A/N: Hey guys. Of course I've got the big long ending farewell thing at the end of this chapter thanking people and stuff, but right now I want to make a note of reviewing and contacting when this is all over. First of all, if you're reviewing after I'm finished with the story and you have a question for me, leave your email in the review so I know how to contact you in order to answer your question, if you're interested in the answer. If you don't leave it and you're leaving a signed review, I'll just try your profile to see if your email's in there. If it's not...um...well, that's that! Now, about emailing and contact - all of my contact information is in my profile, so just look there. I LOVE getting emails from readers..it makes me feel special, and all warm and fuzzy and tingly inside. I always like meeting and talking to new people, so send me an IM, even, if you're too lazy to email. (I know the feeling) I'll be writing more on the site when I get ideas, so keep a lookout and if you see something, by all means, drop a comment!
Anyway, I'll stop blabbing now and let you read. I hope you enjoy my conclusion!
The weather that day was better than any to take a trip out into the country. James and the boys loaded up the car with sandwiches and drinks for lunch and drove up to Emma's stables. The tone during the car ride there was light and cheerful: the boys joked and laughed all the way. Even Peter joined in once in a while and made a pun or gave a smile, despite the things on his mind that were none but unhappy thoughts. The usual gentle, friendly air between James and Peter had become tense and heavy, though, and they hadn't said more than three words to each other since they'd packed up the car.
Jack and Michael carried the picnic basket, and George carried the blankets. Peter carried his notebook and a jug of water; and James, Porthos's leash and his own notebook. Once they were settled, James let his dog off of his leash, and he took off around the pastures, chasing the geese that had congregated in a bunch back behind the stables. The playwright smiled at the look of it, the great beast running around for a purpose that was so completely absurd, except to the dog itself. He didn't care who looked on at him.
James had just lain down, taken out his newspaper and had begun reading, when he saw George dash to the car to get the large yellow kite that they had brought.
"Don't wander off too far - stay where I can see you," he reminded, and looked back down to his paper.
The news of Emma du Maurier's death had spread through the town quickly, and still even more so, since December. The local newspaper had reported on different aspects of the death every week. One week they had interviewed Mary Cannan, who stated that she was a "very good friend of Madame du Maurier" and that she and James had had them over for dinner. James remembered frowning. Mary hadn't seen Mrs. du Maurier since then. If she had, James certainly wasn't aware of it. He hadn't seen his ex-wife much at the Christmas party, and for all he knew, she was off with Emma trying to get to know her to improve her own social status. Just like her.
Another day, they reported on the burial. James didn't recall anyone else at the burial besides people he knew, so he wasn't sure how, exactly, they had gotten their information, unless someone who was present had gone to the press. James also recalled that most of Emma's friends hadn't come. He didn't see the City Replenishment woman, Eva Dickonson. I guess who comes to your funeral are the people who are your real friends. This made James think about who would come to his. Of course, though, he wouldn't be around to find out.
Today, they had reported on James's guardianship over Sylvia's four boys. They had said that from what they have heard from the townspeople, most aren't comfortable with the guardianship. James grimaced. That same matter of his actions toward the Davies boys had reared its head and smacked him across the face once more.
"What's done is done," James sniffed to himself. "They can't do anything about it." He loved the boys, now, like sons. He wasn't willing to give them up just for the sake of unhappy pastry-dunking townspeople. He didn't want to be bothered about it. And, just the other day, a reporter had come to the front doorstep of Emma's house to get a peek at the boys and to interview James.
"James Barrie, I presume?" he'd said, his face alight with false hospitality. James merely smiled back.
"Yes, that you do," he'd said, and promptly closed and locked the door. He proceeded, then, to lock all the other doors and windows as well. Reporters do go to great lengths to get a story. They were a nuisance to James Barrie. Even the thought of newspapers made him sick, but James walked by the paper boy on the sidewalk, nonetheless, every day to pick up the paper.
Gossip was even worse than reporters. James told Arthur Conan Doyle one day (when the two were sitting in Lixon's with their journals - they had spent half the time talking, and half the time silently writing. James, Peter Pan, and Arthur, his latest Sherlock Holmes. Charles had bumped into them later and had said something about walking in on the convention of the Scots) that the citizens of the town gossiped simply because they had nothing better to do with their time. Arthur had laughed at the comment, apparently thinking the same thing.
"You and I are above all of that nonsense," he said, "We have things to keep us occupied: Cricket, and sitting on our rumps all day long making up stories."
"It's better to write about made up people dealing with made up nonsense, anyway," James had said.
"Uncle Jim, can we go and see the horses now?" came a high voice from above James. He, having been lying on the grass on his back now, moved his paper to see Michael.
"The horses? Alright. And then we'll have lunch, I think." The playwright stood and walked with Michael to collect the boys. Peter took down the kite and they all walked to one of the big red buildings in which the horses were kept. James led them all down rows of stables looking for a particular horse - Tinkerbell; and when they found her, they all pulled her out together.
Michael and George went on Tinkerbell together, and then Jack with Michael afterwards because Michael was incredibly unwilling to give up the saddle. When it came to Peter's turn, he insisted that James go with him, so the playwright obliged, quickly shaking off the tiny bit of shock he had. Peter hadn't made any effort to communicate with James the entire time they were there, and this sudden interest in his presence was certainly amusing.
Peter didn't need any help getting on, he seemed to have a grasp on the skill from watching his brothers. James got on behind and the two took off. That feeling took over James again as the wind flew toward them carefully picking its route around the figures cutting through it. Nothing mattered now, up here, riding so fast. The sound of hooves beating heavily against the grass and the wind forcing itself past them filled the ears of the both of them and soon, they were going so fast that it felt that they weren't even moving anymore. They seemed to be suspended in the air, with the lightest feeling. All sound fell away again, and James closed his eyes, but opened them when he heard a loud whoop come from in front of him. Peter was enjoying this immensely, it seemed. He thrust his fist in the air and laughed. James felt a full smile come to his face and a laugh escape from his own mouth. Peter looked back at James with the brightest smile you would ever see on the boy, turned his head toward the sky, closed his eyes, and let out a loud...crow.
The cemetery trees were in full bloom, still. James sat in between the headstones du Maurier and Davies, eating a banana and talking to Sylvia and Emma casually. He could hear them both in his head, their responses, their questions. He laughed occasionally, listening to them. He heard them bicker, and watched Emma rolling her eyes. It was as if they were sitting there near him drinking tea and having a normal chat.
It was quiet there today. Not a soul (ha ha) had showed himself through the entire hour that James had been sitting there. But it made the man jump when he heard the soft clicking of shoes bouncing off the walls of the tunnel. The sound became more apparent, and soon clicked down the stairs and thumped through the grass, to the spot in front of him. He smiled, his mouth full of banana. Peter gave a tiny smile back, as his Uncle Jim swallowed his mouthful.
"'Morning, Peter," he said.
"Alright." The boy sat down next to James and greeted his mother, father, and grandmother. Then, he looked at James. "I wanted to speak with you," he said. James nodded, urging him on.
"I may have overreacted a bit the other day. I just wanted to," he took a breath, "to apologize."
"Apology most graciously accepted, Peter," James answered kindly.
"Thank you." He fumbled with his jacket, and the playwright looked over at him. He noticed that the boy sitting next to him looked like a tiny version of himself. He was wearing a black tie with a gray vest and, since he didn't have a black one like James's, a long gray overcoat. His hair and eyes made him Peter. "It's just that...I...don't want things to be true sometimes. It helps more to...convince myself that things are happening the way I want them to, rather than to sort through the thing that's really happening."
"I know exactly how you feel, Peter," James said quietly, smiling. Peter looked up at his guardian. "It's often easier to run away from problems, rather than to confront them. Every man feels that way." Peter nodded, and fumbled with his coat again.
"I wish my mother were here," Peter said softly.
"So do I, boy. So do I."
"She seemed to always be able to make everything better. If something hurt, she'd kiss it, and the pain would go away. If I were sad, she'd joke with me, and I'd laugh." James nodded. "We all need someone like that now. All four of us do - Jack, Michael, George, and me."
"And I want you to be that someone. And...and I never answered your question from before." James's stomach lurched. Peter looked up again.
"I would have wanted you to be my father, Uncle Jim." They both stared at each other for what seemed like hours. Then, James looked into his lap. He saw his banana in his black-gloved hand, which was slowly tinting brown.
"Thank you," he whispered. "You boys mean...everything to me. I want to help you as much as I can." A minute passed, and then Peter smiled.
"I love you, Uncle Jim," he said.
And the two sat. For hours, talking. The world was perfect again. It was James and the boys now, and no one could change it. They were all linked together, now, by an invisible bond, so that they were completely and absolutely inseparable. James vowed to himself that he would never let anything happen to his boys, to his sons. If something did, he knew he'd never be able to forgive himself for letting down Sylvia, for letting down Peter.
And so ends the tale of a man who would never grow old
And of the boy who was the muse, who could never stay young.
the world's a stage."
A/N: I just can't say thank all of you enough. I want to give credit to everyone who reviewed through this whole thing up until this date. These people include - KatrinaKaiba(Neverland's Sparrow), Gee Nay Pieg, emmyruth, oi-oi-oi, Writing Muse, H.M. Chandler, Katie, Liz, XHeartofaDragonX, Lizella, plumsy321, emmyruth, Strange-Torpedo, Destiny-TWoP, cornishxxxpixie, Fire Spirit, Alone Dreaming, piratingelvenpyro, Salutarisy, Claire, kris, ForeverInUrArms, danielle, froggerwisegurl, Moonjava, ChelseaEvans, toothpickpocket, and me-loves-Orli. You are all so wonderful!
I also want to thank people who have been with me since the very, very beginning and have stuck it out to the very end! These people are (and I shall update as people finish) - KatrinaKaiba(Neverland's Sparrow), and H.M. Chandler.
And credit to my 100th reviewer, and best friend, XHeartofaDragonX! Thanks! Also to Neverland's Sparrow (KatrinaKaiba) for being my illegal 100th reviewer and rebel to my statements about not reviewing Author Note updates. Hahaha no offense taken, I hope.
I know I'm very, very sad to see this end and there'll be a little hole in my every day goings-on - the time where I used to be writing this. I'm so thankful of your patience and support and praise and everything you've been doing good these past few months! You guys deserve more credit than I do! Anyway, I'll miss all of you very much. But I do have a surprise...I'm writing a sequel. I have some ideas. I'll use some of those left over ideas and I've got some new ones. I'd love to write some of the rehearsals for The Man With Music On His Face. I think it would be fun. So, keep a lookout for the sequel, I'd LOVE if you guys reviewed! And tell your friends if you think this was good. The more the merrier!
Now. I've heard that they're not permitting replying to reviews inside stories, so I'll put little replies in the A/Ns before stories if you have a question. If you want me to send you the petition to stop them from not abolishing review replies, I still have it, so I'll send it to you. Also, to eliminate long Author's Notes, you can read my blabbing on a new Livejournal community I'm creating. I'll post the link in my profile once it's up, and in the first chapter of the sequel. There'll be a lot of news about the story and junk, and if you have an LJ, feel free to join it.
Anyway, I'll be back! So, have a great rest of the summer - or if you've already started school, a great school year! See you in a few weeks!
(The Final Set Of) REVIEW REPLIES FOR CHAPTER 17:
(and 1, 4, 5, 6 and 7)
Neverland's Sparrow - Yes, your spelling sucked. I was absolutely outraged. Anyway - Aw, thanks. I'm glad you like the chappie even if it wasn't long prose filled with steamy MJ goodness. Thanks for reading, as always! (drinks up the complimentary bottle of rum)
Kris - Yeah, my diary entry thing..I moved it around at the last minute. I was going to have the reader see the diary entry when James was reading it, but I cut it off and made you wait until he went and talked to Peter. I was going to have James and Peter talk at the pond...that was planned for the longest time, but I couldn't think of a longer conversation to write for them, so I switched things up and changed the diary entry almost entirely when I typed it into my computer from my notebook. I like it much better in the final draft. Now, about me not being a good writer - I'm not - but this story is good, I will admit. Thanks, mate for all the nice reviews through this whole thing! I know I'll see you after the final chapter!
H.M. Chandler - Yeah, I am a huge James/Sylvia shipper. I really really wish she wouldn't have DIED. Might make a good storyline for you, eh, mate? What would have happened if she'd lived? Hah - I don't have the time...I'm writing an original story now - big project - lots of characters, complicated plot - but if you wrote something like that, I'd definitely read it. Good luck with your chapter 18! I'll be by to read, I promise! Thank you so much for everything, you've been a great reviewer and friend!
cornishxxxpixie - (for chapter 5) Hah thanks, and you're welcome! I hope you do get to read more!
XHeartofaDragonX - Hah well that was the general effect I had in mind with Peter. Well, anyway, hope you totally luvved this and will be missing it now that it's over. (sniff) I'm glad you liked the chapter - I was worried about the length..cuz it was such a long wait, and a tiny little chapter...but I put a lot of thought into it, which I guess is good. Anywho - have fun at the stables with Jim haha (wink)
me-loves-Orli - You'll see this when you get to the end, but I'll reply to stuff anyway.
chapter 1) Aw, I'm glad you like my James! I hope to see
more reviews from you!
(for chapter 4) Wow, movin' right along, eh? Thanks so much! I rarely get new readers that are willing to read the entire story in less than three months and absolutely love it!
(for chapter 6) Hah - yeah, that's part of my goal - to get you HOOKED. mwhaha. I can see it worked on YOU! I'm glad you're passin' on the news of this to your friend! I hope she likes it just as much - tell her to review so I know she's come to read!
(for chapter 7) Oh, as I said before, you're not taking half as long as it takes some people. And now, since I am the human dictionary (friends call me that) Dyslexic is how you spell it haha. Thanks for addin' me to your faves! I really appreciate that!
And, I swear I will never reply to any review in a story again in the fashion I am acting upon at this moment, for as long as I live. Do forgive me this one time and do not boot me, ban me, or delete this. I give you my w0rd.