A/N: Song to listen to when reading this (it will totally set the EXACT right mood): Big Girls Don't Cry, by Fergie.
The Stars Won't Shine
- chapter thirteen -
"My boys were twins. Peter was the younger one. He had dirty blonde hair, beautiful green eyes, and a smile to melt your heart." Ms. Calloway's voice was gentle, almost soothing. "He was always getting into trouble and blaming it on his older brother, Andrew." She laughed softly. "His favorite was stealing chocolates from the kitchen and leaving smudges on his brother's homework papers. What a surprise Andrew had at school the next day…
"Andrew was always the studious one. He had a quiet way about him, a look that could level you in a moment. He had dark hair and understanding blue eyes like his father. He was a splitting image of his father, but his personality was almost identical to mine. He knew me inside and out. He knew when I'd been sad and when I'd had a good day. He knew when I needed a hug the most. He knew when I needed time to myself. He was a good boy.
"I filed a divorce from their father when they turned 18. I hadn't meant it to be on their birthday, but I couldn't stand their father anymore." She laughed a little, but Deborah could almost hear the tears forming in her eyes. "He never spent the night at home. He would sneak out after he thought I had fallen asleep and come back before dawn smelling like perfumes I had never even dreamed of. I washed his clothes like I didn't know. I pretended for the sake of my boys that it wasn't true. I pretended it was a problem with me and not with their father. They looked up to him like any boys would. They loved him." She cleared her throat. "I couldn't let them know what he was really like. It would've broken their hearts.
"I won custody. I pretended that their father had tried and I'd simply won, but the truth is he never showed. The most I heard from him was the squealing of his tires on the hot pavement that day he left. He gave me a kiss, that's what a gentleman he was, but he had a sparkle in his eye that told me that he wasn't mine anymore. And I wasn't his.
"I miss him sometimes," Ms. Calloway admitted sadly. "I wonder if he had stayed or if I had tried harder, if maybe my boys would still be with me, if maybe they wouldn't have disappeared from my life." She laughed hoarsely. "I guess my boys were more like me than I could've guessed."
Wendy watched the two boys fight across the narrow room, lancing back and forth with their words as much as their hands. The clash of metal rang sharp in the air, the smell of brandishing iron like blood. The darkening night gave way to a dim morning, the rays of the sun daring to sneak in through the room. She couldn't stand it.
"Stop!" she jumped between the boys, Peter's dagger barely missing her shoulder.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Peter tried to push her aside, but Andrew's hook was already around her neck. She stumbled back against him, his words hushed in her ear.
"What will you do for her, Peter?"
"Let go of her, Hook," Peter snarled. "This doesn't involve her."
Andrew feigned a pout. "Oh, but Peter, dearest," he cooed, "The love of your life? Not involved in your dire situation of life or death?"
Peter shook visibly. "Tinkerbell's dead. What more do you want from me?"
Wendy felt Andrew shift behind her. She stuttered, "D-dead?"
Peter didn't look at her. Andrew chuckled knowingly. "Thanks to you, I'd guess."
Peter leapt at him, but Andrew tightened his grip on Wendy. Peter stood back warily. "Let go of her," he hissed. "Settle this like a man."
Andrew ignored him, sauntering to the treasure chest. He reached in delicately, his hook still aimed at Wendy's throat, and pulled out a trinket.
Wendy stiffened as he pressed the cool metal against her cheek.
The ticking rang in her ear.
"Peter was the first to leave. I'm sure you've read the article by now. It's bound to be the way you contacted me. I tried to contact the previous parents as well, but no one was ever available to answer my questions. I told my boys about the divorce with their father. I told them the story that I thought would protect them, leave them able to love him still, but it seems I did so well that they were able to forget about loving me.
"Peter disappeared that night. There was a mysterious discovery a few weeks later. It was his body by Star Creek wearing his father's golden watch. But I didn't believe it for a moment. My boy couldn't be gone like that. I searched by day and prayed by night. But most of all, I loved him. My darling boy, I loved him.
"Andrew disappeared shortly after he discovered the watch. I had placed it in my dresser and tried to not tell him about it. I didn't want him thinking about his brother's death or disappearance. But he knew, like all of the other secrets that I tried to keep from him, he knew. He wrote me a note, one that I've read every day since he left. I have it memorized, but it feels good to read it sometimes. Like a reminder that my boys were real. Sometimes I have my doubts.
"I've gone to look for Peter, it read, I'll be back soon. I love you. It's a simple note, really, and it's in his chicken-scratch handwriting," Ms. Calloway sighed. "But I miss it. Simplicity."
"I threw that to the alligators," Peter shrieked. His voice was shrill and desperate. "It's supposed to be gone!"
"You can't run from your past, Peter." Andrew was careful then, almost sad. "Time doesn't wait for anyone. It keeps ticking"
"Give it back. That's not yours to have."
"You left it, Peter, just like everything else."
Peter reached out his hand, impatiently shaking his open fist. "It's still mine. Give it here."
"What, so you can throw it away again?" Andrew let his hand slide down Wendy's arm. She shivered unwillingly as he touched her waist and dropped the clock into her front pocket. He left his arm wrapped around her, his palm resting on her hip. His lips grazed her cheek as he searched for her ear. "Go home now, Wendy."
She tried to arch away from him, but his hook held her close. "Take your trinket and go home."
"Hook, let her go."
Andrew ignored him, his voice suddenly urgent. "Forget everything, Wendy. We don't exist. There are no laughing Lost Boys. There is no Tinkerbell. She didn't die, she simply never existed." He hesitated for a moment, his words catching. "There is no Captain Andrew Hook, Wendy. He never kidnapped you. He never took you upon his ship. There was no ship. There was no Smee, Wendy, there was no sea to sail at all." His words quickened as he spoke, as if he were rushing himself to finish. "He never taught you about your imagination, you never showed him a white dress, and there was no land. It was a dream, Wendy," he whispered. "No man was icy towards you, Wendy, no man mistreated you to have his way."
"Shut up!" Peter edged towards him, but Andrew's words were already working their way into her heart.
Wendy opened her eyes, foggy with tears.
"There was no Peter Pan, Wendy," Andrew's words were hushed now, apologetic. "There was no boy with green eyes and dirty blonde hair. He never took your hand and never taught you to fly. He never took you to his Neverland, because he never ran away himself. He never tried to save you, Wendy, because there was no need to be saved. She loves you, Wendy, and nothing else matters but that. She loves you with all her heart, Wendy, so go home now. Go home to her now."
"And you never heard from them again?" Deborah whispered to quiet her tears.
"I never heard from them again."
"But you still look for them every day?"
Ms. Calloway laughed softly. "I find them everywhere. I see them in my face every time I pass a mirror. I hear their footsteps behind me when I walk. I see them in the stars when I count them. Sometimes I feel like they're looking back at me."
Deborah wiped away a stray tear as she smiled hopefully. "And you still love them. You still believe that they'll come home."
"I know they'll come home to me. When I close my eyes, they're already here."
"Wendy, don't listen to a word he says!" Peter shouted angrily.
"Peter!" Wendy's eyes started for a moment when she caught sight of the Lost Boys. They stumbled into the ship in confusion. "Where the hell are we?"
Peter pointed at them frantically. "Look, there's Guy, Teddy, Jack, Joe, and Sean! They're real!"
The Lost Boys looked back at the three of them.
Andrew shook his head. His rough face rubbed against hers. "Wendy, you can ask them for themselves. Ask them about Tiger Lilly. Ask them where she went. Ask them what she said."
Peter glanced at the boys anxiously. "Tell her where she is, boys, tell Wendy where Tiger Lilly is. Better yet, bring her. Guy, go get her!"
Guy shrugged his shoulders. "Peter, she's…gone."
Peter gaped at him. He waved his dagger threateningly. "Don't play games with me. Bring her here!"
Teddy shook his head. "The entire tribe never existed, Peter. We've been there. There are cliffs where their teepees used to be. There are forests of oaks that are hundreds of years old. They've never been touched. The soil is unturned. No one has ever been there."
"What did I say, Wendy?" Andrew took his hand from her waist and pointed at each of the boys in turn. "There is no Tiger Lilly. And what about these boys isn't just as dreamlike? Sean has never said a word to you. He's shy and quiet. He's a wisp of a character, Wendy, doesn't he remind you of the self you used to hate? The little girl who couldn't stand up for herself? You're imagining these things, Wendy, and as beautiful as they are, you need to wake up now."
Wendy nodded slowly, her eyes falling from Peter's and looking over the boys. "Sean's face is like my best friend's in elementary school. His name was Sean Teddeman. He was shy all through grade school. I lost track of him once I got into high school…I forgot how much I missed him."
And Sean disappeared.
"Good girl, Wendy," Andrew murmured. "None of them are real. Do you remember where the others are from?"
"Stop it!" Peter jumped between the boys and Wendy. "Wendy, I warned you how powerful your words are. Stop telling yourself they're not real when they are! They're standing right before you, Wendy. They're as real as you and me!" There were tears in his eyes then, shiny and new as they sprang forth.
"Wendy, it's time to wake up," Andrew whispered. "Stop talking to this boy. You dreamed him up like you always wanted a boy to be. He's carefree, he's charming, he's handsome…" Andrew paused for a moment, reading his brother silently, "And he loves you, Wendy…but he's not real."
Wendy blinked back tears, a pitiful smile on her lips. She bit her bottom lip as she held the tears back and stared at Peter, her eyes memorizing his hair and his eyes, his nose and his lips. She took a step toward him, Andrew allowing her, and she reached out to touch him, her hand caressing his cheek for a moment as she leaned in and closed her eyes.
Tears escaped from each of the corners as she kissed him gently on the lips, the touch of a butterfly as it escapes from underneath rustling leaves.
She almost choked on her desperation when she opened her eyes and he was no longer there.
Slowly the world around her disappeared.
The sun rose to see rolling fields, open oceans, and a misty horizon. The beach was spotless, no feet to ever grace its beautiful sands. A cool breeze danced along the leaves, throwing them into the air like no hands ever would. In the distance a waterfall echoed as it beat the rocks below, the only sound in an otherwise silent world. No laughter would ever lighten it, and no words of love would ever guide it.
But the sun continued to rise and when it finally fell, it promised to come again.
A/N: And that's it. That's really it. I have a new idea in the works. More announcements on my main page! Thanks again for all of the reviews and support!
Sophelia: I hope this chapter summed up everything you didn't get. I mean, if you have additional questions I'd be glad to do either a Q&A on the site or just through email. Thanks for being a great support!
eyeoftherose09: Thanks for the reviews! I really enjoyed them! I tried to answer all of your questions in this chapter (I hadn't originally planned for it to be the last), but this was the best I could do without making it sound forced. If you have any additional questions please feel free to email me!