"...as soon as he got inside his tree, he breathed intentionally quick short breaths at the rate of about five to a second. He did this because there is a saying in the Neverland, that everytime you breathe, a grown-up dies; and Peter was killing them off vindictively as fast as possible."
"I say, who else would I be, boy?" he smiled, eyeing me cautiously. I hated him. I began to breathe quickly, inhaling large amounts of air. Maybe the codfish would drop dead, if I was lucky. "Hook. We need to talk." I say angrily. "Precisely why I came here, Peter. Now, let's go talk in private, shall we?" he asks, gesturing to the land above. I nod, "Glad we're on the same page." We walked to a small grove nearby and I sit on a moss-covered rock as he watches me awkwardly. "Speak." I say petulantly, my hands on my knees, leaning forward in irritation as he sits slowly on a stump across from me.
He tells me a story. I've always liked stories, stories with feeling. Action-filled, romantic adventures with a happy ending, but, the sadness of this tale was nearly unbearable. A story of loneliness and redemption, after accepting death, as it never comes. The death of a respectable pirate never came. Only the self-hatred that comes from a false greeting from Death himself. I felt sad for him, a feeling I'd only felt once before for Hook. When I cut off his hand by accident, then throwing it to the alligator to save face. I regretted that. But the stub where his hand had vanished was gone and replaced with a fully capable hand. I wanted to apologize, he knows I did, but gave me a small smile when he caught me staring at the hand.
"So, Peter, upon telling you that story, do you have any questions?" He asks, closing his eyes briefly, as if shooing away a few tears. I shake my head, "Nothing except, these Judges- they are the forest deities, right?" He nods, smiling interestedly at me, "Now, Peter, tell me your story."
"But, Hook-" I try to argue but he interrupts me, "James." "James," I correct myself. "What story?" He laughs at this, "Those children aren't from England. They are from America, correct? Why did you end up there? And why is Tinkerbell nowhere to be seen? And, more importantly, what happened to Tiger-Lily? I haven't seen her in many moons."
I laugh at this, an empty laugh that seems to echo in my brain. "As you know, Wendy took the Lost Boys to Britain and moved in with her, except Slightly who moved in with her Aunt Millicent. Jane came many years later and left. No more boys have fallen from their prams, so no more Fallen Boys have resurfaced. Or Lost Girls to tell stories. I've been alone. After Jane married and had children, she told me to never go near her children, or future generations. She said I was a disgrace, and she wanted her children and future descendants to grow up practical. So, I started watching people in the states. Then I just was flying around one day, looking for an open window and I saw the twins. They didn't really tell stories, but the older brother played guitar and sang. Sometimes, I would listen."
He nods, understanding, and realizing he's still listening, I continue. "As for Tinkerbell, she is with her fellow fairy-kind. There is a war, you see, between the fairies and the faeries. Those faerie buggers are causing lot of trouble, more than usual, and causing problems. Tinkerbell is fighting with the fairies. We had an argument, I told her that if she left to never come back. She hasn't and won't. She hates me and made it clear she would never come back."
He stays silent, watching me intently, "Tiger-Lily is dead." I seem to blurt out, the unspoken 'how' lingers in the air. "One day, she took a walk around the island and went to the rocks. The home of the mermaids. She saw one of them and sat on the rock, thinking the girl was drowning. "Grab my hand!" she had yelled, and the mermaid did. Pulling her in, and drowning her, that is. The chief blames me for not saving her, as if I'm responsible for her. I'm no longer allowed to be within a hundred paces of the tribe." I take a deep breath, snuffing out my guilt and anger. "Now, what about your pirate crew, James?"
He looks into my eyes with a faraway look, as if I'm not even there. "After the Kraken incident, they thought me dead and sunk the ship. Being the idiots they are, they sunk themselves with it. I've been alone ever since." I smile, "If you like, you can move into the tree house. We have plenty of room. Plus, it seems Alanna sees you as a stray puppy that she absolutely has to take in." We share a laugh and he nods. "Okay, I'll be over tomorrow to settle in. I'll pack tonight." I nod. "Glad to have you back, James." he smiles, standing. We share a brief hug before he leaves.
I walk back to the house and the first thing I can think is, if someone said that Hook and I would become allies, I would have never stopped laughing. Now, I find it nice. Comforting. Some things will never change, but this change is one I'm happy about.
I climb into bed and shift until I'm comfortable in the bed. I never used to sleep, not until Wendy left. I needed some kind of distraction to fill the empty hours that I was alone for. Dreaming helped, sometimes. I'd dream of the mother I could never remember, her blurry silhouette harboring a smile. I'd beg her to come closer but she stood unmoving, until she eventually faded away and I awaken from my stupor.