mouth and muffle my screams.
The boy is dragging me away from the wall now and his movements are awkward and ill rehearsed, since he relies solely on his greater strength to keep me in line. He has not used violence on me yet, but I am too afraid to question whether he would resort to it. With one hand on my mouth and using his knees upon my legs to hold me down he slides down the zipper and undoes the button at the top of my pants.
My chest is burning up from want of air and my whole body trembles, occasionally contorting from the dry sobs which build up in my throat. I am being consumed by a paralysing fear and rational thought is quickly leaking from my mind whilst a fire builds up within me. I twitch and toss about on the floor, anything that I can do to shake him or slow his actions, but he only exhorts more pressure on my despairing self. Sharp pains shoot up through my legs from where his knees dig harshly into my skin and I am whining loudly, the sound travelling up through my throat, but denied its full emphasis by the barrier that is his hand.
The boy mumbles to me now, a nasal sound like a defiant child who is demanding to play with a toy that he has not been allowed. I am testing his patience, yet I cannot stop because the force which is my own survival is growing ever stronger. Eventually though, I strike his last nerve and, during his slackened process of twisting my jeans down my upper legs, he stops. His hand flies upward, curling into a fist which I could not foresee through the darkness and collides with my chest. All of the air is instantly crushed out of me as I am winded. He strikes me again and again, into my stomach and ribs. The final hit is into my own face, near my right eye and it is here that he silences me. The blow is dizzying and my mind becomes fuzzy, I cannot concentrate on anything other than the pain which he has spread throughout my body and, within this moment of weakness, he succeeds in pulling my pants all the way down to my ankles.
He is quick in resuming his position on top of me, keeping my mouth shut with his free hand exploring the upper parts of my body, my femininity and my hair once more. He has forgotten that it was just a wig before; the darkness is his ally and my enemy. At last his fingertips grip the top of my underwear, the final barrier to his desire. I tilt my head back, offering one final plea to the heavens as I feel him inch them downwards in a painful slow motion.
A brilliant light strikes my eyelids and he freezes upon me. I twist my head to one side while I lie on the floor, in the direction of the doorway. I ease my eyes open carefully, since the glow prickles them and, as I squint through the blackness, it takes my mind a few moments to gather what has happened.
Someone is standing in the entrance, and their silhouette is not unfamiliar to me. The yellow light from the hallway has lit her up in radiance, causing her blonde hair to shine. In the blurred vision from my cloudy and pain-filled eyes it almost looks as if a halo has formed around the top of her head.
I blink and she is gone from the doorway, my ears roar as blood pounds furiously through them and the young woman releases a war-like cry as she springs upon the boy, knocking him off of me and sending kicks and punches into every part of him that she can get a hold of. I heave my body around and desperately pull myself away over the floor, needing to be rid of him although evidence of him is written all over my body in the developing of bruises and mental scars. Further footsteps gain my attention, but I do not find the strength to turn my head and see them for what they are. I hear her voice, high and strong in the darkness and she is calling out my name.
Warm hands are on my arms and she turns me up and around, cradling me into her lap and brushing my hair out of my face with careful fingertips. The light is just strong enough for me to make out a pair of concerned blue eyes, filled to the brim with undying love. A pouted mouth presses soft kisses into my forehead, cheeks, eyes and lips.
She kissed my lips and then drew away. She seems embarrassed and I can almost feel the heat in her cheeks. "Th-thank god you're alright." She mutters, her voice stuttering with relief and shame, yet I find myself raising a steady hand to stroke her face. She smiles from my ministrations and sighs as she rests her own hand over mine, holding it in place whilst her eyes do not break our connection. "I love you Miley." She whispers and I can barely hear her, but I can feel the sentiment, as it flows through every part of me; starting with the beating of my own heart.
She suddenly seems to realise that I am near naked and carefully lowers me to the floor before gently pulling my pants back up my legs. I feel warmth emanating from her palms enough to thaw out the numbness in my body. A different heat grows within me while she moves the material further up my legs, bringing about a quickening in my breath and darkening my cheeks. As cautious as she is, she cannot help occasionally brushing my thighs with her hands. Eventually the clothing is in place and she only has to do them up again. She pauses here and looks away from me, she can hardly bear to see me watching her, for that is all I have done, been silent and observing. Trembling fingers are ever so careful and the slide of the zipper is achingly slow and thought out. She does not dare to touch me and I bite my lower lip in question.
"Come on, we'd better get you out of here." She says in a soft murmur and I nod my head. She is helping me to my feet and as I stand I sway accidentally into her arms. My head is fuddled and still pounding from the blow which my attacker landed on me earlier. She tightens her grip around me and twists us around so that we may walk toward the door.
Before she can lead me anywhere, however, I put a stop to her initiations by drawing her close to me and engulfing her in a tight embrace. My face is nestled into her shoulder and I breathe in her smell. It relaxes and calms me whilst I bathe in the aura which is only her. Tears fall freely from my eyes upon the small patch of bare skin at the bottom of her neck, causing a surge of goose-pimples to spread across her skin, and she sighs from the sensation as I release my endless gratitude. I raise my head so that I might look into her eyes, which are wide and waiting for me to say something. I merely shake my head before leaning closer and kissing her lips.
"I love you too Lilly."
Everywhere I'm looking now
I'm surrounded by your embrace
Baby I can see your halo
You know you're my saving grace
Lilly knew; she had known all along that the boy was bad news, and that he should have been taken more seriously. I had been standard Miley Stewart and overlooked what was before my very eyes. She had known from his love letters and attempts to get into my dressing room that he deserved more attention than we bothered to give him. Lilly had kept quiet and in the shadows about her trepidation, too worried that I would knock her back if she told me her suspicions. She confessed to me after the event that she wished she had told security, but she did not want to undermine me. That is why she took her position in the audience during that show, so that she might allow the hunter to become the hunted, but he was slyer than her and slipped away. Lilly had further issues in being granted access backstage herself, since she was no longer in the disguise of Lola Luftnagle but, as she said, nothing was going to keep her from me.
My bed is comfortable but the rising of the sun into the sky, turning from orange to yellow, is too beautiful a thing to miss. I stretch out my stiff limbs and heave a sigh before sitting up and carefully easing myself out of bed. I look down over my body at the tanned skin, which has become recently paler than I would normally allow it. It is also marred by the bruises of my struggles with the boy. Purple bruises, which have spread across my thighs, stomach and face like colourful flowers, yet they are haunting reminders of how lucky I am.
I draw one of the sheets off my bed and wrap it around my naked body, a temporary covering whilst I limp over to my balcony. The doors have been flung open and a wind from the sea is playing with the drapes, making them flap idly in the frame. I smile and carefully walk out onto the deck.
"You're up." She greets me and her voice is lilted with the same warmth that the sun is granting us as it climbs ever higher over the horizon.
"Yeah, I'm up." I smile as I look into her face. She is standing in the dawning light of a Saturday morning with a look in her eyes which I had not seen until the night that she rescued me from my stalker.
"Good morning sunshine." She welcomes me properly and draws me into her arms for a kiss. She is wearing nothing other than one of my old, discarded t-shirts which I often wear to sleep in, since last night we had made the decision that neither of us would need to bring pyjamas to our future sleepovers.
I huddle myself into Lilly's warm self and bury my face into her neck. "Mmm." I sigh, and I hear her exhale gratefully too. Neither of us knew that this day would ever come, but now that it is here my resolution is complete, although the result came about in a way which I would never have imagined.
You're everything I need and more
It's written all over your face
Baby I can feel your halo
Pray it won't face away