It was Gamora's turn at watch, and she finally had an inch of space to herself. It was the first time since her long flight to Xandar, and she planned to make the most of it. Soon enough they'd be at Knowhere, with all the chaos that entailed.
So when the gangway to the cockpit creaked, she damn near pulled her sidearm and blindly shot the intruder. Only the tread was too heavy for Quill. Too heavy even for Drax. Gamora's hand left her hip; she had nothing against the tree, not unless he happened to be carrying the mouthy vermin.
The cockpit didn't have a lot of space, and even folding into the co-pilot's seat Groot seemed to take up most of it, but he didn't say anything, so she let him be. Maybe he wanted some quiet too. She could hear the others bickering down in the main cabin.
They sat next to each other for several minutes, Gamora keeping an eye on the instruments, but mostly watching the stars, and Groot seeming to do the same. She glanced sideways at him, trying to read his expression. He appeared contented, happy even, but as far as she could tell he usually did.
In the space of that look, she felt a weight in the silence that hadn't been there a moment ago. Before she could identify it, he reached across and rested his hand on the edge of her chair. Not more than a day ago, he'd lobotomised a man with two fingers, and the hour before he'd taken on an army by himself. Two days ago, she'd cut his arms off.
Now the hand rested next too her, gentle and unmistakably inviting.
Gamora didn't glance back, but she concentrated her attention on the cabins below: they were still arguing. Then she thought: Screw it. Why not?
She rested her own hand on top of Groot's.
She expected gnarled wood, but found instead a layer of tiny leaves so soft they felt like feathers.
"I am Groot." His tone was lilting, with a question in it, and Gamora nodded.
She squeezed his fingers, and held still as they grew, tendrils curling around her arm. Now she could feel the scrape of bark under the leaves; it rasped and pulled at her skin, not quite hurting.
Her breath was coming shorter already, and she felt her chest tighten sharply as the tendrils felt their way under the edge of her vest. He was watching her intently, studying her face, eyes wide and lipless mouth open but still curving up into a smile. She arched her back and pressed against his touch.
Frustratingly, Groot didn't coil his tendril around her nipple, as she'd expected, but crossed her chest to circle around the small of her back, then, emerging from her vest, looped across the front of her hips and back under her thighs. The vine thickened as it extended, until the part circling her arm matched her biceps in width.
She only had a moment to grab a hold of it with her free hand before he picked her up and deposited her in his lap. Again she reached for her sidearm, thinking to press it to his head, but the tendril surrounding her immediately relaxed and the ends turned soft again, stroking her midriff, her arms, the side of her neck. Gamora let out a long breath and leaned back. He felt pretty much like a tree, but one that shifted and vibrated under her. She couldn't tell if he was breathing or not. She supposed his leaves did that.
Leaves that were now growing to enfold her. One tendril tugged at her belt buckle, while another unfastened her vest, loosening enough for more to follow. Groot laid a palm on her belly, and extended his fingers down into her trousers. Again they passed by the obvious to circle around her thighs. The start of each vine ran between her legs, but try as she might, she couldn't wriggle against the rough bark or press against them. More tendrils circled her breasts, coiling in to almost, but not quite, cross over her nipples.
Gamora groaned, writhing under the touch. She could feel him everywhere, every sensitive inch of skin rubbed by mossy softness or biting scales. When she squeezed her hands into fists, they closed around the little branches now growing out of his hips. When she tilted her head back, it rested on a bed of flowers blossoming from his shoulder. She moaned again, trying to hide the noise from the deck below, but also unable to bear the wait. She wanted him to move, but at the same time she revelled in the drawing out of each act. It had been too long; let him linger over her.
Rolling her head, she kissed the side of his neck, and he vibrated under her. She wondered if trees purred. This one did, it seemed.
Slowly, incrementally, another two fingers slid down between her legs. At first, feathered with leaves as they were, she could hardly feel them there at all. Again, grinding up against them did nothing. The tendrils around her thighs held her fast. But the pressure increased from a fluttering to a pulsating contact with her clit. This time, when she choked back a cry, a branch extended to touch her lips. Gamora took it as an invitation and bit down, letting it muffle the sound. She panted through her nose as the tendrils encircling her breasts tightened in time with fingers playing between her legs.
Another looped her waist to creep down her ass, the tip played at her hole, not entering, but stretching the edges.
He was waiting, she realised. He wasn't entering until she gave him the word. She took a breath and rolled her hips, pressing first into the vine on her clit then against the one teasing her ass. She wanted everything. She wanted to let him bring her to a pleasure so perfect and absolute that for a split second she could forget about the damn galaxy and just ride the wave.
Gamora nodded and held onto his branches for dear life.
His fingers slid into her ass and her cunt and at the same time. An acrid smell surrounded her, sharp and sweet like pitch, and he entered her smoothly, obviously lubricated. At the same time, his feathery fingertips continued their play, and the vines around her tightened. She couldn't move, she could hardly breathe, though that was her own doing. Her heart pounded as the sensation of being absolutely surrounded threatened to overwhelm her. The tendrils didn't widen or stretch her painfully, just stated their presence, resting for a moment, as if taking their part in holding her in place. When she tried to roll her hips again, she found she couldn't even do that.
The branch between her teeth muffled her growl of protest, but Groot seemed to understand. The tendrils inside her coiled around themselves, and she rode the sensation. The finger rubbing her clit, first soft then rough then soft again, seemed to press against the vine hooking against inside her entrance.
This time when Gamora moaned, the sound seemed to resonate down through Groot like the building of an avalanche. She knew her skin was flushed a deep jade-green, and she could feel the perspiration beading down her face and neck. She tried to writhe, and found herself held fast.
An edge of bark dragged over her clit, and she screamed into the branch. She tried to hold it back, but his touch just intensified, edging on pain but bringing only the sweetest satisfaction. She breathed fast and sharp, synchronising with his movements the only way she could. She cried out again when he withdrew, then came a moment later.
Groot held her steady and stroked her through wave after wave of pleasure, tipping her back over every time she thought she might have had enough. What felt like hours later, she sighed and let her head rest amid the flowers, closing her eyes for a moment.
The pitch smell increased, and Gamora realised that her skin was covered in shimmering golden grains that looked like pollen. Her fingers felt stiff from holding on so tightly, and she had bark in her mouth, but as she sprawled against his trunk, she felt absolutely satisfied. He was stroking her thigh, she realised, an absent sort of motion, and she squeezed his hand for a moment before she disentangled herself.
"Thank you," she said as she slid to her feet, refastening her clothes, and Groot shrugged and patted her shoulder. Raised voices still echoed up from the cabin below.
She checked the instruments as she settled back into the pilot's seat. They were still another four hours out of Knowhere. Then the games would begin.