Fandom: Guardians of the Galaxy
Wordcount: This part, 2527
Notes: You want to know the best thing about writing for this fandom? Check out the comics-canon character I'm introducing here.
In the wake of Ronan’s attack on Knowhere, it had attracted a new wave of opportunistic travelers. Ironically, disrupting the fragile neutrality that had been the longtime rule there had actually made it safer in most people’s eyes. The power balance had more or less leveled out, and without the Collector’s facility stationed at the center of the district, there was little reason for anyone to make it a target.
The Guardians split up on arrival; Rocket and Groot went to shop for mechanical parts, Gamora for other supplies. Drax declared that he had some gambling to do, which Peter couldn’t object to since Drax had some kind of inexplicable luck and was generous with his winnings.
Peter himself decided to take a walk around and see what had changed since their last visit, as he had some time to kill before he met up with his contact. Most of Knowhere’s permanent residents were wary by nature, but those who knew him by name or reputation were willing to talk, and he was interested in what they had to say about their home. Trade had never been better, apparently; the nonexistent bureaucratic system made it attractive to anyone seeking to buy and sell discreetly, and anyone else wasn’t likely to stick around long.
With more traffic came more danger from the outside, though, and Peter soon found himself speaking with Knowhere’s new Chief of Security. It surprised him that a place which had been so resistant to government would appoint anyone to any kind of station at all, but what surprised him more was that the Chief of Security was a dog. Specifically, it was the dog that they had seen from the Collection before it blew up, a friendly retriever wearing a modified space suit with a CCCP logo. He had an impressive set of powers, including the ability to speak psionically, but he was still a dog, and he didn’t even seem self-conscious about it.
:Cosmo is takink responsibility very serious,: he explained to Peter. :All responsibility. Chief of Security, man’s best friend. More, Cosmo is takink pride in job well done. Is always beink happy to help Guardians of Galaxy. You have problem? You come to Cosmo.:
“Thanks,” said Peter sincerely. “Here’s hoping we won’t have to, but you’ll definitely be seeing more of us. We don’t have a base set up, aside from the ship, and I have a feeling we could use one.”
:Is good instinct. Need to rest paws after long day catching frisbee. Talk to Cosmo when you have decision. But remember,: he showed his teeth for the briefest second, :you makink mess, you scoopink mess up yourself.:
Peter certainly didn’t have any intention of making a mess, though he was as prepared to encounter one as ever. He bid Cosmo goodbye and made his way to the loudest bar in Knowhere, where he had arranged to meet the three Xandarians who had the information. They were all Astran, neatly dressed and sitting quietly at a table together, which probably would have made them stick out like sore thumbs except that Knowhere didn’t even have enough consistency for anyone at all to stick out.
Once introductions had been made, they began the conversation by heaping praise onto him for defeating Ronan. Being preceded by his heroic deeds was still a novelty, so he let them keep talking for as long as they wanted, occasionally providing a little bit of hyperbole where he thought the story sounded like it could use it. It was best to make this look like a casual gathering, anyway. Foreign individuals might not draw attention here, but valuable news did.
The woman, Keelah, gazed up at him through big, half-lidded eyes. “It’s just amazing what you did for our planet. Facing that tyrant all by yourself. I’ve never known anyone so brave.”
“Well, I wasn’t all by myself, I had the Guardians,” said Peter before he had even considered how best to capitalize on her misconception. He must have been slipping. “They’re the brave ones. I was just, you know, doing what comes naturally.”
“And that’s exactly why we need you!” said the older of the two men. “This is a mission that calls for true heroes.” He had the same sun-yellow skin as Keelah, and the same look of fervent admiration, but Peter hoped he wouldn’t decide to express it with the same flirtatious mannerisms. Unless he was very much mistaken, he had found his one night stand, and he hadn’t even had to go looking for it. Keelah was an unexpected bonus to this interview, and he wanted to make friends with her, privately and soon.
“Where are the other Guardians now?” asked Marwek, the younger man. “Will you need to consult with them before we seal our agreement?”
Peter shook his head. “No, they’re on board,” he asserted. “They told me to sign on the dotted line and come back with the specs, soon as I could.” He looked at the time. By now, the Guardians might be literally on board as well, waiting on the Milano for him to return with news. “So, what am I gonna tell them?”
There was money involved in this, but it had already changed hands: as a gesture of goodwill, Peter had transferred the agreed amount of units before they met. If they had decided in the last hour that they didn’t like him or didn’t want to proceed for some reason, he’d have to demand it back, and they’d have to decide if they would rather give it up peaceably, or have the Guardians as their enemies.
He wondered if Keelah and Marwek were thinking something similar as they exchanged a glance and nod with each other, and with their other friend, whose name Peter kept forgetting. Marwek raised his glass and said, “We have a deal,” before leading them in a Xandarian toast.
The actual deal was accomplished by handing Peter an unmarked information stick, which he slipped discreetly into his pocket to plug it into the Milano’s central computers later. “Can I give you guys a ride back to your station?” he offered. “You’re on our way.”
The two men declined, saying they had their own transport. Both looked confused when Keelah said, “I would like the chance to see your ship,” but when she followed it with a silky smile, they both rolled their eyes and stood up.
“We’ll be in touch, Mr. Quill,” said Marwek. “We wish you the best of luck.”
After they had departed, Keelah was still smiling at Peter. It was hard to misinterpret her intentions, especially when she reached out under the table and stroked his knee. “I would very much like to show you my ship,” Peter told her, and she answered by finishing off her drink in one gulp and setting the empty glass down hard on the table.
Keelah giggled all the way to the hangar, holding tightly to Peter’s hand and darting through alleys and shortcuts with him. When they were almost there he pulled one of his favorite tricks on her and came to an abrupt halt, backed her against a wall, and kissed her deeply. He’d been slapped for that in the past, but it was worth the risk. Keelah reacted exactly as he’d hoped, returning the kiss after one brief squeak of surprise. Like all Astrans, she was hairless, but he smoothed his hand over her scalp and hoped it meant something romantic to her kind.
“Just one thing,” said Peter when he had freed his lips. “The whole team is probably at home right now, so just...don’t let anyone intimidate you, okay? They can act a little, um, unpolished, but they’re my friends. They’d never hurt you.”
Clearly, she didn’t know what to make of that, but she didn’t hesitate to follow him up the ramp into the ship’s cargo bay. Peter crossed his fingers and said a prayer under his breath.
He wished that he had insisted on securing their cooperation in making a good impression on his visitors. Most of all, he wanted the chance to tell Rocket to sleep in his own room, without having to explain to Keelah why Rocket needed to be told to sleep in his own room.
A little quick action should take care of everything, though. He just had to introduce her to everyone, and they would understand and give him space. As soon as he and Keelah had stepped in, he filled his lungs to announce their presence, but was stopped short when he saw that they weren’t alone in the cargo bay. Gamora paused at the end of a graceful sequence of movements and looked over her shoulder at them. “Hello, Peter.”
Back on Earth, Peter had urged Gamora to pick up a hobby as a means of reclaiming her identity from her past with Thanos. To his infinite delight, she had chosen dancing, and she worked at it nearly every day. However, she didn’t dress for the stage when practicing, and today, she wasn’t dressed at all.
Peter clapped a hand over his eyes, too late to avoid seeing anything. The truth was that he was used to it, anyway -- Gamora, once she had ascertained that none of the males on board were interested in her body, would occasionally leave it uncovered if she was hot, or on her way to the shower, or for no reason that he could identify.
This time, it was the latter. “Who’s this you’ve brought home?” she asked nonchalantly, returning to her stretches.
“This is, uh, Keelah.” Peter kept his hand floating in front of his face, but couldn’t keep himself from noticing her turn around to face them. “Keelah, this is my friend Gamora, and we’re friends. Totally just friends. She’s more like a sister really. And we clearly interrupted her in the middle of a very private moment, and we’re going to leave her alone now…”
Gamora made an offended huff. “We’re much more than friends. And if I wanted privacy I’d go to my own bunk, you know that.”
Peter could only imagine the shade of red that his face had become. He gripped Keelah’s wrist to lead her out of the bay, ignoring Gamora calling out, “Well, it was nice to meet you!”
As soon as the door closed behind them, Peter turned to face Keelah. “I swear, there’s nothing between me and her.”
“No, you have to believe me, she just-- what?”
“I said okay. There’s nothing.”
Peter blinked. He had expected to spend half the night explaining Gamora’s habits, but Keelah was gazing up at him with no sign of suspicion or jealousy. He grinned. “Then let’s continue our tour. This is the shared living area--”
“And I am Drax.” The words came into the room at the same time as the speaker did, and in the same way, dispassionate but too big to be ignored. He stopped in front of Peter and Keelah and crossed his arms, frowning.
“Um, hello. I’m Keelah? Star-Lord met with my colleagues and me today?”
Drax nodded. His eyes flicked from her to Peter and back again. “I see. He’s brought you here for intercourse?”
Peter choked. Keelah tittered nervously. Drax went on, oblivious: “You need not fear any mistreatment at his hands. Peter Quill chooses his sexual partners indiscriminately, but he is honorable. You will always be safe with the Guardians of the Galaxy.”
“That’s great, Drax, she really needed to hear that,” Peter snapped, belatedly remembering that Drax would interpret his sarcasm as affirmation. “Is there anywhere on this damn boat where we can be safe from the Guardians of the Galaxy?”
Keelah made a small sound as if in answer, but when he turned to look at her, all of her attention was on her scarf, which was now somehow wrapped around Groot. Peter sighed. Had Groot been standing there the whole time? The scarf had a pattern of flowers, which must have made him want to touch it, but how he had gotten himself so tangled in a matter of seconds was anyone’s guess. Keelah was still holding one end of it and reaching toward the rest of it, clearly wanting it back but unwilling to get close enough to Groot to separate it from him.
“Hang on,” said Peter. “Stand still, Groot, I got this. No, don’t try to help. I’m just gonna give this back to the nice lady it belongs to, okay?” He looked up from the tangle for a moment and pointed out of the room. “Keelah, that door is my bunk if you want to get away from the circus. I’ll be right in. With your thing. Intact.”
“You seem upset,” Drax observed when Keelah had taken the suggestion.
“Nope,” said Peter through gritted teeth, unwinding a length of fabric from Groot’s arm. “I’m perfectly composed and looking forward to a nice evening trying to explain to that girl why you said I chose her indiscriminately.” Without leaving any more room for Drax to analyze the situation, he said, “Hey, if you see Rocket, tell him we’re ready to lift off. And that I don’t want to be disturbed!”
The scarf came free at last. Peter wound it around his hand and headed for his room as Drax was responding, “I believe Rocket is currently--”
“Don’t want to hear it, Drax! Just tell him what I said!”
When his bunk’s door had closed behind him and cut him off from the rest of the ship, he took a moment to lean back against it and breathe a sigh of relief, eyes closed, while he prepared to sweet-talk Keelah until she was in the mood for more than talk. He deserved this, dammit; it had been so long. The others didn’t know what it was like to have an active libido. Half of them didn’t even have a libido, as far as he knew.
“Open your eyes, Star-Lord,” came Keelah’s voice in a seductive croon. Peter obeyed instantly. She was kneeling on his bed, poised with her hands behind her head, wearing a lacy pair of panties and some jewelry and nothing else.
Adapting his plan to the moment, Peter dropped the sweet-talk part and strode across the room, shucking his jacket as he did. Keelah fell forward willingly into his arms, and he draped her scarf back around her neck and laid her down on the bed, showering her with kisses that only started at her mouth.
”Hey,” said a muffled voice. Peter froze. His heart sank, and it wasn’t the only part of him that did. There was a mound in the covers right beside where he had just lowered Keelah, and it was moving.
“Rocket,” he groaned.
Keelah sat up like she was spring-loaded and snatched a pillow to cover herself. The raccoon’s face emerged, fur rumpled. “Watch it,” he complained. “You big monkeys nearly squashed me.”
“Keelah,” said Peter, devoid of hope, “meet Rocket.”