Blame It On The Stars

Chapter 16

In which Udonta tries his hands at hair-styling and almost kills Kraglin. Again.

“What do I do now?” he asks Udonta meekly, once he’s splashed water on his face and feels like a person again, as opposed to a damp sack of shit.

Udonta boggles at him. “Hell if I know?” Kraglin flinches. Hears him sigh. “I ain’t taking over your life, rookie. Haven’t the time or the patience.” He pauses. “And, that’s kinda creepy.” He makes a valid point. Embarrassed, Kraglin dips his hands under the cool of the tap and smooths down his Mohawk until the person in the mirror looks presentable.

Udonta huffs. “You pinkies and your hair.”

This, Kraglin knows how to deal with. “You Kree and your crazy mass-murdering zealots,” he shoots back – then frowns at the expression on Udonta’s reflected blurry face. “What?”

“Kree?” Whoops. Well he had been thinking it was odd; Kree might be advanced, but he didn’t think they’d developed sound-responsive arrows yet. Udonta’s expression isn’t exactly amused or irritated, hovering somewhere between the two – so Kraglin sets to explaining himself.

“Well… you’re… blue?”

Udonta’s eyebrows cinch until he grows a dent in the middle of his forehead. “Ya think I’m Kree because I’m blue?”

Heck, he’s never laid claim to being politically correct. “It’s an honest enough mistake!” Kraglin argues. “I’m Nova, remember? Ain’t met all that many non-Kree blue folks, that’s all.” Udonta’s shaking his head at him. “What?”

“Just wondering how I lost that bet, that’s all.”

Kraglin scoffs. “You bet on four hours.”

“Yeah, I ain’t forgotten.”

“…Oh.” He scrapes his Mohawk over to one side, frowns at it, and recombs it to the center. He pulls the tin of gel out of his pocket, a shiny indulgent thing that he’d lifted from a stall at the station where Isla’d thrown that fateful party which, after a fortnight in Kraglin’s jacket, has dulled to grubby grey. Rubbings of dried gel dribble from under its lid like dags around a sheep’s ass. He scrubs them loose, unscrews the cap and sets to slicking himself up. Udonta watches in almost-fascination. And… Well, he owes him something. Kraglin smiles at him, tentative, and holds out the pot. “You, uh. Wanna…?”

He regrets it five minutes later. “That’s. Hm. Interesting.” Udonta, washing his gel-sticky hands under the tap and scowling at the residue gumming up his nail beds, turns a wounded glare on him.

“You don’t like it?”

“No, no, s'lovely. Just…” Kraglin pokes at the ridiculous three inch Mohican pronging up from the top of his head like a dorsal fin, and shapes the face beneath it into something other than horror. “I already have to duck to get through doors, y’know?” It’s a feeble excuse. And Udonta knows it. But his frown morphs into a snicker, and the not-Kree leans over and scrumples Kraglin’s hair into a bedridden muss. Kraglin groans around his laugh. “Hell, if this sets…”

“You’re gonna look very freshly fucked,” Udonta tells him, grin sharp and devilish and...

…And entirely kissable.

Kraglin’s next words die in his mouth. The pause is very, very nearly awkward. He did not just think that. He did not.

He is, for some reason, holding up his hand like he’s about to cup Udonta’s jaw.

“Um,” says Udonta. Kraglin jerks away.

“I oughta…”

“You oughta head back to Bridge.”

“Isla’ll kill me if I don’t…”

“Damn right.”

Neither of them step back. “This is a really bad idea,” Udonta mutters. Kraglin can’t tell which of them he’s trying to convince. But if he keeps talking like that, one of them’s going to remember that the door to the bogs isn’t locked, or that this whole place stinks of gastric gas and Shorro’s digested cooking, or that neither of them are expert practitioners of dental hygiene. It’s on Kraglin to take initiative. He settles his hand around the back of Udonta’s neck – Udonta side-eyeing his arm like he’s not quite sure what it’s doing there. Then he darts in, quick as a snake, and kisses him.

“Mmf –“

That noise is the first hint that this might not have been the best idea. The second is the knee that bounces sharply into his groin, and the third is the whistle.

Kraglin, chest protesting as he hacks up sour spit, almost falls. He manages to lock his knees before he runs himself through – again – on Udonta’s arrow. Which is flickering an inch in front of his nose. Also again.

“I thought we were past this!” he wails, once he’s certain opening his mouth won’t invoke vomit. Fuck, that hurts. Fuck, fuck, fuck. Like boiling water’s pouring into his stomach backwards. His hands are squeezed between his thighs, and he stands at a half-squat that’s the closest he can get to the fetal position without curling on the floor.

“The fuck d’you think you’re doing?” Udonta yells back, backed against the sinks. His arrow blazes brighter, so fierce that Kraglin has to squint to prevent temporary blindness. “You wanna eat a higher life form, ya go find someone who ain’t been named yet! Fuck!”

Kraglin lifts his blotchy red face, eyes scrunched as his crotch informs him that Udonta’s patella is forged from vibranium. “Eat?” he gasps. “Eat? What the fuck? What the fuck are you talkin' about?”

“You!” Udonta punctuates with a jab of the arrow. Kraglin holds his ground, in too much pain to contemplate ducking, and Udonta has to whistle again so that he doesn’t spear him in the forehead. “You were gonna bite me, you freak –“

Oh, this is enough. Kraglin glares past the arrow and hisses through trembling lips – “I was tryin' to kiss you! Fuck!” He spots the stupefied set to Udonta’s mouth. “Are you kidding me? How can you not know what a kiss is?”

Udonta growls and spins away, stomping through the puddles and dictating his speech to the sloped roof. “Course I fucking have! I ain’t retarded! But we’re Ravagers! Ain’t like Ravagers go around kissing each other, is it?”

That’s… true. The fight folds out of Kraglin. Excellent. He’s committed himself to a ship where crew are more likely to try and eat each other than make out.

“Udonta,” he says.

“Call me Yondu,” Udonta spits. “Ya just kissed me, I think we’ve reached that stage.”

“Yondu then.” He struggles upright, one arm pushed forwards so it doesn’t bump his tube, and tries not to wince too noticeably as his bruised bollocks resettle. The arrow hums, but doesn’t react. Kraglin’s gotten a hell of a lot better at apologizing over the last month, but most of the time it’s been insincere; it takes him a while to generate a genuine tone. “I shoulda asked beforehand, I guess. I’m… I’m sorry?”

Yondu snorts, back still turned. But the arrow retreats to its holster with a brusque whistle, allowing Kraglin to breathe (as easy as is possible with a punctured lung) once more. “Whatever,” he says. “Just don’t do it again.”

No kissing. He can handle that. Kraglin bobs his head. “Gotcha. Uh.” The question’s on his tongue; but how does one begin to ask? “What about… the other… stuff?”

Yondu spares him a flat look. “The other stuff.”

“The other stuff,” Kraglin affirms. His ears, for some reason, are getting hot.

Yondu’s frown looks like it’s struggling to maintain itself. “We’ll see.”

Isn’t pretending that the other person’s naked meant to stop you blushing? Perhaps this is the wrong situation. Kraglin coughs into his fist. “Tonight?”

“Next week?” Yondu offers instead. Nods to Kraglin’s busted chest – “After your lungs ain’t gonna deflate if I fuck you too hard?”

Kraglin... really should have considered that. Both the tube-issue, and the potential for him to be fuckee. “About that,” he says. Coughs again, although his airways are so clear that his inhalations scratch. “I ain’t really… I don’t think…”

“Aw,” Yondu mocks. He props his hands on his hips and cants forwards so that the watery yellow light outlines… well, everything. Stupid leather pants. “You scared?”

Just a little. Like hell is he going to admit it though. “Of your cock? As if!”

Yondu smirks to himself. “Good. Cause fair’s fair.”

Is that what this is about? Shaking his head, Kraglin assumes a similar position. “Hey, that don’t count. I don’t even remember!”

“Yeah, well my ass sure did the next morning. Call it payback.”

Kraglin remembers he’d been tender too, if in a different area. And the distinct lack of anything in his pockets that could have been used for lubricant. And the various dark insinuations that ‘payback’ might contain. “Y-you don’t mean…”

Udonta, taken aback at the sudden tremor in his voice, puckers his eyebrows like Kraglin’s a particularly infuriating jigsaw. “What don’t I mean?”

Kraglin swallows. “Is it gonna hurt?” He can’t meet Udonta’s eyes. There’s silence. Then a noisy sigh.

“Damn, what sorta nonsense are you filling your head with? I don’t go round fucking folks dry.” The way he says that is… well, rather accusatory. Bristling is the easiest way of banishing lingering embarrassment. Kraglin latches onto this escape with eagerness.

“I was drunk!” he protests. “You were drunk! Everybody was drunk! And you tried to murder me the next morning! Ain’t that payback enough?”

“’Payback’? That’s what you’re hung up on?” Yondu laughs, and Kraglin curses him for being so quick on the uptake. “If I was looking for revenge, you’d be lying squished in some rich fuck’s burial mound right now.” Kraglin shrugs in moody acquiescence. He’s not enough of a sore loser to refuse to grant him that. Although Yondu doesn’t stop there: “… Or poisoned by Varra. Or whipped by Dagada. Or with an arrow through yer skull in a bed on that crappy lil’ supergiant satellite – if it ain’t too thick for my arrow to get through, that is.”

Kraglin groans. “Alright, alright. I’m forever in your debt. Congratulations.”

“Don’tcha forget it.” Udonta’s grin is easy and familiar. Kraglin can’t stay hostile when confronted with that – he relaxes, running his fingers through his scruffy thatch in a last-minute attempt to get it to lay flat, and grimaces at how pink the face in the mirror is. Life must be so much easier when your blood matches your skintone.

“So, the lesson’s… What? Never take what you say seriously?”

Yondu’s fingers brush his arrow. “Only if you’ve gotta deathwish.” Right. “Lesson’s for you not to live your life thinking everyone’s out to get you.” A beat. “Well. I ain’t. Can’t speak for anyone else.”

Kraglin crooks up a corner of his mouth. “Better than nothing, I suppose.” He gives his hair one last pat, abandons it as a lost cause, and turns for the door. “I, uh, really should head for the Bridge. Or find Morlug.”

“Good luck with that last one.” Deeming that their moment of… whatever it was is over, Yondu heads for the cart and assesses his selection of solvents. He almost sounds sincere. Kraglin’s willing to take whatever well-wishing he can get – heaven knows he’ll need it.

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