Even twenty-one years later, you could still remember the first time you laid eyes on Peter Quill. He was a scrawny thing then, fragile even for a Terran, and you thought he was the prettiest creature you ever laid eyes on. That might have had something to do with the fact that the grownups had talked extensively about the angel-boy they were picking up—and that you weren’t supposed to see him at all. You were scrawny then, too, all scraped blue knees and tangled hair. The Ravagers had a bad habit of picking up children wanting looking after…but at least you hadn’t passed out when brought onboard.
That was all you got see: some floppy-haired Terran boy slumped on the ship’s floor. Your hiding place clinging to the rafters above everyone’s heads turned out to not be as good as you hoped. No sooner did you spot and identify Peter as the new kid then did some massive hand tear you from your root.
“What the hell are you doin’ here?”
Yondu might have frightened you your first week on the ship, but by then you had learned that, when it came to children, he was all bark and no bite. Instead of answering, you shot him your cheekiest grin. All this resulted in was Yondu rolling his eyes.
“Swear to God, if I didn’t owe your daddy that debt, I’d dump you on the first moon we pass.” With that, he tossed you from his arms, causing you to tumble head over heels across the metal grating. This did little more than daze you slightly. When you stopped seeing stars, Yondu pointed dramatically toward the open hallway beyond you. “Get on outta here, and don’t go pestering the boy later. He’s cargo, nothing more. I don’t need you complicatin’ matters forming an attachment.”
Even twenty-one years later, you could still remember the first time you and Peter Quill spoke. Cargo or no, five days after his arrival he was still onboard. The grownups whispered of forgoing the bounty, of having bleeding hearts, of the various ways to cook up Terrans. It was the last that spurred you into action; the thought sparked a childish fear that some of the more dangerous Ravagers just might actually try to eat the boy before you even had a chance to introduce yourself. They had to be serious; there were guards posted outside the room he never left. Certainly that would prevent an adult from getting in, but a child that knew the gaps and vents and cracks in the ship like the back of her hand? Hardly. It took no time at all to find yourself one grate away from Peter’s room. You could see bits and pieces of him—but only from the back.
You had not come all this way for Peter’s back. It did not look as though he were asleep, and if he were, who cared? He’d had days to sleep, days in which you and the other kids were kept busy and away with cleaning and running and keeping pointless watches. As far as you were concerned, the Terran boy owed you some consciousness. Your clattering into his room was enough to assure his wakefulness. To his credit, Peter didn’t do much when you first shoved the grate and yourself inside. He rolled over and gazed dimly up at you, sure, but that was it. His face looked sticky and red even in that room’s dim lighting. You decided to take pity on him.
“Hi.” You waved. Peter stared, licked his lips, and drew in a long, tremulous breath.
“What?” Frowning, you took a step closer. He stiffened. “Do all Terrans from Terra sound like that?”
“Heye,” you answered, exaggerating Peter’s strange drawl. “Does everyone from Terra talk like that?”
“Are all girls from outer space blue?” he retorted. The look on his face made it plain that you had somehow upset him further. This did nothing to deter you. Smiling, you lighted next to him on his cot.
“Some of ‘em.” You waited for Peter to answer your question. He never did, forcing you to try to think of something to interrupt the silence: “We got Terrans out here, too. None of them talk like you do, though.”
This prompting did nothing but cause him to start crying again. “I miss my grandpa. I want to go home.”
You scrunched your nose. “Why would you miss Terra? Nothing ever happens on Terra. Yondu said you’re the only—”
‘BANG!’ The door opened with such an enormous crash that both you and Peter jumped closer together, tiny hands brushing against each other atop the scratchy blanket.
“Boy!” That familiar voice had you leaping to your feet before Yondu had the chance to switch on the lights. “You don’t start eatin’, I’ll let my crew eat you. They ain’t never had a Terran before and if all you’re gonna do is take up space as a corpse, you might as well—” He came to a complete stop upon seeing you standing there, and even your smile wasn’t going to save you this time. Yondu lifted you into the air with one arm, wrenched the door open with the other, and then threw you forcibly out of Peter’s room. “What did I tell you about being affectionate to the boy? We ain’t keepin’ him! Go find something useful to do ‘fore I toss you out the damn window!”
‘BANG!’ The door closed with as much force as it had opened with. Shaking your head, you slowly sat up. You could hear nothing through the door, and before you could get any closer, one of the grinning guards pointed back up the hallway.
Even sixteen years later, you could still remember when you first realized you’d disobeyed Yondu and become fond of Peter Quill after all. You hadn’t meant to. He talked funny, dressed funny, danced funny, and he listened to funny music It didn’t bother you too much. There were plenty of other kids to get into mischief with, ones that Yondu didn’t threaten to eat every time they so much as let an asteroid chip the ship's paint. And then you had to sit with him, quiet and still, while waiting for your turn for pod driving lessons.
“Heard Yondu caught you and Kraglin kissing last night.”
You had not been looking at Peter before he spoke, but once the words sunk in, you flashed him an enormous grin. “Yeah?”
“Heard he went ballistic.”
“So what?” Peter remained silent. You knew your expression was admission enough; you had kissed Kraglin the night before. Instead of finding this amusing, however, Peter just grimaced. Your curiosity piqued, you slid down the bench closer to him. “You have a problem with me kissin’ him?”
Suddenly, Peter wouldn’t look at you. How he was supposed to tell you were teasing him without seeing your face, you didn’t know. Still, you kept up your smile and inched closer until your arms were brushing against each other. In the years since the Ravagers had decided to keep Peter on, you’d learned that sometimes it took a bit of time for him to talk. You’d never been a patient girl, but when it came to Peter…
“What do you see in Kraglin anyhow?”
You shrugged as soon as you caught a flash of his eyes. “He brought me something nice from his run yesterday—and he’s cute.”
“You think Kraglin is cute?”
“Sure,” you said. “Guess I’ve got a thing for Terran boys.”
Peter went so pink that you could have mistaken him for a Krylorian—but then, you had that effect on a lot of boys, even back then. It didn’t mean anything special at the time. Your smile just widened as you moved back down the bench, careful to flick him an appraising look before the pod came back. Now Peter really wasn’t looking at you. You felt the same pang you had upon seeing he’d been crying right before your first meeting.
“Bring me something pretty and maybe I’ll kiss you, too.”
No answering sound came from Peter. He got redder, though. Maybe you’d have to start keeping track of when that happened from then on. There was a distinct chance that you could use it to your advantage.
Even eleven years later, you could still remember the first time you felt Peter Quill’s skin hot against yours. The moment blurred around the edges even then: tumbling into the Ravager ship, clothes torn, the Milano steaming, breath coming wild in your ears. The roar of the guardian beast rang in your ears even as the quiet of space enveloped the hangar bay. Your limbs trembled with the ecstasy that came only from cheating death—a feeling you were familiar with and almost addicted to.
As soon as your brain registered that you were still in one piece, you began to laugh, long and loud. There was nothing better than snatching victory a hair’s breadth from the jaws of defeat. Your blue skin stung where the lacerations still burned and the smell of singed hair was almost suffocating, but that didn’t change the fact that you had managed it. You had won. Once you finally had enough oxygen in your lungs, you spun about, “Peter! We—”
He wordlessly held out some tiny, crumbling object: not what Yondu had sent the two of you down to procure, but something valuable nonetheless. It was a small, intricately carved, hugely old statue of a being that looked like what Peter told you on earth were called angels. The smile on your face died away to be replaced by an expression as serious as his. The thing was beautiful; your heart ached to have it, but rules were rules: you go to enough trouble to get something extra while on a mission, it was yours to keep.
“Can I—” You wanted to say look, but knew that wouldn’t be enough for you. If Peter handed that statue to you, your fingers wouldn’t let it go. He’d either have to beat it out of your hands—possibly breaking it in the process, ruining its selling value—or let you walk off to keep it in the growing collection by your bunk. He utterly surprised you by placing it in the hands that had unconsciously swam up to reach for it.
Boys gave you things. Boys had given you things for years. Your tendency of collecting knickknacks you thought pretty was famous among both Ravagers and frequenters of the bars and outposts you hung about for work. They weren’t usually terribly valuable things, since you cared more about glitter and beauty than credits you wouldn’t trade them for, so Peter offering you something both pretty and valuable left you unusually dumbstruck—so dumbstruck, in fact, that you almost didn’t take it.
“I couldn’t…” But you licked your lips and were taking it from him before you could finish your protest. You had never wanted a bauble more than that one. Peter handed it over, still stone faced. This threw you off, until he closed the space between you so quickly that your nose almost touched his neck.
“You once told me that if I brought you something pretty, you would kiss me,” he said, voice low. Slowly, your eyes traveled up to his. You hadn’t forgotten, despite your many forays into kissing and touching and all the rest in the years since. What surprised you was that Peter remembered.
“Yeah,” you whispered. “I did.”
He was taller than you now, no longer scrawny, but bigger in the shoulders than you could ever hope to be. You lifted yourself on your tiptoes and eyed him a second longer. It looked to you like Peter was holding his breath. Your wicked smile returned just as you pressed your lips against his. That one moment was like the spark that started the ship’s engines. No sooner had your lips touched than did Peter wrap his arms around you to crush you to his chest. Clearly, someone had been practicing. Moaning appreciatively at his attempts to pry your mouth open with his, you slid your fingers into his hair. It wasn’t long before you both were working at the straps on your uniforms, clumsy attempts made clumsier by the fact you couldn’t stop kissing.
It didn’t matter that you smelled, it didn’t matter that you were filthy, it didn’t matter that you were still in the hangar bay and Yondu was waiting for the two of you to bring him the gem you’d been sent for. All that mattered was that he didn’t come looking for the reason behind the delay. Things that day went quite a bit farther than the childhood kisses you’d shared with Kraglin so long ago.
Even ten years later, you could still remember the first time you waited for Peter Quill. Unlike the rest of the Ravager children, he was really all Yondu’s. Bluster and banter and bitch at him though he might have, Yondu obviously thought of himself as Peter’s father. Maybe that was why Peter decided to leave. The Milano was spacious enough, and at least there Peter could turn off the visual communicator if he got sick of Yondu’s screeching about cannibalizing him. So long as he didn’t interfere with business and came home every so often, no one really cared. Except you.
You tried not to care. Who were you to be concerned with Peter flying about the galaxy? Only someone who loved him more than she’d loved anyone else in her entire life. It was a strange thing to finally be settled with someone, stranger still to see that person move away. There had been some discussion about you coming along, but in the end, you hadn’t felt that you could turn your back on Yondu that way. He was the closest thing you’d ever had to family. You stayed on—and waited.
It felt like years before Peter finally decided to visit, though it had only been a few weeks in reality. Those weeks had been filled with an uncharacteristic moroseness on your part. For a girl that was usually so constantly moving that people asked her leave, you suddenly had no motivation to do anything at all. When you weren’t off doing something Yondu or Kraglin required of you, you mostly stayed in your bunk, using reading the ship manual as an excuse to be left alone, but mostly feeling sad and alone in the dark.
On a rare occasion that you managed to fall asleep, you were awoken suddenly in the wee hours of the morning by an outright cheering coming from downstairs. You felt only annoyed at first. Couldn’t the rest of them keep their celebrations down in the middle of the night? Then it dawned on you that those were not victory cries. There was no shouting about credits or plans for the credits earned. No, all you could hear was, “Welcome home!” and “Congratulations buddy!”
Peter! How embarrassing it would be to have him find you like this. You sat up, groping for a light switch and some decent clothes, but—too late. The door slid up and Peter stood silhouetted against the light pouring in from the rest of the ship. His eyes flashed in the dark and caught yours as he swiftly strode over to sit on your bed. You found yourself unable to do anything more than bite your lower lip.
“Hey,” he said.
“How have you been?”
Again Peter did not answer right away. Instead, he took your face between both of his hands and leaned his head down to kiss you heatedly. Things didn’t go further than that right away, but by the time you broke apart, both of you were panting. His face remained serious for a moment longer. Then he smiled and kissed the top of your nose.
Even nine years later, you could still remember the first time you thought that Peter Quill wasn’t yours. The spaces between his visits to the Ravager mother ship grew longer and longer. You understood—really, you did. Peter was an adult, and he always thought of his family as the Terrans he’d left on his home planet. You, on the other hand, had barely known your father before his untimely death. The Ravagers were your family. Going off with Peter just wasn’t something you were ready to do.
You occupied yourself just fine while he was gone. Your knack for distracting men made you an excellent source for gather information for various Ravager projects. Visit a couple of rough-and-tumble planets, bat your eyelashes a few times, and they were putty in your hands. This made you an invaluable resource to the group and kept you busy enough. You didn’t ache for Peter so much as wish he were there—not that you didn’t work well or even better with Kraglin and the others. They just weren’t Peter. They just weren’t special. Understanding was just as far from you as it was to everyone else that made the mistake of commenting on your pining.
Crashing for hours after a completed mission wasn’t unheard of with the Ravagers. Unless there were time-sensitive limitations to getting something done, no one cared what time someone rolled out of bed. After being up for nearly two days straight helping Kraglin out with obtaining some blueprints, you slept until the afternoon, and to hell with whoever thought you shouldn’t have. You were still rubbing the sleep from your eyes as you staggered toward the mess hall, and so at first you didn’t quite register that one of the voices you heard inside was more familiar than all the rest.
“Seriously, Quill? An A’askvarii?” Kraglin sounded skeptical, and he wasn’t alone; several other voices joined together in disbelieving laughter. You hadn’t heard them sound this doubtful since you’d overheard them telling Peter that there was no way [Name] had slept with him. Since you’d confirmed that Peter and you were a thing, the rest of them had almost completely forgotten they’d once believed him even incapable of kissing.
“I’m serious!” The laughter grew stronger. “I met her at a library. Figured she could help me find my way to the restricted section, and if a little hanky-panky is all it took…”
“They’ve got tentacles!”
“You’d be surprised how nice those feel around the shaft, actually.”
“For someone that said it’d been a few years since someone gave her bedroom eyes, she knew how to use those needles.”
By then, Peter being there had finally broken through your haze of exhaustion. He was home and checking in and…talking about other girls. You could hardly believe it. After all you had given up to stay with Peter. You stood, rigid and glaring, in the entrance to the hall. Peter’s back was to you, but several of the laughers could see your face and your expression. They fell silent as one. Then Kraglin twisted in his seat and spotted you, too, only to nudge a still-rambling Peter with his shoulder. When Peter caught his eye, he looked around, saw you, and clenched his teeth together in a wince. Had you been closer, you probably would have heard him hiss. You, however, were already gone, out the door and into the hallway.
“[Name]!” There were several clatters and clangs as Peter tried to catch up with you. “[Name]! Hey, wait up!”
You didn’t speak. It felt like your very bloodstream was flooded with rage. Peter Quill, the man you’d picked, the person you gave up all your sexual exploits for, the single being in the universe that you thought about all the time, found it suitable to brag about doing the exact opposite to you. If you didn’t get away from him, you’d—
He grabbed your shoulders and opened his mouth. You didn’t let him even start to explain.
“An A’askvarii?” you screamed, so loudly that it made your throat hurt. Peter winced a second time, but kept his hands on your shoulders as though that could keep you there if you wanted to move. Your chest heaved as you glared up at him. Never before in your entire life had you wanted to hit Peter. You did in that moment. So badly. Maybe he sensed that, because he carefully lifted his hands, though he was equally careful to remain exactly as close to you as before.
“It was just to get information,” he said. He kept his voice maddeningly calm. Needless to say, this did not calm you down one iota.
“Then why were you in there bragging to them about doing it with some other girl when you could have been with me?” you demanded hotly.
“You were asleep.”
Peter shrugged, looking entirely innocent. “You were asleep. The guys said you had a rough couple of days on your last gig and I didn’t want to wake you up. I was trying to be nice.”
His face remained utterly steady; his eyes didn’t waver once from yours. It took a while, but the anger you felt drained away. “Really?” you asked. Then Peter smiled, and did so as he took your hand and continued down the hall in the direction of your bunk.
“Really. C’mon. Let’s go get 'reacquainted.'”
Even eight years later, you could still remember the first time you thought that Peter Quill didn’t love you. Peter only came home for gatherings Yondu insisted he come home for, and the two spent the entire time yelling at each other more often than not. Sometimes, you would not have been surprised to hear Yondu finally give the go ahead for the rest of team to cook Peter up. Maybe the rest could tell that Yondu had a special place in his heart for Peter, but you just couldn’t see it.
You hardly saw Peter either. If he came to the mother ship, it was usually to run some trinket to Yondu or pick up spare parts for the Milano. He’d hug you, sometimes, kiss the top of your head, then grin and wink and mouth ‘call me’ as he shot back outside. You’d smile back and tell him to come home soon—but your ‘home’ wasn’t Peter’s anymore. Try as you might to resurface quickly after Peter’s short visits, this only resulted in you throwing yourself into constant work and normally making stupid mistakes. Kraglin knew. You knew he knew, but he didn’t say anything.
Instead of feeling warm when you thought of Peter, you started to feel hollow.
Even when he was there you felt hollow. One day he pulled off some grand heist and Yondu welcomed him with open arms and everyone broke into the booze. There were lights and chatter and plenty to drink. Normally, these situations found you in your element. That night, you listened to Peter talk about a crazy Kree girl that tried to stab him after he slept with her sister, and felt him pull you close. You let him. And when he grabbed your hand and stumbled to your bunk to topple into bed and start mouthing at your neck, you let him do that, too.
It just didn’t feel the same.
Even five years later, you could still remember the first time Peter Quill didn’t bother finding you when he came home. It had been ten long months since you’d last seen Peter’s face in person. You called, every so often, but even when you did, Peter always had somewhere to be, something to do, someone to see shortly after you called. But surely the two of you weren’t over. He still signed off with ‘I love you.’ Neither of you had said anything about breaking up.
“Did Yondu and Peter have a row I don’t know about?” you asked Kraglin while the two of you were in charge of piloting the ship. He glanced at you over his shoulder.
“They’re always rowing.”
“Yeah, but Peter hasn’t been back in nearly a year. This must have been a big one.”
Kraglin looked at you again. The look on his face was entirely different this time: something you couldn’t read but didn’t like all the same. “What are you on about, [Name]?” he said. “Peter was here last week.” Your heart froze in your chest. He couldn’t keep his eyes off the proverbial rode that long, but you saw comprehension dawn on Kraglin’s face in the split-second after his announcement before he twisted back in his seat. “He didn’t tell you.”
Peter hadn’t told you. All of a sudden, your chest felt tight. You jumped to your feet entirely without warning. “You’re lying.”
“What the—” Not that Kraglin couldn’t steer on his own, but your sudden lack of contribution was obviously noted. “[Name], what are you doing? Peter isn’t worth—”
“You’re lying!” you shouted again as you left the cockpit. “Yondu!”
It took no small amount of banging and screaming to get Yondu to appear. You had no doubt that he was busy; you simply didn’t care. Nothing would settle you down until you found out for sure that Kraglin was just trying to make fun of you. “Yondu! Where the hell are you?”
“The hell are you screeching about, girl?” Suddenly, he was there. Your anger and fear did not fade, though you were much too old to get away with the sort of mischief you got into as a kid. Yondu was not your father; he was a ruthless bandit, as were you. You had to act like one, even when you felt like you were breaking apart.
“Was Peter here last week?” you asked.
For a long time, Yondu didn’t answer. Then he lazily lifted his hands to his hips and looked down his nose at you. “Yeah,” he grunted. “What of it?”
You said nothing, as you were too busy taking deep breaths so you wouldn’t cry in front of your boss. Kraglin was right. Peter wasn’t worth it. You weren’t going to let the rest of the Ravagers have a good time telling Peter how you cried over him next time he came by. “Nothing,” you answered dully. Yondu snorted. He always had been able to see right through you.
“I told you not to go formin’ an attachment to that boy,” he reminded you. “I told you. Didn’t I?”
All you could think of as he trundled away again was that he had. For once in your life, why hadn’t you listened?
Even three days later, you could still remember the look on Peter Quill's face when he realized you weren’t his anymore either. Peter had been on the shit list for weeks, having gone after an artifact that the Ravagers had already signed on to get, and obtaining said artifact before you all could even make it to the quadrant. Like Yondu said, it wasn’t playing fair—and at least within the Ravager structure, members were always to play fair.
Then he showed up out of nowhere with some green-skinned woman and all was forgiven. You took one look at them gasping on the floor and left. Maybe you weren’t far gone enough to want to listen to Yondu beat the hell out of Peter, but you stuck around all the same, so you heard everything: Infinity Stones and Kree wars and Ronan the Accuser. Why did the Ravagers have to get mixed up in that mess? Why did Kraglin have to get mixed up in that mess? You were outlaws and bounty hunters, not the Nova Corps.
“I can’t believe you’ve all decided that I have to sit this one out,” you complained as you watched Kraglin suit up for the big battle. Nerves weren’t what you felt, exactly—Kraglin had gone into dangerous situations before—but you still weren’t keen to see him go. He knew that, of course, and shot you a smirk.
“Worried about me, darlin’?”
“Hardly.” You rolled your eyes and shifted into a more comfortable position in the room’s chair. There were so many guests aboard the ship now that private quarters were hard to come by. Even as second-in-command, Kraglin was having to use an old storage room to prepare for the fight. “I can easily find someone prettier to replace you with if you get your head blown off.”
At that, Kraglin laughed. Your venom was mostly due to being left out and he knew it. “You know no one ‘round these parts doubts your abilities. It’s just that you’re…y’know.” He nodded at your stomach, which only made your scowl even more prominent.
“We don’t know that. I haven’t started to show.”
“Still, you might be. And you know how Yondu feels about babies.”
“Ugh,” you groaned. “He’s such a sap. I shouldn’t be punished because my period decided to skip a week. I’m coming and Yondu can’t stop me.”
“[Name].” Kraglin said the word so gently that you had to look up. No one had said your name like that in years. Swiftly, he moved over to you and brushed your cheek with his hand. “Sit this one out. You never listen to me and I let it slide, but just this one time. Do as you’re told?”
Maybe you were getting sentimental in your old age. You could feel your cheeks turning darker blue and had to look away. There were butterflies in your damn stomach. “Fine. But you better bring me back something nice from Xandar for my trouble.”
“I’ll see what I can do. First we gotta save Xandar. Morality is a bitch, ain’t it?”
“Tell me about it,” you grumbled, but you leaned forward to kiss Kraglin at the same time. You could hear footsteps outside the door, but the rest of the Ravagers had learned by then to not enter any room where you and Kraglin were otherwise alone. Probably whoever it was just wanted to make sure he was actually getting ready and not peeling your clothes off instead. To your very great surprise, however, that someone decided to come inside.
“Hey, Kraglin. Yondu told me he saw [Name] come this direction. Have you see—” You broke off the kiss to look at Peter. Your eyes met and even though you’d told yourself a thousand times that no official breakup was needed, your heart sputtered to a near-stop at the sight of him. Kraglin twisted in your grip with a prominent frown and opened his mouth, but suddenly you didn’t want to deal with this. Kraglin might die within the hour, and if Yondu was right about this baby thing, you’d have enough trouble without dealing with Peter, too. You pulled Kraglin back around and gave him another soft kiss.
“Stay safe. If you don’t come back, I’m raiding your room,” you said as you slipped off the chair, past Peter, and into the hall. That was enough of a goodbye for you, especially since Yondu was right there at the end of the hallway, glaring at you as though simply worrying about someone was making trouble. Looking at him hurt, but your eyes’ immediate reaction of looking at Peter instead hurt worse. His face had gone entirely blank, but there was something in his eyes…
Swiftly, you rushed away. At least if you’d been going out to die fighting Ronan, you wouldn’t have to feel all this. Right before you ducked into a quieter area of the ship, you thought you heard Yondu again, growling at Peter, maybe: “Let her go, boy. She oughta be affectionate with someone that cares enough to be affectionate back.”
You took a deep breath to fill your lungs. It startled even you that you didn’t want to cry. Yondu didn’t have to worry about one thing anymore. Your affection for Peter had long, long since faded into nothing.