'Tis The Season

December 18, 2017:

…To Murder A Tree.

A place where Spruces grow.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Atli Wodendottir, Agent Coulson, Loki Laufeyson

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

"It's kinda hard to believe we've been here for a whole glarkin' year," a solemn, slightly gruff voice intones. "These Terrans never cease to amaze. It's a wonder how much they put into these holidays of their's. All the rushin' around and stampeding for what? Spending money? It makes no sense! I mean, all the presents an' stuff- okay, I see that, but I mean, come on, how much of that is really jus' an excuse to go shopping for themselves, right?"

Rocket pauses, surveying the area from his current perch, which doubles as his usual perch given it's atop his constant woody companion's shoulder. He unfolds his arms, gesturing around them. "But spending money on trees??! I mean, they're just gonna die anyway. They're good as dead in those lots. An' you know how it's always been for us, right Groot? We get our own quarry, our way. -here, hey, stop. I think this is good."

Waving a hand to signal Groot, Rocket half slides down his friend's arm before leaping down to the snow-covered ground. He looks around again, grinning. "So, here we are! Huntin' grounds, ripe for the pickin'!"

*

There's something morbid about the way they're going about this kind of business. With Groot being a tree and all, going out of his way to help his little buddy Rocket get a tree for the holidays. But still! Business is business, and no business will get done if they both stand around and look at all of the sparkly lights and decorations. Groot does the sightseeing enough on his own, anyway.

The months leading up to this Terran Christmas thing capture his attention effortlessly, allowing him time to ogle in awe on his downtime. He's also just extra happy that Rocket has relented (somewhat) to satisfy their short-term goals while presenting the evidence that not all Terrans are as generous as they say they are.

But who are they to hold themselves morally higher than a Terran?

"I am Groot." Despite being three words, a lot is crammed into it. He does think there really is no point in rushing about, but that may just be the way people are. He doesn't understand the whole 'buying a dead tree' part either, but they do look shiny when they're all dressed up. Shuffling to a halt, the bipedal tree extends his arm downward to let the not!raccoon roam free, standing there dumbly as he looks out at the branch-y selection. He then brightens, clasping his hands together like those merchants who try to sell the stuff that no one actually needs. "I am Groot!"

*

"I know!" Rocket agrees wholeheartedly, nodding as he tromps around in the snow, tossing his arms outwards as though to encompass the entire area of forest around them. He then sets his fists at his hips, looking smugly at their finding.

"And these ain't even those stunted baby trees neither! People may call us terrible, but at least we aren't infant tree murderers! Now, look'at these guys! They've been standing around long enough! They deserve to be hacked down!"

It seems not to bother Rocket one bit that he's talking about such things to his friend who in fact happens to be a tree.

"Take yer pick, Groot! We'll hack it down and take'er home! Atli'll love it. Maybe we can hang Loki from it."

*

Groot nods sagely. "I am Groot," he says, giving those poor baby trees a moment of silence.

It only lasts about two seconds before he goes back on the upswing.

Since he's given the honor of choosing one of these giants, he's determined to find the best of the best. "I am Groot," Groot replies, strangely unperturbed by the task as he saunters past Rocket.

…Very morbid, indeed.

*

Their first attempt to enjoy the season's festivities had been complicated. This year, since they were still stuck on this miserable planet, Rocket decided that if they were going to do things, they'd do them right. And not decorate Groot with potentially cursed ornaments housed with ancient magical artifacts from the home of a sorceress.

"See anything yet, Groot?" Rocket calls after the taller Guardian before moving to step along the path of trodden snow that Groot had already passed through.

*

It was one time! But once was enough.

"I am Groot!" The sound of Groot's voice is a little distant, but he hasn't come up with anything. Yet. The trail obviously shows he's been inspecting the trees that stood out to him the most, however, with smatterings of pine needles dark against a white backdrop like sprinkles on a frosted cupcake.

A few minutes pass before another, louder "I am Groot!" calls back to wherever Rocket may be, sounding like triumph amid the winter forestscape. The tree wanders back up a bit, beckoning his friend with one hand as the other stuffs what looks like more pine needles into his wooden maw.

*

Rocket pauses, frowning as Groot seems to be taking his sweet time. Of course the walking tree is going to be picky about this. "It's not like you're picking out a girlfriend!" he shouts back, huffing as he folds his arms and taps a booted foot impatiently in the snow, watching his breath frost in the chilly air.

His ears perk as Groot calls out again, and rubbing his hands together, Rocket smirks and dashes off, following Groot's winding trail until the guy comes into view. His smirk fades as he slaps a gloved hand on his face. "Really?! Come on! Don't tell you were taking taste into consideration too!" he grumbles, but once he's within reach he clambers up onto Groot's shoulder, the large bundle over his back thumping against him as he makes his way up.

"All right, so where is it?"

*

"I amf Groof," Groot reasons while chewing, knowing full well that Rocket won't understand his process. Trees are weird like that.

Once the raccoon makes it back up onto his shoulder, he pauses to swallow, then points directly at the tree towering behind them.

"I am Groot."

*

"…that's disgusting."

Shaking his head, Rocket looks towards where the tree-man points, his grin picking up again as he sees the target in question. "Oooh… Yeah. That's the one all right." He waves Groot forward, looking up and up at the thing as he cackles. "Now that's a tree!"

Once they're at the foot of the thing, Rocket hops back down, reaching behind him to unsling the bundle and plop it in the snow beside him. He tugs it open and thrusts his hands in to pull out a monstrous looking chainsaw of sorts, very obviously and most heavily modified. "Huhu…I've been waitin' to try this baby!" he grins toothily, yanking on the ripcord.

*

To each their own opinion, and Rocket has lots of opinions. On the upside, it appears Groot has made a Very Good Decision on the type of tree they were going to bring home tonight.

And Rocket has come prepared.

As the massive chainsaw starts up, Groot pumps a fist in the air and hollers. "I am Groot!!"

*

Most people would probably be more than a little concerned at a bipedal raccoon laughing maniacally as he revs up a chainsaw and then immediately sets to work, bringing the spinning, angry teeth of the machine against the bark of the tree's trunk. It's not a quiet task, and it probably won't be terribly quick, but Rocket's determined to get through this thing.

The crazed laughter dies down after a few minutes as the small Guardian has shifted to setting his teeth against each other as he works the chainsaw into the trunk. He stops after another moment, blowing away sawdust to squint at the progress he's made, blinks and then stares again before grumbling as he makes a few adjustments on the dials and switches before powering up the chainsaw again. Once more splinters and chips of wood fly as the machine angrily buzzes and chews through wood.

*

In the beginning, Groot cheers. He cheers for the death of a tree that could have been related to him if he was a Terran tree. But he cheers nonetheless, excited and eager to see the behemoth fall to the ground.

But anticipation is a cruel mistress. The intervals between each chainsaw pass at the tree are soon greeted with a less cheering and more sounds of confusion.

Groot hooks a finger onto his jaw as he watches, staying silent for a time. After considering his options, he finally takes a breath and asks, "…I am Groot?"

*

Stopping again to brush away sawdust and sweat from his fur, Rocket scowls at the tree. He then glances at Groot before planting a foot against the trunk as he pulls the chainsaw away to dislodge it. "Yeah, this thing's a lot tougher than I thought it would be," he admits, planting the toothed end of his tool into the snow beside him. "Looks like we'll need to go with Plan B."

Dusting his hands off, Rocket goes back over to his sack to root around in it before pulling out some wire and explosives. Well of course he would have explosives.

"At least we made a dent," he says as he steps towards the tree, brushing away wood curls and dust so he can start wedging the charges into place. "These should do the trick. And, you know, hopefully not just turn this thing into a pile of toothpicks."

*

Groot blinks. He then smiles when Plan B takes effect. If he was anyone else, he'd be wondering how Rocket even got these explosives, but he knows better. It's just like Rocket to have them on hand.

"I am Groot," he agrees, taking care to pick up the chainsaw and Rocket's sack of stuff before moving back.

*

It needn't even be a question if one knows Rocket. With complete access to a number of random odds and ends that their dear ol' Deadeye's compiled and scavenged, it's simple enough to make a few low-end explosives while still passing off some suitably destructive creations to hold the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent over.

"Okay, I think we're good to go!" Rocket announces, hopping back to inspect his work before he nods at Groot and gestures for the other Guardian to follow him for cover. He stops mid-way, looking up and doing mental calculations before waving Groot a ways further back to duck behind another tree.

"All right, ready?" he asks, grinning up at Groot as he holds the detonator in his hand.

*

Stalking after the raccoon, the living tree hides, trying to make himself as small as possible. He also grows a thicker layer of bark and branch just in case there's any shrapnel that gets past their cover. A broad grin is shared in turn with Rocket as Groot gives him a thumbs-up. "I am Groot!"

That can be loosely translated as 'Light 'em up!' more or less. The point is, he's ready.

*

Those are the words he likes to hear. Well, meaning-wise, anyway. Rocket grins maliciously, thumbing the detonation switch with as much enthusiasm as one can possibly muster when doing something that requires so little movement.

Even so, one little press of a button delivers a grand result. *THOOMF* The base of the tree explodes in a brief flare of light, a gust of smoke, and a rattling shower of wood shards and pine needles. Rocket pulls his head back behind Groot and the extra protective layer that his friend's sprouted.

There's a creak and the loud splintering of wood before the tree begins to tip, its trunk groaning in protest but unable to fight gravity as its base has been compromized if not slightly blackened. Not long after, the entire thing falls, throwing up flurries of snow in its wake.

*

Much like the holidays, there's just something magical about a tree being properly exploded. Groot's childlike wonder makes his eyes glitter as the tree crashes down, down, downward, feeling his body lift briefly from the snowy ground beneath him as pine needles and snow fly everywhere around him and his little Guardian friend. He may have been laughing stupidly during all of this, but the noise is too great to tell.

As the situation clears, the bipedal tree claps his hands together as if he's seen the best performance in his life. Never mind the fact he's covered in snow and has some leftover wood pieces stuck into his person. "I am Grooot!"

*

Rocket steps around to inspect his handiwork, beaming proudly. "You know, some people might be concerned at how happy you are having just seen a tree get near exploded," he observes, but he's not one of those people, already moving towards the fallen tree.

"Looks like we got ourselves a Christmas tree, pal!" he proclaims, holding a fist up towards Groot. "Now we just needa drag this baby back to the car."

*

The furry fist is met with a wooden one lightly bumping into it. "I am Groot," Groot echoes Rocket's sentiment, still giddy from their success. One would think he'd be more concerned about the tree, but…it's Christmas.

…Okay, so that doesn't really make any logical sense, but whatever. THEY HAVE A TREE. THEY WIN AT CHRISTMAS.

Straightening up, the tree man rolls his shoulders so that some of the wood shards fall off and away from him. "I am Groot." Looks like he's already on it, waltzing back over to see where he can lift the downed tree. It shouldn't be too big a deal.

*

These two are probably the only ones who would make Christmas a competitive thing.

Rocket hops up onto the slightly charred base of the trunk, sizing the thing up before he turns to Groot. "So you know how we always saw all those cars driving around with them baby trees bound up? I think they were onto something. Kinda like them umbrella things." Less drag, a basic rule for aerodynamics, or dragging a tree, as it were.

*

Groot pauses, tilting his head as he recalls the image of the bound trees that could have been shrubs. He then nods. "I am Groot! I am Groot."

Arms extend on command, stretching out and around the tree like a lighter and softer version of a strangler fig's tangled pattern, branches thin yet flexible enough to wrap themselves tightly to form the desired bounding effect. As the final spindles make their way around the top, Groot beams, looking to Rocket for his approval.

*

As Groot grows out his arms to encircle the tree, Rocket jumps over them, watching as the tree is smoothed down into something more transportable and compact. He grins broadly, turning towards Groot with a thumbs up.

"Perfect. Now let's get out of here before someone complains about the noise." As though that's the only thing someone might have to complain about.

*

Groot definitely gets that. Even if their offenses are much more worse than just the 'noise.' "I am Groot," he salutes - or he would have, if one of his arms were free. A low and heavy grunt and the tree's trunk is lifted, slowly coasting along with every mounted step the bark-covered alien takes.

The evidence left behind can add to the bafflement of those who come across the wide, furrowed trail in the morning.

*

With Groot doing the brunt of the work, Rocket settles on the tree's bound branches, propping himself between the other Guardian's entwining arms that bind the tree, his own arms folded behind his head as he relaxes. It's not like he can do much to help otherwise, after all.

Up the slope of a snow-dusted hill overlooking the now awkwardly barren spot and the charred remains of a tree stump, a man bundled in scarf and winter gear lowers the binoculars from his eyes.

"We gon' report 'em?" his associate asks, garbed similarly as he glances over his own pair of binoculars, his eyes troubled and his tone uncertain.

"…yeah. Sure. We go and tell the police that a raccoon and a walking tree made off with one of our spruces and they'll lock us up!"

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