"He mourns," Mantis says, and she isn't only sad for herself, though Peter knows she loved Gamora as much as any of them did. She gives Peter a look filled with pity, and he pushes it away.
He pushes away the grief for another time, but he isn't strong enough on his own. He can't break down in the middle of a fight like this, so employs a helpful tool. He puts the grief aside to think about later, and replaces it with anger.
Mourns? How dare he! He murdered her; he isn't allowed to mourn. Peter doesn't know, or want to know, how she died, but even if it was painless and dignified, she is still dead and nevercomingback.
And then—Peter fucks it up. They almost won, and he almost avenged Gamora, but he couldn't keep his goddamn emotions in check for another minute at most.
Thanos leaves, time stone in hand. He leaves with five of the most powerful objects in the universe. Peter hasn't been on Earth in a while, but can safely say that they aren't strong enough to defeat Thanos, who is stronger than God himself with all of the power he holds.
Peter, in his now-grieving mindset, wishes he had that power. Maybe with the time stone, he could turn back the time on her empty eyes and she could be standing here with him again.
Gamora, his light, his star in the vast emptiness between star system to star system. His dance partner, the one who kept the team together while they simultaneously drove her absolutely insane. She made them more than a team, like these so-called Avengers, whatever that means. She made them a family.
And Thanos took it away. Took her away.
But, of course. Mourn away.
Mantis tries to comfort him. She asks if she can give him good feelings with her emotional manipulation thing, but he doesn't want it. Instead, she wraps an arm around him and shares the grief.
She cries. He doesn't want to cry.
"Something's happening," Mantis says, and he hears the fear in her voice. Then he feels the arm around him fade away into dust on his boots.
And so it begins. His mind races, and at this point, he doesn't know if he wants to be part of the half that lives, or of the half that dies. Not that it matters. Only that purple fuck gets a say-so around here.
Drax looks him in the eyes with such intensity and confusion. "Quill?" His last words fall onto the ground, as he does moments later.
He wonders what Gamora's last words were. Were they cries for Quill? No, she is too brave. She would never cry out for another in the presence of an enemy. He thinks they were probably words of hatred spitted out at the man who claims to be her father.
He feels something come over him. It is a strange feeling, and it reminds him of the time he got a cavity filled at the dentist as a child. The feeling is the same kind of numbness he got from the weird tasting gel and huge needle. It starts like pins and needles, and suddenly he can't feel anything. Mom always said he would get a cavity if he didn't stop eating so much candy.
Mom. A day hasn't passed that he hasn't missed her, and he wonders if it will be the same with Gamora.
At first, he thought the strange feeling was shock from so many people that he loves dying. The numbness intensifies, somehow, and he realizes that this is death. He is part of the half that dies.
"Oh, man," he says, although he still doesn't know if the thought of death makes him upset. He accepts it anyway.
The last seconds of his life pass in slow motion. They say your life passes before your eyes when you die, which isn't exactly true. He only sees the good parts, exactly as he remembers, embellishments included.
He sees Mom, before the cancer, when she was still okay. She was still so strong at her death, maybe not literally, but she was definetly strong, possibly the strongest she was in her whole life. She was definitely as beautiful as ever, and she smiled as bright with her eyes as with her mouth. Cancer tainted her memory a little bit, but thinking about the good parts still makes him very happy.
He sees Yondu, his dad in any manner that counts. In this memory, they are young, and they are messing around with the Ravagers. He smiles, and feels at home, even on this spaceship with people who want to eat him.
He sees the first time he met Gamora, Rocket, and Groot. Sure, it wasn't pleasant at the time, but looking back on it with everything that has happened is like looking at it through a filter, and he can only laugh.
All of the brightest moments with his family, his new family, flash before him increasingly faster and he can tell that death is approaching.
I'm coming home. I will be there soon, Gamora. My star.
He doesn't open his eyes right away.
Mom. Yondu. Mantis. Drax. Gamora.
He wakes up.
Everything is tinted a yellow-orange color. He is laying down on something that is like sand, except softer and more welcoming.
He stands up and the sand falls off of his body. The sky is orange and flowing like lava, with some clouds that look more like smoke than whatever clouds are made of. All there is is sand, flat and barren, for miles.
Is this Hell? he thinks. Or maybe this is just what the afterlife is like, and Hell and Heaven don't exist.
He spins in place, looking around for a person, or a building. Hell, he would be content with a grass patch at this point.
In the distance, he sees a figure stand up. He runs to them, and as he gets closer he recognizes them as the magician guy. Doctor something, maybe? God, why are his thoughts so scrambled?
The doctor doesn't acknowledge him. He doesn't seem to be phased by any of this, and that irritates Peter, but he doesn't say anything about it.
"Where are we?" he asks.
"In the soul stone," the doctor states plainly.
He pauses, and then asks the question that is truly bothering him. "Is Gamora here?" As unlikely as it seems, he still has hope.
"Probably. There isn't much that is known about the soul stone, but from what I have gathered, she is in here. It isn't that simple though. She isn't here in the same way we are. If we encounter her, we may not even know it. She most certainly will not. I don't want to get into the details, but take my word for it."
"Tell me. I need to know."
"You may not want to know—"
"I don't care."
The doctor sighs. "Fine. The soul stone is different from the other infinity stones in that it is an entity with consciousness. It thinks and feels, unlike the mind stone, which can only think. The soul stone requires a soul inside of it to give it this ability. Gamora is that soul. She is being consumed by the stone at this very minute. I don't think she is in pain, but her soul is likely wandering aimlessly around the stone. She could walk right by us without recognizing you."
Although the doctor is telling him harsh words without sugar coating anything, he says it all gently, like an apology. Like he is talking to a baby. Screw that, he doesn't need pity from this asshole. He's Star-Lord, Guardian of the Galaxy. He can make it through this.
He still has one thing to ask, though. "Are we dead?"
"The line is a bit fuzzy, but for most purposes of the word, yes."
He sits down in the sand and grabs it with his hands. He stares blankly at the ground.
The doctor leaves. To where, Peter doesn't know. Maybe he wanted to leave him alone with his grief. That would kind of him. The doctor is a kind man, Peter thinks, for a man with such prickly outsides. He is sort of like Rocket in that way.
He doesn't want to think of Gamora, or anyone else that he thought he might see again after he died, but he does anyway. There isn't much else to think about. He can only look at the endless sand, with a dim sky, like a thin sheet is covering it, and only a bit of light peaks through.
He wishes Gamora was there to light it up.
She isn't. The star died, not in a beautiful explosion that sends stardust into the voids of space, and creates new planets and new life. No, instead, the star quietly shrunk into a brown dwarf, destined to slowly burn away into a frozen core.
The planets around the star grow cold.
Peter is cold. He can't seem to warm up, no matter how much he rubs his hands along his arms for friction. It isn't an effect of dying, he thinks.
Peter cries. The tears fall onto the sand, which absorbs them as quickly as they fell.
When he is done crying, he closes his eyes. If a shell of Gamora that doesn't know who he is passes in front of him, he doesn't want to know.
He waits for a miracle.