Actions

Work Header

Back to the Blue

Chapter Text

Wendy Darling was considered quite a catch. She was intelligent, articulate, well-mannered and beautiful. And in the nine years after the strange events of her and her brothers' disappearance, her father had risen to prominence in his bank and had accumulated a significant fortune.

Wendy Darling could have had her choice of the eminent young bachelors in London.

Yet she remained resolutely single.

Still, it did not stop many suitors from trying their utmost to gain her admiration and love. So far, all had failed.

Those around her told her she needed to be married. Indeed, she herself wanted to be married. Her mother had been married at nineteen, and for a woman of Wendy's social standing it was expected that she should at least be betrothed before the age of twenty-five. It was at that point that the term 'old maid' would be bandied about. Wendy shuddered. It was not the fact that she did not have a fiancé which troubled her but the idea that her 'predicament' would be the subject of drawing room banter. How desperately dreadful.

But Wendy Darling had not led a normal life. And Wendy Darling would not marry a normal man. There were only ever two males who had ever captured her attention and imagination, neither of whom she had seen for nine years, six months and twenty two days. In any case, one of them would stay at the age of thirteen permanently, and the other had been utterly vile and evil and was now dead.

It amazed Wendy how she had managed to proceed with her life at all after her return from Neverland, but she had. She had gone back to school and done very well, and then gone on to be one of the finest female scholars Oxford had ever had. She had, indeed, just graduated, and was about to start a job writing for the Times. There was no need in this enlightened modern world to have a husband, but still she wanted one. However, to Wendy Darling, the advantages of having a husband were not the same as those spelled out to her by her innumerable aunts and cousins.

To Wendy, a husband meant love, excitement, intimacy – finally enabling her to fulfil that which she sensed she was truly made for. But after her debutante season, there had been no one who had sparked any interest in her at all. Her family friends were boorish and stupid, and even in the bright academic stimulus of Oxford she had found her fellow scholars overly studious and dull.

There had been one or two moments: a chaste kiss at a ball, a dance with the captain of the First Eleven, and her blood had sparked, but it had been left at that. No one had recaptured that feeling of exhilaration, that thrill she had experienced all those years ago but could not quite now identify. Wendy knew her body and soul craved more, but what she was still not sure. Even Oxford didn't teach you that.

Even Oxford wasn't Neverland.

And even the captain of the First Eleven wasn't Peter.

Or Hook.

She had said the two names every day for over eight years, thought them, dreamt them. At first, as she had progressed through adolescence, it had been Peter's name, Peter's face which had been foremost in her mind: their adventures, their times together, their kiss, his twinkling face and arrogant smile – she had loved him. And she had missed him.

But time had passed, and her memories of Neverland had shifted. Shifted, but not vanished.

As her body changed, growing and developing, she found herself thinking still of the people she had known, and her blood would once again be stirred to adventure and thrilling danger. But the face which she had fixed in her mind was that of the fresh-faced youth no more. As she fell asleep, in her vivid imaginings, Wendy Darling pictured instead raven black hair tumbling around a finely chiselled face, a face with piercing sapphire eyes staring deep into her very soul. It was the face of Captain James Hook.

And as she saw those eyes before her, a change would come over her. Her skin would burn, her breathing quicken and her belly ache. Was it with remembered fear? It was not.

She knew what it was, knew that it had been stirred all those years ago, although it had then manifested itself only as a rush of excitement and intrigue. And still she did not have the experience or courage to fully comprehend it. She only knew that none of the other men she knew evoked such a reaction in her.

Desire.

She wanted it. She had known the beginnings of it before and now she was a woman she could grab it and not let go. Nothing else would do.

It had started from that very first moment of seeing James Hook in the moonlight on the castle ramparts, his hair blowing in the breeze, his gun cocked before him, his eyes piercing the black of night. Had she not indeed created him? And she had created something perfect. Evil, yes. Villain, certainly. His dark danger had been essential to her, and thus it had remained. He had become real, had lived. He had entered her soul then, and there he had stayed. Yes, he had initially been pushed to the back of her mind. Her childish innocence had not allowed her to understand the stirrings of an emotion which would remain dormant for many years, and her love and devotion to Peter told her that she hated Hook and all he stood for. But years later, the image of him that night returned to her time and time again, forcing itself to loom larger and larger in her mind.

But he was dead. Of that she was certain. And Neverland was a distant impossibility.

She must get on with her life and find a good husband in England.

________________________________________

Thus was Wendy Darling determined as she settled down in her bed one night in early July. She had left the window open to let in the cooling night air after a baking summer day. But that night she had inadvertently left something else open, something she had recently kept tightly shut: the drawer which contained her dreams.

She blew out her candle and snuggled down under the sheet. There was a noise at the window. It must have been a pigeon.

"Wendy!"

Had she heard something? The wind was clearly picking up.

"Wendy!"

A voice! Wendy sat bolt upright and opened her eyes with a start.

There, floating before her, just as he had nine years before, was Peter Pan.

At first, she wondered if she was dreaming. Her eyes stared unblinkingly at the vision of her past. The boy seemed real enough. He had not changed one bit. He was wearing the same clothes of interwoven leaves, his sword in his belt. He was not a day older, and his mouth was formed into the same cocky grin he had exhibited so many years ago.

Wendy stared in disbelief, almost afraid to talk in case he would vanish.

"Aren't you even going to say hello?"

She smiled in amazement. "Peter?"

"Of course - Peter!" He flew up to the ceiling then swept over to sit with a thud beside her on the bed. Wendy pulled the covers up tight around her. It wasn't entirely correct for her to be sharing her bedroom with an adolescent boy.

"Peter! I cannot believe it's you. I ..." Her voice trailed off in bewilderment.

"What's the matter, Wendy? Cat got your tongue? That's not how I remember you!" He was off again, flying around the ceiling, arms outstretched. Wendy smiled in joy. For a moment she was twelve again and nearly flung back the covers and joined him. But she remembered herself and stayed tucked up in bed. Still, her heart raced and her skin prickled. Something was calling to her.

"Peter! It is wonderful to see you again. So wonderful! How are you?"

"Stupendous! Triumphant! Prince of all!"

She laughed aloud. He believed every word he said.

"Why are you here now? It has been so long, Peter - over nine years."

"I found a mother-of-pearl button on the forest floor. It was one of yours. I remembered you again. I hadn't thought about you for a long time." He spoke remarkably casually. It panged her soul. "I thought I'd come for a visit."

Wendy spoke quietly and solemnly. "I think about you all the time, Peter."

"What, even now? You look different, Wendy." He had alighted next to her and was looking down with an expression of curious confusion on his face.

"I grew up, Peter."

Pan was silent for a moment and stared hard at her. She swallowed. Then he shrugged and took off again, this time to circle the walls. "I liked you better before."

Wendy smiled ruefully and lowered her head.

"How are John and ... the other one?"

She frowned. Could he really not remember Michael's name?

"Michael. They are very well. John is at university and Michael is about to finish school."

"Evil world! They are not free like me!"

"No," she chided, "but they will have money to support a wife and family."

"They don't want that! They were boys of Neverland! Tell them to come back to me!"

"Peter. They have grown up too. They are doing what they want."

He stopped and came to look at her again. "Who needs a family? They have you. You were their mother. You were a good mother."

"No, Peter. I am their sister. And I was your friend."

He looked down at her, his face impassive. "You are not fun anymore. Why don't you laugh as you used to?"

She hung her head. His brutal honesty wounded her.

"You still have your kiss."

She darted her head up. "What?"

"There." He leaned over and touched the corner of her mouth, although not with affection or even tender remembrance, merely with factual observation. Her hand came up to feel the place. A memory played in her mind. She looked across at the boy before her. He had kissed her all those years ago. And it had been good.

Why could he not have grown up?

But he had not, and he was now revealed for what he had always been: a cocky, self-absorbed, flighty, fickle youth. As that, he was wonderful, but for Wendy he could be no more.

It was good to see him, but Wendy realised that she needed no more from him now.

"And how are all the others? Tiger Lily? Tinker Bell?"

"All there, all well. And more boys. Still lost."

She smiled a sad smile. The boys she had brought back from Neverland had all thrived. And now there were more. Still, she supposed there would always be babies who fell out of their perambulators when their nurse wasn't looking.

"At least you haven't got to worry about the pirates anymore."

"Worry? I don't worry about anything. I love tormenting the old codfish!"

Wendy tensed. "What do you mean? Is there another pirate captain?" Her skin was alight.

"No! Hook's not dead."

She froze. "But ... I saw him ... he was swallowed by the crocodile."

"Aah, but it seems he tastes as vile as he looks after all. Croc spat him out sharpish. He lived to fight another day!"

Wendy stared straight ahead. A strange tension had gripped her body. Her mind allowed her only one image – that of Hook's eyes searching for her, the moonlight reflected in them. And suddenly, he was real again; he wasn't dead, but alive. She could hardly contain her excitement.

"I see. But that's ... remarkable." She was aware of sounding agitated. She asked the next question as casually as she could, despite burning for the answer. "And how is he?"

"Don't worry about him! He's alive, that is all."

"Is he not well?"

"Very well! Fighting fit – that's all I care. As fit as the day he died! Or didn't!" Peter was talking nonsense now, darting about the room like a moth caught in a light. That, combined with the revelation that James Hook was still alive and well, was making Wendy giddy.

"Peter! Do settle down. You are giving me a headache!"

He stopped and slumped down cross-legged on the floor. "You are different, Wendy. But no matter. I came to ask you to come back to Neverland with me."

"What?"

"Come back to Neverland."

She reeled. Immediately she wanted to. And immediately, she knew why. It would not be for Peter or the boys. It would be for one reason only.

She closed her eyes.

Black hair. Sapphires shining in the moonlight.

She shook her head. How could she abandon all she had worked so hard for in a quest for a man whom she should consider her mortal enemy? A man whom she knew to be a murderer, a man who had in fact, the last time they met, tried to make her walk the plank!

A hysterical laugh was pulled from her and erupted into the air.

Peter started in shock. "Wendy!" He grinned triumphantly. "At least you are laughing again. You must come with me."

She looked at him. "I can't. I have so much to do, so much responsibility."

"Urgh! Foul word!" He drew his sword and slashed it through the air. "Had I that word before me, I would cut it to shreds and feed it to the sharks!"

She laughed aloud again. "Peter! How I have missed you!"

He crawled onto the bed and came up close beside her. She forgot she only had her nightgown on. For a moment, the years between them vanished."Come with me. Just for a while. You can come back whenever you want."

He had said that last time.

But then Wendy Darling remembered that she was in fact twenty-one. And with that realisation her desire to go to Neverland was strengthened, not diminished. She felt her journey into womanhood was so nearly complete. Why should she not return to the place where it began? After all, she need only stay a day or so. She fixed Peter with her eyes. "I'll have to get dressed first."

"Huzzah!" Peter launched up with a shout of triumph and threw himself around the room once again. Wendy laughed long and got out of bed, crossing to her wardrobe. She took out her smartest day dress, then stopped and replaced it. She had another, not as crisp, but in a deep burgundy, with a collar that fell lower than her other dresses. Her hand moved to that one instead and she withdrew it.

"Peter! You are to wait outside while I dress."

He looked confused for a moment, then shrugged and did as he was asked. Wendy smiled and dressed quickly, lacing up her corset and dress as best she could alone.

Then, with a final look at the room, she stepped onto the window ledge. Peter offered her his hand.

"Ready?"

She nodded. "Ready."

She gripped his hand, and almost immediately, they were airborne. Wendy had forgotten the thrill of flying, but at least this time she knew exactly what to do. And she easily had a happy thought to keep her afloat – blue eyes.

They flew straight on until morning. Wendy was surprised at how tiredness seemed to flee from her. They flew through the night, and when they arrived she was as fresh as if she had slept for hours.

The island looked just as it had when she had left. It was dappled in sunlight. She laughed in joy. Here, she knew exactly who she was. They flew down to the beach, and Wendy raced around the sand like a giddy schoolgirl, breathing in the vivid, brilliant air of Neverland. Peter joined her, turning cartwheels and whooping with delight. He came over and clasped her hands, spinning her around.

"You are the same, Wendy! You haven't grown up! I knew it!"

For a moment, Wendy believed him. Wouldn't it be wonderful to truly leave behind all her cares, all her responsibilities? Her laughter was added to the fresh joy of the air and she let herself be spun around.

But then her eyes fell on the bay. There was no ship there. They had sailed Hook's ship back with them to London, but she had imagined he would have got another. When in Neverland, the sight of the Jolly Roger had been so familiar as to be almost comforting. Her belly twisted but this time with disappointment. Pulling herself free from Peter's grasp, she looked across the empty sea.

"Does Hook no longer have a ship?"

He groaned audibly as he lost her focus. "Yes! Don't worry about that now. Come on. Let's go and find the boys."

"Where is it?"

"He moors it on the other side of the island. As far from me as possible – coward that he is!"

Sensible, Wendy thought as relief swept through her. Could she wait to see it? She glanced back at Peter, kicking the sand in frustration as he waited for her. He looked like such a desperate little boy.

He was a desperate little boy. But she could not disappoint him. She took his hand and allowed him to pull her into the forest.

The smells and sights around her were intoxicating and thrilling. The island smelt green and good. It was so joyous to be back. But all the while, Wendy thought only of seeing one person. The awareness of his proximity made her pulse race and her skin prickle. That was why she was here – she could not deny it. And she needed to look her best. The forest floor was muddy. She picked up her skirt and tentatively picked her way through the leaves and branches. Peter huffed with frustration. "Hurry up! Don't worry about all that!"

"This is one of my best dresses, Peter. I can't have it ruined."

He glared at her. "You are disappointing me!" With a petulant frown, he turned his back and stormed off ahead of her.

"Peter!" But this time Wendy did not allow herself to feel guilty. He was behaving like the child he was. She would react like the adult she was. She knew the way. She would make her way to the boys in her own time.

When at last she arrived in the clearing, Peter was standing in front of a group of boys, as dirty and haphazardly dressed as those she had known nine years before. He grinned at her, clearly having forgotten his complaint of earlier.

"Boys. This is Wendy."

Immediately she was swamped by tiny, grubby hands and limbs. The boys raced out to greet her."Mother!" She raised her hands up, aware that she shouldn't soil her dress, but could only place her arms around them and give them the affection she knew they so needed. She was taken aback by their use of the term to her but could not argue with them now.

"We have heard about you, Mother. And now you are here for us. All is well."

She opened her mouth to speak but decided to save it for another time. Still, she glanced over at Peter; he was being his usual deceptive self.

"We are going hunting! Do you want to come, Mother?"

She laughed. "I have only just got here. I think perhaps I will wait a while. You go without me for now."

They rushed off to get their weapons, leaving Peter and Wendy alone in the clearing.

"What have you been telling them, Peter? You know I will not be here long."

"Aah, you will change your mind and stay!"

"Peter! That isn't true. I have a life elsewhere now. I must return to it, probably tomorrow."

He stepped up to her, his face twisted in petulant anger. "So why are you here then? Why did you come at all?"

"I ... I was curious."

He glared at her, stamping his foot. "That is not good enough. Come hunting with us."

"I don't want to."

"Argghhh!" Peter roared with frustration. "You are not fun now that you have grown up! I don't like you anymore, Wendy!" With that he stormed off after the boys.

Wendy should have felt aggrieved, wounded, but she did not. She felt rather like she imagined a mother must feel confronted with a disobedient child. She frowned after him but did not follow.

The forest fell still around her. She could hear the haunting song of birds calling high up in the canopy. She glanced up. Sunlight forced its way through gaps in the branches onto the floor beneath; the air jumped with the remnants of forest life. The flicker of a fairy dance sparkled above her. She smiled. For that alone, it was worth coming back. But there was more. And now it was time to find it.

Wendy turned and walked away, heading to the other side of the island. She walked purposefully but still carefully ensured that her dress remained as unsullied as possible. At length, the trees cleared. She continued until she came to the brow of a hill where she could look over to the sea on the opposite side of the island. She walked down a short way until the bay opened out before her. And there, nestled in a sheltered part of the cove, was a pirate ship.

________________________________________

Wendy's heart leapt and the fire in her belly immediately ignited. It was larger than the previous one; times had clearly not been too bad for James Hook. The skull-and-crossbones fluttered from the rigging, and even from here she could see and hear the crew going about their roudy chores. Her feet carried her unstintingly down the hill towards it.

She knew what would happen. When the crew saw her, they would capture her and take her to their captain. That is what she wanted. She would offer only token resistance. She wondered if they would recognise her. She wondered if he would recognise her.

Wendy was by now practically running down the hill. What if he wasn't there? He must be, surely. Where else would he be on this island?

At last she came to the shore. She stood as close to the ship as she could, staring determinedly across at it. It took some time, but at length there was a shout from the deck, and after a brief flurry of frenzied activity and conversation men rushed about to lower a boat. They rowed furiously across to her. She realised they were probably wondering why she wasn't fleeing and hoped the passing years had not made them so blood-thirsty that they would cut her down before them immediately.

Wendy raised her hands above her head, just to be on the safe side.

The pirates jumped out of their boat and surrounded her, their toothless grins sickening, but reminding her forcefully that all was going to plan.

"Well well well, what's all this then? Got lost, my pretty?"

"I wish you to take me to your captain."

The pirates looked at each other and chuckled. One, with reeking breath and gaping gaps where teeth should have been, stepped in close to her. "Do you now? Well, luckily for you, we have orders to do just that. Shame. Such a pretty little treasure, we've found. We could have some fun first, don't you think, boys?" They fell about cackling manically. The pirate had come right up to her, his foul breath making her sway back in revulsion. "Not often we get a nice proper grown-up lady, is it boys? What you doin' on this island, mi'lady?" He spoke with mock civility, bowing a little to her at the last word.

"If you have orders then you should ensure you follow them."

The expression on the man's face turned instantly to malicious hatred. His features twisted into a snarl and Wendy felt the flat of a knife pressing against her dress. "Don't you tell me what I am to do or not do, my lovely!"

Wendy averted her eyes, trying to stem the rising fear from engulfing her. But even now her desire to see Hook overrode her terror, and she found the fortitude to hold her ground. She swallowed hard and kept her eyes fixed on the ship.

"Oy, Jago! The whore's got a point. Come on – captain's waiting."

With that, Wendy felt herself roughly pushed forward. Her arms were tied tight behind her back and she could no longer prevent her dress getting soaked in the salty water as she was pushed across to the boat. The men hauled her forcibly over into it. Her head jolted against a bench, but she fell in reasonably unharmed. They rowed swiftly over to the ship.

As she approached it, the smell of rope and tar hit her strongly, taking her back to the last time she had been on his ship. It had not been an altogether pleasant experience. She felt anxiety for the first time. What if this time was no different? Perhaps he would be as antagonistic towards her as before.

Her hands were untied to enable her to climb up the ladder. "Don't try anything, my pretty," the stinking pirate whispered malevolently in her ear. She duly climbed up and clambered over onto the deck, her eyes immediately searching around for him. He was nowhere to be seen. Her heart beat wildly in her chest and her breathing came in rapid pulls. She felt hands tying her wrists tightly behind her again.

As she darted her eyes around, they fell briefly on Smee. She was almost pleased to see him. As pirates went, he was a gentle soul. He looked as comical as ever and stared at her curiously as she stood there. She almost wanted to smile and greet him warmly. He had been nothing but a harmless old buffoon whenever she had seen him before. But this time he did not approach her, simply stared at her, an expression of bewildered confusion on his face. She suspected he recognised her.

"Move!"

She was pushed forward and nearly fell. Stumbling, she was motioned towards a door under the bridge. She could scarcely breathe. She knew where the door led.

The man holding her knocked loudly three times. There was silence. She thought she may pass out. Then, low and slow, came the voice. "Come." Wendy closed her eyes, her belly jerking. As soon as the deep tones throbbed into her consciousness, she knew she had done the right thing.

They opened the door and she was pushed inside.

At first, her eyes could make out little, so stark was the contrast between the bright outdoors and the gloom within. But at length, her eyes adjusted. The cabin was remarkably spacious, but similar in layout to his previous one. A fortepiano stood to one side, a large table to the other. Candles adorned the surfaces, creating an almost comforting glow. Against the middle of the far wall was a bed, far larger than that one would normally find on a ship.

Initially, she could not see him. Her eyes darted about. But then, from behind the curtain hanging behind the bed, a black booted leg appeared, followed by a tall form, clad in leather breeches with a billowing white shirt falling idly down. Metal glinted tantalizingly from out of the right cuff. Atop this figure she saw a mass of black hair, and amidst this, eyes, eyes as blue as the deepest ocean, sun dancing off it.

He looked straight into her.

________________________________________

James Hook was confused. There was a woman in his cabin, and an extraordinarily beautiful one at that. It was not a common occurrence. Bringing a woman aboard ship was considered very bad luck, and his crew knew his temper was not to be toyed with. He would spill their guts from the highest yard-arm if anything ill befell his ship due to a woman's presence on board. But on this occasion, as he gazed on her, something inside him twisted. This was right. This was good.

He stared at her for some time, his mind befuddled by the extraordinary situation and her exquisite beauty. It had been a long time since he had seen such a perfect example of womanhood.

And – there was something very familiar about her. He stepped further into the room, holding himself tall. The woman was looking directly at him, her bosom rising and falling quite rapidly. Was she scared? He supposed she must be. His men were hardly the most gentile load of thugs around, and if she knew anything of him, then naturally she would be terrified.

He walked towards her, unable to take his eyes from hers. Neither did she look away. Her eyes contained something other than fear. Something he had not seen for a while ... surely not ...?

________________________________________

Wendy thought she may pass out. He was undeniably the handsomest man she had ever come across. She could fully and finally admit that now. The passing years seemed hardly to have touched him at all.

She tried instinctively to bring her hands forward, but could not. Holding her head high, she stared him in the eyes. She almost fell into them.

He stopped and, not taking his eyes from hers, spoke, his voice running like treacle. She had forgotten his voice, how delicious it was. Or perhaps she had simply not realised before.

"And ... what ... have we here?"

"A woman." The stinking pirate spoke gruffly.

Hook's eyes rose to the ceiling, but he bit back his frustration. "Yes. I can see that, you putrid imbecile. Where did you come across her?"

"She was standing on the beach."

His eyebrow cocked. "Standing ... on the beach?"

"Yes, Cap'n."

"Just ... standing? Not fleeing, running away screaming from you scurvy-scarred lot of wretched flea-ridden maggots?"

"That's right, Cap'n. Just ... standin'. Like she was waitin' for us, or somethin'."

The eyebrow raised further, the mouth dropping a little in bemusement. "Curious."

And then Hook took another step in, his brows creasing in concentration. His eyes flicked to her lips. Her heart skipped a beat.

"There is something ..." He was staring at the corner of her mouth, the fingers of his hand raised to indicate what he was looking at.

Wendy opened her lips a little, she was not sure why. His mouth fell open in revelation. The pirate captain mouthed words inaudible to all, but which she alone could make out. "A kiss!"

James Hook looked into her eyes then moved over her face, taking in every detail he saw. It was almost as if he would cry. Wendy wanted to touch him, touch him right there and then, not at that moment with lust, but with confirmation.

Hook was dredging up a memory, a memory of a time so painful he had suppressed it deep enough as to think it had been banished for good. And now it was here before him. But no longer a child, but a tall, elegant, beautiful perfect woman, a woman who had come to him. His mind worked rapidly, but he could not fully fathom the complexity of the situation.

But his ferocious ego rose to the fore as it invariably did. He must remain in control, in command. He raised himself to his full height, fixed her with his eyes, formed his mouth into the most arrogant smirk he could muster and drawled across to her.

"Wendy ... Darling."

"Good morning, James Hook."

________________________________________

The air hung heavy between them, hot with an unbearable anticipation.

His eyes flicked to the others in the room. "Leave us!"

The men around them glanced at each other for a moment before complying with their captain's command. The door shut hard behind Wendy.

There was silence. The two remained simply staring at each other.

Then with a sudden deep inhalation of breath Hook turned from her and crossed to a drinks table where he picked up a decanter. "Wine?" he asked liltingly over his shoulder.

"It is only eleven in the morning."

"Wine?" he asked again, employing exactly the same tone as before. He had already poured himself a glass.

Wendy breathed in. She could smell the deep red liquid from where she stood. It was aromatic and inviting. "Very well, then."

"Sit down ... Wendy Darling."

She walked over to the chair he was indicating. He held out the glass for her to take. She squirmed against her bonds. "I ... can't ..."

"Oh ..." he drawled languidly, putting down the glass and crossing behind her. Immediately, she smelt a strong combination of alcohol and cigar smoke, but despite the pungent aroma, it was not unpleasant. It was exactly as it should be. It was perfectly him. Wendy felt warm fingers brushing the tender flesh of her wrists as he undid the knots. Amidst the fingers was a cold metallic hardness which also pulled and tugged at the rope. It was his hook. But it did not repulse her; it never had, despite her awareness of what it was capable of. On the contrary, she knew her body was tingling with the excitement of its closeness. His hair fell against her cheeks, tickling her skin. She wondered if she would faint. The feeling in her belly had swollen to a point beyond containment. She struggled not to gasp aloud. She was aware of him studying her, could feel his hot breath on her ear. His fingers slowed. He was deliberately taking his time to undo the knots. She knew that if she turned around she would find his eyes boring into hers.

As soon as she felt the knots loosen, she pulled her hands free and stepped away from him. "Thank you." She glanced up. A closed-mouth smile flicked over his face for the briefest moment, then was gone.

"Sit." He repeated his demand of earlier. She did so, picking up her glass and taking a long sip of wine. He looked at her, a faint smile on his face.

"So ... who would have believed it ... Wendy Darling ... presenting herself to the ship of Captain James Hook."

"I was ... passing ... and I wanted to say hello."

His eyebrows jerked up in almost comical amazement. She knew she had sounded ridiculous. "Is that so?"

Wendy lowered her head in embarrassment.

"You were ... passing?"

She nodded slightly.

"Wendy Darling," he drawled with arrogant condescension, "one does not pass Neverland."

"Peter came to see me."

Hook sneered. He hated to hear the name.

"And you came back for him?"

"Not exactly."

The eyebrow rose again. They sat in silence. His right arm hung over the back of the chair, the hook glistening in the candlelight. She was staggered by his beauty; it was more mesmerising, more terrifying than she had dared imagine. His hair fell in dark silken locks about his face and he carried a hint of a smile upon his face. She knew what she would do, what she had to do. Here at last was what she had been searching for. Had there ever been any doubt?

She had returned here with Peter, but he had simply been a means to an end. She had left the Boy behind. She had left the Boy behind for the Man: the Man who had started her on the road to womanhood, the Man who would now complete her journey for her.

"So ... Wendy Darling ... I see you have grown up." She flushed but still held his gaze. Hook's eyes ran languorously over her body then back to her face. "And how delightfully too. I don't suppose Pan appreciates your transformation, does he? Where is the little runt – abandoned you already?"

A momentary anger flashed in her, but as soon as she looked into the azure blue, it was almost immediately quelled.

"I ... wanted to be on my own."

The eyebrow was up again. "Indeed?" Hook took a long draught of wine before placing it down carefully on the table before him. Then, resting his elbows on the arms of the chair, he leaned in towards her. "But you are not on your own, Wendy ... you are with me."

Still she held his gaze. She really was deliciously beautiful.

Wendy.

She had come back. Come back to him.

The burn in his gut shifted again.

Wendy could bear it no more. She stood suddenly and crossed to an open porthole. There seemed so little air in the cabin.

Footsteps sounded behind her. Hook came and stood before her, his tall form looming above. She could feel his heat, smell his aroma strong. She daren't look up.

"Why are you here?" His voice was low but gentle, remarkably so.

Wendy at last raised her head, unsure what to say. "I ... wanted to say sorry ... for being so beastly to you before."

Another cock of the eyebrow. Even he would admit that she had virtually no reason to be sorry for any of the events of nine years ago. Still, who was he to deny her humility before him? "An apology, Wendy? How charming." He glanced down at her bosom, rising and falling with trembling regularity, so pale and soft.

"I want to give you something ... to express my remorse ... but I am not sure I know what."

He was so close to her, so silent, but so real and alive. She could feel his breath on her face. She waited for his low deep words again. At length, they came to her. "What do you have for me?" It was almost a whisper.

"I think ... I want to give you ... a kiss."

Hook felt an unfamiliar feeling within, something he could not remember for the longest time. It was his soul – he feared it would burst. He exhaled, loud and long. Wendy. His Wendy. Always his Wendy. He had dreamed of how she was, dreamed of her growing into ripe adulthood. Now he need imagine no longer. Time, that tormentor which had pursued and hounded him for so long, had delivered her at last to him complete. For the first time, he respected it. Wendy had been as aware as he of the seed planted so many years ago. He let his words glide down to her.

"In that case ... I await your apology."

Wendy flicked her eyes up. "Can you see it?"

He nodded once, not taking his eyes from the corner of her mouth. Her beauty and acquiescence were almost too much. But he could not stop himself. In all his life, in all hers, he knew there had never been a moment so perfect.

Hook's head lowered slowly towards her. Wendy felt as if her belly had melted within her. Her blood pulsed furiously round her body, round her head. The world was spinning; the only still point was the man before her, his mouth ever closer to hers.

She spoke once again, her final consent. "Take it. It's yours."

His soul poured through his limbs into her, and he kissed her.

At that moment, Wendy remembered what life was for. She had learnt about it here, nine years before, and now, as she knew would be the case, she had rediscovered it. All sense of right and wrong, moral or immoral, melted away. This was her design, her desire, and never had she wanted anything so much. Her lips softened under his. He tasted much sweeter than his aroma. She wanted more. The man above her sensed her need and deepened the kiss, moving his lips tenderly over hers. She responded immediately and felt that strange surge in her belly again. She found her hips instinctively pushing into him.

Hook jerked back in surprise. He had been absorbed so completely and totally in her extraordinary mouth that her sudden boldness took him unawares. But almost immediately he remembered that he was a man and pressed stronger yet against her. There was already a desperate hardness rising from his groin. Wendy gasped, her eyes opening in astonishment. She knew what to expect physically, had read books and talked to her friends, but she had no real experience of the male body.

Was she scared? Nervous? Insecure?

Her hands came up and tangled in his hair, and she pulled his mouth harder yet into her, her hips once more grinding against that unexplored rigidity she felt between his legs.

Clearly not.

Hook groaned audibly. He wondered if he would be able to contain himself. It had been so long since there had been anyone, so obsessed was he with defeating Pan. And now ... Wendy ... Wendy in his arms, Wendy pulling him in closer and deeper to him ... her mouth ... her lips. He could not prevent opening them under him and letting his tongue slip into her. She tensed momentarily, clearly surprised by his actions. He flitted his tongue gently around her mouth, tasting, coaxing. Soon enough, she relaxed again and allowed her own tongue to meet his. He flicked it idly, deepening the kiss yet further, and this time she responded in kind. He was staggered as he felt her own tongue enter his mouth and explore around it with remarkable assurance.

After some time, they had to pull back for breath.

He moved down her neck, planting hot open kisses on it and breathing out his words, "Apology accepted."

She moaned with unfathomable delight and held his head against her. "I think I would like to say sorry again."

"I think that would be a very good idea indeed, my dear."

He returned to her mouth and plundered it hungrily. She returned his kiss with rising passion but was aware in the midst of her heated lust that she was unsure what to do next. She need not have feared. She felt his hand dropping behind her back, feeling for the laces on her dress. He quickly tugged them out of the eyes, and she felt the material loosening from around her body.

"Yes ... yes ... my sweet, my darling ... I want you ... I have always wanted you ... I give myself to you ... only you."

Hook thought he may weep. Such perfection. A feeling he had never experienced before welled up within him; he felt unworthy. Was he worthy of doing what he was about to do? But her hands had come to his chest, running over his torso with staggering sensuality, catching his nipples as they travelled. Unworthy or not, he had no choice. He would have her. And it would be his greatest triumph.

Her dress fell to the floor, and she stepped swiftly out of it, kicking it away from them. She had slipped her hands under his shirt and was now running her fingertips lightly up and down his firm chest. Hook's mind reeled at her audacity. He presumed her to be a virgin, but her boldness gave him a thrill beyond imagining.

Wendy drew in a breath of awe. She had never realised a man would feel so strong and warm. Surely not all men were like this? The insipid boys in her lectures did not feel like this, did they? Immediately, she wanted to see him. Gripping the sides of his shirt, she tugged it up. Hook was further taken aback by her confidence but not put off. He raised his arms up and helped her divest him of his shirt. The sleeve caught on his hook, and she laughed as she tugged to extricate it. He laughed too, more at her remarkable boldness than the amusement of it. And then his torso was naked before her. She looked on it with wonder, her hands still caressing the muscled outline of his chest all the while. Then she raised her eyes to his face and reached up to kiss him long and hard once more.

He returned to her underwear. Wendy helped to undo her corset. It took some time, but at last she felt the restraints loosening and air rushing back into her freed lungs. Why she had to wear the blessed thing at all was beyond her.

She stood before him in her cotton vest and pantaloons, her chest rising and falling rapidly. He took a moment to pause and study her.

"You are beautiful, my darling. So completely beautiful."

She blushed again but felt no shame at her body. She reached to undo the remaining buttons and lacings concealing her from him. He stepped in to assist, the metal of his hook brushing along her arm. She sucked in a breath but not with disgust. The contrast between the warm softness of his fingers and the cold brutality of the hook merely excited her more than she could ever have imagined. She knew what evil deeds could be done with it, but for now she knew it would only bring her pleasure.

At last she could slip her top off her shoulders and reveal herself to him. She hesitated, feeling insecure for the first time since entering his cabin. He looked into her eyes then raised his hand to one shoulder and his hook to the other. The material was slowly pushed off her shoulders, and the garment tumbled to the floor.

She stood with her top naked before him.

He could only stare. Her breasts rose in gentle swells out from her body. They were not large, but full and round with dark pink nipples swollen in the air with anticipation. He opened his mouth to allow a breath of awe to escape him. She had tensed and averted her eyes.

He stepped in, running his left hand up her arm, then bent down to kiss her, chaste and tender again. His mouth moved to her ear, and he whispered sensuously into it, "Exquisite beauty."

Her eyes closed and her head fell back, allowing his mouth to quest down her throat. It carried on, kissing over her collarbone, down the swell of her breast, until it reached her nipple. Wendy gasped as she felt his lips close around the tight pink flesh, his moustache tickling the tender flesh around it. Her eyes opened wide. She had never imagined such a thing. But, yet again, her belly jumped violently and she knew she could only take more. It felt so wonderful. So wonderful and so good. He must not stop. Her hands came up to grip his hair again and press him into her. He was now sucking the nipple deep into his mouth. Wendy drew in a shuddering breath. She had not realised her body could achieve these things. Now at last she understood how right it was to grow up. Hook had been right. He was right all along and Peter was wrong.

His tongue was flicking the nipple back and forth within his mouth. On her other breast, a stark contrast. Wendy sucked in a sharp, shocked breath. There was cold metal pressing into the downy flesh. He had encircled his hook about her nipple which was nestling in the bend of it. As the initial coldness subsided, she let her head fall back again, revelling in the sensations pulsing through her body.

Wendy became aware in the midst of this of being walked backwards, back towards the bed. Her legs came against it and she was tenderly pressed down onto it. He did not lie atop her but just to the side, allowing his hand and mouth the freedom to continue their igniting caresses. Wendy moaned aloud, surprising herself with the vocal betrayal of her desire. Her fist came up to clasp in her mouth, stifling any further sounds.

His hook immediately curled over her wrist and tugged it away from her mouth. "No, my darling. Allow your body to guide you. I want to see you, feel you and hear you. You have come back to me, and I will have all of you."

She nearly sobbed with longing. His mouth had returned to her breast. She could feel his tongue running like a hummingbird's wings over the nipple, sending those indefinable shafts of sensation shooting through her body and soul.

She groaned again, voicing her thoughts aloud. "What are you? What are you that you have consumed my mind for so long? You were Hate, you were Evil ... you were Villain. Are you still, James Hook? Are you Villain? Is your body a work of the devil?"

He murmured deep onto her flesh, "Villain? Who called me such? Only you. You, in your adolescent dreamings. One ascribes such terms to things one does not understand. Now you understand, do you not, Wendy Darling? You understand who I am? What I am? What I always was?"

"Yes."

"What? Say it, my Wendy."

"You are Man."

With the deepest groan torn from his depths, he plunged his mouth back to her breast, pulling the tight bud hard into him, his teeth nipping it between them. Wendy arched towards him, her hands gripping his back so hard he knew she had drawn blood. He grunted with revelation and desire. He could wait no more.

His hook latched onto the top of her pantaloons and after undoing the ties, he tugged them down. She raised her hips up instinctively to help him. She had lost all awareness of shyness or propriety; she was driven only towards him.

Hook lowered his eyes as the core of her being was revealed to him. He exhaled slow, as slow as her underwear dropped finally from her. Wendy Darling was naked before him. What had been started all those years before was at last attaining fulfilment.

He stood, inhaling deeply, a surge of power running through him. His hand and hook fumbled to unlace his breeches, needing to release the painful desperation in his groin. Wendy felt no shame, her limbs writhing on the bed. At last. At last.

She stared at the apex of his thighs, her eyes tingling to behold the sight. And then, as he pulled the leather down his limbs with a grunt, he was there before her. Her eyes widened.

So this was Man.

The object in question seemed in her mind to have an existence of its own. It rose so large and proud from the dark hairs at the base of his taut belly, swaying a little, dancing towards her. But her scholarly mind, her need to study and detail things, was quashed. She knew only that she wanted it.

She lay back, her hands gripping the sheets, her knuckles white with desperate tension. "Please ... please, now ..."

Hook stepped fully out of the breeches and kicked them aside. Apart from the leather straps holding the hook in place, he was entirely naked.

He lowered himself fully onto her. She felt the tip of his engorged manhood pressing into her belly. It grew damp with something. It felt so different to anything she had come across before, so alien, and yet so human. She wriggled against it in curiosity, drawing a shuddering moan from the man atop her. She moved again with the same effect. Already, a surge of power swept through her. Could she control this man so easily with her body? Could she give to him the feelings he was drawing from her? If she could do that, then she could do anything. To control Man, therein lay strength.

She felt no fear, but at that moment there rose in her a strange desire to warn him of her inexperience. He must be used to experienced women, surely?

"I ... I have never before ..."

His eyebrow rose slightly. She could detect an arrogant sparkle in the eyes. She continued. "Do you mind?"

Hook could not prevent his mouth flicking up into a smile. He had lost count of the number of virgins he had deflowered. But looking down at the beauty before him, knowing who she was, that she had come to him so willingly, something overflowed within him. He had no second thoughts about what he was about to do, he was still villain enough for that, but he knew that it would be the most exquisite moment of his life. And he would make it so for her too.

Wendy saw a softening in his eyes. Her belly was crying out for him. She sobbed a little and rubbed once again along the hardness dripping onto her belly. Hook let out a sharp but soft gasp and stroked her hair gently. "I will hurt you ... this first time ... I will hurt you."

"I know ... I want it ... I want you."

With one final searing look into her soul, he lowered his body so that the rigid shaft was positioned at the apex of her thighs. His hand came down to open her legs for him. She did so without hesitation.

The woman before him looked back into his eyes and brought her hand up to grip the back of his neck. "Closer." He bent his head down to her. "Closer," she whispered again. Their heads were almost touching. Wendy stared deep into the blue.

His brow creased slightly, and he pushed in, gently at first. There was no pain. She felt herself stretching already. Hook's eyes closed. The pleasure was already beyond reckoning. But he quickly met with firm resistance. He could go no further. He pressed gently, suddenly reluctant to inflict pain on this exquisite creature. His hesitation was not something he was used to.

Wendy relaxed fully under him.

"Now?" he whispered: a questioned prayer of acceptance.

"Now."

His hand gripped her hip, his hook digging into the bed for support. The fire sparked within his irises, his lips pursed with fervent determination, and he thrust, hard, fast and deep.

Wendy cried out with agony. A sharp blinding pain ripped through her, tearing her away from the last traces of her youth. Her cry was met by one from Hook- a sound of such complete fulfilment that it practically overrode her pain. Immediately, he surged forward again, carrying them both through to the other side.

Wendy exclaimed again as the burn gripped her. With a grunt of pure sensation, Hook stilled momentarily, allowing her time to recover. He was breathing hard; his lust would not allow him to be still for long.

Wendy focused on her body and the feeling inside her. It hurt like the devil, but never had she felt so complete, so at one with her world. This is why she was here; this is why she was alive.

She wanted to feel as much of him as possible, wanted the pain to remind her of her purpose. She gripped his back and seared his eyes. "Move."

He did not hesitate. Hook knew there was little chance he could satisfy her in the way he knew he would be able to later, but his manhood craved its release. When confronted with such beauty, he could not hold on for long.

He pulled out of her, feeling her walls contract around him before pushing back in fully, moving easily now through the place he had broken through earlier. More pain tore through Wendy, but she merely moaned in satisfaction.

Don't stop, don't stop.

Hook was thrusting hard and desperate now. He was Man and here was Woman: Woman, so perfect and giving. His muscles clenched, the fire flamed in his belly, his manhood was beyond containment. With a cry of triumph, he burst into her, pleasure gripping his body so profoundly he wondered if he could survive it. Never could he remember a climax lasting so long and deep.

When at last the final vestiges of ecstasy had left him, he slumped down onto her, breathing rapid and deep, his body pressing her into the bed.

Wendy could still feel him large and firm within her, the circle closed. Her tender passage throbbed with pain, but already it was dulling and the fulfilment she was experiencing dominated. She stroked his back, running her fingers over the thick leather bindings holding his hook.

"Thank you," she whispered into the thick black curls falling over her.

He moved a little to gaze at her. Had she really just said that? He searched for something wonderful and perfect to respond with, but his mind, fogged with pleasure at that moment, would not cooperate. He could only mimic her. "Thank you." It was grossly inadequate - he knew it. He kissed her softly. "I am sorry I could be no more of a gentleman. The first time is always thus for the lady. But, my darling, you are ... extraordinary. Never have I felt such remarkable and delirious joy."

She looked at him in wonder and innocent confusion. "How do you mean ... be more of a gentleman? As far I as I was aware, you were very much a man."

He looked at her. Did she really not know? He grinned. How he would love enlightening her.

"Oh, my dear, your naivety is utterly beguiling. No, my sweet darling Wendy; that is only half of the story. And soon ... I will take you on a journey of discovery to rival the very stars themselves." He kissed her long and deep once more. They stayed like that for some time, entwined in each other's limbs, soothing, stroking, caressing. At length, he slipped out of her. Wendy nearly wept at the loss. She glanced down. The sheets were stained by the bright red of her blood. For the first time she felt shame, not for herself, but for causing a mess in such a proud captain's cabin.

"I am sorry. I will wash it myself."

Hook chuckled. "Do not concern yourself with it, my beauty. It is a sign of your journey with me, a sign of the rapture you have wrought within my body and soul. I do not want to forget that." He had risen from the bed and stretched. She gazed at his body in wonder. He was so tight and muscled, his buttocks firm, his legs strong. She could only stare, feeling lust brewing within her once again. He crossed to a stove on the other side of the room on which sat a small pot of hot water. Fetching a sponge, he brought it with the pot over to her and sat on the bed.

"I will cleanse you. Open for me."

She did so. Why should she feel embarrassed now after all they had been through? Gently, tenderly, Hook lowered the warm sponge between her thighs and wiped away the blood which had fallen from her. It was one of the most comforting experiences of her life. The soft damp surface caressed and soothed her sore flesh, taking with it the memory of the pain, and leaving only the feeling of completeness she had so craved.

When she was fully clean, Hook came and lay beside her. She placed her head on his solid chest, her hand coming up to feel the downy hairs that lay there.

"I have wanted you from the first moment I saw you, although at the time I did not recognise the emotion for what it was. I responded merely to the thrill, the danger your presence evoked. I had always craved it. I do still."

Hook thought back. "They brought you to my ship, didn't they? I recall instructing them to bring your entire little house onto the deck."

Wendy giggled a little into his chest. "That was not the first time I saw you."

He held his breath. He could recall no time before. He had seen her, certainly, dancing with Pan; that evil day, when his mortality and loneliness seemed about to consume his very existence. How different now. But to what was she referring?

He looked down at her with a frown of incomprehension.

"At the Black Castle – do you remember? You came out onto the ramparts in the moonlight, searching for Peter. You heard a noise. I was sure you would find me. I was hiding behind a rock. I had never felt such fear, and then I poked my head out and looked at you. You were so beautiful, thrilling, so beguiling, everything I had dreamed about. I was entranced."

He stroked her arm. "I had no idea you were there."

"What would you have done with me if you had found me?"

He glanced down, his eyebrow cocked. "I would have ... chatted to you." He smirked. "And then taken you prisoner – used you to bargain with Pan."

"You would not have ... hurt me?"

"Good heavens no, my dear – I may be a blaggard and a scoundrel, but I hope that I am still a gentleman. And you were a young lady - a mere girl. I would have kept you very comfortably until the time was right."

"Right for what?" She sat up and looked at him.

"To use you against Pan."

She recalled the final confrontation she had witnessed between them, when he had used her as bait against Peter; when he had nearly killed Peter, nearly killed her; when she thought he had himself been killed.

And now she was in his bed, and he had taken the last trace of her allegiance to Pan.

No. She had given it to him. She had wanted to. It was all so clear now. Still, she wanted to question him.

"Why does he consume your energies so much?"

"Because he had everything I wanted."

"He doesn't have me."

"Not anymore." He sat up a little. She was still staring at him. She reached over and took his hook in her hand, tracing around it with her fingers.

"Have you killed many men?"

He saw no reason in lying. "Yes. They all deserved it."

She glanced at him but was not put off. "How can you be so sure?"

"Because they were like me."

His stark words silenced them for a time.

"If you deserved to die, Peter would have killed you by now."

"Your confidence in me is inspiring, but it is equalled merely by your underestimation of my abilities to outsmart Pan."

"You both enjoy the game."

"True. But now I have something else to distract me." His hook was now running lightly down the side of her waist.

"Is that all I am ... a distraction?"

"You do not believe that, do you, Wendy Darling?"

"Only if you do not believe you are all villain, James Hook."

"That was always your description."

She bent to kiss his chest. "Villain and Man. That is why I am here. You know what I have sought all my life. I came back for you. I came back when the time was right. You have indeed held me prisoner. You have held me prisoner since that time at the Black Castle, although you had no idea. And now you have set me free and I can live."

He gripped her arm hard and stared deep into her. "Oh no, not quite." His expression changed into a smile. "I think it is time to redress the balance, Wendy Darling. As I said, I hope, despite all else, that I remain a gentleman."

She did not understand his words but could not question him as he manoeuvred her onto her back and began to kiss and nip her flesh which tingled with a million needle points as his mouth travelled idly over it. He moved down, ever downwards, lingering over her nipples, before continuing his languid progress. He reached her belly, and his kisses on the outside seemed to transfer straight into her. That knot which manifested itself whenever she had thought of him was twisted so tight now she squirmed to release it. She could not. It would consume her, she was sure.

Hook continued moving down. Wendy tensed. What was he doing? She dared not believe ... hope ... surely what he was doing was beyond the realm of contemplation. He had now moved himself between her legs, pushing her legs apart with his hand and hook. Despite her mind finding the situation incomprehensible, her body did not question it. Her legs fell wide apart for him and the knot in her belly tightened yet further.

"James ... please ..." The words escaped her, heard only by him.

James Hook gazed at the sight before him. His heart swelled nearly as much as it had when he had entered her. She deserved all he could give her. His Wendy.

He lowered his head to her tender flesh, sustaining his body and soul.

Wendy almost screamed. Reason told her not to believe what was happening. But she could not move away, her body did not allow her to. Never had she imagined such a thing. It was ... degrading, vile, was it not? But ... it felt so good, so good, and so right. Her hand reached down to his head, but instead of pushing it away, she found her fingers tangling in his hair and pulling him harder against her.

He had found that place, that secret place she thought only she knew of. She had touched it on occasion but had felt shamed, had never understood. Her belly had always tightened at those times, and she had feared the consequences, so she had stopped. Now, those feelings were overwhelming her, and it wasn't her fingers tentatively touching then withdrawing, it was his mouth, his tongue, tasting and consuming her, drawing such feelings further and further out of her that she lost all sense of orientation.

Hook remained there, entirely focused on bringing her the pleasure she had given to him. She tasted like the sweetest nectar stolen from the fairies of the flowers. He drank her down.

Wendy moaned into the room. She could hardly draw breath. It was as if her skin was alight just under the surface and covered in ice on top. The tangled tension deep in her core was tightening beyond awareness, and it was spreading, spreading out to capture her body, moving over her limbs. A heavy weight pressed down on her chest. It was as if she was in pain, but never had she been further from pain. What was happening to her? Still the man between her legs continued his exquisite ministrations.

"James! What are you doing? Surely, I am going to die!"

He paused momentarily and glanced up at her. "Oh no, my beauty, you are very much alive. Now ... look at me."

She raised her head and looked into the blue of his eyes. His mouth encircled that nub of secret flesh. Wendy's body dissolved around her. The knot in her belly was pulled apart suddenly and irrevocably, ripping along her limbs. Her legs thrashed uncontrollably, and her back arched high off the bed. She was pure ecstasy. A cry of sensation, which she herself did not hear, rose from her core and shattered the air around them.

And still it went on. The sensation seemed to feed off itself and propel its way through her body again. She was lost and found in a single moment.

At length the feelings subsided and her body calmed, the feeling replaced instead by one of perfect blissful relaxation. She did not notice the man remain between her legs, drinking in her pleasure.

Her eyes closed and she basked in the afterglow of her experience. After a time, the world stilled and she forced them open. Hook was lying beside her again, a faint smile on his face. Wendy returned it blearily. "What happened to me?"

"Life."

"Did you do that?"

"Hmm ... and long may it continue."

She stared at him in disbelief. "Can I feel that way again?"

"Of course. And next time, we will combine it with your earlier experience -when your body has recovered."

She bent over and kissed him hard, showering his mouth and face in powerful hard blessings. "My darling, my sweet, now I know, now I know why you are here, why I dreamed of you always. Thank you, my darling, my love."

Hook was taken aback. Women were not usually so appreciative, but then, he usually took only his own pleasure. Not Wendy. He would give to her all she wanted, all she asked of him. He leaned over and held her head hard, kissing her forcefully. He felt himself stirring rapidly. The woman under him arched up.

"Come inside me now. I want you inside me again."

With all his willpower, he pulled himself off the bed and away from her. Wendy nearly wept.

"No. You must sleep. Your body must recover. I want the next time to be as perfect for you as it was for me." He smiled at her miserable countenance. "Have no fear, my darling Wendy. By the morning, we will make up for lost time. Now, sleep."

She frowned petulantly at him. "How can I sleep when I have that to think about? It will be impossible."

He smirked and walked to a drawer, producing a small vial of purple liquid.

Crossing back to her and unstoppering it, he offered it to her.

"What is this?"

"A sleeping draught."

Wendy knew they were made only by the midnight fairies in the Dark Wood. "How did you acquire this?"

He shrugged nonchalantly. "Common theft."

She glared at him. "Villain."

He smirked. "Drink."

She did so.

Immediately, her body sank further into the relaxed state of bliss which had overcome her earlier. She fell back into the covers and yawned loudly. Hook smoothed her hair from her face and drew the covers over her form.

She drowsily reached across, her fingers closing on his hook and tugging it towards her. "Stay with me."

It was impossible for him not to.

Chapter Text

Wendy awoke to those same blue eyes staring intently at her.

"Good morning, Wendy Darling."

"Good morning, James Hook."

She smiled and stretched, running the tips of her fingers over the jaw of the man beside her.

"Are you real?"

"As real as you want me to be."

She smiled, stretching her limbs yet further. Her body felt completely at ease with its new state. There was no more pain, and as soon as she felt his flesh under her fingertips, it reawakened, ready for more.

Wendy held his gaze, certain that she had done the right thing. Still, there were certain things which her mind threw back at her. Things which had happened nine years before.

"You tried to kill me once."

Hook looked beyond her momentarily, his eyebrows raised to recall the moment. "I believe I did."

"And now I am here in your bed."

"Indeed you are." His hand was running down her body, pushing away the sheets and revealing her naked before him. He continued his low teasing drawl. "Funny how life throws these little contradictions at us. But then – that is what growing up is all about. How boring it would be without them – I am sure you agree?"

His head had descended to her breast, and he fed on her nipple, which rose to attention instantly under his tongue. She arched up into his mouth, pulling him harder against her. His left hand had moved down and was running up her legs. They fell open instinctively for him. He touched that place again. That place he had awoken so skilfully the night before. And now it was ready once more, yearning for his touch, for his heat. She pressed herself against him with a moan of longing.

Hook turned his eyes up to look at her, careful to keep his mouth enclosed on her breast. The woman was completely acquiescent before him. Her neck was arched high off the pillow, her head raised, eyes closed in bliss.

At last.

At last he had won. He had defeated Pan.

He moved his fingers over her sodden flesh, drawing a yet deeper groan from her.

And at that moment, James Hook realised that the Boy no longer mattered. All that mattered was the woman under him, and her pleasure, and her delight. It was an almost unidentifiable emotion in him – the desire to give to someone else.

"James ..."

His name was caught on her breath again as his fingers moved through her. She was his. He wanted only to please her.

His head moved to her other breast, repeating his skilled attentions on the other tight bud, which was already nearly as hard with anticipation as its twin. His fingers searched deep inside her, curling round and finding that even more elusive place. He rubbed tenderly but firmly. Wendy's eyes opened in revelation. She gasped in. He could not remember the last time a woman had been so wet for him. A groan of his own rose from his throat.

His fingers withdrew, pulling with them her desire, and he circled that other bud of expectant flesh. She sobbed, then stilled, waiting, hoping, longing for that feeling which had consumed her the day before. Once again, she felt the tightening, both of her body and soul. But this time she knew not to fear it, not to shy away from it. She exhaled in preparation, focusing only on his fingers and mouth, and the pleasure they were drawing from her.

With a final skilled rub, Wendy shattered. Her cry of exultation echoed throughout his cabin and beyond.

She came down slowly, breathing heavily. Hook rolled away from her breast and lay beside her. She turned her head to smile blearily at him.

"You are proving to me that you are most definitely a gentleman, James Hook."

"Quite right too," he sniffed. "I cannot abide bad form."

She sniggered, then became serious. "But I ... want you inside me properly again ... I need it."

She was so sweetly needy, that he leaned over and kissed her tenderly. "Have no fear, my beauty. That was merely the aperitif." He was smirking. It stirred her belly yet further. She pushed herself up on her elbows above him. It was only then that she noticed he was not wearing his hook.

He saw her glance down at the arm, which ended just above the wrist. He tensed a little, but waited – waited for her reaction.

Starting at his shoulder, Wendy ran her hand down his arm gently, stroking and soothing as she went. But her fingers did not stop, they continued until they reached the rounded end, and soothed over it too. He almost wept. There was no revulsion in her face, or the words which followed.

"Did it hurt awfully?"

"For a moment. But my anger and resentment overrode the pain."

She was impressed with his honesty. It was only now, as she saw his maimed arm before her, that she realised fully that Peter had been capable of such brutality. His youthful body remained untouched, but James Hook would be horrifically scarred for the rest of his days. Who was Villain now?

"What are you thinking?" His words pulled her from her contemplation.

"Nothing."

"Does it repulse you?"

She looked at him in surprise. "No! Not in the slightest. How can you say that?"

"Then why are you silent?"

She smiled at him. "Because at this moment, I have nothing to say."

He gazed at her, his blue eyes sparking with delight.

Wendy noticed his hook resting on the table beside them. She reached across and examined it. It shone with a bright radiance before her eyes. "Do you want to put it on?"

"Do you want me to?"

"I do not mind."

He sighed. "Need compels me to do so. If nothing else, it helps to provide ... leverage." His eyes moved to hers with a twinkle.

She smiled, and as he sat up, brought the straps around his shoulders, helping to fasten them. He pulled it tightly into place. Then looking at her, he moved her stray hair tenderly out of her face with it, tucking it behind her ear. His action brought back a distant memory. She leaned over and kissed him. Hook returned it ardently, and knew he was already hard for her. Luckily for him, the woman before him kneeled and wriggled herself into his lap. He groaned into her mouth.

Wendy surprised herself at her own confidence and instinctive awareness of what to do. She circled her legs around him and rocked, feeling the rigidity of his need for her manifesting itself against her abdomen once again. She pressed into it. Then hands gripped her, and metal pushed against her. She moved to the side, preparing to lie down again.

"No. Kneel. Down onto your elbows."

At first, she did not understand, but she got on her hands and knees, and allowed him to push her shoulders down, so that she rested instead on her elbows. He positioned himself behind her.

She felt her face flushing. She could imagine what she must look like. He sensed her tension and stroked over her backside.

"I have never seen such a beautiful sight in all my days. You are sublime." She heard him exhale in wonder, before his voice changed into the teasing drawl. "Now, let me enlighten you as to what I was talking about yesterday."

She felt once again, at her opening, that hard, thick shaft of flesh. Instinctively, she pushed back against it, her body so craved it inside her, filling her once more. But he held her back, controlling the pace entirely himself. Slowly, he eased into her, revelling in the feel of her walls opening gradually for him. She was tighter than anything he had ever experienced. His eyes closed in incredulity, but he forced them open quickly to gaze down at her.

Hook pushed in further. Then more and more, until at last she felt him fully within her. The pain of yesterday had gone. She let out a sigh of completion. But almost immediately, he pulled out again, then gripping her hips in his hand, thrust fully in, this time to the hilt in one go. She moaned in surprised rapture. He had stroked along that place his fingers had found earlier. He started to move regularly now, in and out, each time rubbing hard along her.

James Hook had never known such a sensation. The feel, sight and sound of the woman before him was beyond imagining. As he moved in and out of her, she would give out a faint mewl of delight, which he met with urgent grunts of his own, growing louder and louder as her body pulled him towards unfathomable rapture. But, as he had said, this time he would do it properly. He slowed a little, knowing he was close to fulfilment.

"Speak to me, Wendy, tell me what you are feeling. I want to know." His hand was running along her back, his warm fingers contrasting to the cold metal which was mimicking their actions. She squirmed back onto him, desperate for him to pick up the pace he had started before.

"Don't stop that. Please, don't stop that. I want it always, I want to feel you always."

He started moving again, but was careful to concentrate on finding her most sensitive place inside. With her next exclamation, he knew that he had.

"Yes! Dear Lord, help me – there is nothing like it. How did I not know? So close, James, so close, more, please, more."

He chuckled. The ability to render a woman helpless with pleasure could bring him the most self-satisfied thrill. But it had been so long since he had bothered that he had forgotten what it was like. But he did not stop, and knew that he was as close as she. His left hand reached under her legs, the flat of his hook pressed down onto her back, and his fingers found that other beautiful place, that key to her devotion. He rubbed around and over it as skilfully as his hard shaft was plunging deep into her. Her body froze and she drew in an almost unearthly breath of preparation.

He could not stop. He plunged, hard and fast, thrusting himself into her wet tightness with brutal certainty. His fingers pulled her back to him, crushing her secret tender flesh at the same time.

"Now, now, now, my Wendy! It must be now! Let me hear you! Let me feel you alive around me!"

He pushed fully into her, and she cried out – a cry of unbridled ecstasy. Her pleasure was pulled from her by his raging manhood and she pulsed hard around him, her limbs juddering uncontrollably, his name torn from her depths over and over again.

James Hook followed her immediately. As he felt her body squeezing around him harder than anything before, his name ripped from her in rapture, he froze, then erupted within her, his seed bursting out in heaving life-affirming spasms. He could barely remain upright, and his union with the woman before him alone held him up.

It was several minutes before either moved or spoke. They remained joined, feeling their bodies' last spasms of wonder for some time afterwards.

Then Wendy's legs could support her no more, and she slumped forward onto the bed, the man still inside her falling next to her, careful not to crush her. They were both breathing deeply, trying to recover the oxygen they had expended so desperately. His hook came up to brush her hair off her back, and it was only then that he saw what he had done. His eyebrows rose in alarm, but he felt also a perverse thrill tingling him.

There was a red gash along her back, some two inches long, where the metal tip had clearly dug along her. At the time, neither had noticed. It was not deep, but the red of her blood was clearly visible, in stark contrast to her milky white flesh. He could not prevent sucking in a breath of surprise.

"What is it, my love?" she asked, her innocence adding to his burn of intrigue.

But then it shifted, and James Hook felt something else – he felt guilt. He could barely identify the emotion.

"I have hurt you."

She giggled. "Oh no – not this time. I cannot imagine feeling anything so extraordinary ever again, my darling."

His fingers were touching around the wound, as if he could help heal it. "No. On your back. You have a cut."

She sat up in confusion, and then felt a pang where the hook had cut into her flesh. She winced. So did he. The guilt deepened.

Wendy sat up and reached behind to feel. She brought her hands back, and looked down at the blood that she had caught on them. She merely smiled. "I had no idea." And still smiling, she reached around his neck and pulled him in, her mouth opening his immediately, her tongue questing deep inside. He groaned into her in revelation. Could this woman be more perfect?

At length, he pulled away and once again went to fetch a basin of water. "Lie down. I will clean it for you."

She did so. Slowly and carefully, he wiped the wound clean, planting gentle kisses around it as he went. She shuddered, but not with pain. The cut itself merely stung a little, reminding her only of the extraordinary complex man now devouring her body and soul.

"It is not deep enough to require any dressing. I doubt it will scar. Does it hurt?"

"No more than I want." She smiled and lay down on her side. He came and lay opposite her, staring deep into her eyes. "Now I know what you mean."

He raised his eyebrows in query.

"About making the moment perfect. Thank you."

"You are all I ever dared to dream about. In all my life, I simply wanted someone to make happy; to make me happy. It is simple."

She stroked his hair out of his face. "You are so beautiful. What you did just then – it was more than I could have imagined, but, I confess – I missed looking into your eyes. Your eyes are what brought me back to you."

He smirked. "Wendy Darling – it was not my eyes that brought you those feelings."

She giggled a little. "I know that, but ... I need them as much as anything. Through them, I can see who you truly are ... who I truly am."

He kissed her again. "There is much more to explore, my beauty, have no fear."

She reached down his torso, and held him in her hands, rubbing and plying the flesh with remarkable confidence. He drew in a sharp hiss of desire and felt himself rising quickly and desperately.

"Shall we continue our exploration, then?" It was her turn to employ the teasing drawl. He smirked. How could he resist? He pushed her hard over onto her back and prepared to plunge into her. She sucked in a breath of shock. He suddenly remembered the gash on her back and pulled back.

"No!" She had gripped his back, digging her fingers in hard, and pulled him back against her forcefully. "Now! Like this. I like it. It merely stings a little. I like the sensations."

He gazed in adoration, then his expression changed to that teasing smirk, and with one hard thrust, he was fully inside her.

Their coupling was not as frantic as before, but this time, he ensured he held her gaze the whole time. Wendy could not look away from his eyes and poured herself into them, her body instinctively gripping him, propelling him deeper and deeper into her. Her astonishingly instinctive skill astounded him. Her walls clasped around his throbbing rigidity and he knew it would not be long before he came apart within her yet again. He raised himself from her as best he could, and brought his hand down to that ever-needy flesh just above their join. Her body was so alight, so primed, that it took only a few skilled rubs as he ploughed along her for her to release her pleasure. Once again, he joined her in it, her body coaxing his own rapture from him in spasming pulls.

This time, he collapsed fully onto her – he could do no different – and she clasped him to her, delighting in the heaviness of his strong masculinity on top of her.

"I cannot imagine a time before you were inside me. You must remain. You must remain within me. That is where you belong."

He looked down at her – he could only corroborate her words.

"Yes, yes, my darling – you have come to me – I am yours."

He lay down again, slightly to her side, and, reached to her chin, gripping with urgent strength and turning it towards him. He kissed her, tenderly at first, but with rising passion. And then, still joined, the two lovers fell into a heavy sleep of pleasured happiness.

They did not see the diminutive winged figure who had lingered in the open porthole, witnessing them entwined together as they allowed sleep to overcome them.

Tinker Bell did not stay long. When she had seen all she needed, she was gone.

Wendy and Hook did not venture out of the cabin until late afternoon. Smee had brought them food, averting his eyes from his naked captain and his equally naked companion in the large bed.

They had made it to the table, where they had both eaten with surprising need, not taking their eyes from each other the whole time. But once their hunger was assuaged, Hook had stood, swept all traces of the food and crockery onto the floor, and, without a single moment of surprise or hesitation, Wendy had lain before him on the table and opened for him. He was inside her within a few seconds. His left hand gripped her shoulder, holding her up, his right arm was thrown down hard onto the thick wood, so that the hook had dug in firmly. And then he had moved, and she had met his every plunge with ever-increasing ardour and skill. Her hands gripped the sides of his face and she stared as hard as she could into him. It did not take long for pleasure to overcome them both, but despite their rapid approach, it was as overpowering as always - the sound of their mutual ecstasy once again soaking into the very timbers of the ship.

At length, she loosely replaced her dress on, not bothering with her underwear, and he idly threw on the shirt and breeches he had been wearing earlier. They wanted to go out, onto the deck, to gaze on the beauty around them. The crew had stared momentarily, but after one raise of the eyebrows from their captain, his hook glinting before them, they had turned away and quickly returned to their chores. Wendy felt no shame, no remorse. How could she? Her body was so heavy and relaxed with pleasure, pleasure which transmitted to her mind, that she was aware only of the man next to her. Hook turned to her and offered his arm. She took it, and he walked her up to the bridge, calling to Smee as he passed, "There is a mess on the floor – clean it."

When they were on the bridge, Wendy gazed out to sea. The sun was beginning its slow descent beyond the horizon, and the deep red glow which burnished the sea reminded her of blood. She recalled her own blood on the sheets the night before.

Placing her hands on the wheel, she steadied herself. Strong hands encircled her waist and pulled her in against a firm torso. Lips descended to nuzzle her neck. She closed her eyes and reached a hand up to hold him there.

"Do you wish to sail away?" he drawled.

"Hmm," she hummed, "but you would not allow it."

"And why is that?"

"Because I am a woman. And you cannot have a woman on board ship. It is bad form."

His hand was gripping her skirt and tugging it up, higher and higher. She moaned.

"You are on my ship now."

"This is an exception. And you are not at sea."

His fingers met with naked flesh, and continued to work higher.

"I must have your body."

"But you must also fulfil your purpose, James Hook. You are a pirate. And so you shall remain. I have decreed it."

"Have you now?"

The fingers were now exploring that hot secret place between her legs. She pushed down onto him.

"You invited me to piracy once."

"Did I?"

"Yes. I chose the name Red Handed Jill."

"A marvellous name!"

"You said that then, too."

"And what motive did I have for that? It was mere folly, clearly."

"You were trying to lure Pan in, as always."

"As always."

His fingers were so deep inside her, she thought they would never be removed. Her body was melting, but so tense, so ready.

"Don't stop ... don't stop ... ever ..."

"And now, Wendy Darling?" His mouth was burning the skin of her neck. Still she held him there. "Where is Pan now?" He was not after an answer, merely seeking her own indifference.

She groaned. "I ... do not ... know. I do not ... care."

He moved his fingers hard along that place deep within her, then out to rub over her other tight kernel of delirious flesh.

"Neither do I."

Wendy dissolved against him, a shuddering breath of rapture heaving out of her. He pulled her in tight to him to prevent her collapse, so limp was her body with pleasure. One hand gripped the wheel for dear life; the other still clasped his head against her.

At length she turned, and he embraced her. They stood, swaying together on the bridge, as the sun continued to set idly behind them.

"And what of you, Wendy Darling?"

She did not speak for some time. They both knew how she would respond, but she dared not voice it for a time. Then, summoning all her resolve, she spoke.

"I have a job, and a life to return to. I want to return to it."

He looked at her, a combination of loss and respect in his eyes. She was an adult, as was he. He understood. Yet they could both take comfort in the inevitable.

"We will need each other again."

"Yes. And at those times, we will find each other."

He kissed her hard.

"And what is this job of yours, my Wendy?"

"I am only now about to start it. I am a writer, for the Times. I will write short stories."

"Always a storyteller, Wendy Darling."

"Always."

"And I have also been asked to write the occasional article on women's matters."

"How enlightened." He did not sound convinced.

"Times are changing, James Hook. I hope that women will soon have the vote."

He moaned, but masked it as a groan of pleasure as he kissed her breast. She continued.

"I went to Oxford."

She did not see the surprise on his face. It quickly passed as he drew her breast out of the dress and sucked the nipple hard.

"As did I. Balliol, after Eton."

"Roedean, one of the first to go, then Lady Margaret Hall." She cried out in bliss as his lips swelled her nipple beyond containment.

"Will I be in your stories, my heart?"

"You are my stories, James Hook." With that she reached for his head, and turned it up to her. "And now, I think it is time we redressed the balance, don't you?"

His eyebrow rose in query, and she grabbed his hand, pulling him back down the ladder and into his cabin.

Slowly, sensuously, she set about removing his clothes, seeking out that hard flesh, which she knew was crying out for her once again. She slipped to her knees to undo his breeches, and as they tumbled to the ground, she found herself at eye level with the object in question. Never had she seen anything so magnificent. She studied it carefully, noting its smooth, round head, the taut veined flesh stretched over the rigid core. It had a tantalising drop of moisture on the tip, indicating his need for her, and there, just beside the glistening tear of desire, something else. She wondered, thinking back to what he had done for her the night before.

Wendy glanced up at him. He was breathing more rapidly than ever before, his face flushed in expectation – expectation of what, she was not sure, but an idea was forming in her mind. She looked back at the flesh rising towards her. It was still there, on the tip.

She looked up again. "There is a kiss on it."

He could only swallow hard.

Instinctively, she licked her lips. Surely she could not ...? Her body was telling her something her mind found hard to comprehend. But then, that had been the case many times recently.

"I would like to ..." She glanced up, subconsciously wetting her lips with a flick of her tongue. "Would that be acceptable?"

He almost wept. Acceptable?

He tried to sound as nonchalant as possible. "I believe, it does ... happen ... in certain cultures. I ... am not averse to ... if you wish ..." Her mouth, her lips, they were hovering tantalisingly close to his engorged erection. Hounds of hell! If she did not take him in her mouth now, he would explode.

"Well ... there is a kiss there ..."

"In that case ... I suppose you should take it."

She lowered her mouth gently, and kissed tenderly on the very tip. The drip of pleasure soaked into her lips. She ran her tongue over them and tasted it. It tasted of Man. She wanted more.

Opening her lips, she placed them tenderly over the tip, edging down ever so slowly, curiously.

The man above her almost roared. She looked up in surprise, her mouth pulling away.

Immediately, he plunged his hand down onto her head, propelling her back onto him. "More! You must not stop. Never has there been such wonder!"

It was becoming abundantly clear to Wendy that he had no objection. She would continue.

She opened her mouth, and returned with ardent intrigue to the object before her. Immediately, she felt more of the liquid drip into her mouth and her captain let the deepest groan rise from him. It made her take more of him down, down into her. Her tongue licked around the tip, lapping at the now ceaseless pleasure leaking from it. If she had thought for one moment of what she was actually doing, she may well have pulled back in horror, but all rational thought was expelled. Her body craved this, needed it, and judging by the sounds rising relentlessly from James Hook's throat, she was pleasing him immensely. Never had she felt so empowered.

"Harder! Deeper! You are all to me. You are everything. Grasp it in your hand."

She did everything he asked.

The pleasure engulfing Hook was unfathomable. Her willingness, her delight in her task, her skill; never could he have imagined it.

He gazed down at her. Her eyes were closed, her deep red lips pulling at his rigid flesh, her hand gripping his lower length.

He had intended to pull out before it was too late, but then she turned her eyes up to his, and met his gaze. Never had he seen such fervent delight in anyone. He was undone.

"I cannot ... I cannot stop ... now ... now!"

He exploded into her, his seed shooting into her throat in desperate, hot bursts.

It took Wendy by surprise, and for a moment she did not move. The man above her merely stroked her head, panting with the aftershock of ecstasy.

The evidence of his pleasure sat thick and warm in her mouth, its salty taste seeping into her consciousness. Did it repulse her?

No.

She felt stronger than ever. Man was completely in her thrall.

He softened within her mouth, but careful to keep his seed safe inside, she pulled back. She stood before him. He looked at her with complete adoration, then quickly fumbled for a handkerchief. "I am sorry. I had not intended to ..."

She swallowed. He heard it, and saw her neck tightening.

Hook looked at her in astonishment. Never had even the ten cent whores of the Caribbean done that.

Then leaning into him, she whispered in his ear, so warm and soothing he thought he may collapse, "You taste of my dreams."

With that, she walked from him to the bed once more, lying down and holding her hand out for him.

"Come."

James Hook crossed and lay on the bed beside her. They did not sleep, neither did they make love again immediately, but the contentment and happiness which spread around them was as deep and alive as at any time since she had come to him.

They lay talking for some time, about everything and nothing; about their schooldays, his travels, her hopes for her job. She rested her hand on his chest; he stroked her arm lightly.

And then there was a cry from outside, a cry which wrenched them from the perfection they had created.

"HOOK!"

They both recognised the voice instantly. It was that of Peter Pan.

At first, neither moved. Their position in bed was so right, that any interruption could hardly be real. Then the high, unbroken voice cried out again, louder and shriller, "Hook! Come out here now. I know you have taken her!"

Wendy glanced up into the blue eyes of the man above her. They froze, then burst with an azure flame in an instant. Hook leapt from the bed and grabbed both his pistol and sword, quickly throwing on his red coat, and stepping into his boats.

"James! It is over. Let there be no more!"

He did not hear her, but strode to the door and flung it open. Wendy rushed to follow him.

As soon as he was out of his cabin, Captain Hook saw the familiar figure of Peter Pan, hands on hips, mouth pursed in youthful arrogance, standing, legs apart, on his deck.

He wanted to run him through.

"Aah, Master Pan! How good of you to join us. I trust you have been enjoying a pleasant evening?"

"Where is she, Hook? Let her go or suffer the consequences."

"And what consequences would those be exactly? Have you more gargantuan amphibious monsters to summon to precipitate my end? I trust, for your sake, that they are more effective than the last one, as I seem to be ..." He glanced down at his body with mock surprise, then looked back at his foe with a teasing smirk, "... remarkably alive!"

"I want Wendy." Peter had his sword pointed at Hook's throat. His crew had gathered around, but were fearful in the presence of Pan.

"That may well be, but the question is, my dear fellow – does she want you?"

By now, Wendy had dressed and emerged from the cabin.

Peter saw her and his eyes were immediately filled with a mixture of delight and surprise. Had she really just emerged unscathed and unshackled from the captain's cabin?

"Wendy! I am here to rescue you. You need not stay with this drunken old sea dog a moment longer."

"Drunken?" Hook grimaced with sham confusion. "My dear boy, I have consumed a mere bottle of the best Petrus today, with my companion, to accompany a very fine luncheon. Such quantities can hardly be used to describe a state of drunkenness."

"Peter ..." Wendy began. She was ignored.

"Tink saw you. She saw you ... held captive by him. She said he made you ..." His voice stopped, his breathing was heavy.

Wendy felt shame for the first time since she had arrived in Neverland. But it was too late to go back now.

"What did she say, Peter?"

"She said he made you ... kiss him."

There was silence. Hook looked straight at Pan, but waited for a reply from the woman behind him.

"He didn't make me, Peter."

More silence. Peter frowned, his fine young features twisting in prickling confusion. He was filled with a sudden insecurity and could not bring himself to acknowledge what his mind was telling him. He shook his head hard, and drew his sword with a groaning flourish, pointing it straight at Hook, who immediately drew his as well. Wendy raced up to them.

"Stop it! There is no need for this now!"

"This is my enemy, Wendy, and yours. It is my duty to spill his blood right here on the deck of his vile ship!"

"No, Peter."

He turned his eyes to her, the malevolent passion turned away from Hook and melted as he looked into the face of the woman before him. She was so different now. He no longer understood her. His body was alive, tense, but it did not know what to do. He had never known such confusion. He looked into her eyes.

"Did you ... did you kiss him?"

Ensuring she held his gaze, he deserved that, Wendy nodded slowly.

Pan's face crumpled in a mixture of puzzlement and disbelief. He shook his head, tears spilling from his eyes. "Why?"

"I told you, Peter ... I grew up."

"I don't understand."

"No. You will not. That is how it should be. You are Innocence."

"Did you ... go to him, when we went hunting?"

"Yes. He is why I came back to Neverland."

"But ... he is ... ugly."

Wendy smiled a slight wry smile. "Not to me."

"You kissed me once."

"I remember very well, Peter. What did it feel like?"

He thought back, a slight grimace on his face. "Wet."

She smiled. "Did you like it?"

He shrugged with slight embarrassment.

"He likes it. It makes him happy. And it makes me happy too."

"I made you happy."

"Yes, you did. And those times will live with me forever and I will cherish them, but now, I need other things, things you cannot provide, Peter."

"Lots of kisses?"

"Lots of kisses."

And like every child who has been sat down with an adult and had things explained calmly and sensibly, Peter accepted it. He had a strange pain inside, but he knew it would pass.

He looked up at Hook. Why hadn't the old codfish run him through yet? He saw his enemy and instinctively his blood was fired again. He stood and pointed his sword at him.

Wendy sighed. "Peter!"

Hook had raised his sword too, but his face was impassive. "Now, now, little boy. I believe for once in my life, that I may find someone my own size to pick on. Be so kind as to run along before I change my mind and have you clapped in irons in the hold, where the bilge will swirl around you and rats will nibble away at those dirty little toes of yours."

Wendy turned to him with a withering look. He shrugged with casual nonchalance. Old habits died hard.

But Peter too found it hard to break the habit. He frowned. Hook was before him. Hook must be killed.

But then Wendy moved. She crossed to his enemy, reached over, removed the sword from his grasp and held his hand.

Peter stared down at their entwined fingers. He threw his own sword down on the deck and stamped on it in rage.

Wendy turned away and crossed to the boy standing in petulant rage before her. She reached across and took his face in her hands. Hook looked away.

"Peter." Never had she sounded so tender. "I cannot be what you want anymore. I do not want to be. Go now. Seek new adventures, new friends. They are there - they are waiting for you. But not with me ... and not with him. Leave him now. He has served his purpose, and he too deserves his happiness. You will find new enemies, new adversaries – torment them well." She smiled at him. And then, as a mother would kiss her child, she bent down and planted a tender kiss on the top of his head.

Peter looked up at her. For that moment, he did understand.

His face broke into the cocky grin she knew so well and suddenly and magnificently he soared into the air above her, circling the ship twice, before flying back off towards the island and disappearing, with the last remnant of her childhook, over the brow of a hill.

She watched, smiling, until he had vanished, and then turned back to Hook. He had picked up his sword again and was standing waiting for her.

His wild black hair was blowing in the sea breeze, the blue of his eyes cutting through the gathering gloom of evening, his aroma of smoke and wine wafted on the dusk air, flooding her senses.

He was as magnificent as that first moment she had seen him.

She walked back to him, and whispered up against his ear.

"I must have you now. Come inside me now."

Hook looked down at her, a faint look of surprise on his face, then the corner of his mouth turned up, and he felt himself stirring immediately. His fingers encircled her arm, and he tugged her back towards his cabin.

Slamming the door hard, he at once pushed her against it, his lust uncontainable. He pulled up her skirt, relieved to see she had not replaced her underwear. With only a moment to release himself from the first few lacings of his breeches, he gripped her hard under her rump, pushed her up as much as possible, and thrust into her, letting her sink down onto him at the same time. She groaned aloud at the sudden fullness which encompassed her. There was an thudding crash above her. She glanced up. He had thrust his hook into the wood above her shoulder, and bracing himself against it, he proceeded to plunge hard in and out of her, never slowing his pace, never taking his eyes from hers.

"Mine, mine, mine ... always mine. Wherever you go, whatever you do, you will be mine. Say it. Say it!"

"Yes, yes, yes. You know it. I am yours. I am always yours."

Their climaxes tore them away from their surroundings at the same time, and they could do no more than slump down onto the floor, a tangle of limbs and sated pleasure.

At length, they made it back to the bed, and fell into a sleep of deep pleasure and emotional exhaustion.

When Wendy woke up some time later, the man next to her was still asleep. She reached over, not touching him, but allowing her hand to hover a mere inch over his body. She moved it up and down over his torso and limbs, as if sensing it, healing it, and feeling it through energy alone. He was not aware of her actions.

She gazed at his countenance. He seemed completely at peace, harmless. How could this man have ever hurt anyone? But she knew he had – she had devised it, had she not?

And yet he had brought her such joy, such pleasure. He treated her as if she was the most exquisite thing on earth. How to explain that?

Such was the great and bewildering complexity of life.

To Peter, life was so simple. To him there was Good and Evil, Black and White, Day and Night.

Growing up had taught Wendy not to expect such convenient truths. And here was the proof - the beautiful, terrible man before her.

Did she envy Peter?

James Hook stirred and awoke, turning over and opening his eyes to behold Wendy before him. He immediately sat up and kissed her hard, rolling her onto her back and placing himself between her legs. It took only a few nuzzles at her breast for him to become hard and urgent. He was inside her before she could process fully what had happened.

No, she did not envy Peter.

After appeasing their need once more, they lay gently in each other's arms.

"I don't think I can sleep," she murmured into his chest.

"Neither can I. You have captivated my soul – both waking and sleeping."

She kissed the rise of his collarbone.

"What do you wish to do?" he asked softly.

"Go outside and look at the stars."

Hook cocked an eyebrow.

"My dear, it is past midnight. One of the benefits of being the captain is that one does not have to stand on watch. I am not accustomed to taking a turn about the deck at this ungodly hour."

She giggled at his humour, but then turned a smirk on him and slid her hand down between his legs, gently cupping what she found there, her fingertips running over the head.

"Please?"

"Well ... if you ask like that ..."

But before he could delay her anymore, she leapt from the bed and placed her underclothes on again. She no longer cared if any of the crew saw, but knew it would only be one or two in any case. Her hair fell in long thick waves around her shoulders. He smiled across at her, then got up, pulling on his breeches, but leaving his torso exposed.

Wendy opened the door to the cabin and went out onto the deck. The ship was groaning a little, its masts adjusting to the gentle swell of the sea beneath. She breathed in deep. It was a clear night, a myriad of star clusters adorned the heavens, more radiant than she had ever before seen.

She went to the side and leaned over, staring down into the frothing sea beneath her. Hook came up behind and enveloped her in his arms, pulling her in tight to him.

"When will you return to England?"

"Tomorrow."

"Are you certain?" He had anxiety in his voice for the first time.

"Yes."

There was silence.

"I will miss you."

"I will miss you. But we will both be busy. You must go. Sail away from here. Find other adversaries, other foes. It is your duty."

He was kissing her neck, a laugh stifled against it.

"I never thought I would find a woman who would encourage me in my fiendish and iniquitous behaviour."

"And I never thought I would find a man who ..." Her words faded into a groan as his fingers slid into her pantaloons and found her wet and needy once again.

"How will I find you?" There was an undercurrent of desperation in his voice.

"There will be a way."

He removed his fingers and stared hard at her, suddenly serious. "I need to know. I will do as you say. I will sail. I will find other things to ... divert me, but, at times ... I will have to come back to you." The fingers were replaced, the lips returned to her neck. "You feed me. You sustain me. You came back to me, Wendy. My Wendy ... I love you."

She heard the words. In the next moment, precipitated perhaps by what he had said, pleasure washed over her. She cried out into the night, never so certain of anything. After her body had recovered, she held his head and looked deep into the blue of his eyes, that blue which had held her captive for so long. "And thus it is, James Hook ... I love you too."

It was as if a shadow had been pulled away from his face. He seemed luminescent with happiness. He hardly smiled, but never had Wendy seen such deep contentment in another. Tears welled in her eyes. She reached up to embrace him, but before her hands had enclosed about his neck, she found she could not hold him. He was slipping out of her grasp, rising, some force bearing him upwards. Her hands trailed down his body, down his legs as they rose before her eyes.

He was flying.

She exhaled a laugh of delight and wonder.

"Behold, my Wendy. This is what you do to me! I can fly. I can fly! And this time, nothing shall be able to stop me. Nothing can shake this happiness from me, these thoughts of pure joy."

He soared high into the air above their heads, a cry of triumph breaking the night sky. She looked on in delight, then the ground fell away beneath her, and she rose to meet him, and there, high above the ocean, among the stars, they danced.

And nothing could bring them down.

Eventually, tiredness crept over them, and, slowly and mutually, they descended back to the ship.

"You see, my Wendy, you have taught me how to love ... you have taught me how to fly. We have found a way. I will fly to you. I will come to you when we need."

"I will be there, James. I will wait for you."

They walked back to his cabin.

And then they slept. And despite knowing that the morning would bring her departure, they slept well.

------------------------------------

The morning broke gradually, but undeniably, the sun's rays piercing through the wooden shutters on the portholes. Wendy squeezed her eyes tight shut against them, but they prized her eyelids open in their insistence.

While her captain was still sleeping, Wendy rose, washed and dressed.

When James Hook opened his eyes, he saw her standing before him, a tender look of resigned sadness on her face.

"Are you leaving me now?"

"Yes. But not for good. Know that."

He rose to embrace her, holding her desperately tightly. His kiss seared her soul, questing deeper into her being than she knew would ever be again.

"I love you." They were the most sincere words James Hook would ever say.

She smiled against him.

"I love you." Wendy looked up. "Now you too must go. Do not linger here. There is much more out there. Go, Man, and live."

"I will come to you soon."

"I wish it no other way." She walked to the door, then looked back at him. "I will leave the drawer that contains my dreams open – I promise."

He smiled.

Wendy opened the door, and was gone.

--------------------------------------

And so it was. Wendy went home. She started her job and she worked. She was happy. She was fulfilled.

The drawer which contained her dreams was left open. Only a chink, but enough for him. And when the time was right, he would come to her, borne on the wind of need and desire. He would come at night, when she lay alone in her bed. She would sense his approach and open the window for him. He would climb into her room, into her bed, and there he would stay until the changing darkness just before the first rays of dawn. And he would draw such pleasure out of her, pleasure as he did those first times in Neverland. And she from him. Their desire for each other was never diminished, and they wrought ecstasy in the other in ways neither could have imagined or predicted.

And did she marry, I hear you ask?

Not Hook. A lady marry a pirate! Good heavens above! That could never have been, could it now?

But let us simply say that Wendy enjoyed a long and fruitful life.

And what of Hook? Could he then return?

Well, as we women know, there are times when our dreams resurface, when we open the drawer and take them out and examine them.

Wendy kept her promise.

She never shut her drawer.

And, remember ... Hook was, after all, Villain.