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Alone and Unloved no More - Part 12

three more chapters to go! YOU'VE MADE IT THIS FAR, YOU CAN DO IT



Chapter 12 – Very cold Weather

 

            The next morning she woke up on the beach, Hook snuggled closely by her. Smee had awoken them, telling them that the crew had been searching everywhere for them.

            Hook stood up and helped Ashanti up. They linked arms and traveled back to the campsite with Smee leading the way. They found the others dividing the food for breakfast, and they walked over and sat down. After breakfast they all lounged around, very, very bored. Hook finally stood up.

            “I’m going to go explore. Anyone wishing to come, come,” he stood up. Immediately everyone stood up. He smirked. “Well, good. Let’s go.” He led the way through the forest. Ashanti ran up beside him, grabbing his arm. She glanced back at Joshua, who was walking along the stone wall. She looked back to Hook and gave him a slight smile.

            “Any idea where we’re headed?” she asked.

            “None at all, love. But I’m bloody bored, so we might as well get out,” he replied, smirking at her. She blinked.

            “Well, we could always camp out on the beach,” she said. He blushed.

            “Erm… Sounds good to me,” he said uncertainly.

            She smiled. “Don’t flatter yourself, you idiot. I didn’t mean it like that,” she said, “I meant that we could keep watch. With the other pirates…?” He chuckled nervously. She shrugged slightly, then leaned her head on his shoulder.

            A while later they came to another river, but it was much larger and more violent than the last. Ashanti detached herself from Hook and walked over to the edge. A while down she could see some light rapids. She looked back up to the other side, where there was a twenty foot waterfall spewing out of a large cave in the rock wall. She glanced back at the crew, smiling a bit.

            “Cross it or climb it?” she asked. All eyes were turned to Hook.

            “Cap’n, it’s your call,” Smee said. Hook glanced from the other side of the bank, which was turning to brown grass, so there was something causing the grass to rot. On the other hand, there was a cave that he could easily climb up and explore. He sighed. As much as he would have loved to explore the cave, he knew that the kids (And Joshua, obviously) would have trouble climbing up the wall. He pointed to the other side.

            “We’ll cross the river,” he said, walking over to the bank. He stepped back, then ran and jumped over.

            “Why jump?” Ashanti asked.

            “Just try and walk across,” Hook said. Ashanti glanced at him, then took a step into the river. The force of the water almost caused her to topple over. She took a step back, her eyes wide. He smiled at her.

            “Oh,” she said, “That’s why. That river is stronger than it looks!” He nodded in agreement. She glanced at the crew, then stepped back, ran for it, and jumped over the river. She looked back at the crew. “Come on!” she said. The crew and the kids jumped over, and Hook led the way towards the brown grass. After a few steps the forest abruptly ended, and they stumbled out onto a large field of rocks. Large, smooth stones covered with seagulls. Everyone looked around.

            “Birds?” Ashanti asked suddenly. Hook took a step forward, then all of the sudden the kids ran out. The others ran for cover as hundreds of seagulls took off into the sky.

            “Darn those kids and their natural curiosity!” Hook said as they crowded into a small alcove and watched the sky cloud over with birds. The children ran around, yelling at the seagulls. Hook looked to his left. Joshua was right there, paying no attention to him whatsoever. He looked to his right, where Ashanti was. As soon as the seagulls were gone, they all filed out and continued down the rocks, which were surprisingly slippery. Some of the kids had scuffed their knees or hands from falling over, but they were fine. Ashanti shielded her eyes and looked out towards the water. It was clear and flat for miles, not a ship in sight. She turned back towards the island, looking up at the wall, then straight ahead quick enough to see a ditch directly in front of her.

            After she narrowly avoided falling in, she looked at Hook, who was looking down at the ground, searching for ditches. She looked back at the crew, who were looking around. She sighed. Far out in front of her she could see the forest start back up.

            A while later they came to the other side, and the forest started back up, a nice change from the hot rocks. Hook looked around, then walked into the forest. Everyone followed. Soon enough they came to a strange sight. A large crack in the ground, big enough for a person to fall in. And that’s exactly what happened. Hook stopped to look down it, and Joshua bumped into his back, thus both of them fell in, screaming. Ashanti stared down the hole, horror-stricken.

            “No!” she yelled, “HEY!!” The others grabbed her by the arms to keep her from falling in. Their yelling subsided, replaced by a thud. Everyone fell silent. “… Hey!” Ashanti yelled.

            “… Ow…” came the faint echo of Hook’s voice.

            “Are you okay?!” she yelled. Silence for a moment.

            “I’m fine, love, but Joshua here has some pretty bad head-trauma!” he yelled.

            “How deep is it?” she asked.

            “No! No, don’t jump in!” Hook yelled, “The walls are really sharp and there’s nothing but gravel and pools of sea water down here!”

            She blinked. “Is there any way to get out?” she asked.

            Silence. “… There are some tunnels, but that’s all I see,” Hook yelled. Ashanti looked around. “I’m going to see if I can get out!” Hook yelled. She sighed.

            “Hurry!” she yelled, and sat down about five feet away from the crack. The others sat down, as well, and all they could do was wait.

            Hook had sat up and was now looking around. Joshua was laying on the ground beside him, holding his head and moaning. Blood dribbled between his fingers. Hook himself had several cuts from the sharp walls, but none were as bad as Joshua’s head. Hook stood up.

            “I’m going to try and get out,” he told Joshua, who gripped harder on his hair, “Can you stand?”

            “It’s my head, mate, not my legs,” Joshua grunted, standing up. He removed a piece of cloth from his waist and tied it around his head. Hook nodded slightly, then walked over to one of the tunnels. After walking around several, he found one that he could hear the ocean through.

            “I’m going through this one,” he said, pointing to it, “You can go whichever way you want.” And with that, he left. Joshua followed, shrugging. It was very dark and musty and wet, and occasionally they heard something slither up the walls. Hook trudged on, silent. He had no desire to talk with Joshua at all. Unfortunately, Joshua was thinking otherwise. And equally as unfortunate was what he wanted to talk about.

            “So, mate, did you and Ashanti, you know… do it… last night?” he asked.

            Hook blushed and tried to act nonchalant. “What are you talking about?” he asked.

            “It’s just that Ashanti left camp last night, and you weren’t there, and Smee found you two on the beach… It all adds up,” Joshua said, shrugging in the darkness.

            Hook scoffed. “It’s none of your business, but no,” he said, “we didn’t.”

            “Ah,” Joshua said slyly, and smirked, “Sure…”

            “You can think what you want, mate, but at least I know I’m telling the truth,” Hook said, extending his foot far out in front of him. It hit a wall. He walked to the left, but there was another wall. He went to the right, where it was open. The sound of the ocean was getting louder.

            “Ashanti’s a pretty girl, mate,” Joshua said suddenly.

            Hook blushed again. “Yes. She is,” he said, not wanting to continue on the subject at all.

            But Joshua did. “She’s pretty tenderhearted, isn’t she?” he asked.

            “Yes,” Hook said, “Why are you asking me all this?”

            “No reason,” Joshua said.

            “Then shut up,” Hook said. Joshua did so. Suddenly heard water splash under his ankles. He looked up. “I think we’re getting closer,” he said. Joshua said nothing. He continued walking, extending his leg far out in front of him, until he could see that the tunnel was growing a bit lighter. He looked around. The tunnel curved to the right again. He followed it until he could see that the orb of white light at the end. He smiled. “I am a genius,” he whispered to himself. They followed the light until they stumbled out the end, to a white sanded beach and palm trees. Joshua took the cloth off from his head and looked at it. It was covered in blood. Hook examined it.

            “It’s doesn’t look deep, but you might want to put some pressure on it,” he said. Joshua tied the cloth around his head again, tighter. Hook looked around the beach. “ASHANTI!!” he yelled. No answer. He turned around. The cave they had come out of was very large, and looked almost man-made. Behind it was some grass and forest. He walked towards it, Joshua following close behind. “ASHANTI!!” he yelled again. Still no answer. Thankful to be in the shade, he turned back towards the beach. “ASHANTI, COME TO THE BEACH!!” he screamed, and sat down. Joshua sat down as well. They both watched the beach. Hook slouched. “Where is she…?” he asked, mostly to himself. They stayed there until dark, then Hook decided to make a fire.

            It was silent. Hook and Joshua didn’t talk to each other at all unless Hook needed help with the fire. But besides that the only sound was the crackling of the fire and the tide. Hook curled up and stared at the orange flames, wondering where Ashanti was, and why she hadn’t responded to his calls.

            In fact, she was thinking the same things as she sat above the ravine, staring straight in front of her. She readjusted herself and looked back towards the crew, who were lounging around or sleeping. She looked around, only now noticing that it was dark. She huddled up and looked up at the sky.

            “Where are you…?” she asked. Smee walked over and sat down next to her.

            “It’s alright, lassie, I’m sure he’s okay,” he said. She sighed and looked down at her feet.

            “I’m sure he is, too, it’s just…” She groaned. “I’m just worried about him…” she said, huddling up closer to herself. Smee crawled over and looked down. “I want to go down there and find him…”

            “Then why don’t you?” he asked.

            “Because he said it was dangerous… He said that the walls were sharp,” she muttered. Smee looked over towards the right. The ravine grew wider.

            “Maybe you could go down over there,” he said, pointing. She looked over.

            “… Maybe…” she said, “But I’m kind of scared of jumping…” she said. He nodded.

            “I suppose…” he said. He backed away from it. Ashanti laid down, waiting and watching, and feeling very, very lonely.

            The night passed very slowly, for Ashanti and Hook. In fact, everyone except Hook and Ashanti slept. Finally daytime came over the island, and Ashanti eagerly waited for the  other pirates to wake up.

            Hook stared up at the lightening sky, his forget-me-not blue eyes wide. He sighed and sat up, then walked over and kicked Joshua in the side. Joshua sat up quickly and looked around.

            “What, what? What is it?” he asked.

            “Get up, we’re going,” he said, “We need to look for the campsite.” Joshua staggered up to his feet and looked around, rubbing his eyes.

            “Alright, mate, right,” he said, nodding, “But how do we find them?”

            “We’ll just travel along the beach till we find the raft, and we can follow the river up to our campsite,” Hook said. Joshua nodded and followed Hook along the beach.

            They traveled for hours, all the while Joshua whining about how hot it was, or how hungry he was, or how thirsty he was getting. The thirst Hook could agree with, but everything else was just annoying.

            “You know, I really think it’s dangerous for us to be out here like this in the sun, mate,” Joshua said, “Especially with this injury in my head and all.”

            “Shut up…” Hook grumbled.

            “And I think we should find some water, or we may suffer dehydration…”

            “Please shut up…” Hook said, a bit louder.

            “Or some food. Maybe a mango, or an apple? I could really go for a mango right now.”

            “Shut up, will you?!” Hook yelled. Joshua shut his mouth, but looked grudging. Hook sighed and kept going, looking out for the raft.

            He was very surprised when night fell. Or at least, he thought it did. Instead, the clouds grayed over and rain began falling. He slouched and shook his head, but continued anyway. And the rainfall only intensified Joshua’s whining.

            “Oh, now it’s raining! I hate the rain!” he cried. Hook shook his head angrily. Joshua continued ranting and ranting as the rain intensified. Finally Hook had enough. He shoved Joshua into a tree and put his hook to the young man’s throat.

            “Listen to me. Listen to me. If you don’t shut up soon I will tear your voice-box straight out of your mouth, do you hear me?!” he yelled, his eyes turning an almost unnoticeable hue of purple, “And don’t think I won’t. Do you understand?”

            “Yes!” Joshua said, “I do.”

            “Good. Now shut up,” he said. He pushed Joshua into the tree and walked away, grumbling to himself.

            Ashanti led the way back towards their regular campsite. And if it wasn’t already slow, the rain hindered their progress more. They finally reached the campsite, where the waterfall and the river were raging. Ashanti, for now the leader, had them sit farther back from the river than usual, and still they waited.

            Hook and Joshua were finding it harder and harder to trudge through the sand, which was quickly turning to muck. They moved up to the grass, but it did little good. Their shoes were still covered in mud. Hook was hating this more and more. He could barely see through the haze and water dripping from his lashes, and the sea was just churning more and more. He was surprised to see how quickly the sea could turn from blue to black. He gingerly touched the scarf around his neck, which was tied in a loose knot to keep from falling off. His heart ached to think about Ashanti, and how worried she must have been. But thinking about her just caused him to quicken the pace.

            He was getting thirsty. He looked back towards Joshua, who had stopped walking and was opening his mouth, catching rain water. Hook rolled his eyes, but the temptation to do that himself was nagging at the back of his brain. He shook his head.

            “Keep going,” he said, resuming his walk. Joshua followed. The sky was almost dark enough to be nighttime now, if only they hadn’t woken up three hours ago. Hook hoped that the lantern on the raft would be on.

            He hoped…

            By the time the storm had cleared up it was sunset, and Hook was almost angry at the island for being so big. They walked until their feet ached so much they couldn’t walk anymore, then made another fire and rested. Again Hook and Ashanti got very little sleep, and again they passed the night staring at the sky.

            The next morning Hook got up early, and woke Joshua with a kick, as usual. Their feet still ached terribly, but they had no choice. And of course, as if the island just hated Hook or something, more rain came their way. It wasn’t quite as violent as the day before, but it was still enough to get them drenched within seconds. Joshua repeated his act of catching rainwater in his mouth, and Hook was again tempted. But his stubbornness prevented him from doing so, in fear that he would look less like a captain.

            They stomped through the muck in total silence. Even if they wanted to talk, the wind was too loud to hear over unless they yelled. So they said nothing. Finally Hook saw a faint orange dot flickering in the darkness.

            “The lantern!” he said quietly, and took off towards it without waiting for Joshua, who saw it as well. They both ran as quickly as possible while trying not to get stuck. Soon they found the usually narrow river, which had now turned into a three-foot-long monster. Hook walked across it to the other side and followed it, climbing up the rock wall, and running through the forest. “Ashanti!” he yelled.

            Ashanti, who had been trying to sit underneath a large leaf and out of the rain, looked around. “Captain?” she asked quietly. She heard a faint rustling, as though Hook was trying to make as much noise as possible.

            “Ashanti! Smee!” he yelled. Ashanti stood up.

            “Captain?” she called.

            “Ashanti!” Hook yelled again. He suddenly emerged from the forest, dripping wet, slightly muddy, and a bit bloodied up.

            “Captain!” Ashanti cried. She dropped the leaf and ran over, leaping onto him. He hugged her tightly, burying his face in her shoulder.

            “Ashanti…” he murmured. Joshua stumbled out, looking pretty much the same as Hook, except for the cloth around his head. Ashanti ran over and hugged him as well.

            “You’re safe!” she said, finally saying something else. Joshua blushed. Ashanti separated herself and went back to Hook. “Tell me everything!” she said, “What happened? Where did you go?” Hook hugged her gingerly around the shoulders, then pushed her away and wiped her face.

            “I will, as soon as we get Joshua’s head taken care of,” he said, kissing her on the forehead. She smiled.

            “I’m so glad you’re okay,” she said, setting her hand on his chest, “I was so worried…”

            “So was I,” he said, smiling a bit. She kissed him on the neck. She walked over and grabbed Joshua by the arm, pulling him over to the river. She kneeled down, as did he, and took the cloth off of his head. He began dousing it with water as she rinsed off the cloth as best she could. Once they were finished they sat down and Hook told them about what had happened.

            By the time he was finished the rain had significantly let up, and they were hoping no more would curse them for a while. Hook and Ashanti went down to the beach and sat on the beach, watching their raft. Hook sighed, thankful that it was quiet again. He slouched forward, with one leg up and resting his chin on his knee. Ashanti wrapped her arm around his arm, leaning her head on his shoulder. He sighed again.

            “I’m worried, love,” he said. She nuzzled him.

            “Why?” she asked. He shook his head.

            “It’s just… On that raft… How in the world are we going to get off this island?” he asked.

            “… It got us to the island, didn’t it? I’m sure it could get us off. The question is: When do we want to go?” she asked.

            “As soon as I sleep. I’m so tired… I didn’t get a wink of sleep,” he said.

            “Neither did I,” she said, yawning. He looked at her, slowly wrapping his arms around her.

            “And after we sleep, we eat and drink, then we get off this island,” he said.

            “Sounds good to me,” she said. He pushed her to the ground and laid his head on her chest, closing his eyes. She closed her eyes as well, gently stroking his hair. Soon both of them were asleep.

            Hook had no idea how much time had passed, but it was sunny now. A few gray clouds still hung in the sky. He could feel Ashanti’s fingers twisted in his hair, and he could feel warm sand underneath him, and he could feel the last of the rainwater drying up in the sun. He sat up, carefully untangling Ashanti’s delicate little fingers from his hair, and looked at her. With nothing to support her hand, it fell limply on her stomach. Hook took a few strands of her sand-covered, blue-gray hair and held it. She twitched a bit, then opened her eyes. Scarcely moving her head, she looked at him.

            “Captain…?” she murmured. He smiled at her, but said nothing. “Are you rested?”

            “Yes,” he said at length. With a stretch and a yawn, she sat up, fixing his hair where her fingers had knotted it.

            “I’m ready to get off this island when you are,” she said softly. He sighed.

            “Right after I eat. I haven’t eaten anything since I fell down that ravine,” he said. They stood up.

            “Then let’s get something to eat,” she said. They climbed up the wall and made their way back to the campsite. Hook issued out the two groups again, one with himself and one with Joshua, and they left Ashanti with the kids. When they came back, Ashanti washed the fruit and they all ate as Hook explained the plan.

            When they were all done, they all made their way back to the raft and climbed on. Hook and a few others pushed the raft into the water and they let the wind take over. Suddenly Ashanti noticed that they weren’t moving with the wind at all. Instead they were moving away and slightly to the right. She decided not to bring this up, though. This raft was strange enough already.

            Soon enough she saw what they were headed to: A huge island in the distance, clouded over with fog. She gasped. She didn’t know if Hook had realized it yet, but she knew which island it was. It was Neverland. She glanced at Hook, who was examining it as much as everyone.

            “… Ashanti, is that… Neverland…?” he asked. She looked out to the horizon, tipping her head.

            “Maybe,” she said, “Looks like it, I suppose…”

            “It is,” he said slowly. She looked concernedly at him.

            “What should we do?” she asked, setting her hand on his shoulder. He was silent for a few moments.

            “Nothing,” he said, leaning back, “We’ll just sit here and wait.” She sighed and leaned her head on his shoulder.

            Again they gained speed until they almost fell off, and they were at Neverland by the time darkness fell. The raft didn’t even slow down. It just skidded right onto the island. Everyone got off and looked around. Hook sighed, touching the scarf around his neck.

            “Back on Neverland, eh, love?” he asked. She touched his arm again, an obvious sign that she wanted to help and comfort him.

            But she couldn’t think of anything to say except, “I’m sorry.” He smiled a bit.

            “Ah, love, it’s alright,” he said, touching her cheek. He dropped his hand to his side and looked up around the island, until his eyes fell on a shape in the background. His eyes widened. Ashanti looked back. She could see, as well, the silhouette of a ship. She looked back towards him. He smiled and took a step towards it. “It’s the Jolly Roger…” he said slowly. He ran towards it. She ran after him.

            “What? But how?” she asked.

            “I have no idea, but she’s here! She’s really here!” he cried, running faster. She had to sprint to keep up.

            “Wait!” she yelled. She tackled him. For a moment the crew watched as they wrestled on the ground. “Stop it! Stop it and listen to me!”

            “But, love, it’s the Jolly Roger!” he yelled, crawling away. She held on tighter.

            “Listen to me!” she yelled, “This doesn’t seem right! I don’t think that’s the Jolly Roger!” He calmed down slowly, panting. She crawled over and held tightly around his chest. “I don’t think that’s the Jolly Roger,” she said again.

            “Alright, alright, love,” he said, pushing her off, “Let me, at least, go look. I need to see if, it’s not the Jolly Roger, which she is.” He stood up and began walking towards it. She followed. Soon they were at the ship, which Hook climbed up onto as the crew stayed on the beach and watched.

            “I really don’t think this is the Jolly Roger, captain!” Ashanti yelled.

            “Has a remarkable resemblance,” Smee said thoughtfully. Ashanti shuddered. Hook had been gone for a few moments, and now he came back up to the balustrade, tears rolling down his cheeks.

            “It’s the Jolly Roger!” he cried, and disappeared again. She sighed and walked into the water until she came to a rope.

            “Who could possibly love a ship that much?” she asked as she prepared to climb up. Smee, who had appeared beside her, shrugged.

            “I think the ship has been with him for years, lassie… But I’m not sure. You’d have to ask him,” he said. She sighed again and climbed up, to find Hook sitting against the mast, curled in a ball, his knees at his head, his arms around his legs, his face hidden.

            “It’s the Jolly Roger,” he was saying to himself. The crew and the kids, who had not been here before, looked around at the glorious ship. Ashanti, having nothing to do, walked over to Hook and sat down beside him.

            “It’s nothing to cry over,” she said. He looked up and wiped his eyes. She grabbed his hand and turned a bit, so she could wipe a stray tear.

            “I love this ship so much, love,” he said, “She’s my best friend.” Ashanti smiled sincerely.

            “How long have you had her?” she asked.

            “As long as I can remember, love,” he said, looking at her. She put her hand on his face. He leaned forward, kissing her on the lips. She leaned back, but by no means let go. Suddenly Joshua kicked Hook in the ribs.

            “Hey, get a room, mate,” he said, smirking. Hook looked around and stood up, blushing. He pulled Ashanti up and wiped his eyes. He kissed Ashanti on the cheek and looked out to the island. Ashanti looked around, then caught sight of Smee in the kitchen and walked over.

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