GROWING UP

"In the glow of those twinkling lights
We shall love through eternity.
On this night in a million nights
Fly away with me.
I never dreamed that a kiss could be as sweet as this,
But now I know that it can.
I used to wander alone, without a love of my own
I was a desperate man.
But all my grief disappeared and all the sorrow I'd feared
Wasn't there anymore,
On that magical day when you first came my way
Mi amor."
(Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice, Evita, On This Night of a Thousand Stars)

We meander through the streets of London. A couple stands out, dressed in wedding clothes. Captain Hook, despite making an honest woman of his bride before bedding her, had decided that the simplicity and violence of their sea marriage was not how he wished his beautiful bride to remember their union. Despite everything they had been through, despite the battles and the orgasmic bliss he wrought from her body and, most importantly, despite the wondrous child they had created together, Wendy still blushed as she vowed to honor and obey her Captain. They had assured the minister theirs was a simple renewing of vows; the ample coin in his purse did not allow him to debate the truth of that assurance. Wendy was dressed in a white gown with a pink sash, her husband in a crimson suit jacket and black pants. She kissed her husband soundly on the lips before kissing Jane and Felicity on their flower-covered heads. Wendy was gloriously contented and they returned to her childhood home, now their home.

The years in Neverland had passed more quickly than they had in London; Neverland years were always tricky things. For many, it had seemed only a few months since Wendy had left, but, since the only person who truly noted her removal from society was her father and his mind was otherwise occupied, no one made comment on Wendy's expanded family. Mr. Darling had tired of stairs. A stroke during Wendy's absence had rendered him slightly more inclined to avoiding the contraptions altogether. With the fortune he had amassed, the dear Captain helped his father-in-law to retire to a tropical shore in Tortola, in a one-story home staffed with aides enough to help him recover as best he could. The family Hook was blissfully happy; Felicity was eager to start school, though Wendy advised her she was still too young for the venture. Another year, perhaps, and then they would consider it, until then, they would school the pair of them at home. They were content with their family and, as fortune did not desire to give them any more children, they traveled extensively and played together in joy and love for two glorious years.

Then came the war; the world quaked, the heart of England begged for defenders ready to take up arms against the oppressors. Brave man that he was, James Hook sprang to action, only to be respectfully denied the ability to serve based on his…impairment. Never had he felt as worthless as he did walking into their home with the knowledge that his homeland believed him to be a liability instead of the powerfully villainous and woefully deadly force of nature he knew himself to be. Wendy instinctively knew what had happened, hadn't indicated her knowledge in the slightest, but suggested that a trip to visit her father in the Caribbean might do them all a bit of good. Felicity was overjoyed at the prospect, Jane young enough to be advised of how wondrousthe beach was by the older girl, and James accepted the idea with a pang of guilt and a secret desire to feel the swell of the ocean rocking his ship as tropical breezes caressed his still-black curls of hair. And so they went and remained safely away from the burning world until Mr. Darling's humours finally gave way to grave illness. He was buried at sea, as Hook proclaimed to his wife was his own desire; her father's death certainly solidified in Hook the truth of his own mortality. He did not mention his fears to her, he did not need to, she knew. Wendy always knew; the time for fond remembrances of a land beyond their reach was over; they had to return to their true lives, and that meant returning to England. The war had ended. It was a glorious spring and the motherland beckoned them. Hook sold his deceased father-in-law's estate and they traveled back to their home and that little nursery wherein our Wendy's story began so many nights ago.

Now skirting the glorious age of ten, Jane's limbs began to resemble the foal-like awkwardness her mother's had once held and her odd-inquiring look sparkled with imaginative mirth. She danced about her bedroom one lovely spring evening upon their return to England. Her bed and that of her nanny (who had the warm spring evening off) were the sole beds in the nursery; Felicity had expressed her desire for a grown-up lady's room out of the nursery now that she was such a grown-up girl. Wendy had stifled her laughter at the oh-so-grown-up twelve-year-old in her midst and had given her the room in which she had spent her young adulthood. Hook and Felicity were in the parlor downstairs, going over the latter's expected expenditures for her next school semester abroad; her adoptive parents had begrudgingly agreed to send the girl to Paris to fill out her education now that the world was again safe for adventures of the more mundane variety. Wendy remained upstairs with her daughter, regaling her of the story of Peter Pan.

Jane's eyes sparkled as she heard the story of Peter Pan and the mermaids. Her mother's story was vivid and wondrous. Jane could almost smell the sea air, almost hear the mermaids laughing and tittering in their melodic voices. She could almost sense these things…but almost was not sufficient enough. She wanted to see Neverland for herself. To smell its magical air, to hear the quiet chanting waters that surrounded the island.

"Mother? Do you think I could ever go to Neverland?"

Wendy pondered for a moment, and then smiled. The girl often wished to discuss her possible adventure to Neverland. But Peter Pan was now Captain of the Jolly Roger, and Wendy very much doubted that Haystack would deign to return and steal her daughter away, even for a spring cleaning. Where was the harm in encouraging a little dreaming?

"Perhaps. You know, I think this was the nursery upon which that golden boy alighted one night."

They discussed Peter's lost shadow and they crowed together, Wendy hoping against hope that her darling Captain was too hampered down by Felicity's demands to hear that hated sound. With great difficulty, Jane had been put to bed and she slept, soundly, Wendy watching her intently from the floor by a still-burning fireplace. The window blew open; it couldn't be.

Haystack looked a near-perfect replica of the Peter of old; his hair was wild and blonde, his face tan and bright. Esmerelda, as best she could, flitted around his shoulders, sprinkling glowing fairy dust in her wake. In his mind, Haystack was Peter Pan, and, for all intents and purposes, he was. He had his memories, his gifts, his fairy, and with these things came an intrinsic forgetfulness that helped him avoid any unpleasantries. He truly thought he had come upon Wendy oh so many years ago and had returned to bring the girl-child back to help him again. Wendy found herself terrified of ruining his childish beliefs or images of her, borrowed as they may be. Haystack begged her not to turn up the light, so scared was he that his fears that Wendy was old would come true.

She was old. At least in his childish mind. And in their discussion and Haystack's crying, Jane awoke. He introduced himself as Peter Pan. She could barely contain her excitement and, despite the worries of the mother, flew away to Neverland and pirates and adventures and mermaids and youth. Captain Hook stood in his daughter's door way watching his daughter fly out of the window to his former home. He knew his Peter was captain of his ship, knew that Mr. Smee would recognize Jane as the daughter of the storyteller without a moment's pause. He had no doubt she would be safe and would return safely to them. But watching her fly out the window was difficult, even for his staunch soul. He lifted Wendy into his arms easily. Her eyes welled with tears and she rested her head in the crook of his neck.

"Oh, James. She is so very young for Neverland."

"It is safer that way, my love, as well you know. You weren't too far off of her age when you first traveled to its shores."

"I know. But she is ever so much younger than I was at that age."

He chuckled and carried her to their bed. They lay together, bodies wrapped in a warm embrace, the Captain whispering assurances to his Wendy-Lady before taking her to the heights of passion. A sweetly exhausted slumber took over their bodies, though Wendy found herself sneaking to the nursery when a chiming clock awoke her to the presence of the four-o-clock morning hour. Jane had returned. Haystack had brought her home as safely as her wonderful Captain had promised. Neverland springs were different, one knows.

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The Captain and his bride remained gloriously in love and quite actively intimate even as their bodies grew smaller and more greyed. Hook aged well and continued to be an epitome of health for decades after their return to England; the years in Neverland a residual source of freedom from the ravages of age…or slowing of their development. For her part, Wendy remained beautiful even as her skin wrinkled and her bright eyes dimmed ever so slightly. They remained in their little home until they departed from the mortal coil, though their lives were supremely long and fulfilled. When Hook's day of reckoning came, he was ready to join his bride, who had preceded him to heavenly glory only days before. With her picture clutched in wrinkled hand and his hook unused on her night table, Captain James Hook breathed his last.

But happier memories remain still and echo into eternity! While they lived, Wendy loved her Captain and he loved her in return, perhaps even more fervently because he had spent so very many years unloved. Jane grew up and had a daughter of her own. When Jane's husband was killed en route home after the end of the Second World War, she and her daughter moved into her childhood home. Wendy assured her that it was a great help to them as their steps had slowed slightly and the sound of joyous laughter in their halls again may be just the thing to keep them spry.

Wendy, as always, was correct. Jane's return to their home filled it with fresh laughter and joy once again. Though they loved each other with a passion unmatched, Hook and Wendy adored their granddaughter. Despite his long history of piracy and villainy, Captain James Hook was an excellent grandfather and doted on his sole grandchild with an overwhelmingly charming attentiveness. He spoiled her with butterscotch candies daily and a white pony on her seventh birthday. She deigned his name was most surely Chauncey and he was a he, despite Hook's assurance that he had, indeed, purchased a mare. Where they would put said pony was a question to be answered later. Margaret, for that was his beloved granddaughter's name, did not laugh at his stories of piracy as her mother did, nor tell him to hush when he sang songs he said he learned on the high seas. No, Margaret was a girl after Captain Hook's once-blaggard heart. She fancied herself a real pirate and said she wished to fight on the Jolly Roger one day, if only she could find a way to Neverland. With a twinkle in his still forget-me-not blue eyes, Captain Hook assured her that one day she may find herself whisked away to that strange land where pirates and mermaids live and where a wondrous, eternal boy flew through the air, uncaring and free. And so she did. As did her daughter after her, "and so it will go on, so long as children are gay and innocent and heartless."

-THE END-

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Thank you for taking this journey with me. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I've enjoyed writing it.

The last quote is from J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan.