*Author's note: Greetings everyone. I just finished playing this game through and began writing as soon as I did. I thought the two looked so perfect for each other, I just had to write. Ashley/D all the way. Oh and I don't own Trace Memory or any of the characters.
Ashley looked out at the open sea, taking a deep breath.
After 4 years and much debating with herself, she had finally decided to once again visit Blood Edward Island. The money for the boat ride had been a gift from Frannie. Frannie…Ashley wondered if she was all right.
When Ashley had returned from the island that first time, she had instantly looked up Frannie Edwards, hoping that the girl hadn't parted from this life. To her relief and surprise, Frannie, now an old lady, was very much alive and living quite close to where she shared an apartment with her father and Jessica.
Though she had gotten older, Ashley could still see traces of the young girl D had described, always smiling but still a bit of a crybaby. Ashley had introduced herself and then told her the whole story, leaving nothing out.
Both cried when Ashley told her how D had really died and what had really occurred in the mansion all those years ago. That day, Ashley had made another life-long friend. Frannie had become a vital part of her life, someone who Ashley could confide with all her dreams and insecurities. She could now see why D had been so fond of his cousin. She was absolutely captivating, sweet and sassy.
Her thoughts returned to the real reason why she was on her way to that haunted island for a second time. Ever since she had returned from the island, D had not left her mind. Everything reminded her of him.
Guys were out of the question because not one of them could compare with him. None of them had his smile, his laugh, his kindness, or his SOUL.
She closed her eyes, picturing him as she had last seen him, his kind blue eyes looking at her with affection as he asked her to touch his hand.
And she couldn't even begin to explain the many emotions that rushed through her as their hands met. In that one day, she had found a true friend and quite possibly her soulmate…And lost him in that selfsame day. It had taken awhile for Ashley to admit to herself what she really felt for her ghost friend and even longer to admit it to Frannie.
When she finally came clean, the older woman didn't seem at all surprised. She had just smiled knowingly and told her that true love conquers all. Ashley had been skeptical and Frannie had just laughed, telling her that she'd soon see. Then she had given her the money as a gift, encouraging her to go after what she wanted. Ashley had decided then to wait for her birthday, just like last time after much thought.
The captain's voice suddenly broke into her thoughts, startling her, "We're almost there sweetheart. Don't know why ya wanted to come back to this accursed place…But that ain't none of my business. Just remember, be here before night falls, got it? I won't wait for you like last time, kid."
She arched an eyebrow and he chuckled, shaking his head, "Okay, maybe I will."
She giggled, stepping off the boat and making her way up the path, waving goodbye to the captain. She soon made it to the large gates but paused. After a moment's hesitation, she took a right, stopping at the entrance to the graveyard.
With slow steps, she walked up to the two gravestones, running a hand over the old rocks marking Henry and Thomas' grave. Her eyes instantly sought the "gravestone" etched with a D that she had pushed over. She smiled fondly as she remembered her first meeting with D. She couldn't help the chuckle that escaped as she remembered how frightened she had been when he had first appeared…and then how irritated she'd become when she thought he was laughing at her.
She would give anything now to hear him laugh again.
She shook her head and doubled back, once again making her way to the gates. This time she strode straight through them, a determined glint in her dark eyes. She slowed down as she neared the heavy doors, taking a deep breath before pushing them open.
She slowly walked through the mansion, memories of herself and D flooding her mind. Everything was dusty and untouched, just like she had left it.
She shuddered as she caught sight of the bloodstained carpet in the Silver Bird Room and couldn't help smiling when she saw the off-tune piano in the music room, an image of D's surprised face as a memory returned to him, surging up in her mind.
She stepped through the hidden door and made her way down the hallway, making sure to stop in Frannie's room and stuffing the worn teddy bear into her backpack. Biting her lip, she retraced her steps back to the art room and rolled up the picture of Frannie Henry had drawn, making sure not to crumple it as she also stuck it into her backpack.
She continued on, slipping into the next part of the mansion. She entered the dining room and stopped, staring at the old newspaper on the table. She sat on the same chair she had sat in before, closing her eyes. If she concentrated hard enough, she could almost hear D's soft but stern voice, reprimanding her and telling her to keep going.
After a few minutes, she sighed and continued onward. As she passed the kitchen doorway, she noticed something off. Pausing, she entered the kitchen cautiously, her eyes wandering. They landed on a plate, left out on the kitchen counter.
She felt sick to her stomach as she looked down at the dirty plate.
Because although the plate was dirty, there was no sign of dust anywhere on it.
Meaning there was someone here, in the mansion.
After that, she kept on alert, especially after she saw the rumpled bedsheets on Lawrence's bed, further sign that someone was indeed living here. She made her way through the lab, stopping to grab the picture of her, her mother and father on the computer desk. She ran a hand over the frame, smiling as she recalled how embarrassed she'd been when D had seen her baby picture. She continued into the Trace room, looking at the large machine that had helped her father regain his memory. She made her way to the back of it, lifting her DTS from its resting spot. She turned it on, shifting through her picture files. She smiled fondly as she found the picture she was looking for.
D floated in the picture, see-through and serious. He levitated above the false marker, looking at the camera with penetrating blue eyes. She held the DTS close to her chest before carefully tucking it away into her now-full backpack then walked toward the back door, sliding it open.
She slowly made her way down the stairs and entered the dark cave, scrunching up her nose as the musty smell of the cave hit her. She gathered up her courage and ventured deeper into the darkness, careful of where she stepped. Her heart raced in her chest, the darkness feeling suffocating and restricting. The shadows seemed to move, hiding secrets within them.
She sighed in relief as the cave began to get lighter and the bridge came into view. She made sure not to get too close to the edge as she stepped forward, memories of the last time she'd stood here infiltrating her mind.
Bill's steely and cold eyes, her father's terror as Bill pulled a gun on him, her forgotten memory of her mother's murderer coming back to her, and D, unintentionally saving her father's life…all that flashed in her mind's eye and she wiped away a stray tear, taking one last look into the dark abyss that had become the grave of two.
She pressed on, crossing the bridge and nearing the end of the cave. Her heart was now in hyper drive, anxious for what she was to find…or what she wouldn't. She knew that the chances that D would still be around were slim to none…but she couldn't suppress the insane hope that began to grow within her chest. She stepped out into the bay, looking out at the beautiful sunset.
But she barely noticed the view, her eyes scanning the empty beach. She could feel her heart shattering and tears prickling her eyes as she found no sign of the ghost boy. She covered her face with her hands, softly sobbing to herself as night fell. Frannie had been wrong…true love didn't conquer all. True love couldn't conquer death, not like in fairy tales where everyone lived happily ever after. She shouldn't have come…she should have known this would happen.
"Why are you crying?"
Ashley froze, every muscle in her body tense. It couldn't be…It just couldn't…
"Ashley, please don't cry…"
With an agonizing slowness, she turned…and came face-to-face with an 18 year-old boy. He wore black pants and a light cream sweater, both which looked a little dirty. He was taller than her by a few inches, sandy yellow hair partly falling over his eyes.
Ashley flushed a bright red, her heart speeding back up. She finally met the boy's eyes, a gasp escaping her parted lips.
They were the same soft icy blue that she remembered, kind and full of emotion.
Her legs felt weak and new tears rolled down her face, "D?"
A joyful smile lit up his face and he nodded, "It's me, Ashley. Seems my business wasn't entirely finished here."
Her throat was clogged with emotion and she could barely whisper out a quiet, "What?"
"Ghosts are beings who have unfinished business. I thought I had finished mine when I solved the mystery of my death. But it seems that while I did fulfill that part, I unconsciously opened up another 'unfinished business'," he took a quick breath then continued, "You kept me anchored to this world Ashley. Your feelings for me were so strong, they were like a weight, pulling me back. I began fading from where I had gone…And when I came to, I was here, my heart once again beating within my chest. I've been living here for a while, waiting for you…And now, you're here."
With a strangled sob, Ashley threw herself into his arms, wrapping her own around his neck. He seemed a bit unsure of what to do but he finally wrapped his arms around her and brought her closer to him. He smelled of sandalwood, Ashley noted, deeply breathing in his scent.
She couldn't believe it and yet…there was no denying the heart she could feel racing in his chest. She moved back a pace, looking up at him with absolute adoration in her gaze. At the moment, she didn't care how this…miracle had happened. All she could fully comprehend was that he was there, holding her in his arms.
"D…I need to tell you something," she waited for his nod before going on, "I think I might've fallen in love with you."
His cheeks instantly reddened and he looked down at her shyly, "T-That's good because I…I think I might just be in love with you too. That's not weird, is it?
She laughed happily, shaking her head, "Not at all."
He shuffled and averted his eyes, "It wouldn't be weird either if…if I kissed you, would it?"
She flushed red but shook her head again, her heart beating fast, "No. In fact, I would like that very much."
With a shy smile, D bent down and placed his warm lips on Ashley's, both their eyes fluttering closed. She kissed him back, the kiss chaste and unhurried, just a light touch of his lips on hers. The tender moment was broken by the honk of the boat, loud and startling. The two instantly pulled away, D's eyes wide.
D looked around, still a bit startled, "What was that?"
"That was our boat. Come on or captain will leave without us," Ashley took his hand, threading their fingers together. He blushed again but allowed himself to be towed away, a fond smile on his handsome face.
Ashley felt as if she could soar, constantly checking behind her to ensure that he was still there. Before climbing up to the dock, D pulled on her hand and she stumbled back, crashing against him. She looked up, confused by his sudden action.
He was looking down at her, his icy blue eyes smoldering. She instantly flushed, a pleasant tingle rushing through her.
"Ashley," his soft voice was husky, sending heat traveling through her body, "You do realize that I plan to stay with you forever, don't you? A simple 'I love you' doesn't even begin to express what I feel for you. You understand that, right? You…You won't tire of me, will you?"
Ashley's eyes softened as she saw the vulnerability in his gaze, "I understand, D. And I can guarantee that what I feel for you is eternal and never ending. I promise you, Daniel Edwards," he shuddered as she said his real name, "That I will NEVER tire of you. My heart will always belong to you and only you."
In answer, D pulled her in close, kissing her with a fierceness that took her breath away. She held on to him, feeling her legs collapse from under her; His arms instantly whipped around her, holding her up. In that one moment, nothing existed but them. They broke apart, both their faces flushed but both smiling joyfully.
Ashley reached up and pecked his cheek, laughing softly, "Are you ready?"
D glanced back at the mansion that had been his home for so many years, silently saying goodbye to the old building. Ashley watched him, still in awe over the miracle that had occurred. He caught her tender gaze and smiled sweetly, planting a chaste kiss on her forehead.
"I'm ready…If I have you beside me then I'll be prepared for anything that comes my way," he tangled his hand with hers, not able to keep the smile, or the blush, off his face. Ashley grinned widely, leading him toward the boat.
The captain looked surprised to see her accompanied but didn't say anything, muttering how it was none of his business. Ashley giggled, leaning against D. He chuckled in amusement and brought her in closer, his chin resting on her shoulder. A sudden thought occurred to Ashley and she giggled, her dark eyes shining.
He looked down at her, icy blue eyes shining with confused amusement, "What is it?"
"Nothing, it's just…Frannie told me that 'true love conquers all' and I didn't believe her. But it looks like she was right," she giggled again at the look of shocked surprise on his face when she mentioned Frannie. He quickly recovered, looking pensive.
"Frannie said that? Hmmm…She always did seem to know what she was talking about," his smile was mischievous as he bent down and placed a delicate kiss on her neck.
Ashley shivered, her cheeks flushed, "Daniel Edwards, cut it out."
He grinned cheekily, "What, uncomfortable?"
"Actually," she teased, "Quite the opposite."
He laughed, resuming his previous position; Ashley's back rested against his chest and she could fell his heart thumping, matching her own heartbeat. They fell into a comfortable silence as they watched the island get smaller as they sailed farther away.
The sun had set awhile ago, the sky now littered with stars and a full silver moon casting a soft, ethereal glow; from where they stood, Ashley thought it looked more blue than silver.
D's soothing voice broke the silence, bringing Ashley's attention back to her best friend and now lover, "Hmmm?"