Chapter One


James stared out into the park's wide expansion, thinking about Peter and the boys, wondering what they were doing in school, smiling at the thought of their lax faces, filled with boredom. Ever since the school year had started, they had less and less time to play and escape together, not something that James looked upon very happily. The mounds of homework that they brought home took up most of their lives now; Arithmetic, Science, History, Writing, and Penmanship… it didn't seem to end. James tried his hardest to help them with their heavy load, answering their grammatical questions, helping Peter with his multiplication, and George with his equations. Then about an hour for dinner, another hour for baths and brushing teeth, then time for bed. He couldn't wait for Christmas break almost as badly as the boys. He missed being able to go out back to their stage and watch Peter's plays, or into the woods and play pirates with them; their imaginations were even wilder than his.

Looking back down at his journal he wrinkled his brow in frustration. Creativity couldn't be forced; he'd learned that with Neverland… it would eventually come to him. But three months with absolutely nothing, not even a small idea, was starting to grate on him. Inspiration came hard these days. Sylvia, he thought to himself, if only you were here. I wouldn't have this block, He sighed inwardly and out, but that can't be helped… I wish I could see you, feel you near me, and escape with you again. I loved you more than even Mary… I just want to see the spirit in your eyes that was there when you… you… He shook himself slightly as goose bumps worked their way up his body. Her passing had become the hardest thing for him to deal with these past few months and he believed the blame of his writer's block belonged exactly to this. However, he felt, the feeling of loss wasn't going to leave him anytime soon. Emptiness now filled a small, yet obvious, part of Neverland; a black hole, like a great mountain of charcoal smoke, resting in the middle of the Hangman's Tree, where she had sat and watched him and the boys often, smiling and shaking her head, as they set out their plans for attacking Captain Hook.

The boys were grieving also, but dealing with their feelings quite well. Mostly George would paint, Jack would write, and Michael would read. James had talked with all of them, eliciting many tears, but also much understanding and all three of the older one's had no problems coming and talking with him about their mother. But Peter's silence was becoming hard to deal with. His mother's death had hit him hard and anytime the boys would find a moment to pretend, he would sit by the window, looking out at nothing but the demons that were eating at his young man's heart. James had tried to talk to him before he'd gone to sleep, but was rejected with a sharp retort, "Can't you just leave me alone? I don't want to talk about it!" He rolled over and James couldn't get one more word out of him accept, "Goodnight."

Deciding he'd had enough of his depressing search for a play, James capped his fountain pen and began the walk home. Passing the orphanage, he saw a little girl in one of the windows and smiled up at her; she smiled back and rushed out to meet him. Shooting out the door in nothing put her thin, raggedy dress she yelled "Uncle James!" and jumped into his waiting arms.

He laughed as he carried her back inside, "You could lose a limb out here without the protective gear you need young swashbuckler!"

She giggled and rubbed her arms, "It is pretty cold. When are you going to come by again with the Lost Boys? We've missed Neverland ever so much."

He smiled sadly, "I'm sorry Millie but I won't be able to come by for another couple weeks."

The little girl pouted and looked hurt, making his heart strings twang. He gave the little girl a hug and said, "I'll come as soon as I can, I promise. But you have to promise me that you won't go outside without the proper outerwear young lady. We don't need you sick for when I do come."

She smiled and nodded her little head up and down, making her mahogany curls bounce, "I promise."

"I'll see you then." He gave her a wink, then walked out and shut the door softly behind him. Perhaps, inspiration wasn't so far off.