Notes for reading this: In the real novel, Hook is missing his right hand, but in my story I made it his left hand because he's a very good harpsichordist, and what do you need to play a melody on a set of keys? Right fingers. Read the part of Peter in an Irish accent and imagine Hook as a younger Jason Isaacs with a less receding hairline.

A Discovery of Much Importance

"Wendy?"

"Yes, Peter?"

"How is it that I have gotten older? I can't seem to remember. All I know is I was a mere boy when I began to come to your window, but now…"

"Well," she began in her usual matter-of-fact tone, "Every time you've come to Earth, you've grown up, because the magic of Neverland cannot touch you there. And, I suppose, little by little your age finally caught up with you. It's really quite natural once you think about it."

"I guess so."

His tone begged a question, which Wendy readily supplied, "Is something bothering you, Peter?"

He smiled bitterly and said, "Do you like me as I am, Wendy? Or would you prefer me as a boy?"

She seemed almost affronted, "Peter! Of course I like you the way you are. Have you not noticed that I've grown older as well? I'm seventeen already. I was twelve when I met you. I reckon you're about my age as well. You seem like a man."

His ears pricked up when he heard that word, "I do?"

She nodded smilingly.

He continued, a new light in his eyes, "For so long I had hoped never to hear anyone say that, but now that you have, I must say I could get rather used to it. It's so strange, though. Wendy, have I really changed?"

The question seemed almost absurd coming from his lips. His voice was that of a young man's, deeper than that of a child's but still distinctly mature. His finely-cut jaw was strong, yet his cheeks still bore faint freckles. His nose was sharp and handsome, his kind eyes a deep brown. He had grown taller, much taller than Wendy, and his lithe and slender body betrayed the well-formed muscles of his arms and chest. His chestnut hair hung in waves upon his head, occasionally a lock or two straying into his eyes. But the most striking aspect about him was his mouth; his rose-colored lips, when parted in a grin, set off all the fine features in his face and brightened them, like the glow of a warm lantern offering light to all who look upon it.

Wendy extended a pale, slender finger to his cheek and trailed it down to his jaw. She smiled thoughtfully at him and said, "Yes, you have, Peter. You've changed immensely, for when I look at you now, I see a brave man, rather than a silly boy, which is what I once thought of you. Although I admit I've loved you since the very moment you took my hand and flew me to Neverland."

She glanced away sheepishly and said, "I gave my first kiss to you, Peter. Do you remember?"

His eyes appeared dazed, as though he actually were having a hard time remembering.

He said, "No, how could I forget? It should be clear, shouldn't it?"

"Peter."

When she had his attention, Wendy then swiftly kissed his soft lips and silenced his questions. How long they held their kiss is hard to tell, for it seemed like a blessed eternity. But they eventually parted.

Peter almost seemed out of breath, "Wendy, I feel strange," he could not suppress a large smile, "I feel as though I could kiss you all day and never grow tired of it. Ha! I feel as though I could lift the sky itself and never become fatigued."

"I feel the same way. Peter, I love you."

This gave him pause. It was almost as if he were trying to process what she said, for his senses seemed to have played a trick on him. No one had ever said that to him before, and he had never said that to anyone else. Did he love her? Did he? Of course he did. He would gladly die for her. He would do anything for her, in fact.

He felt a surge of energy rush through his body, which seemed not to be substantial enough to contain his joy. He leapt up and flew through the branches, disappearing behind and above the green canopy of leaves and leaving Wendy behind on the branch. He soon came back down and, hovering before her, he exclaimed, "I love you, Wendy. I love you!"

He kissed her and, in one motion, held her up in his strong arms and gently landed on the soft ground. She leaned back against the tree and basked in Peter's barrage of kisses upon her cheeks and neck.

Laughing airily, she said, "Oh, Peter! Ha ha! I love you so!"

She ran her hands up and down his back, but he suddenly stepped away from her. However, it was only to remove his green tunic, and having thrown it aside, he met her arms again. He kissed her neck and then her shoulders, eventually moving to her pale breasts.

She stopped smiling and said, "Peter?"

He paused and, perceiving her absent grin, he asked, "What is it, Wendy? Is something wrong?"

She shook her head, "No, but I want to know Peter, was what you said true? Do you really love me?"

"If you asked me to die for you, I'd do it. Of course I love you, Wendy. Why do you ask that? What's troubling you?"

"Peter, do you know what two people do when they love each other?"

"They kiss," he said.

Thinking that was the end of her questions, he leaned to kiss her, but she stopped him. She looked almost impatient as he briefly searched her eyes.

She said, "Oh, Peter! How can you be so naïve?"

She broke away and turned from him. To him she seemed to be gathering her thoughts. He stood behind her, desperate to know what would make her happy again.

"Wendy, what's wrong? What do they do if they don't kiss?"

Wendy, her face still turned from him, bit her lip and, without thinking about it any more than an instant, removed her dress and undid her corset, leaving her wearing only a thin shift and slip. The shift was sheer and very transparent, and it shimmered in the dim forest light with every movement. She slowly turned towards Peter, whose expression she watched turn from confused to awestruck. Her body hypnotized him completely. In fact, he could not tear his eyes away from her milky white breasts, small and pert, they rose and fell with every breath she took.

He looked to her for reassurance. She motioned for him to come towards her, to which he complied readily. But he almost didn't know what to do next. Was he to touch her? Or merely kiss her? Surely this is what two people did when they loved each other?

"Peter," she began quietly, "When two people show that they love each other, they make love."

He had no idea what she was talking about, and she could decipher that from his inquiring expression.

"Peter," she whispered into his ear, which made him to shiver. He felt something inside of him leap up, up. "Peter, I want you to take off your trousers."

He immediately did as he was told, again discarding them where is tunic lie. He stood before her completely naked, yet he did not once feel ashamed, for he was with Wendy, and therefore all was well in the world. Before he knew it she had removed her own clothes completely as well. His eyes roved over her body, as did hers over his. She had never seen a naked man in person before. Likewise, Peter had never before gazed at a naked young woman. And here one stood before him, perfect in his eyes.

She took a deep breath and said, more to herself than to Peter, "I've never done this before."

Peter put his hand under her chin and raised her hazel eyes to his, "Neither have I, but I think I might have an idea. Lie down with me awhile."

Wendy did so. They lied on the forest floor, soft with ample green moss as its carpet. Peter lied down next to her and leaned his head on his hand, smiling all the while. His other hand rested on his hip, like a relaxed and reclining statue one can find in a museum. Wendy lied down on her back, folding her soft, pale hands and letting them rest on her stomach. Her auburn hair spread out in bright, fiery curls like a crown of the sun. Peter tried to meet her eye, but she seemed to stare off in the distance, beyond the canopy and up into the sky.

He leaned over her; she could feel something brush against her leg. She looked into Peter's eyes. They were reassuring.

He said, "I love you, Wendy."

She replied, "And I love you, Peter."

They kissed each other's lips and Peter furrowed his brows. He reached his hand between his legs and guided his member in between Wendy's. She cried out, causing Peter to ask worriedly,

"Am I hurting you, Wendy?"

Her eyes were shut tight and her teeth were clenched. How could it hurt so much? Having Peter between her thighs felt like her body was on fire, with an aching pain where he had entered. But she shook her head, determined not to ruin it. She dug her fingers into his back as he began a slow, gently rhythmic thrust. The muscles in his thighs and taught buttocks contracted and relaxed with every movement he made. He was amazed at the feeling he was experiencing. Is this what it took to show Wendy he loved her? He decided that he must certainly to do this all the time in order to show Wendy his devotion. He must do this every day for her, in fact!

But she didn't seem to be enjoying it as much as he was, for her brows were furrowed and her legs were tensely clenched around his hips.

She said at barely a whisper, "Peter…"

But she refused to say stop. And so he continued for only a little while longer, until, of a sudden, an intense feeling of uncontainable pleasure burst forth from his lower stomach and emanated throughout his entire body. He also felt suddenly warm and moist. His vigor left him, and he pulled himself out from between Wendy's warm legs and lied down next to her. He now found himself quite tired.

He looked to her to see if she enjoyed it as much as he did, but her expression was neither sad nor angry, but certainly not satisfied.

"Wendy," he said, concerned that she didn't say anything. "Wendy, are you all right? Did I do something wrong?"

She turned to him and said with a sad smile on her face, "It hurt."

His eyes widened with horror and shame as he sat up and exclaimed, "No! This was all my fault! Oh, Wendy, please forgive me. I-if I could take it back, I would! Honest!"

She shook her head and her smile became a bit brighter, "No, Peter. It had to happen, and I'm very, very glad it was with you."

This did little to console him. He hurt her! But she said all was well – she never told him to stop. But if he was hurting her, why didn't she just tell him to stop? Why did she say she was glad if she was injured in some way? That didn't make sense! Things were suddenly so confusing and Peter wasn't prepared for them at all. All he could say was:

"What can I do, Wendy? I feel terrible you didn't enjoy it. You are supposed to enjoy it, aren't you?"

"Yes, of course," she said, "But perhaps I'm supposed to enjoy it in a different way."

His look became serious and he gravely said, "Wendy, let me touch you."

"Of course, Peter, I'm yours."

Those words cut him in his guilt. He was now determined to make amends for this catastrophe for which he felt himself, and not Nature, responsible. He extended a hand to Wendy's breast and trailed the nipple with the tip of his finger. It hardened in only a manner of seconds, now resembling a small, pink raisin. Wendy closed her eyes. Her face was much calmer than it was a moment ago. He must have been doing something right, so he proceeded to lightly trail all the fingers of his hand down her belly until they glided over the soft hair between her legs. He noticed her legs shiver slightly as his fingers made their way down even further. And then – he must've touched a sensitive spot because she involuntarily convulsed and exclaimed,

"Peter, do that again!"

Her eyes were still shut as she said this. Peter took that as a sign of trust in him to perform his duty well. He slid his finger between her legs and began to rub a bit harder. Wendy's teeth shone as she opened her mouth. Her eyebrows furrowed again and Peter stopped.

He asked worriedly, "Are you all right?"

Wendy said, "Yes, yes! Peter, don't stop!"

'Right,' he thought as he continued the task at hand. He was suddenly overcome with the urge to kiss her neck, so he did. Wendy let out a small moan, which resulted in Peter grinning happily to himself. He inevitably moved down to her now erect breasts, even going so far as to playfully flick her nipples with his tongue. She giggled, which was more than enough encouragement for Peter to continue. He soon kissed all the way down her belly until he nuzzled the soft hair between her legs. He didn't know exactly how he knew to take his finger away and replace it with his eager tongue, but when he did so, a hiss of pleasure issued from between Wendy's teeth. This must be what she meant by enjoying it differently. His tongue did somersaults over the tiny bud between her legs. He reveled in Wendy's writhing under him – the fact that he was causing it gave him immense satisfaction. Before that afternoon, never in his wildest dreams could he have concocted such an exuberant, satisfying, and intimate way to show Wendy how much he cared for her. This entire afternoon was the most sublime moment of his entire existence and he did not want it to end.

Wendy began to rock her hips and soon cried out, "Peter! Oh, Peter!"

She convulsed violently and moaned loudly, which Peter knew was the end. A warm, slick stream flowed out from the crevice between her thighs. He licked the warm stickiness from his lips and began to kiss his way back up her body, ending at her rosy lips. She wrapped her arms around him and ran her hands up and down his strong back, kissing him playfully. He could see the twinkling in her eyes that she was satisfied, which in turn allowed him to fancy himself the king of all Neverland.

He lied back down next to her and she said, as her breasts gently rose and fell with her heavy breaths, "Oh, Peter, that was wonderful."

They soon fell into a light slumber in each other's arms. The warm afternoon began to wane and the first evening stars pondered the two lovers' appearance through the leaves of the gentle canopy.

A Morning Interrupted, A Dinner Uneaten

A week had gone by, and every minute of every day Wendy and Peter spent together. This was supposed to be the last time Wendy would come to Neverland, for Peter had planned to move to her world and finally grow up. But Peter found it difficult to have to say goodbye to all the things in Neverland and, finally, to Neverland itself. The Lost Boys had left, having found homes in Wendy's world. Tinkerbell had faded away from living memory, having long ago said she would go to the sky and join the stars. In fact, Peter did notice an extra star twinkle in the sky when he looked up at the Milky Way. For that is what fairies do – they don't die, but join the firmament. Tiger Lily had come of age and married a handsome young brave. All that was left of things how they were, really, was Captain Hook and his pirate crew, for Peter had not managed to kill him (and neither had the crocodile, which the captain successfully harpooned and from whose skin the captain had had new boots made for the entire crew).

One lazy morning while Peter, drunk off pleasure, dozed in the hideout, Wendy decided to go for a walk. However, with pirates still very much about, this was not the best of ideas. As Wendy made her way up a small wooded hill, she noticed gun smoke rising from the trees up ahead. Terrified, she turned on her heels and ran in the opposite direction – right into Captain Hook himself!

She screamed in terror as he grabbed her left arm with his right hand and said in an eerily calm manner, "Well, we meet again, Miss Darling. This should be interesting."

His entire countenance exuded calmness, which was an unsettling contrast with the fright in her eyes as they stared, widened at his face, unable to blink. Through a miracle Peter was able to hear Wendy's scream, and before he could put on his hat he was out the door and in the air. But when he flew towards the band of pirates that held Wendy captive, the captain ordered them to shoot at Peter, but not to kill him.

"Give him only a sting, boys!" yelled the captain. "Lay him down a month or two, for I want him back, and ready for action."

The sniper shot a bullet into Peter's side, which forced the latter to crash to the ground a ways from the pirates. Then the band proceeded back down to the ship with their delicate prize.

The shot had caused Peter to pass out and lie bleeding in a group of bushes. When he finally came to, his groans were loud and pained as he tried to raise himself up from the ground. But to no avail, for his head felt dizzy. However, he soon heard voices despite the ringing in his ears, and then his vision blurred. He began to black out again, but just before doing so he perceived a band of Indians – Tiger Lily's people – stoop down to lift him up as they murmured in low, soothing voices. Then all was darkness.

Meanwhile, Wendy had been handled a bit more roughly. They had tied her wrists and ankles so she couldn't escape, and then she was carried on the shoulders of a tall, broad-chested, smelly pirate who seemed to only be there as the doer of grunt work (for he didn't seem very intelligent).

After what seemed like ages, the band finally made their way up the gangway and onto the ship. This was the second time Wendy had been on Captain Hook's ship, but no one seemed to recognize her, for she had already grown from child to lady. However, she thought she recognized the faces of a few of her former captors, and they were all equally monstrous and idiotic-looking as they were before. The ship hadn't seemed to have changed either. It was still dirty, gaudy, and grotesque. Oh, how was Peter going to rescue her now? It seemed impossible, and Wendy had lost all hope.

She was taken up a flight of stairs to the quarterdeck and then through two doors that were tilted slightly inward. It was the captain's cabin. The large, dim pirate hoisted her onto a plush couch, undid her bonds, and within the blink of an eye was gone. Then all was silent. Wendy was terrified. What was to happen to her? Was she to be tortured? Was she to walk the plank? That would be most dreadful, for the water was infested with mermaids, which were known eaters of human flesh and ever so different from the ones that appeared in storybooks.

Wendy collected her thoughts and walked to a window. It was guarded on the outside. She recoiled from it, but neither of the two guard pirates noticed through the blurry panes. She began to pace for a bit and, in sheer desperation, she lied back down on the couch and sobbed herself to sleep.

When Wendy opened her eyes, it was nighttime, and the entire cabin was lit with candles in ornate golden holders. The next thing her eye noticed was a table set out with what could only be described as a kingly feast. However, her thoughts were soon aligned when she glanced over to a harpsichord behind which the captain sat playing. His eyes were closed and his torso emphatically rocked with the rhythm of the wistful melody. Wendy forced herself to overcome her fear for a moment only in order to look at his face. This was the first time she was able to truly study it, for unlike when he was cognizant of it, with his usual scowl and fearsome grin, with his eyes closed he seemed almost human. His brows occasionally furrowed and smoothed as his deft right hand glossed over the keys with an ease so well-practiced. On his left arm, where his hook usually resided, he instead had a hand with padded fingertips perfect for playing chords.

The notes rose and fell, the piece clearly known by heart for the captain did not open his eyes once. Wendy's stomach rumbled, and with that slight noise, the music ceased and the captain opened his eyes. Her heart dropped to the pit of her stomach.

A smirk appeared on his face as he arose from behind the instrument.

"You're awake," he said. "Good, now I may dine."

Upon seeing Wendy not move an inch as he strode towards the table, he extended the wooden hand and said with an ironic bow, "If it please your grace, be so kind as to sit down and eat."

Wendy begrudgingly complied, choosing the chair that was farthest away from the captain. She wore a frown as she glared doggedly at Captain Hook, who merely returned her gaze with the same mocking smirk mixed with irritation.

He began, "You are now on the Revenge, Miss Darling. As you are well aware, you are my prisoner and shall remain so until you die, until I kill you, or until I set you free. Is that clear?"

She nodded.

He continued, "I have captured you for the sole purpose of luring that odious Pan to my ship, thus providing me with an opportunity to finally run my cutlass through his heart. I shall not kill him with my hook, no, for that would throw an impudent smile across his blasted face that would haunt me all my days. I shall not give him the satisfaction. He will come to the ship to seek you – this I know, for he has grown quite attached to you if I'm not mistaken, much like a new toy to an attention deficient child. Wouldn't you agree?"

Wendy's eyes flashed and Hook grinned with grim satisfaction.

He went on, "He is not dead. He will recover and he will come. So, for now," his tone changed to irreverent lightheartedness, "Let us eat and forget our troubles for a while."

Wendy furrowed her brows in disgust, which merely gave the captain more impish joy.

He said, "You may go anywhere you like on this ship, from the orlop to the crosstrees, you are welcome to venture. Think of the Revenge as a home away from home. And if you try to escape, I will kill you. In fact, nothing is stopping me from doing so right now. How would Pan know of it – as long as you are here? Or, at least, as long as you body is here – "

"Enough!" cried Wendy as she rose from her seat and banged her fist on the table.

The captain, unfazed, continued eating.

"As you wish," he said nonchalantly as he bit into a drumstick. "Although I must comment on your deportment: so unbefitting a lady."

"And you're a gentleman?" she said, slowly sitting back down.

"Never said I was," he said coolly, "And what a lady you've grown into, Miss Darling. You almost look like a woman. Tell me, do you keep your corset on or take it off every time Pan dives between your legs?"

Wendy's eyes widened in deep mortification and extreme anger as she shot out of her seat, seized an apple, and hurled it at the captain's head. He dodged it seamlessly and continued eating complacently as though he had merely swatted away a fly. Enraged, Wendy burst into harsh sobs and leaned on the table to support herself as her body shook with violent weeping.

She screamed at him, "You're a monster!"

Hook seemed irritated and raised his voice, "I am the monster? How about that insolent bastard who cut off my hand and laughed like it was a game when he fed it to that accursed crocodile? What sort of psychotic child can find joy in the dismemberment and subsequent incapacitation of a fellow human being? The real monster is your lover Peter Pan. I thought you were astute enough to see that clearly, Miss Darling. I truly did."

His sudden flash of sincerity was enough to halt the loud sobs issuing from her lips. She looked at him with red eyes and a haggard expression when she said waveringly:

"I will sleep now. I do not wish to dine with you, captain – now or ever."

"Suit yourself, but if it is not with me you shall eat, then you shall not eat."

Not seeming to hear him, she made her way over to the couch.

He said, "Your cot is in the corner. You're on a ship now, so you shall sleep like a sailor."

She climbed into the cot and pulled the blanket all the way over her head. It was only then that she noticed she was gently rocking. The Revenge was already out to sea.

The Captain

Wendy awoke to the warm sun shining through the porthole. The ship had been sailing all night and it was to be blue water sailing all day. She emerged from her rocking cocoon and stepped onto the wooden floor. The ship was sailing easily, so Wendy felt neither seasick nor dizzy from a lack of sea legs. The captain's cabin was rather ornate in comparison with the outside of the ship. Everything was gilded and draped. Clearly the Revenge had raided many a rich town to supply all the trappings.

Her eyes were puffy due to last night's sobbing. The first thing she could clearly think of was Peter and if he was truly alright like Hook said. For some reason she believed him, despite his long and glorious history of fathering lies. Once again she glanced at the table, which was set out with a place for one. She assumed it was for her, so she sat down and devoured everything that could be seen.

When she had finished, and her mind was clearer, Wendy began to really study her surroundings. There were many books on a seaworthy shelf bolted into the wall. She perused them until she came across a volume she thought she had seen somewhere. Was Captain Hook able to go to Earth to steal this? No, it couldn't be. He must have stolen it from someone else in Neverland. He couldn't possibly have possession of any fairy dust, and his happy thoughts certainly were not of the kind to warrant a flight of any sort. She scanned the book spines a bit more, and as she did so she was surprised. There were books of philosophy, religion, mythology, art, history, war, and science; there were books of law and even volumes on medicine and zoology. Could the captain have possibly read all these and understood what they meant? If he had, then he was not as much of a boorish heathen as she had always been led to believe.

At that moment, the doors opened and the captain strode in, flinging his coat aside onto Mr. Smee, who happened to have trailed in behind him.

Upon seeing Wendy he clapped his hand against his hip and said with gusto, "Ah! You're awake. Miss Darling, I think you remember the first mate, Mr. Smee? Smee, where are you manners? Bow to my guest!"

Smee chuckled hoarsely and bowed in that same mocking manner the captain had used the day before.

"Leave us, Smee," Hook said, "I wish to have a private interview with Miss Darling."

Smee closed the doors behind him and the captain then reclined in a plush chair. He crossed his legs and studied Wendy for a bit in silence. She simply stood before the bookcase, staring back at him. In the light she finally noticed the details of Captain Hook's visage. He appeared rather young, perhaps no more than thirty-seven years of age, and his hair was as black as coal, and hung down his back in a single plait. If undone, the raven strands would have flowed down in loose, wavy curls, giving the captain a curiously wild air. He wore no earring like the common sailors, and he had no facial hair. He had in fact a smooth face that was in accordance with the style of his time, for he was dressed in the decadent fashion of two centuries ago. His skin was of a light olive complexion and slightly weather-beaten, but the most noticeable thing about his appearance were his cold, piercing blue eyes. They were almost too blue, almost too pale. To Wendy they seemed calculating and cruel, although highly intelligent and perceptive.

A curl on the side of his mouth slowly appeared and he said, "You may read as many of them as you like. I know them all by heart, for these are my favorites. I have more, but they lie in different ports where I have laid anchor. It is only these I take with me on all my voyages."

Wendy finally ventured to speak, "I fancy books as well. I have a collection at home."

Hook raised his eyebrow in acknowledgement and inclined his head slightly.

He asked, "And what books, pray tell, do you read, Wendy?"

She involuntarily shuddered when he said her name instead of 'Miss Darling.'

"Mostly novels of romance and adventure, as well as travelers' tales," she said.

"There is much to be said of the living world that could put any trite, exaggerated travelogue in its proper place of shame. The mind need not collapse upon itself after reading such rubbish."

Wendy replied defiantly, "If you had ever been raised in a poor family in London, then you would understand why it's so lovely to escape reality and forget about life while in a book. But you haven't, so pray don't judge me for that."

"I'm the captain; I can judge whomever I like," he said with his usual calmness.

"No you can't! Even captains can't judge others like that. Books are a matter of opinion, and opinions will always differ."

"Oho! She waxes philosophical. Please, young lady, what other deep impressions can you imbue to me about the world and its ways?"

"I will be your prisoner, Captain Hook, because I have no choice, but I only ask one thing – that you not mock everything that I say. It's torture and I find it unbearable."

The captain frowned a moment as though he were pondering whether or not to accede to this request.

He uncrossed his legs and said in a serious tone, "Very well. I shall comply when it suits me, no matter how childish the things you say may well be in the future – 'tis only for a month or two, depending…"

He sharpened his gaze and made as if to get up, but before he did so he realized his hook was still attached. A queer look of almost embarrassment came across his face as he deftly unscrewed the hook and replaced it with a gloved wooden hand that had been carved to resemble one in the state of laxity.

While storing the hook on a stand and without glancing up at Wendy's curious looks, he said, "I only wear the hook in public, but in my private cabin I prefer the hand. I find it lends an air of civility. Do you agree?"

Wendy pretended to sound nonchalant in saying, "I don't know if it can add civility to you, captain."

"And while you are in the confines of this cabin," he continued as though she didn't say anything, "The civilities on deck need not apply here. You may call me James…if you're feeling adventurous."

"I prefer 'captain.'"

"Very well. It's up to you. And now, if you'll excuse me, I shall retire for the mid morning into my inner study. If you need anything, open this door and ring the bell. Smee will assist you."

Wendy Learns About Sharks and Receives a Tour of the Revenge

Two and a half weeks had gone by with Wendy being able to catch somewhat small glimpses into the captain's way of life. He always slept in his private study. However, before Wendy was taken prisoner, he slept in the place where she now did. Was it a consideration for her desire not to sleep in the same room with a strange man? Or did he rarely sleep anyway? Whatever the case, he arose early – at around five o'clock and well before Wendy's tendency towards eight or even eight-thirty. Her breakfast was always set out for her and she always ate that meal alone, so his former threat of starving her if she did not dine with him went unfulfilled.

After Wendy had read her first book from the captain's shelf, he discussed it with her over dinner that same night. He even asked her opinions regarding the topic, which was apropos to their situation, it being about sailing. Wendy soon began to feel less irritated with his presence simply because he had become not unpleasant company! She was constantly amazed at what a departure this current side of Captain Hook was from his familiar bloodthirsty side with which she had first become acquainted. But why this side? Why now? How could she never see it before? Was it evident before?

She did not completely forgive him, though, despite his apparent refinement, because he was still holding her prisoner. She wondered what her family would say, it being over two weeks since she went missing. Hopefully John and Michael could explain where she was and hopefully at least her mother would believe them. However, more often than not she thought of Peter and where he was at that moment. She hoped he was healing well, but also dreaded his progress, because his good health meant his untimely doom. Hook was planning a once-and-for-all attack on Peter, and Wendy was convinced that it would not fail.

On the Monday of the third week of her imprisonment, after she had taken her breakfast and read for a little while, Wendy decided she would take a walk on the quarterdeck. Everything outside was quite clean, for the captain ran a tight ship much like a man-of-war, and not like the stories Wendy had heard of regarding the ships in the Golden Age of Piracy. None of the pirates ever spoke to her except Smee, which was just as well because whenever she got a good glance at any of their eyes, they just seemed rather dull and incoherent, like automaton drones rather than real people. The helmsman was steady at the wheel and there was a somewhat stiff breeze behind the sails. The ship pitched and rolled a bit more than Wendy would have liked, but she was never seasick, and today it seemed they were exercising the great guns. It was a sweltering day, and all of the men had their bodies stripped to the waist, whereas the captain still retained his loose-sleeved shirt as he gave orders to the "officers."

"Three minutes?" barked Captain Hook at the gun crews as they were frantically reloading. "We might as well give up altogether if we can't get a timely shot! Ram faster you sniveling bilgerats! You load like a troupe of Frenchmen!"

The men grunted their disdain for Frenchmen and moved faster to reload. The captain's hook glinted as he swung it right and left in mad gesticulations of impatience and outrage. He gave the signal for the second volley and noted the time.

"Two thirty-five," he shouted. "Again! Again you confounded lubbers! Damn it all, I shall show you a real gun exercise. It's so simple, I could do it one-handed."

This flash of good humor put grins on the men's faces as the captain removed his shirt and joined one of the gun crews. Wendy had been viewing the scene from the quarterdeck and now she had her eyes transfixed on Hook. His sable hair was still in its tight plait down his back, but errant locks escaped here and there as the wind whipped through the strands as if it were trying to make the braid come undone.

The first thing Wendy saw was the harness the captain wore strapped to his left arm. It wrapped around his shoulder and chest, and its terminus was a cover over the stump where his hand should have been, but where instead a hook resided. The attachment mechanism was a screw that allowed the captain to wear anything from a hook to a wooden hand to an eating fork. Hook moved about so unselfconsciously and showed such ease that what would have normally been considered an impediment seemed to go unnoticed by him and, consequently, everyone who laid eyes on him.

Wendy could not help but admire Hook's strong back, muscular shoulders and arms, as well as his hard abdominal muscles, which contracted and relaxed in ripples every time he bent to his task. He did not appear to be at all past his prime as he nimbly jumped to and fro while directing the men. His legs were strong and his thighs taut, which Wendy could discern through the thin cotton of his breeches. It was rather strange for him to now appear so young in her eyes in contrast with how old she thought he was when she was a child. He was quite handsome – even dashing! How was this possible? What was she thinking? Captain Hook…handsome?

The guns were fired once more and, after shouting his customary abuses for their lubberly performance, he paused, lifted his right arm and wiped the copious sweat from his dark brow. He tilted his head back and uttered a small groan, which caused his Adam's apple to rise and fall. Wendy followed it with her attentive eyes and found herself drinking in the captain's appearance with a gaze uninterrupted. But just at that moment, Hook felt the uncanny sense that someone was watching him, and his glance darted up to the quarterdeck. Wendy wanted to turn around and run back into the cabin, but she found her feet would not do as she commanded them. She stood as still as a statue and felt like she was incapable of blinking.

Hook's eyes lit up and a curl of a knowing smile appeared on his lips as he finally tore away from her gaze and went back to drilling the crew. Wendy turned vermillion and rushed back into the cabin as soon as she knew he would not look back up at her.

The next day, Wendy sat with the captain for dinner.

"What can you tell me about the Tertiary Period as it relates to us here on open sea?" the captain said, leaning forward with unfeigned curiosity to hear Wendy's answer.

She replied with not a little enthusiasm, "Well, the largest shark the world has ever known flourished on Earth during that time. It is said to have measured over a hundred feet long, and the circumference of its jaws can surround eight grown men. If it still existed, then no one in their right mind would go near the world's oceans anymore. Personally I find it fascinating…but dreadful as well."

A small smile of satisfaction appeared on his lips and he said, "Very good. However, we are on the ocean now, are we not?"

Wendy found his tone odd and repeated, "But they no longer exist on Earth."

"This is Neverland," he said calmly.

Wendy's eyes widened in realization of his emphasis on the word Neverland, "You mean they're here? And we're sailing on the open sea? This is madness!"

"Nonsense! The Revenge is a third-rate ship and a puny shark is no match for its speed or its size. You have nothing to fear here from a swimming beast, Wendy, as long as you stay onboard. Besides, mermaids are far more treacherous than sharks. If I were you, I would dread to my very marrow an enemy ship's full broadside below the hull's water line, with leagues of saltwater between you and land and only an exhausted, half-blind scurvy-ridden crew to wretchedly man the pumps. At that time, 'tis a blessing for those men who cannot swim, for when the mermaids and seadogs come, you will wish you were already at the bottom of the black depths – your lungs filled with water and your ears blessedly silenced. That, my dear, would be dreadful."

A pause ensued, during which Wendy found she had a whole new set of fears to realize. However, the ominous possibility of a gargantuan shark in the ocean still persuaded her thoughts to that subject.

"Have you seen one?" she asked.

"A giant shark? Of course. Just yesterday one was trailing in the ship's wake. Didn't you go up to the taffrail and see it? Just about every one of those lazy swabs outside did, loungeabouts – instead of manning the ship like a proper crew."

"N-no, I didn't see. I was reading all day."

"Ah."

They continued eating in silence, the candles casting flickers of light over every object in sight, causing every shadow to dance. Just then, Wendy had a strange urge to say something.

She knew not what she was doing before she raised her head and said rather quietly, "James?"

The captain paused momentarily, swallowed his food, and slowly lifted his head up until his pale eye met hers.

"Yes?" he said with an unmistakably keen glance.

"Would you show me the ship tomorrow?" she said tentatively.

His look almost became dazed upon hearing the request, however, it also betrayed a subdued satisfaction and even pride. She wanted to see the Revenge in all its grandeur. He would most certainly oblige her, then, if that be her desire.

He replied, "Yes. Yes, of course."

If Wendy had not been staring at the edge of his plate instead of meeting his eye, she would have seen a look on his face that she had never viewed before. It was a mix between profound and penetrative – certainly not often seen by anyone save the captain in his own looking glass.

"Wendy," he said, her glance rising to meet his, "It's been a long time since someone has called me James."

They finished dinner in silence, with each one soon retiring to their separate cots for a night of sleep and forgetfulness.

That morning, after the decks had been scoured with the holystones and beaten dry, Captain Hook took Wendy on a formal tour of the Revenge, starting at the orlop and ending at the mizzen topgallant yard. The view that Wendy beheld while either one of her feet were resting on the spar was absolutely magnificent. She could see for miles, most of which was azure blue sea but also dotted with many black islands that looked like sundry pearls cast onto a vast, blue table.

"Those are far greener than the main island of Neverland – and less inhabited as well," said Hook.

"Have you been to them all, captain?" Wendy asked.

"Almost, but there are some I would not wish to see, for they serve not my purposes."

"And those purposes are?" she said with a playful smile.

He glanced at her, at first with his usual stern face, but he eventually lapsed into an amused smile and replied, "Not for you to know, Wendy, as of yet."

They stayed up there for a short while longer until the captain broke the silence and asked, "Are you tired?"

"I feel as though I could stay up here forever."

He again smiled faintly to himself and she continued, "But I do think my legs may require a bit of rest eventually."

After they descended and Wendy not ungratefully felt the hard deck below her feet, they proceeded to the taffrail, the last place to which she had not yet been. It was here that Hook had their lunch set out, for it was a pleasant, balmy day and certainly not to be missed by sitting indoors. As Wendy ate her roast chicken, she noticed out of the corner of her eye a massive looming shadow in the water of the ship's wake. She started when she saw a monstrous dorsal fin pierce the water's surface. This was the giant shark from the book!

"Oh dear! Look! It is the monster shark!" she said with grave alarm in her eyes.

Hook merely glanced at the fin and said flatly, "Oh. 'Tis puny – a mere seventy-five footer. Believe you me when I say I've seen some reach the lengths of a hundred twenty. They are plentiful in these waters, but do not fear."

When the behemoth began to take up speed and swim to the larboard, Wendy involuntarily thrust her feet around one of the captain's ankles in sheer fright. This caused Hook to almost choke on a raisin.

He eventually summoned his powers of speech as he said, "I told you not to fear. It can do our ship no harm, and it certainly can do you no harm. Trust me."

That last phrase gave her slight pause, for what had led her to trust him thus far? Was she still not prisoner aboard his ship, not free to roam the world according to her tastes and whims, but to stay in a floating dungeon under his command? On the other hand, though, had he not also shown great leniency in allowing her to sleep in his cabin, dine on his food, read his books, and do, within reason, whatever she pleased? Surely this treatment was far better than any accepted treatment of prisoners on Earth? She had no choice but to trust him, for her life was in his hands.

She slowly removed her feet from around his ankle and set them firmly on the deck. They went back to eating in their customary silence, but Wendy did notice an unmistakable smile of mirth flash almost imperceptibly across the captain's mouth before his face took on its typical sternness.

King Karl Island

That morning when Wendy awoke, she was surprised to find Captain Hook seated at the table. The second thing she noticed was that the ship no longer pitched and rolled, but was at a standstill. They were in a port!

She got out of her cot and involuntarily smiled at the captain. He merely looked at her with his keen glance and inclined his head in an acknowledging nod. She seated herself in her usual chair across from him and paused a moment to hear him explain why he was eating with her.

"We are in the primary port of King Karl Island," he began, "One of the richest islands in all of Neverland. It is here we will take in provisions as well as have a rest on dry land. Plan to be here for two days. On the third morning, we set sail back to my island. I am dining with you so that you may not tarry in accompanying me onshore."

"Do they mind that you're a pirate? Is it safe for you to be here?" asked Wendy.

"All pirates are safe here" was his only reply.

"I see. And what about young women?" her eyes were only half playful, but the captain could discern the sense of anxiety behind her words.

"Do you feel an island of pirates to be a dangerous place?" he asked probingly.

"I do."

He grinned, "I think you shall find a pirate island far safer and more civilized than any on Earth."

"The only thing I find is that that's hard to believe."

"So you do not trust my judgment, Wendy?" said he jokingly.

"No, James, I don't – not on this count," she said, laughing at the preposterous notion first presented.

He half closed his eyes in a faint rapture at the sound of his name. That was the second time she said it, and no less sweeter it was. Why must the sound of his own name cause him to feel such uncontrollable bewitchment? What about that utterance was so breathtaking? It was only a name, after all…and yet, it wasn't that at all.

He regained himself and smiled weakly, then said, "I have a question."

Wendy raised her eyebrows, awaiting him to continue.

He said, "Will you accompany me to a dance tomorrow evening? It is a yearly ball held on this island and I seem to find myself without a partner."

She thought he was joking at first, but upon scanning his face quickly, she realized he was in earnest. Figuring there would have been nothing else for her to do, she assented, but soon asked:

"What shall I wear?"

"I can take you to a reputable shop, for everything on King Karl Island is nothing less than first class."

Wendy smiled to herself. She was almost ashamed to be genuinely excited. She had never owned a ball gown before, let alone been to a ball, so this was to be something quite extraordinary for her life, which, up until then, had been comparatively ordinary. She beamed at Captain Hook and had an incomprehensible urge to hug him. However, she quelled the urge and instead eagerly finished her breakfast.

She threw on an old dress that was given to her when she first came aboard. At first she felt it was plain and ugly, but once she set foot on solid ground and viewed the people who occupied her surroundings, she was grateful for not being noticeable. The exteriors of almost all the people on the island were some of the roughest, most intimidating, crusty, swashbuckling, scurvy, blackguardly appearances Wendy had ever beheld. Did the captain seriously think these people were better than the gentility of Earth? For the first time in three weeks, she was glad she was with him, for he had his sharp hook on and a belt that held his rapier, cutlass, and loaded pistols, not to mention the dagger she saw him slide into his boot before they left his cabin. He had even given her a dagger and pistol to hang around her waist, saying it would help her blend into the crowd better. But she assumed it was really to fend off drunken knaves and other sorts of roguish, black-hearted coves.

As they turned onto a wide street paved with surprisingly well-cut stones, Wendy gasped when she saw a staggering, slovenly man come a little too close to her. She swiftly seized the captain's arm and said in an undertone,

"I'm frightened."

He smiled, though it wasn't mocking, and then said loudly to the man, "Billy, go home. You're drunk!"

A few pirate passersby laughed roughly and jostled each other. The offending Billy nodded incomprehensibly and continued zigzagging down the road in the opposite direction. Wendy still had Hook's arm in a tight grasp. Like lightning she realized she had never before come so close to his person, and certainly had never touched him with her hands. He was rather tall – an imposing figure on the street, and he seemed to have a natural grace about him that contrasted greatly with other people there. Today he wore his wavy raven hair unplaited and hanging in a wild mass of loose curls down his back, yet it didn't cause him to look unkempt or maniacal, but rather exotic and somewhat fascinating to behold.

She had grabbed his hook arm, so he took his right hand and touched it to hers, triggering in her an imperceptible shiver. He then gently guided her around to his right side and proffered his arm so that she may walk with him like a lady would with a gentleman. He then held his head high and they continued on their way. After passing by many odd-looking buildings and dwellings of all different shapes and sizes, with no clear architectural style or time period in which they could be placed, Wendy found herself standing before a small building in the style of a Greek temple. Once they went inside, she realized it was a dress shop. But this was like no cramped, musty dress shop she had ever been to in London. Here there were gowns to rival those at Buckingham, and all types of women were inside, even ones who didn't seem that rich or refined, yet they had the choices of the most sumptuous fineries that the imagination could conjure. Wendy was beginning to believe Hook when he said the island was one of the most affluent.

"You may tarry here an hour and try on whatever you like," he said. "I have some business to transact in the meantime. I shall take my leave and return. Goodbye."

He made a curt bow and left as quickly as he came, leaving Wendy to suffer from target confusion regarding which dress she was to try on first! Like the buildings of the strange port town, the dresses seemed to have no particular time or place that marked a trend or similarity between them. Every one of them was different, as though each one was made for some particular individual. There were decadently hooped ball gowns from sixty years ago, wide-skirted court raiment from the time of King Louis XIV, slim dresses of the modern day whose skirts touch the ground, Indian saris of unimaginable beauty, bejeweled Turkish kaftans, Chinese qipao and Korean hanboks made of the finest, most shimmering silk Wendy had ever laid eyes on. It seemed that costumes of every nation had their representatives present in that shop.

Wendy scanned the azures, the violets, the crimsons, the aquas, the emeralds, and the chartreuses. She contemplated the bright yellows and earthen oranges; even the browns were magnificent. She ran her hand over the pearls, jewels, stones, gold embroideries, and jingling silvers. No one approached her in the store since everyone else was in her own world of fantasy as well. Wendy was thankful for this.

She felt she would never find the perfect dress, for everything was perfect…until she spied a kaftan of such breathtaking ornateness that she almost gasped when she saw it: a subtle rainbow shimmer could be found in the material, which was neither silk nor satin, and depending on how one was looking at it, seemed to change colors with every movement of the eye. A fine gold embroidered pattern lined the sleeves and hem; however, the pattern could be found throughout the fabric, dotting it here and there in small, condensed themes that resembled teardrops. As Wendy caressed the kaftan, she noticed the material to be of an inscrutable quality, for it was neither too loose nor too soft, and when it appeared to be one way, it felt like the other. What a strange and amazing dress!

She didn't have to look far for the shoes, for they were tucked away beneath the outfit, their toes curling up in the Turkish style. They were embedded with small cuts of beryl and freshwater pearls, and their color was of a deep green like the open sea pierced by the morning sun.

Wendy had lost track of time while in the store and it was already nigh on an hour when she tried on the kaftan and shoes. She was scanning a table with gold earrings and chokers displayed on it when Captain Hook approached her from behind.

"Wendy," he said softly.

He had wanted to touch her, but found himself loath to do so. She looked so perfect and pure when his pale blue eyes glided over her fine raiment. He tried to search her eyes, but they were dodging his gaze. She had blushed and was clearly surprised to see him. Why was he suddenly so entranced by her? This entire imprisonment was supposed to be a mere ploy to finally catch Pan, and yet why was it that every day Hook found himself drawn more and more to this girl? But she wasn't a girl; she was a woman. This was a woman standing before him, and, silly though it may be, it was only at that moment that Hook finally realized it.

He cleared his throat and could only find the words, "You look…you look lovely."

He sounded dazed.

"Do you really think so?" her eyes lit up as she said it. "Do you really think it suits me?"

"Yes," was all he said, though he found the devilish urge to say it would've suited her far better with nothing on at all, but he stayed his tongue.

His pale blue eyes flashed when he visualized the thought, but he controlled himself and instead said, "I shall summon the purser to handle payment, and after you get changed back into civilian clothes, walk with me awhile."

After Wendy handed the gown, shoes, and jewelry to the woman behind the counter, Captain Hook offered her his arm once again in that gentlemanly manner and she accepted, twining her own porcelain arm around his. They continued along up the street, which soon began to turn into the hill and traverse it, acquiring a somewhat steep grade. The island was quite hilly, so many buildings dotted its hills and valleys. As Wendy climbed the cobble-stoned road, she found the view of the cobalt blue sea to be quite magnificent and unlike anything she had seen yet. Even when she flew over Hook's island she never beheld such electric blue. The sea made a striking contrast with the buildings along the road. The whitewashed houses along one side of this steep road seemed to be close to falling off the now sheer cliffside and its drop-off.

The pair walked up and up until they finally reached the very top of the hill. Wendy was exhausted and could not immediately enjoy the view, though if she had noticed her surroundings, she would have seen massive bushes of bougainvillea draped over thick sandstone walls. Behind the walls was a charming whitewashed inn with wooden shingles and frames. It was called 'The Fogcatcher' and was two stories high, but small and quaint, with pendulous banyan trees shading it on all sides. The rest of the hilltop was covered in trees, with the inn seeming to be the only place inhabited by humans.

She found a stone bench and sat down on it, for she felt rather lightheaded.

Perceiving her discomfort, Hook asked, "Are you alright, Wendy?"

"I don't know what's come over me," she said. "I feel dizzy. James…"

Her vision darkened, she lightly fell forward and into his arms.

"Wendy! Can you hear me?" Hook said with a decided hint of worry in his voice.

He caught her in his strong arms and eventually lifted her up. He walked to the inn's door and knocked loudly. A maid answered the door and, recognizing it was Captain Hook, called for the innkeeper.

The elderly yet distinctively piratical innkeeper appeared and merely said, "Captain Hook, sir, your accommodations are ready."

"Good," said the captain gruffly. "Do you have smelling salts? She has fainted."

"Yes, of course sir!" said the innkeeper as he disappeared behind a door.

A moment later he came back and handed them to Hook, who expertly administered them to Wendy, who eventually opened her eyes while furrowing her brows and muttering, 'J-James.'

The innkeeper asked, "Who is she?"

Hook began, "She's my p– ," but he stopped himself from saying 'prisoner' and instead said, "She's mine. That is all. Thank you."

Hook was then shown to his room, which was actually attached to Wendy's, but he instead gently laid her down onto his own bed, which was larger and much more comfortable. He sat down in a plush chair the color of deep crimson and gazed silently at Wendy. His mouth was shut, his brow furrowed, and his pale eyes flashed with concern every time she stirred. His entire face appeared stern and immovable to any human emotion, but when Wendy fully woke up, he got to his knees and was at her side in a second.

"Wendy," he said quietly, "Are you awake? Are you all right?"

She finally opened her eyes and said dreamily, "I'm all right with you, James."

For the first time in a long time Hook felt as though his heart would leap through his throat. To make matters even more surprising, Wendy extended a smooth, pale hand and brushed it lightly across the captain's cheek, causing the latter to close his eyes for only a moment as he breathed in the sweet smell of her skin. He collected himself and broke the wonderful silence:

"Do you feel ill, Wendy?"

"No. I just got a bit dizzy. That's all," she replied as she finally regained all her faculties.

She tried to sit up, but Hook stopped her with his hand and said sternly, "No! Do not exert yourself. You must rest."

"Captain, I'm fine, really – "

"Miss Darling, lie down!" he commanded.

She complied, for when he used that voice, who could defy it? He could be quite formidable when he wanted to be, and this was certainly one of those moments.

She glared at him, to which he responded in kind. She finally re-reclined her head on the soft goose feather pillow and folded her hands over her stomach. She continued to scowl at him, but he only said in a calm tone:

"I shall return to the ship then I will be back here shortly. A maid will come up and bring you some victuals. Please, Wendy, do not tire yourself out."

Her brow smoothed out and she silently nodded. Then, before she could react, he bent to her cheek and kissed it, then was out the door and gone.

Wendy was left in silence, which she broke by exclaiming, "Captain James Hook just kissed me! Oh my, and I can't say I didn't like it. Wendy, what's happening to you?"

She touched her cheek and an uncontrollable grin passed over her rosy lips. She closed her eyes and her thoughts swam, but she soon nodded off to sleep.

The Captain's Secret

The whole of the next day Wendy spent in the captain's company in the Fogcatcher and its vicinity, for he did not wish her to 'exert herself' as he put it. They sat on the veranda, shaded by a large ficus tree, and drank tea out of the loveliest English china Wendy had ever before come across. As she sipped her earl grey, Hook's gaze was directed towards the ground and he seemed distracted. He wore indigo breeches of fine satin and a white ruffled shirt with a delicate lace cravat, his embroidered waistcoat and jacket having been carelessly hung over the back of a nearby chair. He was leaning back in his seat with legs crossed in a relaxed manner, but his eyes betrayed his seemingly at ease posture as Wendy tried to catch his gaze.

She put her teacup and saucer on the small table and asked, "What's troubling you?"

He started out of his reverie and answered defiantly, "Why do you want to know?"

She said quietly, "I'm sorry."

His expression softened and he said in a kinder voice, "I apologize. My heart is rather heavy this day, and I'm not sure why. I seem to have grown melancholy within the past few hours, which puts me ill at ease. So you have, indeed, noticed it?"

"Yes."

"And you would like to know what is troubling me?"

"I would."

"Then I have a question for you: do you know how old I am?"

This seemed an odd inquiry, and not one Wendy was ready to answer with surety, but she mustered her powers of guess and ventured a number, "Thirty-seven."

The captain laughed bitterly and said, "I was thirty-seven over one hundred years ago, when I first found myself in Neverland."

Wendy's eyes widened in amazement, and she said in a hushed voice, "So how old are you really?"

His eyes narrowed and his smile was just as resentful as his laugh, "For one hundred and thirty-nine years I have been stranded in this world with no hope of escape. Therefore, I am one hundred and seventy-six years old, though I don't look it, nor do I think I ever shall, for time heedlessly passes me by and leaves me in the appearance of youth, stagnated in the memory of a long-forgotten age. I have faithfully kept track of the time that has since progressed on Earth, for I have an unlikely liaison who is able to pass seamlessly between the two worlds. I think you know him. 'Tis Smee, my first mate."

"Mr. Smee?"

"Yes. The lucky cove is somehow capable of traversing time and space itself in order to keep up to date with news from earth. I don't know how he does it, nor does he. He tells me it just happens – no fairy dust, no happy thoughts. He says it's a mere 'change of consciousness,' whatever that means. It may surprise you, but when he first came to Neverland, he was a dashing young man of five and twenty. However, having gone to Earth so often, time eventually caught up to him, and now he appears old enough to be my father. As you've noticed, Neverland stops the aging process, leaving many of its inhabitants forever young."

"That's frightfully extraordinary, captain. I'm astonished. But how is it that you came to Neverland?"

"It wasn't by choice, I assure you. But in order to understand where I came from and how I came to be here, you must know a bit of my personal history. The year was 1770 and I was a post captain in His Majesty King George III's Navy. We had left Kingston three days before and our ship suddenly found itself in a deadly hurricane. Needless to say, we were fiercely knocked about and I lost half my men to the perils of the sea. My crew was the most disciplined and seaworthy of any in His Majesty's Navy, yet it was as though the endless squalls had a sentience whose cruel purpose was to cause us to founder.

"It eventually succeeded, however, at the time there was a horrendous gale that swept me clear off the deck and into the air. I blacked out, and the next thing I remember was that I was lying on a beach on the island that Pan now inhabits, raving and out of my senses. I thought I had gone mad but there were other Englishmen there as well – stranded as I was – and they set my mind at ease. I made friends, and was finally able to procure a ship after I stated my honorable and impressive credentials.

"Years rushed by, more crew came, I traveled these seas, exploring what I could. Neverland is a vast place with corners undiscovered and islands that are written on no extant chart that can be found in this region. And so that is how I have passed my time. I try not to think about the life I left behind, or what lies ahead. It seems like a punishment, and so it has hardened me distinctly. I'm thankful I never married, for that would have added to my sorrows, which have been nigh on unbearable."

Wendy listened with rapt attention and in utter silence. When Hook finished he snorted and smiled to himself, though it wasn't a smile of gaiety.

He said, "Hook isn't my real name. It's merely a moniker that has overtaken my true identity and forever entwined it with that vicious cur Peter Pan. My real name is St. John."

Something in Wendy's memory prompted her eyes to light up and she said, "Captain James St. John?"

"The one and only."

She clapped her hands and exclaimed, "I've read about you in a history book my father keeps in his study! You were the English commander in an action with the French ship La Bordeaux. You won a victory for England that many said should have gone to the French due to your youth and inexperience. The book said your quick maneuvering played a decisive role in your victory. You were then made a baronet, were you not?"

He nodded, stunned, for he could find no words in his mouth at present.

"And you've never been back since," she said thoughtfully, more to herself than to him. "Oh, James, I'm dreadfully sorry I ever thought ill of you. You have lived a life of such heartbreak and turmoil and I find it difficult to imagine it to have been borne with such strength of mind as you have borne it. But I never thought I would be sitting here with a great person of English history."

A sly smile stole across her lips and she said, "The book also never mentioned how dreadfully handsome you are."

He laughed out loud with complete, unguarded joy. This was possibly the first time she had heard Hook – St. John – laugh like a normal person, and it caused her heart to swell with something like love for this man.

"Wendy…" was all he could say.

She noticed his eyes had become warm and bright, whereas up until then she had always thought of them to be cold like glacial ice, and as cruel as a January wind. Now they had melted into a balmy zephyr that spills through the willows on a midsummer evening. She smiled sweetly at him, but noticed his smile eventually disappear. He arose quickly and kneeled before her, his right hand over hers, his wooden one at his side.

He said in an almost desperate tone, "Wendy, please forgive me."

"For what?"

"You are no longer my prisoner. Forgive me for taking you aboard my ship and holding you against your will. It was wrong of me – "

"No, James!" she cried, getting down on her knees as well, "If you hadn't taken me, then I never would have gotten the chance to learn about your true identity. I never would have had the opportunity to find out that you are a lover of books, an accomplished commander, a passionate musician, and a just man."

"Just? I am not just."

"You are. I can see it in the way you run your ship and in the way you have treated me. After your mocking and cruel veneer passed away I could finally see your true self, and it does my heart good to know that you are not Captain Hook, tyrannical and heartless, but that you are James St. John, decent, kind, and – "

He stopped her words as he quickly leaned forward, pulled her to himself with his gentle arms, and kissed her small, smiling lips with the most sincerity with which he had ever kissed a woman in his long life. She involuntarily put her white arms around his strong neck and returned the kiss, all the while breathing in his scent and tasting the sweetness of his surprisingly soft, yielding lips. He kissed her cheek and then her neck, causing her to moan:

"I am yours, James."

However, these words had an inexplicably adverse effect on him, for he ceased kissing her and broke away from her for a moment. He studied her face. It was fair and full of the vigor of youth. Her bright hazel eyes emanated love, purity, and kindness. She had a lifetime ahead of her, a lifetime to be spent on Earth. A shocking pang hit his heart like a harsh blow to a gong. He knew it would be inhumanly selfish to allow his senses to fail him, to throw caution to the wind, and to allow her to stay in Neverland with him. How could he do that? He had no other life now than the paltry one he had carved out for himself in his exile, so how could he be expected to believe Wendy could truly be happy with him? And what a life he had to offer her? She would surely grow to resent him, having given up all that was familiar and comfortable to her for an eternity as the companion of a self-described pirate captain.

And yet another darker, more sinister thought crept into his mind: he had to destroy Pan. That had been his vengeful goal for more than fifty years and he could not bring Wendy into such violent dealings. He had to find it in himself to let her go, yet her face…that pretty face…

His lip trembled as he said in a ragged voice, "I can't fall in love with you, Wendy, though my heart is bleeding. Oh, damn it all!"

Without another word, he swiftly exited the veranda, grabbing his waistcoat and jacket and leaving Wendy alone. She was so shocked she could not think straight, but instead she hurried to her room, fell onto her bed, and sobbed into her pillow until the maid came to the door.

"Miss?" she said, "It is time to put your hair up."

The Ball

After Wendy had collected herself, she admitted the maid who brought along the hairdresser and seamstress, both of whom were to curl her hair and fit her dress, respectively. By the time the sun had set below the watery horizon, Wendy looked like a vision of an ancient princess from a legend in a storybook. Her hair hung in tight, tawny curls from her fair head, and the pair of pendulous gold earrings hung from her ears like two showers of coins. The kaftan began at the base of her neck and covered her entire body save her slender hands and her feet, the latter being encased in the jewel encrusted Turkish slippers. Her golden choker was set with carnelian, and it almost looked as though it were a high Mandarin collar attached to the kaftan.

When she was finally ready, the maid directed her to the door of the inn where a four-man palanquin was waiting to pick her up. They trotted down the hill with the ease of a horse, barely jostling the conveyance. Wendy truly did feel like a princess of the Orient with her fine raiment and stunning jewels, but she was incapable of thinking about those things, for at that moment, the thought of James had conquered her mind and would not relinquish it. As the minutes progressed, she grew nervous in her anticipation of her inevitable meeting with James. Why did he leave so abruptly? What had she done? She felt terrible and didn't quite know why, but it was useless pondering those questions because she needed to ask him personally.

The palanquin came to a stop and Wendy knew that it was time to disembark. Her heart beat as fast as the wings of a hummingbird as she alighted before an imposing mansion built in the style of the American antebellum South. As she watched the men carry the palanquin back down the path they came, Wendy viewed a row of massive live oaks shading the road that led to the front steps of the house. The steps were peopled with men and women of all different shapes, sizes, and colors, decked out to the nines in finery against which Wendy's attire rather paled in comparison. Strings of colorful lanterns were tied from the upper balconies and disappeared into the seeking boughs of the moss-covered trees, thus casting a pleasant glow throughout the premises.

The men and women were mingling and slowly entering the building, so Wendy stepped up to follow suit but paused when she felt a hand on her shoulder. She whirled around and it was (who else?) the captain himself. He wore a fine coat whose material greatly resembled Wendy's kaftan, along with a gold embroidered waistcoat and a three-cornered hat with a regal white plume in it. His stockings were black and his breeches matched his coat. However, Wendy only looked at his face and saw that it was stern and reticent. She didn't want to smile, but compromised by giving him a weak one and saying:

"James, you are here. I-I thought I should have to enter alone."

His smile contained a hint of sorrow when he said, "Nonsense, I never would have let you. I was here before the sun even set so I could be sure to meet you."

"Why come so early?"

"I had to think about some things, about earlier today, about things that have not yet happened, or could happen."

"James, what are you talking about?"

His tone became very grave and he said, taking her hand, "Wendy, after the ball I must speak with you about something very important."

She didn't know how to answer his words, so she simply nodded her assent. The pair then ascended the steps and entered the manse.

As the night progressed, Wendy and the captain did their allemandes, their polonaises, their mazurkas, and their waltzes. They did country dances and couples dances as well as group dances and folk dances, never missing a beat or seeming to grow fatigued. The ball served as a mighty distraction for their troubled minds and it was a chance for the captain to socialize with his friends and other colorful groups of people. Wendy preferred to silently stand by him and glean what information she could from the variegated conversations as to where people came from and how they came to be in Neverland. It seemed to her that the captain was not the only one who was trapped in Neverland, for various individuals commiserated with him about how no amount of fairy dust could raise them out of that world. It also seemed that these were the same worn-out complaints and bitter exclamations that people spoke of every year, for the captain appeared to be irritated when people mentioned it.

The minutes and the hours passed by, and when the master of ceremonies, a corpulent pirate with a diamond-encrusted eye patch, announced that the ball was a success, the captain took Wendy by the hand and led her outside and into a copse of banyan trees. It was dark outside, the only lights visible being the numerous stars and the gibbous moon.

"Wendy, I have something for you," he said as he reached into his coat and pulled out a small glowing jar.

'What is it?' thought Wendy until she finally realized it was a bright fairy, Tinkerbell's double if not for its blue glimmer.

"James, what's this for? Why do you have a fairy?"

"Don't you see? The dust of this is your freedom. You may return to Earth now, for you are my prisoner no longer."

Tears began to form in Wendy's eyes as she said in a wavering voice, "James, I don't understand – don't you want me here anymore?"

His eyes burned like blue flames and he furrowed his brow. A look of intense pain came across his face when he said in an almost desperate tone, "Wendy, of course I do! Don't you understand? I love you, Wendy. I love you more than my own life itself. If I could shout it loud enough so that all of Neverland would cringe at the bellowing sound, I would cry out magnificently that I loved you with all my heart and more. It's just that…I shouldn't love you."

"Why ever not?" she gasped as the tears flowed freely. "I love you so much, James, so why would you say such a thing?"

"Because if you bound yourself to me, then you would be doomed to stay here forever. Neverland is a prison, Wendy; it is waking torture. I could not ask it of you to stay. I could not!"

"But I love you!" she cried out as she jumped into his arms and kissed his lips passionately.

She opened her mouth as she kissed him and his tongue slid into it freely. Wendy uttered a few staccatoed, high-pitched moans, which reminded James to conquer his shaking body and breathlessly say:

"No, Wendy, not here. I shall summon the palanquin."

Her eyes were glazed over in the soporific drug of passion, so all she could do was nod a little. They exited the copse, called the valet to fetch their men, and the two were soon carried away with great dispatch to the Fogcatcher.

The captain practically broke down the door when he entered his room. He had taken Wendy in his arms the moment they descended the palanquin and soon safely deposited her on his bed. He immediately began to remove his coat but his waistcoat did not quite yield to his hand as quickly as he had wished. However, he fumbled only for a moment until Wendy set her slender, pale fingers to work. The captain gratefully yielded to her maneuvers as a triumphant grin came across his lips and the glint of desire lit up his ice-blue eyes.

She cast the waistcoat aside carelessly and began to undo his cravat as well as the strings of his shirt, which she eventually tore off his body in one deft upward movement. She then proceeded to unstrap his wooden hand's harness, after which she carefully placed it on a nearby table. Her eager fingers went for his trouser buttons, but he stopped her. Her inquiring eyes were answered when he said:

"Now for you."

Her heart fluttered as he pressed his body against hers, reached his hand behind her neck and undid her golden choker. She shivered when he removed her earrings because, as he did so, she felt his staggered breath spill over her neck like a teasingly soft breeze. She gulped as he nimbly turned her around and began to slowly unbutton her kaftan, which soundlessly fell to the floor unnoticed.

She now stood in her transparent shift, the captain's left arm draped around her waist and his right arm snaked over her shoulder. His right hand crept down her chest and gently began to caress her small, soft breasts, his determined fingers brushing over her erect and rosy nipples. This led her to turn her head to catch James's look, which focused all its powers of attention on her. His smile could be likened to a smirk when he said in a gravelly voice,

"Be so kind as to strip me of my trousers, Miss Darling. Of a sudden I find them to be excruciatingly restrictive."

"Yes, captain," she said with a mischievousness that had never, in her whole life, shown in her face before that moment.

Once Wendy had done her duty, she freed herself from her own confining shift and lied back on the bed, resting her curl-laden head on a soft pillow. The captain moved with feline grace as he directed his lithe body over Wendy's slight, supple form. She scanned his sharp eyes, which looked like two pieces of the bright morning sky had stolen away and hidden in the gaze of his winsome face. She became entranced as her pink lips parted in awe of this man. Was this really happening?

He spoke softly when he whispered in her ear, "I love you, Wendy."

She said, barely able to speak, "Take me, James."

"I plan to," he said in his usual cool manner, in which Wendy showed her delight with a faint gasp. "Now, open your legs for me, would you?"

He slid both his hand and his left arm down her thighs, helping her along as it were. He bent his head to kiss her neck, her collarbone, and her breasts, plying his tongue to all with great alacrity and skill. He was incredibly meticulous, which made Wendy smile knowingly to herself that it was lucky she fell in love with a ship's captain, for who else could have been so thorough? He not only licked her skin, but he sucked and nibbled at it here and there, giving out the occasional grunt, which made Wendy want to swoon. His heady male scent was intoxicating as was every one of his enchanting movements.

When his mouth finally reached the dark, soft hair between her legs, his tongue veritably attacked the bud hidden underneath like a broadside in an action. She ran her fingers through his hair, her nails lightly scraping his head to show her delight and intense contentment.

However, this was not to be the end, for his head arose again and he moved his body in perfect alignment with hers once more. He stationed his left arm next to her shoulder in order to give his body support as he led his right hand into the warm crevice between her thighs. As two large fingers slid inside her, Wendy's eyes fluttered in ecstasy. She bit her lip when he removed his digits and took his impressive member in his hand, guiding it into her. Wendy involuntarily bent her knees more and spread her legs wider, inviting him to thrust deeper. With a sly tongue he licked the sensitive spot behind one of her ears, causing her to cry out loudly:

"Ah! James!"

This induced him to go into a frenzy of ardently rhythmic thrusts. His whole body was tense, with every muscle contracted and subsequently relaxed with every motion. Amidst his primal groans, Wendy avidly raised her hips with every plunge, glorying in the feeling of him inside of her, every movement an intense sensation of indescribable pleasure and ultimate oneness with him.

The two began to breathe heavily. Wendy ran her hands up and down his back and moaned at every drive of his hips. This pushed the captain to groan as all the intensity of his bliss intertwined with that of Wendy's, causing the two lovers to simultaneously climax in a fit of orgasmic rapture. She furrowed her brows in pure rhapsody as she felt his warm seed gush inside of her. As he slid his organ out from between Wendy's legs, his lips soon found their way back to her lips as their insistent tongues found congress once more.

They playfully kissed one another until both found that they were too tired to keep their eyes open. She laid her head to rest on his strong, broad chest as he wrapped a protective arm around her. It was his left arm, but Wendy was not repelled by its conspicuously absent hand. Instead, she clasped it with her characteristically kind, gentle touch and held it to her heart as she drifted off into the land of dreams. James, too, closed his eyes, which caused a tear to trail down his cheek and fall into the smooth cotton of the goose feather pillow on which he rested his exhausted head.

The Return Voyage

The next morning the sun had only begun its journey through the sky an hour before, when Wendy stirred in James's arms and unsealed her clear eyes to view the glorious light of a new morning. Before waking him, Wendy took the blessed silence of the morning to reflect on what happened the previous evening. Never did Peter Pan ever do to her what Captain Hook did last night.

Wait a moment! Captain Hook? No, this was no Captain Hook; this was Captain James St. John, post captain of the Royal Navy. This was a different man – kind, caring, considerate, talented, beautiful, dashing, strong, brave, and wonderful. Would Captain Hook have ever said he loved her? Never! Right? In any case, perhaps he still retained some of the odd bits of the personality of Captain Hook within him; after all, he had been Hook almost as long as he had been St. James. But the thought of having lain with Hook, or the man who once was Hook in her eyes, unsettled Wendy a bit. And yet…it thrilled her as well.

"I'm in love with Captain James Hook," Wendy said out loud just so she could hear herself say the words.

She felt him shift under her until he asked, "What's that?"

"I said that I'm in love with Captain James Hook," she replied, somewhat wary of his response.

But he only laughed good-naturedly and said, "What? I thought you were in love with Captain James St. John? Won't he be surprised – best not to tell him, love. He might demand satisfaction."

Wendy giggled and nudged his arm, saying quietly, "But I have a secret."

He raised his eyebrow and smiled inquiringly, also speaking in a hushed tone, "And what is that, pray tell?"

"They're the same person," she whispered closely into his ear.

Her breath produced a shiver down his spine as he momentarily clenched his teeth and flared his nostrils in a surge of pleasure at the sound and feel of her voice. What was this power she had over him, this magic so that her very breath sent him quivering with temptation? Her slightest touch resulted in him becoming hard with desire. What other woman was capable of that?

He attempted to sound unfazed when he responded, "We are? I am? Ah, well, that is good, then, isn't it?"

The morning did not progress long before James and Wendy were soon back at the gangway to the Revenge and onboard once again. When Wendy walked through the door of the cabin, she felt very different, as though this were a completely separate place from when she exited it. Could two days have changed so much in her point of view? They certainly could.

After she had settled in and had her trunk stowed away (James had bought her a new wardrobe while on King Karl Island), it was not until the Revenge was well on its way into open water and the sun hung high that James finally entered the cabin. He found Wendy reading, of course, and wearing a simple blue dress that went past her knees. She wore no shoes, which he thought to be quaintly charming, like she were out for a private picnic on a midsummer's day and had decided to bathe her feet in a nearby brook. Her light amber hair's curls had loosened, and now hung in wavy tendrils that splashed over her shoulders like the wandering stems of morning glories.

He took off his coat and waistcoat, preferring to relax in his shirtsleeves. After removing his shoes and stockings, James looked the proper partner to match Wendy's girlish ensemble, except that his iron hook quashed all hopes of normalcy in the picture of the two, so he self-consciously unscrewed it and set it on a table.

Wendy saw the unsure look pass over his visage as he detached the grim apparatus from his arm. She wondered why he should feel so strange, for was he not accustomed to it? It didn't really bother her, come to think of it, hook or no hook, so why should he allow it to bother him now that she was to be in his company?

She kept her eyes on the book page as she said, "James, how goes it with the Revenge?"

He was grateful for the subject, of which he, to be sure, was an expert, "All has gone swimmingly, my love. No mishaps or mistakes, so no one shall walk the plank this time."

"I hope you're joking."

"I made you walk the plank, didn't I?"

"You did," she said thoughtfully, "But that was back when you were a bit – "

He raised an eyebrow and gave her a sly smile, then said, "A bit…what?"

"Unhinged."

He grinned maliciously and rushed at her, and in one skillful motion had his arm around her waist and lifted her up onto the desk. He held her tight to his breast so he felt the rapid beating of her heart.

He said in a mock foreboding tone, "And who's to say I'm not unhinged at this very moment?"

Wendy answered back, "Would you make me walk the plank now?"

"That depends – if I wanted to commit suicide I would, for I would not send you to your own destruction without myself going first. 'Tis the rule of a gentleman in regards to his lady."

"I thought you never said you were a gentleman."

"Once again, my dear, that depends on the situation. For on some counts, I can be downright proper."

The last few words were more whispers than anything, for he needed to be close to her in order for him to drive his artful tongue into her ear. She opened her mouth and furrowed her brows as she screeched:

"Ah! James, you fiend!"

Her hand darted behind his head, though not to hinder his action, but more to find herself a point of contact with him for balance. He effortlessly moved to her neck where he reveled in the salty taste of her fragrant skin, greedily licking and lapping at it like a zealous dog. His hair was untied, and this time it succeeded in giving him a feral appearance more akin to the newfound adjective now ascribed to him.

He gleefully carried on his attack on Wendy's sensitive neck, but in a flash the tables were turned significantly. Even Wendy didn't know what had come over her when she suddenly seized his hips in a steely grip and shoved him down into the chair. His face betrayed a momentarily stunned mien, which succeeded in giving Wendy an extra rush of determination as well as triumph. She speedily unbuttoned the front of his trousers and subsequently unsheathed his cock from the confines of its linen prison.

With bright, flashing eyes Wendy said in James's ear, "I shall now seize your mainmast, captain, and take you as my prisoner."

Before James could say anything Wendy had her mouth around his organ and began to intently suck it with incredibly urgent force. Her nostrils hungrily hissed in the air, seeing as her mouth was too occupied, and when she ran her stiff tongue under the length of his shaft, a long, drawn-out groan escaped through James's teeth:

"Oh my god, Wendy!" as his hand gripped the edge of the desk.

However, his bliss was soon interrupted when the inconsiderate Smee burst through the unlocked doors and said, "Captain! We forgot to load the fishing wire!"

His seriousness for such a trivial matter was quite comical, though not to James.

The latter's icy eyes erupted in a vicious fire as he roared, "Not now, Smee, you damned bloody varlet!"

"But captain – " Smee persisted.

"OUT!" James thundered as Smee quickly exited.

Smee was blessedly unable to see Wendy, for the desk neatly concealed her entire form, leaving only James visible from the vantage point of the door. Wendy seemed not to have heard the noise at all, for she did not cease her earnest blows nor slacken her pace in the least.

Only a few seconds of recovery were needed before James began to feel the telltale build-up that preceded the eventual expulsion of his essence, an event that he prefaced with a low, deep growl. His breath became staggered and his hand tightened its already crushing grip on the table's edge. His abdomen quivered upon his release and he delighted at the look of Wendy licking her lips and wiping her mouth with the back of her delicately slender hand.

He stowed his cock but was still so dazed that all he could do was lean his head back with his legs still spread apart, his chest heaving, and his eyes partly closed. He had the most ridiculous smile on his face, which touched Wendy's heart in a poignant way. She had never seen him so happy, so content, so at peace (of course, she hadn't seen his face the first night they lay together, which would have been a revelation to her). She smiled wistfully to herself. He had had such an extraordinarily painful life for so long, so was it possible that she, Wendy Moira Angela Darling, was the sole catalyst for his newly discovered happiness?

Even if she were not, her effect on him was undeniable, for he opened his arms to her and beckoned her to his warm chest, holding her close just so he could feel her presence was not a dream, that none of this grand adventure was a cruel trick of the senses.

He said in a soothing coo, "My darling Wendy, what you have given me cannot be described by either sage or poet. In the time I have gained in making your acquaintance, you have unlocked in me something that I thought should go forever unfound, forgotten, and lost. So be still, my love, and I shall walk with you for all eternity as your protector, your confidante, your lover, and your friend. I love you Wendy Moira Angela Darling."

"And I love you James St. John, with all my heart."

The next few days were spent as though it were their honeymoon, their wedding of hearts and minds having taken place on the island, and because of this James decided to hand the reigns over to Smee for a spell, as he put it. The latter being quite obliging and just as skilled as the captain in all matters of seamanship, perhaps even more so since Smee had plied most of his Earthly career before the mast, there were no problems that occurred during the quick two and a half weeks that it took to return to James's Island.

And what a honeymoon this was for James and Wendy! They made love constantly, or at least that's how it seemed. The crew would sometimes go three whole days without ever seeing their captain, but it didn't matter much, for work was work and that's all they knew, being a highly disciplined crew by pirate standards. However, if one of them happened to venture past the door of the captain's cabin, he could almost always hear moaning, groaning, bumping, and thumping of the most titillating kind, and he would nudge his shipmate and laugh knowingly once they were out of earshot.

So the days rolled by, just as the ship's cutwater faithfully sliced through the heaving sea and the sun and moon continued their game of chase across the heavens. And when it came down to less than a day until the Revenge was to moor in its old lagoon, Wendy's dread of the future was all the more apparent. She did not want Pan to die. After all, he was her first love, and though he was not her true love, he was still a part of her childhood and her past, for was it not to him that Wendy gave her first kiss? Was it not because of him that she was able to first come to Neverland and eventually meet James? She did not want James to slaughter him, yet she was reluctant to bring up the subject to her lover, whose conviction could rarely be shaken once he had set all his faculties towards the fruition of a goal, nay, an obsession.

The evening before the landing day, Wendy was lying on a large, cushioned palette with James by her side. All was silent save for the continuous squeak of the lanterns' metal hinges and the creaking of the ship as it ploughed through the water. James had dozed off and was now breathing quietly with his right hand resting on his abdomen and his left arm in the charge of Wendy's gentle clasp. She was on her side and took the time to gaze at James's sleeping form, which was something otherworldly to behold.

He, like most people, was most at ease when he slept, but something else about his countenance when unconscious differed sharply with all other human beings in a marked way. Where once he only bore a look of profound melancholy, both in his waking as well as his dreaming state, his entire person now emitted what seemed like a soft, glowing light of pure, unmediated joy, as if he had been reborn into a new body with a completely new destiny free of worry and doubt. His eyes, though not open, looked more peaceful than a cherub's, for he had found his heaven; his mouth bore no deeply furrowed lines and no signs of weariness, for it seemed he had grown younger. His hair seemed more lustrous, his forehead smoother, his strong nose even more shapely, and even his hand appeared as that of an eternal youth.

Wendy whispered, knowing he couldn't hear her, "I wish we could fly away to Earth at this very moment and leave this Neverland behind us forever. I don't want any more blood spilled by your hand or your hook. I couldn't bear it. Oh, James, you are no longer a lost soul, so kill no more…for my sake."

He stirred but did not wake up. What dreams he may have been dreaming cannot be rightly guessed at, but at least they were good. A faint smile stole across his lips as did the one sound he murmured in his sonorous deep voice, "Wendy."

She affectionately rubbed her thumb against his left arm and smiled forlornly. As she did that, something curious happened: a tear glinted through James's eyelashes and fell down his cheek and into his raven hair. What could he have been dreaming? It must have been something that caused him deep sadness, so she decided to awaken him. Wendy reached a slender finger to his cheek and wiped away the tear. He stirred and opened his soft eyes, then he turned to her and smiled.

"Wendy, have I been dreaming?" he asked.

"Yes, but it caused you sadness, so I woke you."

"What do you mean?"

"You were crying, James. Your tear is still wet upon your cheek."

He took his hand to his face in a rather dazed manner and wiped away the moisture.

"This is odd," he said. "I've never cried while asleep. Heh, not very becoming, is it?"

"I think it adds a tenderness to you that no one has had the privilege to see for a long time. It is very becoming, I think."

"Wendy, something in your voice betrays your thoughts. Tell me what's troubling you? Your heart seems heavy tonight."

"All I ask is that you don't do something rash."

He sat up, visibly alarmed, and said, "What is it, Wendy? Name the thing and I swear I shall not commit an act of evil that would put a rift between us."

"Do you know what you're saying, James?"

"I shall once you name that which you would not have me do."

She sat up as well and said in an unwavering voice, "Do not kill Peter Pan."

She may as well have slapped him across the face, for his eyes flashed and he grimaced as though in great pain.

He got to his feet as spryly as a cat and said to her in a desperate voice, "Wendy, you know that I cannot make that promise! I cannot!"

She got up and faced him spiritedly, "Try as you might to forget it, James, but once upon a time he was my friend. If not for him, I wouldn't have come to Neverland and I would never have met you!"

"If not for him, my dear, I would still have my hand and my dignity."

"You haven't lost your dignity. You killed the crocodile – wasn't that revenge enough? Yes, Peter Pan may have a complete lack of scruples and, at times, a dearth of common human decency, but for God's sake, James, I don't want him dead!"

"Then he will torment us on a daily basis, for a friend of mine is an enemy of his."

"He wouldn't torment you as long as you're with me. He wouldn't do such a callous thing."

His eyes narrowed and glowed eerily. His voice was sinister, "Wouldn't he?"

Wendy's expression desired an explanation and so he obliged, beseeching her to sit with him. The two sat back down upon the palette and he began:

"You do not know how I became enemies with Peter Pan because he probably did not tell you. He forgets things easily, so it's no wonder that he himself hasn't the slightest inkling of what happened. But I shall tell you now, Wendy, so you may stay your judgments until you have heard all.

"After I had been entrenched in this limbo for eighty-nine agonizing years, Pan finally came to Neverland to cause trouble and create what he called 'adventures.'" That was fifty years ago. At first I was amused by the boy, having seen what I thought was a trifle of my own childhood self in him. I took him on as a midshipman of sorts, hoping to train him to become a great sailor in the event that I would somehow be transported back to Earth, for I had planned to take him on as a faithful member of my crew after I somehow contrived to regain my status. He, of course, was capable of going back at any time, which engendered not a small amount of jealousy on my part.

"After a few years went by and he had aged a bit, due to his constant Earth-bound travels, I put the question to him thus: 'Peter,' says I, 'If I were to find myself back in my own world, would you come with me and join my crew in the Royal Navy?' He said with excitement, 'Yes, of course! I would come to Earth and then go back to Neverland whenever I chose, so I could have two games at once!' He missed the point entirely, so I pressed, 'No, Peter. If you come to Earth, you cannot go back to Neverland. You need to grow up.' This, as you know, sent him into a rage and he cried, 'I shall never grow up!'

With that, he stormed out and swore that he would never join any crew of mine as long as he lived.' From that day forward, he has been my enemy."

Wendy asked astonished, "But how did you come to losing your hand?"

James replied, "It was simple: he challenged me to a duel immediately after he refused my offer. However, I did not think it the best of form to fight him who had only a moment ago been my protégé, for I am not as fickle as he is. But I acquiesced, thinking it was only a game. However, I soon found out it was not a game, and I realized I had successfully trained a lethal fighting machine, and with his gift of flight I saw that he had transformed into a formidable opponent.

"I suppose for a brief instant I failed to match his speed, and with one sure movement, swift and terrible, he severed my hand from the sinews that bound it to my person. The cut was so perfect that I didn't even feel the wound, but only knew of my injury from the dark red life that flowed from it so freely. I think the most painful event of that day was when I beheld his high-pitched laughter, so childlike and innocent, but grotesque and horrifying in light of what had just happened.

"I swore to him that I would hunt him down and kill him myself, no matter how long it took. And after my wound had healed completely, I had contrived to put a hook in place of my hand, believing that it would be the sweetest of poetic justice to gouge him with the very instrument that represented his betrayal to me. Forgetting how mocking children can be, I was rather shocked when, one day after he espied my new appendage, he dubbed me "Captain Hook." The hideously embarrassing name soon wound its way throughout this Neverland with the speed of a gale, and so, admitting defeat on that count, I submitted to the name, determined to live up to its brutal implications – by hook or by crook."

He smirked to himself and laughed bitterly, then said, "So, my dearest, what do you have to say about your Peter Pan now?"

"James, don't use that tone of voice. He's not mine and he hasn't been for quite some time."

"Good, at least I've had some effect on you."

"I fell in love with James St. John, not Hook. So don't think for an instant that I share your vengeful ideas. Your story is tragic, yes, but now it has changed for the better because we are together, and shall remain so for as long as there is breath in my body and in yours."

"He might try to kill me in the night, Wendy," he said in a more hypothetical than serious tone.

"That's preposterous."

"Is it?" he asked, running a gentle finger down the side of her cheek.

The Foes

Just at that moment, a great boom shook the ship to its frame. Long Tom had fired at something. James sprang to his feet and immediately seized his harness, which Wendy assisted him in putting on. He then robed himself in a black waistcoat, jacket, and armed himself with his trusty cutlass, rapier, pistols, and, of course, his newly sharpened hook.

Wendy couldn't help but say as he began out the door, "Don't do anything foolish, James. Remember what I said."

He paused and said reverently, "How could I forget?" and then he was out the door.

Wendy disrobed her nightgown and threw on a pair of nankeen trousers and a long-sleeved white shirt with pale blue stripes printed on it. After braiding her hair back and before she exited the cabin, she mechanically armed herself with the pistol and dagger that James had given her on King Karl Island. She, too, was now ready for battle, though against whom, she was not quite sure.

When she stepped out onto the quarterdeck, Wendy beheld a rare sight: James and Peter were standing directly across from each other, calm and unmoving. Neither one had raised a weapon to the other, but it seemed as though they were conducting a war council civilly and in a gentlemanlike manner. Their conversation went thus:

"Just tell me you haven't hurt her," said Peter calmly.

"I have done no such thing," James replied in equal tranquility. "But my my, Peter, this is certainly a significant departure from your usual stance of not giving a damn about anyone save yourself."

"I love Wendy with all my heart, Hook, and I would do anything to get her back."

"I know you would, and that is precisely why I kidnapped her – to lead you here and finally settle the score."

"I'm going to kill you, captain. I'm only sorry the crocodile could not be here to see it."

"You would be. However, it is here in spirit, so let that thought comfort you."

"Where is Wendy? I want to see her."

Wendy stepped forward and said in a loud, clear voice, "I'm here, Peter, and I'm all right."

Peter's handsome, boyish face lit up as he flew from the captain and landed quietly onto the quarterdeck. He took her hands in his and exclaimed:

"Wendy, you are alright! Thank goodness, for I couldn't stop thinking about you while I was getting better."

James's eyes flashed in jealousy when he saw Peter touch Wendy, so he tightened his grip on the hilt of his rapier and gritted his teeth. Wendy easily perceived this with her quick eye and in a subtle look she entreated him to be at ease. Now that she was in the presence of her childhood friend and lover, she felt a rush of guilt stab her heart. It was as though she had betrayed him by cleaving herself to James, so how could she even begin to let Peter know the truth? The thought alone was torture.

Noticing that she paused, Peter asked, "Wendy, is something wrong? You don't seem excited to see me."

His countenance dropped and a dark shadow quenched the brightness of his eyes.

Wendy could not take it, so she wrenched her hands from his and cried out, "Oh, Peter! I'm so sorry, but I do not love you anymore in the way I once did. I still cherish you and your memory, but I'm afraid I have found another!"

Tears began to roll down her eyes and, were it not for that, then James's triumph would have been complete, for he absolutely relished in vindictive pleasure the emotional downfall of the once great Pan. Peter's body lost its erect and confident posture and he slouched in utter shock and surprise, perfectly broken in one fell blow.

His face was contorted in pain when he said, "What are you saying? You don't love me anymore?"

"Oh, Peter, I still love you as one loves a cherished memory, for you are an inextricable part of my past that I shall remember with joy forever. But I am no longer in love with you. I am so, so sorry it had to happen this way. I am so sorry."

He gently let go of her hands and rested his own at his sides. He did not cry and he did not yell, but he rather carried himself with dignity when he inquired:

"Who is your true love now, Wendy? Do I know him?"

She said not a word, but looked past Peter and set her eyes on James, whose smirk had long since disappeared and who had simply stood quietly and patiently. His face was unreadable, but his heart felt like bursting.

Peter followed Wendy's gaze and his eyes, too, settled on James.

He lost his composure completely and he screamed, "Hook? You're in love with Captain Hook? No! No, this can't be true, Wendy! You're lying!"

"Peter, I am NOT lying! I love him!"

But Wendy had barely finished her statement before Peter was off the deck and lunging towards his old foe. James was ready for him.

Both emitted animalistic, guttural cries as their swords clashed together with a sharp clang of metal upon metal. James swung at him with his hook and missed only by a hair's breath. He then repelled Pan and found a better foothold with his deer-like step as the latter flew up into the air and prepared for another assault.

Pan took a nosedive with his sword pointed towards the captain's heart, but James dodged it and slashed the young's man's left forearm with vengeful accuracy. Pan cried out in a flash of steel and James redoubled his efforts with a deadly onslaught of slashes and stabs, but all rent nothing except the air, for Pan was far quicker than James had remembered. As James whirled around here and there, jumping from one stance to another, Pan enraged him by crowing wildly and flying high above the mastheads. The fire of rage was now in both of their eyes.

James smiled cruelly and cocked his pistol, aiming for Pan's chest. He shot and missed, swearing under his breath as Peter darted behind a sail. He knew he needed to get Pan in a corner from which he could not escape, and only then would his bullet prove true. James ordered his crew, which began to grow anxious, to not move an inch but rather to leave Pan to him alone. After all, a whole crew against one would not be a fair fight.

"Hook, have you grown older?" Peter taunted as he flitted from side to side.

"Older in mind but not in body, you accursed brat!" James cried.

It was in that second that Hook sliced two buntlines with his cutlass, sending the blocks flying towards Peter. One of them grazed him while the other knocked him off course, giving James enough time to aim his pistol once more. This time his shot proved more to the point, for it whistled through the palm of Pan's left hand, leaving behind a clean hole. Peter screamed in pain and crashed onto the deck amidships where he bled profusely.

James rushed at him, but Wendy was more surefooted, having watched the entire fight in anguish. She intercepted him and stood before Peter with her chest bared and her arms spread apart in that universal entreaty of an attacker to desist at once.

"No, James! Don't, I beg you!" she shrieked, her look wild and desperate.

"Wendy, I have my chance, so do not spoil it for me!"

"Please, James, please! Do not do anything that would make me regret loving you! Please! James…"

Her voice pierced his heart more searingly than any bullet or blade could. He wavered, for this was not how he had imagined it would end. Was he about to do something that he would regret? Should he let Pan go, and in doing so, adhere Wendy to himself for all time? Or should he slake his thirst for vengeance in a final blow to the once proud and indomitable Peter Pan, thus setting his own heart at rest?

His hand began to tremble and shake uncontrollably, until, finally, he dropped his cutlass to the board and yelled out, "Fuck all and damn him to hell, Wendy! I've had enough! I'm done with this if it means you shall be mine. Alas, I am finished."

"Oh, James!" she cried as she flew into his strong arms, which held her tightly like those of a soldier who has just returned home from an almost unwinnable war.

Meanwhile, Peter gazed at the pair in a mix of insurmountable rage, envy, and despair. Truly he was not in his right mind, for he did something that was in terribly bad form indeed: he stabbed James in the back with the dagger that he always kept hidden inside his boot. The dirk sank in hilt deep, leaving James staggering and Wendy breathless with shock.

James's pale blue eyes grew even paler when he said, "Wendy," before he tripped over the gunwale and fell into the water below.

"James!" Wendy cried as she rushed to the edge and yelled at the nearby crew, "Well don't just stand there! Save your captain!"

They looked rather sheepish until one of them said, "We can't swim, Miss."

"Dammit!" she said, and before she knew it she dove into the water.

Wendy was not a particularly strong swimmer herself, having only gone a couple times to London's swimming bath for holidays, but due to her quick actions she didn't have to swim too deep and was soon able to seize James around his middle. She pulled him and herself to the surface, which prompted a hearty cheer among the crew.

Mr. Smee yelled, "Hurry! A boatswain's chair! Lift them out of there before the mermaids get 'em!"

The two were hauled onto the deck, drenched, cold, and barely alive with Wendy able to only summon enough strength to lean over James and kiss his cold lips, whispering into his ear, "I love you."

It was at that moment that all vitality left her and all turned to darkness.

Home

When Wendy opened her eyes, she found herself dry and lying on a cool, green lawn under the shady bows of an alder tree. It was afternoon, and the day was pleasant, but she was disoriented and knew not where she lay. She heard far-off laughter from distinctly English voices of both sexes. She sat up and, upon viewing various hedges of holly and the hint of an elegant iron fence, she realized she was inside Kensington Gardens!

A deluge of questions flooded her mind, the first being how she got back to London, the second being where James was. She knew not the answers to either, but instead decided that she must go home immediately. And so, gathering all her strength, although she was terribly sore, she heaved herself up and began the slow trudge to Number 14.

The stares of the people on the street did not bother her one bit, for her mind was far and away from everything around her. She still felt like she was in Neverland and that this real world was only a dream. She finally made it to her stoop, her feet having mechanically brought her there by memory, and, after knocking once or twice – she didn't know how many – John answered the door.

His eyes showed his utter surprise as he exclaimed, "Sister!"

She could only reply, "Brother, I'm home."

It took Wendy a few months to recover from her ordeal, and after the passage of time, reality and imagination became blurred. She commenced asking herself if her adventures were truly real and if there even was a real Captain James St. John whom she had met, whom she had loved, and whom she had saved. Was she going mad? Was Peter Pan real? She questioned John and Michael on that count, and they both assented that Neverland and Peter were real, although her brothers worried about her sanity, for she would scream in her sleep and talk to herself even though other people were present in the room.

Soon, for it seemed very soon indeed, a year had passed since Wendy's disappearance and subsequent reappearance. At that time, for she was a young lady of marriageable age, her father decided it would be good for his daughter to attend a social ball where many eligible bachelors were sure to be present. Wendy, whose mind had been clouded by time and who had suppressed and relegated her once grand love affair to the ranks of delusion, agreed to go.

Her mother bought for her a pale blue dress of the icy hue. Why was that so familiar? And Wendy's hair was curled and put up in the style that fashion called for, set off by teardrop pearls and a pearl necklace of a fine quality.

Wendy's father escorted her to the ball, which really was a lovely affair. It was held at an admiral's home, so many naval officers were in attendance, as well as a score or so of young men who would have set any young lady's heart aflutter.

Wendy absentmindedly danced with a few handsome gentlemen who were enchanted by her otherworldly comportment, but she could not concentrate, for something was nagging at her heart as she beheld all the indigo jackets and uniforms. These things were so familiar, but she couldn't distinctly tell why.

Then, just as she was sitting down, a man approached her. He wore a post-captain's uniform and he stood quite tall. His coal-black hair was cut short and slicked back, but one could see that it was rather curly otherwise. His face was handsome as was his mouth, which wore a slight smile of a knowing nature. But the aspect that Wendy noticed most about him were his eyes, which were very keen, and seemed to search her own with an indescribable familiarity and knowingness.

He bowed to her and said in a pleasantly deep voice, "Miss, would you care to dance?"

She smiled as her cheeks flushed. Why did she know his face?

"I would love to," she said, taking his hand without realizing it.

The dance was a waltz, and when she clasped his gloved left hand and they began to dance, she realized it was made of wood. That seemed strange, for wasn't it the same hand that –

"James!" she exclaimed as they lightly stepped in unison across the marble floor.

"Wendy," was all he said as he beamed at her.

"How did you find me here? How did you – "

He silenced her, "Not now, Wendy, my love. We must have a quiet place to talk."

"Then let us escape to the balcony."

He submitted and the two stole away to the outside. Upon seeing this out of the corner of his eye, Mr. Darling smiled to himself and continued with his conversation as though nothing out of the ordinary had happened.

"James, how did you escape?" Wendy said when they were finally out of earshot.

"After I was stabbed in the back, the skillful surgeon sewed me up and proclaimed it to be a mere scrape. It took me weeks to recover, but by the time I did, an uncanny squall hit the ship and once again I was knocked unconscious and taken up by the wind. When I awoke, I found myself in the jailhouse. Well, I had never expected to end up there, but at least I knew it was England, for the voices around me were sweet and comforting to me, like old friends, despite the abominable surroundings. Then I was released on bail paid by an unknown source. However, when I was let go, who should meet me on the steps but my trusty first mate, Mr. Smee?

"He debriefed me on the year and my circumstances. He said that over the decades that I had been in Neverland he had served as the manager of my estate, every so often appearing and stating he was the solicitor for a descendent of mine, or something to that effect. He is quite clever. I had no idea he was doing this and so, of course, I was astounded. He is a jewel of a man – he truly is.

"He also told me that he had contrived papers for me that he had placed in the annals of Parliament, in the event of my return, so that if I wanted to regain my position as post-captain, it would not be a problem. And, as you can see, it has not been a problem at all. But my, how the navy has changed. They know me as Captain James St. John V, for I am legally my descendent. It's quite funny, really."

"My goodness, James. Are you saying that you are a commander once again?"

"I am, and I am back from the dead."

The unabated happiness on his face engendered a deep love in Wendy for this man, her lost love come home.

She inquired, "What happened to Peter?"

Only a minor shadow crossed James's brow when he said, "I don't know, for the moment my crew turned their backs on him, he was gone, and he hasn't been seen since. Don't look so worried, for he is not dead. He's just gone."

Wendy could not help looking despondent, but what else could she really ask for? Neither one of the important men in her life had killed each other. She should have been happy, but she was not. She supposed that she only wanted to be able to say goodbye to Peter, for he was her first love, and the first recipient of her kiss.

She sighed, but did not let her troubled thoughts ruin what had become a happy ending to her story.

In the matter of a week, James proposed to Wendy and asked permission of her father and mother, who were more delighted than ever at the arrangement. Wendy's brothers, on the other hand, could not find it in themselves to be friendly with James due to the fact that he frightened them close to wetting themselves. The ceremony was small and simple, and after the vows were exchanged, Nana barked her approval of the happy couple, which caused everyone, even John and Michael, to laugh with ease.

James took Wendy to his small estate in Kent, which was the original one that had been given him by the crown in 1768. It was there that Wendy began her real adventure of life with her husband whom she had once thought was lost to her forever.

One night in midsummer, when the windows were left open and the breeze rolled into James and Wendy's bedchamber, Wendy was awakened by a hand on her shoulder. It was Peter's hand! She got out of bed and hastily crept to the balcony where she could speak without waking James.

"Peter, what are you doing here?" she whispered.

He said, "I've come to tell you that this is the last time you shall ever see me on Earth. I'm going back to Neverland for good, this time, but I wanted to say goodbye."

Two tears appeared in Wendy's eyes as she said, "So this is it, Peter? No more adventures?"

"You have yours already, Wendy, so now I shall go to seek mine."

A tear fell from his eye and he wiped it away.

Wendy searched her heart and said, "One more kiss, Peter. Just one more."

He kissed her lips lightly and softly, both their eyes closed, but dewy and trembling. When he leaned back, he pressed her hand to his, leaving in it a small acorn button.

"My last kiss," he said. "Farewell Wendy. I will never forget you as long as I live."

In spite of her tears she smiled and said, "And you will always remain here, Peter."

She pointed to her heart.

"Goodbye," he said. "I love you, Wendy."

He then silently flew into the air and disappeared among the stars of the night. All was stillness and silence when Wendy crawled back into bed and pressed herself against James, who stirred at the gentle touch.

He asked drowsily, "Who were you talking to, my love?"

"No one, James. Just a memory."

He kissed her cheek and they were soon asleep in each other's arms, and dreaming of their great adventure.

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