Mullins and Starkey had left the Lost Boys on the shore just above the high tide mark. They had been tied together with the exception of Curly. Curly had been tied up rather awkwardly, since neither pirate had wanted to stay long enough to tie him correctly, nor did they wish to damage him further. Hook's threat lingered in their minds: do not hurt the boys any more than was necessary, and do not kill them. When the pirates had launched the boat to get back to their ship, Curly began to work his good hand free. It took awhile, and the pirates had just gotten back to the ship by the time he untied himself.
Suddenly the world turned upside down and inside out. The ground shook violently and a storm came from nowhere. The wind howled so loudly that Curly couldn't hear what Nibs seemed to be shouting. But he could hear screaming, faint but audible on the wind. Somehow, Curly knew it was Peter. Quickly, he stumbled to where the other boys sat. He struggled with the ropes, trying to untie them, but it was difficult to do with only one hand. He could barely see for the sand blowing in his face, but his tears were doing a good job keeping his eyes clear of sand.
Finally, he undid the knot and the boys scrambled free. They couldn't hear Peter anymore, but the chaos continued. Nibs wouldn't get up; he just stared at the ship across the water without moving or speaking.
Nibs screamed as Peter's birthright flooded into him. He felt the fey magic fill him and he realized that what he had felt when he became Peter's blood-brother was a vague shadow of the real power. He looked around and again saw the threads of magic that made up Neverland, but this time there was a hole where Peter had been. He felt the magic unraveling, and knew that the island and everything within it was dying. NO! he thought in panic. Somehow, (he didn't understand how, he just did it) he reached out and grabbed the loose threads. He pulled them together, and suddenly they were around him, probing him, testing him. After a brief hesitation, they surged together and suddenly they were within him, a part of him. Nibs blinked, and everything was normal. The ground was steady, the sky was clear, and his boys were there, watching him.
"He's dead!" Nibs gasped. The boys looked at him confused and afraid. Tootles began to cry. "I felt him ripped away. He hurt so much. He's gone. Peter's dead!" Suddenly, it was too much. Soundlessly, Nibs fell over onto his side, unconscious.
"Peter!" Tink screamed. She had been in her room, sulking, when she felt Peter's pain. The room began to shudder and things fell off of their shelves. She dodged the falling debris and flew out of the underground home into the sky outside. She saw all of Neverland convulsing beneath her. I can hear him. He's hurt…no, he's DYING! As fast as she could, she flew towards where she felt Peter. She could barely make it, the wind was tossing her about and the lightning was constant, but her fear gave her strength she did not normally possess. She knew she was headed towards the Indian Village, and as she drew closer she saw the Jolly Rodger was offshore. She felt that Peter was on the ship. When she was over the beach, the mayhem stopped. She saw the Lost Boys sitting on the sand, saw Nibs lying down, but Peter wasn't there. Peter first, then I'll check on them. He's alive, Neverland is still here. I still have time to find him, she told herself. She flew over the ship and saw Hook emerge from below deck. She dove down, screaming Peter's name. She received no response from her boy.
"Ahh, Miss Bell. Paying us a visit?" Hook feigned innocence. He wasn't sure how dangerous the pixie would be when she believed Peter was dead.
"Where's Peter! What did you do to him!" she shrieked.
"Peter? Peter is gone, my dear."
"Gone? Gone where? He's hurt, I felt it!"
Hook chuckled, and decided to plunge ahead. His success so far was giving him encouragement, his plan could not fail. "Who knows where we go when we die? Go there and you should find him."
"Die? No, you're lying! He can't be dead. Neverland is still here…I'm still here," she shouted her denial and flew closer.
"Oh, but you have Master Nibs to thank for that. Peter named him as his brother and heir just before I sent him to his eternal rest. Neverland's existence depends on a new boy now."
"Nibs?" Tink gasped weakly. She sank onto a crate and looked within. She felt the magic of Neverland, she saw its familiar pattern. There was a mortal at the center of that pattern, but she realized quickly that it wasn't Peter. She could still feel the tears in the weave where he had been torn free, but those were healing, incorporating this new child into it. Just like when Kaylee died and Peter took her place.
She opened her eyes, and noticed the bloodspots on the crate. She looked across the deck and saw more before the mainmast. "NOOOOO," she cried. "I won't believe you! Where is he? Where is his body if he's dead?" She didn't wait for an answer. I saw Hook come up from below. That has to be where he took Peter. She flew below deck and searched everywhere, but she found no hint of him. She went back up and began to search the captain's quarters and the rooms above. She found nothing, and finally went back to the deck in despair.
"If you had waited, I would have spared you the search and told you that I threw him overboard," Hook informed her lazily. "He wasn't quite dead, but mortally wounded. After seeing the chaos on the island, I'm sure he's dead now. But… he may be alive. Maybe the mermaids saved him. Or perhaps the croc ate him. I don't care, really. I've ended the game. My men and I are leaving Neverland. You should go back now, before we get much farther away. Those boys that are left need you; one of them is badly hurt."
With that, Hook turned his back on the pixie, giving her not another thought as he continued ordering his crew around. Tink was lost. "He can't be gone. Peter, no, please don't be dead." She began sobbing and flew away, back towards where she had seen the Lost Boys.
The Twins had gone on to the Indian village and brought back Chief Panther, Tiger Lily, and some braves. Panther was seeing to Curly, talking to him softly, when Tink approached. She saw the children sitting around, some crying, some staring blankly. Nibs was asleep, and Tiger Lily had his head in her lap, wiping his forehead. Occasionally she wiped her own eyes with the cloth. Tink flew to Nibs and landed on his chest. She took a moment to check on him, sensing him the way she used to sense Peter. It was too much. Peter at least was born with the magic. Nibs didn't know what to expect. He should sleep for awhile, he needs the time to get used to it.
She went to Slightly next, who sat watching as Panther cared for Curly. She settled on his knee. She saw the shock on his face, the fear and sadness. "What happened, Slightly?"
The boy frowned a moment, seeing her for the first time. "Hook killed Peter. We couldn't get away." Slowly, Slightly recounted what had happened after Tinker Bell had left them flightless. She noticed that never once did he interject the word 'slightly' into his sentences. She cried softly as he told how she had caused Peter and Curly to be injured, and how that had led to their capture. "We couldn't get away, Tink," he repeated, dazed. "And Curly bled so much that he didn't have the strength to fight. Hook used him, to make Peter give up."
Tink couldn't bear the look in his eyes. She went to see Curly next, who was still talking to Panther. "Curly! I'm so sorry. This is all my fault! I hurt you and Peter!"
Curly smiled wanly and held out his good hand for her to land on. "No Tink, it's just as much my fault as it is yours. Peter didn't blame either of us. He said so. He said he should have paid more attention to you, and it was his fault for making fun of you. I think he wanted to make me feel better. It's Hook's fault. He did this, he planned it. He knew an awful lot about magic and about where Peter came from. He knew about Peter's mother."
Tink was shocked. How could he know? Who would have told him? She shook her head. "I still should have been there. It's my responsibility to watch over Peter and the rest of you. I failed you all."
"That's enough," Chief Panther said softly, his voice was gentle steel. "Peter Pan is lost to us. Saying 'if only' and 'I should have' only makes it worse for you. If you had known, would either of you have done what you now regret?" Tink and Curly shook their heads. "Then lay the blame with the one who did this intentionally. Captain Hook is the one to blame. Hook and Pan decided to fight their war, and it only could have ended when one was dead. Neverland hoped for Peter to triumph, but it was ultimately up to those two. If Hook had not caught you at this disadvantage, he would have at the next one. Now, come to our village. There is rest and healing there. Stay with us until you are well in body and spirit. When Nibs awakens, we will have much to discuss."
There came a cry upon the wind, which gradually lengthened into a wail. It grew louder and the wind blew stronger. A blue mist arose from the ground, and coalesced into the form of a woman.
"She looks like Peter," whispered Tootles.
"It's the Neverlady, the spirit of Peter's mother!" Tink replied.
The Lady looked at the grieving, frightened children, and fought the tears of her own grief. I have to be strong for them now, I can weep in my dreams. She kneeled on the ground and held out her arms. The boys hesitated only a moment, then rushed into her embrace. They encircled her, holding to her and each other. Together they wept. One by one, they took comfort from each other and broke away. When Curly, the last, finally stepped back, he thought he felt stronger, and his arm did not hurt so much.
"You will get better, Curly. Everything will be all right," the Lady said. "Tinker Bell? Why don't you come to me?"
Tink hung her head, but flew to the Lady, "I failed you and Peter, Kaylee."
"No. You took good care of my boy. He and you are nearly the same age, how could I expect any more from you than from him? I grieve for my son, for he is lost to me. But I am mother to all mortal creatures in Neverland, and a few of the immortal ones, too," she smiled at Tink and stroked her wings affectionately, like she used to do long ago. "Now, for the first time in a long while, a mother is needed in Neverland… and I need all of you."
She rose and walked to Nibs. She lifted the sleeping boy in her arms and cradled him to her chest. "Peter named you his brother, and I accept that adoption. Wake up, my son."
Nibs stirred and looked at the face gazing down at him. "Mother?" he asked softly.
Kaylee smiled and kissed him on the forehead. Nibs sighed and he felt all of the strangeness within him settle. He found it easier to accept the magic that was now a part of him.
"This power flows through you, gaining strength and purpose from you dreams," the Lady explained. "Don't fight it. You don't have to do anything, it knows what to do on its own. I know it's strange and scary. It happened to me once long ago, as it happened to Peter when I had to go away." A tear fell from her eye, which Nibs wiped away gently. She smiled at him a moment, then looked up sharply and cocked her head to the side, frowning slightly. It dares to try now? I can't even grieve for my own son! Anger welled within her, anger at the thing that tried to exploit her distraction, anger at herself for sacrificing her mortality so long ago. She wasn't real right now, her body locked in eternal sleep, hidden away in her grove. Now she was dreams-made-solid, and she couldn't hold her consciousness together like this for long.
"I cannot stay longer. I must go back to my grove and keep my dream-watch. There are things that would destroy Neverland and all within it that I must ward against. Peter did not come to me, as all mortals who die in Neverland do. This is strange, for no power exists that could keep his spirit from me if he died. I shall look for him in my dreams, and maybe I will discover if he is living or dead, and why he hides from me. If you need me, you are welcome to come. Usually my grove is hidden, it is a sacred place. But for as long as you need me, you will find the path clear. I won't be able to show myself to you again for awhile, but you will sense me, and I will know you are there." She put Nibs down and told him, "Take care of yourself and the others, my son. It is not as big a burden as it seems now. And know that I love all of you." Slowly she faded away.
"Come, children," Panther said after a moment. The boys looked up at him, and he saw the sadness was still there. But the trauma and shock were gone, and he knew that given time they would recover.
And so, the Lost Boys lived for a time with the Indians. The fey heeded Kaylee's words that Peter had not joined her, and suspected he may still live. But where he could be, they did not discover. They were able to satisfy themselves that he was nowhere within Neverland. Several pixies and mermaids kept pace with the Jolly Roger as it sailed further from Neverland. Without warning, they would storm the ship, calling and searching for Peter. But he was nowhere in sight and beyond their magic, and they could discover no hiding place he could be. It wasn't until after two days of surprise searches that they finally conceded that Peter wasn't there. Hook still swore that Peter was dead, and no other answer could be gotten from his men (only Alf Mason and James Hook knew the truth of the boy's whereabouts). The fey finally gave up and returned to the isle.
The fey kept hope that their boy was alive, but held a ceremony to honor Peter Pan's memory. The boys took part in the ceremony, and it was the first one of many that Nibs, the new Neverlord, attended. After awhile, the pain faded and the Lost Boys weren't as lost anymore. They remembered Peter and often told stories about him. Tinker Bell remained with them, for she was Nibs' fairy now and she still loved all of the boys. They spoke of Peter as if he would one day come home, and they dreamed of the day he would return to Neverland.
Continued in Part Two of the series, Kidnapped: Captive