Slummin' In the City

May 13, 2017:

Cap comes across a strange sight amidst the natural wildlife that is Zoo York.

Midtown Manhattan - New York City

Situated between 14th and 59th Streets, Midtown Manhattan is *the* tourist destination in New York City. It is also the largest central business district in America. Most of the tallest skyscrapers in the city can be found here, from the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings to Stark Tower and the Baxter Building. It's also home to Times Square, Broadway, and Fifth Avenue.

In the day, the traffic is non-stop. In the evening, bright neon light light up the street such that it looks as if the sun simply doesn't set on the city. But, then, there's a reason New York is called The City that Never Sleeps. This, right here, is it.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

"And that's why if we want to make a /strong/ nation, we need /hydra-/ation, so make sure to drink your water this summer. Combine that with our-"

The brief pause is met with children showing "STRANGER DANGER VISION"

"And with our-"

!"

Cue hoards of screaming children yelling "PLAY TO WIN PLAN!"

"We'll have the greatest summer ever. Look forward to seeing how heroic your summer will be!"

Cue final round of kids screaming and one substitute teacher attempting to shout out her phone number over the cheers.

Making his way out from P.S. 290 Manhattan New School after giving a Summer Safety Speech, Captain America dressed in his usual uniform is flanked by a couple of SHIELD agents. Calmly, they begin to point out the car that is making its way to their location, as the two men with bald heads clasp their hands together in a very professional pose. Meanwhile, Rogers just looks about with his blue eyes, taking in the city. There are people stopping and staring, but it's clear that they are going on with their lives. People messing with groceries, people walking their dog (or paying someone ELSE to walk their dog), or people just being with loved one or their kids as they go on with their lives.

As Captain America enjoys the 'Slice of Life' moment, that seems somehow soothing to him in spite of NYC's noise, he manages to give a small but gentle smile, as if wishing this moment of 'people being people' could just last forever.


Unfortunately for Captain America, his peaceful scene of 'slice of life' is about to get horribly shattered. And thrown into a mulcher, bull-dozed, and finally tossed into an incinerator.

"GET YER STINKIN' FUZZY-FACED CHILDREN TO BACK OFF OR NEXT TIME IT WON'T BE A WATER GUN!" comes a scratchy but well-meant threat that effectively pierces through the general New Yorkian ambiance, earning more than a few head turns. With all the people around, it might take some effort, but just like your typical, jolly-themed puzzle pictures where you have to search for a strange, bespectacled man in a red and white sweater amongst hordes of people he should have absolutely no reason to socialize with, one would eventually spy what's wrong in this otherwise picturesque view of city life.

There's a raccoon, fully clothed, standing in a battle-ready stance with a Super Soaker gun nearly as long as he is tall. It's aimed at a quivering greyhound who looks like it's already felt the brunt of the tiny Guardian's liquid ammo. As promised, Rocket's got his other hand ready to reach behind him for the other rifle slung across his back, which even from a distance doesn't look terribly plastic nor kiddie-safety-obscenely-colored. Perhaps for good reason does he take such an offensive position, being ringed by several dogs and a hapless dogwalker who's torn between trying to rein the canines back, call for help, and take a picture single-handedly with their cellphone because 'o-m-g Mary you will not be/lieve/ what happened to me while I was taking the dogs out this afternoon!'

Rocket's not just trying to keep the dogs away from him, however. He seems to have stationed himself in front of a rather oddly placed tree.


Like a very tall, three-dimensional shadow, the tree called Groot leaves the yelling and defending from weird-looking canines to his smaller furred friend. Looking away from the ruckus, he appears a little distraught, maybe even a little preoccupied with whatever has happened seconds earlier.

Because sometimes it sucks to be a tree. Especially if one is a /sentient/ tree.

"I am Groot," he sighs with a low yet thoughtful rumble resonating at the end of his comment as he inspects his legs. Maybe he should be slightly offended by being mistaken as a normal tree? But it's not their fault, he thinks. They're simple creatures. They don't know any better, but where is the sense of responsibility here??? Certainly not with the dogwalker who wants to take a picture of them.

…Which he can't help but give a small wave in anticipation of an actual captured moment. It's out of habit.


There is a long stare as Steve tries to take in exactly what he is witnessing. The two SHIELD agents are already speaking into their comm systems. "We have a 91-O-21, we need a-"

"I think I have this," Rogers begins, already walking toward the odd tree and its faithful protector, leaving the other two SHIELD agents to just watch and give the 'arms folded as they watch behind their sunglasses' look. Steve doesn't take his shield out, but considering he has no idea what he is dealing with, he's certainly glad that he has it.

"Hold on, hold on here… No need to get hostile," Captain America begins. "I'm sure we can work out something here where the animals will leave you alone, Mister…" He leads off, figuring that being will give a name. After all, Rogers is just chalking this up as a really tragic human mutation, which is likely better than just presuming that this is a talking raccoon.

There is another long pause as Steve processes that there was another voice. "I am who?" he states, trying to find the being within the tree that spoke and caused one of the limbs to move. It almost looked like a wave!


"'ey ya dumb Terran! You quit thumbing your phone and move your mutts or you're gonna need an upgrade reeeal soon!"

The dogwalker actually looks offended, or terrified, maybe both. There's the tell-tale sound of a digitized photo being taken as she stares. Then she tries to wrassle the dogs anew.

"I'm tellin' ya, Groot, you should wear pants or something- oh hey." Rocket turns his head towards the Terran that's approaching them, still side-eyeing the dogs who are not making much of an effort to move away. "…the hell are you," the raccoon says as he looks Captain America up and down. "That Halloween thing ain't until fall, right? -oh, I get it." He nods. "One of those 'con' things, huh? We needa check one of those out, huh Groot."

It occurs to him that he's being spoken to. Rocket, with watergun still propped up, looks at Cap, furry brow arching. "Rocket. No 'mister's here. Name's Rocket. And that's Groot," he says, moving his other hand away from his rifle to jerk a thumb back at the tree.


"I am Groot," Groot replies matter-of-factly to Rocket's suggestion of pants. That would make him look silly. And what if they don't have pockets? A real travesty, that. Although he's not opposed to trying it out. Maybe one of these days they'll have to stop by a clothing store…

And here is when the guy with the shield appears. Although the tree nods in accordance with the raccoon's guesses about Halloween or conventions going on at the time, he seems to be squinting at good ol' Steve Rogers. Squinting. It's like a cross between noticing someone familiar and not exactly pinpointing who it is and plain old 'whoa what the hey' and a little 'hey, I want a costume too.' "I am Groot."


There is a double take as it becomes all too clear that the tree is actually, well, it's still a tree. Maybe that Lord of the Ring geek was right and there ARE Treants on Earth. But all it takes is a clearing of his throat and Steve is back on point. "It seems you from aren't around here," Steve replies to Rocket as the sincere smile begins to get a hint forced. The voice is still practiced and polite, however. "Either way, it's good to meet you Rocket and Groot." A hand is extended to both, his tone chirper as ever. "I'm Captain America. It's not a Halloween costume, though some people dress as me for Halloween. This is my uniform."


Rocket shoots Groot a look over his shoulder at the tree one's intonation. "Eh, whaddya mean you think you know him?" He peers back at Captain America, squinting beneath his bushy brows.

"Wow, we're talkin' with a real genius here," he mutters, but he puts out a hand- the one not armed with a water weapon of doom- to shake the man's hand in turn. Then he blinks. "Captain Ameri- OH! That guy we saw on TV!" He brings his hand thoughtfully to his chin, stroking it as he eyes the supposed Captain with more scrutiny. "You look a lot different in person."


Groot gestures at Steve, making a little air circle with his branchy hand. "I am Groot!" It seems he explains everything in three words. There's a nod once Rocket remembers, almost snappointing as he extends a hand to shake the captain's.

His handshake may come on too strong, being a tree and all, but he means well. A genuine smile crosses his bark-covered features. "I am Groot."

He has to agree with his friend, though — he's so used to thinking Captain America is taller than he is in real life.


There is a confused look as Captain America looks from the tree to the genetically engineered creature as they speak to one another. "I take it I'm missing something from Groot's conversation," he points out, squinting really hard as if he did it hard enough he could 'see the conversation'. It doesn't work. But he does give the handshake to each, barely flinching at Groot's strong grip. He's used to some people being like that. Like Namor. The jerkface.

"As for myself, yeah, I get that a lot, but yeah, this is who I am with my real height," Steve admits with a grin. "In any case, is there anything I can do to help you both out since you seem a little lost?" This is Nice Steve attempting the 'WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU DOING IN NEW YORK MESSING WITH DOGS'.


"He said you look a lot taller on TV," Rocket supplies, at least finally shouldering the water blaster so it isn't being aimed at dogs. It looks like the dogwalker's finally managed to wrangle her charges away, although not without a few shots of Captain America (OMG I met CAPTAIN AMERICA) and even a few of those ill-aimed selfies as she's led away by the dogs.

Nodding to himself, the raccoon who most decidedly proclaims he is /not/, gives a snort at Captain Steve's assumptions. "Naw, we're fine. We were just seein' the sights. Not our first time in town, but Groot wanted to catch a musical. Something about singing presidents or something dumb, I dunno," he exclaims, shrugging. Any implications from Cap are seemingly lost on him. Most likely pointedly ignored.


It's very easy to get lost in Groot's side of the conversation. He doesn't blame anyone for not being able to understand his language; no one has been lucky enough to get stuck with him as long as Rocket has, and he's glad to have these interpretations available. For the betterment of the galaxy! Or something like that.

After acknowledging the fact Steve is the height he is, the alien tree nods enthusiastically, pulling out a magazine he found on Zatanna's coffee table. From where is another question, but probably one better left unasked. He unrolls it, pointing at its curled cover with a bright "I am Groot!" It sounds different from Quill's choice of musics, but he thinks he likes the snippets he's heard.


"I think you're referring to Hamilton. It's not as historically accurate as I'd like," Rogers states as he folds his arms in thought. He looks over and confirms it as he studies the cover of the magazine. "But I appreciate any art that reminds people of the important and rich American history that we share." As he looks to Rocket and Groot, the Star-Spangled Man with a Plan considers. "If you really wanted, I suppose I could try and pull some strings, see if you both could get tickets for yourselves and a friend. They've offered me tickets multiple times, sure I could let you go in my stead as well or keep you company." You know, to make sure the two don't wreck a theater. While a Nice Guy, Steve is wary and until SHIELD tells him exactly who he's dealing with, he knows it could be anything from well meaning people to villains who enjoy eating humans for breakfast.

"Sound like a plan to the pair of you?"


Arms folding, Rocket arches a brow at the man in red, white and blue. "Heh~~~ Ya hear that, Groot? I think he's makin' it worth our while!" The raccoon had been a bit leery about their ability to get tickets and he wasn't looking forward to dishing out more than necessary to scalpers or whatever they were called. Jerks. That'd totally be his gig there.

"And I guess we could put up with you. Whaddya say, Groot?" he asks, looking up at his tree friend.


Groot gasps, clasping his hands around the magazine with as much delight a tree can give. Quick glances dart between the raccoon and the Star-Spangled Man, that smile growing wider by the second. "I am Groot!" It totally saves them the trouble of going through third parties! A direct connection, who would've thought?

With that, he hastily grabs for Steve's hand, shaking it again with a dose of gratitude. "I am Groot!" he promises, thanking the man happily.


The hand is shaken and Rogers is thankfully strong enough to take the excited handshake. "As I said, I'll have to check with my people and see what's possible. Is there a way I can contact you both?" The question is targeted more at Rocket since he seems the one actually able to provide said information. "It might have to be tomorrow or the day after. The show is pretty popular and want to make sure you have good seating." Or more importantly keep Groot from having someone shout 'DOWN IN FRONT' at him for four hours.

And Rogers gets contact information in case he finds out there is an issue with these people. It's odd that Rogers gets that vibe of dangerous from these two… They seem kinda alright at the moment. Well, at least the tree does.


Yeah, it's totally not the fact that Rocket carries something that looks like a weapon and something that looks like a weapon but actually a water gun. Then again it could be a water gun too, right? Except that the raccoon had hinted that it wasn't when he was threatening dogs earlier. Oh, but kids say the darndest things!

Pff. Kids.

But surely someone like Captain America wouldn't be so underhanded as to try doing a background check on them. "Oh, sure," Rocket says as he fishes out a cellphone from a pocket. He taps at it a few times because claws and fur make for a tricky combination on these tactile screens.


It doesn't matter to Groot where he's able to sit. So long as they can get in, he's good with any arrangement. But he does nod, understanding what Steve means by this; popular shows do tend to have that kind of effect. His space journeying proves that to be applicable to any planet having something great going down.

The tree watches as Rocket pulls out the phone, quietly replacing the magazine back into…who knows where. It's gone again. "I am Groot?" he then asks hopefully, pointing at the phone before gesturing at them and himself.


Thankfully for Cap, all he has to do is saying talking tree and talking raccoon and SWORD will do all the work for him. Not like there is any other team on Earth like them, after all. As a sign of good faith (and perhaps poor wisdom), Cap says, "Here is my number as well, if you need something, let me know."

For those wondering, 19 phone numbers have been given to Cap because he has given out his number to too many people and SHIELD has to do damage control.

"Either way, I'll let you know when the tickets are available. It will just be the two of you, right?"


That's probably a good thing since there's no guarantee that Rocket won't try prank-calling at some point. You know, when he gets bored. Not from his own phone either, of course. He's not that dumb. That number might also end up scrawled on a wall somewhere, but really, how many people ever actually dial those things?

"Great. It's settled," the tiny Guardian says as he finishes punching in Cap's number. "And yeah, just us." He looks sidewise at Groot then before sighing. "Groot wants to take an ussie. Is that what they call 'em? Somehow that don't sound right. Terrans and their weird slang."


"I am Groot," Groot replies, holding up two fingers to help confirm the transaction. And he's very sure 'ussie' is a thing. Very sure. "I am Groot!"


A brow is arched as they mentioned the thing the two want taken. For most people, they'd be able to figure it all out, but considering that Steve is a Man Out of Time, the slang of the modern age isn't a fluent language for him. Besides, it isn't like he's the sort to take selfies anyway. He blinks a couple of times in confusion as he looks from Groot to Rocket as if trying to gleam more information from them. "An… 'Ussie'," he repeats, hoping the slightly unsure tone will mean Rocket will be clarifying exactly what the two mean.


"Yeah, you know- all the rage with you Terrans," Rocket says, waving a hand dismissively. He taps at his phone again, bringing up the camera and flipping its focus around so that it'll show their faces on the screen side. "Honestly, I dunno what's so hard with saying you wanna take a picture with someone." Shaking his head, he holds the phone to Groot. "Here, you got better reach. Every time I try taking those dumb things my nose ends up looking huge."


The tree obliges as Rocket explains, getting a good grasp on the phone to see which angle will work best. "I am Groot," he says to his little friend. He doesn't think Rocket's nose looks bad when he does the photo.

And like magic, his arm grows and extends, encircled with newer root-like bunches to support the length from his body. Look at that, a built-in selfie stick!

The angle of the phone is adjusted one more time, tilting to one side as Groot shifts to fit in all three subjects for the 'ussie.' "I am Groooot!"


There is only a simple "oh" that escapes the Captain as he just gives a picture perfect smile as he looks toward the camera, moving in close to Groot and keeping the treeman between himself and Rocket. Just seems safer. The American Icon doesn't understand why people can't just ask someone to take the picture for them, but well, with time comes change and the selfie is just part of it, Steve supposes. But such rants are a tale for another time.


"Cheeeese-" Rocket says, grinning in the most insincere manner ever before he drops right out of it again. "Why the heck do they even say that anyway, that's just dumb." Depending on how many shots Groot manages to snap in that time, he might get a bunch of scowly raccoon, which is pretty typical.

"Here, gimmee that," he says, grabbing for his phone again so he can paw through the pictures. "Look'it this. Do they have a school for that or somethin'? Training for how to smile for a picture? If you weren't just taking these with us now I'd say this was editted."


They're lucky that Groot had taken several shots just in case the first two somehow ended up blurry. Tree fingers can be troublesome with this kind of tech, too. "I am Groot," he comments, peering over the shoulders of Steve and Rocket as the latter goes through the pictures quickly. As far as he can tell, that's just how they naturally look. It's not one hundred percent perfect, but it's not awful.


"Just a lot of practice for the smile," Steve confides to Rocket as he rubs the back of his head. "As for saying cheese, it is to help people make a natural smile by saying the word if they struggle to do it on their own." Cap only knows this because he researched it himself. He never got many pictures taken before he became Cap after all. "Either way, I should likely get going, I have a few places I need to be before I call it a night. But I'm sure you'll be fine and not hurt anyone on your way home, right?"

Silently, Rogers hopes they say 'Yes' and aren't lying. After all, Alien Sitting wasn't on his To-Do List tonight.


That would explain the abundant pictures of bark that Rocket has to go through and delete now and then. It's pretty telling as to which shots are by Groot and which are from Rocket.

"Practice," the 'coon mutters, but he stuffs the phone into his pocket again. "Oh, you taking off? All right then." It wasn't like they'd made it a point to distract the guy from his business anyway, whatever business that was. America's poster boy? Toothpaste commercial model?

"Yeah, sure. We'll be fine, don't worry 'bout us," Rocket assures, waving a hand at the man.


Who needs pre-loaded filters when you can have natural tree obscurities in each photo? (Yeah, he does need to work on that.)

Groot wants to suggest a taco combo deal promotion as one of Steve's stops, but he doesn't know. Instead, he nods and waves, saying one last "I am Groot" to wish the man well. This can also be used as a sign of thanks for the impromptu hangout. They'd have to try doing this again sometime.

Besides, what harm can two unsupervised Alien beings do?

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