Desperately Seeking Spielberg
The thing was, after awhile they kept expecting storytime.
No one had ever really listened to Peter--Starlord--eh, flark it, Peter. No one had listened to him before. Like, they let him talk, obviously. It was hard to shut Peter up, actually, which was how the word "whatever" used dismissively became slang around the extended network of the Ravagers. But no one listened, actually paid attention to the torrent of words coming out of his mouth.
Yondu had tried, he'd really tried. Between the point where he'd argued himself out of fulfilling his contract and Peter actually coming out of the bulkhead storage container where he'd holed up to do more than eat and relieve himself, he'd tried to connect to the boy and listen to him talk. But it was just so much gorram nonsense that, while he came to...not wanting to eat Peter, the flood of words just became background noise. Like radiation on the comms.
Peter was used to it. He didn't really mind it. He kept talking, and that was how he kept his memory sharp, how he remembered all the stupid details from Earth, especially when some of those details started to slip away.
Point being, Peter didn't realize that these flarkin' guys had listened to the words coming out of his mouth until they were on autopilot towards their next deal, eating what they'd picked up on Xantha after helping them with their little space cow problem.
"What happened to Kevin Bacon?" Gamora said suddenly, stopping the quiet but insistent bickering between Groot and Rocket over the last of the topa leaves. "Does he yet live?"
Peter stared at her, mouth hung open around a half-masticated bite of topa salad. "Wha?" he asked, eyes wide.
She frowned, irritated. "Kevin Bacon. The hero of your story. He seemed a mighty warrior, to overcome the ill will of an entire people. Did someone kill him and usurp his rule?"
"Uh," Peter said, looking around the table at everyone, who were now paying attention to him. "Kevin Bacon didn't really rule--"
"Kevin Bacon would not be defeated so lightly," Drax rumbled, indulging in his new awareness of hypotheticals that Rocket had mockingly yet insistently taught him. "He would rise against any who would oppose him, and dance them violently from whence they came."
"Yeah but what if they shot him in the leg?" Rocket interrupted. "Because no leg, no dancey dancey. I would take him out in the leg, and then laugh as he crawled away."
"So that's a little, um, specific," Peter hedged, setting his bowl on the table and swallowing the last of his yeepa milk smoothie.
"Does he live?" Gamora demanded, banging her fork on the table in emphasis.
The room fell silent, four pairs of eyes looking at him expectantly. And a little murderously, too, there was some of that.
"Kevin Bacon...lived," he said, trying not to think about he had no idea if that dude made it past 1990. "But, uh, while he had triumphed against the, um, anti-dancing bad guys, he was--brought low. For awhile. In the, the world of San Francisco."
"Who were these mighty warriors who defeated our hero Bacon?" Drax asked, his voice pitched somewhere in that worrisome place between keen interest and impending concussions.
Peter blinked, working hard to remember the plot of Quicksilver. It was a pretty shitty movie, but he could remember seeing it in the theater, sneaking in through the exit door with the faulty lock.
"There was no greater warrior than Kevin Bacon himself," Peter started slowly, thinking hard on what to say next. "And it was him--I mean, he defeated himself. He took a, a big risk, right, and he lost it. Everything."
"Hubris," Gamora said derisively, but Groot popped a few eager leaves and waved furiously for Peter to continue.
"Okay, so let me explain what a bicycle is," he said, and told them the story of Kevin Bacon's ego.
It would have been fine if it was just that one time, but he didn't really have other Kevin Bacon stories--the guy was kind of a one-hit wonder with Footloose--and he couldn't think of a good fake story to tell. But when they didn't mention it for a few weeks, he let out the breath he'd been metaphorically holding in and figured that was that.
It was not that. It took him awhile, but he finally figured out that with these guys, with the Guardians, that was never that.
"But what about flarking Kevin Bacon," Rocket said, equal parts irritation and whine.
"I too am in the mood for a good tale of the Warrior Bacon," Drax agreed.
"I am Groot!!" Groot said, his mouth widening into a happy grin.
Flark. "So, um, that's all I know of the story of Kevin Bacon," Peter said carefully, and held up his hands in protest when they all, even Gamora, started to complain. "Wait a minute! Wait, okay, sheesh. That's all of Kevin Bacon, but let me tell you about Marty McFly. So, a skateboard is this flat surface with wheels attached..."
His grandpa had told him there was supposed to be a third stupid movie. What a rip-off. Couldn't Yondu have waited until after it came out?
After that, he told them the story of Mad Max, who Drax immediately valorized as a maniacal, ruthless warrior of few words and great deeds. No one was surprised.
Gamora started looking twitchy and made a few pointed, but totally fair, comments that he hadn't spoken of other-gendered heroes yet. "Surely there is a female? And do you not have pan-gendered heroes on your filthy backwater of a planet? No? Ah, what did I expect of such a useless rock of sentients."
She did like Sarah from Labyrinth, though. "When I was fifteen, I cut out a magician's eyeballs when he would not make my vibroknife reappear," she reminisced. "Even if it were my sibling, I would destroy the Goblin King to make a point about blackmail. He could keep the child. It would likely have a better life."
Peter put the Milano on autopilot and drank.
When he did Anne of Green Gables--his grandmother had really liked it--everyone was stoically not crying when he got to the part about Matthew's heart attack.
"He was a good man," Drax said softly, "for one who did not even own a laser pistol."
"I am...Groot," Groot concurred, wiping the sap from his eye ridges. Rocket handed him a handkerchief.
Rocket's favorite was Axel Foley, which was a surprise to squarely no one. Sometimes when he was in the middle of his projects, or repairing things on the Milano, he'd say, "'I ain't on duty so my dick can be hard!'" and laugh long and hard. Peter wasn't sure if it was that he learned a new word for his flarker or that he had a new thing to taunt the authorities with, but it got old real fast.
It became a thing, after awhile. On days when they were travelling on FTL from point A to point B, they would all gather around the table to eat something, talk about something other than whatever thing they were doing next, and wait for Peter to tell a story.
He hadn't expected to be here, with them. He figured, when he was taking the risk of jumping on Yondu's score, that he'd be like the Lone Ranger (also a favorite of Drax's and, surprisingly, Groot's), winging it around the galaxy picking up scores and banging any lady who would have him. Which, he was totally still doing that, except for the alone part.
Peter liked it better this way. Even when Gamora felt compelled to give the predominantly female-gendered beings he was hitting on a disclaimer about Peter's dismal post-one night stand etiquette.
They were heading back to Xantha again, apparently there was another space cow issue, and around the midday meal time they all gathered at the table. Groot and Gamora were playing an intense game of Dejarik, and Groot looked both displeased and victorious when his K'lor'slug dismembered Grimtash the Molator. Gamora huffed her irritation, and re-spawned her Mantellian Savrip.
As they finished their own past times, and Peter finished setting up a time to meet with one of the more receptive space cow herders, they all looked to him expectantly.
"Oh, we're ready?" he said, putting down his tablet. Groot looked at him imploringly and said, "I am Groot."
"Okay, buddy, I hear you. You're going to like this one. I think. Anyway, there's a thing going on between the hero and the guy that gets on his case, and I know you're into that." Peter cleared his throat.
"Once upon a time, there was a man named Maverick. He and his best friend, Goose, flew planes--uh, two-passenger weaponized flyers, like those Nabooan star skiffs we saw a few months ago. So they flew planes for the Navy, sorta the Nova Corps, and Mav and Goose did such a good job blasting the Russians out of the sky that they got to go to fighter plane school in California."
"They were rewarded for their daring and skill," Drax nodded, approving.
"Those star skiffs couldn't blast the exhaust valve off a BARC speeder," Rocket muttered.
"ANYWAY. So, when they go to school, Maverick is like really proud, he's a flarkin' cool dude, but he's reckless, like his name, and there's this guy, Iceman--"
"I am Groot!" Groot said, pointing a finger-twig at Peter and beaming.
"Oh my god, yes, that's the guy, now let me finish--"