‘HOW’S THE POSTERIOR?’
Pan’s face spreads in an eminently punchable grin as the fairies titter delightedly. I instinctively put my hand to the back of my britches, where the scoundrel stuck me like a pincushion the last time we met.
‘Fine,’ I say, glaring at him. His shadow’s halfway up the wall, making obscene gestures at me. ‘Barely a scratch.’
‘I heard you couldn’t sit down for over six months.’ Pan hops from one foot to another. ‘And even now, you need to sit on a pile of cushions higher than your mizzenmast.’
‘Peter, please behave.’ SB smiles behind a gloved hand. ‘Be nice to Mr Hook.’
‘I’m only being as nice as he was to me and the Darlings .’ He pouts like a toddler. ‘Don’t you remember what he tried to do?’
‘Those little tykes deserved everything they got. They were trying to steal my blasted ship!’
‘Boys, boys. Enough. Time to put the past behind you.’ SB’s smile has vanished, an impatient glare taking its place. ‘I wouldn’t be asking you to work together unless it was an emergency.’
‘Where were the Lost Boys last sighted?’ I turn my back on Pan, trying to show I, at least, am a grown-up.
‘Near Pleasure Island,’ says SB. ‘Quite some distance from here.’
‘Then we shall chart a course immediately. I will return to my cabin to prepare.’
‘I’m afraid I can’t allow you to do that,’ says SB. ‘The Lost Boys will recognise you and your vessel. I can’t afford for them to be alerted. You will need a disguise.’
‘A disguise?’ I run my hand through where my hair should be. ‘What do you propose?’
‘You shall pretend to be one of their own kind, seeking to join them.’
‘Lost Boys?’ I stare at the gnarled knuckles of my remaining hand. ‘I’m afraid my boyhood is but a dim and distant memory, m’lady.’
‘Then allow me to remind you.’ SB twirls a finger in the air, tracing a sparkling shimmer of fairy dust. As I watch, the skin on my hand contracts, the lines smoothing out before my eyes. Gasps from the fairies; a derisory snort from Pan.
‘Most convincing, even if I do say so myself. Here,’ says SB, handing me a diamond-encrusted mirror. ‘Have a look, let me know what you think.’
I raise the mirror, my hand trembling. I feel it: the glamour she’s cast: more than an illusion, more than a fairydust deception. She’s changed me. Even my hook feels different, less pointy somehow.
I don’t even recognise the face blinking back at me. Podgy, little piggy eyes squinting at the mirror. Buck teeth and sticky-out ears and a haircut which would make pudding bowls the realm over spin with envy.
‘What … have … you … done?’ I cough. My voice is a cacophony of wheezes, rumbles and squeaks that makes me sound like an asthmatic walrus sitting on a pixie.
‘Lost indeed,’ says Pan, almost bursting with mirth. ‘And with a face not even a mother would want to be found again.’
‘Leave my mother out of this,’ I squeal. I shake my hook at him menacingly. Pan and the fairies collapse in a heap of laughter. I stare at my appendage aghast and realise what SB has done. My hook is no longer a wicked curve of sharp and shiny steel, it’s blunt and dull as a beached jellyfish. And it’s made of rubber.
I hang my head in prepubescent shame, the sound of laughter ringing around the deck.
A flicker of yellow. A smell of marigolds. A little ringing sound.
‘Don’t be sad, my dearest captain.’ Tinkerbell alights delicately on the end of my acne-ridden nose. ‘It’s what inside that counts.’
I get some satisfaction from seeing Pan’s shocked expression. As far as he was concerned, his little fairy comrade had told him she was going away on holiday. Not defecting to join me, his arch nemesis, attracted by my swirling moustaches and my sparkling poetry.
‘That’s the problem, Tink,’ I say, drawing my sword. ‘Inside, I want nothing more than to send every last blasted soul here to Davy Jones’ Locker…’