"Why come to me, fairy?" Hook asked as he looked across the room at his tiny visitor.
"You're everything a child expects a pirate to be," Tinkerbell replied matter of factly.
"Yes," Hook agreed, "Villainous, murderous-"
"Also honorable, in your own way. Chivalrous in a twisted manner," Tink continued for him.
"Do stop," Hook interrupted with an acidic tone to his deep voice, "Your compliments will make me blush."
"Don't worry about it," Tink said, "The truth is, if there were anyone else left in Neverland I wouldn't have come looking for help from you."
"I see," he said, "So the rest of that blasted island is little more than a sculpture in memory of itself now."
"It'll be fine once we bring Peter Pan back," Tinkerbell said with all the conviction she could muster.
"Are you sure of that, Fairy? We could be setting sail on a fool's errand. Perhaps there's no hope left for Neverland," Hook said as he gazed out the window towards the island.
"That shouldn't matter to you," Tink said bitterly, "You didn't agree to track down Peter Pan in order to save Neverland anyway!"
"Aye," Hook agreed, "It doesn't matter to me if the island never knows life, light, or laughter again."
The door to the cabin flew inward and smacked against the wall with a loud bang, followed by Smee with a tray rattling with dishes and piled with food. A jug of rum was tucked securely between his left arm and expansive waist, "The Captain's dinner is ready and I've chosen one of our best years of rum."
"Thank you mister Smee," Hook said casually.
"Aye, your welcome, Captain" Smee said as he began to set out the dishes on the small table in the center of the room.
"Oh, hello there Miss Bell," Smee said to Tinkerbell before coming to a full stop and taking a second look, "Ti-Tin-Tinkerbell! Captain! Pan's fairy is here!"
"I know, Smee," Captain Hook replied, "She is to be our guest for a time."
"Oh- I mean Aye Captain," Smee said as he faced Hook and looked sideways at Tinkerbell, "but is she to be our guest or our GUEST?"
"Just our guest," Hook said with a sigh, "We will be. . . working together for a time."
"Aye?" Smee said questioningly.
"We're going to help her find Peter Pan," Hook said.
"Oh, of course, we're going to help her find Peter Pan," Smee said nodding heavily and then with a sudden burst of confusion and vexation, "What!?"
"I'll explain later, Mister Smee," Hook said tersely, "In the mean time, the captain's dinner is getting cold."
Smee shook as he was jostled out of his thoughts and concerns about the fairy guest and this plan to go looking for Peter Pan with her. He turned his attention back to setting up the small dining table, "Should I fetch a thimble and a tuppence for the fairy drink and eat from with us?"
Hook looked to Tinkerbell for a moment and then replied, "Yes, I think that will do fine."
"Aye Cap'n," Smee said as he pulled a coin from a sack that hung at his belt, polished it with a cloth and set it on the table. Then he went to a set of drawers in the corner of the room, pulled out a small box, and from within drew out a tiny silver thimble which he placed near the coin. He tore a tiny portion of bread from the loaf, a minuscule amount of cheese, meats, and so forth each of which he placed gently on the coin. Then filled the thimble with rum. He then arranged the plates for Captain hook and himself as well.
"All's ready, Cap'n" Smee said beaming with pride at his handy work.
"Miss Bell," Hook said as he gestured her towards the table, "Why don't you tell us what you know of Pan's disappearance as we dine?"
Tinkerbell fluttered into the air and over to the table. She sat cross legged before her tuppence plate and thimble cup, each seeming just a bit too large for her despite their small size. After she had taken a dainty nibble of the cheese and a small sip of the rum she began, "A few weeks ago Peter Pan was flying through the east falls when he spotted a light flickering far off in the ocean. He flew away and was gone for hours. When he finally returned he stayed for a short time, grabbed a few things and then flew back out."
"No word about what he had found?" Hook inquired.
"Not really," Tink said and looked away from Captain Hook's intense blue eyes. He had the same golden flecks shimmering in them as Peter Pan. She wondered why she had never noticed it before in all the times she had flicked his eyes to blind him for a moment so Peter and the lost boys could escape.
"Not really?" the captain asked, "Did he say something or not?"
"He," Tink began and felt an itch deep in belly, "He said, 'She's so beautiful,' and then he flew back out to sea."
"Ah," Hook said with a knowing sigh, "It was a woman that took Peter Pan away form Neverland."
"It was not!" Tink said angrily. It was clear to Smee and Hook that she was not accustomed to rum, "If anything it was a witch! A sorceress! Something that cast a spell on him. She's probably really actually ugly too!"
"Oh, to be sure, Miss Bell," Hook condescended, "It must be that."
"Don't you patronize me, you, you," Tink stood up unsteadily, "Old cordish, cold dish, cough dish. . ." she stumbled over the words and found herself sitting again.
"I think the word you're looking for is 'codfish,' Miss Bell," Smee said helpfully as Captain Hook shot him a poisonous glance, "Oh my! Sorry Cap'n."
"Yes! You old codfish!" Tink shouted before falling backwards and letting out a long stream of surprisingly deep and powerful snores for such a diminutive frame.
"She's plumb passed out, Cap'n," Smee said after leaning in close and taking a long look at the fairy.
"Yes," Hook agreed, "I can see and HEAR that. Would you be so kind as to take her to one of the unused crew quarters and make sure she's safely tucked away where no movement of the ship will disturb her."
"Aye cap'n" Smee replied as he picked up Tinkerbell's small snoring body with all the gentleness of a wet nurse picking up a new born, "Should- should I lock the door on her?"
"No," Hook said, "I don't think there will be a need for that. She's out guest. Even if she were not, there's no place left in Neverland for her to flee to. We, my dear Mister Smee, we three seem to be all that is left of this accursed land."
Smee looked down at the fairy held in his calloused hands and then back up to his Captain, "Cap'n, do you think bringing Peter Pan back to Neverland will restore it?"
"The grey death started with the boy's disappearance," Hook said thoughtfully, "it seems that ti only stands to reason that bringing him back would set Neverland to rights again."
"So you're really going to save Peter Pan?" Smee asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Only for the day, Mister Smee. Pan is mine alone to destroy," he said with bravado and the deep conviction that only a true pirate could muster for his eternal enemy, "I won't let some sea hag, or even comely wench, stand between me and my rightful destiny. I will be the one to take Peter Pan's life!"
"Aye Cap'n" Smee said with a smile, "I'll be taking the young miss to her quarters then. Should you be needing my company anymore for the night?"
"No, Smee, you should get some rest as well," Hook said, "I think we must set sail tomorrow. With only you and me to run the ship, that should be a bloody mess."
"We'll make her sail," Smee said hopefully, "Don't you worry."
Smee wandered out of the cabin and Hook listened to the creak and moan of the ship's boards as he walked away. He felt the stirrings of something he had not felt in a great many years. The gentle pull of the unknown, adventure, setting out into a world full of things he'd never seen, "Ah yes, I think I have missed you," the captain said to his reflection, "You have been gone much too long."
Hook toppled out of bed and muttered curses towards the banging on his cabin door before shouting, "Yes, Mister Smee, I am awake."
"Aye, aye, Cap'n," Smee replied through the door, "I'll be about checking on our guest and fixin' breakfast."
"Yes," Hook snarled, "Do that."
Hook pulled himself up from the floor and shook the cups on the table to see if any rum was left, "Of course all the rum's gone. I drank it."
He plopped into his overstuffed and well worn favorite chair and worked over the details of the previous night. Just when he had been ready to give up on the whole of Neverland and set sail, never to look back, that blasted fairy or Pan's had come
asking for his help. And more surprising to himself than anyone else, he had accepted.
"What is wrong with you, Old Boy?" he asked his reflection but received only a half hearted shrug as an answer.
Hook heard the familiar pace of Smee's steps coming up the hall and then saw his smiling face beaming through the door in the mirror, "I've got pickled eggs, hard meat, and cheese for your breakfast sir."
"Thank you, Mister Smee," Hook replied as he placed his black wig on his head and screwed his shining hook into place at the end of his left arm, "How does our guest fair this morning?"
"She says she would like to know the name of the rhinoceros that," Smee cleared his throat, "that, as she put it, 'took a shit in her mouth' as it were, sir."
Hook chuckled, "That tiny creature has a mouth as foul as any sailor who ever served on this ship!"
"Aye Cap'n," Smee agreed, "She has a mouth on her. She would also like to know when we plan to set sail."
"In due time," Hook replied, "I'd like to see if Pan left any clues behind before he flew off to his mysterious lady."
"She is not HIS mysterious lady," Tinkerbell interrupted as she fluttered into the room, "and I'll thank you not to talk about me when I'm not in the room."
"My apologies," Hook said almost mockingly, "I would never knowingly cause insult to a lady."
"Stuff it, Codfish," Tinkerbell replied as she landed on the table and nibbled on a small piece of pickled egg, "Do you have any water?"
"Of course. Mister Smee," Hook motioned for Smee to fetch the thimble and some water for Tinkerbell.
"Now," Hook began after they had spent a few minutes in relatively silent eating, "I would like you to take me to Pan's home today."
"What?" Tink asked shocked, "Never! You just want to-"
"To what, fairy?" Hook asked sharply, "Kill a lad that's not even there? No, I have no sinister plans this time. I merely want to look for any clues the boy may have left behind."
"I don't know," Tink began.
"If you will not cooperate," Hook said, "then this partnership is meaningless. You may leave."
"I," Tinkerbell wrestled with an army of thoughts, "I. . . okay. I'll take you there- but I already looked. I don't see what you'll see."
"You'd be surprised what details one can miss when they are too emotionally charged to have their wits about them," Hook said between bites of egg and hard meat.
"I'm not a fool," Tinkerbell said.
"Nor do I think you are, Miss Bell," Hook agreed, "but we are all foolish when it comes to love."
"What love?" Tink asked sharply, "I- I just care about Peter the way a fairy should!"
"Of course," Hook conceded, "I did not mean to imply anything otherwise."
Tinkerbell took a deep drink of water from her thimble and made a dismissive noise from deep in her throat.
"Well," Hook said, "if you're done with breakfast we'll. . . hmmm all the dinghies are gone," Hook puzzled over how he and Smee would get to shore.
"Cap'n," Smee looked to his right as he spoke as he tried to avoid meeting Hook's eyes, "If you don't mind the silliness of it, I have a way for us to get to shore."
"How?" Hook and TInkerbell asked at the same time.
"Well, Sir, Miss," Smee shrugged and shifted his weight back and forth on his feet, "There is the wash tub."
"Two old pirates and a fairy in a wash tub?" Hook mused, "I believe I've heard that joke before, Mister Smee. Very well. Rig some rope to lower it to the water and find something to use as paddles"
"Aye Captain," Smee said with a tiny salute before heading out of the captain's cabin to work on the preparations for their departure to shore.
"Fairy-" Hook started
"Call me by my name," Tinkerbell insisted.
"Very well, Miss Bell, if you agree to cease referring to me as 'Codfish' and address me as Captain."
"Fine," she replied.
"Now," Hook continued, "As I was saying. You've spent most of this time on shore with the grey death. Is there any pattern to it? Do we risk our lives just by walking on it?"
"It doesn't seem to have any pattern," Tinkerbell said, "It's not so much that it took over particular areas first. . . more that it started in the things you notice least and headed towards the things you notice most."
"So you and I? We're the most noticeable things in Neverland?" Hook thought out loud.
"With Peter Pan missing, yes." Tinkerbell agreed.
"Interesting," Hook continued his thoughts, "Then it seems that we are at least in the same danger here or there. No reason for taking precautions at this point."
Smee stumbled back through the door, "Sir, the, wash tub is ready to head to shore."
"Very well," Hook replied and motioned for Tinkerbell to proceed him through the door and up to the deck.
"Feels like rowing through mud," Smee said breathlessly as he worked the wooden plank he had fashioned into a make shift oar through the water at each side of the oblong wooden wash tub.
They moved slowly from the blue waters that surrounded the ship into the murkier grey waters closer to the shore of Neverland. Hook lowered the tip of the hook he used as a left hand into the colorless water and thought that even the ripples seemed to lack a certain fullness of motion.
"Aye, Smee," Hook agreed, "there's not much life left in this water."
It took close to an hour to move the washtub close enough to shore for Smee step out and push the tub the rest of the way. Normally he would have welcomed the cool splash of the ocean after a long row to shore, but the stillness of the forest, the dullness of the sound of the waves, and the distinct impression that even the air he breathed was grey pushed any joy out of his heart.
When they were only a few feet out from the shore, Hook hopped out and splashed towards land, "Moor the boat, Mister Smee," he called out behind him.
Smee hurriedly moored the boat to a large fallen tree and followed after his Captain towards Mermaid Cliff where Tinkerbell was waiting for them.
"Do you think the Fairy will really show us Pan's home?" Smee asked Captain Hook.
"Aye, Smee, I don't think there's anything else she can do," Hook assured him, "After all, do you think she would have come to us if there were anyone else left to help her?"
"I suppose not, Cap'n," Smee agreed, "You don't think this is some trap set by Pan?"
"No," Hook said, "I do not believe that boy has the wit, power, or will to destroy Neverland just to get a shot at me."
"I suppose he has taken plenty of shots without going so far before," Smee agreed though he received a sharp glance from Hook that brought an apology swiftly afterwards.
They approached Mermaid Cliff from the east side, which allowed them to walk upwards along a path the lost boys had made through years of running, play, and adventures. The incline was not too steep, but Smee still huffed heavily behind the Captain as they climbed. Hook, on the other hand, felt invigorated by the mystery that lay before them. Each step was just another closer to the real beginning of their adventure.
"Do you feel it Smee?" Hook asked.
"Feel what sir?" Smee panted out.
"The fire in your blood. The sense of something new and powerful! We're about to set out looking for something strong enough to keep Pan from Neverland and when we find it- When we find it, Smee! Battle! Battle with a worthy opponent! Centuries we've fought the same fights with Peter Pan and his Lost Boys, but now, now we have something new. Don't you feel excited?"
"Aye, Cap'n" Smee agreed more out of habit than excitement, "Excit'n as you say Cap'n Hook."
As they approached the crest of Mermaid cliff, Hook was reminded of the many days he had spent sitting atop the cliff and staring down at the sunbathing mermaids. They may have been fish from the waist down, but they were all woman from the belly up. Well, that's what one would think from a distance, Hook had lost more than one crewman to the predations of the mermaids. They had a nasty tendency to drag a man below the waves and send the guts and blood back up to the surface.
Hook pushed through a thick patch of leaves and could see the edge of the cliff just a few feet ahead. He looked around, but saw no sign of the fairy, "Fairy! Miss Bell, are you here?"
Hook looked down at Mermaid cove and strained his eyes to pick out details from the thousand shades of grey below. As his eyes adjusted he could make out dozens of mermaids, grey, still as statues, and each with back bent low as if they had come to a complete stop in the middle of weeping.
"Everyone is like that," Tinkerbell's voice said close to Hook's ear.
"Blast you fairy!" Hook shouted in surprise, "You'd best make a bit more noise before coming up behind me a second time. I nearly batted you aside like a gnat.
"Like you'd ever be able to lay a hand on me," she said and followed with a dismissive snort.
"What do you mean that they are all like that?" Hook asked, "You mean statues?"
"I mean they all look like they've had their hearts broken," She replied.
"I see," Hook said and then turned away from the unmoving mermaids, "Well, I think it's time we made our way to Pan's residence. Don't you?"
"Yeah," Tinkerbell agreed, "No sense in wasting time. Follow me!" She said as she fluttered back down the path and into the argentine forest and flicked Smee's bulbous nose as she flew by.
"Ack," Smee called after her, "Watch where you stick your bloomin' wings!"
"Come along, Smee," Hook said as he chased after Tinkerbell, the glittering ball of light that zipped around tree limbs, through loops of vines, and rustled leaves as it passed.
"Eh, Wha?" Smee looked to the cliff and back to Hook's quickly retreating back, "Aye, Cap'n!" he huffed turned to stumble after the fairy and his captain.
After roughly and hour of charging through the forest they arrived at a large clearing with a familiar tree. A huge and crooked oak that Hook had passed hundreds of times while chasing after Pan and his cohorts, "Where now, Fairy?"
"We're here," she said flatly.
"You expect me to believe that Pan, the lost boys, and you live in a tree?" he asked incredulously.
"Not in it," she said as she landed on an odd and knobby branch, "Under it. Pull this branch."
Hook approached the tree took the knobby branch in his right hand and give it a mighty pull downward. The next thing he was aware of was the distinct lack of ground beneath his feet, the rushing of air past his ears, and the solid sound of posterior hitting pine boards.
As the stars cleared from his eyes and the pain in his flank subsided he took note of Smee's voice calling down, "Cap'n? Are you all right? Sir? Cap'n Hook? I swear if he's hurt!"
"He's fine," Hook heard Tinkerbell assure Smee, "Come on."
A moment later he saw the bright light the emanated from Tinkerbell floating in front of him and squinted through to see her smirking at him.
"You'd better move," she said.
"What now?" He asked.
"Smee's about to land on you," she said and fluttered away to a far corner of the one room underground home.
"Look out below," Smee called as he jumped into the pit.
"Bloody hell!" Hook scurried out of the way just as Smee hit the pine boards hard enough that a few of them sent splinters twirling through the air.
Hook looked down at the last of his crew sprawled out on the floor and nudged him with a booted foot, "Mister Smee, are you alive?"
"No Cap'n" Smee said as he shook his head and slowly opened his eyes, "Quite dead, Sir."
"Very good," Hook replied, "Give yourself a burial at sea later, but right now get up and get to work."
"Yes sir," Smee said and stood back up.
"Now," Hook said as he began to look around the home of his enemy, "What did Pan take with him?"
"He took the crystal he found in the northern ice fields, his dagger, a book that Wendy used to read to him... I- I don't think he took anything else," Tink said as she watched Hook stalk about the room.
"Are there any other rooms?" Hook asked.
"No, why would there be more than one?" TInkerbell asked.
"I suppose there wouldn't need to be," Hook said, "What was here?" he asked while pointing at an odd circular spot free of dust on one of the shelves.
"The crystal?" Tink replied as if not really sure.
"No," Hook said, "I believe that was this spot here," he said indicating a more angular patch of dust free shelf, "This spot," Hook said as he mused and looked around the room at all the trophies of adventure Peter Pan had collected, "It reminds me of something."
"The clock sir," Smee piped in, "It had about the same size and shape."
"Of course!" Hook agreed, "After I killed that croc I kept the clock in my room until Pan stole it!"
"I guess that might have been there," Tink said, "but how is knowing that Peter took a clock going to help us find him?"
"I don't know yet," Hook replied, "but it won't help us to remaining ignorant of the facts."
"How much longer are you going to poke around?" Tink asked irritably.
"I think we're done here. Do you think you can remember which direction Pan flew off in? Where the sparkle was on the horizon?" Hook asked.
"Absolutely," Tink replied.
"Very good," Hook said as he stroked his chin, "Mister Smee, we'll need to make ready to sail the Jolly Roger."
"Aye sir," Smee replied, "But first, how do we get out of this pit?"
"Stand right here," Tinkerbell said while pointing down at a small red circle on the floor she was fluttering over.
"Here?" Hook asked as he and Smee stood in the circle, "Is it connected to some sort of pulley system under the floor?"
"Something like that," TInkerbell said with a wicked smirk just before flying full speed into a large button the wall.
Hook and Smee let out wild yelps as a large spring flung them into the air and out of the tree house toppling through the air until they landed hard on the silvery forest floor in a mix of jangled bones and bruised egos.
"Fairy!" Hook called out once he had his wits about himself again, "Where are you? If you do anything like that again, I'll feed you to the frogs! I'll strap you to a candle and light the wick at both ends! I'll-"
"You'll what?" Tinkerbell asked as she fluttered just out of arm's reach.
Hook squinted sharply at the impish figure, "Mark my words fairy. I'm keeping a tab of every abuse and I will repay each of them after this little adventure."
"Oh," Tink said sarcastically, "I'm sure you will."
"Let's get back to the ship," Hook said as he started towards the shoreline and out of the depressingly colorless woods.
"It was right under that star," Tink said to Captain Hook and Smee as she pointed at bright star twinkling the night sky.
"Are you sure?" Hook asked.
"I am," Tink said, "I made sure to look for a star to follow in case I had to chase after him. I flew out there about a week ago, but there was no land. I had to turn around and come back to Neverland.
"How long did you fly out?" Hook asked.
"About half a day out," Tink answered, "I had to rest on a piece of driftwood I was lucky enough to find before heading back."
Hook rubbed his stubbled chin and thought before calling out to Smee, "How long before the ship is ready to sail, Mister Smee?"
"About and hour or so, Cap'n," Smee called down from where he was rigging pulleys and tying rope to strategic places in order to prepare the Jolly Roger to be piloted by a crew of two men and a speck of a fairy.
"Very good," Hook called back up to Smee and then turned back to Tinkerbell, "Miss Bell, if you'll join me below decks in the library."
"What for?" she asked.
Hook rolled his eyes, "Davey Jones save me from fools and their questions. Maps, Miss Bell, maps and star charts."
"Oh," Tinkerbell said blinking with sudden understanding, "Fairies don't really use maps."
"No, I suppose they wouldn't, but pirates do," Hook said as he went down the steps.
Tinkerbell followed after him, the belly of the ship smelled of fish, pickles, and Limburger cheese, but also had the calming scent of the beach. The boards creaked with Hook's footsteps and the waves of the ocean. She became lost in her thoughts of the sounds of the ship and failed to notice when Hook came to a stop in front of a small wooden door.
"Blast fairy," Hook said as she flew into the back of his head and landed on the collar of his jacket shaking her head, "Watch where you're flying."
"Sorry," She said as she shook her head clear and climbed over to his left shoulder to sit.
Hook gave the tiny woman a sideways glance and could not help but notice her perfect, if intolerably tiny, proportions. He cleared his throat and looked away quickly, "I suppose that's as good a place as any for you. At least you won't fly into me from there."
Tink crossed her arms and looked away, "It's not like I want to, it's just cramped in this hall. Barely room to stretch my wings."
Hook chuckled at the thought of this tiny creature calling the hallway cramped as he opened the door. He lifted a lamp that was hanging outside with his hook and brought it in with them.
The walls of the library were lined with small cubby holes that contained scrolls of paper and a large map was spread out over a table in the middle of the room with the corners hanging off the edges. The room smelled of dust and disuse.
"You haven't been in here in a while, have you?" Tinkerbell asked.
"I haven't traveled away from the shore of Neverland in years," Hook replied as he scanned the scrolls lifting tiny tags to read in muttered tones.
"Are you looking for a map?" Tink asked.
"No, that one on the table should do," Hook replied, "It has all of the islands I've found near Neverland on it. What we need is my star chart so I can figure out where the boy may have been heading. Ah here it is!"
Hook squinted at the scroll he'd pulled from the shelves, used odd tools on the map while muttering and doing math on a slate chalk board for while before drawing a circle on the map and striking his hook down in the center.
"Here!" He shouted triumphantly, "Unless the boy just kept flying forever, or veered off at some point, he'd most likely to be on one of these five islands."
Tink fluttered down to the map and walked around the edge of the circle that Captain Hook had drawn, "Are you sure?" she asked and raised an eyebrow.
"I know how to read a map," Hook said, "Unlike some others in this room."
TInkerbell glared up at Hook from the table, "Fine. Let's get going then!"
Tinkerbell fluttered back up to Hook's left shoulder and waited him to put out the lantern and head back up to the deck of the ship.
"Smee!" Hook shouted out as soon as his head cleared the top of the stairs, "Are we ready to set sail?"
"Aye, Cap'n" Smee called from the center of the deck where he was surrounded by pulleys, ropes, chains, levers, and other apparatus, "As ready as we can be."
"It looks," Hook searched for the right words, "Like... like a mess, but let's set sail anyway! Mister Smee, anchors up and sails at full!"
"Aye Cap'n" Smee replied as he pulled a lever that sent sand bags falling towards the deck and lifted the anchors from the sea bed, then twirled several cranks that dropped the sails and pulled them taught, pulled a few ropes through pulley to line up the sails with the wind and secured everything as the Jolly Roger lurched forward.
"Leaving Pirate Cove," Smee called out.
"Very well done, Smee," Hook marveled at his last crewman's ingenuity, "Good show."
"Thank you, Cap'n" Smee called back, "You have a course in mind, sir?"
"Once we're to open waters I'll give you a more precise course, but for now... Follow that star, Mister Smee!" Hook called out while pointing to the bright star Tinkerbell had shown him earlier.
"Aye, Cap'n," Smee replied and made the adjustments to the sails to keep them on course.
"You look green, Fairy," Hook said as he looked at Tinkerbell who had taken to the habit of resting on his shoulder over the last couple of days at sea.
"I'm-" she started to say but then clutched her belly and put the other hand over her mouth as she stifled her body's attempt to eject breakfast, "I'm just fine... but can't you make this ship sail smoother?"
"Not even if I had a full crew," Hook said, "and as it is, Smee is doing as fine a job as twenty men. Aren't you, Smee?"
"Aye, Cap'n," Smee called back from amid the gears, pulleys and rope, "Wind seems to have steadied, I think we can tie things off and let the Jolly Roger stay on course for a bit while I get some rest."
"Very good, Mister Smee," Hook called back and then turned his attention back to Tinkerbell, "Rum and pickle juice."
"What?" Tink asked irritably.
"Rum and pickle juice," Hook repeated himself, "It'll steady your nerves and your stomach."
"I... I don't think..." Tink let out a loud belch and then held her hand over her mouth again before continuing, "I'll try anything."
Hook took them below decks and prepared a thimble of equal parts pickle juice and rum and took the rest of the bottle for himself. He then walked down to his quarters, set Tinkerbell on his table with the thimble and sat down in his overstuffed chair across the room.
"To ourselves," Hook toasted.
"Since no one else is likely to concern themselves with us?" Tink asked wryly as she sniffed at the concoction of pickle juice and rum before lifting the thimble to her lips.
Hook raised a bushy eyebrow and mumbled in jest, "When were you a part of the Royal Navy?"
"What," Tink asked
"Oh," Hook said and took a long draft from the rum bottle, "Nothing. Nothing at all, Miss Bell."
"This rum and pickle juice tastes awful," Tink said and took another drink from the thimble, "but I do already feel a little less queasy."
"Would I steer you wrong?" Hook asked with a wink.
"Of course you would," Tink replied sharply, "in fact you're probably just trying to gain my trust now so you can take advantage later."
"I assure you," Hook said between pulls on his bottle of rum, "It's mechanically impossible for me to take advantage of you."
"Huh?" Tink said as she placed her empty thimble on the table and wobbled to her feet, "What are you talking about?"
"Just a little joke," Hook said.
"Oh? And is that a short joke?" Tink said while waving a tiny finger towards Hook, "I don't take kindly to jokes about my stature!"
"Just a tiny jest, Miss Bell," Hook chuckled.
"I'll give you a tiny jest!" Tink shouted as she flew into the air and straight for Hook's left eye.
Hook caught her by her wings and slowly set her back down on his shoulder, "There's no reason to come to blows over it, Fairy. I only mean it in fun."
"You just watch it, Codfish," Tink slurred.
"Oh to be sure," Hook said condescendingly, "I would not underestimate the fury of a fairy scorned."
"You shouldn't," she said, "I have more than one surprise for those that do."
"Sure, sure," Hook mumbled as he started to doze off.
Tinkerbell yawned and leaned back into the soft dark hair of Hook's wig, "You just... just keep that in mind. You..." and drifted off to sleep before she was even aware that the end of her sentence had wandered off.
Hook slowly opened his eyes and squinted at the green and red blur a few inches from his face as his mind pieced together the last few days. Details always took a few minutes to pull themselves back together after waking up.
"What is that scent?" he thought to himself, "Something sweet."
"No Peter," a thin voice said, "She's not a mother, she's a tramp... Stupid Wendy..."
Hook smirked as the fairy on his pillow came into focus, "Talking in our sleep, are we?" he whispered.
Tinkerbell's bright green eyes flew open and she flew into the air with a scream. Staring down at Hook she said, "What- What are you doing in my room?!"
Hook leaned back on his pillow with his head resting on his arms and replied, "You're in my room."
Tinkerbell blinked as her mind caught up with her body, "Oh. Why am I in your room?"
"You can't handle your rum," Hook replied with a smirk.
"You seemed pretty drunk too," Tink said petulantly.
"Oh, ho. I can handle my rum," Hook said as he got up and began looking for his left boot under the bed, "Be sure of that, Fairy."
"That better be all you handled," Tink said through tight lips.
Hook's boisterous and deep bellow of a laugh spilled over the edge of the bed quickly followed by the rest of him as he sat back down on the and worked his boot back onto his foot.
"What's so funny?" Tink asked.
"That you think I would so much as daydream of molesting your personage. You're not even a twig, you're... you're a leaf. A tiny leaf blowing about my ship. There's nothing to handle and there'd be even less than that if I did 'handle' you," Hook said between chuckles.
"Well," Tink huffed, "You wouldn't have any fingers or any other digit left if you tried!"
Hook stood to his full height and looked deep into Tinkerbell's bright green eyes with his cold steely grey-blue orbs, "Believe me, Miss Bell, I have, nor could I have, any interest in the body of a fairy."
Tinkerbell opened and closed her mouth a few times as if she were searching for a new insult but no sound came out. She twirled away from Hook, from his unwavering glare, and in a flurry of sparkling fairy dust she flew through the open door, down the old hall, and up onto the upper deck.
"Blasted fool fairy," Hook mumbled to himself, "There's that smell again. So sweet and warm... where do I know it from?"
Hook spent the next half hour collecting his wig, hook, and other odds and ends. He preferred to go above decks only when he was sorted out, even though (as he admitted to himself) a fairy and Smee were hardly much of a crew to worry about keeping impressed and in line.
He strode onto the deck of the ship ad barked out, "Status, Mister Smee!"
"All's as well as can be well, Cap'n," Smee replied from his station.
"You had a rest somewhere in the last hours?" Hook called back to him.
"Aye, Cap'n," Smee replied, "I've rigged a hammock here in this nest of gears."
"Very good, Mister Smee," Hook said with a smile as he moved up the steps to his station behind the ship's wheel. He flung off the ropes that connected the wheel to Smee's gears and took hold in his firm and calloused hands, "I'll take the wheel for now."
Hook loved the feel of the waves pushing through the ship, the water curling around the rudder, every shimmy and warp of plank flowed into his hands from the wheel of Jolly Roger, "Ah yes, that's my girl, my love, I've missed you."
"You talk to your ship?" Tinkerbell asked as she fluttered over from her perch and onto his shoulder.
"Aye, that I do," Hook said through his smile, "but I wasn't talking to the Jolly Roger just now."
"Then... to who?" Tinkerbell asked.
"The sea," Hook said, "I know her as well as any man knew a wife."
"Oh," Tink said in an attempt to seem like she understood, though her furrowed brow showed her confusion.
"Have you never loved something greater than yourself?" Hook asked.
Tink blushed and then answered quickly, "I love Peter Pan."
Hook chuckled, "I suppose the boy is a bit of a force of nature after all."
"You laugh at me a lot," Tink said as she stood on his shoulder and tried to look into the corner of his eye.
"Do I?" Hook asked rhetorically, "I suppose I do."
"I think I've had enough of it," Tink said sharply.
"Ah," Hook said thoughtfully, "I'll keep that in mind."
"Land ho!" Smee called out from the front of the ship, startling Hook and Tinkerbell out of their conversation and back to the world around them. Tink flew back to her perch on a railing behind the ship's wheel and Hook pulled a roll of leather with two glass lenses from a tiny box nearby. He placed the lenses, one large and one small, into the ends of the leather tube and then squinted through it with one eye.
"Ah finally," He muttered.
"Do you see Peter?" Tink asked hopefully.
"No, just the first place to look for him," Hook said dryly, "Would you like to see?"
Hook held the telescope near his shoulder and pointed towards teh tiny speck of land on the horizon as Tinkerbell fluttered back over and looked through with both eyes. For a moment she shifted from looking out of the telescope and then back in, amazed at the little piece of technology, "Oh! I see, the glass is specially curved. That's how it does that!"
The island was mostly green, but had a large black stone jutting up in the middle and smoke lazily drifted out of the top of it in a thin but continuous stream.
"What is that place?" she asked.
"Gadapose," Hook said.
"You think Peter might really be there?" Tink asked hopefully.
"If he's not, there should at least be someone who spotted a flying boy. Unless he fell into the sea at some point between Neverland and there," Hook replied.
"He made it," Tinkerbell said firmly, "If Peter Pan were dead, there wouldn't even been the little bit of Neverland there is left over."
"We shall see," Hook said, "though I do hope you're right."