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Guardians of the Galaxy fic: The Virtues of Space Piracy (1/1)

December 25th, 2014 (01:47 pm)
working

feeling: working

Title: The Virtues of Space Piracy

Disclaimer: I do not own Guardians of the Galaxy.

A/N: Fills my Stranded/Survival prompt for hc_bingo. Beta thanks to the gracious sockie1000.

Summary: He's been impaled in an abandoned vault on a planet where basically no one lives. Yondu is still three hours away, and Peter's bleeding.



-o-

Here's the thing: Peter’s basically a space pirate, and really, that’s not all bad.

Not that Peter's about to admit to that to anyone, especially Yondu and the rest of his crew. After all, these are the jackasses who made Peter cry in a corner for a week with nonstop threats to eat him when he was first taken aboard. And really, it's sort of hard to get over the fact that they abducted him from Earth and everything he ever knew.

That said, Peter's also pretty well aware that he didn't have a lot left on Earth. His mom had just died, and he was about to spend the rest of his life with his grandfather. As far as old guys went, his grandfather wasn't so bad, but Peter hadn't been too thrilled about the idea, to tell the truth.

And honestly, if someone had given him the option of flying through outer space with minimal adult supervision, stealing whatever he wanted, he probably would have said yes, just like that. It's sort of awesome in that regard.

The problem is, of course, that there's a whole host of drawbacks. Because Peter didn't get the option. Because Yondu has made it explicitly clear that Peter's entire well being is dependent on Yondu's good graces. Because he's the runt, the Terran, the kid. He's treated like a nuisance, a servant boy, the butt of every joke. The best guys on the crew are mostly the ones that ignore him.

But when Peter gets to go out into the field. When he's given just a little space to go and do whatever the hell it is he does -- that's the good stuff. He's good at it. He has instincts that benefit him. And hell, it's way better than going to school and meeting his grandfather's impossible expectations. And as he gets older, Yondu does let him have a little more time on his own. He gets to keep the things he finds sometimes. Sometimes, he even gets to work solo.

For a sixteen year old kid who's never had anything good in his life, that's sort of a big thing.

So yeah, Peter's had a piss poor childhood, but the future might not be so bad. If he can earn enough extra cash; if he can get enough clients of his own. Maybe someday he can buy his own ship; he can run his own jobs. Maybe he'll have his own crew, and there will be no one threatening to eat him.

Maybe.

If he can get himself off this piece of rusted rebar and manage to not die, that is.

-o-

Peter hisses, squeezes his eyes shut for a moment. When he felt through the floor of the vault, he'd blacked out for a moment. He'd already gotten the artifact for Yondu's latest job, but he'd thought maybe he could score a little extra for himself to sweeten the deal. There was still a good three hours before Yondu came back to rendezvous, and Peter had figured what the hell.

He chokes on a cry. In retrospect, it hadn't been his greatest decision. Not only had he struck out, he'd also lost track of the artifact for Yondu in his fall. And the rebar in his side hurts like a son of a bitch.

With a few strangled breaths, he forces his eyes open again and looks up. The fall isn't too far -- maybe ten feet -- and it's clear that the floor has totally rotted through. This place is ancient, but Peter hadn't thought to check for structural integrity. Yondu had said it'd be easy.

Yondu's a lying son of a bitch, though. And Peter's a moron.

Swallowing, he strains his head to look at his side more thoroughly. The lighting is dim, but he can sees the dark slick of blood all over the place. It smears on his hands as he pulls the fabric taut, trying to get a better look. When he sees the metal poking through his skin, the garish sight almost turns his stomach, and he squeezes his eyes shut once more.

It looks bad.

It looks really, really bad.

He's been impaled in an abandoned vault on a planet where basically no one lives. Yondu is still three hours away, and Peter's bleeding.

Peter's luck seems to be running out.

Then again, it's not like Peter's ever been lucky. It takes a warped view of reality to consider abduction and forced labor as a thief lucky. And that doesn't even count the fact that he's an orphan.

Peter's never been lucky.

This isn't a surprise.

Maybe this is just an inevitability.

Maybe this is finally the way it's supposed to be.

He opens his eyes, and locks his jaw.

No, he decides.

If this is how it's supposed to be, then Peter wants nothing of it. He's not going to die here. Screw it, he's not going to die at all if he can help it.

There's no one out there looking out for him, so he's just going to have to do it himself.

-o-

His resolve lasts for about two seconds.

Which is, coincidentally, how long it takes for him to try moving.

The small shift of his weight reignites the pain, sending blinding agony through his side. It steals his breath and eclipses his vision, and his eyes roll back as his body goes limp.

For a moment, he breathes, hot wet breaths as tears leak for his eyes. He lets out a sob.

Then he tries again.

-o-

It takes several tries before he's able to sit up. He comes to realize that the rebar isn't actually attached to anything and once he moves enough, he's able to sit up. Of course, it doesn't exactly feel good to move around with there's a piece of metal run all the way through him, but it actually goes better than he expects.

For a moment, he considers taking it out. Given how horrible it feels, he has to admit, there's a certain appeal to that. However, Peter's not a complete idiot. The rebar is killing him but it's also, ironically, the only thing keeping him alive. Yondu's not going to be here for three hours. If Peter takes out the rebar, he's going to be dead in less than one.

No, he has to leave in the rebar.

And get the hell out of here.

He looks up at the distance he fell, fingers still poised on the rebar.

"Shit," he mutters.

-o-

Peter gets up to his knees by sheer force of will. He feels shaky and weak, and the motion makes his stomach turn and his head pound. He breaks out in a cold sweat, and he's trembling, but it's progress anyway.

Getting to his feet is even harder, and he's careful to brace himself with every movement. The last thing he wants to do is fall -- if the rebar is jarred at all, that probably means Peter's going to die.

He breathes in harshly, forcing himself to steady. He takes a staggering step, then another.

Peter's going to do this.

Because if he's going to die, then he might as well die trying.

-o-

It takes about three steps before Peter realizes that the plan of not dying probably needs to be fleshed out a little bit.

First, he needs to find his pack. Not only is Yondu's precious artifact in there, but so is his walkman. Peter would rather die than live without that.

Second, he needs to find a way out. He's not going to be able to get out the way he came in -- through the ceiling -- so he's going to have to find the actual entrance to this room.

Third, he needs to not pass out. He's weak kneed and nauseous, and it hurts. It hurts, it hurts, it hurts.

He sighs, letting himself cry out once more.

Time for the first task.

-o-

This is thankfully not too hard. The bag is a short distance from where he landed, but it is unfortunately in the opposite direction. He limps his way over there, and bends over gingerly. Picking up the bag, he holds his breath, carefully unzipping it to check the contents.

The artifact is intact. More importantly, he still has his walkman.

It's not easy to pull out the walkman, and it's harder still to get on the earphones and to strap the device to his belt. But it's well worth it. Within several seconds, a song is playing.

I-I-I I'm hooked on a feeling.

And Peter starts to walk.

-o-

The second is a bit harder. It's actually not too hard to find the exit, but getting there is another story. The room seems to be something of a dumping ground, so he has to weaves his way through boxes and other debris. Every step is still agony for him, and the circuitous route feels like torture.

He's gone through two songs by the time he gets to the door, and he almost cries in relief when it's not locked.

When he opens it, however, he cries in earnest.

Because in front of him are stairs.

Lots and lots of a stairs.

-o-

Peter gives himself about three minutes to sulk.

It's not fair. To be impaled; to be bleeding; to be in this much pain.

And then there are stairs. The chances of him making it up the stairs without passing out -- Peter's can't even calculate that. Because he's pretty bad at math and because those odds suck.

Of course, the other option is dying. Alone and for his own stupidity.

Which isn't an option at all.

So Peter takes one step.

Then another.

Just like he always has.

-o-

There's no way to know how many stairs there are. As best Peter can figure, these stairs are going to lead all the way to the surface, which at least is a surefire way to make it to the pickup point.

Of course, they're also fairly vertical and poorly lit and Peter's got a piece of metal sticking through his side.

It's the good with the bad.

Which is pretty much the story of Peter's life so far.

-o-

Peter focuses on moving his feet.

One step.

Another step.

His side is starting to go numb, the heaviness spreading up his arm and down his leg. He's listing badly now, and his heartbeat feels sluggish. He's tired -- so damn tired -- and he just wants to sleep.

Peter doesn't want to die, though. He's not even sure why. He's not sure why he's tried so hard all these years. He's a kid with very little to live for, and yet he's clung stubbornly to this idea of not dying the whole time. It's not like he has a lot to look forward to. It's not like he even has a lot to look back on.

It's just, he doesn't want to die. Sometimes he feels like death keeps offering her hand, and Peter's been refusing to take it all these years.

This time, though, it's tempting.

It's really, really tempting.

Maybe Peter's too stupid to quit.

Maybe Peter's too unlucky to get the easy out.

Maybe this time the choice won't be his.

He'll probably find out, though, any way it goes.

-o-

At the top, he's breathless. His chest aches, and his lungs feel wooden. He's shaking, and he can feel blood soaking down his leg. He almost doesn't have enough strength to open the door, and he's blinded by the light when he comes up to the surface.

This is the drop off point, he realizes in an instant.

That's the good news.

The bad news is that Peter's knees give out, and there's nothing to catch him as he falls.

He hits the ground hard, and even though he tries to cushion his side, the impact still jars the rebar. It moves, grating against his insides, and he cries out in pain. His own voice echoes across the empty landscape, and there's no answer except his own sobs as he presses his face into the dirt and cries.

Peter's done everything he can.

This time, however, he has nothing left to give.

Death offers her hand; Peter curls up stubbornly.

If death wants him, it'll have to come and get him.

-o-

He lays on the ground and bleeds. He has no idea how much time has past. A pool of blood is growing on the ground, and his breathing becomes forced and thin. He's losing feeling altogether now, and his vision is starting to gray out. He can't hold a train of thought.

Ooo, ooo child, things are going to get easier.

The music grounds him. The music keeps him breathing.

It’s survival now, and Peter’s made it this many years, but he’s not sure he can make it this time or not.

Then, the song sputters and starts to fade out. Peter's breath catches, and he does his best not to cry. He breathes a prayer to any god he can think of, but as usual, no one seems to be listening.

The batteries are giving out.

It's just a matter of time.

-o-

The music starts to skip. The vocals are warbled.

Peter thinks of his mother. He thinks of his grandfather. He thinks of the little girl down the street who he kissed just for the hell of it.

He thinks of Yondu and the rest of the guys. He thinks of the celebration after a big haul, and he thinks of the games they taught him to play. He thinks of learning to read five languages mostly through porn, and he thinks of the first time Yondu let him work solo.

All those things had mattered to him.

He's not sure why.

He's not sure of anything, really.

Then the tape lurches to a halt, and this time, it doesn't come back on.

The rest, as far as Peter can tell, is silence.

-o-

Peter wakes up in a hospital, which is bad.

Yondu is at his bedside, which is even worse.

To say Yondu is pissed would be an understatement. Though Peter's woozy from drugs and surgery, the Ravager berates him roundly for being so completely stupid. From the long winded rant, Peter pieces together enough of what happened -- that Yondu arrived to find him half dead before carting him several planets over for immediate medical help.

He takes great pains to tell Peter that all expenses are coming out of wages. He grumbles and tells Peter that they should have just eaten him to spare them all the trouble.

"I didn't mean for it to happen," Peter protests.

Yondu glares at him. "You're stupid, though."

"And that's my fault?" Peter asks indignantly.

"Look, kid," he says. "I know you think you want to work alone--"

"It was a freak accident," Peter says.

"It's always going to be like that," Yondu says. "A freak accident, a bit of bad luck. Life isn't meant for flying solo, kid."

"So, what, I'm supposed to be your slave forever?" Peter asks, starting to sulk because honestly, after being impaled and still salvaging the job while surviving on his own, he feels a little entitled.

Yondu slaps him upside the head. "You really don't get it, do you?"

-o-


When he wakes up again, though, he's alone and doped up on even more drugs. He sits up, wincing by degrees, lifting the hospital gown enough to see the bulky bandage secured into place. With Yondu’s bitching, he never got the chance to ask just how badly he was hurt, but since the asshole was making him pay for the medical service, Peter has to think that means he’s going to live.

The hospital room is functional, if a bit sparse. It seems even more empty than Peter remembers, but the last time he’d been conscious, he’d been too busy being cussed out to pay much attention to anything else. The multitude of medical equipment is not too encouraging, but he’s alive and there’s no piece of metal sticking out of him anymore, so that much is win.

He’ll be back on the job in no time, he figures. Because it’s not like Yondu’s going to let him lay around the ship without earning his keep. Impalement might earn him a week or two reprieve, but nothing short of death is going to get him anything like a vacation.

That’s one of the bad things about being a space pirate: no paid leave. In fact, for abducted Terrans, there’s no leave at all.

That thought is depressing, and Peter settles himself miserably back against the pillows. He thinks about Earth, for some reason, and the crappy apartment he’d shared with his mom before she’d gotten sick. He thinks about Saturday morning cartoons, and curling up in the same bed in the winter when the heat was on the fritz.

Hell, he even thinks fondly of his grandfather’s house, which had always had more food in the fridge and ancient army figures stored in the spare bedroom. It’d smelled a little funky, but the old man had indulged him from time to time with comic books and candy bars.

Feeling morose, Peter glances around. By the bedside, is his walkman.

Peter can’t help but smile. He always half expects Yondu to trash the thing out of spite, but apparently even space pirates are capable of minimal levels of compassion.

Reaching out hurts like a son of a bitch, but when he presses play, the music starts up.

Batteries, Peter thinks.

Where did he get batteries?

Then, he remembers.

You really don’t get it, do you?

It’s a strange moment, to think outside of himself. To think about Yondu coming to the drop point to find Peter half dead and still bleeding. It’s stranger still to think about the man screaming for help, demanding their medic to do whatever he could to keep Peter alive. He thinks about the other jobs they might have cut short, or the fuel they wasted in making a detour. Hell, even coming to a planet with decent medical facilities would be a risk a Ravager crew wouldn’t take most of the time.

Peter had been ready to die alone, but it occurs to him slowly that maybe he’s not living all by himself after all. Sure, they’ve threatened to eat him. And yeah, they stole him and have kept him against his will. They tease him and abuse him, and Peter hates them nine times out of ten.

But that other time -- that time when they pull through for him. When they save his ass. When Peter’s not alone.

Maybe a crew isn't such a bad idea, after all.

Now he just needs to find one that will buy him batteries.

Without threatening to eat him.

That might be easier said than done, but it's not like Peter has anything else to work for.