***Hello, everyone! This takes place in an AU where Sal moved away from Addison Apartments at the age of twenty-two, after Larry's suicide, and it was Todd, driven by his insanity, who caused the massacre that took the lives of everyone in the apartments. This is a year after that. This'll be relatively longer than most things I write and please, be gentle, as it's my first Sally Face fanfiction. I own nothing, so let's go!

Of all the things to be woken up at four in the morning for, Ash wound up being woken up by her cell phone blaring. She couldn't quite think of anyone who would be calling her at this hour, unless it was either an emergency or a wrong number.

Still, to stop her cell phone's ringing, she got up and took her phone off the charger. The number was unknown, but the area code was from Timberon county-the place where Sally Face had been living for about a year now.

Had it been that long since their lives had been so drastically changed?

Putting those thoughts aside, Ash picked up.

"Hello?"

"Is this Ashley Campbell?"

The voice was professional-sounding, female. This had to be important.

"Yes. Is something wrong?"

"You're the only emergency contact we had on call for one Sal Fisher. Well... you're the only emergency contact of his that's still alive or fit for society."

"Sal's in the hospital? What happened to him?"

"According to the couple who brought him, they found him after an overdose of fluoxetine, an anti-depressant. Although the couple wasn't very fond of him in the way they spoke of him, they still called an ambulance for him. He's stable, currently, but he'll certainly need a brand of positive support when he wakes up."

"I'm his friend. I'll be there soon. Timberon Regional is the hospital in that county, right?"

"Yes. I can give you some more information when you arrive on his condition."

"W... will I be able to see him?"

"He won't be awake for a while and he'll have a tube in his mouth, but you can see him."

"Alright. Thank you for calling me."

Ash hung up and threw on some sweatpants and and a sweatshirt. Making sure she had her phone, she slipped on her shoes and hopped on her motorcycle. The boy she'd loved since high school needed her.

XxX

The doctor, who Ash learned was called Dr. Pinkerton, was an older man that had kindly met the young woman in the waiting room after she'd told the receptionist who she was looking to see. As promised, on the walk up, he explained the further details on Sal's condition.

"According to the couple that brought Mr. Fisher, the only reason they'd even seen him was because his cat was meowing so loudly that it woke them up and he'd left the door unlocked," he began.

Sounds like Gizmo, alright, Ash thought.

"Anyways, we pumped his stomach and he's on IVs for fluids and to flush the excess medication from his system. Once the elephant in the room had been taken care of, we gave him a check-up physically as he slept. He was very dehydrated, and it didn't look as though he was eating properly either. He'll have a tube in his mouth until at least after he wakes up, which I don't predict will be for another forty-eight hours, at least," Dr. Pinkerton explained.

He looked at Ash as they arrived outside of a hospital room. "If you're really the only friend he has, we'll need you to stay close by for his recovery. Once he's awake and more coherent, we'll get a therapist to speak with him. But especially considering some of the medical history with this boy..." He sighed, and Ash felt the weight of it in her heart.

"I'll do it for Sal. I'll be here for him," she assured. "Good. I'll let you visit in with him for a while before his nurses come to check in on him," Dr. Pinkerton said.

Then, Ash was allowed inside. She sat down at the bedside and didn't realize that tears were pooling in her eyes until she felt them trickle down her cheeks, hot and damp. She wiped them away stubbornly, focusing on Sal.

He was as limp as a rag doll on the bed, varying wires attaching to his arms and running under his hospital gown. His hair was a tangled blue mess, spread across the pillows. But what Ash was noticing most was, due to the tube in his mouth, any chance of hiding his face was now out the window. His mask and glass eye were both on the night stand.

Ash scooted a bit closer to the bed, scared to make too much noise despite knowing that Sal was essentially comatose right now, and actually got to see his face for more than a few brief moments. His face was at least 75% scar tissue, the red color dulled and marred by time. The patches of skin that did remain were mostly on his left cheek and around his left eye. Some of the skin around his mouth was completely gone, exposing his teeth and gums in some places. He had no nose, the cartilage being entirely gone; his nose was simply two little slits. Although his eyes were closed, Ash could tell a difference between them. His empty socket was much more sunken in.

Many times, he'd claimed that his face had to covered. And yet... Ash found his real face to show his strength. A boy who had survived so much, right across his face.

The young woman took his hand that didn't have an IV poked into it and slowly, softly kissed it. "Don't worry, Sally Face," she assured. "I'll take good care of you."

XxX

It was indeed about two and a half days later before Sal began to move. At the time, it was just after lunch, and Ash was sitting by the window, a to-go cup in her hand. When she heard the creaks that signified the bed moving, she jumped and went to the bedside.

Indeed, Sal was starting to come to. Ash smiled and hit the call button, knowing the doctors needed to see him. Dr. Pinkerton came to the room with a few minutes and began to ready the supplies. It took a few minutes, but Sal's good eye slowly opened, his empty socket slightly opening.

"Good afternoon, Mr. Fisher," Dr. Pinkerton said, shining a small light into Sal's eye. He woke up and looked around briefly. When he realized he didn't have his face covered, he began to get nervous. He shot his hand over to grab his mark-a poor move, as that arm had an IV in it, and it hurt to move it.

"It's alright, Mr. Fisher. Your self-consciousness about your appearance isn't something you need to worry about. The nurses, myself, and Ashley are all perfectly fine. Beside, the tube in your mouth would get in the way of putting it on properly. Would it now?" Dr. Pinkerton asked.

Sal's shoulders sagged, even though he was flat on his back. "I'll be right back to do a proper examination," Dr. Pinkerton said before leaving. Once the door shut, Sal turned on his side, facing away from Ash. He curled his legs up towards his chest, hot shame and embarrassment searing into his body as he wondered how long the girl he loved had watched the ugliest part of his body...

But all thoughts stopped when he felt that his blanket was being pulled off of him, and cold air hit his back after his hospital gown was untied.

"Relax, Sal," Ash said, slowly rubbing her hand into Sal's pale back. It felt wonderful, compared to the hospital bed's stiff mattress. Slowly, Sal uncurled and his shame began to fade as he let Ash's two, simple words stay in his mind.

Relax, Sal...

XxX

It was another day before the tube and a few of the wires were removed from Sal's body. Once the bandages covered his now-empty injection spots and his glass eye was back in, he reached for his mask and clipped it back on.

'You don't have to wear that around me," Ash said. "It's a part of me. You know that. Just... let me wear it, alright?" Sal said. His voice was soft and a bit strained. It was clear that he hadn't spoken to anyone for a lot longer than the three days he'd been in the hospital.

"Can I get you anything?" Ash offered. Sal's request was almost inaudible. "...water?" Ash smiled. "I'll be back in a few minutes. There was a vending machine just down the hallway," she said.

She had just gone a few feet towards said vending machine when she accidentally bumped into someone. "Sorry," she said. The person she bumped into turned out to be a hospital staff member. She didn't quite have the white coats the doctors wore or the scrubs the nurses donned, rather dressed in a black pantsuit. But her nametag gave confirmation that she was just as much of a stuff member as Dr. Pinkerton.

"It's okay," she said kindly before walking onward. Ash went to the vending machine and got two bottles of water before going back to Sal's room. As it turned out, the young woman from the hallway was assigned to work with Sal.

The young man was laying back in bed, still wearing his mask, and the young woman was sitting at his bedside. "Are you his friend?" she asked. "Yes. I've been staying with him for the past three days," Ash said.

"she can stay for the therapy session," Sal decided. His voice was more insistent than normal. "Okay... well, I'm Dr. Morse, and I'm going to be helping Sal recover. I've already asked him a few smaller questions," Dr. Morse said. "Alright," Ash said. she sat on the opposite side of Sal's bed. "I hate to be the one to have to ask, but why did you try to take your own life?" Dr. Morse asked.

Sal seemed to have a problem there. He sat more forward in his bed. Even behind his mask, Ash could tell that he was struggling to vocalize everything. She put her hand over his, and he looked at her. Then, he squeezed her hand back.

"I tried to take my life because I was tired," he said.

Dr. Morose seemed to be a bit confused. "Tired?" she echoed. "Yes. I'm tired," Sal said. "Er... can you elaborate?" Dr. Morse asked.

"I'm tired of feeling this way. I'm tired of living on when I should've died years ago. I'm tired of the nightmares. I'm tired of knowing the truth. I'm tired of living with this sadness. Of the memories that I wish I could make more of, but know I'll never get back," Sal said, his voice picking up speed and volume as he went on.

"Sal, please-" But Dr. Morse couldn't stop him. Sal was already rolling and it was snowballing into something bad.

"My best friend is gone, my other friend went insane, my step and Dad are gone, everything is gone!"

And after that, the silence was like a bomb had dropped. Sal rarely raised his voice. But this time, he had honestly yelled to the point where he was panting.

"Sal?" Ash finally said. Sal didn't speak-his eyes weren't even open behind his mask. Ash unclipped the lower straps of Sal's mask and gently cupped his left cheek, yet didn't raise his mask to where it would be showing his face. "Try to relax, okay?" Ash said.

Sal tried to calm down. In through the nose, out through the mouth. In through the nose, out through the mouth.

"Alright," he said after a moments. Dr. Morse recollected herself with ease, sitting upright in her chair. "Let's start from the beginning."

XxX

The therapy session wound up lasting an hour, and Sal had held onto Ash's hand subconsciously as he opened up painful pieces of himself to a perfect stranger. As it turned out, until he was fit to go home, this would be a daily occurrence.

Once Dr. Morse had left, Sal sighed and went for the water bottle Ash had brought him, tilting his mask up only slightly to drink form the bottle. "The vending machine didn't have a straw option," Ash joked. Sal smiled.

Then, his expression seemed to soften. "Thank you. For... for earlier," he said. Ash didn't have to ask when he meant by earlier. "I just want to help you. I care about you a lot, Sally Face," she said.

However, Sal seemed unsure. "Do you care about me in the same way that I care about you?" he asked. He felt Ash unclip the upper straps of his mask, thus causing it to fall into his lap.

He was just about to protest the sudden exposure when his incomplete lips were met with Ash's.

It was awkward at first, as Sal had never really had a girlfriend to kiss him. But slowly, he relaxed and figured it out, letting his bandaged arm wrap around Ash. As they pulled out of their kiss, he still kept his arm around her.

"I didn't lose everything after all," he said. Ash smiled at him, letting her arm go around his thin frame.

"I still have you."

XxX

It took a while. It wound up being just over a month in the hospital for Sal. As for Ash, she'd spent her days keeping him company and doing college work form her computer in his hospital room, if only to give him something new to see.

After it was all said and done and Sal was officially released form the hospital, he and Ash left the building together. "Would... you like to spend the night at my house tonight?" Sal offered, blushing hard behind his mask.

But Ash just smiled. "I would love to."

***Well, that took forever to type. Don't be too harsh on me, I'll improve with my abilities in writing Sally Face over time. Anyways, be sure to leave a review on the way out, and I'll see you all in the next one! Bye!