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Process of Elimination

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“…and that’s why they think it was Black.”

“Wait, what? Why what was Black?”

Peter--Blue, for the sake of the undercover SHIELD mission he’d reluctantly accepted--sighs. “Pay attention, Red. Cyan’s been murdered. We found like half his body--”

“Which half?” Red asks, expertly flipping another pancake out of the pan to join the now-towering stack he’s been making for the past half hour. Peter would scold him for the waste of supplies, but Red’s so happy with his newfound cooking skills, he just can’t bring himself to pop Red’s bubble.

“The bottom half,” he says patiently. “It looked--”

“Well, it’s not Black. Black would only have eaten the head,” Red says with a shrug. Peter goes very still. “And Green would’ve smashed him into a fine paste, but eaten him? Naw. Now Yellow and White--kinda wouldn’t put anything past them, depending on the writer, except they’re not used to having stomachs. And Pink’s just in the wrong universe, so cut her some slack, eh?”

He’s…not going to ask how Red knows all this about their crewmates. He’s just not.

Red pours out the last of the pancake batter with a thoughtful hum. “I don’t guess Purple had eyes on Cyan from the vents?”

“Why would--wait, is Purple--”

“Weird? Paranoid? Being written as a cliché for comic relief?”

“So, not Purple, then.”

“Pfft. He’s like the only normal guy here. In fact…where did you find Cyan, anyway?”

“He was supposed to be assembling an artifact in the lab,” Peter says with a frown. “Why?”

Red sputters with hilarity. “Seriously? The glowy crystal thingies? He was messing with those?”

“Uh…yeah? I mean, y'know, he was kinda new, so we gave him an easy job--”

Red hoots. “Easy! Okay, Mister Clever Monkey Fingers, I want you to think back real careful to the first time you saw me trying to empty the trash and tell me how smart you think turning someone like me loose on glowing alien tech sounds.”

“Shoot,” Peter says with a wince. “You think he blew himself up?”

“Yeah, probably. Fuck knows I’ve done it enough times. Oh, well. Saves me the bother of keeping him in line, right?”

The smooth face of Red’s suit cracks open on a jagged grin that devours half his head. Unhinging his jaw, he swipes out his lance-like tongue, spears half the stack of pancakes at once, and swallows them whole, patting his stomach after with a satisfied rumble. He doesn’t even growl when Peter pulls a fork from the drawer, just pushes the plate and remaining pancakes his way, trilling almost shyly in invitation.

The others may be a little leery of Red’s cooking, but Peter just tucks in, moaning in appreciation at the first bite. Trust a species with an intense focus on food to be fantastic cooks once they finally grasp the mechanics.

The smug, cavernous purr that vibrates into his bones as Red wraps around him settles a different warmth inside him, and he leans back, lets Red take his weight, and doesn’t think twice about the sharp tongue that slithers under his mask to lap at the base of his throat.