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Tiny Terran

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Hallifax S’Tarnay watched the battle-worn blue hands grasp the sides of her captain’s head, as he snarled in frustration.  Two hours, the screams had bounced off the metal walls of the ship’s interior, and she could see the man was about ready to pop a blood vessel.

“Tha’ boy don’t cease his damn shoutin’ Imma put ma arrow thru ‘im.”

Halli, scoffed lightly as she picked at the dirt under her claws with her favourite knife, “Ya just abducted a eight year old boy from tha only home he ever known Cap’n, course he gonna scream bloody murder.”

Yondu turned his glare up a notch as he levelled her with it, “I ask you girl?”

Halli sighed deeply, unperturbed by her captain’s murderous gaze, “Nah, Cap’n.”

Yondu’s first mate scratched his bearded chin, either unfazed or immune to the screams, “Question sir?”

The captain ceased his wild pacing and threw himself into the final chair at the table, “Spit it out Krags.”

“How you gunna explain to tha crew we ain’t gettin’ no paycheck fer our trouble?”

Ever the calm, sensible one.  That’s what made Kraglin such an asset to the crew.  Halli, was woman enough to admit it, even if the captain wasn’t.

An irritable exhale left his throat, “Ain’t got tha’ far.  I’ll figure somement out.” He scrubbed his eyes tiredly, “All I knows is, I ain’t lettin’ tha’ bastard kill another kid.  Ain’t right.”

Halli scratched behind a pointed ear, “Could train ‘im Cap’n.  He’s small, quick, could get ta places we ain’t able to. Could make fer a good distraction too.”

His fist hit the table with a force that made the leather pouch in front of Halli tip, and a collection of thumb-nail sized metal balls roll out.  A quick series of clicks from her tongue had them rolling back in, she collected the bag calmly and refastened it to her belt.

Yondu snarled, “Again, I ask chu girl?”

Halli replaced her knife in its holster on her thigh, “Nah Cap’n. Just thinkin’ out loud.”

Kraglin raised a scruffy eyebrow, “Not a bad idea sir.”

The Centaurian gave them both an exasperated look, “Ya’ll gangin’ up on me now?”

His first mate held up his hands innocently, “Just sayin’ sir.”

Red eyes flicked quickly between the blue and gold sets, “Ya both mighty mouthy today.”  There was a pause before he glared at the woman next to him, “Halli! Go talk ta tha boy, get ‘im ta stop screamin’ at least.”

She raised a brow sceptically, “Me Cap’n? Dun think my ugly mug is gunna calm ‘im none.”

The blood vessel at Yondu’s temple rose to the surface of his skin as he ground his teeth, “Ya half Terran ain’t ya?”

Halli blinked her reptilian eyes, the golden colour shimmering under her second eyelids.  Scoffing, she gave her captain a crooked smirk, “Not sure I can convince ‘im o’ tha’.”

Yondu’s patience for her lip had clearly worn thin as the room was illuminated in a soft red glow, that would be soothing if she wasn’t aware of what always came next.  The Centaurian pursed his lips and she shot out of her chair like someone lit a fire under her.

“Read ya loud ‘n’ clear boss, ain’t no need fer that.”

She felt the mean smirk of victory that followed her out.

“Ya really oughta keep yer mouth shut sometimes girl.” Kraglin murmured to her as she passed.

A series of clicks from her tongue and three of the metal balls at her hip flew out of the pouch and bounced in quick succession off the back of the Hraxian’s head.

“Same could be said fer you Kraggles!”

She smirked as he treated her to a string of colourful curses.  Yondu’s rumbling laughter followed her out.


Halli rapped her knuckles gently on the door, “Boy?”  The incoherent screaming continued. She sighed, “Cap’n’s loosin’ his mind wit’ all this screamin’, ya gotta stop.”  The only thing she achieved was making him scream louder, she heaved in an even deeper sigh, “I’m comin’ in, don’t throw nothin’ at me.”

The boy, all big wet rimmed eyes and snot covered face was cowering in the corner when she entered.  Halli winced attempting to make herself as unthreatening as possible.  Rather hard for a near seven-foot bipedal half-breed.

“Let me out.”

Halli shook her head, “Can’t be doin’ that ‘til ya stop tha’ racket.”

The boy whimpered pathetically, and Halli’s cold-blooded heart broke.

“I wanna go home.”

She folded her legs up underneath her, coming down to his level, “Yer Momma’s gone boy, ain’t nothin’ left on Terra for ya.”

He sniffled loudly, wiping more snot on his sleeve.  Halli’s nose crinkled up, she’d forgotten how much Terrans leaked.

“What are you going to do to me?”

She sighed, a lot of bad things could happen to a little brat like him on this ship, and apparently this was now her problem, at least that’s what her heart was adamantly telling her head.

“Ain’t nothin’ Imma do to ya boy.  I wanna help ya.”  She paused, looking into his big hazel eyes. “What’s yer name?”

“Peter. Peter Quill.”

“Alright Peter, my name’s Hallifax, but you can call me Halli.”

He shuffled forwards a little, curiosity getting the better of his fears, “What are you?”

She snorted, smirking a little, “Believe it or not, I’m half Terran.  That’s what chu are. Terran.”

He shuffled forwards a little more, a grubby hand reaching for hers, until he snatched it back and gave her a terrified look, “You look like a lizard.”

She chuckled, anyone else had said such a thing would have had a painful time at the business end of her Sic’tars, but the boy wasn’t out to be mean, he was just inquisitive.

“That’s ma other half.” She replied, “A very ancient, very extinct race called the Oros. Imma kinda lucky there ain’t none left like me.  I’d be an outcast, a Stolara. In the ancient one’s language, it means ‘dirty blood’. See, the Oros always prided themselves on the purity of their race, in fact, that’s what Oros means, ‘pure of blood’.  It was eventually their downfall, but that ain’t a story fer now.”  Halli sighed, giving Peter a kind smile, “What I’m tryin’ ta say Pete, is that I know what it’s like bein’ alone out here. Tha Cap’n saved ma ass, just like he did wit’ chu.  It may not seem like it right now, but ya’ll will be grateful fer it one day.”

Peter moved forwards so he was almost touching knees with the large woman in front of him, “You’re scaly.”

Halli smirked, “Yep.”

“It looks like the oil slick on the roads back on Earth, ya know? When it gets all wet an’ goes rainbow colours.” He paused staring at her face, “It’s pretty.”

Halli’s mouth dropped open revealing a row of needle sharp teeth, the honesty in his face was plain and simple.  She snapped her jaw shut with a click, blushing purple to the roots of her fiery hair, “Ain’t never nobody called me pretty before.”  She paused, “You ain’t scared of me?”

He sniffled, and shrugged a tiny shoulder, “A little. But it’s kinda hard to be. You’re bein’ so nice.”

She smiled at him, “Ain’t many nice people on this boat, so ya gotta learn ta be tough.  But dun worry I’ll help ya.  Gunna teach ya ta be a Ravager.”

“What’s that?”

Her grin was both menacing and genuine, “Only tha best damn thing in tha Galaxy Pete. We’s space pirates.”

His eyes became impossibly wider, awe crept into his tone, “Really?”

“Really, really boy.” She held out her hand gently, keeping her claws away from his fragile skin, “Come on up now, you gonna come meet tha Cap’n.”


 

Peter clung nervously to the back of her floor-length, red leather duster.  “This is Cap’n Yondu Udonta.”  He pushed his face into her leg at Yondu’s scowling mug.  She shot the captain a light glare.  Looking down at Peter she said gently, “Come on now, what I say before?”

“Be brave.” He said quietly into her knee joint.

“Yeah, that’s it.  Cap’n ‘n’ ol’ Kraggles here won’t hurt ya none.”  She turned to the Centaurian, “Cap’n, this is Peter Quill.”

He snorted, rolling his eyes, “I know his damn name!”

She blinked, “Well on Terra, people introduce themselves wit’ a handshake instead o’ an arrow Cap’n.” She deadpanned.  His glare could’ve cut through the hull.  “Respectfully, o’ course sir.”

Peter took a deep breath and stepped out from behind Halli.  He held trembling hand out to the terrifying man in front of him, “Nice to meet you.”  Halli felt a flush of pride as his voice only wavered a touch when he spoke.

Yondu’s eyes flickered from the boy to Halli, she jutted her chin towards the boy.  The captain’s eyes spoke of a night in the brig for her attitude today, but Halli found herself uncaring.  Someone had to protect the little Terran until he got his legs, and that someone was now her.  Though she couldn’t tell you why, she felt the need to do this kid a favour.  Maybe because no one ever cared a damn to help her, when she was dumped face first into the Ravager crew.

Regardless of whether or not Yondu was considering gutting Halli, he was pleased she had stopped the boy’s racket.  He took the hand offered and shook it firmly, “Ain’t no more snivellin’ ya hear?  Ya wanna be a Ravager ya gotta play tha part boy.”

Peter stood tall, nodding to him bravely, “Yes Yondu.”

Yondu smirked, “Gud boy.”

Peter turned to beam at Halli, she returned it with a smile, pointing beyond the captain, “That there is Kraglin, Cap’n’s first mate.”

Kraglin nodded to the boy, offering a quick smile, that was gone as fast as it came.  Peter waved back shyly.

Yondu looked up at Halli, “Take ‘im, show ‘im tha ship, an’ we’ll covert tha supply cupboard in ma room for ‘im ta sleep in.  Dun trust tha crew not ta flark wit’ him.  Once ya dun all that show ‘im tha vents, bastards need a clean.”

Halli inclined her hear head, “Aye, Cap’n.” She replied beginning to usher the boy away.

“‘N’ Halli?” She turned herself to face him, “Dun go babying tha boy, I catch that shit an’ you’ll be in tha brig, ya hear?”

“Aye Cap’n. Loud ‘n’ clear.”


 

Hallifax strode quickly through the bowels of the ship, avoiding any high traffic areas with the boy, she turned her head slightly, “Alright ya –” she paused mid-sentence, “Pete?” She spun in a circle, sharp eyes searching for the kid.  He was ages back, jogging to keep up with her. “Shit! Sorry bud. I ferget you got them stubby kid legs.”

He reached her side, panting loudly.  He plastered a scowl across his face, “They aren’t stubby, you’re huge! Like, freakishly huge.”

She raised a brow, “You fixin’ fer death yer first day boyo?”  His eyes went comically large in his head. “Then I suggest ya quit bringin’ my glarin’ differences from normality ta light.  I’m well aware o’ ma ugly ass self by now, dun need a constant reminder, ya got that?”

“I – I didn’t – you aren’t – well I mean you are different – not bad different!” He stopped, going pale, “Mom always told me differences is what makes us who we are, it isn’t bad, it makes us special – beautiful.”  His eyes filled with tears, “I – I miss her.”

Halli sighed, anger seeping out of her like the captain’s arrow had pierced her scaly skin, “I know kiddo.  I know.  I miss my Da too.  He did his best to protect me from people who ain’t got nothin’ but murder an’ a quick sum o' units in their heads.  The last time – he – his – his best just weren’t enough.  Yer Momma did what she could ta stay wit’ ya, o’ that I’m sure.  No parent worth their salt would leave such a nice kid behind on purpose.”  Her cold hand landed on his shoulder and squeezed lightly, “Ya know, that’s twice ya’ll called me pretty taday. Careful, I might start thinkin’ ya’ll start actually likin’ me er some junk.”

Pete’s nose crinkled in typical childlike honesty, “Ewww, girls are gross.”

Halli barked out a laugh, “We der plenty o’ handsome boys out there too, ya know.”

Peter’s eyes almost fell out of his head, “EWWW!”

The reptilian’s laughter bounced off the walls, “I’m just flarkin’ wit’ ya kid. Now, let’s show ya ‘round this junker.”

Thankfully, most of the crew ignored Halli and her new charge.  She’d proved herself countless times, they wouldn’t hassle her unless they were looking to fight her, the last man to attempt it ended up being shot out the airlock.  The weekend in the brig was well worth watching his grubby little mitts claw at his throat before freezing over, horror plastered over his stupid ass-grabbing face.  That incident had left most of the crew avoiding her for a while.

“Alright Pete, time fer a crash course in tha Ravager pecking order.  Cap’n is top dog, what he says goes, all tha time, every time, questionin’ orders generally result in the death of the person doin’ tha questionin’.  Kraglin is First Mate, means his orders are next in line ta be followed. Afta that it’s me, Brite, Tullk, Horuz, Czar an’…well that’s it really.  Doc, cook, an’ engineerin’ got their own set o’ rules but unless ya workin’ wit’ ‘em ya ain’t gunna need ta know that so we’ll skip tha’ shit right now.  Crew’s gunna be tha major worry fer ya. Dun like non-contacteds, ‘specially dun like kids.  You tho’, ya small, smart, an’ fast, most o’ tha crew, is big, meaty, slow, an’ stupid.  They only clever enough ta follow orders an’ kill shit.  Tha vents’ll be yer best friend, learn ‘em an’ ya can get anywhere in this ship wit’ ease.” She stopped in front of a heavy metal door. “Got all tha’?”

Peter blinked, “Uh, y – yeah I think so.”

Halli nodded, placing her hand on the bio-lock to the room, it ran yellow and beeped. She tutted her tongue, placing a finger up to her ear, “Cap’n?” Peter watched her inquisitively. “You wanna let me in yer cabin? - Yeah, signature’s yella - two minutes? - Yes'sir.” She turned to Peter, “Cap’n’s gotta get ta a console.” He nodded, kicking his sneaker against the rusty metal grating.  Halli grinned, “Wanna see somement cool kiddo?”

Peter shrugged, “Sure.”

Halli pushed her coat back and clicked her tongue, ten little metal balls that resembled large ball bearings floated in the air in front of the boy.  Through another series of elaborate sounds, she made them do little tricks until Peter was grinning from ear to ear.

“Wow, what are those?”

A short growl had them floating around her head like a deadly halo, “They call ‘em Sic’tar in Orosian, means…uh – well, loosely, there’s no exact translation ‘victory or death’, I guess it was some kinda battle cry? Anyways they’s a weapon.”  Halli made a trilling sound, and the balls snapped open, folding out like flowers until they were covered with tiny metal shards, sharp and deadly.  “Oros ‘r’ from tha same system as tha Cap’n, they have weapons controlled by their chemical make-up too, basically our bodies respond to different metals and we can manipulate them ta do what we want, 'course if ya believe the spirituals they's say our spirit is in tune wit' da nature or some bullshit, it's a load of stinkin' primitive shit if ya ask me.  Long story short, I can down a whole room o’ people wit’ these, Yondu can do tha same wit’ his Yaka Arrow.”

Peter’s grin turned to an expression of fear when Halli snarled viciously.  His heart sped up even more when he noticed she was looking at something behind him.

Halli motioned with her head, “Git back there boy.”

He didn’t need telling twice darting swiftly into the back of her trench coat, clinging to her leather-bound leg like a life line.

The terrifying figure at the end of the hall smiled, “What’s this we got? He looks right tasty.  Got ourselves a Terran for dinna?”

Halli’s growl was an inhuman sound that made Peter shiver, “Walk away TF, afore ya dun have a chance ta.”

The man threw his head back and laughed, “Flark you Halli, you protecting that little runt?”

“You know tha Cap’n’s rule Tase, 24 hours fer new recruits, ya wouldn’t be fixin’ ta break that rule would ya?”

Taserface snarled, “He ain’t no recruit, he a dinner ticket. Move Halli.”

“Ain’t no way.” She snarled, clicking her tongue two of her Sic’tar flew at incredible speed, embedding themselves into his cheek before darting quickly back to the group. “Last warnin’ or ya won’t be walkin’ away.”

Taserface roared, drawing the blade at his hip, he took one step before a whistle drew him up short.  Peter blinked, one second the big man was moving towards them, the next a red tinged arrow was floating between his eyes.

Yondu’s voice growled out from the end of the hallway, “Ya know tha rules Tasie.  Git before I make good on Halli’s promise.”

Thoroughly subdued Taserface high-tailed it out of there before he received an arrow to the brain. 

Halli grinned at Yondu, before signalling her Sic’tar back into the pouch, “Remote lockin’ mechanism playin’ up again Cap’n?”

Yondu scowled giving a sharp whistle, his arrow did a loop in the air and glided back into the holster, “Flarkn’ shit, don’t nothin’ work ‘round here?”

Halli stifled a chuckle, “Aye, Cap’n, ya do have a unique ability ta make tech dislike ya some. I’ll take a look at it fer ya, afta I finished wit’ Quill.”

Yondu grumbled something under his breath and stuck his hand onto the bio-lock, “See tha’ ya do.”

Peter looked between the two aliens, he still wasn’t sure why the hell he was here or why these people chose to abduct him but his Mom said his father would come for him.  He looked at Yondu. Maybe. Just maybe. He did.

Chapter Text

The captain was right, every inch of the vents was completely filthy.  Peter had been with the Ravagers for two months and each day he climbed into a section of the vents and cleaned them.  He always came out disgusting but Halli would always take him back to Yondu’s cabin and help him clean up, then she’d take him up to the mess for weird space food.

Peter loved weird space food.

Halli managed to wrestle a breathing mask out of Yondu, stating the boy would die of black lung before his first year was out if he didn’t have something to protect him.  He had to admit it was pretty cool.  Halli had pressed a little button behind his ear which allowed the metal to materialise and fit securely around his face.  She’d said it made him look like a badass.  There was a com unit in the side that he could talk to the crew through.  Halli had input three direct lines, one to her, one to Kraglin, and one to Yondu.  After that she had popped him in a vent and told him to get to work.

Peter’s tiny body moved through the vents with ease, he scrubbed each part as well as he could, shifting along slowly.  Humming along to his music, blasting from the headphones around his neck, he came to a cross point in the vents that opened up enough for him to sit up in.  He scrubbed that area especially well thinking that it would make a good lair.  He entertained the idea of hiding all his pirate treasure here, he was smiling and humming happily when he heard a sound.  It was crossed between a weird growl and a squeak.

Turning to his right he saw something that made him very scared, it was a rat – at least – he thought it was a rat, it was scraggly and flea-bitten with razor-sharp teeth and beady little yellow eyes.  The terrified boy, scrabbled backwards towards the left vent entrance and the rat ran forwards. Peter let out a shriek and crawled for all he was worth, shifting further into the vent system.

The rat caught up easily scratching and biting at his sneakers, he kicked out making the rat snarl as his foot connected with it.  Turning another corner, he pushed himself into a vertical shaft, dropping down to the next level and scrambling along as fast as he could.  He took the corners blindly, heart hammering in his little chest.  He could hear the scratching of the rat’s claws right behind him, he came up on another vertical shaft and was just about to throw himself down it when he realised it contained a fan.

His fingers gripped the other side of the opening, heaving himself over the space.  He turned to see the rat scratch madly around the corner, momentum carrying it into the vent’s wall. Peter left his body across the gap until the last possible second.  As the rat ran towards him snapping its jaws he kicked out against the side of the vent, propelling himself forwards to the end of the shaft.  The rat screeched as it fell into the fan, blood splattered the roof of the vent.  It was a dirty pale brown.

Peter stared in horror, before bursting into tears.  Everything hit him at once, his mom, being taken from his home, the terrifying crew, the weird space rat.  He cried, big fat tears, rolling down his cheeks until exhaustion took over, eyes falling shut behind the red lenses of his helmet.

Several hours later, Peter awoke in the same place, he was itchy from the vent grime and decided to go and find Halli so she could take him to Yondu’s cabin to get cleaned up.  He looked around in confusion, then he suddenly remembered the rat.  His stomach did that weird flip thing that happened when he was terrified – he had no idea where he was.

Hastily palming the com button, he shrieked into it, “HALLI! HALLI!”

The gruff voice on the other end was not the one he wanted to hear, “Flark ya shoutin’ about boy?”

“Yondu?”

There was a sigh, “Yeah?”

“I’m in the vents. ‘Cept I dunno where.  There was a rat an’ it chased me an’ now I dunno where I am an’ – Yondu I’m scared.”

Concern mixed with irritation coloured the man’s tone, “Flarkin’ hell. Alrigh’ boy I’m comin’. Stay where ya are.”

The captain patched in Kraglin and Halli.

Halli’s voice was muffled by whatever tool she had in her mouth, “Sup boss man, I got my head deep in a console’s wirin’ right now, can whatever it is wait?”

“Boy got ‘imself lost in tha vents.”

There was a spitting sound, then Halli’s voice was much clearer, “Shit! Petey? You ok?”

Peter sniffled, “I’m scared Halli.”

“Shit. Ok, ok don’t worry we’ll find ya.”

Kraglin’s voice joined the other two, “I’m headin’ over to tha Bridge now Cap’n.  I’ll handle things ‘til ya get back.”  The was a brief pause, “Peter?”

“Hi Kraglin.”

“Dun ya worry ya little head bud, Cap’n’s tha best tracker there is, he’ll get ya outta there right quick.”

Peter could hear Yondu’s heavy footfalls through the com. “Where’d ya drop ‘im off Hal?”

“Vents in engineerin’ Cap’n.”

“Alright meet me there.”

“On ma way.”

A few minutes went passed as Peter waited, worrying the buttons on his Walkman.

Halli’s voice, slightly breathless crackled through the com, “Ok Petey, you remember where you went?”

Peter chewed at his lip, “There was a big rat an’ it chased me, I was in a big spot where all the vents meet up but then I had to move because it attacked me.  There was a vertical shaft I dropped into but I don’t remember where I went after that.”

“That’s ok Petey.  Where are you now?”

He looked around himself, he hadn’t been here before because the vents were still disgusting, all the vent shafts looked the same, his lower lip trembled, “It’s – it’s a long shaft, with a vertical shaft in the middle, it has a fan – the rat – the rat fell in an’ got chopped.”

Yondu snorted, “Well I ain’t sorry ta see another dead space rat, that’s fer sure.  Good job son.”

Peter beamed, at least he’d done something right.

“Hal, ya got the vent schematics girl?”

“Right ‘ere Cap’n.  Looks like he managed to get to here.” There was a pause. “Petey, you remember which way you went when tha rat chased ya?”

Peter thought really hard, the image of the rat at the other end of the shaft flashed into his mind and he flinched, “I’s sorry, Halli I dun remember.”

“He said he jumped down a vertical.” Kraglin chimed in.

Yondu grunted, “Tha’ means he either went that way or that way.  Look fer an output shaft.”

Peter wanted to help but he didn’t know what he could do, he bit his lip before asking quietly, “Umm, do those fans go anywhere?”

Yondu’s reply was clipped, “Into tha walkways o’ tha ship or inta tha cargo hold.”

Peter shuffled forwards, nose scrunching up as his fingers slipped in the blood of the dead rat, “The light from under the fan is really bright.” He replied peering over the side of the shaft. “Shouldn’t the fans have grates or somethin’ on them? Stop people hurting themselves?”

Halli snorted, “The Eclector is held togetha wit’ spit, duct tape an’ a whole lotta luck Petey. Ow! Damnit Cap’n I was just kiddin’!”

“Watch yer tongue girly, ‘fore I cut it out.”

“Promises, promises.”

“There’s prolly bits of rat all over the floor too.” Peter said, making a gagging sound.

“That one leads ta that cargo hold, tha light ain’t as bright as tha halls Cap’n, let’s try tha one that leads out there, in tha hall near tha meetin’ room.” To Peter, “Alright Petey, we think we’s know where ya are, hang tight boyo.”

About five minutes went by and Peter began to get worried, he palmed the com button again, “Halli? You here yet?”

Twin sets of footsteps echoed in the com, “Not yet Petey, ya ended up going right inta tha bowels of tha ship.  Another couple of minutes an’ we’ll be there ok?”

Soon enough, Peter heard faint footsteps.

“There he is. He’s in tha’ vent there.”  Yondu’s voice could just be heard over the fan, echoing back through the com. “Boy? Need ya ta turn around an’ go ta tha end o’ that shaft yer in.  Then go left, afta that ya follow that one down and go right, then left again.  There should be a grate there we can get ya out of.”

Halli looked up through the fan, “We’re gunna follow ya down here Petey ok? We’ll be at tha end when ya get there.”

“Ok, Halli.”

Peter shuffled forwards, following the captain’s directions.  When he finally saw the light streaming through the filthy grate he grinned.

Outside, there was a lot of cussing from Yondu and when he reached the grate he realised why.  Halli’s golden eyes were peering through the holes.

“Damn,” Yondu grunted, “Yer heavy fer a thin lass.”

Halli shook her head fondly, looking down at the older man, “Bein’ just shy o’ seven feet’ll do tha’ Cap’n.”

“Was rather hopin’ I could get my legs ‘round yer head instead. Different settin’ o’ course.” The captain leered.

Halli scowled. At this point she'd known the captain for a number of years, he was a crude bastard and an awful flirt but he was family - like a stupid older brother that always picked on you but would kill a man if he looked at you funny. Kraglin was the same, just as crude but the poor guy couldn't flirt to save his life.  They bantered back and forth like this all the time, but on this occasion it was in front of Peter and she was trying - and probably failing - to shelter the boy - at least a little.  

She gave the Centurian a sharp slap on the back of the head.

“Wha’ tha flark?”

The reptilian’s shoulders shook in silent laughter, “There was a fly Cap’n.”

Yondu rolled his eyes, “If that ain’t tha biggest piece o’ bullshit ya ever said, I dunno what is.”

Halli sniggered loudly as the captain grunted and shifted her weight.

“Hurry it up will ya?” He grit out.

 Halli rolled her eyes and murmured quietly, “Shaddup ya ol’ blue bugger.”

“What was tha’?” Came the whip-crack reply.

“Nufin’ Cap’n.” She pulled her knife from her boot and undid the bolts, shoving it in her mouth as she yanked the rusted thing free. The grate dropped with a loud clang on the flooring, she slipped the knife back into her boot and held her hands out to Peter.

Dragging him out slowly so he didn’t catch his clothes on the corners, she wrapped her arms securely around the tiny body.   The extra weight of Peter was enough to make Yondu’s knees give out, dropping the lot of them to the floor. The Centurian grunted, clearly unimpressed with being at the bottom of the strange puppy pile.

Peter was all over both of them hugging and gushing out his thanks with big wet eyes.

“Aw hell boy quit yer slobberin’!”

Halli gave him a pat on the back, “It’s alright Petey yer safe now.”

The com crackled to life, “Did ya get him?”

Yondu shoved an elbow out of his face irritably, “Yeah boy’s fine. Do us a favour Kraggles?”

“Sure Boss.”

“Git one o’ them wrist pads an’ upload tha vent schematics ta it.  Then input a tracker so we’s can find ‘im easy next time.”

“Yes’sir.”

Yondu shoved Halli’s body – half sprawled over his – off and stood, “Come on son, let’s git ya fixed up.”


Peter lay in his little bed fiddling with the wrist pad, when the door to the captain’s cabin whooshed open.

Yondu looked up from his holo-pad, “What tha hell you doin’ girl? This aint tha rec room! Ya can’t just wander in whenever ya damn-well feel like it!”

Halli took in the captain – jacket off, bare feet up on his desk, drink in one hand and a holo-pad in the other.  She smirked, “An’ miss out on lookin’ at yer handsome blue ass all relaxed an’ shit? Won’t never miss a chance like tha’.” She leered, winking. “’Sides, I didn’t come here ta ogle ya Cap’n Self Important. Got somement fer Petey.”

He grumbled, rolling his eyes, “Make it quick.  Boy’s tryin’ ta sleep.”

Halli opened the door to Peter’s little room and sat down on the bed near his feet, “Hey boyo! How ya doin’?”

Peter grinned happily, waving the wrist pad at her, “Look what Yondu gave me!”

“Well now,” she replied smiling, “that’s right awesome innit? Least ya won’t git lost now.”  She pulled out her knife and tossed it onto the blankets. “Brought ya somement. It’s fer when ya in tha vents.  Next time one o’ them little buggers comes up on ya, ya stab ‘em through tha head right quick.  Then ya won’t have nothin’ ta be afraid of.”

The boy fingered the knife reverently, “Wow – thanks Halli!”

She grinned, ruffling the boy’s strawberry locks, “Yer welcome.  Ya’ll get some sleep now.  I’ll see ya in tha mornin’.”

She shut the door quietly and made to leave the room but Yondu’s voice stopped her.

“That was yer favourite knife, weren’t it?”  He didn’t look up from the holo-pad in his hand.

Halli walked over to his desk, leaning on it slightly, “It’s a good knife. Sharp, easy ta handle, even fer a little scrap like him.” She shrugged looking over the assortment of trinkets that lined the desk, “He’s a good kid, he’ll take care of it.”

Yondu scoffed throwing the holo-pad down on the desk, “Sentiment.  Tha’ shit’ll make ya soft,” he thumped his chest with a fist, “in here.”

Halli pushed off the desk and slipped an arm around his shoulders, “No matter what chu think, carin’ dun make ya soft, if anythin’ it makes ya stronger.”  She stooped to his level and dropped a kiss on the scarred skin next to his implant. “G’night Cap’n.”

Yondu watched Halli leave with a slight smile tugging at his lips.  He shook himself, scowling, “Bah! Them three’s gunna turn me inta a sap.” He shook his head, picking up the holo-pad, smile passing over his lips.

Already have.

Chapter Text

There was only one crew member that absolutely terrified Peter – sure everyone was scary but this guy was terrifying.

His name was Patero, he was over six feet tall and built like a plasma cannon wouldn’t knock him down, two sets of beady little yellow eyes, a flat squishy nose and a cruel smirk.

It had been six months since the little Terran had been picked up by Yondu and his crew and although he’d threatened to let the crew eat him heaps of times, no one had ever actually tried.  He stuck like glue to the crew members who had been nice to him for the first month before both Halli and Tullk had quietly reassured Peter that the crew wouldn’t eat him because they didn’t eat people – alien or otherwise.  He felt much better about walking around the ship by himself after that – that was until Half-Nut had told him that while most of the crew wouldn’t try to cook him, Patero might.  He’d stayed away from the burly alien after that.

He’d all but forgotten about it until one day after helping in engineering he was cornered in an empty corridor by Patero.  The man sneered down at the boy, brandishing a knife and muttering about carving him up.

Petrified, Peter backed up into the wall to avoid the knife, “You can’t! Ravagers don’t eat people.”

The look on his scarred face told Peter he didn’t much care for that rule.

“Ain’t nothing gonna be left for the captain ta fine but bones.” He ran the knife edge down Peter’s face, the boy felt the sting of the blade carve a line in his cheek. “You gonna watch while I pull strips off you an’ eat ‘em an’ you gonna scream real pretty like.”

Peter didn’t want to be eaten at all and he certainly didn’t want to watch. Horror turned quickly to anger, like hell this was going to happen, not without a fight! He was a Ravager damnit and he weren’t going to be bullied or carved up!

Pulling the knife Halli had given to him, he rammed it into the man’s crotch.  Patero’s knife slipped down Peter’s face cutting deeper into his jaw as the man howled and dropped to his knees.  Using all of his weight Peter pushed the man away and ran.

Sprinting into the next corridor and the next and the next, he ran until he ploughed straight into Winnie.

Peter liked the yellow skinned alien, she was always nice to him, but he couldn’t pronounce her name so began to call her Winnie on account she was the same colour as the bear he’d loved so much as a toddler.  It ended up sticking and now everyone called her that.

She stumbled back a few steps, “Woah Peter! Where’s the fire little man?”

“Patero he a tried ta eat me!”

“What?!” Winnie stooped a little – at four feet tall she didn’t have to go very far – and grabbed Peter by the chin, inspecting the cut on his face, “He do this to you?”

Peter nodded, tears spilling over his cheeks, burning a hot, stinging trail down the cut, “He said there’d be nothin’ left but bone for Yondu ta find and then I got mad ‘cause I’s a Ravager too – just like you guys – and you’s don’t let no one push you ‘round so I stabbed him and then I ran.”

Winnie snarled, “Show me where that scamanarder is.”

Peter didn’t know what that meant but figured it was in Winnie’s own language – something that his translator couldn’t put into English.

He grabbed her three-fingered hand and took her to the corridor where he’d run from.

Winnie blinked.

Patero was splayed out on the floor clearly passed out – if the amount of dark green blood was anything to go by – with a knife sticking out of his crotch.

“Holy shit little man you knifed him right in the junk!” She clapped him on the shoulder, grinning, “You fight dirty boy – you’re going to make an amazing Ravager when you’re all grown up.”

Pushing a button on her comm she contacted Kraglin.

“Krags? It’s Winnie.  Our little boy here ran into a bit of trouble with Patero – What? No, he’s fine, he’s got a cut on his face where the bastard tried to carve a chunk off him but he’s ok – Well,” she looked at the body in the middle of the hall, “he’s bleedin’ out – Yeah knifed him, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you where – I’d say you’ll need at least six to move him – Why?" She looked down at the boy, clinging to her hand like a lifeline. "Peter says he planned on eating him – Oh no he was serious that’s something his people don’t see much problem with, the younger the better – Yeah, I know – I dunno! I don’t do the recruiting! – Yeah well nobody never liked him anyway – Yup don’t worry I’ll watch him until the captain gets down here.”

She pulled her finger off the button and looked down at Peter, “Don’t worry little man, Captain’s coming down to get you.  He’ll take you to the doc to get your face fixed.”  She produced a rag from one of the many pockets in her leathers, “Here hold that on there until you can see Mazar.”

The rest of that day faded in Peter’s memory to nothing more than a bad dream.

What Peter never saw was how badly Patero got his.  The whole crew was present – except for Halli who took Peter for a ride in her M-ship Le’Andra – which she told him meant Freedom in Orosian – to pick up supplies.

They gathered and after Kraglin had settled them with his usual; “Cap’n’s gotta teach stuff.”; Yondu went to work, taking his time as he flayed the man alive.  With a clear message sent to the crew Yondu had the pieces of the cannibal that were left spaced.

The message; Don’t fuck with the Captain’s son.

Chapter Text

Peter had toughened up a lot since the Ravagers picked him up, which is why when Yondu’s eyes snapped open in the middle of the night cycle at the sound of screaming he knew whatever the kid was dreaming about was a doozey.

He dragged himself up out of bed, attempted to put on his pants and swore when he tripped over.  Finally righting himself he pulled open the kid’s door to find him thrashing about, tangled in his blankets, and screaming bloody murder.

“Kid!” Yondu approached the bed and got a fist to the shoulder for his trouble, swearing and grabbing at the skinny limbs he tried again, “Peter! Peter damnit! Wake up!” He shook the boy roughly and Peter’s eyes shot open and his fist flung out socking Yondu fair in the nose.

The Centurion let go of the kid and grabbed at the wound appendage, “Flark it all!”

Peter blinked the wetness from his eyes, “Yondu?”

The man scrunched up his nose to test if it was broken and wiped at the blood dripping from it, “Who tha hell else it gonna be?”

The boy didn’t say anything else, simply throwing his arms around the shocked Centaurian’s neck.  Not really having much experience with this crap – it was more Halli’s thing to comfort the boy – Yondu hugged him back awkwardly rather than shoving him away like every instinct he had was telling him to. He listened to the muffled recount of Peter’s dream, just scary little things that had happened to the boy along the way that got all jumbled and condensed up in to a terrifying nightmare.

“It’s alright boy, they’s just pictures in yer head, ain’t none of it real.”

Peter sniffed loudly and wiped his nose on Yondu’s bare chest. The captain pulled a disgusted face.

“It felt real”

“Yeah it does but then ya open yer eyes and ya can see it ain’t real.”

“I’m still scared.”

Yondu sighed, “Look at me boy.”

Peter looked up into the red eyes of the captain.

“Ain’t nothin’ bigger an’ scarier than me.”

“You’ll protect me?”

He said it with such an honest openness that Yondu couldn’t refuse him.

“’Course I will son, ain’t nothin’ gonna git ya.” He placed the boy back on the mattress, “Ya’ll go back ta sleep now ok?”

Peter reached his arms out again, “I don’t want you to go.”

Yondu rubbed his eyes and sighed, “Fine.  Com’ere ya can sleep in ma bed – but dun get any funny ideas! It ain’t happenin’ all tha time an’ I’m only lettin’ ya ‘cause I’m flarkin’ tired.”

He held out a hand and took the boy into his own room.  Peter jumped on the bed, bouncing happily.

“Hey! No jumpin’! Flarkin’ thing’s ‘bout ta fall apart as it is.”  He crawled under the furs, “Too much fuckin’.” He muttered quietly.

“What’s fuckin’?”

Yondu cursed loudly, “Ain’t nothin’ ya need ta worry yer little head about.  An’ dun tell Halli ya heard me say that word! Girl’d have me lynched.”

Peter giggled, burrowing himself under the furs and plastering himself to Yondu’s front.

The man sighed irritably but gathered the boy up in his arms.

“You smell like leather and dirt.”

Yondu raised a brow, “Uhh – thank you?”

Peter giggled again and then yawned, “Ya ain’t as scary as everybody says.”

The Centaurian chuckled, “Don’t tell nobody that neither.  Got me a reputation ta keep.”

The boy huffed against him and settled.

Yondu fell asleep with a smile on his face.


 

Halli wandered in first thing in the day cycle as she had taken to doing in order to get Peter up and ready for the day.  She breezed passed Yondu’s bed, snoring coming from deep within the furs and opened Peter’s door.

“Up an’ at ‘em boyo –”

The bed was empty.

She turned quickly and walked over to Yondu, “Cap’n? Pe –” She stopped short when she saw Peter plastered against the Centaurian’s chest, the older man’s arms around him protectively.  She had to cover her mouth to stop the ‘aww’ that threatened to burst from her lips.

She walked over to the door and popped her head out.  Spying the first mate exiting his room she waved him over, “Psst! Kraglin! You gotta see this.”

He passed a tired hand over his face, “I ain’t even had coffee yet Hals.  Can it wait?”

She grinned widely, “You ain’t gunna wanna miss this bro, come on.”

The pair crept into the room quietly.  When Kraglin saw what Halli had been grinning about he chuckled quietly, “Ain’t that just adorable? He does have a heart.” He whispered to the beaming reptilian.

Halli nodded and snapped a quick picture, “So flarkin’ cute!” She gushed.  Putting a hand on Kraglin’s arm she motioned to the door with her head. “Come on before he wakes up, I ain’t quick enough first thing in tha mornin’ ta avoid a well-placed arrow.”

The crept back out, Halli took one last look, smiling, “Sweet dreams boys.”

Chapter Text

Peter wasn’t supposed to be in his room yet, but Halli had shipped him off to bed after dinner because he had practically been falling asleep in it.  He had to keep to the day cycle of the ship, which was much longer than a day on Terra and sometimes it just caught up with him.  As she was tucking him in, Halli grumbled something about the captain being unreasonable, kissed him on the head, and left him to sleep.

He'd just been drifting off when he snapped awake to shouting in Yondu’s cabin.  He threw off his covers, and padded over to the door.  He opened it a crack and peered out.

Yondu was pacing wildly back and forth, his necklaces swinging in time with his steps, “Why’d ya have ta go an’ do a fool thing like that?! Yer a idjit!”

Kraglin stood off to the side with a sling around his left arm.  His face looked greyer than usual, Peter suspected he was probably in a lot of pain.  He’d known they were going out on a job today but he didn’t realise that Kraglin had gotten hurt.  Peter bit his lip, he hoped Krags was ok.

“What the fuck did ya expect me ta do Cap’n?! Let ya take tha hit?! I was tryin’ ta save yer LIFE!”

Yondu rounded on him and snarled, “I ain’t some fragile girly ya gotta protect Obfonteri! It coulda been you tha’ died yer damn lucky it just hit yer arm! Ya willin’ ta die fer me?!”

Kraglin took a step forward, Peter could see his jaw working back and forth.

Yondu continued, growling at the taller man, “Ya never take a shot fer no one! It’ ain’t done – an’ another thing –”

“YES!” The Hraxian barked.

That stopped Yondu short, “What?”

Kraglin looked at his boots, “I’d die fer you.”

Yondu exploded, “What the FUCK Kraglin?! What kind stupid fuckin’ shit ya got up in yer head? You’d die for me?! What the hell for?”

The Hraxian sighed, taking another step towards the pissed of Centaurian, “I care about ya – an’ if ya say some shit about ‘sentiment’ I swear ta tha fuckin’ stars I’ll kick ya in the nads.  We both know that’s just a whole lotta bluster fer tha crew’s sake.”

Peter head the necklaces clank as he sighed and ran a hand over his head, “Look Krags – that ain’t somement I wanna hear.”

The taller man gave him an incredulous look, taking a final step and closing the distance between them, “Ya don’t wanna hear it huh? Well, fuck you! Ya gunna! I care ok? I do, we been together – friends – fer years.  Yer my – the Cap’n, I’d follow ya anywhere.  When I saw that shot was gunna hit ya I had ta do somethin’.” He ducked his head, looking at his boots, “’Cause if Imma honest wit’ maself – I – I dun wanna be in a galaxy without you in it.”

Peter couldn’t see Yondu’s face but he could imagine the bewildered look Kraglin was getting and he knew the look Kraglin was giving the captain – it was the look his Mom got whenever she spoke about Peter’s father – he was in love.  Peter stifled a giggle.  Poor Kraglin, his Dad wasn’t the easiest man to like let alone actually love.

Finally, Yondu spoke, his tone was confused, “Wha –”

He didn’t get anything else out as Peter watched Kraglin lurch forwards, planting a kiss on the other man’s lips.

The boy’s eyes went wide.

Kraglin stepped back and screwed his eyes up.  Opening them up again he said hoarsely, “That were – stupid o’ me.” He sighed heavily, averting his eyes, “Cap’n – Yondu – I’m sorry. Ya dun feel – that way about me – I – I know that – I – I just came real close ta losin’ ya taday an’ I – I dunno I panicked. I – Can we pretend this never happened?”  He sighed again and turned striding out the door before Yondu could say a word.

Peter watched the older man stand there for a full minute before the yelling started.

“Shit! Shit, shit, shit, SHIT!” The Centaurian picked up the desk chair and threw it against the bulkhead.  A dozen trinkets fell from various shelves, clattering to the floor.  Yondu grabbed his head and screamed in frustration, “FUCK!”

Panting, he sat down heavily on the bed. He sighed, “Ya can come out now boy, I ain’t gunna throw no more stuff.”

Peter gasped, pushing the door open, “How’d you know I was here?”

Yondu tapped his fin, “Trade secret.”

Peter padded out into the main cabin and sat down next to the man, “Are you ok?”

He laughed humourlessly, “No.”

Peter looked up, “Kraglin loves you huh?”

Yondu raised a brow, “Love an’ lust ‘r’ two different things boy. Ya’ll understand that when yer older.”

Peter shook his head sagely, “Nopes it’s love. My Mom’s used ta look like that whenever she talked about y – uh – my Dad. Krags looks at you like you’re his whole world – that’s love Yondu.”

Yondu cursed, “Seems he do then, yeah.”

Peter looked up at him with big intelligent eyes, “You love him too huh?”

Yondu looked away, “I – I dunno.”

The kid smiled at him, “Well ya just gotta figure it out.”

The captain snorted, “Ain’t all that easy Quill.”

“Sure, it is!” He hopped up, grabbing a discarded holo-pad and stylus from the desk.  He scribbled something at the top and then handed it to Yondu, who took it with a raised eyebrow.  “You gotta make a list,” Peter pointed, “see? Good things on the left, bad things on the right.  If there’s more good things than bad then you know the answer is yes.”

Yondu looked down at the unsteady Galactic Common, “Where’d ya learn this?”

Peter beamed proudly, “Kraglin’s teaching me.”

Yondu blinked, “Is he?” He picked up the stylus and scribbled ‘good wit ma boy’ in the good column.  “Ya know, this ain’t a bad idea Pete.”

The kid grinned, “Mom taught me.  She said it would help me make hard choices.”  He patted Yondu on the shoulder, “She also told me to follow my heart. So, you should prolly do that too.”

The captain snorted, “I’ll be sure ta do tha boy. Go’on now off ta bed wit’ ya.”


 

The next morning when Peter got up, Yondu was already gone. The holo-pad was discarded on the bed.  The list of ‘good’ was seemingly endless and Peter couldn’t read all of the words in Galactic Common yet so he skipped that and looked at the tiny list in the bad column;

Sentiment = Weakness

Weakness = Possible Extortion

Possible Extortion = Death

I can’t be with him.

That made Peter sad and a little grumpy, didn’t his Dad realise how often he showed them he cared outside the privacy of his cabin? Instead of expressing how he felt, the old bastard was just going to give up?

Peter shook his head, “Dad you’re a big blue idiot.”

He was in love with Kraglin.

Plain and simple.

And Peter was going to do something about it.

He just had to pick his moment.

Chapter Text

Nine-year olds are impossible.

It wasn’t the first time Yondu thought that and it wouldn’t be the last.

He’d been avoiding Peter lately because the boy had taken to asking him question after question about anything and everything.  Seemed he wanted to figure out everything.  And damn it all if that weren’t annoying as hell when he was trying to run a ship filled with rowdy idjits.

He sighed, palming the bio-lock on his cabin door.  Upon entering, he kicked his boots carelessly into the corner and tossed his jacket across the back of his desk chair.

Grabbing a reasonably clean glass off the shelf above the desk he sloshed some liquor into it and picked up a holo-pad.  He tossed himself onto his couch and curled his feet up underneath himself.

That’s when he heard it.

The unmistakable sound of crying coming from across the room.  He looked up at the storage closet – well Peter’s room – as it had been for over a year.

He scowled, the kid would get over whatever was making him snivel.  Yondu refocused on the report from engineering in front of him.  He scanned the details quickly – knowing Kraglin with his mechanical background had already gone through and amended any mistakes.  A list of parts required –

Damn it!

His eyes wandered to the door.  He glared at it, the noise went quiet, and he refocused on the report –

Engineering were considering just replacing some parts in one of the main engines, which would have them offline for around half a day cycle.  He frowned, hadn’t those parts had just been replaced six months ago?  He pulled up the engine’s statistics and found that yes, they had.  The engine was around 13 years old, and second hand when they’d ‘liberated’ it off a smuggler’s freighter.  Its performance had steadily declined over time. Yondu chewed his lip.  Replacing the parts wouldn’t fix the issue and it would just prolong the inevitable.  Replacing the entire thing would have them dry docked for about two weeks, he could still send teams out for jobs using the m-ships but that would mean they would have to find a cluster of work within range of where they were docked.

He didn’t really want his girl falling – well not falling out of the sky because space – but being stuck out in the black wasn’t exactly Yondu’s idea of a good time.  He waved the reports away and messaged Kraglin, asking his opinion and suggestions of where to dock.

He brought up the next report on stock levels, it seemed –

Oh fer flark sake!

A mournful wail came from the closed door.  Yondu growled, tossing the holo-pad down on the couch so hard it bounced and clattered to the floor.

He stalked over to the door and threw it open.  Peter was sitting on his bed clutching desperately at his music box.  Big, fat tears rolled down his face in streams.  Yondu had seen the boy get a little misty on occasion but never all out cry.

“What the hell you cryin’ about boy? I ain’t gettin’ shit done wit’ all yer racket!”

Peter took a shaky inhale, “It’s dead! I don’t got no more batteries!” His voice was high-pitched and he subsided into sobs again.  They wracked the kid’s frame as more tears spilled from his eyes.

Yondu raised a brow irritably, “Is tha’ all ya goin’ on about?”

Peter scowled, “It’s tha – only thing left I have – f – from my – my mom.”  The sentence was punctuated with huffing sobs.

The Centaurian sighed and held out a hand, “Give it here.”

Peter clutched it to his chest protectively, “No.”

Yondu snarled then curbed it when the boy flinched.  As much of the tough guy act he fronted when outside the cabin he didn’t like that the kid was actually scared of him sometimes, “Ya want me ta fix it or not?”

Peter blinked, “You – you have more batteries?”

Yondu shook his head, “Nah boy that shit’s old tech – but I can fix it fer ya if it’ll shut ya up.”

The kid held the box out to him and he took it.  Walking over to his desk he shoved all of the shit to one side, some of it falling to the floor in a heap and making a racket.  The boy followed him curiously.  Yondu ignored him, pulling out an old box from one of the desk draws.  Despite every flarking console on the ship having it out for the Centaurian, he was actually pretty handy with most things.  Pulling out a half finished fin he tossed it to one side, pulling out wiring, a soldering iron and various other tools.

Peter began to pick up whatever he’d knocked off the desk – holo-pads, schematics, a collection of trinkets, a flask, some – oh that’s where they went! – socks.  Peter scrunched up his nose and threw them in the laundry chute.  Yondu made a mental note to pick up some more socks next time he was planet-side – damn things kept disappearing – as he popped the back of the Walkman open.

He pulled out the batteries, tossing them into the trash can next to the desk, they bounced off a broken holo-pad and clattered down on an empty whisky bottle, he grimaced hearing it smash.  Spying the internals, he grinned – piece of piss to fix – then he could finally get some work done before falling into bed.  He rummaged through the box on the desk – shit – no fusion cores.

“Wait ‘ere boy.”

Yondu exited the cabin, striding towards main storage, a few minutes later the door was sliding open and he went over to the console, stopping short when he saw it was off and there was a set of long legs sticking out from under it.  He kicked the legs – belatedly realising he’d forgotten to put his boots back on – it didn’t really have the effect he was after, “Oi, where’s the fusion cores?”

“Cap’n?”

“Oh, hey Hals.”

She slid out from her spot folding up her legs and standing.  A hint of a smirk touched her lips as she took in his lack of usual attire, “Little late-night shopping huh boss?”  Her voice amused.

Yondu huffed, “Shove it. I need a fusion core.”

She pointed a clawed finger, “Three rows down on yer left.”

Yondu rummaged through the pile, finding the size he needed and scooping it out of the storage box, “Put a size four down ta me when ya get that thing back up.” He said, striding out from in between the shelving.

“Aye.” She replied, fiddling with her multi-tool and twirling it around her fingers, “Whatchu need it for?”

The captain grumbled, “Gotta fix tha boy’s music box.  Just about lost his mind when it stopped workin’.”

Halli smirked, “Awww, yer a sweetie ain’t ya?”

Yondu snarled, “Only doin’ it so’s I can get some peace an’ quiet.  Flarkin’ Terrans an’ their snivellin’.”

The reptilian chuckled but not at what Yondu had said – rather, she was staring at his feet, “I just noticed you only have eight toes.”

Yondu looked down wiggling them, “So? That’s a perfectly normal amount!”

The woman raised an eyebrow, making the Centaurian frown.

“Innit?” He nodded his head towards her, “How many do you have?”

“Terrans have ten toes Cap’n.”

“Tha’s – flarkin’ weird.” He looked at her boots, “Ya got Terran feet under ‘em boots?”

She shrugged, “Perks o’ bein’ a half cast.  Orosians only have six but I was graced with ma mother’s feet.  Makes it damn hard ta find boots lemme tell ya.”

Yondu chuckled and shook his head, “You almost finished up here?”

Halli looked back at the console behind her, “Yeah shouldn’t be more’n 20 minutes.”

He grunted, “Dun ferget ta come say g’night ta Quill, bugger won’t sleep ‘less ya do.”

Halli snickered, “Aww, you just want me ta come say g’night ta ya don’t ya Cap’n?”

Yondu pointed at finger at her, “Dun push it ya snarky little bitch.”

She smirked, “Wouldn’t dream o’ it boss.”


 

When Yondu entered his cabin again it was considerably cleaner.  Peter was attempting to make the huge bed, legs dangling off the edge as he straightened the furs.  He looked up, disapproval on his little face, “Your room’s a mess Yondu.”

The Centaurian looked about, “Damn boy this is cleaner than it ever been.”

“You’re a’post to keep your room clean.  My Mom says – said so.”

Yondu rolled his eyes, “When yer an adult ya can do as ya damn well please.  If I wanna make a mess, I’ll make a mess.”

The boy looked exasperated, “Please don’t I just cleaned it.”

Yondu huffed sitting back at the desk and getting to work.

Ten minutes later – after burning himself with the soldering iron twice – he was snapping the battery cover back in place and slipping the earphones on his head.  Clicking the button, music filled his ears and he grinned.  Turning it off again he threw it on the bed next to where the boy was lying, staring up at a string of trinkets that were tied along a row of fairy lights.

“There ya go boy, that core should last – I dunno – 200 hundrit or so years.”

Peter’s eyes bugged, “2-200?”

Yondu shrugged, “Them thing’s dun last that long in modern tech, but tha’ box o’ yours is ancient tech so, yeah 200-ish.”

The kid sprang up and launched himself at Yondu – who did not flinch – hugging him around the neck.

“Yeah, yeah, alright ger’off boy ‘fore I smack ya one.”

Yondu pushed him lightly and Peter released him.  The Centaurian made his way over to the couch and picked up the holo-pad to resume going over the reports.

He sighed when the boy filled his peripheral vision, “What now son?”

He scuffed a sock-toed foot along the floor, “Can I sit with you?”

Yondu glared.

“Just for a bit! I promise I won’t make no noise.”

Yondu sighed for what felt like the millionth time that day, “Fine! But one flarkin’ peep an’ you’re back in yer room.”

The boy nodded seriously then hopped up next to him burrowing under his arm and snuggling up to his side.

“Yondu?”

“What’d I say boy?”

“Just one question I swear.”

He dropped the holo-pad onto his thigh, “Spit it out then.”

“How’d you get this scar?” The kid’s fingers grazed the line along the swell of Yondu’s stomach.

Yondu laughed, “That ain’t a scar boy, it’s a pouch.”

“A what?!”

Shaking his head, still smirking he replied, “Centaurians are marsupials. Tha Momma’s tha one what gives birth ta tha babies – they’s born no bigger than your hand there – an’ tha Daddy’s carry ‘em in tha pouch till they’s old enough ta get around on their own.”

Peter looked up at Yondu, “Aliens are weird.”

The Centaurian barked out another laugh, “We’s all weird out here.”

Peter snuggled back down, “We’re all mad here.”

Yondu frowned, “What?”

“Alice in Wonderland – Terran story. Ner’mind.”

After that he was true to his word, never making a sound, just sitting there watching with his music box on.  Not ten minutes had gone by when Yondu looked down and the boy was asleep.

He smirked.  Maybe this parentin’ thing weren’t so bad after all.

Chapter Text

“Yonnnnnnduuuuuuuu!”

Nope.

“Yonnnnnduuuuu!”

The Centaurian’s eyes snapped open.  He was not going to give in to the boy being annoying.  Even when it was late and he was damn tired.

“Yonnnnnnnnnnnduuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!”

His eye twitched.

Shut the flark uuuuuuuup!

“Yonnnn –”

“WHAT?!”

“I can’t sleeeep!” Peter whined.

“I don’t caaaaare!” He replied in the same tone.

“Buuuut –”

“Boy, if you don’t shaddup I swear –”

“Can you tell me a bedtime story?”

The man lifted his head from the pillow, peering through the dark into Peter’s room, “A what?”

“A bedtime story! It’ll help me sleep.”

“No. I ain’t gettin’ up.”

“Can I come out there?”

Yondu slammed his head back into the pillow – who’s flarkin’ idea was it to keep this kid?! – “Oh fer – if it’ll shut ya up so I’s can git some sleep!”

Peter padded out of his room, scrambling up the side of Yondu’s bed and settling under the furs next to him.

He looked at the Centaurian expectantly.

Yondu sighed, “Alright boy.  Lemme tell ya tha story of a warrior and his hakta.  The Centaurians have a rite of passage. ‘S what happens when a child becomes a warrior, see? –”


 

The boy couldn’t sleep.

Tomorrow was his hakta, three others would be joining him in the rite and he was worried.  What if he couldn’t see the way to Anthos what if the kavkov swallowed him like he’d seen so many times before.

The thought terrified him.

One of the sisters came to get him when the sun rose, he had gotten barely any sleep.  Lining up before the Habaktu’s shack he stood proudly, he was the son of a great warrior, he would not fail.

When the Habaktu approached him first with the steaming broth, he searched the crowd for his mother.  She stood a head above the rest of the crowd, she caught his eye and nodded.

Reaching out empathically, he felt her pride, her comforting warmth, and her sureness, her resolute belief that her son would see the other side of his rite.

The boy nodded, he could do this.  He would not give in to the kavkov.  He took the ladle offered and drank.  One of the brothers led him to the fireside.  He sat crossed legged and relaxed, willing down his nerves and summoning courage.

The colours started first.

He blinked.

Reds, purples, greens, blues, vibrant golds.

He watched them swirl before his eyes, dizzy and light-headed.  He closed them, unable to stand the brightness any longer.

Without sight, his other senses enhanced.

He could smell the dirt beneath him – fresh and clean after the rains, he could hear – hundreds of heartbeats – his kala.  He focused on the elements around him to keep him grounded; the fire in front of him, the earth beneath him, the water lapping gently at the river bank mere feet from where he was seated, and the air; he took a breath – it was pulsing around him, in time with his heartbeat.

The placed his hands in the dirt, searching empathically for the spirit of the planet – for Anthos.

The surface spirits bombarded him – his kala – he pushed through them gently.  The trees were next, calling to him enticingly – he could not make out their words.  Pushing on further, his mind tangled with that of a predator flying high above the forests, spotting its prey it folded its wings diving at mind-numbing speeds.

The boy shrieked loudly, in equal parts joy and terror.  He pushed himself away as the bird’s claws snapped around its prey.

The forests were throbbing, words still unclear to him.

The boy frowned focusing hard on their spirits, tangling himself in their essence.

Down. Down. Down.

Down? He puzzled over this.  Why would the spirits want him to go back?  Was he not worthy of his hakta?

Down. Down. Down.

The only advice his mother had given him was to listen to the spirits.  Yet the spirits were telling him to go back to himself.

It came to him suddenly, No! Not back! Down!

Anthos is within.

Anthos was inside the planet!

The boy untangled himself from the spirit of the forests.  His conscious crawled down through the roots into the dirt. The earth welcomed him as he wove his way down.

He could feel the spirits of others long gone to their world, working their way through the ground to Anthos.  As he passed each one they wished him well on his journey.

The boy felt pride that the ancestors knew his spirit was strong.  Strong enough to pass through the realm of darkness to Anthos.

The earth dissipated into liquid fire.  The boy flinched back at first, afraid.

It will not harm you my child.  Your flesh is on the surface, only your spirit resides here.

He felt the other spirit nearby.

Thank you. I will not show fear again.

The spirit laughed, It is alright to be afraid young one.  Fear is respect for life, you are but only ten celestials and you are strong of mind.  The kavkov will not have you this cycle.  I wish you well.

Thank you ancient one.  I will not let the kala down.

He pushed forwards, through the searing liquid.  Down, through fire that would burn his physical being to nothing.

Bursting out into blackness, his heart nearly stopped.

It was so black he could not feel anything around him.

There were no spirits here.

Nothing but darkness and a terribly foreboding feeling.

He grit his teeth. He would not be afraid; his spirit was strong.

He pushed forwards blindly.

He had to be close now, Anthos had to be close.

Child. You have come to the realm of darkness seeking something that does not exist.

The boy ignored the demonic voice, pressing forwards.  He could feel its blackness, its terrible spirit following his path.

Boy! Your search will yield nothing but pain.  Come to me.  I will give you a place among the darkness.  You will know power.  You will know riches beyond your wildest dreams.

The boy snarled, I come in search of Anthos! You will not sway me kavkov!

You will have power over life and death itself.  Do you understand what I am offering you child?

The boy kept pushing forwards, You offer me nothing but darkness and deceit! I will not dishonour my family! I will not dishonour the kala!

The demonic entity laughed, it was high-pitched and mocking, Your life will be hard boy.  Your life will be filled with much pain and suffering.  It would be so much easier to stay here.  Do you know the kala will cast you out? They will take your tahlei from you as payment for your sins. You will never be a true Centaurian!

The boy’s face contorted with pain and anger, Lies! Filthy lies! I will reach Anthos and you will not stop me!

The kavkov reached out its tentacles in search of him – to grab him and pull him away from his goal.  He kicked out at it, shoving away.

Pushing forward desperately, he reached out of the blackness and into –

Blue.

Blue filled his vision.

Surrounded him.

He felt safe, warm, and at peace.

Anthos!” He gasped in awe.

Hello boy.

The young Centaurian jumped, Holy shit!

Anthos laughed, Not the usual reaction I receive, but you’ve always been a spirited boy.

The boy blushed, Uh – sorry?

You are strong to have reached me.  The kavkov are – persuasive.

I would not believe their lies.

They speak only of hardships and pain.

So – so all that was true?

Your fate is your own, child, there are only possibilities.  Would you like to know what I see?

Yes! Uh – yes, please.

You, my child, are not a land dweller.  Your future is in the stars.

Out in space?!

The spirit laughed, Yes.  Should you choose that life – as I believe you will – there will be hardships and pain, but you will carve a name for yourself, a life.  You will find family that is not of your blood, but whom you would give your last breath to, were it your choice.  You will become a great leader and find love in an unexpected person.  Out in the stars is your destiny and it is there you will thrive.

The boy was humbled by the spirit’s predictions, Thank you for your wisdom Anthos.

You are welcome, young one.  Don’t ever lose your spirit boy, that fire inside you is what makes you who you are.  Go now, I will see you again when your end comes.

The boy opened his eyes.  The fire in front of him a warm comfort.

“Rise, Yondu Udonta.  For you are a man.  Welcome him kala!”

There was a roar from the crowd and Yondu smiled.


 

“That were a proud moment fer me.  I became a man in ma kala.  We was never permitted to speak o’ tha rite but each story were written in our records, it don’t much matter now.  The elders said I’d never be a true Centaurian, but Anthos believed in me an’ in tha end that’s all what matters.  If the spirit of tha damn planet accepts me for who I is, what’s a bunch o’ stuck up ol’ farts opinions? Nothin’ that’s what.”

“Did what that demon thingy say happen?” Peter asked, quietly.

“Aye, it did. You’re one of tha tribe ‘til ya drunkenly piss on some ancient relic thingy.  Then they kick ya ta tha curb like space junk.”

“They really cut your fin off?”

Tahlei.” Yondu corrected, “It’s a bone crest, the hakta is only possible wit’ it, I – I can’t explain it really, it’s like a connection wit’ eveythin’ around ya.  Without it s’like bein’ blind.”  Peter watched as he stared at nothing. “Worst pain I ever felt.”

Peter hugged his side, “I’s sorry Yondu.”

“Did ya do it?” Peter shook his head. “Then what ya sorry fer?”  He bumped the boy lightly, “Hey s’alright, I got me this fancy one.” He tapped his fin with a knuckle. “S’even better than tha flesh ‘n’ bone – hard wired straight inta ma cranium.”

“It’s really better?”

“Yup.”

The lie came easily off his tongue.  It wasn’t the same, the connection was still there but fainter – less vivid – and every day he still felt phantom pains down his back from where his tahlei should be, but the boy didn’t need to know that.  He’d heard enough shitty stuff to last a lifetime and the poor little bugger was only nine.

“I’m glad they chucked you out.” Peter yawned. “Otherwise I’d’ve never been bo – picked up and I’d prolly be in school or something boring.” He yawned again, “I – like it – here.” He was barely awake when he murmured, “Love – you – Yondu.”

The man blinked down at the snoring boy, “I –” he snorted and shook his head.  Yondu shuffled down and closed his eyes.  Pulling the boy closer, he smiled, “You ain’t awake ta hear this boy, but you an’ them idjits across tha hall are the best thing that e’er happened ta me.  Anthos were right, my place has always been among tha stars an’ whether I like it or not y’all’s ma family an’ I love ya’s all ya.”

Five seconds later, he was snoring and Peter snuggled in further and smiled.

Chapter Text

Halli palmed her com button, “Petey! It’s time fer dinner boy, where you at?”  She stared up into the open vent above her, the Bridge was quiet, only the night shift crew were present, plus Yondu, Kraglin, and herself.

“I’s comin’ Halli, just a couple more corners.”

She shook her head, “Tha boy enjoys tha vents much more’n any sane person should.”

Kraglin shrugged, “It’s quiet in there, no crew ta bug ya.  Kid can just be hisself.”

Yondu chuckled, “Ya speakin’ from experience there Krags?”

The Hraxian grinned, “I’m tha only other crew member skinny enough ta get in them vents.  Use’ta be ma job a’fore tha boy were picked up.”

Peter’s head popped out the vent, “Hey guys!”

Halli took in the boy’s soot covered face, “Christ on a cracker boy, you filthy!”  She held up her arms for him to slither into.  He dropped onto her leather clad arms, sending up a cloud of dust particles.  Halli coughed and set him on his feet.  Chuckling, she looked him over, “Ya look like a lil chimney sweep.”

Yondu snickered, “I ain’t got a flarkin’ clue what that is, but he ain’t goin’ no place ‘til he’s clean.  Hals, take ‘im fer a shower, we’ll see ya’s in the mess.”

“Aye, Cap’n.”


 

As soon as she palmed the bio-lock on her room Halli pointed to the bathroom, “Go’on in.”

Peter grinned, gap in his teeth making Halli smile – he’d lost his two front teeth in the last week, Yondu was spitting mad about it, complaining that he’d have to get the boy metal replacements, until Halli had explained that was a normal part of Terran biology and that he would grow new ones – “Thanks Halli!” He replied cheerfully, as he shut the door.

She yanked on her cupboard door to grab him some spare clothes she kept in her room, thumping it once with her fist in the corner to get it to open.  Retrieving them, she set them down on her night stand and picked up a holo-pad to submit her shift report.

Three consoles on the Bridge had a maintenance check, with one of the consoles requiring a replacement actuator in the holo projector.  One of the navs had complained about the screen flickering when there was a surge of power.  She scribbled it into the report attaching a requisition form for the part.  As she wrote out other maintenance she’d done during her shift she began to hum.

Sending off the report, she pulled up the rookie reports, trolling through them and fixing any mistakes and adding her own notes before shooting them over to Yondu’s inbox.

Her humming turned into singing, “Chim chiminey, chim chiminey, chim chim cher-ee! A sweep is as lucky, as lucky can be.  Chim chiminey, chim chiminey, chim chim cher-oo! Good lucks will rubs off when I shakes ‘ands wif you, or blow me a kiss and ‘at’s lucky too. Now as the ladder o’ life ‘as been strung, you may fink that a sweep’s on tha bottommost rung.  Though I spends me time in the ashes an’ smoke, in this ‘ole wide world, there’s no ‘appier bloke.  Chim chiminey, chim chiminey, chim chim cher-ee! A sweep is as lucky, as lucky can –”

“Wow!”

Her head shot up and she turned bright purple, “H – hey Petey. Ya done?”

The boy stood there, towel around his hips, grinning at her, and dripping a puddle onto the cabin floor, “That was amazing! I didn’t know you could sing!”

She scrunched up her nose, “I can’t really –”

“Bullshit! That was incredible!”

She gave him an exasperated look, “Language Peter!”

He had the common sense to at least look a little bit sorry.

She nodded at the clothes on the night stand, “Git yerself dressed or we’ll be missin’ dinner.”


 

Peter bounded ahead of Halli as they entered the mess.  He ran straight up to where Yondu and Kraglin were sitting, climbing up onto the chair next to Kraglin, “Did you know Halli can sing – like, real good! Real, real good!”

The two exchanged a look.

Kraglin shrugged, “News to me.”

Yondu stuck a fork into a substance that resembled mashed potatoes.  It stuck straight up and the man scratched the side of his nose with a sharp thumb nail, “Can say I’ve ever heard her do nothin’ like that boy an’ I known that woman fer nigh on ten year.”

He hopped up and down on the chair excitedly, “Yeah, well she’s amazing!”

Halli appeared, placing a tray down in front of Peter then sliding into the seat next to Yondu.  She began to eat her rations.  Looking up, slowly finishing her mouthful, and swallowing, “Petey why’re these two lookin’ at me like I grown an extra head.”

Yondu leered at her, “Quill tells us ya got a gift girly.”

Halli glared at Peter, “Peter Jason Quill! You little shit!”

Kraglin sensing an opportunity, smirked wryly, “Go’on Hals give us a tune.”

She levelled her glare at the Hraxian, “Oh screw you Krags!”

He snorted, “You wish.”

She shivered, “My darkest nightmare.”

“Bitch.”

“Bastard.”

“Reptile.”

“Skinny lil troll.”

Kraglin opened his mouth and Yondu reached forwards and stuffed his fork in it, “Pipe down, both ya’s.”

Peter looked confused, “But Halli, you’re so good.”

“No, I ain’t.”

“Yes, you is.”

“No I –”

“Oh fer – it don’t matter! Just eat yer dinner!” Yondu snarled. “Surrounded by star-damned children, I swear.” He muttered, pulling his fork from Kraglin’s gob and shoving it roughly into his food.

None of them felt like running from the arrow, so they did the same.


 

After putting Peter to bed, Halli retired to her own cabin. Next, she took a shower and painted her toe nails – something else she always did but no one knew about.  She kicked up her feet and pulled up the rest of the reports she needed to finish.

She looked up suddenly when she heard her lock disengage.  She clicked her tongue quickly, Sic’tar shooting from the bag hanging on her night stand.  When the door opened, Yondu went cross-eyed, staring at the deadly ball of metal.

Halli huffed, rolling her eyes, she sent it flying back to its pouch and looked at the captain expectantly, “Ya know, knockin’ is common in tha civilized world.” She drawled.

“It’s my star-damned ship. I can go where I please!”

“Polite even.” She continued, ignoring his outburst.

The older man rolled his eyes, “I ain’t got a polite bone in ma body.”

“An’ it’s as plain as you is blue, Cap’n.” She looked at the Centaurian – if she didn’t know the man she’d say he looked almost – awkward, “Did ya need somement boss or are ya plannin’ on settin’ up shop in ma doorway?”

That earned her a glare and he stepped inside, the door whooshing shut behind him.  She raised an eyebrow in question.

“Here.” He said gruffly, shoving an object in her direction.

She stared at the offered object in awe.

“Picked it up a while back. The guy said it was called a git-ar?” Yondu shrugged, “I just thought it were nice what wit’ it bein' black an’ tha red an’ white pinstripin’.  Some Terran music thing ‘parently.”

“Cap’n – I – I ain’t seen a guitar fer 20 years.  My Momma used to play –”

“Well now you got one o’ yer own.” He replied, shaking it at her.

She looked at him in the eyes, “Are you serious?”

He huffed, “Would I be offerin’ it if I weren’t.” He shoved it in her direction again.

This time she took it reverently, “Cap’n – this is –”

She placed it down on the bed next to her and shot up grabbing the shorter man around the neck and pulling him into a crushing hug, “Thank you!”

“This – how ya – repay someone – where – yer – from? – Crushin’ – ‘em – ta death?” He gasped, pushing against her stomach.

She released him, “Shit! Sorry.”

He grinned up at her, “Yer a idjit.”

She stooped to peck him on the cheek, “Seriously Yondu – thank you – ya have no idea what this means ta me.”

He shoved her away gently – he was absolutely not blushing damnit! – “Bah, ya can keep yer sentiment, woman.”

She punched him on the shoulder lightly, “Ah, you love it.” She sat down on the bed, pulling the guitar into her lap, “Seriously, Cap’n, thank you.”

He grinned, heading to the door, “Ya said tha’ already.”

“This is the part where ya say ‘yer welcome’, ya know.”

He chuckled, shaking his head, “Whatever girly. See ya later.”

The door clicked shut and the lock engaged.

Halli looked down at the guitar, smiling, “Yeah. See ya.”

Chapter Text

Peter swung his legs back and forth on the huge chair he’d pulled up next to Halli’s.  He was confined to the cabin after a nasty bout of space flu, he was mostly fine now but his cough had worried Mazar – the resident doctor – so Yondu had put him in containment until he had the all clear.

Peter was just about to com Halli and ask to chat when she appeared at the door with a stack of datapads, claiming she had paper work to do.  Peter mostly figured she came to keep him company, it was either that or Yondu sent her to keep him out of trouble. It didn’t really matter to Peter because he loved hanging out with her, as far as he was concerned she was pretty much family at this point - like a really cool big sister.

As the boy watched her scribble on the pads, a question formed in his mind. He wriggled, wondering if he should wait until she had finished her paperwork.

Halli sighed, putting down the stylus, “Spit it out Petey ‘fore ya expire.”

He grinned, “How’d you become a Ravager?”

The half-reptilian swung her chair towards the boy, “Me? Ya wanna know my origin story?”

“You said Yondu saved your ass.  How?”

She carded a hand through her hair, “Language Petey yer too young ta cuss. He saved me from bein’ killed on some hideous backwater planet.” Propping her feet up on the desk, Halli settled in to tell her story, “Ya see I was a procurer of fine goods – ”

Peter snorted, giving her a disbelieving look.

Winking she continued, “I nicked ‘em outta people’s pockets.” She smiled at the memory, “First an’ only time I got tha jump on Yondu Udonta -"


 

 

Pickings were slim that day.

Halli had almost enough units to hitch a ride back to civilised space, she knew she just needed one big score today and she was made.

Blending into the background of the busy port, she waited patiently for something, anything to turn up.

Finally, after what seemed like hours, her final big score strode through the usual traders.

The backwater hunk of rock was a mining zone, so the port was always busy with traders and the like, occasionally they’d get pirates through, but to Halli’s knowledge those guys only ever wore blue, green, yellow, or purple.  Something to do with factions she’d heard.  She knew stealing from them was off limits, she wanted to keep both hands thank you very much.  She’d seen what happened to those what crossed a pirate – it was never pretty.

She’d seen plenty of people come and go through here.  This guy though – she gave a low, almost inaudible whistle, he meant business.

The blue skin, and red crest – though clearly cybernetic – told her he was from her father’s home system.  The Centaurian man – trailed by three other equally mean looking individuals – passed her without so much as a glance.

She quietly peeled herself away from the wall and followed.

Clearly, he was an imposing figure.  His blood red leather coat flapped around his ankles, ears and neck adorned with gold.

Halli smirked to herself, no one came here looking like that, that didn’t have nothing good to steal.

He was short, but stocky.  Tattoos looped in lazy patterns all over his chest, disappearing under his coat, suggesting they covered the rest of him equally.  He had the natural red eyes of the Centaurian race and they were sharp and calculating.

Halli swallowed heavily, this would require more skill that she possibly had but Mamma didn’t raise no quitter.  She needed a distraction, slinking off into the marketplace she searched for her contact, who would naturally provide her with an ample distraction if it meant more units in his greedy hands.

Like magic she procured a ‘stolen’ object, her contact shouting and making a fuss.  The local security gave chase and she darted through the crowd straight towards her target.  She collided with an extremely solid chest, slipping her hands expertly into his coat and grabbing whatever was there.

Her fingers grazed off a thin object and she slipped it free.  Within seconds she was bouncing back and sprinting off again shouting a hurried, “Sorry!” over her shoulder.

“Tha flark?”  She heard in response and laughed.

Today was a good day.

She easily slipped the security and made it to the top of one of the buildings in the square where she made camp.  Dropping the ‘stolen’ jewellery she pulled her real prize from her tattered black cloak.

It was an arrow.  About the length of her arm, the tip and tail pulsed with its natural bioluminescent red.  She realised gleefully what she had stolen.

A yaka arrow.

She fingered the shaft, admiring its beauty.

A yaka arrow was incredibly rare, responding to high frequency sonic whistles of the person who wields it.

This would get her off this planet and then some.

Wrapping her fingers securely around the shaft, Halli bent down to pick up the jewellery, shoving it in her cloak pocket.

As she was straightening the arrow’s tip and tail flared red and it shot off.

With her still hanging onto it.

Halli held on for dear life as it swooped off the four-storey building and into the busy street.  Managing to get her feet on the ground she dug in with the heels of her boots hoping to stop its wild flight.  It was useless though as the arrow shot around a corner, yanking her off her feet again.  It was heading towards the local bar at break-neck speed, her shoulders hit people left and right despite their attempts to move out of the way of the terrified reptilian.

The arrow was heading straight for the front door, Halli will never admit the shriek she let out, as she realised it was going through that door with or without her.

The very wooden, very closed door.

Instincts kicked in and she raised her feet.  The impact jarred every bone in her body, she shook her head as the arrow came to a halt next to its owner.

The Centaurian looked her up and down before uttering the same sentence in that gravelly tone, “Tha flark?”

Seconds of dead silence ticked by and suddenly the room erupted into chaos.

The shouting and shooting began and Halli let go of the arrow and called out her Sic’tar, she sure as flark weren’t dying here.

Not today.

She stood side by side with the man she stole from and helped kill every last person in the bar.

After the noise died down, the pair faced off against each other, an arrow between her eyes, and all 20 Sic’tar hovering over the Centaurian’s vital organs.

“Seems we’s come to a stand-off girl.”  A vicious smirk showing gold and metal canines appeared on his face.

Halli swallowed eyeing him carefully, her eyes found the Ravager patch at his chest and she cussed up a blue streak in her father’s native tongue, “Red. Flarkin’ pirates also wear red. Exactly how many colours I gotta be wary of?”

A rake thin man with a terribly cut mohawk to her left spoke up, “You’d have more luck lookin’ fer tha patch.”

The Centurian’s eyes rolled, “Can it Krags.”

“Aye Cap’n.”

Halli eyed the man in front of her incredulously, “Cap’n?!” She closed her eyes briefly before looking at him again. “Juuust flarkin’ great. A Ravager Cap’n. I stole from a flarkin’ Ravager Cap’n. Ma own idiocy astounds me.” She pinched the bridge of her nose and sighed, “Look – just – let me leave an’ I ain’t gunna have ta gut tha lot o’ ya like fish.”

“Hey now, we’s just havin’ a friendly chat ain’t we boys?”

Halli’s eyes glanced off the three figures that he’d come to port with, all standing, all without a scratch on them. Shit. Shit shit shit. Outnumbered and clearly out gunned.  She refocused her attention on the man wielding the arrow, “I ain’t gunna die here.  Not today.  If ya kill me, Imma take your blue ass wit’ me.”

To her surprise the Centaurian laughed, “Got a set o’ balls on ya dun cha girl? Got some real talent wit’ dem Sic’tar too.” At her surprised looked he grinned sinisterly, “Yeah, I know what they is. I know what you is too. I thought tha Orosians were gone.” He looked her over, “Mind you, ya ain’t a full blood neither, yer at least half somement else.  What is tha’ I wonder?” She opened her mouth to tell him it wasn’t any of his business and to fuck off and die, when he shook his head, “Dun matter none.  What’s your name?”

“S’Tarnay. Hallifax S’Tarnay.”

“Well now, it’s right nice ta meet a young lady from tha same system as me. Name’s Yondu. Yondu Udonta.”

The blood immediately drained from Halli’s face.  Flark, not only had to go and steal from a Ravager Captain, it just had to be the most terrifying one this side of the known galaxy.

“From that look, I takes it ya heard ma name in passin’.”

“Yeah,” She replied, remembering a tale a fellow drifter had spun about the youngest most blood thirsty captain of the Ravager clan, he’d told her about a man who’d stolen from Yondu, and exactly what Yondu had done to said thief, the image of a man strung up by his innards in a tree still haunted her to this day.  “Ya could say that.”

Was there any point trying to talk herself out of this one?

Mamma didn’t raise no quitter.

“Still wanna kill my blue ass?”

Halli jutted out her chin defiantly, “Be a real shame to gut a man as purty as you,” the sarcasm was thick, “but as long as tha’ arrow is between ma eyes, Imma keep my Sic’tar right where they is.” She blinked slowly, “One click an’ ya’d be dead ‘fore yer lot could get a shot off.”

“One whistle an’ you as good as dead too girly.” He countered.

She smirked revealing her needle-sharp teeth, “Question then stands – which o’ us has a better reaction time? Instead o’ us tryin’ ta find tha’ out how’s about ya let me turn an’ walk outta here an’ no one gotta die.”

He stared into her eyes curiously, “How’d you git it?”

“Tha arrow?”

Yondu nodded.

Halli shrugged, “Simple distract and run.  Fein bumping into someone, in an’ out an’ whatever’s in their pockets is yours.”

“Didn’t feel a damn thing.” He murmured.

She grinned in response, “That’s kinda tha point, asshole.”

“Looks like she got tha jump on ya Boss.”

A swift whistle and the man was run through, arrow back between her eyes before she could blink her second lids.

“Problem wit’ Luther there was, man never knew when ta keep his damn trap shut. Course, that ain’t somement that’s gunna be a problem for ‘im no more.”

“Boss. We gotta go.”

“Alrigh’ keep yer mohawk on Kraggles.” Yondu searched her eyes, a slight smile hitched his lips as he found whatever it was he was looking for. “Say Hallifax? What ya reckon? Wanna be a Ravager?”


 

Halli smirked, Peter’s eyes were huge, looking at her in awe.

“So that was tha’. I wanted off that rock an’ Yondu was my ticket. Ain’t never looked back.”

“You seriously stole the arrow?”

“Yup.” The door behind Peter slid open. “Dun believe me?” She nodded to her captain, “Ask ‘im yerself.”

Yondu leaned up against the wall, one boot casually against it, arms crossed, “What you’s two sniggerin’ about?”

“The time I attempted ta steal from tha biggest, baddest, pirate cap’n in the galaxy.”

Peter leaned forward on his seat eagerly, “Did she really steal your arrow?”

Yondu chuckled, “’Bout – what – 10 years ago? Backwater planet out on tha rim o’ known space.  We had a shady deal an’ tha client didn’t pay up, so we’s paid ‘em a visit.  Things were heatin’ up a bit an’ so I decided ta scare ‘em a bit.  Imagine my surprise when ma arrow didn’t loop lazily outta its holster but came crashin’ through tha front door wit’ a girl attached ta tha other end.” He slung an arm across Halli’s shoulders, “Tha stones on this girl – ta steal from me?” A rare genuine smile crossed his face when their eyes met, “I knew she was Ravager material.”

Halli scratched an eyebrow, her face going slightly violet at the compliment, “To be fair, I didn’t actually know who I was stealin’ from at tha time.  All’s I saw was a chubby blue bastard, decked out in gold, leather, an’ fur an’ I knew whatever was in his coat was gunna be worth enough ta get me off that star-forsaken rock.”

The comment earned her a hearty smack in the back of the head, “Oi! I ain’t chubby.”

Halli stifled a snigger, “Course not sir.”  She winked at Peter, who giggled behind a grubby hand.

“Aside from tha mouth on ‘er, you’s lookin’ at tha best pick pocket, this side o’ Knowhere.”

Halli raised a brow, then cheekily commented, “Careful Yondu, that sounded suspiciously like a compliment.”

That earned her a snarl, “Don't'chu call me Yondu me girl! I’m tha flarkin’ cap’n o’ this boat, show some damn respect! I could brig ya fer that.”

Halli turned to face him, they were almost nose to nose, “But ya won’t ‘cause there ain’t no one ‘round but Petey here, an’ ya love that I ain’t afraid o’ ya temper.  Keeps ya on yer toes.”

The Centurian grumbled something under his breath, “I oughta space ya but ya one o’ only five people on this ship wit’ an IQ higher than ya shoe size.”

Halli grinned leaning up to kiss him on a stubbled blue cheek, “Love you too Cap’n.”

The tips of Yondu’s pointed ears went a dark navy before he shook himself and snarled at the two of them, “Ain’t chu both got somewhere ta be? Go on git! Outta ma cabin ‘fore I start whistlin’!”

Halli pulled herself up off the chair grabbing Peter’s little hand, she blew a mocking kiss to Yondu and headed for the door, “Come on kid. Today, Imma teach you how'ta cook.”

“Just wait a flarkin’ second he’s on –” The door shut with a whoosh of air, “containment.”

Chapter Text

Kraglin held up a part in his hands, “All’s ya gotta do is take this to Vlad down in the engine room.  Where he is, is a bitch ta get to so please Peter, be real careful.”

Peter took the part from the man, shoving it in his backpack, “Ok. You got it Krags.”

The Hraxian held out a hand containing three little purple Rad-X pills.  Peter took them, swallowing them dry.

“That’ll give ya an hour and a half Pete.  After that you’ll start sucking down rads right quick.  Ya should have plenty of time ta get down there an’ back up.”

The boy nodded, taking off into the ship.  He wound through the corridors and into the main elevator.

Peter didn’t mind doing jobs like this.  As he got to know the Eclector, he’d turned into a runner of sorts.  If he wasn’t in the vents, on scrubbing duty, or helping someone out, he was delivering different things all over the ship.

The elevator slid open and he hopped out on the engineering level.  He’d spent a lot of time down here, helping the crew, so he’d like to think he knew it pretty well by now.  He didn’t go down into the engine room much on account of the radiation liquifying the insides of most soft skinned species.

Vlad and the other radiation tolerant aliens worked down there the most.  The thrum of the engine was much louder down here, it required most to raise their voice to just under a shout to be heard.

He headed through to the ladder that would take him down to the engine room, but before he could begin the climb he was stopped by a purple skinned rookie, her antenna flickered as she looked down at the boy, “Ya taken rad pills Quill? Can’t let ya down there if yer insides are gunna start meltin’ on us.”

He nodded, “Kraglin gave me three, 15 minutes ago.”

The girl released him, “No problem.  Make sure ya keep an eye on yer time.”

Peter smiled, “I will. Thanks!”

He swung himself down onto the ladder and disappeared from view.  He went slowly and carefully not wanting to slip and fall.  Though there was a cage around the ladder to stop people falling off it backwards it was still a long way down and Peter liked his bones exactly where they were thank you very much.

He hopped off the ladder; the engine noise was deep and throbbing down here, it pulsed through his body like a giant heartbeat.  He pulled up his wrist-pad checking to see where Vlad was at.

The man was two levels below Peter, right at the base of the ship.  The boy walked around the gangway, the ship’s engine pulsing a bright green behind the energy shielding.

When he’d first come onto the ship and Halli was showing him around, he’d touched the energy shielding, the reptilian had pulled his hand away before any real damage could have happened but he still ended up with bad burns on his palm.  He stared down at the scarring, shaking his head, he’d been stupid back then – wanting to experience everything – he’d learned the hard way that some things bit back.

He approached the next ladder, swinging himself down onto the rungs, he looked up at the engine core as he climbed down.  So much raw power harnessed in ways most Terrans never even dreamt about.  His kind was rare out in the black, being a non-contacted planet and all.

He knew they were swinging close by his system soon for a risky job.  Maybe he’d ask Halli to get some new music for him.  He knew as soon as they were close enough she’d be connecting her equipment to swipe anything and everything she could from Terra, as she always did – according to Yondu, anyway.

Focused on other things instead of what he was doing, his foot missed a rung and he slipped.  As he tried to regain his footing his head smashed into the metal cage, the blow loosened his grip and he tumbled down the ladder. His cry of shock was swallowed by the engine noise.

Vision swimming, he attempted to catch a rung on his way down, his fingers caught on the metal yanking him to a stop instantaneously.  His shoulder made an awful popping sound and something in his wrist gave a vicious crack. Losing use of fingers, they slipped again and he tumbled to the ground below.  Bouncing off the ladder at the bottom, the momentum sent him flying backwards between a console and the wall of the ship.

Completely jammed in, with the arm that had his wrist pad on shoved uselessly behind his back, Peter struggled to move.  The pain made tears spring to his eyes and his head swam.  He realised, as his other hand reached for the com unit behind his ear that is was no longer there, black spots filled his vision.  He shouted in frustration, spotting the little piece of electronics at the bottom of the ladder.  He tried to keep his eyes open, struggling to pull himself up.  The movement wrenched his dislocated arm and the pain made him slip into unconsciousness.


 

“Kraglin!”

The Hraxian palmed his com unit distractedly as he shifted through the star charts in front of him, “What'chu want Vlad?”

“Where’s yer boy wit’ that part? I ain’t sittin’ down here all day, boy! I got other shit ta do.”

Kraglin frowned, checking his wrist, “I sent him down there 45 minutes ago. He ain’t turned up?”

“Naw, ain’t seen hide nor hair o’ tha boy.”

“Shit. Alright, I’ll chase it up.”  He pulled up Peter’s com signal and pinged it.  When there was no answer, he pulled up the locator on his wrist pad, picking up a holo pad, he slid the program across to the bigger screen.  It claimed Peter was down in the engine rooms.  He pulled up the last hour of tracking, watching the screen as the little blip moved through the ship.  It ended up at the spot where it currently said the boy was.

Frowning he tapped the screen.

That can’t be right.

The time lapse showed that Peter hadn’t moved for 30 minutes.

Kraglin swore in his own language, getting up and moving over to where Yondu was sitting in his chair, feet swung lazily up over the side scanning his holo pad for jobs.

“Cap’n?”

The man looked up, “What is it Kraglin?”

“I sent Peter down ta deliver a part ta Vlad around 45 minutes ago. Just got a com from Vlad sayin’ he ain’t turned up. I tracked Peter’s wrist pad and it says he’s down in tha engine rooms.  I commed him and he ain’t answerin’.”

“You approaching a point Obfonteri?”

“His tracker ain’t moved in 30 minutes Cap’n.” He turned the holo pad to face Yondu. “I think he might’a hurt hisself.”

Yondu cursed, flinging his holo pad across the Bridge and collecting some poor nav on the way, “Why didn’t ya start wit’ that?!” He snarled, getting up and striding out of the room.  He slammed a hand onto the com unit in his jacket, “Halli! Get yer ass up ta tha Bridge.  Hold down tha fort fer a bit.”  He didn’t wait for an answer.  Turning to Kraglin he held out a hand for the holo pad, “How many Rad-X pills ya give tha boy?”

“Three Cap’n.  Should’ve given him an hour an’ a half ‘fore he stars takin’ in radiation.”

Yondu checked his wrist pad, “Means we got 30 minutes ta find tha boy an’ git ‘im outta tha hot zone.  Ya got more o’ them pills Krags?”

The Hraxian tipped two into the Centaurian’s hand, he swallowed two himself before shoving the bottle in a pocket.  They stepped into the elevator as Kraglin’s com beeped.

“Halli –”

“What in tha fuck is goin’ on? I got a bunch o’ nav’s tellin’ me you’s two booked it outta here like yer asses were on fire, one o’ them got a nasty cut about his eye ‘cause o’ a holo pad! I can’t find nufin’ wrong wit’ tha ship so what’s the hell you doin’?”

“Possible injured crew member. Do us a favour, get Mazar on tha com an’ tell ‘er ta prep a bed. We’s dunno how bad it is yet.”

“Flark! Alrigh’, keep me posted.”

“Yup.” Kraglin disconnected.

“She gonna kick yer ass when she finds out it were Quill.”

Kraglin shrugged, “She’d be down here like a shot if’in she knew an’ someone gotta watch tha Bridge.  Her flappin’ around like a idjit ‘cause tha boy got hisself hurt ain’t gonna help no one none.”

Yondu nodded, handing Kraglin the holo pad, who stowed it in a pocket.  He flicked his coat back as he stepped on the first rung of the ladder down to the engine room.  He put his hands on either side of the ladder and kicked his feet to the side letting the artificial gravity of the ship pull him down.  He landed at the bottom with a thud and moved so Kraglin could come down.

The Hraxian shook his head, if he’d tried that he would’ve somehow flarked it up, bounced down the ladder, and landed in a heap at the bottom, “Flarkin’ show off.” He muttered, slowly climbing down.

“Hurry it up Kraggles!”

The taller man huffed, “Not all o’ us spent our childhood climbin’ around in trees Cap’n. Some o’ us has ta use ladders like normal people.”

“Cheeky mutt.” Came the reply.

He thudded down next to the Centaurian and they quickly made it to the next ladder.  Kraglin pulled out the holo pad, “Reckons he’s at tha bottom o’ this ladder,” he peered over the edge, “’cept I dun see ‘im.”

“Let’s get down there an’ have a look.” Yondu slid down the ladder, his landing making something rattle against the grating under his feet.  He dropped into a crouch and picked up the com unit, “Shit! Get down here Krags I found his com unit!”

Kraglin began the climb down, he turned his head looking for anything else of Peter’s that may have gotten snagged on the ladder.  He blanched when he saw a red patch against the cage, “Cap’n? We’s got blood up here.”

“Fuck! Get down here Kraglin!”

The Hraxian skipped the last six rungs, jumping into a crouch.  Standing he immediately pulled out the holo pad.

“Boy’s got ten minutes a’fore we’s in trouble.” Yondu grunted.

“It says he’s right here!” Kraglin looked around, “I ain’t seein’ him! Cap’n do yer voodoo shit, see if ya can find ‘im.”

“It ain’t ‘voodoo shit’ Kraglin an’ it don’t work as good next ta all these rads, boy! Gets shit all jumbled.”

“Ya got’s ta try!”  His first mate said, clearly starting to panic.

“Alright!” He closed his eyes and grit his teeth.  The radiation affected the implant.  Uranium was a strong element, being so close to so much of it while using his empathic abilities caused him immense pain – not that anyone actually knew that.

His body seized up as he attempted to separate element from spirit.  Kraglin’s was warm and comforting next to his own, the engine core burned brightly to his right and – there! – Peter’s was to his left and – in an enormous amount of pain.

Yondu bit his tongue until he tasted blood, gasping he opened his eyes, “Next ta tha console.” He croaked, pointing a shaking finger.

Kraglin dropped the holo pad, racing over to where Yondu had pointed.

“Oh fuck! Here he is. Peter! Peter!” Kraglin turned to Yondu, “He’s out.”

Reaching down and lifting Peter’s head so that he could pull the boy out, he winced as his hand came away wet.  He dragged the boy out, hissing as he noticed the terrible angle his arm was at.

Yondu stepped over and picked him up.  Walking quickly back to the ladder, he swung the boy gently over a shoulder as Kraglin listed his injuries to Mazar over the com.

“Gash ta tha back o’ the head, dislocated shoulder, his wrist looks broken, his spine and legs look ta be ok but, we dunno how far he fell – yeah, we’re about five minutes out – ok, yeah I’ll tell him.”  He looked up at Yondu, “She says ta support his head when we get off tha ladders an’ try not ta move the shoulder too much, Mazar reckons it could damage it more.”

Yondu grunted, feeling a mean headache coming on.  He quickened his climbing, they had minutes to get Peter back up to engineering, otherwise the boy would be adding rad poisoning to his list of injuries.

Once they were back onto the deck of engineering, Yondu repositioned Peter bridal style and charged through the halls, snarling at anyone who got in their way.  Stepping into the elevator he all but roared at some rookies, “Git out!”

Kraglin punched the button that would get them to the floor where the med bay was.

He watched in silence as Yondy hefted the boy up a little further in his arms, “Come on Quill, ya gotta wake up boy.  We’s gotta make sure them brains ain’t any more scrambled than usual.”

The Hraxian cursed.  This was his fault.  He shouldn’t have sent Peter down there.  He closed his eyes and growled at himself.

“Who took the jam outta your doughnut?” Peter croaked, looking at the angry first mate.

“Peter!” The taller man stooped down to his level, “I’m sorry bud, this were ma fault.”

Peter coughed and shook his head, groaning as it jostled the gash on his head, “I weren’t – payin’ – payin’ attention.  Nobody’s fault but mine bro.”

The word stopped Kraglin short and he flushed with pride.

Peter thought of him as his brother?

“Ya ok son?” Yondu asked.

“Not really – everything hurts.”

“Ya fell down a ladder an’ wedged yerself inta a corner. ‘S gunna feel shit fer a while.’

“That sucks.”

“Ya had me worried sick Peter.  When Vlad called an’ I couldn’t get ya on tha com, I thought ya’d gone an’ fallen inta tha engine.”

“Com fell outta ma ear when I slipped.”

The elevator pinged and the three of them moved out into the ship.

When they entered the med bay Mazar pointed a gangly arm to a bed in the corner, “Pat’im’o’er’thare.”

Yondu laid the boy down on the bed, “Doc’ll fix ya up real quick dun ya worry son.”

Peter groaned, “Sit me up for a sec? Vlad still needs that part Cap’n.”

Yondu sat the boy up and Kraglin pulled his backpack off gently.

“Can you take it to him? He’s prolly still got a ton of other stuff to do today.”

Yondu grinned, “Sure kid.”

Kraglin lay him back down gently, “Cap’n? Da’ya mind if I stay wit’ ‘im fer a bit?”

Yondu rolled his eyes, “Yer goin’ soft Kraggles.”

The Hraxian glared, “I ain’t! Just gotta make sure ‘e ain’t gunna scream tha place down when Mazar shoves that shoulder back in.”

Yondu looked unconvinced, “Ah-huh. Sure Krags, whatever ya say.  Just make sure ya make yer time up, ain’t goin’ easy on ya ‘cause yer first mate.”

“Wouldn’t ‘pect ya to Cap’n.”

Yondu waved the part at Peter, “I’ll make sure Vlad gets this, ya just get yerself better boy.” He walked toward the door, “An’ son? Be more careful next time yeah?”

“Yes’sir.”

Kraglin threw himself in a chair near the bed as the doctor came over, tutting at Peter’s injuries, "Ya'rally'fooked'yersalf'oop'kad."

Peter glanced at Kraglin who shrugged helplessly. Mazar was an incredible doctor, she could put you back together with spit, tape, and sheer stubborn will alone.  The only down side was, no one ever knew what the fuck she was saying.

“Thanks for staying Krags.” Peter said softly.

Kraglin grinned, the florescent lights in the med bay glinting off his metal teeth, “No problem bro.

Chapter Text

“This,” Yondu said, throwing his arms out, “is Knowhere.”

“Knowhere?”

“Yeah, ‘s what it’s called boy.” Halfnut chuckled, elbowing the kid down the ramp.

Halli cuffed the Ravager in the back of the head as she passed, “Knowhere’s in tha skull of some ancient celestial. ‘S a mining colony.” She leaned down to the boy’s level, “An’ it ain’t safe boyo, so you’s stick like glue ta us, ya got it?”

Peter nodded nervously.

“Ya’ll know tha drill, do what ya’s please, try not ta get yerselves arrested an’ be back on tha ship by 0900 tomorra, we ain’t comin’ back here fer at least a month so make sure you’s back or ya’s will be findin’ yerselves a new crew ta run wit’.”  He waved his hand and the crew dispersed like flies.

Yondu, Kraglin, and Halli headed down a shady looking street packed with vendors and stalls, Peter ran after Halli, slipping his hand into hers.

“This here’s tha marketplace. Lots o’ shady backroom deals down here. Krags’ got a list o’ parts he be needin’ an’ Cap’n’ll be lookin’ fer trinkets an’ tha like.  We’s just along for tha ride.” She winked at the boy, “Ya see anythin’ ya like ya lemme know ok?”

Peter smiled up at her, he wasn’t old enough to earn a wage yet, but Halli told him he could work anything he bought off by doing some jobs for her.

Halli flicked a cigarette out of a packet and lit it, “Man it’s good ta be off tha ship.  Ain’t allowed ta smoke in there, Cap’n’s orders an’ all.  Sometimes I can sneak one if I’m lucky.” She winked again and put her fingers to her lips in a shushing motion.  Peter giggled.

Kraglin stopped at a vendor and began haggling over the price of some engine parts.  Yondu flitted off to the stall across and began picking up little things that caught his eye.

Halli shook her head fondly, “Man’s a terrible horder.  At least tha shit is cute, I guess.”

Peter grinned, “They’s all over the place in his cabin, I’m always sitting on something.”

Halli chuckled, “I know, right? E’ery time we’s has a meetin’ them fricking things is always everywhere.  The ones on his fairy lights are right pretty but.” She nudged him playfully, “Dun tell him I said his trinkets are pretty, he’d ‘ave ma head.”

They moved forwards when Yondu and Kraglin did.

“What do you usually do when you come off the ship?” Peter asked as he watched Yondu bounce a trinket off some stall owner’s head.  Obviously not cheap enough for his liking.

“Me? Oh, nothing really. I just follow these two around an’ make sure they dun get inta too much trouble, sometimes I’ll go an’ have a drink, maybe have a bet on the fights that go on down below, occasionally participate if ‘m feelin’ rowdy.  Sometimes I’ll have a list o’ parts I need.  If we’s on one o’ them fancy planets I’ll get ma hair done, maybe get ma nails did.  Just ‘cause you’s a Ravager don’t mean ya have ta look like a pile o’ crap. Gotta spend ma units on somement.” She shrugged. “Nothin’ much else really.”

“You don’t visit them other places like a lot o’ tha crew do?”

“Tha whorehouses?” Halli laughed, “Nah, that ain’t my thing, boy.  I just – I’m different.”

“Different how?”

Damn Petey!  Tha’s a personal question.”

Peter blushed, “Sorry.”

“No, no, it’s ok.  You’s just curious I guess.”  She looked at her two superiors – her family – working their magic and she smiled, “I got a bad case o’ that ‘sentiment’ Yondu’s always harpin’ on about.  I gots’ta really care fer a man a’fore I do all that icky stuff.” She scrunched up her nosing, making Peter laugh.

“Like – like kissin’ and – and fuckin’?”

Halli’s jaw dropped, “Peter Jason Quill! Where in tha hell ya hear that word?”

Peter blushed, eyes flitting to Yondu and then Kraglin quickly, before turning back to Halli, “Some o’ tha crew say it sometimes.”

“Yeah, well that ain’t a nice word, don’t chu be sayin’ it.” She sighed, “But yeah – ta answer ya question – that stuff.”

“So ya got’s ta be in love?”

“Yeah Petey, that’s just some people work, bud.”

“You think that’s how I work?”

She shrugged, “Honestly boy, I dunno. I guess ya’ll figure that out when you’s old enough.”

“When’s that?”

She sighed giving the boy an exasperated look, “Never.”

Halli.”

“When you’s 18 is when you’s fully grown on Terra, so then.”

Peter nodded and they moved on through the market.

Yondu dropped back a bit to be in step with the pair.  He produced a little bobble-headed dog, “Cute, ain’t it?”

Peter smiled and Halli chuckled.

“Ya need ta stop collectin’ so much crap, Cap’n.” She poked the dog in the head, watching it bounce, “That one is pretty cute though.  What else ya –” She trailed off slowing to a stop as she looked at a sign.  She turned to the Centaurian wide-eyed, “Cap’n! It’s a book store! That weren’t here last time we’s came through!”

“What’chu wanna go in there for?”

“A’cause it’s a book store Cap’n.  I ain’t seen a real book wit’ real pages fer – Lordy – fer years.

Yondu rolled his eyes, “Alrigh’. If it means that much ta ya.”  He turned, “Kraglin!”

The Hraxian wandered over, “Aye, sir?”

“We’s goin’ in here.”

Kraglin peered at the sign, squinting a little – why would the man not admit he needed glasses, Yondu would never know – “It’s’a book store.  Why’s we need ta go in there?”

He nodded at Halli and Peter, “’Cause they want to.”

The taller man shrugged, “Alright.  Maybe they got some o’ them novels ya don’t read, wit’ them glasses ya don’t have.” His tone was teasing, which earned him a hearty punch to the arm.

“Shut yer gob Kraggles ‘fore I shut it for ya.”

They entered the shop and Halli turned to Kraglin, “Keep an eye on Peter will ya?”

He nodded, smiling slightly when the boy slipped his hand into his and dragged him off in the direction of some colourful covers that looked like comics.

Something caught Yondu’s eye, “Imma –” he trailed off, wandering into a section filled with trashy novels.

Halli took a deep breath, “Lord, I missed that smell.”  She strolled around, picking up various books that caught her eye, all different languages and genres.  Once she’d worked her way through the front of the shop, she dumped a pile onto the counter and spoke to the tiny woman behind the register, “I’ll be takin’ those, but first I wanna look back there.”

“Of – of course – d – dear.” She replied nervously, eyeing the Ravager patch on her arm.

Halli sighed, “We ain’t here ta rob ya.” She produced her credit chit, “We’s honest folk,” she smirked, “sometimes.”

The woman smiled, still a little nervous, “Well that’s nice, dear.  You go on and have a look.”

Halli nodded, giving the woman her most charming smile, “Thank ya.”

The section at the back was marked ‘rare books’, Halli stepped through the archway and gasped.  Racing over excitedly to a section marked ‘Terra’ she dove in fishing out a number of books, ‘1984’, ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, ‘Huckleberry Finn’, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ – she squealed in delight, ‘The Complete Works of Shakespeare’. She held the armful of books, thrilled.

She wasn’t even sure she could remember how to read English properly anymore, it had been so long, but damnit, if she wasn’t going to try.  She looked through a few of the other sections and something caught her eye, it was very old – stupid old – and leather bound.  She pulled it out, Centaurian runes were plastered across the front.

She struggled to recall what the captain had taught her so long ago. Kala – she knew that one – it meant tribe.  Something, tribe, something – damn – either this was a variation of Yondu’s language or he hadn’t taught her everything.

She tucked it under her arm anyway.  Who knew, maybe he could decipher it.

She returned to the counter with her spoils, “I’ll take these, please.”

“And these.” Peter placed a small pile of comic books up on the counter.

“Aww.” The woman said, “Ain’t you cute?” She looked at Halli, “This your boy?”

Halli chuckled, “Naw, he’s my baby brother.” She ruffled his hair and Peter ducked, swatting her hand away.

“He’s ma boy actually.” Yondu said, placing a small collection of novels on the counter. “Not a damn word either o’ ya.” He growled at Halli and Kraglin.

The woman looked at Yondu and then at Peter, “Son of a Ravager Captain huh?” She chuckled, ringing up Yondu’s books first. “Now I seen everything.”

“Nah, you seen everythin’ when he pays fer them books.” Kraglin replied, earning himself a swat to the back of the head.

“You’re just one big adorable family huh?” She replied, handing Yondu back his credit chit.

“Dysfunctional as hell, but yeah, somement like that.” Halli replied.  She whistled loudly when she saw the total for her purchases, but handed over her credit chit anyway.  It was worth it.

“Well, when you come back to Knowhere you know where to find me.  I’m always getting new stuff in. My name’s N’raka by the way.” She said bagging their purchases.

“Oh don’t chu worry.  As long as you have Terran books Imma be back.” Halli grinned.

“You know, I’ve never met a Terran.” N’raka replied.

Halli put her arm around Peter, “Well now ya met one Terran, one half Terran, a Centaurian, and a boring Hraxian who don’t read.”

Kraglin glared at her, “I read plenty.  They’s just mostly shift reports is all.”

N’raka laughed, “Enjoy the rest of your day.”

“We will.” Halli replied, picking up her bag, then snatching Yondu’s and tossing it to Kraglin, “What’d he buy? Trashy romance novels?”

Yondu snarled, jumping as the Hraxian held the bag high above his head, “Prolly, closet romantic this one.”

“Imma gut both ya’s.” The captain snarled, as Kraglin tossed the bag back to Halli.

“Promises. Promises.” She laughed as they left the shop. “Oh man!” She cackled, rifling through the bag before tossing it back to Kraglin. “Not just trashy romance, trashy erotica.”

Kraglin fell about laughing, handing the bag to a fuming Yondu.

Hall pouted, “Spoil sport.”

Yondu rounded on both of them, stashing the bag in one of his many pockets, “Ya breathe a word o’ this ta anyone and I’ll space ya both.”

“Relax Cap’n.” Halli said, slinging an arm around the shorter man’s shoulders, “We’s just teasin’.”

“Yeah,” Kraglin added, smiling, “we won’t say a word.  Ravager’s honour.”

Yondu rolled his eyes, “’Cause that fills me wit’ confidence.” He grumbled.

Peter grinned up at them, “That’s what family’s for.”

Chapter Text

Kraglin tried to ignore Peter’s bouncing as he tucked the boy in.  Halli was out on a solo and she usually knew how to get the boy into bed with minimal fuss.

“I ain’t tired!” The boy whined.

“Yeah, well, everyone else is tired o’ you boy, so’s time fer bed.”

Peter pouted, “Tell me a story?”

Kraglin gave him a half-hearted glare, “Nah I ain’t got no stories.”

“Sure, ya do! Everyone’s got stories bro!”

Damnit, Peter knew he would do anything the boy asked when he called him that.

Peter continued, “Like – ummm – how’d you get that big scar on yer face?”

Kraglin smirked at the memory, “That ain’t a kid friendly story – ain’t a bedtime story neither.”

“We’ll how’s about when ya joined the Ravagers?”

Kraglin blanched, “Definitely can’t tell ya that one ‘til yer older.”

Peter huffed, “What about the first time you met Yondu?”

Kraglin scratched his chin, “Yeah – yeah, ok that one’s prolly alright.”

Peter wriggled to get himself comfortable.

“Once upon a time –”

Peter snorted.

“What? That’s how stories start innit?”

Peter snickered, “Fairytales. That’s how fairytales start.”

Kraglin rolled his eyes, “Whatever. Anyway – so’s I was, I dunno, 16 er 17 when I joined tha Ravagers.  At that point tha Cap’n –”

“You can call him Yondu ya know, he ain’t here to tell you otherwise.”

Kraglin sighed heavily, “You gonna let me tell this gorram story or not?”

“Sorry.” Peter replied, not sounding the least bit sorry at all.

“Right so’s Yondu was a pilot see?  He was ‘bout - I dunno - five or so years older than me, I was a rookie doin’ all tha stuff you be doin’, vents and scrubbin’ an’ shit.  Leana was one o’ tha navs –”

“Who’s Leana?”

Kraglin chuckled, “That ain’t ma story ta tell, but she were a friend.  Just ‘bout tha only one I had on Ogord’s crew a’fore Yondu.  You’s gonna stop askin’ questions now?”

Peter nodded.

“Right so’s I was cleanin’ tha vents –”


 

Kraglin grumbled as he turned a corner, he hated this job, it was dirty and boring and he was a mechanic damnit he should be down in the hangars working on the m-ships but he had to earn that right according to the captain.

Everyone had to do the shitty jobs, had to prove they were Ravager material before getting jobs doing decent stuff.  Of course, Kraglin thought he could prove himself of the m-ships but that wasn’t how things worked around here.

He pulled up a schematic of the ship’s internals.  He was headed towards the bridge, he sighed, he wished he could be doing what he wanted like Leana was.  She was a navigator; smart, mouthy, beautiful, and batshit crazy.  If Kraglin had been into women, she would’ve been exactly his type.

She’d sort of adopted him when he started with the Ravagers, chasing away a bunch of crew members who thought it would be fun to beat up the fresh meat.  She’d even kicked someone out of the bunk below her so he could have somewhere to sleep.

She was the only friend Kraglin had had in a long time.

She spoke of another friend frequently who slept in the bunk above her, she reckoned they’d get along well.  Kraglin had never met the guy because according to Leana he’d gotten his ‘stupid ass’ in trouble with the captain and was on nights for a month.

That month ended today and Leana was pretty happy to have her friend back in the pilot seat next to her.

Kraglin just hoped she didn’t kick him to the curb because she had someone else to hang out with instead of his dull ass.  He was probably just worrying for nothing, Leana didn’t seem like the fickle type.

He crawled into the next vent, directly above the Bridge.

“Udonta!” The captain barked, “Pay attention boy!”

“’S what I’s doin’.”

“What was that?”

“Nufin’ Cap’n.”

“Your damn right nothing! Cheeky little primitive.”

“Come’on Cap’n ain’t no need fer name callin’.”

Kraglin rolled his eyes when he heard Leana’s voice; seemed she was always going toe-to-toe with the captain.  She was in the brig more than anyone else.  The idiot was actually proud of that!

Kraglin grinned, shaking his head.  He shuffled further into the shaft, trying his best not to inhale the dust raining down around him.

As he worked, he listened to Ogord tear strips off his friend.  She seemed to take it on the chin, with the occasional ‘Yes’sir’ and ‘Aye Cap’n’ thrown in, all which suggested she was listening when Kraglin knew she really wasn’t.

The noise eventually died down and he worked in silence for a while.  He was shifting further along when he heard a creaking sound.  He stopped, listening intently, when he didn’t hear it again he shook his head – must be hearing things.

The Hraxian turned in the shaft to do the other wall and the whole thing creaked and dropped.  He froze, wide-eyed.  He waited a few minutes breathing a sigh of relief when the shaft held firm.

Deciding that fuck this he wasn’t going to injure himself over some damn dust, he began thinking about how to get himself back without the whole thing collapsing around him.  He shifted a little, scooting back the way he came. He was almost there when the rusted bolts at the end of the shaft gave up.

He had time to yelp, “OH SHIT!” as he slid straight out and onto something warm and solid.

The whole thing created a racket and a cloud of dust.  The bridge went dead silent and Kraglin waved the dust away, coughing.  When he looked up, he saw a set of bemused ruby eyes staring back down at him.

“Hello handsome.” The man purred in a gravelly voice.

Kraglin blushed right to the tips of his hair.

“Holy shit! Krags, are you ok?” Leana was out of her seat and over to the pair before Kraglin could say a word to the man he was currently in the lap of.

“Been better.” He croaked, looking upside-down at his friend.

“This the man you’ve been harpin’ on about Lee? Ya didn’t tell me he was so damned adorable, even when he’s all covered in dust.”

Kraglin didn’t think his face could get any bluer.

“Look at ‘im blushin’ like a chit. Damn cute that is.”

The woman gave him an exasperated look, “Oh leave him alone Yondu.”

Kraglin stared up at the man – Oh so this was Yondu – he took in the man’s face; strong jaw with a hint of stubble, intelligent eyes, pointy ears with gold rings lining them, and a killer smirk that revealed mismatched pointy teeth – damn he was cute – smart, mouthy, gorgeous, and batshit crazy – Kraglin was in trouble.

The Hraxian swallowed heavily, “Uh – sorry I kinda landed on ya.”

Yondu gave him a half-lidded leer, “Anytime cutie.”

Leana cuffed the blue man on the back of the head, “Stop flirtin’ wit’ the boy, ya flarkin’ tease.” To Kraglin. “Come’on let’s take ya ta tha med bay, that cut on yer arm looks nasty.”

Kraglin looked down absently – and wow that was a big gash – the pain set in as soon as he saw it and he hissed through sharp metal teeth, “Shit! Yeah, ok.”

Leana looked over at the captain, “Permission ta leave tha bridge, Cap’n?”

The man nodded, clearly fighting a laugh as he watched the entire thing from the captain’s chair, “Find someone to clear this mess up while you’re at it Leana.”

The woman nodded, “Aye sir.”

Kraglin clambered awkwardly off Yondu, half yelping when the older man copped a feel of his ass.

Yondu leered, “See ya an’ them purty blue eyes later.”

Leana rolled her eyes as she took his arm, “I’m sorry about ‘im.  He’s a nasty little flirt but there’s a good guy in there somewhere – I think.”

Kraglin looked back to see the pilot watching them and then turned to Leana, chuckling awkwardly, “That could’a gone better.”

Leana shrugged, “Pro'ly.”


Peter cackled madly, “Oh man! Yondu flirts that’s –” He collapsed into a fit of laughter again. “ – so gross!”

Kraglin chuckled, “That man would fuck anything with a pulse.” Then he remembered who he was talking to and blushed, “Shit – uh – dun tell no one I telled ya that.”

Peter scrunched up his nose, “Ewww! That ain’t somethin’ I needed to know about my da – uh – Yondu.”

Kraglin caught the slip with a raised eyebrow but didn’t comment on it.  “Dun worry kid, he were a terrible flirt back in tha day, but he ain’t really like that no more.”

Kraglin stopped, thinking hard about the last time the captain really honestly flirted with someone – not that playful shit he did with him, Halli, and a few of the other crew that had known him forever – but honest proper flirting and he found he couldn’t think of a time before – about eight or ten months after Peter had come on board – after he’d – “Huh.”  The only time he ever really stopped flirting with everything that moved was when he had his eye on some – Nope!  That was wandering very close to a revelation and that was dangerous territory.  Kraglin had already made an idiot of himself once.  He wasn’t going to do it again.

“–glin?”

He snapped out of it to see Peter waving a hand in his face.  He scowled, smacking it away.

“Why are you blushing?”

“None’ya business Pete.”

“But –”

He ignored the boy, wrestling him under the covers, “Right. Ya had ya story now it time fer sleep.”

“But –”

“Naw boy, serious now, go tha flark ta sleep.”

Kraglin waved a hand and the lights went out, he walked over to the door.

“Krags?”

“What is it Pete?”

“Ya know Yon–” The boy paused. “Naw, it’s ok, now ain’t the right moment.”

“What ‘moment’? What’chu talkin’ about Peter?”

“It ain’t nothin’. Don’t worry.”

Kraglin frowned.

What the hell was he talking about? The right moment? For what?

The whole thing made Kraglin nervous.

The fuck was that boy up to?

Chapter Text

Yondu woke up with a start.

He blinked, wondering what woke him.

There was a shuffle next to his bed and he concentrated, illuminating the room in a soft red glow.  He stared at the figure next to his bed, “Peter? Go back ta bed, boy.”

The boy nodded slowly and Yondu scooted back down under his covers.

Asleep in seconds, he didn’t see the boy walk over to the cabin door and leave the room in a zombie-like shuffle.

Peter shambled slowly down the corridor, turning suddenly, he bumped into a wall.  He shuffled slowly across the wall, hand reaching blindly out in front of him.  It passed over a bio-scanner and the door slid open.  He lumbered into the room.  Sighing in his sleep, his legs hit a bed and he climbed into it, settling down and rolling close to the person who was occupying it.


 

Peter smiled as he started to wake up.

He could smell flowers, exactly like the ones on Terra.

He pushed some of the furs in Yondu’s bed away from his nose and rolled over.  He snuggled into the – cold? – body next to him, the flower smell was stronger here.

He frowned, something wasn’t right – Yondu was as hot as a furnace and he definitely didn’t smell like flowers.

There was a scream and the body next to him jumped.

Yondu didn’t scream.

Peter opened his eyes and was nose to nose with another person, gold eyes looking into his.  He shrieked which made the other person yelp.

Peter sat up and got tangled in the sheets, as he struggled to free himself he fell backwards off the bed.  He gasped as the air was knocked out of him, “Ow!” He croaked, feet next to his ears.

“Petey? Fuckin’ hell bud, ya gave me a right scare!”

He looked up between the v of his legs, “Oh – Hey Halli.  Why am I in your room?”

She stared at the boy, blinking slowly, “Uh – yer guess is as good as mine, bud. Ya weren’t here when I went ta sleep.”

Peter pulled himself upright, “I don’t remember coming in here.”

The door slid open and Kraglin was standing there with a wide-eyed look, knives drawn in both hands.  Two seconds after him, Yondu crashed into the door frame, plasma pistol in one hand, the other hand pulling at his pants which where undone, and being pulled down by the weight of his belt.

“Tha flark happened?” He snarled, looking around the room.

“We’s was just tryin’ ta figure that out.  When I woke up I was nose ta nose with Petey here, ‘cept he weren’t there when I fell asleep.  Gave me a right flarkin’ scare.”

Kraglin sighed in relief, stowing the knives in the holsters around his legs, “Good, I weren’t really in tha frame o’ mind ta deal wit’ a munity or some shit this mornin’.”  He hitched his jumpsuit higher up his hips.  He was shirtless, the arms of the jumpsuit tied at his waist and the fly was undone.   The pants were riding dangerously low on his hips and – Halli averted her eyes – she did not want to see her brother’s junk because the man was clearly not wearing underwear.

Yondu buckled his pants, they were sitting lower than usual on his hips, accentuating his chubby middle.  He flicked the safety on the pistol and shoved it in his back pocket.

Hall smothered a giggle.  He looked so normal, nothing like the big bad Ravager captain she normally saw in the halls, this Yondu was reserved for the privacy of his own cabin.

“I musta sleep walked or something.  Used to do that a lot when I was little – so my Mom reckoned – she used to find me in lots of weird places.” Peter said, scratching behind an ear.

“Yeah.” Yondu said absently.

Halli frowned, his tone was off – like he wasn’t really listening – she turned and saw why.

Yondu’s attention was solely on Kraglin, his eyes greedily drinking in every inch of exposed skin.  The Centaurian gnawed on his lip, fingers of one hand flexing like he was dying to touch the Hraxian.

Kraglin was doing much the same, his eyes roved over the tight leather pants, following the tattoos that peeked out of the top, up over Yondu’s stomach and around the layer of fat that clung to the older man’s hips.  He eyed the heavily muscled biceps where more tattoos curled around and followed them up to the tip that stopped on the side of Yondu’s neck, just behind his ear.

They locked eyes for what felt like minutes, but in reality was only seconds.

Kraglin broke eye contact first mumbling something about coffee.  Yondu didn’t say a word, just turned on his heel – the usual effect of clomping boots and the snap of a leather coat absent – and marched back over to his cabin.

Kraglin entered his own room and slammed a fist viciously into the bulkhead, “Shit!”

As soon as Yondu’s door slid closed he put his back against it, sliding slowly down with his head in his hands, “Aww hell – fuckin’ hell!”

Halli and Peter both blinked.

Halli was the first to speak, “We that was the most sexually charged moment I ever witnessed.”

“Ewww!”

“Sorry boyo.”

Peter rolled his eyes, “Well that was a massive moment.  They are so stupid! Why can’t they just admit they love each other and jump each other’s bones already? It’s so obvious!”

Hally ruffled the boy’s hair smiling sadly, “Sometimes it ain’t that easy Petey.”

Peter stared at the door, “Sure it is.  Sometimes people just need a little push in the right direction.  You just gotta find the right moment.”

Halli smiled mischievously, “What’chu up to boy?”

“Oh nothin’.  Not yet anyway.  Gotta give ‘em a chance, see if they can’t work it out themselves.”

“Well that ain’t never gonna happen.” Her grin was almost feral, “So whatever it is you’s plannin’ Pete – I’m in.”

The pair fist bumped and then went about their day.

Chapter Text

The mess was eerily silent. Peter looked around carefully.  Franh was absent – probably planet-side with the rest of the crew.  They had a skeleton staff, of course, but most of them would be on the bridge along with Tullk who had been chosen to hold everything together while the rest of them were on – some planet – Peter couldn’t remember the name.  Even Halli and Kraglin were down there.

Peter had opted to stay behind because the captain was sick.  He was holed up in his cabin, coughing his guts up with some kind of wicked strain of space flu.

Peter was going to make soup.

He figured – as he dragged a pot over to set on the stove – it couldn’t be that hard.  He had a recipe – ‘liberated’ from Halli’s data stores – and the ingredients, all he had to do was follow the instructions that were – ah, crap – that were written in Centaurian.

Nope, he wasn’t going to give up, he could do this. He ran the recipe through a translating program on his holo-pad, it came up in splotchy Galactic Common – it wasn’t an exact translation but at least he could read it now.

He poured water into the pot and began chopping some roots.  He dropped various ingredients into the pots, following the recipe as best he could.

Turning the heat on full, he hopped off the chair he was using to reach the stove and began rummaging around in the draws for a spoon.

The pot made an ominous gurgling sound and promptly exploded all over the kitchen.

“Shit!” Peter cussed – then looked around nervously, as if one of his guardians would suddenly materialize to chastise him for his language.  Well Halli and possibly Tullk would – Kraglin would give him a small smirk and a raised eyebrow and Yondu would grin and clap him on the shoulder – the gruesome twosome really were the worst influence on the boy.

He went over to the holo-pad and read the instructions again.  Oh – you add that root after the soup boils – oops.

Peter pulled more ingredient out.  He could do this! It was just a stupid soup.

When the second pot exploded, Peter swore again.

“Wha’ tha hell? Nuttie! Ya bett’r not be makin’ bombs in tha mess again laddie! Ya know tha Cap’n – Oh, hello boyo –” Tullk surveyed the carnage, “Lord boy! What ‘r’ ya dooin’?!”

“Makin’ soup ‘cause Yondu’s sick.” He toyed with a soup covered lock of hair, “You’re not gonna yell at me, are you?”

Tullk sighed, picking his way through the mess on the floor, he picked up a towel as wiped the mess off Peter’s face, “Aye, no Peter. I ain’t gunna yell at ya, yer tryin’ta doo somethan’ nice fer yer Dad.  Mind you, ya will need ta clean up afta yerself.”

Peter nodded, “I will.”

Tullk looked at the kitchen again and shuddered, this was going to be a hell of a mess, “Do’ya want some help boyo?”

Peter’s face turned determined, “I can do it.  It’s just a stupid soup.”

The man chuckled, “A’right there laddie.” He picked his way back through the massacred kitchen, turning at the door, “Ya donna hurt yerself a’right? An’ if’in ya need me, just com ok?”

Peter smiled, “Thanks Tullk.” He turned back to the recipe, “Now where did I go wrong this time?”

After two hours, four pots of ruined soup, and chaos everywhere, Peter thought he had finally done it.  He carefully carried the bowl into the captain’s quarters.

Yondu squinted and sat up quickly, groaning when his head protested loudly, “Quill, what tha hell happened boy?!”

He grinned, holding out a tray, “I made you soup!”

The kid was covered from head to toe in all sorts of ingredients, and his boots where tracking soupy footprints across the floor.

Yondu groaned again, the kitchen would be a disaster judging by the boy’s appearance alone.

The kid seemed pleased with himself and Yondu didn’t have the energy – or the heart – to yell at him.

“It’ll make you feel better and I made a big pot so everyone can have some when they get back!”

“Well – uh – that’s right nice o’ ya Peter.  Thanks.” His voice was croaky from the stupid flu and he cleared his throat.

“Try it!” Peter shoved the tray at him, big excited eyes staring up at him.

“Uh – ok.” He picked up the spoon and tasted a mouthful.

Oh –

Oh, flark that was – awful!

He attempted to keep the grimace off his face.

Swallowing heavily, “Wow son that’s just –” the boy bounced excitedly and Yondu just – couldn’t bust his bubble, “– great, boy.  It’s great.”

“Really?”

He nodded, swallowing again to try and get rid of the aftertaste.

Fuckin’ hell what did he use? It tastes like deep-fried axle grease and my almost sentient socks!

“I followed the recipe real good, ‘cept it was written in Centaurian, so I ran it through the translator so’s I could read it and the first couple of times – well, ok so, four times – it exploded ‘cause I did it wrong but this time I did it right!”

Ah, that was why – Centaurian couldn’t really be translated – Yondu made a mental not to start teaching Peter how to read his language when he got better.

“Ya should prolly go clean up tha kitchen ‘fore Franh gets back, though they’ll be right pleased not ta have ta make dinner.”

Peter beamed, “Ok!” He gave the man a hug – Yondu grimaced as wetness smeared across his skin. “Feel better!”

“Thanks, son.”

The boy bounced out of the room.

As soon as he was gone, Yondu struggled out of the bed and threw the soup down the sink in his bathroom – what the boy didn’t know, wouldn’t hurt him – on his way back to bed, he picked up a holo-pad and sent out a ship-wide message;

Quill attempted to make soup.

If anyone tells him it’s bad or ya don’t eat it at dinner, you’ll end up on bog duty for the foreseeable future.

If I had to suffer through it as well as this damn flu, then so do you lot.

He sent it off with a mean smirk on his face.

The crew didn’t have to know his ended up down the sink any more than Peter did.

Chapter Text

Peter didn’t like being sick.  It was annoying, he wasn’t allowed to go anywhere or do anything, and the four walls of his little room were boring.  He’d contracted something that resembled chicken pox, but had a name Mazar rattled off that made his translator glitch something fierce.  Whatever it was, Peter decided, as he scratched his arm roughly.

It sucked.

What was worse was Yondu’s reaction, he’d well – for lack of a better expression – freaked out.  Apparently – so Kraglin reckoned – the symptoms had been the same as when a person got bitten by a – something, Peter couldn’t remember the name of the terrifying spider-like creature Kraglin had shown him a picture of – and there was no anti-venom for it.

Mazar assured them both it wasn’t that, but it didn’t really stop Yondu, the man had a bee in his bonnet about it and wouldn’t stop fussing.  He’d put Peter up in his bed with his comics, his Walkman, and several bottles of water, and told him to stay put.  He’d brought him breakfast from the mess and fussed over everything before leaving for the bridge.

Peter loved his Dad, he really did, but he’d commed Peter eight times in the last three hours.

Make that nine times, as the com link beeped again.

“Yondu I’m fine!”

“Ya sure?”

Yes. It’s just the space version of chicken pox, I’m not going to die!”

“Hmpf. Good, ‘cause I don’t wanna clean it up if ya did.”

Peter rolled his eyes, sarcasm dripping from his tone when he replied, “Love you too Yondu.”

“Whatever, lunch’ll be soon.  I’ll bring ya some.”

“Ok. Seriously Yondu, stop worrying I’m fine.”

His tone was indignant, “I ain’t worryin’! Just make sure ya stay put.”

The line went dead and Peter sighed.  He snuggled down under his blankets and tried to have a sleep.

About an hour later there was a crash from out in Yondu’s cabin.  A bunch of Hraxian curse words that never translated came floating through.

Peter rubbed his eyes, sitting up, “Bro? You ok?”

“Damn Yondu and his shit!” Kraglin appeared at his door, brushing dust off his leathers.  Some bright green fluffy thing was stuck in his mohawk.

Peter snickered, “Krags, you got somement in yer hair.”

Kraglin went cross-eyed as he looked up, pulling the trinket out and tossing it across the room.

“Did Yondu send you?”

The man shrugged, “Sorta.  I were on ma way ta see how you’s were doin’ already.  He commed me an’ yelled about makin’ sure ya were ok though.”

Peter grumbled thumping his fists on his bed, “I already told him so many times today, I’m fine.  Just itchy.” He scratched at his shoulder, “Really itchy.” Sighing he scratched at his nose, “He’s being ridiculous Krags.”

Kraglin scoffed, “It’s tha Cap’n.  He’s ridiculous at tha best o’ times.” He looked at Peter honestly, “Least he cares boy, I ain’t never had nothin’ like tha’ when I were yer age.”

“That sucks bro.”  He replied, grabbing Kraglin’s bony hand, running curious digits over scars and cuts.

The man shrugged, “I got people now, that’s all what matters.”

Peter grinned, “Thanks for checking on me.”

Kraglin smiled, squeezing the boy’s hand gently, “No pro’lem little brother.”


 

 

“For the last time Yondu, I been better fer two days! Mazar gave me the all clear. I’m fine!”

The Centaurian didn’t look convinced, “Ya sure?”

“Yes!” Kraglin and Halli said it at the same time.

“Jinx bitch!” Halli crowed.

“What tha – ”

Halli punched him.

Hard.

“Ow! Damnit!”

He got another punch.

Peter snickered, “You got jinxed, ya can’t say anythin’ until someone says your name.”

Kraglin frowned, “That’s stu – ow!”

“She’s going to keep punching you if you talk.  That’s the rules.”

The man looked beseechingly at Peter.

He shook his head, “Nope, sorry bro.  Jinx is a jinx.”

Kraglin turned to Yondu, doing his best big watery blue-eyed puppy look.

The captain laughed, “Nah, I ain’t helpin’ ya.  Ya can’t argue wit’ me while yer like that.”

Kraglin rolled his eyes, crossed his arms, and pouted at the group.

“Put that lip away Kraggles, ‘fore I bite it.”

The Hraxian glanced sideways at the captain, a blush heating his gaunt cheeks.

Halli bit her lip and snorted.

Yondu realised what he’d said and the tips of his ears went navy, he stood abruptly, “Git ta work!  We’s got a ship ta run.” With a snap of his coat, he was leaving the mess.

Halli raised an eyebrow at Kraglin, “I wish you two would just fu – ahem –” she coughed, glancing at Peter. “Quit makin’ eyes at each other.  It’s torture watchin’ it, really.”

Kraglin glared.

Halli smirked meanly, “Awww, nothin’ ta say Kraggles? Are ya sure?”

The man launched himself over the table, grabbing Halli by the lapels of her coat and socking her one on the jaw.  She snarled, picking up her tray and smacking him across the face with it.  Peter laughed as food sailed all over the table and Kraglin shoved Halli face first into his breakfast.

Yondu suddenly appeared – not actually having left before their tussle broke out.  Picking them both up by the scruff of the neck, he snarled, “What tha fuck ya think you two doin’?!”

“Uh –”

“Um –”

Halli punched Kraglin again.  He snarled and kicked out at her before Yondu yanked them further apart.

“Ya fuckin’ serious?!  Quit it! Ya wanna settle ya shit? Do it in tha ring, not in tha fuckin’ mess!” He pulled them closer dropping his voice slightly, “Ya senior officers on ma damn ship! Ya s’posed ta set an example fer tha rest o’ these idjits.” He dropped them, shoving them away from each other and raising his voice again, “Clean this shit up ‘fore I brig both ya.  Damn children, I swear!” He looked at Peter and nodded his head towards the door, “Come on Quill!”

Peter trotted after Yondu, laughing his head off.

Yondu grumbled, “What’re you laughin’ about boy?”

Peter slipped a hand into his, ignoring Yondu’s raised a brow – he hadn’t done that since he first came on board the ship – “I missed this while I was sick.”

Yondu gave him a disbelieving look, “Ya missed workin’?”

“Nah,” he beamed up at the man, “I missed hanging out with my family.”

Yondu gave him a small smile, and completely ignored – shut up, he did alright – the ooshy gooshy feeling filling his chest.