Chapter One - The Forgetful Boy
They were always the wrong words, Peter thought with frustration as he pulled his head away from the cold, glass windowpane while listening to voices on the other side. There was a story nearly every night, but the teller could never get it right. He wrinkled his nose and scratched his head with irritation.
He had flown for what seemed like hours to hear the mysterious storyteller practice her art. That had become Peter’s nightly routine since his discovery of the young girl and her talent. She had caught his attention with grand tales which Peter found difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction. Although the storyteller had never cast eyes upon him, many of the grand adventures from her mouth featured Peter as the heroic figure. And to intrigue the boy even further, he knew for certain that many of the stories about him were absolutely true.
Peter sighed as he looked at the happy scene on the other end of the glass. The young girl, who looked to be his equal at no more than eleven years of age, moved energetically around the room while her main audience, consisting of her two younger brothers, sat on a rug listening intently to each and every word. Even their mother was present for the occasion as she casually rocked back and forth in a rocking chair while delicately mending the knees of their play clothes. At the foot of her chair laid a large Newfoundland dog wearing a bonnet, which suddenly gave Peter the desire to snatch the silly hat off of its head in a moment of impish delight.
The very presence of the mother seemed to ruin everything, Peter thought while flashing his small, pearly whites at the unknowing woman and wrinkling his nose in disdain. She would be the end of the entire family; he was sure of it. Mothers had a tendency of ruining everything, especially when that mother was Mrs. Darling.
Peter winced at the very thought of her name. He knew it well; though for some reason that he could never remember, it brought out an unknown animosity in him. It was as if the very name carried with it the feelings of pain, loss, and unbearable sadness. The emotions were far too serious to think about, and Peter chose to turn his attention back onto the young storyteller rather than confront the source of such anguish.
“Why are you here?” Peter heard a fiery, bell-like voice ask him as a twinkling light suddenly fluttered around his head.
Though such a faint sound, better resembling the tinkle of chimes than a tiny voice, would be a curious thing for any person to witness, Peter immediately recognized its familiarity. It was the sound of a fairy; but not just any fairy, it was his fairy. He had heard her soft voice releasing words around his head for ages. The two companions had been inseparable for as far back as Peter could remember – which was usually no longer than a week prior.
“Tinker Bell,” he whispered with a frown while swatting at the light with his hand. “Cut that out or they’re going to see us!”
“Let them see!” Tink continued to chime in her musical voice. “Let the whole house see us!”
“You’re going to ruin everything!”
“You silly ass!” She belled in frustration before flying up onto the roof.
Making certain that her light was out of sight, Peter took a moment to compose himself once more. He began brushing the loose dirt off the leaves he wore for clothes before stopping abruptly when the curious sensation of having an audience suddenly caught his attention. Surprised, he lifted his head and was greeted by the large dog with a bonnet staring at him through the window. A bark began to sound as the animal alerted the attention of her masters.
More intrigued than alarmed, Mrs. Darling made her way to the window with her mending still in hand. Though the dog’s earnestness called for some level of unease, Mrs. Darling could find no reason for it when looking outside. The window looked to be no different than usual, and the amount of traffic on the street below was nothing out of the ordinary for a quiet Thursday evening.
Mrs. Darling, with her soft disposition and graceful countenance, a trait of those who live with a family filled with laughter, always kept the curves of a smile upon her face. It was written in her eyes. Even her light brown hair, that was always elevated to expose the back of her delicate neck, reflected the light with a grace of its own. Though only thirty-five and still an ageless beauty, her eyes held the only indication of fiery adventures from long ago. But now happily married to Mr. Darling, or George as she affectionately preferred to call him, and three lovely children that she was blessed to call her own, the remembrances of long ago were forced to move further and further out of sight. For a mother’s first thoughts are always for her children, and Mrs. Darling, being the proper and respectable lady that she was, would have it no other way.
“Thank you, Nana,” Mrs. Darling said as she gave her dog’s head a gentle pat. “You really are the best nanny we could have hoped for.”
Nana looked at her master in acknowledgement and moved the gentle woman’s hand a little closer to her ear which was always in need of a good rubbing. Though a dog, it was true that she was the best nanny the Darling family could have hoped to employ. She was always ready to smother the children with attention, who in turn provided her with endless hours of entertainment. While the more traditional nannies failed to take her seriously when she took the children for afternoon walks in the park, she always did twice the amount of work of any normal nanny in order to feel adequate. She wore the white bonnet upon her head with pride and knew that it was something earned rather than received. Nana kept her eyes to the roof where she had seen the curious boy and the flickering light dart up and over just before the bark had left her throat.
“What was Nana barking at?” John asked as he crossed the room and pulled Nana into a comforting hug.
“It must have been some movement down below,” Mrs. Darling assured him with all of the comfort that a mother’s words could provide.
She watched as her son’s nine year old eyes scanned the street below.
“I can’t see anything peculiar,” he said at last. “Nana must be imagining things.”
His tight clasp around the dog’s neck loosened just as quickly as it had embraced her, and the boy returned to the rug where Michael was still listening to the young girl’s enchanting tale of heroes and villains. He sat down politely, without a word, and once again became consumed by the words flowing from his sister’s mouth.
For the storyteller’s part, or Wendy as she preferred to be called, Nana’s sudden bark at the window had confirmed something she had suspected for some time. During the regular telling of her glorious tales, she had seen a light streak by in haste. It never lasted more than a moment, and her eyes were unable to focus on the object fast enough before it vanished. But it had been there all the same; and on even rarer occasions still, it had been accompanied by a dark figure, no larger than a boy, that would vanish just as quickly as it had come.
The very first time Wendy had seen the mysterious figure, she had instantly known him. It was Peter. She had known his image in the same way she already knew about his adventures. Poor Wendy had no idea how she knew him, but she did; and for her, that was the most curious thing of all.
“Time for bed, loved ones,” came Mrs. Darlings’ usual evening announcement.
Though Wendy’s story had finally drawn to a close, Michael, the youngest of the three children, did not feel quite ready to drift off to sleep for the night.
“Mother,” he said in a voice that greatly mimicked his father, Mr. Darling, “I really must insist we remain awake a bit longer. There’s so much work to be done at the moment, and I haven’t the time for such luxuries as sleep.”
With those words, Michael politely rose to his feet and walked with a dignified air to the far side of his bed before disappearing behind it. His older siblings could never help giggling at his imitation of father. Every time Michael tried this, which was turning into a habit on most evenings, he would enjoy that moment of being the center of attention which younger siblings always achieve so easily.
“Oh, but aren’t you dreadfully tired from such a long day at the bank?” Wendy asked as she immersed herself in the game and let Michael continue. “There were so many papers to look over… wouldn’t it be agreeable to lay in bed and let your head rest for at least a short time?”
“Nonsense, my child,” Michael said in his deepest voice that really was more comical than anything else. “I’m afraid it’s impossible. There’s far too much work, and that’s all there is to say on the subject. Now if you’ll be kind enough to run along to bed, I’ll be in my study. I shall not be disturbed.” Young Michael popped his head up just long enough for the others to see that he was serious before he disappeared behind his bed once more.
Though his episode did bring about much laughter, Nana was the only one rolling her eyes at what she knew to be a clear distraction from the children’s determined bedtime. It wasn’t that she didn’t enjoy the game, for it was rewarding to see that her position as nanny had led to the children’s parents being a great influence in their lives, but she knew well enough that children without sleep are cranky the next day; and though it was her evening off, that was something no nanny, on duty or not, could allow to happen.
While the laughter was still continuing from around the room, Nana quietly moved away from the window to the far side of Michael’s bed. Her eyes rolled again and a frustrated huff flowed from her mouth at the sight of Michael on the floor. Curled up tightly in a ball with his eyes gently closed, his exertion of playing father had used the last of his energy; and without a word, he had instantly fallen asleep in a moment of exhaustion. Now sleeping comfortably on the floor, he was off again having wonderful adventures in the furthest regions of his mind.
Though she was a dog, it was Nana’s duty to see that each child was positioned properly in a bed where they would not be exposed to the elements that might bring about a cough or fever. With much effort and using every muscle in her body, Nana performed wonderfully as she lifted Michael off of the floor and placed him gently in bed. Then with a whisper of a bark that was loud enough to be understood but soft enough that it would not wake the youngest of her charges, Wendy and John understood that playtime was over, and it was their bedtime as well. Without a fuss, each got into their separate beds and waited patiently for mother to give them a goodnight kiss. Quite relieved that the two other children were so much easier, Nana walked past her kennel and out the door for an evening stroll.
After giving the children a kiss, Mrs. Darling turned off all but the nightlights and returned to her seat by the fire to continue her sewing. They were such a happy family, and this picture of Wendy, John, and Michael fast asleep in their beds with Mrs. Darling sewing pleasantly was one that could be cherished. And while Mrs. Darling did her best to finish her work with the needle, she too fell fast asleep – and this was what Tinker Bell had been waiting for.
No sooner had Mrs. Darling closed her eyes than the window to the nursery had begun to open. In flew the glowing light which circled the room in record time before diving under the children’s beds and across the mantel of the fireplace in search of something.
“Where is it?” the little voice shouted in what sounded like a tiny bell. “I know it’s here. Peter may have no idea, but I know it’s here.”
The little fairy was still searching the room frantically when Peter followed her inside.
“What are you doing?” He spat no louder than a whisper. “The story’s over with. Get out of here before they see you.”
Peter was in the process of crossing the room to grab her when he glanced by the fireside and saw Mrs. Darling sleeping comfortably in the rocking chair. He stopped what he was doing and stared. Something about the woman troubled him. Perhaps it was because she was a mother, and he could not tolerate the sight of any mother. Or perhaps it was because she was a grownup. Whatever the reason, seeing that kind face made his forehead crease in a frown, and he had the sudden urge to scream.
“She stole it; I know she did,” the little fairy said in frustration as her search had produced no results.
Peter’s attention shifted away from the vile figure sleeping in the chair and toward the flickering light.
“What are you talking about? That storyteller never stole anything,” he said as he pointed to Wendy asleep in the bed. “She just tells stories.”
The flickering light suddenly crossed the room and smacked Peter on the head.
“Not her,” the tiny voice yelled at him.
“Tink, I don’t know what you’re talking about, but we have to go.”
Tinker Bell was about to fly right back through the window when a curious thing around Mrs. Darling’s neck caught her eye – a locket. Shaped into an oval of solid gold with a single ruby encrusted on its surface, the light from the fire reflected off the tiny gem and streaked directly into the little fairy’s sight. Tinker Bell let out a gasp and had to cover her mouth with her hands in order to hold back a shriek.
“She shouldn’t have that!” Tinker Bell’s tiny voice said with earnest. “It’s the locket!”
“Tinker Bell,” Peter said matter of factly as he crossed his arms and looked up at the ceiling in irritation at her irrational ranting. “I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.”
“It’s the locket,” she repeated frantically. “We’ve been looking for it for years!”
“It was probably from an adventure ages ago,” he said indifferently.
Peter did feel a curiosity toward the locket spark somewhere inside, but he honestly couldn’t remember where he had seen it last or why he would ever search for such a thing. Surely there were greater treasures to be discovered elsewhere, and he would not waste his time on such a meaningless trinket. The locket meant nothing to him now, for it no longer held a place in his memory. If it did in fact have something to do with an adventure from long ago, then Peter did not remember. For he had enough trouble trying to remember the adventure from a day or two before; trying to remember anything that happened further back was simply out of the question.
“Really Tink, I can’t think of a single reason why I would ever waste my time looking for something so meaningless. It was probably a rather dull adventure because it means nothing to me now.”
“You silly ass!” Tinker Bell spat at him.
In a flash, the little fairy was standing on Mrs. Darling’s chest and looking closely at the jewel. It was the very same, she was certain of it. And if Peter would only look inside, then he would recognize it as well. Without waking Mrs. Darling, Tinker Bell tried to open the locket and expose its contents.
She had barely pried a tiny opening when a piece of something strange fell out of the crack. Black and slightly transparent, the curious object puzzled the little fairy, and she held the locket in the direction of the fire in order to examine it more carefully.
“What is that, Tink?” Peter asked unsure what to make of it.
No sooner had the light from the fire touched the locket than the strange curiosity inside shot across the room to the furthest wall and began to grow. With the aid of light, the black object spread across the wall and moved of its own free will. Though it had no attachments, Tinker Bell and Peter were both certain that it was no more than a shadow.
Tinker Bell dropped the locket instantly as her tiny head was spinning. She watched as the shadow continued to grow until it took the shape and size of a boy – not just any boy however, but the one right next to her. His shadow had been trapped inside of that lovely confine; and no sooner did Tinker Bell realize this than Peter came to the same conclusion. Looking behind his person, Peter discovered that his own shadow was absent from his body. And without any doubt, he was certain that the one on the wall was in fact his.
Tinker Bell glanced back at the locket and then to the face of the sleeping Mrs. Darling.
“She stole it! I told you, Peter!”
Perhaps she should not have said it so loudly, for, tiny voice or not, her bell-like chime caused Mrs. Darling to stir. The mother’s eyes opened into no more than slits, but through those cracks she saw a bright twinkling light seated on her chest. Instantly, Mrs. Darling’s eyes opened to their fullest extent, and she let out a gasp.
All were aware that she had woken, and Peter leapt for his shadow. Holding it in one hand, he looked back at Mrs. Darling’s surprised face and gnashed his pearly white teeth at her. Though surprised, Mrs. Darling was at first awestruck. She saw that Peter still had all of his first teeth and felt certain that such a thing would never change. Then her attention drifted to the shadow in his hand. Instantly, a look of horror filled her face, and her hand clutched the locket around her neck. She let out a second gasp, and again Peter gnashed his little pearls at her.
As if she had been waiting outside the door all along, Nana returned from her evening stroll. One look at the scene in front of her, and she immediately went running for the boy. If he could frighten Mrs. Darling, he could be a threat to the safety of the children, and Nana would not have that. A light bounded quickly out of the window, and the boy hurried after it with Nana on his heels. No sooner had Peter leapt through the window than the nanny slammed it shut swiftly behind him.
With the boy outside and unable to harm the children, the problem was solved, Nana thought with finality. But what she did not realize was that a strange thing had been left behind. Having been caught in the window during such a quick closure, a shadow had been left behind. Taking a moment to make sure it wasn’t hostile, she bit down on the dark object and laid it on the lap of Mrs. Darling.
The startled woman took a moment to regain her composure before thanking Nana and picking up the shadow to look it over. Though it had been creased slightly by the window, it was still in perfectly good condition.
“What should we do with it?” Mrs. Darling asked herself aloud.
Her eyes glanced down to the locket, and she knew that was exactly where she desired to return it. But the dog was watching, and Nana was under the impression that the boy had left it behind unintentionally. Returning it around her neck might cause the nanny to have suspicions; that simply would not do.
With her own feelings about the matter, Nana signaled that the shadow should be left outside. She was certain that the boy would be back for it, and leaving it in a place easily accessible would ensure that he would not bother the children again. Mrs. Darling looked out the window and paused with the shadow still tightly clutched in her hands.
“That’s a good idea, Nana,” she said softly as not to wake the children. “But it would far too closely resemble the washing and lower the entire tone of the house. No, I think I’ll put it away for now until I can decide the proper thing to do with it.”
Of course the lovely woman already knew what she was going to do. As soon as she had the house to herself, she would put as much light on it as possible in order to shrink it down in size. When this had been done, Mrs. Darling would return it to the locket around her neck. Then if Nana were to inquire about its whereabouts, she would simply say that the boy had stopped by sometime during the day and picked it up. No harm had been done, and the house had remained just as respectable as ever. She put the shadow in her sewing drawer before leaving the nursery and going to bed for the night.
Still cautious that the boy might return, Nana was adamant about remaining with the children. Her kennel was already fit for occupation; and due to the late hour, she was starting to feel the longing to lie down and rest. Knowing that she would be up and awake at the faintest sound, the attentive dog did a full circle in her kennel before lying down with her head sticking out the front. Using her two front paws as a pillow, she closed her eyes and drifted off by the light of the fire.
Chapter Two - The Need for a Story
“We have to go back,” Peter voiced with an excited look in his eyes that made poor Tinker Bell want to slap him. “That shadow belongs to me, and I want it.”
“You know what she is,” Tink fumed back. “I remember how much you cried. Why would you do that to yourself again?”
“I never cry,” Peter corrected without a second thought on the subject; it was his belief that he had never cried a day in his life. “You’re just trying to make sure I never see my shadow again.”
You fool,” Tink belled. “You’re being ridiculous.”
For a moment there was silence, and Peter knew he had been ridiculous. He knew it was not right to accuse Tinker Bell of ill intentions; but at the same time, she seemed to know something that he did not. It wasn’t fair and therefore, could not be tolerated.
Concealed within a cave in the high cliffs of Neverland, the sea was spread below the peculiar pair. Waves pounded fiercely against the edge while not a sound of life could be heard save for a mysterious and eerie lament from somewhere in the black waters. Faint as it was, the stirring sound of female voices reached their ears and created silence from its listeners.
Though Peter remembered the song from some ill moment in the past, he did not care for it. The sound was sweet and touched his soul, but the words caused him anguish and heartache in a way that he did not wish to experience. What events had overtaken him in the past, Peter did not want a song to remember his failure.
“Come on, Tink,” Peter said as he took to his feet. “It’s starting to get chilly, and I wouldn’t want you to catch a cold.”
Leaving the rocky ground, the boy hovered in the air and waited for Tinker Bell to join him on his departure. He ignored the song as best he could and turned to see that the tiny fairy had not budged from her place on the rock. Though vexed, he kept his composure, forced a false smile across his face, and encouraged his tiny companion.
“Tink,” he said once more while trying to hide his mounting agitation, “you won’t be very much fun if you’re too sick to move. And you know how the cold sea air always puts you under the weather.”
To Peter, this seemed to make perfect sense. Though his irritation was growing with each passing second that they lingered, he became confident that it was in Tinker Bell’s best interest to fly away. He was acting admirably and should be praised. The boy had simply forgotten the fact that he could not bear the song and was desperately searching for any excuse to leave. Admirable as it would have been to look out for Tinker Bell’s best interests, it had taken the boy less than a moment to convince himself of a terrible illness that would result from the night sea air. Knowing that he had convinced himself that such an absolute absurdity was the truth, the tiny fairy was far too proud to suffer being used as an escape tactic.
“I’ve never been sick a day in my life so don’t you dare think you’re doing me a favor by leaving!” The little fairy spat out vehemently. “If you don’t like what the mermaids are singing about, then tell them so. Just fly right down there and make them stop. I’m sure they’d love to talk to you,” she said with a mischievous grin, “and they’re always excited for a conversation.”
“No, thank you,” Peter relied with an air of indifference. “Their song doesn’t bother me in the least.”
Though his focus remained fixed at sea, his body sunk ever so slightly as it hovered closer to the ground. Tinker Bell noticed this at once, and her mischievous grin widened.
“Then you no longer mind them singing about her?” Tinker Bell asked coyly. “They’re singing about your loss, and it doesn’t bother you?”
“They can sing about anything they like,” Peter responded with a glimmer of childlike playfulness in his eyes. “And the only thing they’re reminding me of is my grand adventures.”
His body dropped closer to the ground.
“You silly ass,” the little fairy chimed softly as she noticed his further descent. “You’re lying. She would’ve been brought to tears hearing you talk like this – your Evelyn.”
Instantly, his body fell to the ground like a stone. The playful look had faded from his eyes, and all that remained was a haunting memory that wore on his person.
“She deserves better than that; and if you care for her as much as you claimed, then that singing would only encourage you to keep searching and find her.”
In the light of the moon, the boy’s broken spirit could be seen as glistening trails of tears streaked down his face. Not a word was contested; and when the sound of weeping came from his direction, the little fairy finally let her fiery emotion subside and flew gracefully onto Peter’s shoulder.
“It may not have been your fault that she disappeared, but she would never give up on you if the situation was reversed.”
“I know that, Tink,” Peter replied quickly. “But I don’t even know where she disappeared to. She just vanished. We were having adventures together one day, and the next day she was gone. I’ve searched all of Neverland and know for certain that she isn’t in it.”
“Then broaden your search and cross oceans! She wasn’t in Neverland when you first met her; there are plenty of places you can still look.”
Peter sat up on his knees and breathed out a sigh. Neverland was so much easier to search. It was his island. He knew every tree and rock. There wasn’t a single cave he hadn’t explored or an animal he hadn’t caused some manner of playful mischief. But beyond Neverland was a place far less appealing. A land filled with adults and all things grown up, he despised every inch of it. Even the bustling city of London, where he had first met Evelyn on that warm summer night, no longer held his interest. He ached to find her, but the search was a thing of torment.
“You know I’ve been looking throughout London, but it’s far too busy to see anything clearly. And besides, I’m not even certain that’s where she is.”
“Well, no one can tell you any differently, so you might as well search every crack in the streets if you have to.”
The flicker of life returned to Peter’s eyes as he rose back to his feet. He had a sudden excitement, and it was growing fast. With a far off look as if conceiving a plan, even the faint lines of a smile became visible.
“You’re wrong,” he said at last. “There is someone who can tell me.”
“Don’t even think about it,” the little fairy chimed as she clenched her teeth together in anger.
“I need the storyteller,” he said adamantly, and at once Tinker Bell turned red and hostile. “She knows things about me. I’ve heard her talking about adventures I had years ago. If she can talk about those things, then maybe she’ll be able to tell a story about what happened to Evelyn.”
“She’s a Darling!” Tinker Bell spat with hatred. “They can’t be trusted.”
“Don’t call her that.”
“But that’s what she is,” the angry fairy insisted. “She’ll never agree to help you unless it serves her own interests. Storyteller or not, she’ll be just like her mother.”
At the thought of Mrs. Darling, Peter could not help but wince.
“That girl never did anything that didn’t benefit her in some way. Every ounce of trouble was of her making, and you’re mistaken if you think her daughter will act any differently.”
“Like her mother or not,” he said indifferently, “I need to know what she knows.”
“Her mother is wearing Evelyn’s locket. Don’t you think that’s suspicious?”
“Mrs. Darling probably found it lying around,” Peter said as he shrugged his shoulders. “Evelyn was always misplacing things. She probably vanished because she misplaced herself.”
Hearing this, the little fairy dived for Peter’s head and slapped him across the cheek. Though it was not enough force to warrant Peter’s attention, at least the fairy was able to express her anger.
“You’re a terrible liar, and you know as well as I do that Evelyn never misplaced a thing,” Tinker Bell chimed vehemently. “That locket was a present from her father and never left her neck. And besides, even if Mrs. Darling did pick it up somewhere, don’t you even want to know where she found it? Maybe Evelyn was wearing it on the day she disappeared. Wherever it was found could be a useful place to look.”
“That really doesn’t matter anymore,” Peter informed her. “Once the storyteller tells me where to find Evelyn, wherever the locket fell off really won’t make a difference.”
“She’s not going to help you,” Tink insisted. “You can stand outside that window for the next ten years and she’ll never give up that story. She’d rather talk about princes and pirates. You’re wasting your time for something that will never amount to anything.”
“The window really is a waste of time,” he admitted with the same light in his eyes. “That’s why I’ll bring her back to Neverland. Once the storyteller sees my island, she won’t be able to stop talking about this place and have less stories of make believe on her mind.”
Again, Tinker Bell flew in to slap him; but this time, the boy caught her in his hand and tossed her over his shoulder before she had a chance to reach his face. She was angry beyond words. Her gentle yellowish gleam had long ago turned to red, and the thought of a Darling setting foot again in Neverland was enough to bring her to violence. She wanted blood; but most of all, she wanted to slap some sense into Peter’s thick skull.
“Really Tink, if you’re going to act like this, I don’t think I’ll invite you to fetch the storyteller with me.”
“I wouldn’t go with you if you got on your hands and knees and begged,” Tink chimed in defiance.
“Evelyn would want you to go,” Peter said politely.
“No she wouldn’t.”
“She would do the same if the situation was reversed.”
“You silly ass!” Tink countered as she stuck out her tongue. “If you really want to bring another Darling to Neverland, then you’ll have to carry her the whole way. It won’t be my fairy dust that makes her fly, and I won’t be responsible for giving the mermaids anything else to sing about.”
“I can’t carry her the entire way; I’ll be exhausted.”
“Then she can swim!”
“We’ll need the storyteller’s help to find Evelyn,” Peter said with sudden resolution. “You may not believe me, but this is the right thing to do. Trust me, Tink. You won’t be sorry.”
With those words, Peter grasped the fairy with a newfound tightness. Squirm as she might, Tinker Bell could not break free of his iron grip. Forced to watch as they left the mouth of the cave and Neverland far behind, she traveled across the sky as a prisoner.
Forcefully detained all the way to London, it was only after the storyteller, Wendy, along with her two brothers, John and Michael, were covered in fairy dust and lifting off of the ground that the fairy’s liberty was finally restored. Horrified and angry at what she had been forced to do, Tinker Bell flew two times throughout the entire Darling residence in a fit of rage while Wendy was kind enough to sew Peter’s shadow back onto his feet.
It was during her flight, alone and upset, that Tinker Bell stumbled across the all too familiar locket balanced on top of a jewelry box. Snatching it at once, her first instinct was to take it to Peter so that he would know of her discovery. But as she thought the matter over, it became clear that the boy cared too little for such a precious possession. There was only one person to whom it could be trusted, the little fairy decided. And with that, she darted past Peter and the Darlings at the edge of the window before returning with the locket back to Neverland. Burdened by the excess weight and flying with haste, Tinker Bell felt relief when, at last, she made a landing onboard the only pirate ship in Neverland, the Jolly Roger.
Chapter Three - Fairy on Deck
With a single lookout situated high on the mast, he watched the little fairy’s arrival as the only form of entertainment for his entire shift. Though unsure about her intentions, the young lookout did his job by ringing the bell twice as a signal of her presence. He then gave Tinker Bell a wave before returning to his duty of scanning the horizon.
“What is it?” an aged voice called from somewhere below deck. “What’s going on up there?”
“Everything’s fine, sir,” the lookout shouted back from the mast. “Tinker Bell’s onboard.”
There was a loud thud as if someone had fallen out of their hammock. Shortly followed by the sound of footsteps, it was accompanied by an inaudible mumbling as the man ascended the stairs from below deck. Giving his shirt one final tuck as he came into view, the older gentleman covered his mouth with a hand as a loud yawn began to escape.
“Where is she?” the man asked as he removed a pair of spectacles from his pocket and wiped the lenses with his sleeve. He put them on and searched the sky. “I don’t see anything; you must’ve been imagining things.”
“She’s behind you, sir,” the amused lookout replied.
At once, the man turned and was greeted by the sight of a small, bright light illuminating from the wooden deck.
“There you are,” he said, taking a moment for his eyes to adjust to the brightness. “You know it’ll be morning in a few hours; don’t you ever sleep? But I suppose you must have trouble what with being so bright and all.”
“I sleep just fine, thank you,” Tinker Bell said defensively as she was quite comfortable with her illumination. “And I think it would do you some good to get a few extra hours of sleep yourself. You look terribly worn.”
“Oh, it’s nothing you need be concerned with, Ms. Bell,” he said, quite pleased that she had noticed. “Really, you didn’t have to come all the way over here in the middle of the night just to check up on me. I’ve been a grown man for quite awhile and am perfectly capable of taking care of myself.”
“Well,” the little fairy said thinking this conversation was straying too far, “I suppose you should note that I didn’t come here to check on you nor do I think you’re able to take care of yourself. But I did come here with a purpose. I need an audience with the captain.”
“You must be pulling my leg,” the old man said as he looked the fairy over curiously. “At this hour? What could be so important that you’d want to wake him? Surely it can wait until morning.”
“I’m afraid it can’t.”
She quickly tossed over the locket.
“I must speak to him right away.”
Fumbling to catch the piece with slippery fingers, the old man held it for a moment before, with sudden realization, his eyes grew wide. He looked at Tinker Bell and back to the locket as if trying to piece together the mystery of its appearance. At a loss for words, the weary man took a big swallow before he was able to speak.
“How did you come by this? Did you find her?”
“I haven’t found her,” Tinker Bell replied with earnest. “But I must speak to the captain.”
The old man looked at her suspiciously. There was a question brooding away inside his head that needed to be asked. Not sure of what the answer would be, he placed one hand on his dagger while the fairy remained clearly in his sights.
“I’d always thought the best of you, Ms. Bell, but I need to know. Did you have anything to do with her missing?”
“Of course I didn’t!” She chimed. “We were both in the kitchen fixing pots on the day Evelyn vanished. You really must be getting old if your mind’s slipping that much.”
“I remember it well,” the old man countered without loosening his grip on the blade. “But then how did you come by this locket?”
“I found it around the neck of Mrs. Darling,” she spat. “Now, I must speak to the captain.”
The man’s eyes instantly grew wider, and his mouth fell open. Finding no sign that Tinker Bell was bluffing, he removed his hand from the dagger and dropped it back at his side. Murmuring a sincere apology, he looked from the fairy to the locket before giving a quick nod.
“Ay, that’d be urgent enough to get you an audience. Wait here while I go wake him. This may not be a pretty sight, and an innocent thing like you would do well to cover your ears.”
“Thank you, Master Smee,” the fairy belled while doing a small roll of her eyes.
“Always glad to help,” the old man muttered back as he walked across the deck to the captain’s door.
Twice the old man’s knuckles rapped against the door before he lowered his arm and gently positioned his ear against the wood. From within came the sound of a moan before it disappeared into the silence. Unsure of what to do, Smee scratched his salt and pepper beard before sounding on the door once more.
“Whether it’s a fire or a mutiny, you can have the ship…” came a sleepy but eloquent voice from within. “…but I will not suffer another sleepless night until tomorrow.”
“Captain,” Smee called in the most gentle but urgent tone he could muster. “There’s a matter that requires your attention. Ms. Bell’s onboard, and she’s requesting an audience. She brought with her a fine piece of jewelry; I expect you’ll recognize it at a glance.”
“Master Smee,” the groggy voice said irritably. “If Ms. Bell were onboard, she would be aware of the time and how improper it is to call on me at such an ungodly hour. And furthermore, she isn’t one to fashion jewelry for pirates in her spare time. Put an end to this charade, Smee; I’ll see you in the morning.”
“I’m sorry for keeping you awake, captain, but I really must insist. This ain’t no charade. She brought with her a locket.”
A pause was quickly followed by the sound of a swift creaking from the bed. The old man waited patiently for some form of a reply, but nothing came. He glanced at Tinker Bell who had taken an improvised seat on the edge of a bundle of rope.
“This’ll just be another minute,” he called out, and the little fairy sounded a quick chime of acknowledgement. “Captain,” Smee said returning his attention back to the door. “I have the locket in my hand; and if you don’t mind me saying, it bears a strong resemblance to the one you gave your daughter some years ago. You would do well to see it for yourself and listen to what Ms. Bell has to say.”
“Bring it in, Master Smee.” The old man heard the captain say, and he obliged instantly.
The room was dark but for the light of a single match that quickly travelled to the wick of an oil lantern. Within seconds, the flame began to grow until the whole compartment was filled with a soft glow that spread to every part but the shadows. Carrying the lantern was a man of no equal. With long, black curly hair that fell down below his shoulders in the classic Spanish style, he was dressed in garments that announced his status as the captain. Protruding from the right sleeve of his long scarlet coat that hung just above the floor was a hook instead of a hand. Sharp enough to be used as a tool or a weapon, it had seen far more than its fair share of use since installation. Smee ignored this instrument but moved to the captain’s left side as to keep some distance between it and himself.
“It’s the very same locket, captain; I’m sure of it.”
Taking the lantern from the captain’s only hand and replacing it with the locket, he kept the light held high as to give the tiny object a proper viewing. The captain was dumbstruck and looked at it in amazement. His dark and worn eyes that had gone for ages without life suddenly began to glimmer with a newly kindled fire. He was astounded; and for the first time in what felt like centuries, the captain began to feel the small stirrings of hope.
“What did I tell you, captain?” Smee asked with excitement. “Doesn’t it bear a striking resemblance to your daughter’s?”
“That ruby was originally placed inside a ring and given to me as a gift for my services to the crown. I had it removed and put in this locket just before I presented it to Evelyn on her fifth birthday. Since that moment, I’m certain that not a single day passed when it wasn’t around her neck. Indeed,” the captain said as he wet his lips, “this belonged to my daughter; I recognized it immediately.”
The captain tore his eyes away from the locket and looked at his companion with sudden earnest.
“Has my daughter been found, Smee? Is she alive?”
“I can’t answer those questions, captain,” Smee said apologetically. “But I think Ms. Bell has some news you’d be mighty interested to hear.”
“I must see her at once,” the captain insisted as he shoved past the old man and flung the door wide. “Ms. Bell,” he called in a trembling voice. “Won’t you please come in?”
In a flash of light, the little fairy streaked across the ship and through the open doorway to the captain’s quarters. Flying a quick circle around the compartment ceiling, she watched as the captain shut the door behind her before she landed gracefully on his wooden desk.
“Ms. Bell,” the captain said nervous with anticipation. “This truly is an unexpected surprise.”
“I am fully aware of the hour,” she chimed cordially. “But the matter is rather pressing and cannot wait until morning.”
“Indeed,” the captain agreed as he eyed the locket once more. “You did the right thing. Any news of Evelyn requires my immediate attention.”
“Excuse me, sir,” Smee interrupted timidly. “Shall I go fix you a cup of tea?”
“Thank you, Master Smee,” the captain responded pleasantly with a nod of his head. “And please, take your time.”
Without another word, the old man placed the lantern on the desk and, with a quick bow of his head to Tinker Bell, left the captain’s quarters closing the door behind him. From inside the room, the pair listened as the sound of footsteps grew ever fainter before eventually dissipating into the quiet.
“You look terrible, James,” the little fairy chimed as she gave him a sympathetic smile. “When was the last time you left this room?”
“I must confess that it has been a few days,” he said trying to reciprocate her smile while pouring himself a goblet of wine. “But I’m quite comfortable in here so you needn’t worry,”
“James, you promised. Put down the wine. Sleeping less and drinking more won’t bring your daughter back, and I need you to be thinking clearly for what I’m about to tell you.”
The conviction of the little fairy’s words weighed on the captain as he held the goblet against his lips. It was so tempting to drink away the memories, but he could not. Tinker Bell had been right to urge his sobriety, and he knew that, for her sake as well as his own daughter’s, obliging in this matter was the right decision to make. Hesitant but resolute, he returned the full goblet to the table and let it slip from his grasp.
“Thank you,” Tinker Bell chimed. “Evelyn would be proud.”
“Yes, well, Smee had better get here quick with that tea. My mouth is terribly parched, and my stomach is doing knots.”
“When was the last time you ate?” She asked with a growing irritation over his lack of self care.
“Please, Tinker Bell,” the captain said as he took a seat and looked the locket over once more. “Give me some hope and I’ll be more than willing to eat again.”
“I don’t know if I should trust you,” the little fairy belled as she eyed him suspiciously. “From the smell of your breath, I’d say it’s been less than four hours since your last drink. Trusting a drunkard is a challenging task; and to be perfectly honest, it would serve you right to wait for the news until after you’ve put something in your stomach.”
“Ms. Bell, have I ever lied to you?”
“Never, Captain Hook.”
“Then you have no reason to suspect I would act any differently,” he commented. “Whether drunk or sober, I remain a man of my word. And please, don’t call me that; you know how it gets to me.”
“And you know how hearing you call me Ms. Bell when we’re alone gets under my skin,” she said through clenched teeth and a smile. “Your crew may call you Captain Hook and regard it as a sign of affection, but they all know that Captain Chadwick existed long before the hook became one of your features.”
“I sometimes wonder,” the captain said stroking his mustache and staring off into a black window. “Except for Smee, all of my original crew has died, and every new sailor has known me first and foremost as Captain Hook. I’m not the man I once was, and I have a hook attached to my wrist to prove it.”
“Those men know and trust you regardless of your name. Each one owes you his life, and they would gladly make the sacrifice if they thought it would end your suffering. Let them call you what they will, James. Captain Hook can be anything you choose; but for my part, I hope he’s not a drunkard forever.”
“For you, Tinker Bell, Captain Hook will do his best to abstain from excessive drink; and for my daughter, I’ll strive to initiate that effort every day of my life.”
“Good form, James,” the little fairy chimed. “She deserves nothing less.”
“Now if you will, please tell me what news of my daughter.”
Satisfied that the captain was making an effort to control his drink, Tinker Bell felt it was only fair to reward him with the news of finding the locket. Though shocked as he was that it had been in the possession of Mrs. Darling for so many years, he listened intently to how it had concealed Peter’s shadow as well as to the boy’s discovery of Wendy, the storyteller.
Upon Smee’s return with a cup of tea, the captain kept his word and quickly downed the hot beverage before requesting another. Quite taken by surprise, Master Smee was pleased to hear of this sudden change in appetite and was further astonished when the captain asked for breakfast to accompany his drink.
The night eventually turned to morning as Tinker Bell and the captain continued to talk. The blackened windows gave way to the pale shades of morning and, with the arrival of dawn, they filled with light as the sun’s rays reflected off of the water.
“I knew the Darling girl was trouble,” the captain said at last. “But I can’t imagine how she could’ve come into possession of the locket. Wasn’t she with Peter on the day Evelyn went missing?”
The little fairy’s head splashed dust as it shook from one side to the other.
“I don’t think so. It must’ve been sometime in the afternoon when Peter stopped by to visit me and Master Smee in the kitchen. I remember him being a bit out of sorts, but he was alone. That girl was always up to no good, but I have no idea what she was doing that day. You should ask the crew. Maybe one of them will be able to give you an answer.”
“Out of sorts?” The captain asked curiously. “This is the first time you’ve ever mentioned his mood as being odd. I’ve never seen him as anything but cheerful – annoyingly so.”
“He wasn’t when he stopped by. I meant to ask him about it later; but what with Evelyn going missing, he completely forgot that he had ever been sad.”
“At least that boy had the decency to realize she wasn’t around,” James muttered in a gruff tone. “Peter is careless, forgetful, and thinks only of himself. The thought of you gallivanting around with him… it makes me sick.”
“He’s but a child, James. And children need a chance to learn from their mistakes. Time will give him an opportunity to show his better qualities. And when that day comes, there won’t be any doubt about who he truly is.”
“I’m sorry,” the captain said gravely, “but I will not wait for such a day to arrive. That boy you look after has caused me and those around him enough injuries to last for multiple lifetimes. I will kill him given the first opportunity; and you should also be aware that your life may be forfeit if it becomes an obstacle in the way of my success. Tinker Bell, you know how much I care for you and wish no harm upon your person. But Peter is going to die by my doing; and if you come between us in that crucial moment, my hand will not falter.”
Though taken aback by hearing such words, Tinker Bell knew them to be true. James had always been honest with her, and this most serious matter was no exception. She had always known her intervention could result in such an end, but caring for both parties compelled her to do right by each of them. And whether or not a grim end befell her, that was a chance she was willing to take. The little fairy gazed at the man in silence before nodding in agreement. With a swift action, she wiped the tear from her eye before it had been noticed.
“I understand,” she chimed soberly, “and I can only hope that Peter does right by you before that day comes.”
“Well, it certainly won’t be today,” the captain voiced with contempt. “Bringing another Darling to the island will be nothing but trouble.”
“Actually, he’s in the process of bringing three of them,” the little fairy corrected. “The storyteller has two brothers; and what with being shaken over all three of their heads, there isn’t a doubt in my mind that they’re all on their way here right now.”
“Peter laid his hands on you?” The captain asked incredulously. “Yes, that is certainly another reason why he will be shown no mercy. But his death will have to wait; those Darlings must be seen to first.”
“James,” Tinker Bell asked curiously though a little afraid of the answer, “what are you planning to do with them?”
“I’m going to kill them,” he said matter of factly.
“But James,” she said, still trying to put together an argument. “They’re just children.”
“With Mrs. Darling for a mother, no good can be expected to come from them. And besides, I will not allow that storyteller to have Peter’s ear. If he believes that girl, Wendy, to always speak the truth, then the potential damage could be incalculable. Taking life will bring me no joy, but I do believe their deaths to be necessary. Ill intentions and Peter’s mind should never be brought together.”
“At least make it swift,” Tinker Bell requested politely. “Even if those children were cursed from the moment they entered their mother’s womb, I would prefer their sentence not to be drawn out.”
“You have my word.”
From outside the door, there came the sudden call to arms. Footsteps could be heard scattering in every direction while creaky rusted wheels sounded the movement of one of the ship’s cannons. The captain immediately responded to a knock on the door before poking his head out and looking up at the sky.
“I’ll help you, James,” Tinker Bell said suddenly, though she didn’t really know why. “If I get a moment alone with the storyteller, I’ll save you the trouble of cleaning your blade and kill the girl myself.”
“You may not have to wait long,” the captain said with a smile. “They’re sitting aloft on a cloud and being given the tour of my ship. I will do my best to put the Darling children in your capable hands, but Peter will insult me no longer with his presence. Master Smee!” He called with force and watched as the old man quickly made his way over. “That cannon will do no good against an opponent in the clouds…However, one more sizable may be just the thing. Fetch Long Tom.”