Fandom: Guardians of the Galaxy
Wordcount: This part, 1917
Notes: Like I said, I'm writing a sequel to Detonation Imminent. Wouldn't let myself start posting until I already had 10,000 words written but here we are now.
There wasn’t much that Peter missed about flying solo. Having people in his life who depended on him didn’t restrict his freedom so much as redefine it. Sharing everything five ways wasn’t a problem when he was raking in more than five times what he used to get. Long rides between solar systems never got too boring. The seconds between cassette tracks never got too quiet.
In the weeks following Peter’s botched plan to spy on the Avengers and the uneasy reconciliation and alliance that they had made instead, the Guardians managed to keep out of trouble. Well, relatively speaking, anyway. They got into their share of fights, but most of those weren’t drunken brawls, and of those that were, only one involved guns instead of fists, and it totally wasn’t their fault.
The kind of fights that they got into on purpose were the kind that Peter felt good about later. Their reputation for taking down criminals and rescuing innocents was gradually spreading across the galaxy. Better yet, they had a long-term plan, and it was already in motion.
The best way to prepare for Thanos’s next move was to track his minions and dismantle their operations, and Ronan’s death had left a vacancy that opportunistic evildoers were rushing to fill. Wherever there was an underworld power struggle, there was a path to follow for those who knew where to look. As far as Peter knew, the Guardians were the only ones who had shady enough pasts to get the information, incentive to use it for the right reasons, and the skills to survive in the process, so it only made sense that the job fell to them.
At the moment, they were headed back to Knowhere following a lead about a slave ring, formerly controlled by Ronan. If they could find out who had taken over its management, they would know who to target next. Not only would it put them one step ahead of Thanos, but they might be able to take down the ring and free its captives in the process.
Peter was excited. It usually wasn’t this easy to drum up the team’s enthusiasm for a job, but this time they had found one that hit everyone’s sweet spots. The mission was even sanctioned by Nova Corps, since every enemy they would encounter would be a known criminal. There was no bounty to collect, but Denarian Dey, with thinly concealed exasperation, had agreed to turn a blind eye to any looting they happened to do while on board the slave ships, so there was a good possibility that they would turn a profit before they were done. Basically, it was the perfect case, and the Xandarians that Peter was meeting up with swore they had everything he would need -- not only names, but locations and route predictions.
The other reason he was excited was that it shouldn’t be too hard to arrange a one-night stand while they were on Knowhere. He’d have to plan ahead, though. Now that he was a hero, picking up girls was about a hundred times easier. Now that he had roommates, bringing them home was about a thousand times harder. If there was one thing he did miss about flying solo...
When they all sat down for dinner at the end of that day-cycle, he cleared his throat loudly enough to make Rocket roll his eyes and Drax ask if he was choking. “I’m fine,” he stated. “Before we land, I just wanted to see how everyone feels about...having visitors on board.”
Rocket snorted. Gamora barely looked up from her plate to say, “Make sure she brings her own toothbrush.”
Drax furrowed his brow. “Do you plan on recruiting new allies? Hiring someone? I wasn’t aware of any job that needed doing that we could not complete on our own.”
“He means sex visitors, Drax,” Rocket explained around a mouthful of food.
“I am Groot?”
“I’ll tell ya when you’re older.”
Peter smiled. Groot was about four feet tall now, and his voice had lowered as he grew, but it still had the occasional crack that did make him sound a little like an adolescent male human. Rocket patted the tree’s arm and said to Peter, “It ain’t no thing, Quill, long as she behaves herself.”
“That’s not really what I’m worried about,” Peter muttered, but not to push his luck, he thanked Rocket and Gamora for their approval, and stayed behind for cleanup when they were done.
Drax stayed, too. When Peter turned from loading the dirty dishes into the washer, he was faced with the solid wall of muscles and tattoos that Drax became in confined spaces. “Peter,” he said solemnly, “I don’t object to your bringing females onto the ship.”
“Uh, good. Thanks.”
“It’s been your practice for many years to engage in these liaisons of temporary gratification, has it not?”
Peter began to look for escape routes. “I had something of a rep for it, yeah.”
Drax gave him an indulgent smile, an expression that his face had never been made to wear. “Then let me tell you something that the elders of my family told me: a union without commitment is lacking in trust, and trust builds slowly. It is best to begin as soon as you can.”
Gripped by sudden dread, Peter staggered backward and steadied himself against the counter, unable to tear his gaze away from Drax. “Oh my God,” he breathed. “Are you giving me dating advice?”
“Of course. As we are friends, and you lacked a paternal figure in your youth, it’s appropriate for me to help you if I can.” He placed a hand on Peter’s shoulder. “You must understand I mean no insult. I simply wish to warn you of the difficulties that your habits may cause with your future wife…”
“My future what?”
“Marriage is a worthy pursuit. You’re still a young outlaw; take your time choosing, but believe me, one day you’ll desire a lifelong mate.”
Peter twisted around at the sound of Gamora returning to the kitchen, and waved at her desperately as she passed through. “Gamora help.”
“Call me if either of you break any bones,” she replied, vanishing out the other door.
“I’m not hurting you,” said Drax, sounding confused. “We are conversing about romance.”
Peter raised his voice to a yell. “Rocket help!”
The response came promptly from somewhere deep in the ship. “You’re on your own, Quill!”
“Groot?” Peter tried, his last hope. Groot was still sitting at the table and had been watching raptly, though he was unlikely to have comprehended much. “Groot, if you think I should stay a legendary star-captain bachelor for the rest of my life, say ‘I am Groot’, okay?”
There was a long, long silence as the three of them stared at each other. Groot picked up the peel of a fruit that had been left on the table and put it in his mouth.
Drax released Peter’s shoulder with a pat. “It seems he agrees with me.”
They reached Knowhere on schedule, and Drax made no further attempt to interfere in Peter’s life choices. Neither did any of the others. They had all been traveling the starways long enough to know that customs varied between races, cultures, and individuals, and their little team was about as varied as it got. Peter’s utter confidence that his new family would always be by his side was supported by his conviction that they wouldn’t think any less of him for having the occasional hookup.
Anyway, he was less concerned about their judgment than he was about preserving the unity that they had fought so hard to find and nurture. Since the near miss on Earth, their group dynamic had changed in a few subtle ways. One was that Rocket began sleeping in Peter’s bed. It wasn’t every night, and there didn’t seem to be any rhythm or ritual to it, but more often than not, Peter would find a lump under his blankets when he turned in, or feel something brush up against his back as he was nodding off. In the morning, they discussed ship maintenance or busted on each other in between yawns and hygiene routines. Occasionally, they would talk in the darkness, too, Rocket making good on his promise to reveal some of his old demons in the hopes of putting them to rest. So far, he still had his share of nightmares, but it was a start.
Peter had never imagined he would be comfortable literally sleeping with someone he wasn’t figuratively sleeping with, but it only took a couple nights to start feeling normal. He even wondered sometimes if part of the reason that he had always been seeking out new bedmates was because he didn’t like to sleep alone.
Kids with siblings, he had gathered, saw it as a sign of maturity and independence when they got their own rooms. For Peter it had been the opposite. All of the Ravagers, aside from those at the very top tier of the hierarchy, shared bunks whenever they weren’t living in their own ships. Yondu had made an exception for Peter to protect him, and Peter, ashamed and embarrassed by the special treatment, spent years begging for a roommate. When he got one, a scrawny tattooed teenager, he felt like he had just vaulted into adulthood.
That first roommate had been dead for years now, and the only clear memory that Peter had of him was that he snored. Even that hadn’t bothered him at the time, though. The sound of another person’s sleep was his own mental cue to relax. Over the years, more women than he could count had comforted him with their even breathing on the bed beside him, and now he had Rocket.
Out of curiosity one day he asked Gamora if she slept better with someone else there, and she gave him the dark look that meant he was being an idiot and lucky that she considered him a friend. “No. Anyone I trusted to not kill me in my sleep was probably someone I had been sent to kill in his sleep. If you’re testing the waters, Peter, you should know by now I like my privacy.”
“I’m not,” he said hastily. “Already got a roomie, anyway.”
“It’s different for Rocket,” she went on, because of course she had noticed which door he had been coming out of in the morning. “He’s not an animal, but he has an animal’s instincts. I’m sure he feels safer with you.”
Caught off guard by her unsolicited approval, Peter put his feet up and rubbed his chin, contemplating. “You think Groot’s okay with it?” he asked.
“If Groot wasn’t, Rocket wouldn’t be.”
There was no need to ponder Drax’s sleeping habits. It was clear that he viewed cohabitation as something that only spouses did. Peter wondered if that meant he thought that Peter and Rocket were married now. Well, whatever. Maybe that would make him drop the subject of Peter’s future wife.
Someday, he reflected later on, he would have to explain it properly for Drax: he didn’t want a real romantic relationship because he wasn't lonely and he wasn't lacking anything. He was traversing through the galaxy with the truest friends a man could have, doing their best to make it a better place. Relationships always brought change, and right now he was so happy that change could only mean bad news.