Author's Note: Thank you for the comments so far! I appreciate each and every one of them. :)
Human Names Used:
Tony: humanized/fairy-ized Tony the alien
Never Land: Chapter 2
The arrival to Never Land would have been far more magical and memorable, and perhaps it would be in retrospect, if it hadn't involved being shot at. But it seems the story is getting ahead of itself.
Going back a page or so, there comes the point in which a pirate ship floats amongst the ice of the bay. This is the pirate ship of the one Arthur knew simply as Captain Hook. Now Captain Hook was more of a nickname, for in fact the pirate was not named Captain nor Hook. Captain was indeed his title, but as for a crew he was barely scraping by with one first lass at the moment, so it wasn't as illustrious as the term might imply. As for his name, though Alfred and others of the island did quite often refer to him simply as Hook, it was Ivan Braginski.
Ivan was one of the odder residents of Never Land. Somehow, though no one quite knew how and no one dared to ask, Ivan had found himself caught in the state between child and man. To be a middler (as they'd come to refer to the state) was a horrible condition, for it bent the parts of the mind in ways they were never meant to be bent. In the case of our dear pirate captain, this left him childish enough to want to be surrounded by people who he could call friends yet cruel enough that sometimes his hand (or now hook) would slip and cause them injury or worse when things didn't go his way. It is why, when he first sailed his ship into the bay of Never Land, he started up a childish game of deadly tag with Alfred. Alfred, who thought it was all in good fun at first, soon found himself at the end of a blade about to wipe the smile off his face for good.
And then, when Ivan lost his hand to the crocodile, he'd become a middler with one sole purpose: revenge on Alfred.
So while the pirate ship sat in wait, Ivan too sat in wait for any sign that his nemesis was near. For, unknown to Alfred, every time he went to visit the mainland, the island began to lapse into winter, frost covering the trees and snow and hail beating against the windows. Now, it wasn't that Never Land depended on Alfred for the seasons, but more that Alfred's imagination was so strong that he managed to convince the island that it should only cycle through late-Spring through early-Fall, with no cold bouts at all. So, when Alfred left, the island had to get all its winter out as fast as it could. This, of course, meant that a certain pirate captain was very aware that Alfred had returned when the seasons jumped from winter to summer in a matter of minutes.
"Natalia, he's back!"
The girl, nay woman, with her icy blonde hair and her array of swords hilted at her waist, walked over to where Ivan was looking up at the sky. Sure enough, the clouds were parting and beams of sunlight had begun to seep back through.
"Yes, Ivan my l-"
"Ah, not the L-word!" Ivan stopped her.
Now, most might wonder what was so scary about the word love, but to a middler like Ivan- it was one of the worst words to ever exist. For the child-side of his mind heard the word, coming from the lips of a beautiful woman, and instantly wished it could grow up; while the grown-up side of his mind sensed the commitments behind that word and longed to be a carefree child again. This left him feeling very torn and very uncomfortable, so he generally forbade use of the word in his presence.
Natalia, who was strong and confident and knew what it was she wanted in life, kept hoping that one day Ivan would accept her word and perhaps it might fix him. At the present time though, she could see how it pained him and withdrew.
Ivan held up a telescope with his good hand and gazed up at the sky, and on finding nothing to see, he turned back to Natalia.
"Hmm. He's not in sight yet, so we still have time to prepare his welcome."
"Of course, Ivan. Shall I get your hooks?"
Ivan, for he'd had several hooks made to accommodate his condition, had one for every occasion. Or, at least, he occasions he felt he'd need one for. Today he selected the silver one with a ringlet of rubies around the base. This one he aptly referred to as:
"Blood on the snow?" Natalia asked him, a smile edging onto her lips.
Ivan smiled back, a glint of the metal hook reflecting in his eyes. "When children are bad, they must be punished, yes?"
"I'll ready the cannons for his greeting then."
"You know it's not very nice of him to leave us here in the cold," he replied, polishing his hook with his long white scarf. "Sometimes I think he does it just to make my sunflowers wilt."
"It would be just like him to inflict that on you, Ivan," Natalia said holding out a red pirate's coat for him to wear. "That insolent bastard, how dare you bring winter upon dear Ivan's flowers!"
Ivan tugged his coat closer around him and picked up his spyglass. "Ah, it seems he's brought a friend with him. Too bad he won't be kind enough to share, always hiding his friends away from me. He really should play nicer, don't you agree?"
Natalia agreed, mostly by threatening horrible things and cursing at the sky where the small dots of incoming arrivals grew bigger. Ivan walked over to the cannons and aimed one upwards.
"Well if Alfred won't share his friends, then perhaps he shouldn't have friends to share."
He aimed the cannon not at the nimble Alfred, but at the secondary figure that was clearly having some issues with flight and Natalia followed suit. Then, in a flurry of activity on deck, the two began to light the fuses, setting off a barrage of cannons followed by a rain of gunshots.
And so, we come back to the point in which Arthur arrived to Never Land. He'd been sitting up on a cloud, eagerly looking down on all that the island had to offer as Alfred listed off the different locals.
"So there's the mermaid lagoon and the fairies' home tree. Over there is where the gypsies have their encampment and our hideout is right in that forest area. And that is…"
He trailed off as he saw the pirate ship and its welcome.
"Arthur, fly! We've got the Captain's welcome headed right at us!"
Arthur, who felt all of his happy thoughts disappear at the sight of so many cannonballs and bullets, struggled to follow after Alfred who easily avoided them in his attempt to fly towards the forest.
And it was in avoiding a cannonball that Arthur swerved too far left and right into the path of an oncoming gunshot.
The bullet struck Arthur right in the chest, his eyes going wide as he let out the smallest gasp and began his plummet towards earth. Alfred tried his best to catch him, but it was hard when there were still bullets and cannonballs to be dodged; and although the fairies tried, their small little arms did little to slow Arthur's downward spiral towards the ground. Tony, who honestly could do without Arthur's presence, for once thought it was nice that they were welcomed home in such a deadly manner.
Finally realizing that they could not stop them, the four fairies that did want Arthur to live, quickly used their talents to help. Vash directed the wind so they could control where Arthur landed, Leonie called upon various forest creatures and asked them to bring soft leaves to lie down. Gilbert, since his tinkering wasn't much help when free-falling, flew down to the ground with Bianka to help the animals.
And so, the first moments of setting foot (or rather, whole body) onto Never Land's soil, were for Arthur, spent in mortal peril.
He hit the pile of foliage, which certainly kept him from bruising, and sank into it as if he was asleep. By this time, Alfred had already sounded the alarm, using his pan-flute from the pouch at his hip to send out a message to the Lost Boys, and so more non-fairy sized help was on the way.
The fairies all looked upon Arthur with great concern, for it seemed as if he was completely still and not a breath remained in his chest. Alfred landed soon after, and the rustling of the nearby forest let him know his friends were coming.
"Is he...dead?" Gilbert asked.
Leonie flew over and touched Arthur's still cheek before fluttering over to Alfred. "Can you wake him, Alfred? Like in the stories?"
"Stories?" A voice asked, looking around. "What's this about stories?"
Alfred glanced over his shoulder at his friends before turning his eyes back to Arthur.
"I brought you a storyteller," he began. This was met with cheers. "But, I think Ivan's killed him."
"A kiss should wake him," Leonie insisted. "Remember, in Snow White how it saved her!"
"Damned Captain needs to stop shooting at everything that moves," Lovino grumbled, tugging the cap on his head down. "But Leonie's right. Kisses are powerful things, Alfred."
Alfred nodded solemnly, and picked up an acorn from the ground. He held it to his lips, eyes closed as he focused. And much like the seasons, he gave imaginative suggestions for his problems. A hero's kiss should be the strongest. Strong enough to give the breath of life.
Crouching besides Arthur's still form, Alfred gently smoothed the hair from his face before taking the acorn and placing it to Arthur's lips. Now, as much as Alfred might like to give Never Land suggestions, it didn't always heed them, especially when they were outlandish things such as giving one the power over life. But, the thing about kisses being powerful was indeed true, for the very first kiss Alfred had given Arthur, nestled safely in his pyajama pocket, had taken the bullet for him.
Arthur gasped in a breath of air, the flock of onlookers gasped and stepped back, and simultaneously both Arthur and Alfred's hands met over the kiss tucked in the pocket.
"I dare say, if that's the sort of welcome one gets here, it's no wonder more people don't stay," Arthur grumbled.
Alfred laughed at that, warm and bright, just like his wide smile. He stood up next to Arthur at that and crowed loudly, much like a rooster, but more heroic and awesome (or at least, that's what he'd tell you).
"Everyone, this is Arthur, our storyteller and my good friend." Tony flared up angry red at that, and jetted off Alfred's hat for the nearest tree branch, where he stood and sulked.
Arthur, who was inspecting the bullet wedged into the acorn, looked up at this and met several pairs of inquisitive eyes.
The first, who stepped forward and pointed at the acorn, nodded to Alfred. "This kiss saved Arthur's life."
Alfred met Arthur's eyes at that and they both shared a small smile, Arthur's a thankful one and Alfred's a grateful one.
"Let me introduce my other friends," Alfred said, reaching a hand down to help Arthur up.
The group of five, all looking to be about his age or younger, each wore an odd outfit, with animal-like ears adoring their heads. The first trio, for Arthur could see some sort of family resemblance amongst them, was Feliciano, Lovino and Sergio.
Feliciano seemed to be a cheerful teen, his outfit looking to be some sort of artist getup with a hood that had rabbit ears dangling down. The feeling of artist was only strengthened by the splotches of colored paint staining the outfit.
"Ciao! I'm Feliciano and these are my brothers, Lovino and Sergio."
Lovino crossed his arms and huffed. "Yeah yeah, glad to meet you and all that crap."
Arthur had to hold back a comment that this one was trying to hard to match up to his outfit, which had a wolf's ears and tail. But despite his lone-wolf attitude, he still seemed secretly pleased to have a storyteller there.
Sergio, who tucked a dagger back into the rust sash around his waist, bowed his head. "A pleasure to meet you, Arthur."
He held out a hand to the small girl next to him. "And this lovely lady Bindi…"
She yanked his fox-tail and Sergio fell backwards.
"Can speak for herself," Bindi spit on her hand and held it out. "Nice to meetcha, Arthur."
Arthur looked warily to Alfred, for the spitting thing seemed a bit well…unsanitary, but Alfred just smiled extra wide.
"Not everyone gets her special outback handshake, so consider yourself lucky."
"To be most polite, you're expected to spit in your hand first," the last of the boys spoke up. "Sorry for interjecting," the black haired teen said quickly, "but Arthur seemed to be at a loss."
Alfred chuckled at that and put an arm around the boy. "And this is Kiku, my right hand man and the stealthiest of our team."
Kiku seemed embarrassed by this compliment and lowered his gaze. "That is surely exaggerated, Alfred. The best of our team is you."
Taking it all in, Arthur realized that there were distinct differences in all the outfits. The trio all looked as if they were from the renaissance, Kiku's outfit (with its raccoon-like ears and tail) looked to be Asian and Bindi's was definitely more like something from Australia. It seemed that Alfred's friends had come to Never Land from many places and time periods, making Arthur wonder just how long ago had Alfred arrived. But these ponderings were not to be answered right away, for the eager group wasn't about to leave one to their own thoughts for long.
Bindi cleared her throat loudly and Arthur finally, despite all his inner teachings from the orphanage telling him otherwise, spit in his palm and held it out to her. She shook his hand so fiercely that he almost lost his balance.
"Just reminding ya, I might be the only girl here but I can hold my own."
Arthur gave her a slight smile. "I'll remember that."
"No sign of him, Captain."
Ivan sighed, giving his sunflower plant a pat on the leaves as he turned to where Natalia entered his cabin. He knew if he'd succeeded in shooting down the new arrival that Alfred would have come and challenged him to a duel, but plenty of time had passed since then and he hadn't, meaning that it hadn't succeeded. This troubled Ivan. And a troubled Captain Braginski was not a good thing. For when he was troubled he thought, and when he thought he got ideas, and when he got ideas...bad things tended to happen.
"Natalia, have you heard of the boy that grew up?"
She shook her head. "I'm not sure what you mean."
"It was a friend of Alfred's that grew up one day and he asked him to leave. I've heard that he's now living with the gypsies and I was thinking we might invite him over for a chat."
Natalia perked up at this. "Do you think perhaps we can convince him to tell us where Alfred's hideout is?"
Ivan smiled. "It would be very nice of him to do so." He polished his favorite hook, which was a gold one with green jewels. Sunflower's Revenge, he had called it, in honor of the poor wilted flower that Alfred had caused by leaving them to the winter's chill.
"But," Natalia said hopefully as she griped her swords, "he might not talk so easily."
"Ah, well…we'll just have to persuade him that it's in his best interest to do so."
She hilted another blade at that and smiled. "And we're so very good at persuading."
Ivan nodded. If he could just find out where Alfred was hiding, he could have plenty of friends, all those friends that Alfred kept away from him. And, perhaps even better than those friends, he could have his vengeance on the boy that robbed him of his hand.
"Load the boat, Natalia. We have a gypsy to visit."
The Lost Boys (a term Bindi had objected to ever since she arrived) had invited Arthur up to their hideout, an adventure that Alfred quickly put a stop to when he asked them how clean it was. Kiku, who seemed to agree with Arthur about things needing some level of cleanliness, noted that it was rather disarranged and perhaps not fit for a guest to visit. Feliciano argued that they'd cleaned it last month, which Sergio and Bindi seconded, while Lovino retorted that it all depended on how one defined "clean."
At this, Gilbert piped up that the place was getting crowded anyway and that he could tinker up a new place for Arthur in no time. This adventure Alfred was fully behind.
"It can be a big treehouse! With a place for Arthur to sleep and a big room for us to listen to stories in," he turned to Arthur with a smile, asking with his eyes if that sounded to his liking.
"Sounds lovely," he replied, earning a bigger smile from Alfred.
"Awesome! But…it should be a surprise. All the best things in the world are surprises, after all."
The boys, and Bindi, agreed with this and even Leonie piped up to note that she loved surprises as well. Alfred leaned over and whispered to Gilbert that he should put in a hammock, an Alfred-sized one, just in case he needed a guard. Gilbert gave him a wink and Alfred loudly announced that he'd take Arthur to see the mermaids while they worked on the surprise house.
Now the thing about both lost children and fairies is that they saw things such as house-building, especially for their new storyteller, as a challenge. They squabbled over what colors to paint it, how to build it, and who was better and furnishing it. Leonie offered to collect bird feathers for Arthur's bed while Bianka used her pixie dust to lift the pieces of wood they collected up off the ground and into the branches. Even Vash and Lovino, who were both rather grumpy at times, found themselves caught up in the challenge. Everyone helped out, everyone that is except for Tony.
Tony, who was watching Alfred excitedly lead Arthur away, angrily flew after them. Now it wasn't that Tony was a malicious fairy, for he was actually full of many emotions at many times; but the thing about fairies is that they are so small in size that holding more than one emotion at a time was very difficult for them. So when Arthur's effect on Alfred became apparent, something that wasn't yet even apparent to Alfred himself, Tony found himself overcome with nothing but pure jealousy.
And the thing about jealous fairies is that they can cause all sorts of mischief if they put their minds to it, and Tony's mind was definitely up to that challenge.
With the fairies and children behind them, Arthur found that he suddenly had all sorts of questions for Alfred. Where did he come from? When did he arrive in Never Land? Did he often invite people to come with him or did each of the children he picked have some special talent?
"Are you okay? Your eyebrows are all scrunched up weird," Alfred asked, seeming worried.
Arthur shook his head. "I'm just thinking."
That brought Alfred's flight to a slower pace and he floated backwards until he was at Arthur's side. "Me?"
Arthur nodded, "I've always told stories about you, but it seems I really don't know that much about you."
Alfred looked confused. "But you've told stories about my heroic battles and my narrow escapes, so you know a lot!"
Arthur floated down to a rock and waited for Alfred to land beside him. When he did, he looked up to meet the other boy's eyes, searching them for answers that he suddenly felt he needed.
"But what is your history?"
Arthur sighed, then decided to make an example. "Like I'm Arthur Kirkland, from England. I came here because I didn't want to grow up and become a metal worker in a factory."
At this, Alfred's face fell a little and he dropped his gaze. "I only remember a little. Like that we were moving to a strange new world and suddenly my whole life was being planned for it. What job I'd work, who I'd spend the rest of my life with- everything."
Almost afraid to ask, Arthur dared. "We? Do you mean your parents?"
Alfred met his eyes then and for the first time he seemed like a lost boy too. "I guess. I don't remember. It was a long time ago and all I know is that I wanted to be free."
He sat down on the rock then and crossed his legs; pulling out his flute he began to play a somber melody. Interspersed with the song he played, he talked in small snippets. He'd ran away from home, he'd gotten lost, and in the middle of a dark forest path he'd met a glowing light that talked.
"That was Tony Starbell and he saved my life. He brought me here and told me that I could be as free as the wind. Here on the second star to the right, Never Land. "
Despite his previous concerns over the fairy, Arthur found that this made him a little more endearing. He'd saved Alfred when he was alone and scared and didn't like what future had been planned for him, much like Alfred had saved him from the same.
Arthur, for he suddenly felt compelled to do so, reached over and took Alfred's hand.
"Well, I must thank you for saving me from a similar fate, Alfred."
His smile was back at that and Arthur was grateful for it, for maybe it was his imagination but it seemed the sky had gotten cloudier when Alfred was sad and now the sunshine was back again.
"You deserve it, Arthur. You're…" he seemed at a loss for words, leaning closer and closer to where Arthur sat until they were practically nose-to-nose. "You're something extra awesome. I can feel it." He put his hand over his chest at that, right over his heart.
Arthur could feel it too, the way his heart sped up and began to race. But before he could ask Alfred if he was feeling the same, a loud splash sounded from nearby.
"Was that a mermaid?" He asked, using the distraction to distract himself from the sudden feelings that had surfaced.
Alfred grinned, also glad of the distraction, and stood up and waved towards where the ripples had formed. "Yep! Let me get their attention."
It should be said that mermaids were not only beautiful creatures, but could be known to be rather blunt and vain due to this beauty. This was very much so the case with the mermaids of Never Land as they all rather liked Alfred but could be rather fickle when it came to other visitors of their lagoon.
Tony, who was hovering nearby, was counting on this behavior.
"Alfred, how are you today my magnifique flying boy?"
The first mermaid to surface was in fact a merman, with shoulder-length blonde hair that waved at the bottom and a bit of stubble on his chin. He was followed by two others, these both actual mermaids, one with long dark pigtails that trailed behind her and another with a long sandy plait of hair adorned with sea flowers.
"Hey Francis! Ingrid, Eva- how are you all doing today?"
While Eva offered Alfred oysters and Francis babbled on about how the sun had to be reflecting what clearly must be gold in Alfred's hair, Arthur felt distinctly ignored. He finally cleared his throat and immediately regretted doing so.
"Sacre bleu, this one is ugly enough to be a pirate!" Francis stated, beginning to laugh.
"Are those eyebrows or does he have mold growing on his forehead?"
"Alfred, I know you take in some odd friends but this one is…"
Arthur, who had had quite enough, yelled back. "Well I've never seen such horridly unpleasant creatures as you lot!"
They just laughed, and right as Arthur leaned down to yell at them some more, Tony flew up and gave Arthur the hardest shove he could. This sent him splashing into the water while the mermaids dove to get out of his way.
Alfred flew up and grabbed Arthur under his arms to lift him out. "Sorry, Arthur. They're always nice to me so I figured…"
But now Arthur's temper was ignited and he was into a full tirade by the time Alfred got them to dry land. "And the nerve of that merman! He even splashed me as he dove under and you can't tell me that bloody arse didn't do it on purpose!"
Alfred, who found Arthur's temper to be very amusing, poked him in the cheek.
This earned him a loud huff and a glare. "What, are you going to laugh at me now too? Ask my eyebrows to tell you stories?"
Alfred's eyes went wide at that, looking far too much like a kicked puppy for Arthur to stay too mad at him, and he gave Arthur's cheek a pat.
"You're kind of funny when you're mad, but no- I don't think those things. I mean, it's no weirder than…than…"
At this, Alfred glanced around the shoreline as if he was certain someone was going to overhear it. Then, with a very secretive gesture, he slowly lifted up his green hat, allowing one tuft of hair to spring upwards.
It bobbed about there for a moment before finally stopping and Arthur blinked.
"See?" Alfred poked it down and it sprang back up. "Can't make it stay down so I hide it under my hat."
Arthur began to chuckle at this and Alfred frowned.
"Oh no, I'm not laughing at it, it's just. Well." Arthur leaned forward and gave the hair a little flick, a smile creeping onto his lips as it sprang right back into position. "I think it's rather charming, to be completely honest."
"Charming?" Alfred asked, clearly baffled. "Really?"
Arthur nodded. "Really. It just wants to be independent, that's all."
Alfred's cheeks went pink and he awkwardly shifted his hat from one hand to another before deciding exactly what the best response was. Reaching up he poked a finger to Arthur's eyebrow, and finding himself suddenly at a loss for words, he spit out the first ones that came to him.
"And these are as cute as caterpillars, so don't you worry about them, okay?"
"A-All right," Arthur replied, a bit shocked. No one had ever tried to compliment him about that feature before, so he wasn't quite sure what to do with himself now that someone had.
But as the two began to fly back towards the hideout, he managed to put aside his own shock for long enough to notice that Alfred's silly little independent hair was now allowed to remain outside the hat. And that, above all else, brought the biggest smile to his face.
to be continued...