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It's Never Too Late                                                                                                                         Chapter 3

"Where is she?" Trish asked worriedly, when she, Melina and Mickie rushed inside the house after Jeff opened the front door to them. He pointed toward kitchen and the three girls quickly made their way the direction.

"You have any idea what happened?" Melina asked, but Jeff just shook his head, "I just found her on the floor in tears after hearing a scream coming from her room."

"So you were here when it happened?"

Jeff nodded, looking at the latino girl. "Yeah, just wanted to check she was all right. And the front door was open and no one to be found from downstairs."

All four teenagers made their way to the kitchen, where Ashley was sitting on a high stool around the kitchen table, a thin blanket wrapped around her shoulder. She stared at the table with blank eyes, slowly waiving from side to side. Trish exchanged quick looks with Jeff, before she, Mickie and Melina went to their friend, sitting next to her, looking at her trembling figure worried.

"Ash, darling," Trish said smiling at the girl, wrapping her arm around her shoulder. "What happened?"

"He happened," she whispered without releasing her eyes from the table. Trish lifted her eyes to Jeff, who shook his head.

"Who? Ashley, you need to tell us," Melina begged, looking at her friend. But Ashley just shook her head staring at the table. Sighing Trish stood up and grabbed Jeff by his arm, dragging him to the living room from the kitchen.

"You were there, weren't you?" she asked crossing her arms over her chest. "And I'm really worried about her. So you don't know anything?"

"No, sorry," Jeff muttered looking at Ashley over the blonde girls shoulder, how Mickie and Melina tried to make her talk to them. "I just found her on laying on the floor, crying her eyes out. I don't know about anything, and she didn't tell me."

"When did you come in, then?"

"I was in the house, looking for her. I let myself in, when I noticed that the front door was open. I told Melina about it all ready."

"Her parents are not here?" Trish asked quietly, looking at the punk girl over her shoulder - she was still sitting on her place, staring at the table, looking like she had seen a ghost or something.

Jeff shook his head slowly, "I don't think so, I didn't see them anywhere."

"Ashy, darling, are you parents at home?" the blonde continued questioning when she walked with Jeff back to the kitchen. Ashley slowly shook her head, finally lifting her eyes from the table to her blonde friend.

"Mom's working late and Dad is out of the country…," she muttered, looking at Mickie and Melina confusion making it's way on her face, "What are you girls doing here?"

"I told I would bring them in with me, remember?" Trish smiled, sitting next to Ashley, who looked at her nodding a bit. "To discuss about this whole… Phil problem."

"Uh, what?" Jeff asked raising an eyebrow. Ashley's eyes hit on him, widening. "What 'Phil problem' are you talking about? Who is this Phil?"

All three girls looked at Ashley, who just kept staring at Jeff without blinking her eyes. Melina opened her mouth, but quickly Trish slapped her hand over it. "Don't," she muttered, looking Jeff and Ashley in turns. "Let her explain it if she wants to."

"Ash, who is this Phil and what he has to do with anything?" Jeff asked, this time his confusion changing to a mild anger. Mickie looked all the other persons in the room one by one, finally her eyes landing on Jeff.

"Uh, girls, I think we should leave," she whispered, Melina and Trish nodding almost imperceptibly. "So they can… Discuss things through."

"You are all ready going?" Ashley asked, releasing her eyes from Jeff, looking at Mickie over her shoulder.

"Y-yeah, have a, uh, English test tomorrow. Have to read for it. And really early waking tomorrow too, need to be in the school for the festival… Things," Mickie quickly muttered, grabbing Melina and Trish by their arms and dragging them out from the kitchen, through the living room and straight to the front door. For a moment Jeff and Ashley stared after them and when they heard the front door slamming close, Jeff's eyes immediately turned back toward Ashley.

"You care to explain me something?" he asked, looking the girl over the table. Ashley shrugged, her eyes landing back on the table. "Please Ash, talk to me. I can see that there is something bugging you."

"I… I just got little bit too dragged away," she muttered. Jeff raised his eyebrows, confused. "I… I was reading Twilight and got just absorbed with the story and imagined things, it's not a big deal."

"Not a big deal?" Jeff sighed lowering his hands on the table. "It must have been something more than 'not a big deal'. Ash, Trish was so worried about you. And you know as well as I do that she doesn't do that for just fun."

"It's nothing, just believe it all ready," Ashley groaned, pulling the blanket more tight around her shoulders, jumping down from the stool, standing still for a couple of seconds in order to stop her legs from trembling. "Trish overreacts all the time. I was just reading about vampires, so it's kind of natural to be like hearing or seeing things."

"Well, if you are not going to tell me about this, what about the… Phil thing the girls mentioned?"

Silently Ashley looked the rainbow haired boy over the table, shaking her head and turned away, walking out from the kitchen and toward the stairs, starting to climb them up toward her room. Jeff sighed, quickly skipping after her toward the stairs. When he got upstairs, Ashley had all ready disappeared in her room. Jeff was just about to push the door handle down when he heard sobbing coming from inside the room… And then some unknown male voice talking, probably to Ashley.

"Don't cry, baby, I'm not here to hurt you," it said and after that a loud slap was able to be heard.

"Don't 'babe' me, you -- you fucking freak of nature!" Ashley's weepy voice screamed. And then there was small, sad chuckles in the air.

"I'm just exactly what you want me to be, Ashy - nothing more and nothing less. Just like you imagined all those years, see? And I really want to be what you want me to be."

"Leave me alone all ready!" she screamed once again and this time there was a huge crashing sound and even louder crying. When nothing else was said, Jeff slowly pushed down the handle and peeked inside, the scene making his heart skip a beat or two.

Ashley laid in two layers on the floor, sitting on her legs and holding her hand where had appeared couple of nasty looking cuts. Right there next to her on the floor was her wall mirror, broken in million of small pieces. But there was nobody else inside the room - even though Jeff was hundred percents sure that he had heard another voice coming from inside.

"Ashy, you hurt?" he asked worriedly, kneeling down next to the wounded girl. Her head bounced up and she stared at Jeff with widened, tearfully eyes.

"Can you see it?!" she shouted - but not to Jeff. She scanned the roof of her room panicking, like she was sure there was something to be afraid to be found. "Somebody actually cares! Unlike you fucking idiot!"

"Ashy, whoa, calm down," Jeff said, pulling the girl close to him. But her eyes still scanned the roof.

"Can you see, I asked?! You fucking idiot, leaving me all alone for all those years! And now you dare to come back, acting like nothing had happened?! Fuck you, you… You…"

"Hus, Ashley, calm down," Jeff whispered in her ear, pulling her against his chest. Ashley's trembling breath calmed down a bit and her eyes closed, her head turning down. She couldn't paint the picture out from her head - Phil was there again, looking her back from the mirror. Taunting her there. She didn't have anything else to do that get rid of him. And yet she still knew he was there, looking at her.

"Ash?" His southern accent calmed her down, as Ashley lifted her opened eyes up to Jeff. "Now you want to tell me what the hell happened? Who were you talking to?"

Ashley couldn't help her eyes from widening, "You heard him too?!"

"I couldn't be able not to. Talking so rudely to you… Want to explain me what is going on?"

Ashley sighed deeply, without releasing her eyes from Jeff's. "Well…"

~ Two Years Ago ~

Fear has a funny way of ruining everything.

And unfortunately Ashley had to find that out the most hardest way that night.

She sat alone in her room, staring out from the window to the empty street under her window. A pack of kids ran across the street, entering the neighbor houses porch. She could heard their laughing up to her room. Sighing she turned her face down, closing her eyes. It was once again that day, which reminded her about everything she wanted to forget.

It was once again Halloween night.

Ashley stood up, starting to walk around in her room. Melina and Trish were supposed to come pick her up soon, getting her in some kind of "small Halloween party", meaning it was either going to be Randy's annual huge party at his parents gorgeous villa or the schools boring Halloween party. Either way, she really didn't feel like going anywhere tonight… Like she never had when it had been the penultimate day of November in the past three years.

She stopped after hearing the kids laughing again. She couldn't help herself from smiling a bit - she was glad somebody was having fun this night, every single year. Like she and Phil had had before nothing happened. Something that she didn't know, something he never told her… and suddenly he was just gone. Never explaining anything, never coming back to apologies. And he didn't ever even look like he was going somewhere - he was just the happy little Phil, her best friend, who he always used to be.

Ashley sighed, looking herself from the mirror on the wall. Her eyes hadn't had that shine in them in three years, even though some time this day used to be her favorite. It was when she met Phil. Something she could never forget about.

Suddenly she heard a small knock coming from the window. First thing in her mind was that it was just a branch from the nearby tree, but then she remembered the tree was too far away from the window. So Ashley turned around, looking at the door - immediately gasping and slapping her hands over her mouth, her eyes widening as big as they just possibly could.

The gently face smiled at her behind the window, waiving a bit. Ashley blinked, quickly loping to the window, pushing it open - but by that time he was already gone. She pushed her head out from the window, trying to hold herself down… But she couldn't. The tears started to flow down her cheeks before she started to shout his name to the darkening evening.

She was certain about it. It couldn't have been anyone else.

She had seen Phil.

~ Present ~

"And after that he didn't appear to me… Until now. I have seen him three times today, talked to him, touched him… But nothing still seems real," she whispered, while Jeff cleaned and bandaged her hand. He nodded staying silent - the whole story seemed so unbelievable.

"Do you miss him?" Ashley nodded, sniffing and wiping a tear away from the corner of her eye with her other hand, while Jeff petted the other one in his hand.

"I think I'm just going lunatic here," she muttered, shrugging. Jeff created a sad look to her.

They were sitting in Ashley's room on her bed, Ashley placed on Jeff's laps, her head leaning against his chest. They had been there almost twenty minutes by now, Ashley telling him the story how he met Phil and what had happened between them and about when he first time showed to her two years ago.

"You think there is something he wants that he had come back for?"

"I don't know," Ashley said shaking her head sadly. "The only thing he keeps telling me is that he wants to be what I want him to be."

"And what you want him to be, then?"

"For all those years I wanted him to come back, be with me and be real to me… But now when he's here, he's not the same Phil I know. I don't want him here anymore. I --"

Ashley was rudely interrupted by her cell phone playing Television Television by OK Go, meaning she got a text message. Slowly her hand wondered toward her phone she had at some point placed back to the night stand, pulling it in front of her face, clicking the message open.

"Ash, what is it?" Jeff asked worriedly after seeing the girl going all pale. She handed him the phone and Jeff started reading, his face going more serious and worried with each word he read from the small screen in front of him.

'I know you don't like me after what happened. Forgive me. I promise I will come back to you sooner than you think. You just have to trust me… I wont do the same mistake again, not like five years ago. Just wait for me.

- Phil '

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