Faith had wanted to watch the sunrise over Neverland, but she had fallen sleep, curled up in a corner next to Peter, tucked in against his body as if he were protecting her in her sleep. It was an innocent kind of intimacy, and when she had finally woken up, Peter and the Lost Boys were gone, leaving the Hideout empty.
Faith sighed as she got up, tying her red sash around her waist, and found a basin of water underneath a drip from the earthen roof to refresh herself with. Pulling her boots on, she followed a tunnel that wound upwards until she poked her head out of a trap door that was at the base of the gnarly tree, and stepped outside into the morning sun.
Neverland at night had looked magical; but by day it was a sea of colour so bright that Faith wished that she had sunglasses. The greens of the trees were like emeralds, and the blue of the lake was a glittering sapphire. Birds flew overhead, their feathers every colour of the rainbow, and the smells! Faith took a deep breath of the fresh air that had never known industrial pollution, and could smell everything from the fresh grass to the tang of water from the lake. Having been born and raised in London, she'd never know such a fresh, unspoiled smell before. She stood for maybe ten minutes just breathing it in and admiring the view, before she finally decided to move.
She knew that Peter would be heading towards the ocean, and to the pirate ship that was anchored there, and that the Boys would be following him. She picked a direction that was downhill and headed that way, figuring she'd find the beach, and then walk around the island from there.
Their flight through the jungle last night had been rather quick, but her trudge down to the beach that morning took twice as long, with Faith grumbling and cursing every time a branch slapped her in the face, or snagged in her hair. But she pushed through, and eventually stepped out of the trees and onto the soft yellow sand. The roar of the waves replaced the sounds of birdcalls, and Faith wandered down to the shore and let the water lap at her boots. Looking right, the beach wrapped around a headland, and presumably continued on. Looking left, the beach ended in rocks, and out to sea Faith could just see a rocky island. Curious, she headed in that direction, wanting to get a better look at it.
She had an idea of what it was, and when she climbed over the rocks and around the corner until only sheer cliff remained, she could see the face of a skull made out of rock sitting out in the ocean, waves pounded at its sides.
"Skull Rock," she breathed, debating whether or not she should try and fly out there. She decided not, as Peter wouldn't have gone that way. She knew the map of Neverland like the back of her hand, and knew that Pirates Cove was in the other direction. She took a stab that, around the headland to the right, she would find Mermaid Lagoon, and when she finally made her way around there, she smiled with delight to discover that she had been right.
Faith could hear them long before she saw them – the tittering of laughter over the sounds of the waves. As she neared, her brown eyes scanned the rocks that poked up from the water, and saw no less than four mermaids lounging on the rocks, their fish tails gently curling up and down like the tail of a contented cat. One was combing out her long blonde hair; two were holding up strands of pearls and chatting amongst themselves; and another was lying on her stomach, one arm dangling into the water where a rather large fish of the brightest red was swimming around and nudging her hand like a pet demanding attention. Faith slowly wandered the beach, going unnoticed for the longest time, until she was almost right in front of them. The sand of the beach had run out, and rocky cliffs took its place, tumbling into the water near the rocks that the mermaids were lounging on. Beyond the cliffs, Faith could just see sand on the next headland, but she would have to climb passed the mermaids to get to it. Faith knew that her mother had shared a kind of begrudging respect with the mermaids, however Faith was not a strong swimmer, and she knew that the mermaids would most likely try to drown her if they managed to grab her.
"What do we have here?" a voice called out from one of the rocks, and Faith paused. "A girl! There's a girl in Neverland!" the voice screeched, laughter like a dolphin ringing out from the four mermaids.
"Come and swim with us. We love human girls," another mermaid said, gesturing with her hand for Faith to join them.
"No thanks, I think I'll pass," she called back, edging away from the water. The mermaids jeered at her, but Faith continued to back away, heading into the safety of the trees. She gave a sigh of relief when their laughter died away, and focussed on her new direction. Straight across from Mermaid Lagoon, through the trees, was Pirates Cove. All she had to do was go straight.
Which was easier said than done. The forest was thick, with no set path through the trees, and as Faith cursed and shoved her way through, she lost all sense of her bearings. She couldn't tell if she was going straight, or if she was doubling back on herself. When she finally caught a glimpse of water through the trees, she gave a little cry of triumph and pushed on with renewed vigour, until she stepped out onto the sand once more. And then felt her heart plummet.
Pirates Cove was a large horseshoe bay, big enough to anchor a ship the size of the Jolly Roger. What Faith stepped out onto was a horseshoe cove, but it was nowhere near the right size. You would only be able to anchor a dingy in this cove, as it was only about twenty metres long. Faith sighed, and plopped herself down in the cool sand, exhausted and covered in leaves and twigs. Why hadn't she just waited at the Hideout for Peter and the Boys to come back?
So caught up was she in her own failings that she didn't notice the young man that had appeared on the beach just a bit further down from where she sat, contemplating her life. He was dressed like a pirate, in tight black pants similar to the ones that Peter had found, with brown boots that reached his knees. One boot had the hilt of a knife poking out of the top of it. He was wearing a black button up shirt similar to Faith's, just visible underneath the bulk of the coat that he was wearing. It was a rather fine coat of burgundy leather that fell to just above his ankles, lined with black silk with folded back cuffs at the wrists. He was wearing a tri-corner hat with a long green feather sticking out of it, swept back in a way that looked good on him.
When Faith finally noticed him, she stiffened, unable to move from the sand as the young man approached. He couldn't have been much older than her, with jet-black hair that hung over one shoulder, tied with a leather thong. His skin was lightly tanned and ruddy, no doubt having been assaulted by salty air for most of his young life, and he was watching her with a curious smirk on his face that, Faith had to admit, was rather handsome, even if his nose was a tad too large. As he got closer, she noticed that his eyes were a deep blue, and that there was a fine layer of stubble along his jaw. His right hand, Faith noticed with growing apprehension, was resting on the hilt of a sword that sat at his waist, whilst his left hand was nothing more than a gleaming silver hook.
"Captain Hook," Faith breathed as the pirate stopped in front of her, and gave a little bow of his head.
"What do we have here, then?" he asked, his accent a very rough British, like a period movie of London street urchins.
Faith scrambled to her feet, her heart hammering in her chest, and wished that she had have picked up one of the many weapons that had littered the Hideout before she had left. A spear, a dagger, anything really. Instead, she was without a weapon before the pirate.
"It's been a rather long time since I've set eyes on a maiden such as yourself," Captain Hook said, his blue eyes looking her over. "How in the devil did you end up here?"
"I flew," Faith managed to squeak out, and Hook frowned at her.
"But that's not possible. This island is under lockdown," he replied, moving a step closer to her. Faith looked over her shoulder, judging the distance to the trees, and realised that she would never make it before the pirate was on her.
"I had pixie dust," she stammered, trying to keep him talking to avoid him attacking her.
"Pixie dust? Now where did you get that from?" Hook mused, taking another step closer.
"My mother, Margaret. Maggie," Faith amended, remember the name that Peter and the Boys had known her mother by. Hook stopped, surprise blossoming over his face.
"Maggie? That little girl that Pan brought here years ago?" he asked, and Faith nodded. "You're her daughter?" Again, Faith nodded. "And she left you some pixie dust from her time here. But how did you get to Neverland? Not just anyone can fly here, even with pixie dust. The island, or that blasted Peter Pan, must want you here," Hook explained, and Faith gulped, not sure how to answer. Yes, Peter had gone looking for Hook, but Faith didn't want to give the pirate a heads up that he was back.
Hook's eyes went wide as understanding finally dawned on him, and Faith realised that the man wasn't the incompetent buffoon that the stories made him out to be. "You found Peter Pan," the pirate said with a sneer, and Faith stepped back, her knees trembling.
"I don't know what you're talking about," she tried, but Hook lunged forward and grabbed her arm, giving her a little shake.
"Don't lie to me, girl. Where is he? Where is that blasted Pan?" he demanded.
"I don't know!" Faith cried. "He was gone when I woke up this morning, along with the Lost Boys. He said he was going to find you," she added, seeing no point in hiding the truth anymore.
"Did he now? Tell me, is he all grown up like you?" Hook asked, and Faith nodded. Hook chuckled. "Well, this will be an interesting reunion then, won't it?" he said, before he dragged Faith off of that tiny beach to where his rowboat was waiting. Unceremoniously throwing her in, he pushed off from the beach, rowing out to sea until Faith could see the coast curl around the island and into the massive expanse of Pirates Cove.
Somewhere out there, Peter was waiting to surprise Captain Hook with his return to Neverland, and Faith had just gone and gotten herself abducted by the man himself.
Faith had been hauled onto the Jolly Roger, and roughly thrown into the captain's quarters, bracing herself against a desk as Hook stormed in after her. She turned to face the pirate, her heart hammering in her chest, but determined not to show him any fear.
"Whatever you want, you won't get it," Faith snapped, and Hook stopped, surveying her with a tilt of his head.
"What I want is to be free of Peter Pan, and of this blasted island. What I want is to go home," he said, his voice strangely calm. Faith straightened up and stared at him, at this young man who captained the ship that she was now stuck upon. The crew that she had seen on her way through were equally not what she had been expecting, having not heard a single jeer or catcall amongst them. She had expected to find blasphemous pirates, and instead had found this young captain that was looking at her with something like desperate hope in his eyes.
"What do you mean, you want to go home? Why don't you just sail away, and never come back?" she asked, and Hook laughed.
"I would if I could, lass. But the island won't let me leave," he replied, sitting himself down on a chaise lounge, and patting the spot next to him, inviting her to sit. "What do you know of Neverland?" he asked, and Faith frowned as she sat, sensing no imminent danger from the pirate.
Faith shrugged. "It's a place where children don't grow up, and where Peter Pan calls home," she answered, and Hook nodded.
"Aye, that it is. But the island and Peter are linked. What he wants, the island provides. My crew and I were stuck in a storm in the Caribbean, and when the storm cleared, we found ourselves in this here cove. Peter Pan was grinning with joy at the sight of a pirate ship, and he's been picking fights with us ever since. Don't you get it? The boy wanted us here, and so the island dragged us here," he explained, and Faith slowly shook her head, her mind racing.
"But he keeps fighting you; you're his enemy," Faith pointed out, and again Hook nodded.
"Aye, but what little boy doesn't like fighting pirates? Or playing Cowboys and Indians?" he hinted, and Faith remembered the Indian tribe that was up on their cliff, seemingly so out of place on a little tropical island.
"But if that's true … you threw him out of here. You let dark fairies in, and used their dust to throw Peter out of Neverland," Faith accused, and Hook grinned, making his blue eyes sparkle.
"Ahh, that was a good day," he said with glee. "I was hoping, with him gone, the island would let up on its hold over us. But still, every time I try to sail for the horizon, I just end up on the other side of the island. But if he's come back, and he's now grown to a man, things might be different. He might be different," Hook mused, and Faith watched him for a long moment.
"You want to try and reason with him," she guessed, and Hook nodded.
"As a boy, it was hopeless. But as a man who has lived in the real world, he might be more willing to listen," he said, and there was definite hope in his eyes.
"And if he doesn't?" Faith asked, but Hook waved her question away.
"I've got dark fairies working to destroy this island from the inside out," was all he said in response, and Faith shuddered.
"What did you do with Tinker Bell?" she asked, and Hook blinked at her, before he laughed.
"Oh, she's safe. The little firefly has tried to escape multiple times, but I have her locked away where no one can find her."
Faith wanted to question him further, but it was at that moment that a commotion broke out on deck, and a voice rang out through the air, clear and confidant.
"Hook, you old Codfish! Come out and face me!"
"Stay here," Hook had said, before he had strode through the door, slamming it shut in her face. Peter's laughter rang out through the sky, and Faith could hear Hook sneer a greeting at him that only caused more laughter. The door wasn't locked, so Faith opened it and peered outside. No one was paying attention to her – everyone's eyes were focussed on the sky above the ship where Peter Pan was hovering, his hands on his hips, and grinning down at the assembled pirates. She couldn't see the Lost Boys anywhere, but knew that they couldn't be far away.
"Fetch me my rifle, Mr Smee," Hook said to a rather chubby short man that was wearing a beanie, who nodded and eagerly ran off to fetch the requested firearm. Faith followed, not wanting Peter to be blown out of the sky.
She found Mr Smee bent over a chest that was loaded full of guns, and picking up a discarded timber bucket, Faith swung it as hard as she could at the back of the pirate's head. Smee gave a little grunt of surprise, and then collapsed down onto the deck.
"Mr Smee, what's taking you so long?" Hook called out, and casting a quick glance back over her shoulder, Faith closed her eyes and thought of happy memories. She didn't want to be trapped on this ship against her will, but she also didn't want to see a fight break out between Peter and Hook. She couldn't explain it, but Hook was not what she had been expecting. The desperation that she had seen in his eyes was all too real to be a lie, and the things he had suggested about the island were gnawing at her brain. Still, she wanted off of the boat, and so she took the air, rising up and calling out to Peter.
"Faith? What are you doing here?" he asked, dropping his hands from his hips in shock.
"I followed you," she said, telling half-truths. Down below, she could see Hook gazing up at her, those blue eyes hard as she approached the blonde man hovering in the sky.
"Did he hurt you?" he asked, looking her over, and Faith shook her head.
"No, I'm fine. But Peter, let's just get out of here, okay?" she suggested, and Peter bit at his lip, looking down at the pirates again. Faith could tell that he really wanted to soar down there and cause some trouble, but why? The pirates had done nothing to him; he had come seeking them out. Why start something, just for the sake of conflict?
"I've waited all this time," Peter started, but Faith grabbed his arm.
"And he will still be here later," she insisted. "Besides, I think I have an idea about where Tinker Bell might be," she added, and that definitely caught his attention. "Leave the pirates alone, and come with me. Please?"
Again Peter hesitated, but ever so slowly he relented, before he nodded. "Okay," he said, and with the sound of jeering pirates below them, he let Faith fly them both away from Pirates Cove.