Chapter 13 – Poor, Lonely Hook
It was nighttime. Ashanti was having a terrible time trying to find sleep while wondering how the Jolly Roger had come to be in Neverland. She tossed and turned in her hammock, until she decided to go see Hook. She put on a pair of pants underneath her nightgown and walked out to the deck. It was cold and quiet, the only sound were some birds in the distance. As she crossed the deck she could have sworn she heard a clock ticking, but she shook it off. She walked up the stairs and knocked on the door of the captain’s quarters. There was a hysterical whimpering noise on the other side. Ashanti paused.
“Captain?” she asked, “Can I come in?”
“… Ashanti?” asked Hook from the other side, “Yes, come in! Please!”
Cautiously, she opened the door and walked in. She saw Hook sitting on the bed, his back to the window, bundled up in blankets. He smiled nervously at her.
“Ashanti,” he said breathlessly, “Lock the door.” She did as she was told and walked over.
“Hi,” she said slowly, “Are… you okay?” He nodded a bit, then shook his head.
“The croc,” he whispered, “The croc is here, Ashanti.” She raised an eyebrow.
“But… you killed the croc… didn’t you?” she asked slowly.
“That’s what I thought, too,” he said, “But… I just remembered… this is Neverland…” He looked panicked for a moment as he stared at the floorboards. Suddenly he looked at her. “Ashanti, it’s… it’s like we never left! The Jolly Roger is still here. The croc is still here. And Pan is still here,” he whispered.
Her eyebrows were drawn. “Then… don’t we just sail away again?” she asked.
He scoffed. “No,” he said, “We’ll just end up here again, and the croc will be here. Again. And everything will happen the same way. Again.”
“Then you have to kill the croc here? In Neverland?” she asked. He gave a nervous smile.
“Aye, but… I don’t know where to even begin to look…” he said. She listened intently for a moment. Sure enough, she heard the distant sound of a clock ticking. She looked at him. He smiled a bit at her. She walked over and pulled the covers away from his left side. She sat down beside him and bundled up with him. After a few agonizing moments of silence (Except, of course, for the clock), Hook began whimpering again. “I can’t believe this…” he muttered, “I just can’t… I thought I had killed him…” His voice trembled as much as his body. She put a comforting hand on his arm, once more.
“At least you’ve got the Jolly Roger back,” she suggested. He nodded a bit.
“Aye,” he said. It seemed that the ticking grew louder, and Hook cuddled up a bit closer to her, resting his head on hers. She put her arms around his waist and got comfortable. Somehow she figured this was going to be a long night. She could feel his heartbeat speeding up in fear. “Ashanti…” he said in a barely audible whisper, “I don’t like this… I really don’t.” She closed her eyes and gently touched his chest, which was covered in a loose, white shirt.
“It’s okay,” she said softly. After just a moment she felt him loosen up, and his heartbeat slow back down to normal. She gently pushed him back so that his head was on one of the many pillows. They readjusted the blankets so they were back to normal, and Ashanti acted vaguely as though she was going to head for the door.
“Are you leaving?” Hook asked worriedly, “Please don’t leave me…” She watched him, then shook her head.
“No. I’m not leaving,” she said. She lay down beside him and got under the blankets as well, cuddling beside him. “It’s okay,” she said again, getting comfortable, “I’m here.” Hook pulled the blankets up all the way to his shoulders, then turned and closed his eyes. Almost immediately Ashanti fell asleep, but for poor Hook it took a while. Though after some time worrying, he just fell asleep.
Ashanti woke up very warm and very happy. She opened her eyes and felt sunlight on her back, and she was cuddled up to something. That ‘something’ happened to be Hook, who was sleeping with a vaguely troubled expression on his face. Her head was resting on his shoulder, with her free hand draped on his chest. She was sleeping on her other hand. She felt Hook’s hand on her back, though he was sleeping on his back. For a moment she thought about moving, but then changed her mind. She readjusted herself so that blood could flow to her one hand, and just lay there, thinking.
So the croc was back. Brilliant… Something to worry about… But, at least he calmed down a bit when she was there. But the croc was back… That was a big deal. She knew they’d have to kill it soon, before things got too out of hand. And how the crap had he gotten back, anyway? Hook had killed him! But… crazier things had happened in Neverland, right?
… Not really…
Hook stirred a bit, and mumbled something in his sleep. Ashanti pushed herself up and looked at him.
“You awake?” she asked.
“… Peter… Pan…” he mumbled. She leaned forward and pressed her lips against his. For a moment he remained still, then he smiled. “Ashanti…” he said. She giggled sheepishly and returned to his side. He stretched and yawned, then finally opened his eyes. She smiled at him.
“Morning, sleepy-head,” she said. With some difficulty he sat up, bringing Ashanti with him.
“It’s morning?” he asked.
“Yes,” she said, leaning back a bit. He put his hand on hair and flattened it out. “So… How did you sleep…?” He looked at her
“Much better with you around,” he said, smiling sheepishly. She rubbed her eyes.
“Good,” she said. He grabbed her around the shoulders, pushing her down to the bed and kissing her.
“Thank you, love,” he said. She felt a tinge of panic in her brain, but it got pushed away with his sweet smile. She leaned forward and kissed him. She felt him touch her cheek, and he moved down her neck, to her shoulders. She pushed him away.
“Stop it,” she said quickly, “Stop it, stop it. You’re losing respect all over.” He sighed.
“Erm… Right… I’m sorry…” he mumbled, rubbing the back of his head. She climbed off the bed, a bit angry at him. Suddenly there was knock on the door. “Come in,” Hook said. The door rattled, then Hook remembered that it was locked. He stood up and unlocked it, opening it. It was Smee, of course.
“I’m guessing the lassie is with you, cap’n?” he asked, as Hook hadn’t opened the door far enough for him to see. He looked back to see Ashanti looking out the huge picture window.
“Aye,” he said, looking back to Smee, “that she is.”
“Alright then,” Smee said, “Just that, we woke up and couldn’t find her, so I checked here.”
“Well, she’s here, so go get breakfast ready. I’ll be right there,” Hook said.
“Aye, cap’n,” said Smee, and left. Hook closed the door, and hesitated. He turned around to see Ashanti sitting on the window seat, watching him. She was holding a pillow. After a moment, she put the pillow down and stood up. She walked over to him, her hands behind her back.
“Well, I’m hungry,” she said, “You?”
He nodded slowly.
“I think we should eat out on deck,” she said, “To celebrate you getting the Jolly Roger back.” He said nothing. “I’m going to get dressed.” She opened the door and walked out, smiling at him as she left. He closed the door behind her.
She walked out onto deck, only to find it bitterly cold. She looked at the island, which was frost-bitten. The deck was slippery and ice-covered, but she managed to make it across to the crew’s sleeping quarters. She bundled up in as much as she could and walked back out to the deck. She covered her cheeks with her sleeve-covered hands. She looked around. Hook walked out a moment later and shivered.
“It’s cold out here,” he said. He walked down the stairs and pulled his hair over his ears in an effort to keep them warm. He walked over to Ashanti. “Still want to eat out here?” he asked. She smiled and shook her head.
“No. How did it get so cold?” she asked.
“It’s the first day of winter, lass,” said Smee, appearing beside her.
“Ah,” she said, hugging herself. Hook looked around.
“But it’s freezing,” he said, “This must be the coldest winter yet.” Smee nodded.
“I suppose,” he said. Ashanti sighed.
“I hope you’re making hot food,” she said, “Is it ready yet?”
“Almost,” he said. Suddenly he looked worried, and hurried back to the kitchen.
“So… where do we eat, now?” she asked, turning to Hook.
“With the crew, or inside,” he said, “We’re not eating here.” She nodded.
“No,” she said, “It’s cold. I don’t care where we eat.”
“I’m eating in my room,” he said, “You can eat where you want, but I’m eating inside.” He turned and headed towards his bedroom. She followed him, then turned towards the kitchen. Smee bustled out with two plates and immediately handed them to her.
“Here you go, lassie,” he said, “Take that to the cap’n, will you?” She nodded and took a step back. Smee rung a bell quickly.
“Breakfast!” he cried. The crew and the kids bustled over to get some food. Ashanti stepped out of the way of the stampede, and quickly walked over to Hook’s bedroom. She pushed the door open with her foot and saw Hook clearing the table. She walked over and set the food down.
“Thank you, love,” he said. She walked over and closed the door before any cold air could get into the room. She paused.
“I’m eating in here,” she said. She walked over and sat down opposite him.
“I don’t think food has ever tasted this good…” he said, downing some rum. She smiled. “Ah, rum…” he said, “I love rum…”
She smiled and grabbed his glass, sipping some. She had never really liked rum too much, but she wanted some now. She couldn’t remember the last time she had had any. She set the glass back on his side of the table and went back to her food. She looked around. The silence was almost deafening.
“So…” she said, trying to get a conversation started, “Right back where we started…”
“Aye,” he said, “Back where we started.” She said nothing.
“So what do we do now?” she asked. He shrugged.
“Destroy Pan, destroy the croc… Those are pretty much my life’s goals,” he said. She raised an eyebrow.
“Alright,” she said, “What a boring life you must have led before I got here…”
He shrugged again. “Not really…”
“What did you do?” she asked.
“Well, Peter torments me pretty much every day, so I almost always have something to do,” he said. There was a loud crash outside. Hook nodded. “I imagine that’s him right now,” he said. He finished his breakfast, then stood up and walked towards the door, Ashanti watching him. He opened the door. Sure enough, Peter was outside pulling the railing off the stairs. “Hey!” Hook yelled, but didn’t go outside. It was too cold. Peter looked up.
“Hey! You’re back!” he said, smiling. Hook nodded.
“Aye,” he said, “I am. What are you doing?”
“Dismantling your ship!” Peter cried happily. Hook shook his head.
“Aren’t you freezing? Get off the ship and go home!” he said. Peter looked shocked. He had obviously been expecting gunfire of some sort. He continued pulling what he could of the railing off. Hook looked inside at Ashanti, who examined his eyes. In a split second she could tell what he wanted. She ran over to the far wall and grabbed a pistol, tossing it to Hook. Hook caught it and pointed it at Peter, cocking it. “Get off the ship,” he said.
Peter glanced at him unworriedly. “You don’t have the guts to shoot me,” he said, “You never have.” He pulled some railing off. Hook aimed carefully straight at the head of the accursed boy. One shot. That’s all it would take to kill him, and he would be out of Hook’s way forever. He hesitated for what seemed like hours. Why wasn’t he able to pull the trigger? Ashanti stood up and walked over.
“Captain?” she asked softly. She peeked out from behind the doorway and saw who Hook described as torturous to his being. He was only a boy! Maybe ten or eleven! She was shocked. A young boy is who cut off Hook’s hand and fed it to that croc? She looked at Hook, then took the gun and walked out onto the deck. “Get off the ship,” she said firmly. Peter looked up, then utterly shocked. Ashanti had the gun pointed directly at his forehead. “Get off the ship,” she said again, “Right now.”
“A lady?!” Peter said loudly. Ashanti set her finger on the trigger.
“I said get off the ship!” she said. Peter jumped away, hovering in the air for a moment.
“Hook, you’ve got a lady on board?” he asked, turning to Hook.
Hook stared at the boy, their gazes burning into each other. Hook strode over to Ashanti and grabbed the gun, hesitating no longer. He immediately pulled the trigger and fired straight at Peter’s head. Ashanti covered her ears and closed her eyes. When she opened them Peter was gone, leaving nothing but his mocking laugh for them. Hook looked around, readying another shot. Ashanti put her hand on his arm, listening intently. There was nothing but silence. Both of them looked towards the mast, and in the instance they did, Peter touched their shoulders.
“I brought a friend, Hook,” he whispered. Hook turned around and fired the gun haphazardly. Ashanti purposely fell to the ground to avoid the gunfire. But Peter was gone. Hook had fired at air. He stared, his eyes wide. Ashanti stood up and looked around, her cheeks pink in the cold.
“Is he gone?” she asked slowly. Hook looked at the rail, still holding the gun tightly. He walked down the stairs and picked up one of the pieces of wood.
“Why would he want to take apart the ship?” he asked. She shrugged.
“I don’t know…” she said. Suddenly there was a noise that Ashanti knew she was going to get tired of very soon. The sound of a clock ticking. Hook stood up and quickly cocked the gun, looking around and backing slowly towards his room.
“Where is he?” he asked. Ashanti grabbed Hook’s shoulders and looked around. She sighed, a bit annoyed at the stupid croc. Hook couldn’t possibly taste that good. She pushed him into his bedroom and onto his bed, taking the pistol and dropping it on the floor. He immediately scrambled to get under the covers. Ashanti grabbed his wrists and pinned them to the bed, sitting on his stomach to prevent him from moving.
“Calm down!” she yelled. He just continued whimpering, probably unaware that she had said anything at all. She grabbed his shoulders and put as much pressure on them as possible. He cried out in pain.
“Let me go!” he cried.
“No! Just calm down,” she said. He pushed her off of him and grabbed the covers, burying himself in them, and fell off the bed. Ashanti crawled over and untangled him just enough that she could see his face.
“Please don’t let him get me,” he said, “Keep him away.” She rolled her eyes and pulled him up onto the bed. He bundled up worriedly.
“It’s alright,” she said, stroking his forehead. He looked around. The best she could be right now would be comforting. She set his head in her lap and continued stroking his hair, listening intently to the tick-tock of the clock somewhere outside the ship. Hook kept whimpering, staring at the door as though the croc would burst in at any time. She sighed. “It’s alright. Nothing’s going to hurt you,” she said. She stared at the door.
“Ashanti,” he said gently, rolling over to face her. She looked down at him, her eyebrows drawn.
“Yes?” she asked.
He put his hand up on her face. His lips parted a bit – just a tiny bit! – His eyes were pleading for something… But it was hard to place. He closed his mouth, then whispered, “Thank you.”
She didn’t have the slightest idea what she was supposed to say. Not even the traditional ‘You’re welcome’ crossed her mind. Instead she nodded. “Okay,” she said reluctantly.
There was a look of self-disappointment in his eyes, but he was quickly snapped from his demeanor as the clock grew a bit louder. He sat up and looked around. The clock was still nearby. He opened the covers and she crawled over, sitting on his lap. He closed the covers again and they sat there, listening to the clock. It was fading in and out, as though it was getting closer and farther. When it got louder, she felt Hook’s heart speed up, and then slow down when it got quieter. Finally it got very loud, as though just outside the window, and Hook snuggled as closely as he could to Ashanti without choking her. And there it stayed. It didn’t fade out. Hook nuzzled his face into her hair. She could hear him whimpering quietly. She grabbed his hand tightly. “He’s right outside the window, love,” he whispered, his voice trembling slightly. She looked towards the window. She couldn’t see anything, but she could hear it right outside.
“I know,” she said. She leaned her head back and closed her eyes, trying not to think about the pressure Hook was putting on her ribs. He rested his head on her shoulder. She pulled his arm away from her chest and sighed in relief. He closed his eyes. “Why does he like you so much?” she asked.
“Maybe he likes the way I taste,” Hook said. She made a strange noise.
“Ew,” she said. He smiled.
“What?” he asked.
“You know what I mean,” she said, turning to him slightly. He looked at her as best he could. They both froze and listened intently. The clock had subsided reasonably, so Ashanti crawled away. However, she remained on the bed and turned to face him. He smiled thinly at her, a tiny, ghostly upturn of his lips’ corners. She returned it in a considerably brighter demeanor, attempting vainly to heighten his spirits. Instead he just pulled the covers around himself, so that he resembled something like a giant marshmallow with a head. Ashanti winced at that slightly creepy thought, but quickly brushed it aside. She refused to move, afraid that Hook might mistake her for leaving. Finally Hook let out a heavy sigh and sluggishly fell to his side. Ashanti sat up a bit straighter and smirked down at him. But he didn’t return it. He just stared straight forward. She took him in carefully, noting his empty expression. Finally, after what seemed like hours, Hook reached his hand out and pressed his icy cold fingers to the tiny portion of her exposed hip. She looked down.
“Your skin is purple there, love,” he said gently, the ticking of the clock still echoing somewhere nearby. For a moment she worried – purple skin couldn’t be good – then suddenly she remembered something.
“Oh,” she scoffed, pulling up her shirt a bit so she exposed her hip. There, permanently and proudly imprinted into her skin was an almost pitch black (Although in the sun it had a purplish tint to it) picture of a skull with cross-bones underneath it.
“A tattoo?” Hook asked, an earnest smirk playing his lips.
She let out a strange noise. “I forgot I had it,” she said.
“Really,” he said, “Even when you showered? You never noticed it?”
“What are you talking about, you pervert? The shower? But, no, I forget I have it a lot. I got it way back when I was sixteen,” she said. Hook looked bewildered.
“So, then, how long exactly have you been in love with pirates and all that?” he asked, his hand laying idly next to her. Without answering, she laid down next to him. He gladly welcomed her into his arms, warming his poor, lonely body almost immediately. He pulled the blanket over her, and she cuddled up in its warm embrace.
“For a long time, actually,” she said, “Probably since I was a baby…” She laughed almost inaudibly. She could barely remember her home. But those memories that were most precious to her refused to reside into darkness. So for the first time since she had come here she thought about her mother and father, and what they might be thinking. Hook urged her to continue with her story with a gentle nudge on the cheek. “I wasn’t a girl who was infatuated with becoming a princess or a damsel in distress,” she said, smiling to herself. “I was more interested with being a pirate. But I never even set foot on a ship until you found me. It’s almost ironic.”
Hook smiled gently, turning to his back and closing his eyes. He reluctantly let the smile slip away as he pushed himself up the bed more, so that his legs weren’t hanging off. Ashanti followed. Ashanti closed her eyes as well.
Neverland was terribly, terribly boring…