The Second Sort of Day

July 10, 2017:

The Guardians of the Galaxy get a visit from their new parole officer.

Dairy Queen, Gotham City

Hot eats, cool treats, and space.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Thor, Zatanna Zatara, Kitty Pryde

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Of all the places one would find a giant tree person, a roguishly handsome and awesomely dashing space pirate, and a talking trash panda, DQ would not be one of them. I mean really. Laying low is not going to DQ for burgers and fries.

…but really. No one told Peter Quill and his crew that.

And they were totally hungry!

And Peter wanted a Blizzard.

So set up in a corner booth(the only ones in the resturant actually, apart from the staff that seem to be staring and whispering at each other behind the counter) the red coated ship pilot sprawls out on his side of said booth.

One hand reaches out to snatch up a fry and toss it into his mouth. His eyes fixed on the pair of rogues across the table from him.

"So…" His eyes flick between Rocket and Groot. "…a race?" He munches on a second fry. "And you want to borrow the Milano for it?" A longer pause.

"Didn't the last three ships you flew ANYWHERE explode?"

*

…they were supposed to lay low? No one ever told him that! And really, do you know how difficult it is for a walking tree to do that? The most effort Rocket's put into it is dressing in casual clothes. It's convenient that they make kiddie-sized clothes that looks more fit for grown-ups. And shoes!

Having devoured a chilidog with great fervor, Rocket now lounges back in the booth seat, sitting on the outside edge of it since he and Groot share one, given that Peter's hogging one whole seat to himself. He slurps his drink noisily, his fuzzy brow furrowing as he squints across the table at their resident Star-Lord.

"Hey! They did not all explode! And one of those last three is the Milano in case you forgot, which is still functional last time I checked!" He snorts, setting his cup down with a sound thunk. "As for that necroship thing, it didn't explode either. It got rammed by that what's it called thing. I've been working on it but let's face it, it's not the Milano."

*

There's a quick explanation behind the tree's lack of disguise. It's a case of Extreme Method acting. And by all accounts, it appears to make sense. Mostly.

But someone's a little too preoccupied with his own Blizzard while the other two Guardians chat about potential racing opportunities. Groot eyes the blue cup as he holds it upside-down, tentatively shaking it to see if the claims of such a treat is as they say in their snappy little commercials.

Lo and behold, it stays in place.

"I am Groot," he says in awe, tilting the cup this way and that before letting it sit back upright on top of the table between the piles of fries and chicken strips. It's here he blinks, just now tuning into what Rocket is saying about the explosions and the necroship. "I am Groot."

*

There are days when Phil Coulson's career looks like the consummate James Bond movie. He gets to ride around in a cool car, pull out various high-tech bits and bobs, pretend to be other people, get into places that don't want him inside, and dress in sexy suits. Sometimes he even gets to say a neat one-liner, though nobody ever hands those to him. He only gets those when he recognizes the opportunities, and seizes them with a carpe diem like flair.

Other days are more like a consummate episode of literal Supernanny, which is why he so often uses that show as a threat. Because a surprising subset of the 'super' set really does need a nanny.

He has his bets on what kind of day this one is going to turn out to be.

Still, the smile on his face is unruffled and gives away nothing as he walks up to the counter and gets the attention of the shell-shocked waitresses. He orders a Peanut Buster Parfait, primarily because he is a fan of the classics. He also flashes his badge so they will all know they are safe. It was a call to SHIELD's "See Something (Weird), Say Something (Now)" hotline that let him know that the subjects of a very strange conversation he had with the Asgardians about four days ago were in fact somewhere that he might intercept them. And not just the one who apparently works at a Gotham City bar, but…the whole set.

Once he has his treat, he slides into the seat next to Peter Quill. "Hiya," he says casually. "Agent Phil Coulson, SHIELD. Sorry to interrupt."

He flashes his badge to them, too, before tucking it away and digging his bright red plastic spoon into his fudge-and-nut topped concoction like he hasn't a care in the world.

*

"Oh right they didn't all explode. Some just crashed." Peter shoots back at Rocket as he chomps viciously down on a fry. It knows what it did to deserve that. "And of course that necrosized piece of garbage isn't the Milano. Ain't nothing like the Milano! Espicially after she got this last upgrade."

A frown towards the pair of them. "How the hell did you two find out about this race thing anyway? I'm gonna assume people didn't post flyers…"

A glance towards Groot as he plays with the Blizzard. "Yeah! You tell him, thank you Groot!"

No idea what he said but totally gonna just run with it. That's the Peter Quill way!

However just as he picks up a new fry to point towards Rocket they are all interrupted by…a suit.

With a parfait.

"…oh man…we didn't even do anything this time." A pause as he glances towards Rocket and Groot. "…wait. You two didn't do anything did you? I mean blow up anything important enough for people to call a suit on us…"

Gesture at Phil.

He's obviously a suit.

"…no offense." A pause again. "What the heck does SHIELD stand for anyway?!"

*

"Oh please, he only said explosions are bad!" Rocket not quite growls back at Peter. "-and they're only bad if they happen to stuff you don't want exploded," he amends as he turns an eye towards Groot. Then he moves to grab a handful of fries to shove in his mouth. Don't matter if they were Pete's order in the first place. They're family. They share. Except when they don't.

"Anyway, it ain't a Terra thing. 'sall over the galaxy- called the IRJ- Interstellar Racing Jam. Caught a few ads beamed out and apparently they've got their sights on this solar system for the event this time."

Reaching for his drink again, Rocket starts to suck up what's left of it when they have a self-invited guest. He pauses, squinting at the guy who's settled himself next to Peter.

"…so who's this guy?" he asks, near simultaneously with Quill's groaning. Rocket doesn't look the least bit impressed, and the sentiment's practically dripping in his tone as he arches a brow at the man. "What. You just drop a name, flash a shiny thing like some secret operative and expect that to be that? Friend'a yours, Quill?" Apparently such is not the case as Peter makes his own inquiry of the man. "-okay, if he's not, he can shove off and we'll just get back to enjoying our meal."

*

Between the three of them, the tree alien learned it was better to just let the other two do what they did. Even if there was some 'lost in translation' moments, he decided to roll with it, allowing Rocket to recorrect anything he added to the conversation. Broad shoulders shrug, but he nods sagely, gathering together a large scoop of Blizzard to bite into.

In the middle of sticking that spoonful of brownie goodness into his tree maw, Groot pauses when they're joined by a fourth party, staring almost blankly at the flash of the man's badge.

And then he stares at the parfait. That may be something he'd want to try next.

The spoon eventually returns en-route into the void, the plastic mutely clunking between a set of wooden teeth. He's clearly perplexed by all of this, but he doesn't seem to mind it too much. He sort of wants to know what this guy has out for them.

*

Phil — who takes no offense to being called a suit, for he is in fact wearing one, though he skipped the tie so he could unbutton a few buttons today in concession to the heat — sits up a little straighter when he's asked what the acronym stands for. It doesn't happen very often, after all. Peter's reaction produces a flash of amusement in his hazel eyes, but he decides to answer the question. Rocket's reaction? The spectacle of a giant tree enjoying America's Favorite Treat?

Doesn't phase him one bit. He listens to the not-raccoon's tirade blithely, just enjoying fudge and peanuts and delicious vanilla ice cream, cool as a cucumber.

"It stands for Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate."

And then: "We're…basically the suits who show up when there are special kinds of trouble. Like…intergalactic space races taking place in our solar system." He shoots Rocket a concerned look. He can't think of anything good coming from a bunch of UFOs deciding the Sol System is a great place to enact their version of The Amazing Race. Visions of ships crashing into each other, spiraling out of control, landing on earth and spewing even more alien technology into the hands of even more terrible people dance through Phil's head. "Who would I need to talk to about getting that moved?" He's…totally serious.

"Race not withstanding, it's not new trouble that's brought me here, but a bit of old. Ah. The Asgardians…" Here he pushes an ornate statue across the table that looks like it's a little boat carved out of wood but is, in fact, a little holoprojector. He taps it, displaying a series of orders. "Had to recall Thor for a bit. They thought it might be good to assign the Guardians of the Galaxy a local parole officer. And that local parole officer would be…me."

His brow furrows thoughtfully as he looks around the table at all three of them. Another spoon of ice cream enters his mouth, and he asks, "And…What's this I hear about you being entrusted with a magical gem meant to power some sort of horrific world ending ice weapon?"

This latter bit clearly concerns him even more than the parole part, even more than the race part. Light years. More.

*

Peter isn't listening right now.

"Oh my god, Rocket! Get your own fries!" He cries as he reaches out to yank his food back towards him. Almost exactly like a pair of siblings fighting over food at dinner. Which is…kinda…what this is. "You already ate yours! I don't even know where your damn paws have been!"

He huddles over his fries as he glares at the thieving space merc. Entirely missing most of Phil's favorite explanation as he glowers towards his sometimes co-pilot.

"…wait…" Then his mind jumps tracks. "…intergalactic race? With this rock at the center? Oh man some people are gonna hate that. We should totally join. Usually space race rules?"

…which means no rules.

But then there is a boat being shoved at him and he blinks again.

"The…wait, Thor gave you our parole?" A pause. "Er…yeah. Its a gem thing. Its perfectly safe right now. So don't have to worry about that! Trust me!"

*

JUST TRY GETTIN' THESE FRIES QUILL THEY'RE IN HIS MOUF NOW

Rocket's got fries hanging out of his mouth in a terrible sort of grin as he leans back and practically gets up onto the back of the booth just to keep his distance. A couple of them fall as he talks. So classy. "'course there are rules. Don't mean everyone's gonna pay attention to them." He glances at Phil as though noticing him for the first time, which isn't true, he's just prioritizing. "Strategic Hazard… so you're like Terra's clean-up crew or somethin' for all the quote-unquote over the top stuff beyond the norm. And of course now you're talkin' to the obviously extra-terrestrial folk. I think we're bein' discriminated against, Quill!" Pause. "As for that race, I ain't got the rundown on who's heading that thing, I just heard about it this morning. But it'll probably a big mess for Terra," he concedes all too casually.

Sliding back down beside Groot, he absently grabs at the fries again as he stares at the holoprojector that suit-man has set there on the table. "…wait wait wait," he starts, but Peter's already ahead of him with the question. So he just asks another. "Why would he do that! Why not just…just cancel the whole thing an' let us go already? For the record, I think he's just doin' this to spite us now. That busted up statue was so not worth all this!"

The tiny Guardian's attention swivels towards Peter then, eyes widening slightly. "Hold on, what world-ending ice weapon? The thing I stuck in my mouth?! You didn't tell me it could do that!!"

*

Much like Quill and Rocket, Groot is paying attention. Despite the vagueness in his overall expression, he's been quietly listening to every single word Phil Coulson has spoken within the last five minutes. Knowing how he is, doing that in between shoveling the Blizzard into his mouth and chewing on a chicken strip is a feat in itself.

Some concern does come up when he hears about the whole parole-switchover and the dangers of the gem Rocket has once stored in his mouth that Quill now has in his possession. "I am Groot!" A hint of tiredness can be heard in his mild exclamation, complete with a hand running over the side of his face.

Apparently this parole business is much more important than a deadly ball of ice that can go off at any given second.

*

For the record. Yep. Definitely the Second Sort of Day.

But such are the Ways of Coulsons that Phil manages to avoid twitching. Or reacting much at all. He's cool as can be, just watching all this chaos unfold. Weaponized gems in mouths. Parole anger. A tired Groot. It would be a lot for most men to take in.

"Yes. I hold your parole now," he says, without justifying it. "I'm afraid you will have to get used to being tethered to earth for some time. I know this is very stressful," this, to Groot, who is, after all, rubbing his face, "However…"

Here, he turns his attention to Rocket, who, after all, has the details on this race, "If you can get me in touch with the people running the race, I may be able to arrange, with conditions, for you all to be allowed to participate in it. You might ultimately find my leash longer than Thor's."

He looks back to Quill, and adds dryly, "I believe it would also be good if we could take a look at the gem in SHIELD's headquarters sometime. It…might provide a bit more insight than…" A glance back at Rocket. "Taste testing."

*

"Oh my god don't be a baby, you sleep with bombs every night! Cuddled up with grenades and whatever else explosive you put together in your sleep. Don't freak out about a gem!" Peter shoots back at Rocket. "And it…" This towards all three of them. "…can't do that! Its just…a…strange magic battery thing. With a bunch of souls or something in it. Constantine said something like that though when I let him see it."

His gaze sweeps towards Phil. "See! We had it tested!"

…after it was in Rocket's mouth.

"The Asgardians broke the weapon anyway. So we just have the power source, I've been trying to get Constantine or Zee to see if they can…I don't know dissipate it or make it dissipear or magic it away or something. But…they went on vacation."

A shrug.

"Anyway, I don't have it remember." This towards Rocket and Groot as well. "We left it with Kitty at Zee's place, so I mean if anyone else comes to try to get it then they get turned into clams."

…look. Its a thing.

"Oh," Then towards Phil. "A lot of intergalactic bounty hunters get to Terra for it being protected. Just sayin…I mean. How many have we had to blow up, in total self defense?" He looks at his companions for the answer.

Then back towards Phil.

"…and wait. You'd actually let us race? Oh man that would be awesome. I really need to get off this rock."

*

"Well, yeah, but knowing you're sleeping surrounded by potentially planet-destroying devices is different from sticking a foreign power source of the same caliber in your mouth!!" The rest of those fries of yours Quill? Gone.

The not!raccoon sags in his seat, arms folded. "You haven't said why. Why you? Why not…someone else? Not like I'd prefer bein' tethered to anyone or place, mind you." He glowers at Peter, but only briefly, because when it comes to all the trouble they've had to deal with on supposedly protected Terra… Rocket nods. "Right? There was that horde of Sakaarans and then those other guys… I lost track but I'm sure there's a lot more than seems to make sense if this place is big on peace keeping."

Quite abruptly he leans forward, grinning with the same enthusiasm as Peter as they may have a deal for racing. "Now we're talkin'! I can do without any leashes, but if I have access to some decent equipment, I can run a couple of searches and ping off the source senders of the racing ads and see about tracking down whoever's in charge."

*

Oh, now that is a twist. Groot's dark eyes widen slightly at the news, forgetting about the food momentarily as he leans forward simultaneously. "I am Groot?"

He can't believe it. A Terran parole officer offering more leeway than most of the other planets they've been traveling between? That's unheard of.

He sits back again, looking a little dazed now that the race is still on the table. A wooden grin slowly curves against the grain of his face, emitting a low, rumbling laugh at the minor details of their new arrangement. "I. Am Groot."

*

"Thor and I have a history," Phil replies, as to the 'why'. He smiles— something more genuine than the Cheshire Cat thing he had been wearing— seeing how excited they all get. Pilots have to have the sky. And spacemen have to have their space. He leaves off on the matter of the gem for the time being, though his sharp gaze at the mention of it being full of souls says he's not finished with that matter yet.

They complain about how not-secure Terra is. "Just imagine what it would look like if S.H.I.E.L.D. weren't here," he says mildly, instead. And S.W.O.R.D. and all the myriad of other organizations that are no doubt out there stopping problems. "You get the 1% that does get through,instead of the 100% that would otherwise be here."

But yes, the matter of them, and space, and races. "As long as we can get it moved," he says. "And…"

Here he just smiles. There is no way he would fail to take advantage of the position he's found himself in. "And as long as I get to do a ride-along whenever you're out there. I'd also like to offer a more secure hangar, so you can spend less time worrying about people here on earth trying to steal your ship, and so you have a proper place to work on it."

*

Now that is unexpected.

Doubly unexpected.

Though Peter does give Groot and Rocket a quirked eyebrow when Phil offers a hanger. That look of 'So. Rocket. You think you can shoot us out of whatever lockdown they might put on us if ya need too?' kind of look.

Not that we are being specific or anything.

"You know. I'm gonna assume the hanger thing isn't really a request. But the ride-along." The pilot just smirks. "Hell if you get us able to fly again without calling down the wrath of a damn god, you can pick your seat on the trip." A pause. "Just not the pilot seat. Because I'm piloting. Since I'm the best pilot in the Galaxy."

…and humble to boot.

"Your funeral otherwise, suit! We've been needing to go on a parts run anyway. Maybe we can make a vacation out of it! Kitty liked the last time we went into space. Once she stopped hitting me and screaming about how I was an idiot."

A beatpause.

"Its a thing we have. She's totally into me."

*

"Hmmm…." Rocket sits down again, stroking his chin as he considers this proposition. "Well, it might be nice not having to worry about someone skulking around trying to make off with our ship…" he says as he catches Peter's look. He grins a little. There hasn't been place that could keep this Guardian in or out. Terra-tech's definitely not going to do it if alien tech hasn't.

"Go figure. Every Terran and their ma wants a ride into space. -pfff, um. I think you mean I'm the best pilot," he helpfully corrects. And there's no humble about it. That's not really in his dictionary.

"…when is she ever not hitting you and screaming that you're an idiot?"

*

The tree smiles. "I am Groot." Because he doesn't have a problem with one more person joining them on their merry space adventures! It can be like a party all up in the Milano.

And, well, he can't really say who's the better pilot. From what he's experienced, Quill and Rocket are nearly identical in their piloting ways. Except he's smart enough never to mention that aloud in their presence. He wouldn't hear the end of it from either of them.

Getting back to the topic of Kitty, however, Groot hums. "I am Groot," he adds thoughtfully, holding up a gnarled finger as his other hand reaches for the rest of his Blizzard. Because he doesn't understand the relationship going on there.

*

Peter just glowers at Rocket. "Sometimes she sleeps!"

*

"I've had some relationships like that," Phil muses, and in his long 33 years, he most certainly has. "Granted, in my case they often turn into 'screaming and shooting at me' as the signal that she is no longer into me."

He has finished his Peanut Buster Parfait, and he slowly pushes the empty cup aside. He, too, will remain wisely silent on the matter of who the better pilot is, and on whether or not he is doomed to die as he takes up this journey with people who, on their surface, seem a bit dubious to have at the helm of a craft.

"The hangar is voluntary. A courtesy. Nothing more. Hydra tried to steal your ship once, and if you're going to be taking it off and on planet, you'll need somewhere more secure. Otherwise you'd have to find a new place to hide it every single time. Because ultimately, you will have to come back here. There will be limits on these trips…it's still parole, not total freedom. Still, I think both the parts run and the race can be arranged."

*

"Yeah, sure courtesy. Anyway I'll take ya up on the offer, where we be fling too? Secret underground lair? Unfindable government lab? Facility that doesn't exist? You suits love that kind of stuff don't ya?" Peter asks as he grabs his last remaining fry lying on his plate.

One of the few saved from the bottomless jaws of Rocket.

"And Rocket, you should stop eating all those fries. They are bad for you! Giving you delusions and stuff. But that's ok, we'll get you home and you can have a nap and sleep it off."

This is how they always are.

"…screaming and shooting at you can totally be interpreted multiple ways." He adds towards Phil, totally the voice of his vast experience talking.

Totally.

"I mean, I've been places where that is part of the courtship rituals. Man. Makes the whole 'bad first date' go to a whole different level." A beatpause. "…didn't like…every one of your ex's try to kill you once Rocket?" He adds towards the Racoon.

Then a glance back at Phil. "…so…address we supposed to take the Milano or something?"

*

"Bite me, Quill." He doesn't need a nap and he's not delusional! And this meal is light compared to how many pizzas he and Groot can put away in one sitting.

"Wow, you too?" Rocket mutters, blinking over at Phil. Congrats Mister Coulson- you officially have something in common with him. But it's probably not that much of a rare occurrence for relationships gone bad to end in screaming and gunfire. Peter gets a look. "That was one time!" All at once, yes. It was…an impressive army.

He supposes that it should be no surprise that this guy knows about the attack on their ship. If he's with this security hazard whatever it was called again? Then yeah. Probably something he'd be aware of. And that attack hadn't even been properly done by aliens.

"Beats stashin' it under camou-nets and garbage," Rocket agrees. And depending on where this hangar is, that might mean access to better parts and tech than the castoffs he's been having to scavenge. Which may not really be courtesy but it's just good business. For him.

*

There's an amused snort into the last remaining glops of the brownie Blizzard, muffled by the surrounding cup held up to the tree's face. Whether it's in response to Phil's own relationship experiences, Quill's outspoken denial of any issues between him and Kitty, or Rocket's one 'army of exes' problem - no one will never know.

He could have been thinking of something else entirely. That's just how he is half of the time.

Among savoring the last scoop of ice cream, Groot tilts his head. "I am Groot." He thought the camou-nets and the garbage bags helped the Milano blend in pretty good. The most important part was that he had fun helping hide the thing in the first place. But it's just as well - a hangar is better than leaving it out in the open. And they can store more things in there, too!

*

Phil looks intrigued at the description of these courtship rituals.

He might want to visit one of those planets.

Look. He is still a man. And getting the shooting and screaming out of the way early has its appeals. Long term relationships never work out for him, but he still does enjoy the chance to make a few fond short-term memories.

But he offers an address rather than verbalizing the unlikely similarities between him, Quill, and Rocket, writing it on the DQ napkin with quick, efficient strokes. It just…so…happens to be a Triskelion Hangar. And if that means S.H.E.I.L.D. ends up running passive scans of the thing to figure out how to reverse engineer space ships, what of it? They still get a secure place to stow it. And…

"I'll get you all set up with access cards." That will open like. 5 places in the whole Triskelion, one of them being the hangar human doors, but not the hangar bay doors. That access…the access that actually lets the ship fly out…will lie with Phil Coulson. Granted, he's well aware that only their desire to keep an ARMY OF ASGARDIANS from trying to shoot them out of the sky will cause them to respect that at all.

He makes a mental note to call Zatanna Zatara and offer a retainer if she will put that mollusk spell on useful items within the Trisket. Might help with some of the double agents and moles he suspects are running around too. But that's another problem for another day.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License