Chapter 1: Rose-Colored Boy (Paramore)
It started as a joke between them. “As Captain of this ship, I will marry us right now! I mean it!” Quill threatened as he tried to remove the steak knife pining his sleeve to the dining room table.
“Ha!” Gamora scoffed as she waltzed into the galley and opened the cabinet. “You would not dare. Udonta would be furious if you did not allow him to officiate our union.” She had to stand on her tiptoes to reach the top shelf.
Quill blew a raspberry, “the man only has two moods angry and drunk.” Gamora pulled out a Ninja Turtles lunchbox and gingerly set it down on the counter. She made sure Quill could see it. “This is so not cool! Those are mine!”
“You may recall, there was a club sandwich in the galley just yesterday.” She popped open the latch. That renewed his struggles to break free with urgency. “Today, I found it half eaten in the trash. You ate. My sandwich.”
“You, you just left it!” Quill stammered, trying to stall while he thought of a way out of this. “You didn't put your name on it, or, or, leave a note! Anything in the galley is up for grabs!”
“I'm glad you feel that way.” She pulled out a purple box of cookies. They weren't just any cookies, no, they were Girl Scout cookies. In the great, endless void, cookies are an extremely rare thing. “I'm going to eat these.” God damn it.
Gamora cut open the box with her switchblade and popped a whole cookie into her mouth. Quill yanked hard on the knife. Somehow, he managed to knock the table over without removing the knife. “Ow, ow, ow! Shit!” Quill hissed appearing to be trapped beneath the steel table.
Gamora's expression went blank. She was across the galley in an instant. She removed the knife from the table, “are you alright? Should I contact Mantis?” She sounded genuinely concerned. Quill almost felt bad. Almost.
“Yoink!” He yanked the box of cookies out of her hands. He bolted out of the galley.
“Quill!” Gamora seethed with rage.
Quill didn’t even make it to the end of the hallway. She tackled him to the ground. The cookies slid across the floor and into the open airlock. Gamora and Quill exchange glances. They scramble to their feet and race for the airlock. Gamora gets their first. She punched the button to close the inner airlock door. “No!” Quill bangs his fist futility against the door. The Girl Scout cookies are ejected out into space. “What have you done? You monster!” Quill cried melodramatically and sank to his knees.
Mantis opened the hatch and poked her head down from the upper deck. “I heard a commotion. Is everything okay?”
“I've suffered a terrible loss, ” Quill said while staring out the airlock. “I will never be whole again.”
Mantis’ antenna drooped and her eyebrows knit together. “He will be fine.” Gamora dismisses her concern. “He has to act melodramatic before he can get over it.”
“This is not an act!” Quill yelled even though Gamora was standing right next to him.
“Oh-kay?” Mantis says before backing away slowly and closing the hatch.
Quill sat on the floor, sulking, “Girl Scout cookies are extremely rare. Out of all the stars in all the galaxies, they only exist on one itty-bitty blue planet.”
Gamora sat down next to him. “Why are these cookies so rare? Are they made from these, Girl Scouts?”
He buried his face in his hands. “Yup, that's it, you got it in one, ” he deadpans. Quill raised his head and pointed at Gamora, “you're buying me another box.”
“You are treating me to lunch, ” She replied snappishly.
Quill considers this for a long, quiet moment. Gamora is watching his reaction curiously. Then, he bumps his shoulder against hers. “It's a date then.”
Gamora wrinkles her nose at him, “it’s not a date.”
“You love me, you want to go on a date with me!” He hummed in a mocking tone.
“Stop it, we've been dating for years.” The slightest hint of a smile appears on her face.
“The scariest person in the galaxy has feelings! This has to be so embarrassing, for you.” Quill continued.
Gamora crossed her arms and looked away to hide her reaction. She’s trying to choke down laughter. “You’re insufferable! Am I going to have to listen to you prattle on about this for the rest of our lives?”
“The rest of our lives,” Quill echoed. The starlight catches her maroon hair and she glows. She’s the same hard woman he met all those years ago but everything is different. He can see it in the way her smile touches her eyes. The smile she rarely shows to anyone else. She’s softer around the edges, happier, even. Her gorgeous brown eyes settle on him and for a moment everything is perfect. “You want to spend the rest of your life with me?”
Gamora blinks, her mouth drops open and she snaps it shut a moment later. She’s caught off guard. The silence drags on as she gathers her thoughts and her courage. Vulnerability was never easy for her. When she speaks again her voice is as soft and gentle as a warm summer breeze. “There's nowhere else in the galaxy I'd rather call my home.”
And suddenly it isn't a joke anymore, “Marry me.” Gamora sighs and rolls her eyes. “No, I mean it this time.”
She steals a glance in his direction and tries to keep her expression neutral. “You're certain this is what you want?”
“I’ve never been more certain about anything in my life.” It was the truth. He shifted so he was on one knee. He didn't have a ring, but he did have a candy bracelet in his pocket. Quill took her hand and put on the candy bracelet. “Gamora Zen-Whoberis Titan, would you marry me?”
“In a heartbeat,” and she was kissing him. Quill put his arms around her. He pulls away for air, and Gamora smiles.
Chapter 2: Ain't No Moutain High Enough (Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell)
Shopping for engagement rings.
They announced their engagement to the rest of their odd little family during dinner that Solar cycle. Mantis, Groot, and Drax offered their congratulations, Rocket shouted over them, “Well it's about damn time!” Which was his way of congratulating them.
Quill chuckles, he's reveling in all the attention. “Well, it's not official yet. We've gotta get engagement rings and then there's the wedding to plan.”
“What are engagement rings?” Mantis asks curiously tilting her head to the side.
“It’s like, this metal piece of jewelry with a diamond. It symbolizes the promise to form a union.” Quill explains enthusiastically.
“If ya want diamonds, we can make a detour to the mining settlement in Omis 25.” Rocket pulled up a holographic map of the stars. He stood up on his chair to zoom in on one particular star cluster. “They go for 15 units a pop.”
“What?” Quill leaned back in his chair and squinted at Rocket. “That can't be right, aren't diamonds like super rare?”
Rocket shook his head, “they're made of carbon, it's the fourth most common mineral in the universe.”
“They are often sold to children,” Drax added.
“Regardless, plot a course,” Quill decided with a wave of his hand. Rocket punched a few buttons on his transmitter and Gamora felt the Milano rumble beneath her. The gravity hiccups when the ship changes speed. The Milano’s artificial gravity came from its acceleration rather than a spinning hull. They would reach Omis 25 by the weeks’ end.
“What about your union ceremony? What does it involve?” Mantis asked. Their family was full of questions about Terran weddings. Quill did his best to answer them. He tried to appear relaxed as if he had not been dreaming of the perfect wedding since he was but a pup. However, he's soon leaning forward in his seat, his gestures have more flourish. He's grinning like an idiot. It's absolutely adorable.
Quill caught Gamora staring at him. She quickly turns away suddenly very interested in the ceiling. “What's got you smiling like that?” Quill knows very well what the answer is but asked anyway.
“I am not smiling.” Gamora insisted defensively.
“No, no, you were definitely smiling, ” Rocket agreed with Quill.
Mantis nodded, “I don't need to be an empath to tell that you are in a good mood.”
“Nonsense!” Gamora tried to force a scowl but failed. “Drax’s terrible cooking is giving you all mass delusions.”
“What’s wrong with my cooking?” Drax feigned offense.
“I am Groot, ” He pushed his food around on his plate.
“Yeah, I didn't think it was possible to make me miss prison food but you did it,” Rocket said.
Drax nodded, “that is where I learned to cook.”
Gamora stood up and collected her dishes. “I believe it is my turn to do the dishes.”
“May I help?” Drax offered.
“It would be most welcome, ” Gamora replied. Drax collected the rest of their dishes and brought them into the galley.
“I am Groot, ” he volunteered to take the first watch of the night. He left for the bridge. Mantis disappeared to continue her medical studies. After she had appointed herself as their medical officer, Mantis began studying for her doctorate.
“Uh, hey Rocket, you wanna help me send out invites for the engagement party?” Quill asked.
“Yeah, not a problem.” Rocket opened his contacts on his tablet.
Gamora moved into the galley. She took off her engagement bracelet and it left a trail of white powdered sugar on her arm. The only thing holding the colorful chunks of sugar together is an elastic band. It's fragile and perishable but sweet. It makes her nostalgic for a childhood she never got to have. Quill always said she was overly fond of symbolism. She nibbles on one of the sugar chunks. It tastes like berries. Gamora stashed her bracelet somewhere safe, where it wouldn't get wet.
Drax got started on the dishes while Gamora dried and put them away. They fell into a steady rhythm. Gamora could hear Rocket and Quill talking about the wedding in the other room. Gamora took a slow deep breath, “There is something I wanted to ask you.” Drax raised his eyebrows curiously and waited for her to continue. “There is this tradition in Quill's culture that the father walks them to the wedding arch.”
“That is unfortunate,” Drax mumbled absently.
“It's not really,” She replies softly, “not if you are the person who walks me down the aisle.”
Drax paused and looked up at her. “I would be honored to take part in your wedding.”
Gamora let out a breath she didn't know she was holding. It's a weight off her chest. “Thank you,” Drax smiles and puts a hand comforting on her shoulder. Gamora leaned into him, hoping to stay in this moment for just a minute longer. It's soft moments that make the universe feel kinder.
Omis 25 was a shithole. Mining colonies sprung up all over the galaxy and are ghosted just as quickly. The colony was cobbled together, the steel buildings are rusted and shabby. The air had been pushed through the recycler one too many times. It tasted stale and dusty. None of that mattered to Quill.
They had been to three different jewelry stores today. He was determined to find the perfect engagement ring. “Hey G, what about this one?” He pointed out an engagement ring with an intertwining silver and copper bands.
“It's lovely, ” Gamora agreed, drifting past him to look at the other rings in the collection.
Quill trails after her, moving at a much slower pace. “Diamonds are traditional, but we don't have to stick with that. Look at this one!” He paused in front of a bronze ring with three sapphires each cut into the shape of flowers.
“You really liked the sapphires at last store too,” Gamora commented lightly. She couldn't find a display with sapphires here, it was a little frustrating.
“Yeah, that ring with the infinity symbol was rad to the max.” Quill snapped around to look at Gamora and pointed at her. “Wait, hang on! We’re not shopping for me!”
“No?” Gamora held up her wrist to show off her engagement bracelet. She had already eaten half the candy pieces, “but I already have something I like.”
Quill bit back a laugh, “babe I love you, but that's gonna get super grody in a few days. You can't wear that forever.”
“I most certainly can.” Gamora scoffs and puts her hands on her hips. She raises her chin slightly, “Neither gods nor man could stop me.”
“Oh no, my love made you too powerful!” Quills whispers melodramatically.
Gamora grinned and rolled her eyes. Disappointed with this jewelry stores severe lack of sapphires, she strolls back out into the marketplace. Quill managed to keep pace with her. After a beat, Quill sighs, “Look I don't need an engagement ring anyway. It's not like I'm gonna get… proposed…” He stopped dead in his tracks. His eyes went wide and he let out a gentle gasp. “I could get proposed too,” Quill says this as if the thought was just now occurring to him. “Babe, are you going to propose to me?!”
Gamora glanced over her shoulder at him. She quirks her eyebrows, “curious, indeed.”
“That's not an answer!” Quill hurried to catch up with her. There was more bounce in his step, and he couldn't stop himself from smiling. “There's nothing that says that only one person can propose, and I mean, we've never been the most traditional family. I never even considered that I could be—that I wouldn't be the one to,”
“Peter?” She interjected gently.
“Right, sorry, ” He smiles sheepishly. Quill follows Gamora into the next jewelry store and stopped in front of the sapphire display. He went all of 30 seconds before blurting out, “How are you going to propose to me?”
Gamora pointed out a ring, “They put the sapphire in the mouth of some kind of serpent creature.”
“Is it gonna be like those big public displays of affection you always see in movies?” Quill asked. Gamora asked the clerk if Quill could try on rings. “Or are ya gonna invite me out to dinner on the beach, with candles and music and then Bam!” He clapped his hands for emphasis.
Gamora chuckled, “bam?”
“It's in the cake!”
“Why would I put the ring in the cake? You would choke on it.” She handed him several plain rings to try on.
He tried on a few before they found the right size. He was borderline whining, “C'mon, G, at least give me a hint! I'm dying, you're killing me. You’re killing your future husband.” Her future husband. Quill was going to be her husband. By the stars, she loved the way that sounded. Gamora grabbed Quill by the collar and pulled him down so she could kiss him.
She can feel the warmth radiate off his skin. His soft honeycomb hair brushes against her forehead. She's itching to be closer to him. She wants to wrap her arms around his waist and nuzzle her head into the crook of his neck. She doesn't realize how much she misses his gentle touch until they spend time apart. Quill is the first to pull away. She settles for holding his hand instead of kissing him again. Humans are so soft and warm.
Quill was a tad pink and breathless. “If you were kissing me to shut me up it didn't work. Now I’m excited and a little turned on.”
“You're going to be my husband, ” She mutters just to hear it again.
“Uh-huh,” Quill chuckled and squeezed her hand. He shifted his attention back to the display case. “I like the silver one with the leaves.”
“Noted, ” Gamora replied softly. They bought a plain set of wedding rings. Quill treated Gamora to dinner (to make up for eating her sandwich) before they returned to the Milano.
Chapter 3: September (Earth, Wind & Fire)
The engagement party.
I'm including some characters from the comics (you don't need to have prior knowledge of them) Because who's going to stop me? You? God? Fuckin Mickey Mouse?
Quill slips out of the bar and restaurant and into the garden. Caluti's purple sky is stained with streaks of red and pink in its eternal twilight. The sun doesn't set this time of year. Caluti’s two rings split the sky in half, it's a golden archway hanging over the city. Quill sips his drink leisurely wondering further down the winding garden path, away from the noise of their engagement party. The ephie are in full bloom, their petals stretch out towards the sun. Someone had plucked several flowers leaving broken steams.
As he moves towards the center of the garden, Quill can hear two familiar voices. “...responsibilities involved?”
“Quill tells me it's mostly organizational,” Gamora sounds relaxed. “There is something called a bridal shower, and a bachelorette party, that you would have to plan. However, you will rule over the other maidens.”
There's a pause before Nebula responded, “Are you certain I am the best person for this role? Perhaps a Terran with more knowledge of their—”
“I want you to be my honored maiden,” Gamora spoke over her, definitively. “No one else.”
Another pause, longer this time, "I need time. Just, give me time, please."
A third, much younger voice piped up, “I wanna be a maid of honor too!”
Quill stepped into the clearing in the middle of the garden. Nebula and Gamora are sitting on a bench swing, with Stark's daughter between them. She was braiding ephie flowers into Gamora's hair. She glances in Quill’s direction. “I do not believe you are old enough yet. If you wish you could be a girl of the flowers.”
“I dunno, maid of honor is cooler.”
Nebula plucked one of the flowers and tucked it behind the girl's ear, “You can rule over the flowers with an iron fist. Make them bend to your will.”
She giggled, “you're funny.”
Quill grinned, “so this where you've all been hiding.”
“We’re not hiding, ” Gamora frowned at him.
“She doesn't speak for me, I have no interest in loud social events, ” Nebula says.
“Hi Mr. Quill!” the girl waved at him.
“Hey kiddo, ” He waved back. “Y'know they're serving ice cream, right now?”
“Ice cream!” Morgan squealed in delight. She tugged on Nebula’s hand, “C'mon! Let's go!”
“Alright, I'm coming!” Nebula allows the girl to pull her along the garden path.
Gamora shrugged, “I could go for ice cream.” She stood up and linked arms with Quill.
They began the trek back to the restaurant, Morgan skipped ahead of them. “You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream!” Morgan and Quill both yelled. Nebula rolled her eyes and Gamora bites back a smile.
When they walk back into the restaurant a dozen different people shout greetings. The restaurant was more kid-friendly than the guardians usual hang out. It was more expensive too. Quill had reserved a table for their guests and opened a tab at the bar. Gamora could already feel it burning a hole into their savings. Anyone who could get to Caluti under short notice was there. It was crowded and loud. Nebula helped Morgan navigate through the crowd to get ice cream.
Valkyrie was sitting at the bar, “hey there's the happy couple!” She quickly poured them both a drink, which Gamora happily accepted. “Thor sends his regards.”
Quill knocked back his drink, “yeah, ruling over a nation must keep the big guy pretty busy.” After they helped Thor reunited with Loki, they returned to earth to rule over the remaining Asgardians.
Valkyrie smiled, “eh, he's got help.”
Danvers claps Valkyrie on the shoulder and takes the bottle from her hands. “What’re we drinkin’?” It was weird seeing her in flannel and jeans.
“L’orillian ale,” Gamora responded.
Danvers brought the bottle to her lips and chugged the whole thing. “Come on, I was drinking that!” Valkyrie protested and then sighed loudly, “I'm not allowed to have any fun.”
Danvers wiped her mouth on her sleeve, “Was it fun being an alcoholic?” She sets the empty bottle back on the bar. “I know I had fun pulling your drunk ass out of a trash can.”
Quill snorted and Valkyrie glares at him. “I swear you’re here just to lecture me.”
Danvers chuckled, “Yup, I'm here for you specifically and for no other reason.” She pulled a package out of her pocket and tossed it to Quill. “Congrats on the engagement guys.”
Quill ripped open the packaging quickly. “This is Terran bacon! You got us bacon!” He shouts gleefully. Unless you're planetside, it’s next to impossible to get your hands on farm produce. It doesn't last very long, and it's difficult to transport.
Gamora's eyes widened, “Not to be melodramatic, but I have never been more attracted to you than I am right now, Danvers.”
She laughed and shrugged, “you're not too bad yourself, G, if we weren't both married,” She left the rest unsaid.
Quill cleared his throat, “She's not married yet, ”
Gamora smirked, “Are you hitting on Danvers for me?”
“No, ” Quill smiles, “I’m hitting on her for us.”
Valkyrie smirks, "you're not her type."
Rambeau waltzed over to Danvers and wrapped her arms around her waist. “Sorry, kids she's taken.” She pulls Danvers away from the bar.
“Ah, Terrans and your monogamy.” Gamora sighs and knocks back her drink.
They follow Rambeau back to their table. Monica is playing Nintendo with Shuri. Potts and her husband are sitting together, while Morgan is eating ice cream with Nebula. Danvers and Rambeau sit near their daughter. Valkyrie flips the chair around and sits between Shuri and Mantis.
Richard Rider, an old friend of Quill and Gamora, calls across the table. “You love birds, decided where you're going to have the wedding yet?” He was still wearing his Nova uniform.
Quill shrugs and leans forward, “not yet. I've got a couple of places in mind, though.”
“I hear Ria is nice in the spring, ” Valkyrie suggested.
“That planet is a tourist trap.” Rocket scoffed, “And it's expensive as, uh” he glanced in Morgan's direction, “heck.”
“You could always come back to Earth,” Potts says.
“Nah, Earth is a garbage planet.” Rider remarks offhandedly and then quickly amends, “I mean no offense.” Monica and Shuri both smirk.
“Like Xandar is any better, Nova, ” Danvers says mockingly.
Rider pulled off his late Roman style gold helmet and shakes out his dirty blonde hair. “I’m from New York.”
Shuri pressed one hand to her chest, “I'm so sorry.”
“Nobody can tell what race you are, because you wear that stupid bucket on your head,” Drax says.
Rocket pointed and cackled, “Officer Buckethead!”
“Guys!” Quill held his palms out in a defensive gesture. “We can't have the wedding planetside because we both have friends who grew up on the float.”
“What do you mean by on the float?” Monica pipes up.
Danvers explains, “It's someone who was born or raised on a space station.”
“Without the proper supplements, the lack of gravity can have adverse effects on their growth. High gravity could crush them,” Mantis added.
Quill continued, “I was thinking of having the wedding at the Hub, or on Nyone's moon during the festival of lights.”
“You could have it on Knowhere. Probably cheaper, ” Drax grunted.
Potts snorted, “Don’t be rude, the wedding has to be somewhere.”
Stark shrugged, “he has a point, it's cheaper not to have a wedding.”
“No, not nowhere, Knowhere!” Rocket tried to clarify.
“No, I don't know where” Nebula grumbles, “just tell us.”
“He told you it’s Knowhere, ” Rider said pointedly.
“We’ve already established it has to be somewhere,” Valkyrie replied.
“He's not saying we have it nowhere, he's saying Knowhere!” Gamora said growing increasingly frustrated.
“Does he want us to guess?” Stark asked the others. “I'm not going to guess.”
“Oh my God, ” Quill buried his face in his hands.
“Oh, I love guessing games!” Mantis claps her hands in delight. Morgan and Mantis started shouting out answers, “The Lighthouse? Jupiter! The moon!”
“No, guys stop!” Danvers stifled her laughter and opened a holographic map of Knowhere. “This is Knowhere!”
Monica frowned, “Mom, that's definitely somewhere.”
“It can't be nowhere if it's somewhere, ” Rambeau agreed.
“Tell us where you're having the wedding already!” Valkyrie shouts.
“Knowhere!” Drax replied.
Everyone groaned. “This is as bad as Who's On First.” Rider grumbled bitterly.
“I don't know,” Mantis replied.
Prompting Danvers, Quill, and Stark to shout back, “I Don't Know is on third!”
Rocket stood up on his chair and shouted over them. “This is a disaster, everyone stop!” He pointed at the holographic map. “This the severed head of a Celestial, it's called Knowhere!"
“Well, that’s unnecessarily confusing, ” Shuri says.
Stark rubs his brow, “see this is why I hate space.” He grumbled to Potts, who patted his hand sympathetically. The group split up into smaller conversations again.
Danvers ordered the Kree equivalent of a root beer float, for herself, Monica and Valkyrie. Monica and Shuri shared their drink. Quill got himself more ice cream. “How's the rest of the wedding planning going?” Rambeau asks politely.
“Eh, it's coming along, ” Quill says, his voice slipping up an octave.
“Whadda ‘bout a budget?” Monica pressed him.
Valkyrie snorted, “so you have nothing.”
“I don't have nothing!” He says defensively, “I know what I want!”
Rambeau looks at Gamora, “do you know whatchu want hon?”
Gamora took a deep breath and grabs Quill's hand. “I got to fall in love with my best friend, that's enough.”
Quill chuckled, “twice. You fell in love with me twice.” Gamora rolled her eyes.
“You should start with the budget,” Drax spoke from experience. “These ceremonies can be expensive.”
Gamora frowned and lowered her voice, “We already spent a bit on this party.”
Before Quill can reassure her, Valkyrie pulled out her transmitter and sent them units. “Here, congrats on the engagement!”
“You didn't have to do that,” Gamora mutters.
“Shush, I love free money, ” Quill says. The unspoken question hung over them both. How were they going to afford the wedding?
Stark provided an unconventional answer. He was talking to Danvers. “Nobody ever just robs a bank anymore, y'know? It’s always evil empires this, and world domination that.” Stark sighs and takes a long drink. “I can't remember the last time I rescued hostages.”
Quill glanced over at Gamora and grinned wickedly. “Hey babe, you wanna rob a bank?”
Gamora almost smiles, “always.”
“Yeah, Bonnie and Clyde, that wasn't really a suggestion, ” Stark cringed.
Rocket laughed and rubbed his hands together, “I haven't robbed a bank in a long, long, time.” He was downright giddy.
“Dude, I’m sitting like right here,” Rider said.
“Yeah, I can't let you rob a bank,” Danvers agreed.
“I am Groot?”
She pinched the bridge of her nose, “because it's illegal.”
“Relax, we're joking, it's a joke,” Quill says and then winks at Rocket. “We definitely don't rob banks, anymore.”
“Does he think we cannot see him winking?” Shuri asked Monica.
Mantis leans over to Quill and whispers, “I'm confused are we robbing a bank or not?”
“Oh hell yeah, ” Quill chuckled, “Steal from the rich and give to the me.”
“I can still hear you,” Danvers said.
Chapter 4: No Choir (Florence + the Machine)
Coffee and other morning rituals. Nebula joins the party.
It was the morning after the engagement party. Gamora was awake long before the others and decided to go for a run. When she returns to the Milano she hears an unfamiliar voice coming from engineering. She grabbed the emergency knife she stashed in the bulkhead. She crept down to engineering to investigate. The voices get louder as she gets closer. She held her breath. The door slid open.
"Gah!" Shuri yells in surprise when Gamora lunged at her. She drew her blaster reflexively.
"Easy! Gamora, take it easy!" Rocket held out his palms in a defensive gesture. He was still in his pajamas, his fur was matted to one side of his face.
Gamora quickly glanced around the room. It was only Rocket and Shuri. She was lounging on the warp drive with an open carton of chicken eggs resting on her lap. For some reason, there are two raw eggs and a burnt piece of bread on the core. Embarrassed, Gamora put the knife in her back pocket. Shuri returned her blaster to her holster. "I apologize, paranoia gets the better of me sometimes."
Shuri nodded and dismisses her concern with a wave of her hand. "It's alright, I understand."
Gamora pivoted to give Rocket a critical look. She points at the egg, "What is that?"
Rocket shrugged, "chicken egg."
"Okay." She blinks, "why is it on the core?"
"For science!" Shuri announced cheerfully.
Rocket crossed his arms, "well, Shuri wanted to see the core but it was my turn to cook breakfast. So she said, 'I bet the core could cook an egg way faster than the stove,' and I'm about to be 30 units richer."
Gamora resisted the urge to rolled her eyes. She made a mental note to never leave Shuri and Rocket alone together, ever again. "Clean it up, when you're done." Gamora didn't leave until Rocket promised that they would.
She walks down to the galley. The smell of freshly brewed coffee fills the air. Quill is standing in a sleepy daze at the coffee machine. The lights are off in the dining room. Valkyrie is resting on a cot with one arm shielding her eyes.
Gamora walks up behind Quill and wraps her arms around his waist. She stood on her tiptoes to kiss his neck. "Good morning, " She hums softly into his ear.
Quill tilts his head to the side so Gamora could kiss him more. "It's a good morning now that you're here."
Gamora kissed him one last time before she pulls away. "Rocket is using the core to cook breakfast. I would not recommend eating it."
"Breakfast is radioactive, got it, " Quill replied. He opened the fridge and started rifling through it. "How was your run?"
"Cold but good."
"Should I do something to warm you up then?" Quill pulled out the package of bacon.
"Quill, " Gamora scoffed at him. He raised his eyebrows and waved the bacon at her. "Oh, you meant bacon. Breakfast would be great."
Valkyrie propped herself up on her elbows and wrinkled her nose at them, "Get a room, already!"
"This is our room, you are a guest here," Gamora retorts. She sat down at the table to give Quill more room to work.
He laughed and plops the bacon into the pan. It sizzles and pops. The air is filled with the mouthwatering smell of cooking meat. Quill is probably the best cook in their little family, there wasn't a lot of competition. "Ya want some coffee, Val?"
Valkyrie sat up and wrapped her blanket around her shoulders. She narrows her eyes at Quill, "is it coffee flavored algae or real coffee."
He shook the bag of beans at her, "swiped a bag from Stark's ship yesterday."
"Oh, yes please!" She practically moans. Quill set about making more coffee for her. Gamora didn't understand why Terrans were so horny for coffee beans. Maybe it was all the hot liquids that kept their carbon-based bodies so warm.
By the time Quill had finished making breakfast, the smell of coffee and bacon had lured the others out of their cabins. After they ate, the chores were divided amongst them. Who's turn is it to do the dishes?" Rocket asked.
"Mine," Mantis stood up and collected the dishes. "Nebula do you think you can help out and do the laundry later?"
She replied hesitantly, "uh yeah, that's something I can do. Not a problem." Gamora looks at her quizzically but, Nebula ignores her.
"Great, thank you," Mantis smiles at Nebula.
Nebula slipped out of the galley. Laundry was easy. Everybody could do laundry, it would be fine. Nebula had fought off beings three times her size. She helped take down Thanos. She would not be defeated by laundry. There are two nearly identical machines, she had to read the buttons to figure out which was the dryer and which was the washer. After some trial and error, she managed to get the washer door open. So good so far. Nebula haphazardly dumped all the laundry into the machine, regardless of its color or material. She found a bottle of dish soap in the closet. Figuring that all soap was the same, Nebula dumped a third of it into the wash. She closed the door and started the washer.
"Mommy we're going to visit aunty Neby!" Morgan announced as she stepped into the airlock with Stark. He winced and quickly jammed the button to open the outer door.
Potts poked her head out from their cabin, "You are?" Morgan nodded enthusiastically. Potts raises her eyebrows at Stark, "And this has nothing to do with the missing coffee beans?"
Stark shrugged, "the thought never even crossed my mind. But now that you mention it, " the door finally opened, "It wouldn't hurt to check." He backed slowly out of the ship. Morgan raced ahead of him, skipping down the ramp.
Potts walks into the airlock and stops short of the ramp. "You need to let this go!"
"No, I don't, I'm right!" Stark insisted. They walked past Shuri's ship to where the Milano was docked. The airlock was left open. "Quill I know you stole my coffee beans!" Stark shouted as he stalked inside. He stopped abruptly.
"Bubbles!" Morgan squealed in delight. The deck was flooded with an inch of water. There was a mountain of soap bubbles coming out of the washing machine at the end of the hall. Clothes, towels, and bed sheets floated down the hallway. Nebula was at the center of it all battling with the washing machine. Before Stark could stop Morgan, she ran into the bubbles. She screams happily and threw the bubbles into the air.
"Morgan?" Nebula stopped stabbing the washing machine. Her gaze settles on Stark and she looks absolutely mortified.
He was completely baffled by the scene in front of him. "What the hell happened?" Stark kicked off his shoes and socks and sloshed over to her.
Nebula gave him a panicked shrugged, "I don't know!"
"Why is everyone screaming?" Quill appeared at the end of the hallway, followed by Gamora.
"You!" Stark pointed at him.
"Me!" Quill mimicked his inflection. Gamora rushed past them to turn off the washing machine.
"I know you stole my coffee beans, Quill!" Stark yelled.
"Coffee beans? Why would I steal something like that?" Quill scoffed at the notion.
"Don't play dumb."
"He doesn't have to, " Rocket and Groot climbed down from the upper deck. Quill and Stark kept bickering. Rocket takes one look around the hallway and starts laughing. "How did you mess up this badly?"
"Rocket, " Gamora growled in warning.
"All I did was put the soap in and start it!" Nebula shouts indignantly.
Groot picked up the discarded bottle of soap. "I am Groot." It was dish soap.
Nebula snarls, "And?"
Rocket wheezes, "you can't use dish soap! How do you not know how to do laundry?"
"You think Thanos did his own laundry?" She rested her hands on her hips, "We had servants for this!"
Gamora frowned, "but you lived on your own, before. What did you do when your clothes got dirty?"
Nebula shrugged, "I just threw them away." Rocket burst into another fit of laughter. Nebula did the worst thing she could think of, "Morgan, look kitty!"
Morgan's popped out of the mountain of bubbles. She grinned, "it's so fluffy!"
"You keep grabby lil' hands away from me!" Rocket shouts, but it does not stop the soapy child from running at him while screaming. They ran down the hallway. Rocket scampered up onto Groot's shoulder.
"Kitty!" Morgan demanded in frustration. She stomped her foot and splashed water on Groot.
"I am Groot!" He stomped his foot and splashed both Morgan and Stark. Quill snickered under his breath. Stark snatched up a bucket full of soapy water and dumped it on Quill's head.
Everything dissolved into anarchy. They splashed each other with water. Stark and Quill had armed themselves with buckets. Quill, Rocket, and Groot are on one team while Stark, Morgan, and Nebula were on the other. Gamora stood off to the side watching it all unfold around her. Mantis came to investigate the noise. She takes one look, shrugs, and joins Nebula's team.
Quill thrust a sponge onto Gamora. "Babe, you gotta be on my team!" He says with that same stupid grin. Before Gamora can brush him off, Nebula dumped a bucket of water onto Gamora's head. She gasped, it's cold. She threw the sponge at her sister's head.
Nebula isn't sure how long this goes on for, but when they call it quits everyone is exhausted and soaked. Except for Morgan, who has boundless amounts of energy in her youth. She insisted that Nebula walks with them back to their ship. "So, " Stark said as they walk onto the docks. "Are we gonna talk about what happened back there?"
Nebula tried to rub the warmth back into her arms. The wind chills her to the bone. "You mean how you had a temper tantrum over coffee beans?"
Morgan giggled, "Daddy had a temper tantrum!"
"Hardy-har-har. No." He wrinkled his nose at her. He took a deep breath, "about how you destroyed a washing machine. If you were struggling why didn't you ask someone for help?"
Nebula is quiet for a while. She counts all the blue tiles along the path, it keeps her calm. "I was embarrassed. It's supposed to be easy," She admitted softly. Once she starts talking she can't stop herself. "I wasn't built for domestic chores! I've lived my entire life going from one battle to the next, and now that there are no more battles left I…" She trails off, her eyes search the horizon for something. "I don't know what to do anymore."
Stark nodded along as he listened to her talk. "Yeah, well that's, not easy." Nebula stopped at the ramp leading up to Stark's ship. Morgan raced ahead. "Maybe it's time you started asking yourself the big questions. What do you want?"
Nebula looked away, "Gamora wants me to,"
"No, no, no, " Stark cut her off with a disappointed shake of his head. "Not Gamora, Not Rocket, Not Thanos. You. Who are you? And what makes you happy?" He stuffed his hands into his pockets and looks up at Morgan, "and then y'know, go after it." He walks onto the ship.
Morgan waved one chubby hand at Nebula, "bye Aunty Neby! Have fun!" Nebula waved back, the airlock closed, leaving her alone on the docks.
"Have fun, " she mused softly, as she makes the trek back to the Milano.
Chapter 5: Maybe She's Not Such A Heinous Bitch After All (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)
Let's rob a bank.
"This is a bad idea, actually. Bad idea." Quill tried to turn around and walk back into the Milano, but Gamora and Richard Rider hooked him by the arm and dragged him forward.
"We are already here, you cannot run away now," Gamora said.
Rider chuckled, "It's gonna be fine, man. You'll be alright."
Danvers and Rider had stuck around after the engagement party, to make sure the Guardians didn't rob any banks. Mantis stood in the airlock with Danvers. "Are you not going with them?"
Danvers shrugged indifferently, "shady bar full of criminals really isn't my scene."
Mantis smiles, "I dunno, it sounds like an adventure to me. Unless you wanted to stay here and do chores? There's plenty to do."
"Uh, maybe," Danvers faltered and stepped out of the airlock, "I will go with them, actually."
"Okay, be safe!" Mantis waved and watched the four of them leave. She waited until Danvers was out of sight before she spoke into the intercom, "Rocket, we're ready for take off."
Danvers caught up with the others quickly. They trudged through the snow to the shadiest bar this side of the milky way. Neither Danvers or Rider were in uniform but that didn't stop the criminals from glaring them down. Danvers snarled back. Rider waved and made finger guns at them, "hey Razor, how are your kids?"
"Flark off, Rider, " The criminal growls back.
Rider chuckled, "Good to see you too, man!"
The bar was poorly lit, the air was thick with smoke, and the floor was stained with mysterious sticky substances. Danvers wrinkled her nose, it's nasty. The crowds parted for Gamora. They avoided her like she was carrying the plague. Udonta was sitting at a table near the bar, Kraglin Obfonteri was with him. "Hey, look who's here."
"Hey, Krags," Quill waved and joined them at the table.
Udonta looks past him, at Rider and Danvers, "and he brought his cop boyfriend and Captain Do-Good. Great."
Rider chuckled, "I'm still heterosexual, and I see you're still a giant a-hole." Rider and Gamora sat down next to Quill. Danvers stood vigilant behind them
Udonta shrugged, "well, with a name like Dick Rider, I only assumed,"
"Oh my God, " Rider looked skyward. "Very original, I've never heard that joke before." Obfonteri and Quill both laughed.
Gamora whispered to Quill, "What is a heterosexual?"
He whispered back, "disease."
She nodded sagely and turned to Rider. "I'm sorry you have heterosexuality. Feel better soon."
"I… what?" Rider blinked.
"That's not what a heterosexual is, " Obfonteri chuckled.
Danvers barked a laugh, "what a mean prank to play on your friends."
Gamora swatted Quill on the arm, "stop bullying Richie!"
"Sorry! I'm sorry! I saw a chance and I took it." He said once he stopped laughing.
She crossed her arms and narrowed her eyes, "what is a heterosexual then?"
"It's one of the labels Terrans use to define their attraction to others, " Udonta explained.
"I just, " Rider sighed and shook his head at Gamora, "I thought you were heterosexual."
Gamora frowned, "I am not Terran. Your labels do not apply to me."
Rider opened his mouth, blinked, then closed it again. Then he said, "Oh God, have I ever dated a woman?"
Danvers patted his shoulder sympathetically, "dude you live in space."
Quill suppressed a chuckle, "you look like you need a drink." He stood up and walked towards the bar. Udonta joined him.
Quill ordered Northern Xandarian ale for himself and Rider and Aprineah whiskey for Gamora. Udonta leaned against the bar and sighed. "Did somethin' happen?" Quill frowned in response, Udonta continued, "I heard nothin' from ya for months, and then ya show up outta nowhere like this. Figured somethin' was wrong."
Quill blurted out, "I'm getting married." He immediately drank from his glass afterward so he wouldn't have to say anything else.
Udonta took a small step back in surprise. Then he laughed, "that's all? Hey, good for you," He clapped Quill on the shoulder, "ya coulda just called me, though."
Quill wiped his mouth on his sleeve, "well, there's uh, more." He shifted nervously and looked back at Gamora. "Did you want to…" He let out a frustrated huff and started over. "I want you to officiate our wedding. Obviously, you don't have to if you don't want to, but it would mean a lot to me if you did."
Udonta blinked and lowered his voice. "If that's whatcha want, boy, I'll do it," Quill swore he saw Udonta smile. Quill would have missed it if he didn't know to look for it. He tried to pay for the drinks but Udonta stopped him. "Lemme get that, congrats on the engagement. I'm sure you and your cop boyfriend will be very happy together," He says tauntingly.
"C'mon man, I haven't had a crush on Richie in years." Quill rolled his eyes at Udonta and picked up the drinks. "You know I'm marrying Gamora."
"You had a crush on me?" Rider said. Quill froze in place and Udonta laughed. "Wait, seriously? When?"
Quill panicked, "It was so long ago I hardly remember."
"If you don't tell me I'm gonna ask Gamora about it, " Rider warned tauntingly.
He cringed and gave in, "alright, fine! It was back when we met. When you were still a cadet and your commanding officer, Dey tried to arrest me."
"I shot you."
"And that was was very cool and sexy, " Quill deadpans and looks away. "You were the first Terran I had met in a long time. I might have freaked out a little bit."
Udonta scoffed, "a little bit?"
"Christ, why do I tell you things?!" Quill asked the stars. He started walking back to their table.
Rider took his drink from Quill. "So what made you fall in love with me? My rock hard abs? My killer smile?"
"The smile definitely, " Udonta chimed in.
"I hate you both," Quill grumbled bitterly.
Back at the table, Obfonteri was talking to Danvers and Gamora. "Will humans die if they eat anything green?"
Gamora shook her head and looked at him funny. Danvers laughed, "No! We're omnivores."
Quill sat down next to Gamora, "I just really hated eating vegetables."
Udonta chuckled, "you were always a picky eater."
Quill laughed, "I can't believe you to let me eat nothing but dessert those first few weeks."
"I figured it out you were lying eventually!" Udonta said in his own defense.
Obfonteri gestured at them with his glass, "True or false, humans have giant robots that fight aliens and radioactive monsters."
"False, " Gamora and Danvers said in unison.
Rider laughed and buried his face in his hands, "Are you talking about Ultraman?" He looked up at Quill, "you told him Ultraman was real?"
"Hey, he convinced there weren't any trains in space!" Quill pointed at Obfonteri accusingly.
"Okay, okay, last one." Obfonteri took a sip of his drink and leaned forward. "Are there really a group of human space wizards with glowing swords that can use the Force?"
Rider shook his head, "That's actually—"
Danvers clapped a hand over his mouth. "Star Wars is real. I would die for Princess Leia." She pulled her hand away from Rider's mouth when he bit her. "What the hell man?"
Obfonteri sighs with relief, "I knew it."
"Who wouldn't die for Leia, honestly?" Quill responded. Gamora narrowed her eyes at them but didn't say anything.
Udonta sipped his drink. "So where's everybody else? Still on the Milano?"
Gamora shrugged, "They are taking care of some shopping."
Danvers twisted around to look out the window at the docks and then stood up abruptly. "Oh hell, they're gone."
Rider came to the same realization moments after Danvers, and gives Quill and Gamora disappointed look, "You didn't."
"Didn't take advantage of your goodwill and distract you long enough for the others to rob a bank? No, of course not! I'm an idiot." Quill says with a shit eating grin, Udonta chuckled.
"I'ma punt you into the sun, Quill!" Danvers shouted before slapping her bracelet activating her uniform. Her hair and eyes begin to glow as the air around her crackles with power. She shot out of the bar, leaving a hole in the ceiling.
Rider rubbed his brow, "How did Thor tolerate you for all those months? I mean, the stealing, the murdering, the lying, "
"I imagine the same way you do, Richie, " Gamora replied sweetly.
Danvers checked the local news reports until she found what she was looking for. They were robbing a bank in the nicer part of Grundar. She crashed through the lobby and landed on the polished marble floors. Mantis had put the bank tellers to sleep, she was eating candy out of a glass jar. Someone had ripped the vault door open and it was laying on the floor. She smiled at Danvers, "Hi! They're in the vault."
Danvers stalked into the back. "What did I tell you about not robbing banks?!" She shouts in her best Disappointed Mother voice. Nebula and Drax were holding bags open while Rocket and Groot quickly filled them with cash.
"Don't not rob any banks, I heard you loud and clear!" Rocket called down.
"Put the cash down, nobody has to get photon blasted today," she says sternly.
"I am Groot."
Drax nodded in agreement, "I don't see anything wrong with this either. We need this more than they do."
Danvers dropped her fist to her side and gives them an incredulous look. "I don't know to explain to you that stealing is wrong." She pinched the bridge of her nose.
Mantis appeared in the doorway behind Danvers. "What if we only stole from the elite? Then would it be okay?"
"No! I'm not playing 'what if it's Thanos' with you!" Danvers shouts out of exasperation.
Nebula shoved her bag of money onto Drax, "Now there's an idea. Rocket can you access an account with just credit card information?"
"Who do you think I am? Of course," Rocket jumped down from the vaults shelf. They walk around Danvers, over to the bank tellers console. Nebula gives him the information and Rocket opens the accounts with frightening speed. "Holy crap, " his jaw drops open when he sees the number.
"This was my father's account." Nebula said, "think that will be enough to cover the wedding?"
Drax chuckles, "they could have a dozen weddings with this."
"I am Groot?"
"I've had my father's credit card information memorized since I was a teenager, " Nebula says with an air of pride.
Danvers expression hardened, she lowers her voice, "Are you sure you're comfortable spending this? Thanos earned it by killing billions and dealing weapons to the scum of the galaxy." Rocket was already transferring the units into their accounts.
Nebula shrugged, "I'll put it to good use. After all, I think he owes me."
Danvers nodded, "okay." She leaned against the counter and sighed heavily, "I'll let you idiots off the hook but you have to put all the cashback and fix the vault door."
"What about the hole you made in the ceiling? Or the marble that cracked when you landed?" Mantis asked innocently, "who's going to fix that?" Nebula snickered at her.
Danvers floundered for an excuse, "That's not uh, It's fine because—sh-shut up!" She helped them clean up the bank and left an apology note for destroying their ceiling.
Chapter 6: Two Tickets To Paradise (Eddie Money)
Gamora and Quill pick a wedding venue.
Quill was sitting with his head down on the dining room table. There is a holographic list of everything that needed to be done for the wedding, as well as a list of possible venues and an unfinished guest list, open on his tablet. Several empty mugs are scattered around the table. Udonta is sitting next to Quill while Danvers made a fresh pot of coffee. "We're outta coffee beans." She pulled the algae substitute out of the cabinet.
"This day could literally not get any worse. This is a living nightmare," Quill's voice was muffled by the table.
"I don't think that argument has any grounds, " Udonta said.
Danvers snorted, "these puns have bean grinding on your nerves huh?"
"That was awful, " Quill groaned loudly.
Danvers sits down at the table and laughs, "but you're smiling!"
"I know and I hate it, " he grumbled.
Udonta sipped from his mug, "give him a shot to espresso his complaints." Quill stifled another groan.
Gamora drifts through the doorway to the dining room in a sleepy haze. She's drying off her hair with a towel. She spares the others a glance before moving into the kitchen to make herself tea. "You've been up all night?" It wasn't really a question.
Quill blew a raspberry, "like there's no other reason I would be awake before you?" Gamora raised one eyebrow at him. He sank a little further down in his seat. "Okay, yeah, I was too excited to sleep."
"We've been up all night planning your wedding, " Danvers yawns and stretched her arms.
"I was planning the wedding, you two drank all my coffee and made bad puns all night, " Quill grumbled bitterly.
The kettle began to whistle and she pours herself some tea. "Are you going to be okay to pilot the Milano? Rocket's shift ends in an hour."
Quill leaned back and rubbed his eyes, "I dunno, maybe, you wanna cover my shift?"
Gamora settles into the seat across from Quill, and says casually, "you know I always choke in your cockpit."
Quill turned slightly red, "Oh My God." Danvers burst into laughter, Udonta nearly spits his coffee across the table. Quill buried his face in his hands, and groaned, "I want a divorce." He tried to keep from laughing.
"We aren't married yet." Gamora sipped her tea to cover her smile, "But seriously, I'm a gunner. Not a pilot."
"I'll cover your shift, okay? You get some sleep." Danvers says once she stopped laughing.
Gamora promised to wake Quill up when they reached the Hub. Quill finished his coffee and stood up. He kissed Gamora on the head, "Sleep well, " she says. He waves before he disappears into the hallway.
"This all part of the Hub's original architecture. We were the first space station to use plantlife as a source of oxygen instead of reusable canisters." The tour guides left head says in Hybrid, their right head echoes the statement in Standard. Their heels click rhythmically against the metal floors. "If you look up you can see our nearest star, Myr. It's a white dwarf."
Quill whistled, the sound echoed throughout the room. He's struck by the grandiose nature of it all. Several arches accented with gold held up the glass panels on the ceiling. There was another glass hatch on the far end of the room that had been replaced with stain glass. Everything is decorated with elaborate floral metalwork, to hide the pipes running throughout the room. There are two balconies overlooking the small circular platform in the center of the main floor. Plants with long vines have overgrown the balcony, covering everything in their leaves. The sunlight makes all the copper and gold glow. It felt like an abandoned steampunk cathedral, that was slowly being reclaimed by nature.
Gamora kept her hands clasped behind her back. "What's the surface gravity here?"
"We're a .165 on the Standard scale." The tour guide replied.
Quill hopped up onto the platform and looked around, "we could put the wedding arch up here!" He made a sweeping gesture towards Gamora, "and the chairs down there. Although, we'd have to do the rehearsal dinner somewhere else. Do you allow food in here?" The tour guide shook their heads. "Yeah, didn't think so."
"I'll give you some time to talk it over, no rush," the tour guide walks to the exit.
Quill leaned against the railing surrounding the platform and grinned, "so whaddya think?"
Gamora shrugged and glanced around, "it's nice."
"I'll be happy with whatever you decide, " she replied softly.
Quill frowned slightly, he lets go of the railing and gets down from the platform. He clapped his hands together, "well we've got another place to see today." He offered his arm to Gamora and she took it. They make the slow walk to the exit. "Y'know I think some government dude died here? This place is probably super haunted, anyway."
Gamora smiles ever so slightly, "you're thinking of Votous. His death sparked the Hub's revolutionary war." She cranes her neck back to look up at the stars. "We bring death into every empty space."
"Beautiful and smart. How'd I get so lucky?" He grinned at her.
She caught his gaze, "it wasn't luck, I like a challenge."
Quill laughed, "I'm a challenge?"
"Oh, yes, " Gamora replies earnestly.
Quill got more information about how and when he could plan the wedding from the tour guide before they went back to the Milano. The next tour was on Nyone's Moon. It was a relatively short six-hour flight there. Even with jump points, it could take weeks or months to travel anywhere safely.
All the settlements on Nyone's moon are bubble cities. In Quills opinion, it was like living inside a snow globe. The city was just like any other on Nyone, circular white cement buildings overflowing with multicolored plant life and windows that double as solar panels. Except whenever you looked up, the sky was splatter with stars.
Gamora held Quill's hand as the boat drifts down the water canals that dominated the city streets. Groot watches the fish swim past. Trees with gold and red leaves created a canopy over the canals. Groot snapped up one of the fish and stuffed it in his mouth.
"Spit that out!" Rocket yelled and smacked Groot upside the head until he spat it out. "Don't eat weird things you find off the street! What's the matter with you!?"
"I am Groot." He wiped his mouth on the back of his hand.
"I agree, cooking is overrated. I prefer my food to squirm in my teeth," Mantis said. She had taken to collecting the falling gold and red leaves out of the air.
"Well that's horrifying, thanks, " Rider scooted away from Mantis.
"You get used to it, " Quill says sympathetically.
"Hey, idiots stop rocking the boat!" Nebula yelled she was gripping the side of the boat so tightly her knuckles had turned white.
The tour guide smiles, "there's no need to worry. All the fish here are imported from Nyone's oceans they're perfectly safe to eat raw."
Groot gives Rocket a pleading look, he let out a defeated sigh, "Fine, what do I care?" Groot snatched another fish out of the water and shoveled it into his mouth. Then Drax had to grab the biggest fish he could find out of the water. It slipped out of his hands. He made a desperate attempt to grab it, but it flops into the boat.
"What the fuck, Drax?" Rocket yelled.
Nebula recoils violently as it splashes water on her. "Get rid of it!"
Gamora whips out her butterfly knife, but before she can do anything, Mantis snatch up the fish. She bit its head clean off. The fish went still in her hands. Rider gagged, "not like that!"
Nebula visibly relaxed, "my hero, " she deadpans. Mantis smiles slightly, her mouth is covered in blood and tissue.
"What's it taste like?" Drax asked.
"Cromchy, " Mantis mumbled through a mouthful of fish.
"No details! Please God, no details!" Rider shuddered, Quill patted him on the back.
"Don't puke in the boat, " Gamora said.
The tour guide steers the boat under a bridge and onto a small lake. The water is clear enough to see the jagged crystals that lined the crater. Rising out of the water, in the very center of the lake, is a large red tree on a manmade island. There's a spiraling boardwalk connecting it back to the city. The tour guide docks the boat and they all got off. The others split off to find somewhere to eat and gamble.
Quill leads Gamora further into the island. There are flowers absolutely everywhere, they cling to the UV lamps and stone retaining wall. They reached the stone patio beneath the giant red tree. "Peter it's lovely, " Gamora said.
He grinned impishly, "you haven't even seen the best part yet." He waltzed over to the stone gazebo overlooking the lake and sat down on the retaining wall.
She trails after him, "What's the best part?"
"It's a surprise." He patted the empty spot next to him.
Gamora huffed and resisted the urge to roll her eyes. She sat down next to him. They watch the red leaves flutter into the lake, as they waited for the UV street lamps to dim. Once it was nearly too dark to see, it happened. The crystals in the lake started to glow. "Oh, Peter," Gamora gasped softly. It illuminates everything in a gentle teal color. The fish look like shadows moving just beneath the surface. He nudged her with his elbow and redirected her attention to the garden. The flowers and the leaves in the trees glow a vibrant red. "It's beautiful."
"I know, am I good at this romance shit or what?" He stood up and grabbed Gamora's hand. She let him pull her along. "During the festival of lights they pick all these flowers and release them into the lake, and there are candles just everywhere, it's amazing." He plucked one of the flowers and gave it to Gamora. "Whaddya think? Wanna get married here?"
She looks down at the flower, spinning it in her hand. "I don't care where we get married."
It was Quill's turn to roll his eyes, "I know Gamora, the Requiem of Andromeda, has never felt an emotion in her life and only eats nails for breakfast, "
"Nails aren't a good source of nutrients, " she interrupted him, "I'd never eat nails."
"But if you had to pick somewhere, " he trailed off. She looks out over the lake and then back at the flower. Quill is watching her reaction carefully. He lowers his voice, "You like this place the best?"
Gamora sighs lightly, and admitted under her breath, "I really like this place. It's so pretty and it's isolated and quiet."
Quill smiles and steps closer, "so I did a good job?"
Gamora nodded, "of course, " she pulled him closer, "Let's get married here."
Chapter 7: Gravity (Daughtry)
A wedding registry is created, someone from Drax's past makes an unexpected appearance.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
There are no superstores in space. If you wanted to buy anything you had to do it from one of the scattered marketplaces across the galaxy. There are plenty of big corporate stores planetside but most of them will not deliver outside a couple of lightyears of any known empire. One of the most popular markets in the galaxy was on the multicultural space station, Tychtrip. It was unusually crowded for this time of year. People were selling everything from genetically altered housepets to candied arachnids.
Since, the official language of Tychtrip was Void (A creole of Islandic Kree, Northern Xandarian, and Lower Armancy) Rocket and Gamora had been tasked with reading all the labels and converting the prices into units. Quill was pushing the cart, while the others lagged behind him. Restocking inventory has always been a family event, so it only made sense that creating a wedding registry was too. "So the general idea is, you scan the thingy with the doohickey and then the thingy is added to our wish list."
"And then people will gift it to us for our wedding?" Gamora clarifies waving the scanner in the air.
"Pretty much, yeah, " Quill nodded.
Rocket flashed teeth in something that might have been a grin. "I didn't know union ceremonies meant gettin' free stuff! I love free stuff! We should've done this ages ago!"
"I am Groot?" He picked up a UV lamp with an ornate glass bird at the base.
"You can get whatever you want within reason. Let's only get things we need." Quill decided sternly, "I dunno who's going to be able to afford that."
"Maybe one of the billionaires or royalty you invited to the wedding, " Gamora suggested bluntly.
"Good point!" Quill shouts bouncing on his heels. He started pulling random things off shelves and scanning them. Nebula called Gamora over to look at butterfly knives.
"Can we get this?" Drax held up a bowl shaped like a cartoon amphibian.
"Yeah, we definitely need that." Quill scanned the bowl from across the market.
Mantis picked up some strange gelatinous multicolored orb. "What about this?"
"Why is it melting?" Gamora asked with concern.
"I dunno what that is but we need it, " Quill shouts with enthusiasm. Gamora scanned the orb.
Rocket grabbed a pair of pink Barbie walkie-talkies that had somehow ended up in an alien market. They were outrageously overpriced. "Quill, look! It's weird Terran crap!"
"Well, we'll clearly die without it." He scanned those too.
They scanned a dozen different knives they needed and hundreds of different trinkets they absolutely, definitely needed. After they finished the wedding registry, Rocket restocked their food, air, and fresh water supply. They spent the night cycle on Tychtrip and took off in the morning.
Quill had settled into the pilot's station for his shift. He busied himself with the wedding planning. Until the proximity alarm went off.
A Kree battleship blinked into existence at the edge of their sensors range. A ship that technologically advanced didn't have to use Jump Points, they could create their own. It's dark bulky shape was a menacing shadow over the stars. "Oh shit, " Quill took his feet off the console and disengaged the autopilot. He had only seen it once before. When Ronan the Accuser tried to wipe Xandar off the star charts. The battleship was head straight for them. Quill slapped the comms on and yanked the Milano around. He heard something crash and winced. The gravity increased steadily, it would be difficult to move soon. "Hey, this is your pilot speaking. If you look out the stern window you will see the giant ass battleship! You may experience some turbulence as I try to keep us all from dying, enjoy your flight. " The battleship was gaining on them. It was big but slow as hell.
Nebula, Gamora and Rocket raced down to the cockpit. Nebula reached the gunner's station first, "dibs!" She flopped into the chair and grabbed the controls. Gamora rolled her eyes and pretended not to care. Rocket strapped himself into the copilot's station. "Finally some action around here, " Nebula cracks her knuckles with a wicked grin.
"I don't understand," Gamora braced herself against Quill's chair. "I thought Danvers took care of the Kree empire!"
Rocket scowls at the information crawling across his console, "yeah, something's weird. Why aren't they shooting at us?"
"I've got a lock on their ship!" Nebula announced.
"Stop!" Drax appeared in the doorway, slightly breathless. "They're friendly, stand down!"
"Friendly?" Quill furrowed his eyebrows, slowing down their retreat a touch.
"We've got an incoming transmission, " Rocket says incredulously, "from the Kree battleship."
Quill, Rocket, and Gamora exchange both concerned and curious looks before they all look at Nebula. She lets out a sputtering sigh, "fine." She leans back and crossed her arms.
"Answer it, " Gamora nods at Rocket. He opened the transmission. Quill brought the Milano to a crawl, Gamora's hair floats around her.
The commanding officer filled the screen, she has short messy white hair and gold eyes. She must've been in her late teens or early twenties. "This is the commanding officer of the Ark-eons, requesting you unlock the doors and roll out the welcome wagon."
Quill nodded at Rocket, and whispered, "say something, "
He shook his head, "you say something."
"Like what?" He hissed back, "you wanted to be the captain."
"This was your ship!"
"Yeah, was!" They dissolved into incomprehensible aggressive whispering. Rocket kept whispering the word no, while Quill was making noises that sounded a lot like words.
The commanding officer coughed to cover her laughter, "do they know their mic is still live?" She asks someone off screen.
Gamora buried her face in her hands, "by the stars, "
"I knew he'd forget to tell them. Give it here, " the camera shifts and refocused on their second in command. Her red tattoos are identical to Drax's.
Drax walks over to Rocket's station. "Heather, it's good to see you."
"Yes, it's good to see you too, dad." Heather smiles faintly and then focus her attention on the others. "My sincerest apologies for the intrusion, Drax asked me to bring him something. We are requesting permission to board your vessel."
"Permission granted, " Gamora nods.
"Thank you, Ark-eons out." The transmission ends.
"Your daughter is alive?!" Quill shouts as he follows Drax down to the airlock. "How come you never told us about this?!"
"Actually, I knew she was alive, " Gamora says.
"So did I, " Rocket says.
"What?" Quill stares at them slack-jawed.
Gamora sighs, "he doesn't read the news unless it's about him."
"Oh." Rocket nods like that explained anything, 'You remember when Danvers and a small group of rebels dismantled the Kree empire?"
Quill half nods, half shrugs, "sure, we helped out a little."
"Right, well the rebels are in the long process of reforming Kree's government as well as returning the conquered planets to the natives. Heather is married to the leader of the rebels, Phyla-vell." Rocket explains slowly. "There was a huge media circus over their union ceremony."
"Okay, okay, " Quill held up his hands, "but when did you know your daughter was alive?"
Drax glances at him from over his shoulder, "Phyla tracked me down so I could attend their union ceremony."
"Wait, when was Heather dead?" Nebula asked.
"Heather never died, " Drax explains quietly to Nebula. "I was separated from my daughter when Ronan attacked my village. I always thought she died along with her mother. I was wrong." They reached the airlock and Drax cranked open the door.
There's a sharp hiss of air. Heather and the commanding officer are standing inside the airlock. The officer is carrying a large bulky black case, presumably for Drax. He sweeps his daughter into a crushing hug and swung her around. Heather laughs before as he sets her down. "You're so light, have you been eating properly?" Drax asked with concern.
"I'm fine, dad," Heather rolls her eyes. "I missed you."
"I told her tea doesn't count as a meal, " the commanding officer hums tauntingly. "She's been pulling way too many hours in the lab, lately."
"Phy!" She squeaks indignantly. Drax narrows his eyes at his daughter. Heather was quick to change the subject, "You remember my wife, Phyla-vell."
She waved her fingers at them, "Hey, Douglas." Drax nodded in return.
"Your last name is Douglas?" Quill gawked at them.
"In another lifetime, yes," Drax says.
Rocket laughed, "Whatcha think it was, the Destroyer?"
"No!" Quill folded his arms, " I thought his middle name was the."
Drax gestured at them, "Heather, Phyla, these are my friends."
Heather bowed her head, "I've heard a lot about you."
"Yeah, wish I could say the same, " Quill grumbled.
"Are you staying for lunch?" Drax asked taking his daughter by the arm.
Heather glances back at the Phyla, "We have a meeting with the Nova Prime–"
Phyla exhales loudly, "C'mon there's no rush. I'm sure you've got lots to catch up on." Heather looks like she has more to say, but Phyla quickly walks past her. "So ya gonna gimme the tour?"
Rocket makes a grand sweeping gesture towards the hallway, "Right this way." He leads Phyla and Nebula away. Quill tries to stay with Drax, but Gamora grabs him by the arm. She pulls Quill down the hallway, they slowed to a stopped just outside electrical.
Quill waited until he was certain Phyla was out of earshot before he says, "I can't believe I didn't know about any of this. How could he not mention that his daughter is alive until now?"
"We've been busy. We live moving from one crisis to the next." Gamora offers an explanation with a shrug. "It makes a certain sense that it would come up now. When there are no battles left to be fought."
Quill is quiet while he considered this. He rubbed his eyes and inhales sharply, "I just–I dunno, this is a big deal. It's a really big deal. I thought he trusted us."
She tilts her head to the side, wrinkling her brow slightly. "It's not always about trust, Peter. People are complex and their choices don't always make sense." Gamora paused, she sighs and leans against the wall, "but he's inviting us into this aspect of his life now."
"And I want to be a part of this, I do, it's just, " he sighs and runs a hand through his hair. "It's a lot to take in all at once."
Gamora nodded, "you need time."
Quill pressed his lips into a hard line and stared out the window. His hand drifted towards Gamora's, brushing up against her fingers. "Why don't we invite them to the bridal shower?" Quill suggests and then quickly amends, "well technically it's a wedding shower. Since I'm planning and attending it, and you're not a woman. Unless Nebula decided–"
Gamora shook her head, "she needs more time. It's a big commitment."
"Okay, no rush, " Quill nodded.
She grabbed him by the hand, "I think that's a lovely idea, but I assume this means you won't be joining us for lunch, then?"
"Nah, I've got very important piloty things to do. My shift doesn't end for a couple of hours." They both knew the autopilot could keep them afloat on its own, but Gamora doesn't call him on it.
(points gun at disney) give phyla and heather a movie and reunite her with her father goddamn it!!!!
Chapter 8: Surrender (Cheap Trick)
The wedding shower
Quill was staring out at the curvature of the Earth. The warm light of its star was just barely eclipsed by the horizon. The cities lay across the land like a glowing spider web, they weave together, winding and unwinding. Gamora strolls up behind him. "You know we don't have to leave immediately after the wedding shower."
"Hm?" Quill jerks up to look at her.
Gamora shrugs and shifts her gaze to the planet, "if you wanted to go to Earth,"
"Nah, I always end up feeling a tourist on my own homeworld. So much has changed," Quill chuckles almost sadly and shakes his head. "The world I left behind is long gone. I don't belong there anymore."
Gamora tilts her head to the side, "you Terrans are obsessed with this sense of belonging. You must belong somewhere, to someone. You simply can't be."
He shrugs, "What can I say? We're societal creatures, Miss Lone Wolf."
"That's Missus Lone Wolf, " she replies in deadpan.
Quill bites back a laugh, "not yet it's not! We've still got to buy wedding outfits, a cake, have the bachelor party, have a rehearsal ceremony with dinner, and then we can get married."
Gamora lets out a sputter sigh, "Terran ceremonies are extravagant."
Quill laughed and rubbed his eyes, "oh you don't know the half of it, babe."
"I keep tellin' the boy, a ravager union ceremony would be less work." Udonta strolls over and waves the clipboard at Quill.
"And I told you I'd consider including some of it, " Quill matched his tone. He took the clipboard from Udonta and glanced over it, "what's this?"
"Buncha guys showed up with food, " Udonta shrugged.
"Oh, the catering," Gamora glances at Quill quizzically and he elaborates, "Traditionally, a wedding shower is supposed to help fund the wedding, but since we got that locked down, I figured I'd force our guests to help us decide where to have the dinner party."
Gamora and Udonta follow Quill out of the aft deck and down to the hangar as he talks. Udonta let them borrow First Quadrant (the only remaining ship from the amalgamation that was the Eclector) for the wedding shower. Quill was fairly familiar with the layout but Gamora would probably get lost on her own. "So we're doing food tastings?"
"Uh-huh, " he bobs his head. Five different ships had docked and were unloading cargo. Some of it was food, some of it was very expensive looking equipment to prepare food in. Obfonteri was doing his best to direct them, Quill hurried to take over for him. They almost immediately broke off into an argument that involved a lot of pointing and waving clipboards around. The catering companies looked mildly concerned.
"Hey!" Udonta thunders to get their attention. Both Obfonteri and Quill jumped. Udonta signs aggressively at them in Hybrid. It's something to the effect of settle down or behave, Gamora's knowledge of Hybrid sign language is limited. Obfonteri drops his gaze to the floor, Quill makes a display out of rolling his eyes and crossing his arms. He catches Gamora's gaze and jerks his head towards the door.
A small smile tugs at the corners of her mouth, she struggles to keep her expression neutral. "It looks like they don't need our help." She gestures for Udonta to follow her back to the aft deck. "Why don't you tell me about ravager union ceremonies?" The moment Udonta steps back into the hallway, Obfonteri and Quill resume arguing but quieter.
Nebula held the candied spiderat by its tail and popped the whole thing into her mouth. She chews it thoroughly. When she pulls it out of her mouth only the bones and ligaments remain. "Cool!" Morgan giggles and bounced up and down. She snatched a bumblebat off Shuri's plate and thrust it in Nebula's direction. "Eat this next!"
Nebula feigns exasperation, and folds her arms, "oh I dunno, "
"Please!" Morgan wailed, "Miss Shuri is okay with it!"
"I am a little curious, " she admitted.
"Alright, fine, " Nebula ate the bumblebat and spat out the bones. Morgan cheered.
"That's horrific, I love it!" Shuri says with equal parts disgust and delight. "You must have some kind of poison that works as a digestive aid."
"Oh no, " Phyla chuckles under her breath.
Heather's eyes light up, she leans forward in her seat. A smile growing on her face. "You're close, she's Luphomids! They possess these acid glands inside the soft palate."
"That's fascinating!" Shuri clasped her hands together. She broke off into a side conversation with Heather about human and alien biology. There was so much medical jargon it was nearly impossible for anyone else to follow.
Nebula had gone still, her eyes are wide, "wait, what did you say?" Heather is too engaged in the discussion to hear her. Nebula stands up abruptly and slammed her palms on the table. The others look up in alarm. "What did you say? I'm Luphomid?" She switches from English to Standard.
"Luphomids, yes, " Heather replies politely.
Nebula sinks back into her seat. "Thanos always told me I was upcycled. I–I'm Luphomids? Are you sure?"
"Heather is one of the greatest minds in genetics, right now. Her work is brilliant. She's been using DNA to help reunite families that were separated by the Kree wars," Phyla gushed.
"Oh hush, it's merely a hobby," Heather turns slightly blue.
"You have three doctorates, " Danvers scoffs into her drink, "a hobby, really."
Quill gives Drax an incredulous look, "And she's your daughter?"
"Yes, " he replies.
Heather ignores them, "I would have to run a DNA test to be certain, but my best educated guess is that you are islandic Luphomids. Thanos lied to you." She explains in her most soothing doctor voice.
"Aunty Neby? Are you okay?" Morgan knit her eyebrows together.
Nebula is studying Heather's expression intensely. Morgan leans over to give her a hug, Nebula pats her head affectionately. "I'm okay, little one. I think I need a minute." Stark called his daughter over and Nebula got up from the table.
Quill pointed at Heather, "You're related to her?"
"That's your biological father?"
"Why is this so hard for you?" Drax replies.
"Because she's a doctor and a brilliant scientist, apparently!" Quill narrowed his eyes at Drax, "and I watched you eat a weird rock you found off the ground just yesterday!"
Drax shrugged, "Rocket said I couldn't do it."
"No, I said Drax don't eat that weird rock!" Rocket throws up his hands in exasperation.
Thor nods at Drax, "that sounds like a challenge to me."
Phyla leans forward, "What did the rock taste like?"
"Seriously, him?" Quill says.
Heather chuckles dryly, "I can show you the DNA test results if you would like." He raised his eyebrows actually considering it for a moment.
"How many of these berries do you think I can fit into my mouth?" Phyla wonder allowed.
Mantis, Monica, and Shuri started shouting out guesses, "15, 22, 17!"
Loki slapped 500 kroner on the table, "I'll bet 50 units it's 20!"
Udonta tossed a wrinkled wad of units onto the table, "Aw hell, I'll take that bet."
Heather giggled, "16 berries, but don't because you will choke."
Rocket stares at Heather, he's absolutely dumbfounded. "What are you saying? We just had this conversation!"
"Well, now I have to do it!" Phyla announced and grabbed two bowls of berries off the table. She started shoveling berries into her mouth.
Danvers laughed, and gestures at Phyla, "the leader of the Kree empire, everyone."
Phyla tried to shout the word "temporary" and promptly choked on the berries. Rambeau pats her on the back.
"I could fit way more berries into my mouth than she can, " Drax grumbled.
Quill shrugged, "100 units on the big man!"
"70 units on Phyla!" Danvers yelled.
"I would also like to participate, " Thor decided.
"Oh! Me too! Me too!" Mantis bounced on her heels one excitement.
"Is it cheating if she unhinges her jaw?" Rider asked Quill, who shrugged in response.
Stark quickly fishes out his wallet and tosses several hundreds onto the pile, "Yeah, I'll bet Mantis." Thor feigns offense, and Stark shrugs. He gives Morgan money so she can bet too.
They all gathered around Phyla and the others while chanting "Go! Go! Go!" at them. They shoved berries into their mouths as quickly as they could. Rocket had been roped into keeping score.
Gamora found Quill standing in the crowd, cheering with the others. She whispers quietly to him, "Hey, no berries at the wedding dinner."
"What?" He let out a breathy laugh, "Aw c'mon, this is fun!"
"Quill. Quill look at me. No berries." Gamora says decisively, he sighs and gives in.
She slipped out of the aft deck while the others were distracted, she went looking for Nebula. She found her hiding in a spare cabin. It was mostly empty, except for the lower bunk. It had star wars bed sheets, and it was decorated with posters, star maps, and glow stars. Someone had scratched off a portion of one of the maps. The cabin was dusty, but it looked like someone had just left this morning. Nebula was sitting on the circular windowsill, opening and closing her butterfly knife habitually.
Gamora knocks on the doorframe. "You ran off awful fast." She drifts across the cabin to sit across from her. "If the noise and the crowds bother you this much, you do not have to attend these events."
Nebula doesn't look away from the window, "the party was fine. It's always good to see Tony and Morgan. She's getting so big."
Gamora frowns, "If it's not that, what is bothering you?"
Nebula sighs and tucks her butterfly knife into her pocket. "In Heather's expert medical opinion, I am islandic Luphomids."
Gamora's eyes widen slightly, "Nebula that's such good news. You could have a homeworld!"
She grabs her chest, "I dreamed about finding my homeworld when I was younger but now, after everything that's happened, it doesn't feel like good news."
Gamora shrugs, "if you don't want this, what do you want?"
"Why does everyone keep asking me that?!" Nebula groans and slams her fist against the window. "The only thing I want is a drink."
The corners of Gamora's mouth twitched upward, "you want to ditch this party and find a bar?"
Nebula gasped, "ditching your own wedding shower?" Her voice is dripping with sarcasm. "What will your boyfriend think?"
"We can pick a fight, " Gamora hummed.
"Sold." Nebula abruptly stood up, "I'll get the Milano."
"I'll get Quill's keys, " Gamora replied.
Chapter 9: Carry on Wayward Son
Gamora buys a wedding dress
Mantis tossed her duffel bag down to Nebula. She was helping Thor move their bags from the Milano to his ship. Nebula's ego demanded that she carry just as many bags as Thor. Rocket shook his head, "you're going to hurt yourself." He was carrying some kind of strange contraption. Gamora stares at him with suspicion.
"I'm fine!" Nebula growls through gritted teeth. Thor picked up several bags and hurried after her.
"Leave them be. This is the only way they'll learn, " Loki says with an air of arrogance.
Quill bounced on heels, "I don't like this."
"It will only be for a short period of time, " Gamora tried to reassure him
"Something always goes horribly wrong when we split up. Last time we split up you died!" Quill nearly shouts.
Gamora sighs, "I didn't die. The other Gamora did."
"What does it matter?" Quill looked towards Earth and threw up his hands.
She watched Nebula grab yet another load of bags from the Milano. "They've been doing that for some time now."
"I guess, " Quill shrugged, a little disconcerted that they weren't talking about him anymore.
Gamora waved down Mantis, "do we really need all this?"
"Of course not!" Mantis chirped, "Nebula and Thor seemed like they were having fun so Loki and I started filling the bags with moon rocks an hour ago."
Quill and Gamora shared a concerned look, "Uh and this was Loki's idea?" He guessed. The sound of cannon fire drowned out Mantis' response.
Gamora quickly glanced around, "Where's Rocket!?"
There was more cannon fire somewhere to their left. Quill pointed at Mantis. He starts to back away slowly. "I'll handle the–”
"Yeah, I'll go–” Gamora shuffles around him and glances off to the left.
Quill exhales sharply, " okay." And they split up.
Gamora follows the sound of cannon fire to the dark side of the moon. Rocket, Shuri, and Heather are all gathered around some kind of machine. Phyla is casually leaning on a crate, she tosses Danvers an apple. She hurls it at a dummy. There's a deafening crack. It splatters against the dummy's head. "320 meters per second!" Heather announced cheerfully. It wasn't a cannon at all. Gamora isn't even surprised anymore.
Phyla threw her arms in the air and cheered, "you almost broke the sound barrier that time!" Danvers laughed.
"Hey Gamora, " Rocket greets her with visible discomfort.
"I see the packing is going well, " She shifts a disapproving glare from Rocket to Danvers.
Heather shrugs and leans on the machine, "we're taking a little break."
"Doing what exactly?"
"Science!" Shuri chirps, "we were trying to figure how fast you would need to throw an apple to kill someone with it!"
"Oh stars, " Gamora buries her face in her hands. After a deep breath, she looks up at Danvers. She was supposed to be watching them. "You're useless!" She shrugged and bit into an apple. Gamora points at Rocket, "and you! I can think of 8 more efficient ways to kill someone, without wasting perfectly good fruit!" The others shuffle their feet and begrudgingly began to clean up.
Rocket packed up his machine and trudged back to the Milano with Gamora. "Did Thor ever figure he was carrying rocks? Loki and I had a bet going–"
"You're all uninvited from the wedding," Gamora grumbled.
Valkyrie was lounging on the couch outside the changing room. Mantis was laying with her feet up on the armrest and her head on Valkyrie's lap. She was absently braiding Mantis' hair. "I don't understand what the point of this is, " Gamora complained loudly from the changing room.
"The point is to find something you feel comfortable in, something you want to wear," Valkyrie reminds her.
Gamora threw open the changing room door in a huff. She's wearing a plain-looking white pantsuit. She stands in front of the mirrors and sighs. "Why can't Quill pick out a wedding outfit?"
"It's bad luck for the groom to see the outfit before the ceremony," Thor says from the aisles of wedding outfits.
Loki steps out of the changing room. They've shifted shape to fill out the wedding dress. "It's not Quill's decision to make. This is your wedding too."
Valkyrie snorted, "Do you really want Quill to make this decision for you? You'd end up wearing the Princess Leia bikini or something."
"The what?" Gamora frowned at her.
She turns back to the mirror and sighs. "I hate white."
"Then don't wear white." Thor was carrying a bundle of wedding outfits. "Here try these on." Gamora took the outfits from Thor and disappeared back into the changing room.
He glanced over Loki's outfit. "Why are you wearing a wedding dress? You're not getting married."
"We're playing dress-up."
Morgan threw open the changing room door and yelled "tada!" She's wearing an ornate pink dress with roses sewn into the tutu.
"You look lovely, " Loki says and twirls her around.
"Lovely indeed, " Thor echoed. She beamed up at them.
Valkyrie twisted to look over the couch, "You know the point is to be less beautiful than the people getting married."
"Than why did they invite me?" Loki replied, prompting Thor to roll his eyes at them.
Morgan grabbed Loki's hand and pulled him towards the other changing rooms. "Let's go show Mommy and Aunty Neby!"
Gamora threw a dress over the door, "I don't know what material this is but I hate it."
"Acknowledged, " Thor replied. He grabbed the dress and inspected the tag. While Gamora tried on more clothes, Thor wandered over to where Valkyrie and Mantis are resting. "Neither of you want to try on any clothes?"
"I'm comfortable right here, thank you," Mantis replies with a sleepy yawn.
"I'm here because Gamora promised we'd go to a bar after." Valkyrie finished braiding Mantis' hair and put a floral clip in her hair.
Gamora stepped out of the changing room wearing a light blue dress. She stood in front of the mirror. "Oh yes, my reward for putting up with all this bullshit is lots and lots of alcohol."
"What's the verdict on that one?" Thor asks curiously.
Before Gamora could reply, Morgan came racing back through the store clutching another dress. She stops behind Gamora, "Loki! Her boobies are gonna pop out of her dress!"
"Yes, thank you, Morgan," Gamora muttered, trying to pull up the dress.
Loki smirked and ushered Morgan back inside the changing room, "alright come on you little gremlin."
A salesperson seemed to materialize out of nowhere. "If you find an outfit you like we can have it tailored to fit, " they say with something that might have been a smile. Gamora shifts uncomfortably as they approached.
"That's alright, thank you, " Thor tried to intervene.
"I can take your measurements right over your clothes it will only take a second." The salesperson steps into Gamora's personal space.
Valkyrie cringed, "No wait don't–" They reach of the measuring tape. They move too quickly.
Gamora reflexively pulls out her knife.
"Gamora stabbed someone?" Rocket repeats the statement loud enough for the others to hear.
"Oh! I told you! I told you!" Quill jumps out of his chair while shouting and pointing wildly at Rocket. Danvers and Heather share a concerned look. Rider is not surprised. The others are too distracted by the wedding cake samples to react.
Rocket hears Nebula sigh into the transmitter. "It's the salesperson's own fault if you ask me. You think my sister's reputation would keep people from getting too close."
Quill is running around raving, "what did I say! Whenever we split up something goes horribly wrong!"
Rocket rolls his eyes and waves for Quill to shut up. "Yes, you're very smart. You want a cookie?"
"Yeah!" Quill held out his hand.
Rocket looks at him funny, "well, I don't have one. It's a rhetorical question–"
"That's so rude. Don't offer things you don't have." Quill snapped the transmitter out of Rocket's paws. He holds it up to his ear, and lowers his voice, "you owe me a cookie."
"Quill?" Nebula asked.
He turns his attention to the transmitter. "Yeah, hi, how is she? I can be there tomorrow at the earliest."
There's a short pause before Nebula replies. "No, I think…I think I can handle this. Gamora is going to be fine."
"That's not very reassuring, " he grumbled.
"How are things on your end?"
Quill let's out a sputtering sigh, "It's fine. We already picked up the bouquets for the wedding. Had to buy a fridge big enough to store them all. We're looking at wedding cakes now."
"Are we still good to meet up on Knowhere at the end of the week?" Quill asked.
He sighs, "okay, well keep me update–”Nebula hung up on him. "Typical."
Nebula tucked her transmitter back into her pocket. Gamora was sitting on the steps outside the shop. Nebula sat down next to her. "They're making me pay for the dress."
"I think it looks better soaked in the blood of your enemies. " Nebula smirked and then shrugged, "I don't know what they're complaining about."
Gamora sighs, "and I'm banned for life."
"We can try a different store tomorrow, " Nebula replied.
Gamora groaned and rubbed her eyes. "I can't do this again. I'm not strong enough." She looks up at Nebula. "I'll just wear the blood soaked dress and call it a week." She smirks and shakes her head. "What's so funny?"
"It's nothing, " Nebula tried to brush it off but Gamora gives her a critical look. "I always thought you had all this stuff figured out."
Gamora blinked in surprise, "that is funny. You were the one who had found a family here. I've seen you with Morgan."
Nebula shakes her head, "Come on, you made all these great friends, fell in love, way before I ever met Tony,"
The corner of Gamora's mouth twitches down. "You're talking about the other Gamora."
Nebula tilts her head to the side, "They're both you."
"Let me put it like this: There's a clone of you. They talk like you, they dress like you, they even have your childhood memories. But there's a twist. They love people you've never met, they understand things you can't. They sleep in your bed. They spend time with your family." Gamora exhales sharply, a snarl curling on her lips. "They live your life for five years." She chuckles almost uncomfortably. "And then they die, and you get to go back." Gamora catches Nebula's gaze, "so tell me, is it still your life? Are we still the same person?"
Nebula blinks at her sister. She's at a complete loss for words. She doesn't have an answer but neither does Gamora. "Stars...That's… Gamora, I had no idea."
She sighs and tilts her head back to look up at the stars. "I can't remember who I was to you, and I don't know who I'll be tomorrow. All I can do is be who I am right now." She glances over at Nebula. "And right now, when I look at you I see someone who's ahead of me."
Nebula considers this for a quiet moment. "I guess we're both still figuring this out." She reaches down slowly and grabs Gamora's hand. "We can figure it out together."
Chapter 10: Fooled Around and Fell in Love
Quill has a bachelor party
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
The moment the Milano docked on Knowhere Quill was out of the airlock and down the boarding ramp. Gamora was waiting for them. He tackles her in a hug and kissed her forehead. There's a playful smile tugging at her lips, "Hi."
"Hey, " Quill says in his I-heard-you've-been-having-a-hard-time tone of voice. He placed a gentle hand on Gamora's cheek, "Are you doing alright? Nebula told me you stabbed someone. What happened?"
Gamora stiffens and blinks in surprise before pushing him away."I was overwhelmed and the salesperson startled me. It was nothing." She spots Nebula walking toward the Milano and calls out to her. "You tattled on me to my husband?"
"Technically, I told Rocket." Nebula's voice wavered but her expression didn't give anything away.
When they both glare at Rocket, he slowly backed into the airlock and shut the door. Quill snorted, "I was going to find out eventually." He caught Gamora's gaze, "I'm glad you're okay. You know if any of this makes you uncomfortable we don't have to do it."
"I know." Her expression softens a touch around the eyes. "Can we drop the subject please?"
"Sure, " Quill nods and steps away from Gamora. "Do you want to move your things back to the Milano before we go bar crawling?"
Nebula clears her throat, "I've got that covered. You two go on ahead, we'll catch up."
Quill furrows his brow and glances between Gamora and Nebula, "oh cause that worked out so well last time."
"Considering that Loki is still alive after pulling that stunt, I think it went pretty well, " Thor chuckles.
"Yes, I regret not stabbing them harder, " Nebula grumbles.
Quill sighs, "this is what I was talking about."
Rider steps off the Milano, he's trying to keep from smiling. "Don't worry 'bout it there will be no stabbing on my watch."
Nebula makes a face at him, "Oh, what are you gonna do? Arrest me?" Thor elbows her in the side and Rider gives her a disappointed look. She huffs, "I mean, of course, there will be no stabbing. Go have fun." Quill squints at Nebula suspiciously but doesn't resist as Gamora pulls him away.
Quill recounts the events of the past week to Gamora with enthusiasm. He tells her about the flowers and the wedding cake. He tells her about how they talked Udonta into renting a suit for the occasion. He can't keep the smile from his face. Gamora nods along, Quill doesn't notice when she leads them towards a familiar building.
When they walk into an empty bar it gives Quill pause. The lights are dim and it's quiet, there's a curtain covering the far wall and the balcony. Quill looks around, "this–this is the bar we went to. That first mission."
Gamora bites back a smile and hands him his drink. "Yes, I talked them into letting us in early."
"Rocket, Groot and Drax were over here." Quill points across the room at the tables set up for gambling. "And you and I were over, " he strode across the room to the balcony. He pulls the curtain aside. Quill froze"—here."
The balcony was covered in red flowers and candles. Vines wrapped around the banister and spilled onto the floor. There are four lit candles resting on top of the banister. And in the very center is a small black box with an engagement ring. Quill walks slowly out onto the balcony. It's the same ring he picked out nearly a year ago on Omis 25. From somewhere to his left, he hears a band play Fooled Around and Fell In Love. He picks up the ring and turns to look at Gamora. "Surprise."
For the first time in a long time, Quill is at a loss for words. "Oh my God."
Gamora chuckles and joins him on the balcony. She takes the ring from him and slips it onto his finger. "Peter Jason Quill, will you marry me?"
Her soft brown eyes bore into him. She can't hide her smile any longer, and it softens her. The candlelight makes her glow and Quill's heart aches, just a little. He silently asks the stars how he got so lucky? He wraps his arms around her waist. "Fuck yeah!" Gamora laughs as he plants a kiss on her cheek and then her neck.
There is cheering and whistling from the street below and Quill realized they had an audience. He leaned over the banister to see his friends gathered outside the bar. "He said yes!" Gamora announced to more cheers. Kraglin wolf whistled at them. Quill grabbed an unlit candle and threw it at him. It splattered harmlessly on the ground.
"Ya missed, hotshot!" Kraglin yelled.
Gamora and Quill went back inside the bar, he keeps one hand on her waist. She leaned her head against his shoulder. "The band was a nice touch, " he waved at the musicians. "I don't think I've ever heard live music before."
"It was Richie's idea, " Gamora says. "We can make our friends wait a little longer if you wish."
Quill let out a gentle gasp, "Gamora Titan are you asking me to dance?"
She wrinkles her nose. "I'm only suggesting that—ah, Peter!" Gamora yells as he twirls her around. Quill pulls her close and they slow danced together until the song faded out.
When they rejoined their friends on the street, there was more cheering. Danvers and Loki asked to see the ring. Thor claps Quill on the shoulder, "So did we surprise you?"
"Yeah, ya got me!" He laughs and glances around at them, "How many of you were in on this?"
"I am Groot!" The flowers were their idea.
"We had to help set everything up, " Thor said.
"It was a group effort, " Rider agreed.
Mantis claps her hands together and redirects the group's attention. "Your bachelor party has officially started!" She blows on a party horn. "However we were all so busy with your wedding and the proposal we completely forgot to plan anything. What usually happens at these events?"
The Terrans and the Asgardians exchange glances and start talking all at once. "Lots of drinking—sometimes gambling—food!—but not like dinner, like bar food, "
"So our typical Saturday night, " Rocket says with a chuckle.
Valkyrie snaps her fingers, "oh and strippers. There's usually strippers right?"
Udonta grinned, "if you want strippers I know just the place." He waves for them to follow and starts leading the group away.
"Uh-oh, " Quill chuckles, "I feel like I should be concerned. Should I be concerned?" Kraglin only shrugs in response.
"I both love and hate that this place exists." Valkyrie took a long drink from her glass. She watched a male stripper dressed in a skimpy Thor outfit dance. "Do you think they have a Valkyrie stripper here?"
"We can only hope, " Danvers chuckled.
Loki claps their brother on the shoulder and knock back their drink. "Well I'm going to go get a lap dance from me, " they announce before disappearing into the crowd.
Thor squints up at the stripper, "He's not beefier than me is he?"
Valkyrie patted his bicep, "Nobody is beefier than you, bud."
Danvers maneuvered around Valkyrie to bring Gamora a drink from the bar. She accepts it gratefully. Danvers glances up at the stripper in front of them and smirks. She taps her wrist and her uniform activates. "Hey this is embarrassing, I think we're wearing the same outfit."
The stripper pauses their eyes grow wide for a second as it dawns on them that the real Captain Marvel is at their strip club. They chuckle awkwardly and say, "don't worry I'll take mine off."
Quill snorted and Danvers grinned, "okay that was pretty good." She forked over twenty units to Gamora, "wanna stick this in their—my bra, newlywed?"
"Oh definitely, " Gamora grinned and snapped the units out of her hand. Danvers sat down next to Gamora.
Kraglin raises an eyebrow at Danvers bracer. "Does she always wear that thing?"
"I think she sleeps with it on, " Quill laughed. He sips his drink leisurely, pulling his attention away from Gamora and the stripper. "So, what's up?"
"I wanted to give you a heads up. There's this ravager tradition that after the ceremony one of the newlyweds is stolen away by the crew to go drinking. And since Udonta know how you feel about kidnapping, " Kraglin says the word in a way that lets Quill know he thinks he's being melodramatic about it at best.
He huffs loudly, "He's going to ditch the wedding with Gamora?"
"It's tradition." Kraglin sips his drink and shrugs, "they'll come back if you figure out what bar they're at, and ya know, pay the ransom." He mumbles that last part into his drink.
"What the hell man!"
Kraglin continues, "she'd enjoy it."
"I dunno, " Quill tried to brush him off.
Danvers scoffs, her voice dripping with sarcasm. "Right, because Gamora has never ditched a social event to go drinking before.”
Kraglin chuckles, "didn't she ditch the wedding shower?"
"And the engagement party, "
"Hey, I came back!" Gamora protested loudly.
"Damn it. You would love that." He mutters angrily under his breath.
"I would, " she echoed in agreement. "That's why I agreed to go along with it when Udonta told me."
"You're conspiring against me!" Quill shouts accusingly and throws up his hands. Gamora rolls her eyes and Danvers chuckles. He takes a long drink. His expression softens as he sighs, "If you want to do this, then I'll go along with it, I guess." He shrugs and rolls his eyes. Gamora nearly cracks a smile. "Can you at least tell me what bar you're going to?"
"Where's the fun in that?" Kraglin says dismissively.
In retrospect i realize that in universe all these characters are prominent historical/political figures so our equivalent would be like going to a strip club and seeing ~Sexy George Washington~ but I stand by my decisions