It pressed in.
There was nothing except the dull beating of a heart. My heart.
I opened my eyes, wincing at the blue blaze of the overhead sky. The smell of pine hit my nose instantly as I forced myself to sit up. I calmly looked around, finding myself to be utterly alone. There was an imprint of a body in the pine straw beside me, as if Peter had only just been lying there.
"Peter?" I called, my voice coming out as inaudible as a whisper. Even then, my voice seemed to pierce the silence.
I found it strange that no birds called above from the treetops. There wasn't even any shuffling in the underbrush. I must be in Neverland, I thought dreamily.
"Peter?" I cried, louder this time. I struggled to my feet, feeling as if I had been sleeping a very long time. Stumbling groggily, I made my way through a small clearing of trees. The ground sloped a bit before abruptly cutting off, giving way to a still expanse of water.
Briefly forgetting about Peter, I chucked off my shoes and socks, rolling up my pant legs. I eased myself down the bank to the shallow water beneath. The water was warm and I could see little minnows flicking back and forth just below the surface. The little fish darted around my ankles, tickling my feet.
"Wendy," a voice called, breaking the silence.
I jumped in surprise, falling backwards onto my butt with a big splash.
Laughter echoed down from the bank and upon standing up, I could see that Peter was sitting down with his back up against a tree. I crossed my arms, oblivious to the water dripping from the seat of my pants.
"Where were you?" I demanded. "I was looking for you."
"I've been here the whole time," he told me with a shrug. "I didn't want to wake you. We flew a long ways."
"I don't remember falling asleep." I frowned.
"You nearly fell out of the sky," Peter told me cheerfully. Upon seeing my startled look, he added, "I caught you, though. Don't be alarmed."
I nodded silently, looking down at my distorted feet through the slightly turbid water. Seconds ticked by with neither of us speaking. Why did it suddenly feel so awkward?
"So," said Peter, after clearing his throat. "Do you like it? Neverland, I mean."
"It's quiet," I replied, not really answering his question.
"Why is it so quiet?" I questioned.
Peter smiled. "We're the only ones here."
"Oh," I said.
"There's more life on the other side of the island, by the lagoon, but I figured this would be a good place for you to get some rest. And…when you're feeling up to it, I hoped we could talk." Peter stirred uncomfortably against the trunk of his tree.
"What's there to talk about?" I sighed.
"Well," he said slowly, "I guess about you leaving for London. And…and the fact that we'll never see each other again."
I sighed once more, coming up out of the water. I sat down on the bank with my back towards Peter, drawing my knees up to my chin. "Our last day together doesn't need to be so depressing," I told him, my voice muffled against my knees. "We can just have fun."
"If that's what you want," said Peter indifferently.
"Well what do you want?" I asked, looking over my shoulder at him.
Peter gave me a forlorn smile. "Don't act like you actually care what I want, Wendy."
"I care," I contradicted, annoyed.
Peter sighed before standing up and crossing the space between us. He sat down next to me, drawing his knees up to his chin just as I had done. "Are you going to miss me?" he asked.
I nodded. "I wish I didn't have to go. Or at least, I wish you could go with me. Heck, I wish I could stay here in Neverland and live happily ever after or whatever."
"Why don't you?" Peter pressed, his green eyes bright with hope.
"You know I can't. I'm not one of the lost boys you can just draw away into your fantasy world. The longer I live here, the more I'll forget about where I came from. I don't want to forget, Peter. I have a family. You might not have one, but I do. I can't just leave. I…I love you, I do, but…" I trailed off.
Peter looked at me, surprised at my words. But then his face fell again and he glanced away. "If you loved me, you would stay with me."
I scowled at him. "That's not fair, Peter. You shouldn't ask me to leave my family because you know I would never ask you to leave the lost boys. Never."
"I've left them before," he said softly. "I could do it again."
"No!" I shouted, louder than I had intended. "They need you. You're all they have ever known. God, Peter, will you just quit it? I've accepted that it's over, so why can't you?" I tried to keep myself from being angry, but it didn't really work. "You need to stay away from me, Peter, and you know it. If you don't want to grow up, then you shouldn't have to. I don't want to be the person to force you to do something you don't want to do."
"I don't give a damn about any of that!" Peter roared, quick on his feet. His fists were clenched, and he was glaring at me with that wild look in his eye that I had only ever seen once before. "When I told you that I'd leave Neverland all over again for you, I meant it. Yeah, I'll miss the lost boys…but that's nothing in comparison to how I'll feel when I'll have to give up you. This isn't easy for me."
"What? And you think it's easy for me?" I shot back bitingly. I jerked my chin away from him, determined to look somewhere, anywhere, other than his anguished face. I took a deep breath. "How do you think I felt when you told me that it was my fault that you were becoming less like you and more like me? That you were weakening? That you were leaving behind your most favorite place in the entire universe just for me? Don't you think that would make me just the tiniest bit guilty? Huh? Don't you think that it's unfair for me to feel guilty for something that I have no control over? Well I don't want to feel guilty anymore!"
"Please don't say that," Peter begged. "I don't blame you for anything. Please take that back."
I clenched my jaw. "I want to go home Peter."
There was a long silence.
"Okay," Peter said softly, holding out his hand to help me up.
I shook my head, refusing to take it. I stood up without his help. "No," I told him, feeling my voice crack. "I'm g-going home alone. Coming here was a bad idea. I want you to stay, and I want you to th-think about what I've s-said. When you g-go back, I'll h-have already left."
Peter grabbed my wrist but I twisted out of it, turning away from him and walking back through the trees. I wiped my eyes furiously with the back of my hand, speeding up my pace in case he was following me.
"Goodbye, Wendy Darling," he called, his voice barely audible.
I stopped in my tracks and looked over my shoulder. He hadn't followed me after all. He was still standing by the bank.
He was letting me go.
Suddenly everything seemed to hit me. This would be the last time I would ever see Peter. Him, standing alone by the water, would be my last memory. How could I possibly live with myself if I had to keep replaying that final look on his face as I walked away?
I took a step towards him. Then another step. And another. I unexpectedly broke out into a full-fledged run, crashing into his arms. I fiercely hugged him around the middle, burying my face into his chest. He did not wrap his arms around me; he merely stood there, his face angled down towards mine.
"G-Goodbye, Peter Pan," I sobbed.
And then I went home.
One Month Later
Captain Hook died today.
I heard about it on the news. Apparently, while at the zoo, Captain Hook's hook fell off into one of the animal pens. Thinking he could reach it with a toy rifle he stole from a nearby child, he leaned in over the railing. Unfortunately for James, he lost his footing and slipped, falling into the swampy territory of a hungry crocodile.
I wished I could have told Wendy about it, but she had left before I even went back to New York. Just as she'd promised. Why does Wendy always have to keep her word?
Anyways, if I hadn't chopped off the pirate's hand all those years ago, he wouldn't have fallen to his death.
Does that mean I killed Hook?
Ten Years Later
"We're going to catch some late dinner, if you'd like to join us," Marie offered. There was something about Marie that reminded me of a girl I used to know in high school. Her hair poofed out in the exact same way, though for some reason the name of the girl seemed to escape me.
"Thanks, but I ought to be getting back. I'm a little tired," I told John's long-time girlfriend. "The movie was great though. You guys really didn't have to pay for my ticket."
"It was no problem at all," Marie insisted. "We haven't seen you in months. I'm so excited that you've finally decided to move back to the Big Apple. It gives me a new face to look at. God knows I'm sick of John's."
"Hey!" John exclaimed defensively.
I smiled. "Yes, well, thank you again. Tomorrow's a big day! I'm going to be apartment hunting until my feet fall off. G'night Marie. John."
"'Night, Sis," called John as he locked arms with Marie and stood up, pulling her towards the door. They thanked the bus driver and stepped down onto the curb, the door closing with a creak behind them.
I sighed and settled back against my seat, noting how unusually dark out it was that night. The eerie flickering of the bulbs overhead made me shudder, flooding me with a strange sense of déjà vu.
A thin, slightly handsome man unexpectedly sat down in the seat across from me, making me jump in surprise. I hadn't known that someone had gotten on the bus when John and Marie had gotten off.
A toothpick protruded from the stranger's lips. "I didn't mean to scare you," he said softly.
There was a long patch of silence as I scrutinized the newcomer's face, searching for some kind of familiarity. He leaned forwards into the light, and I could see that his hair was a little bit darker than I had remembered and his cheekbones were a little bit sharper. But his eyes…They were exactly the same.
"You grew up."
Peter smiled. "I did. So did you."
"But I thought…," I started with a frown.
Peter held up a hand to stop me. "I grew up because I wanted to."
I nodded, meeting his eyes. I stared at him a few seconds before looking away and saying, "It's been a long time."
"It has," Peter agreed. "A lot has changed. Did you know that Slightly ended up marrying that friend of yours from high school?"
"Kim?" I questioned.
"What of the other lost boys?"
"Oh, they're always around."
The bus shuddered to a stop. I sighed, glancing out of the window at the hotel I was staying at. If only I had more time. "Well," I said, rising to my feet, "that's my stop."
"How extraordinary," said Peter, a smile tugging at his mouth, "it's mine too."
A/N: Yeah, so I'm pretty much the worst person in the world for taking 3 months, 3 weeks, 1 day, and 27 minutes to upload this fanfic. And I'm also the worst person in the world because I put up the last chapter. So basically you guys have been waiting 3 months, 3 weeks and…blah blah blah minutes to read ONE chapter. I'm sorry. I'm awful. I'm terrible. I should be shot multiple times in the toe. Please forgive me T.T Anyways, tell me what you thought of my ending. I think it ended fairly happily, even if I'm not exactly happy with it xD Thanks to everyone who kept faith in me and kept reading, even despite my revolting anti-updating habits.