‘NEVER FEAR!’ says Pan. ‘The applause of the boys and girls will bring her back to life.’
I glare at him. ‘What are you talking about, you blithering imbecile? This isn’t a pantomime!’
He looks to one side, then to the other, as if expecting something to be there. Then he hangs his head, a snivelling tear gathering on the end of his nose. ‘No,’ he says, ‘you’re right. This is no fairy tale.’
We look down at the delicate body of Tink, lying on the deck between us. I find it hard to believe she’s gone: in the absence of anything else, I’d come to view her not only as a form of conscience, but also as a friend.
‘There may still be a way …’ Pan’s normally annoying whine is absent, replaced by a tone which is almost grown-up.
‘What? This had better not be another of your nonsensical non-existent notions …’ I glower as menacingly as my ten year-old pudding bowl-headed self can manage.
‘The Little Mermaid,’ says Pan. ‘She has the power to foretell the future.’
‘Yes, so SB informed us. I fail to see how that can help us.’ I glance down at the piteous body between us. ‘Or Tink.’
‘She also has the power of farsight,’ says Pan. ‘To be able to see things normally hidden in the depths of the oceans.’
‘And?’ My patience is wearing thinner than an anorexic pixie in a vice. ‘Out with it, boy!’
Pan leans forward, his feather dangerously close to tickling my nose. I blow it out the way. ‘You have heard of the Kraken?’ he says.
‘Of course,’ I scoff. ‘The vilest, most dangerous creature of the deep. None who have seen it have lived to tell the tale.’
‘None save the Little Mermaid.’
‘What? You are sure?’
‘Positive. I am … ‘ He starts to blush. ‘ … something of an acquaintance of hers.’
‘Oh indeed? Have you broken this fact to Wendy?’ I say, feeling the smooth skin where my whiskers normally reside bristle with glee. ‘I imagine young Miss Darling would find that information most interesting …’
‘Don’t you dare breath a word to her!’ It’s the closest to fear I have ever seen him show. ‘Ariel and I are just good friends!’
I store this information away in my mind’s treasure chest for future reference. ‘Whatever your relationship with the scaly princess of the seas, I fail to see how her knowledge of the Kraken can help us.’
‘Its blood.’ Pan’s face pales. ‘Or its ink, to be more correct.’
‘An ingredient for a potion?’
‘No, to write something with.’ Pan’s voice trembles.
‘What exactly? Our last blasted will and testament?’
‘No. A page.’
‘You’re not making sense!’ I look over my shoulder. ‘Spit it out – the rest of the Lost Boys are likely sharpening their arrows as we speak!’
‘I had to use dark magic,’ he says. ‘I was left with no alternative. Not after my last-ditch attempt failed.’
‘What the blazes are you talking about now?’
‘It’s the reason she left me,’ he says, gazing at Tink’s forlorn corpse.
‘What did you do? And none of your usual lies and tricks. Tell me the truth.’
His feather droops like a half-hoist flag. ‘I fell ill,’ he says. ‘A terrible malady, very rare. With only one known cure.’
‘Fairy dust,’ he says. ‘And not the normal, common or garden stuff either. Only the purest would suffice. The dust which sparkles within a fairy’s heart.’
My mouth falls open. ‘You tried to kill her? To take her heart?’
‘No, nothing like that, I swear!’ Pan holds his hands up in surrender. ‘Only a small incision, whilst she slept. Just a pinch of the stuff would do. I was desperate, Hook, you have to understand that.’
‘So desperate you would threaten the life of Tinkerbell? After all she did for you?’
‘I was delirious with the fever. I didn’t know what I was doing.’ His face wets with tears. ‘In any case, it failed to work. Tink awoke just as I was about to pierce her chest with a needle. She flew off without a further word. It was the last time I saw her. Until you arrived.’
I feel the anger inside, threatening to boil over. Only the piteous sight of Tink stops me from erupting. ‘So what did you do?’ I snarl. ‘Obviously – and rather sadly, in my opinion – you survived?’
‘I was at my wits’ end. I paid a visit to the Sea Witch. She had a vial of the Kraken’s ink. Told me what I needed to do.’
‘And that barnacle-encrusted old hag just gave it to you?’
‘I made a deal with her.’ His voice drops to a ripple. ‘I defected.’
‘You did what? You’re now a Wicked?’
‘To my eternal shame, I am.’
The anger bubbles once more. Him. Pan. On the same side as me, Captain James Hook. Completely unacceptable.
‘Does SB know of this?’
‘No. No-one does.’
Under any other circumstances I would laugh up a storm. Not only do I have his infidelity to Wendy as ammunition against him, now it transpires the fleet-footed boy wonder is a traitor to boot. However, there are more pressing matters than exposing my arch-nemesis. For now.
‘And how does the Kraken’s ink come into all of this?’ I ask.
‘I used the ink I gained from the Sea Witch,’ he says. ‘To write an extra page. An extra page of my story.’
‘One where you had a miraculous recovery from your ailment?’
He nods. ‘The magic was the most powerful I’d ever seen. I was cured immediately.’
I stroke my irritatingly smooth chin. ‘And you think we can do the same for Tink? Write her a new page – one where she doesn’t die?’
‘Yes. It’s the only chance we have.’
‘Well then,’ I say, picking up my splintered sword at the approaching sound of running feet. ‘Let’s give the rest of the Lost Boys some firm directions home, then go and rescue your semi-aquatic girlfriend …’