A/N: I so wish I could have gotten this to you earlier but life is really putting a hold on my creativity. Do not fear though, I shall not give up on this, you have my word. Thank you all for your astounding patience. Thanks to all my reviewers: Lingering .Fears , ThePandaHat, kittyhawk09, CaptainHooksGirl, Karsterlynne, wondergirl329, ButterflyOnTheWall, Royalraven007, Natty .Buck .1, MissJemima and my three anonymous reviewers. Each review sparks imagination, so keep them coming! (P.S. Sorry some of your names have spaces in, FF won't let me write them otherwise... odd.)
As it rose, the sun peaked lazily over the horizon, lacing the whole of Neverland in its warm embrace. Its' rays filtered through the trees, falling down upon a certain young boy as he sat, as still and as slow moving as time itself, in a hidden alcove, his leaf-inspired attire providing perfect camouflage from the rest of the forests' inhabitants. The boy stared forward, his eyes unblinking, the only movement that suggested he wasn't in fact a statue being the steady rise and fall of his chest as he breathed. From a distance, Peter Pan looked to be almost completely calm and collected, however, those who may have assumed that would have been entirely wrong indeed for, inside, Peter was fraught with emotions and feelings and memories. They began at his head, logical and concise, before hurtling down his spine to flood his heart, where each thought shattered into a million tiny pieces and became racked with guilt and shame. From there, they slowly filtered back through his body until they reached his mind once more, forming paranoid questions which escaped the child through his tear ducts and hovered unanswered in front of his confused face. Of course, is important to note that not all of the thoughts brought tears to Peter's eyes, and even of the ones that did, not all were through sadness. Some were laced with anger or jealousy, others confusion or disbelief. Indeed, a small number were also cried without Peter's understanding of what they even stood for, but nonetheless, he cried them all the same.
Beneath Peter's ever still position, the lost boys were resting in the home underneath the ground, their soft snores filling the underground hideaway as a few golden rays of sunlight filtered down onto them. It would be wrong to assume that none slept peacefully that night, for most had not even begun to grasp the events that were beginning to occur upon their little island. It was our small yet sufficient group of Londoners that suffered the most torment, their minds playing havoc with their slumbering imaginations as they constantly replayed the drama that had unfurled before them that evening. Even John, who in ageing had adopted his father's mathematical and calculating approach to life, had spent the early hours of the morning fantasizing about Wendy's witty escape from the Black Castle, although in reality, a large part of him was attempting to digest the fact that he might never see his sister again; not alive anyway. Michael had also spent the night in turmoil and it had taken the strength and persuasion of both Curly and Tootles to stop him from finding Peter and confronting him numerous times. Of course, the other boys had too incurred nightmares that evening, however the mystical powers that encloaked Neverland had already begun to work their magic on the former Lost Boys and, as such, they were slowly beginning to forget, losing their brotherly attachment to Wendy in a way that her true brothers were not quite yet to do. Naturally, Neverland was beginning to work its wonders on John and Michael as well but, as they say, blood is thicker than water: the magic would take a little more time to truly penetrate their hearts.
Over in the Indian camp, a certain princess had also found difficulty in sleeping soundly. She, as were the rest of the Indians, was fully aware of the events that had been occurring in Neverland over the past few days however, until this moment, she had foreseen no imminent danger to herself or her community and, due to this, had decided to let Peter and Hook continue their quarrel without her interference. Nonetheless, as she lay, eyes wide and alert, listening intently to the night birds singing, the creeping touch of fear began to slowly possess Tiger Lily's mind, as if the island itself was attempting to send her a message. The princess let out a gasp as the sun's harsh rays poured into her enclosure: danger was coming.
At this moment of reading, it must surely appear as if none of Neverland's residents endured a completely sleep filled night. However, you would be wrong in assuming just that. Two people in particular had slept perfectly, their arms entwined around each others bodies as they slumbered. When, at one moment, Wendy had begun to show signs of distress, most likely due to the dramatic events that had occurred that day, the unconscious Hook had merely pulled her closer into his chest, engulfing her in a warmth and tenderness that had immediately banished any more upsetting thoughts from disturbing the young woman's slumber.
Indeed, it was only as the morning sun bounced gaily through the window of James' cabin, reflecting off his silver hook and almost blinding the poor Captain as he blinked himself awake, that their embrace was broken. Wendy shifted slightly at his movement but did not wake, allowing James the opportunity to sit and watch her for a moment, drinking in every inch of her beauty.
Smee's chirpy greeting brought James out of his subconscious with a sudden jolt. His eyes darted towards Smee, the expression on his face similar to that of someone who had just been caught doing something they shouldn't have. Smee resisted the urge to raise an eyebrow at this: the man before him was still James Hook, most feared pirate Captain in all of Neverland, after all, and Smee knew more than most how quickly his mood could change.
"Morning Cap'n." The first mate repeated as if he hadn't just said the exact same phrase. "Don't let the sunlight decieve you, it's a bit nippy out there."In a trice, Smee had disappeared just as silently as he had arrived, leaving Hook and his lady to their own devices. As the cabin door clicked shut James turned back to the sleeping woman in his bed. A soft smile touched his lips as he remembered how he'd removed and lent Wendy his shirt to sleep in, due to her clothes being soaked through and the rest of the garments he had purchased for her having not yet arrived. Despite the fact that the garment was much too large for her small frame, James liked the way it looked on her, draping over her pale skin in a baggy fashion whilst hinting at the curves that lay below it. Slowly rising from the bed, as to not wake the slumbering woman that inhabited it, James made his way across the cabin. He groaned a little as he stretched, his hook arm complaining slightly as he flexed a muscle in the forever damaged limb.
He dressed slowly and simply, watching Wendy as she slept, her hair framing her features, a small graze forming on her cheek from where she had fallen the night before. At seeing her injuries James' mind unconsciously drifted to his own. He was somewhat relieved that Wendy hadn't been there to witness his 'death': it hadn't been a pleasant sight. Peter had shown little mercy as he fought, taking any opportunity to dive at the Captain until, eventually, the boy had lucked out, his sword striking Hook across his leg. The resulting wound may have only been skin deep but it was enough to bring James to his knees. It was then that Peter had approached, kicking out and resting his weight on Hook's injury as he lent over the Captain and grimaced.
"Old. Alone. Done for."
Hook had smirked.
"I'm not alone Pan, you are."
Peter glanced back towards the castle ruins, fully aware that Hook was referring to Wendy.
"No!" he snarled, "You will die alone Hook, and so will she."
The sound of Wendy stirring brought James out of his reverie in an instant. He had been unconsciously rubbing his injured leg, his grip strengthening to such a point that the wound had reopened and was beginning to bleed through his bandages.
"James, you're bleeding."
"Tis just a scratch."
Before he could even begin to protest, Wendy was on her feet and bounding over to him, somehow acquiring his wash basin and a spare bit of cloth on the way. Kneeling before the injured captain, she slowly began to undress the wound, biting her lip to stop from expressing how deep she assumed the cut to be. It was long, stretching from just below James' right hip down to the top of his knee, but thankfully not as deep as the blood emitting from it had depicted. The cut itself wasn't too difficult for Wendy to clean and bandage, however the unspoken knowledge that Peter had inflicted this upon James was almost too much for her to bear, and it was with a tear in her eye rather than a comforting smile that she finished nursing the Captain's wound.
She glanced up, catching James' gaze for the first time since she had begun to tend to his injury.
He meant forward, kissing Wendy on the forehead before wiping the tears from her cheeks. To the pair of them, the moment was nothing but serene.
To an outsider however, it was anything but.
"Cap'n?" The cabin's occupants both to Smee at the same moment, the First Mate's eyes crossing between the two of them: Wendy knelt before Hook as the Captain smiled down to her, clad in nothing but a pair of rather short breeches. Smee stuttered, a little flustered at the image before him.
"M...Miss, your remaining garments have been delivered."
He placed the package down carefully as Hook frowned, catching on to Smee's assumptions. The First Mate visibly squirmed in response, squeaking out one last sentence before hastily making his exit.
"Sorry for the disturbance Cap'n!"
"Disturbance?" Wendy turned her gaze to James once more, confusion etched into her features. James failed to answer her, instead choosing to focus his attention on a lock of hair that had strayed from behind Wendy's ear. He deftly returned it to its original position before strolling over to the package of garments Smee had left behind and beginning to inspect its contents. Wendy wasted no time in joining him, realising that although, until now, she had secretly enjoyed wearing something of James' and the feeling of security that had accompanied it, unless she wanted to be publicly gawped at in a manner she was far than comfortable with, she should probably change into something more appropriate. After a moment or two her outfit had been selected and, leaving James alone to his thoughts, Wendy disappeared into the cabin's ante room to change.
By the time she returned, Smee had prepared a delicious breakfast and it was the inviting smells of cooked meat and steamed vegetables that greeted Wendy's nostrils as she reentered the cabin.
"Pirate-y?" She grinned, her stomach beginning to rumble softly as she gazed down at the food before her.
James returned the smile, "Indeed my dear, very pirate-y indeed!"
In fact, Wendy Darling looked so pirate-like that if it weren't for the way her attire accentuated her natural beauty, she may have been mistaken for one of the crew.
"I didn't think it was proper for females to wear trousers."
Wendy lifted her gaze from the meal before them, one eyebrow slightly raised in a challenging manner. Straightening herself, she smiled, "I suppose not, but if I'm going to take another impromptu swim today, I'd rather not be at risk of drowning simply because a dress would have been a more appropriate choice of attire for a lady such as myself."
The remark was such that James had to busy himself in his breakfast in order to hide the grin that revealed he had, in fact, been out witted by the girl before him. It was only as he tried to change the topic of conversation that a thought sprung to his mind.
"Your brothers are here aren't they?"
The change of tone was so sudden that Wendy was only able to stutter in response.
"Your brothers, Wendy. Did you know they're with Pan?
"No," came the aghast reply, "They can't be, how would they have gotten here? Are you certain about this?"
James nodded solemnly and began to explain his reasoning over the remainder of breakfast, Wendy's appetite quickly vanishing as she came to terms with the troublesome situation before them.
"What are we going to do James?"
"I don't know. Pan must be defeated but we cannot endanger your brothers, they are not part of this world: I couldn't be certain of their survival."
The corner of Wendy's lip twitched, "Why must Peter be defeated?"
The man before her widened his eyes, shocked by her reply.
"After all he's done to you; after he tried to kill you, you still want him to be safe?"
"Yes, I do."
"He's just a child."
"He may have the body and mentality of a child, Wendy, but there are parts of his mind darker than any adult's."
"That makes no difference: killing is wrong James." James smirked in response; he was, after all, a pirate. Killing was just part of the job. Reaching over the table, he took Wendy's hands in his, gazing into her soul via the blue orbs that were her eyes.
"There is no other way. He will only try and kill you again."
"No. There must be another way... Tell me there's another way James."
The silence that followed was more than enough to answer Wendy's request. In an instant, Wendy had pushed herself upwards, tears rushing to her eyes.
"I don't care. He is just a child. He plays make believe and he enjoys stories where good triumphs over evil. He may not have had a normal childhood but you cannot hurt him. As my mother once told me, night lights are the eyes a mother leaves behind to guard her children: a mother is the one who takes all of her child's worries and stresses and places them on her shoulders. A child with a mother shall never suffer."
"Pan doesn't have a mother Wendy."
"And that is why he deserves to be protected more than any child in the world: he has never experienced a mother's love, and I guarantee that knowing that tears a greater hole in his heart than any sword or hook ever could."
"How can you be sure of that?"
"When I first came to Neverland; when Peter brought me here all those years ago, the first thing the Lost Boys asked me when I met them was if I would be their mother. That word, and its meaning, is only something Peter could have taught them. I believe that, deep down, behind his insistent refusal not to grow up, he misses his mother dearly, and a very small part of him wishes he were a normal child with a normal life, and a mother who loves him."
Silence greeted the end of Wendy's speech like an old friend. She sighed, turning away from James and crossing the cabin to look out the window that stretched across the back of the room, allowing them a view of the sun as it soared through the bright blue sky. In the far off distance, she could just about make out the Black Castle, as ominous and dark as ever.
"Why did you visit the Black Castle last night?"
Wendy jumped, not realising that James had followed her across the room. She felt his warm hand begin to caress her arm, playing with the hem of her jacket.
"You never got round to telling me your intentions for visiting the Black Castle."
James exhaled a sigh; he supposed he'd have to tell her sooner or later.
"I was looking for an old memento. A ring to be precise."
Wendy turned around, confusion etched into her features.
"Yes, a ring that without, I will never be able to leave Neverland."
Wendy's brow furrowed, "I don't understand."
"Sit down and I will tell you. This is my story, Wendy. The story of how an honest Merchant came to be a dishonest Pirate."