A/N: Hello! I have a lot of things to say here, so bear with me. First of all, let me just apologize for how obscenely long it has taken me to update this story. Would you believe me if I told you I've actually been working on this chapter since last August? Talk about writer's block... I had really almost given up on it until I got a couple of amazing reviews/messages from supportive readers, and those inspired me to give it another try. So this chapter (and this whole story, frankly), is for those of you who have given me such kind, wonderful encouragement. I hope that I can give you a story that lives up to your expectations. I do have the story, and particularly the next chapter, loosely mapped out, although given how much trouble I had writing this one I can't make any promises about the next update, but I really will try to make it soon(ish). Again, thank you SO MUCH for sticking with me. It means a lot. Also, a small warning: things get a little bit darker in this chapter. Nothing too serious, but it does hint at some of what is to come. Just keep that in mind as you read. And I promise there will be lots of fluffy (and smutty) loveliness to offset the bad stuff!
Okay, enough from me. Read on!
Flying around the bedroom had been remarkable, but flying outside was absolutely surreal. The fairies led the way as they soared through the cool night air, the moonlight soft on their faces. The sky was a velvety violet-blue, dotted with pinprick stars and layered with barely-there wisps of clouds. Everything looked so much more beautiful from up here - so clear, so vivid, so tangible. It was like being part of another world entirely.
Blaine almost fell out of the sky when he looked down for the first time and saw the ground far beneath them, landscape rushing past. Fortunately, Kurt caught his hand and tugged him back up, and the softness of Kurt's hand in his perhaps accounted for the mysterious rapidity with which Blaine recovered from the fright of nearly falling to his death. Their fingers remained laced for the remainder of the trip, and if Blaine hadn't been so busy trying to stop himself from blushing, he might have noticed that there was a faint pink flush staining Kurt's cheeks as well.
"That's it up there," Kurt said after a while, pointing with his free hand to a bright light in the distance. "Second star on the right and straight on til morning."
Blaine nodded, suddenly feeling a little nervous as he remembered that he still had absolutely no idea what he was getting himself into. Here he was flying (flying!) off to some magical land with a boy dressed like an elf (who, up until recently, he had assumed to be a figment of his imagination) and a pair of fairies, one of whom apparently had a bit of a diva complex. Either he had actually gone crazy and was starting to have hallucinations, or the world was a far more fantastical place than he had once thought.
Perhaps Kurt had noticed that Blaine was having a minor freak-out, because he caught Blaine's eye and gave him a small smile, squeezing his hand reassuringly. Blaine smiled back shyly as his nervousness subsided. Maybe he was being foolish, but somehow, he felt that as long as he was with Kurt, everything would be okay. He was safe.
They flew on, drawing nearer and nearer to the star until - and Blaine wasn't quite sure when or how it happened - everything around them was light and they were hovering in the air above a small island. With the exception of white sand and stone around the edges, it was almost entirely covered in green foliage, most of which appeared to be thick, towering trees. Several tall mountains loomed in the distance, partially shrouded by thick gray fog and low-hanging clouds. The island curved inward in a few places, creating two coves - one was flecked with jutting rocks and surrounded by steep cliffs, while the other, the larger of the two, was calm and empty save for a large sailing ship.
"Welcome to Never Land!" Kurt said proudly, sweeping an arm over the island.
"Thanks," Blaine replied, eyeing the ship curiously and wondering who it could possibly belong to and what it was doing here. "Hey, Kurt - "
He was cut off when Kurt tugged his hand hard and rocketed off in the direction of a thickly wooded area towards the center of the island, the fairies flitting along just a few feet ahead. Blaine clutched Kurt's hand tightly and did his best to keep up, blinking back tears as wind whipped against his face and scenery flew past him in a blur of bluegreenbrown. He had absolutely no idea what was going on.
Once they had crashed through the canopy of the trees, Kurt slowed considerably, releasing Blaine's hand (to Blaine's great disappointment) and drifting along at a leisurely place. He seemed remarkably unscathed by their nosedive into the forest, whereas Blaine's face and arms were already stinging from the places the branches had scratched him. When Kurt noticed this, his eyebrows knitted together in concern.
"Oh God, you're bleeding," he said, floating closer to Blaine to examine the damage. "I'm sorry."
"It's okay," Blaine said, determinedly fighting down the flush that was threatening to rise in his cheeks at his proximity to Kurt.
"There's stuff we can put on it when we get back to Hangman's Tree - where I live," Kurt clarified when Blaine looked confused.
"Sorry, sometimes I forget that other people don't have as much practice with this sort of thing," Kurt explained, putting a reasonable space between them again as they resumed their progress through the trees. The fairies darted along a bit ahead of them, two small balls of yellow light in a mass of green and brown.
"Plummeting into densely wooded areas, you mean? Yeah, I don't get much of that in Ohio."
Kurt laughed. "Yeah, I guess not."
"So what was that all about, then?" Blaine asked, tugging his sleeve free as it caught on another branch.
"Oh, it's nothing," Kurt said, waving a hand dismissively. "Just - Hook, the captain of that ship in the cove. I prefer that he doesn't see when I come and go from Never Land. Or who I bring with me."
"Do you not get along?" Blaine asked curiously.
"You could say that," Kurt nodded. "He likes to give me a hard time. I always return the favor, though." He glanced over at Blaine. "It's nothing to worry about. I'll explain more another time."
Blaine sensed from Kurt's tone that the story was perhaps more sinister than he was letting on, but he decided to let the subject drop for now. They'd only just arrived, after all - he didn't want to push things.
"Hear that?" Kurt said suddenly, swooping low to avoid a branch even though he was now flying backwards, facing Blaine, and apparently not paying any attention to where he was going.
"What?" Blaine asked, but even as the words left his mouth, he realized what Kurt was referring to. Far in the distance, but growing louder as they traveled further into the forest, Blaine could hear what sounded like faint strains of music. "What is that?"
"The Lost Boys," Kurt replied, a wide grin spreading across his face. "My fellow Hangman's Tree inhabitants. It sounds like they're having a jam session."
It did indeed. The music was getting louder with each passing moment, and now Blaine could make out distinct voices and instruments. They sounded joyful and casual but also very good. It was exactly the way he liked to play music - collaborating, experimenting, and having fun.
A few minutes later, he and Kurt emerged into a clearing, at the center of which stood a gnarled old tree that Blaine imagined had to be Hangman's Tree. Five or so boys were scattered over the tree's branches, all singing and clearly engrossed in their jam session. A tall, slightly confused-looking brunette was straddling one branch, using what appeared to be roughly hewn drumsticks to bang out a rhythm on the bark. A blond boy with full lips and another with a mohawk were both strumming on guitars; the mohawked one was lying on his back on a particularly thick branch, while the blond one was propped up against the tree. A skinny Asian boy was busting some serious moves on another branch, while a slighter, bespectacled brunette sat beside him, apparently leading the group in singing.
Blaine watched them in awe until the drummer happened to look up and notice their presence. "Hey, Kurt!" he cried, grinning goofily and raising an arm to wave.
The music stopped as the other boys glanced over and shouted out greetings.
"Come on," Kurt said quietly, grabbing Blaine's hand again and drawing him further into the clearing. "Hey, guys," he called.
"Who's your friend?" Finn asked, eyeing Blaine curiously. Blaine could tell the other boys were staring at him as well, and it made him nervous. He hadn't really considered the fact that there would be other people besides Kurt in Neverland, although now it seemed like a rather obvious thing to have missed.
"This is Blaine," Kurt explained, pushing Blaine forward slightly. "Blaine, meet the Lost Boys: Sam, Puck, Mike, Artie, and my brother Finn."
They all smiled and waved, and Finn extended a hand, which Blaine shook nervously. A brother?
"Blaine's going to stay with us for a while," Kurt said. "I hope," he added, glancing over at Blaine and smiling tentatively.
"I hope so too," Blaine agreed, eyes lingering on Kurt's for a bit longer than was probably appropriate. When he finally forced himself to look away, he noticed Mike watching him with slightly raised eyebrows and an amused expression on his face. He blushed, but luckily, the other boys seemed to have been distracted by other things.
"Dude, you're all cut up," Finn said, observing the scratches covering Blaine's face and arms.
"That's my fault," Kurt said guiltily. "Come on, let's go clean those up now. As you were, gentlemen."
"Good meeting you, man," Finn called out as Kurt led Blaine towards an entrance into the tree.
"You too!" Blaine replied, following Kurt through the entrance and smiling to himself as he heard the music pick up once more.
"They seem cool," Blaine said as they made their down a winding set of steps. He was on his feet again, but he noticed that Kurt still hovered just above the ground.
"They drive me crazy at times, but they're pretty great," Kurt said, leading Blaine across a large room filled with hammocks. "This is where they sleep," he explained. "You can take any free hammock." He pushed aside a curtain hanging on the wall to reveal a smaller room, this one outfited with a single hammock. "And this is my room," he explained, ushering Blaine through the entrance. "Just sit down and I'll get the ointment for those scratches."
After a bit of awkward maneuvering, Blaine managed to situate himself on the hammock without falling off, a feat he was very proud of until Kurt flew over and gracefully settled himself beside Blaine.
"Here, let me see," Kurt said, unscrewing a small jar and dipping his fingers into a clear ointment. "It comes from a flower that grows around here. It'll help."
Blaine nodded, shifting in the hammock so that he was facing Kurt. He tried to keep his breathing even as Kurt reached forward and dabbed gently at his face.
"So, the Lost Boys. Did you find them, too?" Blaine asked.
"I found Puck, Mike, and Sam," Kurt said, his brow furrowing in concentration as he swiped a finger under Blaine's left eye. "Puck was failing out of high school and just couldn't get his head around the responsibilities of being an adult, so he was thrilled to come. Sam had had to drop out of high school and get a job because of his family's money problems, and it was all just too much for him. He was being forced two grow up too early and he wasn't ready for it. And Mike - he wanted to be a dancer but his dad was trying to get him to go to school for law or medicine or something. He knew he was going to be miserable so he came here instead."
"Sounds familiar," Blaine said, reflecting back on his own problems with his father. He would have to talk to Mike about that some time, once they knew each other better.
"I know," Kurt said, meeting Blaine's eyes for a moment before turning his attention to the scratches on Blaine's arm. "I'm glad you decided to come with me."
"Me too." He shivered slightly as Kurt's fingers trailed softly over the inside of his wrist.
"Oh God, did I hurt you?" Kurt said, dropping Blaine's arm and looking up in concern.
Blaine blushed. "No, I just - no. I'm fine," he stammered. "Sorry."
"Tell me if I hurt you, okay?" Kurt insisted, resuming his work.
Blaine nodded, willing himself to focus on things other than the feel of Kurt's fingers against his skin. "So, what about you and Finn and Artie?"
Kurt considered for a while before answering. "Peter found Artie a few months after I got here," he said finally. "He was in a wheelchair at home, but here, with the fairy dust, he can fly like the rest of us. I doubt he'll ever go back. And Finn and I..." he paused, and Blaine thought he saw traces of that same expression that had flitted across Kurt's face when he first mentioned Peter's name. "Finn and I were foster brothers who were about to get kicked out of our foster home. We were nearly 18 and had no money, no jobs, nowhere to go - Peter turned up and honestly it wasn't even a decision. I spent my whole childhood bearing the burdens of an adult, and I'd had enough. So I came here and never looked back."
"I'm sorry," Blaine breathed. "That you had to go through that, I mean."
Their eyes locked again, and Blaine suddenly became very aware of how close he was to Kurt's lips. For a moment, he wondered whether Kurt had noticed it too, but then he was rising off of the hammock and replacing the jar of ointment on the shelf from which it had come.
"It's alright," Kurt said, turning to face Blaine again and shaking his head. "I'm much happier now. I hope you will be too."
Not so far away, in the calmer of the two coves Blaine had seen from the air, two men stood at the bow of the sailing ship, conversing in low voices.
"They went for cover quickly," the bulkier of the two men said, eyeing the spot in the forest that Kurt and the newcomer had disappeared into just a few minutes before.
"Indeed," the other man agreed, adjusting the cuff of his left sleeve around the shining silver hook that protruded from it. "Clearly, Kurt didn't want to be seen. Or rather, he didn't want the boy to be seen."
"Seems odd. Normally he enjoys a bit of a show."
"He knows me well," Hook said, smirking slightly.
"How do you mean, Captain?" the bulky man asked.
"He knows my tastes. The boy is very attractive. Wouldn't you agree, Karofsky?"
"I - yes, Captain."
Hook smiled. "I should very much like to make his acquaintance."
A/N: Thank you so much for reading! I will now take this opportunity to beg for any kind of feedback. Especially with this story, it is appeciated enormously.