Gamora did not understand Angela. She had tried to many times, but the angel had a sense of logic and values that seemed to be different from any other species in the Galaxy.
When Gamora had gifted Angela with a small decorative dagger, she had accepted it reluctantly. But it was the next day when the angel presented Gamora with a bone knife that appeared to be hand-carved by that same dagger.
The next gift Gamora gave was after she had slain an artheryn, and presented the skin to Angela. Angela accepted the pelt, and gave it back to Gamora the following day with the fur formed into a soft, structured cape.
Thus began a strange cycle of giving. Gamora would give some sort of a gift, usually a weapon or the spoils of a kill, and Angela would gift Gamora with something created from or with that gift. Blood became traditional Angelic tattoo ink. A leather hide became a thin bracelet with a design similar to that of Angela’s ribbons. The gifts were constant- they always took a few days to get back to Gamora, but they arrived without fail. Until Gamora presented her with the horns.
They were the horns of a Beforian troll, a species with large and highly decorative horns. The horns on the beast Gamora had slain were long and straight, colored with the many colors of the Beforian sunset.
The presentation of the horns was the same as every one of Gamora’s gifts. She handed them over with a small smirk, and Angela accepted them with a small smile and a promise to give something in return.
But it was Angela that was different. After receiving the horns, she hid away. She was still on the ship, Gamora knew that much, but she could never be directly found.
And it was over a week later when Gamora heard a knock on the door to her room.
She sighed, “Go away Quill"
“It is Angela."
Gamora was surprised “Uh, come in then."
The Angel walked into the room, delicately holding an item wrapped within a fur.
“I wish to repay your gift."
Gamora gave a small smile and took the bundle of fur from Angela. Wrapped inside was a small instrument carved from the colored bone horns. It had a mouthpiece on one end and had holes in a straight line down the main body.
“It is a flute.” Gamora’s gaze flicked away from the instrument-the flute- to Angela. “It is an instrument from earth, but also used in Heven. This is a copy of the flute I was given by a friend.” She paused, on the word friend. Somehow that word didn’t seem to be able to convey all the emotion necessary. “It was a gift given that I was not able to repay. That friend and my flute are now both lost to me. I have created this in hope to repay my debt to you for the gift of the horns."
“It is a beautiful item and I thank you for it. But I have a question. Why do you insist on repaying every item I bring to you?"
“It is the way of Angels. Everything must be repaid, and we must hold very gift given as a debt to be repaid. ‘Nothing for nothing’ is the saying."
Gamora could see Angela in a new light- why she interacted with them the way she did. Fights were all personal and giving anything was a business transaction at best.
“But I do have debts at yet unpaid. I have some debts I can never repay. I have yet to repay you all for taking me in."
“But I owe you just the same. I owe you for saving me from the brotherhood of the Badoon."
Angela nodded, her eyes suddenly lowering to the floor. “We do each owe each other a great life debt. But they do not balance, as life is only equal to life. Safety must be given for safety. A debts must be repaid in equal."
“Then how do they not balance? We owe each other our lives."
“I saved your physical body, which is a simple task for a warrior such as you to repay. But you saved me from traveling alone and have given me a family. That is different debt to repay.”
And with that, the Angel left the room.
After that, Angela was no longer avoiding Gamora, so much as she was ignoring her. There was no banter in battle, and no conversation when off the battlefield.
It got to a point where the other team members noticed.
Quill noticed the tension, but seemed too terrified to comment (and Gamora quite preferred it that way). Groot tried to fuss over the pair from afar, which was ineffective as Angela never seemed to want to stay where Gamora was. Drax noticed something, but acted with surprising tact and didn't ever bring it up.
And it was Rocket who finally snapped. Angela had just entered then immediately exited a room when she noticed Gamora had there. Rocket threw his hands in the air, groaned with exasperation, and hurried after the fleeing Angel.
After a few moments, he returned to the room, grabbed Gamora's hand, and dragged her away. He shoved her into Angela's room, grumbled something about "glarking emotions", and slammed the door.
Angela stood confidently in the center of the room, her ribbons giving away the nervousness she clearly was trying to hide.
"I believe I have found a way to repay your debt."
Gamora snorted. "Is that why you've been avoiding me? To repay this debt? You know that I don't care."
"I do, but it is the Angel way to repay all debts. Nothing for nothing. And as you gave me a family, I wish to give you something of equal value."
Angela closed the distance between them and pulled Gamora into a deep kiss. The kiss felt different from any other Gamora had experienced. It was equal parts soft and fierce, aggressive and restrained. Angela's ribbons eagerly caressed Gamora's back while her hands were tangling themselves in the green woman's hair.
And all to soon, it ended. Angela pulled back, a wide smile on her lips. "The only thing equal to the gift of a family is the gift of a devoted lover. I present myself to you as a gift."
Gamora could feel herself grinning. "I accept your gift and consider your debt repaid."
She may not understand the Angel's set of values, but damn if she wouldn't enjoy it.