Frankie reluctantly obeyed, his chest pounding for what he's about to hear. "It's not... your fault..." Her voice was that of a soft whisper, but was full of genuine sincere, almost forgiving.
"I don't... blame you..." She managed to get out weakly as Frankie's eyes now lit up toward the ceiling, his heart more uplifted then it was mere moments ago.
He had blamed himself for so long when he had heard about the tragic news about Ashley's death that he was silently starting to hold himself responsible.
"Oh… Th-thank you, Ashlyn…" Frankie stuttered, smiling. He was so afraid at what happened will make everyone hate him. A forgiveness from at least one person is very comforting. Especially from Ashlyn, who've suffered the most.
"No problem…" She tried with all her effort to stroke his arm in comfort, slightly doing so to avoid the pain in her hand. He slightly took a hold of her hand to avoid hurting her as well.
"Um… I'll be right back," Frankie gently putting her fingerless hand to her side and ran to the bathroom.
Frankie stared at himself in the mirror. He started reflecting at what kind of a person he is. Although Ashlyn forgave him, he still can't believe for what he did. If he wasn't some kind of pervert, she wouldn't be here suffering.
Some of her body parts missing.
Unable to move.
If he was someone else, he wouldn't had snuck his camera into the rollercoaster ride and recording Ashley and Ashlyn.
At the thought from that night, he suddenly yanked off the tacky mudflap girl chain he won as a prize from a game at the carnival two weeks before she got burned and threw it at the floor. He yelled and tried stomping on it, ignoring the tingly pain in his neck. He huffed hugely and ran his hands through his head.
After splashing his face numerous times, he then leaned his hands on the sides of the sink, and took in a few deep breaths to keep himself in check, but he couldn't stop his lower lip from trembling and the sudden flow of tears that were starting to glisten in his eyes. A lump formed in his throat as he tried to breathe, but his throat suddenly felt constricted as the tears in his eyes now started to run down his cheeks.
Several minutes later, a thought came to mind. He decided to make up for all his mistakes. He simply wanted to return the favor. He decided to be there and support her.
Frankie came back to her room, having to remind himself repeatedly that she forgave him. He felt a little more confident as he got closer to her.
"Hey," Frankie greeted and lightly stroked her arm.
"Hi," Ashlyn replied hoarsely with a smile which melted Frankie's heart. The fire had made her appreciate life and those around her more, even when she's blind.
"Everything okay?" She asked hoarsely as she cleared her throat with a sharp gasp of pain. Frankie nodded softly and gently stroked her cheek. "I'm okay." He admitted trying to hold back his emotions. Ashlyn smiled softly as though she could somehow sense his emotions and with a scarred arm reached up to stroke his face.
Over the course of the next several months, Frankie had been visiting Ashlyn and is very devoted to tend for her in every way. He felt good taking care of her, trying to mold into a new person. Her family noticed the goodness within him and was always looking forward for his visit. Sometimes, he would even spend the night with her in her room. On the other hand, they got to know each other. Frankie found that Ashlyn spent a couple years in Hong Kong as a child and is fluent in Cantonese and Ashlyn found that Frankie is actually a pretty funny guy in general. Her favorite joke of his was that he can't wear a jersey when he's bald because he looks like a sick kid with one last wish.
Along the way, Ashlyn helped Frankie to be a better person. Frankie took to note to erase every videos of girls on his camera. He almost wanted to watch the footage he recorded of Ashley and Ashlyn at the carnival, but he cringed, because the footage of the girls were under inappropriate context. But he was hesitant to delete it, because it shows Ashlyn as a regular person, not covered in scars. It took him a while before deciding to delete the footage, but not before he watched it for a second and quickly closed the camera. He doesn't want to be that person anymore, the creepy guy who captures girls his type on his camcorder.
After that was over it, he sold the camera and became the new Frankie Cheeks.
On one such night in particular, as Frankie took a seat in one of the chairs beside her bed, he was suddenly surprised and almost jumped when he felt her touch upon his hand and looked down.
"What's the matter?" Ashlyn asked as she pressed a button on the remote connecting to the bed to allow her to sit up. She had managed to remember the buttons as she was gaining her independence.
"Nothing," Frankie replied despite the fact his heart was racing a million miles an hour inside his chest.
"This was it," He thought to himself. "I'm going to ask her to be my girlfriend, and that's that."
"Ashlyn," he began, gently holding her stump hand.
"Yeah?" She replied. Frankie took a deep breath before saying, "Will you be my girlfriend?"
Ashlyn smiled. Throughout the whole thing, Frankie had grew attached to Ashlyn. After all, Frankie had been there for her every second of the day. He mostly spent the night five days of the week. He even participated to giving her everything she need to treat her injuries. Little by little, she had improved everyday and Frankie was happy to see that but she's still not ready yet to get discharged.
"Yes," she said. Frankie's heart melted and smiled widely. He kissed the top of her head, though she is wearing a knitted cap the hospital gave her.
"I love you," said Frankie.
Ashlyn smiled back. "I love you, too."
The next day after Frankie and Ashlyn began dating, their friend visited them again.
Wendy, Kevin and Julie came to see them. They saw Frankie there as usual, holding Ashlyn's hand. They were pretty surprised that Frankie had completely changed his behavior from recording girls with his video camera to constantly visiting Ashlyn who had despised him of his harassment toward her and Ashley, but they eventually got used to it.
Ashlyn heard their footsteps but don't know who it was until she heard their voices.
"Hey, Frankie," they greeted.
"Hey guys," he and Ashlyn greeted back.
"What's new?" Kevin asked.
"I asked Ashlyn to be my girlfriend and she said yes," Frankie beamed.
Julie beamed a smile, and hugged Ashlyn. "I'm so happy for you guys. That's great news to hear."
As everyone cheered about the news of Frankie and Ashlyn's relationship, the door of the hospital room opened where Dr. Morgan walked in holding a clipboard with a big smile plastered on his face.
"Hi Ashlyn, how are you?" He greeted cheerfully.
"I'm really well. Because Frankie here asked me to be his girlfriend," Ashlyn said, smiling as she held Frankie's hand.
"That's terrific news," Dr. Morgan replied. "Speaking of which, I have some even more great news to announce. I have scheduled your surgery to get you an eye transplant. Soon you will no longer be blind. Isn't that wonderful?"
A smile formed upon Ashlyn's face, this was starting to become the best day of her life.
She had narrowly escaped a fiery death, and was given a second chance that come with a promising boyfriend, and now she is finally going to be able to face the world with a new set of eyes.
Things were starting to look up for her, but even now as her thoughts turned back to Ashley an overwhelming sense of dread began to fill up within her. How could she be able to face the world with a smile on her face everyday without her best friend beside her?
A week later, after listed on the waiting list, she had finally got a new pair. As soon as she woke up to see Frankie sitting by her, patiently waiting for her to wake up, she threw her arm around him and telling him how much she loves him before doing the same with her parents.
"I can't believe how brave you are being through all this." Frankie said lovingly as he kissed her on the hand. Ashlyn smiled at the comment, until a crippling aching pain shot through her head causing her to double over on the hospital bed clutching her head.
"You okay?" Frankie asked in a concerned voice, but Ashlyn couldn't hear him as a ghostly voice only she could hear began calling out to her.
"Ashlyn...Ashlyn..." Opening her new eyes weakly she looked up for a split second and let out a scream of terror as she saw Ashley, her best friend standing right in front of her charred to the bone from the incident of the fire.
"Why did you have to be the one to live?" Ashley's voice was ghostly and menacing. It was so tragic and horrifying. This has to be some kind of illusion. Ashlyn thought shaking her head to get rid of the ghostly image, but in truth Ashley's spirit wouldn't leave her sight.
Kevin's face paled, and Julie let out a tiny squeak of fright as she turned to look at her big sister.
"How can this be possible?" She asked her eyes widening in terror as Wendy shook her head.
"I don't know," she replied in a soft voice. "It doesn't make any sense."
"What did Ashley say to you?" Frankie asked.
Ashlyn opened her mouth to respond, but a horrible wave of nausea swept over her, followed by a wave of dizziness that threatened to engulf her as she passed out still clutching onto Frankie's arm.