"I love you." She repeated. "So please don't. Don't jump in. I need you to stay here…with me." She was finally crying, letting the tears she'd been holding in freely flow.
It was the first time she'd spoken anything about love to anyone. She'd been so against the idea of love that she'd never bothered, but she knew. She knew that she'd always loved him, that even though she didn't tell Anna and Uncle Frank enough, that she loved them too. Edward with his usual snarky comments and vast knowledge of technology and Andrea with her cute button nose and red-headed librarian appearance…she loved them.
"I love you all." She whispered it, though it seemed to echo against the dripping walls.
"I've waited my whole life to here you say that to me," Tommy said, smiling at her. He let out a bark of laughter and turned completely towards her, the glistening glint of pride mixed with tears and a hope so fragile she was scared to blink. "You're gettin' there."
And then it happened again, Tommy jumped in. The blood, the almost dying from no oxygen, the burn of the sun, the itching sand, the rancid smell of decay mixed with sulfur, and Edward saying Tommy had changed something. Everything happened again. It was like a slide show with no end flashing behind her eyelids. After it happened for the forth time she listened to Edward as she lay crumpled on the cave floor, shaking.
"Is this hell?" She interrupted Edward with a whisper, keeping her eyes closed as she huddled deeper into her curled arms. "Is this hell? Am I being punished?"
It was like something or someone was keeping her stuck in a time loop and then she realized that this was hell. It had to be. This was her hell…because she'd killed her family and she was never going to get out. The realization caused her to tremble uncontrollably and she let out a hoarse cry before digging her finger nails into her arm.
She heard shifting beside her and then flinched when she felt a cool callused hand push through her folded arms to cup the side of her face. "Oh baby, no, this isn't hell. It's just the last hours we spent together alive on repeat. We can get out of here. You just have to believe that what happened wasn't your fault."
"But it was! It was my fault. It was my choice, I pushed you all. I-" Dani sobbed so hard her shoulders were vibrating against the hard ground.
"Dani, look at me." Tommy coaxed, running the pad of his thumb across her damp cheek.
She slowly let her eyes flutter open. Her blue eyes met his green ones and she knew in that moment that it couldn't really be hell; otherwise he wouldn't be there with her, not like this. Not so close she could kiss him and she never had. Not once had she given him anything that resembled a kiss or any hope, at all. Not when she was alive, not even in death. He'd deserved so much more, they all had. None of them deserved to die like that.
"Can I kiss you?" she asked, hoping that there was at least one thing she could do right, one thing she wouldn't regret.
His lower lip trembled slightly before he bit it. "I may have been waiting even longer for you to ask me that," he said, practically whimpering before leaning down to capture her lips in the most passionate kiss she'd ever had. It was sweet, tender, but rough and full of teeth at the same time, like they were both trying to crawl inside each other, to stay safe inside. It made her wish she had kissed him when they'd been alive.
…when they'd been alive? She pulled away, only enough to speak so that her lips brushed his with every word. "We are truly dead." It wasn't a question so much as a statement.
Tommy dropped an open mouth kiss to her lips before responding. "Yes, for awhile now actually, replaying what happened to us."
"Because of me?"
Tommy rested his forehead against hers and stoked her hair. "Oh Dani, you've got to stop blaming yourself for everything that went wrong. You were a light to us. We were attracted to that light and that's it, the end. We had to be near you, because of who you are. So it was our choice to follow you. It was our choice to stay in this time loop so that you wouldn't be in purgatory by yourself, so that you had the chance to move on. Even Andrea stayed." Tommy finished, his eye glistening as he looked down at her with. "Some people in life just imprint on your soul and make your world better, so of course we all stayed for you."
"Andrea was the best thing that ever happened to Edward." Dani sobbed turning towards Andrea because it was the only think she could think of to say. "I had so hoped they were going to make it. You know, he wasn't such an ass when you were around him."
The redhead nodded and wiped at the tears on her face, letting out a tiny laugh. "I know."
Tommy turned Dani's face towards him again. "If you can believe that what happened wasn't your fault, we can move on to the next level of our deaths."
"And what's the next level?"
Tommy shrugged. "I don't know, but as long as we're together, I don't care."
Dani nodded and reached for his hand, pulling it from her face. The minute her fingers touched his, the darkness faded and the familiar feel of sand against her suddenly exposed skin was a welcome pleasure.
"This happened before." She told them. "My diving suit disappeared and I was in a t-shirt and a bikini bottom. I remember feeling the sand beneath my fingers."
He pulled her into his arms and dropped his head against the side of her face. Placing a kiss on her temple, he told her that it was her putting a break in the loop. That this was the start of the change they'd all been striving for.
Dani blinked and turned towards the familiar voice. It was Anna. Dani pulled away from Tommy and gobbled up the sight of her beloved cousin in a white tank top, bikini bottoms, and sunglasses propped on her nose. She was there, with Uncle Frank, Edward, and Andrea, their skin bronzed from the sun, standing just next to the water.
"Come on, Dani." Anna coaxed again, a knowing smile on her face as she turned slightly walking down the shoreline.
Dani took a deep breath and while clutching Tommy's hand, stood up to follow.
In my dream I didn't get that happy ending, it just kind of happened for the story. I'm a sucker for happy endings and it was necessary for me to move on from this. Sorry if it was rushed or seemed kind of ridiculous. Also know, that you were never meant to find out what that creature was. Please review, point out mistakes, and tell me what you think!