Hook didn't go far after he left Wendy. He walked until he found a small stream and there he drank and doused his head. He carefully washed his face and hair, so at least some of the prison grime disappeared. He wished he could clean his whole body, but he felt too weary. Instead he sat down on the ground, resting his back against a large tree, ignoring the discomfort it brought him.
He was back in the place he hated most in the world and he had lost Wendy. For a long time he sat motionless, his head resting in his hand, his mind filled with the unfamiliar feeling of remorse. He wished he had acted differently from the very beginning, that he had wooed Wendy instead of forcing her. If he had succeeded in making her trust him, liking him, he could have told her what she could do a long time ago and this would never have happened. Remorse was an utterly useless feeling though. He could not have done things differently and even if he had tried, he would likely have failed. Had he not been appointed villain in this story, and had he not filled that role admirably?
When he heard the sounds of a boy crowing like a cockerel he raised his head and smiled a bitter smile. So this was the way it was going to be. Pan was back, and he would once again have to fight the little brat. A new round of eternal skirmishes, new battles, but Hook could feel no hatred toward his old enemy. The rage which has rolled inside him all his life, never far from the surface and ready to roar awake, seemed to have died down. The only thing he felt was a weariness of being pulled back into hell. It was, he thought, a very suitable revenge from Wendy, to bring Pan back like this.
At that point he saw a white shape emerging from the dusk. At first he almost thought it was a ghost, but then he realised it was Wendy. She had shed her heavy dress on this warm island and was dressed in a white gown, not unlike the nightgown she had worn as a child. Her clothes reflected the last of the sunlight and it almost made her shine like a light. Her face was pale and and serious and she watched him dispassionately for a moment before she beckoned at him, sounding as calm as she looked.
Hook rose, and as he did so a shadow materialised from the trees and came to stand between him and Wendy. It was a large wolf that growled and showed Hook its sharp teeth. The Captain met Wendy's eyes and he bowed slightly in acknowledgement.
"A wolf? Why not an armed guard?"
"He is mine. He always was and he was waiting for me. So why not?"
Hook followed her. What else could he do? They walked in silence and eventually they came to a small clearing where a small timber house stood, a light shining inside.
"My house," Wendy said in way of explanation. "It used to be made of leaves, but I thought this suited me better now." Once inside, she opened a door to a small bedchamber. "You'll find clothes in here, and then I will give you something to eat."
Hook stepped inside and looked around. Wendy was still standing in the doorway. She frowned, as she had noticed for the first time the stiff way the Captain held himself.
"Are you hurt?" She came closer. "Let me see."
Hook hesitated but removed his shirt with some difficulty. When Wendy saw the Captain's back, she could not help but make a small exclamation of distress. His frame was covered with whip marks, crisscrossing each other and obviously neglected as they were red and infected. Hook smiled at her horror.
"What did you expect? That they treated me like an honoured guest? This was a mere repayment for what I did to you."
"This is far worse than what you did to me."
"Oh yes. After all, I knew what I was doing."
Pity welled up inside Wendy, a feeling she did not welcome. Why should she care if he had suffered for her sake? She ought to be glad that he'd had to endure hardships as well, but she could not help it. Wendy's kind heart ached when she saw Hook's back. She quickly fetched some warm water and carefully cleaned and dressed the wounds. The Captain didn't wince, but she could see the muscles on his back tense in an effort to not do so as she proceeded. When she was finished, he turned toward her and put his hand on her shoulder.
"Wendy-" he began, but Wendy backed away.
"Don't touch me."
For a moment the veiled look on her face slipped away and he could see her anger. Hook watched the woman in front of him, feeling an almost unbearable sadness. He truly had lost her now. Even if he used his brute force to subdue her, she still would have the power to free herself of him. The threat he had given her was empty because he knew he could never go through with it. Especially not now, when his own anger had abated and she had further bound his hands by showing him kindness.
He removed his hand without saying anything further and she left him alone to clumsily wash and re-dress himself. Though Wendy had provided him with clothes, there were no sign of the harness and the claw. She may have felt empowered by her knowledge and the presence of the wolf, but she did not trust the Captain to provide him with a deadly weapon like his claw. So Hook had to go without.
Wendy sat silent and watched Hook as he ate the food she had given him. He ate with a speed that told her that had been another thing that had been lacking in prison, and the pity welled up inside her again. Why she had felt she needed to give him back some dignity? And why didn't she want to demand answers of him when he was dirty and hungry? She scarcely understood herself. It just didn't feel right to do so. At long last he was finished, and he pushed his plate aside, then met her gaze again. Now when she could finally start, she didn't know how to begin.
The Captain had used her thoughts and words - used them without her consent. He had raped her mind year after year and she had not known it. Wendy almost wished that he had never showed her the courtesy of seduction. Why couldn't he have violated her body as well? If he had, then it would have been easy for her to hate him now. As it were, she didn't know what she felt. Angry, yes, sad and tired, but she didn't hate him. She didn't hate him at all.
"I brought back Peter," she said after a long pause, and Hook nodded.
"I know. Is that what you want from me? That I shall fight him until he cuts off another of my limbs? Forever?"
"I didn't tell Peter about you."
For a moment the Captain was taken aback, but he quickly regain control over his features, hiding his surprise with a look of indifference.
"Why so, if I may ask? And what will become of me?"
"I don't really know why I didn't. It would serve you right, I guess. Now I would like to ask you about a few things." She stopped, giving him an uncertain glance. "That is, if you care to answer me."
"I can very well do that I suppose, though perhaps you will find that answers don't equal peace of mind."
Wendy ignored his cryptic reply. She wanted to know. There were things she didn't really understand in all this and if the Captain knew them, she would have him tell her.
"I understand that I, for some reason, am able to shape things in this world." Hook gave her a small nod and she continued. "In that case I don't understand why so much has happened to me that I didn't wish for. I didn't want Peter to die. I didn't want Nicholas to be the one he was. I never wanted to marry you."
She registered the hurt look in his eyes when she uttered the last sentence and couldn't help but feel a tiny bit glad over it..
Hook thought a little before he spoke. "It doesn't work that way. Your wishes have nothing to do with what happens; it's only your stories that have that power. The world is filled with people and you haven't dreamt up every one of them. They exist because you once decided that a town, or an island, was filled with people. They are not puppets, Wendy. I am not a puppet. We are real and with a free will. You can change what happens, but you can't stop people from acting in the manner they are shaped."
"I thought they would object to having their world changed. It must be confusing."
"They don't know it. Once you have told something it is as if it has always been."
It was quiet for a while as Wendy digested the Captain's words. It made as much sense as could be expected. There was one thing that puzzled her though.
"But you know. You know when I change things. Why, when no one else does?"
"Yes, why?" Hook's calm voice suddenly became eager and Wendy shivered. "Don't you know that, my dear? I can guess."
As he spoke he rose from his chair and the flickering lights from the candles made his shadow on the wall look enormous. Wendy rose when Hook came closer. The wolf growled and he gave the animal a quick glance.
"Call him off. I'm not going to hurt you."
A word from Wendy made the wolf lay down again, though it continued to stare at Hook as if to dare him to do something unexpected.
"I knew since I touched you the first time. I wondered why that knowledge was mine when no one else, not even you, knew. I have thought about it, long and hard, and I think I know why. Tell me, when you first told your stories, who did you spend most of your thoughts on? Who?"
Wendy felt cold. Her fingers were like ice and she absently rubbed them together. The Captain came closer still, his eyes boring into hers and Wendy found that she couldn't look away.
"You," she reluctantly whispered, her voice almost inaudible. Hook looked triumphant.
"Me! Not Pan. I knew it must be so. Can't you see what it all means?" Wendy shook her head. "It means that I am you. Much more than anything else here, I'm linked to you."
Wendy backed away. "No," she said, her voice shrill. "That's not true. I'm nothing like you. I'd never do what you have done."
"But still it is true, and you know it, even if you try to deny it. That is where it all began, with your words." He paused. "It's more now, however. I'm real and my thoughts are my own, even if you gave me life once."
Even if he had not moved, Wendy felt that Hook was larger and more menacing than ever before. She couldn't breathe properly. This was more terrible than the realisations of the morning. This certainly had not brought her tranquility. The Captain stood too close to her, looming over her, and Wendy backed away further, straight into her chair that fell to the floor with a clatter. The wolf was instantly on his feet and Wendy could finally break away from Hook's blue eyes. She needed to be alone.
"I'm tired. I think I need to sleep. Please go away, James."
He didn't budge. "Where to? Do you want me to sleep on the ground? I need my ship."
Despite her weariness her anger flared up again at the imperiousness in his voice. "In what position are you to make demands?"
Hook smiled, a smile more ironic than anything else. "You are right. But I need my ship. Please."
He didn't sound particularly contrite, but Wendy was too tired to start an argument. "You will find it by the shore. Now go, please."
He hesitated and for a moment she thought that he wouldn't leave, but then he did, closing the door softly behind him. Wendy didn't bother to undress. She curled up on the bed and when the wolf jumped up beside her she didn't push it down. Instead she wound her arms around it, seeking comfort and warmth in the animal's thick fur.
Now when she was alone, memories emerged unbidden. Her thoughts went back in time, back to a particular day. Father had decided that his sons should learn how to fire a gun. His sons. All three of them had looked so excited, John, Michael and Father. They had been talking about it for days, making up plans that Wendy had been excluded from. Wendy hadn't been allowed to go with them. Father had looked shocked when she had asked.
"This is not something for a little girl," he had said.
"But I'm the oldest, Father. I'm much bigger than John and Michael. Please, I want to learn as well!"
It was no use. Good girls didn't fire weapons and Father remained adamant. The whole day they had been away, she had sat in the parlour with Mother, fighting with crochet needle and yarn, disappointment burning inside her. Usually she loved being with Mother, but not that day.
When John and Michael had returned, giddy from their experience, Wendy's disappointment had turned to rage, an impotent frustrated rage. She had not said anything, but that night when her brothers had asked for a tale, it was then... Wendy hit her pillow so hard that the wolf became affronted and jumped down.
"No," she said aloud in the darkness. "No, no, no."
She tried to suppress it, but to no avail. Once released the memory became clear, as if it had happened just days ago. It was that night she first told the tale of the most dangerous of pirates: Captain James Hook. She had poured all her anger and frustration into that tale and it had scared her brothers. She still remembered the satisfaction she had felt when Michael had a nightmare about Hook and wet himself. Then she had felt guilty. She was, after all, a sister who loved her brothers. It had been naughty of her to be jealous and even naughtier to scare her brothers so. Wendy had tried to be more ladylike after that and she had never allowed herself to be angry since then. Not until this very day when she had realised what Hook had concealed for her all these years.
Hook. Wendy sat in the darkness, hugging her knees close. She had once poured her anger into him and he had become real, filled with a fury that belonged to her. In suppressing her anger, she had, literally, become its prisoner, in the proud form of Captain Hook. No wonder that she had wasted when she was away from him. She had not been a whole person without him.
However, as he had said, he wasn't simply a manifestation of her thoughts. He was a real man. Still, she had given him all her anger and he had acted upon it. Another thought struck her and she shuddered. She was responsible for his mutilation, not Peter. That menacing claw had been such a suitable thing for a dreaded pirate to have and she had blithely told her story without a thought of the pain and discomfort that brought.
"But I took my anger back," she whispered to no one. "What does that mean? Is his anger lessened now?"
It was the first comforting thought she'd had since Hook had left her and she lay down again. If she could be angry again, then perhaps he could feel something else. Wendy supposed she needed to talk with the Captain again, but not tomorrow. She needed to think this over, she needed to be alone. With that, the toll of the day overpowered her and when she slept, her sleep was blessedly free from dreams.