Actions

Work Header

I Got A Landmine In My Bloodline

Chapter Text

It starts off as a twinge, a dull, throbbing ache that tugs just to the right of his navel. It's not unbearable but it hurts enough to wake Peter up and after that it's all he can think about. He lays in his bunk for several long, painful seconds, staring up at the ceiling and breathing shallowly. He's been on the ship for months now but he's still not used to waking up in a cold, metal-walled room in the middle of a galaxy he doesn't know the name of. Sometimes he wonders if this has all been a long, vivid, horrible dream brought on by the stress of his mother being in the hospital. He keeps thinking/hoping/praying that one day he'll wake up at home, back on earth and in his grandparent's house. He'd been staying with them before his mother...well, before he was taken away. He keeps hoping that maybe, just maybe, he'll get back there one day.

The pain in his stomach throbs sharply and he hisses in a breath, slowly pulling himself up into a sitting position. It hurts like hell but, then again, so does lying down. At least if he's sitting up, the weight is distributed a bit more evenly and there isn't as much pressure on his abdomen. One arm curls instinctively across his stomach and he winces slightly. He wonders if he pulled a muscle the day before or if something he ate was trying to pass along a message.

For a long moment, nothing but the tight, throbbing ache happens. He sits on the edge of his bunk and counts his heartbeat in time with each throb. It's deep, all the way down to his core, and it makes him feel shaky. His fingers clench in the thin blankets and he takes another shallow breath, briefly wondering if he's about to be sick.

There's a loud thump against the door that causes him to jump and subsequently flinch at the same time. "Get up, brat!" a loud voice booms from outside the door and there's another thump from something that sounds remarkably like a boot slamming into the door. "You're going into the shafts today!"

Peter resists the urge to groan. He hated the shafts more than any other chore on the ship and he was always the one who got stuck doing it. He was the smallest and therefore the most obvious candidate to shove into the ventilation shafts of the ship to clear out any debris that got sucked up inside during their travels. It was cramped, hot, and he always stood about a 60% chance of getting sucked into a turbine if he wasn't careful.

Still, for as much as he hated the shafts, it was better than being forced to work with the rest of the crew. They were rough and violent and he didn't think he could handle that today with how he was feeling. He'd been here for a few months now and while they hadn't killed him yet, Peter knew it wasn't too far outside the realms of possibility one day. Also, he's pretty sure a few of them still want to eat him given the right incentive. So yeah, the shafts suck but at least he can do that alone.

It takes a lot of effort to pull himself to his feet and get dressed and even then, every movement is measured and slow. Every step causes a twinge of pain to shoot through his abdomen and Peter feels flushed and out of breath by the time he's fully dressed. He pulls on his boots carefully and straightens up, letting out a slow, shallow breath as he makes it up to his full height. The sooner he got out there, the sooner he could get finished and lay back down. Maybe the pain would stop by then, maybe the work would take his mind off of it, maybe-

"Move it!" the voice from outside booms again and Peter feels a muscle in his jaw clench slightly in irritation. He pushes the door open and comes face-to-face a huge, musclebound thug named Rist. Peter wasn't sure where exactly Rist was from but he looked like an odd combination of man and bull. His body was huge and bulky, bulging with layers upon layers of muscle. He had a square face and a wide nose with a silver hoop through the septum. There are two lumps on top of his head that Peter is pretty sure might have been horns at some point in time but now they're filed down to flat, bony nubs. Peter is also pretty sure that, given his violent and often unpredictable temperament, Rist had probably stabbed more than one person with said horns which would explain why he doesn't have them anymore.

"Took you long enough," Rist growls when Peter appears at the door, snorting out an exaggerated huff like he'd been waiting for hours.

Peter rolls his eyes and shoves past him out into the hallway. "Blow me," he grumbles in reply, forcing himself to stand up straight in spite of the throbbing pain in his stomach. His mother would have washed his mouth out with soap if she'd ever heard him talking like that but he'd learned from day one that you couldn't be soft and timid and live with the Ravagers.

There was nearly a constant power struggle onboard the ship, the fight between who was tough enough and who was a waste of space. Peter never wanted to be on top but he certainly didn't want to be at the bottom either so he'd established himself right in the middle and fought to keep it that way. In spite of his size and the presumed weakness of his Terran biology, Peter had proven himself to be quite the scrappy fighter with one hell of right hook. It was enough to impress some of the crew members and make others steer clear. They didn't respect him (Ravagers don't respect much of anything other than money and bounties) but they knew that Peter wasn't afraid to fight dirty and would use that to his advantage if need be.

Rist hears the remark and mutters a shockingly vulgar curse of his own back at Peter but leaves it at that. It seems neither of them are in the mood to fight (rare for someone like Rist) so the pretext of battle drops there. Peter walks as straight as he's able down to the hull of the ship, fighting the urge to wrap an arm across his stomach again. Rist is lumbering along behind him, heavy boots vibrating the metal floors below, and it wouldn't do to show any kind of weakness in front of the other man. They may have reached a pseudo-truce a few minutes before but that didn't mean Rist wouldn't jump at the opportunity to take Peter down if he saw an ounce of vulnerability.

They reach the hull of the ship a few minutes later and Peter stops at the vented duct he'll be crawling into. The pain in his stomach is starting to make him nauseous and he swallows thickly before speaking. "How many am I cleaning?" he asks, tilting his head up to meet the other Ravager's eyes.

"Front half of the ship," Rist tells him shortly, reaching out and literally jerking the vent off the wall as indication. "Sykes has the back half. Get it done and you won't spend the night in the ducts again."

That had happened one time when Peter was first assigned to clean out the shafts. He'd gotten lost in the long, winding ducts that traveled all throughout the ship and had ended up spending the night curled up in a corner above the engine room. He had a little bit more experience with it now and knew his way around the ship better (sort of) but cleaning out the shafts, even just for the front half of the ship, was still an all day event. He'd be lucky if he got it done in the next eight hours.

Peter grumbles again and grabs his tools which consist of a broom and something that kind of resembled a blow torch. The shafts were great at making sure no excess trash or space junk got sucked into the engine but that meant said trash would just sit in the ducts until it was forcefully removed. That's where the broom and the blow torch came in handy; most of it could just be swept/shoveled out but some of the larger pieces needed to be broken down a bit via blowtorch before they could be cleaned out. Most of the debris that got sucked up into the bowels of the ship consisted of dust and chunks of rocks from asteroid fields and occasionally bits of metal and oil from unlucky ships that had been destroyed or damaged during a fight with the Ravagers. Peter once found what looked like the charred remains of a hand among the chunks of debris and had to actively force himself not to think about where it had come from.

He climbs into the shaft, pulling his tools along with him. The pain in his stomach twinges sharply and he almost gasps but manages to hold it in while Rist is still standing there. Once Peter is far enough inside, Rist shoves the vent back into the wall and stomps away, leaving Peter alone inside the shaft.

Peter waits until he hears the other Ravager's footsteps retreat down the hall before he lets out a painful moan and curls onto his side. The muscles in his abdomen feel tight and rigid and the pain shifts into a cramp that seizes him from front to back. He wraps his arms around his middle and takes a few shallow, shaking breaths as the spasm continues. It's worse than any pain he's ever felt before and it's strong enough to paralyze him in the ventilation shaft. He's been sick to his stomach before; he's had food poisoning and stomach viruses and everything in between. This doesn't feel like any of those.

The pain recedes just marginally after about five minutes, just enough for Peter to uncurl himself and sit up inside the shaft. His hands are trembling and he can feel a clammy sweat breaking out across his forehead but he doesn't vomit so he counts that as a victory. His fingers are still weakly curled around the broom handle and he uses that as leverage to push himself up onto his knees.

The shaft seems to stretch on for miles in front of him and just from where he's sitting Peter can tell it's filthy. They hadn't been cleaned out in over two months which meant two months worth of trash and debris were now cluttering the cramped vents. Peter bites back another curse as he makes his way to the nearest pile, still breathing shallowly against the spasms of pain that continue to shoot through his stomach. The sooner he got started, the sooner he would get done. Didn't mean he would be done anytime soon though...

Chapter Text

By the time he's finished cleaning the ventilation shafts, Peter is perfectly miserable. The pain in his stomach has only gotten worse as the hours have gone by, shifting from spasming cramps to sharp, stabbing jolts that leave him breathless and trembling. He got sick twice in the shafts, vomiting in the piles of debris and trash he was assigned to clear. Each bout of sickness left him feeling worse than before and the accompanying nausea has been a continuous presence for the entire day.

His hair is damp from sweat and clings to his forehead in sticky clumps when he finally manages to pull his way out of the last shaft. He tries to stand but the pain is too much so he ends up just sinking down onto the ground and slumping back against the wall of the ship. He feels hot and shaky all over and the blinding, white-hot jabs of pain in his stomach do nothing to alleviate the discomfort.

He briefly considers making his way to the infirmary but quickly dismisses the idea; Ravagers tended to lean more toward the rub-some-dirt-in-it-and-walk-it-off approach to any kind of ailment and if Peter went in there complaining of a stomach ache, they'd probably just swat him over the head and tell him to suck it up. No one went to the infirmary unless they were dying and even then it was debatable. To the best of his knowledge, Peter wasn't dying. Sure, it felt like it but he most assuredly wasn't.

He figures the best thing he can do is go back his room and just go to sleep; allow whatever is going on with his stomach to sort itself out on its own. Crying about it wouldn't make it any better so he might as well just man the hell up and ride it out. He was a Ravager and Ravagers could handle a little bit of pain.

Except this was a lot of pain, more than he's ever felt in his life, and for a moment, Peter isn't sure he can stand up. Every movement feels like torture and he catches himself looking down occasionally to make sure there isn't a jagged piece of glass or metal protruding from his stomach. With the sharp, piercing pain he's been experiencing, he fully expects to look down and see himself impaled by something. But every time he chances a glance, he just sees his shirt clean and intact, not ripped and ragged and hiding the gaping wound he's fully prepared to see.

He stifles a groan as he forces himself to his feet, gripping the broom handle for dear life. He can't stand completely upright without feeling like his stomach is going to rip itself open so he settles for a semi-hunched posture with one arm wrapped across his middle. It hurts to even touch his stomach now, the pain flaring to the point of making everything feel tender and inflamed. Any kind of pressure makes it worse but Peter has this weird delusion that for some reason he's the only thing keeping all of his organs from falling out on the floor so he keeps his arm wrapped across his stomach.

The walk back to his room is long and agonizing and it feels like it lasts for hours when in reality it's only minutes. It takes every last bit of strength he has to stagger into his room and not fall over and the journey leaves him breathless and exhausted. He manages to make the last three steps to his cot before he outright collapses and curls in on himself.

The pain is indescribable, worse than anything he's ever felt, and it's not getting any better. He had hoped in vain that some of the pain would diminish once he threw up and emptied his stomach. He hoped that maybe whatever was causing this was just something he ate and that once he got rid of it, the pain would go away with it. However, not only did it not go away, it was getting worse by the minute and Peter didn't know what else to do. The pain was more localized now, not as dispersed as it had been that morning but now centering in his lower abdomen. It tugs and flairs and throbs and Peter has never been stabbed before but he's pretty sure this is what it feels like.

For a few long, agonizing minutes, he can't do anything other than lay on his cot, curled up in a ball and struggling to breathe without being sick again. He doesn't have anything left to throw up, of that much he's certain, but he's still nauseous and he wouldn't be surprised if his body found something else it wanted to get rid of in the meantime.

Sure enough, his stomach flips uncomfortably and Peter finds himself jerking upright into a sitting position, gasping at the jolt of pain that accompanies the movement, and dry heaving over the side of his cot. Nothing happens, there's nothing left to come up, but Peter keeps gagging because now he can't stop. Each non-productive gag causes his stomach to contract again and the cycle starts all over. When it finally ends, Peter finds himself on the floor of his room, tears streaming down his face and shivering all over.

He's not sure how long he stays there or if he was even conscious through most of it (he's pretty sure he passed out from a combination of pain and exhaustion at some point) but suddenly there's a loud knock on the door that jolts him back to awareness.

"Move it, kid," a voice calls from outside the door and Peter dimly recognizes it as Kraglin. "Captain's callin' a meetin'."

Peter doesn't answer; he's afraid if he opens his mouth to speak he'll be sick again.

A second or so of silence passes and then there's another knock. "I'm gonna kick yer ass if I have to come in there an' get you, Quill," Kraglin threatens from outside but it's still not enough to make Peter move. He lays there on the floor because he honestly doesn't think he can stand up right now.

There's a muffled curse on the outside of the door and it's pulled open from the other side, the first mate stepping into the room. He's more than ready to rip Peter a new one and drag his lazy ass out of the room but he comes to a stop when he sees the kid curled up on the floor. Peter is flushed and sweaty, arms wrapped around his stomach like he's hiding an injury.

Kraglin frowns again; it wasn't too far outside the realms of possibility that he had hurt himself cleaning out the shafts earlier (hell, they'd had someone die doing it once before) so he's wondering if there's some wound or injury that Peter's trying to cover up.

"What's wrong with you, runt?" he asks, his voice not quite as clipped and short as it had been before.

"Stomach hurts," Peter answers quietly, the words coming out tight and strained like he's speaking through clenched teeth.

"You hurt yourself?"

There's a very slight shake of the boy's head. "No."

"You break something?"

Another shake. "No."

Kraglin frowns and fixes him with an annoyed glare. "So yer just laying in here on the floor cuz of a tummy ache?"

Peter doesn't answer but that's actually answer enough. Kraglin grumbles a curse under his breath and walks forward, grabbing a handful of the boy's jacket and pulling him up off the ground. He doesn't miss the way Peter gasps and hunches over when he's standing up. "Stand up straight, boy."

Peter tries, he really does, but it hurts like hell and he can only make it about halfway up before his body forces him to stop. "Can't," he gasps out, the words coming out through his teeth. "It hurts."

"Yeah, well it's gonna hurt a lot more if the Captain has to come down here lookin' for you. Now move it," Kraglin orders, pushing Peter out of the room and into the hallway. He keeps up the tough facade because he has to, he's the first mate and that's what he's supposed to do, but he keeps a careful eye on the way Peter moves and staggers along. The kid is obviously in pain, no doubt about that, and he's moving slowly like the simple act of walking is more than he can bear. To be honest, the kid looks like he's about two seconds away from passing out where he stands and that's something Kraglin is not about to put up with.

"Go down to the infirmary after the meeting," he tells Peter as he follows him down the hall.

"I'm fine," Peter lies as he continues to shuffle on.

"Wasn't a request, kid," Kraglin continues, reaching out and catching a handful of Peter's jacket just as the boy stumbles over his own feet and nearly trips. "Somethin' ain't right with you an' the sooner it gets fixed the better off you'll be. Captain don't take too kindly to people who can't work on his ship an' if he finds out yer laid up in your room bitchin' an' moanin' cuz yer stomach hurts, he ain't gonna be too happy."

Peter doesn't answer, he just nods mutely and continues walking. Kraglin cuts him one more glance before dropping the subject. He keeps one hand tangled in the back of Peter's jacket as they walk because he's not too sure that it's not the only thing keeping him upright. He wasn't worried, not by a long shot, but as first mate it was his job to keep the crew in check when the Captain was busy. It was also his job to report any problems or disturbances in the ship directly to the Captain and right now, Peter was most definitely a problem. Or at least whatever was going on with him was. Ravagers were pretty good about dealing with their issues on their own until they couldn't anymore and it looked like Peter was rapidly approaching that point. It would be a whole lot better for all of them if they nipped whatever this was in the bud before it became an issue.

Kraglin doesn't let go of Peter's jacket until they've reached the central room of the ship. The rest of the crew is already there, gathered around a long, flat table that doubles as a holo-projector. Yondu stands at the head of the table, entering coordinates into the system from a small device on his wrist. He glances up when Peter and Kraglin enter the room, leveling the boy with an annoyed look.

"Nice'a you to join us, Mr. Quill," he quips as the final two members of the crew step into the room.

Peter forces himself to stand up straighter and opens his mouth to say something but Kraglin cuts him off. "Kid just got finished with the shafts," the first mate tells him, intervening of Peter's behalf regarding his whereabouts. Peter isn't sure why he does it; Kraglin wasn't one to intervene for the benefit of anyone else but he does it for Peter just then and the boy can't help but feel grateful. He nods slightly in acknowledgement and thanks and Kraglin responds by shoving him into the nearest chair none too gently. It's the closest thing he gets to a "you're welcome" and Peter accepts it without a word.

Yondu just grunts in acknowledgement of the explanation and goes back to entering in the coordinates. Kraglin steps away from the chair he'd pushed Peter into and walks up to the head of the table to take his place by the Captain. He keeps an eye on Peter though, watching as the kid shifts and fidgets uncomfortably in the chair. One arm is still wrapped across his stomach and the pain is clear on his face. Maybe he should have sent him to the infirmary first…? That train of thought is cut off when Yondu begins speaking, laying out the plan for their next job.

Peter tries to concentrate during the meeting but the stabbing pain in his stomach makes it nearly impossible. It's constant now, not the intermittent throbbing it had been before. The pain has become almost like a physical entity, a looming and tortuous presence that won't leave him alone. It's enough to make him shiver and sweat at the same time, the combination of being completely engulfed in flames and then dumped into a tub of ice water.

He tries pulling his knees up to his chest but that just makes it worse. The added pressure against his abdomen makes it feel like he's being impaled on a white-hot poker. The pain is enough to make him dizzy and he can't quite hold in the painful groan that's pulled out of him.

"Somethin' ya wanna share with us, Mr. Quill?" Yondu asks and Peter opens his eyes to see that every member of the crew is now staring at him. He flushes and shakes his head weakly.

"No, sir. Sorry," Peter grits out through clenched teeth, doing his best to put on a neutral expression.

The Captain doesn't look convinced and quirks an eyebrow at the boy. "Somethin' wrong with you, boy?"

Peter shakes his head again. "No, sir."

"Lyin' ain't gonna make this better."

"I'm fine," Peter insists and he really wishes he would just drop it and continue on with the meeting so everyone would stop staring at him.

"Said he wasn't feelin' well earlier," Kraglin cuts in again, the second time he's intervened for Peter in the last hour.

"That true?" Yondu asks, his crimson eyes leveled directly on Peter.

"I…" Peter starts but he's cut off when a clump of the other crew members start scoffing and jeering from the other side of the table.

"Aww, what's the matter, runt? Got a tummy ache?" one of them taunts, an ugly grin spreading across his equally ugly face.

"Maybe he just needs a diaper change," another one quips and Peter feels his face flush with embarrassment.

"Piss off," he growls tightly, his eyes narrowing in a sharp glare.

"Ooh, would you look at that," someone laughs, feigning mock surprise. "The brat's still got some fight in 'im after all."

"Don't worry, kid, I got something that'll fix ya up!" another one boasts, grabbing the back of Peter's jacket and jerking him out of the chair. His feet have just barely touched the ground before his head is jerked back and some kind of foul, lukewarm liquor is poured down his throat. It smells like kerosene and tastes about the same and it burns all the way down. Peter gags and chokes and he's forced to swallow the vile alcohol, struggling against the one holding him as the other members of the crew laugh and mock him.

There's a short, harsh whistle that cuts off the display immediately. Whoever is holding Peter lets go and drops him to the floor in a heap. Peter lands heavily on his hands and knees, still gagging on the putrid taste of the liquor. He gags again and vomits, emptying the contents of his stomach onto the floor in front of everyone. If he didn't feel like he wanted to crawl into a hole and die already, he would have gladly accepted the invitation now.

He gags again and coughs when nothing comes up. The crew members around him have stepped back, regarding him with a combination of irritation and disgust. Peter swipes a hand across his mouth and shakes his head miserably. "'m sorry," he mumbles thickly, swallowing back the lingering taste of the liquor and bile. "I'll clean it up."

"Leave it," Yondu tells him shortly, nodding his head in the direction of the hallway. "Just go back to yer room."

"I can-"

"I said leave it," the Captain snaps again, the tone of his voice leaving absolutely no room for argument. "Last thing we need is you makin' a bigger mess."

Peter swallows again and nods, painfully pulling himself to his feet and trying to stand up straight. The pain in his abdomen feels like a gaping wound but it's nothing compared to his wounded pride. Without another word, Peter turns and makes his way out of the room, disappearing down the hall and leaving the rest of the crew at his back. By the time he makes it back to his room, he's having a really hard time convincing himself that the tears streaming down his face are from being sick.

He collapses onto his cot and curls into his side, fighting back to the muffled sobs that are doing their dead level best to work their way out. He pulls his knees up to his chest even though it hurts and rests his forehead against them. It takes a long time for the tears to stop falling and even longer for the hitching in his breathing to even out. When it finally does, he's exhausted and trembling on his cot.

The door opens at his back but Peter doesn't have the energy to turn over to see who it is. There's the sound of heavy boots walking across the metal floor and then they stop just behind his cot.

"Thought I told you to go to the infirmary, runt," Kraglin says but his voice is quieter than it had been before. If Peter didn't know any better, he'd almost think the first mate sounded concerned.

"I'm fine," Peter grinds out and it feels like that's become his go-to response for everything today.

"Yer obviously not," Kraglin counters easily and Peter clenches his teeth in frustration.

"I will be fine," he insists, keeping his back to the other man. He doesn't look at him because the shame from earlier is still fresh in his mind and he's not too sure he won't break down again. He sighs shakily and shakes his head. "I'll be fine. Just leave me alone. Please."

There's a heavy sigh from behind him and he can practically hear Kraglin roll his eyes. "Stubborn as hell," he mutters more to himself than to Peter but there's a tiny hint of fondness in his voice. "Look kid, I can't force you to go but I'm sayin' you should go because you look like shit. That's all. Your choice, runt."

Something drops onto the cot beside Peter's head and he jumps just slightly when he lands. It's his Walkman, the headphones still attached and the tape still sitting inside. He hadn't seen it since the night he was taken, the Walkman and all of his belongings still stuffed inside the backpack he'd had on him the night he'd left Earth. Everything had been confiscated almost immediately and Peter had long ago given up the idea that he would ever get any of it back.

For a long minute, he just lays there and blinks at the Walkman. He doesn't know what to say and honestly he doesn't trust himself to speak either.

"Might take yer mind off things," Kraglin says by way of explanation as he turns to walk back out of the room. He pauses by the door and looks back over his shoulder. "You still got chores in the mornin', kid. Don't forget." And with that, the first mate leaves the room and Peter is alone again.

It takes some effort to move but Peter carefully uncurls himself enough to reach out and pick up the Walkman. He runs his fingers over it carefully like he's not quite sure it's really there. Like so many things about Earth, he thought he would never see it again. Now it's here in front of him and he almost can't believe it.

He picks up the headphone and slips them over his ears, cradling the Walkman against his chest and pressing the 'play' button. The music that comes through the speakers is soft and a bit fuzzy but he remembers the song and tears sting his eyes again. He draws in a shaky breath and closes his eyes as the tears slip free, sliding down his face onto the cot below.

Everything still hurts, the pain in his stomach sharp and deep like a serrated blade, but with the music filtering through his headphones, it doesn't seem nearly as bad as it had earlier. He's still miserable, hot and cold and shaking all over, but he keeps his eyes closed, holds the Walkman close, and thinks about home.

Chapter Text

When Peter wakes up, he feels like he's on fire. The room is stifling and hot, the air heavy and oppressive on top of him. His entire body feels raw and inflamed like he's been doused in boiling water and his clothes feel like a combination of sand paper and pulverized glass against his skin. He aches everywhere and the pain in his stomach feels like a dull, rusted blade is piercing his abdomen.

He tries to sit up but his arms feel weak and shaky and he slumps back down onto his cot twice before he's able to sit all the way up. It takes him a second to focus on anything, his thoughts hazy and fuzzy like they're covered in cotton balls. He squints at the wall and tries to focus on one bolt in particular to help ground himself. It takes much longer than it should for his brain to settle on the appointed spot and even then it feels like it's wavering around the edges.

He groans as he swings his legs over the edge of the cot, standing shakily on unsteady legs. The Walkman clatters to the ground and Peter feels like he should really be more concerned about that but he doesn't have it in him to care at the moment. He needs to go to the infirmary, there's no backing out of it now. He's willing to forsake his pride if it will just bring him some relief. Any kind of painkiller, anything to take the edge away, he'll take it. The only problem is that he has to get to the infirmary first…

He takes an unsteady step and nearly topples to the ground when his leg gives out from under him. It's only by sheer luck and chance that he manages to reach out and grab a metal hook on the wall that keeps him from ending up face first on the floor. He hangs onto it for several long minutes, breathing raggedly and trying to push through the dizziness that's swirling through his head. It takes a few minutes before he's finally able to let go of the hook and stagger his way out of the room.

The hallways seem longer than usual and distorted in his fever-addled mind, the floors rising and sloping in intermittent hills and valleys and the walls stretching and twisting up into oblivion. The ship isn't moving (at least Peter is pretty sure it isn't moving) but he stumbles and pitches from side to side like he's trying to walk across the deck of a dinghy caught in choppy seas.

He stops for a second and braces himself against the wall, passing a too-hot hand over his eyes. The fever has added a pounding headache to the stabbing pain in his stomach and the combination makes him feel twice as miserable. He's still nauseous but there is absolutely nothing left in his stomach that he can throw up so he's stuck with a constantly flipping and churning that makes him want to gag. He plants his hand against the wall to steady himself and tries to find his balance again.

The pain in his stomach spasms suddenly and he gasps, dropping to one knee and gritting his teeth. It's worse than before, easily the worst pain he's ever felt in his life, and he has no idea how to stop it. One hand stays planted against the wall while the other tangles into a weak fist in the hem of his shirt. He needs something to hold onto, something other than the wall, and his shirt is the closest thing. He shivers and pushes himself back to his feet, letting go of the wall and making his way back down the hall.

It feels like it takes hours but he finally manages to reach the infirmary, staggering into the room with all the grace of a landslide. The room is empty, the two cots in the back and the platform in the center that serves as an operating table are surprisingly clean. Peter stumbles into the room a bit further, swaying slightly and reaching out to steady himself against the table.

"Hello?" he calls out, the single word causing a flair of fiery pain in his lower abdomen. He winces and takes a shallow breath, trying to breathe past the searing pain. "Hello?"

He waits and listens but no one answers him. The ship surgeon is off in some other corner of the ship; with no patients to worry about in the infirmary, he was likely working somewhere else. Which was fine and all except when someone actually needed him and he was nowhere to be found.

Peter groans again and has to physically restrain himself from sliding down to the floor in pain. He briefly considers rummaging through the medical supplies in the hopes that he can find something to numb the pain but he stops himself when he realizes he stands an equal, if not better, chance at accidentally poisoning himself instead. What would help one of the other crew members would like kill him and he'd rather not take that risk if he can help it.

Well, wherever the surgeon is, it doesn't look like he'll be coming back anytime soon. With that depressing resignation, Peter pushes himself off the table and stumbles back to the hallway. Maybe he'll just go lay back down; it probably won't help but it certainly can't hurt. He's dizzy enough that he feels like he might trip over his own two feet if he's not-

"Watch where you're going, brat!" an irritated voice snaps and Peter is suddenly shoved backward harshly. The crew member he bumped into is easily three times his size and has no problem literally throwing his weight around (Peter included). Any other time and he would have been able to catch himself and possibly regain his footing; maybe even fight back if he were feeling particularly inclined. The dizziness and unsteadiness prevents any of that from happening though and instead he goes sprawling.

The impact is enough to cause a jolt of white-hot agony to shoot through him and Peter gasps sharply. He grits his teeth and tries to pull himself back up, casting a weak glare at his assailant. "Asshole," he grumbles between clenched teeth, still struggling to pull himself up.

"What'd you say?" the other Ravager growls, rounding on Peter and snatching him up from the ground. "You need to learn some manners, runt," he snarls, shoving Peter backward once more and sending him tipping over the top step of a flight of metal stairs.

Peter tumbles down the stairs painfully, hitting several sharp edges on the way down. It's not a long flight thankfully but they're made of thick metal and they are not forgiving to anyone who decides to take a fast track down them. Peter lands on his back at the bottom, bruised and winded and gasping.

"Remember that the next time you wanna smart off," his assailant grumbles before turning over his shoulder and walking away, leaving Peter crumpled at the bottom of the stairs.

Peter grits his teeth and drags himself away from the stairs until he can press his back against the nearest wall. Nothing is broken (at least not that he can tell) and he's more bruised than anything. He did feel something like a dull, twisting pop inside his body when he landed at the bottom but he thinks it was more from the impact than anything else. He winces and tries to pull himself to his knees but stops when the muscles in his legs lock up. Okay, maybe sitting down for a little while wouldn't hurt.

He grimaces and carefully pulls one knee up to his chest, inspecting a rather large and quickly darkening bruise on his leg. It hurts like hell but he can still move his knee so there's that. On the plus side, for some his stomach doesn't seem to hurt nearly as much as it had before. Sure, it still hurts but it feels less like there's a knife embedded in his stomach and closer to the throbbing cramps he'd been experiencing the day before. He can handle that much better than the former.

Peter waits for another few minutes before he pulls himself up, just long enough for the dizziness to subside so he can actually stand without falling. He takes a few cautious steps, testing the pressure on his legs and making sure nothing is broken or sprained. It hurts but, then again, so does everything, so Peter shrugs it off and keeps walking. He climbs up the stairs carefully, gripping the rails on either side. He still feels shaky and dizzy but the pain in his stomach is about half of what it was before and that's a welcome relief.

It takes a few minutes but he manages to make it to the top of the stairs without falling down them again. His palms feel slick against the rails and he can feel the prickle of sweat break out across his forehead and the back of his neck. There's a spasm of pain as his stomach cramps again but it's not as localized as it was before, the pain is now more spread out and not quite as sharp as it had been previously. He takes a shaky breath and lets go of the rail, stepping away from the stairs slowly.

He makes the decision to return to his room and lay back down. His stomach doesn't hurt nearly as bad as it did before so that must mean he's getting better. All he needs is some rest and then he'll be back to normal.

OOOOO

Kraglin is fidgety. Kraglin is never fidgety unless he has something weighing on his mind that he can't shake. Kraglin has been fidgety since the night before during the meeting. As much as he didn't want to admit it, he was concerned about Peter. The kid's illness/injury/whatever had caused no small amount of disturbance the night before when he got sick in the middle of the meeting. He'd looked terrible when Kraglin had dragged him out of his room before the meeting and he looked even worse after it was over.

He should have tossed the kid over his shoulder last night and dragged him to the infirmary himself but he didn't. He let it go, ignoring the flimsy flickers of concern that had been nagging at him since he first saw Peter that day. Something was wrong, that much was certain, and it would probably get worse before it got better if he knew Peter at all.

"Yer pacin'," a voice informs him from across the room and Kraglin comes to a stop, not realizing he'd been moving at all.

He stops in the middle of the room and forces himself to stand still. He doesn't remember what he'd been doing before he started pacing and he frowns slightly at the realization.

"Somethin' buggin' you?" Yondu asks, sparing him a glance from across the room.

"It's nothin'," Kraglin tells him, shaking his head slightly for emphasis.

"Bullshit," the Captain counters easily, his crimson eyes locked on his first mate. "You been circlin' around here like ya got a bug up yer ass. So what is it?"

Kraglin frowns again and weighs his options. If he voices his concerns, he runs the risk of being accused of going soft on the kid. In their line of work, there was no such thing as going soft on anyone. However, if he didn't say anything then whatever was going on with Peter was likely to get worse and that would lead to a whole new set of problems.

"Well?" Yondu asks, quirking an eyebrow and prompting him to answer.

Kraglin sighs in defeat and feels his shoulders slump. "It's Quill."

"Yeah, what about 'im?"

"Somethin's wrong with 'im," Kraglin continues, watching at Yondu chuckles quietly and shakes his head.

"Ain't nothin' wrong with him that some hard work an' a boot up his ass won't fix," the Captain retorts, turning to give his first mate his full attention. When he sees the troubled expression on the other man's face, he pauses. "You really think there's somethin' wrong with 'im, don't you?"

Kraglin shrugs one shoulder in response. "He ain't actin' right, Cap. Wasn't actin' right before the meetin' an' you saw what happened in the middle of it. I don't think he's fakin' it either. Might be a Terran thing but I don't know for sure. "

Yondu watches him for a minute, scrutinizing his first mate's expression and body language. Kraglin wasn't one to get worked up for nothing and if he was this bothered by the kid's wellbeing (or lack thereof in this case) then maybe it was something to look into after all.

He sighs and crosses his arms over his chest, leaning back against the wall. "Yeah, yer right. Kid looked like death warmed over yesterday an' that was before he went an' puked everywhere. Fine, if ya really think there's somethin' wrong with 'im then go get 'im an' drag 'im to the infirmary. Get Praxis to take a look at 'im an' figure out what's wrong."

"Aye, Captain," Kraglin says, nodding once and walking toward the door.

"Kraglin."

The first mate stops with one foot outside the door, turning back to face his Captain.

"Let me know what ya find out," Yondu tells him, receiving a nod from his first mate in response before the other man disappears out the door. He waits for a minute or two after the other man leaves before turning back to the console and getting back to work. Or at least he tries to get back to work. He can't really concentrate and it pisses him off

As irksome as it is to admit, Yondu actually did hold something of a soft spot for the kid. He didn't treat him any differently than the other members of his crew and he didn't lighten his chore loads just because he was a kid. But he did look out for him a little more than the others, keeping an eye on him and intervening when it was necessary. Sure, the kid could be a royal pain in the ass most of the time but Yondu figures that's why he keeps an eye on him the way he does.

When they first got the orders to collect him for his father, it should have been a simple there-and-back job. He had no use for a Terran child aboard his ship and he certainly didn't want one either. But Peter put up one hell of a fight when they brought him aboard the ship, lashing out at the other members of the crew and tearing past them like a tiny cyclone made of fury, fear, and pissed off bees. Yondu had made his decision then and there: Peter Quill wouldn't be any use to the king of Spartax but he could be made into a hell of a Ravager with the right training.

It had taken some time because the kid was still pissed as all hell that he'd been taken from his home planet but Peter's anger and hostility eventually began to quell and he accepted the fact that he was stuck on this ship and might as well make the best of it. He was smart, a quick learner, and more than capable of holding his own on the ship for the most part. Those were good qualities to have, some that would definitely come in handy for the future, and Yondu was bound and determined to raise Peter to be a Ravager if he had any say about it.

So yeah, seeing him the way he was the night before and having Kraglin openly voice his concerns, it put him a little on edge. He wasn't about to go hover over the kid until he figured out what was wrong with him but it definitely left him preoccupied.

He grumbles to himself in irritation and forces his attention back to the console. Worrying about it wouldn't help and it certainly wasn't going to get his work done any faster. The kid was fine and if he wasn't, well, that's what they had an infirmary for. With that thought in his mind, he goes back to his work.

The intercom chirps about thirty minutes later and he reaches out without looking, smacking the button to silence it. "Kraglin," he says by way of greeting, his attention still focused on what he was doing.

"Captain, we got a problem," the first mate answers, his voice a little more clipped than usual.

Yondu frowns and looks at the intercom. "What kinda problem?"

There's a brief pause that causes him to clench his teeth. "What kind of problem?"

When Kraglin finally answers, his voice is hesitant and tight at the same time. "I can't find Peter."

Chapter Text

Peter isn't sure where he is. The hallways don't look familiar and he's nearly positive he hasn't been in this part of the ship before. Sure, he's been on the ship for months but that doesn't mean he's been on every level. The ship is massive, filled with winding halls and corridors and yeah, Peter took a wrong turn somewhere and now he has no idea where he is.

Everything looks hazy and shiny like a heat mirage reflecting off the metal walls. He's not sure how much of that is real and how much of it is due to the fever. He doesn't know how long he's been lost and aimlessly wandering the bowels of the ship (an hour, maybe? two?) but in that time his fever has risen steadily. He knew he had one when he woke up earlier and if anything it's only gotten worse as the hours have passed. It's making him dizzy and lightheaded, casting everything in a hazy light that makes him feel like he's trying to squint through a smoke screen.

The pain in his stomach has gotten worse too. What little relief he'd felt before was now replaced with the stabbing agony he'd been fighting with earlier. The painful cramps from before had shifted back to white-hot flares that left him doubled over and gasping for breath. The muscles in his stomach have gone rigid and it hurts to even touch them now. Each step makes the pain even worse but Peter keeps walking because he thinks eventually he'll find his way back to where he needs to be if he just keeps moving.

He trudges on, dizzy and shaky and more than a little disoriented. His footsteps are unsteady and he finds himself swaying as he walks, occasionally bouncing off the walls and causing him to stumble in an effort to regain his footing. The metal walls feel shockingly cold against his fever-raw skin and he finds himself cringing away from it every time he bumps into them. He's sweating but even his sweat feels hot and he doesn't think it's doing anything but making the problem worse.

The hallway in front of him splits off into two different directions and Peter stops at the intersection, swaying heavily and trying to decide which way to go. The logical side of his brain tells him he should probably go back the way he came because he stood a better chance of actually finding his way back to a familiar part of the ship if he did that. Too bad the logical side of his brain is cocooned in a thick fever cloud.

He takes a staggering step toward the right, his feet dragging slightly as he walks. The hallways stretches on for a ridiculous length before him, the walls and floors disappearing into a haze of muddled shadows in the distance. Peter squints, trying to see the end in the distance, but everything is blurry (blurrier than it had been earlier, for that matter) so he gives up. He clenches his teeth, drawing in a shaky breath against the stabbing agony in his abdomen, and keeps walking.

OOOOO

"How the hell could he just disappear?!" Yondu demands, pacing around the room again as if to prove that the boy is indeed missing.

Kraglin frowns in concentration and shakes his head. "Not sure," he replies, his attention focused on the data read out from the panel beside the door. "The time stamp shows he left the room about three hours ago an' never came back. He was marked for cargo duty today but no one down there has seen 'im. Hell, no one on the ship has seen 'im since the meetin'."

Yondu bites back a curse and grumbles instead. "Well, he's somewhere on this ship; there's only so many places he can go." He stops pacing after a moment and thinks. "The infirmary. If he was feelin' bad enough, the kid would more than likely head to the infirmary, right?"

Kraglin frowns again and shakes his head. "Checked there already. Looks like he went there but then turned around an' left. Don't know where he went from there."

"Dammit," the Captain growls in frustration. "The kid didn't just vanish into thin air, he's still somewhere on the ship. There's gotta be some way to track 'im down."

Kraglin thinks for a second and shrugs one shoulder. "I can gather the data from the ship's sensors; at least figure out where he's been. It's gonna take some time though."

"I don't care how long it takes," Yondu snaps in irritation. "Just find 'im. Whatever's wrong with 'im ain't gonna fix itself if he's busy wanderin' around in the ship. An' if he's as bad off as you think he is, he don't have any business walkin' around alone in the first place. Last thing I need is for his dumb ass to fall into a turbine or somethin' equally stupid."

Kraglin nods and steps away from the panel. "I can upload the ship's sensor data from the main deck. It'll probably take about an hour but it should give us a good idea of where to look. Should I tell the rest of the crew to keep an eye out for 'im?"

Yondu just shakes his head and waves away the suggestion. "Never mind that, I'll look for 'im myself. No sense in makin' everyone else stop what they're doin'. We still got a ship to run after all." He steps out into the hall and starts walking in the direction of the infirmary, Peter's last known location.

"Let me know when you get the data," he calls over his shoulder as Kraglin takes off in the other direction back toward the bridge of the ship.

"Aye, Cap'n," the other man calls back just before he disappears around the curve of the hallway.

Yondu makes it to the infirmary about five minutes later, stepping into the empty room and looking around. Sure enough, there's no sign of Peter or their designated ship surgeon Praxis. The infirmary had been empty for weeks, the last injury landing anyone in here being little more than a broken leg that was healed in a few days. It makes sense that it's empty now but it still pisses him off. Yondu grumbles in irritation and stalks back out of the room, taking a left down the opposite hallway and trudging further into the bowels of the ship.

"I'm gonna kick yer ass when I find ya, kid," he mutters to the non-present and still very much missing Peter Quill. "Now where the hell did ya go?"

OOOOO

Peter is standing in the middle of a wheat field. He's not sure how he got here or when, he just knows he's there now. One minute he was on the ship, still stumbling around in the hallways, and the next he found himself in a wheat field. It doesn't make any sense but he's too dizzy and disoriented to care.

It's uncomfortably hot, the wheat shimmering and swaying in the blistering summer breeze. It's shiny and hazy, much the same way the walls of the ship had been earlier, and the golden color makes it worse. Peter tries to reach out and touch it at one point but his hand passes straight through the shimmering stalks like he's reaching out for an illusion. It's weird and confusing but once again, Peter can't bring himself to care.

He stands there motionless in the middle of the field, swaying with the wheat as its pushed by the breeze. He's still in pain, the stabbing jolts in his stomach still making themselves agonizingly known, but it's not as bad as before. Not that it doesn't still hurt (it does, oh God, it does) but the pain is secondary to the heat. The heat is indescribable, so intense and oppressive that it feels like an entity all its own. It's burning him from the ground up, from the inside out, and he can't think of anything other than the heat.

The wheat shimmers again and for just the briefest of second, it almost looks like a metal wall is jutting out from the center of the field. Peter blinks and then it's gone, dissolving away and leaving him in the miserably hot field. He wonders if it was real, if any of this is real, but his thoughts grind to a halt and refuse to go any further.

He's never been so hot in all his life. There's a hazy, disjointed memory of him running across black, blistering asphalt as a child. It had burned his feet, leaving them red and raw and painful for days. That was nothing compared to the heat he feels now. This heat is in his blood and bones, searing his skin and turning his breath to blistering steam in his lungs. It felt like it was trying to consume him to nothing but ash and Peter doesn't think he can do much of anything to stop it from happening.

He hears something, or at least he thinks he does, and he tries to turn in the direction it's coming from. The world around him shifts and goes hazy, wheat field and then dark metal walls and then back to wheat field. He's dizzy and unsteady and his knees threaten to give out from under him. He remains standing but he's not sure how.

He hears it again, a voice, far away at the edges of the field. He can't see where the field ends or where it begins, it stretches on endlessly for miles in every direction. The voice is calling him, calling his name, and he thinks it must be his mother.

She couldn't find him, he'd wandered off again and ended up where he shouldn't be. She was calling him, trying to find him, trying to bring him home. He should really answer her but he can't, the words in his throat die with the heat.

She calls again, a little closer this time but still miles away. Peter can't see her, the wheat field is too big and she's too far away. There's also the issue of these weird, blurry metal walls that keep appearing and disappearing if he blinks too fast and that could be a problem. He really should answer her, she just wants him to come home.

Everything goes hazy again and Peter briefly wonders if the field is on fire. That would explain the unbearable heat and the shimmering field around him. It's a split second thought, one that disappears almost as soon as it makes itself known, but Peter can't shake the idea. The field was on fire, that was the only explanation for the heat. He thinks there should be smoke but he can't understand why there isn't.

The voice echoes through the field again and he tries to move, he really does, but his shoes are stuck in the mud. The heat has melted them to the ground, planting him in place like the wheat stalks around him. He can't move but he doesn't think it would help even if he could; the field was on fire and it would only be a matter of time before he was consumed by it.

The heat is unbearable and he doesn't know how much more he can take. It feels like flames are licking at his skin, tearing at his clothes, absorbing all the oxygen around him. It's getting hard to breathe. The fire is getting closer now, he can feel it all around him.

He sways again, pitching to the side unconsciously, but this time he can't stop himself from falling. He falls down as the wheat goes up in flames and as the entire world around him burns.

OOOOO

"I think I got 'im, Cap'n," Kraglin's voice cuts through the communication line, causing Yondu to temporarily pause in the hallway. He'd searched every level from the top down and had come up with nothing.

"Well where the hell is he?" he asks, the question coming out a bit sharper than he intended. He would never, ever admit it but for every section of the ship that he searched and came up empty-handed, his concerns grew. The kid shouldn't have been this hard to find and it bothered him that he was.

"Looks like he's in the engine room," Kraglin tells him but he sounds confused by the location.

Yondu is equally confused. "The engine room? The hell is he doin' down there?"

"Not sure, Cap," Kraglin answers back honestly. "But the ship sensors got a positive match less than 10 minutes ago."

Yondu grumbles back a curse and turns in the direction of the engine room. "Alright, I'm on my way. Kid's gonna get my boot up his ass before this is all over," he mutters more to himself than his first mate as he stalks down the hallway.

There were three problems with Peter being in the engine room. First, Peter Quill was absolutely, under no circumstances allowed to go into the engine room. Second, Peter Quill was absolutely, under no circumstances allowed to have access to the engine room. Third, Peter Quill had just been positively ID'd in the engine room. Yeah, they were definitely going to have a little chat before this was all said and done.

Yondu reaches the lift at the end of the hall and jabs the button for the engine room. It takes less than a minute to get there but it puts him at the end of the hallway and it's another long walk to where he needs to be. The realization doesn't put him in any better of a mood.

"Quill!" he shouts down the long stretch of hallway separating the lift from the engine room. "What the hell do ya think yer doin' down here, boy?" He waits for a response, a call back, anything. He doesn't hear anything but the sound of the engine rumbling in the distance.

He bites back another curse and keeps walking, the heat from the engine room bouncing off the metal walls around him. "You better have a damn good reason for bein' down here!" he shouts again as he gets closer. "Quill!"

The hallway opens up to the central engine room, the very heart of the Ravager ship. It's filled with churning and moving parts and offers more than its fair share of hazards for even the most experienced crew members. It was dangerous as all hell and that was one of the other reasons why Yondu was so pissed that Peter was down here.

"Quill!" the Captain shouts once more, raising his voice to be heard over the vibrating hum of the engine. "You better answer me, boy!"

Once again, the call goes unanswered and the Captain feels the briefest tug of concern in his gut. In the ten minutes he'd been down here, there was any number of things that Peter could have gotten himself into, none of which were good. The fact that he wasn't answering and hadn't been found yet just caused the flares of anxiety to come with more frequency.

Yondu pushes all of that away and begins walking through the room, cutting a path directly through the middle. He easily sidesteps the looming chunks of machinery and walks straight past them, crimson eyes scanning the room for any sign of the missing boy. He catches a glimpse of something small and Peter-shaped toward the back of the room, standing all alone in the center of two mammoth parts of the engine. His back is to the rest of the room and he's swaying slightly like he's trying his hardest to keep from falling over. It's a troubling sight and it sets Yondu on edge.

As irritated as he still is, he knows something is wrong and it causes some of the anger to give way to confused concern. "Quill," he calls, not shouting this time but speaking loud enough to be heard over the rumbling of the engine. The boy still doesn't answer and that makes it worse.

Peter is still swaying unsteadily and he appears completely oblivious to the fact that anyone else is in the room with him. Yondu frowns and takes another step toward him, closing the gap between them to just a few feet.

He's just about to reach out, to clamp a hand on Peter's shoulder and wheel him around to face him, but he never gets a chance. There's a soft sound from Peter, something between a groan and a whimper, and suddenly he pitches to the side violently. Yondu barely has time to react, stepping forward and catching the boy just as Peter's eyes roll back in his head and he starts convulsing.

Chapter Text

"Shit," Yondu growls, dropping down heavily onto one knee as Peter's full weight collapses into his arms. The boy is shaking violently, trembling and twitching all over, and his eyes are rolled back so far that nothing but the whites are visible. He's having a full blown seizure right there in the engine room and Yondu has no idea what to do.

He's seen people have fits like this before for a number of different reasons but he's never had to deal with one in person. The few times he's seen it happen, he's never been personally involved so it didn't matter. The same can't be said for his current situation though and he finds himself at a remarkable disadvantage.

Peter continues to shake and tremble in his arms, thrashing and shuddering all over. His teeth are clenched tightly, the muscles in his jaws and neck flexed and rigid, and his lips have a slight bluish tint to them. His head snaps back sharply, a low, guttural groan rumbling in the back of his throat. Yondu reacts in the only way he can think of which is to wrap his arm around the side of Peter's head and tuck it against his shoulder tightly. The boy is still convulsing but at least he's not at risk of snapping his neck anymore.

Yondu honestly isn't sure if he should he be holding him like this or not; once again he doesn't exactly have expert experience in dealing with things like this. Should he keep holding the kid in an effort to keep him from hurting himself or is that just making it worse? The convulsions are pretty violent and letting Peter go would put him at greater risk of injuring himself on the floor but holding him still and restraining him might not be the right thing to do either.

While these thoughts are still coursing through his mind, the intensity of the seizure begins to lessen in his arms. The convulsions aren't nearly as violent as they were before and they're slowly dying off to a few strong jerks and contractions every few seconds. Peter's eyes are still rolled back but his teeth aren't clenched anymore and his body is beginning to relax and go still in Yondu's arms. It's not great (hell, it's pretty fucking terrifying to be honest) but it's better than the seizure and Yondu feels just the slightest hint of relief when the last of the shaking begins to stop.

"There ya go," he mutters, passing a hand over the boy's face and pushing his hair away from his forehead. There's a startling amount of heat coming off the boy's skin but he'll worry about that once the seizure stops completely. "It's almost over."

The seizure does end a few seconds later and Peter is left limp and unconscious in his arms. This stillness is almost worse than the shaking and Yondu feels something tight constrict in his chest.

"Peter," he says, jostling the boy in his arms a bit in an effort to gain some response from him. Peter's head lolls slightly against his shoulder, hanging limp in his arms like a ragdoll. "Peter!" Yondu tries again, reaching up to tap the side of the kid's face just hard enough to get his attention. The boy still doesn't respond and Yondu is beginning to panic.

He moves his hand away from the boy's face and presses his palm flat against his chest instead. It's hard to feel much of anything past the vibrations of the engine but Yondu knows exactly what he's searching for. He presses his hand against Peter's chest just a little harder until he feels a shaky heartbeat beneath his palm. It's alarmingly fast, thumping wildly against his hand in a rapid, chaotic rhythm, but it's still there which means the boy is still alive.

Yondu curses quietly and shakes his head, sighing in relief. "Yer gonna be the death of me, brat," he mutters, keeping his hand pressed against the boy's chest for just a few seconds longer. Reassured that Peter's heart is still beating (albeit too fast and not nearly steady enough for his liking) and not about the suddenly stop without warning, he moves his hand away from his chest and touches the boy's face again.

"Peter," Yondu says again, tapping his cheek lightly. "Peter. Come on, kid. I need ya to open yer eyes for me." For a second, he gets about the same reaction as before and Peter doesn't move. Yondu is undeterred. "Peter. Open yer eyes, boy. That's an order."

The reaction isn't immediate, it takes a few seconds, but eventually Peter twitches just slightly, his eyes flickering open with a great amount of effort. He blinks up at the ceiling, opening and closing his eyes slowly. He's having a hard time focusing, his eyes glassy and tracking around the room sporadically like everything is moving too fast even though nothing is moving at all.

"Peter," Yondu says, tapping the boy's cheek lightly to get him to focus on him. It takes a few seconds, much longer than it should, but Peter manages to look at him. "Hey kid, ya hear me?"

Peter doesn't answer but he swallows thickly and there's a very slight tip of his head almost like a nod. It's all the confirmation Yondu needs.

"Alright," he says, gathering the boy into his arms as gently as he can and standing carefully. "Let's get you outta here, huh?" He cradles Peter close as he turns and walks out of the engine room. He tries to ignore the disturbing amount of heat still radiating off of Peter's body and focuses instead on getting him away from the additional heat of the engine room. "You 'n I are gonna have a little chat later about what you were doin' down here," he tells the barely conscious boy in his arms as he continues to walk and it's clear he's speaking more to himself than to Peter.

He adjusts the boy a little tighter against his chest and reaches for the communicator at his belt. "Kraglin," he barks into the communicator as he continues walking.

"You find 'im?" the first mate asks by way of response.

"Yeah, I found 'im an' we got a problem," Yondu responds, glancing down at Peter. The boy's eyes have slid shut again and he's slipped back into unconsciousness. "I'm on my way up to the infirmary now. Find Praxis an' tell 'im he better have his ass in the infirmary by the time I get there."

"Aye, Cap'n," Kraglin says and there's a noticeable tightness in his voice like he wants to ask more but chooses not to. Probably for the best; Yondu doesn't feel like answering any questions at the moment.

It takes about ten minutes to get from the engine room to the infirmary but when he walks inside, both Praxis and Kraglin are there. "Where the hell have you been?" Yondu demands as he walks into the room, his crimson gaze falling on the ship's surgeon.

"Apologies, Captain," the other Ravager says, fluttering around the room quickly and gathering supplies. "I was helping Throst with a job in the-"

"I don't care," Yondu snaps, effectively cutting him off. "This is yer job now," he says as he carefully lays Peter down on the examination table in the center of the room. "You figure out what's wrong with 'im an' you fix 'im. Understand?"

Praxis nods and hurries over to where Peter is lying, running his hands over the boy's body carefully and examining him with a small, flat scanner. During all of this, Peter remains unconscious.

Yondu watches Praxis carefully, his eyes flickering between the surgeon's examination and his unconscious patient. He's so absorbed in the observation that he doesn't realize Kraglin has come up to stand beside him until the other Ravager speaks.

"What happened?" he asks, his eyes equally fixed on Peter's small, limp form.

Yondu sighs softly and crosses his arms over his chest. "Kid had some kinda fit in the engine room. I found 'im standin' in there but he didn't seem to know where he was. Soon as I touched 'im he just dropped an' started shakin'." He frowns and shakes his head. "Kid's burnin' up too, felt like he was gonna burn a hole in my jacket before I got 'im back here."

"What d'you think it is?" Kraglin asks, watching as the surgeon scans Peter again with a different device.

"I dunno," Yondu answers honestly with another frown. "But it ain't good."

A few more seconds pass by before Praxis steps away from Peter and the examination table. He looks back down at the device in his hand but the data appears inconclusive.

"So what's wrong with 'im?" Yondu asks finally, unable to stand the silence anymore.

Praxis shakes his head and shrugs. "I'm not sure. Other than a few recent bruises, I don't see any signs of injury. However, my scanners do indicate a raised core temperature along with elevated circulatory functions."

"I know all that," Yondu snaps in irritation, rolling his eyes at the described symptoms. "What's causin' it?"

Once again, Praxis shakes his head. "There's a high toxicity to his blood but I'm not sure what the cause of it is. The best I can tell is that it's Terran in origin. Other than that, I don't have an answer."

Yondu stares at him for several long seconds, his expression unreadable. Finally, he takes a step forward, sparing a glance toward the unconscious boy on the table before turning his attention back to the surgeon. "So let me get this straight," he says slowly, his voice low and dangerous. "The kid's been on this ship for over six months now an' in all that time you couldn't be bothered to brush up on Terran biology?"

Praxis pales a little and takes a step back. "It didn't seem necessary at the time-"

"Not necessary?" Yondu repeats, his eyes narrowing slightly. "Not necessary to read up just a little on Terrans an' figure out common illnesses an' how to cure them? Not necessary to do your job as the ship's surgeon, literally the only reason yer here in the first place? None of that was necessary?"

Praxis opens his mouth to say something but Yondu corners him before he can. He grabs a fistful of the other Ravager's jacket and slams him into the wall with crushing force. "Give me one good reason why I shouldn't toss yer worthless ass outta the nearest cargo bay."

"I-I can get him stable until we can find somewhere that specializes in Terran illnesses," Praxis stammers quickly, his eyes darting back over to where Peter is lying. "It's not much but I can put him in stasis until we find a can find a more suitable place of treatment."

"Yeah, because apparently yer completely useless for it," Yondu growls, shoving the surgeon back against the wall roughly. "Consider this yer one an' only warning: you get him stabilized and make sure he survives the trip." He takes a careful step forward until he's uncomfortably close to the other Ravager. "It would be in yer best interest to make sure he stays alive because if he dies, I can assure you I will take his death very, very personally."

Praxis nods shakily and steps away, hurrying back across the room to attend to Peter. Yondu watches him for several long, silent moments before finally turning back toward the door and walking out. Kraglin trails along beside him out into the hall, glancing back over his shoulder toward the infirmary. "Now what?"

"Now we find a hospital in this quadrant that specializes in Terran biology," Yondu answers grimly as he leaves Peter in the hands of the unqualified surgeon.

Chapter Text

It takes less than twenty minutes to find a hospital in the quadrant that has any knowledge of Terran biology and it takes less than two hours to get there. It's a small outpost planet, little more than a trade stop along the way, but for some miraculous reason it has a clinic on site with a special ward devoted specifically to Terran illnesses. It's a stroke of pure luck and one they're not planning to let go to waste.

"Link us through to the clinic when we get in range," Yondu says as the planet comes into view in the distance. "Tell 'em we need immediate clearance and consent to land."

Kraglin nods and adjusts the frequencies on the control panel to accept incoming communication. It would still take a few minutes before they were completely in range but it never hurt to be prepared. Satisfied with their course, Yondu turns and walks out of the room, making his way back to the infirmary.

He'd been distracted for the past hour and a half, his mind drifting back to Peter lying in the infirmary and what had happened down in the engine room. It had shaken him, there was no denying it, and he couldn't get the image of Peter seizing in his arms out of his mind. Yeah, he was worried about the kid and yeah, he would beat anyone who called him on it over the head with a brick, but it was the truth. Peter was sick, possibly dying in the infirmary, and Yondu couldn't think about much of anything else.

The infirmary is quiet when he enters, the only two occupants hidden away in one corner of the room. Praxis is busy adjusting a few monitors on the wall, his patient lying quiet and still in the bed below him. Peter had been moved from the examination table to one of the few beds in the infirmary, a series of cords and wires criss-crossing over his small body. He looks small and vulnerable in the middle of a bed that's twice as big as he is and the sight makes Yondu frown. Peter was a Ravager, yes, but he was still just a kid and it was all too easy for all of them to forget that.

He reaches out and passes a hand over Peter's forehead, frowning again at the heat still rising off his skin. It's not nearly as intense as it had been down in the engine room but it was still high enough to warrant concern. "I thought you were givin' 'im somethin' for the fever," Yondu says, his eyes drifting over to Praxis.

"I have," the surgeon replies, turning back to face the Captain. "His core temperature was so high earlier that it's taken the medication twice as long to take effect." He passes a small scanner across Peter's forehead and glances at the readout. "102.8," he announces, setting the scanner to the side. "Believe it or not, that's a remarkable improvement."

"Somehow I'm not convinced," Yondu mutters, pushing Peter's sweat-damp hair away from his forehead. There's a chirp from the communicator on his belt and he steps away from the bed, casting a glance back at Praxis as he walks away. "Keep him stable," he calls over his shoulder as he walks out of the infirmary and it's less a request and more of a warning.

"What's the problem?" he asks when the communication comes online.

"We're restricted," Kraglin replies across the frequency. "They won't give us clearance to land."

"You gotta be kiddin' me," Yondu growls, stalking back down the hallway to the bridge.

"'fraid not, Cap'n," the first mate answers somewhat apologetically.

Yondu grumbles a curse under his breath and rounds the corner into the control room. "They better have a damn good reason fer-'

"Our reason is that you and your crew are Ravagers," a voice replies and a man with dark, narrowed eyes is glaring at him through the virtual monitor in the center of the room. "You bring with you nothing but chaos and destruction. You are not welcome on our planet and you will not receive clearance. Now leave."

Yondu glares back at the man and clenches his teeth. "Listen here you sonuva-"

"There is nothing to discuss," the man on the video screen interjects, effectively cutting him off. "You are not welcome here. Any attempts to illegally land on our planet will be met with harsh consequences. Do not let the size of our planet fool you, Ravager; we have more than enough weapons to obliterate you and your crew."

Realizing this was getting them nowhere fast, Yondu sighs heavily in defeat. In any other instance, this would be more than enough incentive to keep moving and just go somewhere else. Hell, in any other instance, Yondu might even be tempted to track this guy down and show him exactly what kind of chaos and destruction Ravagers were capable of. But the rules were a bit different in this situation and they couldn't go anywhere else. They needed clearance, Peter needed clearance, or else he was going to die.

"Look, I get it. You hate Ravagers an' that's fine," Yondu starts, watching at the man on the screen scrutinizes him carefully. "I ain't tryin' to get clearance for me or my ship, hell you don't even have to let us on the planet, but I need clearance for one 'a my crew members. I got a Terran kid on my ship who's in a bad way an' needs a hospital that specializes in Terran medicine. Yer the only planet in this quadrant that has facilities like that."

"And if we refuse?" the man asks slowly, his eyes still locked on the Ravager Captain like he's waiting to call his bluff.

Yondu stifles the urge to put his fist through the screen and forces himself to remain calm. He's never been one for begging or bargaining but, once again, the rules have changed. Peter's life is on the line and he's willing to be a bit more flexible. "Then we'll be forced to go somewhere else an' the kid will more than likely die on the way there. He ain't gonna make it much longer, he needs help now."

For a moment, the man stares at him blankly, his expression unreadable. Finally, after several long seconds have passed, he makes a decision. "Your ship and your crew are not welcome on our planet," he says again and Yondu feels something tight constrict in his chest. "But we will allow the Terran child to be treated in our clinic."

The relief rushes over him like a wave but Yondu keeps a straight face. "A medical transport will be sent to retrieve him momentarily," the man continues, his gaze still sharp and steely. "If they suspect any kind of foul play, your ship will be destroyed immediately."

"Understood," Yondu says with a slight nod and almost instantly the screen goes dark.

Once the communication is terminated, Kraglin turns to face him. "So what do you wanna do?"

"Nothin'," Yondu tells him, his eyes still locked on the blank screen.

"Nothing?"

A short, curt nod is the only response. "You heard 'im; they think anythin' funny is goin' on an' we'll get our asses blown outta the sky." He turns and glances down the hall in the direction of the infirmary. "We let 'em take Peter to the clinic and we stay here until he's back."

"What if the crew starts askin' questions?" Kraglin asks, drumming his fingers across the control panel absently.

"It ain't their business," Yondu snaps as he walks back across the room toward the hallway. "If they ask, tell 'em we're scoutin' a job an' leave it at that. If they have problems they can come to me."

Kraglin nods in acknowledgement and turns back to the control panel to enable access for the incoming medical transport. He clears the docking station and restricts access so that none of the other crew members can stumble across the transport by accident. Once again, the less questions and the less chance of something going tits up in the middle of the transport the better.

Yondu leaves the first mate to his work in the bridge and makes his way back to the infirmary. Praxis is still hovering near Peter's bedside and looks up at him when he enters. "Medical transport is comin' to pick the kid up," Yondu tells him as he enters, coming to a stop near the bedside. "They're takin' 'im to the clinic from here."

As if for added emphasis, the communicator on his belt chirps just as he finishes speaking. "Transport's here," Kraglin's voice comes through the frequency. "I'll send 'em your way."

Praxis doesn't bother to question it and simply starts disconnecting the myriad of wires and monitors Peter is hooked up to. The boy doesn't even stir as he's jostled and moved around, a testament to how serious it actually is because to Yondu's knowledge at least, the kid has never been still this long. He's active and fidgety even when he's asleep so to see him so still now is more than a little worrisome.

The transport team arrives in the infirmary moments later, three medics dressed in matching navy uniforms. One of them pushes a portable gurney up to the bedside while the other two carefully transfer Peter onto it. While they work at getting him strapped in and ready for the trip back, one of the medics turns to face Yondu. "You're coming with us," he tells him in a deep, heavy voice.

Yondu frowns in confusion. "Thought I wasn't allowed on the planet."

"Juveniles must have a guardian present," the medic tells him simply, indicating Peter as he speaks.

Yondu glances at the unconscious boy thoughtfully. He'd never considered himself Peter's guardian before; Captain, yes, surrogate parent figure, no. He had been assigned to retrieve the kid and that was it; the fact that he kept him on the ship didn't really mean anything. He'd never been overly fond of children in the first place; they were messy and whiny and pretty much useless as far as he was concerned. He'd never had any interest in being around them for long periods of time or having any of his own. But he had Peter and that was...well, different. Peter was different in nearly every way and, as such, Yondu was different. Peter didn't have anyone but them now and that was a pretty damn big responsibility.

He sighs softly in defeat; this kid really was going to be the death of him. "Fine," he says, looking away from Peter to the medics transporting him. "But the same warnin' goes for you an' yer crew: if I start to suspect anythin' funny is goin' on, my men will be all over yer planet like ugly on an Ostorian mud flea."

The medic just nods and says nothing while the other two finish preparing Peter for transport. When they move out of the room, Yondu follows but not before letting Kraglin know about the change in plans.

"Keep the comm open," he tells the first mate quietly as they walk back toward the docking bay. "If I give the word, you come in with guns ready, warnings be damned."

Kraglin acknowledges the order and there's a tiny click over the communication line that indicates it's now silent but still very much active. Yondu follows the medical crew back to the docking bay and steps onto their transport ship behind them. He watches carefully as they get Peter arranged in the back of the ship, waiting until they've finished hooking him up to yet another wall full of machines and monitors before he moves to the empty seat closest to the bed.

The medics are speaking to each other in a language Yondu doesn't understand, relaying information from the monitors and recording it on digital tablets that fit in the palm of their hands. Occasionally, one of them will walk over and poke and prod at Peter but they quickly realize this is probably not the safest thing to do when Yondu physically growls at them to the leave the kid the hell alone. His eyes are narrowed and the message is clear: knock it off or I'll knock you out.

If any of them have anything to say about the matter, they wisely keep it to themselves. A pissed off Ravager is bad enough but a protective, pissed off Ravager is deadly. They leave Peter alone for the time being and step away from the bed, leaving he and Yondu mostly to themselves in the back of the ship. There's a slight shudder as it disembarks from the Ravager's ship and then the feeling of weightlessness as they pull out into open space and set a course back to the planet.

Yondu crosses his arms over his chest and leans back against the wall, his eyes occasionally drifting over to unconscious boy in the bed. If it weren't for all the wires attached to him, he could almost convince himself Peter was just asleep. He sighs again, for what feels like the hundredth time that day, and shakes his head. "Just hang in there, kid," he tells Peter even though he knows the boy won't hear him. "We'll get ya patched up."

If any of the medics notice him reach out and pass a surprisingly gentle hand through the boy's sweat-damp hair then they, once again, wisely choose not to say anything.

Chapter Text

Hospitals suck. Yondu has only ever been unfortunate enough to find himself in two during his life and he had every intention of keeping it that way. Today marks the third time he's found himself in one and it sucks. The fact that he's not there for himself makes it suck even more.

Each one he's been in has been the same: white walls, white lights, the smell of disinfectant in the air. This one has black granite floors which makes it feel like the floor is either going to drop out from beneath him or soar upwards and crush everyone in the building against the white ceiling. It's an uncomfortable feeling; it's probably meant to make the room appear larger but it fails miserably.

The room he's waiting in is almost completely empty, a shriveled old woman sitting in the corner occupying the only other chair in the room. She doesn't even appear to notice that he's in the same room with her, her attention focused on a patchy, threadbare quilt in her lap she's busy stitching. She's humming a song, something without words and just peppy enough to be irritating. Yondu wants to tell her to shut up but he doesn't; even Ravagers have some morals and snapping at ancient little old ladies is frowned upon even in their violent, murderous circle.

So he doesn't say anything and sinks lower in his chair and grinds his teeth because damn, does he hate hospitals. He's been here for about an hour now, the medics disappearing down the hall with Peter and leaving him alone with the nearly petrified old woman in the corner. He blames most of his irritation on concern for Peter but a good majority also comes from the fact that there is nothing for him to do other than sit there and watch the close-to-fossilized old woman stitch her quilt.

"Care to learn?" she asks from across the room and Yondu blinks in surprise; he didn't realize he'd been staring. "It's not hard."

The Ravager makes some kind of face he doesn't have a name for and shakes his head. "No."

"You sure?" the woman asks and her voice sounds like brittle paper on the verge of ripping. "It will pass the time."

"No," Yondu says again, leaning back in the chair and crossing his arms over his chest.

The woman doesn't speak for another few seconds, humming to herself and stitching the quilt. "Loved one in the clinic?" she asks after another second or so passes.

Yondu grinds his teeth. "Crew member," he answers back tightly. "He's underage so I had to come with 'im in order for 'im to get treatment."

"Oh, the poor dear!" the woman exclaims and if Yondu wasn't so sure she would crumble to dust if she did so, she might have jumped. "Are you terribly worried for him?"

"No," Yondu snaps back again and this time it comes out sharper than the previous response.

"There's no reason to be so harsh, dear," the woman tells him in what was probably meant to be a placating tone. Yondu is irritated though so it sounds like a rusty door hinge. "It's perfectly normal to be worried for a loved one when they're in the hospital."

Yondu grits his teeth again.

"Do you mind if I ask how old he is?"

The Ravager growls and sinks into his chair a bit more. "Seven, maybe? Eight? Hell if I know." He looks back at her and turns the question around. "How old are you? 200?"

Rather than being offended, the old woman just chuckles drily. It sounds like dust being beaten out of a cushion. "It's not polite to ask a lady her age," she chastises him lightly.

'Lady' is a relative term; she looks like a piece of driftwood. "Seriously, how are you not dead yet?"

She never gets a chance to answer because right then a nurse appears in the room and motions for him to follow them. "Your assistance is needed," is the only thing Yondu hears and it's the only thing that matters. They need him, Peter needs him, and he's on his feet and halfway across the room before the statement even sinks in all the way.

"I hope your boy is alright!" the woman calls after him, frail and wavering like cracked porcelain being dropped onto unforgiving concrete.

Yondu doesn't say 'thank you' but he does say, "your quilt doesn't look terrible" which is as close to sentiment as he'll get with a complete stranger. With that, he pushes out of the room and follows the nurse down the hallway to Peter's room. The nurse doesn't have to tell it's Peter's room; he knows before he even gets there. He can hear the kid screaming from down the hall.

"What the hell are you bastards doin' to 'im?" he growls dangerously as the nurse leads him into the room. Peter is on the bed, thrashing and fighting and generally just being a pain in the ass to all the doctors and nurses surrounding him. Yondu feels something akin to pride at the sight.

"Hold him," one of the nurses tells him, shoving him toward the bed.

"What?" he asks dumbly because he really doesn't see how that's going to help anything.

"Hold him down!" the nurse elaborates, pointing to the bed for emphasis. "The fever is making him hallucinate and he has become increasingly combative. At this rate, he will injure himself further. A familiar face will calm him."

Yondu wants to question the logic behind this but the nurse shoves him forward again and he finds himself right beside the bed. Peter is still flailing, striking out at anyone who gets close enough, and Yondu barely misses a tiny, closed fist to the face. He reaches out and catches Peter by the wrist, frowning at the heat still rising from his skin, and holds it steady.

"Peter. Hey, look at me," he says, leaning over the bed so he's within the boy's line of sight. It's hard to maintain with Peter continuing to thrash and fight back. "Peter, quit yer flailin' and look at me."

The thrashing slowly comes to a stop and Peter's fever-glazed eyes lock onto him. "Where are we?" he asks brokenly, his voice shaking as he speaks. "Why are we here? I don't want to be here!" he cries out trying to struggle free from the other Ravager's grip uselessly.

"Peter, stop!" Yondu snaps, tightening his grip on the boy's wrist just to the point of being painful. "These people are tryin' to help you an' they can't do that with you floppin' around like a dyin' fish. Now lay still!"

Peter shakes his head weakly, his eyes going unfocused and glassy. "Yondu, please. I don't wanna be here! Please make them stop! I'm sorry. Whatever I did I'm sorry!" he cries out, voice breaking again as he tries to stifle a sob. "I'm sorry."

Yondu feels something twist uncomfortably in his chest at the boy's apology. Peter thinks he's here because he's being punished for something and damn, isn't that a bitter pill to swallow? His grip loosens on the boy's wrist and he leans down closer to speak to him.

"Kid, you ain't done nothin' wrong an' I ain't mad at you," he tells him in what he hopes is a soothing voice. "These people are tryin' to help you," he says again, letting go of Peter's wrist and moving his hand to lay it across the boy's forehead instead. "They're tryin' to make you better."

There's a hiccupping sob, small and muffled as Peter tries to swallow it back. "I want my mom…" he mumbles miserably, squeezing his eyes shut tightly as tears slide down his fever flushed face.

Yondu sighs softly and shakes his head. "Well, your mom ain't here kid. But I am. And I ain't gonna leave you, got it?"

Peter nods shakily and tries to regain his composure but it's a losing battle. The tears are still streaking down his cheeks and his chest shudders as he tries to suppress another sob. "It hurts," he whimpers brokenly, squeezing his eyes closed against the pain he just admitted to.

"I know it does, kid," Yondu tells him quietly, brushing his thumb against Peter's temple. "They're goin' to fix ya up in no time." He glares at the nearest nurse dangerously. "Right?"

The nurse just nods and steps back away from the bed as one of the other doctors approaches with a flat metallic disk that she passes over Peter's stomach. She presses it into the skin firmly, dragging it slowly across Peter's abdomen and recording a litany of data that Yondu doesn't understand. What he does understand, however, is that whatever she's doing is apparently incredibly painful because Peter cringes and stiffens and gasps in his arms.

"Lady, you better-" he starts but she cuts him off with a sharp glare and a nod toward Peter.

"Hold him still," she tells him shortly as she glances back down at the machine in her hand. "I'm nearly finished but it will take longer if he keeps moving."

Yondu grumbles a curse under his breath and turns his attention back to Peter. He moves his hands to cup either side of the boy's face and forces him to hold still. "Peter, look at me. Don't think about them, alright? Just keep lookin' at me."

Peter tries to look at him, he really does, but the fever is making it incredibly hard to focus and the pain is so intense he can't think about anything else. The probe passes further to the right, pressing down into his abdomen, and Peter has no control over the painful cry that tears out of him. He arches and bucks away from the pain but Yondu holds him down and it hurts so much he can't breathe.

"Hey, come on, kid, stay with me," Yondu says above him and his hands are still pressed against either side of his face. "It's almost over, I promise."

The doctor keeps the probe pressed against his stomach for another second or so before she nods grimly. She mutters something that sounds suspiciously like a curse before turning to one of the nurses near the head of the bed and ordering an injection of some kind of drug Yondu's never heard of.

The nurse nods once and plucks a thin, metal cylinder from a drawer. She types something into the small monitor on the side of it and there's a tiny click as the appropriate medication is distributed into the container. Once completed, she pulls away the side of Peter's shirt and injects the drug into the juncture between his neck and collarbone.

The effect is almost immediate. Peter's body goes limp and his eyes roll back in his head. Yondu watches him go unconscious and straightens in alarm. "What the hell did you to 'im?" he asks in equal parts rage and concern.

"It's a sedative," the doctor replies absently, her attention focused entirely on the data screen in her hand. "Move him to the east ward immediately," she tells the other technicians in the room and they instantly take action, moving both Peter and their equipment into an adjacent room. Yondu starts to follow but the doctor stops him. "You cannot come in."

"Where are you takin' 'im?" Yondu demands as Peter disappears behind the door.

"Surgery," the doctor tells him simply as she turns to follow them.

"Surgery?" Yondu starts but the doctor is already halfway across the room. "What hell is goin' on?!" The doctor doesn't answer and Yondu reaches out, catching her by the shoulder before she makes it any further. "Hey! I wanna know what's goin' on here!"

"He's dying," the doctor tells him bluntly and the words feel a lot like a punch in the stomach. "Without immediate action, he will die."

The Ravager Captain staggers back slightly in surprise. He knew Peter was sick but he didn't know he was that sick…

"Can you fix 'im?" he hears himself ask but the words sound croaked and hollow in his ears.

The doctor nods slightly but hesitates before answering. "We'll do everything we can," she tells him honestly before turning and walking back across the room to the door the others had exited out of. The door slams closed behind her with a finality that feels heavy and weighted and Yondu is left alone in the empty room.

Chapter Text

It's the longest two hours of his life. Every minute feels like an eternity and Yondu briefly wonders if time is somehow different on this planet. Maybe it shifts and stretches and creeps along like frozen tar and that's why it's taking so long. Maybe the days are longer and time is irrelevant and the very concept is laughable here. That's the only reason he can think of to explain the excruciating crawl as one hour slides into another.

He's paced every square inch of the hospital from one wing to the next and then circled the building on the outside twice. Every question is met with either silence or the assurance that someone would meet with him shortly and to just be patient. Yondu is far past the point of being patient; he's borderline manic by the end of the first hour and rapidly descending toward full blown panic near the second. Kraglin sends a silent signal for an update but Yondu has nothing to give him so he just returns the signal blank.

He's in the middle of pacing the room again, a split second away from grabbing the first person he sees and throttling them until he gets an answer, when the doctor from before steps into the room. She hesitates briefly, apparently sensing the underlying anxiety-turned-hostility in the man across the room, before taking a few cautious steps forward.

Yondu rounds on her when he sees her approach, striding across the room to where she's standing. "Well?" he asks sharply, the question coming out much louder and harsher than he meant it to. "Is he okay?"

The doctor considers the question before giving a slight nod. "I'd say, all things considered, he's doing well enough. We're moving him to the recovery wing now; he should be stable enough for you to see him shortly."

Yondu sags slightly at the answer, the rush of relief making him temporarily dizzy. "So he's alright, then?"

The woman frowns a little but the rest of her expression unreadable. She's very attractive, dark hair and long, almond-shaped eyes that make her resemble a six-foot-tall cat. Any other time Yondu would have considered hitting on her. Any other time but now. "I don't know that 'alright' would be the correct word to use at the moment. He is still extremely ill and his body is recovering from severe internal trauma. We're keeping him heavily sedated for the time to allow him to recover more comfortably. But you must understand, he is still very weak and his system is compromised. His recovery will take some time."

The Ravager Captain lets her words sink in, still trying to figure out how it came to this point in the first place. "Alright, so what did this to 'im? What caused it?"

The doctor scrutinizes him for a second or so more before answering. "How much do you know about Terran biology?"

"Next to nothin'."

She allows a small smile and nods like she'd expected such an answer. "I assumed as much. Well, please allow me to educate you," she says, nodding in the direction of the examination room Peter had been in earlier.

Yondu figures he doesn't really have a choice so he follows her silently into the indicated room. Once inside, the woman types in a few commands to the virtual monitor in one corner and a digital model of a Terran child appears on the screen.

"Terran biology is much easier to understand than, say, trying to learn about the reproductive cycle of a mature Urubion female," the woman begins as she enters in a few more commands. "But it is still a complicated science and one that requires extensive research. Your Terran was suffering from an affliction known as appendicitis, a very common malady among Terran youths."

She zooms in one an area in the lower right side of the model and circles something. "This is the appendix," she says, tapping the screen for emphasis. "It's not so much an organ as it is an extension of an organ. Our research and analysis has revealed the the appendix serves very little function into the overall health of a Terran."

"So if it doesn't do anythin'," Yondu starts, glaring at the screen slightly. "Then why did that almost kill 'im?"

The doctor just nods before continuing. "Most of the time, a Terran's appendix will cause them no trouble; most live their entire lives without ever encountering an issue. However, this is not always the case; it can sometimes become infected with bacteria which then leads to swelling and inflammation. With proper medical attention, this issue can be addressed and corrected rather quickly. Occasionally, however, more invasive measures such as surgery are needed."

"Is that what you did just now?" Yondu asks, nodding toward the general direction Peter had been taken.

She frowns a little and sighs. "Unfortunately, it wasn't as simple as that. There were complications with your Terran's-"

"Peter," Yondu cuts in before she can continue.

"Excuse me?"

"His name is Peter," Yondu corrects her again and he doesn't know why it irks him so much that she keeps referring to him as just a 'Terran'.

The woman nods in acknowledgement and smiles apologetically. "Peter," she repeats, effectively giving identity to the patient she's speaking of. "There were secondary complications that arose from Peter's appendicitis, the most obvious of which is that his appendix had ruptured hours before his arrival here. Because of this, all of the bacteria in his appendix was allowed to spill out into his abdominal cavity and cause further inflammation to the surrounding organs. It then spread to his bloodstream and the infection became systemic."

She glances back at the screen and shakes her head slightly. "He's very fortunate you brought him in when you did; any longer and he would have succumbed to the infection."

Yondu follows her gaze to the screen, trying to ignore the nagging pangs of guilt prodding at him. If they'd done something sooner then maybe Peter wouldn't be in the predicament he was in now. He should have forced him to go to the infirmary that first night instead of dismissing him back to his room. Ah well, 'should have' won't change anything now; there was a lot he should have done which would have changed the outcome of what was happening now. He couldn't change the past though, the only thing to do was to move forward.

"Is he gonna make it?" he asks after a second, his eyes still locked on the screen.

The doctor pauses before answering. "I suppose it's up to him now," she says after a moment of silence has passed. "We've done everything we can to quell the infection and prevent it from getting worse. He's still very weak though, his body has been through a substantial amount of trauma in a very short time. I believe the odds are in his favor but in the end, it's up to him to pull through."

Yondu sighs quietly at this. Leaving much of anything in Peter's hands was pretty much asking for trouble. Yeah, the kid was a stubborn little bastard and he wasn't going down without a fight but he might also decide to just give up and die to be a pain in the ass too. The scales could tip either way as far as Peter was concerned and Yondu wasn't exactly happy with that outcome.

"So how long do I gotta wait before gettin' 'im back on my ship?" he asks, turning his attention away from the screen. "Not that I'm sick 'a yer planet or anythin' but I do have a ship to run an' the sooner we get outta here, the better."

The woman blinks at him in surprise and frowns. "I don't think you understand the severity of this illness," she tells him, crossing her arms over her chest. "Peter's immune system is still extremely compromised and any movement could hinder his recovery. Not only that, and I mean no offense by this, but your line of work does not necessarily facilitate a healthy environment for him at the moment. He is vulnerable right now; moving him before he has had a chance to recover could kill him."

Yondu feels a muscle in his jaw twitch slightly as her words sink in. "So yer sayin' we're stuck here until he's fixed?"

She offers a very small shrug in response. "If you value his life, you won't move him until he's recovered."

The Ravager Captain sighs again and shakes his head. "How long will that take?"

The woman considers the question for a moment before answering. "With no further complications, a good estimate would be a week."

A full week. Shit. As much as Yondu wants to argue with this decision, he knows it will be pointless in the end. She'd said so herself: moving Peter any sooner could kill him and then all of this would have been for nothing. Yeah, it sucks that they'll be basically stagnant for a full week but he doesn't really see another way around that.

Yondu grumbles a curse under his breath before slumping in resignation. "Alright, fine. A week. But if that's the case then I need a ride back to my ship to grab a few things."

"Your ship and your crew are not-"

"Yeah, yeah, I know they ain't allowed on yer planet, I got that the first time," Yondu says, cutting her off a bit more harshly than he meant to. "Hell, I'll send 'em off somewhere else if that'll make ya feel better. But I ain't leavin' Peter here alone an' if I'm gonna be stayin' here with 'im then I'm gonna need a few things from my ship."

The woman contemplates this briefly before nodding. "Very well. I'll make arrangements for a transport crew to take you to your ship shortly. In the meantime, I'm going to check on Peter's progress." She excuses herself quietly and leaves the room, leaving Yondu alone once more.

True to her word, though, less than ten minutes later the transport crew steps into the room to take him to his ship. He's pretty sure it's not the same crew from before but they're all dressed exactly the same so it's hard to tell for certain. Doesn't matter really, they're here to serve a purpose and that's it.

Even though the trip there and back won't take long, Yondu still feels a bit hesitant leaving Peter here alone. Yeah, the kid is unconscious and completely unaware he's even here but it's still the idea of leaving him in a strange place really are no other ways around it though; he needs to get some things from the ship and if his crew isn't allowed planetside then he's left with very few options. He sighs and does his best to ignore the slight heaviness in his chest as he boards the transport ship.

Chapter Text

The transport crew allows him just enough leniency to open communication with his ship to relay a docking request. Once the request is approved, they connect to the docking bay and Yondu exists the craft, the crew in tow. Though it's not expressly stated, the loaded weapons at their hip make it pretty clear that they have no problem shooting him or anyone else if it looks like an ambush. One wrong move is all it would take to set off a firefight which is why Yondu has no intentions of letting any of his crew members come into the docking area for the next foreseeable future.

Kraglin meets him in the hallway, casting a wary glance over his shoulder at the armed transport crew. "What're they here for?"

"They're my ride back," Yondu answers simply as he walks away from the docking bay and down the hall.

"Back? Back where? Where's Peter?"

"Planetside," the Captain continues as he keeps walking. "Turns out he was a lot sicker than we thought. They're gonna have 'im grounded in that clinic for the next week."

Kraglin balks a little at the answer. "A whole week? What the hell was wrong with 'im?"

"Terran thing," Yondu tells him as they round a corner into another hallway. He doesn't mean to come across so short with his first mate but he honestly just doesn't have it in him to answer all the questions. The longer he spent on the ship meant the longer Peter was left on a strange planet all alone. It doesn't sit well with him and he's more than a little on edge about the whole situation.

Thankfully, Kraglin seems to understand the meaning behind the clipped, short answers well enough and leaves it at that. "What do you want us to do in the meantime?"

Yondu considers this for a moment before answering. "Look into some small jobs nearby in this quadrant. I'll let you know as soon as Peter's healed up enough to leave. If anyone asks where I am, just tell 'em I'm scoutin' a job in the area."

Kraglin nods and turns to walk back to front of the ship when Yondu stops him. "Make sure no one goes into the dockin' area until we're gone. These guys are just lookin' for a reason to shoot somethin' an' I ain't gonna let 'em have the opportunity."

The first mate just nods. "That area's on lockdown, Cap'n. Has been since I got yer call. No one'll get in there til' I say so."

Yondu smirks and claps him on the shoulder. "Knew I kept you around fer a reason." He lets him go and turns in the opposite direction. "Keep 'em in line til' I get back," he calls over his shoulder as he makes his way down the opposite hallway.

"You got it, boss," Kraglin calls back, turning to walk back to the bridge.

It only takes a few minutes to gather the things he needs, shoving them gracelessly into a duffle bag that he tosses over one shoulder. There's only one thing he grabs that he doesn't shove in the bag, choosing instead to tuck it into one of the inner pockets of his coat. The rest of it doesn't really matter so he pays no mind to the wadded bundle bumping against his shoulder as he walks back to the docking bay.

The transport crew is ready and waiting when he gets there, weapons still plainly visible even though no one else has been in this area the entire time they've been here. They give a short, curt nod when they see he's ready to depart and step back into the craft behind him, sealing the doors closed and preparing to disembark. There's a slight shudder and the brief feeling of weightlessness and then they're pulling away from the Ravager ship and turning outward toward free space.

The ride back is uneventful but it feels like it takes twice as long as the ride to the ship had taken. Yondu keeps his arms crossed over his chest but one foot bounces restlessly against the floor. He keeps his gaze turned to the window, tracking their progress as the planet approaches outside. Realistically he knows that it's not taking nearly as long as he thinks it is but he's getting more and more agitated the longer he sits here.

The second the craft lands, Yondu is up and wrenching the door open (much to the consternation of the transport crew), striding out onto the landing pad and making his way back to the clinic. No one bothers to stop him until he gets to the door of the clinic and then he's swarmed by guards who are intent on searching him from head to toe for weapons. He'd expected as much so he stands completely still and allows them to scan him and his duffle bag with at least three separate devices before they're satisfied. They allow him through with a nod and step back but one guard pauses and motions toward his coat.

Yondu's eyes narrow and he feels a muscle in his jaw clench. He knows exactly what the guard is indicating and he not about to hand it over without a fight.

The guard takes a step forward and Yondu straightens himself and meets his eyes sharply. "I'd be real careful if I were you," he warns the guard as the other man steps closer. "There ain't nothin' in there you need to concern yerself with."

He'd allowed them to take the arrow earlier (since it was, actually, a weapon) but if they tried to take anything else, it was going to end badly. For them.

The guard meets his gaze and passes a scanner over him one more time, lingering on his jacket for a few seconds longer than necessary. Finally, he seems satisfied enough to let him step away and Yondu takes the opportunity without a word.

The doctor from before is waiting for him at the end of the hallway and she motions for him to follow her. "We've moved Peter to the recovery wing," she tells him when he gets close enough, turning in the direction of the wing in question and leading the way. "He's still heavily sedated but he's stable enough for visitors now."

She leads him to a room at the end of the hall and slides a key card through the lock on the door. It slides open with a soft, pneumatic hiss and she nods for him to follow her into the room. Yondu obeys and steps through the threshold but feels himself freeze the second he's in the room.

Peter is the only living thing in the room, laying in the middle of long, white bed with an entire wall full of monitors beeping and buzzing behind him. There are wires everywhere, snaking in and out of thin gown Peter's been draped in. There's a cuff attached to one wrist that's keeping meticulous details of his body temperature and heart rate and an IV line taped into the crook of his arm. Another IV is hooked into the veins in the back of his hand and there's some kind of drug cocktail being fed into the line. The monitors that line the walls behind him are huge and looming and the cast strange shadows over the bed below. The effect makes Peter look that much more fragile and vulnerable and all together just...well, small.

"He's not in any pain," the doctor tells him, seeming to notice the troubled look on Ravager Captain's face. "I realize this all seems rather intimidating but I can assure you he's resting comfortably."

"Does he even know we're here?" Yondu hears himself ask but he doesn't really feel like the question came from him. He's too busy staring at the collection of monitors and machines behind Peter and frowning at the sheer number of them. Every single one is connected to Peter in some way and for some reason that's worse. He knew the kid had been sick but damn…

"Probably not," the woman tells him honestly, keeping her voice down even though it's probably not bothering Peter in the least. "He's still pretty far under; the longer he rests the faster he'll recover." She glances over at him and offers a small, sympathetic smile. "Some company probably wouldn't hurt though."

Yondu nods numbly and looks down in confusion when she presses the key card into his hand. "You'll need this to get in and out of the room," she explains, gesturing back toward the door. "As long as you stay quiet and let him rest, you're allowed to stay here as long as you like."

Yondu nods again and clears his throat quietly. "Thanks," he starts awkwardly because it's been a really, really long time since he thanked anyone for anything. "Ya know...fer all this. An' fer helpin' 'im."

The woman smiles faintly and just nods. "Someone will come through to check on him in a little while. For the next few days we'll have him kept on a routine schedule to make sure he's recovering properly. Let us know if you need anything." And with that she steps out into the hallway, leaving Yondu alone in the room with Peter.

For a moment he doesn't move, he just stands there awkwardly and stares at the unconscious boy in the bed. It doesn't look like Peter, not his Peter, and it takes several long moments to convince himself otherwise. The small, frail child in the bed looks nothing like the compact ball of hyperactive energy that had been living on his ship for the past few months. Peter (his Peter) should be awake and moving around and smarting off and being an all around pain in the ass because he was damn good at it; he shouldn't be silent and still and unconscious in a hospital bed hooked up to at least a dozen different machines.

Yondu sighs heavily and passes a hand over his face. "What the hell am I gonna do with you, kid?" he mutters to himself, knowing full well Peter can't hear him. "Yer workin' real hard at ruinin' the whole unrepentant asshole name I've made fer myself, ya know?"

As expected, Peter doesn't respond. He's deeply unconscious and probably so pumped full of drugs that he couldn't answer even if he wanted to. It helps as far as the whole confessing that Yondu actually has feelings thing goes but he still doesn't like it. This still isn't how Peter should be.

Yondu steps further into the room and snags a chair from against the wall, shoving it to the edge of the bed and dropping into it heavily. He makes a conscious effort to be quiet but, once again, Peter is so out of it he doubts he can even hear him.

For several long moments there's no sound other than the soft beep and buzz of the wall of monitors behind the bed. Yondu sits quietly and stares at the bed until he absolutely can't stand the silence anymore. He sits up a little and reaches into his coat pocket, retrieving the last thing he's grabbed from the ship.

"Thought this might help," he mutters, glancing up at Peter's face. The boy remains silent. Yondu sighs and begins unraveling wires carefully. "I don't know...might make ya feel better at least," he continues in spite of the silence.

He sets the Walkman on the bed next to Peter's elbow and reaches out to carefully slip the headphones over his ears. Once they're secure, he presses the play button on the little machine and lowers the volume to a softer level.

He's not sure why the kid is so damn fond of the thing; it's bulky and pretty useless for anything other than playing music. Still, for whatever reason, it seems to be one of Peter's favorite things in the entire universe so Yondu accepts it even if he doesn't really understand it. He can't tell for sure but it looks like Peter is resting a little more comfortably now so he figures it's working well enough.

He tugs his jacket off and nearly tosses it over the back of the chair but upon second thought he shrugs and drapes it across Peter instead. It was heavy and worn and had been ripped and burned more times than he could count but it was also warm and somewhat familiar. His thoughts drift back to Peter's fever-driven freakout from before and he thinks that maybe familiar isn't so bad.

Yondu looks back up at Peter, taking in the dark circles beneath his eyes and the pallor of his skin. He still doesn't look good but he doesn't look like he's about to keel over either so he'll take what he can get. Satisfied, the Ravager Captain leans back against the chair, crosses his arms over his chest and waits.

Chapter Text

It takes two full days for Peter to regain consciousness and another day and half for him to become lucid enough to know what's going on. He'd woken up briefly on the second day but the cocktail of medication and the lingering effects of the fever left him confused and distraught and he very calmly fell into a complete panic and tried to make a break for the door.

It happened to coincide with the one time that entire day Yondu decided to step out of the room to check in with Kraglin and the ship and the five minutes Peter was left alone was apparently enough time for him to wake up, freak out, and try to run away. There was the loud and piercing wail of a siren and then a small, wiry bundle of confused and terrified Peter Quill burst out into the hallway and tried to make his escape.

Fortunately, in his weakened and unsteady state, he wasn't that hard to catch. Yondu just had to reach out and catch him around the middle, scooping him under one arm to prevent him from going any further. Unfortunately, Peter was still scrappy as ever and struggled and thrashed violently in the other Ravager's grip. No amount of talking or ordering could get him to calm down and by the time the nurses arrived in the hallway, Yondu had all but pinned the kid in his lap and was struggling to hold onto him even then.

Peter was sedated again and taken back into the surgical ward to repair the ripped incision in his abdomen. It only took about twenty minutes to get him back in the room but it was more than enough time for Yondu to determine that Peter's recovery was going to be trickier than expected. The kid never knew how to do anything halfway so why should this be any damn different.

The nurses don't so much strap him to the bed when they bring him back in from surgery but they do loop a soft coil of fabric around one ankle that serves the purpose of an anchor to the bed. If Peter wants to jump up and try to run away again, it will more than likely result in a broken ankle first. It's something Yondu has absolutely no doubt Peter would do (by accident or on purpose if he felt he was in danger) which is why he stays in the room and watches him like a hawk when the boy begins to twitch and stir again several hours later.

It takes a few minutes to work his way out of the medication induced fog but when he finally does, Peter blinks up at the white ceiling for several silent seconds. He frowns in confusion and looks around the room carefully. He still doesn't know where he is but there's no immediate panic in his expression so that's a step in the right direction. He frowns again and turns his head to side slowly, coming face-to-face with the Ravager captain.

"'bout time you woke up," Yondu comments gruffly but there's very little heat in his voice. Secretly, he's just relieved that Peter seems a bit more lucid and isn't trying to bolt for the door again.

Peter frowns again and Yondu can nearly hear him trying to formulate a coherent sentence in his head. "Where are we?"

"Hospital," Yondu tells him simply, watching his reaction carefully from where he's sitting. Even though Peter appears marginally more coherent than the last time he woke up, he still doesn't trust him not to freak out again and try to run. He wasn't sure what had set the kid off the last time but he was determined to prevent it if he could.

Rather than panicking though, Peter just looks more confused. "Why?"

Yondu sighs softly and slumps back in the chair. "You've been sick, kid," he says, crossing his arms over his chest as he speaks. "Real sick. We brought ya here so they could help you."

Peter doesn't say anything for a moment, swallowing thickly before he trusts himself to speak again. "Am I going to die?"

It's Yondu's turn to frown in confusion. "Not anymore, seems like yer on the mend now." Upon seeing the slightly stricken look on Peter's face, he frowns again. "Why d'ya ask?"

"People only go to the hospital when they're going to die," Peter tells him bluntly, his voice shaking the tiniest bit when he speaks.

The Ravager captain blinks in surprise; sure, he hated hospitals just as much as the next guy but he didn't immediately associate them with death. Not usually, at least. "What makes ya think that?"

"It's what happened to my mom."

The confession comes like a punch in the gut. Suddenly it made sense why Peter was so desperate to get out when he woke up and realized where he was. It also made sense why he was fighting the nurses with everything he had when they were trying to examine him. Peter wasn't about to go quietly into the sweet embrace of death if he had any say about it and he was determined to prove it.

"Kid, yer not dyin'," Yondu tells him patiently, shifting forward in the seat and leveling his eyes on Peter. "I brought ya here for the express purpose of preventin' that."

Peter still doesn't seem convinced by the explanation. "Why aren't we on the ship?"

Yondu sighs and shakes his head. "Because Praxis is useless an' he'll be damn lucky if I don't boot his ass off the ship by the time this is all said an' done." He straightens a bit and elaborates. "Listen kid, none of us knew what was wrong with ya; dealin' with sick Terrans ain't exactly in our job description, get it? So we found somewhere that could fix ya an' brought ya here."

The explanation seems to satisfy Peter's curiosity for the time being because he goes silent after that. He doesn't look nearly as upset as he had been a few minutes before which was good. "Any other questions?"

Peter doesn't say anything at first but he glances down to the foot of the bed, his eyes going to the strip of fabric looped around his ankle. "Can I take that off?"

"Depends. Are ya gonna try to run again?"

Peter shakes his head slowly in response. Satisfied with the answer, Yondu flips the sheet back and unties the loop, pulling it away from Peter's ankle carefully. He lets it fall to the floor below the bed and tugs the sheet back into place.

"Happy now?"

Peter nods a little.

"Good. Now I got a question for you," Yondu says, resting his elbows on his knees and leaning forward. "Why didn't ya tell anyone you were sick?"

The boy frowns and looks down at the bed. He mumbles something that Yondu doesn't really hear and fidgets with the sheets.

"Speak up, boy," the Ravager captain orders, watching as Peter straightens a little reflexively.

Peter sighs softly before he speaks again. "Didn't want anyone to make fun of me," he admits quietly. He straightens a bit, his voice a little louder. "Ravagers don't complain so I didn't say anything. I didn't think it was that bad, anyway."

"Well, hate to break it to ya, kid, but it was that bad," Yondu tells him simply, crossing his arms over his chest again. "Bad enough that it nearly killed you."

Peter flinches a bit at that and doesn't say anything. Yondu continues on undeterred. "You were runnin' a fever sky high an' ended wanderin' into the engine room because of it. Could'a gotten yerself killed in there too. An' then when I actually found ya, you had some kinda fit right there in the middle of the floor. Took about ten years off'a me for that alone."

Peter flinches again and looks down at the sheets covering his legs. "I'm sorry," he says quietly after a moment.

"You should be," Yondu tells him gruffly with a bit of a huff. "But not because yer sick. You should be sorry ya didn't come to me about it."

Peter picks his head up and looks at the other Ravager in confusion. The captain glares at him before he continues. "Look kid, I'm hard on ya, I know it. I'm hard on everyone on the ship. But that don't mean I wanna see one'a my crew members keel over because they didn't think it was necessary to take care 'a themselves. You can handle yerself, you've proven that, but when it gets to the point that ya can't, you come to me, got it?"

Peter nods hesitantly and, satisfied, Yondu continues. "This right here," he says, indicating the hospital bed and everything around them with one hand. "Proves that you couldn't handle it. Ya should'a come to me instead of lettin' it get this bad."

The boy nods sheepishly and looks down again. "I'm sorry," he says again.

"I don't want you to apologize, boy. I want you to say ya understand," Yondu tells him, leveling Peter with a stern look. "I don't want ya comin' to me for every little ache an' pain but when it's somethin' like this, you better come to me first. Got it?"

"Yes, sir."

"Good. Because if you don't I'm gonna kick yer ass." Satisfied that his point has gotten across, he reaches out and shoves Peter back down onto the mattress. "Now lay back down. Yer last escape attempt earned both of us three more days on this planet to make sure yer healed properly."

Peter does as he's told and settles back onto the bed. He feels sore and wrung out from the fever and the illness so maybe laying down for a little while longer wouldn't be such a bad idea. He doesn't remember much of how or when they got here but apparently it had been a couple days. He wonders where Kraglin and the ship are but he's too tired to really voice his concerns. He does have enough energy to one more question though.

"What are you reading?"

Yondu glances up from the tablet in his lap at the question. "Book over Terran biology. Figure I should read up on all the things that can kill ya that aren't me," he tells him simply, swiping across the screen as he speaks. "Can't really count on Praxis for that, apparently," he adds as an afterthought.

Peter watches him for a few moments more, his eyelids growing steadily heavier with each passing second. He keeps shaking himself awake, still not entirely convinced hospitals are a safe place to be, but by about the third time Yondu glares at him from over the edge of the tablet.

"Quit that," he orders when Peter forces himself awake again. "You need to rest if ya wanna get better. Fightin' it will only make it worse." Peter fidgets a little and Yondu sighs. "Nothin's gonna happen to ya kid, not while I'm here."

"You won't go anywhere?" Peter asks hesitantly, his voice heavy with exhaustion.

The Ravager captain rolls his eyes in response. "Nowhere else for me to go." Upon the kid's imploring look, he sighs heavily. "No, I'm not goin' anywhere."

Satisfied, Peter allows himself to relax a little bit more against the bed. "Thanks," he mumbles quietly as sleep reaches out to claim him once more.

"Yeah, yeah," Yondu mumbles back and Peter is pretty sure he's already asleep and dreaming when he feels something like a hand pass through his hair. "Go to sleep."