Holy crap, I'm writing something! But I still don't own anything, so LEAVE ME ALONEEEEE.


It was black, it was all black. He couldn't see, he couldn't feel, he couldn't hear, he was nothing. Haze, Jasmine; where were they? "..Jasmine, Haze..." The first sound he heard was his own croaking voice. Slowly the blackness began to fade away; his vision returned.

"Jasmine, Haze." He repeated again, louder this time. He couldn't see either of them from his position on the ground. He effortlessly leapt to his feet, surprising even himself. He quickly scanned his surroundings; looking for anything out of the ordinary. "Where are they?" He muttered to himself nervously. He glanced around cautiously, making sure that there were no more monsters in the area.

As he searched around for his missing friends, he couldn't help but feel something was strange. He thought at first that his senses might just have been dulled from the battle, but they weren't just dulled; he felt absolutely nothing! "What...what happened to me?" He stopped to examine himself, feeling panic flooding through him.

"What the hell is this?" He gaped, staring at his now-transparent hand. What had happened to him? He pushed back the raging panic in his mind, now wasn't the time for that. This was familiar, he'd heard about it from Haze and Jasmine before. "Phantom...was it?" He was sure of it. "So I'm...a phantom? I...died?" His voice was incredulous. "So Haze must have used his Chartreuse Miracle..." He had heard Haze mention it before. "Th-Then Haze, and Jasmine!" And as if on cue, he spotted several forms lying on the ground just up ahead.

He ran towards the figures, praying that he was mistaken. He pleaded over and over again in his mind, begging for his friends to be safe.

"No...." He choked out, staring at the lifeless corpses of Haze, Jasmine, and himself. His shaky hands clutched at his face, as if trying to break this illusion. And when he finally realized this was reality, Ash screamed.

"...AGHHHHH!!!"

-------

"What am I supposed to do now?" Ash looked out to the dark, raging sea that surrounded the island. "I'm neither alive nor dead, what can I do?" Haze and Jasmine were dead, and he was something in-between. He couldn't exact revenge on the monsters that had done this to him; they were nowhere to be seen, and he wasn't strong enough to handle them by himself anyways. "Dammit!" He cursed.

"There's nothing left for me." His voice was full of anger. His gaze shifted to the boat that they had all taken to get here; it swayed left and right in the powerful waves. "There's no need for this anymore, there's no need for anything!" He lifted his fist in the air, materializing himself at the same time, prepared to destroy the small craft in front of him, but something about the boat suddenly calmed, or at least diverted his fury. He kneeled down in front of it, and examined a set of crudely-drawn people on the boat's side. Mom, Dad, Ash, and Me were each written above a corresponding person; the last being a little girl.

"Marona..." Ash murmured, remembering the small girl. "That's right! Marona!" He shouted suddenly. She was all alone back at home, and today was her birthday wasn't it? They had all promised to be back in time for the party. "Poor thing, she'll be all alone in this world." Just like he was now. His mind turned turned to the young child, and he felt a mixture of grief, pity, and guilt.

Here he was feeling sorry for himself, Marona hadn't even crossed his mind until now. Pathetic, how selfish of him. He was eighteen; an adult; Marona was only five years old, and now she was alone.

Ash thought long and hard; was sitting here and moping all he could do? "No, I won't let her suffer like that!" He voiced his decision firmly. His mind made up, he began to enter the boat, only stopping to give a quick bow. "Haze, Jasmine, I'm so sorry. This is the least I can do with the life you gave me."

------

He spotted her through the window of the house at first. She sat at the table quietly, waiting for their arrival. The guilt was almost too much to bear, but Ash brought himself to walk forward, making his way to the front door. He hesitated in front of the door, "Come on Ash, you have to do this, for her sake." He shakily stretched his hand towards the door.

His hand had hardly touched the surface of the door when it swung open suddenly. Ash gave a small leap backwards in surprise.

"You're home!" A tiny voice shouted happily. Marona stood there, a large smile on her face, staring right at Ash. "Huh? Where's Mom and Dad, Ash?" She looked around expectantly.

"They're..." It took all of Ash's will power to make himself talk, yet the look on Marona's face crushed it easily. "They... had to take care of something, so they sent me to go ahead, at least until they arrive." He lied. He wouldn't be able to keep this charade up for long, but he could at least make sure her birthday was a happy one.

"Oh....I see..." Marona's smile faltered.

"Sorry, I'm not really the best of replacements." Ash apologized.

Marona quickly shook her head, and grasped Ash's arm tightly. "Not at all! I wanted Ash to come too! Now I'm even more happy." Marona smiled at him, pulling him into the house.

"You did?" Ash asked. "Marona...." His spirits sunk even lower. I'm so sorry.

"Yep, I even saved a piece of cake, just for you." Marona beamed, handing him a large wedge; with the name "Ash" written messily with frosting. "It's really good!"

"Is that why a some of yours is already missing?" Ash teased, doing his best to divert his attention from his increasing guilt.

Marona blushed in embarrassment. "Sorry." She apologized, shifting her gaze to the ground(Ash took this opportunity to hide his cake, seeing as he couldn't eat it).

"I'm just kidding, Marona, it's your birthday after all. Now let's start the party, your mom and dad can join when they get back." Ash forced a grin.

"Yay!" Marona shouted happily, rushing over to a lone bottlemail in the corner. "Somebody sent me a bottlemail, Ash, but I can't read it." She frowned.

"A bottlemail?" Ash walked over to the small container, and took the letter from inside. It was addressed to a "Possessed Girl".

I saw you try to play with my children the other day. KEEP AWAY FROM THEM! I don't know what kind of sick games you and those phantoms you talk to, but I won't let you hurt them! Do us all a favor, and stay on that island forever!

Ash's hands trembled with fury. Without a word, he crumpled the letter up, and shoved it back inside the bottlemail.

"What's it say, what's it say!?" Marona asked excitedly.

"Uh.." Ash blanched, still shaking with anger. "It says happy birthday, from the village." He quickly lied.

"Really!? That's great!" Marona beamed, not even paying attention to the fact that the village was nameless.

"Isn't it?" Ash forced a smile. "Why don't you finish off your cake? You look hungry. I'll just be a minute."

"Thanks Ash! Take good care of my letter, okay?" Marona ran off to finish off her piece of cake, practically drooling as she ran.

"Of course." Ash smiled, before quickly stepping outside.

"How dare you deliver such a terrible message, on her birthday no less?" Ash sneered at the bottle.

"Don't look at me, sir! I just deliver the thing! I didn't mean any harm!" The struggling creature apologized.

"Then try to use your head next time!" Ash shouted, flinging the bottle into the ocean. He felt satisfied, as he watched it skip on the surface several times, before disappearing underwater.

"So Marona can see phantoms?" He asked nobody. He had never been told this before. That meant that she could see him, even if he wasn't materialized. And that letter, people hated her for this ability of hers? How could they hate someone as innocent as Marona? Ash felt disgust bubble up in his very core.

"Ash! I finished my cake! Come on let's do presents now!" Marona begged from inside the house.

Ash put aside his train of thought for later. "Coming!" He shouted back, walking back inside.

Marona sat on her knees in front of a large box, giving small hops of excitement now and then. "Mom and Dad gave me this!" She smiled, pulling at its large ribbon.

Ash quickly looked around the rest of the area; it was the only present she had received. Again he felt a mixture of rage and sympathy in his gut. She's going to be all alone now, and what's more; she'll be despised.

"Go ahead, open it." Ash forced out another smile.

Marona hurriedly tore open the box, and made a noise of delight. "Oh wow, it's an entire outfit!" She shouted, staring at the gift in awe. "There's a dress, and shoes, and even bracelets! They're so pretty!" She pulled the dress in front of her, imagining what she would look like in it. "I'm gonna give Mom and Dad a big hug when they get back!" She grinned at Ash.

Ash felt like he might cry. "Th-That's good, Marona..." He couldn't even force a smile. He needed to get his mind off this somehow, or it would be too much. "Ah, that's right! I don't have a present for you right now."

"That's okay, Ash. You don't need to get me anything; I'm just glad you're here." Marona hugged his arm tightly.

"No, I'm definitely going to get you one, it'll be the best present ever." He insisted.

"Thanks, Ash." Marona let out a huge yawn.

"It's awfully late isn't it? Come on Marona, you should get some sleep." Ash suggested.

"But- but Mom and Dad aren't home yet." Marona yawned again.

"It's alright, you can see them when you wake up, otherwise you'll just fall asleep when they're here." Ash scooped up the small girl in his arms, and carried her to her room.

"Can you go to sleep with me? It's kinda scary tonight." Marona asked.

Ash paused for a minute. "Sure." And he gave her his first actual smile in quite some time, after which he quickly tucked both of them under the covers.

Marona wriggled her way into his arms, sighing contentedly. "You feel a little colder, Ash."

"Uh, well...sorry." Ash was at a loss for words, he couldn't feel anything at all, after all.

"It's fine, you still feel warm to me." Marona giggled.

"....Marona." Ash spoke up suddenly. "About your gift," He knew what he had to do now. This was surely what Haze had in mind when he had made Ash a phantom.

"...Yeah?" Marona mumbled sleepily.

"How about I promise to never leave you? I'll always be by your side; to make you smile and protect you." This girl deserved to live a happy life, and he would make sure she did just that. Besides, it wasn't like there was anything else he could do with himself now.

"Really? That sounds great." Marona smiled, still drifting into peaceful slumber. "It's a promise....you have to keep it...okay?" She yawned every few words.

"Yeah, it's a promise." He held her protectively. "...Marona?" He asked, but received no answer other than Marona's peaceful breathing. "Good night, Marona."

Ash thought for a while, about what the future would hold. Tomorrow would be the day he told Marona the truth about her parents. And from then on, whether she wanted him to or not, he would do his best to make sure Marona led a happy life, no matter what stood in his way.

Ash looked at Marona's peaceful face once again, and held her even tighter.

"I'm so sorry."

----

"Ash! Time for cake!" Ash was snapped out of his reminiscing by a voice calling his name. Marona walked up to him, a large cake with the number 14 on it in frosting was in her hands.

"Huh? Oh...right." Ash shook his head quickly. "Sorry about that Marona." He smiled at her.

"What were you thinking about?" Marona asked him curiously.

"Oh...it's nothing." Ash lied, trying to forget the guilt he felt whenever he remembered that day. "So it's just you and me again? How come you didn't invite any of your new friends?" He asked curiously.

"Well, it's kinda like tradition that it's just me and you." Marona smiled. "I know I've made tons of new friends, but that doesn't mean I should spend less time with you. I always feel like you get left out when there's too many people around." Her smile changed to a frown.

"Don't worry about me so much, I'll be fine."

"But I do worry about you sometimes." Marona sighed, handing him a piece of cake; he couldn't eat it, but it was also like tradition for them. "Still, it's thanks to you that I've never had a bad birthday Ash. That's why this is our nine year tradition, and counting."

"Marona..." Ash was deeply touched. Without even thinking, he wrapped Marona in a tight hug. "Thank you."

"Thank you too Ash, for always trying so hard for my sake." She squeezed back tightly. "Now come on! I wanna see how delicious your cake is this year." She laughed, running back to the cake.

"She's grown up so well. I think I've done a good job, if I do say so myself." Ash laughed, as he watched Marona begin to devour the cake.

I'll continue to watch over you, Marona. Forever...and ever.



Alright! First story in long time! I need to get my writing blood flowing again!

Several things have plagued my ability to write as of lately, mainly writer's block and motivation, but I think I might be on the road to recovery. I can only hope.

Phantom Brave was my choice to begin the recovery, seeing as I had just beaten it, and was absolutely in love with it! It's a shame there aren't many stories for it, but that's just how it is, I guess. I want to write at least two more stories for this section in the near future, I hope I can meet that goal.

I hope this idea wasn't too far out there, it's just something I had always wanted to see in the game. I'm sure I made some mistakes here and there, but I enjoyed making it anyways. The second half flowed a lot easier for me than the first half, meaning that they may seem a bit different in the style they're written, I hope it turned out well anyways.

Please drop in a review if you have the time, I like to learn what I'm doing wrong, and occasionally what I'm doing right. If you have any suggestions on how you motivate yourself to write, I'd be delighted if you could divulge your secrets to me.

Thanks for reading, hope to see you again sometime.