The Captain's Choice
by Alexandra Page
I stood angrily by the window of my flat in London, looking out at the second star to the right. James slammed things around in the bathroom and continued to berate Peter. This had been going on for hours, and I was getting a headache. I couldn't listen to any more. Not then, not now.
"Don't you understand that he's just a boy?" I asked loudly, turning away from the window. James stormed back into my bedroom.
"Just a boy? Just a boy? Could a boy do this?!" he yelled, holding his stitched hand up for me to see. I felt myself pale but I knew my eyes held resolve. "It wasn't an accident in our last life and it wasn't an accident two weeks ago," he spat.
"You know why it happened," I reminded him calmly. "They told us we'd be likely to try and reenact our past lives once we all met in this one. You weren't careful at all. You know how unusual it is for a triumvirate to meet again in the next life and suddenly remember everything. It's unheard of and you didn't even take an ounce or precaution."
He looked murderous and his voice went low as he stepped very close to me. I swallowed but stood my ground. "Shall I be more careful around you, too? After all, you did help the murdering brat do away with me last time around. Tick tock. And if we really are likely to repeat the past, shouldn't you be more afraid of me, Miss Darling? I held you captive on my ship and made you walk the plank." I shivered, remembering. He backed me up against the window frame and my back hit solid wood. I glared at him, speaking evenly.
"Peter is a very sick boy. He doesn't feel empathy the way normal people do. He needs help, and possibly medication," I replied. He needed to understand.
"But you knew better, didn't you?" he whispered. I looked away, refusing to meet his eyes. "Why do you defend him?" he continued. "It will do you no good. He isn't here to save you, now," he said, moving his lips close to my ear. "A life for a life. It only seems fair." I swallowed. I smelled rum on his breath.
"You can't kill me," I said, my voice wavering.
"What is stopping me?" he asked darkly, putting one hand on the wall on the right side of my waist. I started to feel afraid. My heart thudded loudly and I was sure he could hear it.
"I was just a child. You were an adult –"
"I was a pirate," he corrected me. I looked into his blue, blue eyes. There was no avoiding it.
"You were Captain James Hook," I said quietly.
"I was," he nodded, smiling cruelly. "And then you killed me." I closed my eyes, sure the end was coming.
"I thought you deserved to die," I said, thinking I had nothing to lose.
"Look at me!" he barked suddenly, startling my eyes open. He grabbed me by the arms and started to shake me. "Give me one good reason I shouldn't kill you where you stand, Wendy!" he yelled.
I cried out and threw my arms around his neck, burying my face in his shoulder. I confessed, finally. "I can't! How can I beg you for my life?! It doesn't matter that I was just a child! You would be right to kill me." Hook didn't seem to know what to do with this unexpected outburst, or the fact that I clung to him. His entire body stiffened and his hands rested flat on the wall behind me. I continued, beginning to cry.
"But when you do kill me I want you to know that when you were dead there was nothing I ever wanted more than for you to be alive again. I lived and died with a child's guilt and regret, and was born with it again. I will never forgive myself and I don't expect you too, either. It was unfair and unjust and I know that I have to die for it. I just…needed you to know," I finished, my tears subsiding. I'd waited an entire lifetime to say that to him. Now he would kill me, but at least it would be an informed decision.
I let go of his painfully stiff body, took a deep audible breath and closed my eyes to the deadly silence. I could feel his rage building like a storm around me in my bedroom. I was visibly afraid. He should be pleased by that. I heard his breathing become ragged and my own became faster. I was too afraid to wait for the end. I leaned back against the wall, dropping my hands to clutch at my shirt's hem and tilted my head back, keeping my eyes closed. I didn't want to see it happen. I took another deep breath and let it out shakily.
"Please kill me quickly," I asked pitifully, my dying wish, not even trying to sound brave. I'd killed him. Now he was going to kill me. Something about it all clicked into place and I managed to find myself more peacefully resolved.
I felt his hands leave the wall on either side of me. I swallowed once, tensed my entire body and gave a single nod. I was ready.
He roughly grabbed me by the hair and forced me down onto the ground, kneeling with me. I heard him slide his long knife out of his boot. A slit throat it would be, then. I only had a second to wonder how much pain there would be when I felt him pin me to him and, pulling my long hair tightly out behind my head, he cut it clean off, right above my shoulders. Then he let go of me. Mystified, I opened my eyes to see my long hair in a pool on the floor next to me. My now shorter hair swung lightly in an evening breeze that blew through the window. I looked up in shock into his eyes and watched in amazement as he held his knife up and did the same to his own hair. The moment I realized in some primal way that he wasn't going to kill me, I started to breathe again.
"But why?" I asked quietly, in the light of the rising moon. He smiled again, but it was a new smile.
"I think, Miss Darling, that it's about time we left our pasts behind. Don't you?" he murmured conspiringly, resting his hands on my shoulders.
I nodded slowly, weak with relief. I started to cry again, out of sheer exhaustion, and he pulled me against his chest, sitting on the floor in front of the opened window. I leaned against him, feeling suddenly safe in the circle of his arms. He laid his cheek against the top of me head and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. I was still worried, though.
"James," I began –
"I think Peter will be alright," he said, as if reading my mind. "He is already under close medical supervision and he will get the help he needs, medication or none. We will come back to see, someday. But for now, there is no reason for us to stay here, is there?" he asked quietly, sounding uncertain.
I froze in surprise. "You want me to come with you, when you leave?" I asked in turn. I couldn't fathom it, but I also couldn't say I didn't enjoy the idea of leaving with him. He gently turned me around to face him, a small, sad smile on his face and a bit of mischief in his eyes.
"Maybe you've forgotten, but there has hardly ever been a time since I've known you that I didn't want you with me, Red Handed Jill."
I blushed and smiled before my insides burst into white light and heat as he pressed his lips to mine and kissed me.