Never Let Me Go
The sunset was a mix of reds and golds, and as they watched, deep violets and blues began to creep in. The sun reflected on the water, and distantly, he could hear the waves below crashing against the cliff.
"This is a good spot," he said, and she nodded, pulling her knees to her chest and wrapping her arms around them.
"It’s pretty," she said quietly, "the ocean."
He suddenly got to his feet, and she blinked at him. “Come on,” he said, holding out his hand to her, “Let’s move closer.”
She hesitated a moment, but at his urging, she took his hand and he helped her to her feet. He lead her closer to the edge of the valley, looking down over the lip of the cliff at the water below. She hung back, making sure to keep distance between herself and the drop.
"Let’s jump in," he suggested with a flutter of excitement, and he saw her eyes widen. She shook her head quickly, moving to pull back, but he kept his hold on her hand, "Come on, it’ll be fun. I’m sure it’s not too cold."
"I don’t want to, I…I don’t swim," she told him, trying to pull him away from the edge again, but he squeezed her hand, trying to be reassuring.
"It’s fine, come on," he promised, taking a few steps back, and she seemed to relax a minute before he began to run, talking her along with him.
"No! Ikki, please, I-!"
He jumped, and he felt her nails dig into his hand. They fell for what only felt like seconds before they hit the water, and he felt their hands break apart. He quickly surfaced, unable to hold back the bubble of laughter that worked it’s way out of his throat. He looked around, trying to find where she had come up. The rush quickly drained as he realized he could only see water. He took a deep breath, diving into the water again, looking frantically for any sign of her. There was a ripple of color deeper down in the murkiness, and he swam towards it, catching her arm as it reached upwards. He wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled up up with him, body straining with her added weight. They broke the surface and he gasped for air, and he heard her coughing and heaving beside him. She clung to him as he paddled them to the rocky shore, weakly pulling her out before dropping hard onto the ground, trying to catch his breath. She was on all fours, hacking up water and he could she her body trembling. For a long moment, neither of them spoke, until he finally broke the silence with a feeble word.
Her arms gave out and she dropped onto her side, taking in a deep breath before rolling onto her back. He watched her for a minute, waiting for the anger he knew he deserved, until she replied.
"I never learned how to swim."
That was all she said, and after a beat, he couldn’t help the awkward laughter that erupted from his throat. He knew what she said wasn’t actually funny, and that moment was a terrible time to be snickering like someone just told a joke, but he couldn’t stop.
"Yeah, I figured."
She sat up, and began wringing out the water from her dress. They didn’t say anything again for awhile, but he spoke up once more.
"I really am sorry."
"I know," she said, pulling her hair into a bundle and twisting, rivulets of seawater running down her arm. She met his gaze, and he looked down, abashed, "It’s okay. Thank you, for saving me."
The sun had almost completely set, and he finally got to his feet, his clothes soggy and heavy. He walked over to her and reached out, and she took his hand, standing as well.
"I’ll walk you back," he said, and she nodded, lacing their fingers together.