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Stop (Draggin’ My Heart Around)

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Stakar’s solar wings flare white as Kraglin’s big knife bites into his throat. A thin line of dark blood wells up when he swallows.

“I could vaporize you right here,” Stakar says softly.

Kraglin’s eyes narrow. “But could ya do it before I cut your throat?”

He’s got the head of the Ninety-Nine Ravager clans shoved against a wall on the man’s own ship with a knife at his throat, and all the bastard does is snort.

“I’m beginning to see why he likes you.”

There was no guideline for rehabilitating freed slaves. None that Stakar trusted, anyway, since most of the case studies and published literature came from the Nova Empire and those bastards were as corrupt as the Kree.

Yondu deserved better than some propaganda nine-step program. Stakar was gonna do this right.

He’d poured himself into research, looking for ways to deal with trauma and best practices for catching people up on basic education. Along the way he’d picked up a few painful realizations that had nothing to do with Yondu.

His comm sat silent on the corner of his desk, waiting for a call he still hoped would come.

Stakar pushed that thought from his head and called Marty to have him send Yondu over. Aleta would come back on her own terms, and not before she was good and ready. In the meantime, he had a recently freed Kree battle slave to train.

Yondu was a strange mixture of nerves and bravado when Stakar took him to the gym. This was the one reserved for the higher-ups, for all that Stakar wished he could avoid the militarization and consequent stratification that the Kree-Xandar war had bred into most of his boys. As a captain, there was something uncomfortable about showering next to the guys you were commanding and knowing most of ‘em were checking to see if your dick was big enough to give orders.

But that wasn’t an issue with Yondu. He didn’t have a dick, for one thing, so the size of anyone else’s didn’t factor into his ideas about leadership. Stakar hadn’t met any other Centaurians, so he wasn’t sure if that was standard or whether Yondu did his own thing in terms of gender. Yondu referred to himself as male, so that was what they all did.

Stakar remembered being that young and strong, he thought a little wistfully as Yondu peeled off his shirt and kicked off his boots. Kid was scarred all to hell, but it didn’t detract from the definition in his chest and shoulders.

No wonder he ate so much. Stakar shook his head fondly as he pulled his own shirt over his head and hung it on the hook. It was nice having defined abs; he oughta tell Yondu to appreciate them while they lasted.

Yondu carefully imitated Stakar in lining his boots up under his shirt and jacket, throwing him little glances to make sure he was doing it right.

Stakar couldn’t help but be flattered; for all that his research indicated Yondu was adjusting remarkably well to life with the Ravagers, this was still uncharted territory for him. Being thought of as a role model was a huge responsibility, but it felt nice, having Yondu look up to him. Stakar needed to take it slowly, integrating Yondu into the crew’s daily rhythms.

Which was why they were alone in the gym.

“Alright, son,” said Stakar, “I know what you’re capable of, but how well do you know to pull your punches?”

Yondu frowned. “Why would I wanna do that?”

“Because there’s gonna be plenty of times when you wanna disable someone without killin’ ‘em, that’s why.”

Yondu crossed his arms over his broad chest. “Like when?”

“Like when you’re breakin’ up fights between your own guys, or takin’ down a security guard, or a job specifies no killing.” Stakar raised an eyebrow.

Yondu’s frown turned thoughtful. “I guess,” he muttered dubiously. “‘F you say so.”

“I do.” Stakar nodded. “You ever fought to disable instead of kill?”

“At practice, yeah.” Yondu scratched his head.

“Cut that out,” said Stakar easily.

“Itches.” That petulant glare made him look younger than twenty; Stakar had to bite back a smile.

He’d seen Yondu slaughter over fifty people with just his lips and his arrow, but right now he looked like a sulky kid.

“It’s healing. Leave it be.”

The implant was a vast improvement over the one the Kree’d had in his head; for one thing, it didn’t include the remote controlled dampeners that kept Yondu from mass murder every time he stepped into the ring back on the Kree colony where he’d lived most of his life. It suited him better too, with the red metal that matched those bright eyes.

Right now those eyes were narrowed in irritation, but Yondu dropped his hand. “Fine,” he huffed. “So, what? We gonna practice non-lethal moves?”

“Yeah. Get you into the habit of pulling your punches.” Stakar smiled encouragingly. “Habits take time to break.”

Yondu smirked, tongue curling over a crooked eyetooth. “Not like you, old man,” he taunted.

Stakar had to laugh. “Ballsy little shit,” he said fondly. “Come say that to my face.”

So Yondu did.

Stakar blinked up from where he found himself laid out on the mat with a smug Centaurian perched on his chest. “Okay then,” he wheezed. It was possible he’d been relying too much on his solar wings rather than hand-to-hand skills.

“So what do I get?” asked Yondu happily.

“Get?” Stakar was trying to remember the exact sequence of moves the kid used to take him down.

“Yeah, get. Won, didn’t I?”

Stakar raised an eyebrow.

Yondu’s cheeky grin faded a little. “Sometimes we’d make bets,” he muttered. “Just at practice. T’ keep things interesting.”

“So what do you think you should get for winning?” asked Stakar suspiciously.

Yondu looked away. “Don’t matter, I guess.”

The kid was a shitty liar, but Stakar wasn’t sure he wanted to know what battle slaves bet each other for practice bouts. “Tell you what you get,” he said, and smothered a grin at the way Yondu’s face lit up, “you get to show me exactly how you took me down.”

Yondu’s outraged expression was enough to make him laugh.

Yondu drifts.

For awhile, he thinks he’s dead. He can’t feel anything except the vaguely indistinct sense of floating.

And then he tries to open his eyes, and it feels like someone’s been trying to dig them out with a spoon. His breath wheezes out of him from the pain of it and he shuts his eyes again. Just breathes through the pain until it eases. That’s when he starts to notice the other aches and pains. The beeps of medical equipment. The way his face itches. The smell of Kraglin’s sweat, pungent and familiar.

Kraglin’s here.

“Quill,” he rasps through ravaged lungs.

There’s the sounds of movement before something blessedly wet and cool touches his lips. “He’s fine,” Kraglin tells him. His voice is awfully thick. “Pete’s just fine. You take it easy now.”

Yondu sucks the ice Kraglin’s offering him, getting a taste of Kraglin’s fingertips while he’s at it. Salt and grease, and it’s comforting enough that he can drift away again.

Quill’s safe.

Stakar smiled over the rim of his glass as Yondu crowed in triumph and Marty grumbled. He was kicked back in his favorite chair in the officers’ lounge watching them play darts.

Yondu was a natural. Served Marty right for thinking he’d have an easy win just because the kid had never played before. Or maybe he had; there was a smug little smirk hovering around Yondu’s lips that made Stakar suspicious.

Stakar had to wonder what else the boy was hiding from them.

“Bullshit you’ve never played before,” Marty was saying. “Bullshit.

“Maybe you just ain’t that good,” said Yondu innocently. Butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth.

Charlie laughed. “Kid’s got jokes,” he said, flashing a toothy grin.

“Who’s a kid?” asked Yondu, tossing his head. He grinned back, but he was puffing up. Looked a little ridiculous next to Charlie, but he didn’t seem to notice the size difference.

Charlie’s eyebrows shot up. “Anyone under thirty, in my book,” he told Yondu good-naturedly. “Unless you wanna prove me wrong.”

“What’d ya have in mind, big guy?” Yondu’s grin turned sharp.

It was time to step in. “How about a game to settle?” Stakar called.

They both looked at him. After a pause, Charlie said, “sure, we can have a game.” He turned away to set up the board.

Yondu kept watching Stakar, head tilted curiously, until Charlie called over that they were ready.

Kraglin’s got Yondu’s hand held tightly in both his own.

Tightly as he dares, anyway. He’s all wrapped in bandages to keep the skin from getting infected and sloughing off before it’s got a chance to heal. So really, he’s holding a big old mitten. But Yondu’s in there. Kraglin can feel him wiggle his fingers occasionally.

He’s been in and out of consciousness for the last three days, and every time he wakes up he asks about Pete.

Kraglin feels like the shit scraped off someone’s boot every time he watches the relief on Yondu’s face when he tells him Pete’s fine. Yondu’s whole body relaxes when he hears that, and he usually drifts back off not long after.

“You’re still here.” Stakar’s voice makes him jump; Kraglin turns around to watch nervously as Stakar steps up next to him. “Anything change?”

“No, sir,” Kraglin reports dutifully. “Just keeps askin’ after Pete, that’s all.”

“Hard to picture him with a kid,” murmurs Stakar.

“Hard t’ picture him without one,” Kraglin says.

Stakar goes quiet, and Kraglin spares a narrow glance at him. He looks like hell; jagged features even more drawn than Kraglin remembers them from Contraxia. He’s watching Yondu the way Kraglin does, and that don’t sit right.

Stakar’s got no right to look at Yondu like that.

“You talked t’ Pete much?” Kraglin asks. Needling.

“No.” Stakar sighs heavily and looks away. “Ain’t had much chance.”

Kraglin fights a smirk; Pete can always be counted on to be the biggest little shit in the cosmos. Of course he ain’t gonna wanna talk to Stakar once the story started coming out.

“Sorry about your crew,” Stakar says quietly.

Kraglin bites his tongue and tastes blood.

Stakar came awake to the door opening, and in the flare of his solar wings he could see Yondu hovering in the doorway.

This was new. “Yondu?”

Yondu restlessly shifted his weight from one foot to the other. “Sorry,” he muttered. “Thought you’d be sleepin’. Usually ya are.”

So this wasn’t new. “Come in here,” Stakar said, letting the glow die down to a dull orange and flicking on the light.

After a pause, Yondu perched on the edge of the bed. He clenched his jaw and stared straight ahead, bullheaded and a little pale.

“What is it?” asked Stakar softly.

“Dreamed,” said Yondu, clipped. “I was back there again. That you wasn’t real. None o’ this was.” He bowed his head.

“Shit,” whispered Stakar. He sat up and reached out on instinct, grasping the kid’s shoulder.

Yondu stiffened.

“Kid,” Stakar said roughly, “we ain’t going nowhere. Don’t you worry about that. Ravagers don’t leave their own.”

He could feel the fine tremors running through Yondu and gave in, pulling him in for a hug.

Yondu fit against his chest like he was made to be there, stocky and compact but somehow fragile at the same time. Stakar gave the kid a moment to adjust before resting his hand on Yondu’s back. His skin was damp with sweat, almost silky where it wasn’t marred by scar tissue.

“You got a home here,” Stakar murmured. “No one’s ever gonna take that away from you.”

Yondu’s fingers dug into Stakar’s t-shirt, twisting the fabric tight across his shoulders. “Swear it,” he croaked, looking up at Stakar with those burning red eyes.

Stakar didn’t like to make promises he knew he couldn’t keep. He’d promised Aleta their children would be safe once too, and since the universe had made a liar of him he’d been more cautious with his oaths. But staring down at Yondu’s desperate, eager face, he heard himself say, “I swear.”

Yondu cracks an eye open cautiously and damn near cries from relief when it doesn’t hurt. The other one opens real easy too, and so he looks around. Everything blurs, but he figures that’s what he gets for exposing his eyeballs to hard vacuum. He’s surprised anyone was able to save them. Probably cheaper to get cybernetics.

He don’t know too many folks with the kind of money to regenerate vacuum damaged tissue. Back on the Eclector, they just hacked the pieces off and popped a body mod in there. Weren’t pretty, but it worked.

But wherever he is has a nicer medbay than he’s used to. It’s dim like a Ravager ship, but he can make out the lights from the medical equipment near his bed.

Can’t be a Ravager ship. Ain’t a single one of them who’d take him in. Hadn’t Stakar just told him? He’ll never see the colors of Ogord when he dies.

Yondu closes his eyes again, turning his head to get away from the lights. Talk about hitting rock bottom.

His eyes snap open again, immediately seized by panic. Quill.

Where’s Quill? If he’s alive, his boy is too, and Yondu needs to see him. He needs to touch him, reassure himself that he’s real and he’s safe. He needs—

“You need to calm down,” says a voice he don’t know, and he swings on instinct when a hand touches his shoulder.

“Fuck’s my boy?” he demands.

“You’re still regrowing skin on your hands,” the voice tells him. “The rest of your people are fine, they’re resting. You should too.”

Yondu didn’t survive exile from the Ninety-Nine by being trusting. “Who th’ fuck’re you?” he growls. “Where am I?” He begins to sit up. The hell with his skin; he’s gotta find his boy.

“Sorry,” the voice tells him. “Captain’s orders.”

He ain’t sure what that means at first, but the sluggishness that spreads through him as the sedative takes effect answers his unspoken questions.

Shit.

Stakar stared at the ‘call declined’ that kept flashing across his comm until his eyes blurred.

You’d think after so many years, he’d get used to it, but he never did. The rejection still stung. Every damn time.

What kind of man was he, that his own wife wouldn’t talk to him? He sat back heavily in his chair and waved away the message so his screen went blank.

He’d wanted to tell her about Yondu. There was a part of him—a small part, one he hated to acknowledge—that hoped she might take an interest.

Aleta didn’t like kids much, but she’d loved theirs as ferociously as she’d ever loved anything. The odds of her extending that affection to a recently freed slave were slim, but hell if Yondu hadn’t wormed his way past Stakar’s defenses. Who could say Aleta would be immune?

He missed her.

That was the simple truth of it. And having Yondu around somehow made him miss her more. The kid made him remember how it felt to have a family. Watching Yondu discover the galaxy brought back memories of other little triumphs and lessons, witnessed with Aleta by his side. There had been times when she’d looked at him with such wonder, like she couldn’t believe the two of them together had made these amazing kids.

Hell, Stakar’d had trouble believing it himself some days.

Fuck. He reached for the liquor he kept at his desk. Thinking about the kids was something he tried not to do sober.

He was on his second glass when Marty bustled in, shining and businesslike. He had his datapad in hand, but stopped when he got a look at Stakar’s face.

“Oh hell,” he said quietly, and sat down. “What’s happened now?”

“Usual shit.” Stakar downed the glass and reached for another. Marty accepted the liquor without a word, but he didn’t drink it right away.

“What made you try this time?”

“Hell if I know. Seemed like a good time, that’s all.” Stakar nodded at Marty, who finally raised the glass to his lips and took a swallow. “It’s the kid,” he said abruptly.

“Yondu?”

“Yeah. Yondu. He’s a good kid, you know? He deserves a good life.” Stakar peered into his glass and poured himself some more. “Deserves lots o’ good shit,” he muttered.

“And he...got you thinking about Aleta?” asked Marty. Stakar wasn’t sure why he sounded so cautious.

“Yeah.” He nodded. “Reminds me how it used to be, you know? Things were good then. It was nice. It’s nice, having him around. Makes me feel young.”

“Well, that’s good, right?” Marty set his glass down and studied Stakar.

“You gotta look out for him, Marty,” said Stakar. He might have been a little drunk. “Kid like that, the world is gonna make a meal of him. He needs someone looking after him.”

“Thought that was gonna be you.” Marty frowned.

“No. Fuck.” Stakar rubbed his face. “He needs...I don’t know, friends and shit. People his own age.”

“That rules me out,” said Marty dryly. “But friends, sure. I like Yondu well enough. Want me to take him along tonight, let him hang around with the boys?”

That was good, yeah. Stakar nodded, thinking to himself. That would be great for Yondu. “Keep him outta trouble, huh?”

“Have you met Yondu?” Marty snorted, but stopped when he got a look at Stakar’s face. “Okay, fine. I’ll do my best. Let the guy have some fun, though, hm?”

Stakar grunted. “I trust you. Now what did you come in here to show me?”

Kraglin snorts himself awake and looks around guiltily, wiping drool off his chin before he remembers where he is.

Yondu huffs a weak laugh from his bed. “Look at you,” he rasps. “Sleepin’ like an angel.”

Kraglin reaches out to lay a hand on his face, overwhelmed. “Welcome back,” he whispers.

Yondu snorts, which means Kraglin’s face has gone all wobbly like it always does when he ain’t sure what to do with his feelings. He leans into Kraglin’s touch, almost imperceptible except for the fact that Kraglin knows him, knows the exact pressure and weight of Yondu’s cheek in his hand. “Where th’ hell am I?”

Kraglin licks his lips nervously. “We’re on the Starhawk,” he says, real quiet.

And Yondu’s expression shuts down, goes blank and horrible just like when Taserface tied him to that chair and made him watch while he spaced Tullk and Horuz and Oblo and the rest.

Kraglin would sell his own organs to wipe that look off Yondu’s face.

He doesn’t say anything, so Kraglin tells him. “Rocket called. You was in real rough shape when we got to you an’ Pete. I didn’t know he was gonna do it, an’ I still got no idea what he said, but he convinced Stakar to come. So here ya are.”

“Fuck,” Yondu croaks eloquently.

That about sums it up.

Stakar was pretty sure it wasn’t normal to have a twenty-year-old crawl into your bed for innocent reasons.

It didn’t happen every night, but since Yondu’s nightmare, he’d occasionally wake up with a warm blue body curled up next to him.

Like this morning, for example.

Stakar propped himself up on one elbow and studied the little jerk. Yondu slept on his side, pillow under his cheek and mouth open slightly. He seemed innocent like this, somehow, or he would if Stakar couldn’t see the scars all over his body.

He had to stop this. Yondu needed structure, that’s what all the books said. And he was too damn old for this.

The crisscrossed scars that swept Yondu’s cheekbone kept catching Stakar’s eye, and he had to fight down the urge to stroke careful fingers across the skin.

Yondu’s eyes were open.

Stakar had nothing to be embarrassed about; he wasn’t the one crawling into other people’s beds, after all. He met Yondu’s eyes evenly and raised an eyebrow. “Couldn’t sleep?”

Yondu stretched like a cat, sinuous and just as satisfied. “Slept real nice in here,” he said. “I like your bed.”

“Is that right?” Stakar shook his head. “You don’t like sleepin’ alone, is that it?”

“Nope.”

Stakar eyed him. “Woulda thought you’d be eager to get outta here. Get your own bunk like the rest of the guys.”

“I like it here.” Yondu batted his eyes.

Ridiculous kid. Stakar chuckled. “You wanna stay in my quarters, you gotta sleep in your own bed.”

Yondu studied him. “Why ain’t you kicked me out yet?”

“Because I don’t want you to feel like I don’t want you around. I do.” Stakar wanted that to be perfectly clear. “But you ain’t a kid, Yondu. So you really oughta be sleeping in your own bed.”

Yondu’s displeasure flashed across his face and was gone, buried under a neutral expression. “Okay,” he said.

Stakar watched him get up and stretch again, muscles rippling, and sighed in relief when he vanished into the bathroom.

It’s Quill’s humming that brings Yondu awake this time, something about eight days a week. It’s familiar—and repetitive when he can’t quite recall the words to any song his mamma didn’t put on that tape. This particular one always drove Kraglin nuts, because what the hell does eight days a week mean anyway? Yondu used to make up words to the tune, just to irritate him.

Yondu watches him through slitted eyes. Just takes the opportunity to watch his boy when he thinks he’s alone. Quill looks like hell, which don’t surprise him much. Boy’s had a rough time of it.

“I don’t know that one.” The rat hops up next to Quill and perches on the arm of his chair.

“Yeah, me either anymore,” Quill sighs. “Forgot the words. Pops liked it.”

“Bummer. It’s kinda catchy.” Rocket looks down at something in his hands. “I never got the chance to say I’m sorry about the batteries.”

“Screw those guys anyway,” Quill mutters. “If you hadn’t taken the batteries we wouldn’t have had a bomb to kill Ego with.”

Rocket nods and looks down again. Then he says, “quit pretendin’ to be asleep, you loser. Eavesdropping is rude.”

Yondu opens his eyes and glares at him. “So is ignorin’ a man’s last wishes.”

“Yep, dying is way better than getting an all expenses paid stint in a medical facility that can actually treat vacuum exposure.” Rocket nods. “I see your point.”

Yondu would flip him off, but his hands are still bandaged. “Oughta make you wipe my ass if you’re so intent on keepin’ me alive.”

“I’d sooner shove you back out the airlock,” says Rocket cheerfully.

Yondu grins. “Where’s Kraglin?”

“The nurse threatened not to let him in if he didn’t shower, so he went.” Quill leans forward, looking Yondu over intently. “I’m really glad you’re okay.”

Yondu’s throat gets real tight and he has to look away from Quill. “Yeah.”

“Let’s not do that space walking shit again,” says Rocket, sparing them both. It’s a mercy Yondu doesn’t expect, and it makes him give the rat a closer look.

Yeah, his whiskers are drooping more than usual, and his coat ain’t so sleek as Yondu remembers. Damn if the little bastard wasn’t actually worried about him. Almost gives a man a warm feeling.

“‘S one thing we can agree on,” he says, happy to let the conversation drift back into lighter territory.

“Rocket’s been filling me in on what happened,” says Quill. He eyes Yondu. “You killed the whole crew?”

“Ones that wasn’t loyal, yeah.” Yondu looks up at the ceiling, wondering how the hell he didn’t recognize the Starhawk without being told.

“You did it for me,” Quill murmurs, and that gets Yondu’s attention.

“What?”

Quill beams at him. “You did it to get to me. Admit it, you old doofus!”

“Who’s an old doofus?”

Yondu’s stomach drops when Stakar steps into view, smiling a little. He looks between Yondu and Quill.

“Oh shit, he heard us talking about him,” says Rocket in the same deadpan voice he used to taunt Taserface. He fixes Stakar with a surly glare.

Quill flashes Stakar a shitty grin Yondu’s seen a thousand times. “Should’ve kept our voices down.”

Stakar’s smile fades a little. He looks past them to Yondu. “It’s good to see you awake.”

Last time Yondu saw Stakar he’d been told he was worthless. Clearly something’s changed, but he’ll be damned if he knows what, or why he’s here instead of wandering the Void with the rest of his exile crew.

He swallows. “It’s been some time,” he says carefully. He always approached the same way, after the exile, used the same words. It’s become a ritual after so many years.

Stakar’s expression goes slack with relief. “It certainly has,” he says.

So Stakar stopped waking up to Yondu in his bed. That was good.

He was glad, honestly. Made his morning wood less awkward. Besides, Yondu was still sharing quarters with him, living in the second bedroom he’d set up once upon a time for Aleta.

Not like she came around much, these days.

So maybe Stakar had missed having someone to talk to right away in the morning, somebody to smile at him like they were happy he was the first person they got to see. It was flattering.

But it was also wrong, and Yondu deserved better than that.

The kid was addicted to caffeine thanks to Martinex and Charlie, and usually had coffee made before Stakar even stepped out of the shower. It was nice, sitting down to a fresh cup and Yondu’s raspy voice sounding out words on the datapad they’d given him.

The minute he’d learned how much he didn’t know, Yondu had thrown himself into his education with a steely determination. He knew Kree numerals from childhood, but he’d memorized the Xandarian numbers to 100 inside of a week. Now he was doing basic problems with Charlie, and if Stakar knew him, would be onto helping Marty with the budget before the year was out.

“They didn’t need me t’ know nothin’ like this,” he’d muttered when Stakar tried to ask; he knew other freed Kree slaves with some practical skills, but Yondu had been a battle slave, and entertainment didn’t need to know much besides how to fight and kill and play the crowd.

Yondu could work some weapons Stakar had only ever read about, but the poor kid was still reading children’s primers. It was a disconcerting mixture of ignorance and wisdom, and Stakar never knew what to expect when he opened his mouth.

Stakar looked up from his coffee when he realized Yondu had gone quiet. He looked across the table to see Yondu’s face set in a furious scowl. His face was a darker blue than normal.

“What’s wrong?”

Yondu looked up, then down. “Stuck,” he finally muttered.

The bitterness in his voice this early was a surprise. “Want some help?” Stakar asked casually.

“Fuck help,” snapped Yondu. He pushed roughly out of his chair. “Fuck all o’ this.”

“Where the hell you think you’re going?” Stakar put his cup down. “We can sound out the word an’ you can get back to it. I know it’s frustrating, but—”

“You don’t know squat about this!” Yondu bellowed.

Stakar stared.

Yondu hadn’t done this before; in the month or two since they’d picked him up, he’d been grateful, and charming, and even playful, but only with Stakar. This rage was new.

Or maybe it wasn’t.

“Think I don’t know how sad it is I can’t read little kids’ books?” Yondu growled. “I shoulda learned this shit a long time ago, along with coding an’ sums an’ flyin’. Y’all treat me like it’s normal but it ain’t, an’ I know it.”

He was breathing hard, eyes bright with anger. His fists were clenched at his sides and as Stakar watched the rage subsided into wariness.

“You’re right,” Stakar said finally. “It’s not normal. Nothin’ about your life has been normal.”

Yondu’s lip trembled, so he bit it, catching it between crooked teeth hard enough to bleed.

Stakar continued, “I don’t think you’re giving yourself enough credit, kid. You’re a fast learner. You’re smart, an’ you got the drive in you. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised to see you make captain someday.”

Yondu let out a shaky breath. “I want everything they kept from me,” he whispered viciously.

“That’s gonna take some time.”

Yondu laughed bitterly. “Only thing I can’t get back.” He turned away, shoulders slumping.

Stakar pushed to his feet. “Hey,” he muttered, crossing the room. He turned Yondu around with hands on both his shoulders. “You’re still young. They took your childhood but the whole future is yours.”

Yondu wouldn’t look at him. “You don’t get it,” he said dully. “I dunno if you ever could.” He reached up to cover Stakar’s hands with his own; Stakar was startled at how big and warm they were. Yondu forced a smile. “I’m glad ya don’t know.”

And he fucking patted Stakar’s hand and moved away.

Watching Pete and Rocket treat Stakar like shit is the most fun Kraglin’s had since he used to race M-ships with Oblo during planet runs when fuel was cheap. That rat’s awfully protective, and now that Pete’s decided Yondu’s his daddy he looms over Stakar with every inch of his bulk.

Kraglin knows firsthand how annoying that is; Pete’s been doing it to him since he was sixteen.

He don’t dare do more than snipe at Stakar; time may have passed, but Kraglin’s never gotten over his awe of their leader. He made his oaths to Ogord and not even exile can undo certain things. But Pete, though he’s a Ravager through and through, has never belonged to Stakar, and he don’t have the same obligation to be nice. Watching Stakar flounder with that makes Kraglin’s vindictive heart soar.

“Why’s he always in here, anyway?” Pete demands after Martinex has hustled Stakar off. Rocket perches next to him and frowns at Yondu, who’s definitely pretending to be asleep. “Hasn’t he got a ship to run?”

“Him an’ Yondu used t’ be close,” says Kraglin diplomatically.

Rocket turns and quirks a bushy eyebrow. “He told me they were family.”

“So what, Stakar’s like his dad?” Pete crosses his arms, looking pissy.

Yondu makes a little noise from the bed. Everyone looks at him while he tries to turn it into a snore.

“Think that’s a no,” Rocket says.

Kraglin sighs. “They used t’ be real close,” he repeats. Nothing else is Pete’s business.

“Isn’t he married?” Pete looks outraged.

“What, you never fucked a married chick?” Kraglin digs in his ear.

“Not like, long term.” Pete frowns. “How does his wife feel about that?”

“How’s that any o’ your business?” Yondu cracks an eye open and fixes it on Pete.

Pete bites his lip.

“If you met Aleta you’d know she don’t tolerate nothin’ she don’t like.” Yondu lets his head fall back on the pillow. “‘S a long time ago anyhow.”

Kraglin’s watching Yondu, and that’s how he catches the little flash of something across his face.

He ain’t sure he likes it.

This was the last time Stakar left Marty and Charlie in charge, he thought grimly as he led a giggling Centaurian down the corridor. Yondu had an arm flung over Stakar’s shoulder, happy to be pulled along by an arm around his waist.

“You got really big hands,” he informed Stakar before belching. “Where we goin’ anyway?”

Charming. Stakar sighed. “I’m takin’ you home. This is ridiculous.”

“I was havin’ fun!”

“You’re drunk,” snapped Stakar, although he couldn’t put his finger on why he was so pissed about it.

“Well, yeah,” Yondu snorted. “Ain’t like it’s the first time.”

“Didn’t know the Kree let their slaves drink,” Stakar muttered sourly.

“‘S a lot you don’t know. Why you mad for?”

Stakar opened his door and hustled Yondu through it, dumping the kid on the couch and going to fill a glass with water.

“You mad at me?” Yondu asked in a small voice.

Stakar forced himself to take a deep breath. “No,” he said with a weak smile. “I’m not mad. Here, drink this.”

Yondu took the water and peered skeptically into the glass. “This is water.”

“Yep. Drink it.”

Yondu huffed, clearly annoyed, but drained the glass as he was told. “Happy?”

“I’ll get you another one.”

“What? Why?” Yondu looked annoyed. “You tryin’ t’ kill my buzz?”

“I’m trying to sober you up! Gettin’ you drunk out there with the guys when you’re still learning how we do things ain’t smart!” Stakar was getting irritated. “There’s a lot you still gotta learn about Ravagers.”

“There’s a lot I still gotta learn about everything!” Yondu exploded, smashing the glass on the edge of the table. “You treatin’ me like some dumb kid don’t help me none!”

Stakar scowled at the shattered glass all over his floor. “Someone’s gotta be responsible here.”

“Tryin’ t’ keep me all to yourself?” asked Yondu. There was something coy in his tone that Stakar didn’t like.

“Tryin’ not to throw you in the deep end before you can swim,” he said evenly.

Yondu snorted. “I can swim fine,” he muttered, tipping sideways and sprawling over the couch. “We used t’ do water battles on boats an’ shit.”

“That ain’t what I meant.”

“I know what you meant.” Yondu gave him a look from under blue lashes. “You got no idea what I actually know an’ what I don’t.”

Stakar crossed his arms and looked down at Yondu. “Just because you aren’t a kid doesn’t mean you’re not gonna struggle. It’s a culture shock, Yondu. A lot of what you learned in there won’t help you out here.”

Yondu tilted his head thoughtfully. “Is that right?”

“Yes.”

He pushed to his feet disconcertingly fast, getting in Stakar’s space and staring intently into his face. “You tryin’ t’ be my daddy, Stakar?” he asked softly.

Stakar blinked, trying to keep the shock off his face. “Yondu...”

Yondu’s tongue darted out to lick his upper lip. “You heard me. That what you’re tryin’ t’ do?”

Stakar put his hands on Yondu’s upper arms, trying to urge him back. It didn’t work; Yondu had his feet planted and he kept staring at Stakar. There was an intensity in his eyes that Stakar wasn’t sure what to do with. “You’re drunk.”

“Not that drunk. Be straight with me.” Yondu gripped Stakar’s lapels. “You think I’m some stupid kid, you do.”

“I don’t think you’re stupid at all.” Stakar rubbed his thumbs soothingly over Yondu’s biceps.

“Then that ain’t the word I’m thinkin’ of. A kid. You think I’m a kid.” Yondu scoffed. “I ain’t. I been drunk before. I killed plenty o’ people. I been fucked. I ain’t a kid.”

Stakar breathed in sharply through his nose. He didn’t wanna hear about that; didn’t like the thought of Yondu killing or drinking or—

Yondu’s dirty chuckle pulled him out of his thoughts. “Sorry,” he said in a falsely sweet voice, “was I not supposed t’ tell my daddy about that shit?”

“Shut up,” growled Stakar.

“Guess I shouldn’t tell you nothin’ about how we used t’ make bets at practice neither,” Yondu whispered. “Sure, we had t’ let the nobles fuck us sometimes, but after practice it was all for us. Loser had t’ get the winner off any way they wanted. You ever done nothin’ like that?”

“You need to stop,” said Stakar. His hands tightened on Yondu’s arms.

Yondu laughed in his face, breath smelling like liquor. “I used t’ get so wet after a match. Soon as we got dismissed we’d fuck in the showers. Didn’t care if anyone saw, we all knew it was goin’ on.”

Stakar’s mouth was dry. He swallowed. “This is inappropriate. Cut it out.”

“No,” growled Yondu. “You’re gonna listen t’ what I have t’ say.”

“I don’t gotta listen to nothing,” snapped Stakar. “You’re bein’ a brat and a pervert and I don’t have to listen to any of this.”

Yondu smirked. “Bet you could make me stop.”

“Don’t,” warned Stakar. He wasn’t sure what he’d do if Yondu went there.

“Should I tell you how I always wanted t’ get paired up in practice bouts with this one Rajak guy? He’d lose on purpose sometimes ‘cause he liked t’ get on his knees for me. Said I was a treat.” Yondu’s hands tightened on Stakar’s lapels, pulling him in closer until their faces were barely an inch apart.

“Yondu, stop,” Stakar breathed, trying not to look at those lips. It was sick, thinking about Yondu like that. Imagining him in the shower, water streaming over his skin, with his head thrown back and a man between his legs...

“He used t’ lick me so good my legs shook,” Yondu whispered.

Fuck.” Stakar was going to hell. He could feel his cock chubbing up even as he tried not to think about it.

“Bet good daddies don’t think about fuckin’ their boys til they cry,” said Yondu softly.

Stakar kissed him, hard, to shut him up. Just to stop him talking, for god’s sake. Yondu tugged him closer, pressing against him, and Stakar couldn’t keep in a moan at the feel of that body hard against his. It had been so long since he’d last done this.

Then Yondu parted his lips and Stakar had to wonder where the boy learned how to kiss like that. It was deep and filthy, the way he fucked his tongue into Stakar’s mouth before licking across his lips. He let go of Stakar’s lapels and then there were hands in his hair, tangling and pulling just hard enough to send shivers all down his spine.

He grabbed at Yondu to pull him closer, gripping his waist and his back. Yondu moaned against Stakar’s lips and wrapped a leg around his waist.

And Stakar was lost.

The taste of him, the silky feel of his skin made Stakar feel drunk as he and Yondu peeled each other out of their leathers, tossing clothes aside in their eagerness. Yondu’s pants caught on his boots and he snarled, one hand still in Stakar’s hair and the other fumbling at his fly.

“Want you,” he breathed against Stakar’s ear before he bit it, making Stakar shudder.

Stakar buried his face in Yondu’s neck, mouthing at the tendon that ran the length of it. Yondu made real pretty noises when he bit down, so he did it again, and again further up until Yondu pounded on his back to get him to hurry.

Stakar batted Yondu’s hand out of the way and unzipped his pants, pushing them down past his ass.

He could feel the heat coming off Yondu, the same heat that always felt so good when he woke up with the kid in his bed, only no kid had thighs that strong, or an ass that pert. Stakar got his hands on that ass, slipping them under Yondu’s underwear and kneading at firm cheeks. He could probably bounce an old-fashioned coin off that ass.

Yondu threw his head back, moaning his approval as Stakar pulled his cheeks apart. “Yeah, yeah, shit, you want my ass? Take it, I want’chu to...”

Stakar shoved his underwear down, probably too rough judging by the way Yondu gasped, and pushed the brat back onto the nearest flat surface.

“You gonna fuck me on your table?” Yondu grinned and stretched his arms over his head to grab the table’s edge. He spread himself as much as he could with his pants still around his ankles.

It should have looked stupid. It didn’t.

Stakar ripped his jacket off and pulled his shirt over his head. “Gonna wipe that smug little grin off your face, you little shit,” he growled, and Yondu’s grin just got wider in response.

“Wanna spank me, Daddy?” He raised his chin.

Stakar was on him faster than he’d been expecting, if the startled look was anything to go by. He smirked a little at Yondu’s wide eyes and parted lips. “I should, you fucking brat,” he whispered.

Yondu swallowed, then tilted his face up for a kiss.

Damn him. Stakar kissed him anyway, licking into his mouth and tasting sour breath mixed with the liquor he’d been drinking all night. Crooked teeth snagged his lip and tugged just enough to make him growl, and then he snaked a hand down to rest on Yondu’s thigh and the kiss broke with Yondu’s ragged groan.

“Come on,” Yondu breathed against Stakar’s lips. “Keep goin’, touch it like you want to.”

Stakar shivered. “Fucking brat,” he whispered again.

“I think you like it.” Yondu flashed him a saucy grin. “Bet you could shut me up pretty good.”

Stakar cupped his hand over Yondu’s cunt, avoiding direct contact with anything fun. “I’m not sure you realize what you’re playin’ with here, son.”

“Show me.” Yondu tried to arch into Stakar’s hand.

“Oh no.” Stakar moved with him, smirking at the frustrated sound Yondu made. “No, you gotta learn not to be such a pushy little bastard.”

“Teachin’ me a lesson, Daddy?” Yondu looked like he was trying not to laugh.

So Stakar let the tip of his middle finger rest just on Yondu’s clit.

The gasp it earned him was satisfying enough that Stakar felt a grin of his own stretching his face. It was sharp, like one of Aleta’s favorite knives, and he moved the instant Yondu tried to surge up for more contact, keeping the pressure too light to satisfy.

“Fuck.” Yondu’s head hit the table and he groaned. “Goddamn tease.”

“Who’s the tease?” Stakar asked smugly. “You asked for this, tellin’ me dirty stories and kissin’ me like you did.”

“Told you that shit hopin’ you was gonna do somethin’ about it,” Yondu growled.

“Oh, I’m gonna do plenty,” Stakar promised. “I’m gonna do plenty and you’re gonna lay here and take it.”

Yondu’s breath hitched, but he covered it with a grin. “Let’s see what you got then.”

Stakar kept his fingertip on Yondu’s clit as he lined up, smirking down at his flushed face before pushing just the tip of his cock inside.

Yondu’s mouth fell open. He tipped his head back with a throaty moan and clenched down real tight on Stakar’s cock. It was good enough that Stakar pushed in another inch before he stopped himself, panting.

“You like to tease, kid?” he whispered. “How’s this?”

“Oh god, move,” groaned Yondu, squeezing his eyes shut. “Come on, dammit, move!”

“Ask me nice.”

“Fuck my cunt, Daddy.” Yondu grinned without opening his eyes.

Stakar hated himself for the way his cock twitched. “That ain’t what I meant.”

“I know what you meant.” Yondu rolled his hips, urging Stakar a little deeper. He cracked an eye open. “C’mon, Daddy. Gimme your cock.”

That was it. Stakar snarled and went at it, sending the table creaking ominously with the force of his thrusts.

Yondu wasn’t quiet, yelling his approval whenever Stakar hit a good angle and reaching up to tangle a hand in his hair. He tugged, which made Stakar moan before he pulled him down for a kiss. He was so greedy, clutching at Stakar’s back and dragging stinging lines down it as he fucked his tongue filthily into Stakar’s mouth. Stakar couldn’t remember the last time someone had fucked him like this. Like they were starving for him.

And he was getting fucked; his dick might be inside Yondu, but he knew damn well who was calling the shots here. Yondu was hot and slippery, clenching around Stakar like he was trying to keep him inside. Stakar put his back into it, grunting and snarling into Yondu’s mouth between biting kisses.

Yeah,” Yondu kept hissing, rolling his hips and urging Stakar to touch him. “Come on, touch it, fuckin’ touch it!

“Say please,” Stakar whispered against his skin; he licked Yondu’s cheek just to feel those webbed scars under his tongue.

“Please,” Yondu panted. “I ain’t above beggin’ if that gets ya off.”

“Goddammit.” Stakar slid his hand from Yondu’s thigh, where he’d been gripping to brace himself, back to his cunt, sliding his thumb between slippery lips to rub his clit. It twitched when he ran the pad of his thumb up the underside, and god, he had to bring his hand to his mouth and taste, because Yondu was the hottest damn thing he could remember since—

No. He couldn’t think about her here.

Watching Yondu’s eyes get big while he licked the taste of him off his own finger was a great distraction. “Tastes good,” he murmured just to see Yondu flush.

“Ah hell.” Yondu kissed him again, licking at Stakar’s mouth to chase the flavor. He was tense and twitchy, legs spasming, so Stakar kept going, losing himself in the rhythm and the taste and the wet, filthy slaps of their skin. His thumb went back to Yondu’s clit, circling to make Yondu make those high, breathy noises he liked so much.

Yondu convulsed under him, letting out a wail and clawing at Stakar as that hot cunt clamped down around him. Stakar felt a burst of warmth and looked down to find Yondu soaked, panting up at him with wide eyes.

“Th’ hell is that?” he whispered, and Stakar had to laugh.

“That,” he said with a dirty grin, “was fucking hot.” He started to move again, smirking as Yondu threw his head back and yelled. He jerked like a live wire when Stakar went for his clit again, rubbing relentlessly as he pounded into him. “Let’s see if I can make it happen again.”

“Oh shit,” Yondu panted, turning his face away. “Oh shit—fuck—god!” And he was coming again, fluid gushing between their bodies with an obscene squelching noise that went straight to Stakar’s cock.

“That’s right,” he growled, baring his teeth. “Nobody ever made you squirt before, did they? You wanna tell me some more dirty stories, you fuckin’ brat, better make sure they can top what I’ll do for you.”

Yondu sobbed wordlessly, digging nails into Stakar’s back to pull him closer. “Fuck, fuck,” he kept whispering, jerking with aftershocks as Stakar chased his own orgasm. “God, you fuck me so good.”

“Damn right.” Stakar could feel his balls tighten, and he grabbed Yondu’s thighs to pound him harder across the table.

“Yeah,” Yondu slurred, “c’mon, fill me up. Wanna feel ya.” He grinned and whispered, “come in me, Daddy.”

And Stakar did.

He caught his breath and had to immediately fight down the urge to punch Yondu’s pretty face, because the fucker was laughing at him.

“Oh god,” he cackled, “I got ya, you deviant!”

“You just learn that word?” asked Stakar sourly.

Yondu stopped laughing. “You gonna be mean t’ me now?” he asked softly. His body language went careful and still, and Stakar didn’t realize until that moment how much he’d taken Yondu’s comfort around him for granted.

He forced out a deep breath. “No. I ain’t gonna be mean.” The madness that gripped him earlier was starting to wear off, and he pulled out, turning away so he didn’t have to look at the come dribbling out of Yondu’s cunt. “We shouldn’t have done that.”

“What?” Yondu sat up with a disgusting squelch. “No.”

Stakar shook his head, annoyed with how his hair flopped in his face. “It ain’t right,” he said heavily. “I’m your captain.”

“I wanted you to,” said Yondu.

“Don’t matter. I should’ve been more responsible. I’m sorry.”

“You’re sorry?” Stakar nearly jumped at the venom in Yondu’s tone. Yondu hopped off the table and yanked his pants up, ignoring the mess between his legs. “Not as fuckin’ sorry as you’re gonna be if you don’t cut this shit out,” he growled.

“That a threat?” snapped Stakar, and it was enough to send Yondu shrinking back a little. He softened. “See? This is why it’s a bad idea,” he said as kindly as he could. “Ain’t that I don’t like you, Yondu. But I’m your captain. You gotta follow my orders.”

“How th’ hell’s that any different than anyone else I might’ve fucked?” growled Yondu.

“It’s supposed to be different now.” Stakar bowed his head. “I want it to be different for you.”

Yondu was silent. Long enough that Stakar finally raised his head to make sure he was okay.

The red eyes that met his weren’t burning with starfire like Aleta’s used to when she got angry, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. Yondu glared at Stakar with such open rage that Stakar backed up.

“I’m a free man now,” Yondu whispered.

Stakar swallowed, gut clenching with the sudden terror that he was leaving, that he’d go just like Aleta and Stakar would be alone—

“Means I get t’ take what I want.” Yondu raised his chin defiantly. “Means nobody gets t’ tell me what I can an’ can’t have.”

“Yondu—” Stakar hated the surge of elation he felt.

“I want you,” said Yondu flatly. “I mean t’ have you.”

Stakar’s breath caught.

And Yondu, with as much dignity as was possible for a man covered in ejaculate, turned and stomped into the bathroom.

Kraglin leaves Yondu and Pete alone as much as he can stand; they got some stuff to work out. He’s surprised by how little that bothers him, when it used to piss him off so bad. Maybe it’s the way Pete’s gentle with Yondu now that their unspoken bond’s been dragged into the light. It’s nice, seeing them being honest with each other.

Makes Yondu happy, anyway. Few enough things have done that lately that Kraglin can’t afford to be picky.

With one exception.

Stakar is always around, hovering at the edges of the room, and Kraglin can’t help imagining his knife sliding neat through his eye. Gross, but satisfying.

Stakar notices him looking and smiles faintly. Kraglin don’t return it.

He wants Yondu out of the medbay. Back in his room and his bed, although they ain’t shared one in a couple months. Kraglin likes to think they’ll start again, given everything. Maybe he’s being too hopeful.

But Yondu takes his hand when he reaches out, and lets Kraglin idly play with his fingers when they’re alone and they’ve run out of things to say.

The big stuff can wait, by unspoken agreement. They don’t need to air all their dirty laundry in Stakar’s medbay where people can hear. Kraglin’s whispered his apologies against Yondu’s skin, with a big warm hand pressed to his face and his head bowed. He ain’t sure they’ll ever be enough.

It gets him a weak cuff upside the head before Yondu strokes his hair. Kraglin figures that means Yondu don’t wanna hear ‘em.

But maybe that’s something they oughta talk about too. Once they’re alone.

“Are you sleeping in here?” asked Marty.

Stakar ignored him and smoothed the blanket along the back of the couch.

“Why are you sleeping in your office?” Marty asked again.

It wasn’t that obvious, was it? Stakar frowned at the clothing hanging on hooks on the wall. Maybe it was.

“Stakar?”

He really didn’t want to talk about this. “You got those reports I asked to see?” he asked instead.

“Yes. We can discuss them after you tell me why you’re sleeping on the couch in your office.”

Stakar sighed. “Drop it, Marty.”

He hadn’t taken Yondu seriously at first, which looking back was a big fucking mistake. He’d gone to bed alone, castigating himself over such a massive lapse in judgment, and woken up to Yondu’s lips on his neck and a clever hand snaking its way down his pants.

So he’d accepted the handjob. He knew he wasn’t perfect.

But after that he’d been responsible. Reprimanding Yondu while he licked Stakar’s come off his fingers wasn’t easy, but Stakar had managed not to get distracted. He’d stayed the course, and accomplished...

Well, nothing, really. Yondu wouldn’t leave so Stakar did. His bed was compromised. This was the only way to make sure he didn’t fuck up again.

Marty’s face told him exactly what his first mate thought about that.

Stakar didn’t need this. “Come on. We can look over the reports on the bridge.”

“Whatever you say, boss.” Marty let it go; he was good like that, knowing when to quit. Stakar ought to have Yondu talk to him.

His heart did something funny when they reached the bridge and Stakar saw Yondu leaning over Charlie. They were on the navs, and Yondu was nodding along with a serious frown on his face, eyes tracking Charlie’s motions like one of those little hawks Stakar used to see on his homeworld. The ones people had trained for hunting centuries ago.

Those sharp eyes snapped to him a second later, and for a second Stakar was pinned as firmly as if Yondu held him down. Then Yondu looked away.

Stakar let out a breath and told himself he was fine.

“So,” Marty’s voice was heavy with unspoken judgment, “wanna talk about those reports?”

Stakar sighed. This was his life now. He was fleeing from the ex-slave he’d tried to adopt because he didn’t trust himself not to keep fucking him, and his first mate thought he was an idiot.

Times like these really made him miss Aleta. She’d know what to do.

Yondu didn’t acknowledge him any further after that first glance; he shadowed Charlie, stopped to rib Marty and ask him some questions about fuel consumption, and generally did his job.

If only Stakar could ignore him too.

It wasn’t fair. If Yondu was fine pretending they hadn’t fucked like it was their last night alive, then why was Stakar remembering the velvety grip of Yondu’s cunt, or the scratches that still stung his back when his shirt rubbed wrong, or the way that raspy voice sounded in his ear?

He shifted in the captain’s chair, annoyed with himself. It was an hour into his shift, his ass was going numb, and he wanted to be able to concentrate on anything except how biteable Yondu’s ass looked in those tight pants he liked.

This was ridiculous. He was ridiculous, like a dirty old man out of a cheap drama. It was actually embarrassing. Stakar got up and made his way to the head. He would splash some water on his face and remind himself that he was Stakar Ogord. He would not be undone by some twink with pretty eyes and crooked teeth.

The cold water helped; he took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and splashed more on his face, feeling the icy trickles down his neck wake him up. He’d been stupid before, retreating like he had. Yondu was gonna have to go room with the guys sooner than Stakar would have liked, that was all there was to it. If he couldn’t be trusted not to climb into Stakar’s bed with that mouth and those hands, then he’d have to leave.

“You do all your plannin’ in here?” Yondu’s voice made him jump. When he whirled around, the little shit was leaning against the door that Stakar clearly remembered locking, looking pleased with himself.

“I see you been learning to pick locks,” Stakar said with a glare. “Not something you should be using against your captain.”

“So punish me.” Yondu smirked. “Only ya won’t, an’ we both know it. How long you gonna keep runnin’ away from me?”

“I’m not runnin’ from nothing!” snapped Stakar. “You’re way outta line. Chasin’ someone who tells you no isn’t okay.”

Yondu studied him with a little tilt of his head. “But you don’t say no. Ya say we can’t do it again, but I get you alone an’ you can’t get enough o’ me.”

Stakar swallowed. “I have had enough,” he said softly. “This ends. It never should’ve started.”

“I been tryin’ t’ make that thing happen again,” Yondu said after a beat. “What you did t’ me. I can’t do it.”

Stakar’s idiot dick twitched in his pants. “You can’t?”

“No.” Yondu took a step forward. “Been touchin’ myself in your bed every night, an’ I can come jus’ fine, but it don’t get wet like you made it.”

Stakar closed his eyes. “You gotta hit the right spot long enough,” he said roughly. “Hard to do it on your own.”

“Show me,” whispered Yondu.

“Can’t do it here,” Stakar whispered back. “Don't have time.”

“Then show me tonight.” Yondu stepped in close and wound his arms around Stakar’s neck. “Fuck me in your bed an’ make me do it over an’ over til I cry for you t’ stop.”

Stakar kissed him with a despairing moan, grabbing at his hips to pull him closer. “You’re gonna be the death of me,” he told Yondu between kisses. “Gonna break my goddamn heart.”

“Never,” Yondu whispered into his mouth, running his hands through Stakar’s hair and tugging just right. He kissed him hard, arching his body against Stakar’s like he couldn’t get close enough.

It was addictive, being wanted like this. Stakar gave in to it, turning them so it was Yondu pressed with his back against the sink. “You’re right,” he growled, “I can’t get enough of you.”

Yondu tipped his head back to let Stakar kiss down his neck, dragging his hands greedily over Stakar’s shoulders. “‘M right here,” he mumbled. “Take whatever you want.”

Stakar bit his neck just to feel him shiver. “Decided to quit bein’ a brat?” he asked with a smirk.

“I think you like it when I’m a brat.” Yondu grinned. “Gives you an excuse t’ treat me naughty.”

Stakar snorted. “If you think I need an excuse, then you don’t know me as well as you think.”

“Gonna stop treatin’ me like a kid then?” Yondu licked his chin. “Finally realized I’m a big boy, Daddy?”

“Cut that out,” growled Stakar, flushing in spite of himself.

Yondu’s sunny smile seemed out of place in the cramped bathroom. “It’s okay t’ like weird shit,” he told Stakar cheerfully. “Don’t bother me.”

Stakar scowled.

“Aw, don’t look like that.” Yondu smirked and kissed him again. “You’re sexier when ya smile.”

“Is that right?” asked Stakar faintly; Yondu had grabbed his hand and guided it to his fly, and Stakar was briefly overwhelmed by the heat between his legs.

“Mmhm. Now get them big hands on me.” Yondu hissed when Stakar eased his fly open, spreading his legs just a little.

“I oughta bend you over an’ spank you right here,” Stakar mused. “Let you spend the rest of the day with a sore ass for backtalking me like you do.”

Yondu actually batted his eyes. “Would ya kiss it better later on?”

Stakar pushed Yondu’s pants down his hips instead of answering, skimming his hands over those muscular thighs and savoring Yondu’s shaky breath. “You’re gonna have to keep quiet, you know,” he said softly. “Otherwise everyone’s gonna hear you yelling in here.”

Yondu shivered.

“Can’t have ‘em knowing what a slut you are for me,” Stakar continued as he sank to his knees. The floor wasn’t comfortable, but watching the way Yondu’s eyes got big was gratifying enough to make up for it.

“That’s, uh, gonna be sorta tricky,” said Yondu, swallowing. His breath picked up as Stakar slid his pants further down past his knees.

“I’m sure you can manage.” Stakar smirked and spread Yondu out. “You got a real pretty cunt.”

Yondu shivered. “I been told.”

“Brat.” Stakar glanced up at him. Some folk didn’t like their bits much, but Yondu seemed pretty okay with his. God knew the kid wasn’t shy about telling Stakar when he didn’t like something. So he glided his thumb across Yondu’s clit, smirking when it twitched. “So pretty though.”

Yondu stared down at him eagerly. “You gonna look at it all day?”

Stakar petted his clit again, waiting for Yondu’s breath to hitch before he sank his thumb into him. That got him a quiet groan. “You want a kiss, you gotta behave.”

“I can behave,” Yondu whispered shakily. He shifted his legs a little wider, scowling when he realized he was trapped by his pants.

“Good,” Stakar murmured as he pumped his thumb in and out. “I knew you could. Just had to find something that’d make it worth your while.” He glanced up through his lashes. “You wanna come in my mouth?”

Yondu nodded rapidly, gripping the sink as he tried to spread his legs even further apart. “”Please.

Stakar smirked. “Yeah, you’re bein’ good now. Is that what it takes? Gotta promise to lick your pussy to get you to do what I say?”

“Don’t hurt.” Yondu shivered as Stakar breathed over his cunt. “Gonna actually lick me or just talk about it?”

Stakar snorted and carefully applied his tongue to Yondu’s clit, lapping over it until Yondu made a high, needy sound. He glanced up, meeting hungry red eyes as he closed his lips around it and sucked.

Yondu’s mouth fell open in a silent moan, face twisted up in pleasure. It was a good look on him. Better than those cocky grins and teasing leers. His clit throbbed under Stakar’s tongue, and Stakar grabbed his ass to haul him closer. Stakar lost himself in the smell and the taste and the feel. Yondu was so wet for him, practically dripping, and there was nothing in the galaxy like eating a hungry cunt.

Stakar paused to catch his breath, panting over Yondu’s clit and grinning madly as it twitched. “You taste so good,” he growled, ducking his head to lap up some of that slick.

Yondu let out a little noise at that, chest heaving. He reached a shaking hand out to grab Stakar’s hair and guide his mouth back to where he wanted it.

It was sexier than he remembered, being bossed around in bed. Only Aleta had ever had the nerve to push back, and that battle had been one of many Stakar had enjoyed losing over the course of their marriage. He had a sudden, painfully erotic vision of Aleta pressing Yondu into the bed before she fucked him with that big strap-on she used to like.

Funny, how the shit that made his dick hard also made his chest ache since she left.

Stakar pushed it away and focused instead on taking Yondu apart. He wanted the little bastard to come at least twice before he let him up, since there was no pretending anymore that they were doing anything but fucking in here. Might as well make the most of it if he was gonna be facing Marty’s judgmental face anyway.

“Ah, fuck,” Yondu whispered as Stakar worked a finger into his cunt. “Fuck, fuck, feels good.” The grip on his hair was borderline painful, but Stakar couldn’t bring himself to mind when Yondu was shaking like that.

“That’s right,” he pulled away just enough to growl. “Come for me, gorgeous. Give it up for Daddy.”

Yondu gasped, fingers tightening in his hair as Stakar dove back in. He sucked Yondu’s clit until he came with the cutest little squeak Stakar had ever heard. “Oh shit. Shit, that’s good,” he panted, easing his grip on Stakar’s hair.

Stakar smirked. “Seems like I’m not the only one who gets off on twisted shit,” he said smugly.

Yondu grinned down at him, chest heaving. “Maybe you ain’t.”

Stakar snorted. “You’re still playing with fire, kid.”

“Then light me up.” Yondu’s fingers wove through his hair, petting and tugging. Stakar was gonna have the worst sex hair in the universe by the time Yondu got done with him.

“Careful what you wish for,” murmured Stakar, and leaned in again.

Yondu wishes he wasn’t so damn tired all the time; he remembers drifting off in the middle of a conversation with Quill and Kraglin, but when he opens his eyes they’re both gone.

“I sent them to get some rest,” says Stakar from somewhere to his left.

Yondu turns his head. This is the first time he’s been alone with Stakar since he woke up. “Can’t imagine they liked that.”

“Your boy hates me.” Stakar’s mouth quirks.

Yondu huffs a laugh. He doubts his voice is ever gonna be the same after that long in the black. “He’s somethin’ else, ain’t he?”

“Reminds me of you, with that mouth on him.” Yondu’s almost forgotten how Stakar’s eyes look when they aren’t hard with suppressed fury.

“He’s better’n I ever was.” It’s true, too. Yondu ain’t proud of a whole lot, but he’s proud of Quill.

“All this time, you been raisin’ that kid,” Stakar muses. “Obfonteri said you took him when he was little?”

“Eight,” says Yondu out of habit. Quill had been eight, and felt the need to tell everyone he met about that fact. Weird kid; no one had ever cared how old Yondu was.

“Little,” Stakar repeats, and Yondu averts his eyes. He knows exactly how old Stakar’s kids were when they died.

“Why’d you come back for me?” he croaks.

“Got a message from that weasel—”

“Rocket,” Yondu interrupts.

Stakar pauses. “Yeah. Rocket. Got a message from him soundin’ pretty panicky. Said your people killed Ego and you were dying.”

Yondu closes his eyes. “That’s all he said an’ you came runnin’? Shoulda tried that years ago.”

Stakar’s quiet. Then he says, “I’m calling a meeting of the captains. See if I can’t get you reinstated.”

Yondu’s fists clench. Everything he’s ever wanted, and Stakar’s offering it on a platter. But it’s funny how priorities change. “Can ya hold off?” he manages to ask.

“Hold off? I thought you wanted a seat at the table.”

Yondu supposes he deserves having his own words thrown back at him, given how often he’s done it to Stakar over the years. He still don’t like it though. “Yeah. I got things t’ discuss with Kraglin an’ Quill before I start makin’ any plans.”

If Stakar’s surprised, he doesn’t show it. “Of course.” He goes quiet for a bit. “I missed you.”

Yondu’s throat tightens up. He nods.

“You looked low, on Contraxia.” The weight of Stakar’s gaze feels like a heavy hand on his body. “Approaching me in public like that.”

“Knew you’d never meet me in private.”

“Couldn’t risk it.” Stakar gives him that old, tired smile. “I could never trust Aleta, an’ I could never trust myself around you.”

Yondu wonders if that’s supposed to make him feel better. Not that he’d be above fucking his way back into Stakar’s good graces. Maybe it’s fair. Maybe that’s who he really is.

He sighs. “Maybe you was right, all them years ago. Maybe it was always a bad idea.”

It’s Stakar’s turn to go quiet. “I don’t think that’s true,” he finally says, and there was a time when Yondu could wrap himself in that low voice and call it home.

Unbidden, he thinks of the twig, and the way Rocket’s voice broke when they said their goodbyes on the planet.

He don’t know if he’s a Ravager or a Guardian, now, and he’s too scared to ask.

“Cap’n?” It’s Kraglin’s voice that pulls him outta those dark thoughts, and he turns toward the sound like one of them sun-facing plants.

“Thought you was restin’,” he says with a big grin.

“Don’t sleep much.” Kraglin edges into the room with a wary look at Stakar. “Weren’t interruptin’ nothin’, was I?”

“Nah, son,” says Stakar with a smile. “You’re fine.”

Something like annoyance flits across Kraglin’s face, but he smooths it away as he comes to stand beside Yondu’s bed. “Rocket an’ the twig’ll be by later,” he tells Yondu. “They got somethin’ for ya.”

Yondu grins. “You know how I like presents, Krags.”

“I do.” Something goes soft in those pretty blue eyes. “‘S why I saved your favorites an’ stashed ‘em on the Quadrant.”

Yondu stares at him. “You what?”

Kraglin smiles wanly. “They’re all lined up on the control console for ya. Right where ya like ‘em.”

God help Yondu if Kraglin ever figures out what he’s worth, because Yondu would die without him. “Didn’t have t’ do that,” he says gruffly.

“Weren’t nothin’,” Kraglin tells him modestly, but Yondu doesn’t miss the way his eyes land on Stakar.

After fucking Yondu in the bathroom in the middle of his shift, it seemed pretty pointless to keep sleeping in his office. It felt better than he liked, giving in. Stakar had missed his bed. It was a good bed. He liked it. He liked it even better with Yondu in it.

Stakar dozed on his stomach in said bed, smiling a little at the feel of Yondu draped over his back. He was solid and heavy, but Stakar liked it. Made him feel decadent, somehow, with a pretty young thing all over him.

He could maybe do without the drooling, but the sheets had survived worse.

Yondu stirred, and before Stakar could say anything he felt a hot, wet kiss on his shoulder. It made him shiver. “Yondu.”

He hummed in response and kissed Stakar again; soft, hot kisses down the side of his neck.

Stakar groaned softly and tilted his head to give Yondu room. A little puff of breath tickled his neck as Yondu laughed silently, and then that mouth was on him again. The kid had gorgeous lips; for all Stakar had tried to deny it, he’d been thinking about Yondu’s mouth for a long time. He wondered if this time he’d get those lips wrapped around his cock, and the thought had him hardening against the mattress.

He might be developing an addiction, he thought wryly.

A sharp nip to his shoulder blade jerked him out of his thoughts and made him jump, and he could swear he felt Yondu’s smug smile against his skin. Yondu kissed slowly down Stakar’s back, sliding his hands up his sides and making Stakar arch.

“Can’t get enough o’ you,” Yondu purred. Then he sealed his mouth over a patch of skin on Stakar’s lower back and sucked.

It hurt, and Stakar let out a startled yell before Yondu eased the suction to something delicious. The faint sting made Stakar’s breath catch.

Aleta had liked to hurt him in bed too sometimes, when her blood was up. Stakar’s eyes fell shut as a full-body shudder went through him.

“You’re gonna be the death of me,” he whispered. Not for the first time.

“No,” Yondu whispered back, and nudged Stakar’s legs apart.

Stakar’s breath caught when Yondu’s hand grazed his balls, rolling them indulgently in his palm as he kissed down, down, down...

“Oh god,” he breathed, shoving his face in the pillow. Yondu licked at his hole, tentatively at first but then eagerly, pushing his cheeks apart with one hand while he tugged at Stakar’s balls with the other. “Fuck, Yondu, that’s—”

“You like it?” asked Yondu. His voice sounded huskier than normal.

“God, yeah.” Stakar lifted his hips, trying to get his knees under him. “Feels good. Fuck, your mouth...”

Yondu snorted and teased his thumb around the rim. “Was lookin’ for the stick ya keep up here. Ain’t found it yet. Maybe it’s in deeper?”

Stakar’s mouth fell open. “Goddammit, Yondu—shit!

Yondu dove back in, tonguing his hole as hungrily as Stakar had eaten his cunt earlier. Stakar moaned helplessly, spreading his legs as his wicked, clever boy ate him out.

Deft fingers moved from his balls to his cock, fondling as Yondu licked him. It was intense, being pleasured like this, and Stakar’s hips moved in spite of himself, rocking between the sensations.

“You got such a nice ass, Daddy,” Yondu cooed, biting into the meat of Stakar’s asscheek and making him yell. “Makes a man wanna do things to it.”

“What you were just doing was great,” Stakar panted, and failed to bite back his whine when Yondu teased wicked fingers over the head of his cock. “Come on, baby. Get that mouth back on me. Love your pretty mouth.”

Yondu made a soft noise at that, and then that mouth was back on him, licking at him relentlessly until Stakar broke with a yell. He was gonna come, just a little more—

Yondu took his hand off his cock.

Motherfucker,” Stakar hissed.

Yondu grabbed his hips with strong hands and held him still as he pressed his tongue into Stakar’s ass.

“Oh fuck,” Stakar breathed, clenching his fists in the sheets. Yondu didn’t have a long tongue, but it was hot and wet and he could feel it moving in him. “Yondu, baby, come on. Come on, make me come.”

Yondu hummed, and that tongue retreated for an instant before it came back with a finger. A nice thick finger that could curl against his prostate and make Stakar yell like it was his first time getting fucked.

“You scream real pretty for me, Daddy,” Yondu whispered. “Didn’t know you could sound that slutty.”

Stakar groaned, rocking back onto Yondu’s fingers and resigning his dignity. “You wanna make me your bitch?” he panted. “Is that what you’re doing?”

“Just want you t’ feel good.” Yondu nipped his asscheek.

“Wanna make me feel good? Get your hand back on my cock.”

“Oh, Daddy,” Yondu cooed, “I don’t wanna end the game yet.” He slipped another finger into Stakar’s ass, going slow to draw out the stretch.

“Goddammit,” Stakar hissed, arching his hips like a—yeah, okay, like a slut. Letting Yondu take him apart like this was dizzying.

Yondu slipped an arm around Stakar, urging him up on his knees. When he was there, Yondu pressed his mouth to Stakar’s ear. “You feel so good, Daddy,” he whispered. “Hot an’ tight around me.”

Stakar shuddered. “Yondu...”

“You got a gorgeous body, ya know that? Been wantin’ you so long. Walkin’ around with them shoulders an’ that chest an’ those thighs...I can never decide if I wanna lick you everywhere or just rub myself all over ya.” Yondu crooked his fingers just right against Stakar’s prostate and chuckled at the needy gasp it got him. “I like them slutty noises you make for me.”

God,” Stakar moaned. This boy was gonna ruin him.

“Yeah, just take it,” Yondu murmured. He started to move his fingers faster, rubbing back and forth across Stakar’s prostate gently enough to make him whine. “You’re takin’ it so good, Daddy.”

There was something wired wrong in Stakar’s brain, he thought hazily. That was the only explanation for why Yondu’s fucked up little game turned him on as much as it did. He’d thought Yondu made his point already, but it kept going. And god help him, Stakar liked it.

“Come on, baby,” he whimpered, letting his head fall back onto Yondu’s shoulder. “Feels good, Yondu. Just a little more.”

“You like how I fuck you, Daddy?” Yondu growled in his ear.

Oh, he was in over his head. “I do,” Stakar breathed. “God help me, I do.”

Yondu ground down on his prostate, and Stakar could barely bite back his yell. His cock was so hard he could feel it dripping precum onto the filthy sheets, and he was making noises as Yondu fingerfucked him. There were dirty, wet sounds mixing with his needy moans, and Stakar had the presence of mind to wonder where Yondu got the lube.

“Used mine,” Yondu told him with a shrug, and that had Stakar’s cock twitching, desperate for touch.

“You’re fucking your own slick into me?” he asked faintly.

“Yep.” Yondu kissed his ear. “You like that, Daddy? Like me markin’ you up on the inside? Ain’t gonna be any part o’ you I haven’t touched by the time I’m done with you...” And finally—finally—he wrapped his hand around Stakar’s cock again.

Stakar wasn’t proud of the sound he made at that, a needy, slutty moan that made Yondu laugh and finger him harder. It was too much, and if he stopped again now Stakar might just die. “Please, baby,” he moaned, shameless, “please make me come. God. God, please. You fuck me so good, Yondu, so good, you’re so good to me, make me come now...”

Yondu growled into Stakar’s shoulder. “Yeah,” he whispered. “Wanna make you come, Daddy. Give it up so sweet, just for me.”

Stakar’s balls tightened. “Fuck,” he gasped, and then he was coming all over Yondu’s hand, shaking through it with a weak cry.

He hung his head, panting, as Yondu slipped his fingers out of his ass and wrapped around him like a big cat.

“I like makin’ you feel good,” Yondu whispered.

“You’re good at it,” Stakar managed to say.

Yondu pressed a sweet kiss to Stakar’s sweaty temple. “Love you, Daddy.”

Stakar closed his eyes. Those were three words he hadn’t heard together in a long, long time. They brought back things he tried not to dwell on; chubby hands reaching for him, high, innocent laughter, the sense of peace that rolled off Aleta like perfume he couldn’t quite smell.

They didn’t belong here. It was obscene.

“I love you too,” Stakar whispered back.

Yondu learns he’s getting cleared for release at the end of the week, and he couldn’t be happier.

“Ain’t you gonna be happy not t’ wipe my ass anymore?” he asks the nurse.

The Sneeper makes a face at him and doesn’t answer. Yondu figures the guy for an asshole and lets it go. Clearly the caliber of Stakar’s crew has slipped since he last ran with them.

“God help us all, you’ll be a free man,” says Martinex from the doorway. He’s smiling, which is more than Yondu got from him on Contraxia.

The nurse takes Yondu’s full piss bag and leaves.

Marty watches it go before he steps up to the bedside. “Caused quite a stir, showing up half dead like you did.”

“Bet I did.” Yondu watches the light refract off his face. “Why you comin’ t’ visit me now?” He sits back and watches Marty dispassionately. Martinex T’Naga doesn’t do shit for no reason. If he’s here talking to Yondu, it means Stakar is being a problem.

Whether he’s gonna become Yondu’s problem remains to be seen.

“Haven’t had a lot of peace since you came aboard.” Marty shrugs. “Taking over a lot of things while the captain’s busy.”

And he fixes Yondu with a loaded look.

Yondu feels himself start to shrink back against the bed and stops deliberately. “That ain’t on my account,” he says.

“Of course it is.” Marty holds up a hand before Yondu can yell at him. “I’m not saying it’s your fault. Or that you’re encouraging him. Hell, you’re doing the opposite. But you know that doesn’t matter.”

Yondu narrows his eyes. “How’s about you just say what you came t’ say?”

“I’m glad you’re back,” says Marty frankly, and it takes some of the wind out of Yondu’s sails, “but he’s already rearranged the menu in the mess to put your old favorites in the rotation.”

Yondu’s jaw drops. “What the fuck?”

Yeah. He’s gearing up to go full Aleta on you.”

This can’t be happening. Yondu’s face heats up as the implications of what Marty’s saying hit. “Shit. Can you get him t’ quit?”

“You know I’ll try.” Marty sighs. “It’s like he’s fifteen years younger since you came abroad.”

Yondu ain’t sure what to say to that.

After an uncomfortable silence, Marty offers, “Kraglin seems like a good guy.”

“Damn straight,” Yondu mutters. Best there is, and Yondu’s been a damn fool, pushing him away like he did.

“Good. I’m glad you had him.” Marty looks down.

Yondu scoffs and says nothing. Just lets him squirm.

Finally Marty caves and mutters, “I really am glad you’re back, man.”

“Got a funny way o’ showin’ it,” Yondu drawls. “Checkin’ in t’ make sure I don’t fuck your boss ain’t the friendliest we’ve ever been, Marty.”

Marty winces. “I’ve got a long memory, Yondu. I know how you two are.”

“You haven’t known me for a long time,” Yondu says softly. “An’ neither has he. I’m feelin’ a little tired, now. If ya don’t mind.”

Marty opens his mouth to protest, but shuts it and holds up his hands. “Fine. Maybe I’m being an asshole and reading everything wrong. If I am, I’m sorry. But I know Stakar.”

“You know him so good, you handle him. I got my own problems,” says Yondu snidely.

Marty sighs. “I’ll do my best.”

“You do that.” Yondu lets his bed go flat and stares stubbornly at the ceiling until Marty’s gone.

Kraglin lets the door shut behind him and takes a moment to just watch Yondu. This is the first time they’ve been alone since before the mutiny, and he can tell Yondu’s thinking about that too. His shoulders are stiff, and he’s looking around the guest quarters with way too much interest.

“Cap’n,” he says, and falls silent when Yondu turns to him. He swallows. What should he say, anyway? Most of the big stuff ain’t ready to be spoken anyhow, and the little stuff’s already been said.

Then Yondu crosses the room and kisses him, slow and deep, and the knot in Kraglin’s stomach unravels. He slides his arms around Yondu’s waist, not to pull him closer but just to feel Yondu under his hands. Warm. Alive.

Kraglin breaks the kiss to lay his cheek against the side of Yondu’s head. The new fin’s too high for Yondu to tuck under Kraglin’s chin like he used to. Kraglin supposes he’s gonna miss that. He slides his eyes shut and smiles as Yondu’s hand finds its way into his hair.

“We’re gonna make things right, Krags,” Yondu mutters.

Kraglin hums and presses his lips against Yondu’s skin. He ain’t sure he can make things right, not after the mutiny, so he just holds Yondu, the way he likes but never asks for. Real tight, and even though Kraglin ain’t broad enough to envelop Yondu in his arms, he can still squeeze him and not let go.

“Ain’t done right by Quill,” Yondu says after a long minute. “Ain’t done right by you neither.”

“You done just fine by me,” Kraglin whispers.

“That right?” Yondu pulls back to look at him skeptically. “Then why’ve I been sleepin’ alone since you found out about the orb?”

Kraglin bites his lip. “That don’t matter no more.”

“Don’t it? This shit won’t go away just because we want it to, darlin’. Tricky t’ fix somethin’ when you won’t admit it’s broken.”

“Ain’t broken,” says Kraglin softly. “Not ever that.”

Yondu sighs. “Quill ain’t the only one who matters.”

“I know that.”

“Didn’t sound like you knew that.”

“I was stupid.” Kraglin lets go and steps back. “I was so fuckin’ stupid, openin’ my mouth like that. Dunno what I was thinkin’ an’ I—” Tears sting his eyes so he turns away. “They woulda killed you an’ it woulda been my fault.”

Big, warm hands slide down his arms before Yondu presses himself against Kraglin’s back. “I got a long history of drivin’ people crazy,” he murmurs. “You ain’t the first one who’s snapped ‘cause o’ me.”

Kraglin leans back, closing his eyes. “I love you.” It slips out of him, like it always does when he can’t hold it back anymore. Yondu’s got his whole life and his heart too, even if he don’t show it so much.

There’s a pause, and then a whiskery kiss to the back of Kraglin’s neck. “Yeah,” Yondu whispers roughly. “Me too.”

Kraglin bows his head and shivers as lips touch the nape of his neck again. “I’m so sorry,” he breathes, squeezing his eyes shut.

“I know.” Yondu mouths at the tattoo on the side of Kraglin’s neck, letting his hands fall from his arms to his belt.

Kraglin shivers again when clever fingers go for his fly. “Cap’n...”

Yondu pauses. “You wanna?”

“Always want ya,” Kraglin whispers, and sighs when Yondu accepts the yes and works his fly open. There’s a delicious moment where his fingers brush Kraglin’s dick, but then Yondu takes a step back and pulls Kraglin with him. They walk backward to the bed, Yondu pausing every few steps to kiss the sensitive spot on Kraglin’s neck. When they get there Yondu sits, and Kraglin follows him down.

“Bony ass,” Yondu mutters fondly, spreading his thighs so Kraglin’s legs splay on either side of them. Then he goes for Kraglin’s fly again, snaking his fingers inside to pet whatever exposed skin he can reach.

Kraglin spreads wider in hopes it’ll encourage Yondu to get to the good stuff. It doesn’t; Yondu just toys with his cock, running his fingertips softly over and around it until Kraglin’s hard and trembling.

“That feel good, darlin’?” Yondu asks, catching Kraglin’s earlobe between his teeth. He finally, finally pulls Kraglin’s dick out, and Kraglin can feel his lips curl in response to the little moan Kraglin can’t hold back. “There ya go. You’re always takin’ such good care o’ things. Lemme take care o’ you this time.”

“Feels real good,” Kraglin whines. He ain’t used to sitting back and letting Yondu run everything, but these moods hit his captain sometimes and he can’t say he minds being played with.

Yondu chuckles and unzips Kraglin’s fly a little further to get to his balls. “Bet it does.” Kraglin’s can hear the smile in his voice. “Always wondered what it’d feel like t’ have these,” he muses as he rolls Kraglin’s balls in a callused palm.

“Yeah, I know.” It ain't the first time Yondu’s brought it up. “They’re pretty nice.” Kraglin squirms when Yondu grazes tender skin with a nail. It’s just the right edge of pain, and he whimpers when Yondu does it again.

“Seems like they’d get in the way, but I guess that never bothered nobody.” Yondu latches onto the nape of Kraglin’s neck with jagged teeth and sucks hard enough to make Kraglin cry out.

Cap’n,” he gasps weakly.

Yondu doesn’t answer; he keeps his grip on Kraglin’s neck as he starts to jerk him off in earnest. All the teasing he did has Kraglin leaking, so he can hear the dirty wet sounds of Yondu’s hand on his cock.

He wishes he could look down and watch Yondu’s hand moving, but Yondu’s teeth on his neck keep him still. His mouth falls open around a high little noise, and the answering rumble from Yondu goes right through him.

It’s over embarrassingly fast after that. Kraglin tries to catch his breath as he accepts the hand Yondu holds in front of his face.

Dirty fucker. Kraglin licks his palm clean anyway, soldiering through the taste of his own come to nibble on Yondu’s fingers and make his breath catch. He likes it a lot better straight from Yondu’s cunt, but this ain’t the time to be picky.

“You’re awful pretty when you’re all worked up,” Yondu tells him. He smacks a kiss on Kraglin’s cheek, and why that of all things makes him blush he don’t like to examine too closely.

“Not as pretty as you,” he mumbles around a yawn.

It makes Yondu chuckle. “Awww, did I wear you out, darlin’?”

Kraglin grumbles a negative around another yawn, and then gives up. “I ain’t been sleepin’ so good with you in medbay.”

“Then get some shut eye.” Yondu kisses his neck again and snorts. “An’ maybe borrow my scarf.”

“Markin’ your territory?” Kraglin’s amused in spite of himself.

“Might be.” Yondu presses a delicate kiss to the hickey he’s left on Kraglin’s nape. It stings so good Kraglin’s eyes slide shut.

“Don’t you ever pull a stunt like that again! You hear me?” Stakar grabbed Yondu’s lapels and hauled him in close. “You could have been killed.

Yondu bared his teeth. “I was a fuckin’ battle slave,” he hissed. “I know about risk assessment. Made a call an’ it paid off. I ain’t dead, am I?”

“That ain’t the point,” Stakar growled. “The point is that your Captain gave you an order and you didn’t obey!”

“If I’d’a listened we never woulda got the loot! It was the right call t’ make!”

“It wasn’t worth the risk to you!” Stakar bellowed. “What do you think it would do to me if you died?”

That got Yondu to stop yelling; he still looked surly, but those red eyes narrowed. “Is that what this is? You scared for me?”

Stakar huffed out a breath. First mission he’d let Yondu on without kid gloves, and Yondu had deliberately gotten himself surrounded by the full squadron of Sakaarans guarding their target. Stakar nearly shat himself when he’d realized what was going on.

But that arrow was a sight to behold, dancing to Yondu’s pretty tune as it flashed death all around him. He’d taken the whole fucking squad down in under a minute and then ambled over to Stakar cool as you please.

Stakar let go of Yondu and made to step back, but Yondu grabbed his collar.

“If you’re worried about me, then say so,” he hissed. “Why you yellin’ at me like a naughty kid?”

“Because you disobeyed a direct order!” Stakar snarled. “If anyone else had pulled that shit, I’d toss their ass in the brig.”

Yondu stared at him. “But not me,” he said softly.

Damn him. “No,” Stakar ground out, “not you.”

Yondu let him go. “You didn’t think I could do it,” he said. “That’s why you gave that order.”

“Wasn’t willing to risk you,” Stakar admitted gruffly.

“Could try trustin’ me,” said Yondu wryly. “I know what I can do.”

Stakar shook his head. “Just humor an old man, would you? It ain’t good for my heart, you throwing yourself into the fray like that.”

“Your heart, huh?” Yondu snorted. He shook his head and stepped back, looking amused. “‘S real sweet you worry about me, Daddy.”

“Not this shit again,” sighed Stakar, rubbing his face.

“Too late t’ go back now,” said Yondu cheerfully. “What, you still mad? Wanna spank me for disobeyin’ orders?” He shrugged off the long coat he’d taken to wearing and hung it up next to Stakar’s.

Stakar threw him a look. “You think you’re gonna fuck your way outta trouble?”

“Don’t hurt t’ try,” said Yondu with a shrug. He tossed a dirty grin over his shoulder. “Don’t tell me your blood ain’t up after that.”

It was, and the thought of paddling Yondu’s ass purple was tempting, but Stakar didn’t do pain shit when he was this riled up. “Why?” he shot back, “is yours? If you’re lookin’ for a post-fight fuck, Yondu, you should have thought about that when you pissed me off.”

Yondu’s eyes narrowed, and god help him, Stakar loved that stubborn streak. “So you don’t want me t’ suck your cock? Thought you loved my mouth.”

Stakar smirked. “That ain’t a punishment for you,” he said. “You like to suck cock.”

“Guilty as charged.” Yondu was smirking back now, body language turning playful. “You wanna get nasty with me, Daddy?”

“Take the rest of that shit off,” Stakar told him. “Then we’ll talk about what I want from you.”

Yondu’s eagerness was good for Stakar’s ego. He sat on the bed and watched Yondu scramble to get his leathers off. When he was naked, he dropped to his knees with a kittenish smirk and fucking crawled to Stakar across the floor.

“I’m ready for you, Daddy,” he said with a grin, resting his hands on Stakar’s knees.

Stakar let Yondu spread his legs apart. “You’re a greedy little cockslut is what you are,” he said. “Seducing your captain to get out of punishment? It’s like you crawled out of a porno.”

“I seduced you plenty o’ times before now,” Yondu pointed out as he nuzzled Stakar’s crotch.

Stakar hissed. “Greedy,” he repeated with a soft groan; Yondu had his zipper open and reached inside with eager hands.

“That’s right,” Yondu whispered, pulling Stakar’s cock out and giving the head a little lick.

Stakar watched, breath hitching, as Yondu wrapped his lips around the head of his cock. Those pretty red eyes fell shut as he hollowed his cheeks and began to suck. “Oh hell,” he whispered. “That’s some good shit, baby. So good.”

Yondu moaned around him, the vibrations sending shivers all down Stakar’s spine. He wrapped a hand around Stakar’s cock, jerking him slow in time with his mouth.

Fuck, you got a sweet little mouth, baby.” Stakar reached down to rest a hand on the back of Yondu’s head. “Think I’m gonna have to use that pretty mouth more often. We got another job lined up next week. You’re gonna behave on that one, aren’t you?”

Yondu pulled off. “The hell’s that got t’ do with anything?” he asked.

“Get up here.” Stakar patted his lap and grinned when Yondu scrambled up. “Nope. Other way.” He turned him so he was facing the mirrored door on Stakar’s closet.

“Oh shit.” Yondu sounded delighted. “Daddy, that’s real naughty.”

“Isn’t it?” Stakar lined himself up and pushed in. “God, you’re wet.”

Yondu shivered. “Just for you,” he whispered.

Stakar gripped his hips and pressed a kiss to his shoulder. “Baby’s all worked up, is that it? You did your fighting and now you need a good fuck?”

Yondu nodded rapidly, watching their reflections as he bounced on Stakar’s dick.

“You feel good, baby,” Stakar cooed, grinning as Yondu shivered. “So hot and tight and sloppy wet. I bet you’d come if I touched that swollen clit of yours, wouldn’t you?”

Yeah,” Yondu groaned, deep in his chest. “Touch it, Daddy.”

“Ah, but see, here’s the part where pissing off your captain ain’t a good idea,” he said with a shit eating grin. “Yondu, only good boys get to come.”

Yondu’s eyes popped open. “What?” he snapped, half turning and gasping when Stakar thrust up to hit a good angle. “You asshole! That ain’t how it works!”

“Ain’t it?” Stakar laughed at him, wrapping an arm around his waist to keep him in place. “Like I said, we got a another job next week. You behave then, I’ll make you come your fucking brains out.”

Yondu gasped, arching as Stakar sped up. “No, no, shit,” he moaned, reaching back to clutch at Stakar. “Daddy, come on, I’ll be good, I’ll be real good, lemme come.”

“Gotta earn it on this ship,” Stakar panted; Yondu’s begging really did turn him on. The kid had the filthiest mouth when he got going. “Be good next week, that ain’t so long to wait. Prove to Daddy you can be a good boy and follow orders, an’ I’ll do whatever filthy shit you want.”

“Anything?” Yondu’s breath hitched. “Long as I follow orders?”

“That’s right, baby.” Stakar kissed his cheek, feeling his balls tighten. “Anything. I’ll suck your hot little clit until you burst on my tongue. Just gotta be a good boy for me.”

Yondu shuddered. “Wanna come now,” he gasped.

“I bet you do,” hissed Stakar. “Bet you want me to rub you and make you squirt. But that’s what you get when you don’t listen. If this is how I gotta discipline a horny little slut like you, then this is what I’m gonna do.” He came with a low growl, fingers digging into Yondu’s waist.

Yondu hung his head, panting.

“Hey.” Stakar kissed his cheek again.

Yondu growled. “You want me t’ follow your orders, you gotta trust me too. I ain’t tradin’ one collar for another.” He stood up abruptly; Stakar’s cock slid out of him to slap wetly against his thigh. “No games, Stakar. Not about this.”

Stakar gaped up at him. “Is that how I come across?” he asked.

“How else am I supposed t’ take it?” Yondu spun around, still gloriously bare. “I chose you ‘cause I thought we had trust. Don’t we?”

Stakar let out a slow breath. “Yeah,” he said after a minute. “Yeah, we got trust. Come here.”

Yondu crossed his arms.

“No, baby, come on. Let me make it up to you.” Stakar reached out a hand. “Of course I trust you. I just got worried, that’s all.”

Yondu eyed him. “You get so worried you forget I been takin’ care o’ myself for years now?”

“Never said it made sense,” Stakar admitted. “I just—I lost people before and I get a little overprotective.”

“No shit.” But Yondu was softening. He sighed, rubbing a hand over his face. “Guess it’s sorta nice, havin’ someone care if you die,” he muttered.

Stakar wiggled his fingers, and Yondu came back into his lap. “I care,” he whispered, cupping Yondu’s cheek and leaning in for a kiss. “I care too damn much.”

“Maybe just a little less is perfect,” whispered Yondu against his lips. “I ain’t sure how many other ways I can prove I ain’t a baby.”

“Definitely not that,” rumbled Stakar. He kissed Yondu, overcome with affection. “Now,” he whispered, slipping his hand between Yondu’s legs and grinning at his shaky gasp, “let me apologize.”

Yondu watches Kraglin snore for a bit. Stupid as it is, he’s missed the sound. Wheezy little bastard’s been snoring at him most nights for the past twenty years, and a man gets used to things.

He sits back and takes a moment to appreciate the pillows on the bed. Stakar’s got the funds to have fully furnished quarters sitting empty for potential recruits, same as he did when Yondu was new to the Ravagers. He hasn’t lived in luxury like this for a long time.

It makes his fists clench on top of the soft blankets, remembering the nights he and Kraglin spent running the numbers over and over in hopes that they’d missed something and they could make ends meet this time. It was degrading, that kind of poverty. Made a man desperate.

Yondu wonders what happened to all the racing orloni Kraglin had taken to breeding for extra units. He must have blown them all up with the ship. Guilt gnaws his gut as he glances over at Kraglin’s drooling form. He’ll have to make it up to him.

With all the making up he’s got to do, it looks like he’ll be spending the rest of his life at it.

Now that he’s recovered enough to start looking ahead he supposes he ought to. Figure out what he wants and where he’s gonna call home. There’s a big part of him—bigger than he likes—that wants to follow Quill. It’s the same part that always hovered just out of the boy’s sight lines whenever Yondu had him do something dangerous, ready to jump in and rescue him. Kraglin used to shake his head at him for it, tell him the kid would grow up soft.

He didn’t.

Yondu’s chest does something funny when he thinks about Quill. He never thought it was possible to love someone like that, like your heart moved out and took to dancing around in too-tight t-shirts. Idiot boy needs someone looking after him. Too bad that someone’s a lot greener and prettier than Yondu. He’s lost that right by being an overprotective asshole. Kraglin was right; Quill needed a crew of his own, same as Yondu had when living under Stakar’s thumb had started to chafe.

Stakar’s still a puzzle, and one Yondu ain’t sure he’ll ever be able to solve. The man looks at him like he’s hung the stars. It don’t sit right after years of open disgust. Makes his head spin, but not in the fun way like Stakar used to. Back then Yondu lived for the high of breaking through his bullshit to get what he wanted. Like flying through a dogfight, twisting around obstacles that hadn’t been there seconds ago.

Now he don’t have the energy to break through Stakar’s bullshit.

Yondu smirks a little as Kraglin snuffles in his sleep, and then frowns when he farts and rolls over. He tucks the blanket a little more snugly around him to keep the smell in. Kraglin looks like hell upon closer inspection; even in sleep his eyes keep moving restlessly behind their lids, and his skin is more papery than usual, nearly translucent. Yondu feels an impossible rush of affection for him, and runs a hand over his head.

Kraglin stills and sighs. His eyes stop moving.

Yondu smiles to himself and strokes Kraglin’s hair, absently like he’s a pet. He supposes from the outside it might look like he is, just like Yondu was Stakar’s once upon a time. It’s never been true.

Kraglin had watched Yondu with the sort of avarice Yondu had only ever seen aimed at high-class courtesans, the kind that had earned enough to buy themselves and take lovers on their own terms. Those blue eyes used to rake over his body like fingernails, and Yondu had loved it. Kraglin’s reverence toward his captain mixed with those hungry eyes of his and kept them dancing around each other, winding each other up to see who was gonna crack first. It had come to a head in the captain’s quarters after Yondu broke down and called Kraglin with a real crude proposition that he’d eagerly accepted.

Makes Yondu smile to think back on it. Not quite as dramatic as fucking on Stakar’s table, but good. Real good. He’s needed Kraglin by his side and in his bed to weather all the lean years they’ve been through. And there were a lotta lean years.

Fucking Stakar. Fucking Code. Fucking Ego, with his honest face and his pleasant eyes. And fuck Yondu too, for being stupid enough to believe him. There’s a long list of things Yondu ain’t ever gonna forgive himself for, but that’s got a place of honor right at the top. He was never stupid. He should have known better. And keeping his mouth shut when he started to suspect—that was the biggest mistake. He could have told Ego no after them first couple kids, but he didn’t. Kept right on, praying he was wrong.

Well. He supposes there’s no world in which he could have kept himself in Stakar’s good graces and still ended up with Quill, and he knows which he’d choose if he could go back and do it over.

Although he might not have grabbed the kid before he could lay his mama to rest. That’s another big one he’s never gonna forgive himself for.

His comm beeps.

That’s unusual. He ain’t been popular in a long time, and everyone with a reason to call him is here on this ship.

For a second, all he can see is Tullk’s fist on the glass, pounding defiantly before that sniveling shit Half-Nut opened the airlock. They’d saved him for last, him and Oblo, because they were Yondu’s favorites. Made them watch so they’d know just what was coming for them. Made him watch too, knowing he couldn’t save them. He don’t recall too much of the mutiny; not details, anyway. He’d gone deep into his own head, back to the safe place he’d made for himself as a kid. It’d been a long time since he’d needed it, but it was like riding a bike, as Quill would say. Some things you never forget. He managed to block most of it out, but he remembers them.

When he manages to take a real breath, the comm’s blinking a missed call.

Kraglin mumbles in his sleep.

Yondu stares at the missed call, trying to calm his racing heart. He reaches out for Kraglin, settling a hand on his chest to hear the reliable thump of his heart. Takes a few deep breaths. Waits until his own heart slows down.

Then he checks the call.

It’s Stakar.

Stakar always got a call from Aleta on the anniversary of their children’s deaths. Every year without fail. Some years it was the only face-to-face call he got.

He couldn’t remember a time he hadn’t been drunk for it.

His hand shook a little as he poured more liquor into the glass. He wasn’t nearly drunk enough yet.

The comm on his desk beeped. He lunged for it.

“Don’t hurt yourself, Slick,” said Aleta, sounding amused.

Stakar looked up at the screen. “You look good,” he told her.

It was true; she was as sleek and fierce as the first time he’d seen her, although he’d like to take credit for the laugh lines around her eyes. Proof that things were good, once.

“So do you,” Aleta said.

There was a pause.

“So,” she said into the silence. “Another year.”

Fuck,” he whispered, draining his glass. “They’d be adults now.”

“Yeah.” Her voice was softer than usual.

“I miss ‘em so much,” he said, and if his voice cracked, well, Aleta had seen all of him. There was a lot between them, but not secrets.

“Me too.” She took a deep breath and forced a smile. “I hear you got a boy toy.”

Stakar winced. “Marty’s got a big mouth.”

“Charlie, actually. What are you doing with this kid, Stakar?”

“Hell if I know,” he said tiredly. “Hoping to make you jealous, maybe.”

She paused. “Don’t do this.”

“Do what?”

“You do this every time.” Anyone else would have run out of chances ages ago, Stakar knew. Aleta didn’t have a lot of patience.

“Guess I’m not ready to give up.” He wanted to touch her. The sharp angles of her face would fit so perfectly in his hands.

She huffed in frustration. “You’re a pain in my ass,” she muttered. “Stop this. Tell me about your pretty new plaything.”

“No.”

“No?” She sounded amused. Like she thought it was funny that Stakar had fucked someone else in their bed.

“I didn’t want you to know about him,” he said.

Aleta almost looked hurt. “Why the hell not?”

Because he’d wanted to believe she would care. “Don’t see how it’s your business who I fuck, since you stopped volunteering for the job.”

“Goddammit.” She rolled her eyes. “Stakar—”

“Why do we keep doing this to each other?” he asked. “Keep clinging to the past when we both know we hate it? You can’t even look at me most days. So why?”

“Would you have me forget?” That was a warning in Aleta’s voice, but Stakar was on a roll now.

“I’d have you make up your goddamn mind!” he shouted. “We gonna stay in this marriage or are you done with me? I can’t spend my whole life waiting around for you, baby.” He reached for the bottle again.

Aleta was quiet while he poured himself another measure. “I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that,” she finally said.

Stakar ended the call.

It takes Yondu a good fifteen minutes to walk off the last effects of whatever the hell attack he had, and it’s got him good and pissed. He wishes he could kill Taserface again, and slower, not just for his boys but because he hasn’t had one of them panicky things in ages. Fuck that bastard. Yondu hopes he wanders the Void forever. Or bumps into something nasty out there between stars.

The thought of Taserface’s undoubtedly unpleasant afterlife sustains him all the way to Stakar’s door, and then he has to square with the fact that, well, he’s at Stakar’s door.

When he’d agreed to meet him in his office, it had been an excuse to get up and move, away from Kraglin’s snores and the reminder of the crew he’s lost. Now he ain’t sure being here is such a good idea. Kraglin wouldn’t like it, that’s for sure.

He opens the door.

“Yondu.” Stakar smiles a little. He’s sitting at his desk. Like he needs to keep some distance between them.

“Bit late for a meeting, ain’t it?” Yondu asks quietly. “What you want?” He takes a step further into the room, pulling the door with him.

“Leave it open,” Stakar suggests.

Yondu pauses. Tilts his head and studies Stakar’s face until the pleasant smile he’s wearing starts to droop.

“Please,” Stakar says softly.

So Yondu does, and sits himself in one of the chairs Stakar keeps on the other side of his desk. “So whattaya want?”

“Just to talk.” Stakar sighs. “I wanna know more about what happened. Your people don’t talk to me.”

There’s a surprise. Yondu smothers a grin.

“Go on, laugh. I know you want to.” Stakar gives him a sour look, and it’s just like old times. Yondu’s chuckle slips out in spite of himself.

“They stick together, them Guardians,” he says fondly.

“And they’ve decided you’re one of them.” Stakar smiles crookedly.

That wipes the smile off Yondu’s face. “We ain’t exactly talked that over,” he says.

Stakar leans back and studies him. “The we—Rocket seems pretty insistent.”

Yondu’s hand drops to the arrow on his hip. That was Rocket too, giving it back to him all casual-like, like he’d just found the pieces on the planet and grabbed them on a whim and since he had ‘em, might as well fix ‘em, right?

Yondu loves that little shit.

“Rocket ain't the only one makin’ those calls,” he tells Stakar.

“So what about your boy and the baby tree?” Stakar’s got that look like he thinks he’s about to win something.

It makes Yondu want to dig in his heels and put the fucker back in his place. He resists; this particular debate ain’t Stakar’s to have, and he’s just being nosy at this point.

“What’s it to ya?” Yondu hears himself ask. “You want me an’ Kraglin t’ join up with you?”

He kicks himself as soon as it’s out of his mouth; Stakar’s entire face shuts down and goes blank, and Yondu should know better than to get drawn into this shit with him anyway.

“Wouldn’t be opposed,” Stakar finally says.

Yondu’s jaw drops.

“I’d have to talk to the others,” Stakar continues quietly. “The ones who knew you and remember, they wouldn’t be hard to convince. The newer ones could be talked around, with the right evidence.”

Yondu can’t think. His head is spinning with the knowledge that everything he’s wanted for years—decades—is right here within his reach. At the cost of everything he’s started to build for himself.

“You don’t look excited.” Stakar’s giving him a knowing look.

“I dunno what t’ think.” Yondu swallows. “Told you I gotta talk things over with some people.”

“I suppose you did just get outta the medbay,” Stakar allows.

Yondu snorts. “Yet here you are, pullin’ me outta bed for a midnight chat.”

“You came.”

That pulls him up short. He did come. He’s not sure why. “I done enough sleepin’ while I was gettin’ well.”

“You do look a lot better,” Stakar admits. “Then again, you looked dead when we brought you in.”

“That ain’t funny,” grumbles Yondu.

“No,” Stakar says softly. “It isn’t.”

Yondu glares at him. “Suppose you woulda sounded the horns an’ flashed the colors for me if I‘d died,” he says bitterly.

“Of course I would have. I’m not too proud to admit when I’m wrong.”

“Goddamn you.” Yondu pushes out of his chair with more effort than he likes. He can’t sit here and listen to this; it might break him. “Probably woulda been easier on ya,” he says viciously. “Then you could add me t’ your collection o’ beloved dead an’ never have t’ deal with me. God knows ya never liked seein’ me as I am.”

Watching the color drain out of Stakar’s face doesn’t really give him the same satisfaction he hoped. Mostly it just makes him feel like shit.

“If I’d wanted easy,” Stakar says finally, “I’d have never started with you.”

I started with you,” Yondu feels the need to point out.

Stakar leans back in his chair. “So you did. You ever gonna finish with me?”

Yondu bares his teeth. Useless gesture; any power he might have had over Stakar is between his legs and he won’t use it. Besides, the bastard is right. Yondu don’t know how to let things go anymore than Stakar does. It’s why he kept crawling back whenever they met. “If you wanted me t’ finish with you, you’d’ve ignored Rocket’s call.”

“I could never do that. You think I stopped loving you, Yondu? You think you didn’t break me, dealin’ those kids?” Stakar just looks at him. “I’ve always loved you.” And just like that, years of helpless misery are laid bare on the desk between them.

Yondu can’t look at it. He turns away, chewing his lips and wishing he’d stayed in bed. Things are simple with Kraglin, hard and sweet. Not like this push and pull. Stakar can unravel him faster than anyone else.

He’s missed it, and it scares him.

There’s a tightness in his throat, keeping him from whistling or talking or doing anything else that would make this shitshow worse. He clenches his fists uselessly. “Your love ain’t been worth shit t’ me for years,” he says harshly.

“And here I thought I was the one who kept lying to myself.” Stakar sounds way too collected for Yondu’s liking. Where does he get off being so calm?

“Lying?” Yondu asks with a humorless laugh. “I ain’t lyin’ at all. Your love didn’t keep food on th’ table so my boy ate good. Didn’t keep my ship runnin’ smooth. Never could afford all th’ repairs we needed ‘cause no one worth a damn would hire us. Your love didn’t do nothin’ for me when I needed it.” His voice breaks.

There’s a long silence while Yondu tries to blink back the tears burning his eyes. He’s not gonna cry in front of Stakar; he’s still got some dignity left.

Then he feels Stakar’s arms close around him from behind. He twists away, sending an elbow into Stakar’s gut and relishing the grunt of pain. Yondu stumbles and catches himself on the chair, whirling around to give Stakar a blistering look.

“You got no right t’ touch me anymore,” he hisses.

Stakar holds up a hand; the other is wrapped around his middle. Yondu hopes it hurts him. “Wasn’t trying to do nothing,” he wheezes.

“Don’t care.” Yondu sticks his chin out like a goddamn brat.

“In my defense,” Stakar manages as he straightens up with a wince, “you did deal in kids. You and I both know things would’ve been different if you’d come to me as soon as you realized something was wrong.”

For a brief second Yondu wants to kill him. Actively pictures putting the arrow through his chest and watching his face while he dies. It passes in an instant, and his shoulders slump. “I never liked it when you were right,” he mutters.

“It doesn’t make me too happy either.” Stakar levels him with a look.

Yondu looks down.

“Hey.” Stakar’s voice is gentle. “It’s over now.”

Easy for him to say. He wasn’t the one who spent years scraping the bottom of the barrel just to get by. “You never listened t’ me. All the times I tried t’ talk to you. You never listened.”

“Suppose I was afraid to,” Stakar says after a moment.

“Afraid you was wrong?” Yondu asks ironically.

“Afraid I’d bend the rules and take you back,” Stakar confesses. “I was cruel. I know that. But it was the only thing I could do, Yondu. Didn’t trust myself to stand firm when I knew—at the time, based on what I thought the facts were—that I had to.”

“Sounds like you’re tryin’ t’ make excuses for yourself,” says Yondu.

Stakar looks away this time. “Yeah,” he sighs. “Probably.”

He looks old, Yondu realizes, and he’s not sure why it seems so strange. As long as he’s known him, Stakar’s hair has been silver and his eyes lined with age. But in spite of all that he’d never seemed old. Distinguished, yeah. Experienced. It’s part of what made him so appealing to Yondu in the first place. But now he looks like a tired old man.

Yondu wonders what Stakar sees now when he looks at him. God knows the years ain’t been kind. He’s not the beauty he used to be either.

“You were cruel,” he tells Stakar. “It was cruel, t’ make yourself my whole world an’ then throw me away with nothin’.”

Stakar closes his eyes like he’s in pain.

Yondu hopes he is. “I’m goin’ back t’ bed,” he says finally. “Don’t want Kraglin wonderin’ where I am.”

He leaves the door open behind him when he goes.

Stakar wasn’t prepared to deal with a universe that didn’t see him married to Aleta. So he drank the rest of the bottle and passed out at his desk.

He woke up feeling like hell, with only the fingers combing through his hair to ease the throbbing headache. “Yondu?”

“Didn’t come home last night,” Yondu murmured. “So I came lookin’.”

“Mmm.” Stakar closed his eyes. The gentle, repetitive motions felt good.

“Got you some hangover stims, when ya want ‘em,” Yondu said.

“You’re too good to me, baby,” Stakar told him sleepily.

Yondu just pressed a kiss to his temple. It was sweet enough that Stakar caught his wrist when he made to pull away.

“Yondu.” He croaked open an eye. “Tell me you love me.”

Yondu blinked, and then his whole face softened. It took him from striking to devastating. “‘Course I love you, Daddy.”

Stakar brought Yondu’s wrist to his lips. “Get me one of those stims?”

“Sure.” Yondu slipped out of his grip and dug around the bag of shit he’d brought. “Here.”

Stakar took the stim and gratefully injected it into his neck. Relief was instantaneous, and he couldn’t help the deep groan he let out at the absence of pain.

“Glad it was good for you,” said Yondu with a smile.

Stakar snorted and pulled Yondu into his lap. “Smartass,” he muttered, smiling as Yondu slipped his arms around his neck. He rested his cheek on Yondu’s temple, closing his eyes just to bask in the feeling.

“Wanna talk about it?” Yondu asked cautiously.

Stakar sighed. “It’s just Aleta.” Maybe if he played it off, she wouldn’t follow up. He could dodge her, if he had to. If she didn’t push.

Yondu stilled. “She know about us?”

“Don’t worry about it. She’s fine.” Stakar petted up and down Yondu’s back, slow and soothing.

“What’s fine mean? It mean she don’t know or she don’t care?”

Stakar winced.

And of course Yondu noticed. “Daddy,” he said quietly, “what’s wrong?”

“She wants to leave,” Stakar whispered, and fuck, those were tears. He looked up at the ceiling and blinked them back.

Yondu cupped his cheeks in strong, callused hands. “Hey.”

Stakar took a deep breath.

“I dunno how anyone could give you up once they had you,” Yondu told him seriously.

“You know what happened?” Stakar asked.

“Yeah, I heard.”

“Been twelve years today,” Stakar told him hollowly.

Yondu hissed a breath. “Whattaya need?”

“I don’t know. I—” Stakar shook his head, covering Yondu’s hands with his own. “Anything that keeps me from thinking.”

“Could get ya more liquor,” Yondu offered.

Stakar shook his head. “Shouldn’t put this on you,” he said softly.

“I don’t mind.” Yondu kissed his forehead. “I never had nobody t’ take care of before.”

“And here I was supposed to be takin’ care of you,” Stakar muttered. “Maybe she was right. Maybe I ain’t such a good father after all.”

“Is that what she said?” asked Yondu in a low, dangerous voice.

Stakar cut that off with a hand over Yondu’s mouth. “Don’t be like that. She was—it was all real fresh then. We both said shit we didn’t mean.”

Yondu licked his palm. “Well, You was there. I wasn’t.” He didn’t sound convinced.

“Make things easier on me for once. Don’t start nothing with Aleta.” He was tired; even without the hangover his eyes felt dry and heavy.

Yondu was quiet for a bit. “Why don’t we get t’ bed?” he finally asked. “You’ll feel better there.”

He wasn’t wrong. Stakar let Yondu slide off his lap and heaved to his feet. The walk back to their bedroom was quiet; Stakar didn’t have the energy to respond to Yondu’s worried looks.

When they finally got the door shut behind them, Yondu unzipped Stakar’s jacket.

“Don’t think I can get it up now, baby,” Stakar told him with a rueful smile.

Yondu rolled his eyes. “I ain’t always thinkin’ with my cunt, ya know. Sometimes I’m real thoughtful of others.”

“Is that right?”

“Dragged your crusty ass outta your office, didn’t I?”

Stakar pulled him in for a tight hug. “Yeah, you did,” he whispered.

Yondu held him back, just as tightly.

“So we took a vote,” Rocket tells Yondu. “You’re in.”

Kraglin feels entitled to be irritated that Pete’s crew is gracious enough to let them join while they’re standing on the bridge of the Quadrant.

“When did we vote?” asks Drax.

“Don’t worry about it, you voted yes,” Rocket says.

“I don’t remember this.”

“You did.”

Gamora closes her eyes. “It was unanimous,” she says, leveling Yondu with a hard look Kraglin don’t appreciate. “You’ve earned it.”

“Gee, thanks.” Yondu rolls his eyes.

Pete rubs the back of his neck. “We mean it, though. You have a place with us. If you want it.”

Hell. Kraglin glances at Yondu to see him scoff. It’s that thing he does whenever he don’t know what to do with his feelings. “Seems t’ me you couldn’t get far enough away not five months back.”

“That couldn’t have anything to do with you never even hinting that you thought of me as more than an annoying crewman,” snaps Pete.

Here they go. Kraglin opens his mouth, annoyed, when Rocket snorts.

“Quill,” he says cheerfully, “you’re dense as a goddamn adamantium meteor. ‘Not even hinting.’ He plucked you and Gamora outta space!”

“That was—he was mad at me!” Pete gives Yondu a confused glance.

Yondu rubs his temples. His beard was dark when they first picked Pete up, Kraglin remembers fondly. He will lay the blame for every white hair on Yondu’s chin at that little turd’s feet.

“You did beat him for stealing the orb,” Gamora points out.

“Ain’t like they was hard hits,” Yondu snaps. “Hell, I didn’t ever hit you with everything I got, boy!”

“That does not qualify you for Father of the Year!”

“Which year?” asks Mantis.

“Oh my god!” Pete turns away, shoulders heaving.

“Perhaps it is good that the Quadrant is so large,” says Drax. “There will be space in which you can navigate the changes in your relationship.”

Pete and Yondu both stare at him, aghast.

“Our what?” Yondu asks flatly.

Drax shrugs. “I knew you were his father, but he did not, so perhaps you can work on your communication. You should hug.”

“No. Nope. I’m not hugging my dad while you all watch.” Pete shakes his head.

“Why?”

“Because that’s weird. Right Yondu? That’s weird.” Pete looks over for reassurance.

“Pretty weird.” Yondu digs in his ear and wipes his finger on Kraglin’s shoulder. Kraglin don’t mind.

“Ew! He just—” Mantis points. Gamora takes her wrist and lowers it.

“We all saw.”

Yondu blinks and looks at Kraglin, who shrugs.

“So when can we go?” he asks. He ain’t too proud to admit he’ll be a lot happier when Yondu ain’t around Stakar anymore. He’s noticed their eyes lingering longer, and he don’t wanna wait for the resentment to turn into something else.

“Well, that’s the problem,” says Rocket. “I, uh, shouldn’t have taken this old girl through seven hundred jumps at a time.”

“No shit,” mutters Kraglin; he’s pretty sure they transcended time and space. Sometimes he thinks reality’s still warping just out of the corner of his eye.

“We need a new engine.”

“Fuck,” spits Yondu.

“It’s cool,” Pete says hastily. “Stakar offered to replace it. He told me this morning.”

Yondu stares at him. “No,” he says.

“No?”

“No.” He shakes his head. “No, we can’t take shit from him. I ain’t takin’ nothin’ from him.”

“He saved your life,” says Rocket quietly.

“An’ he’ll use it t’ get me relyin’ on him again. No. How much we got?”

“Okay, stop.” Kraglin takes a deep breath. “Cap’n, they got their M-ship t’ fix too.” He swallows. “You know we ain’t got the money.”

Yondu gives him a desperate look, which makes Kraglin wonder what the hell went down that Yondu ain’t telling him. “We give him this, he’s got a reason not t’ go away.”

“I thought you guys broke up like a hundred years ago.” Pete frowns. “He’s not trying to get you back, is he?” He looks revolted by the idea.

“Shut up, Quill,” snaps Yondu.

“I thought Stakar was his father,” says Drax.

“An’ you can shut up too!” Yondu snarls.

“Yondu,” says Rocket.

Yondu falls silent, breathing hard.

Kraglin eyes Rocket and spares a second to be grateful the kid looks like he does, because Kraglin don’t need anymore competition.

“Are there going to be conditions attached to Ogord’s help?” asks Gamora.

Yondu lets out a slow breath. “I dunno. I expect I’ll have t’ go talk to him about it. He’s been wantin’ an answer about our plans anyhow.”

“I can go with you,” says Pete gallantly; Kraglin snorts at the idea of little Peter Quill defending his daddy’s honor.

The look Yondu gives him tells Kraglin he ain’t the only one who thinks it’s stupid. “You can keep your ass sat right here. I can handle Stakar.”

“You sure?” Pete asks Yondu.

Rocket sighs. “Ease up, Quill. He’s got this.”

Kraglin hopes that’s true.

“You think I don’t see what you’re doin’?” Yondu demands.

Stakar and Marty both look up from the star charts they’re looking over. “Yondu,” says Stakar cautiously. “Come on in.”

“I’m already in, you self-righteous bastard.”

Marty straightens up. “What did you do?” he asks Stakar.

Stakar looks offended. “I offered to replace the engine on the Quadrant! Quill and his people saved the galaxy, it seemed fair.”

Martinex looks from Stakar’s innocent face to Yondu’s angry one and makes a disgusted noise. “I can’t believe you two,” he mutters.

“Marty, would you mind giving me an’ Yondu a minute?” asks Stakar.

Martinex looks between them, gaze landing heavy on Yondu. “You sure that’s a good idea?” he says carefully.

Yondu glares at him.

“Go on, Marty. I got this,” says Stakar.

Martinex sighs heavily, but takes his datapad and heads for the door.

Yondu steps aside to let him pass. And then they’re alone.

“No strings attached, Yondu,” says Stakar softly. “You deserve this.”

Yondu hates him. He hates him, because if he doesn’t he’ll be lost. “Only reason we’s sayin’ yes is so my boy don’t end up in debt like I did.”

“Is that what prompted the A’askavariia job?” Stakar asks mildly.

“Suppose you didn’t approve o’ that neither,” Yondu growls.

“I’ve got no moral objections to stealing from the rich.” Stakar smirks. “You should remember.”

“Done my best to forget,” Yondu tells him coldly.

Stakar’s face closes off. “If you managed it, let me know how,” he says, turning back to the paperwork on his desk. “I was never good at it.”

Yondu swallows. Hard to pick a fight with a stone wall, and Stakar won’t be needled in a mood like this. Not unless Yondu wants to turn playful.

He can picture clearly how that would go; he could cajole, wind his arms around Stakar’s shoulders, coax a few pretty noises out of him with kisses to his neck. Maybe a stinging bite below the collar, so Stakar would feel the reminder for the rest of the day. Then he’d soften toward Yondu.

Yondu shakes his head. Those days are gone.

It would be easier if Stakar had gotten ugly with age. Instead the bastard is still attractive as ever, and desperate for Yondu’s attention once Yondu’s no longer inclined to give it.

Needy fucker.

“So you’re shipping out with the Guardians of the Galaxy,” Stakar says thoughtfully.

“Soon as we get that engine.” Yondu raises his chin.

“Brat.” Stakar sighs. “Good to know some things don’t change.”

“Don’t call me that.”

“You used to accuse me of mixed signals. Not four weeks ago you crawled to me on Contraxia and now you can’t wait to get away from me?” Stakar gives him a serious look.

“I—” Yondu’s taken aback. “Guess I got used t’ bein’ without you,” he says. It’s too honest, and he has to look away.

“Built a whole life for yourself. With nothing.” Stakar looks down at his hands.

“That’s what you left me,” Yondu croaks. “I just had Kraglin.”

“You were lucky.”

And that pisses him off. “Shut the fuck up. You ain’t ever been poor a day in your life, you prissy fuck. There was times me an’ Kraglin traded off skippin’ meals so Quill could eat, so don’t talk t’ me about luck.”

“Sorry.”

Yondu huffs and glares at Stakar. “What do you really want, Stakar? No games with me.”

“I wanna see if we can’t fix this.” Stakar raises his eyes. He lets out a dry laugh. “Who knows, maybe we could even try to make something better.”

Yondu takes a wary step toward the door. “Kraglin—”

“I meant without the fucking,” says Stakar loudly. He sighs. “Like it should have been the whole time.”

Yondu scowls. How the hell does Stakar manage to be annoying when all he’s doing is agreeing with what Yondu’s just been thinking? Still. The implication that Stakar would have been doing it right the whole time without Yondu’s influence pisses him off. “If you’d unglued your eyes from my ass for more’ n a minute or two, I might never have figured out the fucking was on the table.”

Stakar makes a weird constipated noise and bursts out laughing.

“You know what I meant!” Yondu hisses, feeling his face heat up.

“Yeah, I know what you meant. God.” Stakar sits back, chucking. “I’ve said it before, Yondu, but I’ve missed you.

Yondu swallows. It’s been a long time since he’s made Stakar laugh like that. “Stakar—”

“I don’t wanna give you trouble at home,” Stakar tells him softly. “But there’s a middle ground between fucking and hating each other. You’re too important to me to let go, Yondu.”

Yondu closes his eyes. Every conversation he has with Stakar leaves him dangerously off balance. That pull is still there, and Yondu’s afraid of it. He never learned how to walk the edge without falling in.

“Friends,” he says flatly.

“Family,” Stakar corrects.

And now it’s Yondu’s turn to laugh. “Oh hell no,” he says pleasantly. “No, no. Little too much time’s gone by for you t’ start tryin’ t’ be my daddy for real. That ain’t gonna happen.”

“You sayin’ it didn’t already?”

Yondu’s jaw drops. Here he’d thought Stakar was too dense to realize all the lines they’d crossed. “Don’t.” He wishes it didn’t come out as a whisper. “Some things oughta stay dead.”

Stakar grants the point with a nod. “I suppose that’s one of ‘em,” he agrees.

“So we get our engine,” says Yondu after a beat. “No games, no strings.”

“You know me better than that,” Stakar tells him quietly.

“I ain’t done more than get kicked like a dog last thirty years whenever I tried t’ talk t’ you. I ain’t gonna predict what you’ll do. So we get the engine, an’ when I ain’t livin’ on your ship, we can try this friends thing.”

“You want distance?”

“I can’t fuck you across jump points,” snaps Yondu.

Stakar looks flattered. “With a good enough screen you could,” he says.

“Not funny.”

“Kinda funny.”

It is. Yondu glares at him anyway. “Fuckin’ me is Kraglin’s job these days. The man does good work.”

Stakar nods. “Good.”

“Ain’t lookin’ anywhere else.”

“So you’ve said.”

Yondu needs to leave. “Thanks for the engine.”

“Don’t mention it, Yondu.”

He retreats, feeling somehow like he’s lost.

The Starhawk was built for spending long stretches of time in deep space; the air and water filters were the best Stakar could buy, the hydroponics took up an entire deck to cut back on food expenses, and the crew had several illicit brewing spots that Stakar pretended not to know the locations of to keep themselves occupied.

It was an event when they stopped planetside.

The crew buzzed with contagious excitement days before the planned stop on Contraxia; more fights broke out, more liquor was consumed, and shit got done faster as people jockeyed for position to get the better time slots for departure.

Yondu had never been to a pleasure planet before. Stakar was looking forward to showing him.

“An’ they’ll do anything?” he kept asking with wide eyes.

“Anything you pay for,” Stakar said with a smirk, watching the wheels turn behind Yondu’s eyes.

“How much money I got?”

Stakar smiled indulgently. “For your first time, son, it’s on me.”

Yondu tilted his head. “You wanna watch, don’t ya?” he asked smugly.

Stakar cleared his throat and looked down at the report he’d been signing off on before Yondu came into his office.

“Dirty old man,” said Yondu with a sly smirk. He came around Stakar’s desk and slipped his arms around his neck. “You gonna make sure they fuck me just right, Daddy?”

Stakar closed his eyes briefly. “I’d like to make sure you have a good time, yeah.”

Yondu kissed his cheek. “I can’t wait.”

“I know.” Stakar turned to catch his mouth. “And Yondu? I don’t want you coming anymore until we get to Contraxia.”

“What? No!” Yondu jerked away.

Stakar caught his arm. “I’m paying good money for this, Yondu, I don’t want you spoiling the experience.” He smiled and patted Yondu’s arm. “Trust me, it’s better like this.”

“But Stakar—” Yondu snapped his mouth shut at Stakar’s look. “You sayin’ you ain’t gonna touch me for three whole days?”

“Is that what I said?” Stakar leaned back and let go of Yondu’s arm.

Yondu bit his lip. “How’s that gonna work?”

Stakar turned the chair around, facing Yondu fully. “Let me see your cunt.”

Yondu’s eyes darkened, but he nodded slowly and unbuckled his pants.

Stakar waited until he’d gotten them down past his hips and crooked a finger. “Come here. Let me see.”

Yondu shuffled forward awkwardly, and gasped when Stakar pulled him down into his lap.

“There we go,” Stakar said with a smirk. “Here’s how it’s gonna work, baby. I want you real eager when we go down there. I want you soaked before we even get in the door. I want you desperate and achy while you walk up the stairs and smell the sex in the air and hear the fucking in the other rooms. I want you damn near shaking before anyone even touches you.” He pressed a kiss to Yondu’s neck and grinned at the shudder that ran through him.

“Oh god,” Yondu whispered.

“Sounds pretty hot, doesn’t it?” Stakar murmured.

Yondu nodded.

“Means I wanna wind you up real tight, baby, so I can watch you break.

Yondu jerked a little at that, staring down at Stakar with wide, wary eyes. “Break?”

“Fall apart real pretty,” Stakar reassured him, soothing a hand over his thigh. “It’s called delayed gratification, Yondu. Where anticipating the good thing is just as much fun as the good thing itself.”

Yondu swallowed. “Yeah, okay, that can be fun,” he allowed, squirming as Stakar caressed his thigh.

“I knew you’d think so.” Stakar smirked. “Which is why I’m gonna touch your pussy right now and stop just before you come.”

“What? Shit, that ain’t—” Yondu broke off with a whine when Stakar slipped his hand between his legs. “Ain’t fair, Daddy,” he whispered shakily.

“Life isn’t fair. Did you get all wet listening to me talk about this?” Stakar asked. He petted his fingertip real light across Yondu’s clit.

“Yeah.” Yondu bit his lip. “Daddy, please.”

Stakar kissed his neck again. “It’s not gonna take much, is it?”

Yondu shook his head, hands balled into fists.

“You’re gonna tell me when you get close,” Stakar said darkly, “and I’m gonna stop. Gonna make you pull your pants up and go back out there soaked and twitching. You’re gonna be horny the whole rest of the day, thinking about what it’s gonna be like when you can finally come, aren’t you?”

“Oh god, Daddy,” Yondu gasped. “Daddy, I’m close—”

“Already?” Stakar pulled his hand away.

Yondu wailed.

“I told you what was gonna happen.” Stakar chuckled, watching Yondu’s fists clench and unclench. “Come on, baby, we both got work to do. Get up.”

Yondu got to his feet, giving Stakar an impressively evil look. “If I don’t get t’ come until Contraxia, you don’t either,” he said.

Stakar grinned. “Is that so?”

“I can play this game as well as you, Daddy,” Yondu promised. “I ain’t gonna be the only one horny an’ desperate walkin’ into the whorehouse. Have fun watchin’ me get mine while you sit there with your dick in your hand.”

Stakar couldn’t help it; he burst out laughing. And kept laughing at the furious look on Yondu’s face. “Oh, Yondu, you’re gonna be a hell of a captain someday,” he said. “But for now, get back to work.”

They edged each other mercilessly over the next three days. Stakar was delighted that Yondu gave as good as he got; waking up with that pretty mouth around his cock, tongue working him just right, only to have Yondu pull off right before he blew his load was an experience, to say the least. He retaliated by calling Yondu into his office in the middle of a shift, bending him over his desk, and fingering him mercilessly before making him suck his own slick off Stakar’s fingers and sending him back to work.

Yondu took to whispering filthy shit to him, in plain view of the others so Stakar couldn’t respond, looking smug. Told him how he wanted Stakar to fuck him in the captain’s chair, or bent over the nav console where everyone could see them. Little exhibitionist. Stakar had to resist the urge to swat his ass when he walked away.

Overall, it was some of the most fun Stakar had had in a long time.

It worked, too. Yondu was jittery as hell when Stakar took him and the rest of their party down to the Iron Lotus. He kept craning his neck to look around at the lights and the noise, and Stakar had to keep a hand on his arm to make sure he didn’t fall behind.

Marty headed straight for the bar, more interested in trying to pick up a friend for the night than pay for a bot. Stakar wasn’t sure how he did it, but he’d seen Marty pull. The guy had something good going for him. Charlie split off too, clapping Yondu on the shoulder and telling him to have fun before vanishing in the same direction as Marty.

“Come on,” Stakar murmured in Yondu’s ear, grinning widely at the shiver that went through him. “With me.”

Yondu followed him eagerly as he headed to the back, where the Sneeper madam waited in her gaudy dress.

She smiled widely at the sight of them. “Captain Ogord. Always a pleasure.”

“Good to be back.” Stakar grinned. “I want the best room you got open, and three girls with the works.”

Her eyebrows shot up and she glanced between him and Yondu before grinning. “Someone’s cherry’s getting popped,” she said knowingly.

Yondu flushed a pretty violet. “Ain’t my first time ever,” he muttered. “Jus’ here.”

“You only get one first time at the Iron Lotus,” the madam said with a wink as she handed over the room key. “Enjoy yours. The girls will be waiting for you.”

Yondu grabbed Stakar’s hand and pulled him up the stairs like an excited kid. Stakar had to tug him back when he charged right past the room.

Inside, it was the usual fare that the Iron Lotus had to offer: big bed, tacky decor, floor to ceiling windows with the adjustable opacity. Three bots with yellow hair stood attentively against the far wall.

Yondu took a step toward them. “How much do they know?”

“You mean how advanced is the artificial intelligence? Pretty good, for this price point. They wipe sections of their memory banks between clients for privacy.” Stakar watched Yondu circle the closest bot, who stepped forward for inspection.

“How much do they cost?” he asked softly.

Stakar told him.

Yondu went quiet. “That’s half as much as a pleasure slave costs at age twelve,” he said after a long pause. “That is—I think I did the numbers right.”

“You did,” Stakar agreed.

“Anyone could use these instead.” Yondu stared at the bot’s face until she smiled encouragingly.

“Hey.” Stakar stepped up behind him. “Yondu.”

Yondu’s fists clenched, but then he heaved a sigh and bowed his head. “Yeah,” he muttered. “Yeah, I know.”

“Can’t save the whole galaxy,” Stakar whispered, pressing a kiss to his neck.

Yondu tipped his head back. “Could barely save myself.”

“I don’t know about that. You made a hell of a bid for freedom.” Stakar untied the scarf around Yondu’s neck and let it fall to the floor. “It was smart, choosing to run when we showed up. Good strategy.”

Yondu grunted. “Don’t wanna talk about this anymore. Said you was gonna show me a good time, Daddy.” He turned in Stakar’s arms and kissed him.

Stakar cupped his face, smoothing his thumbs over Yondu’s cheekbones. He kissed Yondu sweetly at first, but deepened it into something filthy when Yondu clutched at his shoulders. “Yeah, I’m gonna show you a good time. Only the best for my beautiful boy.”

Yondu shivered and licked across Stakar’s open mouth. “You’re so good t’ me,” he whispered.

“You deserve it.” Stakar kissed his forehead. “Now why don’t you get undressed? These girls wanna show you what they’ve got.”

Yondu stepped back and threw an eager look at the bots where they’d all gone back to posing attractively. “Yeah, okay.” He shrugged off his jacket and pulled his shirt over his head. “Ain’t fucked too many girls, but they can be real fun.”

“Damn straight.” Stakar grinned. “And these ones come with options.

When Yondu was naked, Stakar had to pause just to admire him. The blue of his skin next to the reddish light in the room made a real pretty contrast, turned his shadows violet. Stakar was hard in his pants just looking at him.

Those red eyes gleamed when Yondu turned to him. “Sure you just wanna watch, Daddy?” he asked with a big grin. “Bed’s big enough for all o’ us.”

“Sure it is, baby, but you only got so many holes to fill.” Stakar smirked. “And I wanna watch your face when these girls put their cocks in all of ‘em.”

Yondu’s mouth fell open. “Shit.

“Get on the bed, gorgeous, and spread those legs for me.” Stakar grinned when Yondu scrambled to obey, and then gestured to the nearest bot. “Come here, girl. You see him laid out all pretty like that?”

The bot nodded, turning to flash Yondu a seductive smile.

Stakar slipped a hand around her waist and then down inside her silver panties while Yondu followed it with his eyes. “I want you to finger his ass open. Go slow, get him real wet, okay?” He kissed her cheek when she nodded again. “Good girl. And don’t touch his clit.”

“Hey!” Yondu scowled, but otherwise didn’t complain when the bot came to him. He watched her with wide eyes as she opened a bottle of lube and poured some on her fingers. Stakar could see his throat bob when she slipped a finger into him.

“How’s that feel?” Stakar asked.

“I mean, ain’t the first time I’ve had a finger up my ass,” Yondu said, squirming a little. “Ain’t bad.”

Stakar came closer, walking around the bed to admire Yondu from multiple angles. “You look good, baby. I can see your wet little cunt.”

That got him a shiver, and Yondu’s lips parted when the bot pressed a second finger in. “Daddy...” Yondu reached out a hand.

Stakar took it, squeezing reassuringly. “She’s got a nice fat cock that’s gonna go in your ass after this, Yondu. You’re gonna like that, aren’t you?”

“I-I think so. Why won’t you let her touch me?” Yondu bit his lip.

“Because it’s not gonna take much to make you come,” Stakar said patiently as he sat down next to Yondu’s head. “And when you do, it’s gonna be on my cock, not hers.”

“Then get in me,” Yondu whispered, shifting his legs wider and arching prettily. “‘M so wet for you, Daddy.”

Stakar closed his eyes, squeezing Yondu’s hand again. “I bet you are, sweetheart,” he muttered. “And I’m real hard for you. It’s gonna be so good, isn’t it?”

Yondu nodded, and then gasped when the bot did something nice. “Fuck.”

“How many fingers has she got in you now, baby? Three?” Stakar hummed thoughtfully at Yondu’s nod. “Yeah, let’s get that cock in you. We don’t wanna leave good boys empty, do we?”

The bot sat up and shook her head with a grin. She slipped off the bed and went back to the wall, where she opened a box and brought it to Stakar for inspection.

“Thanks, girl.” Stakar reached in and picked one of the smaller cocks she had on offer. “My boy doesn’t get fucked in the ass too much, not when he’s got such a sweet little cunt for me to stick it in. Let’s go with this.”

Yondu flushed hotly, biting his lip as he watched the bot attach the cock Stakar had picked. She double checked it and then smoothed her hands up Yondu’s thighs, spreading them wider.

Stakar licked his lips. “Nice and wet now, girl. Want you to be real sweet to him.”

She nodded and poured more lube over her cock.

“There we go,” Stakar whispered. “Push it in.” He watched Yondu’s face, smiled at the way his mouth fell open and his eyes fluttered shut.

“Oh god,” Yondu whimpered, biting his lip. “Feels good.”

“Tell me,” Stakar murmured.

“Full. Real full. Sorta like—” He broke off, embarrassed. “Anyway, it’s real good.”

Stakar snorted. “Cute. You look real pretty, anyway. Ready for another one?”

Yondu’s eyes got real round. “Daddy, I ain’t sure I can take another one.”

“Sure you can.” Stakar reached down between Yondu’s spread legs, taking care to avoid his clit, and pressed a finger into him. “See? You’re nice and sloppy wet. It’s gonna feel so good, isn’t it?”

Yondu’s breath hitched. “I—if you want me to, Daddy. It ain’t gonna hurt?”

“No.” Stakar leaned down to press a kiss to Yondu’s forehead. “I would never let them hurt you. It’s gonna be intense, but if it hurts you tell me and this stops.”

Yondu swallowed, then nodded slowly. “Okay, Daddy.”

“You’re so good for me, baby. Such a sweet boy.” Stakar kissed his mouth, fucking his tongue inside just to swallow Yondu’s moans. When he broke the kiss he snapped at the second bot.

She came over, all eager smiles and sashaying hips, and grinned when he handed her another small cock. “I want you both to fuck him at the same time. Figure out the best position.”

She tilted her head, calibrating logistics. “Would you prefer him on his back or his front?” she asked after a moment.

Stakar looked at Yondu, still squirming prettily as the first girl fucked his ass in slow, rolling movements. “On his back,” he finally said. “I want him on his back.”

The bot nodded, and the order went out to all of them; the first girl stepped away, making Yondu whine.

“Let her move you, son,” said Stakar reassuringly as she shifted Yondu around. “They know their business.”

The first bot slid onto her back and pulled Yondu gently on top of her. He looked confused, but went with it, letting her guide him so his back was pressed against her chest. She slid her legs between Yondu’s and eased them apart to spread them both wide. Then she reached down to line herself up and pushed into his ass again.

Stakar reached down to squeeze his cock as the light caught the slick between Yondu’s legs. “Yeah, I like that a lot. That feel good, Yondu?”

Yondu bit his lip. “Uh huh.”

Stakar nodded to the second bot. “Good. Now fuck his cunt. And remember, be gentle.”

She walked to the foot of the bed, cock swinging appealingly, and leaned over Yondu with a teasing smile. A shudder ran through him when she reached between his legs.

Stakar leaned closer for a better look, and his cock throbbed at the sight of her fingering Yondu open while the other girl’s hips rocked gently. “Goddammit, Yondu,” he whispered. “You look so fucking hot right now.”

“D-daddy,” Yondu gasped. “Feels so good.”

“It’s gonna feel even better when she puts that cock in you,” Stakar promised darkly. He shrugged off his jacket and undressed quickly, sighing in relief when he freed his cock. “You’re gonna be so pretty all filled up like that.”

”Fuck,” Yondu gasped; when Stakar looked, she had more fingers in his cunt. “Want you, wanna come, please touch me, Daddy. I want your hands on me, please...”

He could never resist Yondu. Stakar reached out to run a hand over that muscular torso. Yondu arched under him so sweetly, moans echoing off the walls. “You’re beautiful,” Stakar whispered, stroking Yondu’s scarred cheek. “My beautiful boy.”

Yondu leaned into his hand like a cat. “I love you, Daddy,” he whispered.

“I love you too. Now let’s get that hungry cunt of yours filled up. Girl, he’s ready for your cock.”

The bot pulled her hand back obediently and lined her cock up.

“Oh my god, Daddy, I ain’t sure it’s gonna work,” Yondu whispered frantically. “What if it’s too much? I—”

Stakar cut him off with a kiss as the bot pushed in; Yondu’s whole body tensed and then went pliant, and he broke the kiss with a guttural moan.

“It’s so much,” Yondu whispered shakily. His whole face was slack with pleasure. “Daddy, it’s too much.”

Stakar reached down to touch where Yondu was stretched open. “Oh fuck, baby, that feels amazing. Look at how good you’re doing.”

Yondu made a high, animal noise and let his head fall back against the bed. The bots took up a synchronized rhythm, moving together seamlessly while he writhed on their cocks. Yondu’s hands twisted the coverlet, hanging on as though it would stem the tide of sensation.

He was magnificent. Stakar could watch him like this forever.

Briefly, Stakar entertained the thought of skipping part of his plan and leaving the third bot standing there. He could slip his cock into Yondu’s mouth and come all over his face, leaving him gasping and desperate before he ordered the bots to finish him off. He glanced at Yondu’s slack lips. Tempting.

But it would be even better if he stuck to his original idea. So he snapped his fingers at the last girl, handed her a cock when she came over, and petted Yondu. “You ready for the last one?”

“Huh?” Yondu blinked at him hazily.

“Gorgeous thing,” Stakar cooed at him. “I told you I was gonna fill all your holes, remember?”

That got Yondu’s attention, and his eyes shifted from Stakar to the bot. “An’ then you gonna let me come, Daddy?”

He sounded so pitiful Stakar almost relented. “Soon, Yondu. Real soon. You’re being so good.”

One of the girls fucking him did something right, because Yondu gasped and then sagged. “Please, Daddy.”

“Open your mouth, beautiful,” Stakar whispered, and Yondu obeyed.

He was lovelier than Stakar imagined, moaning softly around the last girl’s cock as it slid past his lips. Yondu’s eyes fell shut, lashes sweetly fanning his cheeks. The new girl quickly synchronized with the other two and began fucking Yondu’s face with the same gentle rhythm they’d adopted. Yondu’s back was arched and his legs were held open, stuffed as full as it was possible to get him.

All for Stakar.

The urge to touch himself was almost overpowering, but Stakar didn’t get where he was today by being weak. He reached down to trace around Yondu’s stretched cunt again, watching his thighs tremble. “You’re so beautiful,” he whispered, and finally let his fingers play over Yondu’s clit. Yondu jerked like he’d been shocked, and Stakar grinned. “Wanna feel that tight little pussy clenching on me. Girl, move.” He snapped his fingers at the bot at the foot of the bed, and she obediently pulled out of Yondu’s cunt.

Stakar pushed himself up and swung a leg over Yondu. Those red eyes had opened again, and were trying to focus on Stakar through the tears that tracked down Yondu’s cheeks. His mouth was all wet too, pretty lips stretched just right around the bot’s cock. Stakar couldn’t help himself; he leaned down to press a kiss right over the center of Yondu’s chest. Then he lined up his cock and slowly, carefully pushed in.

His eyes rolled back in his head and for a second he thought he was gonna go off right there. Yondu was hot and tight and sopping wet, but Stakar dug his hands into Yondu’s hips and forced it back. The bot fucking Yondu’s ass kept up her rhythm, rubbing him deliciously through the thin membrane separating them.

“There we go, sweetheart,” Stakar muttered. “Now you got Daddy’s cock right where you need it, don’t you?” He began to move, carefully, shuddering at Yondu’s muffled whines and squeals. He was so gorgeous from this angle, and the dirty wet sounds of their fucking dug into some primal part of Stakar’s brain, made him thrust a little harder just to hear Yondu moan around the girl’s cock. “You’re being so good, Yondu. So good for Daddy. Good boys get to come, you know that, right?”

Yondu let out a sob that sounded vaguely affirmative.

“That’s right.” Stakar let his eyes fall shut. “Girl,” he told the bot he’d just ordered off Yondu, “lick his clit.”

Yondu tensed at the words, breath hissing sharply through his nose even before the girl leaned over him. Stakar looked down to watch, unable to hold in a moan as her tongue curled delicately over Yondu’s cunt.

Yondu’s whole body spasmed; he bucked his hips and wailed when she began to lick him properly. His cunt clenched up around Stakar’s dick, making him cry out and thrust harder. A blue hand landed on the back of the girl’s head, pressing her closer while the other one gripped the bedding with whitened knuckles.

Stakar watched, entranced, as Yondu came in a writhing mess. He thrust deeper into that fluttering cunt and groaned; he wasn’t gonna last long, not with Yondu so tight around him.

Yondu pushed weakly at the bot’s head when he started to come down, trying to move her off him.

“Did I say she was gonna stop?” growled Stakar. He grabbed the girl’s hair and shoved her face back down into Yondu’s crotch. “You got three days’ worth of orgasms to let out, baby. And I’m not done yet. Keep coming.

Oh, he was gonna savor the noises Yondu was making around that cock. High, needy moans that got more and more desperate as the bot licked him.

“Fuck yeah,” Stakar moaned as Yondu broke under him again. “You like that, you needy thing? Stuffed full of cock with a tongue on your clit? I’m gonna come in you, Yondu, fill you up just right. God, you look amazing, baby. So fucking good...” Stakar let his head fall back as he chased his own orgasm; the muffled, punched-out noises Yondu kept making mixed with the scent of sex and the clenching of his hot cunt to bring him closer and closer.

Yondu came around him again and that was it. Stakar groaned low in his chest as he came, digging his fingers into Yondu’s hips and shoving in as far as he could. He paused to catch his breath, and then he panted, “girls, get outta here.”

The one fucking Yondu’s mouth immediately pulled out and stepped back, and Stakar had to bundle Yondu into his arms to let the other two off the bed.

Yondu was limp, wrung out and well-used. Stakar thought he’d never been prettier. He weakly clutched at Stakar’s shoulders, tucking his face into his chest.

“Sweet boy,” Stakar murmured, stroking a hand over his back. He settled back with Yondu in his arms, warm and trembling with aftershocks. “Beautiful, beautiful boy.”

Yondu shuddered.

Stakar kissed his head, running his lips tenderly over those webbed scars. “I love you.”

Yondu’s tears soaked his neck. “Love you too, Daddy,” he whispered.

When Kraglin gets back to their room after conferring with Pete and Rocket about the Quadrant’s engine, he finds Yondu sitting on the bed.

Just sitting, staring down at his hands with a lost sort of look. He looks up at the sound of the door closing.

“Don’t let me fuck him, Kraglin,” he says.

Kraglin’s stomach drops. “What?”

“You heard me.” There’s that desperation from before. Kraglin didn’t like to see it then, but now he’s good and truly worried.

“You wanna?” he asks quietly. They’ve never made promises to each other, after all. No rules about fucking anyone else if the mood struck, but then, the mood never struck.

“I do an’ I don’t,” Yondu rasps. “An’ if I do then we’re all back in deep shit, darlin’.”

Kraglin sits down next to him. “Tell me how to help ya,” he says when he can speak again.

“Don’t let me alone with him. Remind me not t’ take his calls.” Yondu puts his face in his hands. “Kraglin, he wants t’ be friends.

“An’ you can’t do that?”

“Not with him. Not when I’m close enough t’ fuck him.” Yondu groans, rubbing his face. “I ain’t good around Stakar.”

Kraglin slips an arm around his shoulders. “What is it about him that’s got you like this, anyway?” he asks. “You told me some stuff.”

“I didn’t tell you all of it,” says Yondu grimly. “He ain’t just my cap’n or my sweetheart or my daddy, he’s all of ‘em. Gets all mixed up until I dunno what’s what.”

Kraglin makes a face. “Sounds confusing,” he offers lamely.

Yondu laughs, but it’s not funny. “Somethin’ like that. Felt real easy when I was in it though. Felt good. He ran my life, an’ I ran his. Dunno how t’ describe it better’n that.”

“Does he know you wanna keep clear o’ this?” Kraglin asks.

“Kraglin,” says Yondu with a humorless grin, “Stakar still can’t let Aleta leave him, an’ it’s been over forty years.”

Kraglin bites his lip. “Sorry I made ya go talk to him,” he says softly.

“Yeah, well. Ain’t like I told you none o’ this,” mutters Yondu.

Kraglin pulls him a little closer. “We ain’t gonna be here forever,” he whispers. “Just gotta be strong a little longer. That’s all. Just a little while an’ we can go.”

Yondu squeezes his eyes shut. “Just don’t let me fuck him,” he whispers. “Please.”

Kraglin looks at the wall blankly. There’s a lot to turn over in his head, but only one thing that stands out: he’s never heard Yondu beg like this before. “I’ll do whatever I gotta do,” he promises.

Yondu sighs heavily and rests his head on Kraglin’s shoulder. “Piss poor way t’ repay you for everything,” he mutters.

“Quit talkin’ like that,” Kraglin says gently.

“I don’t like bein’ this way.” Yondu nuzzles Kraglin’s neck. “I’m strong when I ain’t around him.”

“You’re bein’ real strong right now.” Kraglin tips his head back and gasps in shock when Yondu seals his mouth around Kraglin’s flesh. He’s gonna have a big, dark hickey to match the fading one on the back of his neck.

“Don’t need him,” Yondu mutters, half to himself from the sound of things. He pushes Kraglin back onto the bed and straddles him with a crooked grin. “I got you t’ fuck me like a dumb whore when I need, don’t I, darlin’?”

Kraglin nods, cautiously watching Yondu shrug off his coat and harness. “Ain’t dumb,” he offers tentatively.

“Yes I am,” Yondu snaps. “I very fuckin’ am an’ pretendin’ I ain’t won’t do anyone no favors. So fuck me like I am.” He damn near rips the buttons on his shirt, and Kraglin has to reach up to slow him down; he snarls and flings the shirt away when he gets it off.

“I’ll fuck you anyway ya need,” Kraglin says nobly.

Good.” Yondu leans down close to his face. “Need it dirty. Call me names an’ spit on my cunt. Make me cry,” he whispers, licking across Kraglin’s mouth where it’s fallen open in shock.

“Holy shit,” he says.

“Think you can do that, darlin’?” Yondu gives a filthy wriggle, grinding real nice on where Kraglin’s cock is twitching to life.

Kraglin’s been feeling awful tender toward Yondu lately, but he nods. Closes his eyes and lets Yondu move away to get his pants off. The slither of leather distracts him enough that he jumps when he feels hands on his thighs.

“Easy,” Yondu coos. “Just wanna suck your cock. You gonna let me?”

“Anything ya want.” Kraglin gulps, arching his hips as deft hands unzipper him. If he don’t take off his jumpsuit it’s gonna stain and flake all to hell and Rocket’s gonna make judgy faces at him.

He’ll suffer through it if Yondu wants him to stay dressed.

He’s got a second to shiver at the cool air on his suddenly exposed cock, but then it’s enveloped in a hot, wet mouth. Kraglin cries out, humping up thoughtlessly and panicking when Yondu gags.

“Shit,” he pants. “Sorry. Didn’t mean to—”

Yondu gives him a watery glare and chokes himself on his cock again. Kraglin can feel his throat muscles fluttering and lets his head fall back with a groan. Right. Yondu wants to get fucked like a dumb whore.

“‘S good,” he croaks. “Keep it up, slut. Choke on it.”

The noise Yondu makes at that raises goosebumps all over Kraglin’s body. He keeps gagging himself on Kraglin’s dick, heedless of how wrecked he’s gonna sound tomorrow.

Kraglin’s gotta do something about that. He grabs the back of Yondu’s neck, which gets him another needy moan, and eases him off Kraglin’s dick, which gets him a scowl. “Hey,” he says, tapping Yondu’s cheek in the weakest slap he’s ever delivered, “I’m done with that hole now. Show me another one.”

Yondu’s mouth falls open and he stares at Kraglin like he ain’t sure he trusts what he’s seeing. Maybe Kraglin’s not a good enough actor for this game. Maybe the love shows through. Does Yondu want that? Kraglin wishes he could stop and ask, but that would break this weird mood. And he suspects—he’s afraid—if Yondu don’t get this from him, he might go looking elsewhere.

“You gonna make me say it again?” Kraglin asks in a soft voice.

“No,” Yondu whispers, giving Kraglin a worshipful look that somehow does nothing for Kraglin’s ego. He opens his mouth again, but then thinks better of it and gets unsteadily to his feet.

Kraglin pushes himself up and points to the bed. “On your back,” he tells Yondu before he turns away to pull his suit off. The fly’s all nasty with drying spit, but he’s gotta save what he can.

When he’s naked, he turns back to the bed and looks Yondu over. He’s laid himself out real pretty, arms stretched over his head and legs splayed open.

He’s soaked.

Normally this is the part where Kraglin eats him out, slow and sloppy until his face is wet and Yondu’s got his legs wrapped around Kraglin’s head. But that ain’t what Yondu asked for.

“Bet you thought I wanted this one, huh?” asks Kraglin idly, and he trails a finger up Yondu’s slit. It makes Yondu squirm. “Yeah, that’s a real wet cunt. Thought I’d wanna slide right in there easy, didn’t you?”

Yondu bites his lip, eyes bright and eager.

“Dumb slut. Why would I want the loose hole?” Kraglin slaps Yondu’s cunt, hard enough that the smack is audible over the sound of Yondu’s shocked cry. “I want your ass, unless you let him have that too?”

Yondu picks his head up from where it had fallen back against the bed. “He’s been everywhere,” he whispers brokenly.

Kraglin narrows his eyes. “Want me to fuck him outta ya?”

God,” moans Yondu, spreading his legs wider, “I want you t’ try.”

Kraglin slaps his cunt again, not so hard, and that gets him a throaty moan. “This doin’ it for ya?”

“Yeah,” Yondu tells him, letting his head fall back again.

“Yeah what? Yeah it turns you on when I slap your greedy cunt?”

Yondu nods. “Yeah,” he whispers. “Shit, do it again.”

“Say it.” If it’s degradation Yondu wants, then he’s in the right place. Kraglin’s been humiliating rookies and fences for decades. “Tell me you want me to paddle that pussy.” If Yondu says he wants it, that’ll ease the prickle of unease in the back of Kraglin’s mind.

Yondu shudders. “Please,” he whines, arching prettily.

Kraglin smacks a thigh instead, hard enough to bring blood to the surface. “Ain’t tellin’ you twice,” he snaps.

“Slap it,” Yondu gasps. “Please, fuck, paddle my cunt til it hurts!”

Kraglin eyes him. Over twenty years they’ve been fucking, and Yondu don’t often ask for pain. “How bad you want it to hurt?” he asks, hoping he sounds bored instead of concerned.

“Bad enough I don’t wanna do nothin’ stupid with it,” moans Yondu.

Kraglin gives in then and reaches out to touch. He pets a fingertip over the outer lips, careful to avoid Yondu’s clit. “Like lettin’ Stakar put his dick in it?” he asks.

Yondu shudders. “Uh huh.”

“You think you can’t get what ya need right here?” asks Kraglin. “Ain’t I fucked you good for years now?” He delivers a series of rapid slaps directly to Yondu’s clit, and pins his free arm across his stomach to keep him from squirming away. “You tell me right now, what’s he got that I don’t?”

Kraglin!” Yondu grips the sheets, fighting to close his legs.

“Oh no, keep ‘em open. This stupid cunt o’ yours wants another man, then I gotta teach it what’s what. Ain’t that right?” Kraglin glances down; Yondu’s still glistening with slick. “Why you wanna fuck him so bad?” This ain’t part of the game, Kraglin knows. This is something worse.

“I-I just—” Yondu looks torn. “Kraglin, please...”

Kraglin meets those red eyes and glares. “Tell me.” He slaps Yondu’s cunt harder; it’s hot now, hotter than normal and flushed a deep violet. Kraglin wants to lick it, but he can’t bring himself to stop this. “Come on. Tell me why you wanna open your legs for him.”

“It—it was real good,” Yondu whispers shakily. “But bad. Felt so bad.” He turns his head away and shuts his eyes.

“That ain’t an answer.” Kraglin flicks Yondu’s clit, hard enough to make him yowl.

Fuck! I miss my daddy, okay?” Yondu keeps his eyes shut, probably so he don’t have to look at Kraglin.

“Your daddy?” Kraglin repeats blankly. He takes in Yondu’s flushed cheeks and pinched expression. That’s shame he’s seeing. “Is that what you called him when you fucked?”

Yondu nods and shudders. He still won’t look at Kraglin.

That’s all kinds of fucked up. “Your daddy,” Kraglin hisses, “threw you away, remember?”

Yondu throws an arm over his face, and Kraglin hears a sob.

“Tossed you out like trash. Like you was nothin’. He fuck you good enough t’ make up for that?”

“I-I dunno,” Yondu says in a small voice.

Kraglin pushes two fingers into Yondu’s cunt, angling immediately for the good spot and rubbing hard. “Maybe he did. Maybe he could do all sorts o’ dirty shit I don’t know about. Or maybe you’re just real horny since I ain’t givin’ it to you like I oughta. Think that could be it?”

“F-fuck, Kraglin,” Yondu gasps. He still won’t take his arm away from his face.

“Think that might be it. I know how hungry your cunt gets when it’s been too long since it’s had a good dicking. You need t’ get fucked?” Kraglin waits for Yondu’s nod and grins. “Don’t need your daddy for that. Not when ya got me.”

Yondu slowly raises his arm and peeks out at him.

Kraglin pauses, stills his fingers. “You got somethin’ to say t’ me?”

“Come here.” Yondu reaches for him with both arms, so Kraglin leans down, lets him kiss him deep and clutch at his back and manhandle him on top so they’re pressed together skin to skin. “I love you,” Yondu whispers between kisses.

“I know,” Kraglin whispers back. “I know ya do. Love you too. Always have.”

“Get in me,” Yondu tells him, kicking a little at the back of Kraglin’s thigh where he’s wrapped his own leg around it. “C’mon, darlin’, said you was gonna give it to me right.”

Kraglin huffs a laugh. “Thought you wanted me to spit on your cunt an’ make ya cry.”

“You can spit on my cunt when you’re eatin’ your come outta it,” Yondu says with a flutter of his eyelashes.

“Aw, hell.” Kraglin pushes into him, eyes sliding shut at the pressure and give right before Yondu lets out a deep moan and locks his legs behind Kraglin’s back. “Goddamn,” he groans, “how’d I keep away from you for four months?”

“You was real pissed at me, darlin’.” Yondu nibbles his neck tattoo.

“Shit. Shoulda fucked it out.” Kraglin starts to move, slow at first and gradually faster, bouncing the bed against the wall with the force of his thrusts. “Is this good? Huh? This as good as what your daddy used t’ give you?”

Yondu makes a choked off sound at that, and tucks his face into Kraglin’s neck. “‘S good,” he moans. “Real good, Kraglin.”

“You think he can still fuck you better?” asks Kraglin in a whisper. He strokes a finger over Yondu’s clit. “Think he knows just where to touch ya t’ make ya squeal?”

Yondu’s breath catches. “K-Kraglin,” he whines, twitching his hips and clenching down hard.

Shit, you feel good. I wanna feel that again. Do it again for me.” Kraglin pets Yondu’s clit with a fingertip. “Your pussy all sore?”

Yondu nods frantically.

“Think it’s gonna be sore enough to keep away from a daddy who don’t treat ya right?” Kraglin can feel his balls tighten as he warms to the topic. “Stick with me, honey, I’ll keep ya comin’ just like you need.”

“I do need it,” Yondu gasps, digging his heel into Kraglin’s ass. “Use me, fuckin’ come in me, c’mon. Make me forget...”

“Mark ya up, is that what ya need?” Kraglin’s close, can hear his voice going high and whiny like it always does. “Cover every spot he touched with me?”

Yes!” sobs Yondu, and that’s what pushes Kraglin over the edge. He pushes inside as deep as he can, breathing hard through clenched teeth as he fills Yondu up.

He pulls out as soon as the aftershocks start and slides down the bed. Yondu’s holding real still, so his come is just starting to drip out of his sloppy cunt. Kraglin catches it with his tongue and swallows quickly, grinning at the high needy whine Yondu lets out. “You’re bein’ good, keepin’ it all inside,” he tells him. “Bein’ so good.” He kisses Yondu’s clit, as much out of affection as desire, and smiles at the hitching moans it gets him. It’s throbbing under his tongue, so he goes slow, circling gently with just the tip before he rubs the flat of his tongue over it. This ain’t the time for teasing, or spitting, no matter what Yondu says. Kraglin ain’t sure what this is, exactly, but he knows he wants to make Yondu come.

“Krags,” Yondu gasps. “Fingers, c’mon, fill me up again, Daddy, please!

Kraglin stops. Wonders if he ought to break the mood. Snarls and pushes three fingers into Yondu’s cunt and goes to town. “That ain’t my name,” he hisses. “You callin’ for him or me?”

“Fuck—shit, I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” Yondu tries to push up onto his elbows but falls back when Kraglin slurps over his clit again. “Darlin’, I ain’t callin’ for him, I want you, jus’ you, keep lickin’ me like that, please...” He grabs at Kraglin’s hair, tangling his fingers in the longer part. “God, I’m comin’, Kraglin, don’t stop, please, god, your mouth...” And then he’s bucking his hips and Kraglin’s gotta brace himself, sealing his mouth over Yondu’s clit and sucking until he wails and his legs start shaking. The gush of fluid over his face makes him close his eyes; he fucking loves it when Yondu does this, comes messy all over him. He’s gonna be covered in it, smell and taste Yondu for the rest of the night.

“I’m sorry,” Yondu whispers weakly. This might be the first time he’s ever apologized to Kraglin.

That’s gotta count for something. “Is that what ya want from me?” he asks after he pulls his face outta Yondu’s crotch. The idea ain’t exactly doing much for him, but he’d play along.

“No.” Yondu sits up, still breathing hard. He lets out a little huff. “You was givin’ it to me so good it slipped out.”

Kraglin quirks an eyebrow; he don’t see Yondu embarrassed much, but that’s a flush across those cheeks. “Good. I find out you’re thinkin’ about him when you’re fuckin’ me, we’re gonna have words.”

Yondu bites his lip. “This you gettin’ jealous, darlin’?” he asks coyly. Might be some hope hiding under there too; Yondu’s always liked being sought after.

Kraglin narrows his eyes and quirks his fingers, sending Yondu gasping back onto the mattress. “Damn right. You gonna keep off Stakar’s dick?”

Yondu nods. “I’m gonna try,” he groans. “Keep me full, Kraglin. I swear I’m gonna try.”

Kraglin presses a kiss to the inside of Yondu’s thigh. “You can do it.”

God, he hopes Yondu can do it.

“So are we gonna talk about it?”

Yondu looks up at Quill, the arrow still in his hands. He can’t stop inspecting it, like a kid with a security blanket. Apparently kids have those, according to the twig. “Talk about what?”

“‘He may have been your father, boy, but he wasn’t your daddy,’” Quill says flatly, and Yondu can’t suppress the wince fast enough. “Really? That’s your response?”

“Shit,” mutters Yondu. He tucks the arrow back in its holster and pushes to his feet. Too fast; he sways a bit and Quill has to catch his arm.

“Easy, old man.” Quill doesn’t let go. “Guess you’re still not back to normal, huh?”

He don’t know the half of it. “Guess not.”

There’s a pause. “I don’t wanna pretend it didn’t happen,” Quill says quietly. “Not after everything.”

Yondu finds a spot on the far side of the room to study. “Ain’t tryin’ t’ pretend it didn’t happen,” he sighs. “I don’t know the first thing about bein’ a father.” He looks up into Quill’s face. “‘S why I was so damn bad at it.”

“Tell me something I don’t know.” Quill rolls his eyes. “I just—what made you change your mind? You never said.”

Yondu blinks. “Th’ hell you mean?”

“You told me I was crew. Back when—at first.” Quill bites his lip. “Was that always a lie, or...?”

Hell. “Don’t reckon I thought o’ you as crew for a long time,” Yondu says gruffly. The truth is, something had always been different about Quill. The way he fought, the strange pride Yondu had felt when the little shit kicked Kraglin in the shin and shimmied into the vents for almost an hour before they got him out, all of it had told Yondu that this kid was special. And that night when he’d finally fallen asleep in Yondu’s room with tear stained cheeks and his hair flopping over his forehead, Yondu had watched him with a swelling feeling in his chest that he’d never felt before. Or since.

“I don’t think that answers my question.” Quill’s frowning at him.

Yondu heaves a sigh and looks at him. “What do you want me t’ say, boy?” he asks. “That I love ya? That I wish I’d done it all different? It’s all true. You deserved t’ stay with your family back on Terra. Bury your mama. Stay in school an’ be a normal kid. I shoulda given you that.”

“If you had, I’d be dead,” says Quill softly.

“Yeah. You would. Don’t mean I did good.” Yondu gives in then, reaching up to cup Quill’s scruffy cheek in his hand. “Didn’t know how t’ love ya,” he mutters.

“You—” Quill looks stricken for a second, and then Yondu’s enveloped in a crushing hug. Big arms pull him tight against Quill’s chest, and his boy shoves his cheek against Yondu’s just like when he was little. “Goddammit,” he hisses. “Why didn’t you just tell me? You know how different it would have been?”

“I know,” Yondu says miserably, because he can see it now, the way Quill’s eyes used to shine sometimes on good days. They could’ve had that the whole time, he thinks, and he aches with the knowledge that he’s robbed not just Quill, but also himself of the opportunity. “Dammit, I know now.”

“Would’ve really sucked if you died right after I realized you were my dad,” Quill mumbles.

Yondu huffs a laugh. “Yeah.”

“So you’re gonna stay with us? You and Kraglin?” Quill looks like a kid again, all big eyes and guarded hope.

Right now Yondu can’t deny him anything. “‘Course we’re stayin’,” he says. “It’s my fuckin’ ship, ain’t it?”

Quill gives him a watery smile. God help them both if he starts bawling, because Yondu’s emotionally compromised and he don’t trust himself not to tear up too.

He hasn’t been this weepy in years. Guess it’s like a dam breaking.

“Kraglin gave me the Zune,” Quill says abruptly. “While you were still out. Said you meant to give it to me.”

Yondu nods. “Wanted you t’ know you could come back,” he admits.

They look at each other.

“He crushed my Walkman,” Quill tells him in a real small voice, and Yondu sees red.

“We got clones o’ that music,” he manages to choke out, wishing on every damn star in the galaxy that he could bring Ego back and kill him again.

“I know. But the tape—”

Not the tape too. Not after Yondu spent twenty-five years winding up delicate tape with a screwdriver like Quill showed him so the kid could look down and see his mama’s handwriting. Wasn’t an alphabet Yondu could read, but it was something Meredith Quill had touched. Proof of her love written down for their boy to see.

Yondu grabs Quill around the back of the neck and presses their foreheads together. “You still got that other one, right?”

“Yeah,” Quill whispers.

“Good. Then you ain’t lost it all. You still got the songs, boy.”

“Because of you.” Here come the tears. Yondu squeezes the back of his neck reassuringly, letting Quill crush him in another hug. “You made sure I didn’t lose her.”

Yondu rubs his back, a little gentler than he normally would. He did do that, but it feels weird having the kid finally notice. Wasn’t anything he cared to make an issue of. “Knew what it meant to ya.”

Quill sags against him, sniffling wet into Yondu’s neck. Yondu remembers him at eight, skinny and scrappy, and at fifteen, gangling worse than Kraglin, all pimples and bad attitude. He remembers him at twenty, when he looked over one day and realized his boy had grown up to be a good looking man.

He thinks about why that thought made him so uncomfortable at the time.

Yondu hugs him tighter. Can’t make up for what he’s already done. All he can do is try to fight harder, do better. Be stronger.

Yondu’s never fought for anything like he’s fought for Quill. “You saved me too,” he says before he can choke it down. Boy deserves to hear it. “Sounds real stupid, but you was savin’ me too.”

Quill pounds on his back once, but he doesn’t come up or stop crying. But that’s okay. He’s earned his cry after everything.

Yondu holds him.

The Captains’ Councils happened once every five years; Stakar had tried to organize something annually, but, wonder of wonders, it wasn’t easy to wrangle nearly a hundred Ravager factions into a cohesive group.

It had been Aleta who suggested the five year mark. It was seldom enough that they could make it into an event, she’d said, instead of the bureaucratic nightmare that Stakar had no doubt envisioned.

She could laugh, but keeping that many pirates under his thumb wasn’t easy.

“So why don’t Zioj an’ Marvit like each other?” Yondu asked as they went over seating charts (Yondu had never heard of the concept and seemed vaguely amused by it).

“Long story involving alcohol and a gambling debt,” Stakar told him, casually sliding names around the chart. Krugarr would deter any bullshit from those two, so he got to buffer.

Yondu snorted and went back to his own datapad. The last time one of these things rolled around, Stakar had made Marty and Charlie help him, but Charlie was gearing up to have his own ship in a year or two, and Yondu seemed genuinely interested. Said he liked getting a feel for who’s who.

Stakar couldn’t say he minded the help. Yondu was sharp, he remembered shit, and he was trustworthy. Men like that didn’t come along every day. He was also, Stakar was realizing, capable of charming damn near everyone he corresponded with.

Yondu’s datapad beeped and he crowed triumphantly. “You willin’ t’ shift Argovik’s crew so Jern don’t have t’ deal with her?”

Stakar blinked. “He’s willing to bend?” Some of those captain’s feuds had been a pain in his ass for years now.

Yondu nodded, flashing a metallic grin.

“Hot damn. Yeah, sure, we can move her.” Stakar began shifting things around on his charts.

“I’ll let him know,” said Yondu happily. “An’ I got our supplier t’ drop his prices on the booze. Means we can get more.”

This kid was almost too good. Stakar smiled to himself as he kept plugging away at arrangements.

Kraglin stares out the window on the Quadrant, taking in the hangar where they’ve docked. He don’t feel great about taking the engine, but this ain’t the first time he’s compromised his principles for Yondu’s sake.

He just wishes it was only his principles he’s compromising.

“Hey.”

Kraglin turns and gives Martinex a neutral look. He ain’t sure why Stakar’s first mate wants to see him, or why he’d been so damn secretive about asking to meet.

Or why he looks so uncomfortable now. “So you and Yondu are together.”

Kraglin nods once. He’ll let Martinex squirm until he figures out what he’s after.

“Right.” The guy paces a little before he turns on Kraglin. “I don’t know how much you know about him and Stakar,” he begins.

Kraglin cuts him off. “I know about him an’ Stakar.”

“All of it?” Martinex looks serious.

Kraglin nods.

“Okay.” His shoulders relax slightly. “Good. I didn’t want to have to explain that bit.”

Kraglin snorts. “Bet not. So what, ya here to warn me about it? Stakar tryin’ to get Yondu back into bed?”

Martinex winces. “I don’t think he’s trying, exactly. He’s just...being stupid.”

“Seems like there’s some o’ that goin’ around.” Kraglin crosses his arms.

“They make each other nuts.” Martinex sighs. “I don’t know what to do.”

“Keep him away from Yondu, if ya can.” Kraglin looks out at the hangar again. “I’ll be real happy when we leave.”

“Yondu’s my friend,” says Martinex. At Kraglin’s look, he winces again. “He was. I don’t wanna see this go bad. Maybe...maybe they can patch things up for real this time.”

“Be friends?” Kraglin’s voice is dry as dust.

Martinex opens his mouth and then shuts it again. “Yeah,” he mutters, “pretty stupid.”

“How’d it happen?” Kraglin asks. It’s been bugging him since Yondu told him.

Martinex sighs and steps closer to the window. Looks out over the hangar with Kraglin. “Stakar wanted to do the right thing. Get Yondu caught up on his education, teach him how to be a Ravager. Give him a shot at a normal life. Forgot he wasn’t a kid.”

Kraglin gives him a sideways look. “An’ Yondu found a way to remind him,” he says.

Martinex snorts. “You know Yondu.”

Yeah, he knows Yondu alright. Kraglin ain’t sure whether to laugh or cry. “So Stakar just...rolled with it?”

“Please. He dove in headfirst. It’s like everything he’d been holding in since Aleta left him found a place to go.” Martinex leans against the glass. “They were obsessed with each other.”

“Fuck.” That ain’t what he wants to hear, but it don’t surprise him much.

“It’s so strange, seeing him now,” Martinex says softly. “When he’s around that kid of his, he lights up.”

Kraglin turns away from him. He don’t wanna talk about Pete to Martinex. “You just do your part an’ I’ll do mine. Stakar wants Yondu, he’s gotta go through me.”

Aleta was one of the last to arrive, because of course she was. Everyone knew they couldn’t start without her, and Stakar knew she couldn’t resist making them wait.

She liked her power plays, his wife.

Nearly everyone had assembled, ships interlocking in the established order Stakar had laid out with Yondu over the previous months, when the call came in that her ship was here. Stakar got to his feet, stomach inexplicably in knots.

“Marty, Yondu,” he snapped. “Let’s go.”

Marty gaped at him for a second before looking at Yondu, who chewed his lip.

“Me?” he asked neutrally.

“Yeah, you.” Yondu might share his bed, but no one who’d worked with him over the past few years could claim he hadn’t earned his place on the bridge. After Marty and Charlie, he was one of Stakar’s most trusted men. To present Aleta with anything less would be taken as an insult and punished accordingly.

It wasn’t like she cared that he was fucking Yondu, after all. She’d made that perfectly clear.

And maybe Stakar wanted him there too. Wanted the reassurance of Yondu’s presence beside him as he got his first look at his wife in years without a screen and several jumps between them.

Yondu hesitated, but thumped his chest and fell in with Marty, a step behind Stakar.

By the time they got to the hangar, Aleta had already joined the lineup. Clicked right in next to him, as though they were still thick as thieves. Professionally, he supposed, they were.

Somehow he’d thought having Yondu here would ease the sting some. He was wrong.

Then the hatch opened and she strode out, as little and ferocious as ever. She looked like a dream; Stakar was struck by a sudden, vivid memory of how light she felt in his arms. He used to be able to hold her up while they fucked, her legs winding around his waist as she growled in his ear to fuck her like he meant it...

Aleta pounded her chest in salute, dragging him out of his thoughts. “Hello again, husband,” she said with an ironic twist of her pretty lips. “It’s been some time.”

“Aleta,” Stakar said evenly.

A flash of blue let him clock Yondu next to him, spine stiffening as he saluted sharply.

“Cap’n Ogord,” he said.

Aleta took her eyes off Stakar and tilted her head, birdlike, to study Yondu. “So you’re Yondu.”

Stakar had never told her Yondu’s name. Figured that she asked around, though. Stakar told himself it meant nothing.

Yondu nodded. Met her gaze evenly.

Marty glanced between them and then at Stakar, like he wasn’t sure he wanted to be here.

“Takes balls,” Aleta said finally, “looking a woman in the eye knowing you’re fucking her husband.”

“Hope not,” Yondu shot back cheerfully. “Seein’ as I ain’t got none.”

Stakar closed his eyes.

Her whole face went slack with shock, and then she barked a laugh. “Maybe not balls, kid, but nerve. I’ll give you that,” she said. “Take me to the booze. Party starts now.”

And she stepped right past Stakar to link one arm through Yondu’s and the other through Marty’s and steer them toward the gathering.

Yondu can feel the tension building, hauntingly similar to the way it had in the months leading up to the mutiny. Life’s like that, he figures; years of nothing, and then everything explodes at once. Quill, Ego, Stakar, Kraglin. Yondu’s lived his life defined by the four of them. He supposes he’s reckoned with three in the last month. Might as well round it off. Stars know Stakar’s never gonna let it go if Yondu doesn’t.

And Yondu...shit, he don’t know what he wants. He wants to get off the Starhawk. He wants to listen to some of them new songs with Quill. He wants to make Rocket smile, and fuck Kraglin until they’re both sore and Kraglin holds him real tight after.

He wants, maybe, to get to know Gamora better.

But wanting is what’s gotten him into trouble in the past, so he’ll stick to putting Stakar in his past where he belongs.

It ain’t exactly an easy task. Yondu steps into the officers’ mess and sees Stakar sitting with Quill and Gamora. Looks like Stakar’s managed to charm his boy after all. They’re talking easily, Gamora’s elbows on the table as she watches Quill talk with his hands.

He’s always done that. Ever since he was little.

Yondu’s chest tightens up at the sight of him. So he heads over, sits down next to Quill and waits to hear what ridiculous shit’s about to come out of his kid’s mouth.

“Hey Yondu. Remember the time I did the dogfight over Klyntar with the broken leg? Saved your ass from getting shot down?”

Yondu raises both eyebrows. “Sure do,” he says mildly. “An’ I remember you fallin’ outta your M-ship afterward an’ damn near breakin’ the other one too.”

Quill scowls. “You weren’t supposed to tell them about that part.”

“‘S cute, you thinkin’ I’d let you live that down.” Yondu leans back, forcing a grin. “All the times you spent embarassin’ me over the years.”

“Okay, that time with the Broker was a complete misunderstanding!”

“An’ the Shi’ar traders when you was twelve?”

Quill opens his mouth to defend himself and snaps it shut again. “Come on, man,” he whines.

“I still can’t picture you with a kid,” says Stakar with a smile. He shakes his head fondly.

Yondu feels the smile fade off his face. “Ain’t like it’s new.”

Stakar still knows him well enough to sense danger and backtracks. “No, I know. Just...you’ve really changed.” He gives Yondu an admiring look.

Quill snickers off to his right. “Oh god, Yondu. Remember the time we found my tape deck?”

Yondu blinks, then bursts out laughing. He can’t help it; the memory of Quill’s little face, bright red with exertion, holding that big old thing and running as fast as his legs would carry him is still one of the funniest goddamn things he’s ever seen.

“What happened?” Gamora leans forward.

“Okay, okay, so you know the tape deck on the Milano?” At Gamora’s nod, Quill explains, “we found that at some open-air junkyard near the galactic edge. I have no idea what car someone jacked back on Earth to get it, but it was just after Yondu got me my rig and I wanted it so bad.

Yondu picks up the story. “That ship o’ yours put us in the hole, boy. I didn’t have the units t’ get you no music player, no matter how you gave me the big eyes. So,” he tells Stakar and Gamora, “I told him he could have it if he could boost it without gettin’ caught.”

Stakar’s eyebrows shoot up.

“Oh no,” murmurs Gamora, looking at Quill.

Quill grins. “So I go over there, try to haggle for some smaller stuff like you do. Yondu goes off to get—I don’t know, toilet paper or something.”

Yondu rolls his eyes.

“Anyway, this trader’s not having it. At all. He saw me begging Yondu for the deck earlier, so—”

“Whinin’,” Yondu calmly interjects.

Asking, like a mature and delightful kid,” Quill says loudly, “and he knows he’s got me. So he starts giving me shit, offering crap to trade. Like I was giving up my space mask. Please.”

“You grabbed it and ran,” Gamora says flatly.

“Yes he did.” Yondu shakes his head. “I hear him yellin’ an’ when I turn around he’s got half the vendors after him an’ he’s tryin’ not t’ drop the thing that’s half as big as what he is.”

“You moved pretty fast to catch up, old man,” says Quill happily.

“Shoulda left you there. Dumbass kid.” Yondu rolls his eyes. “I was so fuckin’ pissed at you.”

“But you still let me install the deck,” says Quill happily.”

Yondu sighs.

Stakar’s looking at him like he’s never quite seen him before, and maybe, Yondu thinks, he hasn’t. He’s never had the chance to know Yondu like this.

“So what’s on the menu today?” he asks, tearing his gaze away from Stakar. “Anything good?”

“Stew, I think,” says Quill. “I didn’t look.”

“Phanoxian stew,” Stakar tells him softly.

Yondu loves Phanoxian stew. It was the first meal he ate as a free man, and Stakar kept it on the regular rotation ever since Yondu confessed it was a favorite. There’s a lump in his throat that he swallows ruthlessly. “Shouldn’t have.”

Quill gives him a narrow look. “Let’s go get in line,” he says loudly. “Gamora, you want me to get you a bowl?”

“I can get my own, Peter.” She smiles, and Yondu still can’t figure out how the deadliest woman in the galaxy looks at his idiot child like that. “Thank you.”

“If you’re sure. Come on, Mary Poppins,” Quill pushes out of his chair with a jaunty grin and heads for the line.

“He’s some hot shit back on Terra,” Yondu says to Stakar’s confused look before he follows Quill.

When they’re out of earshot, Quill mutters, “so you were quite the hotshot back in the day.”

“What the hell’s he been tellin’ you?” Yondu narrows his eyes.

“Oh, nothing. It’s just that my childhood makes a lot more sense now.” Quill grins.

Yondu snorts. “Boy, I fucked your childhood harder than a two-bit whore. An’ part o’ that’s because o’ him, so do your old man a favor an’ don’t get too chummy.”

Quill makes a face. “You are so gross. You know he talks about you more like family than an ex. What’s that about?”

“Don’t ask questions ya don’t want answered,” says Yondu severely.

Quill’s face turns concerned. “Is—is there something I should know about him?” he asks hesitantly. “I’m just being nice because of the engine thing. You know that, right?”

Yondu blinks.

“I mean, look. As far as I’m concerned, he hurt you. He’s the reason we were so poor, right?”

Yondu had done his level best not to let on how skint they were when Quill was young. So much for that lie. He nods.

“Yeah, well, then he ain’t one of my favorite people either.” Quill shrugs.

“You know he exiled me for handin’ your siblings over to Ego,” says Yondu, bracing himself for the fallout.

But Quill just looks at him. “I know.”

The line starts to move. Yondu doesn’t. “You know?”

“Ego told me.” Quill gently takes his arm and tugs him along. “Said he promised you he wouldn’t hurt them.”

Yondu swallows. He remembers that, just like he remembers learning it was all bullshit. “Goddammit.”

Quill’s grip on his arm tightens. “Yondu. I don’t care.”

“They was your family,” Yondu says blankly.

“You’re my family. All of us have done bad shit. And it’s not like you didn’t help me kill the bastard.”

Yondu can’t look at him just now.

Quill smiles, real patient. “Maybe would’ve been nice if you’d grabbed a parenting manual or something, but I’m not sorry I landed with you.”

Yondu’s throat gets tight, and he shoves Quill’s hand off his arm before he does something stupid like tear up. “Hell, you hated me most o’ your life. Don’t go paintin’ me like some saint, boy.”

“I’m not!” Quill’s got that guilty puppy face, though, which means he absolutely was. “It’s just...I just found I’ve been thinking things were one way and they were actually different. Takes some getting used to, you know?”

Yondu eyes him as the line moves. “That don’t speak so well t’ my parenting, now does it?” he drawls.

“Guess not.” Quill looks away. “But I’m willing to give you credit for trying. Think you can live with that?”

Yondu opens his mouth and then realizes he can’t think of a damn thing to say. He nods.

“You gonna actually keep up?” some guy pipes up behind them. “Some of us are hungry.”

Yondu and Quill both turn to glare the dumb fuck into submission. “You know,” says Quill pleasantly, “we just killed a god last month. You sure you wanna bitch about the lunch line?”

The guy shuts up.

The conspiratorial grin Quill gives Yondu makes something that had gone tight and painful in his chest relax.

The smell of the food takes Yondu back roughly a thousand years. He closes his eyes when he gets his bowl, remembering eating in this very room, crammed between Charlie and Marty and laughing at something. He remembers the first time he met Aleta, and her sharp, appraising look before she’d decided she liked him. Remembers flicking a spoonful of the stuff onto Krugarr and starting a food fight because there was enough food to waste and no one would starve.

Yondu opens his eyes to see Stakar watching him. He looks away and takes his tray back to the table.

Quill, as per usual, has food in his mouth half a second after his ass hits the seat. “Oh man, this is good,” he says around a mouthful; Gamora looks disgusted but resigned before she gets up to get her own.

Yondu watches with admiration as the line parts for her. She acts like she doesn’t notice.

“Why didn’t we ever eat this on the Eclector?” Quill asks between mouthfuls.

Yondu avoids Stakar’s eye. “Same reason you ain’t listened t’ track six on your tape.”

Quill gets it immediately and shuts up. Yondu don’t listen to that song much, but he knows it was playing when they picked the kid up. Quill’s skipped over it for years, and by unspoken agreement, Yondu does the same.

Stakar sighs and pushes aside his mostly empty bowl. “You’re not hungry?” he asks Yondu.

Yondu stubbornly takes a heaping spoonful and shoves it in his mouth so he don’t have to answer. Stakar’s looking at him like he’s hurt, and it’s all Yondu can do not to put a fist through his face. It’d be so much easier to stop hating the bastard if he didn’t love him too. Then he wouldn’t analyze every kind gesture for hidden meaning, or wonder when Stakar’s finally gonna get sick of his pushing and send him away again.

Fuck. That’s what he’s doing, isn’t it? Yondu puts his spoon down and stares hard at Stakar. “Gotta talk t’ you,” he says abruptly, and pushes to his feet as Gamora comes back with her tray. “Don’t let Quill do anything stupid,” he tells her before he turns and stalks toward the door.

He doesn’t look back. Stakar will follow him.

It was late when Stakar finally made his excuses; he had a lot of work to do once the actual Council started up, and he wanted to get an early start.

Yondu was nowhere to be found. After about ten minutes of scanning the room and asking around, Stakar resigned himself to getting woken up in the wee hours by a very drunk Centaurian. The kid liked to party, after all.

He didn’t count on turning a corner on a deserted hallway and seeing Yondu talking with Aleta. Their heads were bent together, Yondu’s implant nearly brushing the dark tangle of Aleta’s hair.

For a second Stakar couldn’t breathe; he wanted them. Both of them, together. He could already picture it, the way Yondu would look caught between them. How many times had they shared people, him and Aleta? More times than he could count, and he had to wonder if Yondu would be enough to tempt her back.

“Stakar.” Yondu had spotted him.

Aleta threw him a careless glance over her shoulder; her posture was loose and drunk. “Come to collect your boy?” she asked. “I’ve been hogging him all night. Have to make sure you’re being looked after.”

“Nothing stopping you from checking in if you’re worried,” Stakar said dryly.

Aleta’s mouth turned down at the corners. “Do you always have to make it so goddamned hard to love you?” she asked in a falsely sweet voice.

“You love me? That’s news.” Stakar’s face was heating up. Damn her for doing this in front of Yondu. “Weren’t you talking about divorcing me awhile back?”

“I said that to hurt you,” she told him dismissively. “Did you really think I’d give them the satisfaction?”

“Give who the satisfaction?” asked Yondu quietly.

Stakar winced.

Aleta spared him a glance. “His family,” she said. “He’s not like us, Yondu. Our Stakar comes from money, and they were all scandalized when he ran off with a chunk of the family fortune and his gutter bitch wife.”

“Don’t talk like that,” said Stakar roughly.

“That’s what they called me. Don’t try to deny it. You always did like slumming it, that’s why you keep picking up trash and taking it home.” She winked at Yondu, who shifted awkwardly away from her.

“How much did you have to drink?” Stakar asked her gently.

Aleta spat at his feet; the gob of saliva hit his boot and oozed over the side. “Don’t give me that patronizing shit. You gave me your name and you fathered my children, and I make allowances for that, but you don’t get to coddle me like I’m soft.”

“I know you’re not soft.” She was drunk. That was all. Aleta always talked out of her ass when she was drunk.

“No, but you wish I was. You wanted me to be.” She sneered. “Thought putting a baby in me would slow me down, and when that didn’t work you put another one in me. Did it work, Stakar? Did I ever get soft?”

Stakar swallowed, refusing to look at Yondu. “No,” he said softly. “But I like to think you were happy.”

For a moment she looked stricken. “I was,” she whispered.

Stakar wanted to hold her. He forced himself to breathe instead. “Shit, that’s something then.”

Aleta rounded on Yondu. “See that? That’s how he does it. He loves you so sweet you don’t even notice the hooks he digs in. And you’re still standing here listening to this shitshow, so he must have his hooks pretty deep in you already.”

Yondu set his jaw. “I love him.”

“Of course you do. He’s easy to love. But someday, boy, you’re gonna want more than he’s giving you, and then. Then all hell breaks loose.” She jabbed a finger into Yondu’s chest. “You’re not one of those pretty rich whores who likes to stay put and spend their man’s money. Give it time. You’ll get tired of living with your wings clipped so he can keep you close.”

“Aleta, that’s enough,” Stakar snapped.

She laughed at him. “That’s your tragedy, Stakar. You like the wild things but you can’t leave us wild. You’ve got to try to tame us. We might be content to eat from your hand for awhile, husband, but we will never be tame.”

“Thought you left ‘cause o’ the kids,” Yondu murmured before Stakar could even think of what to say. The louder Aleta got, the quieter Yondu seemed to get, and something about that worried Stakar.

“I did. Our happy family fell apart, and I stopped wanting to pretend.” Aleta flashed Yondu a twisted smile.

“Pretend?” Stakar snarled before he could stop himself.

Aleta’s face did something he couldn’t interpret. “God, Stakar. You plucked me from the gutter. Do you have any idea what it’s like to live under that mountain of gratitude? How bad I wanted to be the woman you saw when you looked at me? It was fucking exhausting.” She shook her head. “You do this to yourself, you know. Should have stuck with the tame ones your family wanted for you. They wouldn’t fly away and leave when they outgrew you.”

Stakar flinched.

“Hey.” Yondu’s hand was in his suddenly, warm and strong. “Hey,” he said again, softer.

Stakar looked away from Aleta. It was harder to do than he thought.

Yondu squeezed his hand. “Let’s go t’ bed,” he suggested. “This ain’t nothin’ you want people t’ hear.”

Stakar was so grateful he could cry. Instead he pulled Yondu tight against him, pressing a kiss to the side of his head, over the tracing of scars he adored. “Yeah,” he whispered.

He met Aleta’s eyes over Yondu’s shoulder, and knew suddenly why she avoided him like she did. There was longing written all over her sharp face, as raw and bleeding as his own. Her fists were clenched at her sides, and Stakar knew she’d go to bed thinking about what he was doing to Yondu in his own room.

“You still got a room in my quarters,” he offered neutrally, feeling Yondu tense against him.

“So I can listen while you fuck him?” she snarled. “Be a man and ask me outright so I can tell you no.”

Stakar sighed. “Good night, Aleta.”

Yondu’s grip on him tightened. “Cap’n Ogord,” he murmured, polite—that was why she liked him, wasn’t it? Because he didn’t challenge her—as he started to pull Stakar back to their quarters.

“Enjoy it while it lasts, kid,” Aleta called.

Stakar doesn’t speak until they get to his office; this time, neither of them leaves the door open. “Yondu—”

“Shut up.”

Stakar falls silent, watchful and indulgent like he always was when Yondu tried to lead the game.

Yondu turns to face him. “You gotta stop this.”

“Stop what?” Stakar’s got his hands at his sides. Open. Nonthreatening. “I don’t understand.”

“Puttin’ my favorites in the mess rotation. Chattin’ up my boy. Actin’ like things is all gonna be fine when they ain’t. Things ain’t fine, Stakar. They ain’t ever been fine and they ain’t ever gonna be fine.”

Stakar runs a hand over his face. “Allow an old man to feel guilty?” he asks quietly. “I know it won’t make up for anything, Yondu. It just seemed like the least I could do.”

“It ain’t gonna work on me, just like it didn’t work on Aleta.” Yondu meets Stakar’s eyes as he drives the knife home. “You can act real sweet an’ hope all ya want, but ain’t neither of us comin’ back.”

Stakar goes white to the lips. “Don’t,” he says softly. “We don’t wanna do this, Yondu.”

“Oh, I think you’re wrong about that.” Yondu’s lips curl. He’d forgotten in all their years apart just what a rush it was to have Stakar on the ropes. “I think we gotta do this. Come on. We hurt each other too much t’ play nice now, Daddy.

Stakar flinches. “I didn’t realize you felt that way,” he says quietly.

“No?” Yondu laughs. “More like ya didn’t wanna believe I was pissed at you. You always liked it when I crawled.”

“That ain’t—” Stakar shakes his head. “Yondu, no.

“Well, I crawled for you too damn many times,” Yondu spits. “Won’t do it again. No use beggin’ t’ be heard when you don’t hear a fuckin’ thing I say anyhow.”

“I already told you, if you’d come to me earlier we could have done something—”

“How many times did I come t’ you?” Yondu shouts. “How many times did I swallow my pride an’ beg for a chance t’ come home? I had a kid t’ feed! We could’ve taken the fleet an’ blown Ego t’ hell before he found my boy!” He stops, breathing hard as the ground dips under him and he sways on his feet. “I had t’ kill my whole crew t’ get t’ him,” he says faintly. “That son of a bitch was gonna keep him an’ use him.” Bile rises in his throat. What Ego wanted from Quill was worse than death. Eternal slavery, forcing him to watch while everything he loved was destroyed or aged and died. Until he had nothing left but Ego.

“Yondu—”

“There ain’t nothin’ you can say t’ make that right,” Yondu whispers. He closes his eyes.

The sound of Stakar throwing himself into a chair just makes him mad. When he looks, Stakar’s got his head in his hands.

“I’m sorry.”

Yondu scoffs. “Pretty words.”

“No, I—Goddammit, I am sorry.” Stakar stares up at him a little helplessly. “I should’ve at least offered to help the kid.”

“I’d have never let you have him,” says Yondu coldly. “I might’ve been a fuckup but he was mine.”

“I would do it all differently if I had a chance to do it over,” says Stakar. “You’re absolutely right. We should have stopped him.”

Yondu thought he would enjoy this moment a lot more. He’s fantasized for decades about this, Stakar broken at his feet. This don’t live up to the picture in his mind. Less boot licking, for one. He sighs. “Don’t change a damn thing now.”

“I forgave you. I don’t know how to make you forgive me,” Stakar whispers.

Yondu laughs, but it ain’t funny. “You can’t. Only I get t’ decide when I forgive you.”

Stakar looks lost. “I just want you back in my life,” he says softly. “I don’t care what I gotta do, Yondu. Name it.”

Yondu turns away. Some part of him still can’t stand to watch Stakar suffer. “If it was just me I might bend,” he admits. “But my boy...”

“I can appreciate that,” Stakar tells him.

Yondu believes it. For all his faults, Stakar’s got a big heart. Those little Ogord kids were treasured, by Stakar and Aleta both in their own ways. He still can’t figure out what kind of mother Aleta must have been; that woman’s attitude toward Yondu was anything but motherly. He supposes it don’t matter.

“So I’m supposed to just let you go,” Stakar muses after they’ve been silent awhile.

“You was supposed t’ give me space t’ figure out how I oughta feel about you.” Yondu leans against Stakar’s desk.

“I’m a little afraid to know how you feel about me.”

“You ain’t alone.” Yondu sighs and runs a hand over his face. “You broke my heart too, you know.”

“Yeah, I know.” Stakar looks down at his hands. “I promised myself I’d never lose you like I lost Aleta.”

“So much for that,” says Yondu wryly.

“Do you even miss it?” The pleading note in Stakar’s voice tugs at heartstrings Yondu would usually deny having.

He sighs again. “Course I do,” he says quietly. “I miss feelin’ like nothin’ could touch me ‘cause I was yours. Only time in my life I felt safe.”

Stakar closes his eyes. “I wanted so badly to hate you,” he whispers. “Even after everything, I never could.”

Yondu’s hands clench. “Wish I could still trust you,” he says.

“Trust me?” Stakar looks up, and there’s finally some fire in his eyes. “You’re the one who broke the Code, Yondu. Carrying on behind my back like that, and by the time I found out there were no more options!”

Yondu barks a laugh. “Oh, I know I fucked up. I live with th’ proof of it every damn day. But you. When I went t’ you I thought you’d be able t’ fix it. Thought you’d make it okay. Did ya know that?”

Stakar shakes his head; the fire’s gone out of him now and he just looks exhausted.

Yondu wants to hold him. He pushes off the desk and paces instead. “Now look at ya. A sad lonely old man chasin’ another sad lonely old man who used t’ be your pretty young thing.”

“You’re still as pretty as ever,” Stakar says.

Yondu stops. Something in Stakar’s voice makes him look, and fuck, there it is.

It’s been a long time since anyone’s looked at Yondu like that. Even Kraglin’s bedroom eyes have softened with time and familiarity into a warm, slow burn. Not like this. Not hot enough to lick along Yondu’s skin like flames.

Stakar’s lips part, just a little, and Yondu remembers how they felt on his mouth, his neck, his cunt. He used to trace Stakar’s lips in the dark with a fingertip, until he thought he’d always know the shape of them by feel alone.

He can feel his resolve crumbling; he’s standing there like some dumb animal caught in headlights, and Stakar’s got that old look in his eyes. “Wish you wouldn’t look at me like that,” he whispers.

“Like what?” Stakar asks.

Yondu swallows. “You know what.”

“Like I wanna eat you alive?”

Yondu nods.

“Can’t help it. The man you’ve become...” Stakar shakes his head. “You know, seein’ you at the Iron Lotus brought back some shit.”

Yondu squeezes his eyes shut. Yeah, it certainly did. “Wasn’t th’ same without you,” he rasps.

Stakar huffs. “You get a bunch of girls to fill you up?”

“Yeah.” There’s no denying it; lying to himself has never done Yondu any favors in the long run, and he’s been chasing this high since his last hit. Going all the places Stakar goes, trying to recapture the feeling of being young and safe and free. Hoping to see Stakar because as bad as it always was, being forgotten would have been worse.

Hell. He’s as bad as Aleta.

“I would always have ‘em ride me,” Stakar says softly, “so I could close my eyes and pretend.”

“God.” Yondu can’t help the shudder that goes through him. He remembers riding Stakar’s cock, pinning his hands above his head and teasing him until Stakar snapped and rolled them over. He loved that, pushing Stakar until he broke.

Stakar snorts a soft laugh. “It was never the same when they called me Daddy though. You gave me a complex, you little pervert.”

Yondu’s lips twitch in spite of himself. “You was like that t’ begin with,” he says fondly.

“Bullshit. I was trying to be respectable.” Stakar’s eyes shine a little when he smiles.

“You wanted t’ fuck me the whole time. Quit lyin’.”

“Never crossed my mind before you brought it up.” But Stakar’s teasing him now; Yondu can see it in the way he’s trying not to grin.

“Uh huh. I ain’t ever stared at my kid’s ass like that.” Yondu crosses his arms.

“Your kid was little when you got him. His ass ain’t so bad now.” Stakar finally breaks and lets that wolfish grin spread across his face.

Yondu’s jaw drops. “The fuck? Take that back! An’ keep your dirty old man eyes t’ yourself!”

Stakar laughs, and Yondu’s torn between laughing with him and whistling him through the dick. “Calm down already. Why would I be lookin’ at him when I could watch you?”

Yondu can feel his face heating up, and he hates himself a little for getting worked up over such a stupid line. “You’re so full o’ shit,” he mutters.

“And you’re blushing.”

Yondu glares. “I take it back. I didn’t miss you at all.”

“Don’t be like that, baby,” says Stakar easily, and then stops.

The old nickname hangs in the air between them.

Suddenly it’s tense again, and Yondu’s pulse thuds in his ears when Stakar looks at him. This is dangerous ground.

“I should go,” he whispers.

Stakar nods. “I should let you.”

It happens too fast; Yondu steps toward the door at the same moment Stakar gets to his feet. There’s a second where Yondu thinks he’s gonna make it, but then there’s a big, warm hand on his arm and the touch is electric and he turns to say something—he doesn’t know what—and Stakar’s mouth meets his.

The kiss is all soft lips and rough stubble. Yondu can taste the Phanoxian stew in his mouth, and under it Stakar himself. It’s heady, and he parts his lips for more.

Stakar delivers, slipping his tongue into Yondu’s mouth. It makes his knees weak; no one can kiss him like Stakar. A hand on his waist pulls him in tight, and Yondu can’t help the little noise that escapes him.

Shit, I missed this,” Stakar whispers, breaking the kiss to mouth under Yondu’s jaw. “Missed the taste of you, missed how you feel.”

Yondu shudders, clutching at Stakar’s shoulders. His mind is racing, and he don’t much like where it’s going. “Stakar—”

Stakar squeezes his waist. “I know you’re not gonna stay,” he says, bowing his head so it’s resting on Yondu’s shoulder. “I know that. That’s not what this is. Just...”

Yondu closes his eyes. Stakar feels so good in his arms. He even smells good, and god knows that ain’t something Yondu’s used to.

Stakar kisses his neck so sweetly he wants to cry. “One for the road, beautiful?”

Would once be so bad?

It would, and he knows it. But Stakar’s tongue darts out to taste his skin. It’s hot, and it sends a shock of lust straight to his gut. “I shouldn’t,” he says, and hates how husky his voice sounds. Slutty. Like he’s already been fucked to screaming and wants to start round two.

“But?” Stakar’s hands slide under his coat.

Fuck. Yondu kisses him again, dragging him in by his lapels and biting at his lips. “This don’t mean I forgive you,” he hisses against Stakar’s mouth.

Stakar groans, pulling Yondu tighter against him. He’s hard; Yondu can feel his cock against his hip. He wants it inside him, cunt or mouth he can’t decide. Somewhere. Wants to tease it until Stakar breaks for him with those soft little grunts he used to make when it got good.

Yondu drags his hands over Stakar’s shoulders just to feel the size of him. As guilty as it makes him feel, there’s something he loves about being with a man who’s bigger and broader than he is. Makes him feel soft somehow, little and sweet.

Or maybe it’s just Stakar that’s always made him feel like that.

One of Stakar’s hands drops to his ass, and it makes Yondu arch, pressing tighter against him. They both hiss; Yondu wants to be naked, wants to feel Stakar’s sweat-slicked skin against his own.

“Beautiful boy,” Stakar whispers against his mouth, and Yondu moans at how wrecked he sounds.

He tugs at Stakar’s leathers, clumsy in his eagerness to get them off. Stakar has to push him away with an indulgent smile.

So Yondu sets to work on his own clothes, unbuckling his harness, unbuttoning his shirt, tossing the scarf away to grab later. It takes him a minute to remember to shrug off his coat.

One of Stakar’s hands settles on his waist again, this time with only Yondu’s thin undershirt between them. It’s hot like a brand, and it makes Yondu go still as Stakar steps close. He kisses Yondu’s cheek, right over the webbing of scars that ruined his face when he was a kid. He can still remember the moment he knew he was gonna hit the net and the smell of his own burning flesh.

But Stakar’s always loved those scars. He kisses them again, lips moving over Yondu’s cheekbone so tenderly he has to shut his eyes.

He’s not looking when the hand pushes under his shirt, tracing his skin with greedy fingertips. Stakar pauses when he gets to a scar on Yondu’s side.

“This one’s new,” he says softly.

“Ain’t.” Yondu swallows. “It’s just been a long time.”

“Show me.” Stakar’s eyes go hot and dark. “Get the rest of this shit off, I wanna see you.”

Yondu scrambles, need crawling under his skin like an itch. He bends down to get his boots off and nearly falls over when Stakar puts a hand on his hip.

“Steady,” he murmurs.

Fuck.” Yondu kicks the boots off and pushes his pants down. The air is cool on his overheated skin.

Stakar’s got his shirt off and his pants open, and damn if he doesn’t look good. Older, yes, not quite as hard and muscular as he used to be, but big and solid.

Yondu takes a second to feel self-conscious about his own body. Years of hard living take their toll, after all.

But Stakar sighs at the sight of him and reaches out to trail the backs of his fingers down Yondu’s chest. “Still so pretty,” he says in a low, rough voice.

Yondu ain’t proud of the way he throws himself into Stakar’s arms, pressing their bare chests together and reveling in the contrast of Stakar’s sparse chest hair against his own smooth skin. He kisses him again, tracing the shape of those lips with his tongue.

Stakar deepens the kiss into something proper, backing Yondu toward the desk. The more things change, Yondu thinks stupidly when Stakar sweeps a hand out to clear the papers and send them scattering, and he hops up..

Having Stakar’s bulk between his legs again is almost too good; Yondu shivers as big hands grip his thighs and tug him closer.

“You look so good,” Stakar whispers. “Never thought I’d get to touch you again, and here you are.” The timbre of his voice has Yondu shivering, arching to get closer and so wet he can feel it on his thighs.

Stakar kisses his forehead as he slips a hand between Yondu’s legs. “You’re the first thing the stars ever gave back to me,” he tells Yondu.

Yondu closes his eyes and wraps his arms around Stakar’s shoulders. He’d say the same, but it ain’t true. Yondu’s lost more than Stakar ever has, and by some miracle, most of the important bits drifted back to him. “Stakar.”

Stakar’s thumb brushes his clit, making him jerk and banishing the guilt that had started to bubble up. “Missed your pretty cunt, baby. You’re so wet for me...”

Fuck.” Yondu bites his lip as Stakar begins to circle his clit with a wet, callused thumb. He remembers just how to touch Yondu, even after all these years. It makes Yondu shudder and cling to him tighter, kissing his neck until he gives in and bites down.

Stakar hisses, letting his head fall back. “God, baby,” he groans. And he presses a finger into Yondu.

Yondu immediately whines for another, kicking at the back of Stakar’s thigh to make him give it. Greed comes in a lot of forms, and Yondu’s never just been greedy for money,

“Still so impatient,” Stakar whispers against his ear, rubbing his clit a little faster. “I missed that. I missed having you so hungry for me. Needy little slut.”

The dirty talk makes him throb; Stakar’s working him up fast. “Gonna come if you don’t quit it,” he growls.

“Would that be so bad?” Stakar kisses him. “Or do you want me to stop when you’re close?”

Yondu shudders; it’s been a long time since he’s played those games. “Shit, no. Yes. I dunno, fuck.

“You always looked so pretty when I brought you right to the edge,” Stakar husks against his mouth. “Loved keeping you there, shaking like that, knowing all I had to do was touch you and you’d come screaming for me.”

Yondu can feel himself getting closer, spurred on by Stakar’s filthy words and the memories they bring swimming to the surface. Moments in this very room where Yondu panted and sweated and came more times than he ever knew was possible. Memories of Stakar superimposed over the reality of him now: on his knees, driving Yondu insane with his mouth, or in his chair while Yondu bounced on his dick, shamelessly begging him to touch his clit, please, just let him come, Daddy, he’d do anything...

He breaks before he can make up his mind, legs jerking as he comes with a desperate grunt. He moans softly as Stakar brings his hand up to his mouth and licks his fingers.

“God,” he says, “nobody tastes like you, Yondu.”

Yondu bites his lip, squeezing Stakar with his legs. “Get in me,” he rasps.

Stakar groans deep in his chest. “Fuck yeah.” He lines himself up, and Yondu has a split second to register the pressure on his cunt before he’s pushing in.

It’s good; but then, it always is with Stakar. The man’s got a nice cock and he knows how to use it. He goes slow, bringing Yondu up with rolling, shallow thrusts until Yondu’s pounding on his back to make him move faster.

“Like that?” Stakar grins when his next thrust makes Yondu yell.

“Ah, shit,” Yondu groans.

“There you go, baby,” Stakar rumbles next to his ear. “That’s right, I got what you need. That feel good, pretty boy?”

Yondu nods, and then gasps when Stakar pushes him backward so he’s flat on his back. The angle’s better like this; Stakar can rail him just right and all Yondu has to do is hang on. He grips the edge of the desk when Stakar’s thrusts turn brutal.

Fuck, he’s close again; it never takes much to build him up after he’s already come. Stakar grips his thigh and lifts it a little. He can’t put Yondu’s leg over his shoulder like he used to, they’re both too old for that shit, but he can hold him open while he pounds Yondu’s cunt.

Yondu reaches down to touch his clit and get himself the rest of the way there, but Stakar blocks him. “Not yet, baby,” he tells him in a dark voice. “Not yet. Make it last...” Stakar’s eyes fall shut and his face twists with pleasure.

Yondu clenches around him to be an asshole, and grins when it makes him swear.

“You little shit,” laughs Stakar breathlessly. “God, I love you, Yondu.”

And now it’s Yondu’s turn to close his eyes against the tide of emotion those words let loose. Because he does and he doesn’t love Stakar back. This...whatever the shit this is, madness or homesickness or whatever this is, it don’t erase the past between them. Don’t make him feel brash and carefree and in love like he used to when they were together. But it is something.

He moans softly when Stakar shoves in to the hilt and stops moving. “You love your daddy, baby?”

“The hell you doin’?” Yondu snaps, opening his eyes to glare up at Stakar.

Stakar’s got a determined gleam in his eye. “I wanna hear you say it,” he says.

Yondu bites his lip. “An’ if I don’t?”

“You gonna play coy now, Yondu?” Stakar leans over and cups his cheek. “I love you,” he whispers. “Tell me you love me too.”

Yondu swallows. “Wouldn’t be here if I didn’t,” he says softly.

Stakar leans down to kiss him, real sweet. “So say it,” he murmurs against Yondu’s lips. “Tell Daddy you love him.”

“Hell no.” But Yondu shivers.

“Say it.” Stakar pets a fingertip across his clit, light enough to make Yondu shake. “Daddy needs to hear you say it, baby.”

“F-fuck,” Yondu breathes, clenching his cunt hard. It makes Stakar’s cock twitch, but he doesn’t move.

“You know who your daddy is,” he says darkly. “Say it so I can let you come.”

Yondu groans, only half in frustration. It feels like losing, and he’s lost so much to Stakar already. “Don’t need a daddy,” he says breathlessly.

Stakar rubs a little faster across his clit. “Baby,” he croons softly, “I’ll always be your daddy.”

He’s right. He’s right and it makes Yondu grind his teeth furiously. It’s sick and it’s dirty and he’s not sure why he’s fighting this when he’s the one who started it in the first place.

“Be a good boy,” Stakar whispers. “Say it for me so I can make you come.”

Yondu shuts his eyes. “I love you,” he grits out, and gasps as Stakar pulls out and thrusts back in. “Oh—oh hell, Daddy! Love you! I love you!” He throws his head back; Stakar’s got his rhythm back now. “Shit, that’s good, Daddy, jus’ like that, fuck, I need it...”

“I know you do.” Stakar’s hair flops into his eyes with the force of his thrusts, a grey curtain that doesn’t hide how his eyes roam Yondu’s body. “I need you too, baby. One last time, right? You’re still my beautiful boy.”

His thumb is moving just right over Yondu’s clit, and he’s fucking him at just the right angle, and Yondu’s winding tighter and tighter. “Daddy, please! Fuck, I wanna come, make me come, Daddy, c’mon, please!”

Stakar moans deep in his chest and comes with a last brutal thrust that sends Yondu sliding a couple inches along the desk. He hangs his head, panting, until Yondu kicks him directly in the ass.

“C’mon,” he snarls. “Make me come, you son of a bitch!”

Stakar makes a noise that could be a laugh or a sob, and goes back to rubbing Yondu’s clit. Yondu closes his eyes and rides the wave as it builds, higher and higher until he’s coming wet and messy all over the desk.

Stakar keeps him there, the evil fucker, rubbing too fast for Yondu to come down, and he gets one last, weak orgasm out of Yondu before Yondu snarls and Stakar lets him go.

He lets his legs drop and lays there limply, useless as Stakar’s unsigned paperwork. Chest heaving, he stares at the ceiling, listening to the sounds of Stakar picking their clothes up off the floor.

All these years, and all those promises, and here he is. Naked and come-crusted on Stakar’s desk.

Kraglin’s gonna be so pissed.

Yondu closes his legs, grimacing at the squelch. This ain’t the worst thing he’s ever done to Kraglin, but it ain’t far off.

That afterglow sure faded fast, he notes as he sits up and watches Stakar. The man’s holding his coat, but hesitantly, like he knows somehow that things ain’t the same as they were when they walked in this office.

“Don’t change nothin’,” says Yondu. He’s a little kinder than Stakar probably deserves.

Stakar takes a deep breath. “I know.” He stares at the wall.

Yondu cracks his neck; he’s too old for fucking on desks. Whole thing was stupid, anyhow. He wants Kraglin, even if he don’t deserve him. “Think that’s my pants over there,” he offers.

“Yeah.” Stakar bends down to grab them. When he hands them over, their fingers brush.

It ain’t electric like it used to be.

Yondu gets dressed in the awkward silence. Stakar keeps watching him, but he ain’t sure what for. Love? Regret? Yondu’s strangely apathetic about it.

When he’s finally shrugged his coat on, he lets himself look at Stakar again.

He don’t look happy. His mouth turns down at the corners and his shoulders aren’t straight like normal. But Yondu doesn’t feel the same urge to hold him and soothe him.

“Why’d you never find someone else?” he asks; the idea’s just occurred to him and now that he thinks about it, it seems strange. Stakar replaced Aleta with him, after all.

“Couldn’t do it again.” Stakar looks down and fastens his pants. “Hurt too much the first two times.”

Yondu looks down, ashamed. “I’m sorry,” he says, because he is.

“You wouldn’t do it any different,” Stakar says softly. “Not if it meant you might lose your boy.”

For a moment Yondu can’t speak. He never would have expected Stakar to understand that, but why not? Stakar loved his kids same as Yondu loves Quill.

Stakar shakes his head before Yondu can gather his thoughts enough to retort. “It is what it is,” he says. “But I’m still gonna lift your banishment. You come back to us if you want. It’s up to you.” He turns away to zip his jacket.

It’s a clear dismissal if Yondu’s ever seen one, and he’d be annoyed if he wasn’t so grateful to get out.

Once he’s out in the hallway he pauses, scratching his ass and looking around thoughtfully. He should piss, first thing, and wipe away any lingering jizz. That settles it. He goes for the closest toilets.

Should be a quick clean up, but once he’s sat on the shitter he finds himself staring blankly at the stall door. There’s some real creative graffiti written on there—comm signatures, reports on how so-and-so’s mother sucks cock, even a little poem about taking a dump. It ain’t half bad.

He don’t know what he’s gonna say to Kraglin.

There’s gonna be a ring around his ass if he don’t get up soon. Someone comes in and releases a noxious fart, which finally makes him push to his feet. He leaves the poor bastard to his dump and shoves his way back into the hall.

Time to face the music.

The Council went as smoothly as a gathering of lawless mercenaries could be expected. Stakar felt satisfied that there had been enough bonding over the last week to ensure cohesion among crews that rarely saw each other and that all the important business had been taken care of. Most of the ships were leaving tomorrow. The Ravagers would once again scatter to their various corners of space.

He’d missed having Aleta around. She’d been less standoffish than usual, hovering at the periphery and playing nice with their friends. And Yondu. She seemed particularly interested in Yondu.

Stakar wasn’t sure if it was just jealousy or if there was something more there. He rested an arm behind his head, staring at the ceiling and wishing he could figure her out.

Yondu was snoring in Stakar’s ear when the pounding on the door started. The reaction was instantaneous; Yondu was up with a high whistle and the arrow was hovering next to his head, both of them pointed toward the door.

Stakar touched his shoulder. “Hey,” he soothed, “it’s fine. Let me get it.”

He had a sneaking suspicion who it was.

Aleta’s hair was more of a tangle than usual, and she had a bottle clutched in her hand. When he opened the door she swung it at his head.

He jerked back, stumbling a step. She came for him again and he slapped the bottle out of her hand.

“Are you outta your goddamn mind?” he demanded as it crashed to the floor.

She let out a scream then, feral enough to raise the hair on his arms, and launched herself at him. Nails raked his bare chest before he caught her wrist.

“Aleta—”

A whistle pierced the air, and before Stakar could call him off Yondu had the arrow pointed at her throat. He let out a few lilting notes, backing her toward the wall. “What the hell’s goin’ on here?” he asked softly.

Aleta bared her teeth at him, taking in Yondu’s state of undress with grim satisfaction. “Fucked your slut, I see. I knew you’d have to get your dick wet, having me around again.”

“This is going too far,” Stakar snapped. “What the hell were you thinking?”

“Don’t act like you weren’t hoping it was me at the door! Why else would you leave your pet in the bedroom?”

Yondu’s whistle backed her up another step. “I ain’t a pet,” he said in a low voice. “Don’t make that mistake.”

Aleta looked at him for the first time, smirking as the arrow nudged her chin up. “No,” she agreed. “You might actually be man enough to handle me. Not like this asshole here. He cries when I fuck him.”

Yondu narrowed his eyes. “I figure that just means you’re good.”

“Oh, I am. Isn’t that right, Stakar?” Aleta grinned crookedly. “He’d fuck me right here in front of you if I told him he could.”

Stakar looked down, face going hot at the filthy taunts. “Thought you were telling me no,” he whispered.

“What if I wasn’t? What if I’m drunk and horny? You gonna turn me away?” Her eyes gleamed.

“Coming in swinging doesn’t exactly make for a tempting proposal,” Stakar said wryly.

She snorted. “Like hell. You like it when I fight you.”

“This is quite the change of heart.” Stakar’s heart was pounding. He could barely stand to look at her, she was so beautiful in the red glow of Yondu’s arrow. He turned back to Yondu to see something flash across his face. Some expression Stakar couldn’t name.

“Don’t think y’all told me the rules t’ this game,” Yondu said after a beat.

Aleta laughed. “I don’t play games,” she growled. “Maybe you two have been playing house for the last couple years, but Mama’s home now. Time for pretty boys to go back to bed and let the grownups talk.”

Stakar closed his eyes.

“Mama’s home, huh?” Yondu repeated softly. “That’s real interestin’. Don’t you think so, Daddy?”

Stakar groaned without opening his eyes. “Yondu...”

“Holy shit,” Aleta whispered. “Stakar, you twisty fuck. He calls you Daddy?”

Stakar swallowed. “Yeah,” he choked out.

“That’s a pretty fucked up way to get yourself a new family,” she said wryly.

“Oh, I started it,” said Yondu. “He couldn’t decide at first if he wanted t’ be my daddy or if he wanted t’ fuck me. So I made him choose.”

“I knew I liked you,” she murmured. “Only he’s a kinky little freak and he got off on it.”

“Well, yeah. If I let you go, you gonna hit him again? I don’t feel right keepin’ you like this.”

Aleta grinned at him with too many teeth. “Liar. I bet it feels really good to call the shots for a change. Bet he keeps you dancing so you barely know which way’s up most of the time.”

Yondu swallowed. “An’ how does he keep you dancin’, Mama?” he asked quietly.

Stakar was close enough to see her shiver. “On the end of a real long string,” she told Yondu with a curl of her lips. She turned those dark eyes on Stakar. “Sometimes he can reel me back in.”

Stakar swallowed. Aleta was out for blood, the mood she was in. “Yondu,” he murmured, “let her up.”

A sharp whistle brought the arrow back to Yondu’s hand.

“So,” said Aleta, lounging against the wall like it was her idea to be there, “tell me more about how this started, Yondu. I think I’ll enjoy hearing this.”

Yondu’s eyes flicked between them uncertainly. “I mean—”

“You seduced him?” Aleta pushed off the wall slowly. “Said you made him choose. How’d you do it?”

Yondu swallowed, watching her like a threat. “He kept tryin t’ treat me like a kid. Had t’ convince him I wasn’t one.”

“He’s good at denial, isn’t he?” she agreed with a smirk. “So you fucked him.”

“Yeah,” Yondu whispered.

“And did he run away afterward?”

Stakar squirmed. He wasn’t exactly proud of how he’d acted in those early days.

But Yondu was warming to the topic now, pacing Aleta while she circled him around the kitchen. “‘Course he did. So I chased him into the head the next day an’ fucked him in there.”

Aleta let out a delighted laugh. “Good for you. He likes that, you know. Being chased. Makes him feel sexy.”

Yondu spared Stakar half a glance. “Who doesn’t like bein’ wanted?”

“Mm. And my dear husband wants so desperately to be needed.” Aleta looked sideways at Stakar. “When he was trying to get me to stay he would do whatever I wanted. I could use him as a footstool while I worked, or ride his cock for hours without letting him come. Sometimes I liked to hurt him for no reason.” Her eyes gleamed.

“Sounds like you got some unresolved issues,” said Yondu dryly.

She snorted another laugh. “Oh, Stakar, I really do like him.”

Yondu caught her wrist before her punch could land, slamming her into the wall. “I been told good parents don’t fight in front o’ the kids,” he hissed in her face.

“Good fathers don’t fuck their sons either,” she spat back. “Wanna know what that makes us?”

Stakar took a useless step forward. He had no idea how to stop this thing that was escalating in front of his face.

“What does that make us?” Yondu asked her in a soft, scratchy voice.

Aleta arched her body delicately, rising up on her toes to brush her lips across Yondu’s. “Filthy fucking degenerates,” she whispered against his mouth. “Now let me up, pretty boy. I eat pussy better than he does.”

Yondu took a shaky breath. “Daddy?” he whispered.

Stakar shuddered, already picturing Aleta’s dark head between Yondu’s thighs. “God, yes,” he breathed.

Aleta smirked. “I should take you apart while he watches,” she cooed to Yondu. “What do you think?”

Yondu kissed her instead of answering, pressing her against the wall with a hand still curled around her wrist.

Her fingers flexed and she let out a filthy moan, arching against him. “That’s it, pretty boy,” she hissed. “You gonna let me have you? Hm? I can fuck you harder than he ever could.”

“I like cock a little too much t’ be satisfied with you,” Yondu purred, licking her jaw. “Unless you brought one with ya.”

She huffed a laugh and wiggled her hand out of his grip. “You have Stakar’s if you need it. This is a one-time offer. You gonna let me lick his come out of you or not?”

Yondu grabbed her around the waist, hauling her in close as he took a step backward toward the bedroom. “Only if ya let me call you Mama while you do it.”

“Nasty little slut, aren’t you?” Aleta smirked. “Fine. Call me whatever you want. Stakar.”

Stakar gulped. “Yeah?”

“Think you can make yourself useful?” Aleta hooked her leg around Yondu’s waist and kicked; he obediently picked her up. “Try really hard to get it up again. I wanna see if you can fuck this boy like you used to fuck me.”

Stakar shuddered, following them helplessly back to the bedroom. His chest still stung from Aleta’s claw marks, and he would no doubt be covered in more tomorrow.

By the time he got there Yondu had Aleta on her back. He was leaning over her, petting lightly along her fly as he whispered in her ear.

Stakar desperately wanted to know what Yondu said to make her moan like that, but he was distracted a moment later by deft blue fingers unzipping her pants.

“Let me,” he said roughly, sinking to his knees so he could pull her boots off. He loved Aleta’s feet, the smallness of them, and he stroked her delicate ankle before he tugged her pants down. She was bare under the leathers, and the scent of her cunt nearly knocked him over with sheer need.

Now that he was closer he could hear Yondu’s whispers; he looked up the length of Aleta’s body just as his beautiful boy slipped a hand between her legs.

“That’s right,” Yondu murmured as Aleta arched under him, “I’m gonna show you everything Daddy taught me while you was gone. Gonna make you feel real nice, Mama.”

“Get your fingers in me if you wanna make me happy,” she growled. “Unless Stakar just taught you to be a dirty little tease.”

“He’s a terrible tease,” Stakar murmured, parting her thighs with his hands. “But I don’t think he got that from me.”

“He likes to get me right on the edge an’ then leave me there,” Yondu told her with a pout. “Sometimes he won’t let me come for days.

Aleta choked a laugh, leg twitching when Yondu pushed a finger into her. “That shit gets him off. It’s a power trip.”

“It’s more than that.” Stakar kissed the inside of her thigh, huffing a deep breath through his nose. “It’s how pretty you both look when I get you that desperate.”

“Told you he likes to feel needed,” Aleta whispered. “Did he let you come earlier?”

Stakar cleared his throat awkwardly. “I was gonna in the morning.”

Aleta actually rolled her eyes at him. “You’re a damn sadist sometimes, you know that? Get up here, pretty boy, Mama’s got you covered.”

Yondu shivered. “Want me to sit on your face?”

“Just said so, didn’t I?” Aleta grinned. “Come on, I can take it.”

Stakar couldn’t stop himself then; he had to taste her. Her cunt was right in front of him. The high-pitched gasp she made when he ran his tongue across her clit was perfect, just like the flavor of her.

“Oh hell,” Yondu said faintly. “Daddy, you gonna lick her while she licks me?”

Stakar hummed an affirmative against Aleta’s cunt, grinning when it made her swear.

“Only thing his goddamned mouth is good for,” she gasped.

Stakar scowled. If that was how she was gonna play it, then she could forget being nice. He decided to take his time. Instead of devouring her like he wanted, he spread her lips with his thumbs and licked her gently. Barely enough to keep her twitching under his tongue.

Yondu’s sharp gasp made him look up, and his cock jumped at the sight of his boy straddling his wife’s face with his head thrown back.

“Oh fuck,” Yondu moaned, hips jerking. “Fuck, that’s good. Oh, shit...”

Stakar couldn’t see much, but he could see the way Aleta’s hands clutched at Yondu’s ass to keep him where she wanted him. “Tastes good, doesn’t he?” Stakar whispered roughly to her. “Real sweet. He’s so damn sweet...” He ducked his head to lap at her clit again.

Aleta groaned deep in her chest, hips coming up off the bed. It sent something dark and possessive through Stakar, the thought that her body still craved him. He circled her clit with the very tip of his tongue, chuckling when her moaning turned into muffled yelling.

It was enough to make Yondu whine. “Ah hell, he’s lickin’ you so good, ain’t he? You gonna come on Daddy’s tongue, Mama?”

Aleta’s hand cracked across his ass, making him jump and squeal.

Stakar snorted. “Careful, girl. He likes it when you spank him.” He slid a finger into her cunt, just a tease before he pulled it back out again. “And you don’t hate his dirty talk as much as you’d like to. You’re fucking soaked, baby.”

“‘Course she is,” Yondu gasped. “Got your hot little tongue on her cunt, don’t she?”

Stakar huffed a laugh. “Surprised you ain’t coming your brains out just yet, baby. I know what her mouth can do.”

“She’s doin’ just fine,” Yondu moaned. “Doin’ real—ah!—real good. Ah, hell, Mama, just there, please, please don’t fuckin’ stop, please don’t—fuck!

Aleta smacked his ass again, hard enough to leave a pretty violet handprint on his cheek.

Stakar took the opportunity to unzip Aleta’s jacket and part it, leaving only her thin undershirt covering her upper half. That was easy to push up, so he did, cupping his hands over her tits as he bent his head to lick her again. Her nipples were hard under his fingertips, just like her clit, swollen and needy just for him.

Shit,” gasped Yondu. “Come on, yeah, suck it like that. God, Mama, you’re gonna make me come. Gonna make me come just like Daddy does—” he broke off with a shaky cry.

Stakar was so hard; the taste of Aleta and the sound of Yondu together were the hottest things he’d ever heard. He wanted to fuck her, make her come on his cock and remember why they were so good together.

Yondu’s breathy cries told him his boy was coming all over Aleta’s face. It made him want to kiss her mouth, or lick her cheeks. Whatever he could to taste Yondu on her.

He glanced up to see Yondu fall to the side, chest heaving. The sight of his gorgeous boy looking flushed and sated made something primal swell in Stakar’s chest. He pulled a hand out of Aleta’s shirt to pet Yondu’s calf. “She’s got a sharp tongue, don’t she?”

It got him a hazy, fond grin. “Turns real sweet when she wants,” Yondu agreed. He stretched luxuriously. “We oughta show Mama a good time, Daddy.”

“Yeah, Stakar.” Aleta was panting. “Show me a good time. I’ve been sweet to your boy, after all.”

Stakar smirked. “He calls you Mama and he came in your mouth. I think he’s your boy now too.”

That made her smile, pleased as a cat. “Is that right.”

“Let me fuck you, baby.” He blurted it without thinking.

Her smile vanished. “Told you that was never gonna happen.”

“You also told me you weren’t coming back to my bed, but here you are with your legs spread for me,” he shot back. “Come on, girl, you know how I can make you feel.”

“He’s real good,” Yondu murmured. He settled near Aleta’s head, stroking her tangled hair back from her face.

“Don’t need you to tell me shit about how he fucks,” Aleta grumbled, but she allowed Yondu to kiss her and curl a hand around her throat.

Stakar bent his head again, wrapping his lips around her clit and sucking until she bucked and squealed. Then he pulled off.

Her hand shot down to grab a handful of his hair and drag him back. He grinned against her wet cunt and licked her lips, avoiding her clit just to listen to her snarls change pitch. “I can still get you desperate, girl,” he murmured, flicking his tongue lightly over her clit. “You know just how good I am at this.”

“I know you’re a manipulative asshole,” she moaned. “Yondu, be a good boy and distract him for me.”

Yondu looked torn when Stakar picked his head up. “Uh, what’d ya have in mind?”

Stakar smirked and tongued her clit again.

Fuck! I don’t know, lick his asshole, give him your cunt to fuck! Get him to quit it!” Aleta arched, so Stakar slid an arm under her back before he sucked her clit into his mouth again.

She wailed, breaking under him with a full body shudder. Stakar licked her through it, holding her where he wanted her until she stopped shaking.

“Good girl,” he whispered against her thigh when she was done. “Always so good.”

He looked up to meet her eyes. She looked debauched and furious, and he loved her so much his chest ached.

He smirked and licked her again, just once.

“No!” Aleta’s head fell back. “Fuck, don’t you do it again, Stakar. Don’t you dare wind me up again!”

He chuckled. “Got some making up to do, don’t I?” he purred, and dove back in.

Aleta screamed, as much in frustration as pleasure. Stakar knew she could go more than once—she could go more than twice, for that matter—but she got real sensitive. He loved it.

“Fucking—I hate you,” she gasped. “God, god damn you, I’m close, I’m close!”

Stakar eased off, taking her kick with a grunt. “Can make you come harder on my cock,” he told her.

She panted at him, mouth hanging open.

A flash of blue in Stakar’s periphery reminded him Yondu was still here. He nibbled Aleta’s ear, making her eyes fall shut with pleasure. “Why you fightin’ it so hard, Mama?” he whispered. “You’ve done nothin’ but fight since ya came here, but you came, so why you actin’ like this ain’t what you wanted?” He tipped her head back and kissed her. “I ain’t so bad with a cunt myself, an’ we both know he can make you see god, way he fucks. Let us have you.”

Aleta quivered, moaning faintly when Yondu’s hand stroked down her body. She lifted her hips when he reached her cunt, whining into his mouth.

Stakar kissed his fingers where they danced across Aleta’s clit. “Good boy,” he murmured.

“Fine,” Aleta whispered as soon as Yondu broke the kiss. “Damn you both.”

Stakar pushed off his knees with a grunt and settled on the bed. He pulled at Aleta’s legs until he got her where he wanted. “Wanna watch your face when I push it in,” he told her darkly. “Wanna see you remember what you need.”

She bared her teeth.

Stakar smirked and slid into her, watching her face go slack with pleasure. “That’s right,” he whispered. “That’s right, girl, you were made for my cock.”

Aleta groaned deep in her chest, fingers digging into the blankets. “I hate you,” she moaned again. “God, I hate you.”

“No you don’t.” Stakar leaned down and kissed her, finally, and she parted her lips for him so sweet. He licked into her mouth, tasting Yondu on her lips. It made his cock twitch, and he started to thrust in earnest.

She cried out, panting against his mouth when he sped up. One of her hands clawed at his shoulder before Yondu pulled it away.

“You look real pretty like this,” Yondu whispered to her. “Your face when he’s fuckin’ you, Mama, you look so good.” He kissed her fingers as they twitched. “You wanna come? I wanna see you come again.”

Aleta nodded, chest heaving. “Do it,” she hissed. “Do it, you little slut, make me come.”

Stakar pulled out, getting up on his knees to give Yondu room. He pulled Aleta half into his lap, letting her legs splay on either side of him.

Yondu slipped his hand back between her legs, tracing clever fingers over her clit. “You’re so wet,” he whispered. “He’s got you so wet, Mama. You’re all hard right here.”

She sobbed once, bucking her hips. “If you fuckers go back to teasing me, I swear I’ll kill you both.”

Stakar pushed back into her just as Yondu started to rub her clit, and the noise she made raised the hair on Stakar’s arms. Her cunt clenched hard around him and he cursed as his balls tightened. Too soon, he couldn’t let it be over too soon.

Yondu kissed Aleta’s neck, and Stakar took a moment to marvel at how sweet she let him get with her. She didn’t tolerate that kind of softness from Stakar anymore. When she came back to him—and god, this was the first time he’d had her in years—she wanted it hard and filthy. Nothing to remind her of how she’d loved him.

It occurred to him he was jealous of Yondu, getting to stroke her and kiss her and whisper soft dirty things in her ear. And when Aleta caught his eye and smirked, he realized he was meant to be.

She turned her head and kissed Yondu as she came, arching under Stakar and clenching hard enough to drag him over the edge with her.

Stakar moaned, gripping her hips and closing his eyes. He tried to savor it, the feel of her around him and her taste in his mouth.

Who knew when he’d have it again?

He stayed buried in her until he started to go soft. Then he slipped out and sat back, just watching her.

She stretched, smiling up at Yondu as he sat up and cracked his neck. “You’re good, pretty boy,” she finally said. “I can see why he loves you.”

Yondu didn’t answer, just studied her for a moment before he smiled crookedly. “Yeah,” he said softly, “I can see why he loves you too.”

“Give your mama a kiss,” she said imperiously, and he did, caressing her cheek with the backs of his fingers. Then he pulled back and slipped off the bed.

The look he gave Stakar was almost pitying before he went to the bathroom and shut the door.

Stakar took a moment to just look at her, the angles of her cheekbones and the silvery scars across her belly. The only physical proof of their babies he could still touch. He reached out to touch, but Aleta caught his wrist.

She looked at Stakar. “He’s a sweet kid,” she said. “He doesn’t deserve you.”

Stakar froze.

“You’re gonna break him, Stakar. You can’t help yourself. You’ll drive him off. And he’s gonna rip the bleeding heart out of you when he goes.” She let him go and sat up. “Don’t look for me. This isn’t happening again.”

Stakar stared at her helplessly. “Then what did you come here for?” he whispered.

Aleta reached for her pants, tugging them on briskly. “You think I’m gonna let you replace me?” She zipped her fly and got to her feet. “I had to see what I was dealing with.”

“I love you,” Stakar said blankly.

She gave him a pitying look. “God, Stakar.” She bent to press a swift kiss to his forehead. “Take care of yourself, you damned idiot. And take care of him while he lets you.”

Stakar watched her go, staring at the door for a long time after it closed behind her.

Kraglin knows as soon as Yondu steps through the door. If you asked him how, he wouldn’t be able to say. But he knows.

He ain’t sure how to feel about it. There’s a lot of stuff that he should feel, probably, like rage and betrayal and shit. But mostly right now he’s calm.

Yondu must see it on his face, because he doesn’t say anything. Just sighs and looks at his feet.

“So,” Kraglin says into the silence, “you get what ya needed?”

“What I need is right here,” says Yondu roughly.

Kraglin stares at him. “You’re gonna say that to me? Fresh off fuckin’ someone else?”

Yondu winces and looks away. “It was stupid,” he rasps. “Never shoulda done it.”

“But ya did.” Kraglin tilts his head.

Yondu nods. He ain’t looking at Kraglin.

“After ya begged me not to let you,” Kraglin says softly.

“Hell.” Yondu paces away from him. “We still got the M-ship on the Quadrant,” he says. There’s a manic note in his voice that Kraglin don’t like. “We can take it an’ go. Message Quill an’ the others that we’ll meet ‘em once they got the engine. I’ll take ya someplace nice, darlin’. Real nice. I ain’t done nothin’ special for you in what, fifteen years? We gotta fix that.”

“What the hell’s wrong with you?” Kraglin snaps. Somehow Yondu pacing around like a madman pisses him off worse than the fact that he slept with Stakar.

Yondu stops and blinks at him.

Kraglin crosses his arms tightly. “Ain’t ever known you t’ run away from a fight.”

“Not everything’s a fight.” Yondu’s watching him warily.

“This is. This right here? Fuckin’ is. Did ya want it? Or did he just convince you ya did?”

Yondu looks startled, and for a second Kraglin hates him for forgetting that he knows him. In his bones and in his guts, Kraglin knows Yondu better than he knows himself.

“Well?” he snaps.

“I dunno,” Yondu mumbles.

The worst of it is that Kraglin believes him. He sits down heavily on the bed. “Shit.

Yondu swallows. “I’d understand,” he says haltingly, “if you want me t’ leave.”

“Already told you,” snarls Kraglin. “I ain’t gonna throw you away like he did.”

Yondu flinches like Kraglin raised a hand to him.

Kraglin hates it. He hates it, to the point where a red haze is creeping in at the edges of his vision and he wants blood. Preferably Stakar’s.

Damn him, for turning Yondu into this. This shrinking shriveled husk of a man, when Kraglin knows how much more Yondu can be.

“I ain’t makin’ you leave,” he repeats softly, and looks up at Yondu.

Yondu won’t look at him, and Kraglin finally sighs. He pats the bed beside him. “C’mere.”

After what’s clearly an argument with himself, Yondu lowers his ass onto the bed. The mattress dips.

“Okay,” says Kraglin after a measured breath, “you gotta know I ain’t that mad at ya. I ain’t sayin’ I ain’t pissed at all, but not like you’re thinkin’.”

He keeps staring ahead, but he can feel Yondu’s eyes on him.

“Why th’ hell did you ever put up with me?” Yondu finally asks.

Kraglin shrugs. “Sometimes I ain’t sure.”

“I ain’t kiddin’ about gettin’ outta here,” Yondu says. “I still love him, Kraglin. That’s the hell of it, I’m choosin’ you but that don’t mean I don’t still love him.”

Once, a lifetime ago, Kraglin had been caught thieving from a Kree merchant on a dilapidated colony. It was technically within Nova space, so the guy couldn’t kill him like he wanted to. Instead, he’d been sentenced to five lashes—a light sentence by Kree standards. The merchant had been pissed at Kraglin getting off so easy, so he’d made every lash count. The wounds had taken weeks to heal, and Kraglin still sports the scars.

Yondu’s words hurt about as much as them lashes.

“You’re gonna do it again,” he says flatly.

Yondu looks at his hands. “Never said that.”

Why’d he have to do it the first time, Kraglin can’t help but wonder. Sure, they’d never made any promises to each other, but when there’s been no one else for a long enough time, a man starts to make assumptions. More fool Kraglin.

“Maybe I deserve this,” he says softly. “‘Cause of the mutiny. Maybe this is what I get for breakin’ your heart.”

No.” There’s steel in Yondu’s voice now; Kraglin’s glad to hear it. “You quit it with that talk, now. You don’t deserve none o’ this.”

Kraglin huffs a laugh. “Deserve an award, maybe. Stupidest fuck in the galaxy.”

“Nah, I oughta win that one.”

“You’re not funny,” Kraglin says.

Yondu looks down. They sit in silence for a bit.

Finally Kraglin asks, “so why are you choosin’ me if you love him so much? I ain’t got that kinda pull on you. Why not go back t’ him?” It’s a cruel question, but he can’t help himself.

Yondu’s shoulders hunch. “Quill hates him.”

“That better not be the reason you give me.”

“No, it ain’t, it’s—” Yondu huffs in frustration. “Minute I got my head straight, Kraglin, I wanted you. I was still on his desk, for fuck’s sake. He was lookin’ right at me, an’ I wanted you.”

It’s Kraglin’s turn to look down.

Yondu swallows and continues, “an’ I ain’t never wanted nobody else when I was with you.”

Kraglin laughs and doesn’t stop when Yondu shrinks into himself. “Thought you was with me this morning,” he says, “an’ last night, an’ the day before that. Thought you been with me all the years you loved Stakar. Bullshit ain’t gonna help you outta this one.”

Yondu braves a glance at Kraglin, and the misery on his face is enough to make Kraglin relent.

He stops laughing and levels Yondu with a surly look. “Gimme a real answer. Why you want me instead o’ him?”

Yondu’s tongue darts out to moisten his lips, and Kraglin tries not to think of him kissing Stakar. “I-” He can’t look at Kraglin anymore. “I need you. T’ make me better.”

Kraglin tilts his head and waits.

“I’m better, when I’m with you,” Yondu finally settles on. “Stronger, smarter. You an’ Quill, you bring out whatever good shit I got. Stakar don’t.” He swallows. “I could be a good man if I stuck with you.”

“Stickin’ with me got you exiled,” says Kraglin flatly.

“You agreed t’ get Quill,” Yondu says. “You agreed we had t’ keep him. You didn’t want him, but you agreed with me.”

Kraglin scowls at the wall. It’s true; he hadn’t wanted Pete, and he’d never been too quiet about it.

“Stakar never even thought about goin’ t’ get him.” Yondu’s jaw tightens. “He coulda taken the fleet an’ wiped the bastard out, but he didn’t. He was too busy bein’ pissed at me.”

“It’s cute you’re rememberin’ to hate him now,” says Kraglin lightly.

Yondu groans. “Hate an’ love ain’t so different.”

“Think I need you to tell me that?” snaps Kraglin.

Yondu shrinks into himself until his chin touches his chest.

Kraglin sighs and looks at the wall again. It’s as blank as his mind.

He wants to kill Stakar. If it was anyone else, he’d already be dead. But the head of the Ninety-Nine Ravager clans ain’t a man Kraglin can shiv in a back alley. When he looks down at his hands, he can see they’re shaking.

He’s fighting a losing battle, is what he’s doing. Stakar’s surrounded by loyal Ravagers, and Kraglin’s the sole survivor of his clan.

All the rest are dead because of him. And now he stands to lose Yondu too.

It’s hard to breathe, suddenly. He stares at his hands until his vision blurs, and jumps when a warm hand lands on his shoulder. He shoves it away. “Don’t touch me.”

Yondu jerks back. “I just—” But he lets it go.

Kraglin turns back to the wall and imagines how it’s gonna play out. How Yondu will fight and fight and lose, and crawl back to Stakar at the end of it all. He imagines the disgust in Pete’s eyes might be enough to tear him away, but then, it might not.

He tries to imagine shipping out with Pete and his people and leaving Yondu behind.

He can’t.

If Yondu goes back to Stakar, Kraglin will have lost everything. He might as well toss himself out an airlock like the rest of the crew, because he’s made too many enemies and killed all his friends, and a man alone don’t live long out here.

He wonders if Yondu sees that.

Can’t bring himself to ask.

“Ya didn’t say you loved me,” he finally manages to whisper.

“What?” Yondu sounds like he ain’t sure he heard right.

“All the reasons you gave why you’re choosin’ me,” Kraglin says real quiet. “Didn’t say ya loved me too.”

Yondu’s hissed breath sounds loud in the silence. “Thought it went without sayin’.”

“Not when you stink like another man’s jizz it don’t.” Kraglin looks down. He can hear Yondu trying to sniff himself without being obvious.

“That ain’t gonna happen again,” says Yondu firmly. “It was a mistake the first time an’ I ain’t doin’ it again.”

“Okay.” Kraglin gets to his feet. He doesn’t want to look at Yondu anymore.

“I mean it, Kraglin.” There’s a desperate note in Yondu’s voice.

He does mean it, that’s the thing. He always means it in the moment. Kraglin ain’t sure how he’d come to place so much faith in Yondu over the years, but now that it’s crumbling he can see it real clear. “I know ya do,” he says kindly.

Kraglin gathers himself and takes a long look at Yondu. He’s spent his whole adult life with this man. Helped him raise a kid. Watched his back. Taken more than a couple hits for him.

Yondu’s his whole world.

“We had a pretty good run, didn’t we?” he asks with a little smile.

Yondu’s eyes go wide with alarm. “Kraglin,” he starts.

Kraglin turns away before he can say anything else. “I love you,” he says bluntly. “I ain’t ever loved nobody else.”

“Kraglin—” Yondu tries again.

Kraglin ignores him and walks out the door. Way he figures, he’s got a choice, and letting Yondu fall back into this thing that’s making him so damn miserable ain’t an option he can live with.

If he’s gonna lose either way, he might as well take Stakar down with him.

“I know this is gonna change things.” Yondu shuffled like a little kid, fiddling with his arrow and not meeting Stakar’s eyes. “It don’t gotta change everything though.”

Stakar sat back heavily in his chair. It wasn’t like he didn’t know this day would come, but he’d be lying if he claimed to be ready for it.

“Charlie’s already got a crew,” Yondu continued. “Said yourself I’d make a hell of a captain someday.”

“Yes,” Stakar agreed faintly. “Yes I did.” He took a deep breath. “And I stand by that. You’re gonna be a hell of a captain.”

Yondu’s eyes widened. “You mean it?”

Stakar forced a smile. “‘Course I mean it. Gonna be a real asset to the fleet.”

Yondu swooped down on Stakar, dropping the arrow as he peppered kisses all over Stakar’s face. “Thank you,” he whispered.

Stakar kissed him properly, cupping his jaw. “I’m proud of you,” he murmured. It had been ten years since they met, and in that time Yondu had grown into a man before Stakar’s eyes. Gone was the wide-eyed wonder that had marked Yondu’s early days. Now he walked through the galaxy like it was his for the taking, cocksure and greedy as any Ravager.

With his confidence and his arrow and a crew behind him, he’d be a force to be reckoned with.

Stakar wasn’t ready to let him go.

But there was nothing for it. He’d run out of the bullshit excuses he always trotted out when Yondu hedged around the question. This time he’d asked directly, and Stakar couldn’t lie. Not to Yondu.

“I won’t stay away too long,” Yondu promised, toying with Stakar’s collar before he tugged it down and kissed the exposed skin. “I’d miss ya too much.”

Stakar tipped his head back. “You’re gonna be too damn busy to miss me,” he grumbled, only half teasing.

“Never, Daddy.” Yondu nipped at his nose, which was gross and obnoxious and which he’d given up trying to make him stop years ago.

Stakar shook his head, slipping arms around Yondu’s back. “Gonna have to get you a ship, baby.”

He could feel Yondu’s smile against his skin. “I already know what my colors are gonna be.”

“Yeah?”

“Red. None o’ y’all took it yet, so it’s mine.” Yondu fluttered his lashes. “Matches my eyes.”

Stakar quirked an eyebrow. “Red suits you,” he said after a moment to consider. “Alright. Red. I’ll put together a timeline for you, and your job is to get some crew lined up. I want you out there with boys you trust.”

“Anything I gotta do, I’ll do it,” said Yondu solemnly. “I want this.”

“I know.” Stakar could feel the end approaching. He forced the thought away. “I know you do.”

It ain’t hard to find booze on a Ravager ship, even wearing exiled reds. Kraglin takes a swig of the rotgut he bartered from some guys in an empty bathroom stall and sighs.

He’s taking some time to think.

And to plan. Stakar spends a lot of time in real crowded parts of the ship. Makes him harder to jump, but Kraglin’s been hunting men most of his life.

Stakar’s finally picked a fight he won’t win.

Kraglin takes another swallow, watching the corridor. He’s not aiming to be noticed, although the reds make him stand out more than he likes. Still, he’s quiet and skinny, and folks tend to overlook him.

Especially here, where everyone thinks they’re safe.

He’s had a few calls from Yondu over the last couple hours, but he’s ignored them. Talking to Yondu ain’t something he wants to do; he’s made his peace and all that’s left is to carry this through. Yondu probably won’t see it for what it is, but that’s okay. He’ll be free of Stakar, and he’ll have Pete. They can take care of each other just fine, so long as they’ve got Rocket and the twig to keep them together.

This shit is weak. Kraglin sets the bottle down, disappointed that he traded away one of his little throwing knives for it. Ain’t even enough to get him buzzed. They washed their socks in stronger stuff back on the Eclector.

These Ravagers are soft. It’s disgusting.

Kraglin pushes to his feet, checking his comm one more time. No new calls from Yondu.

If he was stronger, he’d listen to the messages. Just to hear his voice again. But he ain’t that strong, so he tucks the comm back into his pocket. Probably best he ain’t talked to anyone. It’s gotta be real clear that he’s working alone.

He’s just seen Stakar up ahead.

Kraglin trails, far enough back to keep out of Stakar’s peripherals. Time starts to go strange and syrupy, like it always does when Kraglin’s focusing on stalking. He narrows his focus to Stakar’s broad back and doesn’t think about the scratches Yondu might have left there, or the men around him. Just keeps his eyes on Stakar.

The Guardians have full run of the Starhawk, which serves Kraglin well when Stakar turns a corner into the officers’ part of the ship. It’s way more private here. Perfect.

Kraglin feels his lips stretch into a grin, hanging back as Stakar passes a pair of guys. They pass Kraglin too a few seconds later, barely stepping aside for him.

So convinced they’re safe on their ship. Kraglin never had the luxury of believing he was safe at home. Makes him hate these fucks even more.

Stakar is alone. Having long legs like Kraglin does means he’s fast when he needs to be. Even a big guy will stumble if a skinny bastard slams him going fast enough.

Kraglin’s got Stakar against the wall before he even knows what hit him. His big knife bites into Stakar’s throat.

The glow of Stakar’s solar wings is almost blinding. “I could vaporize you right here,” he says softly.

Kraglin’s eyes narrow. “But could ya do it before I cut your throat?”

Stakar snorts. “I’m beginning to see why he likes you.”

Likes. Likes. As if twenty years were nothing more than a little crush. Kraglin bares his teeth and prepares to slice his fucking neck.

The grate above their heads falls with a clang that makes them both jump.

“Cool, we’re killing him now?” Rocket drops to the floor with his gun out and primed.

Kraglin ain’t sure who looks dumber with their mouth hanging open, him or Stakar. “Rocket, what the fuck?” he asks intelligently.

“So what did he do?” Rocket asks with a sharp grin. “Had to be bad for you to stalk him halfway across the ship.”

“You was followin’ me,” Kraglin realizes.

“No shit,” Rocket snorts. “I’ve been wondering if I made a mistake callin’ this shitbag since Yondu woke up an’ got weird around him. Figured you were the person to watch to see if things were gonna go bad.”

“I think there’s been a misunderstanding,” says Stakar.

“Shut up,” snarls Kraglin. “Just shut up.” He can’t kill him with Rocket here.

“My buddy Kraglin here is pretty level-headed,” says Rocket, finger resting on the trigger. He’s got the gun aimed at Stakar’s head. “If he’s tryin’ to kill you, it’s because you hurt Yondu. Who, incidentally—” he pumps the gun—“is one of the few people I give a shit about.”

“Rocket? Kraglin?

Kraglin closes his eyes. That’s Peter’s voice.

The high whines of several blasters charging tell him Pete’s not alone.

“Obfonteri,” says Martinex softly, “you need to step away.”

“We can take ‘em,” says Rocket.

No, he can’t. Not with the Guardians here. “Goddammit, Rat,” Kraglin hisses, staring hatefully into Stakar’s face. “You ruined everything.”

That’s when he hears the whistle.

Yondu rounds the corner and sees his worst fucking nightmare.

Well, not quite, since Quill’s alive, but a pretty close second. Kraglin, the fucking idiot, has Stakar pinned to the wall with a knife at his throat, squinting in the glare of his solar wings.

There are a dozen of Stakar’s men with blasters aimed at Kraglin, and Rocket’s snarling, ready to take all of them. Quill looks horrified, Drax and Mantis look confused, and Gamora’s hand is edging toward her sword.

Stakar’s eyes meet his across the way, and Yondu whistles.

None of these boys can shoot fast enough to stop the arrow, and they’re smart enough to know it. Still, every gun in the place—including Marty’s—turns on him when the arrow stops a breath from Stakar’s head.

Stakar’s eyes get wide with alarm. In over forty years—even when Stakar read out Yondu’s sentence—he’s never had that arrow aimed at him.

“Kraglin,” Yondu says softly.

Kraglin’s shoulders tense at the sound of his name, but he doesn’t move. “I ain’t gonna let you go,” he chokes. “Don’t ask me to, not after everything.”

Shit, this is embarrassing. One thing to be known as the captain’s slut when he was too young to be ashamed of it, but in front of Quill?

For a second Yondu’s tempted to whistle them both. Instead he takes a deep breath. “You disobeyin’ an order, Obfonteri?”

It’s enough; Kraglin steps back and sheaths the knife. He won’t turn and look at Yondu though. Just keeps staring Stakar down.

Yondu knows exactly how cold those blue eyes can be.

“What the hell is going on?” Quill demands.

“Put the gun down, Rat,” Yondu tells Rocket.

Rocket stares at him, but sighs and powers down the gun. “This guy,” he says, pointing a little hand at Stakar, “is bad fuckin’ news. I don’t know what he did to you, but it ain’t good. Get your head right, Blue. This ain’t the time to steal batteries you don’t need.”

Kraglin hisses a breath same as Yondu. Rocket’s words land in his gut like little bombs, sending pangs of guilt through him.

“Yondu?” Stakar’s voice is small.

It’s horrible, Yondu thinks suddenly, to know someone so well after the love is gone. To remember every quirk of their lips and the feel of their hands and the timbre of their voice without the rush of affection that used to go with that knowledge. He stares at Stakar and keeps the arrow right where it is.

“Yondu!” Marty snaps.

So much for getting reinstated. Kraglin’s scuppered that option, deliberately if Yondu knows him. Not that Yondu’s not equally guilty of sabotage here.

“Yondu?” Quill’s starting to sound scared. “What’s going on?”

“‘S alright,” he tells his boy. “We just been here too long, I figure. Me an’ Krags, we ain’t meant t’ be around real Ravagers no more. Spent too long on our own.”

Quill snorts. “Right. Is this like the time you told me to go hide in your room because you and Kraglin had to take care of a ‘little disagreement’ that left twenty guys dead? Because I’m not ten anymore and that bullshit isn’t gonna work.”

Yondu’s lip curls. “Shut up, Quill. This ain’t the same.”

“Then what the hell is it?” Quill snarls. “Did he hurt you?”

“No!” Yondu would rather die than have this conversation here.

“Don’t you lie to me,” Quill hisses. “Not after everything.”

“Leave it, Pete,” mutters Kraglin, and Quill does, with a frightened look at Kraglin.

Yondu feels winded, like he’s been punched a few times in the gut. This is his fault. All this is because he fell back on Stakar’s dick like a dumb kid. Now his kid is scared, he’s facing another goddamn standoff, and the love of his fucking life just tried to murder the head of the Ninety-Nine.

Because he sees what Kraglin was trying to do, and if he thinks about how close he is to losing the skinny bastard he just might collapse in this hallway. Though the lack of faith stings, it doesn’t change the fact that Kraglin was ready to die for him.

After everything, Kraglin and Quill both said. After the hell Yondu’s put them both through, they mean. The lies and the piss-poor decisions and the refusal to man up and do the right thing.

This ain’t who he wants to be.

He whistles the arrow back, catching it in his hand before tucking it away.

Marty lowers his gun and signals for the rest to do the same.

“Are we all finished trying to kill each other?” says Gamora. She doesn’t look pleased, and it makes a few of the closer Ravagers shuffle back from her. “Because if we are, then we should take this somewhere private and discuss it like reasonable adults.”

The last thing Yondu wants is to discuss this with his boy and the Guardians around, but maybe dumb fucks like him don’t get to choose.

“I think that’s a good idea,” Marty says. He waves the rest of the boys off, and they go after some awkward shuffling and badly disguised curiosity.

“I’d suggest my office, normally,” Stakar finally says, and that’s when Kraglin punches him.

He doesn’t go down, but his head snaps to the side and bounces off the wall.

Quill lunges forward and drags Kraglin away before he can go for the knife again. Good boy. “What the hell, man?”

“I deserved that,” groans Stakar.

“You idiot,” hisses Marty. He reaches up to rub his temple. “God, tell me you didn’t.”

“He did,” snarls Kraglin.

Rocket’s eyes get real big. “Quill, maybe we don’t wanna hear all this.”

“Like hell,” snaps Quill, still holding onto Kraglin’s collar. “It doesn’t exactly take a genius to figure out what’s going on here.”

“Then keep out of it, Pete,” Kraglin snaps, slapping at Quill’s hand.

Quill ignores it, which is just gonna piss Kraglin off. “You know what? Maybe we don’t need that engine from you after all,” he says to Stakar. “Maybe I should give Nova Prime a call and tell her what we need after saving the galaxy again, because I bet she’d have the goddamned decency not to try breaking up a family that’s finally starting to put itself back together!”

Kraglin stops flapping at Quill’s hand.

Stakar looks like he just got punched again, but he recovers pretty quick. “That’s not what’s happening here,” he snaps. “Yondu’s my family too—”

You can’t have my dad!” Quill shouts, and then looks surprised at his own outburst. He snaps his mouth shut and goes red.

No one says anything. The only sound is Quill’s heavy breathing.

“‘S okay, Pete,” Kraglin finally mutters, patting Quill’s shoulder. “Hey, calm down.”

Quill shoves away from him. “You’re an idiot,” he hisses at Kraglin. “Trying to get yourself killed. What do you think he’d do without you?”

Kraglin ducks his head.

Yondu figures he’s been too quiet considering this whole thing is his fault. And since he can’t lay down and die like he wants to, he’s gotta say something. “No one’s takin’ me anywhere, boy,” he says heavily. “Told you I was stayin’, an’ that’s what I mean t’ do.”

“So why are you screwing around with this butthead?” Quill gestures at Stakar. “Thought you wanted to be with us.”

Damn kid. Yondu doesn’t even get to enjoy watching Stakar’s reaction to being called a butthead. He rubs a hand over his face. “Same reason you was so happy t’ see Ego,” he finally says. “That feelin’ like you was missin’ something you lost a long time ago. Feels real good at first, don’t it? Thinkin’ you get t’ have it all, old family an’ new all together.”

Quill’s fucking lip wobbles, and Yondu thinks he’ll scream if the kid starts crying. He’s made Quill cry too many times over the years.

“Hell, kid.” Yondu’s moving before he can think about it, and he hooks an arm around Quill’s neck to pull him in.

Quill folds, curling into him with a hiccuping noise. Yondu pounds reassuringly on his back, avoiding everyone’s eye while Quill gets himself under control.

Marty looks like he’d rather be anywhere else, which Yondu can fucking appreciate. He ain’t exactly thrilled with this himself.

“I ain’t stupid enough t’ throw you away,” he murmurs to Quill. “Don’t you worry ‘bout that, boy. Best damn thing t’ ever happen t’ me is what you are, an’ I know it. So cut it out, now.”

Quill hits him on the back, hard enough to hurt. “You’re an asshole,” he mutters, pulling away and wiping his face.

“I’m a lotta bad things,” Yondu agrees. He’s so tired.

“I can’t believe you cheated on Kraglin, you dick.”

“I really thought Stakar was his father.” Drax shakes his head.

Yondu closes his eyes and counts to ten. When he opens them, Stakar still looks uncomfortable.

“We need to leave,” says Gamora finally. “I’ll contact Nova Prime. We can be out of here soon.”

Yondu stares at her, wordlessly grateful. Odds of her being impressed with him have dwindled to none, but he’s still glad when she takes Quill’s arm and steers him away.

“I think we should all go,” says Mantis. Timid little thing, she keeps wringing her hands and looking between people. “It is not good, any of you being here together.”

Kraglin huffs and stalks past her without a word. He never looks at Yondu as he passes him, following Pete and Gamora down the hall.

“I’m not throwing you out,” says Stakar into the silence.

Yondu looks at him. “No,” he finally says when he can speak, “I’m goin’ because I want to.”

Stakar’s mouth turns down. “You have a place here,” he insists, but Yondu can see his shoulders slump. His jaw’s swelling up; Kraglin always did have a mean hook.

“No,” Yondu says. “Not for a long time.”

Rocket tugs on his coat. “Come on, Blue. Let’s take a walk.”

Yondu’s still smarting from Kraglin’s cold shoulder, but the rat’s offer is better than any others he’s likely to get. He nods slowly and falls into step with him.

He doesn’t look back at Stakar.

Yondu named his ship the Eclector, and the Ravagers officially had a hundred clans. She was a pretty bird, built big like the Starhawk with the capacity to hold a whole fleet of M-ships. Stakar had personally overseen the modifications on her.

All that was left was the launch.

Stakar watched as Yondu gathered his bridge crew. Tullk, one of Stakar’s with a cool head, was the only one he recognized. Stakar had expected Yondu to choose Tullk as first mate; god knew Stakar needed Marty’s measured approach to things to keep the ship running smoothly, but instead Yondu had informed him he was going with someone called Obfonteri. Name like that, he might have crawled straight out of the Xandarian sewers. Stakar had never heard of him.

He’d feel more comfortable knowing Yondu was in familiar hands. Still, he had to let him fly. Aleta’s quip about clipped wings still stung all these years later. He was determined to prove her wrong.

Yondu caught his eye across the hangar and saluted smartly; Stakar returned the gesture, smiling at the big grin on Yondu’s face. The tall gangly kid next to him was the only Xandarian Stakar could see. Had to be Obfonteri.

The kid saluted, waiting for Stakar to return it before turning once more to Yondu.

There was no space at a launch for a private moment; Yondu and Stakar had said their goodbyes last night, in Stakar’s bed. And Yondu had slipped out the door before the start of the first shift, just like Aleta had the last time he’d gotten to touch her.

He wouldn’t see Yondu again until their paths crossed planetside or at the Captains’ Council years from now.

“How you holding up?” came Marty’s voice in his ear. Come to drag him back to the bridge, where they would go over the launch sequence, and where Stakar would have to get used to seeing Yondu’s ghost out of the corner of his eye.

Stakar swallowed, watching Yondu walk away from him.

“I’m gonna be okay,” he lied.

Kraglin’s numb as he follows Pete and Gamora back to their room. He doesn’t know where Yondu is. He doesn’t know if Rocket can drag him away from Stakar.

He didn’t know Rocket cared enough to back him up. He supposes he should.

“Kraglin, why didn’t you come to us?” Pete asks him gently.

Kraglin sighs and sits down. Stupid question. “You ever been cheated on?” he counters.

He sees the look Pete throws Gamora from the corner of his eye, and thinks about the first time he saw them together, tangled on the floor of the Eclector. No, Pete’s cheating days are over.

“We can’t stay here,” Gamora says. “Word is going to spread, and the crew is going to become hostile. There’s no way we can save face after a public altercation like that.”

Pete curses. “Fine. We call Nova Prime.”

“I hate beggin’,” Kraglin says softly.

Pete’s expression softens. “I know,” he says. “Gamora, can you call?”

She nods and goes into the bedroom, a sleek flash of green and pink.

“I should have seen it,” says Pete. He sits next to Kraglin. “I mean, I knew he was acting weird, but—”

“But he’s your dad. You don’t know him like that,” Kraglin says bluntly. “An’ he’s been with me the whole time you known him. Why would ya think anything could change that?”

“Is this gonna change it?” asks Pete. He sounds like a scared little kid.

Kraglin hasn’t actually thought that through. He planned on being dead by now. He’s not a forgiving man by nature, but between the idiot sitting next to him and the idiot who caused this mess, he can’t seem to keep a grudge going. “Nah,” he sighs. “Ain’t changed nothin’.”

Pete sags with relief. “I don’t think I could handle it if you split,” he jokes. “Not having divorced parents was about the only thing I ever had going for me.”

“He’s willing to die for you,” says Kraglin quietly. “That’s more than most kids have goin’ for ‘em.”

Pete looks down, smile falling off his face. “I know. That’s why we’ve gotta get out of here. It’s bad for him.”

Kraglin nods. Now that the adrenaline is wearing off, he’s bone tired.

The door opens, and before he can prepare himself he finds Yondu standing there with Rocket. Yondu looks surprised to see him, and immediately finds something on his boot to study.

Rocket waits until the door shuts and promptly says, “so if you guys can get me two hours, I can rip off one of the auxiliary engines and get it into the Quadrant. We can be gone before that bastard’s sleep cycle is over.”

There’s a moment of silence before Pete snaps, “are you kidding me?”

“What? I’ve thought this through, Quill! It ain’t like the batteries.”

“Gamora is literally calling Nova Prime right now.

“An’ how long is it gonna take her little goons to get here, huh? Kraglin tried to murder the head of the Ravager clans! They ain't gonna just let us hang out after that.”

Kraglin winces. “None o’ you was supposed to be involved,” he mutters apologetically.

“Idiot,” Pete hisses again.

Yondu rubs a hand over his face. “We rob Stakar, we make enemies o’ the whole Ninety-Nine. I don’t wanna do that t’ you, boy.”

“You mean we weren’t already?” asks Rocket snidely. “We can pay him back!”

Gamora steps out of the bedroom. “Nova Prime would love to help us, but the cleanup efforts on Xandar in the wake of Ego’s expansion come first.”

“So we’re on our own,” Pete says flatly.

“Not exactly,” says Martinex from the doorway. Drax and Mantis are with him.

Pete pushes to his feet. “What the hell are you doing in here?” he demands, stepping protectively in front of Yondu.

The outrage on Yondu’s face is almost enough to make Kraglin laugh. Almost.

Martinex holds up his hands. “Please. Let me help.”

“You done a great job so far,” Kraglin says bitterly.

Martinex raises both eyebrows. “Yes,” he says flatly, “I was the only one responsible for this clusterfuck.”

Yondu has the decency to look away.

“But as big an idiot as Stakar is, he doesn’t want this to blow up anymore than you do. I’ll be blunt: it’s embarrassing.” Martinex crosses his arms. “So it’s in everyone’s best interests to get you out of here as quickly and quietly as possible. I’m gonna give you one of our engines.”

Kraglin looks up.

“We’re having an engine for you shipped here anyway, so we can install it when it arrives. It won’t kill us to be one down for a little while. Does that suit you?” Martinex’s expression indicates he doesn’t much give a shit if it suits them.

“How long will that take?” asks Gamora.

“Not long. You’ll be out of here by morning if we start now.”

Pete levels Martinex with a look. “If you screw us over,” he warns, “we will make you sorry.”

Martinex meets his eyes. “I believe you could.”

Pete stares him down for another minute, then nods. “Let’s get this show on the road.”

Between Pete, Rocket, Kraglin, and the guys Marty sends to the hangar, it takes them just under four hours to get the engine in and the Quadrant ready to launch. They work in silence while the Ravagers glare at them.

Kraglin figures it’s only Martinex’s order that keeps them from trying to shoot him. It’s weird, the way he feels more at home with Pete and his dumbass crew than he does with the other Ravagers. He doesn’t know Pete’s friends, aside from Rocket, but something in him looks at all of them and sees safety.

He wonders when the Ravagers stopped feeling like his people. Maybe it was around the time he decided to knife Stakar.

“We’re good to go,” Rocket says as he scampers down the hull. He’s taken the lead, bossing both the Ravagers and the Guardians around with an ease that surprises Kraglin. The rat really is a lot like Yondu, and Kraglin ain’t sure that’s not gonna bite Pete in the ass someday.

But just now he’s grateful for it. Rocket’s cool head is a nice counterpoint to Yondu’s silence and Pete’s anxious hovering. The kid’s been checking on both of them between working, and it’s sweet but annoying, like everything else Pete does.

Martinex looks them all over. “I’m sorry it ended this way,” he finally says. “It’s not what I wanted.”

“Thank you,” Pete tells him. “For everything. Yondu’s alive because of you.”

“Yeah, that’s true.” Martinex’s smile is bitter. “Take care of yourselves. I’ll keep in touch.”

“Marty,” Yondu croaks. It’s the first time he’s spoken in hours. “Make sure he knows I ain’t comin’ back. No grudges or nothin’, but I got my own place now.”

Martinex studies him. “Yondu, I consider you a friend,” he says after a bit. “I don’t like seeing you looking like a kicked dog. You’ve got a good thing going with these ones. So when I tell you to stay gone, I’m saying it for your sake. You’ve fucked up a lot. Try not to do it again.”

Yondu’s shoulders hunch. He looks down and nods.

“Thanks for the pep talk,” says Rocket sourly. “Can we get outta here now?”

Mantis wrings her hands again, looking at Yondu like she wants to do something. Kraglin don’t care how cute she is, he’ll backhand her if she tries. But she keeps her hands to herself as they enter the Quadrant and take their places on the bridge.

They launch, and Rocket grants Quill the controls in what feels like a bigger gesture than it is.

Kraglin hates this, this sneaking away in disgrace after what should have been Yondu’s redemption. This should have been a chance to regain their honor. Instead all they have is each other. Guardians of the Galaxy. He figures he’s one of them now, because no one else will have him.

“I got the jumps queued,” Rocket says into the silence, and at Pete’s nod he launches the sequence.

Kraglin looks sideways at Yondu. He’s got his hands in his lap and he’s staring at them like they might have answers.

God damn him anyway. He’s the one who made this mess, just like he made the mess with Pete, and once again Kraglin reacted to Yondu’s fuckup and blew everything up in their faces.

What’s that quote about stupidity doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? Kraglin pushes to his feet and stalks off the bridge without a word.

He gets about halfway down the corridor before Yondu calls his name. He stops, but doesn’t turn.

Yondu’s steps get closer until Kraglin can feel the heat of him against his back.

“Don’t touch me,” says Kraglin before Yondu can close the last of the distance between them.

There’s a pause. “Damn stupid idea, tryin’ t’ kill him in the open,” Yondu finally says.

“Damn stupid idea, fuckin’ him in his office,” Kraglin shoots back. “I’m pissed at you, leave me alone.” He starts walking again.

“So pissed you was willin’ t’ die for me?”

Kraglin stops. Damn him. Kraglin says it out loud, and then again. “You fuck your own life, ya know. If you’d held on for a few more days we woulda been reinstated!” He turns finally, glaring down at Yondu with all the fury that had started to dissolve after the mutiny. “Do you care at all about us? About our clan?”

“Thought that was obvious,” says Yondu. He flips his coat back to expose the arrow.

Kraglin’s lips pull back from his teeth. “So that’s it? Twenty years o’ my life wasted because you couldn’t be a dad an’ a cap’n both?”

Yondu flinches; the coat flaps back over the arrow. “Don’t put words in my mouth, Kraglin.”

“Fuck you.” Kraglin clenches his fists. “I tried. I tried so hard t’ do what you needed. I always try so damn hard an’ for what? So I can keep comin’ around behind you cleanin’ up your messes?”

Yondu’s face has gone a sickly shade of pale. “You gonna leave me, darlin’?” he asks softly.

“It’d serve you right if I did,” Kraglin snarls.

Yondu looks stricken. For a long moment, neither of them say anything. Just as Kraglin’s working up the nerve to turn away from him, Yondu whispers, “I’d’ve killed him if he touched you.”

Kraglin sighs. “I saw that,” he mutters, waving goodbye to his self-respect. It occurs to him that it’s been less than a day since Yondu fucked Stakar. By all rights, Kraglin ought to stay cold a little longer. A few days, at least. Maybe a week, given the nature of the transgression.

Kraglin steps forward and hugs him, sighing as Yondu sags into his arms. Fists clutch at his jumpsuit, pulling it tight across the back.

“You suck,” he grumbles.

“I know,” Yondu mutters against his neck.

“Them bridges are burned now,” Kraglin tells him softly. “Ain’t any comin’ back from what we did.”

“Wouldn’t be the first time I burned my bridges with Stakar,” says Yondu. “I managed just fine without him before. You, on th’ other hand...”

Kraglin huffs, resting his cheek on the side of Yondu’s head. “You can lay off the sweet talk. If I ain’t left you yet, you’re in the clear.”

“Figured you deserve a little romance, standin’ by me like this.” Yondu’s lucky he fits so sweetly into the curve of Kraglin’s neck, or he’d get punched.

“I deserve a break from you,” Kraglin says, but there’s no heat in it, and Yondu just snorts.

“I love you,” he tells Kraglin softly. “I do a piss-poor job o’ showin’ it, but I do.”

Kraglin grunts and squeezes Yondu a little tighter.

Yondu knows it’s pathetic to cling, but he does it anyway. The moment Kraglin lets him close again he can’t bring himself to stop touching.

It annoys Kraglin a little, Yondu can tell, but he doesn’t put a stop to it. He lets Yondu follow him back to their room and doesn’t say anything when the door closes.

“I’m gonna shower,” Yondu offers.

Kraglin’s lips twitch into a snarl, but his expression smooths a minute later. He nods.

So Yondu goes. He steps into their grotty bathroom with the broken mirror bolted to the wall and looks at his own reflection. What he sees is a man who’s old enough to know better than this, and it hardens his resolve to find some wisdom. Ain’t he supposed to get that with age, after all?

The shower feels good, all warm water sluicing over his skin and washing away the last remnants of Stakar that still linger. He washes his cunt over and over until it feels numb. Then he figures it’s good enough. He gets out, dries off, and opens the door.

Kraglin turns at the sound of the door opening and stops, looking at Yondu with an expression he’s never seen before.

Yondu swallows. “Didn’t take too long, did I?” It’s a stupid, inane comment, but he doesn’t know how to ask what he really wants to.

Kraglin shakes his head. “Nah,” he croaks. “You’re fine.”

There’s a swelling feeling in Yondu’s chest, growing until he aches from it. He’d be dead a thousand times over without Kraglin Obfonteri, and worse, he’d be alone. “Tell me t’ do somethin’,” he whispers.

“What?” Kraglin blinks rapidly.

“Anything. Don’t care what. Just...just let me do somethin’ for you.” Yondu’s wild with love, overflowing with it, and he’s got no way to prove to Kraglin how deep this runs after the way he’s betrayed him. “Please.”

Kraglin stares at him. “I don’t need nothin’ from you,” he says finally.

Yondu sways on his feet. “Then what do you want?”

“I want...” Kraglin trails off and actually considers.

Yondu gives him time to think. It’s only fair.

Finally Kraglin sighs. “I wanna feel like you care as much as me,” he says. “I’m tired of feelin’ like I’m always chasin’ after you.”

“I ain’t real sure how t’ do that,” Yondu admits. He veers between pathetically needy and aloof, he knows, but damn if that’s not because he never learned a middle ground.

“Figure it out,” says Kraglin. “You owe me that.”

Well. He ain’t wrong. Yondu nods.

“You washed him off ya?” Kraglin asks roughly.

“Yeah.”

“Good.” Kraglin looks away and paces jerkily. His hands twitch at his sides like spiders. “Don’t like thinkin’ about that. Him all over ya. I’m glad he’s gone.”

“He’s gone,” Yondu reassures him quietly.

Kraglin nods and stops in front of the big window. The stars zip past, dizzying as they take the jumps. He doesn’t look away even when Yondu has to. “I wasn’t plannin’ on actually livin’ with this,” he says.

Yondu’s fists clench. “That’s a hard thing t’ hear, darlin’.”

“Maybe, but if it was gonna keep happenin’ I wanted out.” Kraglin doesn’t look at him.

“So where does that leave us?” Yondu asks. He steps close and looks at Kraglin’s beaky profile. “Both of us were willin’ t’ kill him for each other. I figure that means something.”

“Probably,” Kraglin agrees.

Yondu hesitates, then slips an arm around Kraglin’s waist. When Kraglin lets him, he presses close against his side. “I love you,” he says again, because Kraglin deserves to hear it.

Kraglin sighs. “Thought that went without sayin’,” he says with a crooked smile.

Yondu wants to kiss him. He loves the feel of those thin lips against his, the clack of metal teeth together, and the bristly stubble that catches when they kiss. Kraglin’s kisses might be familiar, but Yondu has a new appreciation for them in light of recent events.

He rests his head on Kraglin’s shoulder instead. Kissing is a bit much to ask for just yet. The weight of the new fin strains his neck awkwardly, so he picks his head up a second later. “You as tired as I am?”

“Fuckin’ exhausted,” Kraglin says heavily.

“Am I allowed back in your bed then?” Yondu hates that he has to ask.

Kraglin snorts. “It’s your fuckin’ bed.”

“Didn’t Taserface sleep in it last?” Yondu asks, giving their bed a disgusted look.

Kraglin’s lip curls. “Yeah. Bastard drooled all over my pillow.”

“Gross.” Yondu contemplates the bed for a moment. “We got a lot o’ fixin’ to do here.”

Kraglin hums, tilting his head. “Yeah, guess we do.”

Yondu isn’t remotely horny, but he does like the thought of fucking away some of the bad memories.

Kraglin’s hand squeezes his shoulder. “Not yet,” he tells Yondu softly. “We’ll get there, but not just yet.”

Yondu sighs. That’s more than fair, all things considered. “Suppose we can just roll on it for now,” he says thoughtfully.

“Yeah, that’ll work.” Kraglin grins at him, and god help him, Yondu loves the sight of those baby blue eyes.

So they roll on the bed, messing up the blankets and snickering like a couple kids when Kraglin farts on his pillow and declares it cleansed.

“Better’n Taserface’s drool,” Kraglin says firmly.

Yondu puts his arms behind his head. “Damn right.” The bed smells like them again, and the rumpled bedding makes it feel slept in. Nice and inviting.

Kraglin rolls onto his side, facing Yondu. “I love you too,” he tells him softly.

Damn it, Yondu’s too old to get teary-eyed over shit like this. He curls into Kraglin’s neck so he can pretend he’s drooling on him instead. It scares him, how close he came to losing everything. Not just Kraglin, but himself and Quill too. The weight of the past day crashes down on him, and he closes his eyes against the onslaught.

Kraglin’s arm wraps around him to tug him closer. They stay like that for a long time, until Kraglin goes lax with sleep and starts snoring.

Yondu wishes he could get some shut-eye of his own. He’s so tired, and Kraglin feels so good pressed against him. He listens to familiar wheezy snores and props himself up on an elbow to watch Kraglin snuffle in his sleep.

His comm beeps.

Yondu looks over at it as it beeps again, flashing the little light to let him know it’s a voice call.

None of the Guardians would bother with a voice call when they can just use the internal comms on the ship, and there’s only one person who would be trying to call him now.

He’s got nothing to say to Stakar that hasn’t already been said. All of it’s true, contradictory as it is. He loves him, he hates him, he can’t forgive him and he’s always gonna miss him. But most importantly, he’s got no future with him. Yondu watches the comm until the call drops and lays back down. His future’s right here.

Kraglin’s heart beats steadily away under his palm, sounding like home. He closes his eyes and drifts off to its rhythm.