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: A dream is but a dream, but when the moon is high, it might be something more.
The third of my Hook and Wendy vignettes.
Author's note: Thanks for all your kind words about the previous parts! The first two vignettes
in the series were posted separately, as "By Moonlight" and "The Darkened Night", and may be
found on my personal profile page.

All in Splinters
by Hereswith

Second to the right, and straight on till morning. She couldn't fly to save her life, she had no stars
to follow and all the paths she could see were crooked, they curved upon themselves, like space.
But sleep found her; dream claimed her, swallowed her up and spit her out.

It was dark. Night ruled, again, night, as always, the thin blade of the moon keeping watch. All
the sails were hoisted, on the Jolly Roger, and the deck was empty. No feet treaded the weathered
planks, but hers. None watched the captain sleep, but Wendy Darling.

She had her nightgown on and knitted socks, to ward off the winter cold that had settled over
London. Her braid fell, heavily, between her shoulders, like an anchor.

"It's Wendy," she said. "I'm here."

He opened his eyes.

Shock deprived her of the ability to move, at first, but he reached out, blindly and it made her pull
back, as if she expected the slash of the hook and not the scars and the stump. She stumbled, her
ankle gave way and she landed, with precious little grace, upon the floor, a sharp, needling pain
shooting through her foot.

Half-stunned and scrambling for both her breath and her wits, she heard him curse, loud and harsh.
It brought a rush of heat to her cheeks and she struggled to get up, seeing only the blurred and
shadowed shape of him, until he struck a light.

"What is this?" He turned, lantern brandished high, the way a rapier might be, on the eve of a battle.
"Some devil's trick?"

She wanted armour, then, helmet and gorget, thicker skin and proper clothes. Shoes that added to
her height. Because he was aware of her, he was speaking, and these were the deepest of waters
and she had forgotten, or else had never known it at all.

"Not a devil's trick, I think." She hesitated, not certain if he saw the girl in her, now, or if nothing
seemed familiar, in the woman she had become. "I'm Wendy. Peter's Wendy."

And he was not like Peter, in any way that mattered or had consequence. But he was angry. It
lit him from the inside. It coloured his voice and his movements, even unto the tightening of his
jaw. "Pan's Wendy, indeed. I could not mistake you," he said. "Where is he? Hiding somewhere
on the ship?"

She shook her head. "Of course not! Why would he do such a thing?"

"Say rather, why would he leave you here? With me." He didn't snap or snarl at her. She had met
mermaids, iridescent with death, who had warmer expressions. "I have killed men for lying, and
others, for less."

Had he been wearing the hook, she would have run, dream or not. But he was stripped, tonight,
of claws, as well as the rich fall of brocade and all of his crew. And he had not sought to free his
one good hand, in spite of what he said.

"I'm not lying, Captain. Peter didn't bring me. It's been years since I talked to him last." She bit
her lip. "Unless you're intending to kill me right away, I'd like to sit. My foot hurts."

He raised his right arm to his chest and the muscles tensed, as if he clenched his fist. The fist the
crocodile ate. A moment went by and after that, another. Then he shrugged, suddenly, weariness
obscuring all else, and breath escaped her when she noticed.

"Bad form, Hook," he muttered or, at least, she thought he did, she had to strain to make it out.
He gestured at one of the chairs. "Sit, if you will."

It was a concession, of sorts, and Wendy made do with it, as best she could. She took a seat,
bending to remove her sock. A few drops of blood had welled forth from where the splinter had
pierced her skin, and they had stained the wool a deep, dark red. She wondered what pledge,
what promise she had sealed, by the shedding of them. And she wondered if she would wake,
if he gutted her.

"Let me see that."

She looked up. His eyebrows had dipped, not in annoyance, but nor was it, quite, in concern.
He set the lantern down and crouched by her side.

"I can manage."

"Even so-" He lifted her leg, in a practised, one-handed motion, placing her foot in his lap. Wendy
stilled, all clear and conscious thoughts arrested.

"Black-hearted villain," she said.

And he smiled, all teeth, in the flickering light. "Pure-hearted girl."

As if it was an insult that carried the same weight as hers had. She met his gaze. She should have
been far more careful what she wished for.

His smile widened, slightly, then faded and he bent his neck. His fingers brushed across the heel
and the arch and he made short work of removing the splinter. It was over in a heartbeat. "There.
It's done."

Her hand stretched out, almost of its own accord. "Could I have it?"

He cast her an odd look, but offered no comment, merely gave the splinter into her keeping. It was
about the size of a thimble and jagged, at the end. Wendy put her foot down on the floor, awkwardly,
setting him free, but she held on to the splinter, clutching it hard.

The captain remained where he was. The moon was in his face, bright and brittle, though the moon
had no dominion between these walls. "Are you real, Wendy Darling, or am I dreaming you?"

It startled her. "I don't know," she answered, wholly honest. "I can't tell the difference anymore."

There were marks on his right shoulder and upper arm, patches of skin that had been repeatedly
chafed. She could guess what had caused it. The leather harness lay next to the hook, both
within easy reach of his bed. It would, she realised, be the first thing he saw, in the morning. The
last thing he saw, at night.

She frowned, assessing him. The pirate captain. Captain James Hook. Tried to judge the worth
of him, and failed. In her youth, she wouldn't have, but she was wiser, at this age, and infinitely
more foolish.

He noticed her regard and his shoulders hunched. He rose, a slow unfolding of pale, tattooed limbs.
"Old," he quoted. "Alone. Done for. You were perfectly right."

"Perfectly right and perfectly wrong," Wendy said. "We were children."

He struggled with the words, as if they were unwieldy, as if they were barbed and cut his mouth
and his lips, when he uttered them. "And no children love me."

"No," she replied, almost gentle. "I don't imagine they do. Or could. You wouldn't allow it."

He laughed. He broke, like so much bone fine china.

And that was when the ticking started, a muted but unmistakable sound. Not the crocodile. No
clock that Hook had ever possessed. It was the wall clock, hanging in her kitchen.

Relief, this time, was a double-edged sword. "I can't stay."

"I know." He showed no surprise. "I had not thought you would."

And she might be Wendy Moira Angela Darling, but deep inside, there was Red-Handed Jill, though
the days and weeks and months and years had long since passed. She wasn't a child. "If I can, I'll
come back."

His eyes flicked to her and they were all steel, but not the steel taken newly finished from the forge,
rather the steel about to be shaped, red hot beneath the hammer.

And she woke.

It was winter. It was England. It was dawn. All things were as they should be. All things, now, in
their proper, proper place.

But when she opened her hand, the splinter rested there, upon her palm.