Chapter 1: Just a snot-nosed kid
Kraglin Obfonteri had come through adolescence very sure of three things. Thing one: He hated honest work more than just about anything out there and would rather fuck a stalactite than spend his life in the salt mines on Hrax. Thing two: When it came to junk he wanted to... shake hands with, as it were, he preferred outies to innies and a nice ass if he wanted to shove his dick in something. Thing three: He was almost positive he was allergic to children.
Kids were sticky. They excreted slime from every orifice and, judging from the way they left handprints everywhere, their pores. It didn't matter what species they were. They were all sticky and disgusting. They were disease vectors waiting for a place to spread their filth. Kraglin looked at them and wondered how any species had managed to continue past generation one, because if it were up to him, he'd probably put every last one of them on a mining asteroid somewhere and leave it to evolution to figure out which ones survived to adulthood. If all of them died, it just proved that they weren't fit to reproduce.
Kraglin had never had to worry about children appearing in his life. The second of the three things he'd been sure of, that he liked outies far more than innies, had taken care of that. He didn't date men with kids--when he dated at all rather than just enjoying a quick fuck. He avoided any species with an ovipositor or that could impregnate him. Being Hraxian, his dick wasn't going to put a baby in another dick, so he didn't have to think about how to prevent babies. He liked it that way.
This only made the sobbing, snot-trailing, wailing Terran curled up in a shaking, quivering mass at his feet that much more obnoxious. He had done nothing to deserve the care of a small, terrified being. He had taken care his whole life to avoid even getting close to any activity that could leave him saddled with one. Except for smuggling them, of course, but that had been business, not pleasure. It was supposed to leave him with units, not... leftovers.
The job had gone wrong, though, and Kraglin had a mess to clean up. The only trouble was, well, he wasn't sure at all where to start. Cap'n had announced they were keeping the brat, had set up a little hammock in the corner of his quarters and all. There wasn't any arguing with Yondu when he'd made a call and now the call in question had put an end to any hopes of getting decently paid for the Terran or getting any large contracts for the foreseeable future. Exiles had limited contacts and limited contacts meant limited contracts.
Which meant he had to figure out what to do with the Terran, no matter how snivelling and disgusting it was. He had to turn it into a profitable prospect rather than a bringer of everything he hated most. He stared down at it as it snorted and wiped its nose on its arm.. He wasn't one to pray, but he was ready to grasp at straws, so he sent up a quick prayer to whatever celestials remained to give the brat some hidden talents.
"Uh, if you stop that, I'll show you where you're gonna sleep," he offered uncomfortably. He had no idea what to do or what to say to the Terran. He just knew he needed to get it to do something other than make the awful screechy sounds it was emitting. He was under strict orders not to harm it or allow harm to come to it. The only chance they had to get Stakar to calm down and call off the exile was to make sure the Terran stayed healthy and whole and whatever else Terrans were meant to be. The frequency of its horrible voice was giving him the kind of headache that made him want to drown it instead.
It didn't even have the decency to look up at him. It just stayed curled up and sobbed into its arms, long wailing sounds of alarm coming from it in irregular intervals. It didn't even wipe its nose again.
"Hey. Stoppit. Look up here and listen. You gotta get up so I can show you where you're gonna sleep. You been doing this for hours now you gotta be tired." He nudged it--gently--with his toes.
It shrieked like he'd stabbed it and pissed in the wound, clawing at his foot and kicking with both legs. He hadn't realized Terrans were so tender and delicate. The slightest touch seemed to make it scream in pain and that wasn't any good. He couldn't turn it into any kind of decent Ravager if it was that fragile and he was never going to sleep again.
"Oh come on," he grumbled, shaking it off his foot. "This ain't gonna work. You gotta stop this shit."
It screeched at the foot shaking and latched on more tightly. Kraglin reached down and pushed at the top of its head. "Come on. Get off already."
It turned out that Terrans, even tiny delicate ones, were fast. It also turned out that they had relatively powerful jaws, as these things went. The Terran sunk his blunt little teeth into Kraglin's hand and it hurt. He cuffed the kid upside the head and yowled, his second row of teeth dropping into place. The yowl turned into a snarl and the little creature's eyes widened and he screamed, a sound that forced Kraglin to cover his ears and duck.
No one had told him that Terrans had sonic weapons. He hoped that an immature one wouldn't have powerful enough ones to actually explode his head but it felt like it might. The screaming was unlike any of the rest of the wailing, a high pitched sound and so loud that Kraglin was shocked the whole ship wasn't shaking with it.
It was also loud enough that it brought the cap’n running, arrow flaring red next to his head and his coat flapping behind him. "The hell are you doing to my Terran, Obfonteri?" Yondu demanded.
"I ain't done nothing, Cap'n," Kraglin shouted over the screaming, raising his hands from his ears in a near-universal gesture of surrender. "I poked the brat when it weren't listening. Not even enough to hurt a little."
"Then what's he screaming like that for and why you got your teeth out?"
"It bit me! I cuffed it a little to get it off. I think they're maybe real fragile. Should probably just euthanize it. Ravagers ain't no place for nothing that gets that bad hurt when they get knocked off what they's biting." A Hraxian child that fragile wouldn’t have survived past its mother’s tit.
Yondu got right into his face, rising up to the toes of his boots to look Kraglin in the eye. "I'm gonna say this one time, y'hear? Ain't no one gonna be euthanizing the Terran. He's small, can get into places we can't. Good for thieving." He let out a low whistle and the arrow darted into its holster. He was calming down, settling into theatre over actual rage.
Kraglin considered his options. He was probably the only Ravager other than Yondu who knew all the details of the Ego job. He would say he definitely was, but the ones that skulked about in the shadows might well have overheard something they oughtn't. He’d been the one to tell the captain there was no way they could hand the brat over once they’d seen the bones.
He'd meant it as an ethical theoretical, though. As long as they'd been taking kids to a loving parent, they weren't breaking the code. Once they knowingly handed one over or let that one fall into Ego's hands, they were. He hadn't thought that being stuck with the child was on the table.
"Y'know, we probably ain't the right folks to be thinking about raising up a Terran, sir. Could buy up some tuition at one of them boarding schools and keep it there." At least the Terran was calming down enough that the shrieking wasn't as painful. He could hear himself think, just a little.
Yondu rapped on Kraglin's forehead, right between his eyebrows, with a sneer. Kraglin didn't dare even flinch. "Y'ain't using your damn brain. Ego's gonna find him if he stays in one place more'n a minute. So you're gonna fucking well help me raise the little bastard. There ain't no second guessing this. Now, shut your flarking mouth and lemme try and calm the little fucker down."
Yondu whirled around towards the child with a flaring twirl of his coat and crouched down in front of it. "Hey. Stop that noise."
The kid didn't do anything, didn't respond except maybe to cry harder.
"I said stop that !" Yondu snapped, almost shouting. The kid's wailing got louder and took up the screeching notes again, though it wasn't clear if that was in response to Yondu's tone or the fact that the Terran had opened its swollen eyes to look at Yondu at exactly the right moment.
"Y'think maybe it can't hear?" Kraglin asked. It would make sense. A voice like that would deafen a planet if all their young sounded like that. Maybe none of them could hear.
"He can hear," Yondu insisted, with an eyeroll shot up towards Kraglin. "He just ain't listening. Kid! Shut the fuck up!"
The kid kicked out in Yondu's direction. Kraglin held his breath, expecting the arrow to make a reappearance. It was Yondu's primary weapon, after all. He whistled it to life easy as breathing, the lives it took more reflex than could be considered murder. With any luck, it would be the end of the Terran.
It wasn't, though. Yondu, in a fit of physical prowess Kraglin had forgotten he was capable of, launched himself at the kid and grabbed it tightly. He wrapped himself around it and grabbed its hair, jerking its head forward. "Aw, shit," he said, looking at the kid's neck, then turning its head from side to side. The child was apparently so startled and terrified that it fell silent. "Kraglin, we got us a fucking problem."
Kraglin didn't get it for a moment, then he realized with a sinking sort of horror. The kid's neck was smooth. There was no scar, no glint of metal under and behind his ear. "It don't speak a fucking known language, does it?"
"Sure as fuck don't. Ego said he speaks something called 'In-glish'."
"And no translator chip."
"None," Yondu spat. "Shit."
"We know what a Terran brain works like?"
"No fucking clue," Yondu muttered, jerking at the kid's hair some more as if that would help reveal what wasn't there.
"Suppose I should get in touch with the Broker then, huh, Cap'n?"
Yondu let go of the kid's hair and then grabbed it again when the kid tried to headbutt him. "Yeah. Get on it. We ain't gonna be able to do nothing with him until we got him a translator. Poor little brat must be scared as shit. We ain't talking like nothing he's ever seen before, probably."
Kraglin wasn't going to say no to an opportunity to take off and leave the little shit behind. With any luck he'd have passed out from sheer exhaustion by the time Kraglin sought out Yondu after his conversation with the Broker. He'd never been lucky, particularly, but he was more than willing to game that by dawdling than he'd ever been. After all, the Broker was a busy man. It could be hard to get in touch with him.
Chapter 2: Something of an Emergency
There was sniffling from the hammock suspended in the corner where the Terran was tied hand and feet to keep him from getting out and biting anyone. It had been somewhere between comical and embarrassing to watch. Yondu was a fully trained battle slave, an escaped survivor of Kree monstrosities. The Terran was practically an infant and it screamed if you touched it, it was so delicate.
Yondu had almost failed to get it into the damn hammock. He’d been bitten at least four times before he’d managed to get the ropes into the right places and get the brat up into the cloth sack.
Kraglin had actually thought that Yondu might leave it out in the hallway if it kept refusing to cooperate, but no. He’d hoisted the toothy little bastard up over his shoulder, dropping it a couple times along the way. When it had tried to slither out of the hammock, he’d shoved it in deeper and held the hammock’s lips shut until the brat stopped trying.
Yondu, of course, had fallen asleep right off. He was snoring on one side of Kraglin. The Terran was still sniffling in the corner opposite Yondu. It wasn't loud or anything. It was just there. It was audible, even through the delicate roar screaming from Yondu's sinuses. It couldn't be ignored.
Kraglin couldn't sleep. He'd been trying for hours. He wasn't even convinced the child was awake--it had been long enough since they'd stolen the child that he thought it might be crying in its sleep. It was never going to stop. Kraglin could sleep through anything. He had slept through explosions and collapses in the salt mines before he'd clawed his way into the stars. He had slept through the night every night the entire year he'd been on Stakar's ship before Yondu had made captain. He'd slept through Yondu's nightmares for years. He couldn't sleep through a sniffling child.
He sighed and got to his feet. Maybe if he did something to comfort the soft little brat, it would interrupt the sniffling. Even half an hour and he thought he might be able to get some rest. If he didn't, he was going to kill someone come morning and he hated time wasted in the brig. He padded over to the hammock and opened it slightly to check on the contents. Big, wet eyes blinked up at him out of the depths of the hammock. Kid wasn't asleep, then.
Kraglin watched the child. The child watched Kraglin. The child made a set of soft sounds and looked away. Kraglin stared at the child. He was fairly sure it was trying to communicate something, but without it having a translator, Kraglin's own chip was useless to decipher its sounds. It repeated the sounds, its tone still soft, but a little more frantic.
Kraglin didn't know what the hell it was trying to say, but he knew it meant it. It started repeating the sounds over and over and the sniffling turned into a high pitched crying. Kraglin glanced over at the bed where Yondu was beginning to stir. High pitched sounds always bored into Yondu's head faster than anything else.
It pointed its bound hands towards its crotch emphatically, repeating the sounds.
Something clicked in Kraglin's head. Brat hadn't used a toilet since they'd brought it on board. Most species weren't like Kraglin's. They needed to piss at least a few times a day. He was the only member of the crew who could go days without pissing.
"Aw, shit," Kraglin muttered. He had two options. He could wake Yondu and tell him his brat had to piss or he could carry the little monster over to the toilet himself and set it down to go about its business. While it was appealing to wake Yondu, it wouldn't improve Yondu's mood. He'd yell at the brat again and fuck knew he might scare the piss out of it. If it pissed all over their room, fuck knew Kraglin would be the poor bastard that had to clean it up.
No, it was better for Kraglin to do it himself. He rummaged in a drawer of Yondu's cabin and came out with some big leather gloves Yondu used on icy planets. They ought to protect his fingers against the child's teeth. He pulled his jumpsuit on over the gloves, the cuffs holding them on tight and he zipped himself in securely. Then he reached in and grabbed the child under the armpits.
It squeaked. Kraglin winced. "Stoppit. You'll wake Yondu," he muttered, carrying it at arm's length. If it pissed itself, it wasn't pissing on him.
The toilet was in a little room right next door and Kraglin set the kid down in front of it and waited expectantly. The kid's yammering sped up inquisitively. It sounded like maybe it was asking a question, but it was hard to tell. It pointed at its crotch again and sniffled.
"Yeah. So piss." He pointed at the toilet.
The child apparently didn't understand him. It stared at the toilet in confusion. Kraglin considered the matter, then sighed and pulled a knife out of his pocket. It was just a little knife, it shouldn't terrify it. The child screamed. Kraglin flinched and covered its mouth.
"Y'can't piss with your hands tied together," he hissed, then cut the strap holding the kid's hands with a quick dart of the knife. There were more in a drawer in the cabin. He'd tie it back up before he dumped it back in its hammock.
The kid stopped struggling and flailed its little hands. It darted a quick look up at Kraglin. Kraglin uncovered the kid's mouth and it was actually smiling at him a little. For fuck's sake, he was trying to avoid having to clean up a puddle, not make friends with Yondu's new pet.
"Just piss," Kraglin told it, pointing at the toilet.
The Terran repeated whatever it had been saying before and pointed at its crotch, desperation so obvious Kraglin could see it without knowing anything about the species. A horrifying thought occurred to Kraglin as the child's eyes widened and it cupped its crotch with one hand. The thing wasn't fucking toilet trained. It had no idea how to use a fucking toilet. It knew how to signal that it needed to go, that much was clear, but it didn't actually know how. Perhaps its parents were still responsible for helping it with that. Kraglin had no idea how old a child had to be before its parents weren't needed for that kind of thing, but apparently it was older than the Terran.
"Shit," Kraglin said, scratching the back of his neck and looking back and forth between the child and the toilet. He wasn't even sure how one assisted a non-adult, non-inebriated being with a toilet. Usually he just propped up the drunk and aimed their hips at the hole. Sometimes he backed them up onto it if their stomach was rumbling in a way he didn't much like.
The Terran was little enough he was pretty sure the vacuum of the toilet would suck it right down if it backed up onto it. "Shit," Kraglin repeated.
As if in answer, the child made a horrified noise of dismay which was followed by an ominous dripping sound. Sure enough, the little bastard was pissing itself, right in front of him.
The child started crying again, just when he'd stopped at long last. Kraglin groaned and reached for the shower head in the corner opposite the toilet. He hated water, hated getting wet, but if he didn't get the child clean, then Yondu would have his fucking head. It didn't matter that Yondu hadn't even thought about the fact that the child would need a toilet, it would be Kraglin's fault that he'd fucked it all up.
"Take your clothes off, kid, we'll get you set to rights," Kraglin said, fiddling with the shower controls to try and get warm water.
The Terran, for obvious reasons, didn't respond, so Kraglin brandished the shower head and reached one long arm over to tug at the kid's shirt. "Take off your fucking clothes."
It sniffled and wiped its face on its arm before peering up at him more carefully. It apparently realized what was going on pretty quickly because it tugged its shirt off and then untied the strap around its feet. It sniffled and cried as it kicked its shoes into the corner. It didn't meet his eyes again and it turned its back to him to tug its pants off. Once they were off, it peered over its shoulder at him and made a shooing motion.
Kraglin stood his ground. There was no way he was leaving Yondu's new pet alone. It wasn't safe. The kid could get sucked down the toilet if it did something wrong. The Terran shuffled over to him backwards, still sniffling and crying, and shoved at his stomach, saying something in loud, irritated tones.
Kraglin considered his options. There wasn't any point in putting it off or trying to make the kid comfortable. He couldn't. Even if the child had spoken any known language, Kraglin wouldn't have known what to do with him. "Sorry, kid," he said, then turned the shower head on the Terran like a hose.
The water was either too hot or too cold, or maybe Terrans hated water as much as Kraglin did. It screamed at the top of its horrible lungs and leapt out of the spray. It whirled around, making angry gestures and shrieking. Kraglin only barely overcame the instinct to clap his hands over his ears and moved the spray back to hit the kid. The kid would be fucking well clean and Kraglin would put its clothes in to wash and dry so they'd be ready by morning and then Yondu didn't have to know about this mess.
It became a sort of battle as Kraglin tried to stay out of the spray while also hitting the Terran with it. The bathroom was absolutely soaked by the time he decided the child was probably clean enough. The brat hadn't stopped shrieking and crying, but Kraglin didn't think that was ever going to happen. It was probably going to scream and cry for the rest of its horrible little life, until it curled up in a little ball and died from dehydration or something.
Terrans apparently got cold easily, because it was shivering before Kraglin had even put up the water properly. Or maybe the water had been too cold. He wasn’t sure. For all he knew, Terrans were cold-blooded and needed heat lamps so they didn’t die. He turned on the blower to get the kid dry and the kid let out an ear curdling scream and tried to flatten down to the floor. Apparently it couldn't tolerate a high-speed air dryer worth a damn and Kraglin didn't want to get called out for killing it by accident.
"Stay here. Don't fucking move," Kraglin commanded. It was futile. He knew it was futile. He still hoped that the kid would understand something.
The kid stayed cowering on the floor in a tiny ball as Kraglin stomped out to go get some blankets. Yondu always had enough in the little drawers and cupboards on his walls that he could use one to dry the kid and one to wrap the kid in until morning and Yondu didn't have to be any the wiser.
Of course, nothing was ever that easy. Yondu was sitting up and blinking around in half-awake confusion as Kraglin stepped into the room. "The fuck were you?" he demanded, through a yawn.
"Bathroom," Kraglin responded, already heading to the cupboard that usually had the softest blankets. Fuck knew that he didn't want to risk ripping the kid's tender skin off or something.
"You flush the Terran?"
"Nah, took it to use the toilet."
"And it ain't toilet trained, Cap'n. It fucking pissed itself and I had to wash it. So it needs a blanket to get dry."
"Use the dryer."
"It fell over. Too fucking soft. Can’t handle a little moving air."
"All right. Then deal with it and don't wake me up again." Yondu flopped over in the bed and closed his eyes.
Kraglin clamped his mouth shut. He wanted to tell Yondu to deal with the kid himself. He wanted to yell at him and tell him he was full of shit, that they should space the little fucker. He wanted to go back to bed and not have to deal with the fact that a small being was dependent on him for something as basic as a blanket. He couldn't, though. He knew better. Interrupt Yondu's sleep and he’d make everyone in the sector regret it, even if he was only faking sleep. Kraglin was already treading a thin line.
He dumped one blanket into the hammock then went back to the bathroom. The kid was throwing itself against the door hard enough that it fell out into the hallway when Kraglin opened it. He grabbed the kid's arm and bundled it back inside. No point in flashing the kid's junk all over the ship. If there was one thing years of space piracy had taught him, it was that you couldn't trust people not to have predilections that would make your teeth curl in horror.
The Terran, predictably, shrieked. Kraglin dropped the blanket over its head, hoping its species was one of the ones that would go quiet and still in total darkness. He'd never had that kind of luck. The shrieking didn't stop as he wrapped the brat in the blanket and rubbed it all over. He wasn't sure how dry you had to get Terran kids, but he wasn't taking any risks. He'd known a few species that would go mouldy if you left them damp. He even dried between its tiny, fragile toes before he collected the corners of the blanket and slung it over his shoulder like a sack.
It was definitely a much easier way to carry a small Terran child. It couldn't bite him and it couldn't get purchase to escape. He dumped it out of the sack, still crying, into the hammock.
"Shut it up," Yondu mumbled, burrowing into his pillows.
"It don't know how," Kraglin responded, tugging the blanket he'd left in the hammock around it. Wouldn't go having it freeze to death in the night. He grabbed some new straps for its wrists and ankles, then headed back to the bathroom to stuff its clothing and the blanket he'd used to dry it into the rarely-used wash unit. Come morning, it would have clothes again. He even tossed its shoes in for good measure. Void knew they didn't have any other shoes that little.
By the time he got back to bed, the Terran's sniffling was finally, finally tapering off. The quiet that descended as the little snuffles stopped was merciful, empty of everything except the ringing in his ears and Yondu's soft snoring. He snuggled into Yondu's warm, inviting side and slept.
Chapter 3: Bad Seed
The days that followed were difficult. It took an entire decacycle, even with the Broker’s resources, to find someone who was willing to perform brain surgery on a Terran and who could be trusted not to perform additional, experimental brain surgery on the Terran in question. They burned through half a dozen contacts--literally--before they found someone Yondu thought they could trust.
In the meantime, the Terran pissed itself, shat in a corner, screamed, cried, refused to eat, ate far too quickly, threw up and had to be hosed off at least a dozen times. Yondu, for once in his life, took responsibility for most of it. He kept muttering about the idea that Kraglin might flush the brat and Kraglin wasn’t doing anything to make him think he wouldn’t if he were left alone with it too long.
Mostly, Kraglin was left in charge of the crew. Usually, he enjoyed the minutiae of personnel clashes. The exile, however, left him with a whole new set of concerns. There were rumblings happening, rumblings that Kraglin didn't like. Some of the crew were questioning Yondu's suitability to lead. Others were talking about jumping ship and going to beg Stakar for readmission into the fleet proper. None of them were happy. Many of them were bored.
Bored, unhappy Ravagers were dangerous as all hell, so Kraglin started researching jobs in his downtime. They'd need to keep the crew busy to keep them happy. They'd need units to pay for entertainment and shore leave and everything else that they were going to have to do to raise morale. The best way to get units was to make sure the crew got to hunt, got to look for people to kill and steal from.
So he sat on the darknets and charted their path to the brain surgeon alongside pathways to the jobs. One, two, three jobs on the way, each of them promising violence and profit. He responded to the requests, forging Yondu's netkey for each, then went and dropped his tablet on the arm of Yondu's chair.
"Found a way to pay for the brat's damn chip," he said.
"The fuck is this?" Yondu picked up the tablet and peered at it, reading it over slowly.
"Work, Cap'n." Kraglin tapped the edge of the tablet. "Three jobs. I signed off on the contracts for you before someone else could snag them rather than waiting around to lose them after talking them over."
"Look dangerous. We got a kid on board."
"Then the crew'll have to do some murdering, huh?" Kraglin leaned on the arm of the Captain's chair and shrugged, hoping Yondu wasn't having one of the rare days he could read Kraglin like a book. They were few and far between, but they happened from time to time, like something in his brain made a connection that would go foggy shortly thereafter.
Yondu sighed. "Too much damn murdering until the kid at least understands he's gotta stay put when we tell him." He tried to pass the tablet back.
"It's gonna pay for its chip and leave us room to celebrate the fucking crying stopping," Kraglin snapped, putting his hands behind his back and refusing to take it.
Yondu looked up at him, pink eyes narrowing as if he was looking for something. "You been sleeping?"
"Much as I can with the carrying on."
Yondu nodded and turned his attention back to Kraglin's tablet, scrolling slowly with one finger and a slightly more interested expression. He sat back in his chair and brought the tablet up closer to his face, eyes flicking up and down more quickly as he focussed. "We can definitely do the first two. Last one, though? I think you're making a damn mistake picking that one. Nothing's gonna go right and you know it. We're going to lose crew we can't afford. Some of them been rumbling, won't play nice enough for this."
"Shame," Kraglin said flatly. "Ain't it?"
"You trying to say something, Obfonteri?"
Kraglin glanced around the bridge. The crew there were loyal, he was sure of it, but he moved so his mouth was just inches from Yondu's ear anyway. Crew wouldn’t listen in. Usually when he did that he was giving Yondu a graphic description of something he’d like to do to his cock, ass or both "I'm trying to say there's crew we can't afford to keep but there's crew we can't afford to fire, either."
Yondu sucked in a sharp breath and nodded slowly. "Right. Put in the orders with the navigators. We're gonna pull these jobs and get a chip in that kid's brain, then we're gonna teach him how to be useful."
Kraglin pulled back, smiling and nodding. "Of course, sir." He pounded his chest in salute, then hurried off. That had actually gone better than he'd expected. He'd expected more fighting, more of Yondu coddling the brat. Yondu was notoriously bad at reading people. The rumblings were more than he'd expected, more of a roar, then. Yondu wouldn't have noticed, otherwise. Good thing they were going to take care of some of the problems.
Kraglin walked into the nav centre and paused in the doorway, struck by a thought. If the rumblings were more of a roar, that implied that there was a good chance the kid was in danger. He closed his eyes in pain as he realized this meant he'd have to spend more time with the brat. It was the last thing he wanted, but it was that or leave the little shit to the least savoury crewmembers’ tender mercies. He swore quietly, then turned to the head navigator. "New orders. Gonna do some hunting."
She had too many teeth even by his standards as she grinned, her many eyes squinting and glinting at him. "We'll take care of that," she said. "Coordinates. Now."
Chapter 4: Miscalculation
As predicted, the first two jobs went well. There was scarcely a hitch as the Ravagers infiltrated compounds and stole rare artifacts for selling to folks who'd pay. No one got so much as a scratch. Kraglin caught the only attempt on the brat's life before it could go further than someone approaching him in the hallway. Overall, he was counting things as a success.
At least, he had been, before he'd found himself pinned down on the floor of a cave with some kind of horrifying beast advancing on him. Yes, most of the people he'd set out to get dead were definitely gone, that was great. He just wasn't supposed to be among their numbers. He was supposed to make it back to the Eclector and survive. He was supposed to watch this stupid planet disappear and feel a vicious stab of pride that they'd succeeded and were leaving behind the worst of the worst.
He wasn't going to make it, though. He was going to die and there wasn't anything he could do. He was bleeding, blue spilling out onto the floor, almost black in the dim light of his wristcomm. He could see the body of the beast's last victim, an asshole who'd threatened only half a decacycle before to kill the kid and eat its brains like pudding. In a fit of irony, the Krylorian's head had bashed against a rock, spilling his brains out across the cave floor.
Kraglin focussed on that, rather than the beast. It had too many legs and spilled brains were a better last image than whatever it was. His heart pounded in his chest and he heard its feet scuttling like one of the bugs that had crawled across his bedroll in the mines. It came closer and closer until he expected to feel its breath on him, expected one of those giant fangs to pierce some part of him at any instant.
It didn't happen. Instead, a sharp whistle pierced the air and Kraglin sagged in place with relief. Where someone else might have been afraid of that sound, where someone else might have heard it before and cringed against the floor, Kraglin struggled to keep a grateful lump from forming in his throat. There was a thud as the thing hit the ground and he raised his head to look.
The arrow glowed and whipped back and forth through the beast's head a few times. Kraglin watched in dazed wonder, glad that it was never getting back up. It was never getting up, but if something didn't happen, neither was Kraglin and, given that he had the chunk of precious mineral in his pocket, that would mean the whole job was a bust.
"Cap'n?" Kraglin's voice came out weaker than intended, but it was apparently loud enough.
"Obfonteri, what the hell do you think you're doing down there?" Yondu demanded as he strode over to look Kraglin up and down. "I give you permission to lay down and stop doing your flarking job? Cause I forgot about that, if I did."
"Sorry, sir. It's this stalactite. Or is it a stagmite? Stalagmite? Whichever. Got me."
"Yeah, I can see that. Shift up just a little and I'll take care of it. You got the Cavorite?"
"Yeah." Kraglin pushed himself up as much as he could, shoving the long, thin stalactite further into his body. It hurt enough to bring tears to his eyes and make his mouth water.
"Good. Now hold real fucking still." Yondu reached out and grabbed Kraglin's upper arm to hold it tight, to help him stay still, then he started whistling. He whistled loudly, his tones pure and long, as the arrow swept under Kraglin's raised body. It moved back and forth and back and forth, the heat of the red radiation warming his back.
Yondu reached under him and Kraglin felt something give. That small sensation gave way to something big and awful, a burning pressure inside him and he coughed.
"Your lungs are filling with blood," Yondu said. "So just keep fucking breathing or I'll have to kill you myself."
"I ain't--" he coughed. "Cap'n, can't--" He coughed again.
"Yeah, I know you can't walk. So just don't bite me for this shit." Yondu bundled Kraglin's long limbs together and lifted.
The pain of that was almost enough to make Kraglin black out. Almost, but not quite. He wished he had , as every step Yondu took was jarring. It hurt. He tried to tell Yondu just to leave him, but he couldn't catch his breath enough to form words.
Yondu's piloting always suffered when he was distracted and the short trip back to the Eclector was no exception. Yondu hit enough small bits of debris that it was only very slightly better than the walk to the shuttle had been. The landing was one of Yondu's worst and Kraglin drooled in pain at the jostling, saliva running in thick rivulets down his chin and every row of his teeth extended. He bit his tongue as the shuttle bounced against the hangar floor, but he barely registered the extra injury.
Every breath was difficult and agonizing. The short trip from shuttle floor to gurney felt like it took an eternity and then he knew nothing.
Chapter 5: Haze
Waking up was a bad decision. Waking up was the kind of decision that made him think he should probably just give up his merry life of piracy and take up a new life, one where he was wrapped up in soft things all the time and where he never got out of bed again. Because that was going to be a thing. Never ever getting out of bed again as long as he lived. Waking up meant pain and Kraglin hated pain. He hated feeling bad. He hated, well, everything, when he felt like this.
But pain meant he was alive. Given he had passed out pretty sure he was actually dying, that felt like something of a victory, even if it was an unwanted one. Survival, as a long-term goal, was always a good plan on some level or another. He hoped. It usually meant an eventual decrease in pain.
Opening his eyes was a marathon task. Every increment that they opened felt like going into battle. Every bit of light dumping into them hurt, made them water. Still, he persisted, wanting to make sure he was really back on the Eclector. It was within the realm of possibility that this was some kind of hallucination as he lay dying.
It wasn't a hallucination. He knew that ceiling. He'd personally caused one of the stains he was staring at. Crewmate had an unfortunate accident with a blaster after said crewmate had made some unfortunate life choices and Kraglin had been the person standing next to him holding said blaster. It had been one of his better moments as first mate and he was still proud of it.
He opened his eyes the rest of the way, his eyelids feeling gritty against his eyeballs as he managed the gargantuan effort of getting them all the way open. He was awake. He was alive. He had, presumably, not been fired. These were all good signs.
There were whispering voices on the edge of his hearing and he held his breath trying to make out the words. It took him a second to focus, but once he pinpointed the sources of the voices, it was easier to follow their accents.
"Look, I don't care why it's happening, you gotta put a stop to it," came Yondu's familiar growl.
"It's a natural biological process, Captain," Doc replied, her patience infinite in all things. No matter what Yondu told her to do, she always stayed calm. It was really nice. Soothing.
"Ain't nothing natural about it. I want it stopped. Obfonteri's out for who the fuck knows how long, we lost ten men on that raid and I got a fucking kid to deal with. I don't have time for this shit."
"Captain, even if I could put an end to it, I don't think I would. Altering your natural cycles can have devastating long-term effects. This is just something that happens to virgin members of your species at this age and--"
"I ain't no fucking virgin ," Yondu hissed. "Don't you ever say that again."
Kraglin knew intimately that Yondu wasn't a virgin. He'd had his cock up that tight blue ass more often than any other he'd made acquaintance with. Yondu had a gloriously filthy mouth on him, a deliciously curved dick and burying himself in his captain was Kraglin's favourite hobby.
"Your body doesn't realize that, though. Part of sex for your species is the sharing of hormonal markers through your skin. Without having done that--"
"I've fucked enough that I'm pretty sure I've absorbed a tonne of whatever markers you're talking about." Kraglin could hear Yondu puffing up indignantly. He'd seen it enough times to know.
"But your skin is significantly more permeable than the galactic average. We don't have another species on board the ship within two standard deviations and--"
"Fucking other species ain't deviant, you take that back!" Yondu was getting loud enough that Kraglin was confident there wasn't anyone but his captain and the doctor in med bay. All the people he'd been gunning to lose must have died outright then. Good.
"I never said it was deviant. I said--You know what, never mind. There's no one here for you to fuck that could transmit the right chemicals to your body. That's all this is. You need to accept it."
Kraglin desperately wanted to know what 'it' was, but his eyes were sliding slowly and inexorably shut, blocking out the familiar ceiling above. Yondu's response got lost in the distance, reduced to little more than a rumble. He tried to make a mental note to ask Yondu about whatever 'it' was when he woke up. He failed.
Chapter 6: Getting attached
Kraglin hobbled along, one arm bound across his chest in a tight sling and his free hand on his blaster. He was in pain. He knew he needed to slow down and take some time to breathe, but if he did, he was afraid he'd lose Yondu in the crowd. He wasn't going to risk that. He couldn't. For one thing, Kraglin was more than a little defenseless if someone decided to do him any harm close up and, for another, Yondu was absolutely shit at watching his own back. If he lost Yondu, Yondu would be in danger, focussed as he was on moving the brat swiftly through the marketplace.
Kraglin wasn't going to fail, not when getting the child communicative was within his grasp. As soon as the kid could understand other people, they could at least teach him how to use a fucking toilet. Kraglin had tried showing him, miming the act of doing his business, but the child was either too stupid to get it or actively afraid of a sonic toilet. Kraglin couldn't figure out which and a translator chip might just put an end to the screaming all the damn time. Kraglin was willing to pay a little pain for those effects. It was worth it.
A lot of pain, however, was a bit much. The painkillers left him groggy so he didn't dare take the dose hidden in his pocket before they got the kid its chip. The kid was at its most vulnerable as they moved through the bustling marketplace. It wasn't just the market that they had to worry about. No, Kraglin was sure there was crew hiding around every corner and he wouldn't put it past Stakar for there to be personnel from the Starhawk hiding, ready to grab the brat and make Yondu stand full trial.
Worse would be if they were there to 'erase' the 'mistake' Yondu had made. Kraglin could tell that Yondu was already intending to keep the brat even if it turned out to be useless. He liked cute shit. It was annoying as all hell, but it was the reality of things. He'd stop to pet people's tiny, fuzzy beasts, even.
If Stakar sent someone to kill the brat, there would be a fight unlike any they'd experienced before. Actual fights between Ravager factions were incredibly rare, but they tended to be destructive. They tended to be.. explosive. They tended to destroy entire ports of call.
Kraglin wasn't sure this one would be so much a fight as a slaughter. He wasn't sure that the Eclector’s crew would back Yondu and that couldn't possibly end well for either Kraglin or his captain. If he wanted to live, he needed to keep his eyes on the prize. That meant hobbling along, no matter what. It meant not letting captain or child out of his sight for even a second. It meant being ready to fire at any instant.
The brat stumbled, but Yondu caught it under the armpit, giving it a little shake. Wouldn't do to let it get trampled, not when they were nearly in sight of the surgeon. Still, the kid was apparently not a complete idiot, because it took advantage of its own stumble--and Kraglin had to wonder if it had meant to stumble--to try and dart off into the crowd, away from Yondu.
Unfortunately for the kid, it was short and it wasn't hard for Kraglin, who was definitely taller than galactic average, to spot the angry people it was running into. Pained or not, Kraglin was fast and he grabbed the stupid brat and dragged it back to Yondu. "Sorry, Cap'n. Running a little slow today."
The brat was snotting again, crying and rubbing at its shoulder. It looked sad and Kraglin gave it a sharp shake, hoping that would shut it up. He should have known better. That never shut it up.
"Don't lose him again," Yondu snapped, taking the brat's wrist and dragging it along. His stride was longer than the little shit's legs could keep up with so it had to trot. It was almost amusing, cute to watch. Kraglin tried not to laugh at it, since laughing would fuck with his shoulder, but he couldn't help snickering anyway.
The surgeon's technician met them at the door and swept them inside. "Hurry hurry hurry. Master needs to finish every surgery on time today. There's an Event tonight, so hurry. We need to get the little one strapped down and wired up for her or there won't be time."
Kraglin hated the surgeon and the technician, but they'd been good enough to fix him up on at least one occasion, so he didn't snap. He just helped hold the child down against the bed while the technician pressed wires against its skin.
"You want me to do the anaesthetic shot?" Yondu growled as he fastened a strap. "Your boss said something about liability when we was chatting about this and I'm more than willing to conk the little fucker out for her if she don't want that."
"No appropriate anaesthetic has been found, given the specific nature of hybrids. Master intends to make everything go as quickly as possible, but the child will experience some discomfort."
Yondu stared at the tech in horror. "You telling me your boss means to put a little kid through the full pain of a translation implant?"
"Yes." The tech lifted one foot apologetically and bobbed his head. "There is little other choice. Hybrids are already in a place of difficulty, but as you could not tell us the specifics of the secondary portion of the hybridization, we could not come up with a suitable medication. Please ensure that the patient's head is fully restrained facing to the left and Master will be in shortly." He hurried out.
Yondu looked at Kraglin. Kraglin looked at Yondu. The child sobbed in its restraints, jerking and pulling against them, occasionally shrieking.
"Cap'n?" Kraglin asked.
"Don't really got much choice," Yondu responded, fingering his arrow. "There ain't many places I'd trust with him and there's even fewer that ain't gonna charge completely ridiculous fees. I think we're gonna have to put the poor little thing through with it."
Kraglin didn't snort, though it was a narrow thing. Poor little thing his fuzzy peach ass. The kid kept trying to explode his eardrums and Yondu had sympathy for it. Ugh. Still. It was a kid. A child. A tiny, partially formed person who might someday be a real person. Maybe. If it got lucky. "Think you're right." The more he thought about it, the more it didn't sit well. Still, he held the child's head down and helped Yondu strap it in, tugging at the kid's head to make sure it really couldn't move when it was all done. "At least the surgery's quick?"
"Yeah. We can only hope there won't be anything weird. Fuck knows what the surgeon might have to do. I sent her scans of the kid's brain but I dunno if they were clear enough. Little shit kept thrashing." Yondu looked worried. He was attached and Kraglin kept having to remind himself that an attached Yondu was a Yondu who'd whistle if there were even a joke about doing away with whatever he'd decided he liked.
Kraglin clapped him on the arm and slid his hand down to give his elbow a squeeze. "Hey," he said, quietly. "It's gonna be all right. Brat ain't gonna die over a little brain surgery. And then you'll be able to give it a fucking job. That'll be nice, won't it?"
Yondu sighed and touched the child's hair, leaning into Kraglin a little. "Yeah. About time he started learning his jobs and shit. Been coddling him too long."
They really had been. Kraglin hadn't got laid in weeks and he was pretty sure he was going to die of blue balls if he didn't get a moment alone with his captain soon. Still, better not to let on about that particular thing. Yondu liked sex on his own terms and not anyone else's. "Little bit. Once it understands what you're saying, maybe we can get it its own room or something."
"Ain't gonna be real safe for that, now is it," Yondu said. "Half the crew actually wants to eat him. Ain't right."
"Could put it up on an M-Ship," Kraglin suggested, watching the kid struggle. "Give it one you've got the only override for. We've got a couple unclaimed ones that could use some repairs."
"I'll think on that." Yondu pet the child's hair as if it was a timid, frightened animal. "Hopefully we'll be able to figure out more shit once he can talk to us. He can't be as stupid as he seems. I'm pretty sure Terrans are toilet-trained by this age. He might not be, but that seems unlikely, given his daddy."
"Maybe the toilets on Terra are different. I never been there."
"You'd blend in pretty good," Yondu said, eyeing the kid and eyeing Kraglin. "Need to keep that in mind if we ever run into any troubles with the brat. He's at least the same basic colour you are."
"Looks more like you." The last thing Kraglin wanted was to end up having to run a bunch of cons where he had to play the part of the kid's father. There was no way he'd be able to pull it off. He didn't have a paternal bone in his body.
"He's pink ," Yondu said, waving at him.
"So? He's got your... I dunno... jaw line? Nose? Something. Him and me, we don't look nothing alike except colour." Kraglin shrugged. "I got a different everything."
Yondu grunted and opened his mouth to respond, but the surgeon walked in.
"We're ready? Good. Hold still while the sterilizer cleans the room. Wouldn't do to give the poor little thing a brain infection. It's just a baby, isn't it? No, full sterilization protocol. Hold still."
A bright light flooded the room and Kraglin closed his eyes. They watered at the brightness of the light even through his eyelids and he squeezed his hands into tight fists. He hated surgical cleanings. They always left his hair feeling all staticky, standing on ends. They were necessary, though, he knew that. It wouldn't do to have the kid's brain rot out after going to all this work.
The child, of course, screamed. Kraglin couldn't actually blame him. If the static was coursing over his skin the way it was Kraglin's--he was pretty sure there was some kind of grounding fault in the surgeon's sterilization unit--and he didn't understand what was happening, it had to be terrifying. Kraglin would have been scared, a little, if he'd been that tiny and defenseless. Maybe.
"Loud, isn't he?" the surgeon asked curiously. "I don't encounter many species with that vocal strength. Bodes well for his lung capacity though. He should be able to hold his breath awhile if he ever needs to, which can only be a good thing with your lot."
The light faded as Yondu replied. "Terrans is pretty tough from what I hear. Sort of an all-terrain kinda species. Survive deserts and oceans and shit. They're all over their damn planet."
Kraglin opened his eyes and he didn't like the way the surgeon was looking at the kid, but there wasn't really anything he could do. "I hear you're in a rush. We gonna get on with it?" He'd feel better about the whole thing once they were back on the Eclector.
"Yes, I think so." She drew a large tissue excavation unit from a drawer. "He needs to hold very still or I could kill him. As far as I can tell from the scans, his brain is configured a little bit differently from most of the spacefaring species. We'll implant the chip and we'll have to get him talking before we'll know if I'm right."
"If you're wrong?" Yondu demanded, his hand on the Terran's.
"I'm fairly sure it won't affect his motor skills or basic reasoning. You'll still be able to train him to work, as far as I can tell."
"That's not much in the way of reassurance," Yondu pointed out. Kraglin tended to agree. If the best that could be said was 'he probably won't be a drooling vegetable' then it probably wasn't safe.
Kraglin moved to grab the kid's shoulder. "We won't let him move. Let's just get it done."
Yondu looked him over a moment, considering, then nodded. "You heard him. Get on with it."
Kraglin watched in fascinated horror as the excavator dug into the child's neck, right below his ear, the long tendril snaking under the skin as it drilled and delved into his skull. Kraglin didn't flinch, but it was a close thing. He pressed harder against the child's shoulder.
It was probably the first time the kid had screamed that Kraglin actually understood why he was screaming and felt something for him. Kraglin had been out cold for his translator chip. He'd been pretty little anyway, only a flood season or two old and he barely remembered even the residual pain. He was pretty sure this kid would remember and this was a horrible way to go through brain surgery.
"Hey, it's going to be okay," Kraglin said in a low voice. He knew the kid couldn't understand him, but this was all a step too far. The kid had reason to be screaming and Kraglin didn't like that anymore than he liked the crunching, squelching sounds from the tissue excavator.
The surgeon knew her stuff, at least, because it didn't take long for her to excavate the passage and thread the wires into the kid's brain, leaving a shiny little silver transmitter on the surface.
"Looks vulnerable," Yondu said. "Shouldn't it be buried?"
"We don't know how he's going to grow and we don't know what adjustments are going to need to be made. We'll leave him with a surface unit for now and we can upgrade him to a fully internal one later."
"Well, switch the damn thing on," Yondu snapped.
"I’m just waiting for the gel to set so it won't move and then I can."
“Hurry it up," Yondu said. "We don't have all day."
"Patience, Udonta. You can't rush art." She peered at the implant, examining it closely with a mechanical eye that no doubt had some sort of scanner in it, the way it whirred and turned in her socket. It creeped Kraglin out. He hated modders.
"It ain't supposed to be art. It's supposed to be science ," Yondu snapped, using his sleeve to wipe some of the tears off of the kid's face. "And science, you can hurry up. So hurry it the fuck up before I get pissy."
She sighed. "Don't blame me if it doesn't work because I turned it on too early."
"It's fine. Turn it on."
She touched a small tool to the outside of the surface unit and it was like Kraglin's brain jolted sideways. Suddenly, he could understand the patterns in the kid's screaming. The words came into focus abruptly, the uplink in the kid's chip linking back to his own.
The kid was whimpering for his mother. It was pathetic, really, but it still tugged at something in Kraglin. The mother was supposed to be dead, he thought. They weren't supposed to pick up any kid that still had parents planet-side. There had never been one who had. Ego had always sent them for orphans and the idea that some woman was looking for this kid didn't sit right with him.
"Hey, shut up," Yondu snapped at the kid, moving down to get into his face.
The kid's eyes widened and his crying stopped abruptly. He stared at Yondu. "You speak Terran ?" the kid asked.
"Of course I don't speak Terran. Fucking idiot. You probably did scramble his d'ast brains. I'm speaking Ravager."
That wasn't, Kraglin knew, especially true. While Yondu did speak the Ravager creole--every Ravager picked it up with time---he rarely actually did. Yondu spoke Kree. Everyone knew that and no one said a word about it. Everyone pretended that he didn't, but the harsh syllables were unmistakable. Kraglin wasn't going to call him out on it, though. It was best if he was allowed to keep his self-delusion. As first mate, it was Kraglin’s job both to prevent his captain from descending into dangerous levels of self-delusion and also to ensure that the necessary lies were kept to keep his captain sane.
"I don't speak Ravager. I speak Terran. Take me back! I need to go home!"
Yondu sighed and knelt, getting more comfortable as he settled in for a bit more of a talk. "What's your name, kid?"
"I ain't supposed to tell strangers."
"I ain't a stranger. I'm your boss," Yondu said, in some of the gentlest tones Kraglin had ever heard him use.
"I'm a kid. I don't have a job. I go to school. I have to go home. Please just take me home." The kid was blubbering, trying to escape the straps.
"It don't matter if you're a kid or not, you have a job and you're gonna do it. Now what's your name?"
The kid sniffled and eyed Yondu suspiciously, debating his options. "You gonna shove that thing in my head again?"
Yondu glanced up at the surgeon, whose eye was whirring merrily as it focussed on the child's head.
"Everything appears to be working. He may need adjustments as he grows. It's so hard to tell with children."
"Nope," Yondu said. "That thing ain't going in your head again any time soon. Name, now, or I'll name you and I guarantee you're gonna hate whatever I decide to call you, got it?"
"Peter," the child said. "Peter Quill. Can you please take me home? Please? I gotta get back and apologize to my mom."
"Your mama's still alive?" Yondu asked, eyes narrowing into pink slits.
It really was the million unit question. If the kid's mother was still alive then they'd committed a whole different level of kidnapping. Kraglin waited while the kid sobbed and wailed incoherently for a moment. Finally, something came through the noise, however.
"She died. She just died. I gotta go to her funeral. I gotta. Or she won't know I'm sorry."
"How long Terrans take for a funeral?" Yondu asked.
"I dunno. A week, maybe?"
Yondu patted his shoulder gently. "Then you're too late, kiddo. She's already seen the colours. That means you're one of us now."
There was grief, then. The child--Peter--made a sound that wasn't anything like what Kraglin had heard before. It was an awful sound, like choking on his own screams. Kraglin stepped back. Maybe he could sneak out and just wait outside. He could hope.
Yondu glanced at him as he moved, then turned his attention back to Peter. "Look, Quill. Here's the deal. We stole you cause you're small. Can get into places we can't. Good for thieving."
"I'm not a thief," Peter sobbed miserably. "I don't wanna be a thief."
"The way I look at it, I'm the one that knows how a spaceship works and you're the dirt-bounder a few thousand lightyears from home. It don't really matter what you want. You're going to do what I say or you're going to be in for a world of hurt. Oxygen costs units and your species needs oxygen, so if you wanna keep breathing, you're gonna start thieving."
"Why can't you just take me home?" Peter asked. "Then you don't have to pay for oxygen or anything."
"Because I ain't gonna just take you back. I stole you for a reason and you're gonna do as you're told." Yondu turned to the surgeon. "Is he good to go?"
"I don't see why not. Monitor him for any neurological symptoms, but he should be fine. Everything appears to be working properly."
Kraglin took that as his signal and started unstrapping the kid. Kid was still crying, because of course he was, but at least he'd stopped shrieking. Kraglin could take a little sobbing. It sucked to miss a funeral. He'd missed enough to know.
Chapter 7: (Mis) Communication Quest
If Kraglin had hoped that the kid actually communicating would lead to the kid shutting the fuck up, he'd been sorely mistaken. He wasn't sure what was wrong with the brat, but he never shut up. He didn't even finish one question before he started on the next but if you didn't answer--even if it meant talking over him--he'd ask the same question over and over again.
It was driving Kraglin insane. Peter would ask questions from his hammock, late into the night, with Yondu pretending badly to be completely asleep. Why Peter bought it, Kraglin couldn't figure out. Yondu's fin stopped glowing when he was asleep and it didn't when he was faking it. Peter didn't seem to be the most observant of beings. Apparently Terrans were some kind of apex predator, because he didn't have the sense the void had given an asteroid.
Given the way Peter would ask questions of crewmen that wanted nothing more than to eat a Terran, Kraglin was honestly starting to wonder if the child was suicidal. It would explain a lot.
It would explain why he was snuggled up to his captain, who was oddly rigid next to him, with a small child humming a song about four feet from his head. All he wanted was to get a little time alone with Yondu and all the kid apparently wanted was to annoy Kraglin into slitting his throat.
"Hey Peter," Kraglin said.
A little pink face popped up over the edge of the hammock. "Yeah?" came a tentative reply.
"Shut the fuck up."
"I'm not even talking ."
"I'm not. I'm humming. It's way quieter than singing."
"It's going to get you dead right quick here." Kraglin flinched as a sharp fingernail prodded him in the ribs, but he persevered. "Imagine that you're humming."
The kid had an active imagination, that much had already become clear. He kept trying to entertain anyone he thought maybe wouldn't eat him with ridiculous stories that couldn't possibly be true. Kraglin was about done with the stories, especially since he seemed to be the most frequent target of them after Yondu.
"You can ."
"But I'm forgetting the words," Peter said in a baleful tone.
"The words to what?"
"The Pina Colada song."
"What the fuck is that?"
"It's a song. It's on my walkman but I guess you guys lost that when you stole me."
Kraglin pursed his lips and frowned. "What's a walkman?"
"It's about this big." Hands appeared and the child gestured. "Blue box, orange headphones. Plays cassette tapes."
"I have no idea what a cassette tape is, but I think we got that thing somewhere." Kraglin heaved himself up off the bed and turned on the light, ignoring Yondu's quiet hiss of irritation. Yes, he should respect his captain's wishes to hold the kid's toy back, but if he didn't get some alone time, he was going to shove Peter out of an airlock. He started rifling around in a drawer until he came up with the thing. "This it?"
Peter's whole face lit up. "Yes. Yes, give it here. I want my music. Is it still working? It isn't broken?" He reached out of the hammock with greedy hands.
"You can have it as long as you don't make another sound all night and you keep your damn mouth shut to the crew in the morning." Kraglin held the thing just out of reach.
Peter nodded excitedly, his fingers twitching. "I promise. I'll be good."
"Then you put on that music and you don't make another noise." Kraglin thrust the music player into Peter's hands.
Peter immediately put the orange baubles on his head and lay back. A moment after he disappeared below the edges of the hammock, faint music began playing. Peter was mercifully silent.
Kraglin turned off the lights and crawled back into bed next to Yondu, watching the hammock in the dim glow of Yondu's fin. It didn't move. The hammock stayed still, didn't rock, didn't twist. Peter's breathing was quiet enough, though it hitched a little here and there. The faint melodies from the ear baubles held a steady volume.
It was the closest to peace Kraglin had known in some time. He waited a few moments longer, until the tempo of the music changed two or three times.
Kraglin snuggled in against Yondu's back. The kid was down and out and quiet. His hearing was blocked by the ear baubles. If they stayed quiet, there was no reason whatsoever that Kraglin couldn't get laid. He wanted it so badly he could practically taste the sour-salty of Yondu's jizz, practically feel it sticking to the roof of his mouth like some kind of taffy that didn't want to come off.
Yondu stiffened, though, and not in the good way. He was still a second, then reached back and smacked Kraglin.
"Ow," Kraglin muttered. "Kid can't hear us. It's all right."
"I ain't in the mood."
Kraglin stared at the glow of Yondu's fin, trying to decide if it was glowing hard enough to indicate he was thinking of whistling. If it was, he needed to shut up and ask nothing. If it wasn’t, then he had questions.
It had been ages since they'd fucked. Yondu, before the kid, had wanted to get fucked at least twice a day. Occasionally, he'd make turn-about fair play and all, but Kraglin was generally pretty happy with things going such that he didn't end up with Yondu's gluey spunk backing up his shit production. He didn't mind fucking Yondu, not at all, and Yondu didn't ever let it go long. If they'd fucked more recently, Kraglin wouldn't have worried, but this was strange.
"Crew ain't gonna come busting in neither. We got rid of the worst ones. And my shoulder's mostly back to normal. Long as I use my other hand to get you ready, we ain't gonna run into any trouble."
Yondu turned his head abruptly to look over his shoulder at Kraglin. "I said I ain't in the damn mood. You deaf or stupid?"
Kraglin frowned and put a hand on Yondu's side, gently. They never talked about feelings or any of that, but he knew when his captain needed a little comfort and this was looking to be one of those moments. "Just worried about you. It's been awhile and I figured you'd jump at the chance."
"Well, I ain't jumping." Yondu scowled and shifted under Kraglin's hand.
Kraglin recognized that scowl. He'd seen it before, though not often. "Cap'n, you hurt?"
Yondu rolled over completely and prodded Kraglin in the sternum. His ragged fingernail actually hurt through the thin tanktop Kraglin had taken to wearing to bed since the kid had joined them. He had no desire whatsoever to have the kid asking stupid questions about his anatomy. He knew he kept most of his internals a little lower than most species, but it was annoying to show off to people who'd never seen his people before. They tended to ask questions Kraglin didn't much appreciate.
"Let's get something straight, Obfonteri," Yondu snarled, digging his nail deeper into Kraglin's sternum. He jerked backwards--it hurt . "If I say I ain't in the mood, I ain't in the mood and you ain't gonna pressure me into doing shit I don't wanna be doing."
"Never said I was," Kraglin replied, keeping his voice carefully steady. Yondu's fin was brighter now and he could turn vicious so easily. "I just wondered if you was hurt. I ain't known you to turn me down like that before."
Yondu dug the nail in deeper and Kraglin was sure he felt blood. "Well there's a first time for everything, ain't there? You'll get over it. Ain't like you're all that great anyway. Had better fucks from bots."
Kraglin felt a twinge of hurt deep in his gut, but shoved it away. He'd shared enough bots with Yondu to know full well that Yondu didn't like bots at all. He didn't go back to the same brothel twice, never tried the same bot model any more often than he felt like he needed to in order to make sure the crew saw him enjoying the spoils. Kraglin wondered if they'd ever share a bot again, now that the crew dynamics were all new and the fleet was no longer behind them.
"Yeah, well, I'm cheaper'n a bot. But I'm more worried about you than a bot would be, too. You'd tell me if you was hurt, right? You wouldn't leave me fucked for being able to watch your back against some of the assholes out for your blood, would you?"
Yondu sighed, a long sound that seemed to deflate him in size. It wasn't a good look on him and it only made Kraglin worry more. "Got a little... I guess you'd call it a medical thing. Making me cramp up a little too much for a good fuck. It's gonna be fine, though."
Kraglin searched Yondu's face for more clues as to the source of this medical 'thing'. "You got cramps? Where?"
"My gut, dumbass. Doc says it'll pass, though. Just gotta wait it out."
Something twigged in the back of Kraglin's mind. He'd heard... something. If he could just remember what, he'd have the advantage in this conversation. If he could just remember. He couldn't, though. He was never going to remember. It was like trying to catch a nebula in his bare hands. "So you're sick?" No, Yondu wasn't sick. He couldn't be. That didn't feel right.
"Something like that. I dunno. Doc says it ain't nothing to worry about. Hurts like a bitch though. Gonna take a little time to pass and then you can fuck my brains out." Yondu shuffled a little closer, pulling Kraglin in with one arm. "You're going to be fine waiting a little."
Kraglin wasn't entirely sure about that. It had been a long time since he'd gone so long without sex. The last time he remembered a dry spell that had lasted this long, he was pretty sure he'd been a virgin. Still. It wouldn't kill him to jerk off for awhile. He wouldn't say he'd be fine, but at least his balls wouldn't explode.
"You will," Yondu insisted. "It can't be more'n a couple more weeks. A month at the outside."
"You're gonna be running around for a month like this? Do we gotta fire Doc? Cause this ain't right. There's gotta be something you can do or something Doc can do."
"There ain't. Trust me. I asked. I asked a lot. Didn't do me no good. Now come closer. You're warm. Feels good."
"You using me as a heating pad again?"
"You bet. S'about all you're good for sometimes. Getting all soft like this over a little bit of me being sick. Fucking stupid."
Kraglin rolled his eyes. "You're such an asshole."
"I know. Best asshole in the galaxy, ain't I?"
"Sure thing." Kraglin considered kissing Yondu. It was something he always wanted, but Yondu was iffy on kisses. Sure, Kraglin could get as many kisses as he wanted when he was balls-deep in Yondu's ass, but when it came to times that he wasn't grunting and thrusting? Yondu was more likely to push him away than actually kiss back.
Kraglin decided to play it safe and just press his body up against Yondu's, no kissing required. It seemed to be what Yondu wanted, because some of the tension drained from his body. Almost immediately, Yondu's fin started to dim and soon he was snoring loudly into Kraglin's collarbone.
It took less than a day for the kid to start moping around miserably. He was hateful and upset, tired and cranky. He was crying every time anyone looked at him sidelong and Kraglin sort of wanted to punch him. Even with the ability to communicate, the weird high pitched wailing hadn't disappeared completely. It kept catching Kraglin by surprise.
When the kid sniffled his way through the night, Kraglin let him have it. Sure, they'd had a good night the night before, but the kid couldn't have two good ones in a row. Surely he'd be fine again by the next night. He'd put the orange baubles on and he'd duck his little head into the hammock and he'd sleep.
Only he didn't. He just sniffled miserably until well after Yondu's glow had dimmed. It was incessant. Kraglin waited an hour, two hours, but it didn't slow, didn't taper off. It kept going, arhythmically. Finally, Kraglin slid out of the bed and shuffled over to the hammock.
"The fuck is wrong with you?"
"My walkman's dead."
"You broke it? That was stupid."
"I didn't break it!" Peter snapped at him. "It died ."
"Didn't look alive in the first place."
"It... It wasn't. But it's dead now and I can't fix it unless I can go back to Terra. And Yondu says I can't ever go back and that means I'll never hear my music again and that means I'll forget all the songs and I'll forget Mom and--and--"
Kraglin nudged the hammock lump with his hand. "Don't start whining and blatting again. Fuck. We got a lot of folks here that can fix shit and that's practically dark ages tech from what I seen. Most of us could probably fix it by the time we went to school."
"You think?" Peter asked, the hammock shifting in a way that told Kraglin he was probably peering over the edge into the darkness.
"Yeah. Shit, kid. We got a space ship. We're not idiot Terrans. What the hell's wrong with your stupid thing?"
"I think the batteries died."
Kraglin wanted to punch the brat. He was crying and sniffling over some fucking batteries? This was the stupidest thing he'd ever heard. "We got batteries, you moron."
"But probably not the right kind."
"Please. We're in space, on a mixed-species ship. We have universal battery. I don't know how you're so damn stupid."
"Universal batteries aren't a thing."
"Yeah, it is," Kraglin said. He was so sick of being contradicted by the little brat. Peter seemed to think he knew more about the galaxy than Kraglin did. He didn't. He barely knew how to shit in the right place.
"That doesn't make any sense. They have to be a certain size and shape."
"And if I take a blob of universal battery and put it wherever the batteries are supposed to go, it's going to conform to the space and power your walkthing."
"A blob ?"
"Yeah. It's sort of gooey. When it dies, you sprinkle a powder on it and the blob shirvels up. Then you tip it out and put a new blob in."
"That doesn't sound right."
"I don't know what to tell you. That's how it works. I've never found anything it didn't work for."
"What if it breaks my walkman? It's the only one I've got."
"But what if it does?"
"But what if--"
"I said it won't." Kraglin wasn't much for imagination games and this was getting out of control. "It can't possibly break your toy. That's not what it does."
"I can't replace it. If it breaks, then I lose my music and I need it. I need my music, Kraglin. It's all I have left. I don't even..." Peter sniffled and the hammock shifted some more. "I don't even have a picture of her. Mom gave me the music and I miss her so bad."
Peter's voice was rising rapidly and it sent a frisson of alarm through Kraglin's whole body. The kid was going to start the shrieking again.
"Don't start that. The universal battery won't break your stuff. I promise. And if it does, I'll sit down with your walkthing and fix it. I can fix just about anything. Just don't cry."
"Can't you check somehow?"
"Don't got any Terran tech except yours to test with. So gimme the music player and I'll get you squared away. I'll go right now."
"Can I come?"
Kraglin sighed. The kid was going to spend the whole time he was gone crying. He'd probably wake Yondu. There wasn't any point in waking Yondu up. It would just make him cranky and even crankier come morning. "You promise to keep quiet and move fast?"
There was a rustling sound and Kraglin prayed to some omnipowerful being whose name he wasn't sure he'd ever known that Peter was going to learn not to nod in blinding darkness. "I need words."
"Yes, I'll be so quiet you won't even know I'm there."
Kraglin had doubts about that, but he kept them to himself. Talking back to the kid would only encourage him to keep whining and he'd get louder and more irritated with each progressive exchange. "Okay. Fine. You got your thing?"
"Fine. Lift your arms so I can get you down. You ain't falling on your head and waking the Cap'n." Kraglin gave him a generous three seconds, then reached into the hammock to drag the kid out. He wasn't ready, Kraglin was pretty sure, and it was like trying to drag some kind of parasite out of an open wound, but he got the kid out without managing to drop him or trip himself.
"Hold onto me while I get us out of here." Kraglin took Peter's hand and attached it to the waistband of his boxers. No one was going to give a fuck if he walked around the ship only partially dressed, so neither was he. "Pull down my pants and I'll kick you in the head." He started shuffling out towards the door, casting a quick glance back to make sure Yondu's glow was still out.
As soon as they were out into the hallway, Kraglin gave up on the kid's promise of silence. It took him half a second to open his mouth.
"Hey Kraglin, can I ask you something?"
Kraglin sighed. It didn't matter how he answered. It was never going to matter how he answered. If he did answer, if he didn't answer, whether it was an affirmative or a negative, Peter Quill was going to ask a question and Kraglin was going to have to answer it, no matter how stupid it was. He counted down in the back of his head and sure enough, it took twelve seconds, total, for the kid to lose his patience waiting for an answer.
"Are you a boy alien or a girl alien?"
Kraglin closed his eyes and wished he was more of an asshole. If he were more of an asshole, he could slit the kid's throat and blame someone else. Put an end to everyone's misery. Let Yondu mourn. It would be over so much more quickly. It would be wonderful. Lovely.
Kraglin wasn't that kind of asshole. "That's a stupid question."
"Probably, but I don't know how your species works. For all I know, half the galaxy has bearded ladies and it's just normal and I wouldn't even know because I've never met any aliens other than you guys. I mean, what kind of alien even are you?"
"Sorry? I don't think I heard that right."
"I said, I'm a Hraxian."
"You sound like the barn cats when they get hairballs."
"Nothing you just said made any sense."
"Aren't there cats in space?"
"I don't know. Maybe. Probably." Kraglin didn't know. He'd never met one, if there were.
"They've got pointy ears and whiskers and they're real cute. Big claws, too. They eat rats and mice."
"Oh. Yeah. We got those. Less pointy ears."
"So are you a cat?"
"No. I'm a Hraxian. I don't got whiskers and I ain't never ate a rat."
"Hr-ax-i-an." Kraglin said it very slowly.
"Hraxian?" His pronunciation was off, that was for sure, but it could have been worse.
"And are you a boy one or a girl one?"
"Shouldn't matter to you."
"Well it does. I don't want to share a room with a girl. That would be disgusting."
Kraglin wondered, not for the first time, what Terra was actually like. He'd heard the kid telling himself not to be a girl when he was crying. It made him wonder what Terran females were like and why they were the species' greatest example of weakness. It made him wonder how the kid reconciled that with his apparent worship of his mother.
"Then I guess you're pretty damn lucky. I'm a male."
"Is male the same in space as it is on Terra?"
"I dunno. Never really been on Terra." Kraglin shrugged and tugged the kid's arm as he almost veered off down a hallway he didn't need to be going down.
"That's not an answer."
"It definitely was."
Kraglin could sense the descent into circles and loops. He could feel himself going down a dark, twisted path. "I've got a dick, which is true of most males of most species. There's exceptions. Some species don't really do dicks. Some individuals don't got standard equipment for whatever reason."
"There's males with cunts, males with no junk, that kind of thing. Modders with fuck knows what. So I'd say standard equipment is a dick. Depends on the species and the individual."
Peter fell mercifully silent and Kraglin enjoyed every nanosecond of the quiet. It was just their footsteps and the ticks and clicks of the Eclector. There was no crying, no shouting, no stupid questions. There was no sniffling. There was only blissful background noise and Kraglin relished it, even while he mourned that it would end all too soon.
"Is Yondu a boy alien or a girl alien?"
Kraglin turned his head and stared at the kid. "Seriously? Are you going to ask me about everyone on the damn ship?"
"No, just Yondu for now."
For now. Kraglin hated those words. It hadn't even been a solid two weeks since the kid had gotten his translator and already alarm went through his whole brain when he heard 'for now.' It meant that he hadn't got past the questions, just put them off for later. "He's male."
"Same kind of male as you?"
"Yeah." It was a simple affirmative. Surely the kid couldn't ask for more than that. Surely he'd let it go.
Kraglin had no luck at all.
"Yeah, he's got standard equipment. Same kind of male as me. He's a boy alien. Whatever it is, kid, he's got a dick and he uses it and he ain't got any plans to change that."
The kid seemed satisfied. He nodded to himself and looked out into the hallway. He walked along quietly. He was so silent that Kraglin could practically hear the orloni in the vents. It was nice. It was good. It was peaceful. Kraglin let the rhythm of his own steps lull him into a false sense of security. The kid could reach an end to his stupid questions. Kraglin could walk down a hallway without having to worry about who was going to overhear him.
Maybe they could even find some kind of truce. Maybe they could settle into peace. It would make him far more likely to let Peter survive into adulthood, something that Yondu desperately wanted. Maybe he could even help the kid grow up into a decent Ravager. He didn't want to, but if the kid was going to be around anyway, there was no point in fighting the inevitable, really. Might as well train the kid to help them maximize profit. It was the Ravager way, after all.
"Can I ask you another question?"
"But it's important. Please? I won't bug you anymore, I promise. I just need to know."
"There's nothing you need to know now that you know how the toilets work."
"You know, you could've shown me before you paid someone to drill open my skull." His implantation had apparently become something of a sore spot for him.
"I wasn't going to show my junk off to a little kid. That's fucking sick, Quill. Ravagers don't do that kind of thing. It goes against the code."
"The code is stupid."
Kraglin stopped and wheeled around to look at the kid properly. "No. You don't ever say that, clear?"
"The code is stupid. Didn't your mom ever tell you it's not nice to steal?"
"Ravagers don't care about nice. We care about profit and units and the code. You'd do well to remember that."
Peter groaned. "Fine, fine. You still didn't answer my question."
"Maybe I'm not going to. Sometimes I don't want to."
"But it's important."
"Is it more important than getting some universal battery?"
The kid looked torn and Kraglin started walking again. They were almost to the storage bay where they kept all the electronic shit and maybe he'd be so distracted by the universal battery that he'd forget whatever super important question had crossed his mind. Maybe. They were almost in sight. A few more steps and he could put some battery in the walkthing, put the orange baubles on the kid's head and then tuck the kid in. The kid would listen to his stupid music and Kraglin would get some decent sleep. It was ideal.
"Why do you sleep in the same bed as Yondu?"
"Because it's warm and soft and I get tired. Now hurry up. You're being loud. You promised you wouldn't say a damn thing and yet here you are yapping."
"It's just questions and they're important. It doesn't cost you anything."
It cost him dignity and patience. "Well, it's a good thing I answered, huh?"
"Does everyone sleep two to a bed? Is that a Ravager thing?"
"Nah. I only get to sleep in Cap'n's bed because of my position." Which was preferably bent over Yondu, his dick sliding in and out of a slicked up blue hole. Kid didn't need to know that.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"I'm first mate. It's my job to make sure Cap'n's safe at all times. I got his back."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
Kraglin wondered, briefly, if the kid was some kind of broken holo, replaying himself like that. "It's my job to keep the crew in line. Keep mutinies from happening, that kind of thing. My job to make sure no one tries and stab the Cap'n while he's sleeping." He glanced down at the kid.
Peter was looking up at him in irritation. He was so obviously not buying it and Kraglin didn't know why the little shit bothered asking questions if he didn't believe any answer he was given. "You know, when I was a kid, I had a bad dream. Mom was out working late and I ran into my grandparents' room and they were--" The kid broke off and glanced up and down the hall, dropping his voice to a whisper. "They were having sex. It was so gross."
How lovely. They were having a conversation about old Terrans fucking. Exactly what Kraglin wanted at fuck-o-clock in the morning. "I'm... sorry?"
"So. I know that when two grownups share a bed, it's for sex."
"Ain't you a little young for that?"
"I learned what I learned." Peter shrugged. "Had to ask some of the kids at school what I saw, but I saw it. So I know."
"So you're having sex with Yondu."
"Don't go shouting it all over the ship. Ain't right for the cap'n to play favourites." Kraglin glanced down the hallway longingly. Maybe he could grab the brat by the wrist and just run, put an end to this awful conversation.
"So you're homosexuals." Peter's lip curled. "You know that kind of thing kills, right? Queers die. God said so."
"I don't actually know what you're talking about." Kraglin frowned. How could he possibly be a homosexual? He wasn't even the same species as Yondu. He was nothing like Yondu at all.
"I'm talking about homosexuals. You're going to get AIDS and die."
"What you're saying doesn't make any sense. Are you sure your translator's working right? Jab the outside bit with your finger, maybe it's loose."
Peter rolled his eyes and did as he was told.
"Now say it again."
"You're homosexuals and you're going to die of AIDS."
Nope. Nothing. Kraglin just didn't get it. The translator seemed to be working, but it had to be a cultural thing. "Sorry, I don't think we've got those concepts out here," Kraglin said. "Sometimes that happens."
"How can you not know? Everyone knows. The queers get punished by God with AIDS. Then they shrivel up and die."
Kraglin blinked. "Okay, explain this shit to me. What's a homosexual?"
"A man who likes to have sex with other men's butts."
Kraglin considered it a moment. "Yeah, I think that describes me pretty good. What's a queer?"
"Okay. And what's AIDS?"
"The gay disease. It's God's punishment for being a queer and having sex with men."
"Two things. First being we ain't on Terra, so your god ain't gonna be here. Your god ain't gonna cause us any trouble, cause there ain't no way your god's got power all the way out here in space. Secondly, kid, there's lots of diseases you can get from having sex with people and it don't matter if you're fucking cunts or asses. You're still gonna get 'em and you're still gonna have to take your ass down to medbay and tell them you got a weird fucking burning when you piss or that you got some kinda bump or weird smell or your dick suddenly grew fur. You go, you get the meds, you take the meds, and you move on."
"There's no medication for AIDS. You just die. It's going to happen to you. You have to stop having sex with men or you'll die."
"No." Kraglin shrugged. "That's not going to happen. I ain't controlled by your god and even if I was, we can cure pretty much anything out here."
"But when you do die, you're gonna go to hell. Doesn't that scare you?"
Kraglin smiled. Planet-bound species were so quaint sometimes. "What's hell?" He needed to be sure.
"It's the bad place you go when you die if you don't live good. So God can punish you. Or. Wait. No. So the devil can punish you and you can burn forever and ever and ever because God hates you. Only no. He loves everyone... But. God's mad. So you have to go live in hell. And get burned. And stabbed with hot pokers."
This was almost cute. "I ain't gonna go to hell. I ain't a Terran, so I can't."
Peter's face squished up in pure confusion. "Of course you can. God's the boss of everyone."
"Nah, kid. Every planet's got its own gods and shit. Its own afterlife. I ain't ruled by your god. Just like Yondu ain't ruled by your god either. We're Ravagers, we got our own afterlife. No gods. We don't need them. We make our own luck."
"You can't just make up your own place to go after you die!"
"We didn't. It's a real place. When we die, the horns of Ogord sound and we join the Hunt. The lights flash over us as we move from this hunt to the next."
"That doesn't make any sense! You can't just... You can't do that. You can't! You can go to heaven or hell but you can't just do something else!"
Kraglin grinned, letting his teeth show. "Kid. Not only can I do something else. You're gonna do something else too. You're a Ravager now."
He expected Peter to get angry and hit him. He wasn't expecting the kid to go pale and still, mouth open. He was the picture of horror, not rage. Kraglin waited. Peter started to shake in place and his face crumpled.
"Ah shit. No. No don't start crying again."
"You take that back," Peter said, voice wobbling dangerously. "You take it back right now ."
"It's true, though. When you die, you'll hear the horns and you'll join the Hunt, just like every other Ravager."
"No. I won't. I can't . I gotta go to heaven . I gotta." Big tears trailed down his face and he choked on his words.
"But you ain't close enough to Terra to make a deal with your gods."
"I gotta though. Mom's there and I gotta go so I can see her again!"
Kraglin hadn't thought that he would ever be moved just by the kid crying, but apparently that was a thing now. "Maybe... Maybe we can dump your body on Terra when you die. Might be enough to get your god to take you."
"Why not just take me back now?"
"That ain't gonna happen so you might as well stop asking. I'll do my best if you get killed, okay? Your god got any stupid rules about the condition of the body? Can I freeze you so you don't stink up the place? You gotta have your head all the way attached? Your heart removed?"
Peter shook his head. "Just gotta get a Christian burial I think?"
"If I leave your body on Terra, will someone do that?"
"In America, yeah."
"Okay. I'll dump your body in front of that building by where we took you from. Should be able to find it again. Unless you change your mind and wanna be a Ravager forever."
Peter sniffled and suddenly lurched in Kraglin's direction. Kraglin stiffened, ready to pop up his boot knife and stab the brat in the throat. If it was an attack, though, it was a hideously ineffective one. He just wrapped his arms around Kraglin and squeezed. It was a hug, a fucking hug.
"Thank you. You're the best." The kid buried his face in Kraglin's side and clung like an orloni wrapped around a loaf of bread. It was disgusting. His face was wet and horrible.
Kraglin patted the top of the kid's head awkwardly. "Okay, kid. Just calm the fuck down or whatever so we can get your battery. Remember? The thing you needed so damn bad I had to leave my fucking bed for it?"
Peter nodded and sniffled, pulling back and wiping his face on his arm miserably. "Okay. Okay. It's just really important. I gotta see my mom again. I gotta apologize cause I messed up and she's probably so disappointed in me right now."
"Probably. You gotta stop crying so much and stop being such a brat. Shut up more, you know? She'll probably be real mad if you ask her questions and cry all the damn time."
"Mom likes it when I ask her questions. Says that's how I learn stuff." Peter looked up at him with huge, wet eyes.
Kraglin stared in horror. "Is that why you ask a million questions?"
Peter nodded. "Uh huh. It's so I'll learn."
"You don't learn by asking shit, you learn by shutting up and watching people, you idiot."
"I'm not stupid."
"Well you act like it. You don't even let someone explain shit before you start demanding more shit. It's stupid."
"But there's so much to learn. I don't know how to do anything."
Kraglin nodded. "That's for damn sure. That's why you need to shut the fuck up. Just... do that and you'll be doing good. People won't want to murder you quite so bad and that's gonna be a good thing. That's gonna keep you from getting your ass kicked."
"But you and Yondu keep me from getting my ass kicked... Do you think god's gonna be mad at me for hanging around with homosexuals and tell me I can't go to heaven even if you do dump my body at the hospital?"
"I think that's fucking stupid and your god would be a fucking moron if he thought that staying around people who're keeping you from getting dead is a bad idea. I'm pretty sure you should just tell your god to go fuck itself and go find an Asgardian to figure out how to get you to your mother."
"What's an Asgardian?"
Kraglin sighed. Of course. Of course any instruction opened the door to some new questions. It never failed. "If I tell you, will you keep your damn mouth shut while I tell you or am I gonna have to tell you while you talk over me?" He started walking to the storage bay again.
"I'll listen. I promise!"
Kraglin had heard that before. Still, maybe he could manage five seconds of quiet if he started telling the stories of those ridiculous assholes. Maybe.
Chapter 9: Fuck. Or, actually, not.
Masturbating was boring. Sure, he got off and that was always something nice, but it was empty and predictable. Kraglin hated knowing exactly how everything was going to move, how everything was going to touch him all the time. He hated the empty feeling it left somewhere about where he figured his intestines probably were. It didn't matter though, because pipes needed cleaning and Yondu didn't want him.
Now, Kraglin wasn't any rapist. He wasn't going to stick his dick where it wasn't wanted, but jerking off into a vacuum toilet took finesse. It took dedication. It took time and time was at something of a premium since they'd added a third person to the roster allowed to use the Captain's bathroom. It was at even more of a premium with the size of the brat's bladder. Kraglin was pretty sure Peter's stomach was about 4 or 5 times the size of his bladder and the child seemed to enjoy drinking as much as he could of a given beverage and then having to pee thirty times an hour.
It was awkward to have to stop mid-wank to shuffle out and let Peter use the toilet. It kind of put a damper on the festivities, as it were. Peter didn't even appear to realize it was a problem, which was both a blessing and a curse. Anyone else, upon realizing they were monopolizing a bathroom being used for jerking off, would fuck off and go find a better place to piss. Quill had no apparent idea. This meant, at least, that Kraglin wasn't inadvertently sexually harassing a child. After all, there were lines that Ravagers didn't cross.
It also meant that Kraglin ended up trying to tie his dick to his belly with the waistband to his underpants and rushing out past the child, praying to gods he'd never believed in that he would be able to make it past without the child noticing anything untoward going on. Kraglin had felt very few things in his life as uncomfortable as that and he hadn't needed to use that trick since he'd been a teenager. It was awful .
Yondu, unlike his adopted Terran, had quickly realized what Kraglin was doing in the bathroom so often and he thought it was hilarious. Sometimes, it was even odds as to who would interrupt Kraglin first--a Terran with an urgently full bladder or a Centaurian with an evil grin and a funny rhythm in his knocks.
It was killing him, slowly but steadily. It was driving him insane. He missed the sweet clutch of Yondu's ass around his dick, even missed the rough callouses of his hand. Yondu kept insisting that everything was fine, his medical issue would clear up soon, but he didn't have any kind of timeline and he didn't seem any closer to actually wanting Kraglin again.
Kraglin was starting to think maybe the medical issue was just an excuse. It was entirely possible that Yondu had decided he didn't want to fuck anymore. Maybe he'd been listening to his brat. Yondu was prone to fits of superstition. He might be worried about the kid's god.
If that was the case, though, Kraglin needed to know. He wasn't the most patient person in the universe and he didn't have time to be so single-minded about sex. They'd lost enough personnel and recruiting was already proving to be an issue. Without the fleet behind them, they had gaps in their roster and Kraglin was filling in about half of them while the crew tried to make do with the rest. If Yondu was done with him, then it was time for Kraglin to move on, find someone else to fuck.
It was time, then, to force a confrontation. Kraglin needed to ditch the kid for awhile and get himself some alone time with his captain. Even if it was a fight and Kraglin ending up going to sleep in the little nook he'd set aside for himself some years before, then it was important that Kraglin know.
Decision made, Kraglin set up the brat scrubbing down the inside of his m-ship. He locked the ship to his biometrics and told the kid not to move at all until Kraglin came to get him. The cockpit alone was a several hours-long job and the kid's battery was full so with any luck at all, he wouldn't get anything on his comm until he'd had a chance to finish this conversation. Kraglin wasn't that lucky a person, but he could hope, at least.
He checked the captain's location and was pleased to see that he was in his quarters. It was always a crap shoot with Yondu where he'd decide to do the paperwork. Sometimes he did it in the mess and Kraglin was pretty sure that it was a terrible idea to call him out on his sex life where crew might hear. He kept an eye on everyone as he wandered down to the cabin.
Yondu was bent over a tablet, prodding angrily at it with one finger. It was a fairly normal state of Yondu, if Kraglin were honest. He wasn't big on doing the paperwork and he hated paying people for anything. It would, after a few hours, probably fall to Kraglin to finish everything and correct the bits Yondu had just button-mashed in irritation. While Yondu could do his paperwork, he hated it and Kraglin did pretty well as long as his screen-reader didn't glitch.
"Cap'n," Kraglin said, coming to lean against the desk.
"You here to take this shit off my hands? There ain't no fucking way we can pay the crew unless we get at least two more jobs in the next three days."
Kraglin took the tablet from Yondu and started looking it over. Things did look a little bleak. "I'm sure we can pick something up. There's got to be a bounty we can grab. We're not that short."
"Fucking Stakar's gone and blackballed us from every major posting board. I'm going to have to make a bunch of new contacts and we need to get everyone paid in the damn meantime. This is ridiculous."
"We'll find something. Stakar can't have fucked over every contact we've got on Knowhere and we're only three jumps from there. We just might have to do some legwork to find them." Kraglin handed the tablet back. "There's probably something in one of our holds we can sell in the marketplace, anyway. That should get us most of the way there, so we only really need one job, not two. And we can stretch it to four days if we need to. No one's going to dare talk until their pay's a day late if we can get on a job."
Yondu nodded. "Yeah, makes sense. Shit. We're in trouble."
"I know. We're going to get this shit turned around, though. There's some of the seedier jobs we can take without having to check."
Yondu grabbed his wrist hard enough to hurt and glared up into his eyes. "We ain't breaking the damn code. We ain't yet and we ain't never. Clear?"
"I know we're not breaking the code," Kraglin said patiently, holding still. Yondu sometimes punctuated things with a whistle and Kraglin wasn't really feeling it.
"Good. Make sure the rest of them know. I don't give a fuck if Stakar thinks he can kick me out, I wear the flame. We ain't forgetting our rules."
"Course not. That'd be fucking stupid. Harder to find jobs if we pull that shit, too. Won't be able to find anyone that'll fucking deal with us." Kraglin leaned in a little closer, smiling. "We know how to find jobs. We know how to make contacts. We know how not to double cross people. We can do this. It's just going to take us a little longer and we ain't gonna have to figure out how to explain certain jobs to Stakar. We're ahead of the game. We can make judgements on our own, not just follow the rules like bots."
Yondu nodded and pushed the tablet away. "Which is what we been doing. But we're still broke. We got ship maintenance that's gonna be due soon. We ain't gonna be able to pay for it."
"Then we put it off a little. We ain't skint."
"We kinda are. The accounts aren't covering the outgoing, that's kinda the definition." Yondu stretched backwards, shoulders rolling in his sockets.
"It won't last. We were top earners and that ain't gonna change. We're gonna do good."
"Yeah." Yondu was obviously trying to convince himself, but it was okay. Kraglin had seen him convince himself of really stupid things and manage feats that no one else could.
Kraglin reached over and put a hand on Yondu's shoulder. "Wait until you see the look on Stakar's face when he tries to tell you we should be broke and begging to come back. And you're just sitting around covered in gold."
Yondu grinned up at him and leaned into the touch. That was something, at least. He hadn't pulled away. Kraglin filed it into his head on the side of 'maybe this will go all right'. "That's gonna be a real sweet moment. Sitting on a mound of shiny things with real nice furs and him whining."
"Exactly." Kraglin shuffled a little closer to Yondu. "He ain't gonna know what hit him. He's gonna be begging us to come back."
"On bent knee. He's gonna want to know all my secrets and I ain't gonna tell him."
"Yeah." Kraglin leaned in to kiss Yondu. Maybe he'd accept it. Maybe he wouldn't pull away.
He pulled away. "I told you, I got a medical thing."
"You still hurting?"
"It's getting better some. But, some."
Kraglin sighed. "Maybe we could do something that wouldn't bug your belly?"
Yondu shook his head. "No."
Kraglin stood up and pushed away from the desk. "You done with me? Is that what this shit is about? You decided you don't want me and you're having a good laugh, waiting for me to clue in?"
"No. Don't be so fucking stupid. I got a medical thing!"
Kraglin thought about leaving. He could go. He could go and wait for Yondu to realize he wasn't coming back. He could walk away, find someone else, move into someone else's bed. It would be fine. Or he could do what he'd told himself he would and grow the fuck up.
"What is it?"
"This medical thing. It's been going on forever and I wanna know what it is. I should know, anyway. What if I caught something off you?"
Yondu stood up abruptly, shaking his head. "It ain't nothing you can catch! If it was, I woulda told you, you know that. I ain't that kinda asshole."
"Then what is it? You gotta tell me or I'm gonna go find somewhere else to sleep and there ain't gonna be anyone to figure out what the fuck's wrong with the brat, you hear me?" Kraglin was pretty sure he was overstepping by a long shot. He was pretty sure he was fucking up everything with every word. Yondu wasn't going to accept this shit. Yondu wasn't going to explain shit. He never did.
He looked flabbergasted. He stared at Kraglin in horror. "You wouldn't."
"I fucking well would."
"You wouldn't. You ain't gonna go anywhere. You ain't thought about it since the first night you hopped in my bed."
Kraglin almost caved. Yondu had a point. He hadn't really looked twice at anyone. He had exactly the person he wanted and that hadn't changed. Yeah, sure, sometimes he found a bot for variety or he'd share a flesh hooker with Yondu, but he hadn't been interested in pursuing anyone in years. His type was blue, bald and brash, with teeth that'd make an ugly dog cry. That was it for him.
But if he just did what Yondu said, if he shut up and stopped asking for an explanation, then he would have gotten exactly nowhere. He would still be fucking stuck in bed with a man who had no interest whatsoever in fucking him and he was going to be masturbating in bathrooms for the rest of his life.
"I will," he said decisively. "Something's fucked up. It's driving me insane. I don't need your fucking stupid insistence that I belong to you. You're fucking stupid if you think I ain't noticed that you're making me back the fuck off of everything. Ever since we picked up your new brat, you been totally caught up in making sure I ain't gonna get laid. You punishing me? That what this shit is about?"
"It's a medical thing. I keep telling you that." Yondu crossed his arms and curled his lip. "You stupid or deaf? Cause I keep saying the same damn thing and you keep fucking ignoring me."
"I ain't ignoring you. I just don't believe you. You ain't given me a timeline about how long it's gonna take to get better. You ain't told me what it is. I don't even fucking know how to cover your back if something goes wrong with it in front of the crew or something. What if we're planetside on a job and you lose it? I don't know shit and it ain't right." Kraglin wanted to clamp his mouth shut and not say another word, but they kept coming, word after word falling from his lips. "I'm fucking finished with being kept in the dark. I can't do my job and I can't make you happy and I can't keep looking after that fucking brat if I don't got any damn idea what's going on. It ain't fair."
"No, it ain't." Yondu frowned. "But I don't got a timeline. I don't know how long this lasts, but I figure it's gotta go back to normal eventually."
"Well, tell me what it is. I might not know when eventually is, but at least I deserve to know that you are getting better."
Yondu sighed. "You don't wanna know."
"I'm very, very sure that I fucking well do,” Kraglin spat. He was done with being told what he wanted. He knew what he wanted. He wanted some idea of what was wrong with his captain, his lover and his best friend.
"So? You seen me shit myself after I ate something that ain't right for my biology, I can handle whatever the fuck this is."
"You ain't gonna believe me. You're gonna tell me I'm lying and I ain't ." Yondu looked away nervously, pressing his lips together. At least, Kraglin thought he was nervous. He'd never seen Yondu look nervous before, so he couldn't be sure. It was a good sign, at least, that he wasn't pursing his lips to whistle. He wouldn't put it past Yondu to whistle him down one day.
"I swear I'm gonna believe you. Just tell me what the fuck it is. This ain't fair."
Yondu sighed. "You laugh or you say you don't believe me and I swear that I'm gonna whistle you down and leave your corpse to desicate in the fucking void."
Kraglin moved to catch Yondu's eyes, then stared right into them. "I ain't gonna laugh and I'm gonna believe you. I promise."
"Fine. You're gonna hate this."
Kraglin was pretty sure that was actually right and he was. He wasn't going to tell Yondu that, though. He was going to take whatever it was standing up and he wasn't going to say a fucking word.
"Sit down. If you don't, I ain't responsible for whatever the fuck happens next."
Kraglin rolled his eyes and sat in Yondu's desk chair. "Fine. I'm sitting. Now what's wrong? You dying? This some kind of set up so I don't know?"
"I ain't dying. Doc says it's normal and natural. I think it's fucked all to hell." Yondu turned away, staring at one of the baubles on the shelf behind his desk. "I had some pain in my nethers, so I went and chatted to Doc a bit. She said weren't nothing wrong with me but things still got fucked up and it ain't gonna get better, maybe. I still think it is, but she says it ain't."
That all told Kraglin exactly nothing, but he wasn't going to interrupt. Yondu hated interrupting. It would piss him off and distract him. Then Kraglin might never find out what was going on.
"Pain's pretty well gone so I figure it's mostly finished, anyway."
Yondu tensed, back going rigid. "Growing a cunt."
Kraglin stopped. He couldn't say exactly what he stopped, but everything, inside and out, stopped. Everything. He was fairly sure his pulse stopped, even. Yondu had just said something completely impossible. Kraglin's boyfriend had not turned into a girlfriend. His boyfriend had a cock, fat and short and proud. He had glorious testicles that hung low when the Eclector's heat venting went wrong and everyone overheated a little.
He didn't have a cunt. He didn't leak. He was a he. He had a nice deep voice and a little scruffy patch of chin hairs. He wasn't all smooth and soft and horrible. He was exactly what Kraglin wanted.
Kraglin swallowed, watching Yondu's back and everything started again. "Think I maybe heard you a little wrong there, cap'n."
"Doubt it." Yondu wasn't moving, tension mounting in his shoulders until Kraglin was a little bit afraid something would tear.
"Say it again."
"I grew a fucking cunt," Yondu snapped.
Kraglin blew out a long breath, trying to find the words to respond to that. "That's... something. That's really something."
Yondu nodded, one sharp, irritated movement. "Yeah. It's something all right."
"It hurt a lot?"
"For weeks. Started hurting just before we picked up Quill."
Kraglin slumped in the chair. They'd fucked the night before they picked up Peter and something had seemed off but Kraglin had just assumed that Yondu's mind was on the job. "Shit."
"Only get twinges now."
"Yeah." Yondu turned as if he was going to look at Kraglin, but resolutely stared at the wall.
Kraglin didn't know what to say after that. It sounded like Yondu had really gone through some shit and Kraglin didn't have the first idea how to respond. He didn't have words to deal with this kind of thing and he wasn't sure he ever would.
"Doc says it's a response to a lack of female centaurians. I dunno what to do with that. Keep wondering if I go to a reservation and find one to fuck if it'll all go back to normal."
"It wouldn't, though, would it?" Kraglin asked. "I mean, you don't really got anything to fuck her with, do you?"
Yondu whirled around. "What do you mean I don't got nothing to fuck her with? Of course I got something to fuck her with!" He started yanking at his pants. "Don't be so fucking stupid! Look! Look, my cock is right fucking here!"
Kraglin watched in horrified curiosity as, sure enough, Yondu's cock was exposed, his balls hanging just where they'd always been. They weren't gone. They were still there, something that seemed completely impossible. "How?"
"I don't fucking well know! I grew a cunt, I didn't chop off my dick!" Yondu stomped over, pants low on his hips, to show Kraglin.
Kraglin looked at Yondu's cock with relief. There it was, just like always. It hadn't changed. It hadn't been altered. It looked like it always did when Yondu was flaccid, like potential. It was something that could rapidly become something Kraglin wanted more than anything. It was fun to play with when it was soft. It squished easily and responded quickly.
"You gonna look at me or is that the only damn thing you care about?" Yondu snarled.
Kraglin looked up at him and shook his head. "Course not. It's... Just a thing. A thing I like and I'm glad it ain't gone."
"It ain't going nowhere. Doc says it'll stick around. Just... my body's trying to make the whole reproductive thing move along and it ain't my idea." Yondu crossed his arms defensively and Kraglin realized, belatedly, just how nervous Yondu was.
Yondu hid behind bluster and bravado. He never let himself be seen vulnerable. It wasn't his style. But here, in these moments, with Kraglin reacting to this, whatever this was, he was. He was worried. He was afraid of Kraglin's response and Kraglin realized with a sinking feeling just how badly he'd acted.
Of course there were reasons. They were up the nebula without a jump drive. Some of their best people had left them. They had lost the fleet. They had gained a brat that they couldn't do anything with. They'd lost one of their best customers because he was a monster on a level even criminals and thieves wouldn't mess with.
Kraglin hadn't slept well in weeks. He'd been trying to run interference between Yondu and the remaining crew. He'd been badly injured trying to get rid of some bad seeds. He had reasons why this was something that had gone too far for him to be placid about it.
None of it mattered, though. Yondu had exposed himself, and not just by putting his cock out on display, and Kraglin had fucked up. He'd acted like there was something horribly wrong with Yondu and in doing, he'd shaken some part of Yondu's delicate confidence. Not that he'd ever tell Yondu to his face that he knew how delicate he was. That was a capital offense, like so many on the Eclector.
"Well. It's doing shit against your will and who the fuck cares," Kraglin said, the words ringing more hollow than he'd intended. They were too little, too late and Yondu shrugged rather than whatever else he might have done if Kraglin hadn't made a complete mess of things.
"It ain't like I'm gonna be popping out kids. One brat on the ship's more than enough." Yondu uncrossed his arms a little, but his shoulders stayed tight and he couldn't quite meet Kraglin's eyes.
"I'll say." Kraglin didn't know if he was allowed to touch Yondu anymore. Before he'd failed to be--he wasn't sure if he was supposed to be supportive or friendly or loving or excited, but whatever it was Yondu had hoped he'd be, he'd failed at it, and badly--whatever it was he'd failed to be, he'd been allowed. He'd tested it and found that he could, found that Yondu wasn't just trying to get rid of him. Of course that might not be true anymore.
And of course, it made sense that Yondu had been avoiding him, Kraglin realized in a rush of guilt. It wasn't like he'd ever been quiet about how he'd felt about what lay between a woman's legs. He'd been loud about it, especially when drunk. He'd whined about Yondu picking a female bot over a male one on more than one occasion when they'd shared. He'd talked about how much he hated the oozing and he'd been an asshole about it.
He knew for a fact that there was more than one woman out there in the galaxy that wanted to shoot him over his bullshit and now he could add to that list at least one man. He'd fucked up and it wasn't just about the previous few minutes. It was about his and Yondu's entire acquaintance.
"Cap'n, it twinging right now?" Kraglin asked, after an uncomfortably long silence.
Yondu shook his head. "Nah, it's been pretty good today. Might actually be at the end of it. Course, I got no fucking idea how to reverse it and Doc won't even consider it. Fucking bitch. This ain't something I ever asked for and I should be able to pick getting rid of it if I fucking well want."
"Yeah," Kraglin said, sympathetically.
Doc was good at her job. She looked out for her crew and that was honestly the only reason she'd stuck around. Her loyalty wasn't to the fleet, wasn't to the Ogords. It wasn't to Yondu, even. She'd taken what she called a 'sworn duty of care' to the crew of the Eclector and she had no intention of leaving her patients behind. That said, however, she was very much anti-modder.
It didn't come up often. Very few Ravagers, for reasons that Kraglin had never been clear on, were modders. Lots of them had important prosthetics--Yondu with his fin, Vorker with his eye, more than a fair number of prosthetic feet and limbs--and Doc surely didn't object to that. Restoring someone to their proper form, she said, was art. Altering someone for reasons of what she considered vanity, however, was apparently an offense to some deity she'd sworn to serve when she'd become a medic. That meant that she was rarely willing to add anything or alter anything natural.
Oh, sure, it was something she was a hypocrite about. She'd excise a tumour, fix up an aneurism that was waiting to burst. She'd fix a failing heart. But if someone was built a certain way and the rest of their species went mostly that direction, she'd dig in her damn heels and refuse to do anything about it, no matter how much anyone begged. It was part of the reason she'd refused to have anything to do with Peter's translation chip. He was, she said, pure and perfect and it wouldn't do for her to be the one to first alter that purity.
Kraglin thought it was a load of crap and had told her that on more than one occasion. It wasn't an argument she was willing to have, however. When anyone tried to engage her, she went silent and ducked her head over her work. It was maddening.
"If you wanted, maybe we can save up a little, get ourselves back to the surgeon that did Quill's chip. Get it closed up and stopped or whatever it is it needs done to it."
Yondu nodded. "Yeah, maybe."
Kraglin couldn't tell if the slow, cautious way those words came out were because Yondu was nervous about the idea of surgery or because Kraglin had fucked up again, but he carried forward anyway. "Get it all took care of and you don't gotta worry anymore. No reproductive bullshit to worry about, tell your damn body to shut its damn mouth."
Something twitched in Yondu's face and Kraglin tensed, waiting for a whistle. Whistle didn't come. Instead, Yondu's mouth pulled slowly into a smile and he started laughing quietly. "Don't you mean its downstairs mouth?"
Kraglin stared in horror. Yondu was making jokes about it. Was Kraglin supposed to? Was Kraglin aggressively not supposed to? Was Yondu just so upset he was getting a bit hysterical? Kraglin didn't know. Yondu didn't usually joke about anything that got under his skin. He whistled and it went away.
"Uh, sure, Cap'n."
Yondu chortled to himself a few minutes, then shook his head and rolled his eyes, his face relaxing a little. "Might be a plan. Might not. Doc says it could do me real damage, but I think she's full of it."
"She is, sometimes." For all her hatred of modders, she rarely lied to anyone, even if she thought it would prevent them getting a mod. Something about not pushing her beliefs on others, to which Kraglin again thought hypocrite .
Yondu got serious for a moment. "Really, though. I... I dunno what's gonna happen from here on out. I didn't know this could happen, you know?"
"Me either," Kraglin said, then winced, because of course he hadn't known. There was no way for him to know.
"I'm... I'm going to figure it out, though."
Kraglin nodded. "Course you are. You're Yondu Udonta. Figuring shit out's what you do. Right after robbing the pants off people."
Yondu nodded and went quiet, standing there awkwardly. It was as if he'd finally realized his cock was out and his pants were open. His quarters were honestly never all that warm. Yondu preferred to sleep under a pile of blankets and furs with cool, almost cold, air around him. Kraglin was glad for the blankets. When things were cold, he always found himself perky and awake in a way that could be really annoying both for him and for anyone else around him. Kraglin wondered if Yondu's dick was cold.
It probably was. Only now it had been out in the open long enough that moving to put it away was going to be awkward. Leaving it out was awkward. Yondu's cock was the most awkward thing in the room and since Kraglin was in the room, that was really fucking saying something.
"So, uh," Kraglin started. "If you ain't having any twinges right now. And I got rid of the brat for a few hours. Then... maybe... Um. I mean. You got your cock out and all. Seems like a shame to just put it away."
Yondu looked from his cock to Kraglin and back again. "Yeah. Little bit of a waste."
"And I ain't got laid in forever."
"You been saving yourself for me? How sweet ," Yondu said, sarcastically.
"Oh, yes, the romance of it," Kraglin said flatly, eyeing up Yondu's dick. He leaned forward to put his face a few inches from Yondu's waist and was gratified when Yondu moved forward to shove his pelvis against Kraglin's cheek.
It was going to be one of those times, then. The kind where Yondu was bossy and Kraglin was awkward and Kraglin left sex feeling kind of like he'd fucked it up, but not sure since everyone had got off. He knew he wasn't any kind of great catch, but he did pride himself on making sure anyone he was with got off at least once. Yondu, he usually got off two or three times. Yondu's species didn't seem to have a refractory period, something Kraglin was endlessly fascinated by and jealous of.
Kraglin turned his face a bit to nuzzle at Yondu's dick while he worked the laces of his jump suit. He was maybe a little more ripe than was optimally considered sexy, but he'd showered recently enough he was pretty sure Yondu wouldn't reject him. After all, it had been awhile since either of them had got off with the other. Yondu was probably just as hard up as Kraglin. He'd probably been jerking it just as often as Kraglin.
At least, Kraglin hoped so, or he was just pathetic. And yes, he was pathetic a lot of the time, but at least he wasn't that pathetic. Not too pathetic. He could still find someone interested in fucking him and keep them interested, even through what was apparently a massive physical change.
It was kind of nice.
Also kind of nice was the slow warming of Yondu's flesh as he took Yondu's flaccid dick between his lips and flickered his tongue over the tip. Yes, Yondu's dick had been cold, but Kraglin was warming it from within and without, feeling Yondu's hot blood pulse through the thin skin of his shaft.
Kraglin closed his eyes and took it in, enjoying the way that Yondu's cock slowly plumped up to fill his mouth more and more with each passing moment. It was calming, almost. It felt nice. He was, he hoped, undoing some of whatever damage he'd done in assuming Yondu had lost his dick. It would be nice, after all, if he could fix that, even a little.
Yondu's cock grew more firm and his hands brushed the longer hair at the top of Kraglin's head. Kraglin kept fumbling with the laces on his jumpsuit, slowly unravelling them as he tried to get out of it before his cock got hard enough that the restrictive leather actually hurt. It was a race he'd both won and lost dozens of times and every time, he swore he'd add a zipper to the jumpsuit. Every time, he forgot by the time he had a mouth or a hand or an ass around his cock and he wouldn't remember until the next time.
This was one of the times he was going to lose the race and the ache where his dick pressed against the leather at the crotch of his jumpsuit almost felt good. He wasn't into pain, not even at the best of times, but that little jolt of pain reminded him that he had a job to do. It was his job to make Yondu feel so good that he forgot Kraglin screwing up his reactions to Yondu's new... bits.
He pulled his mouth off Yondu's cock and looked up. "Bed?"
"Yeah," Yondu said. "Bed. Ain't gonna stand in front of my desk with my cock out like some kind of damn porn holo all day."
Kraglin nodded and pushed the chair back from Yondu. He stood and shoved his jumpsuit off, crumpling it on the floor. Yondu, as always, had more layers but he shoved off Kraglin's attempts to help. "Go lay down so I can fuck your damn face," Yondu told him.
Kraglin did as he was told, stumbling through the doorway from ready room to bedroom. He could do as he was told. He was going to show Yondu he could be good. He managed, narrowly, not to trip over the combination of jumpsuit and boots, then he went and stretched out. If Yondu wanted his mouth, if Yondu wanted to use it, to choke him a little, then Yondu had earned it. He shifted down the bed so Yondu would be able to get some leverage on the headboard or the pillows and he waited.
He waited what felt like a very long time. Yondu wore too many layers, always had. It always took forever for Yondu to get undressed or dressed and usually kraglin didn't mind. Yondu's people were from a rainforest. He liked to be warm and keep his body's humidity against his skin so he didn't get too dried out. Kraglin respected it. He always had. It hadn't ever been anything he had been bothered by, but he was antsy.
He was antsy and Yondu was definitely taking longer than he needed to to undress. He was definitely not speeding through it. Kraglin played with his dick and tried to tell himself that Yondu wasn't mad. Yondu wasn't upset. Yondu wasn't rejecting him in slow motion. He wanted Kraglin's mouth. He'd told Kraglin what he was going to do and Yondu never went back on what he said he was going to do.
But he also usually at least made an effort to speed his way out of all his layers. If Yondu wasn't still all that mad at Kraglin then the only remaining option was that he was scared and Kraglin was pretty sure he had struck the nail on the head with that one. It was entirely reasonable for Yondu, who had heard so many of Kraglin's drunken diatribes, laughed at them, even, to be nervous about exposing himself fully.
"Shift change'll happen before you get done if you don't hurry up."
"I'm working on it, you greedy fuck," Yondu snapped, fumbling with a boot lace. He never fumbled with anything. He'd had too much training ever to do that. He was definitely nervous.
"If you'd let me help, we'd be fucking by now."
"I don't need help. I grew a cunt, I ain't an invalid!"
"Never said you were. Just said I wanted your fucking dick. And I can see it and it's right there and I want it." Kraglin hoped that being a little petulant wouldn't be a total turn off. He hadn't ever seen Yondu like this, not about sex.
"Fine, fine, just a d'ast second," Yondu said, kicking off the offending boot. "You're gonna get it. I ain't gonna take away your favourite toy."
"Good," Kraglin said. "Cause I'd have to spend more time wanking in the bathroom and you'd get pissy about the lost time."
"You jerk off more than's decent," Yondu said, shaking his head. "Should get checked. Could be some kind of disease."
"A disease that makes me want to fuck you? You better hope I ain't planning to get cured," Kraglin replied.
Yondu appeared to relax, just a little. It wasn't a big change, but it was a nice one. Quiet banter and insults had always been part of it when they fucked and it was a relief to see that wasn't entirely broken. It was ragged and jagged and Kraglin had added some more sharp edges, but it was okay.
"You better not. I ain't planning to go fucking my way down the chain of command. Ain't decent."
It really wasn't and that was lined out in the code. There were a lot of things in the code, things Kraglin hadn't expected when he'd first signed on. Yes, there were a couple of important bits that everyone knew from moment one, but there were dozens of lines, all of them important to anyone in command.
When Yondu and Kraglin had started fucking, they'd had to register it with Stakar. Stakar had interviewed them separately and together. He'd made Charlie do a cross-examination. It had been humiliating and obnoxious and Kraglin had hated every second of it, but he'd also understood the importance of it.
The code laid out very clearly that no Ravager was ever to coerce another being into sex. Most of the rules only applied to crimes against other Ravagers. Steal from everyone, but not other Ravagers. Kill whoever you want, but not other Ravagers. There were a lot of rules, but only a handful applied to people who weren't Ravagers. Ravagers might, well, Ravage. They might steal and cheat and do all kinds of awful things, but Ravagers were not rapists.
There was no one to register with anymore. There was no check or balance. Without those things, Yondu couldn't ethically start up a new relationship, not with any other Ravager. It was Kraglin or he could maybe find someone in some port. There were enough Ravagers with 'families' of sorts on Knowhere that it wasn't unheard of, but Kraglin didn't think Yondu would find it satisfying.
"You don't gotta worry. I ain't going anywhere." Kraglin watched as Yondu yanked off the last of his undershirts and stomped over. He threw himself onto the bed and crawled over to line himself up with Kraglin's mouth.
Kraglin opened his mouth and let Yondu slide his dick between Kraglin's lips. He closed his eyes, taking in the texture and flavour of Yondu's cock. It was salty, sour, a little unpleasant. But it was all Yondu. It was Yondu's cock in Kraglin's mouth and it could be as disgusting as it wanted to be, Kraglin wasn't going to complain. He'd welcome it, even. He just needed Yondu.
Yondu fucked his mouth slowly, cock sliding in and out of his mouth at Yondu's chosen pace. He always started slow, gave Kraglin time to adjust. It was nice. He wasn't one for cutting off air or anything. It was good.
At first, it was like nothing had changed and it was so perfect Kraglin could barely believe it. He could take Yondu's cock, just like always. He could suck on it, make Yondu feel good. He could make this work. Nothing that mattered had changed.
And the big things really hadn't. There was a cock, Yondu's impressive upper body and core strength keeping him from crushing Kraglin's face. There were Yondu's soft gasps and grunts. There was the occasional sweet-salty burst across his tongue as Yondu's cock leaked a little. It was peaceful and normal.
As it went on, however, Kraglin started noticing the differences. There was a new smell layered under the usual 'Yondu's sweaty balls' scent. It was sour and made the sweat smell worse than it really was. That was really the first thing he noticed. He made a mental note to ask Yondu to please consider washing his cunt a little before they next fucked and he kept going.
The thing that really drove it home, though, was when he reached up to play with Yondu's balls and found the back of them slimy and a little sticky. Kraglin didn't like it, but he didn't have much time to consider what that meant before Yondu was shooting down his throat.
That tasted the same, at least. The quantity was the same, too. It was just enough flooding his mouth to make him cough a little, but not enough to make him choke. A quick swallow and it was gone. It always had to be quick or it'd stop up the back of his throat it was so sticky.
Yondu pulled his cock out of Kraglin's mouth and flopped over onto the bed next to him. "Satisfied?"
Kraglin raised an eyebrow, then looked down at his cock, waving freely in the air. "Do I look satisfied?"
"Not that kind of satisfied. You got your curiosity over and done with? You done acting like I'm a fucking freak?
"You've always been a fucking freak," Kraglin said. "If you stopped, I'm pretty sure you'd be a corpse."
Yondu reached over to smack his chest. "Serious."
"Don't think you're a freak. Just sick of shit changing. Keeps fucking happening lately and I'm done."
Yondu squinted, raising his head to glare. "You thinking about leaving? Gonna go begging back to Stakar? Gonna tell him you didn't know I was picking up kids?"
Kraglin shook his head and sighed. Apparently he wasn't going to be getting off. He might as well resign himself to it. "Not what I mean. Just..." He waved a hand towards the hammock. "It's a lot. You know? I hate kids, but I got one fucking clinging to me every goddamn second. I like being a Ravager. I love it. Only place that ever fucking wanted me. Only now 99 clans don't and it's for doing something any of them would've fucking well done. And I'm tired. I'm tired of the brat sniffling and I'm tired of you not wanting me."
Yondu smacked him again. "Quit your bitching. Ain't so bad. Got a solid ship. Got a crew. With any luck that little shit's gonna have some Celestial powers and help us out a little once he gets big enough. He better turn us a profit, anyway, or I swear I'm gonna eat him."
"I wish we could. Fuck. He spends just as much time with you as he does with me. Ain't you sick of him yet?"
"I am. It's why I got a plan. Get the little brat to stay more at arms-length. Gonna tell him if he don't stop being such a shit, I'm gonna turn the crew loose and let them eat him. You wanna stand behind me with your teeth out? Probably scare him off of trying so damn hard to be your friend, any."
"That'd be nice. He never stops talking. I dunno how he breathes. We sure Terrans don't breathe out their asses? Cause I'm starting to think they do and the talking is some kind of indigestion."
"That's stupid. Don't be stupid. It ain't a good look on you."
"Yeah, well. It's fucking weird, okay? It ain't decent." Kraglin rolled onto his side and faced Yondu properly, drawing his knees up slightly into the space between them.
"You talk damn near that much when you're railing me from behind. Don't see how you got a problem with it."
"Ain't decent for public, is it? You'd get pretty damn pissed if I was to go ahead and rail you in the mess, talking like that." Kraglin knew the limits of Yondu's patience and he knew for damn sure that it would go beyond just testing his patience to do that. Kraglin would die, sure as he was alive and laying in Yondu's bed.
"Point," Yondu allowed. "Still, you got a mouth on you. He's probably gonna shut up someday."
"Terrans get quieter when they get bigger?" Kraglin had caught glimpses of some kind of entry on Terrans over Yondu's shoulder a few times since he'd announced they were keeping Peter, but he wasn't sure what it said. Kraglin had learned to read a little late in life for optimal fluency.
"Dunno. I ain't got that much detailed information and he's only half anyway. Which we ain't fucking telling him. Make sure the crew remembers that. I don't want Quill walking around all big for his britches thinking he's a god. He's basically an infant."
"Cries like one, that's for sure."
"Yeah. Fuck. Wakes me up at least twice a night."
"He does?" Kraglin hadn't realized. By the time he finally passed out most nights, he was so exhausted he slept through.
Yondu nodded. "Yeah, poor little fucker still misses his mama. Don't half blame him if she's as decent as he claims. Might not be, though. Kids are real attached to their mothers for no fucking reason."
Kraglin moved a little closer to Yondu, wondering if perhaps, for once in his life, Yondu would allow a little cuddling. He looked sad enough, watching the ceiling with a strange intensity.
Kraglin shrugged. "Dunno about that. My mother wasn't so bad. Kept my brothers from trying to eat me."
"Because that's a real big job."
"I was scrawny and they weren't sure I was gonna live to grow up anyway. Couple of my oldest brothers figured they might as well not waste the meat."
"At least that makes sense. Families are some weird fucking bullshit most of the time. All tied together and sort of... I dunno. Stuck on each other. Backing each other up when they should really just shut the fuck up and let the shitty one get their ass kicked." Yondu made a disgusted sound, almost a retch. "Makes me sick."
"It's kinda nice when you ain't getting bit all over. I mean... fuck. My mom was pretty decent, you know?"
"You telling me the kid ain't a fucking baby? Cause I can put you on permanent kid-wrangling duties if you think you can see his side and make him feel better and shit. Can make you the number one babysitter."
Kraglin groaned and turned his face into the pillow. "Don't even joke about that. I'd space us both. At least I wouldn't be able to hear him through the void. He's driving me insane. Slowly insane. You know some of the shit he thinks about males that fuck other males?"
"Aw fuck. He told you that, too? It's bullshit. Don't think about it twice. His god can't get us out here. It’s too far. Ain't that powerful or his god woulda got his people out into space proper. But Terrans is planetbound, so we know their god sucks." The bed shifted a little and Yondu's hand landed on Kraglin's upper arm.
Kraglin snorted into the pillow, but it came out as more of a snuffle through the fluff in there. "I ain't afraid of no Terran god."
"His AIDS ain't gonna get you either."
"I know that. It's just annoying as fuck."
"Like everything else about him," Yondu said, giving his arm a squeeze. "You don't gotta think about that shit. You ain't got nothing to worry about."
Kraglin turned his head a little so he could almost see Yondu, and nodded. "Ain't. Just... it's a shitty thing for him to say. Fuck knows he's gonna have a hell of a time finding any of his own species to fuck when the time comes. Wonder what his god'd say about that."
"Dunno. I ain't gonna ask. He'd probably tell me and I probably don't wanna hear it. He's a baby. He ain't fucking anyone for at least twenty years."
Kraglin nodded. That sounded like a good plan. Twenty years and then some on top was a pretty safe bet for a being actually being fully grown and adult-like. Better to make sure Yondu didn't have to mow down crew for touching the kid. Kraglin would put out an announcement on the comm system later. Twenty years until Peter was an adult.
Twenty years, though, was a very, very long time. Kraglin could be dead a dozen times over in twenty years. Yondu would be if Kraglin didn't step up watching Yondu's back. Kraglin turned his face back into the pillow. Fuck everything. Maybe if he kept the pillow over his face long enough, it would smother him and he wouldn't have to worry about this shit anymore.
A finger prodded his ribs, then there was a sigh and a hand wrapped loosely around his cock. "You're gonna be a bitchy little baby if you don't get some, huh?"
Kraglin debated his options. On the one hand, if he said yes, Yondu might kick his ass. On the other, if he said yes, Yondu might just take pity on him. His odds of getting to jizz at someone else's hand were, he decided, slightly higher if he said yes, so he nodded.
"All right." Yondu gave him a little squeeze. "I been wondering about trying this damn thing out, anyway. You ain't gonna have to do any damn work if you stick it in there. No lube, no stretching, so you might as well."
Kraglin's brain stuttered a little. He knew Yondu well enough to know this was a test. Yondu wanted to know if he was going to be a dick about his new anatomy, the way he'd been a dick about so many other beings' anatomy. Kraglin could hear it in the forced casualness and feel it in the way Yondu's hand was just a little too snug around Kraglin's cock.
It was a trap and the only way out was to put his dick somewhere it had never been before. Somewhere he'd never really wanted it to go. Somewhere he still didn't want it to go.
If he said no, Yondu might not toss him out of his bed. He might be able to claim he just wasn't ready yet. But it wasn't going to go away. It would keep coming back and every time he put Yondu off, it would get a little harder to say yes. Every time he said no, it would make Yondu a little more pissed off. Eventually, Yondu would toss him back and he'd be forced to move into the little nook he'd set aside for himself.
"This ain't me saying no or nothing," Kraglin said, grateful that his voice was staying steady and calm. "But I heard some species got teeth in there. Shi'ar and a couple others. You didn't sprout any of those I gotta be careful about, right?"
Yondu hummed to himself curiously and his hand disappeared from Kraglin's dick. It stayed away a moment and when it closed around Kraglin's cock again, it was wetter and more slippery. "Nah, not that I can find."
"Well. Good." That was something, at least. Surely, sticking his cock in there couldn't be so bad as long as he didn't get bit by anything. He looked over at Yondu. "How you wanna do this? You wanna get up there and ride me or you got other plans?"
Yondu snorted. "You think I'm gonna do all the fucking work? Get over here and do your share." He flopped over onto his back and spread his legs.
Kraglin sighed. Okay. So Yondu wasn't going to make this easy. Yondu was going to be an asshole.
"What, you having second thoughts? Get over here."
"I ain't having second thoughts," Kraglin grumbled, already moving. "I just figured you might have a better time if you were picking how it goes. Saw it in a holo once. Easier for the girl if she's--"
Yondu thumped him in the chest hard enough to wind him and sat up. "I ain't a girl," he said, in dangerous tones. "So you can get that right the fuck outta your stupid fuzzy head."
"Never said you was a girl," Kraglin gasped, after a few seconds. "Just. You got different parts, more like a girl and they probably work the same as a girl and I dunno, I ain't never had them or been involved with them so I got no idea how they work!"
"You keep this shit up and you ain't never gonna learn, either. Keep up like this and you ain't gonna have a chance at learning because I'm gonna whistle your dick off, we clear?"
Kraglin nodded, eyes wide. Yeah, he was clear on it. It was possibly the only thing he could think of worse than just straight up being killed.
"Good." Yondu rolled, ending up sitting on the edge of his bed. "I got work to do. Ain't got time for this shit."
"But--" Kraglin didn't want to let him go. He didn't want Yondu walking away with the idea Kraglin was done. He wasn't. Yeah, he'd fucked up. He was pretty good at fucking up. But he didn't want this to be the end of things.
Yondu started picking up his clothes. "You got jobs to figure out. Put your clothes on and go talk to nav about the easiest jumps to make. What'll conserve fuel. I ain't gonna put up with any waste. We need to get our damn budget in order and start making some money."
Kraglin's heart sank. That was so strictly professional. "Cap'n..."
Yondu looked up from trying to detangle socks, pants and boots. "You gonna ask to quit your job cause I grew a cunt?"
"No! I just--"
"Don't give a fuck what you just. Get your clothes on and get to work, Obfonteri. I'll see you when you got some jobs we can pull. And none of your sneaky getting rid of crew. We get rid of anyone else and we're gonna have problems with basic maintenance. I ain't willing to play those games." Yondu pulled a sock on and glared.
"Yessir," Kraglin said weakly, as he pushed himself up, off the bed. It was possibly the quietest, coldest they'd ever been while they got dressed and Kraglin didn't like it.
Chapter 10: How to win back a captain's favour
It was the third night since the sex that wasn't and Kraglin once again found his biometrics locked out of the captain's cabin. His spare unders were in there and he really couldn't make his current ones last another day, not without garnering a few complaints. He couldn't wash the ones he had without getting his spares. He knew better than to think he'd be allowed in for sleep, but at the very least, Yondu could have let him get his things out of the cabin before he locked him out.
There were footsteps behind him and Kraglin turned, trying to make it look like he was just passing by the cabin rather than trying to get in. Maybe he could figure something out before morning. Raid the quartermaster's stockpiles or something. That would probably work.
"Hey!" called Peter's voice.
Kraglin winced. The only upside to being tossed out of Yondu's bed was that he was spending a lot less time with the kid. The kid who was currently way more alone than he ought to be. "What are you doing here? Ain't you supposed to be working? Cap'n let you go early, he should've stayed with you."
The kid pulled the orange baubles off of his head and stared uncomprehendingly.
"Your translator busted?" Kraglin peered at the side of the kid's neck, which didn't look like it'd been battered or bruised or scraped.
"Nah, just didn't hear you."
"I said you ain't supposed to be alone. Someone might eat you. Someone like me."
Peter looked down and shrugged. "I figure you probably won't."
"You figured wrong. Gonna eat you when you're a little bigger, when you got some meat on you."
"You aren't. But if you do, it can't be worse than being a Ravager. Anyway. What are you doing over here? Yondu said you weren't coming around anymore."
Kraglin shrugged. "Left some of my things in his room. Was hoping to get them back without bugging him."
"You know, it's probably a good thing. You made the right choice. You're way safer now. You aren't going to end up sick or something." The kid beamed up at him. "And if you're on Terra when you die, God'll let you go somewhere good. That's nice, isn't it?"
Kraglin sighed. "Peter, shut up."
"I haven't talked to you in forever. It's been like, a month."
"It's been three days, kid." Kraglin was tired. His eyes felt full of grit and his soul hurt. He didn't have the patience for this bullshit.
"Still. That's a long time. And you made a really good choice. Besides. Yondu's teeth are gross as hell. I don't think he's ever brushed them. You'd probably get some kind of disease just from his teeth."
Kraglin rolled his eyes and turned away, heading back towards the door. It was just the kid. He could try to break in while the kid watched, get his stuff, then return the brat to Yondu. It was better than actually looking after the brat anyway.
"Speaking of. Uh. Kraglin? You know where I can get a toothbrush? I haven't been able to get the quartermaster to give me one. And my mouth tastes like something died in it."
"It doesn't," Kraglin said, frowning. "You don't have the right kind of teeth to even know what that would feel like. There's no way something died in your mouth."
"Uh," Peter said, eyes widening. He looked like some kind of lidless lizard, stuck out in the desert of some weird planet. Only pinker and furrier. "How would you know that?"
"Because I've been there, done that. Pretty much just tastes like meat, anyway."
"You've eaten dead things?"
"Yeah. That's what meat is." Ego clearly had some kind of genetic thing going on that made his kids morons. It seemed like all of his kids had been this stupid.
"No. Well. Yeah. But that's not what I mean. I mean. You've killed things with your mouth? Then eaten them?"
"Obviously." Kraglin shook his head. Poor idiot. Who knew how he was going to manage to survive to adulthood.
"How? You just look normal. Normal people can't kill things with their mouth. You aren't a dog, are you?"
Kraglin looked hopefully at the lock, then back to Peter when it didn't unlock as if by magic. "I'm getting real sick of you comparing me to weird Terran animals, kid. Real sick. So you might want to tread a little more carefully if you ain't looking to find out first hand just how good I can kill you with my mouth."
"But how though? Your teeth look fine."
"If I tell you, will you please just go back to where Yondu is? He's the only one that can keep you safe from getting eaten. Boys ain't never tasted Terran before."
Peter gulped, audibly. Apparently he was developing at least some little bit of fear of the crew. Good. Might keep him alive. "Uh. Yeah?"
Kraglin nodded, then dropped his teeth, opening his mouth wide to show off the rows of razor-sharp fangs.
He probably shouldn't have laughed as hard as he did when the kid started screaming, but screaming in sudden startled terror, even if it was painful to his ears, was better than the broken-hearted angry shrieking he usually did. It was hilarious, if he were honest with himself. The kid looked like he'd seen something truly terrifying, when all he was looking at was Kraglin.
The kid backed himself up against the wall and breathed fast while Kraglin got the laughing under control enough to put his teeth away.
"Told you," he laughed.
"I thought that was a nightmare! Your teeth are really like that? Are you a monster?"
Kraglin shrugged. He was very practical about what he was and wasn't. "Probably, to be honest with you. It ain't bothered me any, though."
"Are you really gonna eat me?"
"Not if Yondu keeps telling me no." He was pretty sure he wasn't going to eat the kid even if Yondu told him to. Wouldn't sit right. But if it would make the kid shut up, just a little? It'd be worth it.
"That's really messed up." The kid stayed plastered against the wall, face all pinked up from the screaming.
"Yeah, probably. But I'm a Ravager. We ain't really known for being real good people. We're thieves and murderers and scavengers. We ain't really friendly for kids. We're all monsters."
The kid shook his head. "Then why'd you take me? Huh? I still don't get it. Why'd you pick me?"
"Boys ain't never tasted Terran before, but Yondu decided since you were so scrawny and little you'd be good for thieving, so you get to live at least until you get too big to be useful." That was close enough to the story Yondu was telling him, Kraglin hoped. It wasn't like they'd compared notes in a few days and sometimes Yondu would change his mind on something.
"Why are you a Ravager anyway? It's just a special word for jerk."
Kraglin prodded at the handprint pad and shrugged. "Maybe I'm just a special kind of jerk. Pretty sure if you asked most people on the ship, they could tell you that much."
"Yeah, but... did you always want to be a Ravager? Why are you a Ravager? Didn't you ever try being nice?"
"Tried it, didn't really work out for me. So I gave up. This is easier." He pulled the knife out of his shoulder holster. If he slid it just right under the back of the panel, the panel ought to pop off. Then he'd be able to get in and get his unders.
"How hard did you try?"
Kraglin sent the kid a withering glance but it looked like he was perking up rather than withering. Dammit. He debated dropping his teeth again, but decided not to. "Hard enough."
"What did you do? Maybe we could find a nice planet and try being nice together. You could get a job and... maybe braces? And I could... I dunno. Keep my head down until we saved up enough to get me home?"
Nope, kid was still convinced Kraglin was nice, somewhere down low. "Tried to become a tailor. Ended up killing ten people and taking the first ship off-planet I could find to avoid going to prison. I'm not the settling down kind and I sure as hell ain't gonna be playing house with a kid."
Peter huffed. "Fine. You know there's an easier way to get that lock, right?"
Kraglin flipped his knife around in his hand and offered it handle-first to the kid. "Sure. You go right ahead, kiddo."
Peter took the knife and tossed it carelessly over his shoulder.
Kraglin elbowed him. "Respect my things." He went to go pick up his beloved knife and examine it for any damage.
By the time he turned back, Peter had opened the door and was standing there, grinning like an asshole.
"Yondu added me to the handprint thingie. So I can get in when I gotta since you aren't around to take me to the bathroom at night anymore. And you didn't even try me. If you'd ever been a boy scout, you'd know that a scout is wise in the use of all resources." Peter was smug and it was a bad look on him. Worse than angry, sad or hurt, because the thing was, even if Kraglin didn’t know what a boy scout was, he was right.
If Yondu didn't have Kraglin to back him up and keep the kid alive, then the brat was going to have to do things alone sometimes. And that wasn't safe. Peter wasn't going to last long if Yondu was the only one looking after him, even if he did have the safe haven of Yondu's cabin. Yondu wouldn't have any choice but to let him run errands and do chores. No one got a free ride on a Ravager ship, not even some little brat like Quill.
Kid was going to die and there he was, looking like the orloni that got the yahru. He didn't have any idea how close he was to death and he wouldn't see it coming until it was on him. Yondu would lose it, when he died, Kraglin knew that much. The whole crew was probably going to die when it happened and if Kraglin was on the outs with Yondu, then he'd be included in those numbers. Shit. The only way to survive was to keep the kid safe. Only way to do that was to make things up to Yondu.
"All right," Kraglin said. "You got any chores right now?"
"Nah. I finished."
Kraglin made a mental note to check the duty rosters because there was no way that Peter had finished all the jobs that he could do. There was no way. There were too many things to do on a Ravager vessel, even one that wasn't going to have to be carefully babied for the rest of forever because major repairs weren't going to be any kind of decent option for a long, long time.
It worked for Kraglin, though, to have the kid's time. "Then you got a whole new set. We're going to get all the bedding cleaned up in here. And scrub down the bathroom. There was mould in there last I looked and Yondu don't got time for that shit."
"What? No. That's not fair. I finished all my chores!"
"Looks like you didn't. Now you're gonna help me make sure that bed is free of bugs and parasites and sandy dirty shit, got it?"
"But Kraglin, I--"
"Actually. You can start on the bathroom." The mould got under Yondu's skin sometimes, literally. His skin was more porous than most species, so when the mould started to grow in the bathroom, he'd avoid showering until Kraglin got around to cleaning down the walls and everything. That always left him dried out and itchy, because whatever species he was, Yondu's people were definitely from a high-humidity planet. He wasn't built for the dry air of space, that much was for sure.
"That's really not fair!"
"I'll get you the cleaning supplies and some gloves. I ain't that kind of monster. Don't want your skin to fall off."
"My... Cleaning the bathroom can make my skin fall off ?"
Kraglin stared. "Yeah. Of course it can. You get any of the heavy duty cleaners on you, it can digest your skin if your species is sensitive to whatever the PH is. That's just how these things work. You ain't special just cause you're Terran, you know. You melt the same as any species."
"I can't clean the bathroom with stuff that'll make my skin fall off."
"It won't. That's why I'm getting you gloves ."
"What are gloves going to do?"
Kraglin closed his eyes a second and then started off down the hall. "Come on." He grabbed Peter's shoulder and pulled him along. "They're a barrier. Keep you from getting the chemicals on your skin. If you don't get anything on your skin, it can't melt you."
"How are gloves more powerful than me?"
"They just are. Now, this is going to be your job from now on. You're going to be responsible for keeping the bathroom clean, so you better pay attention to where everything is and what I tell you to do or you ain't gonna eat for days. There ain't no room for slacking off on a ship."
Peter groaned. If all Terrans were this resilient, it was no wonder they didn't have a self preservation instinct. They just bounced. Didn't matter what they hit, didn't matter how scared they got. They bounced back pretty easily, apparently. That was something, at least. Make it easier to keep the kid alive for Yondu.
Hopefully, keeping the kid alive would be enough to make Yondu think twice about getting rid of him. Of course, even that and the cleaning were just part of a larger plan that was forming. He needed to make some changes. Big ones.
Chapter 11: Make it right
There was something to be said for sleeping alone. Sure, it was cold. It was lonely. It was harder to fall asleep without someone else's breathing to lull you down into dreams. All of those things were true, but the nice thing about sleeping alone was that there was no one to kick you.
Kraglin had forgotten just how nice that was, after a couple years of getting kicked at irregular intervals by Yondu. Sleeping in his nook gave the bruises on his legs time to heal up nicely. Made him look nicer naked when he took the time to lock everyone out of a bathroom and go over his grooming.
He wasn't much for personal grooming. He'd never been particularly big on making sure that his body hair was neatly trimmed or softened up with a nice conditioner or anything else. He'd never been that kind of guy and he'd poked more than his share of fun at guys like that when he'd been living in the mines.
That didn't mean that Yondu didn't appreciate it on the very rare occasion that he made the effort. When he did, when he put all that back-breaking work into it--it required far more twisting of his spine than was decent--Yondu liked to touch him and pet him and fuck him into the mattress, hard.
That was an important part of this plan. He needed to make Yondu want him. He also needed to make Yondu an offer he couldn't refuse, one that would mean that they got some time without the kid. The most effective way to accomplish that? Simply buy them a couple bots to share for an evening.
The jobs Yondu had told him to find had gone well, better than either of them had really hoped. It had been enough to pay the wages, get the supplies and have a little left over for throwing around money. Sometimes, you just needed to throw some units around, show you still had it.
Kraglin knew that Yondu had put most of his take aside into savings in case of future crises like the one they'd narrowly averted. Yondu was impulsive, but when it came down to doing what was right for the ship, he did it and he bore it with relative good grace. Kraglin knew that when Yondu did that, it often meant he didn't have the units to throw at bots, just units for a few drinks to pretend he was throwing money around, then spending the night on his M-Ship.
It would be weird to spend a celebration night alone with the brat. Kraglin was banking on that. He could lock Quill up--he was fairly sure he could get the kid to understand that everyone was going to be fucking before the night was over, even if they weren't necessarily fucking each other--and leave him on his M-Ship with some candy and food and let him have a nice, quiet night.
He'd use part of his take to pay for the hookers he'd called ahead for. He'd hired some of the higher end ones, some of the ones with nicer, removeable holes and warmer synthskin. They were generally nicer for fucking and nicer when they were giving you a blowie. And they had better pressure sensors to boot, made them able to determine how to best touch a man to put him through the roof.
Most importantly of all, they were customizeable. You could add up to eight different holes to them, add a dick-module if you wanted. Of course all of the add-ons cost a bit more, but he knew what he was going to do. He knew what configuration he wanted.
He was going to look perfect when they got there. He was going to make Yondu jealous of the bot.
Then they were going to have a chat. In the meantime, however, he had other things to get ready. He made his mental list, ticking off imaginary boxes as he went.
He'd taken care of delousing the entire cabin, even the desk chair. He'd put himself through a couple doses of debugging fluid, meaning he didn't have any of the itchy crawlers that made Yondu pissy. He'd made sure the kid got deloused, even, and he had crawlers on his head that Kraglin hadn't ever seen before. He'd known they ought to have put the brat through a decontam shower when they brought him on board, but fuck, there'd been enough going on that no one had listened to him particularly hard.
He still needed to go and install the new engine turbines into Yondu's M-Ship. They'd bought them a few jobs before picking up the kid and neither of them had found the time to install them yet. They'd double the little ship's speed, though, and handle like a dream.
Then he needed to make sure Yondu's leathers were oiled properly. It didn't usually matter in space. There wasn't any rain that needed to be kept off of Yondu or anything, so his leathers dried out. That left them permeable and the planet they were going to had freezing rains in the early hours of their morning sometimes. A cold, wet Yondu was one of the most irritable versions of him that there was, so it was important to make sure he'd be warm and dry. It was also important to make sure that the warm hood he sometimes pulled out and attached to his coat in freezing rain was packed into the inner pocket and ready to go.
Those two things alone were going to take hours and he had a tight timeline, but he couldn't rest until he'd made sure that the extra rations he'd ordered were confirmed. Yondu wasn't a picky eater. That had been beaten out of him early enough in life he didn't even remember it consciously. Kraglin could tell, though, sometimes. It was in the way certain things made Yondu make a face and then flinch before he realized what he'd done. He'd eat anything, with that face and that flinch, but that didn't mean he liked it.
So Kraglin had laid in enough Yondu-preferred rations to keep him going for months without having to eat any of the shit he hated. He'd be well-fed, happy. No one could be happy with anything when they were stuck eating food that wasn't to their personal or species-specific tastes. Kraglin was observant and he'd been able to figure out what all Yondu liked best.
Those would arrive with the rest of the rations and he needed to make sure the quartermaster knew to store them separately, that they weren't for common use. They were Kraglin's and through Kraglin they were Yondu's, but they weren't for crew. They were a special treat.
Adding it all up in his head, he hoped it was enough to make Yondu less upset with him and at least get Yondu to talk to him, even if he wasn't willing to let him back into his bed. Kraglin was starting to accept, at least a little, that maybe they weren't compatible there any longer. He didn't like it. It wasn't his idea of a happy ending to things, but if he couldn't keep from talking shit that would hurt Yondu and Yondu couldn't take that shit in stride, then it was probably over. He wanted his friend back, though.
Kraglin had been a Ravager for a few years. He'd been young, a little too young, when he'd convinced Yondu to let him try working on his ship for at least a couple decacycles without pay. He had celebrated his eighteenth birthday two or three times before he'd finally made it to nineteen and nineteen had been more recent than he cared to think about. It was more recent than Yondu was willing to acknowledge, thank fuck.
He'd been shy, at first, not really knowing what to say and so keeping his mouth shut a lot of the time. It had worked in his favour. He'd always learnt best by watching and listening. And he'd always had a quick mind when it came to turning objects around and around and seeing how they went together. It had served him well in the salt mines, but it served him even better when he got into space and started working on engines.
He hadn't been working on engines a full quarter when he'd noticed a problem the engineers weren't seeing. They had laughed at him and told him to keep his head down and shut up. He hadn't even been properly qualified as a mechanic yet, he'd started playing with engines so recently, but he'd known he was right. He'd come to blows with one of the engineers, a spectacular fight that had resulted in two lost fingers and a broken nose before Yondu had waded into the middle.
Strong arms had wrapped around Kraglin's waist and pulled him off the engineer and an arrow had levelled itself at his eye. He'd been scrawny, then, too scrawny to fight back and have any hope of escaping even if the arrow hadn't been part of the equation. He'd also been a couple inches shorter.
He'd been held in place so tightly he thought he'd actually pass out--one of the mechanics had him and wasn't letting go for anything--when Yondu's blue face had appeared next to the arrow.
"And what do you think you were doing?" Yondu had demanded, fury emanating cooly from his voice. His crest had flickered a little and the arrow had seemed to glow brighter.
"Trying not to get us all killed, Cap'n," Kraglin had said tightly. He wasn't really designed to be squeezed around the belly. It was where most of his organs were, including the lower portion of his lungs and he couldn't get a decent breath when someone held him like that.
"By attacking the people whose job it is to make sure we don't get killed? Sure a funny way to do that." It hadn't sounded like Yondu thought it was funny, at the time, but he'd been told much later that Yondu had struggled not to laugh his ass off at Kraglin.
"Well he ain't doing his job. He's gonna get us all killed if he ain't fucking careful. Him and his stupid buddies!" The effort of getting that many words out in a row left him panting.
Yondu had let out a low whistle and the arrow had drifted ever so slightly closer to Kraglin's eye. It had been enough to draw his focus so he couldn't watch Yondu any longer. He'd shivered, he'd been so scared.
"You might wanna think real hard about what you're saying about my crew, kid," Yondu had drawled. "They been with me awhile and you just showed up here and ain't even learned how to wipe your own ass yet."
Kraglin had been outraged, but he hadn't been able to pull in a deep enough breath to blast Yondu with said outrage. Instead, he'd been forced to answer lowly and calmly simply thanks to the fact that the mechanic had been squeezing him. It had turned out to be a bit of a figurative lifesaver for him. "Turbine shaft's cracked."
There had been a rumble of voices from the engineers, who were tending to their buddy.
"Well? Is that true?" Yondu had demanded.
The engineers had chorused their irritation and the fact that there was no way the kid had seen it and they hadn't. The kid wasn't even qualified, after all.
"Then it ain't cracked," Yondu had said. "Which means you're just beating on people for no damn reason."
The arms around his middle had squeezed tighter, pushing the air out of him in a wheeze. "Look for yourself," he'd squeaked, barely able to make the words come out.
"Insistent little shit, ain't you?"
Kraglin had wanted to nod, but the arrow at his eye had prevented it. "Sure," he'd gasped.
"Okay, let go of him," Yondu had said. "If he's got the balls to stand there when you're killing him and my arrow's at his eye and tell me all the engineers are wrong? Then we're checking this out."
"I'm not killing him," the mechanic had said.
"He's Hraxian, you idiot. You're squeezing his lungs. Now, you're all going to do a detailed scan of that shaft while I watch."
There had been a rumble while they demanded that they be allowed to take their buddy to med-bay instead, but a few sharp whistles and the arrow darting around until it came to hover in front of Kraglin's eye had helped put that to rest. Honestly, he hadn't cared one whit about the engineers by then. He had only cared about the fact that he could breathe again, sweet nitrogen flooding his lungs and clearing the spots from his vision.
Time had passed and just when he had been almost able to start ignoring the arrow in his field of vision, Yondu had whistled again and the arrow had flown back to his holster.
There had been a lot of yelling after that, very little of which Kraglin had actually processed. He'd been more busy swallowing hard to keep his lunch down--a squeeze like that always upset his stomach. Before he'd even had time to decide his lunch was really staying down for the count, he'd found himself swept along, trailing the flapping edges of Yondu's coat as he walked through the hallways, stopping at medical to get Kraglin checked out.
Kraglin had never been sure how it had happened, but by the time he'd left medical that day, he'd been friends, of a sort, with Yondu. He hadn't realized it, not for a few days after, but Yondu had started eating meals with him, hanging out with him. Asking his opinions on things. Most importantly, Yondu had listened to him. No one else had ever done that before in Kraglin's life. Usually they'd just laughed at him or walked away from him. It had been a huge rush to have someone actually listen.
And it had never ended. They'd slowly, over the course of years and about as much liquor as could be expected between two Ravagers, gone from friends to lovers and at no point had Yondu ever stopped listening to him. He was frequently the only person Yondu did listen to. Yondu was the only person Kraglin reported to or listened to and the only person whose opinions Kraglin had to factor into his actions.
It had worked. For years it had worked, Kraglin's entire adult life, if he was honest. But he'd fucked up. Their relationship had always been easy and Kraglin had taken one look at a challenge and practically thrown it out the window.
It was up to him to fix it. He was going to fix it. There was no failure option. He would get Yondu back, even if they never fucked again.
Chapter 12: Bringing things to a tie
Contains a gay man having sticking his dick in a vagina or two.
There were three hookers for two men and it still felt like there was too much flesh and not enough bot in the room. Things were so painfully awkward between Kraglin and Yondu that they kept bumping into each other when it came to telling the bots what to do. Kraglin would ask one to stick its dick in his ass and Yondu would at the same time ask for the same one to stick its dick in his ass instead. There was no fluidity to it. Everything that had been easy before was hard and it was grating and painful.
It wasn't going well and Yondu didn't seem to trust what they were doing, which was definitely counterproductive. He'd taken one look at the configuration Kraglin had requested--which roughly matched his own--and had started glaring. Kraglin was pretty sure that the only reason he hadn't taken off was pure stubbornness.
He'd take off as soon as he was done and Kraglin didn't even know where he'd screwed up this time. He'd thought that willfully paying for three bot hookers with the same basic anatomy as Yondu would send a message, but it didn't seem to be sending the one he was hoping for. All it seemed to be doing was making him more angry, if the snap of his hips and the irritated tone to his grunts was anything to go by.
It wasn't working and Kraglin was pretty sure that Yondu hadn't noticed any of the other things he'd done, so this was going to fail and then Yondu would start avoiding him even more. If that happened, then there'd be no one to have Yondu's back and he'd die. Kraglin didn't want Yondu to die on the worst days they'd ever had together and he certainly didn't want Yondu to die while they were having a fight like this.
Kraglin thrust in and out of a bot but it wasn't really doing anything for him. Its ass was too cool and its flesh was too rough to match up to what he really wanted. What he really wanted was only a couple of feet away, being fucked hard by a synthflesh dick bigger than Kraglin's own, his head in another bot's lap. If that was what Yondu wanted, then Kraglin wasn't going to be able to satisfy anyway. Maybe it'd be better just to give up.
"You want me to go, Cap'n?" he said, finally.
"It's your units," Yondu grunted.
"Y'don't seem to wanna be here. Or maybe y'don't want me to be here." Kraglin pushed himself off the bot and stood in the middle of the room.
"Ain't gonna get laid if you ain't around."
"I'll still pay for the bots if you want me to go. Not leaving you high and dry."
Yondu shrugged and shoved the bot off him. "After you went to all the trouble of faking like you wanted something set up like me?"
Kraglin blinked at him a second. He hadn't been faking anything. "Figured you'd be happier playing with bots set up like you."
"Noticed you ain't touched any of them in the cunt modules." He lay flat on his back glaring at Kraglin furiously.
"It ain't really my thing, but that don't mean I can't fuck the rest of their bits."
"Just not the bit you don't like."
"What, you wanna see me fuck a cunt? Fine." Kraglin turned to the nearest bot. "Bend over and brace your fucking hands."
It moved fluidly and obediently into position and Kraglin stepped up behind it. "Now watch," he snarled at Yondu, shoving his dick into the slick hole. It was looser than he was used to, but it wasn't terrible. As long as he didn't think of it too hard, it wasn't bad at all. He could see where he'd be able to get off if he went at it long enough.
Kraglin locked eyes with Yondu and started pounding the bot, his hands holding its hips tight enough that he'd have left bruises on a flesh hooker. The hips of the bot were far less yielding. He slammed into it over and over, ignoring its carefully programmed moans and gasps in favour of keeping his eyes on Yondu.
"You think I wanna be done with you? You think I ain't into you anymore?" Kraglin panted out through the exertion. He hadn't fucked anything this hard in a long time. "You think I wanna go find someone else? Cause I don't, you fucking idiot."
"Careful. S'insubordination," Yondu drawled.
"Don't care. Gonna be insubordinate. Gonna show you!" Kraglin snapped his hips faster, balls slapping against the bot's dick-module.
"Then show me, asshole. I'm done with you being a dick about something I can't help."
"I wasn't! I was--ugh--surprised!"
"So was I!"
"Never said you weren't."
"And you just go and act like you ain't done nothing wrong. Trying to turn Quill against me."
Kraglin's rhythm sputtered. "When the hell did I turn him against you?"
"He been spending all his time with you doing some kinda secret projects."
Kraglin stopped entirely. "I been making him clean the bathroom so you won't get a rash again."
"I made him sanitize the fucking bathroom."
"He told me it was all a big secret and you were the only one who could know."
"That's not my fault. I never told him to keep it secret. I just made him help me clean your cabin and bathroom because you locked me out!"
"Is that why there ain't no spunk crunchies on my furs anymore?"
"Yes. I been spending my downtime trying to make your life easier so you'd let me back in."
"You coulda told me."
The bot gave an encouraging little lurch and a soft moan and Kraglin started fucking it again, slower so he could talk properly. "When? You ain't been willing to come near me when there ain't crew around!"
"You could've messaged me. Woulda been polite rather than using my Terran to get into my room behind my back!"
"You woulda refused to look at my message. You're an asshole like that."
"No I wouldn't."
"You would," Kraglin snapped. "You done stupid shit like that before when you was mad at someone."
"Not to you."
"Right. To everyone else in the fleet, but never me. I'm so flarking special you ain't gonna treat me the same as everyone else you ever met," Kraglin grumbled, breaking eye contact to watch his cock go in and out of the bot's cunt-module. It was still weird. Not really his thing at all.
There was a loud silence from Yondu's side of the enormous bed. Usually, he had a quick, ready come back for everything. He'd be irritated and pissy and tell Kraglin off. Shout and wail and make sure Kraglin knew he was an idiot. This time, nothing.
Kraglin looked over to make sure he hadn't died. Yondu turned away abruptly. Kraglin watched Yondu beckon the bot that had been fucking him back over, instructing it to get back to work gruffly.
Yondu's legs spread and one hand on his dick, he looked back over at Kraglin. "You done being a sarcastic little baby?"
"Fuck off," Kraglin snapped, fucking the bot a little harder.
"Busy getting fucked. Might as well take advantage if no one else is gonna do it."
Kraglin shoved the bot off his dick and turned to Yondu. "You want this? Is that what you're doing? Gonna get me to fuck you so you can say you did and that's the end of it all?"
"I fucked you so many times it don't even matter."
"Bot ain't good enough? I got you the best fucking bots I could afford."
"So you wouldn't have to touch me."
"So you'd see I didn't fucking care. Are we going to spend all our time going around in fucking circles or are we actually gonna get off?" Kraglin walked over to stand next to the bot fucking Yondu. His bot gave up its stance and came closer to the two of them, watching for instructions.
"I'm having a great time." Yondu glanced up at the bot his head was resting on and grabbed its hand, tugging it towards his pouch. "C'mere, sweetheart. Get your hand in here. Play with the little nubbins. It's nice."
Kraglin had shared a lot of hookers with Yondu over the years, enough to know what Yondu liked from flesh hookers or bot hookers. He'd never seen Yondu let a bot touch his pouch. It was rare for Yondu to let anyone who wasn't Kraglin touch his pouch and Kraglin's lip curled in irritation as he watched Yondu arch into the touch.
That was it. It was the final straw. Kraglin grabbed the bot that was fucking Yondu by the shoulder and pulled it back from him. Yondu opened his mouth and turned to bark some kind of irritation at the bot for stopping. Before he could get more than the first sound out, however, Kraglin thrust into Yondu.
They locked eyes and Yondu stared at him as he fucked in. It wasn't as good as Yondu's ass. It was never going to be. But it was better than the bot had been, warmer and with a tighter clench. And there was something in Yondu's eyes, something that never would be in a bot's eyes.
It was fine. It was maybe not good. It was maybe not perfect, but it was fine. It was something he could give Yondu, a sweet reassurance and that mattered, somehow.
"See?" Kraglin demanded, ploughing into him and shoving his hand into Yondu’s pouch. "It ain't nothing. Ain't nothing against you. Ain't got any problem with you. I like fucking you."
Yondu nodded, a soft moan drifting out of his mouth. His heels dug into Kraglin's lower back, pulling him in closer and forcing him to shove in harder, deeper.
"Ain't stopping. Ain't gonna stop." Kraglin's breath was coming in sharp gasps as he drove each point home. He could feel his knot starting to expand, making it harder to pull back out for a good thrust. The drag of Yondu's cunt was sweeter and tighter with each movement. He shoved Yondu's hand off his own dick and started jerking him himself.
Yondu was shoving down onto his cock, little chirping sounds starting to escape his lips. He threw his head back and shuddered. Kraglin shivered in response.
"Feel that? Gonna knot you. You want that? You wanna be stuck like the fucking bots couldn't manage? Couldn't even swell with them."
Yondu nodded frantically. "Yeah. Yeah. Do it."
That was really all it took. Kraglin looked from Yondu's face to where his cock was disappearing into Yondu and managed to pull out for two more thrusts before he was tied there, his thrusts going shallow and fast. Yondu went off like a fountain, his sticky spunk spattering his own groin. Kraglin took a moment to be glad it wasn't in his own pubes before the tight squeeze of Yondu's cunt pulled him over the edge, dragging him down like the sudden clutch of gravity as a ship lost orbit. His whole body tightened as pulse after pulse of his semen filled Yondu.
He forgot about the bots. He forgot about the brothel. He forgot about the fight, about the Terran cleaning his M-ship. He forgot about everything except Yondu and his own cock. Then he did what he always did when Yondu actually agreed to be tied. He curled into Yondu and took a nap.
Chapter 13: The Trouble with Terrans (is that they fucking well get kidnapped)
There was a beeping. It was annoying. It was digging into the back of Kraglin's head like someone was poking it with something sharp. He opened first one eye, then the other. His entire field of vision was consumed by a blue, sweaty chest. Right. Yondu. They were fucking again. Or, well, they had been. Kraglin wasn't sure if that was an ongoing thing or if it had been a final fuck or what kind of fuck it had been.
But the sweat hadn't dried yet. Meant the nap shouldn't be over. He closed his eyes again. If the fucking was going to be done with then he was going to sleep a little longer and pretend. Only the beeping happened again and there was a soft whistle and the poking happened again.
Whistle. Poking. He jolted fully awake. "Uh."
"Bout fucking time. I can't see my fucking comm. You got my arm pinned."
Yondu's wrist beeped and things got a little clearer to Kraglin. He lifted himself off of Yondu's arm and shoulder and shifted his weight when his hips weren't happy to just detach easily from Yondu. It really hadn't been long, then. He wasn't anywhere near slipping out.
"Put my damn arm to sleep," Yondu grumbled, looking at his comm. His eyes widened. "Hell. Okay, get out of me. I got crew to execute."
"Can't yet," Kraglin said, giving his hips a tug. If Yondu was talking execution, he needed to get out faster. But then again, maybe Yondu was just kind of exaggerating.
"Well you better fucking figure it out. Someone stole Quill."
"What?" Kraglin tried to detach again. "How? He was locked in my M-ship!"
"Someone broke the cockpit glass and stole him. Fuck. Get *out*."
Kraglin winced and took a deep breath. Well, this was a great ending to this. If Yondu wanted him out then that meant it was going to hurt. He squirmed to get himself at the right angle, then put his hand in between his legs and squeezed his balls hard. It knocked the fucking wind out of him and he did it again, feeling nauseous.
"Hurry up," Yondu snarled, starting to squirm dangerously.
"Doing my best," Kraglin gasped, with a third and harder squeeze. It hurt like nothing else but when he moved he felt the knot slipping out of Yondu. It really wasn't a moment too soon as the wave of pain resonated through his whole body and he rolled to the edge of the bed to vomit.
"We don't have time for you to be all dramatic. Get dressed! Someone stole my fucking Terran!" Yondu rolled to his feet and started looking for his clothes. There was a stream of cum down his inner thighs when Kraglin looked over.
"Ain't being dramatic," Kraglin muttered.
"You're being dramatic. Hurry up." Yondu threw Kraglin's jumpsuit at him and wiped his crotch with Kraglin's unders before tossing those at a bot for disposal.
Kraglin winced at the idea of putting his bruised balls directly against leather, but gave one last heave and started pulling his uniform on. If Yondu wanted to get moving, they were moving. Didn't matter if Kraglin was hurt or not. They were going to be moving.
"That's better," Yondu said, pulling layer after layer of clothing into place. "And don't think you're gonna get away with leaving that much jizz in me without cleaning my leathers later. It's fucking squishy."
Kraglin nodded. Yeah, he'd figured that would happen. Yondu usually got him back for that. They usually used a condom or he pulled out and jizzed off the side of the bed to keep Yondu from whining about how it bubbled when he farted. At least he wouldn't be able to bitch about that. Kraglin might not have been sure of a lot of things about cunts, but he was pretty sure people didn't fart out of them. The digestive system wasn't attached enough for that shit.
Something niggled in the back of his head, something important, but Yondu threw a boot at his head and he stopped thinking and got moving, tying the laces on his uniform as quickly as he could. Right. Stolen Terran. Some idiot had thought it was a good idea to steal Yondu's new pet. Heads were going to be rolling. Kraglin was probably going to be chopping them off.
He tugged his boots on and then started strapping his knife sheaths. He'd opted for maybe a couple too many buckles, judging from the way Yondu was glaring and checking his wristcomm as he waited. He'd have to consider running out of brothels in future modifications to his uniform.
And then they were off and running, going full tilt through the streets to where he'd left his M-ship. Several Ravagers were milling around the front of it agitatedly and one of the panes of glass in his cockpit had been destroyed. Yes, heads were going to roll.
"All right," Kraglin barked at the crew who had opted to stick around nearby. "Who saw what happened and can actually put together a fucking sentence?"
Three hands pointed at Slart and Kraglin grabbed him by the shoulder hard enough that he felt hollow bones creaking. His pink face flushed brightly. "What did you see?" Kraglin demanded.
Yondu whistled nearby and his arrow hovered at Kraglin's shoulder, ready to dart forward if Slart said one thing Yondu didn't like. An unpleasant odour filled the area almost as soon as the whistle sounded and Kraglin didn't even blame the kid.
"Was coming out of the bar over there," Slart said. "Saw Mritta and Rint dragging the brat out the cockpit. They ran that way with him. Tried and stop them, but I couldn't keep up. Gravity's too high here. Can't run fast enough. Contacted the captain right away."
"Mritta's dead," Yondu said flatly. "He's fucking dead. Rint's gonna be the Eclector's new bowsprit. Gonna see what hard vacuum does to an Aakon. Y'all clear? No one puts a fucking hand on my Terran without my say-so. Next person who does ain't gonna get off so light as Mritta and Rint, got it?"
The assembled crew nodded.
"Now, any of you fuckers got any idea what they was planning to do with my Terran?" Yondu gave a sharp, piercing whistle and his arrow flared up, making Kraglin flinch a little.
There was a rumble of denials as they all scrambled to make sure they weren't going to be Yondu's next targets. Oblo stepped forward, taking a deep breath.
"It isn't anything definite, Captain," Oblo started. "We've all been sitting around complaining about the brat. Most of us aren't going to try anything so I didn't think it was worth reporting. But Mritta mentioned the Collector, sir."
"Aw hell," Yondu grumbled. "I hate crossing Tivan. I'm gonna owe him a fucking favour and I hate his fucking jobs."
Kraglin grunted his agreement. Jobs for Tivan were always more trouble than they were worth. Sure, they paid well, but that didn't mean anyone enjoyed them. And if Yondu was going to keep Tivan from adding to his collection, Yondu was probably going to have to agree to at least a couple of Tivan's shitty jobs to get to keep what was his.
Still. It would be a contact. They needed more of those. And there was no doubt that Tivan would gain something from having an unaffiliated Ravager clan owe him some favours. Yondu might just be able to pull this out and have the Eclector come out on top, if they had just a little luck.
A sharp whistle and the arrow disappeared into Yondu's holster. "All right. Get the M-ship repaired to go back to the Eclector. Have anyone too drunk to help defend us back on the Eclector. Depends on Tivan's mood how hard we'll be booking it. Obfonteri, with me. We got crew to hunt." Yondu turned on his heel and headed in the direction Slart had sent him.
The crewmen looked at each other and at Yondu, murmuring affirmatives. Kraglin rolled his eyes. "Hop to it. Don't got much time, assholes," he snapped, before turning to follow Yondu.
There was a swagger in Yondu's step that only came around when he was both furious and eagerly anticipating murder. His coat swished along the ground and his footsteps were purposeful, the strides of a dangerous predator. Kraglin had never seen a group of Centaurians hunt together, but he could imagine Yondu with a pack of his own kind spread out around him, tracking down whatever creature they'd decided to end. He couldn't imagine they'd ever be anything less than completely effective.
Kraglin's legs were a good measure longer than Yondu's and he still had to trot to keep up, Yondu's movements were so efficient. If his balls weren't so bruised, he'd definitely have a semi watching his captain stalk along. As it stood, his cock gave a feeble twitch, ever hopeful that it would get a chance at some blood-spattered fucking.
"You using your nose?" Yondu demanded, eyes sweeping the alleyway as they moved.
Kraglin ran a couple steps to get ahead of Yondu and sniffed the air cautiously. His sense of smell was a few standard deviations better than the galactic average, enough that he'd been of some use in a few situations involving some particularly stinky bounties. It wasn't enough to overpower the stench of garbage festering behind some of the restaurants. Dirtbounders were so bad at disposing of waste, it was astonishing they didn't just all die of some kind of dysentery.
"Sorry, Cap'n. Can't catch a whiff."
"Keep trying. There's a place Tivan's bitches like to go when they're picking up for him, but there ain't no guarantee they're staying there any length of time."
Kraglin nodded, giving another tentative sniff. Still garbage. Still overpowering. He kept his eyes open, however, peering into the shadows for any signs of the brat. His low-light vision was better than Yondu's, while Yondu's high-light vision had a mile on Kraglin's. Between them, they could see the shadows and the spotlights. It was one of the many things that made them an effective team.
Kraglin squinted at a tiny patch of colour down one of the narrow passageways off the alley and skidded to a halt. "Cap'n. Hold up." He scrambled down the passageway and looked. Sure enough, it was an orange ear bauble. He held it up.
"Shit. They ain't at their usual spot then," Yondu spat, sweeping past him. "Or Mritta got his ass lost. Fuck knows Rint ain't smart enough to think he's gonna be leading anyone anywhere."
That was true enough. Rint was about as smart as Yondu's left boot after it'd been wading through sewage. "Right. If Mritta's lost, he's not gonna go to our usual spots. Ain't a good idea in case any of the other clans is here. Figure he's gotta be going that way," Kraglin said, pointing down a main street as they exited the passage.
"He ain't that dumb... No. He's exactly that dumb. Fuck. If you hadn't took so long to get dressed, we'd already have him."
Kraglin took that complaint in stride. Yondu didn't really mean it, probably. If he did, there'd be an arrow hurrying Kraglin along. Of course, on a crowded main street, it wasn't a good idea for Yondu to pull out the arrow. Most of the time, it would draw too much attention, get them caught. Yondu'd spent a few nights in local jails and even had to have Stakar come bail him out once. There was no Stakar to bail anyone out anymore, so Yondu couldn't get caught.
Kraglin just hoped Yondu would remember that. They couldn't afford to have Yondu end up doing a stint. By the time he got out, he'd have lost his credibility with the crew and who knew what would happen to the ship. Yondu wouldn't have a ship to come back to, that was for sure, and there was no guarantee the crew wouldn't just toss Kraglin out an airlock. Of all the ways he could die, that was the one that terrified him the most.
The one thing better about the main street was that it didn't smell so bad. It smelled like unwashed masses, not garbage, and that was a big help in trying to catch a whiff of their quarry. Rint's people didn't believe in bathing much more than Kraglin's people did and they believed in deodorants significantly less than Kraglin's people did. He stank so bad Kraglin thought that there might be people on other planets who smelled it and, fortunately for Kraglin, not many people on the planet did smell more than Rint.
He turned, catching a whiff, and pointed. "Cap'n."
Yondu nodded, turning with a whirl of his coat and striding off in the direction Kraglin indicated. Another passage, another alleyway. One of Quill's boots. Either they were being rougher with him than Kraglin cared to think about or the kid was trying to leave a trail.
"They're definitely lost," Yondu said. "Trying to find their way back where they want to be. They moved too fast, got turned around."
Kraglin looked up and down the alley. He couldn't catch a whiff to see where they might have gone and he couldn't hear the kid, who he was sure had to be wailing something wicked. There wasn't much to indicate a direction and there were a half dozen ways they could have gone. So far, they'd gotten lucky. "Got any ideas?"
Yondu whirled around in place. "This way."
"Don't mean to question you, but why?" Kraglin looked around again.
"Gut feeling. Plus, this way looks more like the first alley. If they're lost, they're gonna look for something familiar."
Kraglin couldn't fault that logic and it was the best clue they had, so he trotted along in Yondu's wake, his aching balls now rubbing painfully against a seam of his leathers. To say it was unpleasant was to understate the situation quite severely. He hadn't ever had to exert himself like this after having to escape someone before. It was awful. He was pretty sure he was going to be out of sexual commission for days, maybe longer and he was already feeling the waddle. Walking normally was getting to be a bit much.
Kraglin was so absorbed in trying to find a better way to move that wasn't going to hurt that he missed it when Yondu stopped abruptly. He walked right into Yondu's back, which got his foot stepped on hard. Yondu raised a hand before he could complain, though, so Kraglin swallowed his outrage and waited.
Kraglin shook his head. He'd long thought that Yondu had a better sense of hearing than he did. If Yondu wasn't actually crazy, this might just be proof.
"Hear Quill," Yondu muttered, looking around. "Echoing. Big room. Makes it harder to pinpoint." He turned his head from side to side, looking like some kind of animal trying to locate something.
Kraglin looked, too, then pointed. "Used to be a titty show place. Might have a theatre, a stage, high ceilings? Something like that?" It was abandoned, now, but it had probably been opulent at one time. Kraglin could see where there were traces of gold on the signage and accenting the building, traces scavengers hadn't managed to clean up yet.
Yondu took a quick look around, then nodded. "Most likely spot, anyway."
Kraglin crept up towards the doors, trying to hear something, anything, that would clue him in. He didn't hear anything, but when he peered into the dim hallway through the jagged broken glass, he saw what was either a piece of a red uniform or a piece of a red curtain. He decided to hope it was a bit of uniform and he nodded back at Yondu.
"Good," Yondu said, eyes lighting up. There was no way he wouldn't rather have this confrontation somewhere secluded and abandoned. A nice abandoned building would be perfect for his purposes.
Kraglin ducked in through the broken glass door, keeping his head down low to avoid scraping or cutting his scalp on the edges. He heard Yondu curse and turned to see him kick at a little bit of glass that had caught the trailing edge of his coat. Yondu might not have to duck as often as Kraglin, but his ridiculous fashion choices sure didn't do him any favours sometimes. Practical clothes like a jumpsuit, fitted fairly close to the skin, were way easier for sneaking around.
Of course, Yondu wasn't much for sneaking, as he proved as soon as he was out of sight of the street. He let out a sharp, piercing whistle and the arrow lit up the narrow hallway. Kraglin heard Quill shout as the arrow whizzed on ahead. Yeah, they had the right place.
Yondu didn't break pace, he just stalked forward. He wasn't the largest man--especially not compared to Rint--so he relied on drama to make him look larger and more terrifying. It generally worked for him and Kraglin pulled out a knife and a blaster, ready for whatever lay in the dark. As long as he didn't look at the arrow directly, he'd be better able to keep track of the shadows, while Yondu would be a nice, shiny target for whatever trap the two idiots tried to lay.
Sure enough, there was a great big open room that had once had tables and a stage. Most of it had been thoroughly destroyed, scavenged by those who needed kindling for heat or thought they could trade for things. It should have made it easier to find Peter and get him out, but instead it made his sniffling much harder to pick up. It sounded like it was coming from nowhere and everywhere all at once.
Even worse, Kraglin couldn't see or hear Mritta or Rint. He could smell Rint, but he couldn't get a direction. The room hadn't been properly ventilated possibly in years. The stale air had quickly and easily taken on the stink of Rint's sweat and it was making his nostrils itch.
Yondu trilled a sweet tune, sweeping the arrow around into the dark corners to try and scare up some movement. When nothing was forthcoming, he narrowed his eyes and let out another tone. His fin flared brighter and he smiled, teeth glinting in the light of his arrow. "There's five people in this room. One of 'em's me. I ain't gonna shoot me. One of 'em's Kraglin and Kraggles is loyal. Don't got no reason to kill him."
Something Kraglin was grateful for as he crept towards the stage, hoping to catch a whiff of the kid. Maybe he was hidden under some floorboards on the raised platform. Enough of them looked loose to make it possible.
"That means there's three people in here that I dunno which one's which. Two of the three of you, I'm gonna kill one way or another. The third one, well, it'd be a damn shame and a waste of money to kill him, but don't fucking think I won't. Two out of three ain't bad odds." Yondu turned in place, the arrow whizzing around at short chirps he made. "Pretty sure I can pick out Rint. Gonna leave him for last. Mritta though, he's about the same size as the Terran. Okay, maybe a little bigger. Not much, though. Just close enough to be hard to tell."
There was no answer and Yondu sighed theatrically. "Here's the thing. You might be wondering what motivation you got to come out and show your cowardly damn faces. It's pretty good motivation, though. Your life force is right there, where I can see it." He closed his eyes and drew in a long breath, almost like he was scenting the air.
Kraglin watched him a moment longer, then carefully climbed onto the edge of the stage, each crouched step carefully placed, looking for rotting boards.
"I can feel where you are and I can feel exactly how alive you are. I'm gonna kill the first one quick. Whoever steps out, they're gonna get a nice tidy death. Arrow right between the eyes. If no one steps out, whoever I shoot first is gonna get that. And here's the thing. I like my Terran. I like him. He's cute, like a little bobble headed doll. Ain't gonna let no harm come to him until he's a little bigger, less cute. Then I might just let the boys eat him. You ain't gonna have a chance to taste him cause you're gonna be dead.
"Anyway, I kill my Terran, I'm gonna be pissed. Then the other two of you are gonna die real real slow. It's gonna take hours. I know a thousand ways to make you bleed and I can cauterize any wound. And you're gonna die slow and see every bit of it. Gonna leave you laying in agony at the end, too broken to save yourself. You're gonna lay in this titty bar and ain't no one gonna find you. You're gonna watch yourselves rot, slowly, in front of your own eyes. And I'm gonna watch. I'll leave Kraglin's wristcomm and I'll check in with you hourly. Make sure you know why I did it and how slow it's gonna be. Sound nice, boys?"
There was no sound and Yondu sighed. "Playing hard to get. Figured you might have a little loyalty left over for my position."
Kraglin stepped carefully over a gap in the stage floor and it creaked, a loud sound that made Yondu whistle in response. He froze, cringing for the wound that never came. Luckily, it never came. Yondu must have realized it was Kraglin and Kraglin got to live at least a few seconds longer.
A few seconds because, as he started moving again, something grabbed his ankle and yanked hard, pulling him down into the stage.
Everything sort of jolted sideways for a second as Kraglin's feet went out from under him. His belly hit a board on the way down, sending a jolt through his organs that made him scream. The seam of his jumpsuit hit his bruised balls dead-on as he toppled further, sliding off the board.
The hand on his ankle yanked again, dropping him down flat on his stomach in the debris under the stage floor. It fucking hurt. He lay still for a moment, barely able to breathe. He couldn't even collect himself enough to look back at whoever had him as they started dragging him further under the stage.
All he knew was that it hurt and that the odds were he was going to be feeling this for weeks, if he survived. It wouldn't be the first time one of his kind died from an unexpected belly blow. It was a seriously stupid way to go, though.
It was that thought that kicked him into gear enough to kick at his attacker. He got lucky. His foot made contact with the asshole's wrist. It was enough to make him let go and that told him it was Mritta. Rint wouldn't have registered enough pain to release him.
It didn't help him get upright, though. There was no way he could shout for Yondu which one he'd found. He was just as fucked as he'd been before he'd got the hand off his foot. He took stock of himself and realized that by reflex he'd held onto his blaster. That was a relief.
He moved his arm behind him and shot into the darkness. It was too dark even for his eyes so there was no point in trying to turn enough to see. It would only make him hurt more anyway. He set off two, three shots and was rewarded with a scream.
Only trouble was, it was the wrong scream. That was the fucking Terran shrieking. Dammit.
"Kid?" Kraglin rasped.
Just screaming. Kraglin hoped he'd only winged the kid, not hit him anywhere vital. Kraglin wasn't even particularly sure which bits of a Terran were vital, but he hoped the screaming was a good sign. Otherwise Yondu was going to fucking kill him.
None of that answered the more pertinent question of where Mritta had. Fucking asshole could be anywhere and Kraglin wouldn't be any the wiser. The pain in his belly translated to a rushing in his ears that made it hard to listen for movement and the brat's screaming left him half-deaf at the best of times anyway. Didn't help that he could hear Yondu whistling even though he couldn't see his damn arrow. All it would take was a tiny miscalculation on Yondu's part and Kraglin would be dead. He didn't want to die, but it could happen so easily and there wasn't a damn thing he could do about it.
He was fucked. He had a blaster, he didn't dare shoot it. He had the kind of flooding belly pain that meant he was in trouble. There was a fucking lunatic somewhere under the stage with him and the lunatic's idiot muscle was still unaccounted for. The kid was probably shot and Yondu was going to kill him for that. It wasn't a good time. Shit.
"Kid?" Kraglin said into the pitch black. He didn't know if the brat could hear him over his own crying, but he needed a fucking ally. "Peter?"
No response. Just crying, screaming and wailing, as usual. He hoped the kid was hurt bad enough to justify all the caterwauling or he was going to clobber him. If they survived.
There was blaster fire and that was a bit less good than he'd hoped because Yondu wasn't putting an end to it. He had no way of knowing, then, if Mritta had got out of the stage or who was firing at Yondu. For all Kraglin knew, it was the fucking authorities, there to stop a Ravager squabble and take everyone to jail.
He started crawling toward the kid's crying. He couldn't get up off the ground, not properly, not yet, but he could fucking well get near enough the kid to check on him. If the kid was bleeding, he'd deal with it. If the kid was just panicking, he'd shake him until he shut up so he could try and figure out what the hell he was supposed to do next.
He was surprised when he bumped into a person before he even made it to the kid. There was a person curled up on the ground and it definitely wasn't Quill. It was Mritta. Had to be. He kicked at Kraglin, showing Kraglin his body orientation.
Kraglin smiled to himself. He didn't know if he'd clipped Mritta or why Mritta was down, but he could handle this. He shot Mritta in the leg once, twice, with decent accuracy. His blaster shots lit up the area, giving him momentary glances. Mritta was clutching his oversized ears and kicking in Kraglin's general direction. After a third shot towards Mritta's legs showed Kraglin that there was no way he could hit Peter from aiming at Mritta's head, Kraglin shot off three more shots in quick succession.
Mritta went still. The screaming didn't stop, so Kraglin fished in a pocket for a little light-ball he always kept there and tossed it towards the screaming. Peter didn't actually look that badly injured. If anything, he looked angry. The screaming paused just long enough for him to take a breath, then Peter let out his blood curdling shriek again.
Mritta's skull was a mess. It looked like at least two of the last shots Kraglin had squeezed off had made direct contact and Kraglin crawled to get between Peter and the worst bits of Mritta's corpse. "Kid, shut the fuck up."
Peter shrieked again and Kraglin closed his eyes a second. He hurt, bad, but if the kid was hurt worse than he looked then he needed to check him properly. There wasn't a fucking thing Kraglin could do for Yondu. He couldn't hear over the screaming enough to make out any whistles or blaster shots and that worried him. Anything could be happening to Yondu and Kraglin couldn't even get upright.
He crawled towards Peter, hoping that he was enough of a distraction to keep Peter from paying attention to Mritta. "Kid, come on. Come on. Shut up." It took Kraglin longer than he'd prefer to admit to get to Peter. There was a strange, sick feeling in his stomach that definitely couldn't be a good sign.
The screaming stopped a second for air just as Kraglin put his hand on Peter's arm. One eye opened, then the other and the child sagged, going quiet.
"Kid. You hurt?"
Peter shook his head and sniffled. "Blaster grazed my face." Kraglin peered at him and sure enough, there was a slight burn, but it didn't look like the kid's face was going to blister.
"Then let's go. You know where Rint is?"
"He stayed out there," Peter said.
Kraglin listened as hard as he could but there was a worrying quiet out in the main room. "Dammit. Okay. Come on, you gotta help me get back to Yondu."
"Fuck you very much, you definitely can."
"Tied up though." Peter's lower lip wobbled.
Kraglin pulled a knife out of his shoulder holster and shifted to find whatever was tying Peter. "Okay. I got it."
"Tied me up and gagged me," Peter said.
"Don't see a gag," Kraglin said as he started sawing at Peter's wrist bonds.
"Got it shot off. It's why I started screaming. Mritta doesn't... didn't like my voice. It hurt his ears real bad. It always did. So I screamed so he couldn't hurt anyone."
And Kraglin had thought that Terrans were completely unobservant. Showed what he knew. "Okay. You did good. You're going to have to help me get back to Yondu, though. He ain't whistling."
The kid nodded uncertainly. "I can do that."
Kraglin's knife finally slid through the tie and he started on the kid's feet. "It ain't gonna be easy. He... he might be dead."
If Yondu was dead, Kraglin was going to die. If Kraglin died, then someone was going to sell the Terran and that was going to go really badly for him. Kraglin was almost positive that the brat would end up back in Ego's hands and as much as he hated the kid, he didn't actually want to see him dead. He just wanted the kid to stop being near him. Forever.
"Yondu isn't dead," the kid said, determinedly. "Probably hiding."
"Yondu don't hide from much."
"He's got to hide from some stuff. Everyone does."
Kraglin's knife almost slipped from his fingers and he frowned, gripping it tighter. He just needed to hang on long enough to get the kid back to Yondu. If he managed that, maybe Yondu would be able to get him back to a medic in time. Even if he didn't, then at least Yondu and the kid would survive. If Yondu was still alive.
Kraglin sawed harder, the bond around the child's ankles stronger than the one around his hands had been. He just hoped there wasn't some kind of wire that his knife wouldn't make it through. He needed to get Peter freed. Even if he and Yondu both died, the kid would have a better chance of survival if he wasn't tied to some kind of support structure.
He dropped his knife at the sudden lack of resistance when it tore through the final layers of whatever the material was holding it all together. It took him two tries to get the knife picked up and back into his shoulder holster. "You're gonna have to help me," he said, after an abortive attempt to get upright.
"Me? I'm little and you're enormous."
"I am not."
"I'm not. Okay. No. This doesn't matter. Help me as best you can. We need to move."
"There's a little door this way."
Kraglin was glad when he followed the child's gaze and actually saw one. If he'd had to climb back up to the stage surface, he'd have lost it. He was in too much pain to get up there. "Okay. Help me up."
It took the kid a little manoeuvring to get Kraglin pulled back upright. He was a little thing and not very strong, but once Kraglin was up, it wasn't so hard to move. The stage had been taller than he remembered and he didn't have to crouch too badly. It was good because the little crouching he was doing was putting pressure on something.
Still. One foot in front of the other they shuffled, Kraglin clutching his blaster hard. He couldn't set it down, not even for a second. He needed to keep moving, no matter how heavy the blaster was--and it seemed to get heavier with each step.
They made it to the little door and Kraglin carefully inched it open. He peered through the crack, but he saw nothing of use. He opened it a little more, a little more, and then he saw Rint crouched over a crumpled form. There was something in his hand and Kraglin didn't like the look of that. It looked stick-like enough that Kraglin had the horrible feeling it was Yondu's arrow.
Kraglin raised his arm to shoot. His vision was wavering and he felt shaky enough that he wasn't sure he'd hit his target. Something touched his arm and he almost lashed out. He glanced over, though, and it was Peter, steadying his elbow. He moved just a little and squeezed the trigger.
The shot went wide, but it was enough to make Rint turn, furious. There was thunder in his eyes and Kraglin wasn't much a fan of that. He squeezed off another shot, but it went wider than the first one as Rint roared and started towards them. He was going to kill them both and Kraglin tried to squeeze the trigger but he couldn't find the strength in his hand.
Peter ripped the blaster from him with ease and, holding it in both hands, fired off a bunch of shots in quick succession. If quantity could make up for quality, Peter was going to make it happen. He was probably going to overload the control crystal, but Kraglin's head was swimming too much for him to warn the kid.
Rint was almost on top of them when Peter finally landed a hit on his massive chest. Rint crumpled, skidding across the floor. He nearly knocked Kraglin's feet out from under him. They were oddly heavy. Hard to lift them to move, really.
Peter squeezed off a few more shots into the corpse, scorching it all over, before he dropped the blaster. "Ow!"
"Control crystal," Kraglin managed. It had overheated and the blaster was too warm. Shouldn't leave lasting damage even on the Terran's tender hands.
"Hey, are you okay?"
Kraglin considered the question. No, he really wasn't okay. He hadn't been okay in awhile. It felt like hours, years even since he'd been back at the brothel. But Mritta was dead and Rint was dead and the kid was alive and with any fucking luck, Yondu was alive too. Yondu would get the kid back to the Eclector and things would be fine. "S'that Yondu's arrow?" he looked down at the stick thing in Rint's hand but his eyes didn't want to focus properly.
Peter picked it up. "Yeah. It's a little bent."
"Yondu can fix it," Kraglin said. He could. He'd had it damaged here and there before, but he knew how it worked. He could take some time at his desk with a soldering iron, maybe melt down part of the shaft. It was going to be okay. Yondu was going to use it again.
The kid looked across the room, then back at Kraglin. "Are you sure? I don't think he's moving..."
Shit. Kraglin had hoped it was just the way the room kept swimming. "Help me over to him."
The kid took Kraglin's arm and they made their way over to Yondu's crumpled form. It was less walking and more shuffling, but it was movement and that was something. As long as they could get Yondu back to the Eclector... Shit, if he was incapacitated then who was going to protect him from the crew?
They were right on top of Yondu before he came into enough focus for Kraglin to assess the damage. It was... potentially very bad. Where his fin usually pulsated with light, there was a harsh, charred crack in the crystal. "Dammit," Kraglin muttered.
"Is he dead?" Peter asked, moving more tightly into Kraglin's side.
"Check for a pulse. You know how?"
Peter shook his head and Kraglin didn't have enough brain power to explain it in any kind of detail. "Help me down there," he said, already starting to lower himself to the floor.
Kraglin knew what was going to happen here. He was, potentially, going to get Yondu patched up enough that maybe he'd be okay. It depended how much feedback he'd gotten through the crystal. Damage to the implant could be fairly catastrophic to Yondu's processing power for long periods of time and it was possible it had fried his brain. He wasn't going to be getting up again. Once he was down, Kraglin was down for good. He could save his captain, but he couldn't save himself.
It was worth it, though. Kraglin wasn't going to be able to keep Peter safe from the crew. Kraglin wasn't going to be able to keep the crew together. Only Yondu could manage those things. He calmly sank to his bottom next to Yondu and reached shaking fingers for Yondu's throat. He needed to be gentle. It might be the last time he touched Yondu and the idea that he might hurt him was terrifying.
There was a pulse and the relief that flooded Kraglin nearly flattened him. Yondu was alive, at least. It was just a little overload. Kraglin grabbed his shoulder and shook a little and Yondu's eyelids flickered. "Hey. Wake up."
"Yeah, wake up!" Peter shouted, far too close to Kraglin's ear. It hurt. It was enough to make him jump, make him jerk himself free of the daze in his head.
Yondu opened his eyes and looked up at them. He stared a moment. "What happened?" he asked.
"Huh?" Peter said.
"You got shot in the implant. You're going to need to get up and get you and Quill back to the Eclector," Kraglin said.
Yondu frowned. "What the hell did you just say?"
"Your implant overloaded. You need to go back to the Eclector and get it fixed," Kraglin said, uncertainly. He didn't think he was so far gone that he couldn't be understood.
"Kraglin, is my translator busted?" Peter asked.
"No, you understand m-- shit. No, it's not you. It's his." Years of listening to Yondu had taught him enough Kree that he knew what Yondu was saying, but if Yondu's translator was down, Yondu couldn't understand Hraxian, the language Kraglin tended to default to. It had sounds Yondu couldn't hear properly thanks to a frequency shift in the upper tonals. "Cap'n, do you understand this?" Kraglin said, sliding into the Ravager creole. It always hurt his throat a little, but he could speak it, even injured. Everyone who'd been a Ravager more than a few months could. It was the one lesson they all had no choice but to take.
"Aw shit. They fucked up all the electronics in my head," Yondu muttered in the same language.
"Now I can't understand either of you," Peter said, worriedly.
"Creole isn't translateable," Kraglin said. Yondu was cognizant, but if he couldn't communicate with Peter, this was going to get fucked up pretty quickly. "Cap'n, can you get up?"
Yondu nodded and slowly started getting to his feet. He'd obviously fallen badly. He looked stiff. But his limbs worked and his balance wasn't too bad. He'd be able to make it back to the ship. He'd be able to find the backup fin he kept in the drawer and get it sorted out, spliced in. He'd be okay.
"Get Quill back to the ship," Kraglin told him.
"Pretty sure I give the orders."
"Yeah, but you've been unconscious and I've been evaluating the situation, so you need to get him back to the ship and get your shit sorted out." Kraglin sat on the ground, looking up at Yondu. He could see the moment when Yondu's face fell and he realized exactly what Kraglin wasn't saying.
"He isn't understanding me. You're going to have to get up and help me get him back. He's a little shit when he doesn't understand things."
"You can handle one bratty little kid," Kraglin said. Yondu could do it. He'd manage. He was alive and he was smarter than anyone ever gave him credit for. Oblo would probably step in and take over watching his back. That would work out. Tullk might make a decent first mate. There were a few who were loyal enough that Kraglin was pretty sure Yondu would manage.
"Well maybe I don't want to."
Kraglin smiled weakly. Stubborn asshole. He was going to be fine and the adrenaline was flowing freely from whatever bit of Kraglin had got busted up inside. "I'm down for the count."
"Every time I let you make planetfall, you try and die on me lately. What's wrong with you?" Yondu shook his head. "Get up and let's get moving."
"I can't," Kraglin said. He wasn't going to be able to. His body was so heavy and cold. He didn't have a chance.
Yondu bent over and grabbed Kraglin's wrist hard. "Quill, grab his other arm." When the kid didn't move, Yondu grunted in frustration. "Quill! Pee-tir! Move!" He shook Kraglin's wrist and pointed at Kraglin's other arm
Peter moved quickly. He might be a total moron, but he wasn't a complete dumbass. Gestures worked with him.
They hauled on Kraglin's wrists and when his torso straightened out, he was pretty sure he blacked out for a moment. He couldn't remember how he'd gotten upright with an arm over Yondu's shoulder and one forearm pressed against Peter's, but he was there and it hurt. It hurt bad enough he thought he might throw up.
"You puke on me and I'll whistle you down," Yondu said, giving Kraglin's shoulder a little shake.
"Show him his arrow," Kraglin mumbled.
Peter held up the stick, because in its current condition, that's all it was.
"Aw, hell," Yondu snapped, then started ranting in Kree about how glad he was the idiots were dead. It sounded quiet and far away. Kraglin couldn't quite make out all the words, couldn't understand all of them. His brain drifted as Peter and Yondu dragged Kraglin out of the dilapidated titty bar.
The next thing he knew, he was a couple streets over, nearer to the main drag, and Yondu was prodding him insistently in the ribs. It sent flashes of white-hot pain through him. He must have caught a couple of ribs, not just his organs, he thought interestedly. His belly mostly didn't hurt so much anymore, which was a relief.
Yondu was saying something and it was so hard to understand it. The words didn't make any sense. Sure, he could make out the odd one, but he couldn't figure out why Yondu was speaking or what he might be trying to get through to him. He shook his head and closed his eyes, hoping to just catch his breath and maybe rest enough he could think again.
Kraglin wheezed as a finger jabbed him in his bruised, sore belly, an adrenaline surge flashing through him. He snapped his eyes open to see Yondu craning his neck to get his face into Kraglin's field of vision. Yondu was flapping his mouth and sounds were coming out.
It took a second, but the words fell in together. It was the creole. "Your belly shouldn't be that hard."
Kraglin nodded. He knew that. If his belly was hard enough for Yondu to comment, then his belly was probably full of blood. He already knew he wasn't going to come out of this mess. He didn't need Yondu pointing it out to him.
Kraglin knew that already. He'd been stupid enough to let himself fall onto something belly-first. He knew he was an idiot Yondu was saying something else and he had to focus to make sense of it. He missed the easy comprehension of the translator.
"Quill needs to call a cab. A cab. We can get you back home and get you sorted out if you get the brat to call a cab."
Of course. Yondu couldn't. Kree was uncommon in this area. Ravager Creole didn't translate at the best of times. It was an intentionally opaque language for communicating in front of clients during trade dealings. He couldn't tell Peter to, because Peter couldn't understand Yondu. If Yondu needed a cab, then Kraglin had to figure out how to get words out of his mouth.
His attempt to take a deep breath ended in painful coughing that seemed to go on forever. He couldn't stop it. The more he coughed, the more he hurt. The more he hurt, the harder it was to breathe. The harder it was to breathe, the more he coughed. It was so body-shaking that it took everything he had not to lose control of his bladder. That, unto itself, was a terrifying sensation. He'd urinated earlier in the day and he usually only went every two days.
Finally, though, the coughing slowed, largely because every muscle in his body felt like it was going limp. "Peter," he gasped, trying to breathe shallowly enough not to set off more coughing. "Use Yondu's comm. Call a cab. Ship... Ship's at the docks." He wasn't going to be able to get much more than that out.
Peter's eyes widened and he looked up at Kraglin. There was a flash of recognition in his face. He knew what was going on. He knew what was happening. "You're dying," he said softly.
Kraglin nodded. "Call a cab. Crew'll un-understand him. Cab won't."
Tears welled up in the child's eyes and he nodded, swallowing hard enough it was audible. "I can do that."
"He's-he's got it," Kraglin said to Yondu, vision swimming.
"Good. Now stay awake so he can get it done."
"Stay awake! You think you're going to get away with dying now? No." Yondu prodded a button on his wristcomm and held it in Peter's face.
Kraglin was actually pretty sure he was dying now, fuck everything. The brat was talking, his voice seeming to come too quickly for Kraglin to bother listening and his tone was frantic. He was afraid. Kraglin knew he was afraid and it made him think he should probably be afraid too, but he wasn't. He was just tired and cold.
He leaned more heavily against Yondu, trying to soak up some of his warmth through the layers and layers of clothing, but nothing seemed to come. He registered movement and curled in more tightly against Yondu's side as he found himself on a bench. The kid kept talking and every so often there were big scared eyes staring directly into Kraglin's, staring so hard Kraglin could neither look away nor close his own eyes. Almost every time there were eyes, they were big and green, set in pink flesh. But a couple of times there were pink eyes surrounded by blue and Kraglin found that strange.
The pink eyes were staring into his as something pressed against his neck and he felt a wave of warm exhaustion flow through him. They suddenly made sense. Drug-induced hallucination, obviously.
Chapter 14: And Mr Udonta is ready for Surgery, Surgery (surgery)
He was cold. Since he was supposed to be dead, that was something of a surprise. That implied rather strongly that Yondu hadn't managed to insult the crew enough to get his ass killed, either, or that the damage to his fin had been more superficial than it looked. Yondu being alive would be good. He was more likely to still be cold and alive if Yondu was alive. Cold and alive was better than warm and dead. He wasn't much for the idea of being eaten.
There was a point of warmth, though, attached to his hand. That was strange. Yondu wasn't much for hand-holding. Yondu was more for kicking someone's ass and telling them off. There wasn't anyone else that temperature who might hold his hand--all his friends were lower temperature than he was.
He needed to see. If Kraglin was holding hands with Yondu, it was something that needed to be seen to be believed. His eyes were so heavy. He could hear a voice but it kept drifting in and out of his hearing one moment at a time. His whole world was anchored by that sound and that one point of contact. He couldn't move, though, right down to his eyelids.
Slowly, gradually, he opened his eyes. It was like forcing open a tomb, his eyes creaking open a micron at a time. They were moving, though. He could feel them opening, even if he couldn't see light yet. He was going to see Yondu holding his hand and he was going to be able to tease him about it forever. He'd never let Yondu live it down.
There were eyes inches from his own and they were green, stuck in a pale face and topped off by hair of some indeterminate colour. It wasn't Yondu. It was Peter. His lips were moving and that helped Kraglin focus in on what he was saying.
"Look. Just don't die. I'm pretty sure you're not going to go to hell or anything. I'm pretty sure you're going to be okay if you just don't die. I don't want anyone else to die."
The fact that he didn't respond instantly to Kraglin's eyes opening up told him that he'd probably been at least a little bit awake here and there or that he'd reflexively opened his eyes before. The fact that he didn't remember it didn't actually mean anything in the larger scheme of things. It had happened, or the kid would have been freaking out. The only thing he could glean from that was that he really had been badly hurt and he had probably had a lot of anaesthesia at some point.
The kid was holding his hand and talking to him and he couldn't hear Yondu bitching at him anywhere. Yondu had left med-bay, obviously. He'd never tolerate this kind of display of sentiment without making sure everyone in the sector heard about it. Yondu was fine, then.
Other senses were coming on board, his body seeming to come alight one part at a time. Pain, in his stomach and abdomen. A lot of it. No point wasting painkillers on someone who wasn't necessarily going to wake up and who was under an anaesthetic, after all. They weren't part of the fleet and medical resources didn't come cheap.
His toes were still down there, he could feel a blanket over them. The blanket was thin and scratchy, lightweight. It was designed for easy cleaning, not comfort. It was a good thing, because if they'd been designed for comfort, then the designer had fucking failed and deserved to be spaced.
His mouth was the worst bit, though. Even beyond the pain, his mouth was so dry he felt like he was choking on his tongue. He wanted to ask why he was alive, ask what was going on, ask how long it had been. He didn't know any of the answers and couldn't even tell them he was hurting, because his tongue was so dry he couldn't move it. He opened his mouth a few times, trying to get enough spit together to say he needed a drink, but he couldn't.
"Are you really awake?" Peter asked, looking him over skeptically. Kraglin had been right about the eyes opening before thing. Which meant he'd had a lot of surgery.
Kraglin tried to nod, but his head felt almost as heavy as his tongue was dry. It throbbed in time with his pulse. Dehydration, then. His species wasn't designed to get dehydrated. His species was designed to stay hydrated but once he got dehydrated, rehydrating himself was a feat.
He hoped that the weird tightness in his neck was an injection port so he could lay back and just have someone forcibly rehydrate him without the nausea that would accompany oral rehydration. The ports were cheaper than painkillers, after all, especially the painkillers preferred by Ravager medics. Insert and leave, cost only a couple units and made everything so much easier.
If he could nod, though, he'd be able to tell if he had a port and he'd be communicating which meant that Peter would call over the damn medic and maybe, maybe they'd give him a rehydration injection. That would be nice. That would mean the headache would go and he'd be able to speak.
He took a deep breath and the pain that launched itself into his being felt like having his damn lungs ripped out. He coughed. It was the most painful coughing fit of his life, worse than the one before what he thought was a barely-remembered cab ride. He could feel it trying to tear open some kind of long incision on his belly, feel the pain and pulling that meant he was in danger of splitting himself open. It wasn't his first time with a serious gut injury--any species with such a stupid vulnerability was bound to get hit more than once while Ravaging--and he knew he had to stop coughing if he wanted a chance at not just suddenly exploding.
He closed his eyes against the pain and coughed, his whole body wracked with it. It seemed like it would never end and his throat was so dry he couldn't swallow to try and calm it. Cool hands touched his face and a pressure at his neck relaxed him suddenly.
"Oh, finally ," said Doc. "I figured you were pretty well gone. If it weren't for the captain's shouting, I would've just got you ready to head for the Horns. Not really sure why you didn't die, but I'm going to go with Yondu's constant shouting. I swear it could wake the dead."
Another injector pressed at what had to be a port and Kraglin got a full breath.
"Quill, put a little of that gel I gave you into his mouth. His throat's going to be drier than the void right now and the rehydration shots won't hit that for a couple hours."
There were suddenly fingers being thrust into his mouth and it took everything Kraglin had not to bite down out of reflex. Doc was an idiot if she'd thought it was okay to give Yondu's pet permission to stick his twiggy little fingers into a Hraxian's mouth. He had to admit, though, that the sweet, smooth, cool gel that Quill shoved in there was a relief.
It melted slowly as it combined with the traces of his saliva, trickling into the back of his mouth and his throat. It lubricated dry tissues, allowing him to finally swallow. It was one of the best swallows of his life. He didn't exactly hold a ranking, but he was fairly sure it was a better swallow than the one that had carried a swampy mouthful of Badoon spunk down his throat that one time and that was saying something.
"Keep your fingers out of there," he snapped, though his voice was squeaky and tremulous. It wasn't, he suspected, a very effective command.
"You aren't going to bite me," Peter said confidently.
"Only because Yondu'd whistle me through," Kraglin replied.
Peter made an alarmed face. "He wouldn't. Besides. He can't. Whistling doesn't do anything right now."
"It will once he fixes the bend in the arrow." Kraglin was confident of that. He'd seen Yondu make much more extensive repairs to that thing.
Peter glanced up at Doc and then shrugged at Kraglin. "He already did."
If he wasn't able to whistle someone down after fixing the arrow, then the arrow was broken. Irreparably broken. That opened up a whole new set of problems that Kraglin had never, ever wanted to deal with. That meant Yondu was going to be dependent on a blaster. Yondu's skills with a blaster were about on par with his ability to breathe underwater. That was to say they were nonexistent.
This was bad. They were going to have to go fight Kree techs to get it fixed if Yondu couldn't do it himself. The tech in the yaka was all theirs. Kree fought dirty and didn't care who knew it. This was going to make itself a problem. It wasn't easy to kidnap Kree techs at the best of times, but with a severely reduced crew size and a limit on resources, they were looking at a near-impossible task. Getting Kree to work for them once the Kree was captured was going to mean torture and while Kraglin was good at torture, he really didn't enjoy it the way some of the other captains and mates in the fleet did. He wasn't any Aleta Ogord, after all.
"Shit," Kraglin said, realizing that Peter was staring at him and waiting for a response. "We're fucked, then."
Peter looked back up at Doc, then shook his head. "Not so much. He won't let Doc fix the thing in his head and I can see his brain through some of it."
"If his brain was hanging out, he'd be dead." That was true of almost every species and the sooner Peter learned it, the better.
Peter made a face of absolute disgust. "It's not sticking out. He's not a zombie or something. But the thing in his head's all messed up and some of it's thin enough I can see his brain through it but he won't let Doc fix it or his translator chip."
"Of course he will."
Doc came into Kraglin's field of vision with a small scanner she stuck right between his eyes. "He won't, not until you're awake. The brat's been whining about it every time that Yondu sticks his head in. It's annoying."
"He needs to get his head sorted out. Are the crew rabble-rousing? Gef and Tullk should be able to guard med-bay for him to get sorted out." Gef was kind of an idiot, but he generally meant well, at least. Tullk liked the captain enough that he wasn't going to let some asshole kill him in a hospital bed.
Doc gave him a strange look, then headed out of Kraglin's line of vision. He was too tired to turn his head and follow her to wheverever she was headed, so he just listened as the door swooshed open. "Captain, Obfonteri is awake," Doc said.
That didn't make a lot of sense. Yondu had a lot of things to do. He couldn't be hanging out right outside the door. Unless there'd been a coup. That was possible. Maybe Yondu had been shot down. Maybe this was a new captain. Shit. That meant that Doc might be just healing Kraglin up to stand trial, because a new captain might have been able to make contact with Stakar.
Or there could be another captain from the fleet waiting out there, standing guard to take him to trial. He hoped it wasn't Charlie. Charlie had never really liked him much and it would probably be worse, now.
It didn't occur to him until he actually saw Yondu walk in that it was possible it could be Yondu. It made sense, though. Any other captain would have taken Peter somewhere else while the council got brought in.
Yondu was scowling and holding tightly to an enormous blaster. He limped a little and Kraglin wasn't sure he remembered what had happened to make him limp. He'd have to make sure Doc looked at it. Yondu was terrible about reporting injuries.
His head really was a mess, though. There were still scorch marks around the implant and it was badly damaged. Pieces of it were missing and Kraglin could see wires sticking up out of it.. "Cap'n, why ain’t you had them put in your backup?" he asked.
"Needed to make sure none of those fucking idiots decided to come in here and take you out. Mritta and Rint had to have had someone helping them. It's a fucking mess and the easiest way to protect you and Quill was to leave him in here and keep guard." Yondu looked haggard and drawn, the fine lines around his eyes seeming deeper. The thin skin where his cheeks met his eyelids looked almost bruised.
"How long have I been out?"
"Can’t you talk so I can understand?" Peter asked, before Yondu could respond. Kraglin wanted to punch him in the head and make him go away. He was so done with the brat constantly being in the middle of everything. This all felt important and he didn't want Peter to be part of it.
Yondu grunted. “Two days.”
"You ain't slept," Kraglin stated. He knew it was true. He knew what Yondu looked like when he was tired and this was it.
"Ain't been time. And I gotta get my head sorted out before I sleep. Gave Doc the parts already, but you gotta supervise and make sure she don't try and make me follow her anti-modder bullshit." Yondu glared at her irritably.
"She's not going to sabotage your fin." Doc wouldn't. Yondu would kill her before she had a chance to explain why she'd done it. He'd threatened to before when she'd talked about removing it and letting his body heal fully. The crystal wasn't natural and it took a certain amount of maintenance to his flesh to keep his body from rejecting it. Before the brat and the exile, Kraglin had sometimes helped him rub the lotions and medications into the tender skin.
"She ain't with you watching her, that's for damn sure." Yondu crossed his arms.
"I'm a professional."
"You're a professional bitch," Yondu snapped.
"Just because I have an ethical and professional objection to mod--"
"A booley boo boo," Yondu mocked.
Kraglin snickered reflexively. Yondu was hilarious when he did that. It pulled at his stomach, though, and he pressed a hand against it tightly to make sure nothing would spill out of it.
"Obiddy, bolly bo."
Kraglin laughed harder. It hurt so much, but he couldn't help it. The weird sounds Yondu made never failed to make him bust a gut and he was worried about it happening for real.
"What's he saying?" Peter asked.
Kraglin blinked and replayed the conversation. Yeah, Yondu was speaking Kree, which made sense. Doc spoke it fluently having been raised by Kree dickwads just like Yondu. Yondu hadn't said anything particularly challenging and Kraglin felt fuzzy but well-rested.
"He's mocking Doc," Kraglin told him, then turned to Yondu, slipping into Ravager Creole. "You ain't had your chip fixed yet? Brat can't understand you."
Yondu actually looked chastened for a moment. "Well... it ain't easy to get a new one. Hurts. I needed to be alert."
"You need to let Doc fix something . For fuck's sake. Doc, gimme a second and I'll hold him down so you can sort out his translator at least." Kraglin started trying to force himself upright, but the second he started moving, both Yondu and Peter shoved his shoulders back against the bed.
"You want to leave your lungs on the floor?" Yondu demanded. "Cause that's a real fast way to end up with your fucking guts on the floor."
"It's not that bad."
"Fucking well is," Yondu said sharply. "And I ain't having none of that bullshit. You're keeping your guts on the inside."
"Then you better let Doc fix your translator."
Yondu growled, a sound harsh enough to make Peter take a step back, then hopped up onto the bed next to Kraglin's. He put his blaster down in his lap. "Do it."
Doc raised an eyebrow. "Oh, are we ready to get the things that are fucking up our frontal lobe sorted out?"
"My brain is fine."
"Your brain is impaired."
"You're standing guard outside of medbay for no reason. You think I'm going to operate on you with a blaster in your hand. You're impaired. Now give the blaster to your little pet and lay down."
"I'd rather sit."
"That's nice. You're going to be laying down."
Yondu scowled and pointed the blaster at her. "Just do it."
"I'm going to shoot you."
"If you do, you'll only prove you're way more impaired than I think. Because if you shoot me, Obfonteri dies."
The blaster wavered and Kraglin frowned. Yondu was bad at blasters. He'd never needed to learn them, really and he could barely hit the broad side of a Kree battle cruiser if it was six inches in front of his face. As bad as he was, however, shaking hands were not and had never been his problem. Yondu's brain was damaged badly, maybe.
"Cap'n. You're gonna have to hand the blaster over to Peter," Kraglin said, apologetically.
"Don't need to. She can do it now."
"She ain't gonna. And you can't talk to him so if I'm out again and someone comes for him, you ain't gonna be able to tell him how to stay out of the way. So hand it over to him."
Yondu looked from the blaster to the brat and then at Kraglin. "Nah. He'll shoot his eye out."
It was a blaster, not a projectile weapon. If Peter shot himself in the face, he wouldn't lose an eye. He'd lose his face and half his brain. Kraglin, however, had seen the kid shooting already. He might not be a great shot, he might not know how to take careful aim yet, but he knew which end was the dangerous end. "Bet you a thousand units he won't."
"You don't got a thousand units."
"Well I'm gonna get paid the next few jobs. You can hold back my share until I hit a thousand."
Yondu grunted, considering it. He had a weak spot for gambling, something he'd always shared with Aleta and Mainframe when the fleet had gotten together. Brain damage or no, though, he apparently had more willpower than he usually did. "Nah."
Kraglin sighed. There went that plan. His head still throbbed. He couldn't keep coming up with plans. "Fine. Give it here. I can handle it."
"Your guts'll fall out if you sneeze."
"I ain't gonna sneeze. I'm gonna shoot anyone that walks in here. Way easier than sneezing."
Kraglin watched engines fire in Yondu's eyes and trajectories spiral out into a million directions at once. Impulsive as hell or not, Yondu was smart. He'd always been one of the smartest, fastest thinking captains and he considered things from every direction before making a decision. It was just that sometimes he decided to throw that decision out the window and go in a different direction. "Yeah, fine." Yondu hopped down off the bed and handed the blaster to Kraglin.
Kraglin took a moment to check and make sure every part of the blaster was together right and functioning correctly. He wanted to be sure that, if he needed it, he could use it without blowing up any of them and Yondu had a bad habit of putting the battery in backwards. When he ejected it, he was glad he had, because sure enough. "The red part goes towards the muzzle," Kraglin said, rolling his eyes.
"I know that."
It wasn't worth the fight. Kraglin decided to let it go and pick it up later, at a better time. A time when Yondu's head was intact would be nice. Which was most of the rest of forever.
"Good. Now lie down. I'm going to give you some anaesthetic and get the chip sorted out first. There's no way I'm messing around with this stupid hunk of rock in your head without you communicating right," Doc said, rushing over and pushing at Yondu to make him lie down.
Yondu went easily, positioning himself so he could see both Kraglin and the door. Kraglin had the awful feeling that, if a threat did arrive, Yondu wouldn't give him time to fire off a round. Yondu would be over Kraglin and snapping necks before Kraglin even got the blaster up.
It was hard not to zone out while Doc fixed up Yondu's chip. Kraglin could feel himself flagging fast. Yeah, he was awake, but he was still healing and he fancied he could feel his flesh knitting and pulling all the energy out of his brain. He was so tired. It was sort of ridiculous.
Even as his gaze glazed over, though, he kept his eyes open and grunted whenever someone spoke to him. He ignored Peter's theatrical gagging and tiny temper tantrum. If he stayed still and calm and just watched the door peacefully, it was almost as good as being asleep. The sooner Yondu could talk, the sooner he could actually sleep. That was what mattered.
It was funny how much the talking mattered, compared to the sleeping. It was Yondu. He didn't give a fuck if no one else could understand him. He just wanted to be the centre of attention in a room at any given moment. As long as he was having a busted chip pulled out of his brain and replaced with another, he was certainly the centre of everyone's attention, even if Kraglin was ostensibly watching the door.
Even though all Kraglin wanted was to sleep, listening to Yondu's raspy voice was what really kept him awake. He was fairly sure he could actually sleep with his eyes open if he tried hard enough, but Yondu's voice was there, keeping him strong and more present than he would otherwise be.
A strange buzz of relief went through Kraglin's body when his brain gave up the laborious task of translating every word of Yondu's speech and the chip in his head went through. It was calming and let him relax and sag into place.
"Hey! I understand you again!" Peter said happily.
"Course you do. Chip's working, you stupid little shit. Now I can stop worrying the boys are gonna eat you so bad."
"Well... it isn't right to eat people."
"You ain't people. You're a Terran . And the boys ain't ever tasted Terran before. It's why Mritta and Rint stole you."
"Actually," Peter said, his voice taking on the air of the insufferable know it all in a way Kraglin rarely heard. "They stole me to sell me. And that's not right either. You don't sell people. That's why America fought the civilization war. We had a bunch of people who wanted to sell people and a bunch of people who didn't so they all killed each other and the people they were trying to sell decided to take over America and have Thanksgiving with the pilgrims."
Kraglin blinked and tore his eyes away from the door to look over at the brat. "What? Your people are *slavers*?"
"Not anymore. I just told you. We fought the civilization war and we won. And now no one gets bought or sold and everyone has Thanksgiving because the Native Americans were so grateful that the slave masters were all dead."
That sounded unlikely, at best.
"Fucking hate slavers," Yondu grumbled.
"Well, we aren't slavers and I hate slavers and they were going to sell me to a slaver," Peter whined.
"Collector ain't a slaver," Kraglin said. "He employs people and collects artifacts of other cultures. I hear he's on a Terra kick right now, but that's not the same as slaving."
Kraglin didn't like Tivan and had his doubts about whether the girls he employed were slaves or not, but they really couldn't afford to be terribly picky with contacts. The fleet was trying to drive them out of their territory. It was better to make sure that Yondu didn't take it into his head he needed to get into a fight with Tivan the next time their paths crossed.
"I'm not a thing ."
"Your species are dirtbound. That's one step up from animals. I'm not actually sure if you'd even qualify for citizenship in any of the current empires with that history. You're just lucky we decided we like you."
"I'm not going to be grateful you decided to make me into a thief," Peter grumbled.
Yondu snorted. "Oh, you're going to be grateful. You're going to be rolling in units and it's going to make you happier than anything and you'll be grateful we pulled you up out of your miserable planetbound existence."
Doc looked up from fiddling with the new implant she was finalizing for Yondu's head. "He was pure. You took him and added things to him and ruined him. That's not pulling him up."
"Stop judging mods. You've got a damn translator chip," Kraglin said, a yawn nearly splitting his head in two.
"Which I had implanted against my will when I was a child. I didn't choose it, so it doesn't count."
"Neither did the captain or the brat, so shut up." His eyes were sliding shut but he needed to stay awake a little longer. Replacing the implant wouldn't take too long, but every second was starting to feel like an hour.
"You and Udonta were the ones that chose to put that chip in his head. Didn't even give him a chance to learn a language. It's a shame. His brain's malleable and he could have learned if you'd just let him. He's practically a baby and you took away his perfection."
Kraglin glanced over at Peter and saw that the kid was looking at her with big, worried eyes. "She's a cultist," he explained. "Thinks adding stuff to people's wrong."
"Do you think it makes God mad?"
"No, I think she's a giant crock of shit," Yondu interrupted. "I ain't some kind of hardcore modder looking to get myself all turned into a cyborg proper or nothing, but I will be fucked if I'm gonna let anyone judge my translator or my damn fin. She's breathing in some thin fucking atmosphere right here."
"You'll see, Udonta."
"No, I'll fucking whistle you through. Because even if you don't put that in right, someone else will and it's gonna fuck you up when I kill you. I'll do it real slow, add a whole bunch of mods to you while you watch. So shut up and stop scaring the damn kid. His god's an idiot compared to most and I don't want him having nightmares and keeping me up all damn night."
Doc sighed and made a face. "Fine. This thing looks like everything's in place. You ready to talk at me while I place the connections?"
"Gel up my brain fluid and let's go," Yondu said.
"Gel up... what?" Peter asked in horror.
"Well I don't want it leaking out," Yondu said with an eyeroll.
"There's water in your brain?"
"Well, yeah. Sorta. It's a different kinda liquid. It's not the same as water. You probably got some, too."
"Yeah, his intake scans said that," Doc said, blasting the implant with a sterilizer. At least, that was what Kraglin thought she was doing. It was hard to keep his eyes open enough to watch. He was warmer and tireder and calmer.
"Then you got some fluid in your brain too. She hits it with some gel and then it all stays there. Puts a little vibration thing up to your skull when she's done so it can slosh around again."
Doc set down the implant and placed a small device against Yondu's temple as Kraglin gave up pretending that he was watching the door. He couldn't watch the door. There was no point. He was just too tired. He watched as, a moment later, she started removing the broken pieces of Yondu's implant.
"Oh *gross*," Peter exclaimed. "It's like my grandma's jello salad in there!"
"I have no idea what that means, but probably." Yondu grinned at him.
"Hold still or I'll miss something in here and your brain won't be of any use to anyone," Doc said.
Yondu grunted, but stopped trying to keep Peter's attention, at least.
The installation was boring, each connection taking a moment and before it was done, Kraglin noticed that blinking was taking a long time. He'd blink, only to find that Doc was working on a connection, then blink again to find a different one. Time was lurching and that just made him more tired, so he handed the blaster off to Peter and closed his eyes.
Sleeping was much easier than watching someone get brain surgery and it meant he didn't have to think about why watching seemed important. That was a nice little side effect of sleep.
Chapter 15: The Problem.
He woke up to an argument, because of course he did. It wasn't like Yondu could keep a civil tongue in his head for anything short of trying to seduce a mark and Yondu's feelings about Doc were tempestuous. He either adored her or hated her and, judging from the volume and pitch of his voice, it was a hating kind of day.
"You aren't taking him back to your filth-den. He needs some decent rest and he needs to keep that wound clean. I can't just slap a tissue regenerator on it and call it a day. His species gets really stiff scar tissue that way and everything needs to stay flexible."
"I don't care if you think my cabin's gross. You're wrong. It's clean and I'm taking him somewhere he can relax. Med-bay's annoying and depressing."
"Med-bay can keep him alive if something goes wrong and he tears internally. If something happens to him in your room, he's going to die and I'm pretty sure you can't afford that right now."
Yondu made a grumpy sound.
"You know, she's a doctor. You should probably listen to her," came a soft treble voice.
"Shut up, Quill," Yondu said. "Doctors like to cut people into pieces and mess them up. She probably wants to eat you more than anyone else in the crew, so don't go siding with her."
"I don't want to eat him, captain. Besides, Obfonteri can't get up to use the toilet right now, so you're better off leaving him here until he can. You don't want him to die trying to take a piss."
"What? He only pisses every couple of days. It can't be that hard to get a bottle for him."
"He had bleeding in the kidneys. I wouldn't recommend doing that. I have to keep him far more hydrated than he's used to so we can flush the blood out of his system. Dead blood in there won't do him any favours. He's going to be taking a leak multiple times a day."
"I haven't seen you playing with his dick," Yondu said. Kraglin could hear the smugness and he turned his head to watch.
"I don't need to. He's got a catheter."
"You stuck something up his dick?" Yondu demanded.
Kraglin squeezed his legs together, a hand questing to look for the device in question. It was true. There was a thin hose running out of the head of his penis. That was mortifying enough to make his cheeks turn hot.
"She did what? No! Lady, you can't go sticking stuff in people's penises, that's just wrong !" Peter exclaimed, stepping away from her.
"It's a pretty standard medical procedure. I need to monitor his full output to make sure he's not retaining fluid anywhere. This is the safest way to make that happen."
"There's nothing safe about putting things in a penis!" Peter reached between his legs and cupped his own crotch as if afraid that she'd attack him and shove something up his.
That was really what gave Kraglin's game away. He snorted. The idea of the kid being that scared of something that stupid was hilarious. Yeah, it was embarrassing as fuck to know that Doc had been playing with his cock while he was out, but Peter's obvious terror was funny.
Yondu's head whipped around. "You're awake. Good. Now tell this bitch you're coming back to my room and not putting up with this bullshit anymore."
"I ain't going nowhere until there's not a hose stuffed in my cock, Cap'n."
"Well... I'm ordering you to come to bed and rest properly. The blankets in here suck." Yondu strode over to look at Kraglin. He looked good. Kraglin was glad to see that the skin at the edges of his implant only looked moderately irritated. It was mostly dryness, which was easy enough to take care of. He just needed a little lotion.
"I'm your chief medic and I'm over-ruling you!"
"I think I best do as Doc says," Kraglin said. "Gut's killing me and I wanna stay on the good painkillers. If she'll give them to me. Slacking off, I swear."
"You ain't giving him the good painkillers? What the fuck is wrong with you. You get that fixed right now," Yondu commanded, reaching back and grabbing her by the front of her shirt. "Get over here and give him the good shit or I swear to the fucking void, I'll throw you out an airlock myself."
She rolled her eyes. No one in the room save, perhaps, for Peter, actually believed for half a second that Yondu would do it. Doc was a necessity even when he didn't like her. She pulled a stick out of her apron and pressed it against Kraglin's neck. "I did give him some. He just burns through it," she said. "And it's hard to calculate his metabolic rate correctly so I can't keep him on a consistent level. He's going to have some pain and discomfort. Which is actually important because it will keep him from overdoing things until he's healed up."
"I have work to get done, though," Yondu said. "Quill's got duties to attend so he earns his damn meals. We can't just spend all our time in here."
"You can go and leave me," Kraglin said. "I've been in med-bay alone before. I'm not going to bite her."
"We haven't left since we got back from the planet," Peter informed him. "Yondu's either been out in the hall or in here and he's made me stay with you the whole time."
"Well that's a waste of his time and yours," Kraglin said. Something sort of fluttered in his belly and he hoped it wasn't an artery splitting off. It would sort of suck to have got back in relatively one piece only to end up being killed by some stupid piece of his circulatory system.
"It ain't a waste of my time to make sure no one sneaks in here and kills you."
"No one's going to do that. And I'm awake now. Give me a blaster and I can watch out for myself. And you can go back to work. I ain't gonna be able to get near enough sleep with the brat in here anyway. He's noisy and he smells funny."
"I do not!"
"You do. You smell like you ain't washed in a week. I know you probably don't get that planets are nasty, but there ain't no excuse for not washing the planet stink off."
Peter frowned at him, then looked up at Yondu uncertainly. He evaluated Yondu's face for a moment, then turned back to Kraglin. "How long do you think it's been?" Peter asked.
Kraglin looked at Yondu and there was something in his face he didn't really care for there. Concern, maybe. Distaste? Kraglin wasn't sure but he hoped it didn't mean Yondu was constipated. Yondu was an asshole when he couldn't shit.
"Um. A day? Two?"
Yondu shook his head, the constipated face turning into something more sad and wistful. It looked foreign on Yondu's features. Kraglin didn't like it at all. "It's been six days," he said, after a moment. "Doc didn't think you'd make it for the first three and a half. Then we didn't know if you'd wake up or when for awhile..."
Kraglin sighed. Well, that was great. The whole ship was going to be in shambles. "Did you at least get us a few systems away from where we left two dead bodies in our uniforms?"
Yondu looked shifty. Great.
"Captain, as your first mate, I highly recommend that you take Quill to do his assignments and you give the boys some guidance. They can't come get me if they're too busy to breathe."
Yondu considered it, tilting his head to the side a little. He glanced over to Doc, who looked amused, then grunted. "You got a point. Come on, Quill. Better get proving you're more useful to me alive than you are on someone's plate." He grabbed the brat's shoulder and started steering him out of the room. "And you better work on getting better because there ain't no slackers on my crew. Ain't no one get fed that doesn't work, you hear?"
"Yessir." Kraglin saluted and watched them go. He flopped his head back onto the pillows. They were shitty pillows. Yondu was at least right that he'd definitely be more comfortable in Yondu's cabin.
"He's an asshole today," Doc said, inspecting the port in his neck.
"He gets like that when he's tired. I'm gonna have to make him go to bed later. See how fast that gets me an extended stay in here."
"He gets like that any time you're hurt," she said, watching him with her big, buggy eyes.
"He just hates paperwork and shit. If I ain't doing it, he ain't happy. Ain't gonna do itself. Should probably call up whatever I got on my datapad at some point, sort it all out." He sighed. There was never an end to work and after six days, fuck knew what the coffers looked like. Yondu might not have been spending any, but that didn't stop the cooks from cooking or the crew from breathing. There were always outgoing expenses, no matter how hard they tried not to spend.
"Of course," she said, in a tone that meant she wasn't saying something and wanted him to ask what it was. Well. He wasn't going to ask. He didn't need a weird little cultist's ideas about the captain.
"I need to take a nap. Then I'm gonna get some paperwork done."
"I don't like your tone."
"I've got a blaster."
"I've got a medical degree."
That did sort of mean he couldn't get away with killing her. Probably. At least until they found some fresh medics and got them trained and made sure they had enough specialties and subspecialties to be able to cover the hodge-podge variety of species in the crew. Killing her, at least right then, was probably not something he could get away with.
Kraglin closed his eyes and pictured Doc exploding into tiny pieces. It was a nice, pleasant thought. He was a fan of explosions. Almost as much of a fan as he was of knives. And blasters. Firing a good blaster was so nice. It was kind of like sex. Get everything lined up, nice smooth movements. Yeah. Blasters were great.
Sex was great too. He was in no shape for it, but if Yondu was hanging around med-bay, then Yondu wasn't as mad at him anymore. Yondu wanted to take him back to Yondu's cabin. That meant Yondu wanted him back in his bed. Kraglin was going to start getting laid on the regular again. He looked forward to it.
He thought about pounding into Yondu's cunt. It hadn't been his favourite thing, but it hadn't been awful. It was better than a quick jerk in the bathroom or even most bot hookers. He was just drifting off when his mind held up a giant flashing sign over the memory of being tied in Yondu's cunt, which had been kind of nice until he'd had to get himself free.
The sign took a moment to coalesce into something understandable, and then he was awake.
He had a problem. He'd jizzed in a cunt. He'd knotted a cunt. It had been a long time since his mother had sat him down and told him where tiny Hraxians came from, but he remembered one thing distinctly. Knotting meant babies. Yondu's Terran brat was bad enough. A squalling little wrinkled thing sounded like actual hell.
He opened his eyes to find Doc looking at him and he promptly closed them again. He sure as fuck wasn't going to talk to her about it. She'd think it was cute. Funny even. She'd like it. Tease him. Mock him for forgetting that it was now possible to knock up his boyfriend . He wasn't supposed to knock up his boyfriend. He'd known that for his entire boner-enjoying life. That wasn't supposed to happen.
Odds were, however, it already had.
Chapter 16: Fertility
Yondu didn't come back to med-bay until late. Kraglin was worn out and sore. Even the good painkillers weren't doing more than taking the edge off. Doc kept telling him to sleep, but he couldn't sleep. Every time he closed his eyes, he had visions of weird, hairy little blue babies screaming and puking everywhere like some kind of demon. He was fucked. He was never going to sleep again. He was never going to think again. His life was over and he was living in actual hell. The brat had been right. He had actually died and he’d actually gone to hell.
An actual hell that was going to get so much worse. Yondu would be livid when he found out what Kraglin had done. Kraglin would be lucky to keep his dick and then there would be a baby. Or maybe more than one. Hraxians tended to have multiples and he didn't know shit about Yondu's people but he hoped there would be just one. One was too many, really. A theoretical infant was one too many.
It would piss and shit and puke and it might come with friends and he was going to lose his dick and he apparently looked so awful when Yondu walked in that Yondu immediately rounded on Doc.
"What did you do to him?" Yondu demanded. "He looks awful. Worse than he looked when I left."
"He refused a sleeping shot and he hasn't slept. He's just worn out. Healing is hard on the body."
"Then you should've just given it to him. Fuck. Do I have to do everything myself?"
"I'm not giving him anything he refuses that isn't lifesaving."
"You and your stupid fucking cult. Fuck. Kraglin, you okay?"
Kraglin was not okay. Kraglin hadn't been okay in a long time. Hours. Maybe days. He might have been awake for days. That was definitely a possibility. Yondu could have gone, had a nap or even had a sleep. Doc only slept every couple of days, a nice feature in a medic. Shit. How long had it been? How pregnant was Yondu? When would it show? Would everyone know?
"Fine, cap'n," he said, glancing at Doc.
"He good for an hour or so?" Yondu demanded.
"The alarms will let me know if he has any problems," she said, uncertainly.
"Go to the mess. Get a meal. Take an hour. I'm going to figure out what the fuck you did to him so I can figure out how much of your share I'm keeping back on the next job."
She shrugged. "I didn't do anything you wouldn't want me to, so I'm going to take that and go get a meal. See you later." She walked out.
"All right. What did she do?" Yondu demanded.
Kraglin didn't laugh, but it was a near thing. Only the memory of the pain in his belly last time he'd chuckled held him back. That and the fact that he was pretty sure if he laughed he'd throw up. He'd throw up like a baby. A baby that would be puking on him sometime soon. And he'd have to take responsibility. He'd have to. Yondu was never going to let him not. Yondu would never leave him alone. Yondu was going to kill him.
"She. Um. Doc didn't do--where's Peter?"
A convenient distraction. The brat needed looking after. Just like their brat would. Their brat would probably need it longer. How long did it take Centaurians to mature? How long did it take Terrans? Would their brat be older than Peter someday?
"He's scrubbing the inside of my m-ship and he's got a comm to call me if anything goes wrong or he sees anything funny," Yondu said. "Now. What's wrong? I'll kill her if she's hurt you."
"It wasn't her. Shit. Yondu, you gotta not whistle, all right?"
"I'll whistle if I fucking well want to." Yondu was getting angry with all the delaying, Kraglin could tell. And that only increased the chance he'd either die or get his dick shot off.
"I uh. I think I fucked up." Fucked up by fucking Yondu. Yup. That was a pretty accurate assessment of the situation. Ha.
"Okay. You do something to get Quill in trouble back on the planet or something? Encourage Mritta's bullshit?"
"Uh. No. It um. I knotted you." He looked away. He couldn't stand this. It was terrifying and awful and he wasn't going to make it through. What if Yondu didn't figure out what he was saying and he had to break it down?
"Yeah. I told you to. That ain't a fuck up. I ain't gonna turn you in to the sex police or nothing."
"I, uh, jizzed in you."
"Yeah, you always do when you knot me. I ain't mad about that. You feverish? Maybe you're getting some kind of infection. She had your intestines practically everywhere and that ain't good for you."
"Don't usually knot your cunt."
Oh fuck. This was it. "Yondu, where do babies come from?"
Yondu gave him a look of uncomprehending irritation and pressed the back of his hand to Kraglin's throat, checking his temperature. Then, as his hand sat there, his face fell slack and his eyes widened. "Oh motherfucker ."
"Yeah. Uh. Oops?"
"Shit. Shit. Kraglin, you fucking idiot." Yondu got up and covered his face with his hand. "I'm going to kill you. I'm going to fucking rip your dick off by the knot if you fucking knocked me up, you stupid fucking moron ."
"I kinda deserve that, yeah."
"Son of a bilgesnipe. Fuck." Yondu hit his wristcomm. "Doc, get your ass back here. I got questions and you're gonna get me some fucking answers or I swear to fuck you ain't never gonna eat again."
"I didn't even make it all the way to the mess," came her whining voice. Kraglin didn't understand why the disappointment. The food in the mess was consistently some of the absolute worst in the galaxy, after all.
"I don't care. Get in here. You ain't hardly even down the hall."
"I'll be right there," she said. "Give me a second."
Yondu cut the connection and turned irritably to Kraglin. "I swear, if you knocked me up, I'm going to use your skull as a fucking soup bowl. I'm a Ravager captain. Ravager captains don't get pregnant !"
"I know. I know, I'm sorry. I didn't think--"
"I fucking well know you didn't think! If you'd been thinking, this wouldn't be happening. It better not be happening! Fuck. Fuck !"
Doc came back in. "What's so important you needed to jerk me back in here after banishing me like that?" she asked.
"I'm pregnant," Yondu snapped.
She stopped and stared. "You're what?"
"You ain't deaf or stupid, you fucking bitch. Asshole here stuck his dick in me."
"I wasn't even gone five minutes! How did a man injured that badly manage to fuck you in less than five minutes ? How did you even get his fucking catheter out?"
"Before he got hurt! I didn't just hop on his dick and start going to the nearest moon on him! Fuck, woman, what do you think I am? I don't want him dead !"
Well, that was something of a relief, considering what he'd been saying just seconds before. Kraglin might get to live. Maybe.
She pretended to look shocked. "What a surprise! I didn't know you two had any interest in each other!" It made Kraglin want to get out of bed, dick-hose and all, and kick her ass.
"Quit being a smart-ass and figure out how to make me not-pregnant! Because if I'm pregnant and I stay pregnant, you're going to die and he's going to die and even if I don't stay pregnant, I'm going to kill you if you say a fucking thing about this to anyone ."
"I wasn't planning to. Don't worry," she said, waving him off. "Have you had any symptoms yet?"
"I don't know. What kind of symptoms would I have? I'm not... I've never been pregnant before!"
He stared at her flatly. Kraglin kind of thought that Yondu had a point, even in his irritation. Yondu was a moody bastard at the best of times.
"Right. Nipple soreness in your pouch?"
"The nipples in your pouch. Are they sore?"
"Little bit. Just figured it was from Kraglin being rough on them. He's a fucking asshole!"
"Sorry." Kraglin genuinely was. And he'd been rough. He'd been angry and cranky and he'd wanted nothing more than to show he was better than any bot that Yondu could ever take a shine to.
Now they were going to have a fucking kid and it was the worst thing that had ever happened to them, worse than the exile even.
She held up a scanner. "Fingertip on this. Gonna get a little blood sample."
Yondu, predictably, yowled as the scanner pricked his finger. He'd always been dramatic when it came to that kind of thing. Big hurts, he'd walk off, but the little ones, well. Those were the ones he'd throw a whole fit over.
"What's it say?" Kraglin asked, before Yondu was even done screeching.
"Give it a second."
"We don't have a second!" Yondu snapped. "We don't have time to fuck around while you figure out how you're supposed to do your fucking job!"
"You're being completely unreasonable."
"Yeah, because I'm pregnant! Pregnant people are fucking crazy!"
Kraglin had to agree with that. Pregnant people were terrifying and insane. They were all fat and round and angry and Kraglin didn't think he could handle a more angry version of Yondu. The ship sure couldn't handle that. Everything was going to shit.
"No, you're just crazy," Doc snapped.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"You're not pregnant," she said, waving the scanner at him. "You aren't and you never were. You got lucky."
Kraglin felt like he actually deflated. The world stopped spinning around him and he could breathe. Yondu wasn't pregnant. Yondu wasn't going to have a baby and Kraglin wasn't going to be forced into fatherhood. They weren't going to have to give up Ravaging. Everything was going to be okay.
"You could've told me that!" Yondu sat down on a nearby bed, looking exhausted. "I ain't never been that fucking pissed off at anyone. How you gonna make sure this don't happen? I ain't gonna give up getting fucked. And he ain't gonna stop fucking me."
Kraglin was honestly tempted to give it up now that babies were a potential consequence of fucking, but he didn't want to say that to Yondu, of all people. Yondu would kick his ass. And then they'd start this whole messed up clusterfuck all over again. All he wanted was for things to go back to normal.
"I guess I could see my way to getting you some family planning aids," she said. "Let me run a couple tests to see what you're going to need. Some combinations of species, there's nothing you can do but use a condom and pray."
"I fucking hate condoms," Kraglin grumbled. They never quite fit right. They were always a little too loose around his knot so he had to hold onto the damn thing so he didn't lose it in his partner. Then his knot would swell and they'd be too tight around his knot for him to really enjoy anything at all. They were a fucking mess.
"Yeah, me too. Get in the fucking way," Yondu said.
Doc put her scanner up to the port in Kraglin's neck and an uncomfortable suction sensation went through clean up to his ear. He hated port-draws.
"What do you need his blood for?" Yondu demanded. "I'm the one you gotta fix up!"
She looked up from the scanner and rolled her eyes at Yondu. "If you don't stop telling me how to do my damn job, I'm gonna quit. I'm gonna quit and leave this ship and go back to the fleet proper and you're going to have to find a new medic. Is that what you want here?"
"You threatening me?"
"Yes," she said, sharply and distinctly. "I am. You don't own me and I don't owe you anything."
Yondu opened his mouth to protest, then snapped it shut again.
"That's what I thought. Now shut up and wait. I have to run some tests to make sure of what I can do."
Yondu grumbled under his breath, a variation on his baby talk. He was angry, but at least he wasn't pregnant. At the very least, he wasn't pregnant. It was a low bar, but Kraglin would take it.
Doc wandered over to some larger scanners and pressed her handheld up to them. Kraglin watched her, wondering what she was up to. He didn't quite understand why she needed his blood, anymore than Yondu did. Sure, some species hybridized well, but surely she could just give Yondu something to keep him from being able to get pregnant at all.
Time seemed to stretch out a long time. Medical results should be faster. Kraglin didn't want to wait. Yondu's grumbling was getting louder. They were both really sick of trying to be quiet. Kraglin got Yondu's attention.
"She's so slow. She's doing it on purpose," he murmured.
"I know. I'm going to fucking get her back for this. This is ridiculous."
"I said shut up, Yondu," she sing-songed back.
He closed his mouth and glared daggers at her. She didn't seem phased and that was an impressive demonstration of backbone. Not many people could stand up to Yondu without even a hint of fear or worry.
Finally, however, it looked like she couldn't stall any longer. She came back to them. "Well, I have some bad news," she said.
"I'm actually pregnant. Fuck. Fuck !"
"No. You're not and the bad news is, if you two ever do want children, you're not going to be able to have any together."
"In what galaxy is that bad news ?" Kraglin demanded. "That's the best news either of us has had all day!"
Doc sighed. "The option's gone. You're not biologically compatible. Almost every other couple would be at least a little upset about that. Even if you don't want kids right now, it's not a matter of being able to fix it later. It's a matter of you not having the same types of chromosomes across the board. You aren't going to be able to have the option, ever."
"That calls for a fucking celebration," Yondu said, reaching into his jacket pocket and pulling out a flask. "To never being knocked up with your fucking brat!" he said, then took a drink. He handed the flask over to Kraglin.
"Hear hear!" Kraglin said, and knocked back a good sized measure himself.
"You can't have booze!" Doc screeched. "You almost died the other day! You're dry for at least another month!"
Kraglin took a pointed draw off the flask, then handed it back to Yondu before Doc could confiscate it.
"Okay, but no more. You don't want it to interact with your painkillers and make you sick. If you throw up in this state, you're going to regret it."
That was fair. Kraglin probably would regret it if he threw up. His stomach honestly already hurt. "Can I have more painkillers, then?"
"Once the booze clears your system, sure."
Kraglin made an irritated sound. She clearly didn't understand his needs. Or really want to understand them.
"I can give you something to help you sleep. I have a few things like that that aren't going to interact with the alcohol."
"Yeah, give that to him," Yondu said. "Maybe tomorrow you'll listen to reason and let him come back where he can actually heal without you coming and going at all hours."
"I'd rather give it to you. You're a menace."
Yondu shrugged. "I don't care if you think I'm a menace or not. You're not drugging me."
"I know. Fucking medical ethics." She sighed. "Obfonteri?"
"Yeah, give me the sleep shit," Kraglin said. She pressed a spray to his port and then everything went black.
Chapter 17: Not your average family
It took ages before Doc would take the catheter out, and another two days after that before she'd let him go finish convalescing in Yondu's cabin. They were some of the most boring days of his life. Yondu was busy with the ship. Peter was actually learning some jobs from one of the few crew members who didn't just try to space him or eat him upon seeing him.
Kraglin had been really lonely.
His species were pretty solitary, as a rule. They didn't do group living very well. Even adults who had kids in common rarely lived together. They lived nearby and the children wandered back and forth between their homes, never really settling into either place until they struck out on their own. Kraglin had always thought that was just how he'd live his life. He'd find himself a little corner of a corridor somewhere and sleep there. He'd do his job every day like he was supposed to. He'd be a good Ravager.
It had worked for him better than barracks, that was for sure. Barracks living had been one of the worst things ever to happen to him. He'd felt stifled and crushed and cornered.
Being lonely was a novelty. Missing sleeping next to someone was a complete change for him. He tried to chalk it up to a lack of sex, but the one time he tried jerking off when Doc left him alone to go get food, he couldn't even get it up yet. He was still too badly hurt.
He just missed Yondu. He didn't know what to do with that. He couldn't really say anything. It wasn't like there was any acceptable way to say to your best friend/boss/fuckbuddy 'oh, hey, I just want to sleep next to you and hear you breathing'. That was what he wanted, though. He just wanted to lie there and be near Yondu.
It was disgusting. He didn't know how to stop it. He didn't know how to make it go away. He just knew what he wanted.
He decided to chalk it up to the injuries and the painkillers. They were making him needy and clingy and stupid. It was to be expected, after all. That was how being injured worked. It made you a baby.
Still, it was a relief when Yondu held onto his elbow and helped him hobble down the corridors to a familiar bed and a familiar room. Just Yondu's hand on his elbow helped as much as putting on his regular clothes, though he was the first to admit his regular clothes were fucking incredible after laying naked but for scratchy blankets in a med-bay bed for so long.
It was also really nice to be allowed to go to the bathroom rather than having a tube up his dick. He really wasn't a fan of tubes up his dick. He wasn't a fan of having to piss four times a day, but he'd take it over the tube. He'd even take the rehydration shots in the port that Doc refused to take out yet.
He was going home. He hadn't been back in Yondu's room, except for his cleaning fits, since the cunt revelation. It was weird how much it felt like going home though. He felt warm and he had a bounce in his step that Doc had yelled at him over--don't make your organs swing around when you walk, you fucking moron.
Yondu was quiet in the hallways. He wasn't silent. Yondu would never be silent about anything. Having to help someone do something was always going to make him bitch and complain under his breath. But he was quieter about it than he usually was, and that was definitely something. Kraglin was a little flattered.
The brat was sitting up in his hammock in Yondu's cabin, because of course he was. Kraglin momentarily thought about getting irritated, but the bed was right there and it looked so warm and soft and cozy. He sat on it.
"You're not stuck in med-bay anymore, huh?" Peter asked.
"Nah." Kraglin pressed his hands down into the soft furs. They were so nice, so familiar. There was a pressure in his chest and he tried to ignore it.
"They take out your dick-tube?"
Peter nodded. "Good. That wasn't right. Yondu says I have to stay here with you and get you anything you want."
"What if what I want is to not have to see any Terrans?"
Peter thought about it a second, then disappeared in the hammock. It wasn't as good as having him leave the room and not be in Kraglin's immediate presence, but Kraglin was willing to take it. He lowered himself back to lay down on the bed and closed his eyes.
It even smelled right. There was a faint scent of soap from when he'd cleaned Yondu's bedding, but the bed smelled like Yondu and even, just a little, of Kraglin. He'd slept there so long that a little of his own scent had been permanently absorbed by the furs. It was his, in a way very few things had ever been.
A warm weight hit the furs next to him, bowing the mattress downwards and Kraglin opened his eyes to see Yondu staring at him. "You all right?"
"Yeah." Kraglin shifted a little and let Yondu's greater mass pull him down the slope into his divot.
"You look weird."
Kraglin shrugged, pressing his side against Yondu's. "Yeah. Probably. Always looked weird, ain't I?"
"Different weird. Weirder."
"It's cause his hair's growing out," Peter said from the hammock.
"Shut up!" Yondu and Kraglin chorused instantly.
"I don't look weird," Kraglin said, a little softer.
"Pretty sure you look weird. I know what weird looks like."
"Yeah. Something wrong?"
Kraglin shook his head. "Nah. I'm fine."
"Good," Yondu said.
Kraglin smiled and closed his eyes. Yondu's breathing was steady and calm. One of his hands shifted to rest on Kraglin's thigh, comforting and still. There was a soft hiss from Yondu's nether regions and a foul stench started to drift through the cabin.
Kraglin gagged. Peter wailed.
Kraglin was home.