the First

The Golden Touch

Dawn illuminates the hideout, the day is still young and quiet. No one is awake yet, except for me. But the growing light isn't what woke me up, it's Peter. I'm laying on top of him, in between his legs, and he's breathing heavily. Raising my head to look at him, his face is contorted in pain. He keeps softly moaning. It's his bite. I can tell. I want to do something to ease his pain. Anything. I lightly reach out and touch his bandaged side, willing the pain to go away. In the blink of an eye, a soft golden glow leaves my fingertip and sinks into his bandages. It happens so quickly, I almost think it was my imagination. But, Peter's labored breathing ceases immediately, his face looks serene as he slowly wakes up.

"Relia?" his groggy voice mumbles.

"Y-yes?"

His face morphs into one of concern, "Are you okay?"

"Um, yeah. I'm fine."

I climb quickly off of his chest, my eyes not quite seeing straight. An awful headache comes on, I turn and bolt up the stairs. My leg is only a minor discomfort, a night of sleep worked in my advantage.

"Relia!" Peter calls after me.

I don't listen. I run. I burst through the trap door into daylight, the barely rising sun casting a purple glow on the forest. The jungle around me is unfamiliar, so I go to the nearest tree to collapse under. No sooner have I sat down to freak out, Peter bursts through the trapdoor, completely shirtless. His expression is panicked, but as soon as he sees me it turns into relief. As I expected, there is only a faint scar where that deep wound once was.

"How did…" my voice trails off, speechless. I can't tear my eyes away from his miraculously healed werewolf bite.

I healed it.

But how?

He grins, "I don't know. It just happened overnight. Isn't it amazing? I feel great!"

I turn my face away from him, prepared to stand up and walk away again. He flies forward and grabs me by my arm as I stand, turning me towards him.

"Hey. What's wrong?"

"Nothing!" I shout.

He looks shocked by my sudden outburst.

"Nothing," I say again, softer, "I just need a minute. Please."

He looks distraught but consents, walking into the underbrush as if he knows exactly where he's going. I don't doubt that. Glancing back towards the trap door, I find that it's gone. I sigh. There's no going back now. I take a few deep breaths, running a hand through my hair. I healed him. With just a single touch from my finger tip, a massive wound worse than mine healed in two seconds flat. I pull my hands away from my body and stare at them, they look normal. I slump against the tree again, putting my head in my hands. What is wrong with me? Is it part of being a "half breed" as Kai so eloquently put it? Can mermaids do this, too? I hear footsteps along the forest floor. I glance up to find Peter.

"Are you okay?"

"Yeah. I'm okay."

He offers me his hand, "Come on. I want to show you something."

I take his hand and allow him to pull me to my feet, he scoops me up and leaps into the air with some discomfort from my knee. I can't tell him yet. We soar up through the canopy of trees, and out into a beautiful summer day. The sky has brightened considerably with the rising sun, turning it a bright blue. As if on reflex, I glance towards the village in the cove. Sure enough, Hook's ship is still docked. I turn my eyes away from his ship and back to the treetops soaring by beneath us. I need to put all of that behind me. Yet, I still get a feeling of butterflies in my stomach when I think of those stormy blue eyes gazing into mine. Peter distracts me by dipping towards the trees, my feet brush the tops as we descend back into the shady forest. We land and he sets me down, covering my eyes with his hand.

"What are you -"

"Just trust me." he says, his voice filled with anticipation.

He walks me forward, one hand in front of my eyes, and one on my lower back. The sound of roaring water fills my ears, he propels me onto a seemingly rocky surface that is sloping upwards. The water gets louder, a flowery scent drifts through the air. Suddenly, he removes his hand from my eyes and I'm momentarily blinded by the sun glinting off of the pure blue water beneath us. I gasp. We're standing on a rocky ledge, almost like a natural diving board, over a pond full of crystalline water. Opposite us, a breathtaking waterfall tumbles from the cliffs above. It is surrounded by hundreds of different flowers, in a rainbow of colors. They smell delicious.

"It's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen!" I exclaim, drinking in the sights and smells.

"I've seen things even more beautiful." Peter says behind me. He hasn't removed his hand from around my waist yet. The odd thing is, it doesn't really bother me.

"Oh? Like what?" I ask, turning to look up at him.

He smiles a mischievous smile, and presses a kiss to my cheek before diving into the water below. My hand flies up to my cheek, which is now tingling with his kiss. Was he talking about me? He resurfaces, shaking glistening water out of his hair. Something tells me he knew exactly what he was doing.

"Join me?" he calls from below.

On a normal day I would, but I don't think my leg is in prime condition at the moment.

"I can't." I mumble.

"What?"

"I can't." I say, a little louder. My shaking voice betrays my calm demeanor. I don't want to tell him now. Not here. Not like this.

He cocks his head, "Why not?"

"I just can't." I cross my arms, folding in on myself. I knew I would have to tell him eventually. I just want to hold on to my secret for as long as I can. The way things are going, I won't be able to.

"Relia." he says softly, flying up out of the water and landing in front of me, water dripping from his soaked clothing.

"What are you not telling me?" he asks.

Here we go.

"Please don't be upset." I whisper.

Peter grabs my chin and pulls it up to meet his gaze. He looks worried, but comforting. He'll accept what I have to say. It'll be okay.

I take a deep breath, "When you were bitten, I went to Hook's ship to get the cure for you."

"What!" he exclaims, his hand dropping from my chin and balling into a fist, "Why would you leave the hideout when I explicitly told you-"

"Peter." I say firmly.

He stops talking abruptly, running a hand through his hair in exasperation, but allowing me to continue.

"I was caught," my voice cracks, "and he did this."

Am I seriously going to cry? He looks like he wants to give me a hug but he restrains himself, giving me space. That spurs me on to continue. I slide my tall boot off of my foot. I grasp the hem of my pant leg and take another breath. The first tear slowly makes its way down my cheek. I pull it up over my knee, and train my gaze on the angry red lines of stitches on my knee and the back of my calf.

He makes a strangled noise, but says nothing.

"Is that a bullet wound?" he growls.

More tears slip down my cheeks, "It's bad, isn't it." I say, almost accusing him. I suppose I expected him to say it was okay, that it was only a few tiny cuts.

I can't take it anymore. I look up at him. Peter is more livid than I've ever seen him. He's cheeks are even turning a bit red. His eyes are flashing and his muscles are tense, as if he's about to get into a fight.

"When I get to him…" he mutters to himself.

"No, Peter," I say, trying to remain strong, "it's okay. I'm okay. I just can't swim with you right now. I'm sorry."

All of the tension drains from his shoulders, he pulls me in for a hug. I start to cry again.

"It's alright. You'll be fine. I promise. We'll come back and swim soon."

"Okay." I mumble.

He gently rocks back and forth until I calm down.

"Bunny doesn't know," I say softly, rolling my pant leg back down, "please don't tell him."

"I won't," he smiles at me reassuringly, "Come on. We can do something else."

"Like what?"

"You'll see."

I slide my boot back on and heave a sigh. He scoops me into his arms and leaps into the air. I can tell he's just trying to take my mind off of things, but I'm grateful. We soar over the endless treetops, towards the end of the island. Peter dips down towards a small bluff. He sets me down on the very edge of the cliffs, my legs dangling over the side. He flies over to a grove of apple trees, selecting the two biggest, juiciest ones he can find. He comes back to sit next to me, offering me an apple. I take it, and bite into it. Fresh, ripe, crisp, delicious. We eat in silence, staring at the sunrise coming up over the ocean. It's beautiful, casting light on all that was once dark. It turns everything a light shade of pink. Birds are calling in the jungle behind us.

"Thank you." I say.

He turns to me, "For what?"

"I don't know. I guess I just-"

Pain that feels like a punch to the stomach wells up inside of me, I cut myself off with a strangled gasp. The forest suddenly falls eerily silent.

"Are you okay?" he asks, leaning forward.

I place a hand to my stomach, which feels like it's on fire.

"I'm-I'm fine." I reply.

Something that feels like hot breath puffs down the back of my neck, I turn to look behind me. Nothing is there. I scan the trees, I feel as if something is watching me.

"Relia." Peter demands.

I turn my attention back to his worried expression, "Yes?"

"Are you okay?" he repeats slowly, as if talking to a two year old.

All of a sudden the pain and watchful gaze disappears, leaving me feeling cold and empty. The birds begin to call again, as if nothing ever happened.

"I'm fine." I respond, trying to predict when it will start up again, if at all.

"Let's go." he says.

I want to stay, but all of a sudden I'm feeling very tired.

"Okay."

He picks me up and jumps into the air. I can't help but hope he felt it too, but something tells me he didn't. What was that? We arrive at the hideout, we come through the chute just as the boys seems to be waking up.

"Boys, stay here for today. I have to go take care of something." Peter announces, setting me down on the floor.

They mumble their consent and he flies back up the chute without a backwards glance. That was weird. I glance over at the boys, still in their pajamas, who are staring at me.

A thought pops into my head, "Why don't we make breakfast?"

They cheer and run into the kitchen area, I follow. They stand in a line and face me.

"What are we gonna have?" Cubby asks.

"Hmmm." I glance around the room, noticing oats, cinnamon, apples, and other various food items. I do make a mean apple cinnamon oatmeal…

"Oatmeal?" I offer.

They groan, but I smile.

"No, the good kind. Do you trust me?"

The boys nod resentfully, and I set to work.

"Slightly and Nibs," I say to the two most trustworthy, "will you please heat up the oats, cinnamon, and water outside?"

They nod as I measure the ingredients. I hand them the ingredients, a spoon, and a pot. They exit the room and I hear them run up the stairs to start a little campfire outside.

"Twins."

"Yeah?" they say in unison.

"Will you please dice the apples?" I ask, handing them the burlap sack of apples.

"Sure!" they shout, grabbing the apples and some knives before heading out to the table with a cutting board.

"And you two," I turn to Cubby and Bunny, "please set the table."

Cubby groans but Bunny claps his hands with excitement, grabbing bowls and spoons from the shelf and running to the table. In a matter of seconds the boys finish their tasks, we dump the chopped apples into the pot outside and stir, I taste it. Perfect. Slightly and Nibs extinguish their fire as I pick up the pot, carrying it back down the stairs to the table. I ladle out bowls of the oatmeal to them, they take their spots at the table and dig in happily.

"I told you it would be good!"

They nod in agreement, but can't speak around their mouthfuls of oatmeal. I get a bowl for myself as well, eating it alongside the little boys. All at once I'm hit with a sense of family. We all worked together to create our own meal. If only Peter was here. They finish their bowls and rinse them in the sink, drying them and placing them back on the shelves. We all assemble back in the living room. Again the boys stand at attention. It seems they are always waiting for me to give them instruction.

"Well, what do you guys want to do?"

They look a bit taken aback at suddenly being in charge.

"Play hide and seek!" Bunny shouts.

The boys all look at me with pleading expressions on their faces.

"Please?" Cubby says.

I smile, "How is that even a question?"

"Peter hasn't let us play games outside these past few weeks." one twin says.

"He always gets mad when we ask." the other finishes.

"Well, I don't see why we can't. Let's go."

Peter said to stay here for today, but it's okay as long as we stay close. We run up the stairs and into the mid-day sunlight, the air has a tinge of humidity to it.

"You're it!" Nibs tells me.

"Run!" Slightly shouts.

The boys scatter, crashing through the bushes and trees. In a matter of moments, I'm alone.

"One, two, three, four, five-"

The sharp, fiery pain explodes into my chest this time. I press my hands to my ribs, fighting the pain away. I can feel that unyielding gaze on my back, I whirl to see who is there. I'm sure there's something. The pain disappears a second later. Suddenly, I'm all too aware that I'm alone. Something grabs my arm, I let out a surprised shriek and whip towards my assailant. It's Peter, and he's mad.

"Inside," he growls, "now."

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