This is a Too Old for Neverland story.
Summary: They were too old for Neverland, those lost scarred souls that balanced on the edge of Growing Up.
They were too old for Neverland, those lost scarred souls that balanced on the edge of Growing Up. The runaways, the cast-offs, the stumbling death of innocence and faith. They were his Lost children, and he gathered them home.
He was too old for names, but they always tried to squeeze him into one. He wasn’t sure what comfort it gave them, none had ever fit him well. Old man, Peter, Gabriel, and once Ford Prefect, although that boy had been laughing when he said it. The young had no grasp over the power of names.
A soft crescendo of chimes from the radio brought his attention back, focusing on the here and now, drawn to the scruffy boy who watched the cars go by with calculating eyes. As they slowed and pulled over, Campana shivered and in a heartbeat she was dusty blue sedan, and always had been.
Safe, she sang. Comfort. Peace. The car knew somehow, to lure them closer with a soft mimicry of home. Feral and fae, she was his fair Campana just so long as it pleased her.
“Did you want a ride?” He had his own magic, a sympathetic twist much like the car. He looked familiar, comforting, a canny mimicry of someone they had trusted once. The boy eyed him, with frank assessment of the possible threat, then ambled over.
“A ride. I’m headed out on a cross-country trip and my partner called in sick. I just need an extra pair of eyes.” He didn’t take them all, only the ones who’d stepped past hope and were already on the long descent. “You don’t have to come the whole way, I just need help until I hit the interstate.” The others, he simply chatted with, passed on a few dollars to help them on their way and left. “I can pay, if you need it.”
“Where’re you going?”
There was the measuring look again, then that brief flash of sorrow in the eyes that signaled the end. The death of one life and the birth of another. He could almost see the last bits of home flake off and fade away. The boy was his now, as soon as he stepped into the car.
“Wait!” she came running from the alley, frantic in her haste. “Wait!” Brown haired, brown eyed, dressed in her perpetual faded jeans and battered t-shirt. Young enough for names, she’d sold hers for the chance to follow him.
He could feel the boy waver and snarled deep below the crest of hearing, the engine revving in sympathetic fury.
“Don’t go, please,” she came closer and the boy edged closer to the car.
“Why?” Skeptical and harsh, the boy was already his.
“You won’t come back.” She leaned a hand against the car and caught her breath, “They never come back.” Mortal eyes, tinged with something fae, made the boy pause one foot inside the car.
“Who says I want to?” the boy snorted “Got nothing to hold me here.”
“Nothing?” There was that proffered hope, the chance to step back over the hill. It shone, bright and searing and the car and driver dimmed before it. Home. Family. Remember.
“Nothing.” Flat and angry, a declaration against the world. Against the anguish of what was, instead of what could have been. His.
As the door closed, he grinned at her in predatory triumph. “You can’t win them all.”
“I can try.” She stepped back as he shifted out of park.
“Hey pops, are we going or not?” The boy kicked the back of His seat, glaring at the woman standing sadly outside.
With a whirr of windchime gears He left her there, the man who wasn’t Pan. And the woman who wasn’t Wendy watched him go. They’d met a thousand times before and they’d always meet again, as sure as starlight.