Have You Ever Robbed a Museum?

October 05, 2018:

Rami runs into the famous Rocket and Groot… and recruits them for something questionably legal.

Somewhere in the Triskelion

We all know what this place looks like.


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Michael Carter, Peggy Carter, Phil Coulson


Mood Music: We're Going To Be Friends

Fade In…

Parambir Ghai is exhausted, and had — just until recently — been covered in sulphuric goo. The blob demon that she had run into with a SHIELD team in Queens had neatly exploded upon its demise, and the handler had — much to her dismay — been in the splash zone.

She was immediately shoved into the decontamination shower, given some PT clothes that were just a size too big, and asked to hang around to talk with someone in the demon research unit about this particular species of hellbeast.

She occupies a chair beside a closed, opaque door down one of the long hallways that mazes its way through the affectionately-named "Trisket." She is flipping through a recent edition of Time Magazine, the cover some artistic rendering of a dystopia New York City skyline. IS THIS THE BEGINNING OF THE END? the title reads in stark white lettering against the fiery red sky. For Rami's benefit, she does not appear to be actually reading, but letting the images and blur of words slide in and out of her focus as she waits for whoever it is behind the door.

It's been a regular nightmare beyond the walls of the Triskelion, where things that were so mundane as a beer run turned out to be like a bad FPS video game. Not that Rocket had much to complain about. He liked shooting things. He just didn't like getting bit back.

Not a part of any particular group but never against actually tagging along if asked, despite being an almost regular sight around the Trisket's hangars, there are always second and third glances after him and his little tree pal whenever they roam outside of their usual 'domain' and about the offices and hallways of S.H.I.E.L.D. proper. Usually it gave cause for people to lock up their things and keep a careful eye on the extra-terrestrials. Not that it tended to stop Rocket, who very much still operated on the rule of 'if I want something more than another person then it's up for grabs.'

Today, he is not so much here for a stroll as being Difficult. Then again, that's probably per the norm.

"Aw c'mon! This was like, days ago! Just a scratch. Ain't nothin'. If it were real bad I'd either be dead or eatin' your face right now. -I dunno if that's the case. I ain't no demon expert!"

The raccoonoid, for there really is no other way to describe him, stands a little over three feet tall, clothed in some kind of sleeveless jumpsuit of navy blue, black and dark gray, a bandage wound about his furry upper left arm. He growls at the hapless agent who had been trying to follow protocol, the latter finally sighing and raising hands in surrender before heading on her way.

Rocket snorts, turning to stomp along down the hall past Rami.

The bellowing draws Rami's attention out of her magazine. She looks up, glancing toward the noise. The sight of the upright raccoon in a jumpsuit actually seems to stall her brain. Being a Bearer has always meant that life is constantly working in a schema that stretches hundreds of years — ancestral memories find connections to everything.

Right now? They can't give her any connections to a talking, walking Raccoon. It thrills her. She's seen something new, something that all Bearers after her will remember, and it makes her smile warmly at the sight of Rocket.

"You know, it could be worse… you could have been covered in goo." She closes up her magazine, watching the raccoon with dark, warm eyes. Her full lips wear an easy smile.

He stops at the woman's comment, head lifting before he glances over, perhaps glad that he did. S.H.I.E.L.D. was full of some pretty uptight people, but he can't deny they also employed some pretty faces.

"Goo? Guess I lucked out there. Woulda been a pain to scrub out," Rocket says, scowling in that way of someone who is not particularly fond of baths. He turns to face her, head tilting, but at her smile his face finally eases from its suspicious expression into a smile of his own.

"Anyway, it's gettin' pretty tiring a routine. No one's figured out how to plug up those holes these guys're comin' outta?"

"It was… and I'm certain that the rotten egg smell will follow me for a month." The Sikh casually swings the magazine between her fingers, elbow perched on her knee, and cheek and chin in palm. She tilts her head slightly to continue to take in the entire sight of the furred alien.

"I don't know… I haven't heard that we're desperate enough to try just spraying them all down with expanding foam." The Bearer glances up toward the agents who are just getting over being yelled at by a raccoon, and then she looks back to Rocket. "You're with that willowy fellow, aren't you? Tall, slender… fairly predictable sentence structure?" Not that Rami has met Groot, but she's heard mention of Rocket and Groot both by now — at least around the other gearheads in SHIELD.

"I'll have'ta try not to breathe too deeply around you," the small Guardian says, smirking. "So blob demons about the worst for your day?" All in all he supposes no one can really complain so long as they manage to come back at the end of the day to do it all over again. There's a lot less equipped people out there to deal with the literal hellscape that's overtaken New York City.

He barks a laugh then. "Whoa, wait, would that be a serious tactic for desperation? Foam? No wonder people look at me funny when I suggest lobbing explosives at the focal points."

It's not a surprise that the woman's heard of him and his partner in crime before. How many walking trees and raccoons did one have in a building at any given time, anywhere? Rocket shrugs. "Eeeh, sorta kinda? I mean, the slender and the predictable sentence structure are still pretty much the same, he's just about one-eighth his usual size. Or so." He squints, thinking. "Mmmm…going on two, maybe. Honestly I think we need better fertilizer or somethin'. Does that Miracle Grow stuff actually work?"

With a warm laugh, Rami shakes her head. "Mmm, thank you… though it may spare me from having to share a tech suite. I did not learn how to share well in nursery school."

Then she arches a brown brow at Rocket, and her smile remains amused despite the curious expression. "It's a common tactic for rat infestations… plug the gaps, and hope that perhaps they aren't smart enough to find another way in. Personally… I think we are thinking too post-modernity. This is old sorcery."

When Rocket speaks of Groot, she frowns thoughtfully. "So, when he was described as a 'tiny Ent', they were a bit more literal with the size…"

The talk of Miracle Grow incites a laugh from her, and she shakes her head. "Mmm, well… Miracle Grow is like feeding your friend nothing but cheeseburgers… I would suggest something a bit more, well, organic… my father swears by a healthy mix of bone meal, kelp, soybean meal, agricultural lime… and bloodworm meal."

Rocket grins toothily. "Sharing's overrated."

Obviously not accustomed to dealing with rat infestations, he just sorta looks at Rami as she explains. "That sounds like a lousy tactic. 'specially when you got these things poppin' up all over the place and a flarkin' dragon at the other end of the city."

Ent. He's heard many people refer to Groot as such ever since they'd first roamed Terra, and by now he and Groot have come to learn just where the reference is from. …they've had plenty of freetime and watched a multitude of movies, okay.

"Yeah. Guess Quill's geekery is a common Terran trait." He pauses, brows lifting. "Well…cheeseburgers aren't exactly as much a staple for us as pizza but… Wait, bone? Bloodworm?" His nose wrinkles. That doesn't sound appetizing at all. …but then again neither is all the fertilizer they dumped in the kiddie pool he got Groot.

"Yes, but… you see, I'm rather new and sharing is very important to fostering new professional relationships — particularly in a den full of spies." There's something almost wolfish with how her smile redoubles on her full lips. Then she resumes her light lean into her knees, elbow still perched and chin still in palm.

"Well, have you been in New York City very long? I hear it's rat problem is almost epic in its own right… I find the little vermin quite adorable, personally… though I have been requested to stop feeding them by my landlord." There's something about Rami's tone that makes it hard to tell if she's serious or not, with its light and playful lilt.

Then she leans back a bit, laughing with deep, earnest amusement. "I think your tree friend doesn't mind it too much, though I had not really considered a tree eating pizza. But, since we are on the topic… do you mind if I ask you a rather personal question?"

"Izzat right? Huh," the raccoonoid murmurs as though musing over something profound. "I thought gettin' the job done and in turn gettin' paid for it was." In terms of the importance of fostering new professional relationships. He almost mirrors her position, his elbow propped by his other arm folded across his chest, a clawed finger tapping at his chin.

Rami's question has him think seriously for a moment. "Over two years now that I think about it. Maybe even closer to three. Eesh." Rocket shakes his head. He supposes he can't say they've been wasting their time here, as much as he complains now and then about being stuck. His nose wrinkles. "Eh, this city seems to have a buttload of problems in general. Least-wise it ain't ever boring!"

Case in point, the recent demon infestation. He's treating it like a bad storm. It's been lasting a bit longer than he'd have cared for, however.

"Hm?" Rocket tilts his head up at Rami before smirking. "Why yes, I'm single," he says with a wink.

THEN: the *trot trot trot* of stumpy plant feet draws closer to the pair…and then fades a bit. And then it comes back in full force - not heavy enough to harshly echo against the solid walls and corridors of the Trisket, yet it does the job announcing Groot's arrival just in time for that personal question Rami begins to pose, his tiny arms fully extended in airplane mode.

Making 'zooming' noises (which sound like rumbling 'Grooooot Groo~oot' to normal, non-Groot attuned ears), the small tree alien 'flies' his way in, running circles around Rocket and Rami. After the second time, he cuts between them, darting sharply on the next turn before finally coming to a stop right in front of the pair.

Yes. There's the little ent. Not too small, but not that big. And that may be a film of fertilizer all over the lower half of his body. Eyes brighten as he looks at the new friend Rocket has made, waving in greeting. "I am Groot!"

"Oh, if only, darling, if only. You see, I'm a handler… which means it is my job to make sure field agents, like yourself, are given all the resources you need to get your job done. Getting you the right gear, the right information… which means, sadly, I must be very charismatic and charming, or I'll be given nothing but glorious shit to work with." The explicit language just flows from her gracefully, fitting in her words without real barbs. She could probably get away with saying fuck around Captain America and he not realize she was using bad language.

It's a talent.

So is laughing warmly at the raccoon who just flirted with her. She shakes her head, expression rueful as she smiles at him. "Oh, darling… I'm very flattered, but I'm afraid that we will never be… for all your positive traits, I'm afraid you are just a bit too short for me." She smiles for him, banter light. "But, what I need to know is — "

And then comes Groot. She turns suddenly to the Groot-747 as he zooms in, and she tracks his movement with amusement in her brown eyes until he settles before her, waving his branchy arms. Having Groot is better than having a puppy, because Rami melts into affection for the little tree. "Hello, Groot." She smiles warmly. "I'm Rami. We were just talking about you. Were your ears burning?"

Rocket nods slowly. "Ah, so that's what you do." Which generally means he should probably be careful around her because he can't deny her being charismatic nor charming, but he seems to like her more for all that she's just said.

His grin shows sharp teeth, a shrug to follow. "Well, tastes can change," he counters, but his ears perk then as he hears the familiar pitter-pat of tiny tree tike tracks. Glancing over and then following his shrunken pal's path as Groot runs about and between them, once the kid's stopped, his nose wrinkles again, this time at the smell that Groot's brought along with him. He flinches, running a hand over his face.

"Ugh, Groot! What'd I tell you about washing off first?!"

There's a tilt of the wooden head. Groot's face changes for a second, puzzled at the expression used. Small hands tentatively reach up to either side of his head, feeling around the areas where human ears are normally found and coming up with nothing. "…I am Groot?"

He then glances up at Rocket, arms shooting up into the air. Another pause takes place as he checks himself, then at the fertilizer trail he's made, arms still raised after everything has been checked. "I am Groot!"

He doesn't mind it at all, but it's been a trial trying to remind him of what to do after he's been playing in gross stuff. "I am Groot." In his humble opinion, it's better than being stuck in a demon's mouth.

"Mm, figure of speech, little one… it speaks to the chance of someone showing up soon after they were being spoken about. No actual fire involved." Parambir smiles gently. "Your friend here was asking after a new fertilizer for you, and I gave him some suggestions."

She arches a thoughtful brow to Rocket, and then smiles back to Groot. She leans in closer to the little tree. "Don't worry. This floor has been smeared in worse things, love." Like demon goo.

Then she looks back to Rocket, and she grins broadly for him. "Now, back to my question… forgive me for prying, but… are you for or against pineapple on pizza?" The question is delivered quite seriously.

The small Guardian eyes the previously-tallest-Guardian critically before giving a nod. "That is true," he replies to Groot. "But you still stink."

Rocket slides a look towards Rami at her reassurance, rolling his eyes. "Yer only gonna encourage him. Let's see if you say that after he tries to hug your face," he says, a corner of his mouth ticking up in a lopsided grin. "Although at least you know what you're steppin' into there."

Oh, what were they talking about again? Flirting aside? The question isn't anything that he'd expected, and it's pretty clear as he looks at her almost blankly before his brow furrows as though she were the alien here.

"What, those big spikey things? Never tried it." He pauses, scratching his head as he looks at Groot. "Or have we? I dunno, I think one night we might've binged on Netflix shows an' ate our way through a pile of pizzas." There was a lot of beer involved. It hadn't been a pleasant time the following morning.

Oh, that makes a lot more sense to him now. "I am Groot," Groot nods at Rami, returning the smile. "I am Groot."

Switching gears, Groot stomps lightly. "I am Groot," he snorts at Rocket, crossing his arms over his chest. Pot, kettle. He only pouts when his friend mentions the hugging part. Because he would totally do that if one isn't on their toes and distracted by his state of weird cuteness.

Not that he was thinking about doing that, but. Anyway.

His knobby brow quirks, sharing a look with the not-raccoon prior to looking over at the agent. "I am…Groot," he slowly states, squinting a bit as he tries to remember what it tastes like. So many pizzas, so many flavors. They all sort of jumbled together into one pizza-flavored glob for him.

…He doesn't like recalling that feeling, either, but it's there. He frowns, rubbing his tummy as it creates phantom aches. "…Groot."

She could have asked whether or not he's a real raccoon, how he can talk, where did he come from, why is he here… there's plenty of probing questions she could have asked. But, then she had considered how she would have reacted to being asked if she was a real human, how she can talk, where did she come from, and why is she here — and they did not seem like the right questions to ask. He's a raccoon. He talks. Groot's a tree. He walks around. There's demons in NYC. She possesses 700 years of memories belonging to her ancestors. What is normal?

"Well, you will have to take a side… it's very American, I'm told." The Londoner of course is quite amused by this.

The stomping foot and words from Groot — even if she is using everything in her handler toolbox to infer words based solely on tone and body language — draws a wry grin from her, and she taps her fingertips at her cheek. "Tree-hugging is a thing on Earth."

Then at the sight of the remembered feeling from Groot, the woman offers him a look of sympathy.

"Hey," Rocket not quite growls at the implication of being stinky too. So he tends to skip baths! He still had one recently and isn't the one currently half-covered in cow poo.

He's also not at all surprised that Groot doesn't remember that one pizza night of many. But he does offer a solemn nod. At the very least they remember never to do that again. There's plenty of other dumb things to try- not that they consider them dumb at the time.

Snort. "American. Well I ain't even Terran, although in general I've come to learn that they eat a lotta weird crap." Things that still moved. Things that weren't cooked. Things that belonged in other things.

"What about you? You a pineappley-thinger person?"

Groot believes Rocket is missing out on swimming around in fertilizer. In his humble opinion, it's quality stuff.

The tree-hugging comment distracts him from the memory of bad pizza binging, turning the corners of his mouth back up. "I am Groot," he coos at Rami, feeling some of that earlier giddiness return. Terrans are strange, but it's nice to know some of them really appreciate trees!

Curiosity seems to peak, however, letting the shrub latch onto Rocket's turning of the same question in Rami's direction. Pineapple seems to be a big deal here.

It's the second time that Rocket has used the word Terran, and she understands its context now. Far better than Earthling. She might even get it on a t-shirt: Terran And Proud. The cooing response from Groot is awarded with a quick wink.

Then, she sits back a bit when Rocket redirects the question her way, and she wrinkles her nose disapprovingly. "I tolerate it." Then she smirks almost self-deprecatingly. "But, I like chicken tikka masala on my pizza."

Realizing quickly that she's used a term that these non-Terrans have no context for, she explains: "Chicken cooked in a very, very hot clay oven, spiced, smothered in a masala — a kind of sauce. Sadly, not at all American for a pizza topping… so I've settled for BBQ chicken as a suitable replacement."

Then she glances at the door that she's still waiting to be opened so she can begin her debriefing after being demon-gooed. Then she looks back at the two Guardians. She decides something after a thoughtful moment. She's been mulling over an idea for the last few days… something about religious artifacts and the demons running around… and there's quite a handsome collection of religious artifacts in the Metropolis Museum of Art… "Who is actually in charge of your assignments? Is it Agent Carter?"

Satisfied that Groot is throughly distracted from potentially trying to attach himself to the woman's leg, Rocket lets his attention drift from the tree tyke as he waits for Rami's answer. "Heh." Sounded fair enough. Although he does squint at her at the addendum. Tikka… Weren't those the funny carved face-looking mugs they liked selling and serving liquor in? Thankfully Rami explains before he can ask.

"Sounds tasty. I won't say no to chicken and sauce. -ooh, but barbeque chicken is an excellent topping for pizza. …man, all this pizza talk is makin' me hungry now." Although with the underlying scent of Groot, he's not quite that sold on the idea of grabbing something to eat just yet.

As he ponders how best to handle the twig for a bath, he finds Rami asking him another question, this time not regarding food. "No one, really. I mean, now an' then Deadeye'd ask us to do stuff. …Coulson, I mean," he clarifies. His mood seems to sober a bit at that, although he's one of the few to know about the truth of whatever dealings might be going on with the thought-to-be-dead agent. There's a lot of weird stuff going on there that he's still not sure about, and he's quick to push off and back into the subject before other questions might be asked.

"Carter asked us to do somethin' a few times too, but so far as regular 'assignments', we don't get too many." Probably because most people don't know what to do with the Guardians. Capable at best. Volatile at worst.

Unfortunately, Groot also thinks the same thing about the Tikka before its explanation. Masala isn't a term Groot hears very often, but the description of it sounds delicious. He's had barbecue sauce before, and he likes that. It shouldn't be too much of a difference if it involves spices. In this way, the simplicity of his thoughts makes it easier to digest. "I am Groot," he agrees, licking the edges of his mouth just thinking about it.

The subject of assignments and charges takes his mind off of food for the moment, and as always he lets Rocket do the talking here. Every time he tries, no one can understand him unless Rocket is there to translate. Or Quill. Even Kitty can understand him a bit now, and he's happy about that development. And although he can't be understood, he knows what's being said; the mention of Coulson makes his head droop a bit, scuffing his foot against the floor to cover the lack of the ability to stand still while the adults are talking. But he lifts it again, trying to stand up straighter so that no one notices.

There is truth to the facts known about the Guardians. Even Groot is classified as dangerous from time to time, but he hasn't really shown that to SHIELD recently. Perhaps it's for the better until the time calls for it.

The mention of Coulson is met with quiet, somber silence. It lingers there until she breathes out a slow exhale, nodding slightly. Then she rubs at the back of her neck as she glances down the hallway in both directions. She looks back at Rocket, and then to Groot — and the tree gets a warmer smile before she leans her elbows on her knees. "Now, that's a good goal for you two E.T.'s… some culinary adventures." Which means that Groot and Rocket are going to end up with Indian food delivered at some point because now she has a mission. Everyone needs to experience food.

The handler considers her next question carefully, debating going with a subtle Have you visited the Met? to a more direct question.

She makes up her mind. With a rueful smile, she cups her palms around either cheek, elbows perched on her knees. "Have you ever robbed a museum?"

These two will never say no to free food, especially tasty food.

However it's the new inquiry that has Rocket giving her a double-take as he wonders if he'd heard Rami right. He blinks, looking down at Groot to make sure he hadn't imagined things. And then once it's confirmed that he hasn't, he resumes that thoughtful posture once again as he tries to think about previous escapades.

The look he slides the handler is a considering one as he can't help but wonder, if briefly, whether this is supposed to be a trap. But what would she have against them that she'd want to get them in trouble? Whatever suspicions tickle at the back of his mind, he pushes them aside for now.

"Rob?" he asks with a laugh. "That's such a terrible word. Now, here an' there we may have borrowed stuff permanently or reappropriated things for better use. And sometimes these things tend to be in hard-to-get-to places or attempted to be kept very safe, although I don't think we've ever um…borrowed anything from a museum before."

Simultaneously, Groot blinks, glancing from Rami to share the look with Rocket. The expression on his face clearly states that he's sure he's heard right. Big eyes turn back to the agent all the same, still curious as to why she asks them about robbery.

He's never kept track of the things they've 'borrowed' for the long-term. But he nods in agreement with what the raccoonoid says, shaking his head shortly afterward. "I am Groot."

As if Parambir almost mind-reads Rocket's suspicious inkling, she holds up her hands slightly. "I'm looking to 'borrow' some artifacts from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This is not the first time that demons have come calling to Earth. As chance would have it, the Met welcomed a traveling exhibit of artifacts from the Crusades. By my research, there's six artifacts on display that may help us deal with our friends. When that door opens," she points at the one she's sitting beside, "I plan to pitch getting into the Met and… borrowing… them. Would you two be interested?"

So, at least she's making sure SHIELD is behind the idea. Then again, if they say no, Rami will probably still do it. She's tasted defiance when she defected from MI-6… and Michael Carter is lost to Hell. She's going to get him back.

Well that changes everything! Fuzzy brows lift at that, and all at once his face is a mask of mischief for which those of his kind seem to be notorious for. Not that he will ever say that he's a raccoon, because there ain't nothing like him but him.

"Oh. Now that sounds like fun. I do like borrowing classy stuff for good purposes." Usually those purposes are his own, but this sounds intriguing at the very least.

"Sure, count me in. Beats carvin' people outta butter."

Yeah, don't ask.

Seeing Rocket go for the offer, Groot bounces in place, clapping his hands together. "I am Groot," he chimes in, all aboard for 'borrowing' stuff that may be important to other people.

But he likes carving butter people, too. With that, Groot looks back at the other Guardian. "I am Groot!" he gasps, sounding appalled.

"Oh shut up," Rocket mutters.

"Carving — no, I think that's a much bigger conversation."

Then the door opens, and Rami smiles ruefully at the two. "Lovely talking to you, darlings. I'll be in touch." She is sweeping out of her seat and stepping in to the debriefing room. She stops just within the doorframe, turning to look at them both. "And don't forget: bloodworm meal… honestly, it's a wonder." Then she starts to step in.

"So, I hear you got slimed," says someone inside the room.

"Please, it was goo… let's start off by being accurate."

Rami gets an emphatic nod in agreement. That conversation was a whole different headache.

"Yeah. Sure. Bloodworms, uh-huh." Rocket waves at her, watching as the handler enters the office.

"Huh. She's an interesting one, ain't she?"

Looking down at Groot, he nearly forgets about the stinky problem until it hits his senses. "Come on. Let's get you cleaned up. Then we might have to go shoot our way to the pizza place."

"I am Groot," the little tree person waves, wishing Rami luck with her debriefing and pitch in his language of three words. And he'll surely remember bloodworm meal. It sounds gross, but he's willing to try it out. "I am Groot!"

After a beat, he's left alone with Rocket again. And he beams. "I am Groot," Groot replies to his friend's observation, concuring wholeheartedly.

A quick run through two different moods set a new course for the sapling, though, as bathtime and a pizza shootout are suggested. Well, he supposes he can be less fertilizer-covered so that they can concentrate on eating. He hops into a run, getting a headstart on their next objectives. "I am Groot!"

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