Title: Spirit of Youth
By: Susie Bones
Email: susie_bones_@hotmail.com

Summary: Peter does something serious thinking when he gets back to Neverland....
Rating: G

Disclaimer: I don't own Peter (much as I would like to *evil wink*), nor Wendy or any of the other characters in Peter Pan. They all belong to Disney...

A/N: I'm going off the movie here, never having read the book before, though I have been intending to for a long time now...

For Peter: I know you're out there somewhere.

Spirit of Youth
Susie Bones
August 2002

I stepped off the ship, the Boys streaking past me. I looked at them fondly. We had spent so many years together, playing pretend, or "fighting" with the Indians, or plotting ways to make a fool out of Hook...
I grinned. Tinker Bell sat on the railing next to me. I looked at her and she stared back.
*That was fun and all, Peter, but don't ever bring another Wendy here*, her steady gaze seemed to say. I laughed.
"Deal, Tink," I said. She nodded, pleased, and flew off after the Boys.
My smile faded as soon as she had gone.
Wendy.
I had nearly suceeded in forgetting her and Tink had brought it all up again.
I folded my legs under me, hovering a few feet off the ship's floor, my chin in my hands.
Wendy. My -our- "mother." I don't think mother's make you feel like you've eaten something wriggly for breakfast every time she looks at you with her china blue eyes, though. I missed her. I missed her a lot.
I sighed and looked around. We had landed by the old hideout. The Boys were busily clearing things out. We had to find a new place. Wouldn't be too hard. The Boys were eager to follow my commands.
The problem was, I didn't want to be around to see the completion of the new hideout. With me gone, there would be no need for a hideout.
It made sense if you thought about it. The only reason we had needed a hideout was because Hook was after me. *Me.* Not the Boys at all, but me.
I frowned. In a way, everything was my fault. Running away because I was terrified of growing old and dying, coming here and finding the Boys, taking charge of them, putting them in many mortal dangers...being foolish and full of pride the whole time.
Hello. I'm Peter Pan and I have an ego bigger than this whole island.
I laughed softly. That's what being in charge does to you after a few years.
I stopped laughing after a moment, watching the twins haul a hammock around, stumbling occasionally.
Still...if it hadn't been for me, the Boys might not have been kidnapped by Captain Hook, or nearly burnt to death by the Chief.
I was foolhardy, hotheaded...and I needed to grow up.
No! part of my mind shrieked in horror, Peter, if you grow up, if you leave Neverland, Peter you'll grow _old_ and you'll die...
Yeah," I said shortly, "I know. But I'll be with Wendy."
Peter, you can't! Tinker Bell...the Boys-
"They'll be fine without me."
But--
"No. Wendy once told me her mother thought of me as the spirit of youth. But, eventually, youth changes to adulthood."
I planted my feet firmly on the floor of the ship. My time had come. I had to grow up, as all children must. I realized that now and understood it, even if Tink and the Boys did not. Or would not.
As if hearing my thoughts (and on more than one occasion did Tink give the impression she could read minds), I heard the familiar jingle of bells racing towards me.
"Hey, Tink," I said, smiling ruefully.
She glared at me, folded her arms across my chest and shook her head violently.
*Peter, you can't go.*
"I'm sorry, Tink. But I've got to," I told her.
She continued to glare, while tapping the side of her head, then pointing at me.
"I'll forget. Yeah. Yeah, I know," I said miserably.
She shook her head again and pointed at the Boys, the whole island and smiled.
*Stay.*
"I'm sorry, Tink," I repeated, "But I can't stay here anymore. We've all got to grow up."
Her jaw dropped and she looked puzzled.
*What changed _your_mind so suddenly?*
Before I could anser, however, a look of disgust crossed her face, meaning only one thing.
*Wendy*
I nodded, grinning a little sheepishly.
She scowled and made a shooing motion.
*Fine. Go to Wendy. I don't care.*
"Yes, you do, Tink. I know you do. I'd ask you to come, but I think you've had enough of Wendy for one lifetime," I said, smirking knowingly.
She nodded a bit defiantly, but I could see the corners of her mouth turning up slowly.
"Tell the Boys I said goodbye. And that I'll miss them for as long as I can."
She nodded again, this time sadly.
"I'll miss you, Tink. You know that, don't you?"
She sniffed and made that shooing motion again, quickly wiping her tears away and it occured to me that this had been the hardest on her. She had always been a rather vain, jealous little faerie. But she was still my best friend. The first friend I had made here. She had led me to the Lost Boys, introduced me to them. She had been jealous of Wendy because Wendy was a girl, roughly my age and very pretty. Poor Tink must have thought she was going to be replaced. Especially after Wendy declared she was going to give me a kiss....
I smiled, myself on the verge of tears.
"Don't let me forget. Please, Tink, don't let me forget," I said softly, hearing my voice crack.
She stuck out her hand and I stuck out a finger and we shook on it. Then, before she could break down completely, she flew away. I watched her go, knowing she and the Boys would be fine. They had been perfectly okay when I had first arrived however many years ago.
I turned then and flew off into the night. The cool breeze hit my face gently and I felt a ripple of sadness and regret. This would be my last journey from Neverland. I was not coming back with another child on the verge of growing up.
There was a brief moment when I nearly did go back. I paused in mid-air and looked back over my shoulder.
The second star was fading rapidly in what was fast becoming morning light. Even so, I knew the way. I could be back in an hour, two tops. We could all be playing pirates by mid-afternoon.
Then I turned and flew straight to the Darling house without stopping.

A/N#2: All right, I have just gotten over a severe case of writer's block. Well, sort of. This is the first story I've written in a while. So please, be kind. Flames will be used for my bag of marshmallows