“Boy,” Yondu snarled. “Boy! Get the fuck up!”
He slapped the face of the man on the floor. Nothing happened. Peter didn’t get up.
“He’s dead, Udonta,” the woman who had entered the ship with him snapped. “If you lay your hands on him one more time I will kill you and any man who tries to stop me.”
“Peter can’t die, you idiot girl. I know what his father is!”
Kraglin, standing at the front of the gaggle of Ravagers, winced a bit at that. “Maybe we oughta go drop him off where we was meant to drop him off twenty years ago.”
“We’re not doing that! You fucking insane, Kraglin? You know what his father is too.”
The woman - Gamora - opened her mouth to speak. Horuz, who was holding her back, spoke over her. “What’d you care, Captain? You said you were gonna kill him anyhow.”
Yondu whistled and the Yaka arrow came out of its holster. It hovered in the air over Peter’s body, looking for all the world like it was some sort of spirit protecting him.
“Anyone wanna question the way things are run around here, you know what you up against.”
There were some mutinous mutterings which Yondu heard and fully understood, but he didn’t care. Peter didn’t look dead. Apart from the ice on his face, he looked like he could have been just sleeping.
“There’s no life signs, Captain.” Kraglin was holding some little medical device. “Not one.”
Yondu looked at Gamora, partly so that he wouldn’t have to look at Peter. This was her fault, the sentimental sanctimonious witch, and he wanted nothing more than to kill her. But he couldn’t bring himself to. It would bring more trouble than it was worth… and it would render Peter’s sacrifice pointless.
“Idiot fucking boy!” He had no idea who or what he was actually talking to. “Idiot fucking girl,” he said to Gamora.
“Now isn’t the time to be grieving,” Gamora said. She looked like she was only just holding it together, but her voice didn’t wobble. “There are bigger things-”
Yondu whistled and the arrow came to a stop in front of her face. She barely flinched.
“One more word out of you and it goes through your brain,” he said. “And ta the rest of ya, fuck off and go do what I pay you for.”
More angry, whispered swear words.
“Tullk, Kraglin, get this up-herself green asshole outta my sight. Put her in the brig or something.” A pause. “What’re you all standing the fuck around for? Go!”
They went. All the Ravagers were smart enough to not glare at their captain directly, just, but Yondu still felt the contempt radiating off some of them. He would happily have killed them there and then if it wouldn’t have made things even worse.
“Let me say goodbye to him,” Gamora demanded as she was dragged out. She had apparently realized that the arrow-through-the-brain threat had been an empty one. “He saved my life.”
“An’ you’ll have plenty of time to contemplate that over the next coupla days, while we work out what to do with you.”
“Let - me - say - goodbye - to - him.” Her teeth were bared. It served to remind Yondu that she was even more of a prolific killer than he was.
Only he, Tullk, Kraglin, Gamora and the corpse were left in the room. “Fine. You got five seconds. And if you try anything just remember, you can’t outrun the arrow. Nothin’ can.”
Gamora shook off, with dignity, the hands that were holding her arms behind her back. She walked to Peter’s body, knelt down, whispered something in his ear, and stood back up again.
“You remember that I showed you that kindness, girl,” Yondu said, as Tullk and Kraglin escorted her out. She spat in his face, so quietly that the others didn’t even notice, as she passed him. He did nothing.
A part of him had hoped Peter might suddenly sit up and laugh once the room was empty, but he didn’t. With fury and grief coursing through his veins, he picked up the body and carried it to the engine room. With every step, it hurt more.
“Folks ain’t gonna be happy that you’re giving him a Ravager funeral, Captain,” Kraglin said.
“You keep talking, Kraglin, and you’re goin’ into the flames after him, and it won’t be no funeral.”
“S’not an insult, Captain! I swear. I’m trying ta warn ya.”
Peter’s funeral pyre had all Yondu’s console toys on it, and the Walkman, obviously. Peter wouldn’t have wanted to go anywhere without his mother’s last gift to him by his side. The flames were licking at it and turning it black and making the room smell like chemicals. Like death, too.
“We picked up some of Peter’s buddies,” Kraglin said. “They came after him, trying to save him from… you, I guess. An angry green guy and an angry tree and a really, really angry rat thing. All the fight kinda went outta them once they learned he was dead.”
“Did you put ‘em in the brig with the girl?”
“Yeah. They won’t shut up though. They keep yelling about that fucking orb.”
“S’all that girl’s fucking fault…” But it wasn’t, of course. It was all Peter’s fault, for being good and noble and stupid and far, far more than Yondu had ever deserved. “We’ll deal with ‘em later.”
Both of them stared at the fire and at the trail of ashes visible from the window. Yondu wondered what Gamora had whispered into Peter’s ear.
Kraglin put his hand on Yondu’s shoulder, which made him jump. “I’ll leave you alone, Captain,” he said. “Just watch your back, ya know?”
“Not one of them assholes has the balls to go up against me, not while the arrow’s still flying. Just go, Kraglin.”
Kraglin left. The door to the engine room slid shut with a clunk, and Yondu was left to watch Peter’s body burn. Terrible things were going to happen soon, he was fairly sure of it. He was surrounded by enemies, and Peter’s friends would probably be out of their cell soon enough if they’d been smart enough to make it so far already, and that whole orb situation sure as hell wasn’t looking exactly promising either…
“Sorry, boy. Hope wherever you are now’s better than here.”
It was a shitty eulogy. Once again, Peter had deserved better, but Yondu had run out of words and out of energy. He slumped down next to the blazing engines, so close he could almost feel the fire on his skin, and took the arrow from its holster again. It had been his last connection to his home planet as much as the Walkman had been Peter’s. But it didn’t really matter anymore.
He snapped it in two with his bare hands, and threw it into the fire. Within seconds it was gone, its ashes merging with Peter’s and falling out into the darkness. Yondu watched the patterns forming in the stars, longing to see some sort of sign, in accordance with Ravager tradition, that Peter was still in some way there.
But it was alright. He’d gotten lucky. They’d be coming for him soon enough.