-artwork by taeyhngs-
PART ONE: THEIR STORY
The wisp of cold air from the window has him rubbing his eyes, trying to wipe the cobwebs from his brain. He’d fallen asleep, he’s been doing that a lot more lately, dozing off at random times during the day. His bones crack as he stretches in an attempt to chase the sleepiness away, but he slumps back in the chair, closing his eyes once again when he hears the patter of tiny feet. A small hand tugs at his cardigan. He smiles. She smells like apples and cherries, she must have found the jam stash in the cupboard.
“Pawpaw,” a tiny voice tries to whisper (but fails) beside him. “Pawpaw, are you sweeping?”
He quietly laughs at her mistake but doesn’t open his eyes.
She tugs at his clothing one more time for good measure. He stifles a chuckle when a tiny body straddles his lap, and chunky hands grab at his cheeks, turning his head forward. He feels her breath on his face as she continues to try and wake him with loudly whispered words. He moves his hands slowly upward until they are by her side. Her giggles are like bubbles popping in the air as she laughs and wiggles, trying to escape the tickle attack.
“Did you just wake me up? You know the punishment for such a heinous crime, don’t you?” he says in his best pirate voice.
“Yes,” she laughs, “walk the plank!”
“Exactly.” He reaches out and pushes her bangs behind her ears. She reminds him of youth, of joy and innocence, and every day he's thankful that this is how his life turned out. He misses his past, but he wouldn’t change this ending of the story, not for all the fairy dust in the world.
She sits perched on his lap, her giggles and laughter having died down.
“Tell it again, Pawpaw,” she almost demands, tiny hands returning to holding his face forward.
He loves telling the story.
“Again? Surely you want a new story now, I’ve told this one so many times? You’re sure to get tired of hearing it.”
“NEVER!” she exclaims and he jumps, startled by the sound.
If truth be told, telling this story is his favorite pastime. It’s his story, although most believe it to be just a fairytale, an embellishment that he created to tantalize the ears of his listeners. He’s never corrected them, never stomped his foot proclaiming it to be the truth. He doesn’t need others to believe as long as he has his love and as long as they know, they remember. Because it’s their story and it’s beautiful.
He looks as his love walks into the room.
“Wendy, are you trying to get Pawpaw to tell you the story again?”
“Nae, Grandpapa, it’s the bestest story in the whole world.” The child stretches her arms as wide as they can go. “I love it this much.”
He watches as the love of his life graces the child with a most brilliant smile. A smile so bright it rivals the sun and melts even the coldest hearts (he knows this from experience).
“My that is indeed a lot of love.” His heart flutters a bit when the man sits next to them, even after all these years, you still make my heart skip a beat when you smile.
He turns to the man at his side. “She certainly has inherited your flare for the dramatic.” He’s not quick enough to dodge the thump on his arm. He laughs and settles the child on the seat between them. She giggles as she scoots closer, resting her head on his arm while playing with the hem of his cardigan.
“Alright Mr. Rodgers, tell your story,” the other man smiles at him.
“His name is not Mr. Rodgers Grandpapa, it Pawpaw Joon,” the child corrects.
“My mistake Wendy, you’re absolutely right, he just looks like Mr. Rodgers,” Jin says as he ruffles the child’s hair and then leans in to kiss Namjoon on the cheek before whispering in his ear,
“Tell our story love.” Namjoon smiles and begins.
“Once upon a time, when the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies…”
London England 1841
“Jin, duck!” Taehyung yells from the behind the older boy.
Jin turns, a slight smirk on his face as he glances backwards, checking to be sure that Taehyung hasn’t been caught. He dips his head just in time and breathes a sigh of relief when the iron ladle goes sailing above him in the air just before landing on the ground with a loud crash.
“Just you wait till I get ‘me hands on the lot of yous.” The overweight Nun is breathing heavily as she chases the boys.
“You’d have to catch us first,” Jin says, reaching back to grab Jimin’s hand and pulling the younger man forward. “Run faster Minnie.”
The three boys break the corner, their escape eminent.
“Kim Seokjin! You stop this instant!” The woman’s voice always commands his attention, perhaps because she’s the closest thing to a mother Jin and the rest of his ragtag family have ever known.
“Yes, ma’am,” the boys say in unison.
“Can someone please explain to me why Sister Grace is chasing you all?” The Mother Superior looks at the boys who are each doing their best impression of a blind person as they try not to look at the woman.
She sighs audibly, and Jin looks up and is immediately caught, trapped by her disappointed gaze.
“I swear it was for a good cause,” he answers weakly.
“Jin, you are the oldest. You’re meant to set a good example, meant to be a leader.” Her tone leaves Jin feeling disheartened.
“But Chimchim was hungry, and he missed dinner because he was sick, and he said his tummy hurt, and sister Grace said that it was Jimin’s fault for being sick, and-” She holds her hand up, stopping Taehyung’s spitfire explanation.
She turns to face the chubby Nun who is standing behind her with the iron ladle in her hand.
“Sister Grace, is this true?”
“Ma’am they was stealing out of the pantry, ma’am,” the woman says defensively.
Again the older nun sighs.
“Jimin, are you hungry?” she asks the younger boy with the slit-like eyes which are now saucer sized with fear. The boy is hiding behind Taehyung who seems to be frozen in place. “It’s okay, you can answer truthfully,” she coaxes him.
The boy nods but keeps his lips glued together.
“Sister Grace, can you please bring Jimin a cup of tea along with a slice of bread and jam.”
“We are here to help them, not chase them with spoons. Just because they're orphans Sister doesn’t mean they’re not human. Please do as I’ve asked.
The younger nun walks away with shoulders hung low as Taehyung and Jimin stick their tongues out.
“That's not very nice,” the Mother Superior scolds the young boys. “Jimin, please sit in the dining area and wait for your food. Taehyung you may join him.” She turns to face Jin, “You, come with me.”
Jin follows behind, shoulders drooping. He knows what’s about to happen. He’s been in the orphanage since infancy and has made this walk many times after one of his many fool-proof plans goes kaboom in his face.
The door squeaks as she opens it, and Jin has always found the sound comforting. It reminds him of home (or as much of a home as one can have in a church funded orphanage).
“Jin-ah,” her voice is soft as points at the chair, beckoning him to sit as she leans over the Pembroke table, turning the kerosene oil lamp to low to light the dark room. She pulls the chair from behind the cherrywood secretary’s desk before taking a seat and turning her full attention to him.
There’s a softness to the older Nun, a genteelness that’s in stark contrast to the rough, crass behavior of most of her uncaring faculty. The fact that the Nun sees the orphans as human and not “A waste of the air God gave us” makes Jin thankful that she is the one in charge.
“Jin-ah,” she continues “I understand your motives, but we have rules in place for a reason. The rules need to be followed, especially by you. You are their example.” She points to the door, but Jin knows she means the boys behind the dark oak wood structure.
“Yes, ma’am.” He doesn’t offer a defense; he knows it’s not what she’s asking for.
“You’re an adult now, no longer a child. You’re here because the Monsignor and I believe you are a good example for the boys. The children look up to you and follow your lead, and stealing items from the kitchen, and locking Nuns in Armoires-” Jin opens his mouth to defend the last statement (spanking a child for requesting a blanket deserved much more than being locked in a closet, in Jin’s humble opinion he was more than gracious) but is cut off, “no matter how much they might have deserved it, is not a good example.”
Jin closes his mouth and holds his head down once again. He runs his hand along his leg, the wool material coarse and scratchy, and it fascinates Jin that this is the first time he’s realized the material’s texture.
“I know it’s tempting,” the older woman continues, “wanting to stay young forever, but we all have to grow up at some point Seokjin, even you.”
“I know ma’am,” Jin replies, and it’s more murmur than actual speech.
The thing is that Jin is not ready to grow up, not ready to be responsible for others. How can he be when he’s not really sure how to take care of himself. It’s at moments like these, ones where he doubts himself, that he wishes he had a family, a real one complete with mother and father. But clearly they didn’t want him, not when they left him at two months of age at the front door of a church orphanage. He’d cry over his loss, but it doesn’t make sense since he doesn’t know what he’s missing.
“Okay, go check on Taehyung and Jimin, and please make sure they get to bed soon,” the Nun dismisses him. “Oh, and Jin-ah,” Jin pauses midway up from his seat, “thank you for taking such good care of Jimin. Next time though, try not to commit an actual crime while helping, okay?”
Jin smiles and nods his head vigorously, causing the newsboy cap to fall from his head. His eyes widen as he watches the hat fall, and at that moment it dawns on him he hadn’t removed the article from his head. He looks up at the Nun, shocked at his disrespectful behavior. How many times had she told him, A true gentleman always removes his hat in the presence of a lady, Jin-ah? As though reading his mind.
“It’s okay, I wasn’t offended. Go take care of your brothers. And, Jin?” He stops his movement. “Try to stay out of trouble this time.”
Jin bows then grabs his hat from the floor and swiftly walks to the wooden doors, to his freedom. He finds Jimin and Taehyung sitting next to each other, so close they look almost conjoined. Taehyung’s the first to look up, Jimin busy licking jam from his fingertips.
“Hyung!” The younger man gets up from the wooden table. “Are you okay? Did she whip you? Are you hurt?” the boy spitfires questions as he tugs at Jin’s tattered vest hidden beneath his jacket.
“I’m fine Taehyung.” He gently removes the boy’s hands. “Has Jimin eaten?” Taehyung nods his head, his eyes still reflecting worry. “I really am fine Taehyung. Mother Superior only scolded me with words.” He smiles and ruffles the boy’s head before making his way towards Jimin.
Jimin is older than Taehyung by a few months but feels like the youngest. Jin surmises it’s possibly due to the boy’s penchant for getting sick, and he worries because they have lost so many brothers to the likes of influenza and the plague. Jimin coughs and begins to nod off. Jin grabs the kerosene lamp from the table and coaxes Jimin to his feet gently.
“Come, let's go to bed then.” Jin beckons for Taehyung to follow and the boy obediently falls into step behind him.
Once the two boys are tucked in, Jin sits on his bed. The rusty springs squeak loudly under his weight. The large room is completely taken up with beds, at least hundred, possibly more but Jin hasn’t counted them, he doesn’t know how. Orphans are not allowed the same form of education as non-orphans. Instead they are taught a skill, something that will make them valuable, contributing members of society. He sighs heavily as he spins his body atop the rock hard mattress and lies down.
Nights are his least favorite time because it’s quiet, because there is nothing distracting him and keeping him out of his head. In the dark silence he thinks about his life. He wonders why his parents gave him away. The Mother Superior’s words are replaying in his head, “I know it’s tempting, wanting to stay young forever, but we all have to grow up at some point Seokjin, even you.”
Growing up scares Jin the most. The word adult does not fill him with images of independence or hope as it should. Instead, when Jin thinks of being an adult, all he sees is loneliness, a life away from the orphanage, from the only family he’s ever known. Adult is the scariest word Jin knows.
He shuts his eyes tightly, trying to drown out the images filling his mind, those of him struggling on his own with no one to help. He falls asleep with a heavy heart and a wish to find a place where he’ll never have to grow up.
“Yoongi, yoongi wake up.” Sarang shakes his shoulder, causing his wings to flutter. The fairy hates waking up the most.
Sarang giggles as he grumbles his disapproval of the current situation.
Yoongi is a Dream Fairy, and while the name would suggest that he’s in charge of sleep and dreams (Yoongi curses the fairy Gods every day that it doesn’t), the title encompasses so much more. Dream fairies are the originators of the day, the champions of hope and belief in the unbelievable. Dreams Fairies inspire imagination and are the protectors of purity and love. They are the guardians of the realm and are the ones that summon the day into existence.
Today it’s Yoongi’s turn to summon, but really he just wants to sleep. Why does the morning have to start so early? (He asks this question a lot.)
“Yoongi, come on, it’s almost time.” Sarang’s voice is cheerful and bubbly, like a baby’s giggles or the first wave as it rolls to life from the ocean floor. Most fairies sound like Sarang, like the happiest sound you’ve ever heard. Most fairies, but not Yoongi.
Yoongi sounds tired and angry; Yoongi sounds like he just doesn’t give a flying fuck (and on certain days he really doesn’t). His voice is deep and growly and has an edge that rings of something dangerous, something very, very unfairy-like.
The green fairy thinks his existence is a cosmic joke. It’s as though the fairy gods woke up bored one day and came up with a brilliant idea to screw over an unsuspecting, innocent fairy (him) who just fucking wants to sleep and task him with the job of waking the sun. He stretches, causing his wings to flap more vigorously. Three things cause a fairy’s wing to flutter when not in flight:
1. Happiness - when the fairy is at its peak of euphoria
2. Contentment – at moments such as stretching, yawning, etc., when its body is content
3. Threats- a fairy’s wings will flutter rapidly, up to ten times faster than normal, alerting them to possible peril.
“Alright, alright, stop nagging,” he practically growls at the glowing lilac and lavender fairy.
“Now, now Yoongi, anger is very unattractive,” she says with a laugh. “Except maybe on you.” She winks at him and flies from his leaf.
He cracks a gummy smile and stretches more, enjoying the batting of his wings against his shoulder. He alights from the leaf with a soft swish and hangs suspending in air for a brief moment, collecting his thoughts. He slowly ascends, making his way up toward the sky to beckon the sun and usher in the morning. While Yoongi hates waking up, he loves sunrise in Neverland. The way the sun bounces off the greens of the trees and the golds, oranges, purples, reds and blues of the flowers that cover the landscape creating a rainbow hue always has his breath hitching in his throat. The sight is so stunning.
The flight up is refreshing, and Yoongi is thankful he’s not afraid of heights. He reaches the clouds and playfully works the cotton soft fluffs, forming them into the shapes of animals just to mess with the air fairies. He giggles to himself. He can already hear Suho complaining, telling him that cloud shaping is a crucial part of fairy business and that he should stop fucking with clouds nobody wants to wake up to a hippopotamus stampede in the morning Yoongi.
Once he’s satisfied with his handiwork (this morning it’s a dog peeing on a flower) Yoongi flutters past the clouds to the door. He taps three times then scurries to get below the clouds as quickly as possible so he can enjoy the view. The sun wakes with a burst of brightness, and despite himself, Yoongi smiles. The dawn of a new day is indeed a glorious sight. His wings flapping against his back express the joy he feels at what he is witnessing as he dangles in the air enjoying the beauty of his home, of Neverland, a place where all things are forever beautiful, forever happy, forever young. He winks at the sun before diving straight down like a bullet, tiny smirk in his face (okay freaking gigantic smirk).
Time to wake up Suho.
“This is not a good idea.” Kyungsoo’s big round eyes reflect clearly just how bad an idea he thinks it is.
“No, you’re wrong Soo. It’ good, so, so good.” Jackson claps his hands together in excitement causing Kyungsoo to roll his eyes.
Jin winks at Kyungsoo and slaps Jackson on the back in agreement. “Right! Now come on let's make a plan. It’ll be fun.”
“Heard that one before,” Kyungsoo says with a loud sigh before leaning into the huddle of boys. “There has to be an easier way to get past old man Seunghyun than this,” Kyungsoo tries reasoning one last time only to receive a disapproving “tut” from Jin.
“Trust me, nothing will go wrong. I swear.” Jin places his hand over his heart indicating the seriousness of his vow.
“Heard that one before, too,” the second eldest says under his breath.
The huddle breaks, and the boys scurry around in a slight chaos as they put their plan into action. Operation: Get past Choi Seunghyun Ajusshi and see what’s hidden behind the black curtain begins and ends almost as soon as it starts. In hindsight, as the five boys are kneeling with hands held high above their heads with a very irate Mr. Choi pacing back and forth before them, deciding their fate, Jin thinks maybe sending Jackson in to cause a distraction was possibly the wrong call.
“Do you know how much that glass vase cost?” Choi Seunghyun says in between pacing. The prominent vein on the man’s neck pulses each time he speaks and sends the right amount of fear and adoration down Jin’s spine.
Jin has always been somewhat fascinated by the older man, six years his senior. There is an air of elegance about the man, an air fitting of the dapper gentleman Seunghyun represents. The man’s tight frock coat is tailored to perfection, fitting each turn and curve his body makes as though painted there by a skillful artist. The man’s vest is low cut, showcasing the crisp, white, high collared shirt beneath it. The look is completed by straight leg black pants and black boots so shiny Jin can see his reflection in them each time the man passes.
As Jin watches the man, he thinks to himself that this is the epitome of adulthood, the standard one must reach to truly be a grown up. Jin’s hearts sinks as watches the man move about, because if this is the standard, then he’s doomed.
“What possessed you to jump about in a store filled with handmade glass items?” The man turns his dark gaze toward Jackson, and Jin feels guilty as he watches the boy shudder in fear.
“It was my fault,” Jin chimes in, coming to Jackson’s defense.
Choi Seunghyung’s razor-sharp jawline moves in his direction; not only is the man an impeccable dresser, but he’s also impossibly good-looking, and Jin wonders at the unfairness of life. The man is tall, a good two inches more than Jin, who is considered to be on the taller side. His face is chiseled with sharp lines and angled features as though sculpted by Michelangelo himself, adorned with dark, brooding eyes that twinkle with both mystery and danger. One glance and the man’s stare has Jin anchored in place like a boat in the middle of a tempestuous sea.
“I see.” The man’s words are slow as his eyes roam over Jin’s entire body, sending a shiver down Jin’s spine; the look in the man’s eyes is just too intense. Seunghyun tilts his head to the side and continues to look at Jin as though he’s considering something... something other than a punishment, something that has Jin’s insides curling with a heat that he can’t explain.
“I wanted to know what’s behind the black curtain. So I came up with a plan to sneak in, one that seemed fool-proof but clearly wasn’t. I’m sorry about the vase, but I will work hard to pay you back. Please don’t hurt my friends.” Jin pulls a Taehyung and punches out an explanation without taking a single breath.
Seunghyun’s lips curve into a smirk before he speaks, repeating his original phrase of, “I see.”
Jin drops his eyes to the floor, breaking the man’s brutal gaze, but he can still feel the heat of it burning holes into his skin.
“It may have been your plan originally, but all who participated should be punished equally.” He walks past them and returns moments later with brooms and cleaning buckets which he drops in a pile before them. “Today you will start to pay your debt by cleaning the cellar. Do you understand?”
The boys nod unanimously before reaching out to take items from the pile. At Jin’s turn he feels a hand on his arm, and he looks up straight into Seunghyun’s sinister gaze. “Since you’re the instigator, I have a very special punishment for just you later.” The tone and bite of the man’s words have Jin’s heart slinking down his spine, and he clenches his butt cheeks together to keep the organ from escaping through his arse.
He shudders visibly at the man’s words, uncertain as to why. The smirk on Seunghyun’s face grows wider as he gets up, leaving Jin near trembling on his knees. He finds his way on shaky legs (not due to extended time kneeling) to the cellar where the other four boys are.
“SATISFIED?” Kyungsoo’s I-told-you-so voice is the first thing he hears as he enters the room.
“Yes, I’m quite content, thank you,” Jin counters, and he can almost see the image of himself being slain with ninja swords coming from Kyungsoo’s mind.
“Why are you so obsessed with this store anyway? It’s just a bunch of crystal and glass figurines. I’d hardly call anything in here mysterious or exciting.”
“Dunno, really,” Jin’s voices almost to himself. “Something about this place feels like it’s calling out to me, like there is something here I need to find.”
“Like a treasure hunt?” Jimin asks shyly.
“Precisely Chimchim, like a treasure hunt.”
“Yay! Treasure hunt!” Taehyung yells, and the boys can’t help but laugh at the younger man’s sudden outburst.
Jackson raises his broom and uses it as a makeshift sword. “En garde,” he says as he waves the handle in Jin’s direction. “You will never have my treasure!”
The older boy laughs before brandishing his own broom. He hears Kyungsoo from somewhere behind in the distance, warning him that this is yet another bad idea, but Jin happily ignores the advice as he and Jackson engage in war. Kyungsoo continues to clean as Jin and Jackson romp, Jimin and Taehyung standing close behind the two boys, cheering softly (for Jin of course) so as not to alert the owner of the store.
When Jin steps backwards to give himself enough space to straighten his sword and lunge forward, he thinks for the second time that he should have listened to Kyungsoo —as he missteps and rams into a jumping Taehyung, sending the boy flying into the shelves that adorn the cellar walls. On impact, a box comes tumbling to the ground with a crash that has the lid snapping open and a crystal type ball rolls to the ground, landing at Taehyung feet.
The boy leans forward to look at the object only to kick it away in fright moments later. Taehyung jumps from the spot on the ground at the speed of light and buries himself behind Jin, before leaning around and pointing at the ball.
“I-it’s h-haunt-t-ted.” Jin can feel the boy shaking behind him.
Generally, he would ignore such antics as Taehyung is given to theatrics, but he can feel genuine fear emanating from the boy and knows Taehyung is not just putting on a show. He pulls the boy to stand in front of him.
“Did you see something?”
The boy nods in the affirmative and scurries back behind Jin, grabbing the older boy’s waistcoat tightly. Jin beckons Jackson over as he gently removes Taehyung’s hand and places the younger man behind the muscular boy. He ambles to the area where the ball has rolled, bending down to reach under the bookshelf and retrieve the item, but it has slid too far back for Jin to get to it.
“Kyungsoo, pass me the broom.” The doe-eyed boy does as he’s told.
Jin swipes the broom under the large wooden object and jumps to his feet once he sees the orb roll out and towards the other four boys. The ball rolls steadily and stops centimeters away from Jackson’s boots, and if Jin didn’t know better, he’d swear the round object stopped on its own.
He gets down on his hands and knees once again and crawls toward the object.
“Hyung don-” Taehyung is silenced when Kyungsoo, standing on his tippy toes, clasps a hand over the boy’s mouth.
“Do you hear that?” Jimin whispers.
There’s a buzz in the air, and the sound reminds Jin of a lingering bee floating over a flower. It doesn’t take them long to realize the noise is coming from the crystal orb. Jin leans in, reaching out to touch.
Yoongi’s wings are flapping excitedly as Suho chases him through the trees of the Neverland forest in a vain attempt to catch the green fairy. Yoongi may look like he’s one yawn away from falling asleep on most days, but everyone in fairydom knows the fairy is as spry as a fox and as fast as one too.
Yoongi’s laughter and Suho’s threats of what will happen, “once I get my hands on you,” echo through the serene woodlands. They continue to wind through foliage, weaving among branches and twirling through leaves, both careful not to harm anything in their path. The number one rule of the fairy world is to preserve life, all forms of it. Yoongi zips upwards, hoping to lose Suho in the canopy of the trees (he’s a green fairy after all).
He stills his movements as he hovers in between the large green leaves. He can hear Suho’s approach, and Yoongi almost laughs audibly when he hears the Air Fairy curse under his breath.
Suho is very close when Yoongi has the brilliant idea of jumping out when the other fairy least expects and scaring him. The green fairy tiptoes on the air, angling his body as though getting ready to pounce, but at that moment his wings begin to flap excitedly. He glances up and notices Suho’s wings doing the same, and it can mean only one thing… danger is near.
“I think it’s coming from over there,” Suho points to the north end of the island.
The sky above the area had grown unnaturally dark. Unless it was nighttime the skies never grew dim in Neverland.
“Do you see that?” Yoongi asks as they get closer to the area. “It looks like lightning, but it’s not rainy season yet, and Sunggyu only uses lighting when he’s angry.”
As the two fairies get closer to the darkening skies, they realize the foreign light is indeed lightning, only it is unlike anything they’ve ever seen in Neverland before. The light glows black and red like burning lava and each strike shaking the earth beneath, and the fairies can feel the aftershock of each blast trembling in the air around them.
Yoongi moves in for a closer look. His hands fly to his mouth as he realizes why the strikes are causing such a ruckus, why the earth is so bothered by the unusual storm. He hears a gasp to the left of him and turns his head to find Suho next to him, eyes wide with disbelief.
Everything the dark light touches turns to crystal-like glass, and had the sight not been so devastating, Yoongi would have found it beautiful.
“H-how? W-what?” Suho is unable to complete his thoughts.
Yoongi is about to say he doesn’t know when he spots him, a man, a pirate? He’s not quite sure. The figure is dressed in black from head to toe, and there's an object in his hand, a round ball, which seems to be where the lightning is coming from. Without much thought of the consequence, Yoongi begins moving quickly towards the figure. Well, towards the ball.
Yoongi vaguely hears Suho cry out as he plummets at light speed towards the round, glowing object in the dark-clad man’s hand. Upon impact with the object, Yoongi thinks for the first time ever, I wish I had listened to Suho, as he and all of Neverland gets sucked into the glowing orb.
Jin looks down, hand reaching out to touch, but he falls backward when what looks to be a face bucks up against the glass. He shakes off his fear, assuming that his eyes were just playing tricks on him, or maybe he had taken Taehyung’s reaction a bit too seriously. Jin once again reaches out a determined hand and grabs the ball. The contact sends an electric charge through the boy’s body as the orb bursts into a fiery ball of light, and for what seems like the hundredth time Jin wonders why he didn’t listen to Kyungsoo.
After hearing a commotion, Seunghyun hastens to the cellar. He arrives just in time to see a flash of bright white light as both the boys and the orb disappear. He stands with mouth agape wondering what just happened?
PART TWO: NEVERLAND
“Are they alive?” Sarang’s voice is still somehow bubbly and singsong even when sandwiched with concern, and Yoongi is impressed with her ability to sound happy despite being worried that he may have unwittingly killed five humans.
“How should I know? Dream fairy, remember?” Yoongi would have rolled his eyes while giving the reply if not for the fact that he was equally nervous about the state of the five boys the entire fairy community is hovering above.
“How do we tell?” a fairy fluttering beside Yoongi asks.
“Not sure,” another answers.
Fairies from every corner of Neverland have gathered around the unconscious (hopefully) boys. The sound of flapping wings resounds, and an excited energy fills the air. Something has changed, something has happened (apart for from five possibly dead humans lying in the grass), and Yoongi feels it but is unsure of what it is. He separates himself from the colorful crowd and glides upwards, above the rolling rocks of Mermaid Lagoon, above the sails of the pirate ships in the Sailor’s Cove, above the peak of the tallest evergreen in the Neverland forest, and he flitters through the first puffy cloudy enjoying the softness. It’s not until he floats through yet another cloud that the light bulb goes off in Yoongi’s mind. It’s gone! The glass dome that has been covering Neverland is gone.
“Woo-hoo!” Yoongi screams as he darts straight down like a bullet focused on a target.
“It’s gone!” he yells excitedly as he crash lands into Chanyeol’s shoulder, causing the Water Fairy to stumble.
“Yay! That hurt you know,” Chanyeol says, rubbing the area with his unusually large hand.
Normally Yoongi would reply with a sarcastic comment about Chanyeol being so tall he thought he was a tree, but the dome is gone and he’s feeling generous so he does something that makes all the fairies in earshot stop and stare in disbelief.
“Sorry,” Yoongi says (and he may even mean it) to Chanyeol and turns around to find several pair of eyes staring at him. “What? I can be nice.” He rolls his eyes as he flies closer to where the sleeping (possibly dead) boys are; he needs to tell Sarang the news.
“One of them moved!” someone yells from above Yoongi’s head.
A collective gasp is heard as the five boys begin to stir, and Yoongi halts his movement, watching and waiting for the reaction of the five strangers. Yoongi observes with intensity the boys slow arrival back to consciousness, slight groans and moans coupled with a few rounds of ‘where are we?’ fill the air as boys clear the cobwebs from their minds.
A small boy with thick full lips, pudgy cheeks, and wavy black hair is the first to speak.
“Hyung. Hyung. Hyung!” The boy’s tiny slits grow wide as he stares dumbfounded at the hundreds of fairies looking down at him. “HYUNG!” the boy continues calling out for what Yoongi can only assume is help.
Yoongi swoops down closer.
An older boy lying on the ground groans a reply that sounds to Yoongi like, “What Jinnin?” No Jamie? Jimin? Yes, Jimin. The cherub looking boy turns his head and meets Yoongi’s gaze directly (something no Earth Walker, non Neverland human, had done before) and the fairy feels his face growing warm and wonders if maybe the boys are witches or spell casters (what kind of mystical power has Yoongi temperature changing?).
However, he has no time to ponder the how or why of such a reaction because the older boy named Hyung sits up, looks around, and then all hell breaks loose.
Jin rolls to his side, stretching languidly. His movements are slow and he feels the slight burn as his muscles and ligaments come to life. He’s not ready to awaken; the bed feels so comfy he wonders if the Mother Superior had done something to the usually concrete-like cots to make them feel so soft. He feels rested, and his body is warm and cozy, and he might be smiling, but he’s not sure. He had the craziest dream about a face in a glass ball, and now he really is smiling (he thinks) as he slowly starts to wake up.
He hears Jimin calling to the left of him, and that’s strange. Jimin isn’t normally this close, and isn’t his bed by the door to my right?
“Mmmm,” he murmurs, not sure the boy hears.
“Hyung.” Jimin’s voice grows a little louder, and Jin is a hundred percent sure the sound is coming from his left.
“What Jimin?” His voice is a little louder this time but still almost a whisper.
“HYUNG!” This time there is real fear in the boy’s tone that Jin can’t ignore.
He sits up, instantly turning his head to the left to find Jimin. The boy is sitting up, eyes glued to something, and there is terror written on Jimin’s face. Jin follows the trajectory of Jimin’s eyes and blinks when he finds the boy’s target because clearly I’m still dreaming. He isn’t given proper time to comprehend before he hears squealing coming from his right.
“Oh My God! Hyung! Look! Fairies!” Taehyung screams as he springs to his feet in a flash like lightning and catapults his body toward the group of butterfly like people.
“Taehyung! No!” Jin yells at Taehyung, who tries to stop upon hearing the seriousness in Jin’s voice but ends up tumbling forward like a cannonball bursting forward towards the stunned airborne crowd.
For the second time that day Chanyeol is knocked out of place.
“Wow, you’re really tall,” Taehyung says as he stumbles into the lanky blue fairy.
Jin stands up, finally coming to the realization that this is not a dream, that the scene before him is very, very real. There was a face in a glass ball, and Taehyung just plowed into a bevy of fairies?, like a bowling ball rolling into a row of pins. He reaches out, trying to the grab the young boy in hopes of minimizing the devastation as he watches tiny winged creatures of various shape, size, and color-- tumble, flutter, and scurry in all different directions.
Jin successfully pulls Taehyung back toward him and the other boys, but the fairies have yet to regroup in an orderly manner. He watches awestruck as flashes of colors zip before his eyes as fairies try to regain their balance. Jin is still having trouble believing what his eyes are seeing. The tiny creatures are beautiful and colorful, and it feels as though he’s watching a rainbow dance. Each flick of the wings creates a ringing sound, like the dinner bells rung at the orphanage only not nearly as boisterous.
This sound is calming. As the tiny bells ring and little wings flap, something akin to dust falls from each fairy. The dust is the same color as the fairy it comes from, and currently the air is filled with every color Jin can image and some he never could. The dust sparkles and is almost iridescent in nature, and if it weren't for that fact that he was scared shitless, he’d be in awe of how majestic the world before him looked. Feeling a vibration in front of him, Jin turns his attention toward Taehyung, who is clapping and laughing as though the circus was in town and he had front row seats.
“Are you okay?” he asks the excited boy.
“Fairies hyung, they’re so pretty.” Jin takes the boy’s response as a yes.
He looks around at the other three boys, and everyone seems okay. Apart from looks of extreme confusion all are standing upright and breathing, and Jin thinks that’s good enough for now. He turns his attention back to the creatures swarming around him like out of control flies, they seem to be regaining their order. As soon as the dust settles (literally) a tiny creature flies to hover just before his face, and he moves Taehyung behind him for protection (even though the boy was pleading to stay). She’s lovely. Her tiny face is long and slender and is almost entirely taken up by wide eyes that sparkle with life. Her color is one that Jin has not seen before. It reminds him of purple only much lighter (he later learns that the fairy has two colors lilac and lavender), and each flutter of her wings has her colorful dust floating in the air around Jin.
The fairy’s lips begin to move, but Jin hears nothing but the tiny ding of her wings as they flutter behind her. She must have registered his confusion because she makes an “o” with her tiny mouth and flies closer to him, so close that if Jin wanted to he could touch her with his nose. He doesn’t (Mother Superior taught him that a real man never touches a female without permission). The fairy points up and Jin’s eyes follow her until she is hovering directly above his head. She peers over her shoulder and Jin can’t be certain, but it looked as though she winked at him before fluttering her wings, allowing dust from her wings to land on his face.
She glides down, once again floating before him.
“Can you hear me?” her voice reminds Jin of bubbles, sunshine, and happy thoughts.
“Yes, I can.”
“Do you remember where you were last?” she asks.
“Yes. We were cleaning out Mr. Choi’s cellar as payment for breaking a glass vase. Taehyung stumbled and bumped into a shelf, and a glass ball fell to the ground. I reached out to touch it and, and, and… we all woke up here. Where are we, exactly?”
The fairy smiled, “You’re in Neverland.”
“Neverland? What is--”
“Hyung is she talking, can you hear her? How come we can’t?” Taehyung interrupts, sticking his head around Jin’s side and looking up. The fairy looks at Jin quizzically.
“He wants to know why he can’t hear you?”
“Oh, that’s easily fixable,” she says with a tiny laugh.
Jin turns as the fairy flies behind him and hovers above his four friends who are looking up. She twirls in the air as fast she can, like a tiny, light purple tornado, and Jin watches as a trail of lavender and lilac dust settles on the four boys.
“There, that should help.” She looks at Taehyung who is nodding vehemently, large boxy grin on his face. “Excellent! Hello, my name is Sarang. Our home, Neverland, the place you’re all now standing, was trapped in the glass orb that you accidentally found, by a dark magic, one we have never seen the likes of here. It seems that you are now stuck in the orb with u-” Sarang is interrupted by a green colored fairy that Jin recognizes as the face from the ball.
“I almost forgot,” the tiny green man glides to the side of the pretty fairy, “it’s gone.”
“What’s gone?” Sarang asks the tiny man.
“The glass wall, it’s gone. The clouds have no barriers. I was able to fly all the way through.”
“And the glass statues at the outermost part of the Never forest?”
“Everything is back to normal, you know, except for them.” The fairy turns and points to the lost boys.
“Are you a sorcerer?” Sarang turns to Jin, “Or maybe a Pan?”
“Me, a sorcerer? Oh, no, most definitely not,” Jin shakes his head firmly. “What’s a Pan?”
“Mmm, that’s strange.” Sarang, lost in thought, doesn’t hear Jin’s question.
“A Pan,” the green fairy answers, “is the most worshiped being in Neverland. Pans wield the power of Neverland and are the protectors of Neverland’s greatest power.”
“Which is?” Jin leans in, intrigued by the fairy’s charismatic yet sleep inducing tone.
“Protecting dreams,” Yoongi says proudly, green dust spilling as his wings flutter excitedly.
“Dreams?” Jimin says from behind Jin.
“Jimin, right?” The boy’s eyes widen when Yoongi says his name.
“How do you know his name,” Jin asks and stretches a protective hand to the side, shielding Jimin.
“You called him that when you first woke up.”The green fairy’s lips pucker in a curious manner as he angles his head to stare at the boys. “Are you Hyung?” the green fairy continues.
Jin laughs, “I am his hyung, like an older brother to him, but my name is Seokjin. Kim Seokjin, but most everyone calls me Jin.”
“Jin,” the green fairy repeats the name. “Mmm, I’m called Yoongi. I’m a Dream fairy.”
“It just doesn’t make sense,” Sarang flies back. “The orb has passed through many hands. It has been touched many times by Earth Walkers. Why was your touch different? What is your heritage?” the lilac fairy questions.
“I-I, don’t know,” Jin stutters the answer. “I’ve never met my parents. I’m an orphan.”
“You’re not an orphan hyung, you have us,” Jackson says from behind him.
“Orphan means you don’t have parents, dummy,” Kyungsoo corrects Jackson.
“I know we don’t have parents, bug eyes. But it also means we don’t have any family. We’re not orphans because we’re each other’s family. Isn’t that right hyung?” Jackson looks to Jin for confirmation.
Jin smiles. “That’s right Jackson. We have each other so we’re not orphans anymore.”
“That could be it then,” Sarang’s voice has the boys looking up. “Maybe you’re a Pan, but you just don’t know. I need to think. Yoongi, you’re in charge of them. Set them up on the east end of The Never Forest, just outside of Fairy Bay.” With those orders, the fairy flies off.
“I’m sorry, when can we go home?” Jin asks as Yoongi beckons them to follow.
“The thing is,” Yoongi starts slowly, “it seems as though when you touched the orb you undid the curse, propelling Neverland back to its rightful state. It also seems, however, that the side effect of your action is you and your friends are, uhm, stuck here, maybe?”
“WHAT?” All five boys answer in unison.
“The boys all looked at the fairy--” Namjoon continues.
“No, Pawpaw, skip to the part where you and Grandpa meet,” Wendy interrupts impatiently.
“Are you sure? You don’t want to hear about how Taetae got smacked in the nose by the green fairy?” Jin asks pressing a kiss to the top of the child’s head.
“I’m swure,” she responds with a tiny giggle.
“When did you become such an impatient Patty?” Namjoon adds, leaning in and nuzzling his nose into the child’s neck, turning giggles into giant belly laughs.
“I’m not Patty, I’m Wendy, Pawpaw!”
“Oh, that’s right,” Namjoon says bumping his palm against his forehead. “I forgot. Okay Miss Wendy, let’s get to the good part.” Namjoon leans down, whispering in the child’s ear, “Meeting Grandpa is my favorite part too.”
Wendy’s happy laughter fills the air as Namjoon continues.
“You sniveling scallywag are you trying to scuttle us?” The blonde adjusts the red tricorn on his head, fluffing the purple feather.
The shiphand stares at the pirate, lips parted and eyebrows drawn together quizzically.
“Why are you still standing here? Go clean the poop deck!”
The man shuffles off, a confused look on his face.
“The poop deck is in the other direction,” he calls after the man, who stops mid walk and turns, embarrassed expression on his face.
“What are you doing?” Hoseok’s voice has him turning around.
“I’m commanding my crew. It’s what I do.”
“Come with,” the man says with such authority Joon wonders who the captain of the Red Bullet really is. “Seriously Joon,” Hoseok states in exasperation once they’re locked behind the doors of the captain's quarters.
‘What?” the blonde asks, confusion coloring his tone. He thinks back over the past three hours; he hasn’t broken anything yet (he’s pretty confident the water basin is only slightly cracked).
“You know that using old pirate terms that no one understands doesn’t actually make you a pirate, right?”
Joon balks at Hoseok’s words.
“I’ll have you know I’m fifth generation born and bred, pure blood, pirate through and through. My great, great, great, great grandfather, was the fearsome pirate Captain Bang Yong-” he’s cut off.
“Yes, yes, I know fearsome Captain Bang Yongguk, the most fearsome pirate in all the four seas and Neverland. Bang Yongguk may have been a pirate, but you, you’re just brain in a feather hat yelling at the crew in some ancient language that no one understands.”
“But we’re pirates, and we’re on a pirate ship. Shouldn’t we talk like pirates too?”
“So you got terms like all hands hoay and hornswoggle from your heritage?”
“No, I got those from this.” He pulls out a leather bound book he’d hidden in his jacket pocket.
“Wait. Are you telling me you’re getting all this from a book?”
“I know right, isn’t it great?” Joon is genuinely proud. He’s always been a bit book smart.
“Namjoon, what the hell is wrong with you?”
“Don’t call me that. It’s Captain Joon. You know how I feel about that name. Only she called me that.” Namjoon leans against the large wooden desk in the middle of the room, seemingly broken.
The slightest memory of her is like a knife in his chest, twisting and gutting his insides. It’s been three years since the man in black took her life. Three years that Namjoon has spent scouring Neverland in hopes of finding the mysterious stranger.
“I’m sorry Joon, I didn’t mean to-”
“It’s okay, let’s just drop it, okay?”
Hoseok nods and lays a reassuring hand on his friend's shoulder.
“We’ll find him, Joon, I promise, and… he’ll rue the day.”
“You know that’s a pirate term, right?” Namjoon interjects.
“Seriously? That’s what you focus on? Not your friend of many, many years being supportive, getting you through a rough patch?” Hoseok responds sarcastically, a big smile plastered on his face, and Namjoon cracks a smile knowing it’s Hoseok’s way of lightening the mood.
“I thought the support was a two-pronged attack. You help me through my ‘rough patch’ by showing me how awesome pirate phrases really are.” Namjoon cocks his head eyes twinkling with held in laughter. “You really are a good friend Hobs.”
“You’re an idiot.” Hoseok slaps him on the back as he laughs loudly, and the sound makes all the clouds filling Namjoon’s heart dissipate. “Let’s go before Mark steers us in the wrong direction again.”
“Remember when he took us to the third rock from the sun? Those people weirded me out.”
They walk out of the room reminiscing about the strange and exotic places they have encountered due to their directionally-challenged helmsman, trying to replace the sad memories with happier ones. Once on the bridge, Namjoon takes a deep breath. The fresh, brisk air cooling his insides as he inhales. This is his favorite thing about the open skies, there’re no limits, and everything is new with the raising of the sun. If by chance you do make a mistake you get the opportunity to try again, and Namjoon (although he’d never admit it) is looking for a second chance.
Memories are not as easy to evade as one would like, and his conversation with Hoseok has that day replaying in Namjoon’s mind.
“Oh, come on you old scaredy cat,” she giggles as she runs through the woods.
“I’m not scared, I’m cautious. I’m a cautious cat.” Namjoon is breathing heavily as he runs to catch up with her.
She laughs harder at his statement and picks up speed. He doesn’t notice she has stopped until he bumps into her. He pushes the spectacles up on his face as he looks up. What he sees is lodged somewhere between incredible and terrifying. There’s a dark cloud dropping from the sky, swirling like a whirlwind. However, it doesn’t pick anything up or knock anything over. It just hovers there, and if Namjoon didn’t know better he’d say the cloud was looking for something.
“What’s that?” she asks as she takes a tiny step forward.
Namjoon grabs her arm. “Lilly we don’t know what that is.”
“Namjoon,” she says his name with a smile, “this is Neverland. The only truly dangerous thing here is your lack of coordination.” She pulls out of his grasp and runs toward the ominous cloud.
Namjoon watches as she disappears towards the dark mass before following, but he stops when he notices the man, tall and lean, his menacing dark eyes tracking Lilly’s advancement. The stranger is dressed in pirate gear, all black from head to toe. Namjoon doesn’t recognize him, and as far as he knows his family members are the only pirates in Neverland. He turns his head to look for Lilly and sees her moments before she enters the black cloud.
“Lilly! No!” he calls as loud as he can, but it’s too late.
He breaks out into a run, arriving next to the cloud in seconds, mere inches from where he’d watched Lilly enter. Namjoon is about to go in when the fluffy mist disappears. A blood-curdling scream escapes when he sees her. If not for the circumstances what he sees would be beautiful. She’s frozen in place, but every feature is amplified. Her lips are slightly parted, and the red that stains them is so vibrant, almost as if he’s watching the blood travel to the surface. Every line and angle of her features is pronounced from the soft curve of her cheeks to the slight blush that colored them from running. She is stunning and made of glass, her colors stained to perfection, turning the woman into a living piece of art.
“Lilly! No, no, no.” Namjoon turns toward the man dressed in black. “What have you done? What have you done?!” he screams at the stranger.
“She’s beautiful, isn’t she?” The man seems mesmerized by his own handiwork. “She’ll always remain this way. Stunning. Youthful. Never to be scarred by life.”
“Bring her back.” Namjoon is crying and it hurts to breathe. He’s never felt pain like this, where the wounds aren’t visible because they’re inside his soul.
The man continues his speech, unaffected by Namjoon’s misery.
“It’s beautiful here, too beautiful. There’s no darkness here, no sadness. This world where dreams come true.” He turns to Namjoon as though seeing him for the first time. “Don’t you think so too? This is the first time you’ve ever cried, isn’t it? I mean really cried, because of pain? In my world, people feel what you’re feeling right now all the time. I want to change that, or at the very least offer them an alternative.” The man starts walking and Namjoon moves closer to Lilly, hand on the tip of his sword.
“Stay back,” he warns the black clad figure. “She’s not an art piece; she’s a human being. Now change her back before I kill you.” He draws the sword from the sheath and points it towards the man who is still approaching.
“Do you even know how to use that? I have lived many lives young one. Put your sword away. I do not wish to harm you.”
“I don’t care how many lives you’ve lived. I just care about her and the life you’re stealing from her.” Namjoon moves to stand directly in front of the glass statute.
The sword feels heavy in his hand, foreign. The stranger is right, he’s never used it. Yes he knows how, but he’s never had to, and right now with his emotions in such disarray he’s finding it hard to recall any of the sword fighting skills he had learned. He places both hands on the handle, steadying the weapon and himself as the man continues his advancements.
“Fine, have it your way. But the statue comes with me one way or the other.” The man’s voice is hard, the dream-like state from earlier gone.
“She’s not a statue, not a thing, and you will never have her.” He steps back preparing to assume a stance of protection, and as he does the heel of his boot taps the base of Lilly’s frozen form and the statute begins to wobble. Namjoon turns to grab the falling glass girl, tripping over his own foot in the process, and both he and the life-size figurine fall to the ground. He watches in horror as the glass shatters to bits before his eyes.
He’s reminded of Lilly’s words as he stares in dumbfounded silence, incapable of speaking, the words are stuck in his throat, unable to escape.
‘Namjoon…this is Neverland, the only truly dangerous thing here is your lack of coordination.’
He turns around to find that the dark pirate has disappeared, and it almost doesn’t matter because he knows Lilly is gone forever. When his voice returns, it’s with loud wails that can be heard in every corner of Neverland. The place where dreams come true has just experienced its first nightmare.
“What are you thinking about?” Hoseok’s voice in his ear draws him back to the present.
“Nothing,” he says as he walks away. “Call me when we’re near Indian Bay.” He doesn’t turn around, he doesn’t need to. He knows that Hoseok is looking, knows the man understands why his mood changed. Most importantly he knows Hoseok will give him the space he needs.
“Aye, aye, Captain,” Hoseok replies and silently whispers, I get it and I’m sorry.
“Can I call you Yoongi-bell?” Taehyung abruptly asks.
The boys are slowly getting used to their new home. For Jin Neverland is truly a wondrous place with no fear of separation. Jimin smiles here, Kyungsoo has found nothing to complain about (the biggest miracle of all), and Jackson has befriended everything from fairies to the towering trees in the Never Woods, the boy’s favorite being the wise oak in the center of the forest. Taehyung remains himself, and Jin surmises the youngster can survive anywhere happily.
“No, no you may not,” Yoongi says sternly, hovering in the air perched by Taehyung’s right ear. “Why would you even want to?”
“Your wings sound like tiny bells when you fly,” Taehyung says easily, followed up with, “I’m going to call you that anyway, so it doesn’t really matter. Okay, Yoongi-bell?”
Jin laughs when Taehyung walks away, leaving a flustered fairy in his wake.
“Don’t mind him Yoongi. You’ll get used to his antics, and despite your best efforts you’ll begin to like them, dragged in and destroyed by his charms.”
“Unlikely,” Yoongi says determinedly.
“Okay, suit yourself,” Jin says with a laugh, knowing Taehyung will win; the boy always does.
“So where to today?” Jin asks the still slightly irritated fairy.
“Mmm, I was thinking a trip to Indian Bay.”
“Indians!” Taehyung and Jimin’s excited voices have both Jin and Yoongi turning to face the pair. “Are we really going to meet real life Indians?” Jimin’s eyes are shining with glee, and Yoongi again wonders if the boy is some sort of magical being, the light in the boy’s eyes near blinding.
“Uhmm, yes?” the fairy answers, and it shouldn’t be a question but it feels like one.
“Oh, goody! Taetae, did you hear that? Real Indians!” He grabs his friend and the two youngest begin jumping around in circles, hitting hands against their mouths and making hollering sounds.
“Good lord, are they always like this?” Yoongi turns back to Jin.
“Mmm,” he nods. “So how far is Indian Bay?”
Yoongi smiles, pink gums exposed.
“Nothing's far when you have fairy dust and child-like belief.” He peers over at the two boys still hopping about in excitement.
A knowing smile spreads across Jin’s face. Fairy dust is the most amazing thing about Neverland, because a little pinch coupled with pure belief can go a long, long way.
“Jungkook, just hear me out.” Namjoon’s arrival at Indian Bay is not met with open arms, or welcoming smiles. He feels judged, on trial here and the verdict is guilty.
“No, I don’t want to.” The boy is running, reminding Namjoon of Lilly.
Both are fearless and always running, and Namjoon normally finds himself somehow lagging behind, unable to catch up.
“Jungkook stop,” Hoseok’s voice has the boy stopping in his tracks, and Namjoon almost laughs out loud, wondering how he’d survive life if Hoseok weren’t around.
Namjoon watches from the sidelines as Jungkook and Hoseok talk. The younger man looks pensive as he listens to whatever Hoseok is saying. After a while, Jungkook nods his head in what Namjoon can only guess is defeat as the boy starts walking in his direction. His stomach is curling with anxiety; he hadn’t expected the boy to actually give in. Jungkook looks up and their eyes meet, and Namjoon sees it, the familiar glint of anger that stirs in the boys orbs just before—
“Jungkook please, just…” He doesn’t get to finish. He watches helplessly as Jungkook dashes past him at full speed and all Namjoon can do is follow, knowing deep down he’ll never catch him.
“Do the Indians have a feather in their hair and carry a bow and arrow?” It’s the hundredth question Yoongi has answered no to, yet Taehyung seems to have an endless supply of them.
“Uhm, no. Where are you getting these ideas?” Yoongi asks, somewhat amused by the chatty boy.
“From my head and Sister Maria’s stash of picture books.”
“Jungkook, wait!” Jin is nearly knocked to the ground by the black-haired blur.
“No! You’ll never catch me, you smelly pirate,” the boy bites back.
“Pirate!?” Jin looks up to see a man not much older than himself, red coat flapping in the wind as he chases after the younger boy.
Jin steps in front of the man, blocking his way.
“What do you think you’re doing, chasing after a child like this?” Jin asks, his protective nature taking over.
“Get out of the way.” The man tries to run around him, but Jin matches the man’s attempts tit for tat, trapping the red-clad pirate.
“He’s a child and you’re practically an adult. You should be ashamed,” Jin scolds the stranger.
“You know nothing about what’s happening here. How dare you get in my way.” Namjoon pushes roughly until Jin trips, landing hard on the ground. “You’d best learn your place landlubber. Don’t go poking your button nose in where it doesn’t belong.” The man adjusts his feather hat. “Sorry for tripping you, but that boy and I have unfinished business.” The red pirate takes off after the boy.
“Taehyung, Jimin, come here.” Jin gets up, brushing the dirt from his clothing. “We need to get to the boy before that vile pirate does. Yoongi, can you sprinkle us with fairy dust? I have a plan.”
“Jin, this may not be such a good idea. Like Captain Joon said, you don’t know the story.”
“That may be true, but I do know that no one should be forced to do something they don’t want to do. Are you going to help me or not?” Yoongi shrugs and floats above the boys’ heads, drizzling green-gold dust down on them.
“Okay, here’s the plan. Jimin and I will block the man in red. Taehyung, you’ll catch up to the boy and see if he wants to hide out with us. Okay. You know how fairy dust works, we have to all believe. Our goal is to land between the two. Ready?” Taehyung and Jimin nod. “Jackson, you and Kyungsoo head back to camp. I think we may be bringing a guest home. Okay you two, on the count of three… one, two, three.”
The next time Namjoon sees the man with the button nose and pouty lips he’s even more irritated than the first.
“I told you to stop interfering in things you know nothing about.” He knows his voice sounds harsh, but this stranger really has no rights here.
“And I told you to stop chasing a defenseless child. Seems as though neither of us is good at listening. Jimin, move a little to the left and don’t let him pass,” the pouty-lipped man orders.
Namjoon looks at the small boy. The child looks scared but determined, and Namjoon decides against going after the tiny black-haired boy. His fight is with the older boy anyway. Namjoon considers charging at the man once again, but one look at the man’s broad shoulders and lean muscular frame and knows he’d never make it. The distance between himself and Jungkook has become an insurmountable mountain, so he stops fighting and looks the stranger in the eyes.
“One day you’ll realize what you’ve just done.” He turns and walks away.
Hoseok is waiting for him on the outskirts of Indian Bay.
“Were you able to catch him?” the man asks.
“No.” His anger is slowly boiling. “Someone helped him escape.”
“Not sure, I’ve never seen him before. I don’t think he’s from around here. Another star maybe, but definitely not a Neverlander.”
“Do you think he may know the black pirate?” Hoseok’s question has Namjoon stopping in his tracks.
“I hadn’t thought about that, but I don’t think so. The Dark Pirate is evil; this man is just annoying and rude and a busybody. How dare he tell me what I should do, he has no rights here.” Namjoon begins to pace. He’s filled with a mixture of anger, guilt, and disappointment.
“What happened?” Hoseok probes gently.
“He told me I should stop chasing Jungkook, then told me I should be ashamed of going after a defenseless child. Can you believe he called Jungkook defenseless? Helpless my boot!” Namjoon turns around when he hears Hoseok chuckle. “What’s so funny?”
“Not funny really so much as it’s nice to see this part of you again.”
“What part of me?”
“The part with fight and righteous anger. You’re not whining or sad. This is the you that could command a ship without fake pirate words. I miss this version of you.” Hoseok’s voice is sincere and Namjoon wonders when that version of him disappeared.
“I’m sorry Hobs. I’ve changed a lot, I know. I never meant to, it just happened.”
“I don’t need an apology Joon. I just want my friend back.” Hoseok’s voice holds a hint of sadness that makes Namjoon want to try harder.
He pats his friend on the back.
“I promise to try harder Hobs. I miss him too,” he says as he walks past the man to his quarters.
Jin’s lying on his back staring up at the luminous petals of silver that freckle the sky, the tiny lights twinkling with life and Jin feels himself smiling. It’s an unconscious reaction to the natural beauty that surrounds him. He looks over at Jungkook. The boy seems at home snuggled in between Jimin and Taehyung who have claimed the boy as their own. His mind drifts to the pirate in red. Joon, that’s what Jungkook had called the man. Try as he might he is unable to shake off the man’s final words to him. There was something in the man’s tone that rang true, that felt real.
What had he done?
He looks at Jungkook again, smiling and giggling, no different from any of the other boys he’s sworn to forever protect, his forever boys.
“What are you thinking about?” Kyungsoo comes to sit next to him.
“Nothing and everything,” Jin says as rolls over on his side to face the boy. “The man, the one chasing Jungkook, Joon. He said that one day I’d realize what I’d done. What do you think he meant? Should I have let him capture the child?”
“I can’t help you with what the pirate meant, but what I can do as your friend is tell you to follow your gut. Stay true to yourself and your decision, even if you choose wrong because it will work out the way it was meant to in the end.” Kyungsoo picks at blades of glass as he speaks. “He looks happy though, Jungkook I mean. Tae has taken to calling him Tigerkook,” Kyungsoo says with a slight grin.
“Tae and his nicknames. Serious question Soo. Are you happy here? Do you resent my decision to touch the ball that day in the shop?” Jin’s tone his careful. He respects Kyungsoo and wants an honest opinion.
“When we first got here, yes.” The male runs a hand through his short hair. “You took us from our home and it was jarring at first. But since coming to Neverland I’ve changed my mind. Here we’re free, without fear that at any moment someone can come in and separate us. I haven’t seen Jimin talk this much ever. We’re happy and healthy and we have each other, and that’s what matters.”
Jin nods and relief fills his core. Neverland was not intentional but it feels more home-like to Jin than any place he has been before, and he’s not sure he ever wants to leave. Laughter from behind him has Jin turning his head. Jackson is balancing Jimin on his shoulders as the boy reaches up to grab a fruit being handed to him by the tree they are leaning against. He smiles. Kyungsoo is right; he made the right choice. He’s not sure what the red pirate meant, but he will protect Jungkook from harm as long as he has the strength to do so.
“Thanks Soo. I needed to hear that, especially from you. Let’s get these youngsters to bed before Yoongi wakes the sun on us.”
“Mmm… Wonder what pattern he’ll make this time. That Kangaroo punching Chanyeol was ingenious, that fairy is clumsy as hell.” Kyungsoo’s words have Jin laughing hysterically. Yoongi is indeed an artist.
PART THREE: THE THREAT
“Jin hyung, Jin hyung wake up.” Taehyung’s voice breaks into Jin’s peaceful slumber.
“Tae, can it wait until morning?” Jin asks, cracking an eye open.
“They’re here again hyung, looking for Jungkook, the pirates.”
Jin jumps up with a start, his fuzzy brain having trouble formulating a plan right away. He orders Taehyung to round up the other boys and meet him at the entrance to Fairy Harbor. This is the fourth time since Jungkook’s extended stay with the boys that the pirate has tried to capture him. Jungkook has offered no explanation as to why the man is so determined, and Jin has not forced the issue.
The boys arrive minutes later and Jin ushers them from the fairy’s quarters through the lush woods of the Neverland forest. Twigs and grass blades crunch under their feet and Jin hopes the pirates can’t hear the crackling sound.
“Shh, step lighter,” he whispers to the boys.
They weave between sleeping trees, hiding behind the large trunks belonging to the guardians of the Never Woods. The air is quiet and still, and Jin marvels at the serenity of his surroundings. He’s been in Neverland for what feels like months, yet the beauty of the landscape still fills him with awe. The ground is covered with flowers of every shade and color imaginable, so vibrant it’s as though the colors are breathing with life. Vines gently twist around the deep mahogany trunks of the trees, and the sight reminds Jin of being wrapped in a blanket, warm and comfortable. The smell is fresh. Jin can almost taste the sweet scent of the flowers rising in the crisp air.
“Hyung, where are we going?” Jackson’s question stops him dead in his tracks.
Given his impromptu awakening Jin did not have time to formulate a plan, and in all honesty, he has no idea where he’s going. He’s distracted by his lack of foresight, so much so he isn’t paying attention to the path before him. He is about to answer Jackson when his sudden halt in movement causes a chain collision behind him, propelling all six boys forward and over a ledge.
“I don’t know.” The words echo behind him as he falls through the air.
They land on a leafy arch tucked in between two giant sequoias and floating down into a grove of Neverbirds. The birds squawk loudly at the boy’s invasion of their home, flapping translucent, glow in the dark wings and creating a kaleidoscope of color above the boys’ heads as they fly away.
“We got pirates chasing us. We fall nearly one hundred feet to our deaths. Then you see something like that, and you think, ‘ahh worth it.’” Taehyung ducks in time to escape the flick of Jimin’s finger to his forehead. “What? It’s true.”
Jungkook’s laughter catches the five boys off guard.
“Taehyung you’re so funny,” the boy says holding his stomach, crunched in a ball, body convulsing and bunny teeth on full display.
“See. Tigerkookie gets it,” Taehyung states victoriously with a large boxy smile on his face.
“Pawpaw, when does the bad man come?” The child asks, eyes wide and questioning.
His love leans over and places a kiss on the child’s curly locks.
“Pawpaw’s almost there Wendy bear. Just a bit more, okay?”
“Okay,” She leans over, stretching to reach Namjoon’s ear. “Don't fourgret the soowoords, okay Pawpaw?” she whispers loudly.
“Pawpaw would never forget the swords, that's the best part!” Namjoon exclaims.
“That's not the bestest part though,” the little girl giggles.
He smiles. Wendy’s right, it’s most definitely not the bestest part.
“Why do you continue to hide him?” Namjoon is standing toe to toe with the stranger.
“He says he doesn’t want to talk to you. He says you broke something he loved. He says you can't be trusted. Are those good enough reasons for you?” The man’s eyes are slanted, and a fierce glint of anger colors the dark orbs.
“Are you just going to take his word without ever hearing my side?” Namjoon is not sure why he’s even bothering with this man.
“Let me see,” the man says slowly. “He’s a defenseless boy and you’re a pirate with a sword. Who would you believe?”
Namjoon won’t lie, the nosy man has a point. However, at this moment he doesn’t care.
“So, you’re going to judge without hearing the entire story?” Namjoon is irate. He loved Lilly and would have died in her place. He’s tired of being unfairly judged. He knows the stranger is doing what he thinks is right, but Namjoon will be damned if he continues to let the man stand in his way. “Move!” He pushes the man roughly and to his surprise brute force works, and the man goes crashing to the earth.
He takes off in the direction he saw Jungkook and the other boys heading before the stranger blocked his path. The feather in his tricorn is flailing about as he runs, swatting him in the face and making it hard for him to see. Stopping briefly to remove the offending item, Namjoon hears a heart-stopping scream coming from beyond the trees on the outskirts of the wooded grove. He forgets his headgear, the noise reminding him of the day that very same sound escaped his lips.
“Jungkook!” The boy’s cries have Namjoon running at full speed. Lilly would never forgive him if Jungkook were hurt.
He reaches the boys moments later and Jungkook is not among them.
“Where’s Jungkook?” He asks.
A tall, lanky boy stares at him. The boy’s eyes are wide and he’s visibly shaking.
“Where’s Jungkook?” Namjoon asks again, lightly shaking the boy by the shoulder, trying to break the trance.
“He’s… he’s dead.” The boy’s voice breaks and large tears roll down his angled, dirt-stained face.
“What do you mean?” Namjoon’s mind is reeling.
The boy points to the cliff at the edge.
“He fell. I told him to not run so fast, but he wouldn't stop and he, he…” The child can’t get the rest of the words out.
Namjoon releases the boy and walks to the edge, his heart pounding, the beats growing louder with each step. By the time he reaches the tip the only sound Namjoon registers is the rapidfire thumps of his heart as it tries to escape his chest.
Perched on the edge of the cliff Namjoon takes a deep breath before looking over, trying to mentally prepare himself for what he’s about to see. He leans forward, slowly letting his eyes survey the ground below… he doesn’t see Jungkook’s body. His eyes travel up, and he finds the boy hanging from a tree branch growing out of the side of the mountain.
“Jungkook! Hold on, hold on!” Namjoon yells and is nearly knocked off the cliff when the four boys bump into him from behind.
“Kookie!” the tall, lanky boy yells.
“What are we going to do, hyung?” a shorter boy asks.
Namjoon’s about to turn around to find a rope or a vine, anything that will be long enough to get to the dangling boy, when he sees it, the dark tornado-like mist, swirling and swallowing everything in its path. The cloud is on the western-most tip of forest on the other side of the cliff from where Jungkook is currently hanging. Namjoon squints, trying to see better and notices tiny rays of light, almost like the reflection that comes when light bounces off of glass.
“Oh my god,” he says under his breath.
“What, what’s wrong?” The stranger is right behind him, having caught up. Namjoon turns to stare at him.
“It’s back. We, we need to get Jungkook. We can’t let it get him too.” Namjoon wants to scream not again. He silently begs Lilly for help, for wisdom. He’s frantic with fear. He can’t let it take Jungkook too. “We need a rope or a strong vine, anything. We have to get to him before the fog does.”
“What fog? Where’s Jungkook?” the man asks.
“That fog, the one that took Lilly. The one that will take Jungkook if we don’t get to him in time.” Namjoon points to the boy holding tight to the limb.
“Oh my god, how… what?”
“Jungkook first, questions after.” Namjoon looks around hoping to spot something that he can use to rescue the boy.
“I have an idea,” the stranger says over his shoulder.
He turns to look at the man and it’s as though he’s seeing him for the first time, and maybe he is. Up until this moment the man has been nothing more than a roadblock between himself and Jungkook. The man’s eyes are determined, and the look oddly reminds him of Lilly. He shakes his head. He can’t afford to be emotional right now. It is not the time for self-pity.
“I’m open to anything.”
“Well there’s six of us here, that means six coats. What if we tie them end to end? I know ours are a little tattered, but the material is strong. Together they should be enough to reach him.”
The man looks at Namjoon as though searching for confirmation.
It’s the best option they have as he watches the fog’s steady approach. Namjoon begins to undo the buttons of his calf-length jacket and watches as the other five boys do the same. He looks down, remembering the sash around his waist, and adds it to the stack of clothing piled in front of him. He watches intently as the stranger weaves the garments together, creating a rope-like design using his sash as the thread. He peers over the edge.
“Hold on Jungkook. We’re coming, okay?”
The boy nods and Namjoon’s heart leaps. It’s the first time in a while that the boy has acknowledged his presence or his words. He hopes this is an opening to mend their broken relationship.
“Okay, let’s put the two strongest at the front and back and everyone grab a hold in the middle. Jackson, you’re in the front and the Captain I will maintain the rear. Jimin, you help Jackson. Taehyung, you and Soo in the center, okay?”
The boys get in position and Namjoon follows suit, and they throw the makeshift rope over the edge.
“Jungkook, wait for it to clear the branch before grabbing on,” the boy known as Jackson yells over the edge, his words creating an echo as he speaks.
There is a faint “okay” heard as Jungkook replies, and Namjoon can feel the heaviness in his soul lighten. The garments tighten as Jungkook’s weight impacts it. The six men move as one, pulling the clothing toward them until Jungkook’s hand grabs at the edge and Jackson drags him to the surface.
“Kookie,” the lanky boy that Namjoon now knows as Taehyung yells as he throws himself on top of an exhausted Jungkook.
Namjoon is envious of the boy’s no boundaries relationship with Jungkook. He stays back, not wanting to interrupt, even if every inch of him wants to make sure Jungkook is really okay.
“He’s fine,” the voice is coming from the left, and he turns to see the stranger looking at him.
“He has some bruises and scrapes, but he’s okay.” They stand quietly, observing the boys. “Thank you.” The stranger says suddenly.
“For what?” Namjoon asks.
“Not sure, to be honest,” the man gives an awkward laugh. “I guess for keeping me sane. Your presence grounded me. For helping to save Jungkook and making sure my boys didn’t see someone they love die. I mean, I don’t think we would have saved him without you here. So thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” He looks at the man and is about to say something when he sees the fog in the distance and remembers the threat to their safety isn’t over. “We need to move. It’s coming.”
“The fog, the thing that got Lilly. It’s coming.” Namjoon unties the garments and takes his jacket and sash. “That.” He points to the dark cloud gradually making its way toward them.
“What is it?” The man asks, stepping forward to get a better view.
“I don’t know.” Namjoon feels helpless as the words fall from his lips. He didn’t know what to do the day Lilly walked into the cloud, and he doesn’t know what to do now.
“Oh my god, oh my god.” He watches as the man’s eyes grow wide, “Is it… is it turning everything to stone?”
“No, glass,” Namjoon answers automatically.
“Glass.” It’s not a question, but he answers.
“Is that what took Lilly?” Namjoon focuses on the voice, Jungkook?
“Yes.” His throat feels dry as though he’d swallowed sand. “I really did try to save her Jungkook. I’m sorry I failed.” It’s what he’s been wanting to tell the boy since the day Lilly died.
The boy doesn’t answer, but he doesn’t run away either, and Namjoon thinks that’s good enough for now. He clears his throat.
“We need to get out of here. My ship is just beyond the hedge.”
“A pirate ship?!” Taehyung’s voice can be heard behind him.
“Yes, a pirate ship.” Namjoon stares at the wide-eyed boy
“Oh, goody! Come on Jimin, Kookie, hyungs we’re gonna go be pirates.” He grabs Jungkook and a smaller boy with soft black hair and pudgy cheeks, dragging them behind him as he runs in the direction of the ship.
Namjoon turns and catches the stranger’s eyes, and the man shrugs and follows after the three boys.
Namjoon knows he’s made the right decision when Taehyung yells, “Shiver me timbers,” at the top of his lungs.
Mark is a helmsman, not a babysitter. He rolls his eyes at the three boys perched at his feet.
“For the last time, no you can not steer.”
“But why? It’s not like we could do any worse than you?” Jungkook deadpans.
Mark would argue, but the boy’s probably right.
“How’s it going?” Hoseok enters the deck, eyes glued to Jungkook who’s sitting leaned into Taehyung.
Mark notices the slight gleam of jealousy dancing in the man’s eyes.
“It’s fine, these ruffians are just begging to steer.”
“It can’t hurt to give a try, right?” Hoseok says to Mark’s dismay.
“Are you serious?” Mark and the three boys say in unison.
“You all promise to obey, right boys?”
Three heads nod as one.
“See, it’ll be fine.”
“Okay, but as a reward I get to drink as much as I want tonight,” Mark counters.
“Deal. Jungkook be careful okay?” Hoseok stares at the boy a beat too long and again Mark catches it. He makes a note to talk to Hoseok later while he’s drunk... as loud as possible so everyone can hear.
Payback is indeed a sweet thing.
Jin and Joon are not friends, but they are not enemies anymore either. They have formed a bond based on their mutual desire to protect the things they love from the dark funnel that is leisurely consuming the westward-most portion of Neverland.
“So there is a person behind all this?” Jin asks the blonde.
“Yes. He’s not a Neverlander though. I think he may come from the dark star. It’s the only explanation that makes sense,” Namjoon replies. He’s pacing back and forth nervously, and Jin wants to tell him to stop but he doesn’t.
“How do you know all this?” Namjoon has been feeding him bits and pieces of how he came in contact with the stormy looking cloud, but never the full picture.
“I just do, okay?” The man’s answer is short, but not angrily so, the tone more hurt and sad than irritated.
“I want to help, Joon. Neverland is the only place that truly feels like home to me. I’m not asking you to tell me all your secrets. I just think we have a better chance of fighting this, this… whatever it is, together.”
Jin tries to reason, and he sees the wheel spinning in the pirate’s head. The man has no reason to trust him; he’s a stranger, and one who until recently has been standing in the man’s way. He’s still not sure why the pirate wanted Jungkook, but he does know that Jungkook doesn’t hide from the man anymore.
Namjoon sighs and Jin looks up.
“I know. I just need some time,” he says, running a hand through his blonde hair.
“Don’t take too much time deciding Joon, a third of the west-most forest has already crystallized. We don’t have a lot of time left.” Jin gets up from the table in the mess hall, leaving the blonde to his thoughts.
Taehyung bumps into him as he enters the hallway.
“Hyung, hyung, Yoongi-bell is here.” The boy runs off after delivering the message and Jin follows him.
The fairy is perched on Kyungsoo’s shoulder studying a map of some sort that the short-haired man is holding.
“Jin look at this,” Soo calls him over.
“What is it?”
“It’s a moving map,” Jungkook exclaims.
“A moving map?” Jin’s brows arch quizzically.
“Mmm, it’s a map of all of Neverland. See, there’s Mermaid Lagoon and Fairy Harbour. The map shows the activities of each quadrant--”
“But most importantly,” Yoongi cuts Jungkook off, “it shows the movement and growth of the dark cloud.”
Jin studies the map. The west end is almost halfway covered in white, sparkling like diamonds or stars. The remainder is green and luscious, and Jin wonders for how much longer.
“Yoongi can you tell me what happened the day you ended up in the orb?”
“Again?” the fairy asks. “It will be almost the fifth time.”
“I know, but I feel like I’m missing something. One more time.”
“Suho and I noticed it one morning. I flew toward it and saw a man dressed in black. He was holding a small round ball, and it looked as though the cloud was coming from the circular object. I flew full-force toward the item hoping to knock it out of his hand. But instead, on impact the ball sucked me and all of Neverland inside and landed us in the ocean of your earth.”
“You said many hands touched the ball during that time, correct?” Jin’s mind is spinning.
Why did the ball bring him here? Why did his touch affect it when so many others hadn’t? How did the ball end up in Seunghyun’s glass shop?
“Yes, we were in your world for many, many years. The ball passed through many hands. The only other time I felt activity was when the shop owner with the dark hair touched it.”
Jin perks up; this is the first time Yoongi has mentioned this.
“I don’t know names. But if he has dark hair and dark eyes then yes, him.”
“What did you feel?”
“A jolt. It was almost like a bolt of lightning had struck us. I flew to the surface and, and… oh my god. I can’t believe I forgot this.” The fairy alights from Kyungsoo’s shoulder, wings flapping furiously, gold-green fairy dust filling the air. “He wasn’t scared or shocked to see me. It was like he expected it!”
“Could Seunghyun hyung be the black pirate?” Soo’s wide doe eyes are staring at Jin in shock.
“It seems to be the only logical conclusion right now,” Jin says, rubbing his head.
“Hyung,” Jimin’s unusually loud voice startles them. “That day in the shop when we got caught, you told Soo hyung that you felt drawn there, remember? You said you felt like there was something there you were supposed to find. Maybe, maybe Neverland was that thing?”
Jin does remember. In the fact, that day has been on his mind since encountering the dark mist some two weeks back. Something inside is telling him that he can stop it, that he’s meant to stop it. But how? He keeps this thought quiet for the time being.
“This will sound strange, but Sarang still thinks you might be a Pan.” Yoongi flies closer to Jin’s face.
“A Pan?” Jungkook stands ups immediately. “I’ve always wanted to meet a real live Pan.” The boy states excitedly.
“What’s a Pan?” Jackson asks looking up at the fairy.
“Pans are the most powerful beings in Neverland. They are the protectors of dreams and hopes.”
“Then hyung must be a Pan,” Taehyung chirps, “because he’s been protecting us for years.”
“I’m not a Pan, I wasn’t even born here,” Jin dismisses the idea, or tries to. The word sounds familiar like a whispered reminder in his ear.
He remembers having dreams when he was younger of a woman with eyes that sparkled like the sun, skin as white as snow, and rose red lips. She was beautiful, and on the nights she visited him in his dreams he felt protected, safe and loved. In the dream she would tell him he was special, that he had a purpose, that be needed to believe. And he did for a while, believe. But life in the orphanage got progressively more depressing, and believing became harder and harder to do, and one day the dreams stopped and he never questioned why.
“You don’t know that,” Yoongi throws out. “You’re an orphan, you don’t know where you came from. If Sarang is right, your mother may have taken you to live among the earth dwellers to keep you safe.”
“Safe from what? From fairies and happy trees? What could she possibly have been saving me from here? Look, stop with all this speculation. I’m not a Pan, and even if I were there’s no way to prove it.” Jin’s not sure why he feels so upset. His gut feels tight and cold, and it hurts talking about a mother, especially when he wants one so badly. The feelings of abandonment rear their ugly heads and Jin just wants to run.
He turns to leave and walks directly into Joon. The man is solid and warm, and Jin is broken and cold. The emotions are more than he can handle on his own, and before he knows what’s happened he’s clutching the front of Joon’s jacket, burying his face in the crook of the man’s neck and shoulder as his body rocks with uncontrollable sobs. When strong hands wrap around him Jin sinks deeper. He cries until every emotion has been washed cleaned, until his eyes sting, until he has no tears left.
“It’s okay.” The voice in his ear is comforting. The deep rich tone of the pirate’s words wrap around his core like a cocoon, sheltering him and keeping him safe. “It’s okay.” The man repeats the phrase and Jin listens until he believes.
‘I’m so sorry.” He steps away from Joon wiping the tears from his face. “I’m not sure what just happened.”
“It’s okay, I get it. I understand that kind of pain. I live with it every day. Never be ashamed to cry.” When Jin looks up he doesn’t see a pirate or someone with a questionable moral compass. When he looks into Joon’s eyes he sees a man. A man just like him, who wants to be loved…just like him.
He steps away from the man. Jin’s not sure why, but in that moment of realization Joon’s presence has become overwhelming, almost consuming, and he is confused at the sudden sensation.
He turns and bows to the boys and the fairy, apologizing for his outburst. A round of “it’s okay,” “we love you hyung” follows and Jin smiles. Family, this is his family, and he’ll protect them to the bitter end.
“There is a way,” Yoongi says out of the blue.
“A way for what?” Jin asks.
“A way to prove that you’re a Pan.”
Jin stares at him, afraid to ask the next question. What if he fails.
“How?” Joon asks in his stead.
“It would require him to believe,” Yoongi says solemnly.
“In what?” Kyungsoo follows up the questioning.
‘Oh, I’ll fail that test for sure then,” Jin tries to joke, but the answer sounds genuine.
“What’s the test?” Joon asks, coming to stand by Jin’s side. The man’s closeness unnerves him and comforts him, and Jin is too overwhelmed by all that’s transpired to question why.
“He could fly.”
“He’s done that before though,” Taehyung reminds them.
“Without fairy dust,” Yoongi adds.
“Ooo!” Taehyung verbalizes what everyone is thinking.
Jin feels like he’s about to faint. He reaches out and once again Joon is an anchor holding him in place. The man’s hand rests on the crook of his back, and Jin is thankful.
“I think we all need to sleep on it,” Joon breaks the silence that ensued. “A good night's rest will bring us more clarity, don’t you think Kyungsoo?” Joon has come to respect the man’s thoughtful presence.
“Yes. I agree.”
Jin sighs in relief.
“Can you walk?” Joon asks, face so close Jin can feel the man’s breath on his neck.
“Y-yes, I think so,” Jin stutters out.
“Good, I’ll accompany you to your quarters.”
“No! Uhmm, I mean that’s fine.” Jin turns towards the three youngest, “Taehyung, Jimin and Jungkook, it’s time for bed. Come with me.” He ignores the whines and protests that come as the boys follow him to their room.
Had Jin looked back he would have seen a pair of eyes intently staring at him, eyes that held a question in them. The very same question that now fills his own mind.
What is this?
PART FOUR: THE PAN
Namjoon quickly learns that Jin is the king of evading things. The man finds every excuse under the moon and the sun to dodge Yoongi and Sarang’s pleas for him to test their Pan theory. The more time that Namjoon spends in the man’s presence, the more comfortable he grows. Jin is a mixture of maturity and child-like wonder. The man loves fiercely and completely, and Namjoon has on more than one occasion wished himself to be one of Jin’s Forever Boys, to be on the receiving end of such passionate care.
“You’re staring again,” Hoseok’s voice pulls him from his thoughts.
It’s very hard not to stare; Jin is beautiful. The man is tall with broad shoulders and an even wider smile. He’s manly and rugged, yet his curves are smooth and soft, straddling the line of femininity. Jin’s eyes sparkle like diamonds gleaming in the sun when he smiles, and those lips... Namjoon has spent many nights trying not to think about them. He’s desperately attracted to the could be Pan.
“I know. I’m not sure how to stop,” Namjoon answers honestly.
“Who says you have to?” Hoseok replies.
“There are so many other important things going on right now. Our world, our home is slowly disappearing. Jungkook finally talks to me. I can’t be attracted to someone right now, especially if I’m not sure if it’s his similarity to Lilly that draws me. He smiles like her, has the same determination and fire.” Namjoon sighs and turns to face his friend. “Also, let’s not forget he’s a man.”
“You think too much. Love is not time sensitive, doesn’t care about what’s happening in the world. It comes with one goal in mind, giving you something to hold on to when times get rough. Jin could be the chance you’ve been praying for. Don’t let your mind talk out of what you want.”
“What does he want?” Jin’s sudden appearance has Namjoon blushing.
“H-how much of that did you hear?” he asks nervously.
“Just that part,” Jin replies nonchalantly. “Why? Are you planning on making me walk the plank?”
Namjoon smiles. “Only if you continue to be stubborn about the Pan test.”
Jin’s features scrunch in concern. Their relationship is easy and homey, so much so that sometimes Namjoon forgets the dangers that await them in Neverland. He’s so lost in the glow of Jin’s charms.
A flash of light to his left grabs his attention and walks over to the desk. The moving map is glowing, new areas twinkling brightly.
“It’s spreading,” Jin says, peering over his shoulder.
“Yes,” Namjoon’s voice is weighted, heavy with worry.
He needs to broach the subject, needs to find a way to convince Jin to take the test.
“Come with me,” he says softly and Jin nods.
They walk silently to the furthermost deck of the ship. The sky is radiant, as though smiling down at them.
“This where I stood the first time I saw her, Lilly. She was the most stunning creature I’d ever laid eyes on. She was strong and stubborn, funny and smart,” Namjoon bites back the just like you that almost escapes. “She never met a challenge that she was afraid to tackle. She used to say the only dangerous thing about Neverland was my lack of coordination.” Namjoon takes a deep breath. “That day, after the darkness had turned her into living art, I proved her right. I stepped back a little too far trying to protect her from the dark pirate, and tripped over my own feet and had to watch as Lilly shattered into a million pieces against a rock.”
Namjoon feels the tears running down his face. He pushes through; he needs to get to his point, needs to tell this story, needs Jin to at least want to try.
“Everyday I live with this knowledge: I killed her. The dark pirate may have turned her to glass, but it was my clumsy actions that took her life. I don’t have a way of bringing her back, I can’t reverse what I’ve done… but you—you could be a Pan. You could be the one that saves us all, that gives me an opportunity to at least have a fighting chance to make up for my mistakes.”
Jin stares at Joon’s tear stained face. He wants to touch, to wipe the liquid away. He wants to comfort the man the way he had comforted him, but he doesn’t move, doesn’t reach out. He just stands there listening as the man begs him for a second chance and his heart breaks.
“Will you be there to save me?” He’s not sure where the question comes from.
“I’ll protect you with my life Jin.” The fierce sincerity of the answer takes him by surprise.
“Okay. But pinky swear.” Jin knows it’s childish, but nobody ever goes back on a pinky swear.
Namjoon links their two fingers, his thin, straight one wrapping around Jin’s slightly crooked one.
“Does it hurt?” The question slips out as he stares at the man’s digits.
“No. Not really.” Jin’s voice is soft, but his skin is softer.
“I swear,” Namjoon says as he taps their thumbs together. Jin doesn’t let go after the promise, he doesn’t want to. He’s staring hard, he knows it, but it can’t be helped. Namjoon is blushing, and the red hue is distracting.
“Ahem,” Yoongi clears his throat causing the two men to jump apart. “Do you want me to come back later?” the fairy asks, and Jin can hear the mirth hiding in his voice.
“No, no,” Namjoon answers too quickly.
“Okay then.” The fairy turns his attention to Jin. “Have you made a decision? The cloud has made it’s way to the tip of the eastern border. It won’t be long till it enters Mermaid Lagoon. I know this is scary but if--”
“I’ll do it,” Jin cuts him off.
“Really?” Yoongi sounds genuinely shocked, and if he weren't so scared, Jin would laugh.
“Yes, or at least I will try. But if I say no, please promise that you won’t push me to continue.”
Yoongi looks at Joon and the two men nod their agreement.
They make a plan to meet at the cliffs of Fairy Harbour just before sunrise.
“Hyung are you sure?” Jimin’s voice is colored with concern.
“Yes, I think it’s the right thing to do. If there is a chance I can save Neverland I should at least try, right?”
“This is different Jin. It’s not as simple as locking a Nun in a closet or sneaking food from the pantry,” Kyungsoo interjects.
“I know Soo, I do. But from the moment we arrived here this place has felt like home, has felt right. It’s felt like finding the missing piece of a puzzle, once in place you see the whole picture.” Jin pats the man on the back. “If something happens to me take care of our boys, okay?” He whispers the last part, making sure only Soo hears him.
The shorter man nods.
“Okay, who wants to eat? Captain Joon says there’ll be a feast tonight. I’m feeling so generous I’m going to allow the youngest to stay up well past their bedtime to enjoy the festivities.”
The three boys whoop and holler.
Jin basks in their sounds of joy. Tonight may be his last night, and he is determined to spend it making happy memories with his family.
The morning comes too quickly, Jin thinks to himself as he walks sandwiched between Joon and several fairies, led by Yoongi and Sarang. They stop at the landing of the cliff, and Jin’s heart rate rises exponentially. He peers over the edge, swallowing hard, and his saliva feels like it’s stuck in his throat, the fall is deep and long and omg what am I thinking!
“I don’t think I can do this.” His voice is shaking.
“The fairies are here. They’ll sprinkle fairy dust if necessary; you won’t fall, I promise.” Namjoon’s words don't have the same calming effect they normally do.
“I believe you, but I don’t think I can do it,” Jin says as he mentally measures the distance between falling and landing.
“Okay, we won’t force you to do anything you don’t want to,” Namjoon says with a smile and Jin relaxes a bit.
He feels the man’s hand on his back, and before he can register what is happening he is being shoved hard off the ledge.
“You promised!” he yells at the blonde who is smiling.
“I lie. I do that sometimes. It’s called being a pirate.”
“How could you do that to me?” Jin continues angrily.
“Jin, look down,” Namjoon says calmly.
Jin obeys and is shocked to find himself suspended, hovering in front of Namjoon’s face, standing on nothing but air.
“I, I did it.” He can't hide the shock from his voice.
“Yes, yes you did,” Namjoon’s smile is infectious, and Jin swoops forward straight into the man’s arms.
“I did it,” he whispers into the pirate's shoulder.
“I knew you could.” Namjoon’s words have butterflies erupting in his stomach, and Jin isn’t the least bit embarrassed.
“I knew it, I knew it!” Sarang flutters about excitedly.
The fairies’ wings are all fluttering loudly, and the ringing sound is the most beautiful melody Jin as ever heard. He’s still wrapped in Namjoon’s arms as he peers over the man’s shoulders, watching the iridescent dust fill the air like colored diamonds sparkling in the newly risen sun. The clouds have a message this morning, one that can be seen throughout all of Neverland: ALL HAIL THE PAN. NEVERLAND IS SAVED.
He is the Pan.
“Can you still fly Grandpa?” The child asks laying a tiny hand on Jin’s.
“That’s a secret Wendy Bear. A Pan never reveals his powers outside of Neverland.”
The child puts a tiny finger to her lips.
“I pwomise not to tell anyone,” she whispers loudly.
Jin laughs, leans over and whispers quietly in the child’s ear. Her eyes widen with wonder, and
Namjoon can’t help the chuckle that escapes. He continues the story.
“So what’s the game plan?” Hoseok is the first to bring up the question on everyone’s mind.
“We have to get Jin close enough to touch the orb, I think.” Yoongi says from Jimin’s shoulder (Namjoon notices it’s the fairy’s favorite perching place, anywhere Jimin is).
“Wait. You want Jin to touch the orb?” Namjoon isn't sure he can allow that.
“It’s the only way,” Sarang chimes in. “Jin is the only one powerful enough to have a counter effect. His touch released us from our glass prison. So, in theory, it could stop the threat altogether.”
“What happens to Jin after?” Namjoon can feel his fear rising.
“Uhm…” the fairy blinks. “Honestly, I don’t know,” she murmurs.
“So what you’re saying is you want Jin to touch the ball and save Neverland without knowing how it will affect him?” Namjoon can feel the heat in his stomach burning through. “You realize we could be sending him to his death, right?”
“Joon,” Jin’s hand on his shoulder has him turning to face the man.
“I can’t allow that Jin. I can’t, I-I just can’t.” Namjoon isn't ready to lose another person.
“I took the test to save Neverland Joon. I have to at least try.” Jin’s words remind him so much of Lilly. He knows if it were her standing in front of him he’d be having the exact same argument.
He sighs, he won’t win.
“Then whatever happens, I’m coming with you.” He walks out of the crowded room as soon as the words are out his mouth, cutting off all objections.
He feels a hand on his shoulder minutes later.
“Great speech, Captain,” Mark’s words echo in the morning air.
“I mean it.”
“I know.” The thing about Mark is that he’s a man of few words. He never tries to change Namjoon’s mind or push his agenda. The man is a master at subtly imparting wisdom. Namjoon’s been friends with the tall, thin man long enough to know that Mark has something to say, and he’d be wise to listen.
“Spit it out,” he says, turning to face Mark.
“Before you make decisions you need to talk to Jin.”
“I’m always talking to Jin,” Namjoon retorts.
“Really? Does he know how you feel? Have you told him your name? Before you arbitrarily decide how things should be Namjoon, shouldn’t you lay all your cards on the table? What if he doesn’t want to carry the burden of your life? He needs to know what he’s taking on, what he gets in return.”
He doesn’t flinch at the sound of his name coming from Mark’s lips. He looks at his friend thoughtfully.
“I hate it when you’re right,” he answers directly.
“Really? How odd, because it’s my absolute favorite thing,” Mark says with a smile. “That and picking on Hoseok for being jealous of Jungkook and Taehyung. He likes that kid so much, and it’s so hilarious to watch.”
“You’re a bit evil at times, you know that, right? Maybe you should be the pirate.” Namjoon slaps the man on the shoulder.
“Mmmm. Maybe we should change the name of the ship from the Red Bullet to the Love Boat.” The statement makes Namjoon laugh loudly.
“Thank you my friend. I will take your words under advisement.”
“That’s all I ask.” Mark turns to leave. “Just so you know Joon, I support whatever decision you make, and so does Hobi.” With that, the man leaves.
Mark is right. Mark is always right, and it’s a bit obnoxious to be honest. Namjoon laughs at the odd thought. He needs to talk to Jin, and he’s worried. He closed himself off when Lilly died, and he never expected his heart to open up again, definitely not this easily. Jin had slipped past all his barriers unnoticed, and now that the man is there Namjoon is not ready to let him go.
“Ahhhh!” he exclaims running his hand through his blonde locks as he walks off the deck.
Jin loves the night about the ship the most. The ship is airborne, suspended just below the star-filled sky. The night air is cool on his face, and he lifts a finger, tracing imaginary patterns from dot to twinkling dot littered across the dark canvas. Every picture is Joon and he’s confused as to why.
When had it all changed? When did the man go from enemy to something more?
His mind is so busy trying to recall the moment that he doesn’t hear the footsteps as they approach.
“What are you doing?” Namjoon’s deep base voice echoes all around him.
“Nothing, just making patterns with the stars.”
“What kind of patterns?” He scoots over making room for the man to lie beside him.
“Just stuff.” He’s most certainly not going to be telling Joon the truth.
“Are you scared Jin?” The question comes out of left field.
He thinks about his answer.
“No, not really. It feels right to me.” He turns on his side, their faces inches away.
“I’m scared,” Namjoon says and his breath fans across Jin’s skin. “I’m terrified actually, of, of—losing you.” The words are so quiet Jin almost misses them. “Lilly was my world, and when she died it shattered along with her, and I never had a desire to rebuild it. Then you came along, and unbeknownst to me, you’ve been piecing me together little by little. I don’t think I’ll survive losing you too.”
“Joon,” Jin is cut off.
“Call me Namjoon. My name is Namjoon.”
“Namjoon,” the name sounds right on his tongue. “You--”
The second time he’s cut off it’s by warm lips on his own. The kiss is chaste and feather soft, and Jin smiles into it. It feels like a lightning strike charging his insides with white hot heat and bright shining joy.
“You can’t lose me Namjoon. I won’t allow it,” Jin says against the man’s mouth. “I’m the protector of dreams, remember? And you, you’re my dream.”
“Good, then I go where you go,” Namjoon says determinedly.
“Neverland is your home Namjoon. I could never ask you to give it up.”
This time the kiss is heated, and it’s a statement. Namjoon is telling him without words exactly what he feels. There is passion behind each inhale of Namjoon’s mouth, and Jin is drowning as the man’s tongue flits against his own, pulling out all his hidden desire. The kiss speaks of forever and tells Jin that Namjoon is his home, his forever home. When they break apart to catch their breath, Namjoon ends any argument that Jin could ever present.
“Home is not where you come from, my love. It’s where you make it. My home is wherever you are.”
Jin dreams of her that night, wrapped tightly in Namjoon’s arms, the woman from his childhood. There are tears in eyes, and her smile is wide and so bright that Jin unconsciously raises his hand to shade his eyes.
You’re home my love. I knew you’d find your way. I’m sorry I wasn’t strong enough to be there with you in life. But I’m always here, always looking after you.
“Mom?” It’s the first time he’s felt brave enough to ask, to communicate.
Her smile widens and Jin feels its warmth radiating through him.
Yes, my love. I love you my Seokjin, my Pan. Forever.
She vanishes, but he doesn’t feel empty. Her warmth still lingers, and it mixes with Namjoon’s and Jin sinks into slumber.
“I love you too mom,” he whispers to the air as his sand filled eyes close.
Sarang is waiting for them on the deck early in the morning.
“I know what will happen if Jin touches the ball,” she informs them.
“What?” Namjoon is the first to ask.
“As expected he will stop the darkness, but… it will take him back to his world.” Her voice is heavy with sadness.
“We have to go back?” Jimin squeaks out.
“No Jimin, not we, me. I would never ask you all to leave Neverland.” Jin looks at the boys. “I promised you all a home when you first came to the orphanage, remember? I asked you trust me, and you did. So, now I ask you to trust me one more time, to save our home.”
“But, hyung,” Taehyung’s voice breaks, “home is where you are. Please don't leave us,” the boy cries.
“Don’t cry Tae.” Yoongi flutters over to the boy. “We’ve figured out a way for Jin to come back if he chooses to.”
The boy looks up and all Yoongi can think is, drats Jin was right, I’ve been won over by Taehyung’s charms. He smiles to himself.
“Here.” A fairy hands Jin a brown drawstring pouch.
He turns the bag over in his hand, and a chain with a locket falls into his palm.
“There is just enough fairy dust in there for one dream,” Sarang flies to face him. “Whenever you’re ready, you can always come back… home.”
Jin nods and places the chain around his neck.
He turns to Namjoon and smiles. It’s a question, one with no words, and when Namjoon nods his reply Jin knows he understands.
He opens his arms wide and is nearly knocked to the ground when the five boys file in together for a group hug.
“I love you all so much. Kyungsoo take care of our boys till I return, okay? Jackson, you too. The youngest are a handful so make sure to help Kyungsoo.”
He kisses the youngest boys, wiping tears from their cheeks. He watches as Jungkook breaks from the pack and walks over to Namjoon. They stand awkwardly for a brief moment before the boy throws his arms around blonde, hugging him tight.
“You come back home too, hyung.”
“I will. I promise.”
When night falls, Jin, holding Namjoon’s hand tightly in his own, lifts the man into the air. They hover above the Red Bullet for a bit, each saying their silent goodbyes to their family below. Jin heads east, towards the latest sighting of the cloud. They see the mist in the distance, and Namjoon taps Jin on the shoulder, pointing to a nearby tree. They land quietly, and Namjoon immediately begins a search for the man in black.
He spots the Dark Pirate several feet away from the cloud’s current location. He taps Jin on the shoulder again and points in the man’s direction.
“Drop me in front of him,” he whispers. “I’ll distract him while you go after the orb.”
He sees the fear suddenly rise in Jin’s eyes.
“I go where you go.” He repeats the mantra until he sees Jin’s fear begin to disappear. He kisses the man gently on the lips.
The short flight feels longer than the few feet it is.
When he lands in front of the man, the pirate jerks his head in his direction.
“Back again?” The man’s voice is menacing.
“I won’t let you destroy my home,” Namjoon says as he draws his sword.
“Hmmm, I guess you didn’t learn anything from our last encounter.” The man uses his free hand to unsheath the sword at his side. He lowers the hand holding the orb, and the mist slows to a near stop.
Namjoon lunges forward, sword hitting the side of the man’s face in a surprise attack. The man in black stumbles backward and the orb flies out of his grasp.
“Jin now!” Namjoon cries.
The man swoops in, grabbing the ball and Namjoon at the same time. The same flash of light that brought him and the boys to Neverland reappears.
When Jin opens his eyes he is greeted by the familiar smells and sounds of London. He sits up and finds that the orb not only transported him and Namjoon, but Seunghyun also. The glass ball is nowhere to be found, and Jin surmises it was destroyed in the blast of light.
He spots a constable walking in the distance and smiles when he is hit with the best idea ever.
“Help! Help!” he starts to scream.
The officer runs over, drawn by the noise.
“This man tried to rob us,” he points to Seunghyung. “My uncle managed to knock him out, but not before being clocked in the head.” Jin sounds frantic, and he knows the officer is too wrapped up in his tone to pay attention to much else.
The man blows his whistle, and soon Seunghyun is being dragged off to a holding cell.
The officer asks if he’s okay, but Jin waves him off, insisting that he and his uncle are fine.
Namjoon comes to a few minutes later.
“Where are we?” he asks groggily, rubbing his head as he tries to sit up.
“Home?” Jin says, answering a question with a question.
“We could go back immediately,” Namjoon points out.
“I know,” Jin says thoughtfully, “but it feels like I’m running away somehow. Did you mean it when you said home is where we make it?”
“Yes. My home is with you. Wherever we are, I promise to build you a Neverland.”
“Okay. Okay.” Jin inhales. “Then I want us to try making our home here, just for a while. Is that okay?”
When Namjoon answers with a long, languid kiss, Jin sighs contentedly.
They adopt Nana three years later. The child is beautiful, with sparkling eyes and rose red lips that remind Jin of his mother. The day Wendy is born, Jin cries tears of joy. Namjoon was indeed right, home is where you make it.
“Pawpaw, are you going to go away?” Wendy asks, bottom lip trembling with the threat of crying.
Namjoon kisses the child on the top of her head.
“Grandpa and I will be here as long you need us, Wendy. So don’t cry, okay?”
The child nods, wiping at a stray tear as she cuddles into her grandfather’s arms.
“I’ll need you forever and ever, and ever and…” the child continues the statement in between yawns until she drifts off to sleep.
Namjoon smiles at Jin.
“I love you.” He mouths the words, not wanting to wake the sleeping child.
“I love you too,” Jin mouths back and leans in to kiss the man’s cheek.
When the last of Wendy’s children is grown, Namjoon and Jin decide it’s time. They don’t say goodbye. They have told the story enough times for their loved ones to know where they’ve gone. On the eve of their eightieth year away from Neverland Jin opens the tiny locket that hangs around his neck. The green-gold dust sparkles with life as though anticipating what comes next.
“Are you ready?” Jin whispers into Namjoon’s ear.
“I go where you go my love.” Jin smiles, kissing the man lightly on the lips.
Jin sprinkles the dust above their heads, watching as the iridescent powder falls. He smiles again and grabs hold of Namjoon’s hand.
“I love you so much. Thank you for this life, for Nana, for Wendy, for giving me a family and for being my forever home.” Jin’s voice cracks with emotion. The journey was rough at times, and they had fought and made up more times than he could count. But Namjoon had kept his promise; he had built Jin a Neverland.
“I love you too.” Namjoon kisses him hard on the lips. “Now let’s go see our boys.”
Jin smiles, tightens his hold on Namjoon’s hand, then closes his eyes and whispers.
“Second star to the right and straight on till morning.”