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the song went on forever

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The first night after they set off, secondarily to find Thanos and avenge Gamora and Drax’s families but primarily to, you know, guard the galaxy, Peter spends three hours listening to Awesome Mix #2 on repeat. Long after the rest of them have shuffled away, Gamora smiling, Rocket grumbling, Peter sits on the bench in front of the tape deck, letting the tape flip automatically and play side B, then go back to side A, then side B. Side A. Side B. He thinks about his mom, before she got sick: dancing in front of the sink while washing the dishes, singing along to the radio, a fleck of dish soap bubbles on her cheek from where she’d brushed her hair away from her face with a soapy yellow rubber glove. He remembers less about Earth, but he thinks about it, too: tracking the uneven waves of power lines through the window of the car, the background of the dark lines switching from mottled green to bright blue. The slippery feel of dew-wet grass under his worn sneakers. The sound of chirping birds and the quiet trickle of the stream a few blocks from his house when his mom crouched down next to him and said, “Shh. Just listen,” and looked around them at the glittering stream, smooth rocks, rustling trees.

Anyway. Peter shuts the tape deck off and drops his jacket on the floor on the way to his room, unbuckles his boots and steps out of them one at a time in the little hallway that leads to his door—and stops. They’re all in his fucking bed.

Assholes.

Drax is in the middle, on his back, huge chest slowly rising and falling. One thick arm rests under Gamora’s head as a pillow and is curled lightly across her slim shoulders, holding her as she twitches in her sleep, facing away from Peter but projecting unrest all the way across the small room. On Drax’s other side is Rocket, curled around Groot’s pot. His face is mashed into Drax’s side. He looks smaller than he’s ever seemed.

Peter tries to figure out somewhere else on the ship to sleep, but he’s tired and his head feels fuzzy with memories. He changes into soft pajama pants, because maybe his friends can sleep in their clothes, but Peter is civilized. Sort of. The sheets on the bed rustle and he turns just as Gamora twitches, shivering then kicking in her sleep. She lets out a soft moan. Drax’s arm tightens around her and she brings her small hands up to it. Peter almost dives across the room to break up a fight, but before he can move she grips Drax’s wrist like a child with a teddy bear and her whole body stills, then relaxes. Peter stares.

He goes over and sits on the edge of the bed as gently as possible, trying not to dislodge Groot’s pot as he pushes Rocket over a little. A little shiver courses through Rocket’s fur while Peter very carefully lies beside him in the little space that’s left on the bed. He lightly drapes one arm across Rocket’s back, for lack of anywhere else to put it; Rocket’s hands tighten on the edge of the pot and he takes a sharp breath.

“Whaddaya—”

“Shh,” Peter hisses as he, well, basically spoons Rocket. Rocket growls. “Hey, it’s me.” He cautiously curls his fingers against the fur between Rocket’s ears, just once.

Rocket makes a noise like “Hmm,” then abruptly turns and shoves his face against Peter’s stomach. Peter’s shirt rides up and he feels Rocket’s cold nose, prickly whiskers, warm and surprisingly soft fur against his bare skin. One paw, somehow, still rests on Groot’s pot. Rocket heaves one final sigh and goes back to breathing evenly. Peter readjusts his arm until the backs of his knuckles brush the scar-mottled skin of Drax’s ribs. He thinks about swiftly moving green trees seen through a car window, the smell of lasagna and dish soap, Marvin Gaye overlaid with his mom’s soft alto. Peter falls asleep.

According to everyone the next morning, Peter snores. His new friends are definitely assholes. Somehow, they never end up getting any more beds.