A/N: Sorry for the late chapter. I've been very busy with marching band and homework and writer's block. XP So, I bring to you this special chapter. Enjoy!
VII. The Wise Woman
"Oh dear, this is very bad. Very bad, indeed."
The voice of those words tugged at my memory, but my mind was so fuzzy at the moment I couldn't think straight. I mentally snorted. Of course I couldn't think straight, I had just kissed a boy the other day.
Oh, that brought back memories. Peter Pan, boy wonder. Ghost, a voice told me. Oh, that's right, I remember now, the pirate man has said that Neverland was just an illusion created by the ghost of Peter, and had trapped all these other souls along with him.
"I'm sorry, Peter, but he will have to leave Neverland. He can't stay here."
Hm? The voice is female. Who could it be? And what did she mean when I had to leave Neverland?
"Time doesn't flow normally here. We just repeat the same day over and over again. His wound won't heal here. He's lost so much blood already. That's why he passed out, you see. I'm sorry Peter, but he needs to go back home and heal."
"He is home! His home is here, in Neverland, with me!"
Like cotton had been pulled out of my ears, everything suddenly became clear. I had fully woken up now, and I slit an eye open. I saw a roof of canvas above my head, and a ring of faces surrounding me. Two particularly caught my notice, Peter, to my right, his emerald eyes ablaze with worry and rebelliousness, and a girl, who looked nearly our age, possibly younger, with bronze skin and charcoal hair. It wasn't Tiger Lily, but I could guess she was a leading figure with the Indians.
"Hey, look! He'sth waking up!" Nibs cried, pointing a knobby finger at me.
All eyes turned on me, and I closed my eyes, trying to feign sleep, but my cheeks were red with chagrin.
"Open your eyes, Will," Peter said, sounding like a parent chiding a child. "We all know you're awake."
Surrendering, I opened my eyes and smiled sheepishly. "So I guess I really need to leave now, huh?"
Peter frowned at this, his eyebrows knitting. "I guess I really have no choice, but I'm coming with you."
"What?" My eyes were really open now. "You can't do that!"
"Why not?" Peter narrowed his eyes suspiciously.
Well, I wasn't about to scream, "Because you're a ghost!" so I decided to stick with, "My world is different. I don't know what I'll do with you. My parents might be a bit adverse to me suddenly coming home late in the night — if that's even what time it is when I get back. Who knows how many days have passed there? — and I can't just leave you out on the streets."
"It doesn't matter, I'm coming with you and that's final." The look in Peter's eyes left no room for argument.
"No fair!" Curly cried. "How come Peter gets to go and we can't?"
"Yeah!" The Twins chimed in, followed by a chorus of agreement from the other boys.
"Guys, I don't know what I'm going to do with Peter, let alone six little boys," I sighed.
"We'll just go wherever Peter is going!" Tootles beamed at me as if the solution was obvious.
I looked over at Peter, pleading for some help, but I new I would receive none when I saw that mischievous glint in his eyes that always meant he was scheming something. All hope was lost.
"Boys, you've never been to Will's world, and I think now is the chance!" He declared, that cocky smirk that I loved on his face.
Cheers erupted throughout the tent, and, through my peripheral vision, I could see the Indian girl shaking her head in sympathy for me. Well, at least someone understood.
The morning sky was beautiful with its pastel blues and yellows. I could see the faint outline of the moon in the distance, but it was hard to see through the clouds I was flying around. The night shade had not fully left the world, its dark shadows still clinging to the sky, but I could feel the first rays of the sun peeking over the horizon. It was early morning, luckily for me, early enough to drop unnoticed with seven oddly dressed boys in Kensington Gardens.
My heart felt heavy when we touched ground, and I couldn't help but sigh at the thought of not being able to fly for an undecided amount of time.
"So where are we going, Will?" the Lost Boys gazed around at the park with childlike wonder.
"To my house," I decided. "Maybe my Mom is still asleep. We can see if we can find you guys something more…appropriate to wear, and then I'll decide where to dump you guys." My stomach felt queasy about this plan, but it was the only thing I could think of.
"To Will's house then!" Peter pointed ahead of us. "Forward, troops!"
The Lost Boys saluted Peter before marching histrionically ahead. I had to run after them and point them in the right direction.
The walk to my house was a short, and fortunately, inconspicuous one. The quiet streets of my little suburb were empty. I wondered at this. Usually people were already up and driving to work or school. Could it possibly be the weekend?
My house, a quaint little cream colored, paneled house with burgundy colored trimming, was the third from the block on the left, sitting discreetly between the cauliflower colored house and the red brick, white paneled house. The windows were dark, and nothing stirred, amplifying the sound of our footsteps even more.
I turned back to my pack, and put a finger to my lips. The Boys mimicked my gesture, nodding in compliance. As quietly as I could I walked around the side of the house and opened our backyard gate, cringing at his metallic squeak. I tip-toed inside and motioned for the Lost Boys to follow in after me. It was at times like these — not that I take hordes of boys to my backyard, often — that I was glad that we didn't have a dog. Only a lazy tabby cat that sits on top of the leather couch all day and only moves when it's hungry.
When all the boys were in my backyard, I shut the gate and locked it back. I traveled around the house and to the other side, where my window, which I frequently left unlocked, was. I pushed it open with ease, and climbed inside, pushing back the blinds. Once I had gotten us all inside, moved towards my drawer, hoping that maybe I had something small enough to fit the smaller boys. In the dark morning, it was hard to see, and I often tripped over something in my messy room. Finally, I made it to my dresser and pulled open the drawer, but it was hard to tell what the shirts looked like in the dark. My problems were dismissed when the light turned on, and the strain on my eyes was eased.
"Oh, thank you —" I turned to see who had done it and froze when I saw the furious face of my mother, her red mane tied back in a loose ponytail.
"Where were you last night?" She hissed in a low menacing tone. I glanced warily at Peter and the Lost Boys, who looked back at me with wide eyes. My mom must have been so enraged, she hadn't noticed them yet.
"Umm…the Gardens…" I muttered lamely. In all this preparation for Peter, I had completely forgotten to make up an excuse for my absence. Luckily, it seemed I had only been missing for the night, and not weeks.
"And what were you doing there all night?" She rasped.
I swallowed my fear and even managed to muster up enough courage to be sarcastic. "I was out partying, doing drugs, robbing liquor stores and knocking up girls with no future."
"William Ste —" I saved myself the lecture and held up my hands.
"It's nothing serious, Mum," I waved off her worries. "I just went to the Gardens to get some fresh air and accidentally fell asleep there." It was what really would have happened if Peter hadn't shown up, not that I'm complaining.
My mother scrutinized me for a moment before she finally decided to believe me. "You're lucky the patrol didn't find you and give you a ticket! You know there's a 10 o'clock curfew."
"I know, I know, thus the 'accident' part, Mum," I sighed.
She sighed, and then I saw her hazel eyes flick over to the throng of boys huddling in the corner, confused and afraid. She gasped as she just now noticed them. She looked at me, her mouth open in a question, but I decided to answer her first.
"Their my friends from…school," I lied. I was lucky that I went to an all-grades boarding school, so it wouldn't seem odd that I had a bunch of little children with me. "It's Peter and his little brothers. They are the ones who found me and woke me up. I promised that I would treat them to breakfast."
"Why are they —?"
"They're all in Theatre Arts class."
"Umm…ok," She glanced between me and the Lost Boys, who now beamed back at her. "But, Will, you can't just drop in and invite all these boys over without even asking either your father or me first. You can't expect me to just whip up a huge breakfast on such short notice. These boys need to go home. There parents are probably worried about them, and —!"
I had expected this outcome, and thus, decided to unveil my secret weapon. I grabbed Tootles and presented him to Mom. She just looked flabbergasted down at him, and Tootles stared wide-eyed back at her. Whatever she had been saying before slowly drifted into silence, which was quickly broken by the sound of Tootles' grumbling belly. He put a finger in his mouth cutely and looked down in embarrassment. I saw my mom blush, and knew I had her hooked. There was no way her intense mother hen spirit could resist Tootles' cuteness.
"Don't be rude, Will, bring them to the kitchen," She pulled Tootles forward and motioned him out the door. "Poor dears are famished. I'll cook them up a good pot of apple porridge. Come along now, dears."
I smiled triumphantly and nodded towards Peter. He smiled back at me, and followed my Mom and me out into the hall. As soon as we were all seated at the table (we had to use the office chair, and the Twins had to share a seat in order for all of us to fit), my Mom went to go make the food. Now that we were alone, the boys all erupted into excited noises.
"Ok, ok, calm down everyone," I hushed them. "We're not out of the woods yet."
"I didn't see any trees around your house," Slightly said.
"That was a figure of speech, Slightly," I rolled my eyes at him. "What I mean is that though we're good now, once breakfast is over, I won't have anywhere to put you guys. There's not enough room here for you guys to sleep."
"Looks pretty spacious to me," Curly pointed out, but I just glared at him.
"Will is right," said Peter, leaning across the table as if he were at a war counsel. "We're gonna be here for a while and we can't stay here."
We all sighed, trying to think of a plan. I gazed about the dining room, looking for some source of inspiration. I found it in the picture of my grandmother hanging on the spring green wall across from me. Of course! Why hadn't I thought of that before?
Before I could voice my solution, Mom walked in carrying trays of porridge with apple slices and cinnamon on top. The boys clapped in eager delight, and Curly looked like he was eating the food with his eyes. Needless to say, breakfast didn't last long.
Fourteen and a half bowls later, I told my mom that I was going outside to "play" and bolted out the door before she could ground me or say otherwise. The Lost Boys following behind loyally, I walked down the street and turned the corner. The house on the block was inhabited by my grandmother. My widowed, empty nester of a grandmother, who still wished she had kids and who still had all my old stuff in her large, empty house.
Her two-story house was white-washed and boxy, with a jungle of a front yard, and an Amazon of a backyard. My grandmother lived off of her dead husband's life insurance and chose gardening as her past time, when her three children and her five grandchildren couldn't stand her. My two uncles and four cousins lived in an adjacent neighborhood, and so they didn't visit my grandmother as much as my family did. My mom was always attached to her mother, and thus had a hard time flying the coop, so she set up nest right down the street.
Walking down the cobblestone path to her veranda, I grabbed the brass knocker on her door and pounded it against her clean, white door. We waited for about a minute before the door swung open, and a woman with bright pink, frizzy hair and round spectales opened the door.
My grandmother was something of a spectacle. She had always been spunky. And she could be dangerous when subjected to boredom, thus, she had a different look about her every time I saw her. She used her husband's life insurance opulently. Her dress was a shiny silver, like something you would have seen in the future space age. Her cane (she didn't need one, but liked to carry one around anyway) was made of glass and had an LED light installed on the top of it so that it changed colors every now and then. If it weren't for these minor details, she would have resembled anyone else's grandmother: old, wrinkly, with a great love for giving gifts and spoiling children, even if she was a bit of an eccentric. My mother used to always say that she was a child trapped in an old woman's body.
"Good morning, Will," she broke out into a crinkled smile. "It's lovely to see you again. And I see you brought some acquaintances. Come on in, chaps, come on in. I'll set out a pot of tea!"
We were shuffled in to her cluttered house and sat down on the couch. Her brother-in-law had made it for her as a wedding gift back in the olden days. My grandmother ran to the kitchen to start boiling some water.
"Why are we here, Will?" Slightly asked.
"This is where you'll be staying for as long as you're here. Granny loves children and is all alone, so she'll be able to take care of you guys."
"She's a weird-looking lady," the twins chimed, and I chose to ignore that comment. It was true, after all.
"Well, she still has a lot of life in her. She says that she was a spy back in World War II and she knows six different languages: German, English, obviously, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, and French."
"Cool!" the boys exclaimed, and just then, my grandmother came in.
"Here you go, love," she opened a large band-aid and stuck it over my scar which I had completely forgotten about until now. "That's a nasty wound. Is it a battle scar?"
"Yup," I decided to humor her, smiling despite the bad memories that floated into my mind. "I got it fighting a pirate."
"Oh, pirates!" She mock frowned. "Nasty blokes."
Peter beamed at this comment. That comment had just won him over. Anyone who hated pirates was a friend of his. And thanks to the event that caused this scar, I was now converted to that style of thinking.
"Why don't you introduce your friends here to me, Will?" My grandmother sat in a grand chair, her cane resting across her lap.
"Umm…well," I looked at them. There names were unusual, maybe I should change them?
"I'm Peter Pan!" said boy stood up and declared. Well, I guess that solves that problem.
I watched my grandmother to gauge her reaction. Her whole body became stiff, and she was silent for a solid fifteen minutes before her voice came out shakily, "The…Peter Pan? From Neverland?"
Even Peter was just as surprised as I was. I had thought that I was the first discoverer of the boy wonder and his land of dreams. What would Granny say? How did she even know.
"My grandmother told me all about her days with you, but I never thought they were actually true," Granny sighed nostalgically.
Peter stared at my grandmother in silence for a few minutes before he decided she had finished her speech. "Yes, ma'am, I am Peter Pan from Neverland, but I don't believe I've ever met an elderly woman, especially if she were old enough to be your grandmother."
"Oh, she wasn't old then, you silly duckling." Granny laughed, tapping her crystal cane on the ground. "Grandmother Jane was only a little girl then, but she never forgot about you. I used to stay up all night listening to her stories. They never got old."
"Wait…Jane Jane?" Peter gaped. "Has it really been that long?"
Glancing between the two of them, I felt very lost and confused. Hadn't Peter mentioned a Jane before? Was this girl another helpless victim of his spiriting away?
Granny turned towards me. "So, Will, I presume there is a reason you have brought the whole crew here to me?"
Ah, right…back to business. "Yes, they need some where to stay for an indefinite amount of time. I was hoping that maybe you could take care of them?"
"Of course!" Granny jumped up, a mischievous smile on her crinkled face. She had just found her partners in crime. "You know how lonely I get here, in this big, old house! I'd be delighted to have them here, and looks like they'll need clothes, so we can go shopping, oh, and I'll enroll them into your school! They'll join you on Monday! And —"
"Woah, Woah, Granny," I stood up as well, motioning for her to calm down. "They're not staying here forever, just until my wound heals, and then we — they, I mean, are heading back."
Peter frowned at that last comment, but said nothing.
"Oh, nonsense, William," my grandmother, ruffled my hair and laughed at the pout forming on my face. "The boys will love school, I just know it."
I couldn't help but snort. I seriously doubted that. No sane child ever loved school. Especially not when there was Neverland.
"I've never been to school before," Tootles wondered aloud.
"You'll love it, I promise," Granny winked at him. "Now, let's go shopping!"
I rolled my eyes. Silly old grandmother.
I never realized how much money Granny truly had until now. We had to hire a porter to help us carry all the bags around the shopping district. It wasn't so much the quantity that scared me as was the quality. Sweaters shipped in straight from Paris, designer brand clothing, and nothing that cost under 30 pounds! It makes me wonder if it really is my grandfather's life insurance, or if she actually has her hand in some business.
After carrying all 41 bags inside the house, we all sat down and had dinner. As I sat down to eat my turkey sandwich and chips, a strange feeling came over me. Or more like the strange part was how comfortable I was, as if Peter and the Lost Boys had been my childhood friends since birth and we had never even heard of a place called Neverland. The dreamlike paradise seemed far away. Fairies didn't really exist anyway, right?
Shaking my head clear of these thoughts, I went to help Peter unpack everything in his room. Since there were only three available rooms the rooming arrangements were as such: Curly, Nibs and Slightly in one room, and Tootles and the Twins in the other, and Peter got his own room since he was the oldest. Tonight would be a very uncomfortable sleep for them, since we didn't have time to go buy all the bunk beds that would be necessary to house all these boys.
"Hey," I muttered after knocking on the door.
Peter smiled at me from inside a massive pile of clothing. "Hiya, Will! Come to help me?"
"Yes, and it seems you need it," I chuckled. I picket up a pair of designer jeans and folded them neatly.
"How did you do that?" His head popped up.
"Fold the clothes."
I simply stared at him, torn between laughing at him, and fearing that he was actually serious. "I'll show you." I picked up a forest green, cotton sweater, pinching it at the shoulders. "You lay it against your chest like so," I lay the sweater on me and grabbed it by the sleeves, "then you fold the arms on top of one another, and then fold it in half." I folded the top down to the bottom and then set it on top of the dresser since the bed was covered in clothes.
"You really do make a great Mommy," Peter beamed up at me.
I frowned. "It's Daddy, remember?"
Peter laughed, but then it got very silent. He fiddled with a pair of slacks. I just watched, wondering what was making radiated the sudden nervous aura.
"Hey, Will," Peter began, not looking at me, but inspecting the stitches in his pants. "We haven't really gotten a chance to…well, talk about…the…um…what happened before the pirates…the…the thimble…" His cheeks glowed scarlet at the last word.
I cocked my head to the side. What was he talking about? What thimble? "You never gave me a thimble, Peter."
His face drooped, despair hinting in his voice. "Don't you remember? When I took you to the hiding spot, and…I gave you the thimble."
"Thimble? Oh! You mean the kiss!" My cheeks flushed slightly.
"What? No, I gave you a thimble. I lost the kiss a long time ago."
I stared at him, completely lost. How could you get those two mixed up? They had absolutely nothing to do with each other.
"Anyway," Peter decided to continue nervously. "Since you got kidnapped by the pirates, I never really got to see what your answer was."
"Answer to what?"
"May I court you?"
"You mean go out on a date or something? Sure." I blushed brightly. I had never had a boyfriend before. I had technically had a girlfriend, Julia, back in the 4th grade, but that didn't really count, since she went out with every boy in the school, and we didn't even hold hands or anything.
The smile on Peter's face was contagious. He strode over to me and knelt at my feet, kissing my hand. My head could have easily been mistaken at that point for a tomato my face was so red. Like a jolt of electricity, I shivered with excitement. We were now officially a couple, and I was going to ignore the fact that I had no clue what Peter's age was, though if he was a ghost, he could well be 100 years my elder.
The boy wonder raised himself to his full height, still holding my hands, and leant in for a continuation of the other day's event. Unfortunately, Granny chose that exact moment to barge in and announce that she had just gotten the boys enrolled at my school and could join me on Monday. As if the electric current that had been traveling down my spine and into the pit of my stomach had shocked Peter, he leapt away from me, tucking his hands behind him, his face as emotionless as stone.
After Granny's suggestion that I return home, seeing as how it was nearing 11 o'clock, with a shy wave to Peter, I headed down the street towards my house. Ignoring the lecture from my mom about how curfew still applied even at a relative's house, I trudged to my room and flopped down on my bed as if I hadn't touched it in months, which might be true. I glanced at my reflection in the window. I had a goofy grin plastered on my face.
Augh! Stop acting like a girl! I forced a frown on my face, trying to think manly thoughts, but when the stars outside drew my eye, I couldn't help but smile.
END BOOK I
A/N: Originally I was going to make a whole separate sequel to this, but I 've decided that it hasn't really concluded enough to separate the two, so I've split the story up into Books. Currently, I only plan on having a Book 2, but I tend to elongate things. So, as an apology for taking so darn long, and because it'll keep you guys interested, I've included a summary for Book 2!!
While Peter Pan and the Lost Boys are having a smashing good time in the real world (i.e. love triangles, crazy parties, night clubs, fights, and near-death experiences) there's been trouble in paradise. Without Peter Pan, Neverland has been wilting and morphing under the influence of its new ruler: Captain Hook. Peter will have to travel back to right what has gone so terribly wrong, but will the drama free lure of Neverland hook Peter, or will he choose to release his dreams to live with Will in this strange and dangerous world?
Find out, in the next few millenia!