“Woah,” Peter said, reaching out to touch the device in front of him with a trembling hand. “It’s beautiful.”
As Gamora stood next to him, appraising the object, she asked, “What is it?”
“Only the best man-made creation on Earth – after the Walkman, of course,” he said, “and the Zune.”
He put his hand on top of the TV set, and sighed with satisfaction.
It looked like the one he had on Earth, with some visible differences. It was grey, it had a sizable dent on one side, and the screen was smaller than the one he would parked himself in front of for hours. He’d sit on the floor, completely engrossed in the moving pictures, temporarily whisked away from his cold reality of hospital visits, kids whispering behind his back at school, and bruises from neighborhood bullies. It was like they came from a factory, or something.
There weren't any knobs on the side of the screen like his old TV, but it made up for that by having something his old set did not: a slot at the bottom for VHS tapes.
“Where’d you get this? And how?” Peter couldn't mask the suspicion in his voice as he spoke to Rocket, who was leaning against the rack supporting the TV, pretending to nonchalantly examine his tiny nails.
“Oh,” he said casually, “around one of ’em Taleshian black market vendors nearby. Don't worry, I did some of my best bargaining for it.”
“You removed the seller’s engine, and Groot threatened to throw it out the window if they didn’t give this to you for free,” Drax said.
“Would you quit doing that?” Rocket snapped, his fur puffing out a bit. “Geez... Anyway, I figured you could also use these, Quill.” He nodded over at Groot, who was about an inch taller than him, dragging a brown sack that was twice as big as either of them.
“Thanks, buddy,” Peter said, bending down to pick up the bag that Groot was visibly struggling to carry.
After opening the bag and peering inside, the size of Peter’s grin doubled.
“Awesome!” He pulled out a few video tapes and blew off the light layer of dust that was covering them. “These are all the movies I used to watch as a kid! Back to the Future, The Wizard of Oz, Star Wars! And look, Gamora!” He rummaged around in the bag and presented her with a slightly battered tape. “Footloose!”
“Oh!” she said, her eyes sparking with recognition. “The great legend of Kevin Bacon.” She took the tape in her hands with reverence.
Then she sneezed all over it.
“Whoops,” Peter said, using one of his sleeves to wipe off the tape, “guess we gotta get these cleaned up before we get them up and running.”
“What do you do with them, exactly?” Mantis asked, peering at the tapes over Drax’s shoulder.
“Watch ’em. Which is what we’re all gonna do. We’ve finally got some downtime, so I say we use it.” Peter put the tapes back in the bag and turned to Rocket and Groot, nodding at them. “Thanks, guys.” Then he narrowed his eyes, unable to keep his creeping suspicion at bay. “This isn’t you two trying to make up for something else you stole, or blew up, or whatever. Right?”
Rocket shrugged. “No, we just wanted to get this stuff for you. Honest. Can’t we do something nice for you, for a change?”
Groot nodded, crossing an X over his chest like he’d seen Peter do several times - mostly to Gamora. “I am Groot.”
“Oh.” Peter couldn’t help getting a little choked up at the thoughtful gesture. “Well, in that case... This is - man, I can’t believe you two got this stuff for me.” His lip quivered. “For all of us.”
“Look out, he’s gonna cry again,” Rocket said, tugging Groot away from Peter's feet.
Tears pricking the corners of Peter’s eyes, he opened his mouth to protest, but nodded instead. “Yeah, I totally am. You can’t stop me.”
“We won’t,” Gamora said, putting a hand on Peter’s shoulder. He looked at her gratefully as his eyes kept watering. “This does look like a good opportunity to rest before our next mission. I want to see all these stories you have described to me in exact detail, over and over, Peter.”
“It’s gonna be so much fun,” he said, wiping his eyes before patting the top of the TV set. “Let’s get this bad boy going and enjoy ourselves, for once!”
“Okay, this is the best part,” Peter said, his face bathed in the light of the television screen as he clutched the remote control Rocket had modified from his pile of tech. “Just watch, he’s gonna —”
“— Quill, for the tenth time, shut. Your. Trap!”
Peter – who was sitting cross-legged on the floor sandwiched between his bed and the TV, next to Gamora – turned around to look at Rocket.
He, along with Drax, Mantis, and Groot, were crammed on Peter’s bed, three out of four of them looking very irritated. Groot, who was perched on Drax’s knee, lifted his hand up to the thin line of his mouth to make the universal ‘Shh!’ gesture.
“Oh,” Peter said. “Right, yeah. Sorry.” He ran a hand through his hair and turned back to the TV screen.
Two minutes later, he had to explain to them why Footloose was one of the best movies ever made. Everyone behind him groaned, and he pretended to zip his mouth shut.
He barely made it another couple of minutes without gushing about how the movie was even better than he remembered. Groot tossed a piece of candy at his head, and he fell silent.
Another five minutes later, Peter turned back around to say something again, but stopped when he saw that even Mantis was furiously shaking her head at him.
He let another couple moments of the movie pass before he had to tell everyone why Kevin Bacon was perfect for the role, and that he was one of the greatest actors on Earth – Peter was sure they wouldn’t mind knowing about that extra bit of information, after all.
“And the music! Oh, man,” Peter said, looking at Gamora. “Wait’ll you hear the last... Hold on.” He frowned when he didn’t hear any of the others yelling at him.
Slowly, he turned around.
His bunk was completely empty.
“What the hell?” Peter asked, raising the remote to pause the movie. “Where’d they go?”
“I don’t think they appreciated your... commentary, Peter,” Gamora said, still at his side.
“Why not? I give great commentary.” He stood up and peered out the back of the ship. “Huh. Didn’t even say where they went.”
Gamora shrugged from her spot on the floor. “Probably to one of the recreational faciliites nearby.”
Sighing, Peter toyed with the remote in his hand. “Yeah.”
They were docked on a bustling metropolis on the planet Talesha, after having completed their last mission, then having to evade the Sovereign for... actually, he’d lost count of how many times they narrowly avoided getting blown up by those jackoffs. At least his group seemed safe for now.
Gamora rose to her feet as well, clad in her sleeping clothes. It was still kind of amusing for Peter to see her in such soft material, rather than her preferred leather. Her clothes were still black, of course, but they were a simple pair of thin cotton pants, and a loose tank top. She’d started wearing them a couple months ago, after they’d all taken a trip to Xandar. That was during the whole group’s recuperation period, following the destruction of Ego, and before they went to Berhart and set about repairing the Milano.
Peter realized he was still turning the remote over in his hands for the past minute, lost in his own thoughts. He looked up at Gamora.
As he took in the sight of her, standing before him and the singular source of light coming from the television set washing over the both of them, he realized just how alone they were.
“We can still watch the rest of Kevin Bacon together,” she suggested, darting her eyes away from his when she also seemed to notice how long they were standing there, just kinda staring at each other. “But no more talking,” she added, pointing a finger at him.
“Yep, got it,” he said, crossing an X over his chest like Groot had earlier, and to his surprise, Gamora went over to sit on the edge of his bunk, where his blankets were pushed all the way to the side, his Zune carefully nestled on top of them.
“You can sit with me,” she said, after another moment of silence, and Peter tried not to look overeager as he settled down next to her, raising the remote to push ‘play’ and then putting it down next to him.
After letting Footloose run for a few minutes, he cast a glance over to her, checking her reaction to the movie. She was smiling a little, looking more relaxed than she had in the past couple days. He liked this, their private moments they got to share. He almost considered scooting closer toward her, maybe faking a yawn and putting his arm around her – but then he remembered her sharp, withering glare when he’d tried that move two weeks after they’d obliterated Ronan, so he stayed put.
It wasn’t like Gamora was completely averse to him being near her, especially not in the past few months. In fact, things had been pretty awesome between them, at least when they weren’t running for their lives from the Sovereign, or were on some life-or-death mission for what usually turned out to be just enough units to make ends meet. Apparently being two-time galaxy savers wasn’t as impressive as they all thought.
With each passing day, though, it felt like Gamora and Peter were becoming more like co-captains of their oddball crew, rather than Peter having to play defense against everyone else, all the time. He appreciated Gamora’s help, and to be honest, whenever she tossed out rapid-fire orders to Rocket and Drax before jumping from their ship, it was a huge turn on.
Their unspoken thing had remained completely and literally unspoken for a couple months after Yondu’s funeral. After heading to Xandar for a couple days and getting some parts to repair the Milano , Peter finally managed to log several hours of sleep that weren’t plagued by nightmares. He’d listened to every song on the Zune – two thumbs way up for The Verve, two thumbs down for some dude called Limp Bizkit. Peter even took Rocket and Groot to the shooting gallery at Nova HQ, and he listened to Drax teach Mantis about life, interjecting when Drax told her something completely false about social interaction, and whenever he said something cutting about her appearance. Drax, too, had a lot to learn, and Peter made sure to bring his inadvertent insults to a halt.
He’d also been keeping an eye out for Gamora, who still went off by herself like she usually did, to work out the lingering guilt he knew she still carried about her sister. But after a while, she started to walk around without a heavy weight on her shoulders.
She also, to his surprise, began to touch him a lot more.
Not like that. She seemed to sense that he needed time to grieve, and that he wasn’t really in the mood for sex so soon after losing Yondu.
Before he met Gamora, Peter never would have thought he could deal with this kind of living. Seeing the same woman day in and out - especially without engaging in his usual night-time antics - would’ve been the last thing he wanted. But ever since they defeated Ronan, whenever Peter caught sight of her, whether she was practicing her sword skills or measuring Groot’s growth, he didn’t feel weird or annoyed at all. Warmth spread through his chest when he saw a flash of her bright hair, a hint of her smile.
So yeah, there was still that steadily building longing on his part – if he were to give an estimate, there was probably, oh, just a metric fucking ton of it. Even after repairing the Milano, along with some of the broken pieces of Peter’s heart, he was totally cool about taking things slow with Gamora, gauging her expressions for any sign of discomfort before putting an arm around her shoulder, or extending his hand out to her for a slow dance whenever they went planetside after a mission, and had a bit of private time.
If she were curious about why he recently started spending an extra fifteen minutes in the shower lately, she thankfully kept it to herself.
One night, about three months after Ego, she had quietly slipped under the thin blanket on his bunk. Without a second thought, he rolled over to make room for her. It was a tight fit, but they managed to sleep on their sides while lightly touching.
Over time, it had become a nightly routine, much to Peter’s barely contained delight. She moved closer and closer toward him, eventually pressing up against his back as he’d sigh in contentment. It was a good thing she was spooning him, because if it were the other way around, he figured she would definitely feel something against her back, and that would probably make her leave his bed - which was the absolute last thing he wanted.
Another month later, he’d wake up with her arms were wrapped around his chest, her nose grazing the back of his neck as she breathed deeply, completely at peace. She would take his hands in hers and squeeze them lightly before they split up for a mission, and once, after a particularly dangerous battle – okay, fine, it was a bar brawl caused by Rocket egging on some Kree sympathizers, and Peter would’ve gotten his head ripped off if she hadn’t been there – she embraced him tightly, and, moving so quickly he could barely register what was going on, she kissed him. Like, really, actually put her lips on his. But it barely lasted a second, and he was still half-convinced he had imagined it, or it was an effect of his head injury.
And Gamora was probably wondering if he still had one, because she was saying something to him, and shit, he realized he had been staring at her for way too long.
“Are you all right?” she repeated after he snapped out of another reverie.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” he said, and had to force himself to look at the television screen.
Suddenly, with him sitting next to Gamora, alone for what would probably be a couple hours, he wasn’t as interested in Kevin Bacon. Blasphemy, yeah, but he was with Gamora, most dangerous woman in the galaxy, his partner, his best friend, and she wanted to sit next to him. The air was suddenly getting kinda hot, and Peter started thinking that if Gamora wanted to stick around after the movie, he might need another shower before they turned in for the night.
After a moment, something rested lightly on his hand.
He cast his gaze down, his heart slamming into double speed as he saw that her hand was on top of his.
“Hey,” he stammered, his voice strained as he valiantly tried to calm himself down, “You know, maybe we could watch another movie after this. I think you’d like Dirty Harry, I don’t think I told you about that one yet, and it’s really, probably more up your alley than —”
"— Peter?" she said, very quietly, her focus trained on the television screen.
"Yeah?" he asked, his voice just as hushed even though no one else was on the ship.
"If I kiss you, will you be quiet for the rest of the movie?"
He nearly fell off the edge of his bunk. "Uh, what?"
She turned to look at him, waiting for his response.
"Wow,” he said, rubbing the back of his head. “Well, not that I don’t want to, because obviously I do. Like, majorly want to. It’s just, we’ve only kissed like, once - maybe twice, y’know, when we both woke up at the same time and bumped into each other - so I’m not totally sure if those even count, maybe? And I was thinking, if it was going to happen again, I thought it'd be a little more romantic.” He ducked his head a bit, realizing how corny and unimpressive that probably sounded to her. “Like I could take you out to some fancy lounge, have some food that doesn’t come out of an instant ration packet, dance a little —"
She leaned forward, brushing her lips against his long enough that this had to be real, and when she pulled away, he stared at her with wide eyes.
“But this is cool, too,” he said.
She kissed him again, for much longer, and yeah, this was pretty much perfect.
His hands went up to cup her face, and he changed the angle a bit, shifting closer toward her. He moved his mouth against hers, slowly increasing the tempo of their lips separating and reuniting. The air around them was thick and heavy as they sat with their legs touching, the music blaring from the TV set rolling over them as they were actually, seriously starting to make out.
Holy shit, she was good at this. Better than good.
“Amazing,” he murmured when she pulled away. “You’re amazing. I can’t believe that you’re —"
Before he could say, or even think, another word, her hands were on his shoulders, and her legs snugly framed his.
Peter shook his head in disbelief. She was fucking straddling him, on his bunk, and her arms were draped over his shoulders, her hands folded over each other against the back of his neck. His hand scrabbled for the remote to stop the movie, but he couldn’t see the buttons, so he just let the remote fall back on its spot next to him, Footloose continuing to run as the majestic Kevin Bacon danced his way across the screen.
Peter gazed up at Gamora, probably looking like he’d just been shocked by a live wire. When he tried to say her name, he could barely breathe it out through his lips.
She rested the glorious curve of her ass down against his lap, and it took every ounce of his willpower not to come right in his pants, then and there. “Yes?”
He licked his lips, trying to mentally slow his racing heartbeat, and he said, with what he hoped was more control in his voice, “Do me a favor. Pinch me. Pinch me anywhere.”
She laughed – it was barely louder than a chuckle, but it totally counted – and she said, “This is real, Peter.” As if to prove herself, she rolled her hips slowly against his, and he groaned, his hands automatically sliding up her thighs and wrapping around her waist, holding her flush against him. She leaned forward again, nipping the side of his mouth, and he closed his eyes as he moved his hips in time with hers.
If the others even thought about coming back at that moment...
“I have one condition,” she whispered against his ear, and if Peter wasn’t rock hard already, Gamora’s warm breath against his skin made damn sure of that.
“Anything,” he said, opening his eyes and letting out a long, ragged breath as he looked up at her.
A slow smile spread across her lovely face, and he knew he’d said the wrong thing. “You can’t touch me.”
“Aw, man!” But he took his hands off her waist and lowered them down on either side of his legs.
Gamora shifted, pushing her lower body against the very, very hard area in his pants.
“See? You do learn.” She pressed kisses from his cheek to his lips, more firmly and with more purpose each time. Her hands swept up and down his back, tangling in his hair as he shut his eyes again, causing her breasts to bump against his chest, and after a few moments of pure bliss, Peter let the rhythm of her movements wash over him, her long hair fanning over his shoulders, her kisses and grinding slowly gaining momentum.
“Fuck,” he groaned. He drank in her scent, her barely muted gasps, and the rising heat between her legs.
After a moment, she stopped moving, and he let out a quiet whine of desperation against her cheek.
“Peter,” she said. “Hands.”
“Oh.” He looked down, realizing that they were again wrapped around her waist, nearly spanning the entire width of it. He dropped his hands back down like they were made out of lead. “Sorry,” he mumbled. “Won’t happen again. Just please, please don’t stop.”
Normally, he didn’t beg. He didn’t wait. Normally, at this point, he would’ve charmed any woman who was on his bunk out of her clothes. But this was... this was something else. He sat as still as he could, completely at Gamora’s mercy, willing to do whatever she wanted. He was handing her reigns to his body with a smile on his face.
There was a matching smile on her face, one of his favorite expressions. It was one that no one else in their group got to see, one that was reserved for him, that made him feel special.
He gazed up at her as she swiveled her hips against him, in a semi-circle and then down and up, and the soft material of their sleeping pants rubbed together. He couldn’t hold back a low grunt at the sensation; he could sense how wet she was getting, even with their thin layers of clothes separating them. By now, she could definitely tell just how much he wanted her, too.
Not to brag, but it was a lot.
She quickened her pace, her hands alternating between gripping his back, his shoulders, his hair, and as she kissed him, he followed her lead, opening his mouth only when she coaxed him, her tongue sliding, warm and wet, against his. They were nearly fused together, her gasps and panting breath were the only sounds he heard, the sweetness of her hair surrounding him like a cloud. She was everywhere, all around him, physically acknowledging that he lived in her heart as much as she’d taken root in his.
As she began to ride him at a gallop, whispering his name against his neck, then his lips, Peter knew that this was it for him. Gamora was the only woman he would ever do anything like this with for the rest of his life, and he wanted her to be the only one.
He let her have him exactly how she wanted, making him see more stars with her every passing moment. She bucked her hips, digging her nails deeper into the thin fabric of his shirt. It should’ve hurt, but instead, it felt wonderful.
Gamora pushed herself against his barely covered erection, going even faster, and Peter sat underneath her with his arms at his sides, gripping the edge of his cot as he commanded himself not to put his hands on her again, not until she said he could.
When he could feel her getting close, when she leaned back and raised her head toward the ceiling, he struggled to refrain from kissing her throat. He used every fiber of his self-control not to bury his face in her chest, between her visibly hardened nipples. Instead, he simply looked at her.
Hearing Gamora cry out for him – not out of fear for his life, as usual, but with desire – seeing her eyes shut tight, watching her hair bounce in a cascade of colors, Peter knew he would do anything for her. Not just risk his life for hers, not just pass on every woman who sidled up to him since their second trip to Xandar.
He simply did what she asked. He remembered Gamora’s request, and kept his hands at his sides, letting her grind against him to her completion. Through his haze of swirling emotions, he kept himself as still as he could, for her.
She rocked against him, squeezing her legs against his thighs and pushing herself against his body with an incredible amount of force.
Then, suddenly, her entire body began shuddering on top of him, hair sweeping in a curtain over his face.
Oh my — Peter thought, and then, he was gone.
It was a bright, shining moment of clarity, and he was dimly aware that he was coming, hard and fast, in his own pants, pressed against Gamora’s warmth. Then, as he gradually returned back to his own body, she sank against him, her hands clutching his shoulders as she shook. She pressed her lips into his mussed, wild nest of hair, not even seeming to mind that it was damp with sweat.
“Please,” she murmured between her hitching breaths and gentle kisses. “Hold me.”
Instantly, Peter did as he was asked, wrapping his arms around her heaving, trembling back.
They sat like that at the edge of his bunk for a long time, letting the enormity of the moment wash over them as they embraced in silence, save for the music playing over the movie’s end credits.
Finally, after regaining just enough energy to clean himself up a bit - then looking away as Gamora changed into a pair of his shorts, which were almost a pair of capri pants on her - Peter slowly lowered himself onto his back. After a moment of standing next to his bed in contemplation, Gamora joined him, settling down against his chest as he welcomed her again with open arms.
They were still a bit sweaty, and if any of the others caught them together like this, there’d be no hearing the end of it. But Peter couldn’t care one bit. He hugged Gamora as their breathing returned to normal, running his fingers up and down her back as she shifted her head to rest against his shoulder.
After several minutes of silence – that, to Peter’s relief, felt just as normal as all the other nights he’d woken up with her – he let out a sigh, long and deep.
She lifted her head and looked up at him. They locked eyes for a long moment, and Peter wanted to tell her things, things he’d never told anyone and that he only wanted her to hear. He wanted to ask her what this meant about their ‘unspoken thing.’ He wanted to run outside and announce to the entire planet that being in love with her was so incredibly awesome. And he kinda wanted to joke that he should’ve looked for a VCR player right after they saved Xandar.
He looked into her eyes, his hands still trembling as they danced up and down her back, and realized something he hadn’t quite grasped before, during all those other times he screwed up moments like this with her.
Peter took one of his hands off her back to fumble around on the side of the bunk for the remote.
When he found it, he kept his thumb down on the rewind button, going all the way back to the beginning of the movie.
Gamora’s curious expression relaxed into a smile, the one she saved just for him, and she shifted over onto her side to get a better view of the TV screen, as Peter began stroking her hair with one hand, then pressed the ‘play’ button with the other.
They watched Footloose from beginning to end in complete silence before drifting off to sleep, wrapped in each other’s arms.