spoilers i guess for groot

(Spoilers for GotG 2)

(I’m in too deep in this Afterlife AU, but I can’t seem to care about that.)  

It’s some time after… After - after a burning planet and the galaxy lighting up with colors to honor those they lost, and after their new crewmembers have started to settle in - that they start noticing it.

It’s Mantis who does first. Perhaps it’s because of her empathic abilities, or because her visitors are more curious than the others.

But it shocks all of them when Mantis, in the middle of a discussion where they should go next, suddenly whirls around in her seat, eyes wide and mouth open as if she would gasp or scream in the next moment.

“Mantis?” Peter carefully lays a hand on her shoulder, making her startle again, turning towards him. Behind him, the others have already reached for their weapons, ready to defend should there be an attack. “Are you okay?”

“Y-Yes. I am alright,” despite saying that, Mantis looked around still, as if searching for something – someone – who wasn’t there. “I just thought I had heard something.“

 

Children’s laughter in the air, a familiar but almost forgotten voice calling out her name…

“Shhh! Now you startled Mantis!”

“I didn’t mean to!”

 

The Guardians almost forget about it again. It’s not the weirdest thing they have ever experienced, far from it.

Sometimes, though, they start wondering. Sometimes, they hear something – a whisper, a laugh, a whistle – but it’s always gone again when they turn around in a hurry, looking for the familiar - loved, lost - source of it.

Sometimes, Peter’s music, thrumming through the speakers, suddenly switches to another song, although no one was near the controls. Sometimes, something falls over, despite the fact that they were all too far away to have to have tipped it over, and makes them jump in shock.

Sometimes, when the lighting is just right, there is something, just a glimpse, a shadow or reflection of someone long gone, before they blink and it’s gone again.

 

After some time, they just start accepting and rolling with it, realizing that it’s nothing bad that is happening to them.

Mantis starts smiling, although still a bit unpracticed at it, when she hears the sound of little feet and children’s laughter trail down the hallway although there is no one there.

Rocket doesn’t bristle in shock anymore when one of his tools just rolls a bit closer as if on its own when he reaches for it.

Groot giggles merrily when the ghost of a touch strokes over his head, a voice crooning lovingly to him.

Kraglin starts to keep his tears at bay when takes a sip of his drink and hears the echoes of roaring laughter and cheers directed at him from multiple throats.

Drax no longer reaches for his knives when there is a tiny hand slipping into his, or something like a kiss ghosts over his cheek.

Peter sings a bit louder along to his favorite songs when he believes to hear a higher, beloved voice joining his.

And when Gamora walks in one night, finding Peter and Kraglin and Groot and Rocket sleeping in a pile, snoring quietly, and the Yaka arrow is circling lazily above them, the ghost of a whistle holding it in the air (because it can’t be Kraglin controlling it, he’s asleep), and a voice singing gently to them, although Peter’s Zune has long since been turned off.

Gamora just smiles and whispers a thank you to the wind – thank you for being here, thank you for looking out for them…

And she’s very, very sure she hears an answer as she goes to grab a blanket for the boys… just a whisper, voices mingling in the wind before they’re gone again…

“Not that fer, girlie.”

“Tell our boys we love them, okay?”

The Guardians roll with it, because they know: They are going to be okay.

How could they not be, with all of their loved ones looking out for them?