Peter's 26 when he tries to go solo for the first time.
It doesn't work.
He blows off all his money right away, is unable to get jobs, and has no idea how to live alone. He's spent his whole life surrounded by others.
Since his first night alone, he's slept with the lights on; he's afraid of the dark.
His tape plays on repeat more than ever during the silent night cycles. He's so used to hearing Yondu snoring beside him. Or, when he's sleeping in the bunks with the rest of the crew, the sound of everyone else in his room breathing, snoring, or tossing and turning. And he can hear water and air rattling through the pipes of the Elector. He needs the music to fill the awkward silence.
He buys himself several blankets and pillows, and builds himself a cocoon to sleep in, to protect him from the shadows he swears he sees at night and provide maximum comfort. And a large pillow to cuddle against. He usually fell asleep better when his arms where filled. He's a sleep-cuddler.
It feels weird.
He wants to go back home.
He doesn't like being out of money, running low on food, and spending his nights unable to sleep comfortably. He can't even sleep.
He hasn't slept in days. He's so tired, he feels like he'll pass out at any moment, but each night when he lays down to sleep, he tosses and turns and tries to get comfortable. His music cannot even lull him to sleep.
He's got all kinds of pill bottles in a drawer, but they never work. They only seem to make him feel worse rather than aid him in to sleeping.
He stressed out, tired, and 99.9% sure he's got depression.
(And, with each night that he spends alone, he realizes that he might have had depression for the last 18 years. He's just really good at hiding it with his wit and constant obnoxiousness.)
This is not fun.
He's homesick and he wants to go home.
(He's going home; he's decided.)
Upon returning home, he's greeted with several 'welcome back's, a few snorts and disapproving looks (probably due to the large scene he made before leaving), and one big, fat, 'I told you, you wouldn't last a year on your own!' from Yondu.
Peter ups his wit game.
If anyone sees the dark patches under his eyes, they say nothing.
"You didn't tell me shit," Peter snorts, roughy shoving Yondu out of the way and heads straight for the mess hall. He hasn't eaten real food in two days (he's been surviving off snacks and water, which isn't all that great.)
He eats his weight in whatever food is available, then disappears off to the lower levels to bury himself in whatever work needs to be done.
Normally, he'd just sit around and watch everyone else work, but he's hoping to completely exhaust himself in hopes of actually falling asleep tonight.
Some of the crew are surprised by his actions. Normally, Peter won't even set foot near the lower levels or engine room (unless he's heading down to the hangar), and he'd never actually work along with the crew willingly. He was a brat; he'd rather stand by and watch while everyone else did the work.
Kraglin falls in to place beside Peter, who's stacking crates.
"If you're gonna laugh at me, or say 'I told you so', please leave," Peter says, not looking up.
"I wasn't gonna," Kraglin says, picking up a crate when Peter drops it. "I was just gonna say...it's good to have you back. I finally got someone to beat up on again."
Peter rolls his eyes. "You aren't funny."
Kraglin's pulls Peter in to a headlock, "I ain't trying to be." He smashes his knuckles against Peter's skull in a rough noogie. "Was jus' tryin to say; I missed my frienemy."
Peter squeals as Kraglin attempts to grind his skull open. "That hurts, you dick!"
"It's supposed to," Kraglin releases him, takes a seat on one of the larger crates, and asks: "So what've you been up to."
"Well…" Peter sits on the crate also, back-to-back with Kraglin. "I spent all my money, ate all my food, and met a girl."
"What was she like?"
"Crazy," Peter shrugged. "And kinda ugly, now that a think about it."
Kraglin snorts. "You ain't so pretty either."
That was a lie. Peter was the prettiest out of all of them.
"Whatever. Im better looking that you and that's all that matters, Kraglin. Anyways, she was crazy...two weeks in to a relationship and she's talkin' marriage and procreating..." Peter shuttered and Kraglin laughed. "She had tentacles, too."
"That's the worst kind," Kraglin chuckles.
"Why haven't you ever left? I mean, you've been here your whole life, literally...you were born on the Elector. After so long, wouldn't you get bored?"
"Don't want to. It's my home. Would you wanna leave your home?"
"I had no choice..."
"Right...well. I've earned my spot as first mate. I can't leave now. Cap'n needs me, and I find no point in going solo."
"Well...we're completely different people." Peter says, looking down at the floor. "I just wish I knew what I was doing when I left..."
"Prepare yourself better, for next time." Kraglin shrugs. He knows Peter won't stick around forever. He's been talking about leaving since he was 17.
"Yeah..." They both stand at the same time. Peter lightly punches Kraglin's arm. "I hate you, bro."
"I hate you, too, brat."
Ravagers don't say 'I love you'
"You two quit fooling around and do work!" Sven, a 'veteran' Ravager, shouts at the pair.
"Actually," another, Akim, calls. "Come over and help us!"
Kraglin and Peter shrug and approach the pair of older ravagers. (Sometimes, Kraglin still feels small approaching them. These guys have been around since before he was even born.)
"What'chu need?" Peter asks, standing beside Akim.
"First of all, welcome back," Akim says. "Second, we need you both to go up two floors. In storage room 7, theres two green bags. Get those and bring them to us."
Peter salutes, Kraglin nods, they head up two floors.
"The hell's this?" Kraglin says, staring at the hammock strung up in the storage room.
"That's mine," Peter says, picking up one of the large green duffle bags.
"Yeah, I...when I was little, I made a bunch of hammocks all over the ship. Most of them are in storage rooms. There's one in Yondu's closet. A few tied up in high up places where you can't see them unless you bother to look up. There's one in cargo room 3, and two on the stargazing level. And one more in the hangar. Places where hardly anyone goes...sometimes I just wanted to be left alone." (Despite being a clingy child. And even now, he realizes, being left alone isn't as great as he'd thought.)
Kraglin shrugs, it's none of his business what Peter does in his spare time, and picks up the other bag, slinging the strap over himself. "Fucking hell? This one's heavy! What the hell is in here?!"
"Probably rocks," Peter snorts, leaving the room with Kraglin wobbling after him.
"I wouldn't doubt it," he puffs (turns out he needs to get back in shape), "Sometimes Akim does the weirdest shit."
"All old people do weird shit," Peter says. "My grandpa was old, and he always did weird shit."
"But Akim's not that old...Yondu's older than him..."
"But Yondu's not old," Peter says, adjusting the strap of the bag so it doesn't dig uncomfortably in to the space between his neck and shoulder. "Youndu's just...Yondu. He's always been the same. If he's old, then that mean's he's always been old..."
They fall in to comfortable silence. They've been frienemies since Peter was 8. They don't have to keep talking to fill the silence; the probably already know everything there is to know about each other.
The night cycle comes, but only one of Peter's predicaments is correct. He's exhausted. But he cannot fall asleep.
His eyes burn every time he blinks. He's been looking at the ceiling for a long time.
He WAS laying in bed with his eyes shut, hoping that if he pretended long enough to be asleep, he'd actually fall asleep. But he kept tossing and turning and trying to find the position of maximum comfort until he rolled right off the bed, bringing the blanket down with him.
With a sigh, he sits up, grabs the smaller, softer blanket that sits crumpled up on his bed, and clips his walkman to the waistband of his sleep pants. He drapes the blanket over his shoulders.
He was too frustrated to be surprised that the blanket had retained it's softness over the last 18 years.
(He guesses It must be a baby blanket of some sorts, due to it's extreme softness and very small size. The bottom of the blanket only reaches the small of his back.)
He'd acquired it when he was eight. Yondu had come back on the ship one day and shoved it in to his arms after noticing that Peter shivered too much a night.
Peter leaves his room.
He pauses outside the door, glances down the hallway to the next door, and contemplates on whether or not he really wants to go there.
He goes, just because he can't think of anything better to do.
A part of him is happy to find that he can still unlock the door with just his handprint.
"Dad?" He whispers as he steps in to the room. "It's, uh, cold in my room and..."
Yondu's not there.
"Well, fuck," Peter shrugs. He thought maybe he'd find enough comfort in crawling in to bed beside the captain, like he used to do when he was younger, to actually fall asleep.
He could save himself the embarrassment of facing Yondu, and just go ahead and crawl in to the bed, hopefully fall asleep before Yondu comes back. Chances are, Yondu'll just curl beside him and continue his night as if it was normal to have Peter there. (It was.)
He decides against it and turns the other way, padding his bare feet down the hallway to the nearest stair case. (There's lifts and elevators on the ship, but Peter doesn't care. Besides, the elevators would leave him in the middle of the area where there would most likely be night-shift workers. He wasn't exactly wanting to walk out looking like a dumb kid, shoeless and toting his blankey around. His name was Peter Quill, not Linus, and he was a grown man, dammit!)
He climbs to the star-gazing floor. It's the highest floor of the ship, with large windows and a partially glass ceiling.
No one uses it.
Ravagers don't star-gaze. No one knows why the hell this room exists.
He pads to the corner, puts his headphones around his neck, tucks the corner of the blanket in his mouth, and uses the pipes that run up and down the wall to haul himself up toward the hammock that dangles above. He tightens the ropes, then (with a bit of struggle) climbs in to the pouch-like structure and curls up under his blanket. He puts his headphones on and tries to sleep.
Half an hour later, he opens his eyes and groans in frustration. He still cannot fall asleep, the music didnt help, the calm nature of the room didn't help.
He decides maybe getting a drink of water will help.
He goes down to the mess hall and goes straight to the water pumps. He drinks from one without using a cup (no one else is there to complain), then takes a seat at one of the tables.
The fluorescent lights make the room extremely bright compared to the rest of the dimly lit ship, but that doesn't bother Peter. (He's scared of the dark anyways.)
"This is fucking...dumb," he growls to himself.
He's extremely tired, he can't sleep, his heart feels heavy, he's too frustrated, and he doesn't even realize he's crying…until he tries to sigh, but his breath hitches a couple of times when he breathes in deep.
Again, no one's around to complain, so he sobs. His shoulders jerk and his tears leave his face and shirt wet, and, when he puts his head down, his arms become slick with his tears.
He hates this.
Yondu feels something off as soon as he leaves the room he's spent the last hour in. Some of his crew are total idiots, he swears. What should've taken five minuets to explain ended up taking 45. It was infuriating.
He was surprised that no one seemed to be on this floor, other than himself and the four crew members he was just talking too, but they went down the opposite hallway and were long gone by now. He was on the floor of the mess hall, and there were normally Ravager's going in and out of the mess hall at all hours (even in the night cycle) some of them for a late night snack, some for a drink, some just using it to cut across the floor instead of taking the many catwalks and corridors to get around. The lights stayed on in the mess hall always.
He can see them now, down the hall. They shine through the thin, rectangular windows on the doors, giving a small patches of lights on the walls.
He can feel uneasiness and anxiety, and he knows it's not his own. (Although he probably has a shit ton of his own negative feelings, AND denies it completely, he can tell when what he is feeling does not belong to him.) It seeps down in to his chest and makes his heart feel like it's sinking.
He pauses in his tracks and frowns, rubbing his chest with a fist.
There's someone else on this floor, and whoever the hell it is, they're projecting their sad feelings everywhere and giving off negative vibes, and it's fucking with him and his 'mind powers', as Peter liked to call them when he was younger.
Yondu hates when any of his crew is sentimental.
("Those feelings ain't gonna get you nowhere. Love is stupid, so's caring about other people, and crying. Don't take part in either of those things!" He used to tell Peter, even though there was no doubt he cared about [and probably loved the hell out of] Peter. Peter had guessed that Yondu was in love once, and it didn't end well for him.
Two years later, Peter found out his guess was kind of true. He was hanging out with Kraglin, when the 18-year-old was actually being nice to him rather than ignoring him.
"Do you think he's ever had a girlfriend? He told me girls were evil."
"Who, Yondu?" Kraglin asked. He'd been unloading cargo from his m-ship after returning from a short pick-up-and-deliver job he'd been assigned to. "Well, kind of but not really."
"What do you mean."
Kraglin out down the box that was in his hands and sighed. "My mother died when I was four…"
"What's that got to do with anythi–"
"I didn't know it back then, but now I do…Yondu was in love with her, at least, I think he was. He had to be…And he was hurt worse than anything when she died. They were better friends than we are."
"But we aren't friends, Krag. We're frienemies.")
Yondu continues walking toward the mess hall.
But his crew being sentimental...that's not the worst part.
The worst part is that he can feel it through a bond that was established a long time ago. Long before he had his red fin mowed down. (He basically became 'powerless' after that. The only thing his fin was good for now was controlling his arrow. Which wasn't TOO bad. Actually, it was all he needed. He hated being able to feel what grass and trees and animals (and a few other people) felt. It was a lame power and it was stupid. If they weren't his own feelings, why would he give a damn about what anything else was feeling? Hell, he hardly ever gave a damn about what he was feeling.
Sometimes he even liked to stomp extremely hard on the grass when he was angry, or purposefully snap twigs off of trees just to feel them cry out in sadness and agony and use those negative feelings to shape him in to the jerk that he was today.)
There was only a hand full of people that had established a bond with the Captain.
He gets his answer of who exactly it is when he peers in through the windows on a set of doors.
He should have known.
He pulls the door open, and winces as his ears are filled with the horrible sound of terran sobbing.
Upon closer inspection, he can see that Peter's shoulder shake with each pathetic cry. The boy's got his face buried in his arms, but he can already tell Peter's face is wet and red all over.
He trots up to stand behind the young Ravager. His hands rest on Peter's shoulders, and he pulls Peter back so he's sitting up right as opposed to hunching over the table top.
"The hell's wrong with you, boy?" He reaches down with both hands and tilts Peter's head back so he can look up at him. A hand goes up to brush hair away from the kid's eyes. He tells himself it's just so he can have Peter look him in the eye, but there's obviously more to the gesture, seeing as he continues to run his hands repetitively through said kid's hair. "Speak."
"I--" Peter barley gets a word out before his breath hitches again and he cries harder.
"Stop," Yondu demands. He uses a blue nuckle to wipe away some of the tears. "Ravagers don't cry…shut up…shhh…stop crying, Peter…I hate it when you cry."
The tears won't go away, and Yondu has to use both of his hands to brush them off, and it's harder to brush away someone's tears when you're standing behind them and their head's bent back at an awkward angle.
But eventually, they do stop.
"I'm just s-so ti-tired," Peter says. He attempts to sigh, but he's still sniffling and gasping from sobbing for so long. "I h-h-ha-ve-haven't slept--slept in d-days, I-I c-can-can't slee-eep." He stutters and breathes heavily.
"Breathe," Yondu commands.
Peter takes a deep breath, holds it for a moment, then let's it out.
"My head hurts," he complains.
Yondu goes from rubing underneath Peter's eyes to gently rubbing the kid's temples. "Tell me again, but without the stuttering."
Peter closes his eyes. "I'm so tired. I haven't slept in days…" he swallows. "I hate being alone, I can't sleep, and Im frustrated."
"Well...maybe you just needed to cry," Yondu kinda feels guilty for telling Peter to shut up. He knows some People have breaking points. Peter must've reaches his and had no other way to deal with it.
He grabs Peter's arm and guides him up out of the chair.
"Where we going?" Peter asks.
"To bed." Yondu replies. "C'mon."
"Wait! My things! I left them upstairs in the stargazing room!"
"The hell were you doing up there?"
"Trying to sleep!"
Yondu insists they take the stairs up, with the intentions of completely tiring Peter out, and he instantly regrets it when he has to pause every few moments for Peter to catch up. It takes longer than it should to get there.
"Alright, where's your shit?"
Peter lazily points a hand in the direction of the hammock he was in.
Yondu nods and quickly scales the wall, retrieves Peter's blanket and Walkman, then climbs back down. He shoves both items in to Peter's arms.
They go down to Yondu's cabin (using the lift this time), and Peter does not hesitate to crawl in to Yondu's bed and wrap his blanket tightly around his upper body.
Yondu takes his time, toeing his boots off and letting his large coat drop to the floor. He realizes just how cold it is in his room and wishes he hadn't taken it off. It's lined with soft fur that usually keeps his skin warm. Peter thinks Yondu may be cold-blooded, like a reptile. He likes to wear several layers sometimes, and his room is usually warm (except for tonight. It feels strangely cold.)
Yondu picks up a tablet from one of the tables and switches it on. He still has jobs to assign for the following day cycle, but he can do that while sitting in bed.
As soon as he gets comfortable, Peter rolls over to cuddle against him.
Yondu sighs, but he doesn't mind the way Peter clings to him or presses his face in to his stomach. Peter looks to be on the verge of sleep, which is good. And, since he can, Yondu uses Peter's head as a desk for the tablet in his hands.
Every now and again, if Peter breathes too deeply, his his breath hitches and his shoulder shake, and Yondu reaches down and ruffles his hair or pats his shoulder without even realizing his doing it.
"Dad," Peter sighs.
"I thought you fell asleep, boy."
"I was about to," Peter lifts his upper body, making Yondu set the tablet down beside them. "But I for got to tell you that I kinda missed you."
Yondu rolls his eyes (sentiment is dumb), but ruffles Peter's hair again.
"Yeah, I guess I kinda missed ya, too, Brat." He shuts the tablet off and tosses it to the side, then lays down beside Peter.
"I hated being alone, too," Peter admits. "It was...not like I thought it would be. Space seems so much bigger when you're all by yourself. It's not fun. Especially not when you hate the dark. You have to do everything by yourself. You eat dinner alone, you sleep alone, you dance alone...I mean, I already do that, but whatever..."
Yondu presses their foreheads together. "Yeah," he whispers. "But you'll never have to worry about being alone, Petey." He pulls his boy against his chest, and Peter curls comfortably. "Home is just a call away…wherever you are, I'll come get you."
"Promise?" Peter mumbles out from where his nose is pressed against Yondu's chest.
"Yeah, boy. I promise...I'll even do one of them fancy Terran promises, with the finger and all."
"And you said caring about other people was dumb, but here you are making promises to always come find me," Peter doesn't pull away or look up. He lifts his hand, pinky out and awaiting Yondu's own hand.
The captain hooks their fingers together, making it an official promise.
‘Home is just a call away…’
The words echo in the back of his head and bounce around in his brain.
He know's he's got to do something before Gamora ceases to exist, and the only thing that comes to mind is 'home is just a call away.'
Peter Quill is 34 years old, he's a wanted man, his new best friend is going to die, Ronan has the infinity stone and is going to kill everyone in the entire galaxy, Rocket is shouting at him, and he has not come all this way to watch everything he's built up in the last week come crumbling down around him.
He smashes his finger in to the transmitter's button so hard it hurts.
"Yondu, this is Quill! My coordinates are 227K324! Just outside Knowhere! If you're there, come get me!"