Peter Quill wasn’t the man everyone thought he was.
For one thing, Peter Quill wasn’t a man. She was, in fact, very much a woman.
Her brash, flirty, dangerous, and “roll with it” persona was developed over her entire life; at first, it was a way to fit in, but later it became a way to survive, more than anything else.
When Peter was young, she was constantly getting into (and making) messes. She loved playing outside, digging in the mud, wading knee deep into pounds to look for fish and frogs. She climbed trees, took naps in the hay in the barn loft with the farm cats, rolled down hills for the sake of getting dizzy, and was always coming home covered in debris and scrapes and bruises.
Her mother, Meredith, just sighed, shook her head, and smiled, helping little Peter untangle her unruly locks of auburn hair. By the time she was six, Meredith cut Peter’s hair to keep it out of the way during Peter’s outdoor adventures. Peter had also taken to wearing boys’ clothes, as they were made to last longer and endure the rough and tumble play outside that Peter engaged in.
The neighbors and other locals frowned at Peter and Meredith, whispering behind their hands whenever the Quills came into town. No one really understood why Peter was given a boy’s name (Meredith had her reasons), or why little Peter was let loose out in the fields. Neither of the Quills cared, however, as Peter liked being able to roughhouse with the dogs and other boys without tearing her shirts, and Meredith as just happy her daughter was enjoying her life.
Peter was kidnapped at age ten.
Yondu had assumed the universal translator shorted out when Peter’s father hired them to pick up his daughter, but instead picked up what looked to be an upset little boy who had just lost his mama and introduced himself as Peter. The ravagers didn’t think much of it and live moved on as usual for them.
Peter had quickly realized she was mistakenly identified as a boy, as she so often was; she wasn’t too keen on correcting their assumption, either. Even at the tender age of ten, Peter recognized that boys were given more privileges than girls. So, she did as she was told, endured their threats and rough treatment, and learned not to take shit from anyone.
Due to the unusual diet and rigorous routines and training she was put through, Peter didn’t hit puberty until she was sixteen. Her first period was terrifying and humiliating; she had no idea what was happening and she was too embarrassed to ask any of the Ravagers what was happening. Instead, she kept herself as clean as possible and waiting until they were dirtside for supplies to ask a trusted local humanoid woman that Peter had become friends with over the years.
With this new complication added to her life, Peter learned how to secret away sanitation pads and extra sweets for those irrational cravings she tended to get. Luckily for her, her body retained much of its gender-neutral figure as her body continued to develop; the gentle swell of her hips was disguised by her cargo pants and gun holsters; snug bras (also secreted away) helped camouflage her, thankfully, small chest, and she took to earing her ravager jacked everywhere. Peter was also fortunate that her voice, while definitely not deep, wasn’t high enough in pitch to draw attention to her.
(Additionally, the fact that Terran biology wasn’t common knowledge and none of the Ravagers even really knew what a ‘typical’ Terran male went through during puberty helped keep Peter’s secret. Though, unbeknownst to Peter, Yondu had figured her out long ago and was another reason her secret was so well kept.)
Peter wasn’t dumb, and she certainly wasn’t naïve. Growing up on a Ravager ship taught her very early that showing weakness was the worst you could do and that being female, or an alien equivalent, was (for whatever reason—Peter thought it was stupid) inherently seen as weak. Keeping up the ruse of being male, even when puberty made it difficult, was safer and more beneficial than admitting she was female. And by that time, she felt it was a little too late to back, anyway.
Despite her desire to keep her gender a secret, Peter craved femininity, or those things deemed by the Ravagers as feminine. She stole dresses and wore them around her quarters in secret; she tried on makeup in the markets when she was sent on solo missions. Her bras and underwear were lacy and impractical, but they made her feel sexy and more like a woman, even when she continued to present herself as a man. She craved longer hair, but she knew her missions would make it a liability, so she continued to keep the semi-shaggy cut she had worn for so many years.
By the time she met and befriended the other Guardians, Peter’s persona was so engrained into her that she didn’t even think to tell her friends otherwise. Of course, saving the galaxy and trillions of lives was a bit more important at the time, anyway.
After living with her new teammates on the Milano for a few months, Peter began to contemplate telling her team her secret. Working with Gamora and hearing Drax reminisce about his late wife and daughter taught Peter that female didn’t equal weak, that one could be feminine and deadly, strong, capable, and downright badass.
Twenty-six years was a long time to go pretending to be a man, however, and Peter had no idea how his new team would take the news. She trusted them and felt safe with them, but she was nervous and scared. She finally started to bite the bullet after a successful mission when team moral was high.
Peter cleared her throat awkwardly, then took a quick sip of whatever alcohol they were imbibing in that night.
“Guys?” she paused, waiting for her team to look her way. “I have…something important—and personal—to tell you. I hope…I just hope it doesn’t ruin anything.” Peter dropped her eyes to the glass of bizarre bright purple drink in her hands.
“Quill, what is it?” Gamora asked, setting her own drink down in favor of giving Peter her full attention. While Drax and Rocket kept their drinks in hand, both shifted in their seats to face Peter better. Little Groot, still in his pot, waved his arms around in agitation, sensing Peter’s growing anxiety.
“I…guysi’mnotamani’mactuallyawoman,” Peter spit out, all her words tumbling out together in her rush to get it over with.
“I am Groot?”
“Uh, Quill, Ya gonna hafta repeat that,” Rocket said, drawl a little more pronounced that usual.
Taking a deep breath, Peter tried again. “I’m…not a man.”
Her team stared at her. Peter swallowed, getting very uncomfortable.
“And? That’s it?” Rocket asked, confused.
“What? What do you mean that’s it?!” Peter exclaimed, confused as hell.
Gamora was the first to catch onto the problem. “You didn’t think we knew, did you?”
Peter stared at Gamora, eyes wide. “How…?”
Gamora smiled softly. “One bathroom. I found your sanitation products when I went to stash my own.”
“Your scent isn’t musky enough to be a humanoid male,” Rocket contributed, going back to his drink.
“I knew when we first met that you were not male,” Drax rumbled, not elaborating on how he knew that.
“I am GROOT,” Groot squeaked. Me, too.
Gamora gently placed her hand on Peter’s arm, realizing she had gone into mild shock. “We all figured you were keeping your gender hidden for some reason, so we didn’t ask questions. It wasn’t our business.”
Peter stared at her team. “This whole time? Really? And you didn’t see me as…”
“As what, Quill?”
“Weak? Worthless? Not useful? A liability?”
Gamora raised her eyebrow at that and crossed her arms.
“You’re cyber-enhanced! You don’t count! I’m just a fragile Terran female!”
“Peter, you’ve always been strong and capable. Your gender has nothing to do with that and even less to do with your worth.”
“I want to find whoever gave you those ideas and rip out their spine,” Drax mumbled into his drink, mostly to himself. Rocket heard and nodded his head in agreement.
Peter’s eyes stung as she took in her team’s words and their trust in her.
“Thank you, guys,” she whispered.
The conversation soon drifted back to more mundane things. Peter didn’t mind. She took the time to think about things, about how she no longer had to hide who she was. She could grow out her hair! Wear dresses and skirts! Buy makeup with the money earned on successful missions. She didn’t have to hide her body under baggy clothes. Peter smiled widely, excited to finally be able to express herself without fear and with full knowledge that her team still respected and cared for her.