The moon shone through the dense trees down into the forest, giving off enough light to make the dirt path visible. Hook slashed his sword through the long, thorn-filled vines of the jungle. He knew what he was about to do was dangerous, but it needed to be done. If he didn't, the guilt would carry with him for the rest of his life.
It had been many years since Hook left the Enchanted Forest and gone through the portal to Neverland. Like most naive children, he didn't think much of going to the island. It suited his needs perfectly. He was going to bide his time until he learned how to finally kill the crocodile. He wouldn't have to worry about growing old and dying before he could have his revenge on the Dark One. But Neverland turned out to be quite different than the pirate expected.
After finding out just how dark of a place this new realm was, Hook made every effort to leave, ultimately failing. Since then, he had spent every waking moment trying to figure out how to escape. There were no portals that he knew of and no ways of creating one - at least that he knew of. There were no magic beans in Neverland, but that didn't mean there wasn't a way.
Hook knew he would never be able to discover the secrets of Neverland and the ways to leave without help. He spent the years slowly gaining the trust of certain individuals on the island who knew more about the island then Hook could ever find out on his own. Caution had to be taken for Peter Pan made it his business to know everything about everyone in the realm. Many times, Pan had suspected him of trying to escape, but Hook was always able to worm his way out of Pan's wrath.
The years of hard work and dedication had paid off. Hook finally had a way to leave thanks to a certain fairy, but he had one final thing to do before he could go.
His ears were opened and his eyes peeled for any unwanted visitors on the path, but none came. Hook came to the end of the path which opened up into a small clearing, but he did not step out into it. Instead, he situated himself on a rock hidden in the shadows of an overgrown bush where he waited.
He had sent word to the boy to meet him in secret, but it was entirely possible the message had been compromised and either the Lost Ones would show instead or worse, Pan himself.
Several minutes passed and the area remained quiet with no sign of movement. Hook started to wonder if he had refused his request to see him when he heard a rustling coming from the trees on the other side of the clearing.
A young boy stepped out from behind the cover of the trees. He looked exactly as he did the last time Hook had seen him: thin and slightly worn, his hair dark and curly. He even still wore the attire Hook had provided him with upon their first meeting, but covered it with a dark, linen cloak.
Hook rose from the rock he sat on and moved into the light. "Hello, Baelfire," he said.
Baelfire looked darkly at the captain and nodded. "Hook," he said simply.
A moment of awkward silence passed between the two as they surveyed one another.
"You look well," Hook continued.
"I'm not here to make small talk, Hook. What do you want?"
Hook looked around cautiously for any sign that the boy was not alone, but he couldn't find any. He took a couple steps closer to Baelfire. "I found a way out," Hook said quietly. "I found a way to leave Neverland."
Baelfire stared at Hook. "How?" he asked.
"Come with me and I'll show you," Hook said reaching out to him.
"I'm not going anywhere with you."
"Bae, I know you want to leave. Please, come with me."
Baelfire stepped back from Hook's outreached hand. "I told you once, pirate, I'd rather fend for myself then be with you. And nothing has changed that."
"Even after all these years?" Hook questioned.
Baelfire smiled incredulously. "Would you want to be with the person who tore apart your family?"
"Bae, please," Hook begged.
"You're still the pirate I met before who doesn't care about anyone but yourself. You've finally found your way to go and seek your revenge on my father You were never going to change for me."
Hook closed the gap between them and stared Baelfire straight in the eyes. "Yes, I would have. I would've given up everything for you, Bae." He paused. "And I still will. We can still be a family. Just come with me and we can start over."
"The only family I ever had was left in London when I sacrificed myself for their happiness and came to this place," Bae recounted. "They are the only family I ever had."
"Then let me take you back to them."
"Do you really want to stay here, Bae?" Hook asked angrily. "Do you really want to keep living under his rules? If you don't come with me, you will probably never leave."
"Then that's a sacrifice I am willing to make," Bae stated firmly.
Hook looked at the boy. He could see the familiar face of his beloved Milah in his eyes and wanted nothing more than to protect the son she desperately wanted to raise with him.
"This is not what your mother would've wanted for you," Hook said, his voice quivering. Even though she was on his mind every day for the last three hundred years, he never spoke of her; it was still too painful.
Baelfire felt a few small tears flood the corners of his eyes. He knew Hook could see them glistening on his face, but he didn't care.
"She was not my mother," Bae declared. "She left me. She abandoned me so she could be with you."
"Milah regretted that every moment of the rest of her life. She wanted to come back for you. She wanted us to be a family!"
"You don't think that's what I wanted?! You don't think I wanted a mother and a father to raise me?!" Baelfire shouted. "I've never wanted anything more in my life!"
"Then let me in! Let be your father, Bae! We can leave here! We can start over! Together!" Hook's eyes burned with tears.
Baelfire sighed. "You said that to me once. And then when I refused, you gave me to them." He gestured back into the woods. "I already had one father abandon me. You say you wanted to be my father? Then you should've let me go instead of surrendering me to Peter Pan. You abandoned me just like my mother did. And my father. You are just like them. You are no parent. You never could be. You don't care about anyone but yourself." He blinked back his tears. "Goodbye, Hook."
Baelfire turned and walked back towards the forest.
"Bae, wait!" Hook called. "Please."
"Nothing you can say will change my mind, Captain," Bae said looking back at him.
Hook hung his head and nodded. "I know," he acknowledged. "But before you go, please take this." He reached his hand into his jacket pocket, pulled out a piece of parchment and held it out for Baelfire to take. "Please, Bae, take it," Hook begged when Baelfire made no move to accept the paper.
He walked back to Hook and took the parchment. "What is it?" Baelfire asked.
"The secrets to Neverland," Hook said. "It's everything I've learned while I've been here. If you won't come with me, then use this to help get yourself out."
"Thank you," Baelfire said.
Hook hesitated and reached out, placing his hand on Baelfire's shoulder. "Good luck, m'boy," he said.
Baelfire nodded in thanks and walked back into the woods leaving Hook alone in the clearing.
The pirate stood there staring at the spot where Baelfire had disappeared in to. He half hoped the boy would change his mind and come back out and go with him, but he never did. Hook reached up and wiped away the remaining drops of water in the corner of his eye before strutting back into the forest down the path to his ship.
When he reached the beach, Hook realized there was nothing left to do then leave Neverland. He climbed in the row boat he had taken to shore and rowed back to the Jolly Roger. Before stepping up onto the deck, he looked back out to the island on more time.