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Bravery to Try

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No one talks about the fact Quill and Thunder are screwing.

Part of Rocket understands.

It ain’t anyone’s business, really. The Gamora they brought back from the past isn’t the Gamora they all got to know, and once they left the Milky Way, she hopped a shuttle heading for her birth planet with Nebula. Nebula’s kept her promise to keep in contact, but Gamora’s made it clear not only does she not share the feelings their Gamora developed for Quill or any of them, really, but also, right now, she doesn’t have any interest in getting to know them.

He’s actually grateful Drax, Mantis, and Groot haven’t brought it up, though, he knows for sure Mantis is aware it’s happening. Drax, it’s a coin toss, and Groot- Groot’s gotten less moody but is still largely self-centred, and he’s grateful, because, maybe, this means that Thanos’s snap really didn’t do any serious trauma to Groot.

Besides all this, Quill’s gotten a lot less insecure and snappy about Thor’s presence since the screwing began.

So, Quill isn’t cheating on anyone, especially not Gamora, he and Thor are both happier, and it’s not causing any problems.

Except- he might want to kill Quill and yell at Thunder, for reasons he can’t exactly pin down.

Frik my life, is his irritated thought on the matter.

“Rabbit Rocket!”

Looking up from the navigation screen, he sees Thor bounding over in nothing but a towel.

“Spoke too soon,” he mutters.

Turns out, Asgardians are a pretty codependent race. It’s normal for people of all ages to platonically share a bed with friends or family members.

Somehow, probably, because he’s small and- he usually ends up sleeping in Thor’s bed with him. Whenever Thor’s been with Quill, he’s always considerate enough to shower before coming to ask if he (Rocket) will join him.

“Hey, Thor. It won’t be Mantis’s shift for another thirty minutes.”

“I know. I was wondering if you’d like some company. I found the chessboard Stark gave me. Would you like to play?”

Patting Thor’s arm, he answers, “Sure.”

He’s heard from Quill and other Terrans that chess is a game for intellectuals, and he guesses this means that most Terran intellectuals are on par with him and Thor than with the likes of the Pyms, Stark, and the not fully Terran Banner. It’s not hard, and provided the opponent makes effort into giving a challenge, it’s not boring, either.

They set up the board.

“When we land on Ja’tor Theta, would you teach me to shoot a plasma gun along with Tree?”

Surprised, he looks up. “You decided to trade your hammer and axe in, Thunder?”

“No. However, I’ve realised there might truly come a time when I have neither. If that time comes and there are other weapons available, I want to be prepared.”

“Sounds good. Uh, full disclosure: Quill’s- he can be better with a plasma gun. Sometimes.”

“I’d rather you teach me.”

“No prob’em.”

He and Quill have been arguing about Groot being taught, and part of him can see Quill’s side, but Groot asked, and Groot isn’t a baby, anymore.

“Before he was reborn, did he know how to shoot?”

“Uh, no. He- he wasn’t a weapons guy.”

There’s a pang, but he knows better than to lash out.

Thor never met the Groot he knew, and neither did Mantis or Nebula. The others, they only briefly knew him.

Fingers in his fur startle him, but he quickly finds himself relaxing.

“I’m sorry you lost him, Rabbit Rocket. But I’m glad you got a part of him back.”

“Thanks, Thunder.”

When he first came across Baby Groot, he’d thought the little tree would soon grow right back into the big Groot, and now, he’s a little ashamed of such thoughts. Sometimes, he wishes he’d waited and given this Groot a different name.

“That’s why you’re not as hurt about Lady Gamora, isn’t it?”

Making a move, he glances up. “I wouldn’t say I’m not as hurt. Just, yeah, it’s a little easier for me to understand.”

He takes a breath. “Back before we met the other Guardians, Groot was all I had. He was the only one I ever let myself count on. And this Groot, he came from him, but he’s a totally different sort of person. Gamora, though, in a lot of ways, she is just like the one I knew. It’s only the fact that she don’t have to worry about Thanos anymore and ours always did that’s the big change.”

“Do you mind if I ask what the first Tree was like?”

Shaking his head, he tries to think how to answer.

Groot was kind. Wise. Inquisitive. Lonely.

Thinking about how he used to treat that Groot- Groot didn’t deserve such a crummy friend like him. He’d even told Groot this once, when he was drunk, but Groot had simply tucked him into bed and helped him deal with the hangover in the morning.

He swore he’d never be responsible for Baby Groot feeling the way others have made him feel, and he knows he’s done good at not insulting him. He’s surprised himself with his patience at times.

All the same, when he thinks about the Groot he knew, when he imagines him alive with a kid, he has the sinking feeling he’s let him incredibly down. He has doubts Groot would have ever wanted this Groot to turn out the way he has and will. He doubts Groot would have ever let any kid Groot had turn out in such a way.

“He never knew his own worth.”

“Sounds like several people I’ve known,” Thor comments.

And you yourself, he thinks.

Thunder’d probably laugh it off, change the subject, or worse, get pensive, but it’s true. For all Thor takes pride in his skills, there’s a part of him that can no longer let go of all the mistakes, no matter how small, he once made. The fact he’s kind, too, that he’s always treated all of them, this ship full of outcasts, like regular people, that he can be philosophical without being annoying about it, the fact he’s currently kicking his (Rocket’s) ass at chess, laying all this out won’t get Thor a clue.

Studying the board, he sees there’s a chance.

“Why are you sleeping with Quill?”

There was a chance, before he had to go and blurt that out.

Leaning back, Thor studies him with an amused look.

He suddenly wants to fling the board in Thor’s face so that he can find a small place to hide in.

“I’m guessing you don’t mean the same sort of sleeping I do with you?”

“Yeah. I mean, why ya having sex with him?”

Thor shrugs. “Why not? It’s fun. Feels good.”

Before he can reply, Thor continues, “If you’re worried about my intentions, I promise you that you needn’t be. I would never force or coerce sex out of someone, and Quill and I have both been very open and honest about what-”

“But Quill?”

Laughing, Thor makes another move. “Meaning no offence to him- Quill is a brave, skilled warrior. But also, I don’t really have any other choices, Rabbit.”

He almost says, ‘Fair enough,’ but Thor keeps talking.

“I’m not going to be with a stranger in such a way. Drax remains devoted to his wife even in her death. And Lady Mantis, I like her very much as a person, but I have no attraction towards her in regards to sex.”

They both study the board.

“Does it bother you?”

He shrugs.

Yes, he abruptly realises.

Thankfully, he didn’t say this out loud.

The fact he wasn’t even a consideration- it isn’t really a surprise, and it turns out: Jealousy and what might be a small case of heartbreak sucks.

Well, he’s gonna be better than all those idiots who let such things eat them. He has Groot, he has a family, now, he’s made genuine friends, he has a ship, and he’s healthy.

“Just,” he takes a breath, “make sure you both keep being honest. Try your best not to get heartbroken or break his. For the good of the ship, right?”

“That won’t be an issue. What we do together, I enjoy it immensely, and it makes him feel more secure. Better about himself. It’s not about a relationship, though. If he and Lady Gamora ever reconnect or he becomes serious with someone different, I’ll be happy for him. And he doesn’t care if I see others, either.”

“Sounds good,” he says for lack of anything better.

Thor’s next move surprises him, and with a nod, Thor says, “Yes. With some people- I cared deeply about Jane, but I was never with her in such a way.” A half-sad, half-fond smile crosses his face. “I didn’t mind if she was with others while I was gone, and she didn’t mind if I was. Part of me, however, was afraid that, if we were together in such a way, I would be bothered, and I didn’t want that. I- maybe, some part of me did know we were never meant to last.”

“Kinda makes sense,” he offers.

“What about you, Rabbit Rocket? Have you ever-”

“Sex was never about just having fun or really liking someone.” Hoping his glare is fierce, he warns, “Don’t feel bad about that or for me, Thunder.”

At Thor’s nod, he relaxes a little. “I was never forced, but there were a few times when I decided to do it despite not wantin’ to. And the people, most of seemed decent enough for the short time I was around them. Never thought I’d like anyone enough for it to be anything special.”

“And now?”

“And now, I’m not sure, but I think, if I ever did again, I’d want it to be with someone special.”

“What might someone special be like?”

He has no idea how to answer that.

“Rabbit Rocket?”

“I don’t know. I guess a place to start would be someone I like who thinks I’m special. Those people, they didn’t care about me anymore than I did for them. Monogamy, all that, I don’t know, it’s something I’d have to figure out as we went along, but someone who wanted me, liked me, cared about me, that’d be a good first step.”

A few moves later, and he’s won.

“Too bad we didn’t make any bets, huh, Thunder?”

“I’m about to make things awkward.”

“Huh?” He stares. “Okay? After what Drax did with-”

“I don’t expect you to return my feelings, but you should know, unlike with Quill, if you and I were together, I’d want to be your only one. I’d want you to be mine alone for however long we lasted.”

Confusion, utter confusion is the main thing he’s feeling.

“What? Come again. I missed something somewhere.”

“No,” Thor quietly says. “You didn’t.”

Thor apparently likes him, hits him.

Thor wouldn’t be interested in someone- Thor’s sleeping with Quill and was dating a scientist.

He knows there are good scientists who don’t do what was done to him to others, but all the same, he can’t help but side-eye anyone who gets involved with a scientist.

“Okay,” he jumps on the table, “hold it, Thunder. You’re saying you like me. And is this something ya just realised, or have you decided now, instead of however long ago, was the best time to tell me?”

Thor’s hand moves toward him, but at the hesitation, he grabs it.

Sighing, Thor suddenly moves forward, and their foreheads are pressed together. “I’m not exactly sure when I realised it, sweet Rabbit Rocket. When I did, though, I knew I’d never have a chance.”

“You’re an idiot,” he announces. “What in the hell gave you that idea?”

“You’ve never given any sign-”

“Okay, that may be true, but you’re still an idiot.”

Before he can think, he moves forward.

Oh. He never liked kissing before, but he might come to if this ever happens again with Thor.

Thor being brave’s always just been a fact, but now, Thor looks terrified, and yet, despite this, he still quietly says, “I’d like to be your idiot.”

He will never be this sort of brave, but since Thor’s already done the hard part, he doesn’t have to.

“I can’t promise much, Thor. I’ve never been in a relationship, and I tend to think relationships are stupid, and um, I’d always put Groot and maybe even the others before you, but- what I’m trying to say is, if you want to try this, I’ve been wanting you for a long time, too, and I promise, if you want it to just be you and me, I won’t be with anyone else.”

The look on Thor’s face- this has to be a dream or something else. There’s no way he could ever make someone look so happy.

“Hello.”

He's glad to see Thor jumped, too.

Mantis waves. “I thought I’d start my shift early.” Her antennas land on the chess board underneath him. “Oh, unless you’re playing, then, I’ll-”

“Thanks, Mantis. No, we’re done playing. C’mon, Thor.”

He’s seen Thor after Thor was with Quill, and Thor was always happy, but he’s never seen Thor like this.

At some point, Thor’s fake eye was removed, and now, laying loose-limbed on the bed, Thor’s drowsily gazing at him with an almost painfully soft, trusting look in his remaining eye.

Finishing cleaning them up, he threads his fingers through Thor’s short again hair. “That good?”

Reaching for him, Thor pulls him closer. “Better than I imagined,” is the mumbled reply. “Thank you, Rocket.”

“Yeah, for me, too.”

He almost asks if, since they’ve just had sex, does Thor want him to go, but he realises: Thor wouldn’t be curled around him if Thor wanted space.

This is good, because, the last thing he wants is to leave Thor and go sleep alone in his own bed tonight.

In the morning, Thor talks to Quill in private, and later, when the others are all occupied, Quill comes to talk to him.

Or: Quill’s an asshole who looks him over, and then, bursts into laughter. “Oh, man, maybe I should feel offended, but then, the fact your Pirate Angel is head-over-hills for you-”

He tosses a coaster at Quill’s head. “Believe me, I had a similar reaction when I realised what you two were doing.”

Getting his smile mostly under control, Quill sits down beside him. “In all seriousness, if he makes you happy, I’m glad for you.”

“I think he will. Just hope I can return the favour.”

Quill runs a hand down his back, and he’s long since gave up fighting against leaning into the touch. “You’re already more than halfway there, man.”

“Thanks.” He steels himself. “Uh, are you- I know how good he is, now, so-”

Showing he isn’t a complete d-bag, Quill shakes his head. “He’s good, but it was just some fun. I promise you, buddy, you don’t have to worry about me being jealous or tempting him.”

“Awesome,” he says. “And I promise you, you don’t have to worry about me- I’m going to try not to screw things up.”

He probably will, anyways, but there is a chance he won’t. Once upon a time, he told Groot they’d never be anything but temporary business partners, and the idea of him being a Guardian of the Galaxy and making a home, never mind with other people, he knew down to his bones nothing like that would ever happen.

Patting Quill, he jumps down to go sit with Thor and Groot.