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Neverland

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CHAPTER ONE

Never say Neverland:

 

When the sun is out in the city you can see everything. The homeless men and women scavenging on the sidewalk, the children running in and out of side shops and boutiques with their parents not exceptionally far behind. The millions and millions of people going about their everyday lives unaware of the bustling new world around them; but most of all, what Quinn loves about this city, is that everyday she feels as if anything is possible. Because, New York City, more than any other place in the world, is the city of dreams.

She wears her leather bound oxford boots with waist high black jeans. Her shirt is an old seersucker blue, and comfortable. The sleeves rolled up around her forearms with the collar tucked down underneath her black leather jacket. A quick tuck of blonde hear behind her ear before she re-positions her knit cap over her side bangs carefully while she makes her way quickly down 64th and Broadway. The satchel at her side knocks loosely against her thigh as it swings with her forward motions. She can't help but smile as the sun peeks out over the city lights, while the morning ebbs.

There is a small bookstore on 66th, its small front filled to the brim with old classics and new treasures. There are old piano sheet notes, and violin maintenance guides. Quinn stops here whenever her time affords it, and like today – she most likely finds her way here at the break of morning, mid-stride on a weekend. The door jingles when she opens it, and she breathes in the deep smell of dust and rustic paper with an old nostalgia.

"Quinn, long time no see."

Andie is tall and thin; her glasses hang loosely across her freckled face. She's unmistakable with wild shoulder length curly brown hair, and penetrating light brown eyes. She has to be pushing forty, and while this bookstore isn't hers in name, it might as well be. Quinn catches her on a ladder, putting away old editions, and smiles slowly as she passes down the aisle – she leaves Andie with a soft reassuring pat of the leg as she nods in acquiescence.

"I know, too long I think…got any new books for me?"

Quinn trails her fingers lightly over spines of varying widths and age, brushing over embossed lettering as she scans the rows of literature, waiting patiently for Andie to give her a new lead.

"You know I always have something for you Quinn. You've been coming here religiously for the past five years…of course I could never let you go without."

Andie descends her ladder quickly, and Quinn smiles while she follows the taller woman down a smaller aisle toward the back of the store. The lighting is fairly dim, and the walking space has dwindled as the books have literally taken over residence here. She feels as though she's in a restricted section and raises an eyebrow – her love for Harry Potter obviously never lost. She follows quietly, trailing her fingers again against the novels and graphic books as they pass in silence.

"I've got the perfect little treasure for you Quinn. It just came in on a whim a few weeks ago, and I've been holding onto it for somebody special."

"And…how am I special Andie?"

Quinn laughs – and she watches as Andie finally stops her walking and reaches forward toward the aisle to their right. There are stacks and stacks of books surrounding them, and the brunette reaches for a pile, picking up a small journal in an enclosed leather case. The binding is dusty, and the book looks completely unremarkable as Andie blows air on it to clear the embossed lettering off of the cover. She raises an eyebrow in true fashion, and hands the book over quickly – her stance patient and waiting as Quinn simply calculates.

"Read that…and then tell me I haven't just handed over the best damn thing you'll ever find. You'll thank me later - for now, no questions. Take it home. Read it. Cherish it. It breaks my heart to give it away, but…when fate lays a hand it's better to shake it then to just stand there waiting for him to shake it first."

Quinn is even more confused as she turns over the leather bound black book in her pale fingers. It's small, no more than five inches or so in length, and she has the sudden temptation to open it; one small leather bound string at a time. That is until Andie snaps at her, and grabs the book out of her hands quickly, tucking it into the back pocket of her satchel before Quinn can take it back.

"Tsk, tsk…my only request? Wait until you get home, you'll savor it more. I promise. Now get out of my shop blondie. And no sneaking peaks until you're back in your ridiculously overpriced and unnaturally small and under furnished apartment, okay?"

"As you wish…god, you're weird sometimes."

Andie laughs – and Quinn can't help but smile as the older woman takes her by the shoulders and leads her out of the back towards the front exit of the bookstore. Quinn grabs for her wallet out of her satchel, and Andie shakes her head playfully as she pushes Quinn out of the front door and back onto the bustling street with an eyebrow raise to rival the blonde's very own.

"I said no questions…no wallets, no money. Just read the book. Now get out of here before I change my mind."

And Quinn has never had a hard time following directions. And with a well-refined obedience, she simply shakes her head and smiles thankfully with a small wave before she gets swallowed up into the early afternoon crowd.

It takes Quinn half an hour to get back to her apartment. She lives close to the Columbia Medical Center at the outskirts of Washington Heights. It's not the nicest area at all, but it's cheap…and Quinn's a student, and it's all she can really afford off campus while she works – and so it was either beg and grovel her estranged parents for the funds, or make due on her own. And she's been able to make ends meet – and she's proud of it.

The 1 drops her off close-by, and when she finally makes it up the five flights of stairs of her building, she drops her jacket on the hardwood floor by the living room and heads for her bedroom. She closes the door to a sliver as she drops onto the comforter. Smiling as T.K. ambles out of his hiding place and lays across her lap, nuzzling his head into her abdomen softly as he mewls for attention.

She lays a hand on his head before grabbing her satchel for exactly what she's returned home for. The small book is still light in her hands, but she can't deny the heaviness that lingers as she turns it over in her fingers. She works quietly at the leather tie, and the straps fall open listlessly as Quinn opens the leather bound –cover. And she can't help but gasp as her fingers follow the ink on the worn page.

Peter and Wendy

By: J.M. Barrie

Copyright 1911, NY

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

Printed in the United States of America

Her finger stops below the publisher's mark, and she traces a faded calligraphic scrawl across the margin. It had obviously been post –scribed by the giver and or receiver of the book, and Quinn steadies her hand as she follows the worn lettering, and rustic ink.

"Let this tale follow you to Neverland my dear, and never, ever look back."

- K.L. Goldberg

Beneath the note, the page is blank save for publisher's marks and a short list of content. Quinn flips the page and gasps as her hands find yet another inscription; this one much fresher on the paper, the ink still bold and indelible against the contrast of the steadily worn parchment.


"Neverland is witH me everywhere I go my sweet, QUIet, savta g'dolah. And Now, let me take WeNdy on a journey of my own making. Follow me to Neverland, Ms. Darling…For I imagine playing your Peter. And, I certainly don't fancy growing up,


- P.S. …take my hand. TRust me."

The ink is bold, and fresh, and Quinn can trace the ballpoint of the modern ink. She knows that this inscription is new in all of the ways that something can be. And she is intrigued no doubt, her eyebrows furrowing even further as she reads the two notes over and over again – finally opting to copy them down into her small notebook. And it is upon transferring the second note into her journal that she notices the underlined words and the capitalized letters.

She stills her hand, ignoring T.K's mewling as she shoos him off of her lap. Perhaps it was way too many late night showings of National Treasure on basic network cable that has her interest piqued. But she can't ignore the obvious traces of identifiable markers. She looks at the notes, re-transcribed in her small journal, and directly below she copies the underlined letters in a row of capitalizations:

H I , Q U I

N N . F O L L O W M

E T O N E V E R L A N D, R

Her fingers pause as she traces the last letter sloppily against the lined paper, and she freezes. Her mind catching up to her heart, as the letters make sense. And this book has been calling to her in more ways than one – her name is permanently inscribed within it.

"Hi, Quinn.

Follow me to Neverland,

R"

And before she can grip her chest and heave and stumble over her now labored breaths, she closes her eyes. Remembering a time not long ago now – but it seems like forever – when life was simple, and easy, and she understood what it meant to have love in her life. And all that comes to fruition across the insides of her stained eyelids is an image of a lovely brunette, laughing up into the Ohio summer air, palm outstretched, and lips puckering to blow out seedlings of a dandelion. Words whisper soft, toppling out of softer lips as endless brown eyes hold her captive.

"I feel like I'm in Neverland. Whenever I'm with you…"

And all at once, Quinn is opening her eyes quickly. The image she doesn't understand how she could have possibly forgotten now emboldened against her eyes.

Rachel Berry.

And suddenly, she faints.