Work Header

broken things

Chapter Text

Thirteen hours, fifty-seven minutes, thirty-three seconds.

She turns the numbers over in her head, her vision locked on the circular Terran device hanging on the wall. Her elbows rest on her knees, her entire upper body leaning forward in a slump. Her fingers curl themselves uncomfortably around each other—tight, tight, tighter, until her hands shake.

She blinks. The “hand” of the Terran clock has moved one tiny notch.

Thirty-four seconds.

Around her are big, wide, Terran eyes, belonging to others who are there for the same reason as she. She’s seen a rotation of different faces over the course of her hours there, everyone’s expressions more or less a reflection of the pit in her belly, the fluttering in her chest, the breath lodged in her throat like a pebble caught in a crevice.

She should not be here. She—green, foreign, alien—should not be here.

But, given the circumstances, this appears to be the least of the Terrans’—humans’—concerns.

They fill the room, one on either side of her, all curled up in the uncomfortably colored plastic chairs. They cling to each other, cling to their small communication devices—thumbs tapping the screens erratically or hands shakily pressing the devices to their ears—cling to the same temptation of hope she knows she has given into. All red-eyed, hair-frazzled, hearts stuttering.

Gamora would be lying if she didn’t describe herself as the same.

She’s learned a lot about humans recently, in the past one hundred and fifty hours, thirty-five minutes, and four seconds she has been here.

Been on Earth.

They, unsurprisingly, are not different from Peter.

Ten hours and forty minutes ago, when the first round of life-or-death confirmations crashed over the room like a tidal wave, pulling many of those sitting around her into its fierce undertow of grief, there were tearful embraces and words of reassurance shared between people she’d previously observed to be strangers, until that very moment.

But they connected—through their shared emotions from this tragedy, from loss.

Gamora’s survived that wave and every wave since then, thus far; but she knows Peter a little better from it, she thinks.

They, too, connected like this long ago, when they, too, were simply strangers, pulled into the same debacle over some stupid orb (that turned out to be not-so-stupid later) and found a piece of themselves in each other.

Evil dads can do that to you, Peter would say.

She’d give anything to hear him say that now, even if it were in a hushed, nonsensical whisper.

But it has been forty-nine hours, ten minutes, and twenty-three seconds since they arrived in Missouri, just the two of them—

Nineteen hours, fourteen minutes, and three seconds since the Black Order arrived on Earth—

Seventeen hours, three minutes, and eleven seconds since one of them, Cull Obsidian, followed her, followed her and Peter, to Missouri—

And fourteen hours, exactly, to the second, since Gamora last saw Peter Quill alive.

In that time since, seeing as Cull Obsidian has since disappeared, Gamora understands.

This was no random attack to serve as a prelude, a warning, to Earth and the Avengers for what’s to come when Thanos arrives.

This was planned, this was personal, this was for her.

And, seeing as she’s ended up here, a hospital waiting room, after frantically showing a picture of Peter to anyone who would listen, choking back her tears, trying to communicate with the rest of the team located hours and hours away, and nearly getting hit by a Terran car, well.

It was a pretty successful personal attack, on Thanos’ part.

The humans around her are here for the same reason, as Cull Obsidian was reckless and caused much destruction around the town; many were injured, some killed, even.

Despite this being connected to her, despite it being arguably somewhat (mostly) her fault, she selfishly, selfishly, wishes Peter to be in the former category.

But she cannot know for sure, yet. She’s been waiting here on the account of a nurse who recognized the picture of Peter she showed, after a kind family—two mothers and a girl—also looking for answers, led her to the hospital.

(By the time she’d approached them on the street, covered in grime and scrapes, she got no more than three words into her, by then, uncomfortably familiar have you seen this man? monologue, when her tears overtook her, stealing the words from her lips and nearly causing her to drop her Terran communication device displaying Peter’s picture; the family took pity on her.)

Upon arriving at the hospital, the mothers walked with her to the front desk, where Gamora forced the device into a nurse’s hands and inquired, once more, if they’d seen Peter, had they seen this man, somewhere between a mumble and a yell. The nurse, dark brown hair tied up hastily and eyes wide, looked over the picture for a moment, then another.

Until Gamora saw the recognition there, the spark in her eyes illuminating the room, if only for just a moment. Followed by a nod, confirmation. Tears nearly overtook Gamora then, again, though this time for an entirely different reason, and the mothers and their daughter congratulated her before talking to another nurse. The initial nurse—Cynthia, she had introduced herself—then handed Gamora paperwork to fill out, to help them treat Peter and his (bad) injuries. Before Cynthia could even hand her a pen, the Terran words danced across the page, blurry and unfamiliar, and Gamora cried out in frustration.

But Cynthia—she understood, somehow, and calmly took the papers from Gamora and asked her the questions verbally instead, quickly jotting down everything she’d said.

(For all intents and purposes, though nothing had ever been made legally official, Gamora has considered herself bound to Peter in marriage, as he considers himself bound to her.)

(Today, their marriage is officiated by a human nurse filling out hospital documents for Peter, per Gamora’s insistence.)

That had been eleven hours ago. Gamora’s only seen Cynthia a few times since then, rushing back and forth through the chaos of the waiting room. The family who’d helped Gamora get to the waiting room had since left as well, with mixed answers on the states of their loved ones: one dead, one alive, and one in critical condition.

(Gamora, overwhelmed by a strange grief for them, empathy, perhaps, decided to act as the humans had, and embraced the family on their way out, offering her condolences and thanking them, once again, for their help.)

(She refuses to let Thanos win, to destroy this planet and its people—Peter’s people—any further.)

Click. Refocusing her faltering gaze on the clock, the math does itself in Gamora’s mind: fourteen hours and one minute, since she’d last seen Peter.

The door on the side of the room opposite from where Gamora had first entered with the family opens, and, not for the first time in the past ten hours, it’s Cynthia who walks out. She’s called for many of the families throughout the night, giving out both good news and bad, but has yet to mention Peter.

And then—

“Family of Peter Quill,” she announces, her eyes quickly finding Gamora’s in the crowded room. Gamora blinks once, twice, then pushes herself from her chair quickly, crossing the room in a trance.

In just a few moments, she will know, and it will be over. These fourteen hours of not knowing, of total uncertainty, without even the slightest hint of Peter’s condition from the emergency room

“Where is Peter?” asks Gamora, before she’s even reached Cynthia. She swallows down the nerves clawing at her throat, blinking away the pinching feeling in her eyes.

But Cynthia smiles, lays a hand on her arm, and nods. “He’s alive.”

Chapter Text

Gamora follows Cynthia to Peter’s room in a daze, head spinning. Her body feels like a paper uncrumpled from a ball, her limbs stretched out in ways long forgotten after the long night. She is hesitant to believe that Peter is alive, that Peter is okay, because this is the Black Order, this is Thanos, whom Gamora has offered an obvious, easy angle to attack her at through the Guardians.

Through Peter Quill.

Of course, Gamora is no stranger to loss. Her entire life has been built up on the fact that she’s a survivor, someone who inexplicably managed to escape tragedy.

(Her time with the Guardians has taught her that, no, her survival never has been a mistake, but a chance, an opportunity to carry on in the face of adversity.)

((Unfortunately, she’s become convinced that she is destined to carry on with a certain, galaxy-saving, legendary outlaw by her side, always.))

In the blink of an eye, Cynthia is gone, curtains are shut behind her, and Gamora is standing before a bed upon which Peter is resting.

Well, waking, really. He’s staring up at the ceiling, blinking slowly, his bandaged fingers moving idly at his side. Cynthia’s words suddenly connect in her brain—something about waking up from being put under anesthesia for surgery—and, in the process of just five seconds, Gamora finds herself doing a number of things.

First, tears. Again. They’re storming out of her eyes before she has the chance to stop them.

Second, her feet. She somehow crosses the small space in two hurried, wide strides without stumbling, drawing Peter’s attention to her, as he slowly turns his eyes to her.

Third, her feet, again. She actually does end up stumbling in the end, collapsing on the side of Peter’s bed. Her knees hover just above the ground as she throws her arms around his shoulders, pressing her face to his chest, narrowly avoiding the injured areas Cynthia had warned her about.

Fourteen hours, seven minutes, and some twenty-odd seconds later, Gamora sees Peter Quill alive once again.

Peter’s hospital gown is quickly dampened by her tears, her entire body shaking in time with her sobs. Everything sets in at once—the fear from being separated from Peter for so long with no knowledge of his condition, the realization of just how close she came to losing him, her longtime anxiety instilled by Thanos simply being Thanos coming to fruition because he’s here, he knows about the Guardians, he knows about Peter, he knows.

And this is only the beginning. There are still the rest of the Guardians, in addition to their newfound allies, the Avengers, all of whom have lives and families in danger of Thanos, too. Stark and his wife, Barton and his family, the Parker kid and his entire life still ahead of him

The battle—the war—is only uphill from here.

(And, should victory be possible for them, at what cost would it be?)

“Hey…hey…why…why’re you cryin’?”

Peter’s voice cuts through everything like a knife cuts through butter—completely, smoothly, and easily. For a moment, for one selfishly happy moment, sunlight breaks through the storm clouds, and Gamora turns her head, sniffling, to look up at Peter.

He scrunches his nose up in that curious, confused way of his, frowning slightly. “Who made you cry?” he asks, his features tightening (adorably) in anger. “Tha’s not nice. Tha’s mean.”

The selfish moment drags on, the storm clouds dissipating further. She rubs at her eyes with the back of her hand, before returning her arm to its place over his chest. She sniffles again. “I’m just really happy you’re alive.”

“But that wasn’t happy cryin’,” he insists, voice slurred slightly. The scrunching continues. “That was sad cryin’.”

“It was both,” she says.

“Who made you cry?” he repeats, determined. “I jus’ wanna have a nice chat with them, tha’s all.”

She smiles. “Thank you, Peter. But you need to rest.”

Gamora raises herself from him then, properly repositioning herself to sit on the edge of his bed. She leans over him, resting her hand on the other side of his body, close to his hand. His fingers brush against hers, and a small, awed smile forms on his face.

“Whoa,” he says, “I think I love you.”

A soft, short laugh escapes her lips before she can think to stop it, and Peter’s expression only heightens in amazement.

“Whoa,” he says again, “I think I love you a lot.”

“I’d hope so,” she says, the corners of her lips pushing upward against the heaviness under her eyes, “because I love you.”

He stares at her for a moment, then whispers, “Whoa.”

Now, Gamora is no stranger to an anesthetic Peter. He’s quite the clumsy type when it comes to combat and battle, leading to lots of medical procedures. After waking up, he’s groggy, he’s giggly, and he tends to forget things momentarily.

Sometimes, Gamora has the privilege of being the forgotten thing.

But, rather than it being tragic, Peter spends his time of forgotten memories still managing to somehow be in love with her, an apparent stranger.

So Peter grins, laughing a little himself now, his eyes squaring in on hers. “Are you my girlfriend? Please say yes.”

“Mm,” she presses her lips together, “no.”

“Aw.” He sulks. “Damn.”

She leans in closer, smiling more despite the continuous fluttering in her chest, “I’m your wife.”

(It’s finally “official” in a way, even if only on hospital documents in Missouri.)

His jaw drops, his eyes wide. He blinks at her in disbelief. “Wait, are you—are you serious?

She presses a small kiss to his forehead. “I’m serious.”

He just continues to stare at her as she pulls away. She moves her hand to grasp his, carefully squeezing his fingers. He breaks the stare only to blink, as Peter “can talk the skin off a cat” (a Terran phrase, from what she understands) Quill simply says, once again, “Whoa.”

Gamora can’t help but laugh, a fresh wave of tears suddenly hitting her. She fiercely blinks them back, sniffling, though her smile remains. “I love you, Peter Quill.”

“I love you, too,” he mumbles, squinting his eyes slightly.

His unoccupied hand shakily reaches her face, his thumb gently brushing over her cheek. She leans into the touch slightly, closing her eyes and taking a deep breath. Thoughts of Thanos and the Black Order and mass destruction threaten to creep back into her mind, but she forces her mind to focus on Peter, the now tangible fact that he is safe and back by her side.

(Where he belongs.)

Though Peter does not seem upset by the fact that he’s in the hospital (though the anesthesia may be responsible for that) she wants so badly to reassure him, to tell him everything will be okay, he will be safe because she will protect him, she’ll never let this happen to him again, but, but.

“Here,” he mumbles, cutting into her thoughts. When she opens her eyes, he’s somehow moving himself across the bed, trying to open a space wide enough for her to lie down beside him. “You should rest, too.”

“Stop,” she says shakily. She places a hand on his chest. “You’ll hurt yourself further.”

He shrugs—well, as much as he can shrug in his current condition—but stops, per her request. She takes the little space he’d managed to open up, settling her head on his uninjured shoulder and draping her arm carefully over his midsection, their hands remaining connected throughout.

“Rest,” he repeats, pressing his lips to her hair. “You’re shaking.”

“I almost lost you,” she murmurs back, pushing her face into his arm.

“I’m here now,” he says, smile in his voice. “’Cause I’m your husband. Good husbands don’t leave.”

“Thank you.”

“Goodnight.” He yawns, his head resting his against hers. “Love you…Gamora?”

She smiles into his skin. “Love you, too, Peter.”

Chapter Text

Gamora likes to think she managed to get some sleep before she wakes up choking, coughing, blinking through an unprecedented surge of tears. Whatever awful vision had plagued her mind moments before is now, thankfully, gone, but her body is still processing, leaving her shivering.

Unfortunately, despite her best efforts to minimize how much of a disturbance her rude awakening could cause, Peter wakes up just moments after, sleepily lifting his head to look down at her and pulling her more closely to his body. He untangles his fingers from hers to grab the blanket that’s since fallen down their hips, pulling it up to her shoulders and rubbing her arm.

“It’s okay,” he says.

“No,” she says, voice thick with tears, “it’s not. It’s not at all.”

“It’ll be okay,” he says.

“It won’t,” she says.


“It won’t.”

His strokes up and down her arm cease as his hand settles just above her elbow.

“Babe,” he murmurs, “talk to me, please.”

She almost laughs, because of course he’s more concerned with her wellbeing than he is with his own, and it’s not fair, because that selflessness might get him killed in the next few days.

“I’m going to lose you,” she says, with certainty, because if anything is consistent when it comes to Thanos, it’s his ability to take away those who Gamora loves most.

These are, as far as she knows, her final days with Peter Quill.

Peter blows out a slow breath, his hand finding hers again, squeezing it gently. “Gamora—Gamora, stop, please. You’re not—that’s not going to happen, dammit.”

“It already almost did,” she whispers, as if Thanos himself is just outside their door, listening, waiting. “And that wasn’t even Thanos.”

“You’re scared,” Peter says, not unkindly. It comes as more of a reminder, a gentle observation, than anything.

“I can’t afford to be, when he’s so close…”

“Gamora,” he says, calmly, slowly, “what happened after we got separated during the attack earlier?”

Her breath catches in her throat, thinking back to just hours ago—those long, long hours of anxiety, of not knowing, of hoping and despairing—

“Fourteen hours,” she says. “For fourteen hours, I did not know where you were…nor if you were dead or alive.”

Peter sighs, making a move to sit up, but Gamora quickly sits up first to push him back down. He groans softly.


“Stop.” She averts her eyes. “Just—stop.”

Gamora,” he repeats, exasperated, “don’t try to downplay this. That’s—that’s terrifying. I can’t imagine—“

Don’t,” she cuts, but her voice is more defeated than cold. “Don’t try to imagine, I…I wouldn’t wish that experience upon anyone, imaginary or real.”

Her voice grows quieter with each word, Peter’s gaze softening.

“It’s in the past now,” she insists.

“No,” he says. “Just…forget about Thanos and the Black Order and the other Guardians and Earth and everything for tonight, okay? We can think about that later; for now, let’s just focus on what happened earlier.”

“It happened,” she says, frowning. “It’s done.”

“It’s not,” he says, resting a hand on her hip. “You’re still shaking.”

“I have other reasons to be shaking,” she says.

But Peter remains steadfast. “Your mind and body still need to get over all your anxiety from earlier, babe. Let it, before we go back to the other stuff.”

“But…” The argument dies on her lips, exhaustion steadily claiming more and more of her.

“Please, Gamora,” he murmurs. “Let’s just take care of what happened today, okay? I’m here now, and I’m okay. I’m sorry you had to wait so long.”

Her shoulders sag as she sits back on her feet, loosening her tense muscles. She takes a deep breath and rests her hand on Peter’s arm. “It’s not your fault. It’s…”

“…Not your fault, either,” he says when she doesn’t continue. “What did you do while you were…waiting?”

He looks as unsure as he sounds, but she knows that he trusts her to be open with him—at least, as open as she feels comfortable with.

And at this stage in their relationship, that comfort level has skyrocketed.

“I looked for you,” she murmurs. “I looked everywhere for you, around the town, but...I asked people if they’d seen you, and one family lead me here, and there was this nurse, Cynthia…”

She trails off with a sigh, shaking her head as tears reemerge. Peter’s hand on her hip slips under her shirt, his thumb rubbing gentle strokes across her skin. She tries to smile for him, but breaks off into something between a laugh and a sob. The world around her is starting to crumble again, but Peter just keeps rubbing, his expression patient.

“Sorry,” she whispers, rubbing at her eyes.

“Gamora,” he says, “I’m okay. We’re okay. Thank you for telling me.”

“Yeah.” She releases a shuddering breath, followed by a sniffle.

“Wanna lie down?” he asks.

She nods wordlessly, pressing her lips together in a (futile) attempt to stop them from trembling. Carefully, she lies back down beside Peter, settling her head just beside his on the pillow so they can make direct eye contact. Fourteen hours may only be slightly longer than half of a day, but it seems as if an eternity had passed in which Gamora could not even look at Peter, except for the picture she’d had to share with everyone else to find him.

But this view, this view is hers, it’s private, safe from the rest of the world, safe from Thanos. Peter offers her a small smile, pressing a poorly aimed kiss to her brow.

“I’m here now,” he whispers.

“It was like a nightmare,” she whispers back, again, as if Thanos is here, just outside their door. “Except I couldn’t wake up.”

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay now.”

She feels like a child again, exchanging whispers with those she trusted behind Thanos’ back, and she knows Peter may relate to an extent, after having a father who could cover the entire universe and overhear anything. She presses herself more closely to Peter, the two of them occupying an even smaller, cozier fraction of the universe.

“You don’t have to feel okay yet,” he says. “That’s okay.”

“I know.”

“Good. Just wanted to make sure.”

He yawns.

“You need to rest,” Gamora says. “Sleep.”

“You, too,” he mumbles through another yawn. “Sleep, Gamora.”

“I will.”

His eyes start to fall closed, and she feels not far behind him in sleep, exhaustion pulling at her eyes as well. They fall into a silence disrupted only by their soft, slow breathing.

Until, just as she’s about to drift off—

“Wait, G’mora,” he’s sleepily slurring when she opens her eyes, “did’ya say you were my wife earlier?”

Despite everything, she smiles.

“Goodnight, Peter,” she says, pressing a kiss to his brow just as lazily aimed as his minutes earlier. He giggles softly, exuding an air of pride around them.

“I’m Mr. Gamora,” he mutters nonsensically, eyes closing once more. (Perhaps the anesthesia hadn’t completely worn off yet.) “I’m Mr. Deadliest Woman in the Galaxy.”

Goodnight, Peter,” she repeats, this time with a small giggle of her own.

“’Night,” he whispers. “Love you.”

“Love you, too.”

“See you in the morning, ‘kay? ‘Cause I’ll still be here in the morning.”


“I’m not gonna leave you again, ‘kay?”


With that, Peter’s finally snoring, and Gamora follows him to the realm of sleep not too long after.

(This time, however, she does not wake up choking, crying, or shaking.)

(This time, when she wakes up, it’s to sleepy kisses and giggles from Peter about how much he loves her.)

(This time, even though they may only occupy one miniscule fraction of the universe, Gamora is confident it is more than enough to liberate the rest of the universe from Thanos.)