AN: Obviously, I am not Barrie, risen from the grave. Therefore, I do not own anything relating to Peter Pan except a lovely copy of the book and movie. I absolutely abhorred Wendy not staying with Peter and never seeing him again. I don't even want to get into the 'Jane' tripe. It's Peter and Wendy, always. There's a reason a conjunction lies between them.
They were at the house now; the great Jolly Roger bobbing gently against the side of the building. Wendy watched as her brothers and the Lost Boys scrambled off the ship and into the warmth of the waiting nursery. Blinking, Wendy frowned as a part of her heart that had been so right a moment ago, chinked and shifted just slightly. She could not place her finger on the reason for this subtle budge, only that something now seemed altered and notrighthurts.
As she turned her mind to the matter, her vision abruptly filled with forest green eyes and twinkling stars that, somehow, seemed more subdued than they'd ever been. He watched her, his Wendy, as she focused on him and forced a small smile.
"After seven days, Neverland claims you, Wendy," he said softly, studying her impossibly blue eyes. She was his sky and she was leaving him to grow up. How does the sky grow up? Isn't it forever?
Wendy's smile faltered. "But, Peter, we've been gone much longer than that. I don't understand."
Peter smirked and pulled a leaf from her hair as he floated before her. "You wished to return to your world, Wendy. I only allowed it."
The worn wood beneath her feet rocked quietly as London slept. Wendy stared at the boy before her, trying to fit the pieces together. He was abnormally still, granting her this small boon. If only this was all she asked of him.
"What will happen to you?" she whispered.
A cocky grin settled on his face. "I shall return to Neverland, of course. There are more Lost Boys to find, Wendy, and more adventures to have."
Without her hung unsaid between them. Wendy felt her throat close as she swallowed several times in an attempt to wet her dry mouth. A heaviness blossomed in her stomach and spread throughout her body as she tried to picture life without her Peter.
He would forget her.
Boys did that, she knew. They forgot their toys. While she would grow up and old with Husband and become a real mother. Perhaps Peter would even take her children on an adventure, never remembering the woman that would wait for their return. Would she resent them for going, when she herself had abandoned Neverland?
A sob smuggled free from her chest. Peter's face shifted as the stars in his eyes once more became muted. "Your family is starting to miss you," he muttered.
Wendy watched his face blur as the stinging behind her eyes finally surged forth and down her cheeks. She needed just a few more minutes with him.
"H-how does Neverland claim me, Peter?"
Green eyes brightened a moment. Reaching out, Pan traced a tear down her face. "It is a gift and a burden, when you choose to return. Your memories won't fade, will they, Wendy? When everything else dims, you'll believe in me, won't you?"
Wendy nodded vigorously and clasped his hand. "Of course, Peter! My stories, you'll be in every one!"
Peter gave her an unreadable look, one she had never seen before, one that startled her in its maturity.
"Then, you'll never really grow up. Neverland wouldn't let all of you leave, Wendy. You left part of yourself behind, and you can never reclaim it in this world."
Tearing her eyes away from his beautiful intensity, Wendy stared over his shoulder. There, she could see the boys tumbling together and hear words rising and falling as they told the adults their adventure. But, the lights seemed dimmer, now; the warmth less inviting than it was a moment ago.
When she stepped back into that world, she would have a room to herself. There would be dresses and lace with fine jewels and dances. Men and years and loss. Her family would grow up.
"What about the boys, Peter," the girl asked her companion softly. "Will they remember?"
"Ah, the boys crave adventure, Wendy. They love the excitement and the dangerous chases. Boys want freedom and flight, all that Neverland can give them. But, Wendy," he spoke intently, drawing her attention solely to him again, "none of the boys love Neverland itself."
Smiling a bit, he squeezed her hand. "One girl is worth twenty boys."
Choked laughter escaped her through her tears. Swiping her free hand across her face, she forced herself to stop crying. Turning to him, Wendy regarded Peter with searching eyes.
"What do you want, Peter? Really? To always be a boy?"
Her pleading seemed for a moment to have no effect on Peter. Suddenly, he tensed and a great fire blazed passionately in his eyes. Seizing her upper arms, Peter dragged her close to him, nearly snarling in her face.
"I want you to stop making me feel. I want you to stay in Neverland where you belong. I want you to look at me as you first did: with that mixture of delight and awe. I want to hear your stories every day and wake in the night to see your figure by the fire. I want you to nag me until I take my medicine and let you bandage my wounds. I want to be whole and not deficient. But I don't want any of it and I don't want to be a man."
Releasing her, he nearly shoved her away. The fire in his eyes rose to an inferno as he panted at her and held her captive with his storm. "I just, I just…Peter Pan needs a Wendy, and Neverland found him one; only she doesn't need a Peter Pan."
Wendy growled at him and snatched a hold of the vines that covered his chest. So startled was he at her actions, that he had allowed her to yank him to her before realizing her intentions.
Neither noticed that the noise in the nursery had long ceased and the family was now audience to something rare, indeed. All eyes, from Aunt Millicent's to Michael's were captivated by the display on the ship. No one moved, hardly they dared to breathe, waiting for Wendy's reply to Peter's heart.
"You stupid, stupid boy!" she hissed in his face, her eyes now tempest furies. "You would have let me walk off this ship, wouldn't you? You wouldn't have said anything!" Blue eyes narrowed on green as another epiphany gripped her. "I'd never have seen you again." Wendy shook him slightly. "Tell me, Peter. Tell me the truth. Getting off this boat means I'll never see you again, doesn't it?"
Peter looked away, unable to endure the betrayal and pain gathering in her face. Dropping her hands, Wendy stumbled back. Grasping the material over her heart, Wendy stared at him in anguish.
"You would let me go?" she breathed. "Why? Why would you do that?"
Peter flexed his muscles and swung his eyes back to meet hers. Fire and Ice met as they each held the other enthralled. "Because you wish it."
The wind spun around the two, whipping Wendy's hair back. Steadily, she watched the person before her. He stared back at her, all the words between them clear as if written in the air.
"Ask me to stay, Peter," she pleaded. Some things had to be said to be felt.
The fire left Peter as quickly as it had sparked. Here was everything he would ever need or want. Turning his back to her, Pan floated over to the helm and remained there, as if frozen by the moonlight.
And between one heart beat and the next, Wendy's heart shattered. One would expect her to cry then, for silver droplets to chase down her pale face in sorrow. Fainting, also, would be accepted, even ranting and a final storming away from the boy who would haunt her. Wendy did none of these things, only felt her body come to rest in a kind of peaceful acceptance and quiet strength.
There were many kinds of bravery, her mother had told her. This would be hers.
"Goodbye, Peter Pan," she said, softly, firmly, though her words were filled with longing and regret.
Backing to the edge of the ship, Wendy kept her eyes fixed on the boy she would never forget. Finally, she felt the railing at her back. Drawing a breath, she turned from him, the vision of his silver form forever seared into her mind.
A glow shot up before her, making her blink rapidly before recognizing the tiny fairy. Wendy smiled sadly and nodded to the tiny woman.
"Goodbye, Tinkerbell," she spoke, "I know you'll take care of him."
And, though Tinkerbell was a jealous fairy with only room for one feeling at a time, she rather thought Wendy would have been all right, had she been a boy. Hovering before the tall girl, now, Tink chimed a fairy goodbye. Satisfied, the fairy buzzed off, eager to return to Neverland.
Wendy looked to the window and found her family staring back at her. Placing her hands on the railing, she levered herself up to sit upon it, swinging her legs over the side. Mrs. Darling shooed the rest of the family back to make room for her daughter on the balcony.
Taking a fortifying breath, Wendy made to push herself over to the house. A moment later, she was staring into emerald fire.
The breath on that word washed over Wendy Darling, finding the pieces of her heart and sewing them together once more. Shuddering, she closed her eyes to savor the feeling, to remember this moment eternally.
Peter laughed. Eyes springing open, Wendy gasped at the sight before her. Peter was glowing so brightly it seemed to Wendy the stars in his eyes had burst forth and were whirling around him. The jaunty smile was stretched across his face as he shot up and crowed loud enough to wake the sun.
Grinning, Wendy's attention was brought back to the small window balcony as a warm hand touched her knee. Mrs. Darling was staring at her with love and pain.
"Wendy? Stay," she asked, though, something within her rebelled at the word. This was her daughter, how could she not ask?
The smiling girl's face fell at the sound of her mother's voice. Looking into the woman's eyes, she expressed what her words never could. Mrs. Darling felt tears slide down her cheeks.
"I'm his Wendy, Mother."
Withdrawing her hand, Mrs. Darling wrapped her arms around herself as her husband came to stand with her. Wendy beseeched them to understand.
John and Michael looked from her to the parents, knowing, yet not knowing, everything that could never be explained. Their hearts twanged at the thought of Wendy, their sister, mother, friend, storyteller, leaving. Still, the part of themselves that had known something wasn't right finally clicked into place.
"I shall love you forever," Wendy said to each of them as she made to slide from the railing to the ship.
And there was Peter, helping her down gently, as he always had. Their eyes locked as Wendy smiled her thanks and nodded her head in affirmation. The glow that surrounded Peter seemed to pulse and expand to engulf Wendy as well. Seeing the look in the children's eyes and the words exchanged without breath, Mr. and Mrs. Darling, for a moment, understood. That moment lent them the strength to relax their grip and watch as their only daughter slipped through their fingers.
When she looked back to them, Peter had shared his stars with her, making her blue eyes truly the sky.
The Jolly Roger dipped on the breeze and slid forward, eager to flex its sails. A gust of wind caught the sails, billowing them out and thrusting the ship onto its return path. The Darlings watched with a sad sense of rightness as the gunner slowly disappeared. The two glowing stars on board the last thing to leave their sight.
Years would come and go with the boys' memories fading and blurring until mermaids, Indians, and pirates were a kind of fantastic dream. And if the Darlings found, on occasion, the book or handkerchief with initials belonging to none in the house, they kept it to themselves. A faint tugging memory dimmed lastly with Michael, the youngest; a memory of a lovely girl and an impish boy laughing together as they flew.
For, really, Wendy loved Neverland.
And what was Neverland without his Wendy?