Note: I'm a terrible person and I accept that painful truth. I recently injured my knee, which caused me to become immobile. And thus I returned to and I grew sick of having nothing new to share. And thus this two shot was born. Part two will be posted by the beginning of next week. I also apologize for any errors this contains. I hate rereading things.
Warning: This will contain the best kind of relationship possible: a consensual homosexual one. Please also be aware of the use of "bad" language and cigarette use.
She pressed the butt of her cigarette into the fence post, but kept her eyes trained on the sunset in the distance. And, as she did every night, she wondered why she was there. Not in the cosmic sense, because she was pretty sure there was no Heaven, no Hell, no after life to speak of. Ergo, there was no supernatural meaning and she could apply whatever meaning she saw fit. Rather she was curious why she was at Miley's childhood home tending to a broken fence. She flicked the stub of her cigarette into the tall grass and hitched her belt.
Staring at the sun's last beams caressing the waves of grass was relaxing, but in truth she missed the cool oceanic breeze. There was nothing quite like watching the sun come up across the Pacific. She shook her head and walked along the fence as the stars slowly became visible. The moon was a mere sliver in the sky, a waxing quarter, and she wondered if Miley could see it too. If Miley was wondering if she saw it.
The large family house loomed over. She approached with the same lackluster smile she did every evening. The screen door creaked open and the new owner of the property welcomed her in.
"Hope it wasn't terrible to fix, Vi." He shut the door behind them and waited as she pulled her boots off. "Dinner's almost done. I'm starvin', but April said we needed you."
The woman he referred to as Vi shrugged. "You guys should know by now that you don't ever need to wait for me. Just eat and I can just scavenge through the scraps."
He rubbed her shoulders. "You're like a daughter to us."
She cast her eyes to the ground, but he couldn't see. He had already moved back to the kitchen to be with his wife. April and Mark Hutcherson had been too kind to her when she had stumbled onto their property almost two years before, drunk and dirty and half-crazy with tears streaming down her face. They had accepted no explanation that night, but forced her inside, offered her a hot meal, and let her clean up. Eventually, she told them bits and pieces about her life. But she hadn't been entirely truthful.
Lilly Truscott never wondered how her life had reached the point that it had. She could remember every excruciating detail leading up to her collapse on a stranger's property. Her life had fallen apart without her noticing. She had fallen in love with her best friend and hadn't even noticed. Her best friend hadn't noticed, either, and consequently Miley had accepted Jake's engagement ring. Broken, Lilly had fled with nothing but her wallet and the clothes on her back. She had hitchhiked across the country, from Malibu all the way to Tennessee, with plans of never stopping until her feet gave out and her heart stopped either hurting or beating. Whichever came first.
Unwilling to give away her identity, her link to her past, she had given them a false name. Violet Cyrus couldn't be connected to the teen pop star. As far as the kind couple knew, she was a run away from an upsetting situation at home with no destination and no money. She hadn't even planned on staying with them, but they had offered her a job, a place to rest her head that wasn't on the side of the road or in a bus station. Instead of a begging for spare change to continue on her road to destruction, she fixed fences and tended the garden.
"Violet, get your bony butt in here!" April hollered when she saw Lilly hanging around the doorway. "Load your plate up, hon."
Lilly grabbed a plate before she got scolded further. April was a portly woman who ate as well as she cooked, but could incite fear when pushed too far. It had only happened once to Lilly, the third week of her stay. She had refused April's offer of new clothes and subsequently had her head gnawed off by an irate five foot tall brunette.
The smell of fresh mashed potatoes and pork cutlets drew her in. Despite her initial unwillingness to take from her hosts, food was something she could never refuse. She grabbed a glass of milk and went to the table. Before they ate, April and Mark grabbed her hands and bowed their head in prayer.
"Lord, please bless this meal. Thank you for providing for us…"
Mark's voice droned on and Lilly watched his face. They never bothered her about not joining in on the ritual, as long as she didn't eat before they had called Amen. She examined the creases in his face, where stress once lived but prayer eased. His hands were gnarled but soft and she traced her thumb across the back of one. When his head came up afterwards, he winked at her and she grinned back.
"I was thinking about trying to ride Duster."
Mark's eyebrows shot up. "Duster can't be ridden, you know that. Wild as Hell, that one."
April shook her head. "Violet, dear, you'd break your little head open."
"I think I can do it." Lilly glanced out the window at the paddock. Out there, somewhere, a wild gelding slept. He reminded Lilly of how she used to treat life. "He just needs a kind touch."
"Kind of like you?" Mark teased. He slurped from his milk. "Alright. You wanna try? Tomorrow morning, he's all yours. If you can ride him, you can keep him."
Lilly sat up straighter in her seat. "Like keep him – keep him?"
"If he was a car, I'd hand over his pink slip."
Lilly jumped out of her chair and hugged both of her hosts. She beamed as she fell back down and gobbled the rest of her meal down. After cleaning her dishes faster than she ever had, she ran to her room. She practically flew into her pajamas, though she knew she wouldn't be able to sleep from excitement. But her day of hard work caught up with her and she was out within ten minutes.
At four a.m., half an hour before her alarm was set to sound, she woke with her heart racing. Rather than force more anxious sleep, she stumbled to the shower and got herself ready for the day. As the sun trickled through the windows, she laced up her boots and tugged her hat down over her face. The screen door squealed when she brushed through it. She made a pit-stop in the stable for a bridle and a lead rope and went out to the fields. Duster eyed her from his spot under the largest tree. She eased toward him with the supplies hanging off her arms to keep her hands free.
"Hey buddy-buddy…" She held her palms out in front of her. "Kiss-kiss, Duster-man."
He stepped away from her, but didn't run. His tail lashed at flies and she paused. His ears flicked in her direction. She maintained eye contact with him.
"Duster, I'm not going to hurt you. You know that." Her words fell slowly from her lips. She coaxed him softly. "Please please please."
The next step she took was her last – he bolted in the other direction, kicking up his hooves. She could tell from his gait that he understood only that she wanted to play with him and there was no way she was going to get close like that. She sat down at the base of the tree and watched him from the corner of her eye. When his guard went down, she started inching towards him. By the time she was near enough and standing, he was looking in the other direction, though she could see all of his muscles tensing beneath his coat.
"Easy there." She got one hand on his shoulder before he ran off once more, this time sending her toppling to the ground. "Damnit!"
This routine persisted until the sun was directly overhead. Lilly spat into the dust and wiped a bead of sweat from her forehead. She wasn't going to let one little gelding get the best of her. She stalked back to the tree and leaned against the trunk. The glare she sent Duster could have peeled wallpaper. Perhaps, she thought, this wasn't the right way to catch him. She snuffled and turned her nose to the clouds.
Another hour drifted by, but she refused to look at the stubborn horse. She only took her eyes from the sky when his nose bumped her shoulder. She moved slowly, but slid the bridle on and hooked up the lead rope. He huffed at her but she just grinned. It would be stupid to try and ride him bareback, but saddling him was not yet an option. She decided, instead, to just walk him around and get him used to her presence. He plodded beside her, complacent, but she knew it wouldn't last. The second a chipmunk scuttled past, he reared up on his hind legs and pulled from her grip.
"Now listen here, Duster, you can't get away from me that easily." She pulled down on the lead rope until he was on all four legs once more – no simple task for a girl of one hundred and twenty pounds. "I hold the rope here, buddy-boy."
She led him to the fence bordering the paddock and climbed the wooden rungs. She tied the rope to the post and swung a leg over his broad back. He shifted uneasily beneath her weight. He waited until she had settled herself in before bucking. She grabbed his mane with both fists, but ended up with a crash in the dirt. She didn't know which hurt more – her butt or her pride.
"That wasn't very nice." She scolded him. If horses could laugh, she cursed under breath at the glimmer in his eyes. "We're gonna try this again. Mark told me that if I couldn't ride you, you're getting sold to the glue factory. You want that?"
Whether he understood her threat or not he stood calmly as she remounted. She rubbed her hand on his shoulders. By the time the sun was setting she walked him to the stables for a good grooming. She went by foot, nowhere near comfortable enough to ride him. There was a strange truck near the main house, and she stared momentarily at it. Disregarding it, she entered the stables, sure she'd get answers later. Duster stood calmly as she brushed him down and wiped the sweat from his withers.
"As you can see, we didn't change much." Mark's voice grew louder as he neared. Lilly could detect two sets of feet. "The stable is just how we bought it, just with some new animals."
"You can run this place by yourself?"
Lilly couldn't believe her ears. That voice.
"No, no. We've got a young woman helpin' out. Pretty much our daughter actually." The feet stopped. "She's over there."
Fighting panic, Lilly hid her face in Duster's mane.
"Next to the big dapple gray?"
"Those are her boots." Mark came to her side and tapped her shoulder. "Vi? Violet?"
Lilly shrugged her shoulder. "Huh?"
"Did you ride him?"
Lilly shrugged again. "Little."
"You'll have him in no time. Duster's a big softy, right?" Mark chuckled and his guest approached.
She spoke. "What did you call her?"
"Violet." Mark responded and pulled Lilly away from Duster's side. "Violet Cyrus."
"Uh-huh." Miley glanced Lilly over. Lilly wished she wasn't as dirty as she was. Her boots were scuffed and the jeans she wore were covered in mud and holes. Her blouse had faint sweat stains along the collar, back, and arm pits from too many days of use, and even her undershirt was no longer the white it used to be. Her blonde hair was drawn back into a pony tail, with odd ends sticking out. She knew she probably reeked of horse. "Well Violet, I'm Miley Stewart. Nice to meet you."
Lilly stared at the hand Miley extended. It was impossible that Miley didn't recognize her. Her eyes roved each of Miley's fingers and settled on the engagement ring. "Likewise."
"Y'know, you look more like a Lilly to me." Miley tilted her head. "But I suppose you're the prettiest flower regardless of name."
Fighting a blush, Lilly took her hand back. "Why are you here?"
Mark cut in. "She used to live here. She was in town and wanted to see the old place."
"After Maw-maw had to sell it, I was afraid it would get destroyed for one of those malls they tried to put in before." Miley explained. "I'm glad it's still a farm."
Mark rubbed the back of his neck. "Without Violet here, we wouldn't have much. She does almost everything for us. Well everything I can't."
Lilly smiled at him. "I'm happy to help."
"Mr. Hutcherson, thank you for your tour so far, but would you mind if Violet took me around from here?"
Mark nodded and left the two. Miley's stance at once became aggressive.
"Lillian Marie Truscott."
Lilly hung her head. "Yes?"
"What the fuck were you thinking?"
That caused Lilly's head to snap up. She had never even heard Miley curse, let alone drop the F-bomb. "I don't know what you mean."
"Yes you do!" Miley grabbed Lilly's arm and dragged her towards the fields. "We're going to go talk, missy."
Lilly allowed herself to be drug out to the tall grass. She was more comfortable there anyways. Duster stamped his hoof, impatiently still standing at the grooming station. Lilly sent him mental apologies. They collapsed into the grass but Miley didn't relinquish her grasp.
"Miley, you're hurting me."
"And you think the past few years have been a pony ride for me?"
"No…" Lilly tugged her arm, but it was useless. "I'm sorry, really."
"Not one phone call. Not one letter. Not one freaking word from my best friend. Your mom flipped out. I've never seen one woman cry so hard." Miley shook the limb in her hands. "You must have called her, since she stopped."
Lilly nodded. "Pretty soon after I met Mark and April. I'd probably be dead without them."
"Why not me?"
"I don't… I couldn't."
"You couldn't." Miley's voice flat lined. "Couldn't spend two seconds to call me and let me know you were alive."
"Nope." Lilly twisted away so Miley couldn't see her face. She was being childish and she knew it. "Leave me alone. Go back to your life."
"My life is nothing without you."
Lilly marinated in that statement for a few quiet moments.
"You have a great life. Great career, good money." She paused. "Loving fiancé."
It was Miley's turn to twist away. "I don't get you Lilly Truscott. Not one bit. I used to think I did."
"You should go."
"Not until you tell me why. Why you wanted to hurt me so bad."
Lilly used her free hand to grab Miley's chin. She leaned in and kissed Miley's nose.
"Because I love you in a way that you'll never love me."
Miley stared at her. "You can't."
"But I do." Lilly jerked her arm free at last and got to her feet. "You got your answer."
"But now I have more questions." Miley stood up as well. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"Miss I'm Going To Marry a Movie Star." Lilly riposted. "I have nothing on him. He's rich, famous, good looking. I was just some nobody. And now I'm even less."
To Lilly's surprise, Miley wrapped her arms around Lilly. Lilly reveled in the feeling of Miley's body against her own. The tickle of Miley's lips against her neck was unexpected. She mewled at the contact. She turned to face her old friend. Miley's lips captured hers and she felt whole for the first time in years.
When they parted, Lilly removed herself to gaze at Miley. The moon had come out and the meager light hit Miley's face in all the right places. She seemed to glow and Lilly wanted to bask in her forever. Her eyes traveled lower, following Miley's neck to her collarbone and on. The ring on Miley's finger sparkled. Lilly's heart clenched. She offered Miley a sad smile and mimicked her horse; she ran as hard as her legs would allow. When she returned to the house, the truck outside was gone.