Title: They Pass By the Bridge and Me
Author: Kristen Sharpe
Date: October 30, 2017
Rating: G
Warnings: None except for spoilers for Vol. 2.
Continuity: Movieverse, set post Vol. 2
Disclaimer: "Guardians of the Galaxy" belongs to Marvel Comics/Studios, Disney, and various other parties.

Author's Note: One brainstorming session with a friend and one completely rabid plotbunny later, I've somehow written a story for this fandom. Title from Loreena McKennitt's "All Souls Night".

They’re two days and the first hundred jumps out from the dust of Ego’s planet when Gamora first sees the ghosts. This is nothing new. Ghosts have haunted her most of her life. Stalking through the thin spots of the universe where the realms touch.

Especially on nights like this. Her people knew it as the Night of Souls. Peter calls it Halloween, showing her a Terran calendar he has programmed into a small display.

It is the same night on all planets regardless of the position of the nearest sun or moon. It is an alignment on a greater scale. The realms drawing so close each is only a breath away.

Unsurprisingly, tonight’s ghosts are Ravagers. Recently dead and oozing with malice and frustrated ambitions. The mutineers Rocket and Kraglin mentioned.

She looks at them with cool eyes.

“You’ll have to get in line,” she tells them.

After decades of service to Thanos, she has too many righteous dead weighing on her soul to bother with twice thieves and murderers who betrayed their own.

She does worry about the other Guardians though. The boundaries are thinner still here at the edges of space, flickering between jump points. Even for those without her people’s sensitivity.

Especially for someone like Mantis.

She hurries to find the odd little empath.

But, Mantis is in the galley with Drax, who, whether he can truly see or not, is loudly urging her to laugh at any stupid spirits. His own laughter fills the corridors, joined by other, older ghosts of Ravagers past. Ghosts who long ago chose to stay for entertainment rather than revenge. It is safe there.

She moves on to Rocket in the engine room, but he too is laughing. And, surrounded by more than a few bottles of what must have been some Ravager’s secret stash.

“Oh, man, am I drunk!” he hiccups. “Hey, Gamora, somehow I hallucinated up this guy.” He waves toward a hulking ghost. “Can you believe he calls himself T—T—Taserface?” He howls with laughter and takes another swig from the bottle in his hand. “Oh, that still kills me!”

“I am Groot!” a small voice hiccups in apparent agreement, and Gamora levels a glare at Rocket as the tiny Groot tumbles from Rocket’s shoulder to kick at the ghost.

“We’ll discuss this when you’re sober,” she tells Rocket.

“Yeah, yeah,” he says, unrepentant. “Hey, you wanna join us in the Taserface Song?” Without waiting for an answer, he starts singing tunelessly. “I am Taserface, and I’m the stupidest Ravager that ever lived!”

Groot joins in, presumably singing the same lyrics in his own way.

Rolling her eyes, Gamora leaves, content there are no negative emotions here for the ghosts to feed on.

Her steps quicken as she searches for Peter. He’s probably retreated to his quarters with his new music device. But, even with that comfort, after Mantis, he would be the most vulnerable.

She thinks of Ego for a moment. Then, remembers the literal mountain of corpses within him and shudders. Ego’s spirit has far more to worry about than his own revenge.

She passes Kraglin, his face somber as always. He nods in acknowledgement and seems to see nothing beyond her. But, in her wake, she hears him mutter. “Knew the risks when you mutinied.”

It is quiet and full of as much guilt as satisfaction, but when she looks back, Kraglin’s face is calm and the ghosts are drifting away.

She supposes Ravagers are all too familiar with the restless dead.

Rounding the last corner to Peter’s quarters, Gamora stops at the sight of a single ghostly figure standing by the door. The ghost turns his head and smiles toothily.

“Don’t you worry ‘bout him, Missy,” he says. “I done told ‘im killin’ ‘im the second time would be easier’n the first.”

They share a smile, and Gamora relaxes. The malicious ghosts will find no foothold here on this ship slowly filling with life and laughter.

Oh, her ghosts are still there. They will stalk in later past the Ravagers and visit her as they always do. They will ask how she can possibly deserve this brightness, this family.

And, she will say that she doesn’t deserve it at all. But, she won’t let it go either.