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"What do you mean I can't see her? She is ill and in need of assistance."

"Look, lady," Rocket says sarcastically, "you don't wanna see her right now. And let's be honest, she ain't gonna want you to see her when she's dying."

"Dying?" That word drains the blood from Sif's face momentarily, then it rushes back to color bright spots on her cheeks. "I swear by all I hold dear that if one of you has poisoned her--"

"No one's poisoned her, Lady Sif," Quill pipes up, then shoots a dirty look at Rocket. "Damn it, Rocket! Do you have to be such a dick right now?"

Rocket shrugs and curls his lips up in what Sif assumes should be a smile. She really doesn't care what his intentions are, so long as he doesn't prevent her from her goal. And right now, she intends to see Gamora, no matter what. Throwing a murderous scowl at the males trying to keep her from Gamora, Sif takes three strides to the door and turns the knob.

"I really wouldn't do that," Quill protests, but she ignores him and steps into the room.

She stops dead in her tracks at the sword aimed in her general direction. It takes a few seconds to realize that she is in no immediate danger, but she doesn't move initially. She needs to see her face first, needs to see those dark eyes that have haunted her dreams.

"Go away before I gut you."

Sif grins at that, relieved that Gamora still has a bit of fight left in her. Anything less would be terrifying. "I believe you would, if you had any aim to speak of." The second the sword's tip begins to dip toward the ground, Sif bursts into a kind of muted action to save the sword from hitting the deck too hard. Kneeling next to Gamora, she can feel the heat radiating off the other woman. "How did this happen?"

A sound emanates from Gamora's throat, some unholy and wholly unhealthy blend of snort, sneeze, and cough. It does, sometimes. Rarely." Gamora spits into the sink, barely making it into the bowl, then takes a slow, careful breath. Sif swallows reflexively, watching the already sallow green skin grow paler. When Gamora speaks again, eyes closing, her voice is barely above a whisper. "Not all food agrees with me."

Rather than let Gamora know exactly how affected she is by this display in front of her, Sif grins and teases, "I can see that." Without thought, she reaches up toward Gamora's face, but the second those eyes open and zero in on her, she stills her movements and raises her hands in acquiescence. She weathers Gamora's intense gaze, unwilling to break the contact. "I'm sorry, your hair is sticking to your face. I only meant to hold it back."

"You're unarmed," Gamora says in reply, frowning slightly, but the tension in her frame eases infinitesimally.

The smile curls up her lips, unbidden. "Not quite." She glances down at her lap as she reaches for the dagger artfully hidden inside her boot. The movement shifts the chainmail hidden beneath her blood red tunic.

"Good."

In the time it takes for Sif to replace the blade in its sheath, Gamora is hunched over the sink again, body heaving with each painful retching sound. Without thought, she moves to kneel next to the other woman. "It's okay, Gamora," she murmurs. "Don't fight it. Just let it out. Let me get your hair." Gentle fingers comb back the hair from Gamora's damp face to hold the limp, stringy strands with one hand, the other resting over her spine between her shoulder blades.

*****

Sif smiles as she looks down to see that the lines of stress bisecting Gamora's face have mostly smoothed away in sleep. She continues to stroke a hand over her hair, pausing to turn over the cloth on her forehead. Gamora's bunk is at an inconvenient height for her to easily return to the sink to rinse out the cloth, so she drags a chair over to perch on the back of it, putting her at a better angle to keep an eye on her charge.

She's losing feeling in her rear, so she takes the cloth, then gets down, bending over double to stretch out her legs and back. Taking the opportunity to get a better look at the sleeping quarters for this ragtag group of reluctant heroes. Despite the stories she's heard, both from the four who can speak and from hearsay, she still can't believe just how they all came together.

Stepping out into the corridor, she makes her way to the bathroom, nose wrinkling as she smells the remnants of Gamora's illness. Without thought, she wipes down the sink again before turning on the tap. She rinses out the cloth and lets the cool water trickle over her fingers. Glancing into the mirror is a study in worry and unrequited love. She doesn't know exactly how to pick her way through the minefield that is her own love life, let alone broach the subject with Gamora. She doesn't know everything of the Zehoberi's background, but what she does know brings about a rage that she finds difficult to contain. She would like nothing more than to destroy Thanos to avenge Gamora's people and give the woman some peace.

The door creaks as it opens, startling Sif from her thoughts. Her eyes glance to the left to meet those of Fandral. He looks flushed and a bit unkempt and when she quirks a brow at him, his cheek darken. "How--" He winces when his voice cracks, clearing his throat before he continues. "How is she doing?"

"Do you truly wish to know or are you merely asking for convention's sake?"

She hates that she sounds so suspicious of him. He alone of the Warriors Three knows to the greatest extent of her feelings for Gamora. Volstagg and Hogun, while loyal brothers to her, just don't understand her dilemma. Both have their fair share of partners, but neither feels the bone deep need to connect to someone that understands them. Fandral gets that, and so much more.

"Sif, you are my sister in arms and my friend," he says softly, touching her arm. "Of course, I truly wish to know. It's just the two of us now. My brothers are off drinking with Drax. Volstagg still believes he can outdrink the man, and Hogun--"

They complete the thought together, "--just wants to watch the spectacle and be able to tease Volstagg down the line."

Sif chuckles at that, relaxing minutely as she wrings out the cloth. "She's not doing all that well, but she's sleeping now and no longer vomiting her guts up, so it's an improvement."

"And that's a good thing. Go back to her, Sif. We've about an hour or so left before we really should head back for Asgard." He smiles and squeezes her arm. "Make the most of your time with her. Maybe tell her how you feel?"

She shakes her head violently at that. "No, my brother, that will not happen. This isn't the time, not when she's ill. I'll see you in an hour. Maybe you'll have told Quill of your feelings by then."

Sif leaves Fandral spluttering over that and heads back to Gamora's side. The woman hasn't moved since she left, but she's sweating more and still looks far too pale for Sif's liking. She gently wipes away the sweat before settling the cloth on the sickly green forehead. The everyday noises of the ship make themselves known again as her eyes study the sleeping woman's face.

"You really need to be more careful with what you eat," she says softly. "I know you don't like to show your weaknesses around the men you work with. I'm the same way. But from the way they tried to keep me from you earlier, it's clear that all of them care about you. Even Rocket does, and he's the least likely to admit it, even under pain of death." She chuckles softly at that. "He reminds me of Volstagg in some ways. Drax does, too. Quill and Fandral are cut from the same cloth, which makes their… connection all the more intriguing. Hogun? I suppose he's a bit of Quill and Groot, but he's quiet like you are. Perhaps that's why I know that you'll be in good hands when the Warriors Three and I must return to Asgard again."

Sif goes quiet for several minutes again, just losing herself in memorizing the way Gamora's face looks in sleep. She does her best to look past the sickly cast to her skin, but it still makes an impression in her mind. Gamora moans softly and turns her head toward Sif's fingers tracing her cheekbone, but doesn't rise from the depths of slumber.

*****

The light knock at the door pulls Sif from her thoughts. She will never admit that she may also have been caught catnapping, her head on the pillow next to Gamora's. The crick in her neck will be explained away in some other method. Something suitable to a warrior of Asgard. She sits up, rolling her head from side to side, as the door slowly opens and Quill sticks his head in.

"Hey, Fandral said to tell you--"

"I know," Sif replies stiffly. "Just-- Just give me a moment and I'll be out."

"You got it." And with that, the door closes again.

Sif sighs and glances at Gamora again, pleased that she remains deeply asleep and that her color is the slightest bit better. She lifts the cloth, shifting to press her lips to the still too warm forehead. "You better get healthy as soon as possible," she whispers. "If I could, I'd stay and nurse you back to health. But duty calls and so I'll just terrorize Quill into how to care for you." She resettles the cloth on Gamora's forehead and adjusts the bedding over her sweaty body. "Until next time, Gamora, and there will be a next time."

She steps down and returns the chair to its original position. With a last, lingering glance at Gamora, Sif takes a deep breath and steps out into the corridor to stare down the seven males standing there. The dark mark on Fandral's neck has been joined by a couple of others, and she can see similar ones on Quill. Volstagg is glassy-eyed, held up surreptitiously by a grinning Hogun. Drax doesn't look much better than Volstagg, but he won't be Sif's responsibility. No, that falls to Quill and Rocket, just as Gamora's recovery will. Her eyes zero in on Quill and she steps up to him, full of intimidation.

"Keep them quiet and let her sleep as long as she needs it," she says brusquely, demeanor daring him to contradict her. "Change the cloth on her forehead regularly to help with the fever. Clear liquids and plain broths made of things she's eaten before and can tolerate for the next couple of days. And make sure she doesn't overtax herself."

"But--"

"I don't care if you have to tie her down to do it. She needs to rest and recuperate."

"Yeah, but--"

"And if I find out you've ignored my recommendations and she gets sicker, I will wear your balls on my belt. Am I understood, Quill?"

"Y-Yeah, okay," is his stammered reply, which makes Rocket chuckle.

"And you, Rocket," she says, turning her glare on him. She fights the urge to smirk when he suddenly straightens his spine, but she can see Fandral and Hogun's amusement in the corner of her eye. "You are also responsible for her and for Drax. If anyone disturbs her rest, I will disembowel you with my bare hands. Are we clear?"

"Crystal."

"Good. Warriors Three, we depart now for Asgard. We won't keep our duties waiting."

As the trio nod their heads, she glances at the ragtag group of men that are Gamora's team one last time before sweeping past them to lead her brothers-in-arms off.