Wen was beginning to feel tired. She knew the ocean was large, but she didn't think it was this large. Actually...she wasn't sure if it had been three days or thirty that the four of them had been flying over what felt like nothing.
Wen had never seen the ocean before, so at first it was exciting. Flying over an expanse so wide was exhilerating. At one point Peter darted down to the surface, dragged his fingers acrossed the water, and a pod of dolphins appeared, leaping and spraying sea water. It was almost as if Peter had summoned them with his touch.
Wendy flew close enough that one dolphin exhaled a breath of the salty liquid right onto her face, and she stopped and spluttered, a little bit angry. Peter laughed and glided toward her. Tink was close behind him, darting around him in circles as if they were bored of the pace they were keeping.
"Were these the selkies you were talking about?" Wen demanded.
"Of course not! These are just regular old dolphins."
"I've never seen a dolphin before!" Michael said, and cannonballed straight into the seawater.
"Michael!" Wen screamed and flew to him, pulling him out of the water as fast as she could. "Don't do that! It's dangerous!"
"Are there sharks in the water too?" Michael asked, sea water dripping off of his hair and onto Wen's pajamas.
"Just stupid boys that don't know how to swim." John said, levitating next to them with his arms crossed.
"Swimming's not that different from flying," Peter smirked, and then dived into the water, skimming just below the surface and somehow keeping pace with the pod. The three Wen and her brother hurried after him in the air.
Had that been yesterday or many days ago? Wen frowned and flew toward Peter, who appeared to be reclining even as he still flew forward. He had his fingers wrapped up in a cloud like it was cotton candy, but when Wen touched it, it was cold, and wet and left her hand covered in droplets.
Tink was sitting on his chest, and this was the closest look Wen had been able to get at the pixie. It looked nothing like the quaint storybooks. They had grey skin and a huge head with lips that protruded slightly and covered a row of needle sharp teeth that Tink grinned to reveal. They had scaly blue-gray wings that twitched a few times as Wen drew closer.
"Peter? Where are we going?"
"To Neverland, of course. Didn't I tell you that?"
Peter had not told her that. It seemed like Peter remembered some things that weren't real and forgot other things that were. Then again...Wen's memories felt a little bit off. Maybe he had told her where they were going at some point. "Neverland...how much farther is it?"
Peter looked up at the sky, which was begining to dim as the sun melted into the water. To the east there was just two pinpricks of starlight. "Not much longer now."
"You said that last time."
"It's never that much longer to Neverland."
And then Peter made a movement as if he was suddenly sitting upward, even though he was still floating midair. "Let's go."
"I thought that we were going!"
Peter pointed upwards for a moment, then darted that way.
"Wait!" Wen shouted, then looked back to check on John and Michael. Michael looked as if he could barely keep his eyes open and was holding on to John's hand to keep from sinking.
"Where's he going now?" John demanded. "Land isn't up!"
Wen shrugged. They were just going to have to trust the strange boy who'd flown into their window an unknown amount of time ago. She flew to her brothers, grabbed Michael's other hand, and shot into the sky after Peter. It looked as if he was charting a direct course to the star on the right of the two.
As they flew, it seemed as if they slowly gained momentum, faster and faster. It was hard to tell whether or not she was just imagining it, since the ocean just got smaller and smaller as they flew away from it, but all of the sudden the sun appeared right in front of them. It backdropped a small island in the distance and the ocean rose up to greet them, reflecting the sun's golden light.
Peter turned to them and spread his arms wide. "Neverland."
Michael perked up and let go of Wendy's and John's hands. "Is this where the pirates are?"
Peter grinned. "Aye. They'll be waiting for us!"
Wen squinted. "Are you a pirate, Peter?"
The boy scoffed. "Absolutely not. The Pirates hate me."
"Then why are they greeting us?" John asked.
"Don't be ridiculous. It's not a friendly greeting." Peter winked at Wen. She wasn't sure what it was supposed to mean.
"Tell us about them!" Michael demanded. "Tell us about how you beat them."
Peter obviously loved that Michael assumed he beat them. He grinned and then let out a loud crow. "I'll tell you about Captain Hook then!"
Wen perked up. "I've heard about Captain Hook! He lost his right hand to a crocodile and fights with a savage hook that hand now."
Peter looked offended. "I cut off her hand. You've got it all wrong."
"Her?" Wen scoffed. "His name is James!"
"Her name is James. She is Captain James Hook of the Jolly Roger, and I cut off her right hand and fed it to a crocodile. The rest of the crew tried to take the lost ones and they failed miserably. So miserably that they lost one of their best men, in fact! I threw Ed Teynte over the side of the boat and the crocodile ate him whole, clothes and all!"
Michael looked at Peter with stars in his eyes. John rolled his. Wen felt embarrassed that she'd gotten the story so wrong somehow.
"And that's when I cut off Hook's hand. The crocodile loved it so much that she spit Ed out and has hunted the captain ever since."
"Wow!" Michael said. "We should feed the rest of her to the crocodile then."
"No, we most certainly shouldn't. It'd hunt the rest of us if it finally captured Hook!"
"Oh, of course!" Michael grinned ear to ear.
Wen hadn't seen her little brother this enraptured in one of her stories for a long time. "Well, since you're so good at telling stories, Peter, I'm not sure why you brought me along at all."
Peter looked at her, surprised. "You know more stories than me! I want you to tell them to the lost ones."
Wen felt a little bit prouder after this admission from Peter. He didn't seem like the kind of boy who would easily admit that someone was better than he at anything. She still felt an amount of bitterness that she had nevevr experience before, but now it was directed more toward Michael.
The ocean was rushing beneath them, and the rising sun combined with the reflective water made it hard to see. Wen squinted, trying to make out the island in front of them. It seemed to be small, small enough that she could walk the perimeter of it in only two days. A river flowed out of it and into a large lagoon from a waterfall cascading down a single mountain nearly exactly in the center of the island. In the distance, just on the other side of the island, a later rock protruded from the ocean, and as they got closer Wen could see that it was vaguely skullshaped.
As they neared the lagoon, Wen happened to catch Peter looking confused for a brief moment. The expression quickly changed to mischievous and he met her eyes a moment later. "They've laid a trap."
"How do you know?" John asked.
Peter gestured toward the cove. "Their ship is gone. It's always here when I return."
"How do you know they're not just off looting some other island?" John scoffed.
"Don't be ridiculous. There are no other islands."
"Are you serious?" John stopped flying and crossed his arms. "There are thousands of other islands! They're everywhere! And pirates don't live at one island, that defeats the entire point of piracy. You're living in a fairytale."
Peter flashed John a grin. "Exactly." Then the boy shot upwards faster than any of the rest of them could keep up, Tink close behind. He appeared to be heading straight for a large, fluffy cloud that was colored yellow in the morning light.
Wen groaned. She was exhausted and his antics were beginning to get on her nerves. Wherever they were going, she wanted to get there, take a nap, and eat whatever incredible island fruits grew on Neverland. Michael was also already losing some of the excitement from finally seeing Neverland, and instead of following after Peter was staring blearily into the distance and sinking slowly.
Wen went to him and grabbed his hand. "Come on. It's not too much farther." She pulled him upwards, toward the cloud where Peter had already disappeared.
The three Darlings finally made it, and found Peter sitting on the cloud, out of view from anyone on the island. Tink as sitting on his head and swinging her feet so that they banged against his forehead, but he didn't seem to mind. To Wen's surprised, when she tried to allight on this cloud, it held. It felt warm, and cottony, just as she had always imagined they would as a kid. It was gloriously soft, and it was difficult to keep herself from falling asleep right then and there, which is exactly what Michael did.
"Listen," said Peter. "They don't want us to see them, so we won't let them see us. You'll just use this cloud to float around to the other side of the island and sneak up on them from behind."
"Do we have to ambush them at all?" Wen asked.
"Would you rather have tea first?" Peter replied.
"Will there be coffee too?" John interrupted.
"If you like it," Peter made a face, "but it's terribly grown up to drink coffee, you know."
"So what? There's no adults here to tell me I can't have it, is there? There's not much more childlike than that."
Peter looked thoughtful. "Why don't we have coffee?"
"I do have the best ideas, don't I?"
Before John could object, Peter crawled up to peer over the top of the cloud. "Pirates!"