Yondu saw red.
Peter was stumbling over his words, trying to explain away his actions that had ruined their mission, but he wasn’t paying attention. The brat had seriously messed up and the crew had noticed (even as dumb as they were, they couldn’t have missed it). Even if Yondu wasn't pissed at him personally (which he was), he’d have to make a show or they’d be calling for Peter’s blood.
Serves him right, snarled a nasty voice in the back of Yondu’s head. It sounded Kree.
“Quill,” he snarled, “git o’er ‘here.” His accent was always thicker and his grammar far worse when he was mad. He vaguely wondered if Peter could even understand him. He reacted as though he could, jerking up with wide eyes.
“Yondu I-” Peter held his hand out in front of himself, clearly meant to be a placating move, and Yondu grabbed his wrist. The boy cried out in alarm and Yondu ignored him, pulling him closer and fumbling for the kid’s belt with his free hand. Peter wriggled in his grasp, but Yondu was bigger and stronger. “Please!” he wailed.
Ignoring him, Yondu managed to get his belt undone. It snapped as he jerked it free, and a sadistic part of him (a part he blamed wholly on the Kree) felt glee at the way Peter flinched at the noise. It wasn’t the first time he’d gotten physical with Peter - as much as he tried not to let his own issues become Peter’s issues, he didn’t know how else to respond to some things - but it was the first time he’d ever used more than his hand. At the moment, he was too angry to promise Peter he wasn’t going to kill him, and Peter was clearly afraid of that exact outcome, already sobbing.
Yondu was only vaguely aware of the cheers and taunts of the men behind him. Some of them wanted him to kill Peter, others seemed content to have the boy ripped to shreds. Others still called for Yondu to let the crew exact their revenge. Kraglin would keep them under control. Hopefully, he’d also stop Yondu if he went too far.
Tightening his grip on Peter’s wrist, he forced the boy to turn and face the other direction, shoving him headfirst into the wall, missing the crunching as the boy’s wrist turned too far. Peter cried out before the first strike even landed. Yondu blamed it on his fear and ignored it as well.
“Yondu stop!” He struggled to look over his shoulder, his cheek smushed against the wall Yondu had trapped him against. Tears streamed freely down his cheeks. The crew didn’t fail to notice them, laughing at Peter for his weakness.
“Look at that!” Halfnut shrieked, “lil Petey’s already crying!”
“Aww!” Someone else cooed. “You want ya momma, boy?”
In any other situation, Yondu would have been the first to agree that bringing up Peter’s mother was going too far (he might not have said it out loud, but he would have acknowledged it to himself and probably Peter as well, at the very least). But all that made it through the haze of his anger was that Peter was no longer protesting, the spark had gone out of his eyes and he grabbed for the wall with his free hand, supporting himself against Yondu’s next strike.
Content that Peter was no longer trying to escape, Yondu released his other wrist. “Hands on the wall,” he snarled. Surprisingly, Peter did as he was told, flattening himself against the wall and bracing for pain.
He reigned down more strikes until Peter stopped screaming after each one. All the boy could do by the time it was over was scrabble at the wall with one hand, the other tucked into his chest, his only noise was loud gasps for breath punctuated by sobs.
Yondu finally stopped and Peter twisted to look over his shoulder at Yondu, fear obvious in his eyes. Yondu threw Peter’s belt at him, not caring that it hit his face.
“Git outta my sight.”
Yondu didn’t have to tell him, twice, Peter fled.
He’d thought Yondu was going to kill him.
Peter barely made it into his own room - shutting the door behind him and checking the lock, still afraid he was being chased - before he collapsed, several feet short of the bed. For several moments he laid on his stomach, sobbing into the floor, injured wrist pulled against his chest.
He struggled out of his shirt and pants, pressing his abused skin against the cold, metal floor, knowing it was likely to be the only help he got from anyone. Yondu doesn’t know about my wrist, right? As much as he knew he’d angered Yondu, he couldn’t bring himself to believe that the other would knowingly break his wrist and then not do anything about it.
If ya’s hurt ya come ta me, Yondu had told him once. Of course, he hadn’t been referring to an injury that he had caused, the injury in question had resulted from a fall when the vent Peter was in had given way. He’d hidden it until it became infected and Yondu had been less than pleased. But he'd also been incredibly worried, even if he'd never admitted it aloud, his actions had given it away. He didn't seem worried now.
Peter felt his wrist again and was sure he felt bones shifting around. Fresh tears sprang to his eyes from the pain. Going to Yondu would be pointless, he decided. There was no way in hell he would have calmed down enough to care. And going to Doc without Yondu’s permission was practically a death sentence (leaving his room was probably a death sentence for at least a few hours).
After a moment’s hesitation, he pushed himself to his feet and stumbled across the room to his desk, grabbing a roll of bandages that he’d shoved there months ago. He couldn’t even remember why he’d had them, but he certainly was happy now. Peter wasn’t naive enough to think he could fix his wrist by himself, but hopefully he could immobilize it until he was allowed to get help. Just gotta manage till Yondu calms down, he told himself. Then he can fix it.
He fumbled with the bandages, barely able to wrap them around the swollen flesh without sobbing all over again. Finally, it was over, and he limped back to his bed, dropping into the covers with another sob. I want this to be over.
Sleep eluded him, no matter how many times he told his mind to shut down or how many times he tried counting sheep. He listened to his walkman and rolled around, trying to make himself as comfortable as possible but nothing was enough. His backside hurting he could deal with - it wasn’t the first time, not by a long shot, it seemed physical beatings were the only way Yondu knew how to deal with kids (or anyone) - but his wrist was another level of torture. Dealing with pain in his ass was as simple as laying on his stomach and trying not to move, but he couldn’t figure out how to immobilize his wrist well enough, every tiny shift brought on a fresh wave of tears.
Finally, after what felt like hours, sleep finally took him.
It wasn’t the best sleep of his life, and it was nowhere near long enough, and the next morning he was rudely awoken by the sound of his alarm going off. “Fuck you,” he told it, slipping up and stumbling out of bed. Everything still hurt, his wrist worst of all, and he was barely able to get his pants on without crying. Between the way the fabric rubbed his welts the wrong way and how he was forced to bend his wrist in order to button his pants he was gasping with pain by the time it was done. He didn’t put on a belt, his recent experiences still too fresh.
Breakfast was the worst experience of his life.
The others had all seen what had happened the day before, and they were happy to shout out insults at Peter as he trudged past them to find a seat in the corner of the room. Wretch went so far as to smack his bottom as he passed, and the Ravager's laughter only increased when Peter cried out and nearly dropped his breakfast.
His eyes scanned the room for Yondu - the other had never allowed anything like this before, there was a strick (if unspoken) rule that hitting Peter without his permission was a bad move. But Yondu was sitting with his back firmly to Peter, laughing with Kraglin and Horuz. He just hoped they weren't laughing at him.
“Fuck you,” he spluttered, although whether it was directed at Yondu or Wretch he wasn’t sure.
Peter scrambled away, making sure to keep well out of reach of everyone’s hands after that, and pushed himself into a corner where he could lean on the wall and eat at the same time. He had to stay near enough to a table so that he could set his tray down, unable to hold it and eat at the same time with a broken wrist.
The fact that Yondu wouldn’t even look at him was terrifying. He couldn’t remember the last time that had happened if it ever had. His plan for waiting out Yondu’s anger long enough to get his wrist treated was suddenly looking more and more bleak. Peter wanted to cry all over again but managed to swallow back his tears out of fear of what the others would say or even do. Yondu had made it quite clear that he wasn’t going to step in even if Peter needed it.
Peter hadn’t ever been so happy to be assigned work in the vents. It was a task he could do one handed (more or less) and while laying on his stomach. It also kept him away from the still bloodthirsty crew.
His first thought, after getting his assignment, was that Yondu must have taken pity on him and given him a simpler assignment. That had been until Tullk had scooped him up and helped him into the vent, and he’d heard the older man say to someone else, “Just don’ tell cap’n we put ‘im on vent duty, ‘e thinks the boy’s doing M-Ship maintenance.” M-Ship maintenance would have required Peter to sit on his still sore ass all day, something Yondu was more than aware of.
“I hate him,” he grumbled to himself, focusing on checking that the bolts in the vents were tight. Peter could more or less pull himself along with one arm, keeping his injured wrist tucked and leaning his weight on his elbow. It wasn’t easy or particularly comfortable, but it worked. More or less.
Peter turned on his walkman full blast and set to work.
He didn’t bother climbing out of the vents for lunch, he didn’t need to see Yondu ignoring him again or have the others laughing. Besides, he knew that the sooner he finished the section of pipe that he was working on the sooner he could go back to his room and rest. He’d half hoped that someone - most likely Tullk - would notice his absence and sneak him food, but no one came so he was forced to ignore the grumbling of his stomach and move on.
“I’ve dealt with worse,” he told himself.
“When?” asked a quiet voice in the back of his head.
“Shut up,” he grumbled aloud.
All in all, it was probably the second worst day of his life, coming in right after the death of his mother. By the time he’d finished his work, everything ached and he could no longer even put weight on the elbow of his broken wrist, which he’d scratched to bits from dragging it along.
He was late by the time he managed to crawl out of the vents and report in, and decided just to skip dinner as well and go to bed early. As tempting as it was to take a shower, he didn’t fancy running into anyone who would mock his bruises in the communal shower and knew that Yondu’s, which he usually used, would be off limits.
Once in his room, he stripped out of his filthy clothes, tossing them aside, then used a disposable wipe to remove the worst of the filth before slumping into bed and a fresh change of clothes before waiting for sleep to claim him.
It never came.
By the time his alarm went off, Peter was staring at the ceiling and cursing the day he’d ever been born. Somehow, he was in more pain than before, even worse than immediately after the beating, but his wrist was the worst. Clearly, he’d done something to it while he was in the pipes for it to be throbbing as badly as it was, sending tendrils of pain up his bones and into his elbow.
In the background, his alarm was still blaring, but Peter ignored it.
He rolled onto his back, then immediately regretted the movement as it sent more pain through his ass. Returning to his stomach he buried his face in his pillow and wept, his shoulders shaking. Everything seemed blurry, no doubt a consequence of having skipped two meals and the fact that he couldn’t remember the last time he’d had a glass of water.
‘Dehydration'll kill ya,’ Yondu had told him once, ages ago when Peter had gone on something of a hunger strike (which had really been out of fear of getting big enough that he wasn’t useful as ‘small and skinny’ anymore). ‘Yer gonna die o’ dat long before da hunger takes ya.’ His description of what it was like to die of dehydration - much longer and more graphic than any nine year old needed to hear - had upset Peter enough to not only end his hunger strike but also lead to him carrying around a bottle of water for the next several months.
He wished he had that water bottle with him at the moment.
His alarm was still blaring, but Peter didn’t care enough to deal with it. They’d notice he was missing soon enough, and surely someone would come down to find him. They could turn it off for all he cared.
Maybe they’ll finally eat me, he thought miserably. He’d been sure that he was destined for the stewpot after Yondu’s beating, especially when he’d heard Brahl shout for Yondu to ‘tenderize ‘im so he’ll taste juicy!’ Peter had been the most surprised of all when he’d been released to his room, but at the time he’d been grateful. Not anymore, he decided, knowing that Yondu was just planning on letting him suffer until he begged them to kill him. He told himself he would never sink to that level.
“Boy!” Peter’s door opened, and the figure that stomped through was both the last person he’d ever expected to see and currently his worst nightmare. “The hell you been, Quill?”
Peter shoved himself up quickly, only to feel his wrist bend much further than it should have and cause him to crash back to the bed with a sob. “Whatchu whining ‘bout, brat?” Peter couldn’t bring himself to respond as Yondu stomped over and grabbed him by the back of his shirt, hauling him up so he was on his knees on the bed.
“Let me go!”
“Ain’t lettin’ ya skimp on yer work.”
Peter swatted at him with his good hand, trying to break free of Yondu’s grip. “Let me go you asshole!” he sobbed, too tired and in too much pain to care what was coming out of his mouth.
“What did ya just call me?”
“I called you an asshole!” he shouted back, still pushing at Yondu with his good arm. “Because you broke my fucking hand!” To his surprise, Yondu didn't whistle, and Peter silently begged, 'please just kill me quick.'
“I did what?” In Yondu’s defense, he seemed surprised by the news, and he certainly wasn’t gloating about what he’d done. On the other hand (which was admittedly a broken hand), he had still done it. Which made him a grade A asshole.
“You broke my arm!” Peter held out his heavily bandaged wrist, letting Yondu grab ahold of it and turn it over with surprising gentleness.
“Why didn’t chu mention this sooner?”
“Because you fucking broke it.”
“Mind how you address me, boy,” Yondu growled. For a moment, Peter was afraid he was going to take out the anger on his throbbing wrist and crush it further, but to his surprise, Yondu gently released him.
“This is why I don’t tell you things,” he complained, pulling back and curling in on himself. He finally reached over and turned off his alarm, leaning back with his arm pulled to his chest. “You gonna do something about it or do I have to keep working?”
To be honest, Peter wasn’t sure if he could keep working, even if Yondu ordered it. He wasn’t sure if he would. Finally, Yondu let out a loud sigh, lurching Peter from his morbid thoughts. “Yer no good ta me in bits, let’s get dat looked at.”
Peter narrowed his eyes suspiciously. There was something in Yondu’s voice that was unfamiliar, something almost apologetic, but he told himself he had mistaken it. Yondu didn’t know how to do apologies.
“Then ya need ta eat something - don’t think I didn’t notice ya’s been missin’ - and yer spending the rest o’ the day helpin’ Doc.”
He had to have misheard him. Helping Doc was one of Peter’s favorite chores, mostly because the aged Ravager didn’t give a shit what he did, and let him sprawl out on his stomach across one of the medical cots while he was organizing supplies, making lists, or doing whatever else Doc bothered to find him to do. Half the time the man didn’t even bother, and just told Peter to shut up and stay out of his way.
But still, Peter hadn’t heard the two words he most wanted to hear. “Aren’t you even a bit sorry?” he spat, surprising even himself with his audacity.
Yondu’s eyes narrowed a fraction. “Don’t push yer luck, Quill,” he snapped, pulling Peter roughly to his feet by the back of his shirt. “Yer still in trouble fer costin’ us dat mission. I could whup ya again.”
He didn’t though. In fact, despite Yondu’s usual love of holding things over Peter’s head for years, he never once brought up the failed mission, the beating, or Peter’s broken wrist. It was as close to an apology as the man had ever managed.