The wind whips through my hair, knocking me off balance as I hover above the ship. Flight is delightful, but difficult to combine with dueling. The fight has exhausted me. My adversary is a worthy one, as is fitting, considering our eternal struggle. We've battled many times before. Sometimes he is the victor, other times I gain the upper hand. This time is different though. I could sense it from the very beginning.
This time is the last.
Only one of us will survive this fight. By all rights, the winner should be me. I steady myself in the air and regain my breath. As I pause, my enemy does the same, and I risk a glance downwards.
The lost boys are staring up at the pair of us, their wide eyes taking the duel in avidly. Their own battle is over. All that remains for them is to see what happens to us. The outcome of our struggle will determine their fate. She is watching us too.
Wendy Darling. My darling Wendy.
'Your Wendy was leaving...'
Cruel words, but true ones. She is not my Wendy. She is leaving Neverland. Leaving *me.* She made her choice, despite everything that I offered her, deciding to return to a world that no longer holds a place for me.
I look down again, watching her gaze move back and forth between the my enemy and myself. For a moment, I'm not sure who she's watching more closely, who she's siding with. I pray that it's me. I pray that somewhere in her heart she has some fond feelings for me. In spite of it all, she has to care, at least a little. Please, Wendy, you can't really prefer him, can you?
A break in the action promises to answer my question. A hidden kiss is proof enough that my Wendy is irrevocably on the side of good. Of course she is, how could I have ever thought otherwise? My Wendy is too pure to do anything else. My question answered, the fight begins again.
It's not fair! I rage to myself. She is so close to being a woman, and I will never grow older. I cannot leave this place, and I cannot change. Perhaps there was a time when there was another hope for me, a time when I could have been someone else, but now... Now, it has been too long; I can be nothing but what I am now. Unless she stays.
If she were to stay, my agelessness would be a blessing, not a curse. If she were to choose me, I would be worthy of her. I would live to please her, and she would be my redemption. We would make a life for ourselves. I would keep her safe, and she would keep me whole.
It would be perfection, Wendy.
"Old. Alone. Done for."
The chant, along with the sound of a ticking clock, spells my doom, but it doesn't have to be this way. I don't have to be alone forever. Not if she stays. I try to muster every happy thought that I can: pillaging, murder, Wendy, Wendy...
I won't touch you as you are now. I'm not that much of a monster. But you will age, my beauty. Even here, you will grow up. You will age, and I never will.
I can wait. I can be patient when it suits me. I will wait for you.
I close my eyes, block out the chant, and concentrate on her image, flickering back and forth between the child she is now and the beautiful woman I imagine her becoming. As I do, the ticking grows fainter, proving that I am gaining distance between myself and the crocodile. Happy thoughts indeed. With a smile of triumph, I look over at my Wendy.
"Old." Her mouth is moving, forming words that I prayed never to hear her utter. "Alone. Done for."
My own lips part, longing to plead with her. He can't love you, Wendy. He isn't capable of it, but I am. I could make you happy. I could love you. I do love you.
But it is bad form to beg. Even for my own existence, I cannot bring myself to do it. Gentlemen do not beg. Gentlemen have to know when they are defeated. Without her, I would rather have the darkness.
"Old. Alone." The ticking is so loud now that I can no longer hear her voice. "Done for." Wet darkness closes around me, signaling the end of Hook. My part in this story is over.
Wendy, please grant me a final request.
Even after you grow up, remember me.