To understand this short story better, please take a few moments and review the following:
Time To Grow Up was created and written with all appropriate apologies to Sir James Barrie.
This story is a gay-themed fantasy concerning Peter Pan and a decision he must face: is it time to grow up and leave adolescence? The reader will find large portions of whimsical tongue in cheek.
"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 fluttering and flittering friend, Tinkerboy...or Tink for short; this newest fairy of the realm had come back in the pixie-dust form of a male. Peter Pan figured that there was some sort of cycle that the Wizard of the Universe used in dispatching guardian fairies to him. The one before had been a 'bell'.
"Well, Peter, screw those bastards if they don't want to keep in touch with you." Tink had been saying 'Peter' with an exaggerated accent that sounded like "Peetah" since the fey companion arrived ten years ago. Fairies had a limited life span and Tink had only been the latest of a series of his sparkling, magic friends. Peter was always amused and thought that the inflection was similar to that of the old American film actress, Bette Davis.
"They went back and grew up with the Darling family. You know that from my stories. I doubt if they'd remember me, it was so long ago. Bloody hell, the 'boys' are now old geezers in their 80's...."
"While you're still 13 and it's almost summer of 2007. Just another year in a list of many for you." Long gone was Captain Hook, the crocodile and the 'Injuns'...very politically incorrect, today. Tiger Lilly and Smee had also disappeared somewhere along the way.
"And I've been going through puberty for 100 years. At least the wet dreams are still memorable," Peter said with a giggle. Peter never talked about guy stuff with Tink and he regretted the casual comment immediately.
"Yeah, Boss...your nickname should be 'Squirt'," Tink replied with a roll of his fairy eyes.
"Hey, hey...TMI. That's personal. End of subject."
"Okey-dokey." Tink rapidly blinked and continued, "From the digital photos, it appears they're healthy for their human age."
"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 that Tink's predecessors had acquired modern conveniences as they were developed over the past several decades. Neverland had been rigged with solar power that allowed Peter's Internet connection to keep contact with every part of Earth's civilization.
"And now there's so many of them." The current generation of Darling kids all had MySpace accounts.
"MySpace has been a great way to keep track of my old friends. I can't believe that the 'boys' have collectively produced a family that's now spans four generations. Jeez, that includes five great grandchildren." Peter Pan routinely scanned and read the Darlings' blogs. He would let Tink look at the pictures...the fairy was magical but clueless about the written word.
"You would be outta luck if those kids hadn't shared their family activities on MySpace. Do they know that one of their 'Friends' is you?"
"Do they eckers like*. I use a fake picture. They think that I'm smart arse 'Peter' who lives in Yorkshire. I know that, except for Tootles moving to Canada in the 40's, all the Lost Boys still live in the London area." Peter sighed and continued, "I agreed that I wouldn't officially be in contact with them unless they asked me to, but..."
"The 'Boys' are a bunch of ungrateful shits for not keeping in touch."
"Watch your language or Disney won't want you for one of their re-dos of Peter Pan." Peter winked as he stood up to stretch. He looked around as Tink flickered about in the lush, quiet forest.
"Disney? Yuck. They're too busy doing mermaids, talking lions and dysfunctional toys. Time to move on and create some excitement. The public - adult, anyway - might like another format that allows us to grow in our characters. I'm thinking of us doing something very different, if ya want."
"Hmmm, different? Whatdaya mean...different?"
"Ah, that we consider a porn shoot for English Lads or Blake Mason. It'll give us a whole new group of fans."
"Whoa...that's not only different...it's crazy. Generations of people remember me wearing cute, official Peter Pan garb. Plus, I kinda like the mystique about what's behind my green tights."
"They might like to unveil that 'mystique' - there's nothing to be ashamed of," Tink said, making a tiny gaffe.
"What are you driving at?" Peter didn't know whether to be amused or alarmed at Tink's comments. 'Has he seen me having a wank?' he wondered.
"With Disney, there was nothing shown in the crotch on purpose. Old Walt figured that you shouldn't piss off the parents and the kids didn't have a clue. And then, on the stage, women always played you. Whew, you can only imagine what kind of crotch that was. Kind of a cross between tuna and ..."
"Enough. Spare me the details. What's your point?" Peter rolled his eyes and groaned.
"You need a new image; clear and simple. People have forgotten you...just like the boys have."
"What you're suggesting is wrong for my image. It's also gay, little dude...very, very gay." Peter looked a little annoyed and continued, "I can just see the title: 'Pan Wanks His Peter' and lists you as a supporting fairy in the cast. And how - if I were to agree - could I compete with those Czech hunks? Luke, Johan and Pavel are tough competition."
"Czech hunks, huh? You seem pretty knowledgeable about this topic. How do you know about these gay porn stars and producers, Mr. Perpetual Youth?" Tink eased down and sat on Peter's shoulder for a moment. "With apologies to Dr. Seuss, the cat appears to have taken off his hat."
"Um, I, er...ah, the Internet has a lot of choices of what to look at. I've checked out these, um, sites. There's not that much to do at Neverland except, you know..." Peter replied, moving his fisted hand up and down.
"Yeah, I've noticed," Tink responded with a snigger as he flittered away. "You seem to enjoy your mystique."
"I thought so," Peter replied indignantly. "It always seemed like someone was watching me when...wait a minute...I must be a friggin' moron. Um, you're into boys, aren't you? Wow, it was right in front of me this whole time. Old Tink havin' an eye for the fellows."
"No more than you. But I'm very comfortable in my fairy skin being gay. Admit it Peter, you're gay. Just be honest with yourself and come out. I already feel better coming out to you."
"This is a lot to handle. You, my guardian fairy, tells me he's gay and then you say that you want us to do gay porn? What makes you think I'd want to have anything to do with that? I've never said anything to you about being, um...like that." Peter stood with his legs spread widely and his hands clenched in fists propped against his hips.
"Don't get angry, Peter. Besides those 'net sites you check out, I can read your mind. What you think of when memories of the Lost Boys pop into your head is very gay. It goes way beyond male bonding," Tink said with a laugh. "You never thought of Wendy as anything other than a mother figure...and from what I've seen from pictures, that little mink was hot."
"So you think cuz I remember the Lost Boys I'm..."
"You're one horny, gay shirt-lifter, pal. In your dreams, the Lost Boys are usually, ah, in the raw...I mean, the way they're playing leapfrog was interesting, to say the least."
"I, umm..." Peter looked into the distance as a small smile crept over his youthful face.
"It's been, what, 70 years since they left?" Tink hovered in front of Peter and grinned. "You really liked them, didn't you?"
"They were like brothers, best friends, ah...and more."
"Let it go. It's time we both laid our cards on the table. Think of me as a miniscule version of Dr. Phil." Tink rendered a squeaky giggle and winked.
"Okay, okay. I guess I've been rumbled, eh? I can't cover up my real feelings in front of you if you can read my mind. Why haven't you told me about your feelings about guys and knowing my story? We've been close to each other for quite a while," Peter replied.
"Dunno, buddy. To say the timing was never right is kinda lame...I just had a problem bringing it up. But then, I admit that it was fun watching you pound your..."
"Tink, stop it." Peter could feel himself getting beet red with embarrassment.
"I also picked up on your special interest in one of the 'boys.' The cute kid - Nibs." Tink raised a pixie eyebrow and wrinkled his fairy face.
"Yeah, Nibs was one scrummy." Peter took a deep breath and exhaled before continuing, "It's strange to see him as an old man in those later pictures."
"He's a great granddad. Err, I found out...through you."
"Wow, you really can read my mind." Peter shook his head and shrugged. "I'm not upset, just disappointed that you didn't tell me about your powers earlier. As far as I know, you're the only fairy with the ability to read my mind."
"It just happened one day when I was concentrating extra hard. I was a little embarrassed at first. Then, it was kinda awesome. Several times I had to release some of my special pixie dust." Tink buzzed around and did three flips in the air.
"Nibs and I, ah, used to have fun at a secret place in the fort. Those were good times." Peter sighed, as he looked down at the ground. "But if you think I'm going to do porn...forget it. Besides, I don't think that anyone would be interested in seeing a fairy like you in the buff cuz size is a big deal in those shows. Let's face it, and not to offend...size is not in your favor." Peter laughed and playfully took a swing at Tink. "And my image would only appeal to the pedophile crowd. Porn is out."
"Ya got a point but just staying in Neverland with the deserted fort and jungle isn't the answer. Why don't I fly to London and do a little re-con on the Darling boys and their families? Your guys are old farts at this point...but they've got some cute offspring. A few of the grandsons and one in particular look great in the group photos on the 'net. "
"It would be interesting to find out how they're all really doing rather than viewing the posed pictures and reading the cutesy blogs. I can't officially search them out unless they think of me. That was the deal...I can't break it." Peter looked a little forlorn at the idea of none of the Lost Boys' remembering him.
"Blink, go back to the fort and get forty winks. I'll check things out and return before you can say..."
"Before I can say Nibs." Peter Pan blinked twice and his tiny companion was gone. He walked down the trail to the fort. 'It's a shame I don't have Nibs, or the other blokes, to share this pad with,' he thought. 'We could have set up a nice place to live and grow...young.'
A couple of years earlier, Tink had picked the brains of Oprah's hunk interior designer, Nate, for ideas on how to furnish the fort. Nate had been induced to dream of an interior plan for each space in the fort and fairy dust magically transformed his ideas into a fantastic home. The fort would be the envy of all the Neverland neighbors...except there were no neighbors or guests. 'I should have figured out that Tink's interest in trendy interior design was kinda gay,' Peter thought as he walked across the weathered moat bridge. 'But I really dug it, too. Talk about being in denial.'
Peter opened the rough wood doors of the fort and stepped into his own little compartment of stylized make-believe...for real. Nate had imagined a design that would stand up against the finest flats in Bayswater. I'd best take Tink's advice and get some shuteye,' he thought as he wandered down the hallway to his bedroom. 'I hope he's successful in stirring a little interest amongst the boys and their families.' He yawned, tossed off his hat and jumped into his bed. 'Wonder what's the deal with Nibs' youngest grandson?'
In the time that Peter had blinked twice, Tink arrived in London. He paused for a moment in Hyde Park before flittering on to Knightsbridge. His powerful instincts and sonar-like detection concerning the Darling family's whereabouts were reacting strongly. 'Probably some of them are shopping at Harrods or Harvey Nicholls,' he thought. His initial search had yielded inconclusive results due to the large crowds. Stronger impulses were coming from a nearby borough. 'Hmm, it feels like Earls Court,' Tink thought. "But it can't be there...wait a minute...I'm being pulled to South Kensington.' He dove down through the thin, wispy clouds and stopped to hover above a stately brick home. It was a beautiful late afternoon in spring and in the rear gardens Tink spotted a few people. Closer inspection revealed an old man talking to a young man while a small child was playing with toy soldiers.
'Damn, I think I hit the jackpot. The old guy has to be Nibs...the stud Peter had the hots for back then,' Tink decided, when the man's features matched the pictures he had seen on the Internet. The two men -Nibs, with his distinguished elderly appearance, and a younger guy who was probably 18 - had similar features. The fairy spirited himself to the ground and hid behind a nearby shrub so he could eavesdrop and read their minds.
"Oh, my, Nelson, I'm getting a tad bit fatigued. Your nephew is a hand-full."
"Don't worry, Grandfather, I'll look after Niby," said the brown-haired teen. "Go in and take your nap. I don't have to get back to Cambridge for a while. Judith and Bill should be here to collect him in an hour or so."
'Hmmm, Judith and Bill must be Niby's parents?' thought Tink. 'What a handsome lad Nelson is...with those sparkling green eyes. Woof. Trim but not rugged...more of a scholar, I suspect. The kid - Niby - must be five or six. I wonder if Niby is a nickname for Nibs? The elderly man must be Nibs from the Lost Boys.' The fairy's intuitive reasoning was seldom wrong.
"Taking your avuncular duties seriously, eh? And since Niby is my namesake, I'm happy that you do the job so well. It's good experience. Your older brothers have given me seven great grandchildren and I assume that when you marry, you'll be providing the Darling family with a few more little ones."
"I've got to get through university, first. Don't hold your breath...I'm not sure I want to settle down with a wife and kids." Nelson shrugged and quickly added, "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 and said, "Anything you need before I go up to my bedroom?"
"Niby has been begging me to read him a story but I couldn't find any books in your house that would appeal to someone his age. And I don't have anything appropriate with me."
Tink was amused but not surprised at Nelson's reaction to the thought of marriage. Reading Nelson's mind revealed the images of attractive young men, in all forms of dress - and undress - when the grandfather brought up matrimony. Reading material, in Nelson's mind, was an unfinished story he had been reading on the Gay Authors Internet site. 'I've got to get old man Nibs to think of the Peter Pan book that is buried in the library,' Tink decided. 'If I can get Nibs to think of Peter and the book, then Peter has a right to come here.' He wrinkled his nose and spewed out magical fairy dust towards the old man.
"I say, I seem to remember some sort of a story...what was the name...oh, Peter, um...that's it...Peter something or other. It's a marvelous story that young Niby will enjoy. You stay here while I dig it up. Goodness, I haven't thought of Peter whatever for...goodness, forever." Nibs had a troubled expression on his face as he turned to go to the house. "It's really remarkable...I seem to remember the story, but that's all," he mumbled to himself.
Nelson watched the stooped, older man in a gentleman's country jacket and trousers walk into the house. He turned to Niby, smiled and said, "It's time to pack up the soldiers for the day. I promised I'd read a story and Grandfather Nibs says he has a book you'll enjoy."
"Okay, Uncle Nelson." Niby opened a small case and started packing up his soldiers with deliberation.
Tink observed Nelson's solid, familial love, but sensed that the young man was masking a loneliness that would never be solved by having a girlfriend. More likely it would be a boyfriend...but so far there was no one on the horizon. 'I wonder if...?'
"Here's the book. Haven't seen this around since I was a boy," Nibs announced as he returned. "Peter Pan. Unusual fantasy, as I recall...funny, I seem to have other memories about this book, but..."
"Oh, yeah. I saw the movie a couple of years ago...the one with...darn, I don't recall the actor's name."
'Sure,' Tink thought. 'He can't remember the actor's name but Nelson definitely thinks the guy playing Peter Pan was cute, as well as all the cuddly actors cast as the Lost Boys.'
"Well, whatever. I dusted off the cover of the book and it's good as new. Young Niby will be sure to enjoy it. Just bookmark the place where you stop and let Judith and Bill take the book 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 as the senior Darling departed. He looked with satisfaction at how neatly Niby had packed away his toy soldiers and was intently sitting, cross-legged, eagerly anticipating a story.
"Well, Niby, let's give this a crack." Nelson opened the old, leather-bound book, settled in 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. 'Hell, I know the story by heart,' he thought as he spirited himself away from the Darling home, South Kensington and London. Within a Tinkerboy second, he was back in Neverland and the grounds of the fort. Peter was energetically pacing back and forth with a level of excitement that Tink had not seen...ever.
"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 on to your hat...literally. Let me give you a rundown on my visit. After you hear me out, we need to develop a plan of action. Sit down and save your energy." Tink gave Peter the full story of his encounter with Nibs, Nelson and Niby. When he was finished, he orbited around Peter's head a half-dozen times before stopping near Peter's ear. "Nelson would be ideal for you. He's gorgeous, bright, very single, probably around 18 years of age and, ta, ta ta - gay."
"You say he looks like Nibs?" Peter asked as he grabbed the fabric around his crotch to give everything a little more room.
"I can only imagine what the old man looked like as a lost boy. But as near as I can tell, Nelson must be close to a spittin' image."
"Okay, Okay," Peter said rapidly. "But here I am in my Pan persona and this guy is full grown. Maybe I've done this 'never grow up' thing to my disadvantage. My image will probably be a turnoff."
"You would look somewhat odd in London."
"If I ever choose to get older, it can't be reversed. And I will no longer be immortal." Peter's expression changed from curiosity to fright. "Do I stay like this and be bored to tears or take a chance?"
"It is a gamble but I think 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 to assume the life of a mere mortal."
"A mere mortal but still with special favours. Ya get me, and whoever comes after me, to look after you and be your guardian fairy. I'll make sure you have a place to live in London and a bank account...at least to start with."
"To start with?" Peter asked abruptly with suspicion.
"Part of the plan is to wean you off the fairy gravy train. What we can do is give your intelligence an update so that you've got the knowledge of a well-educated, modern young man. If you go forward with this, we've got to come up with a way for you to make an honest living. Nelson - if he flips for you - won't like it if you can't take care of yourself."
"Unwanted baggage. We've got to create a way for you to support yourself. I've got a few ideas if ya want to hear them."
"Wankin' the...well, you know...by myself in the middle of this magic wilderness is not my idea of living, just existing. I think I'm willing to try being a real man. Tink, as much as I love you and your companionship, I really want to try this 'growing up' thing and being around real people. You're not offended, are you, little friend?" Peter looked at Tink and blinked a tear away.
"No offence...not at all. And I'm not about to desert you during this transition." Tink fluttered up to Peter's cheek and gave him a small, fairy peck on the cheek before continuing. "Okay, here's the game plan as I see it." Tink reviewed most of the concept for Peter to consider. The Man in the Moon was looking down at them by the time the clever fairy was finished.
"I'm scared, shitless. But can I have one conversation with Nibs in my present form before I go through the hibernation that changes me into a real man?"
"We can go right now. He's a light sleeper, I feel, and I know where to find him. 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 and concluded, "Let's do it."
Within pixie moments, Peter and Tink found their way to London and Nibs's bedroom window. Peter felt a sense of déjà vu when they flew through the open double-height window. He remembered that this was one suite over from the room he came into those many years ago to find Wendy, Michael and John. In a large, four-poster bed, slept the man - originally, the 'lost boy' - of his dreams. An expression of serenity graced the old man's face. Peter landed on the floor by the head of the bed while Tink fluttered in the background.
"Nibs, wake up. It's me...your friend," Peter said softly. He nudged Nibs's shoulder slightly 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..."
"Not a dream. Just a visit from someone who, ah, loved you very much a very long time ago." Peter took the liberty of sitting on the side of the bed and gently stroked Nib's arm. "You thought about me earlier and I wanted to see you...one more time."
"It's as is...why, you haven't changed a bit. All these memories are flooding back to me. We had a good time back then. But I came back here and you just sort of disappeared." Nibs sat up and leaned back on several pillows. "Goodness, that was over 70 years ago. Wendy passed away about 10 years ago, and her, um, our brothers emigrated to America after university. Except for Curly, all the 'boys' are in London."
"I heard that Curly was in Canada. But you're here and I wanted to see you tonight...just to say 'hello'. You were very important to me and I really regret not returning with you, back then. But that's water under the friggin' bridge, as they say."
"Whoever 'they' is or are," Nibs said with a laugh. "You won't believe the marvelous woman I married...she's gone, too. But what a family I have." For the next hour, he gave Peter a full description of the Darling family tree - and especially his branch.
"You have three grandsons and they're all married?" Peter wanted to subtly get Nibs to talk about Nelson.
"Two of the three are married and fathers. Nelson, the youngest, is at Cambridge. Maybe some day...um, I just don't know what his plans are. There's no one in his life at this point."
The more he heard, the more Peter was determined to become good friends with the youngest grandson. Finally, when it was almost dawn, he said, "Nibs, this is the last time we shall meet like this. I'm so happy that we had a chance to see each other."
"As am I. So, like before, you're off?"
"Yes, I'm on a new, bold adventure. Go to sleep and have good dreams. Good night, my good friend." Peter leaned over and kissed the old man tenderly on the lips. 'You will not remember this meeting when you wake,' he said to Nibs telepathically. 'Or me...other than as a character in a fantasy story.'
"Good night, Peter." Nibs scooted back, rolled over to his side and closed his eyes. Within moments, he was breathing deeply and lightly snoring.
"Alright, Tink, off to step two. Where is this flat that I'll live in?"
"Very conveniently located...in Mayfair. Great area and you can walk almost everywhere. It's a small, one-bedroom flat in your name. Don't ask questions. Just know that I've gone to a great deal of trouble to create your name, residency, and birth certificate. You have a decent account at Barclay's, a credit card and all your bills concerning the new flat are paid off." Tink perched on Peter's nose and did a triple-dive down to the floor.
"Let's be on our way, then. I'm curious about this new home and the hibernation. You lead."
"This is your last chance to back out. Um, you know, this will be your final flight?"
"I thought about that. A big change...but I'm ready. Guess I'll have to learn to drive some day."
Tink zigzagged his way over to the window and waited for Peter to catch up. They flew up to miss some of the newer London high-rises, crossed over Hyde Park and barreled down to a residential street just behind the Dorchester Hotel. They stopped at the rooftop of an old, elegant, whitewashed stone town home. Tink magically unlatched a window on the third floor of the building and beckoned Peter to enter. They whooshed in and Peter landed on the carpeted floor.
"Whoa, this looks very familiar." Peter surveyed the living room and said, "This is my stuff from Neverland and it all fits in. Oh, Tink, thanks. I don't feel like such a stranger."
"It was a bitch to get down here. I had to use all my favors with the fairy posse," Tink replied with a satisfied grin. "Your bedroom furniture is in the next room and your computer is all hooked up. You even have an official email account - PeterP at yahoo.uk. Come on." Tink led Peter into the bedroom and continued, "Look in the closet. Since you're soon to be a real person, you've gotta have real clothes."
Peter opened the closet door, turned on a light and walked in. "My goodness...all these clothes." He pulled a jacket off a hanger and raised an eyebrow. "The jacket is too large for me."
"Part of the hibernation process is growing to an adult size. You, my friend, after 30 days, will be a healthy, strapping 19 year old guy...fully grown."
"And my mind?"
"That, too. You have been programmed to have the knowledge of a lad who has completed your sixth form. This will serve you well when you fend for yourself as a real person and will enhance your sterling personality," Tink said with a tiny giggle. "That'll come in handy when you finally meet Nelson Darling."
"Um, I guess I'm still, ah, you know...gay?"
"That's something I couldn't change if I tried...although there are some whacko fundamentalist characters who call themselves 'Christian' that would give it a crack. You'll be the same old, loveable, horny Peter who's got the hots for you know who." Tink buzzed out of Peter's way and added, "And there will be a few new talents that you'll have. Nothing to discuss now...we'll work on everything when you come out of the program."
"I'm in your hands - ready, willing and able...I think. What do I do?"
"Go into the bathroom and strip out of your clothes. Don't worry, there's nothing I haven't seen before."
Peter went to the master bath and slowly removed the belt, shoes, jacket, green tights and hat. Once he had piled them in a corner, Tink tossed some fairy dust and the clothes disappeared. Peter stood very self-conscious of his nudity in the middle of the bathroom with his hands in front of his crotch modestly covering the perpetual boyhood.
"Big changes ahead, Peter," Tink said. "But by the time we're finished in a month, you'll no longer be 163 cm in height. I think you'll be around 183 cm, with a nicely formed physique. Oh, yes, you can plan on having a few more centimetres in other places." He snickered as Peter rolled his eyes.
"In my dreams." Peter leered at Tink and waited for instructions.
"This is a case where dreams come true. All right - now for the serious stuff. Lie down on the tile floor, close your eyes and allow me to put you into a deep sleep." Tink watched his charge get down on the floor, adjust himself to a supine position and place his arms along his short, slender form.
"Good. When you awake in 30 days, we'll start on your new life as...Peter Pandarus."
Peter Pan, mouthed the name "Pandarus" with a questioning expression, took a deep breath and began the deep sleep.
"Ahhh, ohhh, hmmm," yawned the lanky teen. He tentatively opened one eye, then the other and looked up at the white ceiling. He turned his head slightly and scanned the glass-walled shower stall, tub, washbasin and commode while he stretched. 'What the fuck,' he thought. 'Where did that voice come from? Wh...what, oh...wait, it's all coming back. That must be me.' He looked down his chest - lightly dusted with dark blond hair - past a taut, flat stomach, to a trail of hair that led to a rather large erection. 'Whoa, that's what I call grown up.' He reached over and caressed the hard member before touching his ball sac. 'These seem to be in good shape. I wonder...'
"Good morning, Peter. Welcome back to the real world...as a real person," Tink chirped as he buzzed down to eye-level with his horizontal friend. "Do you feel different? You certainly look different. Real different."
"Oh, wow," Peter said in a soft, developed baritone voice. "My head is spinning but I gotta go, um, you know..."
"As much as I'd like to think that big stiffie of yours is for me, I'll concede that you've just woken up from the hibernation and have what this generation calls a 'pee-hardon'." Tink flew over to the commode and continued, "What you need to do is rise very slowly and get over here. Don't move too fast cuz you'll get dizzy."
"Got it, mate." Peter sat up first and paused. He unconsciously touched his face and frowned when his hand felt a substantial beard. 'Friggin' hair everywhere,' he thought. 'I forgot about some of the things an adult guy has to put up with.' Peter steadied himself on the ledge of the tub and hoisted himself up to a standing position. He trembled a little as he walked over to the commode and paused before relieving himself. 'Jeez, I'm going to have to practice aiming with this thing. Heavy artillery.' "Ahhh," he groaned in satisfaction.
"Better 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 stood in front of the mirror and studied the new look. He touched his beard again and ran his hand through his longish, blond hair that was growing in a rather shaggy manner on his young, adult head. 'All the familiar features are here,' he considered. 'Just a little more settled and mature.' Peter turned on the tap and cupped some water to splash on his face.
"Well, do you like what you see?" Tink got out of the way when Peter grabbed for a towel.
"I don't wish to presume narcissism, but the results are quite pleasant," Peter said. Immediately he cocked his head and looked at his mentor fairy. "Where did that come from? I, um, usually don't command such a vocabulary."
"Remember? I told you that a lot of things would be crammed into your noggin. You're now a young man with a sixth form college education."
"Most interesting. But I don't even know how to shave. And I most certainly need one." Peter studied himself further with a free hand moving deliberately over his chest and stomach. He turned around and studied his backside. 'This all appears to be in good shape,' he considered, approvingly.
"And that's why a man by the name of Cedric will be arriving in an hour. He will be your personal tutor, get you up to speed in the grooming department, and be a gentleman's gentleman to get you ready to go out into the world. Think of this as another step to your makeover. This is truly the answer to the comment, 'get a life'."
"Hmmm. Is Cedric, um, does he have special powers?"
"No, on the contrary, he's a real person who is in the business of polishing someone like you. He's been contracted and pre-paid to give you three weeks' instruction on the basics. We need to get you cleaned up before he arrives with the hairdresser to groom you...everywhere.
"Everywhere?" Peter asked in a puzzled manner.
"Remember those guys you mentioned on those gay Internet sites? And remember how they were nicely trimmed...down there? Well..."
"The hairdresser is going to take care of, um, trimming? What happens when I, ah, you know...?"
"As they say today, throw wood? Relax; I know the hairdresser is gay as a goose. And Cedric is in a long partnership with a guy. It's just part of their job. But take the instruction and learn well cuz you're going to be in charge of that task from now on. Most guys your age - gay and straight - trim themselves. Done properly, it makes the, um, equipment look bigger...although that's something you don't have to worry about." Tink let out a tiny "Tee-hee" and cocked his head.
"Lots of things to learn," Peter replied as he shook his head.
"Best to get in the shower. You kinda, phew...smell a little after a month's hibernation.
"I get the message." Peter stepped over and turned on the water. Once the temperature was right, he stepped in and luxuriated in the first shower he had had. At Neverland, he had bathed very sparingly in a nearby spring. Intuitively, or maybe because of his newly imported knowledge, he knew the use of the taps, but also the shampoo and body soap...and where to use it - especially around and in the private areas of his newly well-developed adult body. As Peter soaped himself, not-so-little Peter became aroused. 'Wonder if it would hurt to rub one off? Maybe just a quickie that...'
"Peter Pandarus, keep your mind on getting clean. You have no time for taking care of business," Tink blurted out. "Some things never change," he muttered.
"Very well, I will delay my pleasure but you must tell me about this name you keep calling me. It's the last thing you said before I went into my deep sleep. Ah, it's not that I don't like it...I do, rather, but I want to know more about it." Peter continued to inspect his body while he rinsed. He turned off the water, grabbed a large bath towel and looked at the tiny fairy with a quizzical stare as he dried himself.
"We could hardly have you, as a real person, named Peter Pan. I mean, you might as well be named Mickey Mouse,' Tink replied with a snicker. "Your new name has a nice ring to it, don't you agree?"
"Um, yes, it does. It'll just take some time to get used to. Let's get back to Cedric. I'm thinking about how he'll react to me if I don't know how to do the basics like shaving, grooming, etcetera, as a grown man."
"Little white lies. He's been told that you are suffering from memory loss and need to completely re-build the way you do things. The best thing is to listen, learn and tell him very little. Just be your usual friendly self. Now, please finish drying and brush your teeth."
"More stuff to work out. You'll find toothpaste and the brush in the medicine cabinet. And when you're finished, come into the bedroom so you can get dressed. Don't worry, everything will fit now."
"So much to accomplish that I didn't consider, um, before I...you know," Peter said as he opened the mirrored cabinet door.
"But once Cedric successfully completes his tasks, you'll be ready to face the realities out there. By the way, Cedric's services are just another step...not the final one. You've got music lessons after that."
"What are you talking about?"
"I'll explain after Cedric has molded you."
For three weeks, Cedric would arrive at 10:00 a.m. and spend eight to ten hours with Peter; weekends excepted. All facets of living were thoroughly taught and digested. Topics ranged from taking care of the basic bodily functions to grooming to dressing to social etiquette. Cedric, a person of many talents, was a middle-aged gentleman who attacked each item or subject with humor, resolve and determination. Never did he appear to talk or look down at his subject. By agreement with Peter, the fairy maintained a low profile. Only after Cedric departed each day did Tink appear. Together, Peter and Tink would discuss the day.
Cedric not only provided Peter with a fashionable look but also set up a regimen of physical workouts and diet. In the afternoons teacher and pupil would discuss current events and culture - modern and classical - that included music, drama, literature and art. Evenings were set aside for restaurants of all styles, theatres on Shaftesbury Avenue, concerts and museums. On their final evening at the end of July, Cedric made reservations for the two of them at the intimate, Michelin two-star rated, Capital Restaurant in Knightsbridge. This was a reward to celebrate Peter's successful transition to becoming a young, 'with-it' Londoner.
"Young Mister Peter, I consider my job finished," Cedric said after being seated at the dinner table. He ordered a bottle of Perrier Jouet Champagne and continued, "This calls for a proper toast."
"I've been a good student?" Peter was slightly amused that the very proper teacher and gentleman always referred him to as 'Mister Peter'.
"Splendid. Of course, you had a good education to begin with. That helped immeasurably and provided an excellent foundation." Cedric paused while the waiter offered the bottle of Champagne for inspection. He reviewed the label and nodded that the bottle should be opened. The waiter expertly disengaged the 'cage' and held the cork firmly with a napkin as he slowly rotated the bottle. A quiet pop and 'pfsst' was all that audibly indicated the bottle was open. "Just pour, if you would. I'm sure the wine is sound."
"I want to thank you for helping me. Next week I start my music lessons and that will occupy the rest of the summer." Out of the corner of his eye, Peter saw another dinner party arrive. A beautiful older woman, followed by a man who was probably her husband, and...'Oh, my god,' he thought when a younger man came into view along with his old Lost Boy friend, Nibs. 'That must be Nelson?' His eyes got a little larger when Nibs looked directly at Peter and smiled with a reflective expression. 'I know he doesn't remember exactly who I am. But something rings a bell in the back of his mind.'
"Cheers," Cedric said.
"Prost." Peter took his flute, raised it and gently clinked it to the other raised glass. He winked and took a polite sip. 'Drinking vintage Champagne is certainly a long way from Neverland,' he thought. While enjoying the first taste of the bubbly, he turned slightly in the direction of the Nibs Darling party. Looking directly at him was the younger guy. The two young men quietly exchanged greetings with smiles. Peter arched his eyebrow slightly and thought, 'Somehow I'm going to meet that stud...tonight.'
Peter and Cedric had a delightful meal. When the waiter informed them that the sautéed apples with Calvados and vanilla dessert would take a few moments, Peter excused himself from the table to use the loo. As he walked by Nelson, he subtly nodded and continued out of the dining room and stopped in the lobby. 'I don't think it would be proper to meet this guy in the 'gents'. Might send the wrong message...well, wrong for now.' Within moments, the young man joined Peter.
"Um, hi. I guess it's rather bold to come out here? My granddad mentioned that he 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, ah, noticed you when you came in. Your granddad looks familiar...but that's about it. Since I just moved to London, I'm not sure where our paths would have crossed." He looked at this handsome guy while shaking his hand and decided that he would push 'to the max' a way to know Nelson, better.
"I live not too far from here but will be going up 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 I could contact you? Would it be rude or, um, wishful thinking to say I'd like to get together with you sometime before you return to Cambridge?" Peter asked, ready to wince if he was rejected.
"That's a brilliant suggestion," Nelson said with a laugh. "It's not rude and I hoped that you'd be of like mind." He widened his eyes and shrugged before adding, "Here's my card with all the contact numbers. I'd very much like to see you...really see you, again. I don't have many, ah, male friends my age in London that...."
"Neither do I," Peter relied with a bold wink and a subtle lick of his tongue that sent an unspoken message. "Guess we may have several things in common. I will call...although it won't be for a couple of weeks cuz I'm busy with appointments. Maybe we can take a walk in Hyde Park and have lunch?" Peter reached for the card and held Nelson's hand for a brief moment before accepting the card. "Better get back to the table. Nelson, I really enjoyed meeting you."
"Look forward to the call and getting to know you better." Nelson grinned and gestured for Peter to return to the dining room. "I'll follow in a few moments."
Peter walked back to the table feeling very satisfied. 'Must get this music training completed. Then, Nelson is my priority. But after that? He goes back to university and I do...what?'
Tink was waiting upon Peter's return to get a reading of the dinner. Peter excitedly ran through the events at the restaurant and proudly pulled out the personal calling card. The fairy was ecstatic that the hoped for encounter had happened, albeit a little early.
"Oh, Peter, this is really a special time for you." Tink fluttered around the living room while Peter nervously fidgeted on the couch. "More special than you know. And I'm sure that Nelson feels the same way."
"I told him I'd ring him in a few weeks. Um, you said that I still had my music training and not to plan on anything else. But, Tink, I think I'm going to need more than some knowledge of music to be someone whom Nelson will respect. I mean, he's got a great family and is attending an Oxbridge college. He'll probably have a profession and where will I be?" Peter held his head down and said quietly, "I really appreciate all the work you've done. But I need more than music appreciation to appeal to a guy like Nelson. What am I going to be able to accomplish in the long run without a vocation or profession? In the past I've been able to always be a boy and be in charge of fun. Now it's different."
"I purposely didn't let you in on the rest of my plan until you successfully completed Cedric's training. You've done that and here's what's going to happen next." Tink waved some sparkling dust on the Telly and the screen immediately glowed with images of entertainers. "This is ITV1 and the programme is The X Factor. Watch closely, Sir, cuz by next winter the name Peter Pandarus will be on everyone's lips after you win the singing competition, appear on other shows and make your first CD album. That's the plan, bud. You are destined to entertain people, to sing your songs, and to make the public happy. In a way, it's an adult, real life version of what you've been doing all along. And I know that you'll be fabulously successful. Simon Cowell will flip cuz you're going to be a star. "
"But I don't sing."
"Really? Have you tried since the hibernation? Sing a little of 'When You Wish Upon A Star' and see what you think."
"Wrong fairy tale." Peter said with a snicker. "But how about this -
I won't grow up,
I don't want to go to school.
Just to learn to be a parrot,
and recite a silly rule.
If growing up means
it would be beneath my dignity to climb a tree,
I'll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up
-- From "Peter Pan", 1954 Lyrics by Carolyn Leigh, Music by Mark Charlap
"Gads, you must be gay...singing West End music." Tink beamed with pride and willed the Telly to turn off. "Seriously, your voice is dynamite. That's where the next couple of weeks' training will play a role."
"I'm quite surprised that I can sing at all. But I really do sound good, don't I?" Peter was self-consciously impressed with his mellow baritone voice warbling the lyrics in perfect pitch.
"After the teacher is finished, you'll be able to pass the auditions next month and go on to the Pop Idol competition on the Telly in October. The song you just sang is really part of history."
"In addition to being an old show tune?"
"That was just something that someone wrote about your past: a marvelous, historical fantasy in most people's eyes." Tink flipped over and buzzed around the room. "Your whole future - as Peter Pandarus - is entertaining the public and being a very 'special' friend to Nelson. I suspect that you two will be together for a long time.'
"Tink, I've come this far by trusting you. I want to make this happen and prove to myself that I made the right decision."
"Yeah, you made the right decision. And you've proved that it was definitely time to grow up."
All fairy tales - well, most - have happy endings. Let it be said that Peter and Nelson met in Hyde Park on a beautiful August afternoon and did develop a special friendship.
Nelson came out to his grandfather that autumn. Old Nibs understood his grandson's feelings and helped Nelson reveal his sexuality to the rest of the family. Soon thereafter, Peter became a frequent visitor to family events at Nibs's stately home. It didn't take much imagination on the Darling family's part to understand how Nelson and Peter loved each other. And the nephews and nieces thought it was pretty great that they had another uncle...especially one who could sing so well and loved to play with them.
Within a couple of years of winning The X Factor competition, Peter Pandarus became an international singing star. He appealed to a diverse group of fans ranging from young girls to pubescent boys to mature women to gay men of all ages. Nelson Darling finished university and followed his father and grandfather into their retail business. When Peter was not touring in concert, the two lovers spent quiet evenings in a town house in Grosvenor Square in Mayfair during the week and at their Berkshire country home on weekends. In both homes the marvelous Cedric attended to all of the young couple's personal needs. And Tink? After a while, he stopped coming by to check up on things. Peter figured that his sparkling little friend had gone to the big faerie castle in the sky.
A very special acknowledgement to Drew for encouraging me to tell a better story through his edits and suggestions. And a big thanks to Brad, Bart and Emoe for their patient proofreading and thorough editing.
*Peter Pan pretended to be from Yorkshire and Tink had just asked, "Do they know that one of their friends is you?" The response (spoken in true Yorkshire dialect) is, "Do they eckers like." This roughly translates as, "No they don't."
Here is quote about Yorkshire men from My Fair Lady (vintage Alan Jay Lerner lyrics):
Why can't the English teach their children how to speak?
This verbal class distinction, by now,
Should be antique. If you spoke as she does, sir,
Instead of the way you do,
Why, you might be selling flowers, too!
Hear a Yorkshireman, or worse,
Hear a Cornishman converse,
I'd rather hear a choir singing flat.
There even are places where English completely disappear,
In America, they haven't used it in years!
This story was submitted for the Fairy Tales Retold (to a gay theme) Anthology, 2007. www.gayauthors.org.