Until Morning

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Every time he pushes the needle into his vein, Peter sees Tinkerbell's last moments. Not that he needs the drug for that; all he really has to do is close his eyes and he's back there. Nothing has felt right since that day, and of course now that she's dead, he's stuck here.

Here. Here is London. It's pouring rain, and Peter is huddled in the alley beside the Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital, getting soaked. It's late evening, and people are rushing past the alley mouth under umbrellas, hurrying home or to the tram stop. Peter hunches over, rain pelting the back of his neck. He wears a wool stocking cap all the time here; pointed ears draw too much attention, lead to too many brawls with other street boys.

Sometimes, in the afternoons, he is able to slip inside the Hospital and wander around and just curl up in a corner of the lobby for a few hours, before the watchman notices him and rousts him out again. From there, he always comes here, to the alley, from the mouth of which he can watch the front of the Hospital building and see who comes and goes.

Whenever he goes into the alley, he reaches into his pocket for the school chalk he stole from the parish school near Haymarket and makes a mark on the bricks of the alley mouth, above his own head, but eye level on a grown man. Peter, as ever, looks like fourteen-year-old boy.

The little needle trembles in his hand. He's running out of veins; he's blown the ones in his arms and ankles. He had to hide behind a stack of broken crates and garbage just now and use the vein in his dick. The drug slithers into him like a burrowing worm and he leans against the wet brick wall, growing oblivious to the cold, oblivious to the London sealing him off from Neverland.

Peter forces his eyes to stay open, even though his lids feel made of solid iron. He tries to watch the comings and goings at the Hospital, but it is no use. His long-lashed eyes, bright green - the most beautiful eyes a boy ever had, a man once told him - fluttered shut and there was Tinkerbell. 

Hook had torn her open from the neck, well, downward. Hook was a syphilitic maniac; Peter had been too busy binding up Smee to help, he thought she'd be able to fly away, tinkling her laugh as he swooped just out of Hook's reach. But Peter had been, for the first time, too late, and Hook too insane. 

How long ago now was that? He had an idea, but didn't want to think too much about it. Slumped against the wall, Peter waited, muttering to himself. He missed the Lost Boys, when he was coming down. He'd like to do this drug with them, he'd thought many times.

Peter hears a man's footsteps, a man's walking cane tapping at the mouth of the alley. Adrenaline suddenly pours into him, waking him, jangling his nerves. He pushes off the wall and faces the man.

It is Michael Darling. Thank god it is Michael Darling. He is older now, maybe twenty. They've met, many times. Michael looks over his shoulder, then quickly darts into the alley. 

"Hello, Peter," he says, his voice like a silk scarf. Peter just nods. Michael's look bores into him. Peter nods again and turns to face the wall. Michael moves behind him. The night air is cold on his ass, and the hot pain of Michael makes Peter feel frozen and burning alive at once. As always, Michael makes Peter tell him about Tink as he goes into him.

After, Michael Darling drops three ampules into Peter's outstretched hand and leaves without a word. Peter tucks them securely down the front of his pants. He retreats deeper into the alley, again behind the pile of crates and garbage. A fire escape overheard offers a small shelter from the rain.

Peter slides into sleep, into deeper oblivion. There she is, of course, waiting. How do I get back home, he asks her in his dream. He hears tinkling, like glass bells far away, and in his head it sounds like she is saying goodbye.