You emerged from the stairs, stumbling on unsteady legs onto the main deck of the ship. The gusts of wind from being above-deck suddenly began roaring in your ears as your lungs inhaled the refreshing brine of the sea air. The comforting sounds of the sea which had been muffled below-deck suddenly came to life all around you in vigorous force. Somewhere in the distance the loud caws of seagulls filled the air like a broken chorus, adding a discordant harmony to the steady rhythm of the gentle lapping of the waves as they were pushed and pulled by the whim of the ever rising tide. The sun was almost finished setting on the horizon. The brilliant burnt orange orb was just barely visible as a large smattering of lavender and dull grey clouds threatened to smother its last vestiges of light. The expanse of sky above you was quickly darkening with every second as millions of stars began to appear and make their presence known. You felt a small sense of relief at just being able to stand out in the open air. If anyone tried to stop you from leaving now you had more options of escape, including jumping overboard if it came down to it.
A quick survey of the deck showed a couple of pirates milling about here and there, carrying on with their usual duties, however all of them studiously tried to ignore you. A few cursory glances were the only indications that they were actually aware of your being there. You held your pilfered dagger at the ready just in case, but none of them made any moves towards you. In fact, they all seemed to be giving you a strangely wide berth. It seemed Hook was keeping his word that none of his crew would try to stop you leaving. That should have mollified you, but instead it was having the opposite effect. Everything Hook had done, everything he had said so far, had lent to him being a trustworthy person, but if he was then that meant that Peter and The Lost Boys might not be and that was something your heart was stubbornly trying to refuse to believe. But being truly honest with yourself, you realized that the edges of your heart were already beginning to wilt with disillusionment. What was the truth and who exactly was telling it? You just didn't know, as your emotions warred with themselves. You drew your free hand up towards the inner breast pocket of your coat where Wendy's tattered book was still secretly tucked away. You didn't know what to believe at this point, but you did know that you still needed to get off of this ship and so you gathered yourself and began to figure out how exactly you would do that.
You cautiously made your way over to the port-side of the ship and after making sure no one was within immediate walking distance of you, you steadied yourself on your hands as you peered out over the gunwale. Hope fluttered in your chest like a mad bird as you saw that the shore line was actually in sight. It would be a dauntingly long and tiring swim, but it was still a possibility. It was then that you realized that The Jolly Roger wasn't actually moving at all despite the constant rocking from the waves. It was firmly anchored in to place only a couple hundred yards from the shore. You now had more time to escape. It seemed the fates were on your side once again.
Leaning a bit more forward, you started to scan the surface of the water, searching for any signs of mermaids. You had made the mistake of entering their waters unprepared once already. You would not make that mistake again.
You were so busy inspecting every hint of movement below that you were caught completely by surprise when someone grabbed the back of your collar and roughly pulled you behind and away from the gunwale. When your feet regained purchase on the slippery wood, the grip on your clothes loosened as quick as it had appeared, and with a frightened yelp you reflexively twisted around to face the unknown assailant, dagger in hand.
Hook's imposing figure was standing just a couple paces away, safely out of swinging distance. His arms were folded behind his back and his posture was as formally straight as it had been before back in the Captain's Quarters. His mask of casual indifference was firmly in place as he gazed down at you and blinked purposefully slow. He didn't even bother to acknowledge the dagger you had pointed towards his abdomen.
"What do you think you're doing!" you shrieked at him .Your heart was thundering wildly in your ears as your fight or flight senses held your body as taught as a pulled bowstring, ready to send your body reeling into action at the slightest move from him.
He regarded you blandly as he replied, "If you had leaned any further over the edge you would have fallen in."
Confusion crossed your mind as you took in his words. You hadn't felt like you were in any danger of falling over. Then again you hadn't felt him sneak up behind you either...
Not knowing what to say to that, you decided to quickly change the subject. "You gave me your word that you wouldn't try to stop me."
Hook raised both his arms up in surrender and pointedly took a step back away from you saying, "I'm not trying to stop you from anything, but drowning, but if you truly insist," then with his arms spread in a dramatic flourish, he bowed, dipping his head in acquiescence, "then be my guest".
A pique of rage began welling up from the pit of your stomach at his completely blase' attitude. Though his tone had been proficiently neutral, you couldn't help but feel that he was surreptitiously poking fun of you.
"After you," you spat back, copying his movements and letting the sarcasm drip from your voice with each syllable.
Hook abruptly began to cough in a poor effort to try and stifle the short bark of laughter that had began to rumble in his chest.
You narrowed your eyes at him and scowled in response, which only made his efforts to control his features go in vain. The edges of his plush lips twisted upwards into a playful grin as he laughed openly, causing the edges of his glacial eyes to crinkle into barely visible half moons.
Despite your anger, you suddenly found yourself struck with just how charming he appeared in that moment with his hearty laughter and his open easy smile. For a moment it felt like you were just two friends joking around with each other. Your stomach gave a traitorous flip, but you quickly stamped down the rising emotion of any sort of affinity towards this man. You didn't want any sort of relationship with him, whether it be simple comradery or anything else for that matter. Even if he wasn't the monster Neverland had made him out to be, he was still a dangerous man, one you had a feeling could never truly be tamed, despite of all his perfect manners and posturings otherwise.
Feeling the need to put some more distance between you both, you turned your back on him and trained your eyes back towards the shore line. "Are you going to at least let me walk the plank or do I have to jump from here?" you asked coldly.
You felt Hook straighten behind you as he answered crisply, "The plank is in serious need of waxing at the moment and is not fit to be seen. I'm afraid you will have to use one of the longboats instead."
Confused you turned your head to inconspicuously peer at him over your shoulder. Hook's lips twitched slightly underneath his immaculately groomed mustache, but other than that he appeared to be serious.
"You're giving me a boat?" you asked skeptically
"No, I'm letting you borrow a boat. I have no intentions of letting you keep it."
You pivoted to the side to see him more clearly as you gave voice to the thoughts rising in your mind, "Why? Why are you doing all of this?"
Hook turned his eyes downwards, and with a sigh he said soberly, "I wanted to do everything I could to protect Wendy, but in the end, when it mattered most, I didn't." He raised those impossibly blue eyes up to meet yours as he continued, "I can't sit idly by and watch as history repeats itself. I don't know if Peter will someday abandon you the way he did her, but I do know that I will do everything in my power to make sure that not a single soul will suffer the same fate she did. I won't force you to leave Peter or Neverland, however I've told you the harsh truths that others would not. It is up to you to decide what you will do with them. I only ask that you seriously consider all the things you have to lose by staying here because your window for leaving is running out and soon it may be too late for you to ever go back..."
And with that Hook spun on his heel and bellowed out a command to lower the longboat. You watched as he crossed the deck with wide clipped strides. His crew immediately scurried around like ants, eager to do his bidding. He leaned one of his long booted legs along the edge of the gunwale as he snaked a hanging rope around his good hand and proceeded to deftly hoist himself atop its slim surface. You watched as he leaned over the edge, overseeing the lowering of the longboat into the sea below. A strong wind caused his mass of dark curls to whip gently behind him as he called out instructions to the men below. Hook never looked so wildly dashing as he did at that moment and yet, at the same time, he never looked so far away either.
After a few minutes of preparations it seemed the boat was finally ready for you to board. Hook beckoned you over towards him. Steeling yourself, you made your way over towards the gunwale where he still hung. He planted his boots on the edge, and released the rope from his good hand. He reached that hand out to you, waiting for you to take it. You hesitantly placed your hand in his and were surprised by the sheer strength that lifted your entire body weight up off the ground with just one arm. Before you knew it Hook had pulled your body into his as he reached up his hooked hand towards the rope. "You ready to board?" he asked looking down at you. Feeling flustered you barely nodded your head and then Hook's grip on your waist tightened as you were crushed into his implacable chest. Hook jumped and the feeling of falling rushed beneath your feet as you let out a scream while desperately clinging onto Hook's neck for dear life. Hook used his metal hand like a makeshift zip-line, using the rope as a sort of guide down the side of the massive ship. You were declining to quickly for your eyes to make sense of the whooshing objects that blurred before your eyes. Tucking your head into the shelter of Hook's shoulder you closed your eyes and gritted your teeth, waiting for the drop to end. The sound of metal skating across the rope stopped as you felt yourself first jerked into a stop and then left dangling in mid-air. Terror swept through you as you dared to look up with wide eyes. Hook's face was remarkably calm for the situation, considering you were hovering in mid-air. You blinked past his head and saw that he had twisted the rope in his hooked hand like a half knot, that was why you had stopped.
"What are you d-", you began to ask, but understanding came as you looked down. The long boat was waiting only a few mere inches beneath Hook's feet. By knotting his hooked hand in the rope he had stopped you both just in time from crashing onto the boat. At the speed you had been descending, if he hadn't, you would have been in danger of flipping the longboat over on impact. You had temporarily forgotten that you were in the hands of a centuries old pirate. It was obvious to you now that he was a man who knew what he was doing. Chagrined you peered up at Hook who glanced down at you without emotion.
"Are you okay with one of my men helping you down?" he asked with a raise of one eyebrow.
Still feeling a bit breathless you nodded, not trusting your voice to come out strong. Hook gave a short nod to someone you couldn't see and then you felt Hook's grip around your waist loosen as another set of hands gently grasped your hips and began pulling you down towards the waiting boat below. The pirate in question took extra care in easing you down softly onto the wooden floor of the boat, his hands immediately left your waist as soon as you were safely seated. A moment later and the boat shook slightly under the sudden weight of Hook landing deftly onto the wooden planks. The pirate who had helped you into the boat hastily shuffled backwards and took a seat at one of the empty rowing spots. You noticed that there were at least five other pirates in the boat with you. They seated three each on both sides of the boat, oars ready in hands and faces trained on their Captain, awaiting his orders.
Hook remained standing behind you and surveyed the surrounding sea. "To the shore," he commanded softly as he took out a folding spyglass from his robe and began to look about once more. The other pirates simultaneously began to row, calling out in a steady rhythm of heave, ho's. The longboat began to steadily make-way towards the shore. It was a much further distance than you had initially thought. If you had tried to swim it you would have surely drowned.
Captain Hook stepped over the wooden plank of the seat that you were currently sitting on and situated himself beside you. It was a decent sized rowing boat, but you were both seated at the back and therefore the planks were shorter here than they were in the middle, forcing you to sit very close to one another. "We'll be ashore shortly. When you are on land, find the tree with the two drooping and twisted limbs. Don't worry, you will know which one it is as soon as you see it. Make your way past its leaves and you will find yourself in a hidden clearing. Follow the path at the end of it and it will lead you straight to the Picaninny Tribe. Tiger Lily has already long been rescued. She has ordered her people to be on the lookout for you. Pan and the other Lost Boys are busy combing every inch of this island looking for you as well. When one of the tribe spots you, they will take you to the princess. She will send her emissaries to Pan to come collect you. Tell them whatever you wish. As I told you before, what you choose to do from here on out is up to you, but just know that if you should ever have need of me, blow into this and I or one of my men will come find you."
Hook pulled out a small handheld metal object that looked a lot like a dog whistle, but it was strangely curved, as if to fit into the palm of your hand secretly. You took the tiny instrument from his offering hand, not sure whether you should thank him or not. "Keep it somewhere safe and on you at all times," Hook instructed.
You reached into your coat and placed it in the same pocket as Wendy's old book. "Good girl," Hook said as he inclined his head towards you approvingly.
Hook's little dagger suddenly felt very heavy inside the waistband of your pants where you had stashed it while he was busy lowering the boats. Technically you had stolen it from him, and if he had intended you harm then he would have done it already. Feeling the need to return it, you began to reach for it when Hook's good hand shot out and stopped you. You turned your head to face his. His eyes were as soft as his dulcet voice when he firmly said, "Keep it. Return it to me when you decide to return to your world, otherwise you will have need of it."
You opened your mouth to respond, but the abrupt rocking of the boat as it hit sand stopped you.
"It seems this is our goodbye." Hook faintly smiled at you. Then without another word he unceremoniously lifted you up out of your seat and lowered your legs into the lukewarm, calf high water. The rising tide knocked you a bit off balance, but Hook's grip helped steady you. As soon as you had regained your footing on the shifting sands, his arms left you.
"Take care of yourself little one." he whispered regrettably into your ear before leaning back and reclaiming his former seat in the boat. With an elegant wave of his hand the other pirates took up their rowing once more, only this time they were heading back out to sea.
"Wait!" you called out taking a sloshing step forward, but the rest of your words stuck in your throat. What were you going to say? This was what you wanted, to be off of the ship and going back home to Peter and The Lost Boys. Yet as you watched Hook slowly get farther and farther away from you, you began to wonder if maybe, just maybe, you had placed your affections and trust in the wrong person here in Neverland. Could it be you fell for the real villain of Neverland and had spurned the hero? After all, if your time on Neverland had taught you anything, it was that nothing was ever as it seemed here, and maybe, just maybe, it was time you started to seriously question everything you had thought you'd known before.
To be continued…
Authors Note: Well what do you guys think now? Is Hook the hero or the villain of this story? More importantly which one do you like better so far? I gotta say I have a real weak spot for our man Hook. He's just such a fun complex character to write. His motivations elude even me sometimes. I guess only time will tell what they really are. On another note, Peter and The Lost Boys are coming REAL soon guys! Are you excited? It feels so long since I've gotten to write them. I gotta admit, I'm really looking forward to writing Slightly and Nibs again. They are my favorite Lost Boys, but shhh don't tell the others...especially the Twins, they hold grudges. What will happen next? Stay tuned to the next chapter to find out. Well that's all from me for now. Until next time guys.. Much love to you all!