Gamora is on her way to the shower, having just finished an evening workout in their new, decidedly-less-cramped training space, when the sound of Peter’s voice stops her short.
It’s coming from the doorway of the room they’ve just cleaned out and made up for Groot to have as a big-kid bedroom. Which makes sense, now that she thinks about it -- it’s just about time for him to be going to sleep, and she knows Peter’s started a routine of bedtime stories since they all agreed that it was time for him to start spending the night independently. Still, she’s never seen him in the act, and suddenly finds herself overwhelmed with curiosity.
“All right, bud,” Peter says, as Gamora moves to stand just outside the door, in a position where she thinks she’ll be able to watch without disturbing them. He’s kneeling beside the bed where Groot is tucked in, a child-sized piece of furniture that still looks comically large for him. “Where’d we leave off last night?”
“I am Groot,” says Groot, and then repeats it several times in what’s clearly a rambling rapid-fire answer.
“Right, right!” says Peter, grinning. “We were at the beginning of Return of the Jedi. Which, by the way, is my favorite part of the entire trilogy!”
“I am Groot?” His tiny brow furrows inquisitively.
“Oh, a trilogy? New word for today! It just means, like, three parts of something that go together.”
Groot nods, apparently satisfied by that answer.
“Okay!” Peter presses his palms together and rubs them a few times, clearly brimming over with excitement at getting to tell this story.
She’s heard him talk about Star Wars before, of course, has even encouraged him to explain the story to her in full on several occasions. Gamora is familiar enough, at this point, to recognize the characters and basic plot points, but it’s clear that this is about to be a dramatic reenactment on an entirely different level than the ones she’s witnessed before.
“So!” says Peter, sitting up a bit straighter. “When we left off, our hero, the legendary outlaw Han Solo, was frozen in carbonite by the evil and totally disgusting Jabba the Hutt. Like this!” He sits up on his heels, both palms up in front of him and face twisted into a dramatic grimace.
Groot laughs uproariously, which probably isn’t doing much to get him ready for sleeping, but is far too--well, cute, to take issue with.
“Noooo,” says Peter, though his offense appears to be all good-natured. “No, it’s not funny, it’s really bad! He’s in trouble and he can’t save himself!”
“I am Groot?” He looks vaguely concerned now, though still not entirely bought into the idea that this isn’t a predicament to laugh at.
“Right.” Peter nods. “He needs to be rescued. So, he’s stuck in carbonite--” He breaks off, briefly resuming the position, which earns a tiny giggle, then relaxing to continue. “--for, like, a few weeks or something. Exact timing doesn’t matter. Anyway, one day there’s a stranger who shows up at Jabba’s palace, wearing a mask. And a cape!” He grabs one of the spare blankets from the foot of the bed and wraps it around his shoulders with a flourish.
Gamora stifles a laugh of her own at that, not wanting to interrupt or shatter the moment. Still, she can’t deny the way her heart swells, watching this, the sheer sense of joy at seeing Peter so engrossed.
“So the stranger talks to Jabba and says--” He breaks off again, hunching over to hide part of his face behind the edge of the blanket as though he’s the one in the mask. “--’I’ve come to rescue Solo! Give him to me!’” He breaks off and straightens up, resuming the narrator role momentarily. “And then they negotiate! Jabba wants to make it crazy expensive, but he loses. You know why?”
Groot shakes his head.
“The stranger pulls out a bomb, and tells Jabba that she--um, that the stranger will blow everyone up if he doesn’t let Solo go.” He ducks his head under the blanket again and holds one hand out, thumb poised over an imaginary trigger.
Squealing in delight, Groot snakes out a vine and pretends to press it.
“Boom!” yells Peter, falling backwards onto the floor, to his audience’s unbridled delight. A moment later, he scrambles back up to his knees, shaking his head. “Nah, just kidding, that’s not what happens!”
Groot lies down on his belly, propping his chin on a couple of short vines that aren’t quite fingers.
“So, the bomb does the trick, because it turns out that Jabba wants to live more than he wants to keep Han Solo as wall art. The stranger goes in to get Han to defrost him, and at first he’s all limp like a noodle.” Peter falls back again, this time flopping around dramatically for a moment before straightening up to continue the story. “And then the stranger takes the mask off, and do you know who it is?”
Groot shakes his head, clearly eager for Peter to finish.
“It’s Princess Leia!” says Peter, cracking maybe the largest shit-eating grin Gamora has ever seen. “She tells Han that she rescued him because she loves him. And then they kiss!”
“I am Groot,” says Groot, in a clearly disgusted tone.
“Nooo, buddy!” Peter laughs, though he looks slightly surprised. “It is not gross!”
“I am Groot,” Groot repeats stubbornly.
Peter sighs, shaking his head. “Okay. Okay, I think that’s enough for tonight. Bedtime for real.”
Groot grumbles a bit, but he doesn’t protest too much, allowing Peter to tuck him into bed. Gamora watches as he kisses his own fingertips, then brushes them over Groot’s cheek before turning off the light and closing the door.
He nearly bumps into her before stopping short, looking surprised, then decidedly sheepish as his cheeks flush. “Um. Hey. How long’ve you been out here?”
“I saw the whole thing, if that’s what you’re asking,” says Gamora, catching his hand. “It was an impressive performance.”
His blush deepens, traveling down his neck. “Yeah? I can’t tell if you’re kidding.”
“Not kidding,” she promises, lacing their fingers and pulling him with her down the hall toward their quarters. They walk in silence for a few moments before she decides to voice her next question. “Is that really your favorite scene?”
“Totally,” he answers, completely genuine. Then his face falls ever so slightly. “I mean, from what I remember, anyway. Why?”
Gamora shakes her head. “Just--You’ve told me before that you liked to pretend you were Solo, yes?”
He nods. “Like I said, legendary outlaw from birth.”
She rolls her eyes. “Yes, so you have said. But--you aspired to be an outlaw who got rescued by his girlfriend?”
“Oh, that.” Peter shrugs, looking down at his feet, then up at her again. “Well, yeah? I mean, any outlaw worth his salt has a girlfriend who’s equally badass, right? That’s what I wanted.” He winks at her. “And what I got, apparently.”
This time she’s the one who looks away, feeling her own face flush a bit. “Peter…”
“You did save me,” he insists, moving to stand in front of her so that he can catch her by the shoulders. “You save me every day.”
She arches an eyebrow, contemplates calling him a sap, but can’t bring herself to do it when she is so utterly filled with love. “Am I supposed to kiss you now?”
“Definitely,” says Peter.
And so she does.