Sitting on the Sidelines

For my Skip

The dress is beautiful!

Wendy hurtled downwards, squeezing her eyes shut as she braced for impact. And soon enough, her whole body slammed through a rosebush and landed with a loud thud on the forest floor. Wendy felt the breath escape her lungs, and she lay in total stillness. Shock granted her several second of numbness before the pain trickled in; it started in her toes and spread quickly upwards, enflaming her arms and chest and head.

"Oh," she gasped, and tried very hard not to cry. She continued to mumble "oh, oh" in the toneless, stunned way that people have when they're trying not to weep. She kept on in this way until her head stopped spinning, and Wendy, ever practical, thought to herself, There are pirates about.

She couldn't be found, especially in such a vulnerable state. And, perhaps because she was still shocked from her fall, Wendy tried to struggle to her feet. Every bone and muscle vigorously protested, but she felt too dazed to pay much attention. Instead, she stumbled forward a few steps.

"Oh," she said again, realizing that she'd left her basket. But Wendy couldn't bring herself to turn around; and thankfully, she'd hidden the last of the Easter eggs before she fell. She'd placed it all the way at the top of the oak tree, especially for Peter. Only, she'd run out of fairy dust and had to climb down…which had been particularly difficult, considering she was in a dress.

Wendy glanced down at herself, somewhat wryly. Her nightgown was torn practically to shreds, cuts and bruises littering her arms and legs. She could feel a cut above her left eye and a migraine surged through her head. She had to stop and lean against a nearby tree for support; she really couldn't go a step further. "Oh," Wendy muttered again, and slipped into unconsciousness.

It was there, in a heap, that Tinkerbell found her. For a moment, the fairy considered leaving the girl to her fate; Neverland, Tink knew better than most, wasn't always a kind place.

Peter flew overhead, and didn't notice the absence of his fairy. Tinkerbell studied Wendy's face; her eyes rested shut lightly but her lips tipped downwards in a sharp frown, and a dark bruise had begun around her right eye. Tinkerbell studied the air around Wendy—sure enough, no fairy dust lingered on the edges of her clothing or clung to her eyes.

Tink rolled her eyes; just like Wendy, to fly herself to some great height and not be able to get down.

But fairies aren't all bad, and anyway, there was a part of Tink that wanted Peter to see his precious Wendy bruised and ugly. So she began to jingle excitedly. "Peter!" She squeaked, "Come quick!"

He didn't come immediately; she noticed him hovering at the tip of a nearby tree, reaching through the branches. When he drew back his arm, he sent his fairy a smug grin. "Look what I found, Tink! It's an egg!"

"Look what I found," she called back, even more pleased than he, "it's a Wendy."

Peter beamed, "Good job, Tink! Hey, Wendy-lady, look what I—" at the sight of his Wendy, Peter stopped short, slowly sinking towards the earth. "Wendy…" He gulped, his feet resting on the ground. "Tink, d'you think she's—?"

Tinkerbell shrugged, her mind already leaving the injured Wendy in the dust. "Probably," she told him nonchalantly. "Looks like she ran out of fairy dust while she was flying."

Peter tossed the egg towards his fairy. "Look after that, will you?" he asked as she caught it with a huff. The stupid thing weighed about a million pounds.

"Maybe I'll drop it," she threatened snidely. "It's ugly, anyway."

"Drop it and I'll banish you forever," he snapped back, "and I mean it this time!"

Tinkerbell poked out her tongue, scowling in his general direction as he gently hefted Wendy into his arms. She didn't like the way that he struggled to get off of the ground as he gazed at her battered form; Tink told herself that the Wendy was fat, and that's why Peter needed extra fairy dust—it had absolutely nothing to do with any unhappy thoughts.

---

Peter thought of going home first, and putting Wendy in a bed; but he didn't want to have to deal with the other boys, especially baby Michael who would probably start crying. Peter never knew what to do when one of the boys started to cry. That was why he needed Wendy so much.

He laid her gently on one of the clouds, sniffing. He wasn't going to cry, he told himself, it's just that Wendy looked awfully pale and stiff.

"Wendy…?"

Peter thought that his heart had never beat so fast in his life, not even when he was fighting Hook, or running from the Indians, or listening to stories. But, high above Neverland, Wendy resting lightly on the dense cloud, Peter's heartbeat matched the distant rumble of thunder.

Peter bit his lip, taking a deep breath as he plunged a scrap of Wendy's dress into the cloud and let it soak for a moment. Then, nervously, he began to dab at the cut above her eye, brushing away blood and dirt.

"Mmmm…" Wendy moaned, her eyelids fluttering open. "Peter…?"

He sighed in relief. "You're not dead!" He told her joyously. "When Tink and I found you, we thought…" he didn't complete the thought, just looked at her, shivering. Wendy spared him a tight smile.

"Not dead," she agreed. "Though I sure feel like it."

He shook his head. "Lie still," he ordered, continuing to minister to her eyes. "You'll have a brilliant shiner," he told her, almost cheerful now that he knew she wasn't in any real danger. "And maybe a little scar."

To his great surprise and horror, Wendy's eyes filled with tears. "Oh," she murmured, "A scar?"

"Yes," he told her, trying to cheer her up, "A wicked one!"

But that didn't seem to help, as Wendy shoved his hand away and pushed herself onto her hands. She turned her back to him, and began to furiously pick leaves and twigs out of her hair. "Wendy," he ventured after a moment, "what's wrong?"

She didn't answer.

"Wendy," he tried again, "Please let me finish. You might get…" he grasped for one of the words he'd heard her use during the many times when she cleaned him up after a fight, "…inspected."

Peter was rewarded with a soft, wet laugh from Wendy. "Infected, you silly boy," she corrected, but obeyed. She lay her head in his lap and let him finish cleaning the cut. "How bad is the bruise?" She asked finally, her lip trembling. "It's not too horrid, is it?"

He shrugged, unsure of what to say. "It doesn't matter," he decided finally. "You're pretty with or without the bruise." That seemed to have been the wrong thing, however, because abruptly Wendy began once more to cry. "What?" He cried, completely baffled. "What did I say?"

But she just sat up and threw her arms around his neck. He hesitatingly hugged her back, wary. Girls could be awfully confusing. "Do you really think I'll look pretty, even with a black eye and an awful scar?"

"I don't know why that should make you any less pretty," he said slowly. "It won't affect you at all, will it? You'll still like to tell stories and fight pirates and make me take my medicine, won't you?"

Wendy nodded, sniffling. "Yes…but now I'll be ugly while I do it," she muttered. "Every time that you—or anybody—looks at me, all they'll see is my scar!"

Peter couldn't understand why this was a bad thing. Scars were proof that you were tough, and strong, and brave. "Of course they'll see it," he told her, and then added hurriedly as her chin began to tremble, "But it'll just show them how clever you are." He paused before adding haughtily, "And anyways, you could never be ugly. I'll kill anyone who says any different."

Her expression softened and she blushed. "Do you really think so?" She asked, wiping her eyes as she sensibly came to the realization that it was useless to cry. "And to think, I just wanted to hide that egg for you."

Peter blinked. "You hid that egg?" He asked.

Wendy smiled at him, "So you found it already? The other boys wouldn't think to look off of the ground but I should have known you would."

"There are more?" He asked, delighted.

"Of course! It wouldn't be much of an Easter Egg hunt if I only hid one egg, now would it?"

Peter frowned then, suddenly having a thought. "But Wendy…if you hid the eggs, you won't get to hunt for them with us!"

She cocked her head to the side, puzzled. "Well, no," she agreed, "But I do love Egg hunts, and I just knew the boys would, too, so I thought that I'd give them a nice treat. Of course, I'm not sure if it really is Easter today…but it would have been fun, just the same."

He settled beside her, suddenly grasping her hand in his. "Then I will sit out of the hunt with you," he told her firmly. "That way you won't have to be alone. And Wendy," he added, "next time you want to put an egg someplace high up, let me do it."

She blushed, looking down at their entwined fingers, down at the sparkling ocean and at beautiful Neverland. "All right, Peter," she said with a smile, "If you're sure you don't mind sitting on the sidelines with me, we'll both hide the eggs together."

"I won't let you be bored while everyone else is having fun," he declared, and gave her hand a little squeeze.

Wendy laughed, and thimbled his cheek. "Peter, I could never be bored when I'm with you," she told him, eyes sparkling.

Peter blushed. The thunder had stopped, he noticed, and the sun shone in full force. It was the perfect day, he thought, for sitting on the sidelines with Wendy.

---

Tink hovered beneath the cloud, wings jingling indignantly. What? Peter Pan, content to sit out while everyone else was having fun? That, she thought was entirely too grown up a decision, particularly since he was doing for someone else's benefit. (Someone, Tink thought rather nastily, ought to have been dead.)

She glared at the enormous egg in her hands before maliciously letting it slide out of her grip. She watched it hurtle towards the ground for a moment before remembering Peter's threat of banishment.

Grumbling, she swooped underneath and caught the offensive object in her arms. "Oof!" She lost her breath and the impact sent them both slamming into a large-ish puddle of mud.

She sat up, glaring hatefully at the egg, which rested with a contented air in the muck. "This is what I get," she muttered at it, "For being such a dedicated fairy."