At first, she touches him only to hold him back, keeping him at bay to prevent more violence. He says nothing, shows her nothing but ire, because why would he waste his time on Ronan's right-hand assassin?
After Xandar, when the five of them are bonded and cannot deny they are stronger together than apart, she runs her hands along his shoulders in greeting, a subconscious, automatic response to seeing him. And Drax the Destroyer, sworn enemy of all those that side with Thanos, lets her touch him.
They travel in Quill's tiny ship, aimless at first, but in no hurry to get anywhere. Gamora has not touched him since they left, but he senses her keen attention toward him. She's watching him, likely waiting for him to lose his patience and make another rash decision that might cost them all their lives.
"You don't have to worry about me anymore," he tells her as they dock to refuel. "I can wait for Thanos. When the right time comes, we will defeat him together."
There is only a slight change in Gamora's expression, but she reaches out, grazing her fingers against Drax's shoulder as she passes him.
He admitted to himself that he had made incorrect assumptions about her. When you have no friends, when you spend so much time consumed with grief and vengeance, it's impossible and unnecessary to see over past, self-made truths.
Or is it 'see under' them? He will have to ask Quill later.
The important thing is, he sees her now.
He sharpens his weapons and she waters Groot's pot. It is silent, but not uncomfortable. One day, after she tends to the joyous sapling, she invites Drax to spar with her, saying it's important to stay on form and she needs to practice with a serious opponent. "Peter makes it impossible to concentrate; he's always interrupting our sessions to dance."
Drax hesitates, but for only a moment.
Her style is swift and efficient, and she tells him not to hold back. After explaining what she means by that, she confines her hair, but it still swings around in a long plait, bright and so distracting, Drax receives multiple blows to the face.
He does not complain.
Following a mission that leaves them all bruised and bloodied, Drax exits the shower drying himself off, and sees her waiting for her turn. There's no more disgust or wariness in her gaze. In fact, there's a curiosity in her expression that makes Drax feel... uncertain.
She approaches him slowly, dried crimson streaked all over her skin and leather, and she lifts one of her hands. Cautiously, she looks at him as she rests her fingers against his bare chest, and Drax does nothing as she begins to trace his patterns of red.
"Where did you get these?" she asks, interrupting his thoughts of Hovat. "What do they mean?"
It is too difficult, too much, to look at her. He averts his eyes, conjuring up the image of his wife and daughter, and steps away from Gamora's touch.
In the following months, they pretend their conversation never happened, until the other three leave the ship for entertainment in which Drax has much interest, but knows he should avoid. Gambling has its allure, but Drax does not want to repeat what he did on Knowhere.
So he stays on the ship, and when Gamora approaches him, he says, "I'm sorry." For what, he does not know.
Gamora does, though, and she reaches her hand out toward him. Wordlessly, he takes it, and she leads him to where she has set up her quarters, seating him down on a chair. Drax watches her pick up a bottle from the table next to them, pour out a lightly scented drop of oil into her hands, and begin to spread it on him.
He doesn't know what is in the oil, or how there can be so much of it in one little drop, but he doesn't care. He looks down at her hands, at her silently sliding her palms across his shoulders, then down to his chest and stomach. Gamora's touch is knowing and practiced; the same hands that had slaughtered hundreds are now all over his bare skin, rubbing and circling, and Drax does not want her stop. She works out his knots and draws out a series of sighs and groans from him, sounds he never thought he would utter again. He has not forgotten Hovat, nor his daughter, and he will never forget them. But Gamora, who had once been nothing more than a target for Drax's vengeance, she is here, and Drax does not want to forget her, either.
He stills her with one hand on her forearm, and she stops caressing him with a questioning look.
"They are... a part of me," Drax tells her of his winding, intricate red markings. He still struggles with the concept of metaphor, but he thinks he's starting to understand it. "They are my story."
He doesn't need to say it, but she knows: she is now a part of his story, just as he is a part of hers.
When she straddles him on her chair - their clothes scattered around on the floor and Gamora spreading her hands across his oiled chest - Drax only thinks of where he is now. He pulls her closer to him, hesitantly, and the look in her eyes is different.
He cannot tell what it is, but he knows it is good.
She moves, and he follows, staring at the smooth green of her flesh and the bright ends of her hair as she guides him inside of her. He sighs, and she leans forward, stifling her sounds against his ear, clutching his back as she moves up and down on him, smooth and rhythmic as her hands had been. Then she pulls back, kneading his shoulders as she touches her lips to his, her hair framing their faces. He lets her, putting one hand against her arching back, and he lowers his free hand down, between her legs.
Gamora cries out in surprise and want, and after a pause, she slides against his fingers, rising and falling faster and faster. Her nails are sharp on the marks of his flesh, and on the spaces between them. When Gamora gasps suddenly, pressing her bare chest tightly against his as she shudders, Drax holds her even closer, winding his hands through her hair.
They remain embraced for a long time afterward, silent, and in no need to speak.