Ain't No Mountain High Enough

I kept him ‘cause he’s small and fits into spaces others can’t. Good for thievin'.

It’s the truth because Peter fits perfectly in that gaping black hole inside Yondu’s chest. Too bad he’s too much of a fucking coward to admit it.

(Post GotG Vol. 2 Fix-it.)

http://archiveofourown.org/works/10860663/chapters/24120342

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4. Gamora

Chronologically, this chapter comes after the Rocket chapter but before Yondu recruits his new crew (see chapter 1).

AN: I felt like Gamora was conflicted about Peter finding out about his father in the second movie. She seems to want him to reconnect with Ego, but at the same time, I felt like she thought he was going to abandon them for Ego.

So this chapter was born.

I'm not very satisfied with it because I kind of blew my usual word limit and things tend to get muddled in my head if I write for too long. I would love to hear what you think!

       

“Peter, we can’t stay here forever.”

“I know, I know, Gamora. You don’t have to keep repeating yourself. I’m not deaf,” Quill’s shrugging into a shirt when she next catches him alone, his skin still red from a recent shower. He’d settled back into his old childhood quarters aboard the Ravager ship with more ease than Gamora likes.

“We have to, Peter. You don’t belong here anymore,” She keeps her voice gentle, but he exhales irritably and avoids her eyes in favor of tugging his clunky boots on.

“Have to what, dickheads?” Rocket asks, ambling toward them in his new Ravager uniform, baby Groot dressed in a similar tiny outfit perched happily on his let shoulder. Groot’s clutching one of Yondu’s dashboard toys and fiddling happily with the little robot’s arms.

Peter’s face splits into a grin at the sight. He bops Groot affectionately over the head, “that was one of my favorites too, lil’ bud.”

“Anyway, the resident blue idiot that’s not your psychopath sister wants us up on the bridge. We just received transmission that the Nova Corps' got a new errand for the Guardians,” Rocket informs them, yawning and scratching at his armpit. “Yondu wants half of the rewards.”

Surprisingly, he doesn’t sound too concerned with that idea.

Peter brightens immediately, “that means he’s willing to pitch in and help!”

“Are you sure Yondu’s not just going to rob us blind and leave us stranded on an unknown planet instead?” Gamora asks dryly. Peter gives her the stink eye, but Rocket’s the one who surprises her by muttering, “he ain’t a fuckin’ savage, Gamora. The Ravagers' got a code.”

She turns to Peter for some semblance of support but the Terran’s looking at Rocket like he’s about to burst into proud tears and declare them brothers for life.

Gamora snags him by the arm, “Peter.”

“Soon, Gamora,” Peter promises.

Quill's expression is incredibly fond and wistful when he takes one last lingering glance at the unmade bed and old trinkets strewn across the floor and whispers to no one in particular, “just a few more days.”

Gamora does not argue this time.

 

 

Nebula is lurking in the shadowy corner of the command room when Gamora gets there, so she smiles and walks over. Nebula watches her warily but does not move from her spot.

“We received a new mission,” Gamora says.

“I know,” Nebula replies.

“Wish me luck, sister?” Gamora asks, heart pounding.

Nebula stares at her with those fathomless black eyes for a long moment. Then, she sneers and says, “only weaklings rely on luck.”

She shoves something roughly into Gamora’s hands and walks away without another backward glance. Gamora looks down and feels contentment, thick and heavy, settle in her stomach.

It’s Nebula’s favorite knife.

She smiles and tightens her fingers over the hilt.

 

 

As it turns out, the mission is an item retrieval.

Cora III is a beautiful planet and the task is remarkably easy. Gamora doesn’t understand why the Nova Corps needs the Guardians for something so simple.

Peter’s got the rock secured in his man-purse and is in the middle of yet another pointless argument with Rocket up ahead when something at a shop stand nearby catches Gamora’s eyes. It’s a well-crafted pair of silver wrist guards, elaborate runes and patterns etched in fine detail over the shiny metal, sensible yet beautiful. She immediately thinks of her sister and wanders over to the gray-skinned old woman manning the shop.

“How much for those?” She asks a little breathlessly.

They are in the middle of haggling prices when she hears a sharp whistle and turns to see Yondu standing there with his arms crossed over his chest and an impatient expression on his scruffy face.

“Ya done laggin’ behind, girlie?” He snaps, annoyed.

Her face burns with embarrassment when he mutters that Quill and Rocket had already taken off in the other pod. Gamora pays the shop owner and quickly runs to catch up to the Ravager captain, apologizing to him for having to wait for her.

They’re both settling down in the tiny two-person craft when Yondu pulls something shiny from his pocket and sets it on the dash with a pleased smile. It’s another little toy, a sickeningly adorable kitten with big glittery blue jewels for eyes and tiny gold whiskers.

“Seriously?” Gamora asks drily, “you weren’t waiting for me, were you, Yondu?”

Yondu just smirks and keys in the coordinates of their ship.

They’re at the halfway point when their little pod shakes violently and Yondu curses, his hands flying to the controls. He yells something that her translator chip has trouble with and Gamora’s pretty sure it’s absolutely vulgar in Centaurian.

“What’s wrong?” She shouts, grabbing onto the seat harness. He doesn’t have to reply because she spots the forming rip in space, and through it pours the temporal asteroid belt. Gamora suddenly understands why the Corans do not have spaceships despite their advanced technology.

“Hang on to somethin’, girlie. Things're 'bout to get rough!" Yondu hollers over the loud creaking of the metal pod around them.

Sneaky assholes, those Xandarians, Gamora thinks before they make a sharp downward plummet and everything goes dark.

 

 

Yondu is nowhere in sight when Gamora wakes. The remaining pieces of her half of the pod are still warm to the touch. She’s bruised and dirty but hasn’t sustained any serious injuries from the crash. The terrane beneath her boots is made up of fine grainy white sand, and Gamora suspects they are no longer on Cora III when she spots the monstrous hive-like mountain behind her.

Her suspicions are confirmed when a flock of massive insectoids clear the dunes, their heavy wings sending the fine flecks into a whirlwind of sand. Gamora pulls out Nebula’s knife and braces for the attack, but there’s a familiar piercing whistle and something bright red streaks past her ear, bringing the strong scent of fire and ozone.

“Need a hand, girlie?” Yondu’s grinning face appears atop the rocky ledge behind Gamora. She scowls up at him and scales the cliffside with her bare hands in seconds. He raises an impressed eyebrow and pockets the arrow after wiping it clean on a nearby rock.

“What now?” Gamora asks as they both peer down at the dead creatures.

“We find a way to contact the ship,” Yondu replies, patting the communicator strapped to his hip. He turns to her, “think you can do that a couple of more times?”

Gamora follows his gaze up into the many caves located in the cliffside. She sighs and gets to climbing.

 

 

“Quill’d better find us,” Yondu mutters when the light on their communicator turns green, “or I’mma gut ‘im and feed ‘im to my new recruits.”

Gamora studies his rough profile and asks after a pause, “Why do you do that?”

“Do what?” Yondu doesn’t bother glancing at her. Gamora follows him deeper into the empty cavern.

“Threaten to eat him when you clearly won't,” She clarifies.

To her surprise, Yondu laughs, the sound echoing loudly in the darkness, “have you seen Quill? The only way to toughen that pile of putty up is to keep ‘im scared for his life.”

Gamora stares at the Ravager captain’s broad back and imagines him shoving a tear-streaked Peter away from him, dangling the little boy over his ravenous crew and threatening to kill him. But despite all that he’s been through, deep down Peter is still that wide-eyed little boy who loves too easily. Unlike her, he’s still a dreamer and a romantic at heart.

“I don’t think you've succeeded,” Gamora tells him.

Yondu shoots her an irritated look, “Quill’s still alive an’ kickin’, ain’t he?”

She supposes that is all parents can hope for their children. It feels odd, thinking of Yondu as a father-figure. She knows Peter still loves him despite their constant bickering. Gamora cannot speak the same for Thanos. What does it feel like, she wonders, to always have that one person in the entire galaxy who would drop everything to come to your aid whenever you need it?

Perhaps it is why Peter has the stupid habit of never watching his own back, knowing that he has Yondu to do it for him. Gamora doesn’t understand their relationship any more than when she’d first met Quill, when he’d spoke about how Yondu had threatened to eat him. Now Peter repeats the same words with a strange hint of pride in his voice.

“We should be safe in here for now,” Yondu drops down to sit on a flat piece of rock. He turns those red eyes on Gamora and asks gruffly, “you bring any supplies?”

She pulls out her weapons and he snorts, tossing her a small package from his overcoat. Gamora unwraps it to reveal a water pod and a compressed food bar.

“Eat that if you’re hungry. We could be here for a while.”

Gamora doesn’t. Instead, she asks, “why did you decide to keep him?”

Yondu’s eyes slit open, “keep who?”

“Peter.”

He groans, “what the hell, girlie? An’ here I thought you were the least chatty of the lot.”

“I know you didn’t decide to keep a Terran child because he had the potential to steal stuff from tight spaces.”

“How the fuck would you know, missy?”

“I just do, Yondu.” Gamora says and he must’ve heard the desperation in her voice because he drops all pretenses of resting and turns those hard red eyes on her.

“I ain’t the hero Quill’s been sproutin’ his big ol’ mouth off to everybody,” Yondu snarls, anger rising, “if that’s what yer askin’. Don’t need nobody to start ruinin’ my reputation.”

“He didn’t say you were a hero,” Gamora replies, “but he did say you were an ok dad.”

Yondu snorts, “boy don’t know nothin’.”

Gamora bites down the angry retort burning in her throat and walks over to sit by the mouth of the cave, her back to Yondu. The four suns are setting in the distance, and the sky of their mysterious planet has turned an incandescent red.

“I found out what he was doin’ to ‘em.”

Gamora takes a deep breath, still resolutely facing away from the Ravager captain inside the cave. There’s a self-deprecating laugh and Yondu continues.

“I suspected he was up to somethin’ after the second one. Ya just don’t look at yer kid like the way Ego did, like they's fuckin’ cargo. Things, not live beings. I could see it in his eyes,” He takes a rasping breath, “but I was greedy, ambitious, and a fuckin’ coward, so I kept on deliverin’ ‘em like lambs to the slaughter.”

“What was different about Quill?” Gamora asks quietly.

Yondu’s laugh sounds pained when he says, “idiot boy asked me if I was his daddy, ’s the first thing he said. Spoutin’ some nonsense about his ma tellin’ ‘im his daddy came from the stars or some shit.”

Gamora smiles a little at that.

“Kicked me in the balls when I told ‘im no,” Yondu says, sounding almost proud.

“He really is an idiot,” She shakes her head.

Yondu chuckles, “finally somethin’ we agree on, girlie.”

“Boy's got spunk ’n ‘im, though," He mutters, “showed me what it was like to have a fuckin’ spine.”

There’s so much self-loathing in his voice. Gamora chances a peek at the Centaurian captain. Yondu’s staring off into space, his expression morose.

“I ain’t never done any good, but Quill turned out ok, I guess.”

“He was lucky to have you,” The words slip out without her permission and he blinks at her, gobsmacked. Gamora feels her face heat up when Yondu guffaws.

“Aww, hell. Ya hit yer head on the way down or somethin’?” He asks, gasping from the laughter and clutching his ribs. “Lucky to have me. I fuckin’ kidnapped ‘im. In case ya forgot, missy.”

“At least you didn't slaughter his family in front of his eyes,” Gamora snaps, standing suddenly in a flurry of leather and metal, “at least you didn't torture him and pit him against other children each week and force him to still call you father!”

The amusement had faded from his eyes, and she's struggling to breath past the constricting weight around her chest when she finishes vomiting forth all her pent-up frustrations and fears. 

“Girlie,” Yondu starts, his voice cautious.

Gamora runs from the cave without another word. She’s grateful he doesn’t try to follow.

 

 

“Quill’s probably the luckiest bastard on this side of the freakin’ galaxy,” Rocket had once said to Gamora after a night of drinking and gambling on a tiny planet in the W3a system. She hadn’t agreed with him until a few nights ago when she’d seen Quill floating out there in the coldness of space, the old blue bastard he’d cursed about on and off for the last three years cradled in his arms.

Turns out, Peter’s got a pretty decent dad after all.

Turns out, the only commonality they’d shared hadn’t been there after all.

A part of her is terrified that Peter’s just going to go back to the Ravagers and leave their little dysfunctional group because as much as she likes to bitch about him, the Guardians would not be the same without him. Another part of her, a deeply repressed part, feels jealous of what Peter has. For all of his foot-stomping and melodrama, Peter’s still got a home and a family to go back to, no matter how much of an asshole Yondu is.

Gamora has nothing left.

Nothing except for Peter and the Guardians.

It’s dark when she finally drags her exhausted body back to the cave. The temperature had dropped considerably and Gamora’s teeth are chattering when she sneaks up to the mouth of the cave, hoping against hope that Yondu had fallen asleep.

“Girlie, that you?” A voice calls out. Gamora’s shoulders slump.

“Come ‘ere,” Yondu says, and she approaches warily, her arms wrapped around her freezing body. She doesn’t expect him to pat the space next to him and say, “sit.”

“What?”

“Just do as I say,” He rolls his eyes long-sufferingly.

Gamora sits stiffly, still eyeing him like a rabid dog that’s about to bite. Yondu mutters something that sounds like an insult and wraps one warm heavy arm around her shoulders and draws Gamora against him. She freezes.

Underneath the thick Ravager’s coat, he feels like a furnace. Gamora relaxes against her will, skin tingling as the feeling returns to her limbs. Yondu’s rough stubble grazes her temple and tickles that spot deep within her aching heart.

“Ain’t never had a daughter before,” He confesses after a pause.

Gamora swallows thickly. Yondu's arm feels like a secure anchor that’s keeping her from flying apart into a million tiny pieces and breathing comes a bit easier.

“Get some rest,” He mutters without looking at her, “I’ll watch over ya.”

So Gamora does.

 

 

She hasn’t dreamed of her parents in a long long time, so long that she’d forgotten what their faces looked like.

Her mother’s eyes were green, Gamora thinks when she wakes, the color of life and spring.

Yondu’s discreetly trying to wriggle some circulation back into his leg and muttering sarcastically under his breath. She almost smiles, her eyes still closed and her arm wrapped loosely around his leather-clad torso.

“Ya can stop pretendin’ to be asleep, girlie,” Yondu grunts after another minute, “can’t feel my ass no more, thanks to you.”

Gamora opens her eyes to Yondu’s sneering face. Sighing, she detaches herself from him and stretches, working the kinks loose and frowning at the unexpected ache in her side.

Really, Yondu?” Gamora asks when she fishes out the kitten ornament from his breast pocket along with a slim rectangular item that turns out to be an actual book made from real paper. She squints down at the alien squiggles. “What’s this?”

“Picked it up for Quill,” Yondu mutters, avoiding her gaze, “vendor said it was from Terra.”

“Does he even know how to read?” Gamora asks, genuinely curious. Yondu cackles and allows her to pull him slowly to his feet.

“Ya can ask ‘im yerself,” He says, jerking his chin at the cave entrance. Gamora cocks her head to the side and listens for the hum of an engine. Her face breaks into a wide smile when she catches the sound of the familiar vibrations coming from above. Gamora grabs Yondu’s arm and pulls him toward the cave opening just as light floods their dark shelter.

“That’s my boy,” Yondu murmurs under his breath, the ship reflected like the starry sky in his crimson eyes.

Gamora waves up at the small vessel and seconds later, Quill, in his full getup, drops down from the ship along with Nebula.

“You two are idiots!” He yells the moment his mask retracts, his pale face tight with worry. Peter crosses over to Yondu in two quick strides and Gamora runs at her sister, throwing her arms around a surprised Nebula who stumbles sideways.

“You have a fuckin’ fever, old man! What the hell?! I leave you alone for one day!” Peter shouts, and Gamora pulls back with a frown.

“What?” She asks.

“He’s abnormally warm, Gamora, that’s what a fever means,” Peter snaps, pulling Yondu aside and pawing at his uniform. “Quit struggling, ya senile old fool and let me check you for injuries!”

“You were injured?! Why didn’t you tell me, Yondu?” Gamora demands, also crowding the annoyed Ravager captain against the cave wall. Nebula frowns and wanders over to join the angry duo.

“I ain’t injured, ya dumbasses!” He’s still trying to deny it, but Peter sucks in a sharp breath when his fingers come away coated in blood. His whole face darkens.

“Ok, that is it. You are done going on missions, old man,” Peter growls, “see if I ever let you step foot outside of command again."

“I cannot believe you didn’t tell me!” Gamora yells, equally pissed off.

Yondu stares at the two of them as if they’ve gone completely mad. “What the hell are ya yellin’ at me for, girlie?”

“What’s taking you guys so long? Y’all havin’ a fuckin’ tea party down there or somethin’? Hurry the fuck up!” Rocket’s impatient voice blasts from the ship’s speakers, interrupting their delightful little confrontation.

Before Yondu can whistle for his arrow, Gamora bends down, snakes an arm around his knees and swoops Yondu off his feet. Peter chokes back an incredulous laugh when she carries the struggling Centaurian captain bridal style to the edge of the cave opening and barks at Rocket to "lower the goddamn ship.”

They ignore Yondu’s pissed-off yowls of “Mutiny! This is fuckin’ mutiny, I tell ya!” and toss him straight into the medbay as soon as they get back to the mothership.

 

 

“Gamora…” Peter says, tentatively setting a hand on Gamora’s tense shoulder, “he’s gonna be alright.”

She turns the brunt of her scowl on him and Quill actually backs off a couple of steps, his expression cautious and his hands held up in a placating manner.

“I know,” She growls.

“Ok, good, it’s just,” He bites his lip before leaning in and whispering, “you look like you want to charge in there and gut him with a blunt knife.”

Her eyes flash darkly and Quill hurriedly takes a few more steps back. “Or not. I’m sorry, please don’t kill me and toss my body into the third waste removal chute from the left, Gamora.”

Before she can comment on his oddly specific method of death, a rough scratchy voice calls from within sickbay, “in here, girlie, I need to talk to ya.”

Peter raises a brow at her. Gamora frowns back at him. They stare at each other, silently trying to communicate their bewilderment across.

“I know yer out there,” Yondu yells.

Gamora reluctantly walks into medical. Yondu’s propped up against the headboard of the bio-bed with three pillows that look like they’d been taken from three different owners, his chest heavily bandaged.

“Close the door, missy,” He says.

She does as she is told.

“Sit down,” Yondu pats the edge of the bio-bed. Gamora sits reluctantly.

He glances at her sideways, “ya think ya can do me a favor?”

“What favor?”

“Slip this to Quill without ‘im findin’ out?” He pulls out the stupid hardcover book from beneath the pillow.

She stands indignantly, “give it to him yourself, old man!”

To her surprise, Yondu’s face splits into a crooked grin as he peers at her knowingly. “Old man, huh?”

"You might not be his biological father, but you are an idiot, just like your stupid kid Quill!” Gamora flushes angrily, her hands balling into shaking fists.

“I know,” Yondu says, “but we got ya watchin’ our backs, don’t we?”

And that one sentence opens the floodgates.

Gamora has not cried for years, not a single tear shed since Thanos murdered her parents in front of her eyes, but she finds herself unable to choke back the body-wracking sobs now. Yondu sighs irritably and opens his arms.

“Come 'ere,” He says roughly. 

She goes, crams her wet face against his warm neck and inhales the sour scent of sweat, dirt, and blood and thinks of-

Home.

“’S gonna be ok,” Yondu murmurs, rubbing her back awkwardly. He holds her until she gets the ugly sobs back under control, only wincing a little when she blows her nose on his bedsheets.

Gamora takes a few deep breathes to compose herself before aiming a piercing glare at the old space pirate.

“You ever speak a work of this to anyone, I will make sure no one ever finds your body,” She hisses fiercely.

Yondu grins, his metal-capped teeth glowing like liquid silver in the dim light of the infirmary.

“Girl after my own heart,” He says proudly.

 

 

Gamora used to think she had the world all figured out, that Thanos was evil, Nebula hated her guts, Quill was the galaxy’s biggest idiot, and that Yondu was as competent a father as Thanos.

Turns out, she’s only half right: Thanos is still evil and Quill is definitely an idiot, but the rest…Gamora’s not so sure anymore.

She watches from the doorway as Peter sits down eagerly on the edge of Yondu’s bed, his new present clutched reverently in both hands. Yondu kicks at him half-heartedly but his eyes soften grudgingly when they pass over his boy to land on Gamora. She smiles past the still tender ache in her chest when Yondu inclines his head minutely at her before turning his attention back to Quill.

When she turns to leave, she finds the rest of the Guardians standing in the hallway. Nebula clears her throat and asks stiffly, “so are we getting out of here?”

Her sister’s wearing the new wrist guards when Gamora reaches out and laces their fingers together.

“In a few more days,” She finds herself murmuring.

The tension eases from Rocket’s shoulders at her words and when Groot tugs on his whiskers, he bends down so that the little tree can hop off and run over to join the duo in sickbay. They watch in silence as Groot climbs the bio-bed and settles contentedly in Peter’s lap, his eyes widening with excitement when Peter cracks open the illustrated book.

"And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye...” Peter reads from the book, his steady voice washing over them.

Gamora leans her weight into her sister’s side. Nebula does not pull away this time.

Yes, they could afford to stay a little while longer.

Notes:

The book Yondu picked up was a copy of The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, which I thought was a perfect fit for Peter, the little Star Prince.

I feel like Gamora would be even more protective of her parent than Peter. Poor Yondu.

 
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