Disclaimer: I don't own it. Everything you recognise belongs to J.M Barrie. No infringement
is intended and I'm certainly not making any money from this story.
Summary: James Hook doesn't dream, but sometimes, he cannot sleep. The second in a
series of vignettes.
Author's note: Thanks to all you who have reviewed 'By Moonlight'!

The Darkened Night
by Hereswith

He lived, but it was only a semblance of life. He had died, but he was not dead. Sometimes,
when the stump ached and his mind was all of darkness, he wished that he had met his end
in the bowels of the crocodile.

But it was called Neverland for a reason. And he would never be free.

They searched, as ever, for Peter Pan. The days were long and stretched out before him,
like sails catching the wind, wide and white, for as far as the eye could see. He lost himself,
time and again, in that blinding brightness, in the spaces between words, where despair might
take root.

He did not dream, or if he did, he did not remember it.

But lately, he kept waking at odd hours of the night. Not often, by any means, but often enough
that he marked it. That kind of behaviour had no precedent, here, where all things had.

He heard a voice, that was the beginning, but it was distant, as distant as hope, as distant as
joy. It tapped on the window, that voice, it knocked on the door, like an old friend coming to
visit, and he would have bid it enter, but he could not speak. So, he reached for it, instead,
with an eagerness that peeled age from him, as if it was sunburn.

And he opened his eyes, to an empty cabin.

The wood groaned and creaked and the waves lapped against the hull, but no familiar sound,
no motion of the ship, could rock him back to sleep. He drew the covers up to his chin, trying
to suppress the shivers running down his spine and he resolved to wear nightclothes, from this
moment on. He always forgot, in the light of the sun.

There was a scent in the air, not of perfume, but of plain soap and the promise of spring. There
was a name, on the tip of his tongue. A girl's name. A woman's name. He knew the whole of it
and he hoarded the syllables, like treasure, but he could not have said why.

In the shadows, he tossed and he turned, until he could not stand the weight of his thoughts
and rose, put his breeches on and went outside, bare feet upon the planks, bare skin beneath
the moon, the hook left lying on the table beside his bed.

"I'm here," he said. "I'm waiting."

And it sounded strange, even in his own ears, because it was almost a plea.