"Damn it, Tink, Neverland has been a real drag since the Lost Boys went home with Wendy, Michael and John," Peter Pan said to his fluttery flittering friend, Tinkerboy…Tink for short; this newest fairy of the realm returning as a pixie-dust male.
"Well, Peter, that was then."
Tink had been saying 'Peter' exaggerated, making it Peetah since he'd arrived ten years ago. Fairies have a limited life span and Tink was only the latest of a series of sparkling, magic friends.
"They went back and grew up with the Darling family," Peter replied. "I doubt if they'd remember me, t'was so long ago. Bloody hell…the 'boys', mostly in London, are 80-something."
"While you're still 13 and it's almost summer of 2011."
"Yep…just another year of many for me."
Long gone was Captain Hook, the crocodile and the Injuns…very politically incorrect, today. Tiger Lilly and Smee had also disappeared along the way; with all his pals gone, Peter's quest for adventure had diminished.
"Thank God we've got satellite TV and the Internet to keep up with what's going on with the real people." Peter was grateful Tink's predecessors had acquired the latest modern conveniences over the past decades. Neverland now used solar to power Peter's Internet connection to monitor every part of Earth's civilization.
"And now there's so many of them."
"Facebook has been a great way to keep track of old friends." Peter stared off to the Universe for a moment and a tear gently rolled down his cheek. "I can't believe that the 'boys' have collectively produced a family now spanning four generations. Jeez, that includes five great grandchildren."
"You be SOL if those kids hadn't shared their family activities on Facebook. Do they know you're one of their Friends?"
"Naw, I used a fake picture. They think I'm smart arse 'Pete' who lives in Yorkshire."
"The 'Boys' are ungrateful wankers for not keeping in touch."
"Tink, such language." Peter stood with legs spread and his hands in fists propped against his hips.
"Don't get angry, Peter; I read your mind. When memories of the Lost Boys pop into your head…your thoughts go way beyond male bonding."
"So you think cuz I remember the Lost Boys I'm…"
"Your dreams are quite randy…but I'm not complaining."
"I see." A small smile crept over Peter's youthful face.
"It's been 70 years since they left?" Tink hovered in front of Peter, grinning. "You really liked them, didn't you?"
"They were like brothers, best friends. Okay, maybe more…but they never knew my real feelings."
"I also picked up on your special interest in the really cute kid - Nibs." Tink raised an eyebrow and wrinkled his fairy face.
"Yeah, Nibs was one scrummy." Peter took a deep breath, exhaling before continuing, "So you can read my mind? I'm not upset, just disappointed you didn't tell me earlier."
"It just happened one day when I was concentrating extra hard. I was embarrassed at first. Then, it became awesome." Tink buzzed around and did three aerobatic flips. "Tell me about Nibs."
"He and I…had fun at a secret place in the fort and played around a little…like most young guys. Those were good times." Peter looked down at the ground. "It's soooo lonely up here…no fun to be me anymore."
"Maybe it's time to walk away from all this," Tink replied with a quick spin.
"Any ideas? Could I make friends with humans like the Darlings?"
"I should fly to London and do a little re-con. The 'boys' may be old duffers…but they've got some cute offspring. A few of the grandsons, particularly one, look great in group photos on Facebook."
"Well, aren't' you the horny one." Peter chuckled, raising his eyebrows.
"Peter, go hit the hay and get forty winks. I'll check things out and return before you can say…"
Peter Pan blinked twice and his tiny companion was gone. He walked from the fort down the trail leading directly to his bedroom. 'Hmm. Nibs' youngest grandson?'
* * *
After a magical moment, Tink hovered above London, paused above Hyde Park and flittered on to Knightsbridge. His powerful instincts and sonar-like detection of the Darling family's whereabouts were strong; impulses came from a nearby borough. 'Feels like Earls Court, but it can't be. Wait a minute…I'm being pulled to South Kensington.'
He dove through the wispy clouds and stopped above a stately home. It was a beautiful late spring afternoon and Tink spotted people in the rear garden. Closer inspection revealed an old man talking to a young man near a small child playing with toy soldiers.
'Bingo, the jackpot. The old guy has to be Nibs…the dude Peter had the hots for.' The man's features matched the pictures he had seen on the Internet. 'And the young dude resembles Nibs…like they're related. Wonder what's with the little kid?'
The fairy spirited himself to the ground and hid behind a nearby shrub to eavesdrop and read their minds.
"Oh, my, Nelson, I'm getting a tad fatigued. Your nephew is a hand-full."
"Don't worry, Grandfather, I'll look after Niby," said the brown-haired teen. "Go…take your nap. I won't leave for Cambridge until later. Judith and Bill should be here to collect him in an hour or so."
'Judith and Bill must be Niby's parents. Nelson is a handsome lad…with those emerald eyes. Trim but not rugged...a scholar, I suspect. Niby - must be five or six. I wonder if Niby is a nickname for Nibs.' The fairy's intuition was seldom wrong.
"Taking your avuncular duties seriously, eh?" the old man asked. "I'm happy that you do them so well. It's good experience. Your older brothers have given me seven great grandchildren and I assume that you'll be providing the Darling family with a few more little ones."
"I've got university first. Don't hold your breath…I'm not sure I want to settle down with a wife and kids." Nelson shrugged, quickly adding, "But I'm sure that my brothers aren't done in that department."
"Ha, I suppose you're right and I don't mean to push you towards matrimony." The old man stood. "Anything you need before I go up?"
"Niby has been begging me to read him a story but I can't find anything age appropriate here."
Tink was not surprised at Nelson's reaction to the thought of marriage. Nelson's mind revealed images of attractive young men when matrimony was mentioned.
'I've got to get Nibs to remember the Peter Pan book buried in his library,' Tink decided. 'If I can get Nibs to think of Peter and the book, Peter has a right to come here.' He wrinkled his nose, spewing fairy dust towards him.
"I say, I seem to remember some sort of a story," Nibs said. "What was the name…oh, Peter something or other. You two stay here while I dig it up." He frowned and shook his head. "Goodness, I haven't thought of Peter…forever," he mumbled.
Nelson watched the stooped man enter the house. He turned to Niby, smiled and said, "Time to pack up the soldiers. I promised I'd read a story and Grandfather has a book you'll enjoy."
"Okay, Uncle Nelson." Niby started packing his soldiers with deliberation.
The fairy sensed Nelson's solid, familial love, masking a loneliness that would never be relieved by a girlfriend.
"Here's the book I misplaced years ago," Nibs announced as he returned. "Peter Pan. Unusual fantasy, as I recall…funny, I seem to have other memories about this book, but…" He stopped and studied it for a moment. "It's good as new. Just bookmark where you stop and let Judith and Bill take it home with them. I'm sure Niby will want to hear more about Peter Pan's adventures. I'm off to bed…see you next weekend?"
"Yes, Sir. Have a good rest." Nelson watched the senior Darling depart. Niby had packed away his toy soldiers neatly and was sitting, cross-legged, eagerly anticipating a story.
"Well, Niby, let's give this a crack." Nelson opened the leather-bound book, at Chapter One, and began, " All children, except one, grow up. They soon know that they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this. One day…"
Tink had heard enough. 'I know the story by heart.' He spirited back to grounds of Neverland fort. Peter was pacing back and forth with an excitement Tink had never seen.
"Oh, there you are. Whatever you've done seems to have worked. I woke up with this vibe that Nibs has been thinking of me. I'm really fired up…"
"Well, hold onto your hat. After you hear my rundown on my visit, we need to develop a plan of action. Sit down."
Tink gave Peter the full story of his encounter and when he was finished, orbited Peter's head a half-dozen times before stopping near Peter's ear. "Nelson would be ideal for you. He's gorgeous, bright, single, around 18 years of age and, ta, da - attracted to guys."
"He looks like Nibs?" Peter grinned, eyes sparkling.
"A spittin' image."
"Okay, Okay." Peter furrowed his eyebrows. "But I'm in my Pan persona and this guy is full grown. My image will probably be a turnoff."
"You would look odd in London," Tink replied, "unless it was Halloween. Maybe it's time to take the big step and change…everything."
"If I choose to get older, I'll loose my immortality and it's irreversible. Do I stay like this and be bored to tears or take a chance?"
"It's a gamble but you've answered your own question. Perpetual boredom isn't any fun, is it?"
"No, but I'm scared to leave what I know and assume the life of a mere mortal."
"A mere mortal with special favours."
"I am your guardian fairy. I'll make sure you have a place to live and a bank account…to start with."
"To start with?" Peter asked, abruptly suspicious.
"We'd need to wean you off the fairy gravy train. Fair's fair. However, we can boost your intelligence so you have the knowledge of a well-educated, modern young man. And we'll find a way for you to support yourself."
"Support myself, eh? Yikes, I hadn't thought about that." Peter frowned.
"Wanna hear a few ideas?"
"Tink, as much as I love your companionship, I really want to try 'growing up' and being around real people. You're not offended, are you, little friend?" Peter looked at Tink and blinked a tear away.
"No offence. And I'm not about to desert you during this transition." Tink fluttered up to Peter's cheek and gave him a small peck on the cheek.
Peter's face lit up with love.
"Okay, here's what I envision." Tink reviewed his ideas for Peter to consider. The Man in the Moon was looking down at them when the clever fairy finished.
"I'm scared," Peter said. "Can I have one conversation with Nibs as I am before the hibernation that changes me into a real man?"
"We can go immediately. He's a light sleeper and I know his location. But this will be it, as far as Peter Pan is concerned. You ready to become a mortal?"
"Tink, as long as you watch over me and give me advice, I think I'm ready." Peter looked around at his surroundings. "Let's do it."
When they found themselves flying through Nibs's bedroom window, Peter felt a sense of déjà vu. In a large, four-poster bed, slept the man - originally, the 'lost boy' - of his dreams. Serenity graced his face. Peter landed by the head of the bed while Tink fluttered in the background.
"Nibs, wake up. It's me…your friend," Peter whispered. He nudged Nibs's shoulder and the old man stirred.
"Your friend, Peter. You remember me, don't you?"
"Oh, my god, it's you, isn't it? This isn't a dream…"
"No dream. A visit from someone who loved you very much ages ago." Peter took the liberty of moving to Nib's side and gently stroking his arm. "You thought about me earlier and I wanted to see you…one last time."
"It's as if…why, you haven't changed a bit. The memories are flooding back. We had a good time but I came back to London and you disappeared from my thoughts." Nibs sat up, leaning back on several pillows. "Goodness, that was over 70 years ago."
"I wanted to see you tonight…to say 'hello'. You were very important to me and I regret not returning with you. But that's water under the bridge."
"You won't believe the marvelous woman I married…she's gone, too," Nibs said with a laugh. "But what a family I have."
For the next hour, Peter got a description of the Darling family tree - and especially Nibs's branch.
"Three grandsons and all married?" Peter wanted to get Nibs subtly onto Nelson.
"Two of the three are married and fathers. Nelson, the youngest, is at Cambridge with no one. I don't know what his plans are."
Hearing this, Peter became more determined to be friends with Nelson. Finally, nearing dawn, he said, "Nibs, this is the last time we shall meet like this. I'm ecstatic we were able to chat."
"As am I. So, like before, you're off?"
"Yes, I'm on a new, bold adventure. Go to sleep with pleasant dreams. Good night, my friend." Peter leaned over and kissed the old man tenderly on the lips. 'You will not remember this when you wake,' he telepathed to Nibs. 'Or me…except as a character in a fantasy.'
Nibs scooted down, rolled onto his side and closed his eyes. Shortly he was breathing deeply and lightly snoring.
"Alright, Tink, step two. Where's my new flat?"
"Very conveniently…in Mayfair. Great area for walking almost everywhere. It's a small, one-bedroom in your name, scot-free. I've gone to a great deal of trouble creating your name, residency, birth certificate and an account at Barclay's…not to mention investments and a credit card." Tink perched on Peter's nose then triple-dived down to the floor.
"Let's be on our way, then. I'm curious about this new home and the hibernation. You lead."
"Now is your last chance to back out."
"A big change…for sure…but I'm ready. Guess I'll even have to learn to drive some day."
Tink zigzagged his way to the window and waited for Peter. They flew up, missing some of the newer London high-rises, crossed over Hyde Park and swooped to a residential street behind the Dorchester Hotel. At an old, elegant, whitewashed stone town home's roof they paused. Tink magically unlatched a third floor window then beckoned Peter to enter. They whooshed in and Peter landed on the carpeting.
"Whoa, awesomely familiar." Peter surveyed the room and said, "This living room stuff is from Neverland…and it all fits in. Oh, Tink, thanks. I don't feel like such a stranger."
"It took some doing getting everything here," Tink replied with a satisfied grin. "I used all my favors with the fairy posse. Your computer is all hooked up and the bedroom's next door. Come on." Tink led Peter. "Check the closet. As a real person, you'll need real clothes."
Peter opened it and walked in. "My goodness…all these clothes." He pulled a jacket off a hanger. "This is way too large for me."
"Part of the hibernation process is growing adult sized. You, after 30 days, will be a healthy, strapping fully-grown 19 year old."
"And my mind?"
"That, too. You'll have the knowledge of a lad who's completed sixth form. That'll serve you well when you fend for yourself and will enhance your sterling personality," Tink said with a tiny giggle. "Very handy when you meet Nelson Darling."
"Um, I guess I'll still be…gay?"
"Couldn't change that if I tried. You'll be the same loveable Peter who's got the hots for you know who. And there'll be a few new talents too. Nothing to discuss now…we'll work on it after hibernation."
"I'm ready, willing and able…I think. What do I do?"
"Go into the bathroom and strip. Don't worry, I've seen it all before."
Peter went, then slowly removed the jacket, green tights and hat. Tink tossed some fairy dust on them and they disappeared. Peter used his hands, modestly covering himself.
"Big changes ahead, Peter," Tink said. "By the time we're finished in a month, you'll no longer be 163 cm in height. I think you'll be 20 cm taller and 12 stones. Oh…you'll have a few more centimetres elsewhere, too."
Tink snickered as Peter rolled his eyes.
"This is where dreams come true. Now for the serious stuff. Lie down on the tiles, close your eyes and I'll put you into a deep sleep." Tink watched Peter lay down, then adjust himself.
"Good. When you awake, we'll start on your new life as…Peter Pandarus."
Peter Pan mouthed the name, Pandarus, took a deep breath and slept.
* * *
"Ahhh, ohhh, hmmm," sighed the lanky teen. Peter tentatively opened one eye, then the other, seeing the white ceiling. He turned his head slightly and while stretching scanned the glass-walled shower stall, washbasin and commode.
Peter yawned in a deep voice.
'What the…where'd that come from? Wait, it's coming back. That must be the new me.'
He looked down his chest - dusted with dark blond hair - past a taut stomach, to a trail of hair and beyond. 'Whoa, that's what I call grown up.'
"Good morning, Peter…Pandarus. Welcome back…as a real person," Tink chirped at eye-level with his horizontal friend. "Do you feel different?"
"Oh, wow," Peter said in a soft baritone. "My head is spinning but…"
Tink flew over to the sink. "You should rise very slowly and get over here. Don't move too fast cuz you'll get dizzy."
"Got it, mate." Peter sat and paused. He unconsciously touched a substantial beard. 'My hair's everywhere. Didn't think about what an adult guy has to put up with.' Peter steadied himself on the tub and stood. Trembling a little, he walked to the sink and paused.
"Check yourself out in the mirror. You're definitely not a boy any longer," Tink said was he landed on the washbasin. "I'll explain things when you're ready."
Peter cautiously studied his new look. He touched his beard again and stroked his longish, blond hair. 'All my features are here. Just a little more mature.' Peter turned on the tap and cupped some water to splash on his face.
"Well, do you like it?" Tink avoided Peter's towel grab.
"I'm not a narcissist, but I'm ecstatic." Peter cocked his head and looked at Tink. "Where'd that come from? I don't command such a vocabulary."
"Remember your noggin would get lots crammed in? You have a sixth form college education."
"Interesting. But I don't even know how to shave. And I need to." Peter studied further, a free hand moving deliberately over his front. He turned around and looked at his backside.
"And that's why Cedric will be arriving in an hour. He'll be your tutor, get you up to speed on grooming, and be a gentleman's gentleman to get you out into the world."
"Hmmm. Is Cedric, um, does he have special powers?"
"No, he's a real person in the business of polishing someone like you. He's been contracted and pre-paid to give you three weeks instruction on the basics. You need to get cleaned up before he arrives with the hairdresser. But take their instruction and learn well cuz you're going to be in charge of that from now on."
"Probably lots to learn." Peter shook his head.
"Best to take a shower. You're kinda ripe after a month's hibernation.
"Got it." Peter turned on the water. Once the temperature was right, he entered and luxuriated in his first ever shower. At Neverland, he had sparingly bathed in a nearby spring. Intuitively he knew the use of the taps, the shampoo and body soap. 'So much to learn.'
"Tell me about my name, Pandarus. It's the last thing you said before I hibernated." Peter continued his inspection while rinsing. He turned off the water and grabbed a large bath towel to dry himself.
"We could hardly have you named Peter Pan…might as well be named Mickey Mouse." Tink snickered and flittered about. "Pandarus has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?"
"Actually, I suppose so. Let's get back to Cedric. How'll he react to my ignorance about such basics like shaving and grooming?"
"He's been told that you're suffering from memory loss and need to re-build the way you do things. Best to listen and tell him little. Now please finish drying and brush your teeth. The toothpaste and brush are in the cabinet. And when you're finished, come get dressed in the bedroom. Don't worry, the clothes will fit now."
"So much I didn't consider before," Peter said, opening the mirrored cabinet.
"When Cedric completes his tasks, you'll be ready to face everything out there. By the way, Cedric's services are just another step…not the final one. You've got music lessons after that."
"I'll explain after Cedric has molded you."
* * *
For three weeks, Cedric arrived at 10:00 a.m. spending eight to ten hours with Peter. All facets of living were taught and digested - grooming, dressing and social etiquette. Cedric, a gentleman's gentleman, attacked each subject with humor, resolve and determination. In the afternoons they would discuss current events and culture - modern and classical - including music, drama, literature and art.
Late July, on their final evening, Cedric had reservations for them at a Knightsbridge restaurant. This was to celebrate Peter's successful transition into becoming a young, 'with-it' Londoner.
"Young Mister Peter, my job is finished," Cedric said after being seated at the dinner table. Ordering a bottle of Champagne, he continued, "This calls for a proper toast."
"I've been a good student?" Peter was slightly amused that the very proper Cedric always addressed him as 'Mister Peter'.
"Splendid. Of course, you began with a good education."
"Thank you for helping me. Next week I start my music lessons, lasting 'til summer's end."
Another dinner party arrived, passing by Peter and Cedric. A beautiful older woman, followed by a man who was probably her husband, and two men - one an elderly gentleman, and the other much younger - who resembled each other.
'Oh, my god, that must be dear old Nibs and his nephew, Nelson.' Peter's eyes widened when Nibs looked directly at him and smiled reflexively. 'I know he doesn't remember exactly who I am.'
"Cheers," Cedric said.
"Prost." Peter took his flute, gently clinked it to the other's glass, winked and took a polite sip.
Savoring this first taste, he turned slightly towards Nibs' party. Nelson was looking directly back and they quietly exchanged smiles. Peter arched his eyebrow slightly. 'I'm going to meet him…now.'
Peter excused himself to use the loo. As he walked by Nelson, he subtly nodded and continued to the lobby. 'I don't think it would be proper to meet him in the gents. Might send the wrong message…well, wrong for now.'
Within moments, Nelson joined Peter.
"Hi," Nelson said in a low voice. "It's rather bold to come out here, isn't it? Granddad thought he knew you…but couldn't remember how. I'm Nelson, by the way. Nelson Darling." He nervously smiled and extended a hand.
"Peter Pandarus. I noticed you when you came in. Your granddad looks familiar…but since I just moved to London, I'm not sure where our paths might have crossed." Peter studied handsome Nelson while shaking hands and decided he wanted to know him better.
"I live nearby but will be going to Cambridge at the end of next month. How about you?"
"I've got a flat in Mayfair. If I continue my education, it'll be next year. Do you have a mobile phone or some way to contact you? Would it be rude…or wishful thinking to say I'd like to see you before you leave?"
"Brilliant suggestion," Nelson said with a laugh. "It's not rude and I hoped that would happen. Here's my card. I'd very much like to see you…really see you, again. I don't have many, ah, male friends my age who...."
"Neither do I." Peter's bold wink and a subtle lick sent an unspoken message. "Guess we may have several things in common. Maybe a walk in Hyde Park and lunch?" Peter held Nelson's hand for a brief moment accepting the card.
"I look forward to your call and getting acquainted." Nelson grinned and gestured for Peter to return to the dining room. "I'll follow in a moment."
Back at the table, Peter felt satisfied. 'After music training, Nelson is my priority. But then? He returns to university and I do…what?'
Tink was waiting to get a report of the dinner. Peter excitedly reviewed things and proudly showed the calling card. The fairy was ecstatic the inevitable had happened, albeit early.
"Oh, Peter, this is wonderful for you." Tink fluttered around while Peter fidgeted on the couch.
"I said I'd ring him but you said not to plan on anything due to my music training. Tink, I'm going to need more than knowledge of music for Nelson to respect me. I won't accomplish much without a vocation or profession. It's different now; I can't just be in charge of fun."
"I purposely hid my full plan 'til you completed Cedric's training." Tink waved sparkling dust on the Telly, which immediately glowed with images of entertainers. "This called The X Factor. Watch closely, cuz by winter the name 'Peter Pandarus' will be on everyone's lips. You'll win the singing competition, appear on other shows and make your first album. That's the plan, bud. You're destined to entertain, sing, and to make the public happy. It'll be a real life version of what you did before. You'll fabulously successful."
"But I don't sing."
"Really? Have you tried recently? Sing a little of When You Wish Upon A Star and see what you think."
"Wrong fairy tale." Peter snickered. "But how about this," launching into I Won't Grow Up.
Tink beamed with pride and willed the Telly off. "Peter, your voice is dynamite. That's where a few weeks' training will play a role."
"I'm surprised I can sing at all. I really sound good, don't I?" Peter was impressed with his mellow baritone warbling the lyrics in perfect pitch.
Tink buzzed around the room. "Your whole future - as Peter Pandarus - is entertaining the public and being a very special friend to Nelson…for a long time."
"Tink, I've come this far by trusting you. I want to make this happen…to prove I made the right decision."
"Peter, old friend, you've proved it was definitely time to grow up."
This is an abbreviated and re-written story that originally appeared in the Gay Authors Fairy Tale Anthology, 2007, as Time to Grow Up. I submitted this revised short story to the Palm Springs Writer's Guild. Because of the mostly older and heterosexual mix of members, I decided to make Peter less randy while maintaining the general gay theme of the story.