Time had moved in where it shouldn’t have. Yet it was kicked out as fast as it came in. The same way that wounds heal, scars are mended, bruises lose their colour, so did Neverland. The burnt trunks slowly parted for new trees and flowers. The world of imagination repaired slowly and methodically, taking suggestions from the stars and other worlds aside from Earth.
It was on this reviving island, on the shoreline of one of the new beaches, that a shadowless Peter Pan stood alone. Even the boy who Never Grew Up changed with the island. His tunic of jay feathers and autumn leaves covered his torso in a mess of tangled reds, oranges and yellows, the Glider loyally at his right side, kept there by a mess of knots . The wind blew through his dark red hair as he looked to the star where his friends left. The sky was occupied by the sun and moon, the daylight and moonlight agreeing to share the sky of a deep blue mixed with purple, black and shimmering white.
The waves lapped at his feet as he forced down the urge to fly to them and bring them back. The train waited in the station for them, with fish bigger than horses at the sides. The blue and red fairies realized there wasn’t any reason to fight each other; there was nothing on the island that would eat them. He wanted to show them the changing world, even sand shifted around under his feet. But alas, he couldn’t fly until his shadow grew back. So he stared upwards.
He felt like he woke up from a bad dream. He couldn’t explain it, but he felt more like he was in a certain rush, like everything he had done went by too fast to really comprehend. He wasn’t in the mood to have an adventure, so instead he walked. Through the charred remains of the forest. To a friend’s hive, where she spent most of her time with her fellow flyer.
They were busy making a happier color than yellow. Tinkerbell had a huge paint brush in her arms, swirling the colors of a nearby rainbow in a counter-clockwise fashion. She had taken off the yellow ribbon and tried adding various colors that glittered and made the birds flying by feel good about themselves. Fireflyer was admiring their work from afar while trying to get the Sun’s attention.
“Won’t you come see this? It’s the happiest color you’ve ever seen! You’d love it!”
The Sun looked apprehensively at how they were making the color. The rainbow didn’t seem to notice.
Peter could see his light shining high in the sky. He was too determined to find others that he forgot to grow his shadow back.
“Fireflyer, where’s Tink?” He shouted loud enough that even the Sun looked towards him.
“She’s flown away, Pan! Never to return.”
Peter gave an exasperated sigh. He learned from Slightly to not believe him. Why did I even bother?
"You’re such a liar, Fireflyer!”
He innocently bowed in midair as he returned to haggling with the sun to use the new color.
He saw a blast of air whip across the sky, a rainbow missing its colors. It must have woken up. Tinkerbell rushed after it with a paint can.
“Wait! Wait! I can fix you! It’s what I do! I fix things! Wait!”
The rainbow rushed away in shame. A rainbow without its colors is like going to school in your undergarments. It is absolutely embarrassing.
Her disappointment was abated as soon as she saw Peter. He looked much different than the last time she cared to see him. Like he woke up from a sort of trance. She flew straight to his face, embracing him on his right cheek, her small body trying to cover all of the freckles on the side of his face.
He was immediately flooded with supernatural happiness as the two of them exchanged happy memories they each experienced away from each other.
What are you doing here, Peter?
I just came by to visit you.
Don’t you have something more fun to do? Neverland still needs mermaids and crocodiles. No one has taken care of that yet.
It was there, as the two of them talked in their silent language, at the cliffs overlooking a growing waterfall, that they both heard the crying. He immediately crouched down to hide in the thick grass of the plains, concealing his thin body, the fairy shivering behind him. In Neverland, children’s cries were as loud as a lion’s roar, so hearing one for the first time in what felt like forever startled them for a second. Then, after they realized what it was, he stood up quickly and called himself names one shouldn’t say out loud. Tinker Bell simply laughed at his stupidity.
The cry was of a child. A really young child.
Let’s go visit it. Maybe it’s friendly, he suggested as he climbed across the burnt out stumps and tree trunks. Tink, out of curiosity, followed with her husband not too far behind, as Peter strode under the huge rock formations and out to another field overlooking the sea beyond. There was still tall grass where the rocks blocked the fire, as well as a lone chestnut tree on an extended cliff overlooking a cliff. It was under that tree that the crying was located, and Peter knelt down towards the writhing dark colored flesh on the ground. It stopped crying the moment it laid its eyes on Peter Pan and the fairies.
It looked like a human baby, naked but for a loincloth around the waist, it’s big dark eyes staring right back at him. Peter wasn’t sure what to do as it reached for him, it’s chubby arms waving towards him like a madman, one hand clutching a spiky seed that didn’t seem to harm him.
Will it hurt us with that seed, Tink?
To Fireflyer, she laughed spontaneously.
Of course not, stupid imp. That’s a younger version of your kind. That’s nothing more than a baby.
As much he understood from her, all he could do was stare at it. It had been so long since he had to take care of a lost child, let alone a baby. Was he supposed to take care of it? How? He hadn’t done so in a long time.
Well, any other place was better than at the edge of the island, he thought, so he picked up the baby, in a matter almost by instinct, and carried it in his arms towards people who may know better. He knew that climbing the burnt hills of the forest was going to be harder with only one arm, but luckily he knew other ways.
Yet he never saw the boat that had washed up ashore sail out into the night the moment the baby was brought into the island.
“You were right to bring it here, Peter,” Chief Soaring Eagle methodically replied to Peter’s mysterious new visitor. He spoke in a deep, wise voice that gave him the impression of old age, even though he looked far younger. The weathered dark skin on his face allowed his red eyes to shine brighter than rubies in the light of the two fairies.
“You say there was nothing else next to the child?” He asked with a mixture of curiosity and concern.
“Not that I can recall. It was just lying there, with a buckeye seed in its hand. That’s all.”
The Chief turned back to him. “There is never something that is considered ‘all’. There’s always a reason for this. Tiger Lily,” He called in a yell which carried no of urgency. That was why Tiger Lily, his wife, only stuck her head out of her tent and did not come running out to the meeting fire.
“Please send for the Shaman.”
“I would, my love, but I am nursing your daughter.”
In any other world, this would have been seen as treason, but such was the behavior of Tiger Lily. The guts to even defy the Chief was why he loved her so much. She was as strong as him.
“Do not worry, Tiger Lily. I understand. Stay there.
“Peter, come with me. We’ll go to her and seek insight.”
They passed by the rows of Picaniny huts and shelters, surrounded by guards. The Shaman’s hut was snuggled between the soldiers barracks and the storage huts, where the harvest was drying atop reeds and wood.
As usual, there was smoke trickling from the chimney to mingle with the stars and sun above. Peter was allowed in only after the Chief explained the situation.
The Shaman sat cross-legged on the floor, surrounded by objects from nature and of man. Various animal skulls and crocodile teeth were scattered about, as well as a sapling, vines, jars of medicines and numerous dreamcatchers hanging from the makeshift rafters. The baby was laid out horizontally on her lap. She looked up at Peter Pan, smiled and said:
“I knew this day would come.”
The Chief looked behind to the boy only to see a look of confusion on his face. He turned to the Shaman and asked her to explain. All this time, the baby was focused on opening the little seed.
“The rebuilding, Peter. It’s going to happen soon.”
“The rebuilding of Neverland. The forest was never meant to stay black forever.”
“How do you know?” Peter asked abruptly.
The Shaman only exhaled audibly. “It’s not a prophecy, Peter. Just the balance of nature. Where there’s death, there must be life. Otherwise, what is the point of death?
“The Great War on Earth, the world closest to us, caused many bad dreams to come through. Dreams of death and destruction. Of broken hopes and childhoods destroyed. That was the reason for Neverland’s fall. This is cause for a celebration.”
She looked up and smiled at the two of them before returning to the needs at hand.
“Yet there’s still work that needs to be done. First a name…and the child has picked one out for himself.”
She plucked the seed out of his chubby hands and with one swift crack, released the buckeyes to the baby’s delight.
"Buckeye. That shall be his name.”
Buckeye eyed the old lady as he held one of the nuts in the corner of his mouth, trying to get to the fruit inside.
“Now,” She continued as she handed Buckeye to Peter. “This baby must be taken care of. Leave him here and we will raise him.”
She turned to Peter again, her wide brown eyes defying the wrinkles around them.
“But there will be others, Peter. Other lost ones that find their way to you. Find them and care for them.”
“And what if I don’t want to?” Peter stood up straight, his arms crossed in front of him. He didn’t like being told what to do.
The Shaman couldn’t understand that. “Then you have no choice in the matter. You must find them before they die. You would need to bury them like you did so many others. Eagle, find a wet nurse for the child. Peter, go find them and bring them to us. When they are ready, you will show them the island and care for them. Unless you can do all of the work yourself…”
“Work?! Like grown-up stuff? No way.” Peter didn’t like the sound of that.
She chose her words more carefully after that blunder.
“Then you will make it an…adventure with the other children by your side. Now, go find your new…friends, Peter.” She smirked with satisfaction as the two of them exited her hut. The Chief, without uttering another word, went into his family hut, obviously binging the question to his wife, who knew much more about the women then he. Peter, on the other hand, walked slowly down to the forest. His house needed tending to.