*waves* I'm so...boring lately. Only posting when i update, not talking at all...sheesh! It's a wonder anybody's still on my flist.
But! I did get to enjoy a lovely, lovely visit from sweptawaybayou and her daughter sixteen_letters. We strolled around a nearby cemetery, had *bread*, watched a couple movies and talked. About fandom. Wheeeeeeee! Always the absolute best, to just hang out with Snow and chatter. I luffs her.
Today is pretties_4u's birthday! Happy, happy birthday! *loves*
And ummmm...what else? OH! Yis. reremouse has posted another part of her sublime, as yet untitled Xander/Larry fic. Really, really worth checking out. For the snark, for the babble, for the angst. For the slash! Wheeee!
Go, read, comment, love.
Previous Neverland is here.
"Smee!! Hurry! Get below and get those boys topside!" Hook shouted, glaring forward through the slashing rain. Smee gathered a bag from Hook's quarters – gestured to two pirates and scurried below. Spike just hung on, watching Pan rocket ahead of them. The sky was black now – clouds boiling thick and fast, lightning popping like flashbulbs. Somewhere ashore, a palm tree exploded under a direct hit and Spike smelled ozone and charred wood, his skin tingling with the proximity of so much energy.
"Hurry, you dogs! Arm and out! Smee!" Hook spun the wheel hard and the ship heeled nearly over, bow-sprit dipping under the waves with a staggering shock. Marooner's rock was approaching rapidly, swamped and then bare as the waves burst around it, kelpy sides slick and dark in the gloom.
"Hook, you daft bastard, you're going to smash us to kindling!" Spike shouted, snarling – demon-faced and furious. Hook cackled, spinning the wheel again, standing wide-legged against the insane tilt of the deck.
"What, sir – frightened? Surely you don't fear the sea, you who can live forever!" The ship skimmed past the rock like a diving hawk and then – there was a wrenching, shuddering concussion as everything...stopped. The ship groaned like a living thing and every pirate aboard yelled as their motion was violently and abruptly ended. Pirates flew across the deck – several fell from the rigging, screaming, and crunched nastily to the deck. Spike saved himself from going arse over tip only by dint of a furious hold on the rail. Hook hung over the wheel for a moment, swinging wildly, and then he staggered upright as the ship settled, the decks angled to port. "Smee!"
"Here, sir, we're here, Cap'n!" Smee shouted, and Spike hauled himself to the stairs and down. Smee was on deck, the boys huddled behind him. Several pirates were standing guard with cutlasses and daggers and the boys looked battered and a bit sick. The Wendy wasn't there. Curly was sagging between Xander and Michael, his broken foot splinted now and Spike moved closer, leaning against the tilt of the deck. There was a burnt-sweet smell lingering in the air, thick and heavy.
*Opium. He's not hurting.* "Xander – you all right?"
"Huh?" Xander shifted Curly's weight a little, looking up slowly. His eyes were half-lidded, his gaze a little lost.
"Bloody hell – Hook!" Spike shouted, turning to look up at the tall man who was stomping down the poop-deck stairs. "They're dosed!"
"They needed an edge, is all," Hook said, waving his hook airily. The pirates were gathered in rows now, ranged all around the boys. Cutlasses, daggers – a nasty boat-hook or two in their hands. The storm raged overhead but it all seemed peculiarly muted. "Now! You lost boys! I've taken you prisoner because once again – Pan has abandoned you!"
There was a rumble of agreement from the pirates and the boys shifted – blinked dazedly around them. "No, he...he didn't..." Tootles murmured, but Hook waved his protestation away.
"Of course he did. He always has! He flies away to play with the fairies or the mermaids and forgets all about you boys. I've seen it time and again." Hook paced up to the boys – reached out and put a gentle hand on the remaining twin's shoulder. "He starves you boys. Look at you! Skin and bones." The twin looked down at himself, swaying unsteadily, and Hook patted him.
"But I wouldn't do such a thing. Never. Why – my dogs, they eat steak every night! Don't you, men?"
A rough chorus of agreement went up, the pirates grinning wolfishly. The ship shifted again, settling as the waves ate away at the sand under the keel. Thunder rumbled in the distance and the air directly overhead seemed to be going still. The rain had slacked just a little, slanting down in a silvery skein, hissing into the sea.
*Eye of the bloody storm. Get a move on, Hook – Pan'll be here before you know it...* Spike had no worries about taking on Peter Pan – he welcomed the chance for a real fight. But he wanted the boys – one boy – out of the way before that happened.
"Oh, the pirate's life is a grand one!" Hook continued, hand and hook clasped behind his back. He paced awkwardly back and forth before the little clump of lost boys. "You eat whatever you please, you sleep warm and there's gold and riches for everyone! But do you know the best thing, boys? The very best?" Hook stopped still, leaning in close, and the pirates prodded at the boys, who shuffled a little, pressing together. Dilated eyes fixed on Hook, mouths a little open. Even Curly seemed to be taking in something of what was being said.
"Oh, the very best thing, my boys, is that you grow up. You grow up on this ship, my lads. You grow up and no one tries to stop you, and everyone..." Hook leaned even closer, grinning, his hair in lank tendrils like seaweed on the sides of his face. "Everyone is afraid of you, boys. Instead of the other way 'round. Isn't that right, me hearties?" Hook shouted the last and the boys jerked in surprise – turned to look in wide-eyed wonder as the pirates around them roared their approval.
"Steak and eggs whenever we like!"
"Rum for breakfast!"
"Every man Jack in the town bowin' and scrapin'!"
"And there's women," one pirate said, leaning in close to Xander, who twitched away. Spike's hands itched to hit the leering bastard.
"There's all that and more. All that and more, boys if... If... you're a pirate." Hook straightened up, wiping at his hair – pushing it back off his brow. He eyed the boys, who shifted uneasily under his gaze.
Tootles took a step forward, pushing his rain-spattered glasses up higher on his nose. "We don't give a – a damn for your stories, Hook! Do we, boys?" He looked around and the boys looked away, glancing at each other. Spike could hear their hearts pounding. "We don't want to be pirates!"
"No? Don't you? Why – you could be...Red-Handed Jack! The terror of the seas!" Hook said, and Tootles' mouth stayed open for a moment as he gazed at Hook.
"I – no! I'm Tootles! I'm the oldest here after Pan, I – would never betray him! None of us would!"
"Never?" Hook asked, his voice going low, and Tootles' shoulders straightened and his chin came up.
"Never, you – you black-hearted villain!"
"That's a pity, really," Hook mused. He tapped the jabot of lace at his throat with the hook – stepped up closer to Tootles, who looked up at him, blinking rapidly. "Be sure, now – never ever?"
"Not for all the tea in China!" Tootles declared, and Hook sighed.
"Truly a pity, my boy. But I can't have nay-sayers on my ship." He stared down at Tootles and then his hook slashed out, glittering. It cut across Tootles' throat and Tootles stumbled backward, his hands going up futilely to clutch at his neck. Blood ran out between his fingers – raced down his chest, mixing with the rain. The scent of it was thick and hot and Spike licked his lips, leaning against the rail. The boys watched in diluted horror as Tootles went to his knees and then his back, his spectacles askew. His hands slipped limply away and his cut throat gaped obscenely, the last spasms of his heart pumping out a tongue of scarlet.
"No, oh no, oh no, no..." John was staring – moaning, his arms wrapped around his ribs, and Xander struggled to push Curly entirely onto Michael, stumbling forward.
"You killed him, Jesus, you – you just –"
"Of course I killed him! He was Pan's boy, not mine." Hook's hand darted out and wrapped around the back of Xander's neck, pulling him close. The hook caught Xander around the hip, digging in but not drawing blood. "My dogs must be loyal, boy. They must love...me. They must die for me, if I ask. Because I know a secret." Hook's eyes fluttered closed and for a moment he simply stood there, swaying slightly. Close enough to Xander that their foreheads were nearly touching, and Xander's hands fluttered at Hook's lace and velvet, not...quite...pushing away.
"I don't – I just want to...want to go home," Xander said, and Hook grinned.
"And home you shall go, my boy. Home you shall go." He straightened, letting Xander go and Xander reeled back, bumping into John and the twin, who caught him with a hand on his shoulder.
"Time's wasting, boys. I know a secret that you'll all want to know and I shall tell you! If you swear loyalty to me – I shall tell you everything."
"Tell us what?" Michael asked, and the twin laughed, raw and choked.
"Who cares? Do you – do you know what he did to Roxy? He –"
"Shut up, Tony," Michael snapped, and his voice was strained and cracking – too high-pitched.
"Do you want to know?" Hook purred, and the boys nodded dumbly. Spike watched as Xander wiped at his face, rain beaded on his lashes. He shot a look to Spike and Spike just shrugged. Past Hook's shoulder Spike could see cloud of little colored sparks, moving and shifting like a flock of sparrows. And Pan at the lead, coming fast. The sky strobed with lightning but it had all gone silent – even the wind had died, and the rain was a mere sprinkle now. The waves were hushed, the sails hanging limply from the spars, slack in the breathless air.
"Tell us," Xander whispered.
"I can send you home, boys. Home. Back to your mothers. Back to everyone and everything you left behind." Hook's eyes were gleaming in the twilight – reddish glow far back in the deep sockets, his lips pulled up in a terrible, wonderful smile. "Home, if you swear loyalty to me!"
"Home? Really?" John wiped his nose on his wrist and took a step forward and Xander put his hand flat to John's chest.
"You have to swear," Xander said slowly. "Swear on – on your mother, Hook! Swear on her soul."
"I solemnly swear it, on my mother's immortal soul." Hook's voice was low and steady – his hook over his heart and Xander stared at him for another moment.
"All right. I'll swear. I'll be a pirate," he said finally, and Hook threw back his head and laughed.
"That's my boy! Quick now – we don't have much time. Hold out your hands," Hook said. Xander nudged John and John nudged the twin, who made a sound of disgust.
"I won't –"
"You can take Roxy home, Tony! Come on!" Michael growled.
"Oh, God, you're all damn – crazy!" Tony smeared his knuckles across his eyes – glared at Hook. "You better not be lying, you bastard." He thrust his hand forward and then Xander did, and John. A huge, tattooed pirate helped Michael to get Curly upright and Curly grimaced, hopping a little on his good foot. He held out his hand, as well, and Michael did.
Hook all but crowed. He urged the boys closer and then his hook flashed out again, slicing across five palms. Blood welled up – spattered onto the rain-slick deck and the boys swayed. "Swear now, boys! Swear on your blood and on your souls – swear that you will be pirates of the Jolly Roger and the loyal servants of Captain James Hook until the day you die! Swear it!"
"I swear –" Xander said, and the boys joined in, halting chorus. "I will be a pirate of the Jolly Roger..."
"Yes! Oh, that's good, boys." Hook gashed his own palm open and when his blood – dark and peculiar and smelling too sweet – oozed over his palm he smeared it across the boys' still-outstretched hands. "Am I your captain, boys?"
"Yes," the boys said.
"Who am I?" he shouted.
"The deadliest pirate on the seven seas!" a pirate yelled, somewhere back in the crowd.
"The finest buccaneer to wield a sword!"
"The slyest dog in the fleet!"
"Captain Hook! Captain Hook! Captain Hook!" With every shout, Hook straightened – brightened – threw out his chest and all but pranced. Color seemed to flood back into his face, and his eyes danced as he surveyed the yelling crew. The boys had even taken up the chant, bloody fists aloft. As they shouted – screamed – roared to the sky, Peter Pan arrived.