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Pirates of Neverland Chapter 3

Smee had done a fine job of patching his captain up, and now combed muck and twigs from Hook’s long white hair.  Normally Smee would rub a black tincture into Captain Hook’s hair before powdering it.  “Don’t have any oils here,” he muttered.  “I could whip something up with the ashes, captain; quick as Ole Jack.”

“I’ve no time for frail vanity,” Hook replied, setting his teacup aside.  “Our work tonight is far too vital for such distractions.”

“Oh pish-posh captain,” Smee said.  “There’s always time to look one’s best.”  Smee opened a chest near the foot of his bed.  “Speaking of which, I saved the best; what on the chance that you’d be coming back to us.”

Smee pulled Hook’s best black velvet long coat and embroidered tricorne hat from the chest.  Beneath these were some breeches, a silk white shirt, and Hook’s holiday boots.  “Good for wearing, and good for burying; depending on how we found you captain.”

Hook shed his croc chewed clothing, and slid into his finest.  He hadn’t always believed that clothing made a man, but Captain Hook certainly felt it helped to make the distance.  He gave Smee one appreciative nod before stepping out into the rain.

Outside; Tiger Lily froze in panic as Captain Hook strode past her.  Either he hadn’t seen her, or he hadn’t cared.  Tiger Lily truly hoped for the prior.  She scrambled for the long grass the moment Hook had passed, and pressed low to the ground; careful not to crush Tinker Bell in the doing.  From here, Tiger Lily watched Hook and the pirates.

Tinker Bell chimed protest as she pushed up to Tiger Lily’s collar.  Her annoyed chirping cut short when she saw Hook as well.  Tinker Bell gave only minimal complaint when Tiger Lily pushed her back down.

“I’m sorry,” Tiger Lily whispered to the fairy.  “He’s not like the other pirates.  Hook might actually notice you.”  If Tinker Bell had any objections, she kept them to herself.

Tiger Lily watched as Hook and Smee collected up two of the larger pirates (Mullins and Mason, Tiger Lily was sure), and headed up the path towards the cliffs.  Again Hook passed close to Tiger Lily, and again he paid her no attention.  Tiger Lily waited for the four pirates to get  a good bit beyond before she moved again.

Tinker Bell poked up from Tiger Lily’s shirt as the girl shifted.  She chimed concern as she looked about.

“Yes, they’re gone,” Tiger Lily answered.  She watched Tinker Bell  shoot out and circle overhead; chirping frantically.

“It is Hook,” Tiger Lily agreed.  “But we can’t go back to camp right now.”

Tinker Bell hovered in front of Tiger Lily’s face, hands on her hips.  She tinkled a quick question.

Tiger Lily sighed.  “Hook is up to something.  By the time we got back to the other side of Neverland, it’d be too late to stop whatever it is he’s doing.”  Tiger Lily didn’t leave an opening for Tinker Bell.  She knew what the fairy was thinking anyways.  “No, I don’t know what he’s doing.  That’s why we’re going to follow him.”

The path zigzagged haphazardly along the Neverland Cliffs.  In many areas, the path was only one man thick, and Tiger Lily had to stay far behind the pirates to not be noticed.  In other spots it grew wide enough to grow vegetation the girl could use to get closer unseen.  It was in an area such as this near the top of the cliffs that Tiger Lily dared to get close enough to hear the pirates.

“There’s a picture of an old woman in my cabin; on the Jolly Roger,” Hook was saying as Tiger Lily snuck up.  “She’s a stern, strong woman.  I’ve always assumed she was my mother.”  Captain Hook’s features soured.  “But she may not be.  For all I’m truly sure, it could be a portrait of the bloody Queen.”

“Well,” Smee offered.  “It’d be a mother at least.” He winced quickly away from Captain Hook’s gaze.

“Beggin’ yer pardon captain,” Mason cut in.  He scratched his thick bald head.  “We’re pirates.  We don’t need mothers.”

“Oh hush,” Smee chastised the larger man.  “Everyone needs a mother, even if they can’t remember her.”

“No, Smee.”  Hook twirled his moustache thoughtfully.  “Mr. Mason is right.”

Mason beamed.  It was rare that ‘right’ was used to describe anything he said.  It took a moment for his smile to dim.  “Uh, how am I right?” he inquired.

“A pirate doesn’t need a mother,” Hook explained simply.  “Not if he need only be a pirate.  And Neverland has never needed us to be more than pirates.”

Captain Hook shook his head slowly as he stared at his crew.  They in turn stared blankly back at him.  “Odds bods.  It’s a waste of breath to try and explain to such a pack of codfish.  Perhaps this would be better understood by someone more native to Neverland.”

Hook stopped suddenly, and took a long stride back down the path.  He reached his good hand into the nearby shrubs, and pulled a surprised Tiger Lily out by the front of her shirt.  Hook tossed Tiger Lily across the path hard enough to bounce her once.

Tinker Bell drew her darning needle sword, and flew directly towards Captain Hook.  Smee stepped quickly forward, and snatched the fairy from the air.  He shook the candle from his lantern, jammed Tinker Bell inside; and latched the lantern door behind her.  Mullins quickly tied Tiger Lily’s hands behind her back before the girl could recover.

Hook loomed over the bound Tiger Lily.  “So what say you, Ms. Lily?  Do you know your mother?”

Tiger Lily didn’t answer.  Hook ground his teeth in fury at her ignorance, but quickly locked the anger down.  “Very well, don’t speak, just listen,” he commanded.  Hook shook his head.  “Where was I Smee?”

“You were telling us that Mason was right, captain.”

“Yes.  Neverland has never needed us to be more than pirates.”  He looked at Tiger Lily, who in turn refused to return his gaze.  “Just as Neverland has never needed the natives to be anything more than Indians.”

Hook smiled slightly as Tiger Lily shot a glance at him.  It was a mix of anger and indignation.  “I have your attention now than, do I?”  Tiger Lily looked away again, but it was clear that she was now listening.

“I believe that we are all unwitting prisoners in Neverland,” Hook explained slowly.  “All of us have that in common.  No matter what we think of ourselves, we are only slaves; here for the amusement of Peter Pan.”

The pirates blinked surprise at their captain.  Tinker Bell banged on her prison, Jingling sharp commands for Hook to stop.  Even Tiger Lily’s stone expression slipped.  Smee just shook his head.

“Captain, no,” Smee insisted cautiously.  “Pan was always a bad egg, that’s to be sure.  But to imprison all of us?  That’s beyond him.  He would never…”

“He doesn’t know Smee,” Hook explained.  “He never has.”  Hook waved to the land around them.  “Neverland brought us here, when the natives had begun to grow boring to the boy.”

Despite herself, Tiger Lily huffed at Hook’s suggestion.  Hook turned his attention to her at the sound.  “You and your people were here before us; fighting with the Lost Boys.  Peter and his boys had great tales of their battles with you natives, but it grew tiresome for him, didn’t it?”

Hook looked back at his crew.  “And then we showed up.  We were a whole new adventure for the boy.”  He shook his head.  “We sailed here.  Why?  Why would we set anchor in the bay?  Why did we stay?”

“Revenge,” Mullins offered simply.  “On Peter Pan for what he did.”

“Yes,” Hook agreed.  “Revenge.”  He stared at his hook.  Revenge seemed almost hollow.  Hook couldn’t even remember his hand, and honestly wouldn’t want it back.  His hook has served far too well to wish it replaced.  Still, it had been bad form of Pan to feed it to the passing crocodile.

“I stayed for revenge.  But what of the rest of you?”  Captain Hook surveyed his crew.  None of them met his gaze.  “C’mon lads!  Loyalty only carries you so far.  Why, after all these years has no one ever suggested we set sail?  How could you be dry-docked for years, and not consider mutiny?”

Mason put his hand up slowly.  “It never dawned on us?” he offered.  He looked around at the other pirates.  “Well, it never dawned on me, right?”

“It wouldn’t,” Mullins muttered.

“No, it wouldn’t,” Hook agreed.  He however wasn’t talking about Mason’s dimness.  “Without memories of family, or dreams of fortune, you had no real reason to leave.”  Captain Hook looked about at the forest surrounding them.  “That is the trap.  Neverland holds us here to amuse Peter Pan.  It plays with our minds to make us whatever we need to be for the boy.  Peter Pan wanted to fight Indians and there were Indians.  When he grew tired of that and wanted pirates, he had pirates.”  Hook twirled his moustache thoughtfully.  “Mermaids and fairies.  Dragons and ogres.  I wonder what other passing fancies the boy has left lost on this island?”

Lighting shattered the sky behind Hook.  He pointed to the clouds.  “And now Neverland is worried that Pan is not coming back.  It didn’t find anything new to amuse the spoilt rotten child before he flew off with MY ship.”  He thought on it a moment.  “Maybe Neverland thought that the Wendy girl would be enough of a new distraction for him.  Perhaps not.  Either way we are here now; the discarded toys left sinking with his abandoned home.”  Hook smiled coldly.  “We know now what we are,” he stated as he looked up the path, “but not what we may be.”

Hook’s crew looked at their captain, not sure what to say.  Tinker Bell stared from her cage in horror, hands over her mouth.  Tiger Lily only laughed.

“You’re wrong,” Tiger Lily stated simply.  “You and your men may have been brought here to amuse Pan, but not my tribe.”  She held her head up proudly.  “We were here long before Peter Pan arrived.”

“Is that so?”  Hook turned a cruel smile on Tiger Lily.  “Your father is chief now, and has been as long as I’ve been here.  Great Big Little Panther.”  Hook gave Tiger Lily a gentle shove, returning to their march.  “His father would have been chief before him, if I’m not mistaken.  Did you know him?”

Tiger Lily did not, but she wasn’t going to admit that to Hook.  “My grandfather was also Great Big Little Panther.”

“And his father,” Hook asked.  “He was Great Big Little Panther as well?”

Tiger Lily could feel a prickle in her scalp.  Something was wrong with this line of questioning.  Tinker Bell banged on the glass door of her lantern prison, and chimed a warning to Tiger Lily.  A trap, the fairy insisted.  She tried to tell Tiger Lily not to listen.

But Tiger Lily couldn’t stop.  Hook was wrong.  “Yes,” she admitted.  “The Piccaninny tribe has always been watched over by Great Big Little Panther.”  She stared defiance at Hook.  “Always,” she stated again.

“Always,” Hook agreed.  “That is perhaps more true than you understand, girl.”  Hook walked close behind Tiger Lily.  He dropped his voice to a harsh whisper for her alone.  “You don’t remember any chief other than your father, and neither does anyone in your little tribe.”

“I told you,” Tiger Lily replied irritably.

“Yes, your father, your grandfather, your great grandfather.  All of them Great Big Little Panther.”

“Yes.”  Something nagged at the back of Tiger Lily’s mind; as though she was missing something obvious.  “It has been that way forever.  Further back then even my great, great grandfather.”  Tiger Lily sniffed, and stuck her chin out at Hook.  “I wouldn’t expect you to understand such a tradition.”

“I understand,” Hook stated.  “Your family has always been chief.  They have always named their boys Great Big Little Panther.”

There it was again.  A buzzing in the back of Tiger Lily’s mind.  “Yes,” she answered with faltering certainty.

“Yes.”  Hook grinned.  “And yet, your brother.  Your only brother.”  Hook stroked his chin.  “I’ve forgotten, what was his name again?”

Tiger Lily turned to answer, but instead gasped involuntarily as the weight of what Hook was saying hit her.  Her brother’s name was Hard To Hit, and Hook knew that.  She felt like she was struggling to swim upstream.  She couldn’t force the words to her mouth, nor did she have to.  Hook knew.

Hook leant over her shoulder, and whispered in Tiger Lily’s ear.  “Everything you know is a lie.  We are all captives here,” Hook stated.  “We are slaves to Neverland; adventures waiting to be had by Peter Pan.”

“I am no boy’s adventure,” Tiger Lily declared.

“Nor am I,” Hook agreed.  “At least, not any longer.”

Hook pushed past Tiger Lily, moving quickly up the path.  Mullins stood closely behind the bound girl to make sure she didn’t try and bolt.  Thunder shook the ground.

“Soon,” Hook called over his shoulder.  “Soon I will have freed us all.  I will save us, and in doing so I will save Neverland.”

Tiger Lily called after the captain, yelling over the storm.  “How?” she demanded to know.  “What are you planning?”

Hook turned, and laughed maniacally.  Lighting framed him at the top of the cliffs.  “Haven’t you figured it out yet?” he called back.  “You’re supposed to be one with the land.  Don’t you understand where we are?”

Mullins pushed Tiger Lily hard into the clearing at the end of the path, but it was unnecessary.  Tiger Lily knew as well as anyone else where they were.  They were at the base of the Season Tree.

The Season Tree was as old as Neverland.  A tree so large that it’s diameter touched all four seasons at all times.  While snow fell on one side, summer sun touched the other.  Spring rain and fall winds finished the circle.  This was of course when the entire island wasn’t being assaulted by one huge storm.

Tiger Lily knew where they were; she simply didn’t understand why.  At least, she didn’t until Hook drew his sword, and turned towards the colossal tree.  Tiger Lily dashed at Hook, only to feel Mullins’ thick fingers close on the back of her shirt.

“You can’t!”  Tiger Lily screamed at Hook as he advanced on the tree.  “You mustn’t!”

“This is the life vein of Neverland,” Hook replied, never looking back at Tiger Lily.  “This is how a pirate shows who is in command.”  He drew back his sword, and cackled triumphantly.  “From now on, Hook is Neverland!”  And with this, he drove his sword hilt deep into the base of the Season Tree.

There was a sound like the rumble of a dying mountain as the tree cracked and groaned.  Lightning struck the tree in one powerful bolt even as the clouds split above.  The thunder bellowed its protest before silencing entirely.  The storm abated, leaving behind the starless night sky.  The Season Tree bent over like an old man, it’s branches reaching crooked shadows over all of Neverland.

Change came over Hook as well.  Night black color bled into his stark white hair, just as the haggard lines receded from his face.  His skin, thick and tanned from decades of sun and salt, took on a healthy shade of youth.  When he laughed, it was with the voice of a young man.

“Now,” he commanded to the land around him.  “We’ve had quite enough children foolish enough to fall out of their prams.”  Hook waved towards the lagoon far below.  “Now is the time for men foolish enough to fall in with bad company.”  He smiled a harsh smile as he stared at the sea.  “Bring me pirates,” he demanded.

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Pirates of Neverland Chapter 2

Tiger Lily watched with narrowed eyes as Tinker Bell circled about her head.  The aging fairy wrung her hands, and bemoaned about the storm, and about Neverland, and about Peter.  Of course about Peter.  Peter Pan left without her.  Peter Pan might not be coming back.  Neverland was collapsing because Peter Pan had left.  The storm was because Peter Pan was gone.  Tinker Bell had been on about it for days now, and it was driving Tiger Lily mad.

Tiger Lily irritably shushed Tinker Bell, and fought the urge to swat the fairy out of the air.  It wasn’t Tinker Bell’s fault that she’d become a bit annoying.  Being a fairy, and so very small, Tinker Bell only had room for one emotion at a time.  Right now, that emotion was ongoing, perpetual worry.

Which is not to say that Tinker Bell’s worries were unfounded.  The storm that wracked Neverland seemed apocalyptic, and everyone was concerned.  It was just that Tiger Lily missed the old Tinker Bell.  She had been haughty and arrogant and self-absorbed; but she’d been strong.

Besides that, Tiger Lily was honestly tired of hearing Peter Pan’s name.  She agreed that the storm was likely Pan’s fault somehow; these things always were.  She just didn’t fully believe the same as Tinker Bell did.  Tiger Lily wasn’t ready yet to believe that Neverland was throwing a fit because Peter Pan had left.

Lightning shattered the sky, and the ground shook with the thunder.  The din riled Tinker Bell up again.  She flitted about, tinkling on as though the end had come.  Tiger Lily sighed, and counted to ten the way Gentleman Starkey had taught her.

Tiger Lily again considered swatting Tinker Bell out of the air.  There was the off chance that Tinker Bell would stop fretting, and become legitimately angry.  It’d be an improvement likely.  It’d be less annoying at least.  Still, fairies were unpredictable enough as it was.  Tiger Lily had heard tale of Tinker Bell trying to kill that Wendy girl out of petty jealousy;  she could only imagine what type of trouble a truly angry Tinker Bell could cause.

Not that she wasn’t making a danger of herself right now.  Tink’s constant stream of jangling concerns, and her natural aura of light were more than an annoyance.  As they crept closer to the Pirate Shanty; they were a potential giveaway of Bell’s and Lily’s position.  If it weren’t for the driving storm, the two would have been seen by now.

As much of a nuisance as Tinker Bell was though, Tiger Lily knew the fairy was too useful to leave behind.  Tinker Bell knew more about the pirates than anyone else in Neverland.  For tonight’s plan, Tiger Lily couldn’t think of anyone she’d rather have about.  She just wished that Tinker Bell would both sparkle and moan less.  Shushing the fairy only worked for moments at a time, so Tiger Lily decided to try something new.  She stuck her dagger in the dirt beside her, and brought her hands together in a small, quiet applause for Tinker Bell.

Tinker Bell stopped fluttering about Tiger Lily’s head.  She floated with her head cocked, and watched Tiger Lily.  Tinker Bell put a hand on her chest and gave a tiny jingle.

“Of course for you,” Tiger Lily assured the fairy.  “C’mon Tinker Bell. You’re the one who’d suggested we take Gentleman Starkey for the tribe, and look how well that turned out.”

It hadn’t actually been Tinker Bell’s idea to kidnap Starkey.  It hadn’t been Tiger Lily’s either for that matter.  The two had waylaid Starkey when they were spying on the pirates, and simply had felt enough pity to not kill the man.  Dragging him back to camp just happened.

Gentleman Starkey had been quick to ingrain himself into the Piccaninny tribe.   He took quickly to his self created role as nanny and teacher for the native children.  He had been a teacher before he’d joined Hook’s crew, and seemed to enjoy teaching more than pirating.  Tiger Lily didn’t see Starkey’s use to the tribe though.  He taught reading, and proper English, and manners.  Tiger Lily didn’t have much use for any of these things.  Secretly, Tiger Lily wished she’d left Starkey where she’d found him.

Her idea or not, Tinker Bell was happy to take credit for it.  She smiled proudly, and landed on Tiger Lily’s shoulder.  Tinker Bell brushed her leaf skirt down, and made a show of sitting daintily.  Finally, she looked at Tiger Lily, and waited eagerly to hear more about herself.

Tiger Lily sighed, and continued in a whisper as they came to the edge of Pirate Shanty.  “Bringing Starkey back was brilliant,” she lied.  “And now we need to do it again.”

Pleased; Tinker Bell hopped back up and flew around Tiger Lily.  She gave a short quiet chime.

“Smee,” Tiger Lily agreed.  “He’s the only one of the pirates worth saving.  The rest are absolutely incorrigible.”

Incorrigible.  Tiger Lily rolled the word about in her mind, mostly certain she was using it correctly.  She’d heard Starkey use it to describe both her and her younger brother on separate occasions.  Tiger Lily assumed the word was an extreme insult.  Incorrigible brought to mind a field lost to frost, or grain overtaken by ergot; ruined and unusable.  As a word, it fit the pirates perfectly.

Four of the pirates were in the center of their town; working on something.  Tiger Lily smirked, and assumed they were fixing one of their shoddy little huts; likely blown down in the ongoing storm.  She couldn’t see which pirates were out working, but Tiger Lily was pretty certain Smee wasn’t one of them.  Smee was a lot of things, but he’d never struck Tiger Lily as being the heavy lifting type.

Tiger Lily watched them work for a moment.  If they were indeed rebuilding a cabin, it was a stupid place to put it.  With the storm filling it, the lagoon had been steadily creeping towards Pirate Shanty.  In a few days, the part of the beach they were working on would be underwater anyways.  Tiger Lily shook her head and chuckled.  The pirates had no clue about the raising waters.  She’d always found it odd how little the pirates knew about the sea, and how much they feared it.  It seemed pretty silly from a group of men that chose to live on a boat.

Gentleman Starkey had told her that most of the pirates had died in the last battle with the Lost Boys.  Tiger Lily had been surprised to find out that many of their deaths were assumed; simply because they’d been forced overboard.  She was equally surprised that Starkey didn’t think that his former crewmates would have just swam to shore; despite the Jolly Roger being moored in a shallow lagoon.

Tinker Bell flew near Tiger Lily’s ear, and chimed quietly; interrupting Tiger Lily’s thoughts.  The fairy pointed to one of the cabins; its windows lit from the fire within.  Tiger Lily nodded.  Smee’s cabin; it had to be.  She in turn pointed towards the working pirates for Tinker Bell.

“Alright,” Tiger Lily suggested.  “You go find out what they’re up to, and I’ll get Smee.”

Tinker Bell gave a tiny salute, and shot off towards the working pirates.  She timed bursts of speed with flashes of lightning; becoming near invisible to anyone looking for her.  Not that the pirates would do much beyond try to wave Tinker Bell away.  They didn’t seem to notice her much when she was around to begin with.  Even if they did, none of them were fast enough to actually swat Tinker Bell.

Tiger Lily watched Tinker Bell for a moment more, before shifting her attention to Smee’s cabin.  She slunk across the Pirate Shanty, staying to the shadows.  Lily could feel the wet sand slide beneath her feet; reminding her again how little time the bay had.  Soon the pirates and their homes would be swept away, and that would be that.  Except for Smee of course, since Tiger Lily and Tinker Bell fully intended to take him away from the rest of the crew.  Tiger Lily slid silently to Smee’s door, and closed her hand around the handle.

Tinker Bell yanked hard on one of Tiger Lily’s braids, pulling the young woman back a step.  Tiger Lily turned on the fairy, ready to swat her for real this time.  Tinker Bell flitted about, Yelling in sheer panic.  She was talking too fast for Tiger Lily to get the full of it, but the terror was evident in the fairy’s voice.

Tiger Lily annoyance at the fairy faded quickly.  Tinker Bell was a lot of things, but a coward was not one of them.  For her to be this frightened something big must be going on.  Tiger Lily looked cautiously towards the working pirates.  She squinted through the storm, and this time actually paid attention to what they were doing.

The pirates weren’t repairing a storm ruined hovel after all.  They struggled together to pull something giant and heavy into a makeshift frame.  Tiger’s heart skipped once as the storm flashed light onto their work.  The pirates were hoisting the body of the Great Crocodile into the scaffolding; standing it as a horrid monument in the center of their makeshift town.

Tiger Lily blanched as she watched the grisly work.  It seemed unlikely that the croc had just died on its own, much less died and washed up near the pirate town.  Someone, or something must have killed it.

The most hopeful scenario was that the pirates had somehow managed to kill the crocodile on their own.  This would make them more capable warriors than Tiger Lily had given them credit for, but it wasn’t the most terrifying possibility.  The most terrifying was that someone else had killed the crocodile.

Tinker Bell pulled her braid again, with a renewed sense of urgency.  “Smee will have to wait,” Tiger Lily agreed.

Tiger Lily snatched the anxious fairy from the air.  She shushed Tinker Bell once before stuffing the fairy into her shirt.  Tinker Bell fluttered about like an annoyed moth, but she stayed quiet, and she stayed put.  Tiger Lily shifted her knife to her teeth, pushed her back against the side of Smee’s cabin, and willed herself to vanish in the shadows.

Tiger Lily held her breath as the door to Smee’s hut opened.  Maybe I can still grab him she considered.  She dared a half step towards the open door, but stopped dead as an immense shadow fell from the doorway.

A man stepped out.  It wasn’t Smee.

Pirates of Neverland Chapter 1

The storm roared through Pirate Shanty, shaking the makeshift town to the core.  Bartholomew Smee jolted up in his cot as lightning crashed outside.  He looked nervously around his tiny hut for a full minute before he chastised his lack of nerves.  Smee should have been used to the storm by now; it had been going for weeks, maybe years.  Time in Neverland was relative after all.   It felt like the storm had always been outside his hut.

Mr. Smee shook his head.  No, the storm hadn’t always been here.  It had blown in shortly after Pan and his crew of Lost Boys had left.  Shortly after they’d stolen the Jolly Roger, and set course for London.  Shortly after they’d murdered Captain Hook.

“Well, murdered you by default I suppose,” Smee commented to the empty room.  After all, Pan had forced Hook overboard, and into the mouth of the waiting croc.

Smee took a quick glance about the room as though concerned about listeners.  There were none of course.  “Oh, captain, if you knew what had gone on since you passed on.  Mullins in charge now.  We call him mister, of course captain,” he commented.  “No other captain for us, now is there?  Besides, no boat for him to be captain of.”

Mr. Smee shook his head slow, and tried to relax back into his cot.  It was late to be getting nostalgic, and Smee wasn’t getting any younger.  Mr. Smee closed his eyes, and tried to get back to sleep.

Again, the storm shook his tiny cabin home, and again, Smee sat upright in bed.  It wasn’t the thunder keeping him awake this evening.  Smee could swear he heard someone calling for him from outside.  It was faint, and far, and familiar.

Smee ran a hand through his long beard.  “Nah,” he decided finally.  “It must be the wind.  Yes, a mix of wind and spirits.  I should know better I should.  It can’t be…”

“SMEE!”

The shout rattled the windows; more powerful then the thunder that rocked the shanty town.  There was no confusion of its owner.  Bartholomew Smee fell from his cot, and scrambled to throw a coat over his nightgown.  “I’m coming captain!” he yelled as he dashed into the night.

Hook stormed into the town, unfazed by the weather. His hair, normally powdered and poufed, now hung in thick wet ropes over his face.  His fine black frock coat hung tattered from his shoulders, and his pants were missing a leg.  Blood dripped black and thick as hot tar from his many wounds.

Hook walked with a noticeable limp; hunched and struggling to drag something unseen in the darkness.  The captain dropped his strange luggage as he reached the center of Pirate Shanty, and stormed towards Smee.

“Odds bods Smee,” Hook snapped at the smaller man.  “Would you have me shout down the moon?”

“Begging your pardon captain,” Smee stammered while draping his coat over Hook’s shoulders.  “It’s just I wasn’t expecting it to be you sir.”

Hook ignored Smee’s excuses as he looked about the Pirate Shanty.  By now, the other men were coming to the center of town; wondering at the noise.  They stared at Hook as though he were a ghost.  Smee did as well; at the moment, it was still possible that Hook was indeed a spirit.

Hook looked at the men, fury burning in his eyes.  Seeing them all here on land affirmed his suspicions, and he turned on Smee.

“Where is the Jolly Roger, Smee?” Hook roared when Smee didn’t answer right away, and reached for his sabre dangerously.  “Where is my ship?”

“It’s gone,” Mullins answered for Smee.  He pushed his way past the others, and stalked towards Hook.  “Peter Pan took it, after he’d fed you to the crocodile.”

Mullins was an intimidating man in his own right.  Though not the largest of the pirates (that honour went to Mason) Mullins was certainly the most daunting.  His red hair hung in tangles from beneath his tricorne hat.  A scar split the length of his face, and set his lip in a permanent sneer.  Were the scar not there, Mullins would likely sneer nonetheless.

He was certainly sneering now, as he stared beady eyed at the ruins of the great Captain Hook.  Mullins had always been loyal to Hook.  Well, as loyal as a pirate could be.  It’s just, once Hook was gone, Mullins had taken control of what was left of the crew.  There was only one way to go up in the pirate ranks, and that was over the body of the man ahead of you.  Mullins was in charge now, and it seemed bad form for Hook to come back from the dead.

“A bunch of children took the Jolly Roger from the fearsome Captain Hook,” Mullins spat.  He grinned a wicked grin.  “They stole your boat.  What does that make you James?  Can’t be captain, right boys?  Can’t be captain without a boat.”

Mullins was almost as large as Hook, almost as loud, and almost as fearsome.  By his expression as he tried to stare down Hook, it was clear that Mullins had forgotten the almost of it all.  Being in charge even for a little while can sometimes skew a man’s sense of self worth.

A monstrous noise rumbled deep in Hook’s throat.  It was like the growl of a caged animal, just before the door opened.  The pirates flinched back a good few meters.

Mullins didn’t step away.  He didn’t notice Hook’s growl.  He was too busy listening to a different familiar sound.  Mullins mockingly put a hand to his ear, never breaking eye contact with Hook.

“You hear that sound boys?” Mullins questioned.  “You all hear that ticking?”  Mullins laughed at Hook.  “Tick. Tock.  Looks like time’s up for you Jimmie.”

Mullins laughed again, but this time with less certainty.  Hook hadn’t looked away.  The ticking was right on them, but Captain Hook hadn’t even flinched.  Mullins, even lost to his bravado, noticed, and found it strange.  He’d seen Hook panic at the sound of an ordinary pocket watch.

“You do hear the ticking,” Mullins whispered harshly.  “You do, don’t you Jimmie?”

Hook didn’t budge.  He smiled coldly, and slowly raised his hook till it was only centimetres in front of Mullin’s nose.  Dangling from the hook was a large clock; rusted, pocked from years in the belly of a crocodile, but ticking yet.

Mullin’s grin twitched, then vanished all together.  His Adam’s apple juggled in his throat as he looked over Hook’s shoulder at the burden he’d been dragging.  Lightning struck, illuminating the carcass of the monstrous crocodile.

Mullins looked from the crocodile to Hook.  He swallowed several times before finding his voice, as he finally saw what the others saw.  This was not a man that jumped scared at the sound of a clock.  This was not a man defeated by a boy.  Standing in front of Mullins was a man that had been through the maw of a monster; a man that had met his true fears, and come back alive.  This was pirate incarnate.  This was Captain Jas Hook.

“I was joking,” Mullins muttered hopefully.  He stared at the clock, no longer able to stare into the eyes of Captain Hook.  “You understand that I was just joking captain.”

“Oh, I understand, Mr. Mullins.  I understand you very clearly.”

Hook tilted the old clock into Mullins hands, and placed his hook onto the pirate’s shoulder.  The point slid easily into the soft flesh at the nape of Mullins’ neck, just between shoulder blade and collar bone.

To Mullins credit, he didn’t cry out.  Still, the large man stared terror at that hook, and at its owner.  “I’m sorry captain,” Mullins stated with all sincerity a pirate could give.

“ah, Mullins.” Hook tilted his head at the other pirate, and smiled maliciously.  “It’s this storm.  I couldn’t quite hear you.  You’ll have to say it louder.”  Hook slid the hook deeper into Mullins’ shoulder.

“I’m sorry captain!”

“Yes!  Say it again, you pox ridden codfish!”  Hook twisted the hook again, and jammed it downward; forcing Mullins to his knees.  “Who am I, Mullins?  Who?”

“Captain!” Mullins screamed.  “Captain Hook!”

Hook could feel Mullins pulse against his hook.  He’d only need to twist his hook slightly inward, and he’d slice Mullins’ main artery wide.  Instead he pushed it downward till the point sliced out from beneath Mullins’ collarbone. “Not James?  Or Jimmie?”

“No!  My Captain! Captain Hook!”

“That’s right!”  Hook pulled his hook free, and shoved Mullins back with his boot.  He then turned a vicious glare at the rest of the pirates.  “Do any of the rest of you bilge have questions about authority?”

The rest of the men stood at stark attention, staring at their boots.   Mullins shambled over to join them, standing in line with the rest.  He did nothing to staunch the flow of blood from his torn shoulder.  Mason, Jukes, Cookson, Smee, and Mullins.  Five men.  Four and a half really; as Jukes was little more than a boy.  There weren’t enough men to make a press gang, much less crew a ship.

Hook only had to raise an eyebrow, and Smee slid from line to his side.  The two  men turned away from the rest of the crew.  “Where is everyone Smee?” he asked quietly.

“This is everyone captain,” Smee answered, just loud enough to be heard by Hook over the storm.  “Lost almost everyone else in the last fight with them boys.”

Hook frowned.  “Almost everyone?”

Smee shrugged.  “We’ve lost a few since, captain: to the injuns.  They swing in, pick off men along the edges of the town.”  Smee shrugged again.  “Truth be told Captain; if them reds had known you were gone for sure, they’d have probably done us all in.”

“I suppose it’s good that I didn’t kill Mullins then,” Hook mused.

“Well, I’m sure he appreciates it,” Smee agreed.

Hook turned back to his men, and barked commands.  “Mason, Cookson,” he began.  He kicked the crocodile’s carcass.  “Get this reptile into town.  See if there’s any good meat on it, then I want it stuffed and mounted.  Jukes, help Mullins put himself back together, then grab some gear.  We move inland tonight.”  Hook watched as his crew scrambled all hodge podge to follow his orders.  “Step lively boys,” he advised, “lest someone meet the cats tonight!”

Happy with the scurry of work, Hook turned back to his boatswain.  “Smee,” he began.

“C’mon Captain,” Smee urged, gently nudging Hook towards his hut.  “Lets get you out of this storm; clean you up a bit, eh?”

Hook nodded.  His crew properly distracted, Hook allowed his shoulders to sag.  “Aye, Smee,” he said, limping for the small hut.  “But only for a moment.  We have work to do, and it must be done this evening.”

“Work captain?”

“Work, Smee.  Pan has taken my ship.  It’s only proper form that I take something of equal value from him.”

Smee took Hook into his tiny cabin; noticing only how small it really was with the captain inside.  Hook paid no mind.  He sat in the only chair, and brooded; lost in thought, as Smee went about making a proper cuppa.

“What are we taking from Pan?” Smee asked finally.  “He left with his boys, and the Darling children.”  Smee prepared needle and thread for both Hook’s wounds and his clothes.  “Besides, this is Peter Pan we’re talking about,” he added.  “Any knick knacks or thimbles he’s left behind sir; I’m sure he’s forgotten them by now.”

Hook sneered from beneath a veil of tangled hair, and watched as his boatswain got to work patching him up.  “I don’t want his boys, or his thimbles, Smee,” Hook growled.  “You’re thinking too small.”

Smee stared blankly at Hook.  He thought as hard as he could, and nodded sagely.  “Of course captain,” he said with sudden inspiration.  Smee stroked his beard wisely.  “Only, I don’t think we’ll all fit in his tree.  I mean, it was barely big enough for him and the boys as it were.”

Hook choked on his tea.  “No Smee,” he stated with exasperation.  “Not his tree house.  Bigger.”

Smee tied off the last of Hook’s wounds, and snapped the needle free of the thread.  “I’m not sure I follow captain,” Smee admitted.

Hook smiled like a shark, and rose slowly from the chair.  “Neverland, Smee,” he explained.  “We are going to take Neverland.”

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