Warning: If you don't like girlxgirl pairings, then I suggest you leave now. There's nothing here that you will enjoy.

Notes: Well, I took a long break from writing, but I'm back and with new story to boot. This will only be a three part story, the first chapter from Miley's pov, second chapter in Lilly's, and the third chapter will probably be a mix. This story will be done in fairly quickly, and for those of you waiting on my other stories, have no fear, an update shall be upon you soon. Also, I'd like to say that I dedicate this story to our men and women in uniform. We all miss you and pray for your safe return.

Disclaimer: No, I do not own Hannah Montana or any characters associated with the show.

While You Were Away

"Missing you"

"Now everyone please put your hands together for the one and only! HANNAH MONTANA!"

I feel the familiar buzz of nervousness and excitement as the roar of the crowd rocked the large stadium. With a wide smile on my lips and a skip in my step, I make my appearance and am once again engulfed and consumed in the overwhelming rush of my stardom. Like a drug, it courses through my veins, bringing me to ever higher heights of exhilaration. It's almost like a dream, as if I'm not really dancing around this stage, singing my heart out.

And just like a drug, it eventually wears off as I take my final bow and trot off stage. The rush ebbs away and the hazy, dream like fog disappears. The feelings that had been buzzing around in my chest is replaced the dull monotony that is reality.

I say my thank yous to the back stage crew and my band members as I slowly make my way to my dressing room, making sure to spare a few extra moments to except the congratulatory hug from daddy for another well performed concert. As I separate from the grinning man and turn around, for a brief moment I almost expect to be drowned in the scent of vanilla as familiar arms wrap around me, accompanied by a shrill, girly voice gushing excitedly about my performance

Yet it doesn't come. Why should I expect differently when such a thing hasn't happened in almost four years?

Making the effort to finish my rounds of thank yous to the rest of the crew, I finally make it to my dressing room.

My large, flashy, lonely dressing room.

I sigh loudly as I lock the door behind me before dragging my feet over to the large, over stuffed couch. There are flowers and presents littered around my room, some from over zealous fans, others from sponsors and producers looking to keep in my good graces, and some from other celebrities looking to make a friend out of the famous Hannah Montana. I stopped caring about such frivolous things four years ago.

Liberation.

That's what I feel as I pull the blond wig off and toss it aside carelessly, when I pull away the hair net and shake my curly, brunette hair loose. And just like that, I am no longer Hannah Montana. I am Miley Ray Stewart. Yippie.

Collapsing onto the couch, I prop my feet up and sling an arm over my eyes. I figure have a good half an hour to myself before either Roxy or daddy comes to fetch me for the drive back to the hotel where my room awaited me.

My expensive, over decorated, comfortable yet lonely hotel room.

Sometimes I wonder how life ended up this way for me. I don't mean to complain, cause, really, I'm living the American dream, right? At twenty two years old, I've already accomplished more than most people would in a life time. I have multiple albums that have gone platinum, enough money and invested assets that I could retire and live a life of luxury whenever I wanted, and a wonderful fiance that any other girl would kill for.

Speaking of my husband-to-be, I should probably be calling Jake right now to let him know how the concert went and ask how the movie shoot is going over in New Zealand.

....I'll do it later. Maybe tomorrow. Hopefully I'll be out of this funk after a good nights sleep, all though that hasn't happened in four years.

A sigh escapes me. I notice I've been doing this a lot lately. Not sighing, I mean. The internal contemplation of my life. My supposedly perfect, story book esque life. That, and how it all became meaningless to me since that horrible day four years ago.

I can easily remember when it began, when the ever present happiness in my life faded away in the blink of an eye.

It was the summer after my high school graduation. Ah, how happy I was at the time. Filled with the gratification of graduating, the hope of a prosperous future, and the ever present company of my loving family and friends. My, how perfect life was back then.

I thought life would only get better when during a romantic summer night, under the glow of the stars and moon, my high school sweet heart, Jake Ryan, proposed to me and asked me stay with him forever.

I thought it was the perfect ending to my life as an immature teenager, and the perfect starting point to my life into adulthood. How naive I was.

Life is all about balance. So with all the positives, the negatives would come in equal weight. What I didn't imagine, however, was that it would all come in one, devastating blow.

Just days after my engagement was announced to all my family and friends, Lilly Truscott, my best friend and eternal companion, dropped a bombshell on all of us that changed my life from that point on.

The army. She had enlisted in the freaking army. Joined the military when it was well known the country was fighting a bloody war. Worst yet, she hadn't told a soul till after the fact. She had signed up months ago and was just now telling us. She had known for months and hadn't said a word to me.

I groan in frustration as I sit up properly on the couch and hunch over, restless hands running through my tangled hair.

I still remember the awful, horrible days that followed Lilly's announcement. I couldn't understand it at the time why she had done such a thing without consulting with anybody, especially me. I mean, I'm suppose to be her best friend! The person she could always confide in!

So many feelings had filled me all those years ago when she had stood nervously in front of us during a gathering at my house, and finally confessed what she had done. In front of her dear mother, daddy, Jackson, and I, she came clean and told us what she had been hiding for months. I remember the brief moment of disbelief and denial among us all. Then the crushing realization that she wasn't joking.

Worse yet, she didn't stop there. A second confession. She was shipping out to basic the following day. In less then twenty four hours. God, the silence after she had said that had been unbearible. How could she? That was the lone thought that kept repeating over and over in my head like a broken record as she explained her actions. I don't remember a word she said. All I could think was 'how could she?'. Then...I remember unleashing everything that had been building up inside me...all on Lilly.

I lean back into the couch and rub my face. There were so many actions that I committed that day that I will forever regret.

I regret striding up to her, tears streaming down my face, and slapping her so hard her entire head cracked to the side.

I regret screaming at her till my throat was hoarse, accusing her of being stupid, selfish, and worst of all, being a horrible friend.

I regret slapping her a second time when she dared turned to look at me, pleading for me to understand. God, I remember the pain in her eyes. The pain I had caused. In my anger, I couldn't see it.

When I hit her that second time, everyone finally came to their senses and forcibly pulled me away from Lilly. I remember struggling against daddy's and Jackson's strong hold, harsh words still spewing from my mouth like acid as they dragged me to the back porch. I remember Heather Truscott just standing there in stunned silence, still not entirely processing the situation. I remember Oliver looking torn between helping hold me back and going to Lilly's side.

But more importantly, I remember Lilly.

Lilly had stood there, her face wet with tears as she watched them take me away, hand held to her reddening cheek. I'll always remember how her eyes had looked so sorrowful, so full of remorse and what I'm sure was regret. And the smile. That small, unreadable smile that was on her face. The image was forever burned into my mind. It wasn't until sometime later when I had time to reflect that I realize what that smile had meant.

Unlike me, she had realized that it would be the last time she saw me for a long, long time.

The morning after was the worst morning of my life. In my selfishness, I choice to stay in my room alone, angrily crying and stewing over the great betrayal Lilly had committed. When daddy tried to convince me to come with him and Jackson to see Lilly off at her house, I had foolishly just hissed at him to tell Lilly I hope she came back with a bullet hole in her ass.

My, how daddy had looked at me with so much disappointment in his eyes before he left. After wallowing in my self-pity party for a little longer, I finally realized that I needed to pull myself together, or I wouldn't get the chance to say goodbye to the girl who had stood by my side for as long as I could remember.

My eyes snap open when the cell phone resting on my dressing table began shrilling loudly. I let it ring a few more times before getting up and checking the caller ID. When I see Jake's name on the screen, I just quiet the phone, and return to my position on the couch, closing my eyes as I lean my head back.

Sorry Jakey, I'm a little too busy torturing myself over the past to talk to you right now.

I feel my eyes sting as I recall sprinting out of my house, running desperately for Lilly's house. I remember berating myself for being such an idiot. For forgetting that despite the fact I could never understand why Lilly would do something so reckless as joining the army, she was still my best friend. The person who I loved dearly. Who was like the sister I never had, and so, so much more. In my anger I forgot all that, and I begged God to forgive me, I begged the heavens to at least give me the chance to say goodbye.

I feel my shoulders shake as a small sob escapes me and I let out a shakey, humorless chuckle as I quickly wipe at my eyes. Even after four years....

The devastating feeling that had settled in my gut when I arrived at Lilly's house only to find daddy comforting Lils crying mother while Oliver and Jackson stood by with sorrowful gazes.

The gnawing ache of failure that burned away at my chest.

The stabbing feeling of dark finality that drove through my heart.

Even after four years, those feelings had never left, just buried away to be brought out again whenever I was alone and allowed to wallow in my misery.

I still remember it, the day Lilly left and because of my stupid, selfish feelings, I didn't even get to say goodbye. I can still recall the feeling of the rough asphalt when I fell to me knees in disbelief, the denial that I had failed to make it in time struggling to take me over. The feel of arms being wrapped around me, as Oliver whispered words of comfort. It was only after hearing his words did I realized I was crying my heart out, my very soul begging that it wasn't so.

And...that was it. That was the day Lillian Truscott walked out of my life, and being the awful, hell-destined idiot that I was, I didn't even say goodbye.

That....That was the real day my happy go lucky days ended as an immature teenager. Now that Lilly was no longer there to offer her unending support and love, I was forced to grow up. Painfully and tearfully, I did just that.

Slowly, but surely, life continued on without her. I eventually came out of my depression and tried my hardest to focus on the positives in my life, mainly my ever growing career, my family, and of course, my future with Jake.....

Who am I kidding, the last four years have basically been a living hell. My life came to a screeching halt four years ago and hasn't budged since. Hannah will continue to become more popular, the money will continue to come in greater upon greater amounts, my family and friends will continue to age and move on with their lives, and Jake...well, that was something else entirely. But me?

I, Miley Ray Stewart, have been at a complete stand still for four years. I felt like time froze the day Lilly left and will only resume once she returned. I pass the time through my life as Hannah and Jake provides me a way to waste a few hours here and there, but when I really think about it, I've done nothing to move my life forward these last few years.

I sigh as I rub my face again. I'm sure Lilly would be disappointed in how I was acting.

Lilly wrote occasionally to her mouther, about once every four months, and in turn Heather would keep us updated on where Lilly was being stationed at if we ever wanted to write to her.

Lets see, by now I believed I've sent her about.....two hundred letters, each at least five pages in length, give or take a few. Every Saturday monring, the mornings that should have consisted Lilly and I hitting the beach to soak up the morning rays, I sit alone at my desk in my dark room and I unload the feelings that had been festering in me during that week onto pieces of paper before sending them off to my dearest friend.

And in return, I've gotten a total of zero replies. Not that I'm surprised. I wouldn't blame Lilly if she just took a glance at the sender and tore up my letters without ever reading them after the way I treated her the last time she saw me. The things I said to her...there's no way I should expect forgiveness, even after all these years.

But...I can't help but hope. Hope that she'll read at least one of my letters. Cause every letter I sent out is filled with nothing but my regrets for what I did and my desperate pleads for Lilly to forgive me. How I loved her like she was the other half of my soul, and how I prayed to God for her safety and well being every night before I go to bed. I write how it felt like the world has lost all of it's colors since the day she left, and how I still get choked up when I realize the first number I call when something eventful happens is still hers and how I struggle not to cry when I listen to her voice mail.

I write to her to express what I feel for her, to make her realize that despite my words on that dark, unforgivable day, she was still my most precious person, the first thing I think about when I wake up and the last when I fall asleep.

I write nothing of the daily events of my life, nothing about my impending marriage or of Hannah's success and fame. I write nothing about my supposedly perfect life.

I only write about Lilly, for Lilly, to Lilly....I write of what ifs and should of and could of. Again and again I spill my heart out onto sheets of paper and send them to her in hopes that one day....that one day she will finally write back, and let me know that my feelings have crossed the ocean and reached her.

I jump a little when there's a knock at my dressing room door.

"Ready to go bud?" My daddy's voice is slightly dampened due to the wooden barrier between us.

"Yeah, give me a minute." I wince a little at the croak in my voice.

A beat of silence passes.

"....You alright honey?"

"Yeah, just...you know, a little tired," I lie as I walk up to my mirror, freshing up so it didn't look like hadn't just spent the last half hour wallowing in misery.

I know daddy can tell I'm lying, but he lets it go. I tend to lie a lot lately and he gave up a long time ago trying to pry information out of me.

The ride back is silent, and I ignore yet another call from Jake as well. Since the day Lilly left, my relationship with Jake lost a lot of its appeal. I mean, I love him and he's a great guy, but....

I no longer have Lilly to run to when Jake does something stupid, or when he does something sweet and I need someone to gush to. Jake doesn't inspire me to embark on spontaneous adventures and he trotts me around like I'm his trophy. When I really think about it, having Lilly by my side had made being with Jake so much more enjoyable. Cause when I'm not with Jake, I was with Lilly. And when I was with Lilly, the world was a better place. But now, after four years of just Jake....

I still haven't told anybody yet, but I'm breaking the wedding off with Jake. In fact, I'm planning to do it the moment he returns from his movie shoot. Nobody deserves to find out their fiance no longer wants to marry them over the phone.

I still love the guy, and I know I must be an idiot to give him up, but I know it wouldn't be fair to him if I stayed. Cause he had confessed he couldn't imagine life without me in it. I couldn't say the same, and I often find my self wishing that if only it had been Jake who was the one off in the military and Lilly had stayed......

I'm pretty sure when I break the news to him it wont be too much of a shock. A growing part of me is pretty sure that Jake is well of aware of my dwindling feelings for him, the biggest clue being that I've put off our wedding for four years now.

The first year was because...well, after Lilly left I wasn't too pleasant to be around.

The second year I put off when I went on a non-stop Hannah tour around the world, much to the pleasure of the producers and industry executives, but to the detriment of those close to me. I had been trying to combat my depression by burying myself in Hannah, constantly drowning myself in her life. But I soon realized that without Lola, even Hannah wasn't immune to the constant feeling of loneliness that was threatening to consume me at the time.

The third year we delayed the wedding when I relapsed into another major depression. During that year, the United States had begun suffering from a series of offensive attacks in the area where Lilly was stationed, and the casualties that had resulted had been staggering. Week after week, month after month, there had been new names of heroic soldiers who gave their lives for their country. I had become so depressed and withdrawn during that time as more and more casualties mounted, that daddy had been contemplating having me hospitalized. God, the nightmares that I had during that time were horrid as I imagined what Lilly must have been going through. It was only after the offensive had been thwarted and Heather had let everyone know that Lilly was okay that I came out of my depressed state.

Over a year has passed since then, and once again my wedding is approaching.

Except this time when I talk to Jake about it, it'll be the last time.

I smile and say goodnight to daddy as I close my hotel room door, and slowly make my way to the bathroom, stripping away my clothes along the way.

Such feelings as wishing Jake and Lilly could switch places sometimes brought about a lot of questions during the four long years that Lilly has been gone, especially when there were times it wasn't just Jake who I imagined replacing with Lilly. Jackson, daddy, Oliver, Heather.... nobody was exempt from my wondering fantasy if it meant putting my dear friend back at my side.

What is Lilly to me? If she was just my best friend, then why? Why do these feelings I have in her absence feel so intense?

Do I love her just as my best friend?

I ponder the questions, yet I never answer them. Maybe because I already know the answers. To me, Lilly was never just a best friend. She was something that I could never define, but never needed to. What I do know is that I love her like nobody else and would give anything to have her back.

Naked, I walk towards the large bathroom, not bothering to glance at the untouched television. I haven't sat down and enjoyed a good television numbing session in over a year since that awful depression I went through last year, mainly because now whenever I come across some news report from where Lilly is stationed or some other part of the world the United States army was deployed in, I would feel a cold hand grip my heart and squeeze till I had to turn off the tv. News papers, online articles, hell, even political gossip during practice sessions for Hannah. I didn't want to be around any of it. I'm sure the people around me are noticing my more reclusive nature. I would much rather just laze around at home reading a good book or break out the guitar and escape into another world, where I don't have to think of the possibility of Lilly coming back in a coffin..

A hot shower later, I dry my hair as I walk over to the dresser. The quietness of the hotel room dampens my mood slightly, but I try my best to ignore it. I miss the days when Lilly and I would goof of in hotel rooms like this after concerts into the wee hours of the night. I miss how we would sneak out sometimes and enjoy a night out in whatever town we were in. I miss how we would always share a bed together, always wrestling for who got the most pillows. I miss how I could just reach across the bed in the middle of the night with my hand or foot and touch her, and immediately be filled with the calm and peacefulness of her presence that would allow me to fall asleep easily. God, how I missed her.

After putting on my pajamas, I kneel before my bed and say my usual prayer. I make sure to say a quick prayer for for my family and friends. Then I devote the grand majority of it for Lilly. I pray for her safety, for her to come back home, and I pray for her to return to my life.

And with bated breath, I can only wait and pray that the day will come soon.

Climbing into the large, cold bed, I do my best to make myself comfortable, taking up only one half of the bed and keeping my back turned to the other side. I stare at the alarm clock on the bedside table and count of fifteen minutes before falling into a restless slumber, hoping that at the very least, God would grace me with peaceful dreams of Lilly.

Nowadays, dreams are the only thing I have left of her.

to be continued....

AN: Been a while since I wrote drama/angst. I find that it's usually easier to write in the first person, so this story came along fairly quickly. Once again, this story was written with our family and friends who are in the military in mind. The best thing we can do for them is to never forget what it feels like to be separated from them so we cherish them that much more. Anyways, let me know what you think. Review please!