It took you quite some time to stop yourself from crying. The total wretchedness of the Darling children's life stories weighed heavily on your heart. How could this have happened? How could everyone have let this happen? Your mind kept asking you questions that you had no answers for. The worst one of all was what you were going to do next. Sometime in-between your sobs Hook had gently ushered you over to a hidden nook at the front side of the room, just a little away from the door. Your head had begun to throb from all the crying at that point and so you had barely registered that his bedroom had been hidden behind a black lacquered wall panel. How very much like a pirate was all you could manage to think at the time. The Captain had eased you down onto his ink colored silken sheets and then he had pulled an ornately embroidered crimson pillow beneath your aching head. He had muttered some reassuring words and tucked you in before placing a few handkerchiefs beside your curled up hand. You had watched numbly as his lean figure quietly disappeared back into the main part of the cabin. Your head felt groggier than it should have and you had a sneaking suspicion that you were still feeling some effects from whatever drug the nasty pirates had put on that rag. You just felt so tired, so very, very tired.
At some point you must have fallen asleep although you couldn't remember exactly how. One minute you were crying at the unfairness of the past and the cruelties of your present and the next you were blinking blearily up into a pitch black room, with only one flickering candle at the side of the bed to stave off the encroaching darkness. Laying still on the over-sized bed, you could feel the slight gentle rocking of the ship over the waves. It was comforting in a strange way, it was like the ocean was cradling you in it's arms like a mother would a crying child.
The first initial swells of emotion had ran their course and now you were left feeling emotionally drained, but clearer headed. You sat up in the bed, letting the silken covers glide down your body to pool in your lap. You gave your stiff neck a couple of rolls as you began to pull yourself together. Now was not the time for weeping or sleeping. Now that you had all this new information in your possession it was time for you to figure out what you were going to do with it. Earlier you had decided that you would listen to what Hook had to say, but also that you would not make any final judgement. Although your heart had felt that Hook's story had been true, there was still a possibility that he was just playing you. After all, everyone else in Neverland had seemed to fear and despise the infamous Captain so it wouldn't be too wise for you to take him at his word just yet. You had to confront Peter about the Darling children. Surely there was a reasonable explanation for all of this. Maybe Hook had twisted some of the events around. Maybe Wendy really had put him up to killing her brothers so she could go home and then like Slightly had said, had been murdered by Hook when he saw his crew's loyalties shifting more towards her than him... There was just too much uncertainty left in the air. You had to get back to Peter and The Lost Boys to know the truth, which meant that you had to get off of this ship.
Quirking your head to one side you listened intently for any sort of noise coming from the other side of the hidden wall, but dead silence and the slight groaning of the wooden ship was all that followed. Hook had told you that he had only kidnapped Tiger Lily to use as a distraction so he could tell you this story for your own sake, so that you wouldn't end up like Wendy, but there was no way to know if that was true or not. If he was telling you the truth then he would have to let you go now that the story was finished, but what would you do if he didn't? What if he was planning on keeping you here hostage all along? You would have to fight your way off this ship if that's what it came down to.
You had Wendy's hand mirror still safely tucked away in your inner coat pocket, but you doubted that would be enough to get you out of this mess. You began to strain your eyes, peering into the darkness around you, searching for anything you could possibly use as a weapon. Hook's hidden bedroom was nothing, but four square walls. It was completely bereft of any decoration other than the bed set itself. The room was filled with nothing more than just a large bed and a small table with a candelabra on it. Compared to the lavishness of the main cabin this little nook felt absolutely barren. Yet there had to be something here you could use to help you escape, you were sure of it. Captain Hook was a centuries old notorious pirate, a pirate who's very own bedroom was kept hidden from the common eye. There was no way that someone like him wouldn't have a weapon of some sort stashed away in here in case someone tried to ambush him in the night.
As quietly as you could you peeled the silken covers back and slowly leaned over the edge of the bed. You didn't want to risk placing your feet on a squeaky floorboard just yet, so you angled yourself so you were hanging over the side on your stomach as you began to feel around the side of the bed frame. You closed your eyes and let your hands guide you as you felt around every possible nook and cranny. You inched your way from one side of the bed towards the other. It was uncomfortable being on your stomach and reaching like that, but you refused to let it slow you down. You blindly groped along the legs of the bed and up again towards the side paneling of the bed frame, but alas there was nothing. There was a weapon in this room somewhere you could feel it. Taking a closer look around the room you decided to check the back of the bed's looming headboard. Gently, ever so gently, you placed your feet on the floor before hesitantly tip toeing towards the wall, but to your dismay the bed was pushed firmly up against the wall. There was no way you could push this heavy monstrosity of a bed aside without it being heard by someone. You would have to give up on that idea for now. Growing more exasperated by the moment your eyes scanned the room once more. Maybe he hid something under the mattress!
Dropping silently to the balls of your feet you crouched down and shoved one hand blindly between the mattress and the box spring. With your other hand you slightly lifted the top mattress at the edge to allow your arm some more moving room. Still there was nothing there to be seen. You feverishly checked the other side before dropping flat on your knees and jerking up the crimson bed skirt to peer under the bed. You could see nothing in this darkness and so you hesitantly reached and swept one arm into the empty space. You had the irrational fear that there was something under there that would bite you, but fortunately the only creatures under Captain Hook's bed were dust bunnies.
With each passing second your gut began to sink. You were so sure someone like him would have something in here, but if that were so then where was it and what was it? You spent the next few minutes soundlessly roaming your hands up and down the walls, looking for some sort of latch or hidden spring that might open up a secret compartment somewhere. The heroine always instantly found what they were looking for in the movies, you grumbled inwardly to yourself. Agitation and a fit of panic began to overtake you. You had to find something, anything, you needed to get out of here and fast. For all you knew Peter could still be fighting Hook's crew or he could be dead in a ditch somewhere, all while you were stuck here trying to play James Bond on a pirate ship.
As your desperation steadily mounted you dropped to the floor and began to sweep your arms in wide arches over the floorboards, probably looking like a beached sea turtle, but still nothing turned up, no latches, no catches, and no hidden trap doors either. Sighing heavily you rose back up on your knees. The small end table caught your eye and so you waddled over to it and began to inspect it. There was no drawer to it, but maybe something was taped onto the bottom of it. The movies always had some sort of gun or knife duct taped there. You eagerly felt around with your fingers only to meet the smooth flat wood of the underside of the table. Exasperation began to overtake you. You had searched everything in this room from top to bottom only to turn up nothing. Maybe Hook didn't need to hide a weapon, after all the man had a literal hook for a hand. Did he sleep with that thing on or was it something he could take off? A shiver ran up your spine as you decided it wasn't something you wanted to think too hard about.
You blew your previously held breath out from between your lips and flopped back hopelessly onto the bed. What did it matter if Hook heard you, when you didn't have the slightest hope of getting passed him with only a hand mirror and an old children's book. Maybe Hook really would just let you go if you asked. There was a possibility he was telling the truth after all and maybe he really did just want to warn you about Wendy, Peter, and Neverland. He hadn't threatened or tried to hurt you since you came on board, in fact he had been the very model of manners and hospitality. He had even held you when you had cried and let you sleep in his own bed. Still there was a niggling feeling in the pit of your stomach that didn't believe it would be that easy. He had, had you drugged and kidnapped to get you here in the first place...and then there was poor George...
You pinched your eyes shut as George's jovial image appeared unbidden in your mind's eye, lingering there in stark clarity. You swore that if you ever got off this ship you would go back and find his body. You would return him to Pixie Hollow where his family and friends were. You would not leave him to rot on the ground like some insignificant bug. What hurt you the most about George's death was that George had been one of the only creatures on this island to have treated you as a real person, not as an enemy, an outsider, an inferior being, or just Peter Pan's other world girlfriend. He had just seen you as you and that really meant the world to you as a stranger in this strange land.
A pang of grief gripped your heart as you rolled over onto your side. George's death had been the first you had witnessed in Neverland. The Chief of the Picanniny Tribe had already been murdered by the time you had seen his body, but you were forced to watch helplessly as George's tiny body went stiff and fade of all it's color. Despite his seemingly good manners and enigmatic charm you would not forget that this little meeting had caused the death of one of the only nice pixies you had ever met. The death of someone who didn't deserve it. No, you would not trust Captain Hook to let you go easily.
Feeling all the more powerless with each passing second you outstretched your left arm underneath your head to use as a makeshift pillow, but you suddenly froze when the tips of your fingers brushed something hard hidden underneath the pile of decorative pillows just above your head. You sprang up as if you had just been struck by lightning. A frenzied hope filled up inside you setting your frayed nerves to sing with anticipation as you tore away the top layers of the frivolous pillows. Could it possibly be?
Yes, it was! There secretly wedged between two of the bottom pillows was a small dagger safely tucked into it's plain leather sheath. The pillows had protected it from first glance. It was quite clever really. If you had been sleeping when someone entered the room you could have easily concealed one of your arms beneath the small mound of pillows and armed yourself without the attacker being the wiser. You had torn this room apart without ever tearing the top of the bed apart. Why hadn't you thought to check the pillows first? It didn't matter now though, you had found it! At least now you had some hope of battling or bargaining your way off of this ship! You could sneak up behind Mr. Smee and put the dagger to his throat and threaten Hook to drop you off at port otherwise he'd be without a first mate. Considering how he had looked so haunted thinking of all the dead crew members he's seen throughout the years you doubted he would like to watch another one be murdered in front of him, especially one of the few whom he allowed into his private quarters. Of course you could never actually bring yourself to kill Mr. Smee, but Hook didn't know that and you planned to keep it that way. After releasing it from it's sheaf and inspecting it's sharpness, you decided to conceal the tiny, but deadly weapon inside the inner band of your pants on your right hand side for instant easy access.
After re-making the bed and seeing to it that every pillow was put in exactly the place it had been before, you decided to exit the room. You gently pulled down on the camouflaged latch at the side of the paneled door that opened up into the main Captain's Quarters. It was eerily quiet as you hesitantly stepped forward. Your eyes went to the chair where Mr. Smee had been napping beside Tinker Bell earlier, but both his seat and the small lantern were empty. The long dining table too had been completely cleared of contents and covered with a fresh tablecloth. There was no movement in the cabin save for your own. Where was everybody? you asked yourself as you made your way deeper into the room. You had just reached the grand piano forte, marveling at all the keys, when a sudden creak from the front door sent you swiveling towards it's direction. Your hand reflexively flew to the dagger at your hip, but you didn't draw it.
"I'm sorry, did I frighten you?" Hook's dulcet voice gently called from across the room.
He had, but you didn't want to admit that so instead you forced your features to go blank and answered in an a bland tone, "Not at all. I was just wondering where everyone was."
With his long legs Hook was halfway across the room in just a matter of a few casual strides. To your relief he stopped midway between you and the door. His countenance was unhurried and languid as usual. His arms were folded behind his perfectly postured back as he examined you with his cool gaze. Without Mr. Smee here to take hostage, and with him very strategically positioned between you and the only exit, you suddenly found yourself without very many options for escape. You could try pulling the dagger on Hook, but you'd have to make it a surprise attack to make sure he couldn't block it and even then you'd have to make it a killing blow, otherwise if he were left still able to fight back you'd be overpowered by him easily, wounded or not.
The Captain must have sensed your thoughts because he suddenly went very still. His voice was purposefully even as he proceeded to answer your previous thinly veiled question, "I sent Mr. Smee to his room for the night to sleep. As for Miss Bell's whereabouts I cannot say. She comes and goes as she pleases."
One side of Hook's lips pulled upwards in a wry smile as he stared unblinkingly at you. Though his body was primed to react instantly if necessary his natural teasing rakishness was still very present in his expression. His sharp eyes flickered to where your hand was currently hovering by your side. A short snicker rumbled through his chest as he full on grinned at you.
"I take it you found my dagger?"
Heat flooded to your cheeks at having been so obviously caught. Seeing as how he already had figured you out you decided to draw the small knife out anyway. Better to have it out now than to try and grab for it later. You wielded it threateningly in front of you as you angled your body slightly to the side in case he decided to rush you. Every nerve in your body was heightened as you prepared to fight your way out. You didn't want to have to kill Captain Hook, but you would if he made you.
Your body automatically tensed when Hook angled his own lithe body towards the side, however your brow furrowed in confusion when in an elegant sweeping motion of his arms he gestured gallantly towards the still open door.
You stood frozen in your battle stance, staring perplexedly as Hook made no other movements towards you. He simply stood there in his position halfway in-between you and the door with an almost mockingly serene look on his exquisitely handsome face. His arms still splayed in the gentlemanly pantomime of "after you".
"Are you taunting me right now?" You asked disbelievingly. "You do know that I've survived murder attempts from both the mermaid queen and the pixie one right? Don't underestimate me. I won't go down so easily!" you shouted slightly outraged.
The nerve of this guy to just stand there with that smug grin on his face, practically daring you to walk past him, while you were busy plotting out how exactly you would slip his own dagger into his neck!
"I apologize if I've given you the wrong idea, but I assure you I'm not trying to mock you. In fact I am trying to convey to you that you are free to leave any time you wish."
Hook's face fell into neutrality and his voice became placatingly crisp, yet his eyes still twinkled with amusement as he continued, "Despite how you were brought aboard this ship, you are not a prisoner on it. I told you earlier that I only wished to make the past known to you. Now that you are aware of it and of the double-edged sword that is the promises of Neverland you are free to leave. I give you my word that no one will try to stop you."
You shot Hook a skeptical glare. There was no way it could be that easy could it?
Hook lightly chuckled to himself, "You are quite an entertaining child."
Indignation flared inside your cheeks. How dare he patronize you in this situation!
To make matters worse, Hook then threw his head back and began to laugh candidly.
"DON'T LAUGH AT ME!" you shrieked sounding just like the child he had accused you of being. This entire situation was becoming ridiculous.
Wiping a tear from his eyes with one long slender finger he attempted to apologize, though it's meaning was lost thanks to the humor still peppering his words. "I'm sorry, I'm not making sport of you, truly. It's just your expressions are so charmingly comical. Are you aware that everything you think shows upon your face?"
The heat that was currently inflaming your cheeks began to spread up into the tips of your ears. You were painfully aware of that fact and you didn't need him pointing it out to you.
"You mean to tell me that I can just waltz right out that door and nothing will happen to me?" you asked incredulously.
Hook had managed to control the laughter left in his voice and the merriment in his eyes dimmed down to normal as he answered simply. "Yes. That is exactly what I'm saying."
"I don't believe you."
"You don't have to believe me." he replied with an elegant shrug, "Of course you are welcome to stay here as long as you'd like. No one is forcing you to stay or leave. You are free to do as you please. I realize this may be hard for you to believe, given my reputation around Neverland and what not, but I'm not the monster you think I am. I have no intentions of forcing you or manipulating you into doing anything. I'm a pirate, I believe in the freedom of the human person more than anything else in this world."
After his short speech Hook folded his arms over his broad chest and locked eyes with you. His meticulously groomed face showed no signs of deception or his usual predatory sensuality. He had dropped all of his dangerous and charismatic veneer and was simply standing there, letting you see the real him. He was just a man, waiting for you to decide what you wanted to do. Part of you was inclined to believe him, but this was not a situation where you could blindly trust in your feelings. People can lie, and feelings can be fooled.
Seeing the distrust in your eyes, Hook raised his arms in the universal sign of surrender and slowly backed away to the opposite side of the room. He stopped when his back brushed against the black lacquered wall and inclined his head towards the door.
"Keep your eyes on me if you must." was all he had to say.
Darting your glance between him, and the now open space between you and the doorway, you tightened your grip on the dagger and began to slowly edge your way closer towards the door. You kept your eyes trained on Hook, your nerves were on high alert, just waiting for him to make a move, but he never did. He maintained his position against the wall with his arms up patiently as you inched closer and closer towards the only entrance and exit. When you had reached it you turned yourself around, facing your back towards the open doorway. You would not turn your back on him no matter how harmless he tried to appear. You nervously checked over your shoulder with every step, making sure no one could sneak up behind you. Eventually you had made it into the hallway. It was completely empty. There wasn't a soul around to be seen or heard.
"Go towards your right and then make another right. There will be a set of stairs that will take you to the deck." Hook's disembodied voice called out from the room.
You didn't know if it was a trap or not, but honestly he could have taken you down in the room if he had wanted to. Despite what you had said, Hook was bigger and stronger than you and more than likely a more experienced fighter. The small dagger in your hand didn't exactly level the playing field, especially considering Hook had a built in weapon of his own. You glanced down the hallway once more. After a brief's moment of hesitation you decided to go down the right side like he had suggested. Keeping your back to the wall and your dagger at the ready you made your way down the hall, your ears listening for any sounds and your eyes constantly scanning your surroundings. Hook didn't follow you. Once you reached the end of the hallway you took the other right turn and sure enough there were the set of stairs that led upwards just as Hook had said. Could it be maybe everything Hook had said had been true? Was he really not the monster everyone had made him out to be? You just didn't know. For now you would just focus on getting off of this ship.
As you began making your way up the steep narrow steps a sudden terrible fear gripped your heart. How would you get off the ship if you were in the middle of the ocean? Surely there had to be some kind of emergency dinghy on deck in case the ship went down right? Spurred on by a new sense of urgency you began to take the stairs two at a time. Before long there was an opening at the top of the stairs and you raced toward it. You couldn't stop now that you were so close, so very close. Peter's heart-rendering face appeared in your mind, smiling his devil-may-care smile and laughing heartily. Your pounding heart thrummed in your ears as you pushed yourself towards those last few steps. Wait for me Peter, I'll be with you soon. you prayed as you reached the top of the stairs and stumbled out onto the deck. It's only a matter of time.
To be continued…
Authors Note: We're almost free ya'll! Well almost... Are you guys relieved or saddened that we are getting away from Hook? Speaking of which do you trust him now or not? Honestly I'm a little sad to leave him since he is so fun to write, but at the same time I get to go back to writing Peter and boy does he have some splaining to do when we see him. It's been so long since we've seen him, I wonder what he's been up to all this time. And what about our poor Tootles? I hope he still isn't looking for us... This happy reunion may get a bit awkward, then again aren't all family reunions that way? Guess we'll just have to find out what happens in the next chapter. Well that's all from me for now. Until next time guys.. Much love to you all!