“It’s Pan, sir!” Smee calls. “He’s back! And with another girl!”
“No, sir. Much older, very different.” He says, wiping sweat from his brow. I shove past him onto to the deck. Up above the clouds have returned to their regular pink tinge and peeking out from above, barely visible, are two heads. A boy and a girl.
The boy was undoubtedly Pan. But the girl? Who could she be?
Down on the deck Margo finished off another opponent, kicking him overboard with a sun-bleached boot like it’s nothing.
She was definitely my best sailor. A piece of art, born to be a pirate. Everyone else on the crew knows it. They watch with joy as she fights man after man. Especially Carson, who had always had a fascination with the young woman.
“Oi!” The woman in question calls from the deck. “Cap’n! Mind providing me with some decent competition?” She grins as she sends another man away.
“Margo, dear, I hardly think ‘decent’ is the word to use when referring to your captain.” I answer, watching her tuck her dagger back into her belt.
“Captain Hook, sir, it’s about time we met.” The girl smiles naturally, as if she speaks to pirates every day. She’s very cocky. I take a dive at her. She gasps, diving to the side. “The name’s Margo Cecelia, in case you were wondering.”
“I could not care less,” I snarl. “little girl.”
Her face contorts with rage. She charges at me, whipping a dagger out from her waistband. “I--” she stabs at me. “am not--” I barely have time to back away. “little!”
I match her sharp little dagger with my sword, grimacing. “Of course not.” I laugh, surprised by her energy.
She’s thin, a slip of a girl built slim around the middle and tall with wiry arms. What muscle she does have twists beneath the skin as she jabs at me furiously. Her long hair swings in her face, hiding steely blue eyes.
She had the eyes of a pirate, blue as the ocean.
“Perhaps you should come down and remind me why you’re the best?” She pulls her sword from its sheath, stepping up onto the railing.
“Perhaps I should.” The crew cheers as I make my way down the ladder, whipping out my sword.
“You would make a fine pirate, my dear.”
“I am not your dear!” She growls, charging forward.
Our swords meet with a satisfying clang as my feet hit the deck. She smirks, shrugging my weapon away like it’s a toy. How much we have taught her.
We meet evenly for a while as the crew calls out bets for both sides, eager to make a spare dollar. Those who bet for me are smug, their arms crossed. Sure they’ve already one.
Those for Margo cheer loudly, watching anxiously as she throws her best into the fight. Her arms move quickly, with the kind of zeal of a younger sailor. She’s still thin, though she’s gained a considerable amount of muscle, and the sword looks disproportionate in her grip, like she’s too fragile to hold something so large and dangerous.
“You’re doing very well, my dear.” I smile at her. She clashes against my sword again, glaring.
“Don’t patronize me.” After a moment, she speaks again. “And don’t call me dear.”
“Sorry to run,” Pan laughs, taking the girl’s arm. “but we really must be going.”
“Pan!” It’s too late. They’re already in the air, rising higher.
The girl looks back at them, frowning. Her dark hair slips across her face, hiding her eyes once again.
Pan takes a dive into the trees and she screams.
The swords crash together once again and she stumbles backward from the force I threw into my attack.
Her arm buckles and she darts out from under my dropping blade. Instead of striking its target it sinks deep into the deck. The crew laughs.
“Well done captain.” Margo laughs, watching me extract my sword and step forward again.
“Smee!” I shout. “Make sure that gets fixed!”
Swing. Parry. Swing. Parry.
Margo seems to have regained her usual confidence. She easily blocks my sword just as I taught her, eyes burning with determination.
“Well done Margaret.” I smile deviously, watching her determination grow.
“With all due respect captain,” She looks up, eyes bright. “I will run you through.”
“Oh, I know.”
“The girl, Captain, she’s back.”
“The main deck, Captain. She’s armed.”
“With what?” Sure enough, the girl Pan brought back with him is on the main deck, holding herself low to the ground. In her hand she has a stubby dagger that she swings back and forth at the crew members closing in on her. “Ah, my dear!” I exclaim, happy to see her.
“Don’t call me that.” She spits, turning her eyes to me for a split second. The crew members are still approaching her. She jabs at them with her dagger. Only now do I see that it’s not an actual dagger. It’s simply a spike from the Black Castle.
“Back down gentlemen.”
“You must understand, Captain, that I simply cannot allow such ignorance from a man.” She smirks.
“Not even your captain?” I block another strike.
“I must never let the opponent win, most especially if he is a man,” She bounces away from my sword and onto a large barrel along the railing. “should he take it as sign of weakness and look down upon me for nothing but a simple fight.” Her eyes sparkle as she hops easily over my sword at her feet. “Man is ignorant.”
“Who taught you that?”
“Why you, of course.” She laughs and leaps onto the railing, blocking another hit. I taught her well, but her pride will be her end.
She prances down the railing, her steps nimble and petite.
One of the crew members seizes her scarf, yanking it in an attempt to tip her. She simply smacks the man in the face with the face of her sword. He howls.
“That was not very polite Jacob!” She admonishes, watching him stumble away. “But I will deal with you later.” She looks back at me, grinning evilly. “Captain?"
She releases a battle cry as she charges forward, bearing down with all her weight as she meets me on the deck once again. We move quickly, shifting around the deck. The crowd gasps with each clang and hurries to move out of our way.
Sweat gathers on our brows. It’s obvious that we’re both becoming tired.
It takes a long time for her to falter. She closes her eyes for just a second, wiping away the sweat from her eyes. I took the opportunity to slice her arm. When she startles I force my foot under hers. She tumbles backward, growling.
I press the point to her throat. “Surrender.” She stares up at me, her mouth curled upward.
“I don’t surrender to anyone, much less a pirate.” She bites her lip to stifle her laughter.
“What can I do for you, my dear?” She narrows her eyes angrily.
“I’m not your dear.” She growls, her face flushed. “And, I’m here for your help.”
“My help?” I raise an eyebrow.
She straightens up, lowering her make-shift dagger. “Pan won’t teach me to fight.” She says. “He says I won’t need it, but I’ve met you.”
Silence ruffles its way through the crew and they shift aimlessly on their feet.
“Why come to me?”
“Well, I didn’t do too well in our last fight, but I hardly think you can resist teaching someone how to kill.” He hadn’t noticed before, but her accent was different, heavy. She sounded differently from Wendy and her brothers. She sounded thick and muddled in her English.
I considerate it. This girl seems familiar. She seems very different from Wendy, almost like a pirate. She could join the crew easily, with a little training.
“What’s your name again?”
“Margo.” She says. “Margo Cecelia.”
“Margo…” It’s definitely not an English name. “Are you French?”
“Oui.” Several of the crew look on in wonder. They’re all English, with no knowledge of other languages. “Je suis français et fier.” I am French and proud. “Pardon my French.”
Some crew members chuckle nervously. Others frown, not sure about this strange new girl. She keeps eye contact with me, waiting for an answer.
“What do you want to learn?”
“Anything that will help me.”
“You’ll have to surrender to my crew and I when you lose.” I say. “That’s the nature of a fair fight, my dear.”
“I don’t surrender to anyone, much less a pirate.”
The crew laughs and I hold out a hand to pull her up.
“As if you are anything more.” I chuckle. “Well fought, Lady Margo.” She bows her head.
“The same to you, Captain."
I turn and make my way back to my quarters, tucking my sword into my belt. Smee follows quickly, nodding to Margo.
“No, no, no!” She jumps up again, always resilient.
“Well excuse me if I don’t know how to fight some brute twice my size.” She snaps, smoothing her skirt and grasping her sword yet again.
“We’ve been over this.” I shout. “Size doesn’t matter. What matters is your skill set and how you use it. Confidence, agility, wits; those are ten times more important than Haller’s muscles here.”
Jacob, as I hear, showed up to the dinner table with a broken nose. Smee reports it as deep purple and jagged.
Margo, no doubt. She doesn’t take kindly to disrespect.
The skies are still lit, as they tend to be in Neverland, and the rest of the crew is in the next room. I can hear their raucous songs through the wall, a dozen male voices sounding out louding. Margo wasn’t even audible, though I’m sure she was sitting among them, straining her voice to be heard.
Smee’s brought my meal to my quarters, where I can eat in silence.
Suddenly, the room next door goes silent and someone speaks.
“Pourrir en enfer Jacob.” Margo.
She speaks unpleasant things in French sometimes. It irritates the rest of the crew to no end, so she continued. No one else on board speaks French, save myself, so the crew assumes she said something so insulting it deserves a fight.
The girl loves to pick little battles.
There’s a loud crash and Margo laughs loudly. “Vous vous battez comme un enfant?” More laughter. “Choix audaciex.”
This could get have gotten interesting, had it not been interrupted. Out on the main deck two crew members shout for me. Naturally, everyone else dashes out.
The clouds have returned to their cotton candy hues and the sea is stirring again. The crew, including young Margo, gasps with delight, scanning the heavens for the tell tale signs of Peter Pan.
Laughter rings out across the sky and he drops, like a cannonball, straight towards us. We haven’t seen him since he brought Margo, a good year ago.
“Pan!” I shout. He’s blur as he winds his way through the rigging and settles into the crow’s nest, laughing. “What are you waiting for?” I scream. “Get him!”
The crew surges forward, scampering up the ratlines as I run for my sword.
Though my pirates are seasoned veterans to the sea, they are easily out climbed by the budding piratess as she launches herself up the ratlines to the uppermast, grunting as she hoists herself almost gracefully into the crow’s nest. She lands hard on her knees and rolls upright to face Pan.
“Le cher garçon est de retour.” She brandishes her sword bravely, unfazed by the fast journey up there. “Êtes-vous prêt à mourir, folle enfant?”
“Margo!” Pan cries, grinning. “So good to see you again, really, but I must be going!” He laughs as he soars out of the nest and down to the bowsprit.
In true pirate spirit, Margo lets loose a frustrated scream. “Harvey!” The man in question leaps into action, scurrying over the railing and onto the bowsprit. He wavers for a moment, put off by the intense rocking of the ship from the narrow bowsprit, but soon settles on steady feet, ready to fight.
“I don’t believe you’ve met my friends yet, Margo, Hook.” Pan says, engaging in a fast paced fight with Harvey. Meanwhile, Margo has swung herself down from the ratlines already and is sprinting towards the bowsprit.
“Margo!” Pan grins. “I’m glad you’re here! The children were missing you!”
As if summoned, those demonic Lost Boys swing themselves over the railing, bows in hand and sheathed daggers bouncing against their thighs. The stubbiest one makes straight for Margo, unsheathing his sharp little blade.
She easily presents hers, meeting his with an angry clang.
“Curly, dear, how long it’s been!” She smiles as she knocks him backward with a pointy boot. The rest of the crew cheers as they battle the rest of the children.
The way she swings her sword, the way she swipes sweat from her brow, she reminds me of someone.
Someone I can’t quite remember.
But the way her hair curls when she pulls it back, and the way she raises her face to the sky when she leans against the railing, as if soaking the sunlight into her skin.
She’s become tanner, leaner, dirtier, louder. She’s becoming more and more pirate each day. Still, each night she flies back to Pan, a strong reminder that she is but a visitor on my ship.
Every morning though, when the stars are still fading from the sky, she returns, riding the morning sea air to my ship, ready to learn. Each day she learns more, beats another person. She’s a quick learner, and one that takes no breaks.
Pan and his boys destroy the starboard ratlines, sending three crewmen into the water as they flee.
Margo is furious, shouting after them like a madwoman. Her short temper irritates the rest of the crew as they haul the fallen men from the water.
She leaves for bed as soon as time allows and I don’t see her again for the rest of the night.
I’ve taught her everything already, but she’s still here.
She walks the railings, hangs from the ratlines. She argues with the crewmen and sings at the table.
An honorary crewmember.
“Sale petit garçon. Quelle race dégoûtant.” Margo’s been mumbling to herself all morning as she does her chores. Her topics migrate.
When she was swabbing, it was just about the attack in general. When she was working on the severed ratlines, it was Curly. She’s been on a ten minute long rant underneath breath about Pan as she coils the ropes.
“Give it up, girly!” Harvey growls, obviously tired of hearing her grumbling.
She quickly draws her sword, pressing it to his throat. “Do not call me girly!” Her eyes are blazing, her body tense.
“Take your damn sword from my throat.” He snarls.
“Take back your damn words before my damn sword runs through your damn neck!” She shouts.
“Alright, alright,” Smee steps forward timidly. “Margo, back off.”
“Oh, shut up, Smee!” She pushes him away with one hand, fixing her eyes on Harvey once again.
“Wouldn’t want to disobey Her Majesty, Smee.” Harvey says, smirking. She carelessly swipes her sword across his neck, leaving a shallow cut across his windpipe. Harvey looks infuriated, but not as much as Margo.
“Homme irrespectueux!” She lunges at him, not even bothering with her sword.
She left Pan.
She showed up late one night, her hair a mess and a raised gash on the side of her face. One of the younger crewmen, Carson, gave her his extra dagger and found her a spare hanger from the storage before bringing her to me.
Despite the dried tear tracks on her face and the large cut on her cheek, she had never looked stronger and more sure of herself.
“I want to take you up on your offer.” She says firmly. Carson lowers his head to me as he steps out of the room.
“What offer, my dear?” She doesn’t even try to correct me for calling her dear. She swallows. Glares at me and smiles.
“To join your crew,” She pauses. “Captain."
“Perhaps the offer no longer stands?” I stand from my desk to approach her.
“I think it does.”
She watches me carefully, hand on the belt Carson just gave her. From it hangs her sword and dagger. It’s strapped around her midriff over the baggy cotton shirt Pan must have given her. It falls to her knees and fans out under her belt.
Finally I say: “We’ll have to find you more suitable clothing.”
Her eyes gleam as she nods, turning to leave.
“Enough!” I shout. I forcefully kick Margo in the ribs, forcing her to roll off Harvey. “I’ve grown tired of your bickering!”
Margo jumps up, flushed with anger. She shoves her sword back in its sheath and nods, turning to leave. She slams the door to the crew’s quarters as she leaves, and we hear the loud crash of a sword hitting the ground.
Carson and the other men find her better fitting clothing. She’s very thin, so we have to find women’s clothing in the stolen good and trim them.
She wears a plain cotton top, black, that lays flat against her stomach underneath a dark green vest. Carson steals one of Stinger’s pants and cuts them short for her, since he’s a very tall, slender man, and gives a pair of his own boots. They’re both a bit loose, but she doesn’t seem to mind. She tucks the pants into her boots and the shirt into her pants.
She cuts her hair short enough to show her neck and ears. It curls the same way it does when she pulled her hair back during training.
No longer is she Pan’s loyal friend. She’s a pirate, through and through. She doesn’t tell anyone--not even Carson, whom she has become significantly closer with--what happened with Pan. The gash on her cheek leaves a faint scar and she spends long nights out in the dark, wind blowing through her hair as she watches the horizon. Sometimes Carson joins her and they sit out all night talking. I can sometimes hear their quiet laughter.
It’s been days since the fight, but I haven’t gone out to see the crew much. Smee says Margo’s been out and about though, mostly talking to Carson and staying away from Harvey.
Pan’s made no appearance, but he will someday.
It’s almost a week later, late at night, when I wake up to laughter that I see her again. I open the door to see her and Carson up against the railing, mouths locked together. There they are, as if it’s perfectly normal.
Margo is pressed to the railing and held there by Carson’s body. He leans into her as they kiss, forcing her to bend backward, short hair falling from her face as she laughs into his mouth.
“Carson!” I bark, slamming my quarter’s door. Carson jumps away from Margo, eyes wide. Margo just groans, straightening her clothing. “What are you doing?”
“Uh…” Carson looks ready to throw himself overboard. “er, we…”
“Oh, for God’s sake, Captain, we were kissing.” Margo sighs. “You know, the thing with the lips and the emotion? I would suggest it, sir, it’s quite something.”
“Carson, Margo, back to the cabins!” I say as I turn to leave. I hear them laughing through the door as they make their way back to bed.
She’s so familiar.
She is, no doubt, a beautiful girl, but it’s not that. The way she bent backward to pull Carson closer, it stirs something in my mind.
Margo. Margo. The name is so familiar, but so distant in my mind.
“James.” My name rolls off her tongue as I lower her to the bed. Her dark hair splays itself across the mattress as she writhes in pleasure. “Oh, James!” She’s screaming, fingers clutching the sheets.
Her body curves backward, her neck craning to see the stars as I sprinkle kisses up her neck. She pulls me closer by the collar, burying her face in my shoulder.
The sun is low in the sky when I wake from my dream.
Adelaide. How could I have forgotten Adelaide?
Adelaide, the woman from Wendy’s world.
Adelaide, whom I loved more than anyone else.
How have I missed it for so long? Adelaide and Margo. Margo and Adelaide.
I storm out of the quarters, shouting for the crew to assemble. Margo drops from the ratlines and joins the rest of the crew on the ground, her hand in Carson’s. Memories of seeing them last night surface again and I push them down, farther down, down with the memories of Adelaide I suppressed for so long.
Margo stands in the center of the line, smirking.
Without a thought I press the point of my sword to the hollow of her neck. The rest of the crew, save Carson, who pulls out his sword bravely, jumps back.
“Yes, Captain?” She places a hand on her belt, training her eyes on me.
“What happened to Adelaide?” If she recognizes the name, she doesn’t let it show. She simply moves the sword from her neck and steps backward. She hops up on the railing, crossing her legs carelessly. I replace my sword and press harder, determined to find out what happened to Adelaide. “Speak!”
“Captain, stop!” Carson growls, stepping forward.
“He’s fine.” Margo says firmly. Carson pauses for a second before stepping away.
“Speak.” I repeat. A long silence stretches out between us.
“Hello, father.” She smiles. The crew takes another stumbling step backward, even Carson.
“What happened to her?”
“She died.” She says. Her voice lowers slightly, losing it’s firm resonance. “Three years ago.”
“How?” I press harder and a drop of blood forms around the tip of the blade.
“A war.” She says. “She was shot down coming home. At least, that’s what I assume.”
Sadness wells deep inside me and I swallow. “And you? Your full name?”
“Margo Cecelia Adelaide Beaumont. I never lied.”
“You lied about her!” I shout.
“I simply didn’t tell.”
“More lies.” The blood falls from the hollow of her neck down her shirt. “How did you know about me? How did you know I’m your father?”
“I didn’t know.” She says. “Pan did. He picked me from the thousands dead in France and brought me here, telling me I was special, different, that he could show me my father.”
“When did he tell you?”
“The night I joined your crew. I demanded to know who my father really was. I told him I had to go to you, be with you, and the bratty child said I was just like him. That I was only born to kill and maim.” She smiles wide. “Né de la colère, oui?”
“Adelaide, she never told you about me?”
“Of course not.” She shakes her head quickly. “A father from another realm who only passed over for her? I would’ve had her institutionalized!”
The crew looks scared, hesitant. “Why didn’t you tell me? That night, why didn’t you tell me?”
“I wanted to see who you really were.”
“Tel père telle fille, oui?”
I lower my sword. “At-elle mourir en paix?” She smiles sadly.
“Do you really want me to answer that?”
“Perhaps not.” I tuck my sword into its sheath. She watches me cautiously, wiping at her neck.
I turn to walk away.
“May I stay?” Times seems to stand still for as second. The crew stops murmuring, the boat stops rocking, as I consider what she has told me. She has told me that she has done nothing but lie since boarding my ship, nothing but deceive me. She has told me that the one woman I’ve ever loved--her mother--died alone and in pain. “Captain? May I stay?”
This girl, this woman, my daughter, she is a constant reminder of Adelaide and my mistakes. Of how much pain I endured to leave her behind. She looks like her, now that I’m looking at her for real. She has my eyes and her hair, her nose and fingers.
May she stay? Should she stay?
“Vous venez d'avoir à grimper!”
“Vous coupez l' ratline!”
“Oui, oui, il est toujours de ma faute!”
“Eh bien, vous avez coupé le--”
“Vous auriez pu morts!”
His face is red as a tomato. I don’t get why he’s so mad. It was just one fall! I’m fine.
It’s really Pan’s fault. He showed up while we were mid-meal, so we were slow to begin in the first place.
Then Hook swung for Pan and cut the ratline Jacob, Stinger, and I happened to be on. Stinger managed to hold on, but Jacob was completely surprised and was swallowed by the ocean. I, however, hung on for as long as I could as it swung wildly.
I lost my grip third swing and plummeted downward, hitting the deck from thirty feet above. I hit my shoulder pretty bad, but other than that I was perfectly fine. Still, both Carson and Hook nearly had a heart attack.
“I’m better in the ratlines!” I cry, switching to English. The crew quickly perks up, wanting to hear what we were arguing about.
“Since when has that mattered?”
“Since I found out--” He stops himself before finishing the dangerously emotional sentence.
“Is that what this’s about?” I laugh. Silence.
“Back to work.” Hook barks.
He storms off, slamming the door to his quarters.
“Yes, sir.” I say quietly, moving slowly into action. I reach for a handful of severed ratline. Someone has to knot them back together once again, and it’s going to take a while.
“Okay, stop it.” Carson says, grabbing me by the shoulders. He pushes me into the seat by the door to the galley. “You just fell thirty feet onto a wood deck. I demand that you sit this mending out.”
“No!” He crouches to face me. “Stay in this seat, alright? For me?”
I sigh rather dramatically. “Fine. But you owe me.”
“Yes, yes, I do.” He presses a quick kiss to my mouth before running to help Harvey stand up the barrels again.
I watch the mainland, trying to imagine what that damn Pan is doing right now. Probably reveling in his victory.
We’ll get him next time.