"Only for a few hours", had promised Jane when she had been invited to go out that night. It was now well over three in the morning, and she was questioning her capacity to maintain her decisions firmly.
"Now, don’t tell me that you’re sorry you came!", exclaimed Thomas as they were wandering blindly in the midst of the building’s shadowy figures, hoping to encounter her flat. "It was undoubetly the best night out of your life!"
"The best night out of your life, you mean", replied Jane as she decidedly corrected him. "D’you still have David’s number... Or was it Donny?"
"Daniel", sighed Thomas dreamily. "His name is Daniel. I still have his number well tucked in my wallet – and I have already done my best to learn it by heart." Jane couldn’t help but sigh. As an helpless romantic, Thomas had already learnt more than two dozens of phone numbers by heart, always hoping that they would belong to the love of his life. As for Jane herself, well – she couldn’t quite remember if she ever had found in her pocket a phone number accompanied ?? by the hope for a new meeting. She probably had lost them all, if it were ever the case.
However, she remembered accurately the strange sensation that she had felt that night.
A sensation that kept on repeating itself recently.
Eyes had fallen onto her that night. Sitting by the bar next to Thomas, she was ordering her second drink – a cocktail chosen randomly – and her vision was already playing some tricks on her; but not when it came to those eyes.
She knew those eyes. She had seen them in dreams, over and over again. And now, those eyes seemed to creep their way into her life repeatedly.
"Thomas – Thomas, look, quick"; and with her chin, she pointed towards the direction of the insistant gaze. Her friend had to look away from the object of his affections of the night – not without regret – and see what urgent matter required his expertise.
"Quick, tell me –" carried on Jane, "Can you see the person with blue eyes, out there? Please, tell me that I’m not dreaming and that he’s looking at me with the same intensity that you look at a third of the people here tonight."
"Where – Oh! Right, him, I guess. He’s staring at you quite vividly, I reckon. Do you know him?"
It took Jane a moment before she dared to utter a thought that had been gnawing on her for quite some time.
"I know him?" she whispered.
He came from a dream. He couldn’t be here.
"Snap me out of this." And so Thomas did, snapping his fingers before her nose, without waking her up from a strange and dazed dream as she had expected. "But... – it’s not possible". Rather tipsy, Jane managed to stand up from her stool, almost causing it to fall down, and ignored the suprised look that Thomas gave her. She had to see him. She had to be certain. Tottering onto her high heels, Jane tried to find her way amongst the sea of people which blurred her vision and hid away the mysterious eyes. But she had to keep going – she needed to get closer, to make sure... He was calling her – those eyes, beckoning. One more step – he was still so far away, and the crowd, smothering her... – One more step...
A man collided with her – she looked away. One second only. By the time she set back her focus onto her goal, the eyes had vanished.
He was gone. Impossible to find. The gigantic room, drowned under the crowd and the sweat and alcohols of all kinds, had engulfed the memory which had been so clear a second ago.
When Jane came back towards Thomas, he had already forgotten about it all, being too busy finding a way to get closer to the dance floor. It took Jane three more drinks to shake off the cold shivers which ran along her back in this suffocating room.
She wished she could confide in to Thomas; to admit that, until this evening, she had believed she was was suffering from delirious visions caused by loneliness mixed with alcohol. She wanted to tell him that these eyes – those eyes that she had seen that night, she had been constantly seeing them around her lately. When her friend had confirmed that her vision was indeed not playing any tricks on her, she believed she might have fainted. But Thomas was too far from sobriety, and, unlike her, far too joyous, for her to imagine launching a conversation of this type. And how could she announce, in her current state or not, that she had had visions of a man whom she had only met in what sometimes appeared to be but a long and feverish dream?
She kept quiet for the rest of their walk home, allowing her friend ramble away about his fantaisies, which were all about marrying his sixth crush of the year. She merely looked down at the concrete running underneath her feet, imagining instead the white sand of Neverland carressing the tip of her toes.
Jane finally arrived home, feeling much more exhausted than when she had first seen the memory of James Hook coming back to her. Just as the different pieces of her life started to fit in perfect order, blue and piercing eyes, so familiar, had come in, and were questionning her certitudes.
She had just signed her first contract, and her book was about to be re-edited in a new print twice as much as important as the first. And she caught herself daydreaming about living fully again: the comfort of her flat seemed to suffer from the lack of companionship. Maybe a roomate; or maybe a boyfriend, if she could feel up to it one day. Days came and went; and, soon, five years would have passed since she had woken up onto her parent’s dewy lawn one early morning. She had managed to get a fresh start from her life in Neverland; she had hoped she could do the same with James Hook. Yet, whenever she met someone worthy of interest – according to her relatives – she couldn’t feel anything but deception. Those men that she met could be perfect in every way... they weren’t James. They simply weren’t him.
She was coming back from another fruitless date when he first appeared to her, like a vivid memory claiming to gain back some rights onto her current life.
She was making her way amongst the crowd on a sunny Saturday afternoon, eager to come home and forget about the disappointment written onto the face of the young man she had agreed to drink with – merely because a colleague had insisted upon it. She had paid for the drinks and had left as soon as possible. Stopping in front of a showcase for a moment, she was putting back in order some strands of hair which had escaped from the bun on top of her brow. Looking at her reflection and beyond her shoulder, she noticed a distant figure. A figure she knew only too well, for having been mesmerized by it way too many times. Heart beating fast, Jane had turned around – too fast. She collided with a woman who was passing by, and once she had done apologizing, the figure had been long gone.
She had then come home, hoping to find some distraction admist the pages of a novel or in her work, but she had found herself perambulating in her living-room, constantly stopping in front of her window for a few instants before carrying on her aimless walk. And each time she did, a new memory of Neverland came back to her. As if a toxic substance obstructed her senses, she could only think of him. James Hook was back into her life, whether real or not, as if punishing her for having tried to forget him.
Five times more did the silhouette of James Hook appear to her in the same enigmatic ways. In the streets, in parks, in her life. And, each time, he disappeared, too quickly for her to be able to even think about what she would say to him, if she could reach him.
It was now about five in the morning; from the ajar window came the first mirthful bird chirps of the day. Decidedly spread out onto her sofa, Jane could not bring herself to sleep; too many thoughts were spinning in her mind. Grabbing a book next to her, she set herself to the task of distracting herself. Five minutes later, however, she thrust it back in its original place with violence and frustration, when she had realised that words were streaming under her eyes without making any sense. She couldn’t help it: again and again, her thoughts found their way back to James. She could not accept him into her life; not when she didn’t have any tangible proof that he was indeed back. She had come so far, without being held back by regret and melancholy... Should she abandon herself and become once again whom she had been years ago – a young girl, incapable to keep her feet on the ground, always dreaming her life away instead of seizing the opportunities that life spread evidently before her?
Absorbed in her reflexions, Jane didn’t feel her limbs get heavier with dullness; slowly, memories and reality intertwined amongst the soft lull of her slow breathing.
Half-awake and slowly losing herself in the comfortable numbness of her dream, Jane saw James Hook before her: she could make the most of his features beneath the misty veil of her vision. It was but a dream, but she tried, in her stupor, to lift her hands to him: her body didn’t obey, but she was certain that she had managed it... Otherwise, how could he have taken her hands into his? Half-closed eyes hid away the reality, but nothing mattered... Nothing, safe for the soft touch of his fingers against hers. She could be dreaming; in dreams, every boundaries were allowed to fall... And, for the first time since so long, Hook wasn’t this distant silhouette walking away from her on the shore... For the first time, she could feel his warm body, so close to hers...
Torpor had entirely claimed her; in her dream, inconscious words slipped from her lips. She was calling him: she wanted him by her side, real, for the rest of her life.
"James... Don’t leave me..." Each word came muffled from her limp lips, yet she suprised herself by expecting an answer. And, out of the dream, it came.
"I am here, Jane."
But he couldn’t be here. It was only part of the dream, wasn’t it? And yet...
The confused state in which she was in, between dreams and reality, confined her senses. Yet, the warm connexion of his fingers with hers was still here... And, once again, the voice sounded; more distinctly; more real.
She oppened her eyes.
Hook was here. On one knee before her, he stared at Jane, unfathomable. And still, her hands were held in his.
She wanted to stand; to open her mouth, to speak... She would have wanted to cry out, to scream, to react: but she could do nothing else but take his hand between hers. His blue eyes lowered towards it: she was allowing her fingers to travel along his arm, tracing the countour of each of his veins, each of his scars. Each contact confirmed his presence before her. Keeping silent, he observed the path taken by this hand, gliding with delicacy along his skin, worked up by the harsh wind of the sea. Then, at last, she looked up at him.
Silence filled the room.
They met; in an instant; in a kiss. If she had doubted about his presence until now, nothing could make her doubt at this moment. His hot lips kept on meeting hers; yet, already, the fear of loosing them seized Jane: she would claim them again, with the fervor of their last moments. James was with by her side. Every thing made sense again.
Then, after an infinite moment, they broke away – softly – their brows were still touching. Jane’s fingers gripped the fabric of his coat, tracing idely the contour of the golden embroidery decorating his collar.
"How?" started Jane, trying to conceal the shakiness of her voice. "How did you find me, James?" he stared at her with his clear gaze before answering.
"When I came back from this fight against Conroy –" he stopped for an instant, as he caught Jane looking at him with worried eyes – "We won. He will be a source of trouble no more", he reassured her, with a rude tone imprinted with obvious bitterness towards their common enemy. "Once I came back from the fight, I immediately looked for you on the shore. As I understood you were gone, Jane – I knew that the worst had happened."
"I’m sorry – I haven’t been able to defend myself, I didn’t act quickly enough –" Hook raised his hand to her lips, calming her agitation.
"It took me weeks to find Pan – I promptly learnt about what he had done to you. That he had carried you away – away from Neverland. I have always sworn that I would have no rest lest Pan died; this utmost infamy only renewed this desire for revenge. Rage consumed me – some of my men paid the price –" Jane cast a reproaching look at him, but allowed him to continue. "Soon, I understood that I had to harness this rage and put it to good use. For months, I looked for means to find you. It was only by capturing one of Pan’s fairies that I managed to find a way back to you."
Hook fell silent, and already, hundreds of questions were rushing at the tip of Jane’s tongue.
"I had lost all hope to see you again. To see Neverland again... I was gone for so long, James –" She cut her sentence short, avoiding to confess that she had attempted to forget about him many times; to lessen the pain of being away from him. But, with a swift perspicacity that Jane knew too well, Hook had understood.
"I arrive late; possibly too late... Ought I worry about any another suitor? The young man who escorted you this evening, by any chance?"
Jane’s eyebrows almost disappeared into her hairline. Her mouth formed an "o" of shock and suprise before she replied, pretending to be offended beyond words:
"Thomas is only my best friend! But I’m relieved to see I wasn’t mistaken... You kept on haunting me, lately. I’ve been seeing you everywhere, like a shadow following me around! How much longer did you intend to conceal your presence from me?"
As usual, Hook had a sly smile before replying.
"If you hadn’t tried to approach me this evening, I would have sworn I had no more importance to you – that you had forgotten about me entierly, cruel vixen that you are." Jane’s grip onto his collar got tighter as she affected a half-amused and half-menacing look. He carried on, a faint sign of malice in his eyes. "Do no think that my pride has been tarnished so that I would kneel back to a woman in order to reconquer her heart. Should your affections have fluttered to someone else, it was but my mission to evaluate the forces of my competitor before anything else..." He layed his hand upon hers, loosening it from his collar with ease, before exchanging a knowing glance with Jane. A smile appeared on her feature, and she replied, any trace of anger in her voice vanished:
"I am glad that this competitor doesn’t exist... Otherwise, he would have had quite something to worry about. I would have broken his heart right after you would have broken his nose."
"Is mine safe from your wrath?"
Jane paused for a second before asking, puzzled:
"Do you mean your heart, or your nose?" Hook smiled, his fingers toying with her auburn strands.
"Both, I am afraid." Jane repressed a soft laugh.
"You would be most distressed if you didn’t suffer my wrath from time to time... I’m afraid I cannot guarantee the safeness of your nose, my dear." However, she propelled herself onto the tips of her toes to lay down another kiss onto the pirate’s lips, who was only obliged to respond with the same amount of eagerness.
"You’re coming home with me?" did he finally ask, after a moment of delicious silence.
Naturally, both of them already knew the answer.