The Closest Thing to Home

February 04, 2018:

Quill gets a Happy Meal - with one previous owner.

The Triskelion - New York City

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

The Guardians of the Galaxy have spent most of their time on Earth…effectively crashing on someone else's couch. This hasn't changed, and in fact has only escalated of course. Since now the Milano itself is parked in the headquarters of SHIELD itself. What this means of course is that Peter Quill spends most of his time in the Milano when there.

Since the last time he left he was threatened no less than seven times. Twice at gunpoint.

He gets the feeling that not everyone is suseptible to his sophisticated space man charm.

That's fine though, they are allowed to not know a good thing when they see it. Its their loss and everything! However this time on the Milano he wasn't actually out causing trouble, or moping or anything else. In fact he was…well…looking after Kitty.

TELL NO ONE.

IF ANYONE ASKS HE WAS DOING SUPER IMPORTANT SPY THINGS THAT WERE ALSO NINJA SPACE THINGS.

But at the moment he's passed out in the pilot compartment of the Milano. Waiting for the rest of his crew to get back, head tilted back on his captains chair. Feet up on the dashboard.

*

Rocket and Groot have been busy with other things here and there. Whether or not that consisted of trouble, they certainly wouldn't have admitted to it although it's almost a given that such is practically a part of daily routine. There's however been other things, that while probably still classified as trouble were not instigated nor caused by them.

It's been almost a week since either raccoonoid or his tree-buddy were last seen about the Triskelion for some reason or another, whether it be to make off with another piece of furniture from S.H.I.E.L.D.'s break rooms or offices or to fiddle about with the quinjet or some other questionable piece of techkery that Rocket would swear was Coulson-approved.

The sound of someone entering up the back hatch of the Milano is clear enough- there's not much foot traffic in this part of the hangar and hopefully his points had been made clear enough to Stooge-pal the last time that she wouldn't dare be tinkering around in the ship, ever since she'd trespassed their alien sanctuary and even dared to sanitize it. The footsteps are light and can only belong to one member of the Guardians, usually barely heard, this time sounding like they're dragging just a bit. There's the sound of something heavy being tossed aside and thankfully no explosion to follow. There's the grumbling underbreath as Rocket makes his way towards the front, having seen signs of Quillage about, or perhaps he'd caught scent of Star-Lord.

Finally Rocket clambers up the steps to the cockpit. There's the unmistakable scent of Mickey-Dee's fries and burgers that accompanies him as he carries a bag in one arm and a little cardboard box with cardboard golden arches for handles hooked around his disturbingly humanlike fingers. Rocket eyes the napping Terran, then chucks the Happy Meal box onto Peter Quill's chest before clambering up onto the other pilot's seat.

*

When one hangs out with aliens on a daily basis, having an upright raccoon walk in isn't such a strange sight. The only thing that may be a little off about the entrance is that there isn't a heavier set of footsteps out of sync with the lighter movements.

Maybe Groot will lumber in after Rocket. He's the type to take his time to stop and smell the flowers, after all, and that's something that won't change any time soon.

Except…it's taking a longer than expected. Perhaps Groot was a ways behind, needing some more time to get to where Rocket and Quill are on the Milano. Or maybe because there are french fries and burgers involed, he couldn't focus on more than one thing at a time.

However, there are still some out-of-place munching sounds coming from somewhere. Like…from a Happy Meal Box.

*

"Woah!" The landing of a box on his lap wakes Peter right up. His eyes snap open at the explanation. He sits up, nearly catapulting the box off of his lap in the process but managing to grab it before he peers at the food. Then at the raccoon.

Pilot.

Mercenary guy.

"…wait, you actually brought back food for me? Is it Christmas or something? Where you been?" Comes the quip from the man called Star-lord as he settles himself better in his seat.

There is a glance at the landing platform, but no heavy footfalls of a familiar tree guy. "Kitty's sleeping again. She's not been great after that magic thing ate the soul gem thing." He adds as he looks towards Rocket who…seems…slightly more surly than normal.

If that's possible.

But without even thinking about it, without even figuring out where those munching sounds are coming from he starts to open the box.

"Groot with ya?"

*

Settling into the seat he's since claimed as his own, Rocket digs around in the bag, pulling out a couple of Big Mac boxes. He looks back at Quill, then back at one of the boxes before tossing it over. "Didn't know if you were in- don't think you wanna eat what's in the other one though," he says, even as he starts rooting around for fries.

"That bad? Was it cuz of the Bear thing or…?" He pops a few fries into his mouth before opening the box containing his burger. "I dunno where this week went. I think I spent most of it sleepin' at the house." The one Atli somehow managed to secure for them from Phil Coulson. Rocket still doesn't know the details of it, but he figures he won't complain if they've got free lodgings and more space to throw their ever accumulating junk. "Me an' Groot went with Dani and her magical horse thing to help take down the creepy animal trio. Tried to get that gem thingy back but I have no idea what happened."

He pauses to take a generous bite of burger, chewing as he looks at Peter as though considering that last question. Then he nods towards the other, or the box, whichever, as though that makes any sense.

*

McDonald's sounds like they've gone high-tech, or as high-tech as they could be considering the limitations of Terra's current technological standpoint. They may be testing out a Pavlov effect with the munching coming from one of the boxes to see if that gets them more customers. Them golden arches, always trying out new market strategies.

Except this isn't really a marketing strategy. There really is noise coming from the box.

And that box busts open. Like POP! Goes The Weasel. Like Alien.

The top is flimsy enough for a small, tree-like figure to poke through, eyes big and mouth stuffed with fries. Little hands clutch onto a burger that's way too big for him, but that doesn't seem to dissuade him from trying to eat it.

After another five seconds of straight staring at Quill, Baby Groot opens his mouth, letting the fries fall all over the place. "I am Groot!"

*

"Yeah, she's been in and out of it. Though she seemed to be sleeping better earlier…I'm guessing the Bear thing." Peter replies easily enough. Though he raises an eyebrow. "Oh man, please tell me you punched all of them right in their smug animal faces…" A longer pause. A slight frown.

"Wait you went to get the Bear and…"

…and then POP out comes a Groot in a box.

Peter wasn't expecting this. Which is likely why there is a yelp and he falls right out of his chair. Clutching the box, Groot, and the fries in both hands as he thumps off the chair on onto the deck of the Milano.

Groot stares at him.

Peter stares back.

"HOW DID YOU SHRINK GROOT?!"

*

Things pan out about the way that Rocket expects it to, which is why he remains sitting where he's been, chewing another mouthful of hamburger. There's a brief snort in amused satisfaction when Peter goes down, followed by the rolling of eyes before the smaller Guardian scowls over at the taller.

"Oh please! Why do you automatically blame me for it! I had nothin' to do with it- I don't even know how he got shrunk because the last I saw of him, he was blown to splinters!"

There's real anger and pain in those words, even if his buddy had somehow survived and now could occupy a cardboard kiddy meal box. He'd seen Groot explode and had thought him as good as dead, and as much of a relief as the opposite holds true, Rocket still can't forget seeing what he'd seen, feeling what he'd felt at that moment. Sullenly, he jams another handful of fries into his mouth.

*

WHOA FALLING oh. Not too far a fall, but it's still surprising and a little scary when you're yea tall! Groot's panic is brief, but he recovers quicker than his Guardian friend, smashing the burger against his tiny wooden body as a buffer for impact.

Shaking off the daze that follows, Groot scowls, tossing a few fries at Peter for falling in the first place. He then glances over at Rocket, ducking his head at the yelling. He's heard Rocket yell before, so this isn't new. It's just a little jarring from this angle, a little more heavy in its meaning.

Different. Much like how different he was then to how he is now.

Eventually, the tree climbs back up to the box's edge, curling his fingers over the handle. "…I am Groot," comes a small addition, tentative and not exactly explaining how things went from zero to sixty.

*

"Hey hey! Don't throw food!" Peter calls as fries bounce off his face as he starts to sit up. Pulling himself up by the armrest of his chair the pilot shakes his head. "Well when dealing with things that do things to other things you're usually the exper—"

Then the rest of what Rocket says sinks in and Peter Quill blinks for a moment. Speechless for at least that second. "…wait." Ok the speechless doesn't last long. "…blown up…? How—what happened?"

Now there is a surprise. POSSIBLY a bit of grudging concern as he glances down at the little twig. Asking if he's ok kinda doesn't seem right. So he just settles for awkwardly patting Groot on his crown before looking back to Rocket.

…cause if Groot explains it'll take forever.

*

Rocket shakes his head, rubbing at his eye with a fuzzy knuckle. How dare you make him emotional when he's not drunk, Peter Quill. "I dunno, things went crazy pretty fast. The Bear was all shriveled up- the other two were using it like a battery or something." He remembers that part pretty well, at least.

"The others were dealing with the wolf so they gave me this magic arrow or something to stick into the Bear, an' then Jane appeared and started doin' stuff. I think Groot tried stopping her- she was the Bird, Quill. And Barnes was the Wolf." He's not sure if Peter had known that yet but it had been a bit of a surprise to the raccoonoid when he and Groot had been briefed on things.

"Did my part, turned around, and then all I see is Groot's arms around Jane- and then his limbs jus' exploded with this black fire, and when he fell back it kept on 'sploding him." His voice hitches a moment, but he grinds his teeth together as though to keep back a sob.

"I got mad, Quill. I ran at her, but then there was this robot so none'a my shots got through, an' then… Then… I dunno. It's all kinda fuzzy." He flops back against the seat. "It's like… I know somehow we came out on top an' fixed things but I can't remember how it all happened."

*

Normally a game of charades is fun. This, however, doesn't feel like an appropriate time to try it out again. Luckily for Quill, Groot listens long enough to stuff his face with the next fry he has in hand, chewing away at it while Rocket speaks up.

I can't remember how it all happened. Like his friend, he remembers little of exploding into splinter and shrapnel, barely catching a glimpse of the black somewhere in the back of his mind, the stuff the raccoon describes in haste, in still-fresh pain.

He can't help but flinch - out of habit, out of muscle memory? - slowly relaxing his body once the pause falls into place. His wooden brow furrows. "…I am Groot." Although high-pitched, Groot sounds solemn, letting it settle in between bites of hamburger.

*

Peter watches Rocket for a second, listening to the story with a more and more incredulous look on his face. "Barnes and Jane? Holy…what is it with those two and mind control?!" He finally explodes before drawing a deep breath and giving the Raccoon a look.

"Third drawer down," He jerks his head towards the supply wall. "False bottom, get some glasses."

Yeah. Its the emergency emergency booze.

The good emergency emergency booze.

They all might need it.

"Is it over? You get the Bear dead? Or whatever you do with magic demon bears?" A glance back towards Groot, little Groot, baby Groot. A quirked eyebrow as he sounds so solemn, so sad. "It'll be alright, little guy." Can't call him big guy anymore. Then a glance back towards Rocket. "If something bad happened, we drink to Groot." A pause. "Then we drink to welcome little Groot…" A peer. "…baby Groot? Just Groot?" A longer pause. "Man, if anything this trip to Terra has convinced me its that magic sucks and Terrans are nuts."

*

Well Rocket's certainly not going to complain to a drink or three. He hops down from the chair, tossing the bag of fries onto the other seat for Peter while he goes to dig out the refreshments. Two glasses in one hand and a bottle in the other, he sets the two down so he can crack open and start pouring from the one.

"None for you, squirt," he informs Groot as he hands over one of the glasses to Peter. Then he picks up the other for himself.

"I'm missin' a chunk of story but there was only one demon bear in the end. But yeah, it's over." And Groot was still here with them, in some form or another. That's a lot better than the alternative by far.

"Groot is Groot. -mind, he seems a lot angrier in this form. Don't know where he got that from. Is that a kid thing? I think it's a kid thing."

The raccoonoid cracks a smirk, shaking his head. "And you came from this crazy place."

*

"I am Groot," the tree replies with a smile for Quill, almost as if he's saying he'll grow again and be gigantic. He sort of misses having the vantage point, but being small does have its benefits. Of course, not being able to get a glass makes him pout. "I am Groot!"

Yeah, no idea where he gets that from.

Like most kids, the spurt of anger passes quickly once the subject shifts. As he looks between the two bigger Guardians, Groot decides to raise his hamburger. "I am Groot," he chimes in, definitely fine with making a toast despite Terra's downsides. He's sure he's been having a great time up until now.

*

A smirk at that. "Oh yeah, no idea." A longer pause. "Dad." The Guardian can't help but poke the racoonoid over it. Its just how he's built, just how he's put together. But he does at least raise his glass to Groot's hamburger.

"As long as you put paid on that ***. I'm fine by it. No one screws with us and gets away from it." That is one of the rules they live by. The smirk only grows though as Rocket shakes his head. "I'm here with you guys aren't I? That definitely makes me nuts."

*

"What?! Oh hell no!" Rocket huffs. Ain't gonna be no dad'in around here! He glances down at Groot, then shrugs and raises his glass. Fair's fair, and at least Groot's not pressing for a drink of his own. Although he should've had a milk carton or something in that happy box.

Grinning back at Peter then, he nods. "Well, guess I can't argue with that. To our nutso family," he says, clanking his glass to glass and burger.

*

The milk bottle is stuck on the side. Groot hasn't touched it yet, but he's not feeling thirsty at the moment. This setup will work, though.

As the burger bumps into Quill and Rocket's glasses, Groot smiles from non-existent ear-to-ear.

"I am Groot," he pipes up, echoing their sentiment with those three words.

*

"Here is to us, the best Guardians in the whole Galaxy." Quill agrees with a smirk as he knocks back the drink. "And the strangest family in the same."

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