?

Log in

No account? Create an account
do i dare or do i dare? [userpic]

GOTG fic: Forgetting to Remember (1/1)

December 11th, 2017 (09:15 pm)
frustrated

feeling: frustrated

Title: Forgetting to Remember

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

A/N: This fills my amnesia prompt for hc_bingo. No beta. Set after GOTG2.

Summary: Forgetting is not the solution. Peter learns that the hard way.



-o-

Peter took a long, hard drink of alcohol, and he let it burn comfortably down his throat. This wasn’t his first bottle.

Putting it down, he looked at it between his scarred fingers, and he could still feel Ego’s dust turning to ash and Yondu’s cold, cold body in the vast reaches of space.

He took another drink, drowning the last of the liquid.

It would not be his last, either.

Two weeks out, and Peter had tried everything. He’d tried mourning. He’d tried keeping himself busy. He’d tried paying his respects. And hell, he’d tried making light. He’d tried getting back to work, taking on a job to acclimate the new crew to a new normal. He’d tried everything.

None of it worked.

Sure, maybe he acclimated the crew. Yeah, he got them some credits. But Peter still felt like shit.

Waving to the bartender, he indicated that he needed another bottle. He’d left the others down the way, but he knew they’d be here soon enough. And he knew that Gamora wouldn’t ask how many rounds he’d had. No, she’d know just by looking at how drunk he was.

As drunk as she may conclude, Peter knew that the answer was still: not drunk enough.

Because if he couldn’t cope with all he’d been through.

Then it was sure as hell time to forget.

The drink was delivered and Peter gulped it down, even faster than the last. This way, he could order at least one more before Gamora made him stop.

Anything was worth it, as far as he was concerned.

If he could just stop remembering how much he’d wanted to believe Ego and how close he’d come to helping that maniac destroy the universe. If he could just stop remembering that his old man killed his mom. If he could just stop remembering that he’d been immortal once, that he’d been powerful and skilled and amazing. If he could just stop remembering that he’d given that all up and that now he was more vulnerable than ever.

If he could just stop remembering that Yondu died for him, for him, because he’d always loved Peter like a son in a way that only a messed up space pirate could.

If he could just stop remembering.

No doubt, Peter would drink the whole damn bar if it worked.

-o-

Peter didn’t quite drink the whole bar.

His efforts didn’t work anyway.

The next morning, he woke up sick as a dog and miserable. As he lurched over the toilet, the nausea swelling in his gut, he still remembered better than ever.

-o-

When he finally made it out of his room, it was already mid-afternoon. It was a testament to his crew’s capabilities that things were running smoothly without him.

Or it just furthered to prove his point that he was, essentially, useless.

It probably didn’t matter.

Coffee mattered, though.

Lots and lots of coffee.

He found the coffee.

Unfortunately, it was right next to Gamora.

His girlfriend -- that was what she was now, explicitly if sometimes awkwardly -- had positioned herself in a chair propped up against the counter. She was reading something on a data pad, and from a glance, it might be tempting to think that her presence was merely a coincidence.

Peter knew Gamora, however.

The level of seeming coincidence was directly proportional to the act’s inherent intentionality.

He rubbed his hand over his eyes, trying to assuage the unabated headache. The coffee was a necessity; he’d have to risk it.

Trudging over to the pot, there was no point in pretending that he was as pathetically hung over as he was. He mumbled some sort of greeting to Gamora before pouring himself a large -- and, he noticed, still steaming -- cup.

That was also Gamora, bless her.

He turned back, taking the first sip.

“So,” Gamora said, not looking up from her data pad. “Fun night last night?”

Passive aggressive assault. That was also Gamora.

Peter couldn’t quite bless that this morning.

“I really don’t need your lectures,” he said.

“Clearly,” she said with a cool shrug. “Since they’ve been so effective up to this point.”

He groaned. “I just needed to get away,” he said. “Forget for a little bit.”

At this, she put the pad down and looked at him.

The clarity of knowledge in her eyes made him miss the passive aggressive bent.

“Forgetting is not the solution,” she told him plainly. “And neither is getting drunk.”

He nursed another sip. “It works for like five hours,” he said, trying to sound nonchalant.

Her look was unmoved. “You need to talk about it.”

“Uh, no,” Peter said, pausing to take another drink. “Talking about it is the exact opposite of forgetting.”

“You are the one who wanted to overcome the unspoken things in life,” she reminded him.

“Some unspoken things,” Peter said. “Good unspoken things. Killing my own dad? Learning that my mother was murdered? Seeing Yondu die right there in front of me and holding his body for a 30 minutes before you guys showed up? That shit deserves to be forgotten.”

“I think you’re wrong,” she told him bluntly.

He was tired; he was hungover; he was hurt.

That meant that he was also a bastard. “Yeah, sure,” he retorted snidely. “Like you thought we should trust Ego in the first place.”

It was, without a doubt, the absolute perfect response. Cutting, to the point -- he’d win the argument with that.

The flicker of regret on her face, though.

He hadn’t thought it was possible to feel worse.

But then, Peter had made something of a career on being dead wrong.

He sighed miserably. “I shouldn’t have said that,” he said. “It wasn’t fair.”

“No,” she said, a bit brusquely. “But it also wasn’t wrong, and I know that, too. If I could go back, maybe I’d make different choices, but you can’t pretend that forgetting any of this will make it better. If we hadn’t gone with Ego, you’d still remember all those questions you had, all those doubts. You can’t outrun these things, Peter. Not with Yondu, not with Ego. Not with your mother.”

“I don’t want to outrun them,” Peter said wearily. “I just want to forget.”

Now, when she stepped closer to him, her expression was entirely earnest. “But those are the things that make us who we are,” she said. “To deny the bad things is still to deny who you really are.”

“And?” Peter asked, raising his eyebrows. “I’m not seeing how that’s such a bad thing.”

“I do,” she said. “I love you, Peter. All parts of you. I will protect all those parts fiercely.”

He drew a breath, taking in the scent of the coffee to quell the nausea in his gut. “I know you mean that, and I know you mean well,” he said, even as he shook his head. “But honestly, I’m still game for forgetting.”

He expected an argument. He knew he probably deserved one.

So he was taken off guard when she crossed over to him, leaning up to kiss him on the cheek. “I know,” she said, voice in his ear. She pulled away, looking him fully in the eyes. “That’s why I’m always going to be here with you, Peter. To help you remember.”

He furrowed his brow. It was possible he’d misheard her, given how hungover he was. “But I just said I want to forget.”

The smile on her lips was small and a little sad. “To remember the good parts, Peter,” she told him. “There has to be good parts.”

She didn’t wait for an answer that they both knew that Peter couldn’t give. He watched her go, the steaming coffee still in his hand.

He wanted to believe it, that the good parts were worth remembering.

Taking a sip of coffee, he closed his eyes.

He just really wasn’t sure there was.

-o-

Hangover or no hangover, the other thing that Peter couldn’t forget was the job.

The job was something of a mixed blessing, if he were honest. Sure, it was good to get the team active, and they all needed to be paid, especially after the repairs after the last disaster. Now that they were flying two people heavier, expenses became even more pressing, and the fact was that everyone was happier when they had something productive and meaningful to do.

That was the good stuff.

The bad stuff was that Peter had nearly zero motivation for anything. Losing Yondu, learning about Yondu, discovering the truth about his mother -- that had sort of sapped all his delusions about being some grand hero in the universe. Shit, he’d been about a half second away from destroying it. Now he was fully mortal, completely vulnerable and depressed out of his mind.

No wonder he liked to drink himself into oblivion.

But not today.

No, today was the job.

“Now, keep it simple everyone,” Peter said, giving the area a wary glance. They were right outside the palace on a small world known as Cuccon, where they had been hired essentially to be bodyguards. It was a small scale operation, but the threat to the Cuccon royal family had been pressing enough that Peter had agreed to take it on.

Plus, they were paying really well.

Like, too well.

There was no way escorting three people across town could be worth that many credits.

Whatever, though. People were free to make their own stupid decisions. It wasn’t like Peter had any room to judge.

“We need to spread out down the route of the procession, scouting out the most vulnerable positions,” he said. “Rocket, I want you on the rooftops.”

“Sniper,” he smirked. “Awesome.”

“Or just giving us better visibility,” Peter suggested.

“But I still get to have a gun, right?” Rocket asked.

“That I’m really hoping you won’t fire unless absolutely necessary,” Peter stressed.

Rocket huffed. “Yeah, yeah. Always the buzzkill, Quill.”

Peter rolled his eyes. “I want Drax to serve as the point person,” he said. “You’re visibly intimidating, so I’m hoping that will stop anything before it starts.”

Drax looked pleased with that assessment, and he puffed out his chest. “Many people have been swayed against engaging in battle with me based on my appearance and reputation,” he bragged. “That always made it easier to defeat them in the end.”

Kraglin looked dismayed. “You still fought them even if they tried to run away?”

“Of course!” Drax said. “They were my enemies!”

“Right, but today we don’t have any specific names and faces in mind,” Peter reminded them. “There’s an extremist sect here, though. They’re known for big picture publicity stunts, but apparently the local intelligence thinks they’re ready to up their game.”

Mantis nodded. “I have sensed the turmoil among the upper leaders,” she said. “When they shook my hand in a traditional greeting, I was aware of how anxious this event is for them.”

Poised on Gamora’s shoulder, little Groot got to his feet, holding onto the strands of her hair. “I am Groot?”

“It’s a yearly tradition, apparently,” Peter explained in response. “The royal family walks the historic path of their ancestors to the site where the city was originally founded. There’s some well there, and they have to take a drink using the old pulley system -- and I don’t know. It’s very significant apparently, and they have to do it or, like, the whole city will riot.”

“We are not here to judge their traditions,” Gamora reminded the group. “Just to protect them.”

“So keep your eyes open, people,” Peter advised. “Anything suspicious, and you report it. We have local security working with us, too, so we’ll have plenty of backup, but they’re trusting us to run point on this one.”

“Blah, blah, blah,” Rocket said. “We’re getting paid well on this one, right?”

Peter sighed. “Yes, but that’s not really the important part--”

“Eh,” Rocket said. “That’s relative.”

Peter forced himself to smile. “Any other questions?”

Before anyone could answer, he gave a matter-of-fact nod. “Great,” he concluded. “Then let’s do this.”

-o-

As they dispersed, Peter was more than happy to forget everything he just said.

Gamora, of course, had other ideas.

Pulling him aside, she leveled him with a concerned but unyielding look. “Are you sure you’re up for this?”

“You think I’ve missed something?” Peter asked. “Because I think this job is pretty airtight--”

“I think the job is fine,” she said. “But I’m just not sure about you.”

Peter groaned. “We don’t have time for this. The royal procession is about to start.”

“You always have an excuse, Peter,” she said.

“To be fair, they’re pretty good excuses,” he pointed out.

She drew her lips together, flattening them into a grim line. “Peter, you can’t keep trying to forget that there are issues here!”

“Actually, I think I can--”

“Peter!”

He stopped with an overly dramatic sigh. “Look, just -- let me get through this job,” he said. “Because right now, either I can handle the variety of messed up emotions in my head or I can handle the job. And, since I’m pretty sure we both want everyone to come out of this in one piece, I need to focus on the job right now.”

She eased back, obliging him with obvious reluctance. “You promise me.”

He wrinkled his nose. “Promise you?”

“That you won’t forget to deal with this stuff,” she insisted.

He wanted to roll his eyes, but he knew better with Gamora. “You really are stuck on this, aren’t you?”

“You’re the one who’s stuck,” she countered.

He put his hand on his arm, squeezing it gently. “Don’t worry,” he assured her. “If I can’t drink this into oblivion, then I’m pretty sure I can’t outrun it. I mean, what could possibly happen on this job to finally let me forget?”

She shook her head. “I don’t want to find out.”

“I can’t say I’d mind--”

“Peter!”

“Okay, okay!” he said, because he remembered, quite clearly, that she could kick his ass. Moreover, she would, if she thought it was necessary. “After the job, we’ll talk!”

This time, she was visibly mollified and she gave him a small smile. “Be careful, okay?”

He kissed her. “I’ll do what I can.”

With that, she turned away, moving into the crowd to take her position along the route. She was a remarkable woman, his girlfriend. In some ways, he hated to disappoint her.

In others, he really wished he could.

-o-

He was the one who’d asked the question: what could possibly happen on this job to finally let me forget?

When the first explosion happened, he moved into position, turning abruptly to fall into a defensive pattern. All his prep, all his effort, and he didn’t even see the blow that landed from behind, hitting him square in the back of his head.

Well, he thought the second before he blacked out.

That answers that.

-o-

Then, Peter was falling.

Literally, yes.

But in all the other ways, too. He felt his consciousness shift, moving back and back and back.

Plummeting down, he saw Ego with his eyes up to the stars. Farther still, and there was Yondu slapping him upside the head for being such a screw up. Down he went, where his mother called out for him from her deathbed. He saw his grandfather patting him on the arm, the kids at school killing the little frog. Spiraling down, he could hear the refrain of Brandy, You’re A Fine Girl and he could see others, people he thought he knew, people he thought he remembered. A small furry creature, and a tree that talked. A man with large biceps and gray skin, and a green skinned alien who outshone the stars when she smiled.

Peter knew them, at least he thought he did.

But before he could remember their names or why they mattered, he hit the bottom.

-o-

And woke up with a start.

With his breathing rapid, Peter felt his heart pounding in his chest as he tried to get his bearings. The room, he recognized -- the medical bay.

The ship, he knew, better than anything else in this galaxy -- the Milano.

Before he could put any more pieces together, he realized that his head was throbbing and his vision going white.

“Oh, geez,” he said, reaching up to press his fingers on the ridge or his nose. It was then that he realized that his ears were ringing. Experimentally, he opened his jaw, trying to pop them. It only proceeded to make his headache that much worse. “What the hell happened to me?”

He heard a rustle next to him, and Peter became aware that he wasn’t alone. Someone drew closer to him. “You can’t remember?”

It was a woman; she sounded hot.

Still in pain, Peter squinted up at her.

Yep, definitely hot.

“Relax,” another voice, this one much more caustic chimed in. “A little amnesia’s going to be par for the course.”

It took all of Peter’s self control not to startle when he realized it was a raccoon that was speaking to him.

Now the raccoon was grinning. “You have a serious concussion,” he said. “Lots of swelling, but fortunately your brain was pretty small to begin with, so it doesn’t look like any significant damage.”

“Still,” the woman said, resting a hand on him in what was surely meant to be a reassuring gesture. “We’re going to keep you here for observation until the cranial swelling is back to normal.”

“Unnecessary, I think,” the creature said with a defiant flick of its tail. “But I don’t think your brain is worth all that much to begin with.”

“It is fortunate, however, that you were the most serious casualty.”

Peter startled again, surprised to find a large and imposing dude standing on his other side. All this time, he’d had no idea the guy was there. That hardly seemed possible, given that this guy was not built for stealth.

The man nodded, looking rather satisfied. “Thanks to your skillful planning, we managed to keep all other threats under control and minimized damage to surrounding facilities. In the past, I would not have considered such measures, but you have influenced me.”

“All of us,” the woman said, a sweet smile just starting to play at the edges of her lips. “And if it hadn’t been for you, the projectile would have hit the royal family square on. You probably saved their lives.”

“Which means they’ve decided to give us a bonus,” the raccoon smirked. “Not a bad trade; Quill’s head for 10,000 extra credits for each of us.

Peter was trying to follow the conversation, and he was doing an admirable job, when he noticed that the woman who was smiling at him had something on her shoulder.

A branch?

No, a tree.

Small and agile.

And waving at him.

Peter blinked hard, trying to clear his vision.

It only served to put the waving tree more clearly into focus.

“Anyway, we just want you to know that you have nothing to worry about,” the woman said. “Everything is going to be just fine.”

She sounded so confident.

Maybe that was why Peter was so incredulous.

The woman seemed to notice his disconcerted attitude for the first time. “Peter?” she asked. “What’s wrong?”

“Oh,” he said. “I....just….”

“You can tell us, man,” the raccoon said. “We were the ones who carried your limp ass all the way back here.”

“That was not much of a chore, however,” the big man said. “You are surprisingly light. I am amazed that that brick did not do more damage to your flimsy body.”

“Um, okay,” Peter said, furrowing his brow as he went over the facts one more time. He was in sick bay; he was on the Milano. Clearly, they had just finished a job, and clearly, it was a job Peter had planned. This was all well and good except for….

He shook his head, looking at them each again as if the answer may come to him.

It didn’t. “It’s just…,” he started again, not sure how to finish. Not sure of anything except for this: “Who the hell are you people and what the hell are you doing on my ship?”

-o-

They were freaked out.

Peter could relate; he was freaked out, too.

While he was mildly concerned that his ship had been co-opted by the least effective band of mercenaries in the galaxy, they seemed preoccupied that apparently his head injury was worse than they had thought. Sure, their concern might be touching.

If Peter knew who they were.

“I still don’t get why you’re all on my ship,” Peter said, crossing his arms over his chest. They had insisted that he stay put while they run more scans or whatever.

“We told you,” the green one -- Gamora, she called herself -- said. “We are your crew. We’re a team.”

“Indeed, good friend Quill,” the largest one boomed. “We have been quite united in interesting battle.”

“Yeah, yeah,” the raccoon -- who didn’t like being called a raccoon, by the way -- muttered. “It’s called a concussion.”

Peter glared at him. He wasn’t sure why, but he felt the most animosity toward the furry little face. “You’re not here because of a head injury.”

“No, but you can’t remember because you have a head injury,” Rocket clarified, tapping a few buttons to bring up a scan of his brain.

“Hey,” Peter said. “I didn’t know I had the equipment to do that!”

“Of course you didn’t,” Rocket snapped. “I’ve been rebuilding key components out of nothing but scraps for month now. If you ask me, this stupid ship is as much mine as it is yours.”

“Dude, no way,” Peter said. He lifted his nose defiantly at the scan. “You’re probably drawing too much energy from auxiliary with that thing anyway.”

“Another problem I fixed, thank you very much,” Rocket sassed.

“The scan, Rocket,” Gamora interjected, sounded a bit stressed. “Interpret the scan for us.”

Rocket gave Peter a stark roll of his eyes. “The swelling is still at the same rate, which still isn’t dangerous, but it would be enough to affect memory in some cases,” he explained. “At any rate, I’d say this is all probably temporary until the swelling goes down. I mean, it’s probably not super common, but we’ve always know that Quill was fragile -- now, more than ever.”

“I am not fragile,” Peter retorted.

“You are incredibly delicate,” Drax said. “I could break you with one arm.”

Gamora looked like she could murder them all. Peter could get behind that, if he trusted her at all. “We all understand Peter’s unique situation,” she said, using her words with obvious care.

Peter huffed, feeling more put out than before. “I’m not some little kid here,” he pouted. “And besides, this is my ship. I still haven’t gotten a good answer about who the hell you people are, but let me tell you something -- if you don’t start answering questions here, and soon, I’m going to call up backup.”

They stared at him, somewhat uncertain as to what to say.

He had them rendered speechless with his impressive didactic prowess. “Ravagers,” he said, tweaking his eyebrows with a suggestion of violence. “I happen to have ins with the worst of the worst. Yondu Udonta.”

This threat often carried quite a bit of weight. Yondu was a son of a bitch, which was why Peter had such a hard time living with him. But, he was a son of a bitch. His name carried a lot of weight in almost any circle Peter had ever run in, reputable and less so.

And the mention of Yondu’s name did provoke a reaction.

But not fear.

Instead, the others exchanged strange, almost guilty looks.

Peter felt his stomach drop as unease fluttered in the pit of his stomach. “You know him?” he asked, his voice losing its edge.

Now the raccoon wouldn’t look at him. The big guy actually made a point to leave the room. The little tree covered his face as Gamora sat forward, perching on the edge of his bed.

“Peter, you have short-term memory loss,” she explained, placing a hand on his wrist.

Instinctively, he pulled his hand away. “So you’ve already told me,” he snapped back.

She drew a breath, letting it out roughly through her nose. “I didn’t realize just how much of your memory might be affected, but if you can’t remember us--”

“Then he doesn’t remember any of the shit that’s happened over the last three months,” Rocket supplied.

“Ugh,” Peter groaned, flopping back in frustration. “Just tell me already!”

“He died, Peter,” she told him. “I’m sorry, but Yondu’s dead.”

-o-

It hit Peter like a ton of bricks.

Which, was coincidental.

That was more or less how Peter had ended up in this position. And it was bad enough not to remember. It was bad enough to have a bunch of strange weirdos on board, telling them that he’d formed them into some odd intergalactic band of unlikely heroes.

But now they were telling him that Yondu was dead?

That Yondu Udonta was gone?

“No way,” he said, shaking his head. He let out an anxious breath, doing what he could to control the tendrils of doubt curling through his battered brain. “You guys may have heard of Yondu, but you clearly don’t know him very well. Yondu’s not the kind of guy who gets himself killed. No, the day Yondu dies is the day he chooses to end it, and he’s never found anything he cares about more than his own blue skin.”

All his dramatic intent -- and it just made them look guiltier.

It wasn’t the crumble of false facades like he’d hoped.

There was a lump forming in his throat, and a pain tightening in the center of his chest.

“No,” he said again, but his voice sounded hollow now. “None of this makes any damn sense.”

From behind them, there was a knock on the door.

Peter nearly cried in relief when he saw a familiar face enter.

“Kraglin?”

“Oh, hey, Pete!” the other man said. “Good to see you up. I got a little curious about how you were doing, so I put the ship on auto and--”

The others were looking at him furiously, but Peter talked before any of them had a chance. “Kraglin, you I know. You I know will tell me the truth.”

Kraglin paused, looking concerned. “The….truth?”

“Peter’s concussion has led to what Rocket thinks is temporary amnesia,” she explained.

“Yeah, he doesn’t remember anything from the last three months,” Rocket supplied. “Not a single thing.”

Kraglin’s expression fell, and his eyes landed on Peter again.

Peter swallowed hard. “I want to talk to Kraglin,” he said, then he turned wary eyes on the others. “Alone.”

“Hey, fine by me,” Rocket said, sauntering out. “I’ll check in again to make sure your brain hasn’t liquefied.”

“I’ll be right outside,” Gamora told him, as if that was supposed to be some consolation. As she exited, she leveled Kraglin with a hard look. “Right outside.”

Kraglin blinked as they left, mouth hanging open when it was just the two of them.

“Kraglin,” Peter hissed under his breath. “What the hell is going on? Who are these people? What happened to me? Where the hell is Yondu?”

The barrage of question left Kraglin looking bereft. Shoulders slumping, he drew up a chair next to Peter’s bed. “It’s kind of a long story.”

Peter shrugged, undeterred. “Then good thing we have nothing but time.”

Kraglin returned a feeble smile. “Yeah,” he said weakly. “Good thing.”

-o-

So, it turned out, it wasn’t a very long story.

Peter had continued to defy Yondu, eventually setting out on his own to find some valuable orb. When he discovered that the orb could destroy the universe, he decided to stop the impending apocalypse and joined up with these criminals and idiots to form the Guardians of the Galaxy. One of their latest jobs had gone wrong -- really wrong -- and Yondu had gotten himself killed.

Despite all the hemming and hawing, Kraglin had confirmed their story.

They were his crew.

This was his ship.

He was the leader of this operation.

Of course, he entertained the possibility that Kraglin was lying. Maybe by choice; maybe he’d been forced into submission. This was Kraglin, after all.

There was, after all, a lot of things Kraglin wasn’t telling him. Peter was aware of them much. Even so, Kraglin’s overall disposition suggested that he wasn’t lying.

More than that, he liked the others.

He felt safe around them.

But how could it be?

“I mean, what?” Peter asked. “I’m actually a hero?”

“We all are,” Kraglin told him, beaming a little. “Yondu was proud of that fact, even if he didn’t admit it.”

Peter let out an incredulous breath. “But there’s no way Yondu would go soft like that. I mean, dying on a mission? What would possibly be so important?”

Kraglin licked his lips anxiously, studying his hands. “Dangerous line of work, is all,” he said. “But I mean, you should ask the others about it. I was back on the ship; I didn’t...I didn’t see as much.”

Peter sighed, looking out the window where the others were gathered, trying to look like they weren’t gathered. It was concern, Peter knew.

He just didn’t know what to do with it.

“So I’m their leader?” he asked.

“That’s what I thought,” Kraglin said. “But I have to admit, you handle it better than I imagined.”

Peter shook his head. “I still don’t see it,” he said. “I mean, me, us -- them. How does it work?”

“That I couldn’t tell you,” Kraglin said, getting to his feet. “But ask them. I’m sure they’ll be happy to tell you.”

Thoughtfully, Peter looked at Kraglin again. “You sure we’re safe here? We can really trust them?”

“With our lives, Pete,” Kraglin said, offering a small, reassuring smile. “That’s the most important thing they got from you.”

Peter watched Kraglin go, considering the validity of the comment. If he was the ringleader here, then he would set the tone. And the only tone he knew was the one Yondu had set for him. And Yondu would kill you if he had to, but he never left a man behind when it counted. Peter knew that because Yondu had saved Peter’s ass more times than he could count. Sure, he bitched and moaned and threatened to eat him -- but Peter was still alive because of Yondu.

He didn’t have Yondu anymore.

His gaze flickered over what was supposed to be his team.

All he had was them.

It was up to him, he supposed, to decide exactly what he was going to do with that.

-o-

Peter decided, quite logically, that if this was, in fact, his crew, he should probably get to know them. Assess their strengths, that kind of thing.

Peter also decided that talking to the crazy people masquerading around his ship like his crew might make the time go faster since he was stuck in a medical bed.

In retrospect, starting with Rocket may not have been the best choice.

Of course, the entire idea of retrospect was a little ironic for a guy with amnesia.

Still.

Rocket?

Was a piece of work.

“I’m still a little fuzzy,” Peter said, trying quite seriously to make sense of the strange story he was being told. “You led us in a prison escape with nothing but a battery, a security card and a fake leg?”

Rocket looked a little giddy. “The leg was the most important part,” he said, smirking with a confidence that didn’t seem to be properly placed. He shrugged. “Since you handled that bit for me, I figured you were sort of worth trusting.”

“I’m still stuck on the part where you were trying to capture me for a bounty and ended up joining up with me in a prison escape,” Peter admitted.

“The bounty was just business, that’s all,” Rocket said. He perked his ears up, pointing a small finger at Peter. “And the prison break? Was totally my idea. You’re just lucky I took the rest of you idiots along for the ride.”

Peter contemplated this. It sounded somewhat plausible. He knew he had various bounties on his head; he also knew that he’d never probably be able to orchestrate a complicated prison break on his own. He was resourceful, but when push came to shove he liked to shoot his way out of things.

Or call Yondu.

Or, really, both.

Peter sighed. “And then we went off to save the galaxy?”

“More or less, yeah,” Rocket said. “I mean, yes, there was some discord. And there was some bonding. And we almost died a few times. But at the end of it all, we saved Xandar and the rest of the freakin’ galaxy.”

“Huh,” Peter said, cocking his head thoughtfully. “Doesn’t really sound like something I’d do.”

“Me, neither,” Rocket snorted. “But like I said. You stole a leg for me. That counts for something.”

Peter wasn’t sure how that was the moral of this story, but apparently he’d undergone a massive personality shift since losing his memory.

Because legs? Prison breaks? Saving the galaxy?

All of that, maybe he could accept.

But doing it all with a raccoon?

“What exactly do you do on the crew again?” Peter asked.

“Ah,” Rocket said. He flashed his pointy teeth in an approximation of a grin. “I’m probably closest to an engineer, but I’m better than you in the cockpit.”

“No,” Peter said, shaking his head. “No one’s better than me in the cockpit.”

“Damn,” Rocket said. “I was hoping your concussion would make you forget that you were a dick.”

Peter narrowed his eyes. “What type of engineering do you do?”


“This and that,” Rocket said with a shrug. “I fix the engines, maintain the electrical system, build our gear. Make bombs. You know, the normal stuff.”

Peter’s eyes widened. “You make bombs? Do you have some on board right now?”

Rocket leaned forward eagerly. “You want to see them?”


“No!” Peter said. “I want you to get rid of them.”

Rocket huffed, sitting back in disappointment. “Man, you’re not any more fun with amnesia.”

“It’s called being rational,” Peter told him.

“Says the guy who saved the galaxy with a dance off!”

Peter opened his mouth to retort, but he had to stop. “Wait. What?”

Rocket chuckled, making his way to the door. “I’ll let someone else tell you that story,” he said. “And hey, Quill.”

Peter looked at him, feeling something churning with uncertainty in his gut.

“I hope you get your memory back,” he said, and he almost sounded sincere. “Because you’re going to be so embarrassed when you realize how dumb you sound right now.”

Peter watched him go, perplexed. He’d been trying to bond with his team, trying to see how he fit in with them.

Funny enough, now he wasn’t sure he wanted to at all.

-o-

They called the big guy Drax.

It was a strangely appropriate name. Simple and to the point, like a blunt object.

For all that Rocket was, well, a raccoon, it was Drax who appeared to hardly know how to hold a conversation.

“So, saving the galaxy,” Peter ventured, trying to sound conversational.

“Yes, it is our job,” Drax agreed with a serious nod. “We have become noble warriors, fighting for good and justice in the galaxy.”

“Right,” Peter said, because that was the line they all kept giving him. “With a dance off, right?”

“A most peculiar tactic, I agree,” Drax said. “I expected it to fail spectacularly, so you can imagine my surprise when you were successful.”

“Reassuring,” Peter told him.

Drax nodded intently. “It is how I have always been taught in my culture,” he continued, unprompted. “As unconventional as it seemed, your tactic of employing a dance-off was a strong example of the most basic battle advice.”

Peter looked at him, feeling a little hopeful. “To use your head?”

“No, certainly not! There was no genius in your foolish and ridiculous methods!” Drax said. “Not even an idiot would resort to a dance-off in the midst of battle!”

Peter felt his cheeks redden. “And here I thought it was going to be a compliment.”

“You utilized your strengths,” Drax told him, somewhat more gently now.

“Oh,” Peter said, bucking up a bit on the bed. “Well, I always have been quick and creative under pressure.”

“No, that is not what I was referring to,” Drax said.

“Oh, well, I am a really good dancer--”

“Not that either,” Drax said. “Your physical strength is lacking and your mental capacity seems adequate most of the time, even if your judgment is often in question.”

Peter started to deflate again. “Those don’t sound like strengths…”

“They are not; they are unequivocal weaknesses,” Drax said, as if such a declaration would make Peter feel better. “But your ability to embrace your own weak and pathetic tendencies has proven itself useful in battle time and again.”

Peter, for a second, could only stare.

Drax had been trying to be nice to him, that much was clear.

But why did Peter feel so much worse?

“If I’m so bad, then why are you here?” he asked, with a huff of incredulity. He gestured around. “Why are any of you here on my ship?”

Drax furrowed his brow, looking concerned suddenly. “Your ability to turn weakness into success is something I find admirable,” he said. “You are the only idiot I have found worthy of tolerating. Most of them, I simply kill.”

Peter wished that was a joke.

It wasn’t.

He just knew it wasn’t.

Because that was the kind of luck Peter had.

“Thanks,” he said meekly. “I think.”

Drax crossed toward him, slapping him heartily on the shoulder. True, Peter had a head wound, but it didn’t make much different. The slapping still hurt because the dude was built like a brick.

He could only deduce, therefore, that he’d kept this maniac on board because he was too scared of being killed to ask him to leave.

That sounded about right.

“It is my pleasure, Peter Quill!” the man said with a hearty roar. “This has been a most engaging talk! One of our best!”

Peter gave him an awkward smile. “Okay.”

Drax nodded, apparently fully content. “You should have amnesia more often,” he said. “I find your company most stimulating when you have no memory of our relationship.”

“Oh, sure,” Peter said, trying to sound nonchalant while the crazy strong possible psycho killer was in the room with him. “I’ll work on it.”

Drax grinned his entire way out the door.

Peter considered the possibilities. Maybe Drax had a point; amnesia could have its benefits.

Like if he could forget this whole conversation ever happened.

-o-

That was when they left him with Groot.

Now, Peter had tried to make nice with the angry raccoon. He had tried to be friendly to the oversized maniac.

But a miniature tree?

That smiled and waved and said “I am Groot” a lot?

Peter had seen some weird shit ever since being abducted from Earth and running with Yondu’s crew, but this took the cake.

Because sure, why not have a crew of misfits and criminals?

And why not throw in a tiny sequoia just for kicks.

“So,” Peter said, “Groot, huh?”

The little tree had settled on Peter’s blanket, and he smiled up at Peter eagerly. “I am Groot.”

The others had told him that those three words were all Groot would say. That was fine, as far as Peter could tell, except for the fact that they expected him to sit here and talk to it with nothing but those three words to go on.

“What do you do on the team, then?” he asked. “I mean, there has to be some sort of reason you’re here.”

Groot’s wide eyes were eager. “I am Groot,” he said, quite emphatically, staring at Peter as if he expected some kind of response.

Peter made a face, his smile faltering too bad to salvage. “I got to admit,” he said. “I have no idea what you’re saying.”

Groot tilted his head. “I am Groot?”

“No, seriously,” Peter said. “You’re saying three words. And you’re a tree. I’ve got nothing.”

Honestly, it was less than nothing. For all that he’d wanted a crew of his own growing up, for all that he’d dreamed of filling Milano with loyal teammates -- this wasn’t part of the picture. Not this talking tree, not any of it. Because what the hell kind of team was this?

And how the hell did they get anything done with a small tree that was likely to get smashed the moment they did anything?

What was this stupid mess he’d created for himself?

Sure, he’d wanted to prove himself to Yondu; that was why he’d been trying new stuff on his own.

But this?

Only proved that he was a hopeless idiot without Yondu.

He looked at the eager tree again, as if to confirm his self loathing.

Hopeless.

Idiot.

Groot slumped down, looking dejected. “I am Groot,” he muttered sadly.

Three words, that was all Groot had.

Peter, as it turned out, only needed two.

-o-

Not only did they have raccoons and trees.

They had an insect.

Gamora quietly explained that they had picked up Mantis on their last mission.

Peter could only think: of course they had.

“How long have you been with us, then?” Peter asked. The timeline was still a little vague to him. He hadn’t quite pinpointed how much time he’d lost, and how maybe he’d made a conscious choice to block out the last few months because, honestly, no one would blame him.

“Oh, just a few months,” Mantis said. “I am afraid we are not that close yet, but I do feel very grateful to you and all that you’ve done for me.”

“Well, I am the hero,” Peter said. “Apparently.”

His lackluster attitude didn’t seem to phase her.

If anything, she smiled more. “I understand that this is very difficult for you.”

“That is one of the things about amnesia,” Peter said. “It’s difficult.”

“I know,” she said. “That is what I’ve sensed from you.”

Peter was looking at her, utterly distracted by her glowing antenna. “I’m sorry, what?”

She laughed girlishly. “They have not told you, then?”

“That we’re heroes? That I have a talking raccoon building bombs? That there’s a maniac running around that could kill me with his bare hands? That the tree only says three words?” Peter asked with a nonchalant and ever ironic shrug.

“No,” she said. “That I am an empath.”

Peter opened his mouth.

All he could think of were curses.

That hardly seemed appropriate.

“I got a full read on you when you greeted me with that handshake,” she explained. “I had no idea just how difficult this was for you! Your emotions are all over the place!”

“You,” Peter started. He swallowed uncomfortably. “You can read my mind?”

“No, your feelings,” she said. “When I touch someone, I have full access. That is why most of you no longer shake my hand for pleasantries.”

Peter could feel the red rising in his cheeks. “And you...sensed my feelings?”

She leaned forward, ever sympathetic. “No one blames you for your lack of trust,” she said. “And I would never tell them how much you don’t like them.”

“Right, cool,” he said. “And where did we find you again?”

Mantis’ smile fell and she pulled back with an anxious glance toward the door. “I’m not supposed to tell you about everything.”

Now that was interesting.

Peter sat forward. “You’re not supposed to?”

“They want you to remember some of it on your own,” she explained. “They think it will be easier that way.”

“So, wait,” Peter said. “You are keeping something from me? All of you?”

“It is for your own good, Peter,” she promised. “Given the state of your emotions--”

Peter was shaking his head. “How am I supposed to trust you when I know you’re not telling me the truth?”

“Not all truths are equal,” she said. “That is a lesson I learned the hard way; a lesson you saved me to know.”

“What the hell kind of team is this, anyway?” Peter asked. Angrily, he swung his legs over the side of the bed and starting detaching the wires. “This whole thing is stupid, and you are all stupid, and there’s no way that I would have made a team like this, and if any of you think I’m going to continue to just lie here and take it while you make up truth out of your asses, then you’re--”

He stopped, happiness like warmth spreading through him.

He blinked slowly, looking down where Mantis was touching his forearm. He thought to be angry, but he couldn’t bring himself to feel it. He couldn’t bring himself to do anything at all.

“Hush,” she said, lifting her other hand to her forehead. “Sleep.”

And Peter did.

-o-

For a moment, when Peter woke up, he thought everything was back to normal. He was here, safe on his ship. Yondu would be coming for him.

Then he remembered.

Just how much he’d forgotten.

Wearily, he turned his head to the side. Instead of Yondu’s snarling expression, the green girl was poised next to him. Funny, how this seemed like the less desirable outcome.

“Hey,” she said, offering him a warm but sympathetic smile.

He couldn’t help but smile back. With all the crazy people he had somehow ended up with, she was at least the most approachable. While that could simply be due to the fact that she was the most attractive, Peter wasn’t sure it mattered. Really, Peter’s not exactly a quality judge of character.

But he knew crazy when he saw it.

And she at least didn’t make him fear for his life.

Mostly.

Licking his lips, he reminded himself that the little bug girl hadn’t seemed all that dangerous, and yet she’d leveled him flat on his ass. “What did she do to me exactly?”

“Just calmed you down, mostly,” Gamora explained. “It’s one of her many talents. She can give someone a short-lived impression of emotion. Normally I wouldn’t do it without your explicit permission, but it seemed less traumatic than a sedative. Rocket really wants us to watch your cranial swelling. You can’t be up and about, and I didn’t want to take any chances.”

Peter scowled, but it was probably noticeable that he didn’t try to get up. “Chances of what?” he asked, more surly than before. “Me kicking you all off my ship?”

His tone had intended to be biting.

Disappointingly, she was entirely nonplussed. “Of you dying.”

That was a good answer.

Damn it.

Peter could hardly hold that one against her. “Oh,” he said, oddly disappointed once again.

Drawing a breath, she pulled closer to his bedside. “Peter…”

He’d been through this all day with the others. He’d listened to the raccoon. He’d made small talk with the maniac. He’d played nice with the tree. And he’d let the stupid bug knock him out. And hell, he was counting on Kraglin’s testimony to validate anything.

That was about all he had the patience for today.

That was about all he had the patience for ever.

With a groan, he flopped back deeper into the pillows. “Are you going to tell me the story, too? About how we’re all heroes? How we’re somehow the good guys, and how we spend our time galavanting throughout the galaxy doing good deeds.”

She took that one as he’d intended it. Her expression darkened with a hint of sheepishness. “It’s not that simple,” she said. “I mean, we’re criminals. All of us. We’ve all done horrible things. But you -- you gave us a chance.”

“A chance to what?” Peter snapped back.

“A chance to give damn,” she said, almost chuckling to herself. “You gave us the chance to make ourselves better than we were. We’re more than the sum of our parts thanks to you.”

Sullenly, Peter glared at the wall, finding it oddly hard to meet her gaze. “That’s great,” he said. “But what makes you think this is all about you?”

At this, she stopped. He took some pleasure in that, knowing that he’d thrown her for a loop. He’d spent the last day being ten steps behind everybody, including the tree, and it was gratifying to know that these yahoos didn’t quite have everything figured out.

He didn’t take pleasure in the way she was looking at him. With such familiarity and understanding.

The realization visibly dawned across her features as she took in his implications and made herself comprehend.

Before she could ask him anything -- and God help him, he didn’t want her to say anything -- he shook his head. “It’s just a lot to buy into, is all,” he said. “Because I know who I am. And sure, it’s hard to believe all of you are reformed, but you know what? I’ve seen crazier things. And you’re all here, doing the right thing, so okay, fine. Maybe I believe that. But you know where you’ve lost me? Where none of it makes any sense?”

She was looking at him now, more intently still, and he dared himself to lift his eyes even as the flush crept up into his cheeks.

Shakily, he drew a breath. “You, telling me that I’m the leader,” he said. “That I’m the hero. That I’m the one you’re all following. That I’m the one that pulled you from a life of crime and made us the Guardians of the Galaxy.”

It looked a little bit like her heart was breaking, but Peter wasn’t sure how he knew that. He wasn’t sure why it would be.

He shook his head, surrendering the last of his composure. “I know how fast life changes in this galaxy, and I know how different things can be, but that?” Peter asked, shaking his head. “I’m a perpetual screw up. I haven’t done one thing right or good my entire life.”

Now, she sat forward earnestly. Her hand twitched, wanting to reach out, but it was plain to see that she forcibly kept it on her lap. “But you changed, Peter,” she told him. “I saw you change.”

“But that kind of change,” he started, not sure how to say it. “I mean, I’d have to forget everything about myself.”

She smiled, her eyes almost watery. “Or you just had to remember it.”

Damn it. He was almost as bad with irony as he was with emotions. With everything, the hard part was admitting that maybe he didn’t want to remember, that maybe it was easier this way, to live in a galaxy where Yondu was breathing down his backside and Peter was never expected to be anything but stupid.

“You told me once that you found something inside of you when we were together,” she said. “Something incredibly heroic.”

The way she said it, he could tell it meant something to her.

All the more reason to state the obvious: “I hate to burst your bubble, but that sounds like a pickup line. And a bad one at that.”

This made her smile, and Peter couldn’t fail to notice how pretty she was when she smiled. He couldn’t fail to notice that the familiar sensation in his gut wasn’t one he could clearly identify.

He knew it all the same.

“It was,” she said, still grinning at him. “But it was true, too. Because when no one else was willing to help, you were. When we were all out of ideas, you came up with something from nothing. You saved the galaxy with a dance-off simply because you refused to accept that it was over. I know you don’t remember any of that, but I do. Everyone on this ship does. And more people than you know across this galaxy know it, too.”

It wasn’t your stereotypical fairy tale, but Peter felt as out of place as Cinderella at the ball. Except he didn’t have a fairy godmother. Apparently, all he had was this group of misfits and the jarring realization that he would never be worthy of any of it.

Wetting his lips, he shook his head. “That doesn’t change anything.”

“Today, maybe not,” she agreed with a nod. “Tomorrow, maybe so.”

“But what if it’s permanent?” Peter ventured quietly. “What if I never get my memory back?”

“It doesn’t matter,” she returned, not missing a beat. “We’ll still help you remember the things that matter. You helped us change, Peter. Each and every one of us. Let us take this chance to return the favor.”

Just like that, he was out of arguments. All his protests about his own heroism, all his fear for facing life without Yondu, all his frustrations with the offbeat dynamic of his crew -- what did it matter? What was the point of fighting it? Because the thing was, Peter remembered most of his life, and most of it wasn’t worth shit.

The things Gamora was talking about, though? The memories he didn’t have?

As hard as they were to believe, they were better than anything else he had to fall back on.

Sure, being the good guy was a little weird. And okay, leading this band of weirdos was probably not without its difficulties. And he hated -- he hated -- the idea of working a job without Yondu as an emergency contact.

But if these people saw something better in him.

Then who the hell was he to disagree?

“Huh,” he said, playing absently with the sheet covering his legs.

She leaned forward, eyebrows arched curiously. “What?”

“Oh, you know,” he said, shrugging one shoulder off handedly. “I think I’m starting to understand why I keep you guys around.”

“You think we’re here to stroke your ego?” she asked, voice dripping with incredulity.

“Among other things,” he said.

She shook her head, rolling her eyes. “Of all the things you’ve forgotten, why couldn’t your sarcasm have been one of them?”

“Oh, like any of you should talk,” Peter said. “Murderers and assassins and talking raccoons.”

“We are more than the sum of our parts,” she said, bristling slightly.

“And thank God for that!” Peter crowed. “Or what kind of mess would we be in?”

She was smiling again, a small and controlled tip of her lips. Then, her expression turned sad, if only slightly, and Peter wasn’t sure how he knew her well enough to detect the difference.

Swallowing hard, she reached out, tentatively taking his hand and squeezing his fingers in her own. “There’s still a lot we haven’t told you,” she admitted. “And I mean, most of it is good, most of it is great….”

Peter cocked his head. “Most of it?”

“Sometimes I think it’d be easier if you never knew,” she said. “If maybe we’d be doing you a favor if we didn’t tell you everything.”

“Well,” he said, reaching his other hand over to cup hers. “I guess I’ll just have to take the good with the bad, then.”

Her face warming, her fingers curled into his.

She didn’t say anything.

She didn’t have to.

Whatever went unspoken between them, somehow Peter already knew.

-o-

It was impossible to say for sure, even in Rocket’s not-so-expert medical opinion, whether Peter’s memory returned due to environmental cues or reduced intracranial pressure. In truth, it was probably both, as Peter’s mind filled in the bits and pieces left unspoken in conversation with the others. Some revelations were easy -- like how Groot liked to steal his Zune, or why he even had a Zune in the first place -- and others -- like finding his father, killing his father, and watching Yondu die -- were a lot harder.

Part of his still wanted to forget. He wanted to forget the yawning emptiness when he thought of Yondu. He wanted to forget the rage he felt knowing his father had killed his mother. And he really wanted to forget, once and for all, the shame and powerlessness he felt knowing how much he missed Ego’s light.

But getting to know his team again, rediscovering his life.

He’d called them losers once, he remembered that.

Now, however, he could see that losing so much made them fight all the harder for what was left.

So yeah, the bad was pretty bad as far as Peter’s life was concerned. He had a lot of shit to work through.

The good, on the other hand -- well that’s so much better. He’ll never have to work through any of it alone.

Peter forgot that once, and it had nothing to do with a head injury.

Going forward, he resolved, he wouldn’t forget it again.

Comments

Posted by: digitalwave (digitalwave)
Posted at: December 12th, 2017 05:11 am (UTC)

This was truly beautiful! Thank you. :)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: December 14th, 2017 11:19 am (UTC)
gotg peter quill

I'm really glad you enjoyed it! I came away from this movie with so many feelings, and fic was the only way to explore them all :)

2 Read Comments