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Guardians of the Galaxy fic: Waking Nightmare (1/1)

December 17th, 2015 (06:36 pm)

feeling: contemplative

Title: Waking Nightmare

Disclaimer: I do not own Guardians of the Galaxy.

A/N: A fill for my culture shock square in hc_bingo. Set right after Peter is kidnapped off earth as a child. Unbeta’ed.

Summary: There’s no way he’s just been abducted by aliens and taken aboard a strange spaceship that smells like the worst body odor in the world.


This has to be a dream.

He tells himself that, over and over.

This isn’t happening. There’s no way he’s just been abducted by aliens and taken aboard a strange spaceship that smells like the worst body odor in the world. This can’t possibly be real as two guys with strange looking take his backpack and shove his walkman inside.

“No, wait--” Peter says, reaching out for it. “That’s--”

The two strange looking guys don’t actually care. Apparently stealing a walkman is not a problem when you’ve stolen a person.

Peter has bigger things to worry about anyway, and he starts to fight when they reach for his clothes. Kicks and screams, bucking so hard that he actually falls to the ground. The force of impact surprises him, and he’s dazed enough that they manage to get his shoes, socks and shorts before he has a chance to scream.

And scream he does when they wrestle the shirt off over his head.

“No!” Peter yells at them. “You can’t -- I need to go--”

They don’t listen, their calloused hands digging into his arm as they drag him back. He trips over the floor, and his heart hammers inside his chest.

This has to be a dream, this has to be a dream, this has to be a dream.

He’s thrown -- hard -- into a small alcove, and it’s not exactly a relief when they don’t follow him. A man with a blue face and hard eyes comes up beside them, looking Peter over. “That him?”

One of the men grunts.

The other nods an affirmative.

“I want to go home,” Peter says, half wailing in defiance. “My mother--”

His voice falters, and something breaks inside his chest. The emotion cripples him, and there’s nothing he can do when one of the men pulls a lever and something starts to vibrate. Peter’s hiccuping with dry sobs by the time the spray hits him, and it’s warm but red, a harsh acidic taste in his mouth as the blast covers him from head to toe. He gets a mouthful and splutter, pulling in on himself and closing his eyes.

He wants to wake up, wake up, wake up.

But then he remembers, his mother’s heart stopped beating in the cold, cold interior a hospital room.

It’s one nightmare or another.

He tucks his head to his knees and thinks maybe this one isn’t so bad.


Reality or not, everything is a blur.

It’s a strange contrast. Peter’s life has been painstakingly slow over the last year as he’s sat for hours in hospital waiting rooms and stared at the ceiling in his grandfather’s house. Dying from cancer is agonizingly slow, watching the life ebb from someone you love day after day.

This is nothing like that.

The horror is fast, furious and evolving.

One of the men -- he thinks they’re men, but he’s not sure -- brings a hose, and another turns it on. It’s not water, though. The liquid is red and acidic, and it burns at his eyes and stings his throat as he gasps for air. Without warning, he’s pulled forward while his shirt is rustled clear. The hot liquid splashes on his back before he’s hauled onto his back and someone rips his pants clean off.

Terrified, Peter struggles to cover himself, but he’s not sure which part of himself to protect first. He flails, kicking his legs and screaming as he’s shoved back into his alcove with unnecessary force.

It jars him, and he accidentally swallows a mouthful of the liquid before the flow stops. Heaving for air, he’s trying to blink his eyes clear when a cascade of cold water comes next.

His skin breaks out with goosebumps, and the shock of it is so harsh that he almost cries. The rush is so fast that it’s over before he feels the full extent of it, and he’s left gasping in shock when a blast of air comes at him from the ceiling.

When it’s over, Peter’s still huddled on the floor, body pulled in on itself tautly.

Because, he’s starting to think, it’s probably not over at all.


He’s still shell shocked on the floor when one of the men drags him out. Peter’s too numb to fight, but when they try to put him on his feet, he topples over.

There’s a chorus of sounds and noises before someone grunts and two rough hands grab him under the armpits and stands him on his feet.

He’s trembling so hard that his knees are literally knocking together. He makes out blurs of movement, but each person is more strange looking than the last. Someone ogles him with red eyes; another sniffs him. He’s pushed forward until he’s stumbling, marched through a space he has no way of identifying.

Tripping, he falls again, hands and knees before someone pushes him. He falls onto his bottom now, scrambling to protect himself as he’s yanked up again. Scurrying away, he runs into another warm body before he’s pushed into a fleshy blob that smells worse than his feet.

The chorus of voices murmur and stubby fingers fist into his hair, wrenching his head back.

Peter gasps, working to keep his footing, and straining to look up at the creature that’s holding him. Yellow eyes, yellow teeth.

The man leans forward and smells Peter.

“Wonder what he tastes like,” he says, and the accent is heavy even if the words are recognizable.

Aliens that speak English.

That would be reassuring if he hadn’t just been kidnapped.

“Nah, never eat what you can’t identify,” someone else says as Peter is poked in the ribs. “Might be diseased.”

“I’ve had Terran before,” another chimes in. Something wet slides down the back of Peter’s neck and he shudders. “This one’s too skinny, though.”

Lanky fingers pinch the skin around his ribs. “Not any meat on the bones.”

“The bones,” the voice says behind his ear. “They’re the best part.”

“Maybe it can’t hurt to try,” another suggests, coming close as he bares his teeth.

Peter’s breath catches, and he lets it out on a sob.

He can’t do this.

He can’t.

He can’t, he can’t, he can’t.

Someone seizes him by the shoulders as he’s wrestled to the ground. “One way to find out.”

Peter closes his eyes.

And screams.


Miraculously, someone listens.

“Hey!” a voice yells, cutting through the others. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”

The room falls silent, quiet enough for Peter to hear the rapid thump of his heart against his ribcage.

“Damn stupid idiots,” the voice growls and suddenly the hands keeping him down are pulled away and he hears someone grunt.

Peter doesn’t dare open his eyes.

This has to be a dream.

Please, please, please.

This time, the touch isn’t exactly gentle, but the fingers don’t bruise his skin and when he’s pulled to his feet, his shoulder isn’t wrenched in its socket.

Surprised, Peter opens his eyes.

It takes a moment for them to focus, but the blue face in front of his is strangely comforting.

If only because it’s not trying to eat him.

For a second, the blue man holds Peter’s gaze, quiet and discerning.

For a second, Peter dares to hope.

But then the man turns away, gnashing his teeth at the others. “Do you know how much this Terran is worth?” he asks, circling on the man with the yellow teeth and pushing away. He stalks about the others, hissing. “And we won’t see an ounce of that money unless we bring him back alive.”

The man turns back to Peter, sizing him up for good measure.

Peter’s not sure why.

It’s not like he’s got anything to offer.

He’s small, and he’s not that bright. He’s not that friendly, and he’s not that good looking. The only person who ever wanted him in this universe is dead now, and Peter can’t imagine why anyone would pay a price for him.

It’s strangely comforting to think he might be worth something.

But then the man’s face darkens, and he jerks his head to the side. “Stow him,” he orders, taking broad steps away from Peter. “Someplace safe.”

He pauses long enough to glance back, visually dressing down Peter’s half-naked and shivering body once more.

“And most importantly,” he growls before he leaves the room. “Someplace far away from me.”


This time, they drag him so fast that he doesn’t have time to get his feet beneath him. He trips and stumbles, but the rough grip at the back of his neck keeps him upright. They lead him through a string of hallways, each smaller and darker than the last, and it feels like he’s walked for miles before they finally open up a door.

Before Peter has a chance to process this, he’s all but shoved inside.

Off balance, he falls hard on his hands and knees, skidding on the metal flooring. Disoriented, he barely turns around in time to see the door shut behind him and lock securely into place.

Eyes wide, Peter scrambles to his feet, searching for the knob. He slams his hands against the door, pulling and kicking.

“Hey!” he yells. “Hey, let me out!”

There’s scuffling behind the door, but no one answers.

“Hey!” he’s almost screaming now, panic rising in his throat. “Let me out!”

There’s just silence now.

Peter pounds again, slapping his palm against the metal until it stings. When there’s no reply, he turns back numbly.

The room is small, no bigger than a bathroom. There’s a small ledge on the far end, which has a single sheet and a thin pillow. The overhead light is in a protective grate, and there are a line of vents on the ceiling by the door. Other than that, there’s nothing on the walls or ceiling. In addition to the ledge, there’s a small sink cut out of one wall and an open drain in the middle of the floor.

Worse still, it’s cold in here, and Peter’s still in his underwear. The metal beneath his feet is well worn and chilled, and when he runs his fingers along the walls, it feels exactly the same.

He shudders uncontrollably.

Peter never had much growing up, and he’d always complained about having to stay with his grandfather, where his room was small and there was nothing to do.

But compared to this?

Well, it sounds like heaven now.

This, Peter decides as he settles himself on the ledge.

This must be hell.


Peter watches the walls.

He studies every inch of them, counting the number of weld points and trying to find patterns in the scuff marks. There’s a smudge on the floor that looks a little like blood, he decides. And he doesn’t want to know what the thick brown caked around the floor drain might be.

He counts the number of paces it takes to get from one side of the room to the next, and he turns the water on the sink just to see it run out with streaks of sludge. The air smells funny, tastes weird, and it almost hurts to take a full breath.

Sitting or laying down, the ledge is uncomfortable, and the thin sheet is nothing but scratchy. The pillow isn’t stuffed with anything Peter recognizes, but he lays down on it anyway.

He tries to sleep, but he can’t.

He blinks his eyes and looks up at the light.

He wonders if this is what his mom felt like, living with a death sentence. If the walls of her hospital room seemed bleak as a prison cell.

He just can’t.


The door opens, and Peter’s on his feet. But when he tries to charge the door, the oafish man standing there just pushes him away with one hand. By the time Peter gets back up, the door is closed and locked. The only thing that’s different is the tray of food sitting on the floor.

At least, Peter thinks it’s food.

He picks up the tray, taking it to his ledge. He examines it, poking at each piece experimentally. He doesn’t recognize any of it, and it’s tepid to the touch and doesn’t smell like anything. It has a consistency like stew, and the chuck of rock hard something on the side must be like bread.

It’s not appetizing, to say the least. His grandfather’s overtures with cow tongue make this look good.

Peter looks back at the door.

No one is coming back in, and he’s pretty sure there’s nothing else on the menu.

As if on cue, his stomach rumbles.

Peter swallows, feeling a twinge of trepidation. Uncertainly, he picks up the bread, taking a nibble.

It looks like a rock.

Apparently it tastes like one, too.

Forcing himself to swallow, Peter dips the next bite in the sludge. Wrinkling his nose, he takes the bite.

It’s food, after all.

How bad could it be?


Bad, is the answer.

It could be very, very bad.

Going down, it doesn’t taste much like food, but coming up is so much worse. It burns along his throat, and his stomach twists and heaves until he’s spitting bile desperately at the open drain on the floor of his room. The pain clenches him again, and he curls in on himself, moaning as the bile rises again and he has no choice but to wretch.

It leaves him spent.

And then he vomits again.


When he finally falls asleep, shivering and weak on the floor, time slips away from him. When he wakes up, there’s water sitting next to him, and he’s desperate enough to try it.

It turns his stomach quickly, and the process starts again.


Exhausted, he’s too weak to get up. He lays on the floor, face pressed against the metal as he listens to the sounds of the ship around him.

It is a ship, he decides, because he can hear a faint whirring, like an engine. And he can feel the changes in course and speed, the subtle lurching that makes him close his eyes and fight off nausea once again. It’s only when the ship is moving at full speed -- and Peter can tell that, too, the way the gears settle and the metal warms slightly -- that he’s able to drift to sleep again.

He dreams of getting far enough away that none of this will matter.

Far enough away that maybe he won’t remember where he’s come from.

Far enough that he won’t know what he left behind anymore.


There’s no sense of time, though. He sleeps; he eats; he drinks; but it’s all the same. Seconds are hours are days, and as far as Peter knows, it’s been a lifetime since he left home.

Still, he can’t help but wonder.

Does his grandfather miss him? Has he noticed that Peter’s gone? Has he tried to find him or decided that it’s just as well this way?

Is his mother buried? Have they put up a tombstone? When it says loving daughter and mother, will anyone remember that he existed at all?

It’s funny in the way that it’s not funny at all. Peter never cried, you see, not once. Not when his mother told him she had cancer; not when the treatments took her hair, her smile and her energy. Not when she went to the hospital and didn’t come out.

Not even when she died.

Maybe he’d been too scared before. Maybe it’d been denial. Maybe he just hadn’t understood it all and the implications. Maybe he’d just been angry or stubborn or stupid.

The thing is, none of that matters now.

Peter Quill, he’s finally lost everything.

And in the silence, he cries himself to sleep.


When the tears stop, Peter gets angry.

He staggers to his feet, stumbling as he braces himself against the wall. This isn’t fair; this isn’t right. This isn’t what happens to him. This isn’t how it goes.

He can’t be here; he can’t do this.

These sons of bitches -- who do they think they are? What business do they have picking random kids off the street? Peter’s not a saint, but he doesn’t deserve this.

He balls his fingers into fists and slams them against the wall.

The shock reverberates through his body, but the pain reminds him he’s still alive.

That just makes him angrier.

He punches and kicks and screams. He yells obscenities and threats, pounding until his knuckles are bloody and his voice is raw.

He fights until he has nothing left, until he slumps to the ground behind the door with his limp fingers cradled in his lap. His head drops forward, and his heart thumps frantically against his ribs as the adrenaline drains from his body in a sudden rush.

No one answers him.


No one.

Alone in a cell, Peter has no one.

Two hands deliver the food, but there’s no face attached to them anymore. Peter yells and screams, he begs and pleads, but no one answers him. At first, he thinks they’re ignoring him, but then he starts to think that maybe there’s nothing to ignore.

Maybe they didn’t go away.

Maybe he did.

Maybe this is a dream,

This is hell.

Maybe he’s the one who died, just like his mom. Only she went to heaven, and he stole too many baseball cards and snuck out of the house one too many times.

Mostly, though, there’s no one out there anymore.

And, Peter starts to suspect, there’s no one inside either.


Then, Peter sleeps.

Hard and fast, eyes closed against everything.

Sometimes, when he opens his eyes, there’s fresh food and water.

Once, there’s even a change of clothes.

Peter closes his eyes again.

Food doesn’t matter; clothes don’t matter.

Peter sleeps.


When he slips away, he can’t help but look for his mother. He’s reaching out for her, fingers extended and hand open, but she’s not there. There’s no one there.

There’s no one left to take his hand.

This is how it ends, then.

With Peter reaching for nothing.


That’s okay, though. Peter doesn’t mind.

As long as it ends.

As long as it’s finally over.


Then, the door opens.

Two hands, reaching toward him.

And a face above him.

Blue skin, dark eyes.

Peter doesn’t have the strength to reach out anymore.

The hands grab him anyway, lifting him up, up, up.

And away.


“What the hell?” a voice seethes over his head. “Why didn’t anyone tell me it was this bad? You were supposed to take care of him, not let him die.”

Peter is jostled, hoisted higher as his cool skin presses against a warm body.

“I trust you idiots to do one thing -- for the love of -- he’s just a kid.”

Chest tight, Peter tries to breathe. Warm, calloused fingers sweep across his face, brushing his hair out of his eyes.

“Just -- take it easy, kid,” the voice says. “You’re okay.”

Peter’s eyes open, just a crack, to see a blur of blue. The touch, though, it’s gentle -- tentative and careful.

“You’re okay.”

Now, Peter’s a lot of things -- he’s stubborn and brash and stupid and a little ass -- but okay’s not one of them. After all, he’s been kidnapped, and he’s cold and hungry and tired and confused and scared. And, quite frankly, he’s probably losing his mind.

None of that even matters because the thing about Peter -- the real thing -- is that he’s an orphan.

And this guy?

He’s an alien.

“Kid,” the man says, blue lips moving faster. “Kid!”

It’s too late to change.

Peter closes his eyes as he’s scooped higher.

It’s just too late.


There’s nowhere to run.

There’s no hand to take.

There’s nothing.

Until there’s something.


Peter opens his eyes.

For a second, he’s confused. He’s sore and weak, but suddenly coherent. It comes back to him, everything that’s happened. Alien abductions, his mother.

For another second, he dares to hope it’s a dream.

But then he sees the blue guy.

And the hospital.

It doesn’t exactly look like any hospital Peter’s seen before -- and Peter’s seen more hospitals than he cares to think about -- but he recognizes it all the same. The smell, the equipment, the scratchy sheets -- the way it feels just a little like death.

He’s in a hospital.

As sure as he is about that, he’s not sure why. None of this makes any sense at this point -- not that it did earlier -- and Peter’s pretty sure that he should be dead.

Or maybe he just wants to be dead.

The blue guy clears his throat, sitting forward in his chair.

“Look,” he says in a thick, gruff drawl. “This wasn’t supposed to happen.”

Peter’s look of confusion must have been enough of a reply.

The alien furrows his brow and lets out a sigh. He sounds annoyed. “I mean, they weren’t supposed to…I don’t know, leave you like that.”

It’s not quite an apology, but it’s a little more than an explanation.

Frustrated, the blue man scrubs a hand over the tufts of hair over the center of his otherwise smooth head. “Damn it,” he mutters. “Wasn’t supposed to be this complicated--”

“Are you going to eat me now?” Peter finally blurts.

The man looks up, actually surprised. “What?” he asks. “No, I mean -- we’re--”

“So you’re going to sell me then?” Peter asks.

The blue man’s face falls.

“What am I worth, anyway?” Peter wonders.

The man snorts, short and bitter. “Not enough for this, kid.”

“So you are going to eat me, then?” Peter presumes, because he’s getting pretty used to playing to the worst case scenario -- and having it come true.

This question seems to fluster the man, though. “Look,” he says. “Let’s just...see how it goes, okay?”

He sounds like he’s trying to be reasonable, but there’s nothing reasonable about any of this. Peter shakes his head. “I’d rather you eat me than put me back in that cell.”

The blue man mutters a string of what Peter assumes are curses, though he can’t recognize the words.

“It’s worse than death in there,” he says. “And I’ve seen enough of death that I’m not scared of it, not anymore. Not when life is so much scarier.”

“Look, kid,” the man says, sounding almost weary now. “We just wanted to make sure you weren’t going to run away, okay? That’s what the room was for. To give you some time to get used to things.”

Peter stares at him, not sure what to make of that.

“It’s a lot, I know,” the man says. “And it’s going to be a lot more. But if this whole thing is going to work, then I have to trust you.”

Peter frowns, looking around him once more. He listens for a moment, beneath the sound of the machines. He’s still on a ship; he can feel the engines. “We’re in space?”

“My ship,” the man says with a nod.

“Well,” Peter says. “Then there’s not really anywhere to run. Is there?”

“Still, boy,” the man says. “We make stops; we’ve got lots of cargo in and out. I have to trust you.”

“Like I’m supposed to trust you?” Peter asks.

The man chuckles at that. “You can trust me not to eat you.”

“Okay,” Peter says with an incline of his head. “Then you can trust me not to run off into outer space.”

The man watches him, careful and with obvious consideration.

Finally, he narrows his eyes and picks up a bag off the floor. “I’m Yondu,” he says, holding out the bag. “This is my ship, and from here on out, you’re on my crew. That means you take my orders, no matter what, or all bets are off.”

Peter recognizes the bag and reaches for it. He unzips the familiar fabric and looks inside. It’s all there. The comics, the present from his mom.

The walkman.

It makes him so happy that he almost starts to cry.

He looks up at the blue man with sudden gratitude. “I’m Peter,” he says. “Peter Quill.”

Yondu’s smile is toothy and white. There’s a hint of something reassuring, even beneath the shifty look in his eyes that says he’s not quite to be trusted. “Well, Peter,” he says, extending his hand. “Welcome aboard.”

Peter looks at the hand.

He looks at Yondu.

Then he reaches his hand out, and takes Yondu’s hand.