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deviation in storage by DarkEclipse360



"Ha! You dare challenge us?" Drax roared in defiance, his twin knives flashing menacingly.

Some of the enemy bodyguards actually stepped back when he glared at them. Peter couldn't really blame them – they all saw what he was capable of during the fight against the Moon Clan. Gamora brandished her sword almost casually and the offhandedness of her gesture somehow made her all the more intimidating. Groot was flexing his moss-covered shoulders and cracking his great wooden knuckles loudly. Peter thought some of those bodyguard dudes just might be wetting their pants right this minute.

But if they were caught in a firefight now, what would become of Rocket?

"Guys, I know we're awesome and all, but we're not exactly bullet-proof!" Peter hissed, nodding towards the shivering bundle in his arms.

"Just keep the small one safe," Drax assured him with a grim smile, "and we will end this quickly."

"I am Groot," their talking tree offered, thick wooden arms beckoning.

That's right, Peter thought, smirking, Groot's bark is pretty bullet-proof, after all...

"Ignoring me, hm? That's not exactly polite," Brandt pouted, fiddling with something behind his back. "Fine, if you refuse to relinquish those threatening weapons... your little ferret will pay the price."

"Pete...!" Rocket gave a distressed squeak.

When Peter looked down, he saw that the raccoon's eyes were wide with panic. He was clawing desperately at the collar around his neck. To Peter's horror, he saw that the thing was constricting! He tried to remove the vile contraption from his friend, but his fingers just couldn't seem to grasp any kind of release mechanism. Rocket's urgent panting turned to choking.

"Stop it!" Gamora cried. "Turn it off!"

"Only if you lay down your weapons," Brandt said with an oily smile. "And step away from them, if you please."

"Bastard!" Peter spat, but, knowing that Rocket couldn't last much longer, quickly threw down his blasters and took a few steps back.

The others followed his example and the collar finally eased up just enough for Rocket to catch his breath. The raccoon gasped and coughed and spluttered, but at least he was breathing. He looked up at Peter with wet, slightly unfocused eyes. Running his hand through Rocket's fur, Peter grit his teeth in frustration. The slime ball had Rocket as a hostage without even having to get near him.

"Now, hand over the unique little beast so that we may conclude our long overdue business here," Brandt ordered and a burly bodyguard stepped forward, holding out a pet carrier. Brandt's greedy grin broadened as he elaborated: "I will have to receive some form of compensation for the significant damage you all have done to my luxurious home. You see, it has come to my attention that this loud-mouthed creature is highly sought after in certain distant star systems... I've seen what the Kree were willing to offer the Moon Clan for him. There are others as well. I am sure to be compensated handsomely."

Peter felt the raccoon tense up as the business man spoke, but all he could do was keep stroking the soft fur. He wasn't quite sure who he was trying to comfort anymore; Rocket or himself.

"You fiend!" Drax growled.

"You must be out of your mind to think we'd put Rocket in a cage willingly!" Gamora ground out, furious.

"Would you rather I strangle your vulgar little pet?" Brandt asked, shrugging nonchalantly, as though he had no other choice but to be an asshole.

Dammit! Peter thought. He needed an escape plan, and he needed it now! Dammit-dammit-dammit!

The sniper took up position on the roof, making sure he had a near perfect view of the courtyard. For a moment, his eyes lingered on the regrettably ruined Moon Font. The blast had all but disintegrated the fountain completely, leaving behind nothing but rubble and a few trickles of holy water.

He had been too late to see what exactly had happened, but he was sure the Brandt boy's talking rodent was responsible for the explosion. He scratched irritably at the bandages wound all around his forearms. The rude little fur ball was half-hidden behind the huge tree-monster at the moment – all he could make out was a ringed tail and part of a shoulder.

His gaze swept the rest of the courtyard, taking in all the players. Conditions were less than perfect, and he only fired when he was absolutely sure of his shot.

With all the patience of the moon-blessed ocean, he watched the scene below unfold.

Deathly silence reigned in the courtyard as Brandt waited for the Guardians' answer.

Not another cage... Rocket thought in dismay. Not when he'd come so close to freedom... They wouldn't do that to him, right? Not his family...?

As if in answer to this question, Quill spoke up.

"Rocket," he said softly, "it's your call."

What a choice – get in the cage and once again become a prisoner, or death by strangulation. Rocket didn't really have to think about his answer long. He didn't want to die, of course not, but at least he would be with his family when it happened and not off on some frickin' alien operating table.

"A brilliant idea – let's have the untamed animal decide, shall we?" Brandt laughed. "What do you say, 'Rocket'? Will you give yourself up willingly, or can I start killing off your defenceless friends?"

What? Rocket's heart slammed hard against his ribs. No, that's not fair...!

"I think we'll start with the big wooden guy," Brandt continued cheerfully, "Sam #2, did you bring the flame thrower?"

"Right here, Mr Brandt, sir," the bodyguard in question replied.

And suddenly Rocket was confronted once more with the ugly realization that having people you cared about truly was a weakness that others could and would exploit to hurt you.

"I am Groot," the big tree said quietly, from what Rocket could see he was probably eyeing the flame thrower.

"A-Are you nuts!?" Rocket croaked. "Forget it! N-No!"

"I am Groot," he said again without blinking.

"Like hell, Groot! I'm n-not losing–" Rocket was interrupted by a vicious coughing fit. His insides were on fire again and it felt like he just might cough up a lung right there and wouldn't be surprised to find it was filled with burning coals. Groot waited patiently until the shaking raccoon got his breath back and could all but shout at the dumb tree: "D-Don't you dare die for me, Groot, ya hear me!? Don't you dare!"

Groot stared at him sadly. Gamora's eyes seemed bigger and rounder than usual and Drax's forehead held a few more creases than was normal for him. Quill looked like he'd swallowed something sour that made his stomach ache. Each, in their own way, wore the same expression.

Weakness or not, Rocket knew that these were his flarking people. Sure, he was no hero, not in the traditional sense, but he wasn't about to let anybody take any more hits for him if he could help it. He was done with being the cause of others getting hurt.

"Rocket..." Quill began in that tone that Rocket knew was meant to soften him up and change his mind, but the stubborn raccoon was having none of it.

"Put me down, Quill," Rocket said slowly.

"But Rocket–"

"Put me down or I'll bite yer krutacking face off!" Rocket yelled with as much force as he could muster.

Instead of getting angry at being threatened like the raccoon expected him to, Quill just suddenly had the most heartbroken smile on his face.

"All right, buddy, if that's what you wanna do..." he said, reluctantly lowering the raccoon to the ground. His eyes said something else, though. We'll come for you, his eyes said, no matter where they take you, we'll come for you.

Rocket nodded solemnly, then turned to face his fears.

The boy, Timmy, was only half awake as he was carried off in the safety of the big bodyguard's arms. Something kept him from dozing off completely, however. It was an odd feeling, a sort of buzzing energy that seemed to flow through his veins. He barely remembered anything from the strange ritual except for the feeling of being drained of life, of his very soul. And then he had felt a sudden jolt as he was snapped back into himself. When that man exploded – Timmy was sure he exploded; Rocket must have gotten his paws on a grenade somehow – something, something besides his own strength had surged into Timmy, leaving behind a strange, tingling residue.

"Wait a minute," Timmy exclaimed, eyes snapping open, "Sam, where's Rocket?"

"There may still be enemies about. Mr Brandt said to take you to safety immediately, young Master Timmy," Sam replied, keeping his eyes fixed ahead, "so I am taking you to the car."

"But, Rocket! He was hurt when I last saw him!" Timmy argued.

Sam ignored him. It was when good-natured Sam, one of the few of Father's staff who ever really spoke to him or showed any interest at all, refused to talk to him or even look him in the eye that Timmy realized something was wrong.

When they reached the car, Sam opened the door and hurriedly deposited Timmy into the vehicle despite the boy's protests. Then the man was getting something from the trunk. A heavy-looking weapon and a... box? No, a cage!

"Sam, I need to go back!" he cried, a bubble of fear rising in his throat.

"Master Timmy, just... just wait in the car," Sam said seriously, still avoiding the boy's eyes.

The man's shoulders were slumped and he was talking in that "this is adult business" tone Father so often used with Timmy when he really didn't want to answer the boy's questions. It was usually followed up with something like "you wouldn't understand" or "go to your room and play something on your computer". It had been the same ever since Mother's funeral and Timmy had, in a way, become used to it. It was now, when Sam – someone who had probably been the closest thing Timmy ever had to a friend until Rocket – used that same tone with him, that it really hurt.

"Please, you can't just leave me here!" Timmy begged, pounding on the window when the bodyguard turned his back on the car and started walking away. "Sam, please, he's my friend!"

Sam kept on walking without looking back. Soon his shadow was swallowed up in the surrounding darkness. After all Rocket had been through to save Timmy, Father would still put him in a cage? It was so unfair! Timmy stared out into the night, feeling more helpless than he'd felt in his entire life, and that included quite a collection of helpless moments. His vision blurred with unshed tears, he looked up at the moon, nothing more than a yellow puddle to his eyes, and did the most childish thing he'd done in a very long time; he made a little wish.

Was it his imagination, or did the moon seem bigger? Forcefully wiping the tears away, he frowned up at it. It was bigger.

Something made him think of flexing his legs. Wait... since when could he do that? Experimentally, he wriggled his toes and gasped aloud when they responded. Could it be true?

As if in a dream, he opened the car door and climbed out. Blinking in disbelief, he put one foot in front of the other... and started walking.

His wavering steps grew heavier and heavier the closer he came to the cage. Brandt stood over him, wearing a twisted smile. Rocket could smell the residue of chemicals wafting from the cage – though he did not think he would have recognized the thing with his eyes, his nose told him that this was the same cage they'd first captured him in. For a moment he stood frozen before the open cage, unable to make himself take that last step.

And then there were hands everywhere. Hands, roughly grabbing his arms and his legs, forcing him into the cramped steel trap. His breath hitched as memories of forever ago came bubbling over reality and thrusting him back into the past, into that cold place with the hands and the needles and the fear and the pain. This is where you get torn apart. Don't worry, they will put you back together, because they need you whole in order to tear you apart again...

Rocket was jolted out of his trance by Brandt speaking once more.

"Kill them," the pale pink business man instructed his men coldly.

And something snapped inside of Rocket.

The cage door had not yet completely closed. The owners of the grasping hands were distracted by the unexpected order. He fought back. Using the last weapons available to him, his teeth, he ripped through the hands clutching him on all sides until they let go. He squirmed his way past the gripping fingers tearing at his fur.

He knew he was too late the moment he felt the d'ast collar clamp shut around his windpipe once again, but he sure as hell wasn't going down without taking that bastard with him. Trying to block out the excruciating pressure around his throat, Rocket moved to attack Brandt. Maybe he could rip the man's throat open with his fangs.

But his vision was clouding over and his legs refused to respond. Somehow, he found himself on his knees, just a little too far from Septimus flarking Brandt to do anything to him except glare.

Can't even do this right... Rocket thought bitterly as he felt consciousness slipping away from him.

"Father, stop!" a small voice rang clearly across the courtyard.

All of Brandt's bodyguards stood frozen.

"T-Timmy, what...!?" Brandt faltered.

And then Rocket knew he was only seeing what he wanted to see. His oxygen-deprived mind was showing him something that his eyes told him was simply not possible: he saw Timmy, the boy in the wheelchair, running up to him, keycard in hand.

There was an electronic beep, followed by a click, and fresh air came rushing back into Rocket's lungs as the pressure from the collar ceased. The device that had caused him so much trouble fell to the concrete with a resounding clang, golden bell tinkling one last time.

The next few moments of Rocket's life consisted of simply breathing and relishing in the fact that he could.

"Timmy, how- how is this possible? You... Your legs...!" Brandt blubbered, disbelieving. "You're healed!"

"Father, please, listen to me," Timmy said, the boy's usually timid voice gaining intensity as his confidence grew, "I want you to let Rocket and his friends go."

"Wh-Why?" Brandt asked petulantly. "Timmy, don't you see? I-I'm doing this for you, I...! Don't... Don't you want your little pet back?"

"He's not a pet, Father," Timmy replied with conviction, "he's my friend. The only real friend I've had since..." The boy hung his head and made to let his sentence trail off unfinished. At this point, Rocket dragged himself to his feet and lightly touched Timmy's knee. The boy seemed to draw strength from the contact and looked back up, a determined light in his eyes. "My only real friend since Mother. Before I met Rocket, I was alone."

Septimus G Brandt's expression was a little like someone had slammed a door on his fingers.

"But, son," Brandt protested, "what makes you say that? I am your father – how can you say that you were alone? I-" The business man took a deep breath and seemed to steel himself. "I promised your mother I would give you the best life money can buy... I gave you a home, an education and anything your heart desired. Didn't your life of luxury make you happy?"

"When was the last time we spent any time together?" Timmy asked quietly. "We don't even have supper together anymore. We live in the same house, but we hardly ever talk to each other."

The pompous billionaire seemed to deflate.

"Oh, and just so ya know, the greedy lying g-gronad was gonna have my friends killed and then sell me to the frickin' Kree!" Rocket piped up as soon as he had his voice back, figuring now was as good a time as any to dispense some well-deserved payback.

The big bodyguard, who was apparently called Sam #2, comically tried to hide the bulky form of the flame thrower behind his back. Brandt, however, did not try to disguise his actions. Instead, he looked down right ashamed of himself.

And he krutacking-well ought to be! Rocket thought, caressing his tender throat. His head was throbbing and his eyelids felt heavy.

The boy turned to Rocket and knelt down so he was at eye level with the raccoon.

"I'm really sorry my father hurt you," Timmy said, slowly and deliberately placing his hand on Rocket's shoulder. "But I'm very glad we met."

The raccoon shrugged nonchalantly.

"Thanks for the save, kid," he replied earnestly.

Rocket's eyes sought out his family. There was still an uncomfortable chill in his bones and all he really wanted to do was sleep. His head swam. His sore body demanded rest and, though he would never admit it to anyone, he longed to be carried around for a bit. Somehow, if it was one of them doing the carrying, it felt... safe.

"Well, I guess that settles everything, guys!" Quill declared, strolling on over like he was the one who single-handedly resolved the conflict. Stupid attitude or not, Rocket would be lying if he said he wasn't glad to see him.

Just then, the happy silence Rocket had been revelling in was shattered by a resounding gunshot. And there was blood everywhere.

How to Buy Happiness - Chapter 9
Summary: Rocket is kidnapped by someone who thinks that money can buy everything!

This is the next chapter of my Rocket-centric fanfic. I've had it on FFnet for some time now, but while I'm gathering more inspiration to continue its sequel, A Game of Cat and Mouse, I thought I would upload my story here on DeviantArt, too.

A great big hug to anyone who takes the time to read! Tight Hug Comments are always appreciated! Heart

Chapter One: Guns
Previous Chapter: Family

The preview image was a commission done by :iconkareos:


The unstable laugh rolling out of the rotund man in front of him gave Rocket shivers. An elaborately decorated ceremonial knife appeared in the man's hand. He approached the cornered raccoon with a lopsided grin. The crescent moons carved into the blade caught the light and gleamed menacingly.

"I'll show you what I'm going to do with your sad excuse for family!" Gibbous Bisonbait said in a breathy chuckle.

The man's threat of selling him in little pieces was still fresh in Rocket's mind. He edged away from the maniac with the fancy knife as far as the restraint on his wrist allowed, but Bisonbait's slow and inexorable advance soon brought him almost nose to nose with the raccoon. Well, not nose to nose exactly, now that he'd had first-hand experience with Rocket's vicious biting capabilities (Next, the bastard was probably going to want to pull his teeth! Rocket grimaced inwardly), but uncomfortably close anyway.

As the crazy man raised his knife-wielding hand, Rocket flinched back. But then the knife was slicing through the leather restraint attached to the bed and pudgy fingers dug into the back of the raccoon's neck as he was lifted into the air by his scruff. A numb tingle began to spread through his limbs.

He struggled and kicked and cursed until he was out of breath, fighting the unpleasant numbness as much as the man's hold, but nothing could loosen the bruising grip the bastard had on him. Why did big people always insist on carrying him around like this? He thought of blowing this jerk up in a glorious explosion right here and now. But there were too many variables and he did not have enough of an escape plan yet. He knew next to nothing of the layout of the old hospital and he still needed to find the kid. No, Rocket had to wait for the perfect moment to use his last grenade. With luck, this hairless gronad was taking him straight to Timmy and they could escape together.

What felt like endless tiled hallways went by, all identical except for different stages of decay. As he hung there, unable to free himself, Rocket's thoughts drifted to his rescuers. They were probably having all the fun without him, guns blazing and elbow-deep (all right, more likely it was hip-deep at their height) in fallen and falling enemies. He could just see Quill bobbing his head in that insufferable way he did when he was doing battle with his headphones on. Gamora would be certain death in motion – that dangerous dame made killing into a form of art. Compared to the lithe green assassin, Drax was more like a bulldozer on the battlefield... a bulldozer on steroids. Well, people didn't go around calling him Destroyer for nothing. And Groot, Rocket's great big best friend would be mowing down his enemies with ferocity, but still be ever ready with a goofy smile.

How Rocket wished with all his heart that he could be with those blasted idiots right now.

They came to a courtyard that must have once been connected to the cafeteria, if the rotten stone tables and benches arranged all along the edges were any indication. Now, it looked like these moon goons had turned the place into some sort of open-air temple. Rocket guessed that the fountain commanding the centre of the courtyard was either restored or new, since its stone was smooth and polished and the fountain was in working order. Wistful thoughts of Groot came unbidden to the raccoon's mind at the sight of the burbling water.

He didn't have much time to consider this strange form of nostalgia, however, as his eyes found Timmy sitting in the corner in that old wheelchair. The boy looked up and, at seeing Rocket, a relieved smile lit up his pale pink features. He looked a little frightened, but otherwise unharmed, Rocket noted gratefully.

Gibbous Bisonbait seemed to notice the exchange. He turned a smug and rather vicious smile on the raccoon hanging helplessly in his grasp. By now, Rocket had lost most of the feeling in his arms and legs from being held by the scruff for so long.

"Say goodbye to your pathetic family, rodent," the fat man smirked.


And then it hit him. The man had assumed when Rocket talked during his outburst about having a family that he'd been referring to Timmy, because, of course, he did not know about the Guardians of the Galaxy. Rocket felt a nasty, sinking feeling settling in his gut.

"The time will soon come for us to defend ourselves and our most holy shrine..." Gibbous Bisonbait intoned dramatically. "The Moon Sisters demand payment in blood. Ready the boy!"

Two black-robed acolytes immediately stepped forward to haul Timmy out of the wheelchair and place him on an oversized stone bench in the middle of the courtyard, just opposite the fountain. The boy's eyes were wide with fear. Rocket felt a spike of guilt rip through him. If only he'd kept his mouth shut...

"Wait!" Rocket cried, willing his numb limbs to move, trying in vain to twist himself out of the grip so he could bite the bastard's hand again. "Ya got it all wrong, that ain't—"

"Here, hold this," the fat man said disdainfully, shoving the struggling Rocket at a nearby guard. "Careful, it bites."

"But sir, you said no harm was to come to the boy," one of the armoured soldiers protested. "We were to ransom him back to his father for a staggering amount of credits, as part of our campaign to bring down Brandt Industries. W-We even prepared a ransom video to be sent at your command—"

"That was before I discovered how much this little monster is worth," the fat man remarked, giving Rocket's nose a vengeful flick. "We'll have more than enough funds for our campaign. Not to worry, Brandt will still be brought low. Imagine how distraught he'll be when he finds nothing but a used up husk of his only son, knowing he suffered at the hands of the Moon Clan!"

Gibbous Bisonbait removed his sandals, then delicately lifted his robes as he climbed over the ledge and into the fountain. The water seemed to pulse higher as he did so.

"W-What are you doing?" Timmy asked, voice pleading, as the two robed figured secured his hands in place with manacles.

This is my fault... Rocket thought bitterly as the acolytes flanking the boy each unsheathed a ceremonial belt knife.

He forced himself to watch as they drew the blades across the boy's open palms as part of their macabre ritual. The moon worshippers shuffled over to the fountain and dipped their reddened knives into the water. The fountain spiralled ever higher, eventually hiding the fat, robed man inside it from sight.

This is all my fault... Rocket thought as he watched Timmy slump forward slightly like he was in some sort of magic-induced trance.

Blasting through crowds of Moon Clan soldiers and bobbing his head in time to Hooked on a Feeling, Peter Quill, also known as Star-Lord, couldn't help feeling a little bit like a hypocrite. He was mad at the Moon Clan for betraying them, but here he was, betraying them right back. The moon dudes hadn't been completely honest with him, so he was pretty sure he was still in the right, but it was damn well confusing.

It wasn't every day a guy signed up for an infiltration mission and ended up fighting alongside the very people he'd intended to rob. Well, 'rob' wasn't technically the right word, since they weren't planning on stealing from Brandt and his lackeys, just on getting their missing team mate back. How was he supposed to know that the crazy moon-worshipping clowns he'd been working with not too many hours ago would end up kidnapping not only an innocent kid, but also the very team mate Peter and his team had set out to rescue?

Even more ironic was the fact that, if Brandt hadn't put that high-tech, evil-sounding collar on Rocket, they wouldn't have been able to trace the enemy's location. Of course, if it hadn't been for Brandt kidnapping Rocket, this mess wouldn't have happened in the first place.

Septimus G Brandt had been so desperate to get his son back, he'd put all his resources at the Guardians' disposal. The man had even personally escorted them to the site in his limousine. It felt strange having an army of bodyguards fighting at his side, but he was definitely grateful for the assistance. There were hundreds of these Moon Clan bozos, so Peter certainly appreciated the numbers Brandt's bodyguards added to the field.

Not that any of the Guardians seemed to be having a hard time cutting down moon zombies. Gamora had a clear space around her at all times as the enemies learned to keep their distance from her or lose limbs. Drax was a whirlwind of fists, daggers and feet that left a trail of bodies wherever he went. And Groot, of course, stood head and shoulders above anyone in the crowd. Every now and then, a soldier would come flying over Peter's head from that direction as the big tree man hurled enemies from his path. Peter himself brought his blasters to bear, utilizing his boot jets to move quickly through the armoured men and surprising them from unexpected directions.

The only thing that was missing was the crazed laughter of their trigger-happy raccoon as he laid waste to stragglers with those big ass guns he loved so much. Well, Peter would be fixing that soon enough.

Suddenly there were no more enemies between the Guardians and the main courtyard, where the tracking device indicated Rocket's location. Peter took off his headphones and surveyed their hard work with what he hoped was a serious expression – he really wanted to do an air punch at being so close to finally getting Rocket back.

"What is that?" Drax rumbled uncertainly, making Peter look up.

A tall pillar of water was spouting from the centre of the courtyard up ahead, fountaining a good two storeys into the air. High up in the sky, the moon seemed much bigger than it had earlier that evening.

"That can't be good," Gamora murmured, "let's go!"

The Guardians of the Galaxy stormed the courtyard. The first thing Peter noticed upon entering, was, naturally, the giant pillar of water. It seemed to come from the stone basin of an ancient-looking fountain. Across from the fountain, a boy was sitting slumped on a stone bench, his arms held to the bench by metal cuffs. Finally, Peter's eyes located Rocket. One of the enemy soldiers was clutching him by the scruff of his neck. The raccoon's eyes were fixed on the boy by the fountain.

"Okay, the game is up!" Peter declared to the cowering black-robed men beside the boy's chair, placing his hands on his hips for more effect. "You're welcome to untie the kid and surrender, because we're breaking up this sermon!"

"You'll do no such thing!" a monstrous voice erupted from within the fountain.

A grotesque, red-eyed figure stepped out of the wall of water. Peter had only a moment to recognize him as a hideously bloated, glow-in-the-dark version of the fat man who had first let the Guardians into the Moon Clan's secret hideout before the man raised his glowing hand, palm up, and hit Peter with a blast of air and water that slammed him into one of the crumbling stone benches surrounding the courtyard.

Black spots swam before his eyes as he fought to stay conscious. He was aware of Drax charging the unnatural being. At the same time, Gamora flanked their hideous enemy, sword singing as it arched through the air on its path to drinking Gibbous Bisonbait's blood. Groot came lumbering in from a third direction, barbed vines already stretching to impale their foe.

Time seemed to slow as Peter watched his team come within a hair's breadth of reaching the glowing, super-powered villain. There was a noise like a thunderclap, then a moment's silence before a shock wave pummeled everyone around the crazed moon priest, knocking Brandt bodyguards, moon soldiers and Guardians alike off their feet.

"You might as well give up now," the bloated man laughed in a voice like an earthquake. As he spoke, the spittle that flew from his lips became a torrent of wind and rain. "I have been blessed by the power of the Moons! None of you can touch me!"

Peter looked over his downed team mates. Gamora was recovering quickly, but Drax hit his head hard and Groot was pinned to the wall by a pillar of water stemming from the main column at the heart of the fountain. Out of the corner of his eye, Peter caught the motions of a furry tail swishing furtively – Rocket. A determined frown grew on the half-terran's face and he staggered to his feet.

"You think you're so tough!" he shouted at the top of his lungs to be heard over the abnormal storm raging in the courtyard. "You're nothing but a kidnapper and a bully!"

"You measly little insect! I will crush you!" raged the swollen Gibbous Bisonbait, eyes glowing with sinister red light as he advanced towards Peter. "I'll teach you to respect the power of—"

An almost comical expression crossed the fat man's face as a small metal object came sailing through the air, bounced once and rolled to a stop right in front of his feet. He had a full second to stare at the grenade on the ground before him in utter puzzlement.

"Eat shrapnel, jackass!" Rocket crowed triumphantly.

Peter covered his face as the courtyard erupted in flying pieces of stone, metal shards and moon fanatic innards.

The tempest in the courtyard had not yet cleared when Rocket Raccoon half-ran, half-fell his way towards the great stone bench in the middle of the courtyard. Guilt was a hungry thing, gnawing at his insides. He practically lurched up onto the armrest to undo the manacles around the boy's wrists. Hurriedly, he fumbled the iron clasps open before scurrying into the boy's lap, all the while mumbling apologies. He took Timmy's face in both paws and carefully lifted the boy's head.

"M'sorry, kid, m'so sorry," he gasped. "Please... don't be dead..."

He nearly collapsed out of pure relief when Timmy's eyes opened.

"Rocket..." the boy rasped, grinning. "I'm so glad you're okay..."

"Me?" Rocket frowned incredulously. "Yer the one who had to sit through a frickin' ritual!"

"I'm all right, really," Timmy replied.

The boy looked pale and tired. He looked relieved. He did not, however, look hurt, thank goodness.

"I'll take it from here, kitty," a big voice said from behind, nearly making Rocket jump.

The goon whom Rocket had tasered back when the guy had been chasing him up and down the Brandt manor house trying to recapture him cast a huge shadow, blocking out the now thankfully normal moonlight from above. Rocket's heart was in his throat as he checked the big man's hands for that nasty bottle of spray. But, for once, the Brandt household bodyguard only had eyes for the boy at the raccoon's side.

"Ah, hi, Sam," Timmy said with an exhausted smile, "I'm glad to see you..."

"Come on, Master Timmy," the beefy bodyguard said, kneeling and gently gathering the boy in his arms, "let's get you home."


The word hit Rocket with force akin to a fist in the gut. The raccoon felt another pang of that painful nostalgia he'd never known before discovering he had a family. It was longing mixed with hollow, desolate sadness. It was a very uncomfortable feeling and Rocket decided that he hated it. If it hurt like this whenever you missed your family, having a home and a family was nothing but a weakness. With a twinge of anxiety, he realized that that meant he was really better off not having one. Hot on the heels of this idea came another absurd realization – he didn't care. He wanted this. He wanted to call that bunch of losers his family and he wanted them to come to his rescue and the very idea of losing that scared him so much he—

"Rocket!" a voice he knew all too well called out to him, startling him out of the disorienting maelstrom of his thoughts.

Were they really here this time? Or was he hallucinating again?

Slowly, he turned around, hoping he could believe his eyes.

Peter's heart ached for the little guy as he watched Rocket stumble towards them unsteadily. The little raccoon had a limp in his step and his tail dragged behind him in a bedraggled manner. He seemed to favour his one side and Peter was horrified to notice dried blood on the clothing there. Rocket's usually bright and mischievous eyes seemed a bit glassy and distant. Cuts and scrapes marred the raccoon's muzzle and drooping ears, and despite his slow pace, Rocket seemed to be panting slightly. Groot was immediately at his tiny best friend's side, but Rocket just stood there looking up at him tiredly. He made no move to scurry up onto his usual secure perch on the tree man's shoulder.

"I am Groot?" the tall wooden man asked softly and Rocket shook his head, spreading his small hands. This seemed to agitate Groot. "I AM GROOT!"

Peter and the other Guardians winced at Groot's outraged bellow.

"I-It'll grow back, ya d'ast idiot," Rocket laughed softly, but it sounded forced, "don't make a fuss..."

But Groot was still angry and Rocket looked inconsolable with that fake smile on his face and even though Peter had no idea what it was about, he could no longer stand it. In two long strides, he closed the distance between himself and Rocket and scooped the vulnerable little creature up in his arms. Predictably, Rocket went stiff as a fence post at this, but Peter wasn't about to be put off. He braced himself for the sharp little claws as Rocket instinctively gripped his shirt, sharp little claws that never came... and suddenly Peter understood their tree giant's rage. Someone had trimmed Rocket's nails down to blunt little stubs.

What else had they done to him that Peter could not see with his eyes?

Hoping to convey a feeling of safety to his small friend, Peter held Rocket gently but firmly against his chest. Drax was the first to comprehend Peter's gesture and stepped forward, placing a large hand with surprising tenderness on the top of Rocket's head. Gamora was not far behind, lacing slender green fingers through the fur of Rocket's cheek. Lastly, Groot stomped closer, his great wooden hands splayed open wide so they could touch Rocket's shoulder and encompass each of the other Guardians' hands as well. They stood there like that, huddled around their lost and found family member. And then, finally, Rocket, too, understood what they were trying to say and relaxed into Peter's hold, letting out a long, shaky breath.

"It's all right, buddy," Peter spoke in a low whisper, meant for no one's ears but the raccoon, "we're gonna take you home."

"Wha'took you guys so long?" Rocket murmured with his face pressed into the material of Peter's jacket.

"Well, you know," Peter quipped playfully, "we had to pick up Gamora's dry-cleaning and we absolutely had to stop for take-out along the way..."

"We did no such thing!" came Drax's scandalized exclamation. "Furry friend, as soon as we heard that you were in peril—"

"Not literally, Drax," Rocket laughed quietly – a real laugh this time, if slightly subdued, but that counted as a victory.

At first, Peter took that small tremor in Rocket's body for silent mirth. But when the trembling didn't stop or slow, Peter looked down at the quivering creature with concern and saw that the raccoon was shivering.

"Rocket, buddy, are you okay?" he asked.

"Just c-cold, 's all," Rocket stammered. "Could do with summa that take-out right about now..."

But the usually cold and wet nose was too hot for comfort. Rocket's ear flicked irritably as Peter held it between two fingers. He found that the insides of Rocket's ears were much too warm, too.

"You're burning up," he said.

"Screw that, I'm f-freezing my fuzzy little ass off here...!" Rocket complained faintly, teeth chattering.

The overheating little furball burrowed deeper into Peter's jacket, desperate for body heat, his breath coming in short, strained gasps hot as any furnace. The defiant eyes slid closed and if it wasn't for the short, harsh breaths, Peter might have thought Rocket was only sleeping.

Gamora broke their protective huddle reluctantly.

"He is ill," she said decisively as she looked Rocket over, "we have to do something."

"First, we should take him away from this place," Drax agreed, his gaze travelling over the many fallen enemies and what was left of Gibbous Bisonbait. "Then we can take him to a medical facility."

"N'doctors..." Rocket groaned, shaking his head weakly.

"That's not debatable, Rocket," Gamora replied not unkindly, stroking his fur sympathetically.

Instead of arguing, Rocket only let out a miserable sigh, a sure sign of how sick he really was.

"All right, everybody, let's mosey," Peter announced with his best swagger.

"Not so preposterously fast, good sir," Septimus G Brandt's voice rang out across the courtyard. The business man's smile was filled with avarice as he ran his eyes over the trembling bundle of fur clutched to Peter's chest. "I believe you still have something rare and exotic that belongs to me..."

"Well, $#!&..." Peter cursed whole-heartedly as the bodyguards who had been fighting alongside them mere moments ago all turned and aimed their guns at the Guardians of the Galaxy.
How to Buy Happiness - Chapter 8
Summary: Rocket is kidnapped by someone who thinks that money can buy everything!

This is the next chapter of my Rocket-centric fanfic. I've had it on FFnet for some time now, but while I'm gathering more inspiration to continue its sequel, A Game of Cat and Mouse, I thought I would upload my story here on DeviantArt, too.

A great big hug to anyone who takes the time to read! Tight Hug Comments are always appreciated! Heart

Chapter One: Guns
Previous Chapter: Hurt
Next Chapter: Friend

The preview image was a commission done by :iconkareos:


It was dark, even to Rocket's usually keen eyes.

The pitch darkness was solid and suffocating around him. He could still feel the fine wires of the net digging into him on all sides. When those hands had come closing in on him, he'd reacted on instinct – he'd thrashed violently, managing only to make the net become so tight that it began cutting into his flesh. He was stuffed inside a windowless box not much bigger than himself. The aftertaste of that spray, sickly sweet on his tongue, made him queasy.

And that was even before everything started moving.

The world began shaking as the box he was in was jostled about, probably in the back of a vehicle. The sedative won out over his nausea and his mind stalled, went into a sort of dreamless trance he could not really have called sleeping at any time of day.

He was jolted into awareness when the box was opened and he landed unceremoniously in a tangle of limbs and wire on a grimy, tiled floor. He let out a pitiful squeak when a hand came down on his head. He strained with all his might to pull away.

"Rocket, it's me," a familiar voice whispered, "please, hold still so I can get this thing off you…"

"Kid…?" he sounded hoarse even to his own ears.

"Yeah," the boy said, "I'm going to cut the net loose for you, all right?"

Rocket closed his eyes and clenched his jaws shut as he felt the cold metal of a wire cutter make contact with his skin through the fur on the back of his neck. It took all of his self control to keep still as Timmy worked on freeing him from the net.

Timmy licked his lips nervously. He felt a pearl of sweat sliding down his left temple. He knew he had to get Rocket out of the net before he strangled himself in it, but he didn't want to hurt his furry little friend.

The armoured man with the rifle looming over him, watching his every move, was not making matters any easier. But he had to be brave right now, for Rocket's sake. The only reason they let Timmy work on the raccoon at all was that the men who had handled Rocket earlier – that traitorous Luke and the chubby man who later introduced himself as "Gibbous Bisonbait" – were both badly bloodied from the forearms down and it seemed none of the others had any desire to be scratched up. Rocket's nails were razor sharp.

So they'd handed Timmy a pair of metal scissors with the stern instructions to "make it quick" and "no funny business". Honestly, the only thing the boy really cared about at the moment was untying Rocket. The little guy could hardly move and the more he struggled, the tighter the snare pulled. There were a few places where the cruel thing was already drawing blood. People who designed guns that spat nets at dizzying speeds and thought they were being humane really needed a kick in the… the boy's mind groped for one of those creatively wicked words Rocket used all the time, but came up empty. He blamed it on nerves. Normally, Timmy was quite proficient at remembering swearwords...

He was very glad for the clothes Rocket insisted on wearing – Timmy thought it was funny how the raccoon had looked scandalized at the mention that he wasn't really naked and that he had his own fur coat all the time. He'd growled something about hairless fleshbodies not having any decency and had promptly shrugged into the borrowed clothes with visible relief. Necessary or not, the clothes were a blessing now. Timmy did not even want to imagine the net snagging on one of the raccoon's protruding metal parts. Thankfully, those were all safely covered.

"Get on with it, boy," the guard warned impatiently.

Timmy nodded. He needed to focus.

The raccoon tensed as Timmy eased the cutter in under the net where it was snarled against the back of Rocket's neck. Holding his breath, the boy cut the first wire and winced at the tufts of fur that fell loose with it.

The agonizingly slow process took all of the boy's concentration. He was almost as surprised as he was relieved when the net finally slid off the small furry body. Rocket was lying so still, Timmy wondered for a moment if he had fallen asleep. But then he saw eyes that had been scrunched shut tightly slowly blink open, as though Rocket, too, was surprised at the sudden disappearance of the weight of the net around him.

"Now take off the belt," the guard's voice was suddenly loud in the almost complete silence Timmy had been working in.

For the first time, as his eyes fell on the collection of grenades clipped to the belt Rocket wore, thoughts of escape entered the boy's mind. If Rocket had explosives, he could get them out of here. They could go home! The guard picked up on his hesitance, however. He made to reach out to Rocket and grab the belt himself, but seemed to think better of it. He'd seen how badly the others had been scratched. His pearl white armour would protect his chest and shoulders, but the thin black sleeves would do nothing to keep the raccoon's claws from tearing into his arms.

"Take the belt off, or I kill it," the man shouted, indicating with the rifle, "I'll shoot your freaky little pet, don't you think I won't!"

Timmy believed him.

Hastily and with trembling hands, the boy fumbled the belt off and handed it to the guard, not looking at it again.

Smirking, the guard walked off, his receding footsteps ringing hollowly. As the door banged shut behind him, Timmy risked a glance at the motionless raccoon beside him. Rocket's eyes were closed once more. The doze chemicals were really starting to get to him. It was a wonder his small body was able to cope at all with the amount of doses he'd been given already.

"Rocket," the boy whispered, scooting a little closer.

"Whazzat?" muttered the drowsy raccoon.

"I know it won't make much of a difference right now," Timmy began, "but I still have the key I programmed to deactivate that collar Father put around your neck... Let me take it off for you."

With visible effort, Rocket pried his eyes open to give Timmy a long, considering look. When his furred friend said nothing, the boy made to pull the card from his back pocket.

"No, wait," Rocket hissed urgently, "don't!"

Timmy frowned. Was the raccoon hallucinating? Rocket had been so eager to be rid of the collar before. Why would he suddenly want to keep it?


"Leave it on," Rocket explained wearily as his eyes drifted closed once more. "Knowing your flark ass crazy dad, d'ast thing's prob'ly got a frickin' tracking device installed."

Timmy opened and closed his mouth in astonished silence. Why hadn't he thought of that? For some reason, it shamed the boy that Rocket, a captive in his home for only a day or so, seemed to know his father better than Timmy himself, who had been living in the same house with the man for years...

"Hey, I think you're right," Timmy finally managed with a hopeful smile. "Maybe we'll be rescued after all! What do you think?"

But Rocket did not reply. The poor little guy was out cold, snoring softly.

Timmy ran his eyes over the limp, furry form curled up next to him. Rocket was a tough little creature, that was for sure. The boy tried very hard not to think about the metallic parts he'd seen in the raccoon's back. They'd looked raw and painful. Not for the first time, Timmy caught himself wondering if those were why Rocket could walk and talk. Certainly, if there were more raccoons who were naturally like Rocket, the articles the boy had read about the species would have mentioned them.

Something had made him this way – different. Was that why Rocket hated being touched? Would it be all right to try and comfort him by stroking the soft fur, or would that only upset the raccoon?

Timmy raised his hand and reached for the silky ears...

Just then, a gangly fellow burst into the room, followed by the guard with the rifle. The newcomer also wore a moon symbol printed across the breast of his black clothing like the other guards, but he was without the white armour. Timmy's eyes grew wide as he saw that the bony man wore thick gloves and carried a white case. Did they know about the wound in Rocket's side? Was he going to treat the raccoon's injuries? Somehow, Timmy didn't think so. What was the man planning on doing to Rocket?

"C'mere, boy!" the guard from earlier, who was suddenly standing beside him, ordered.

He grabbed Timmy roughly by one arm and dragged him back up into the wheelchair, an ancient thing with actual wheels. They'd left the boy's own wheelchair behind, probably for fear of getting tracked somehow. Good thing they didn't know about Rocket's collar.

"W-Wait, what is that man doing?" Timmy asked, trying to look the guard in the eyes through the visor of his moon-emblazoned helm.

"Following orders," the guard ground out, "which you ought to be doing, unless you want your little pet to suffer for it."

As if to prove the guard's point, Rocket suddenly emitted a strangled yelp as he was plucked into the air by the glove-wearing stranger. At the heart-rending sound, Timmy found himself reliving an unpleasant flashback of Rocket's feeble yet frantic struggles against him as he tried to inject that immunity booster into the sick raccoon's bloodstream. The little guy had been absolutely terrified of the syringe without even knowing what was in it.

"B-But that man's hurting him!" Timmy gasped.

"Boy, you don't do what I say, it'll hurt a lot more than it has to," the guard said maliciously, wheeling Timmy towards the door.

"What!? No!" Timmy cried, craning his neck to see what was happening to the raccoon as he was pushed out of the room. "Rocket!"

"You be a good kid and look nice and helpless for your dad's ransom vid," the guard offered conversationally, "and I bring you back here to check on your pet when he's done."

Timmy's heart sank as the slamming of the door behind him cut off the sound of Rocket's desperate struggles.

Rocket cracked his eyes open and wished he hadn't. Aside from getting that first faceful of dirty tiles that was the floor, he hadn't really had much chance to take in his surroundings. It was a great relief to finally be untangled from the net – in fact, he must have fallen asleep as soon as the thing was removed – but now he had other things to worry about. He clenched his claws into fists and willed his body to move. Being crammed in that cramped little box had been bad – bad, yet bearable – but what he saw now sent his heartbeat skyrocketing…

Rocket Raccoon's least favourite place in the world, any world, was a hospital. Whether they were hygienically clean and immaculate, or filthy and disused like this one, he loathed them. He never went near them. Never. So finding out that these gaboons were going to keep him and the kid in an abandoned hospital was like something that had clawed its way straight out of one of Rocket's more lucid nightmares.

Escape! He had to move!

Move, legs! Move! he thought at himself furiously. But he found that he could barely keep his eyes open, never mind get his wobbly little legs under him and run. Vaguely, he wondered just how much of that poisonous knock-out spray was in his system by now. Seriously, that prickly feeling was back in his throat and none of his limbs were responding the way they were supposed to!

The next thing Rocket knew, he was lifted into the air. He fought the huge pair of rubber hands as best he could, but his claws could not pierce the gloves properly. He managed to latch on, but inflicted nowhere near enough damage for them to drop him.

A moth-eaten hospital bed loomed into view. Desperately, he switched tactics and tried to bite the relentless fingers locked around him. The bitter taste of rubber filled his mouth. Instead of the desired reaction of flinching back in pain, Rocket found that, despite his sharp fangs, the hand retaliated by pushing his head back until his neck was at such an awkward angle, he thought it would snap. He was forced to look up into a pair of spectacles that reflected the lights so brightly, the man seemed to have no eyes except for those sinister-looking glasses. Below them, a row of blunt, uneven teeth smiled down at him.

"Master Gibbous said to have the runt de-clawed, he said," mumbled the mouth with the dull collection of teeth, "but there'll be time enough for that later. Don't have the right tools for that anyhow. Just clip 'em for now, I say."

No! Not my claws! Rocket's vision blurred as he tried to suck in a frantic breath around a mouthful of rubber. Not my claws!

When the big hand finally pulled back, rubber glove slick with his saliva, Rocket was pressed down into the old mattress. It smelled stale. He was flipped over roughly. He blinked rapidly against the blinding lights in the ceiling. He heard the clinking of the restraints and before he could take two breaths, his one wrist was strapped to the old hospital bed. He was too small for the huge bed and the opposite set of restraints wouldn't go all the way to his other wrist, but that did not seem to perturb his attacker in the least. Taking hold of Rocket's free paw in his one hand, the man produced a pair of clippers in his other.

Rocket stared incredulously from the clippers to the strap around his wrist and back. They were really going to cut his nails!

He fought with everything he had, but his struggles were futile. The grinning man had an iron grip on his wrist. Rocket resolved to swear and curse and threaten, and do anything except what he was feeling like doing right now… but as the first nail clipping fell, so did a single tear. Not because it hurt – it was completely painless – but because they were robbing him of his last line of defence and there was nothing, nothing he could do to stop them...

For a long moment, he lay stunned, staring at the stubs at the ends of his fingertips. What used to be sleek, deadly claws, were now ruined, useless.

The perpetrator had gone on his merry way, probably to report to his superior. Rocket half-heartedly wished the jerk choked on his next meal... or, better yet, tripped over nothing, impaled himself on something embarrassing and died from it.

Listlessly, Rocket tore his gaze away from his hands. He could practically hear his heart beating in time to the ringing inside his skull. His head had begun to feel oddly fuzzy and his every breath seemed to scald his sensitive windpipe. He hoped he wasn't becoming ill again. His eyes itched fiercely, but if he closed them, they would probably crust over like before.

He toyed with the idea of undoing the restraint around his one wrist, but that involved using his fingers, and he didn't want to think about those right now. Idly, he slid his free hand into the single pocket at the front of the jacket he'd borrowed from the kid... and nearly had a heart attack when his fist closed on a round object stashed inside. Blinking, he pulled his hand away and thought furiously. He couldn't remember purposefully secreting the grenade away as he lay trapped inside that horrible net, but the more he considered it, the more sense it made. He'd already unclipped one when he came to the decision that he could not to use the grenade to escape the trap for fear of hurting Timmy, that much he did remember.

A grim smile spread on the raccoon's lips.

He left the grenade tucked away in the folds of his jacket pocket. Let them think they'd stripped him of his last weapons. The surprised looks on their dumb faces would be a good start to the payback he would inflict on them for what he'd had to endure at their hands, rubber and otherwise.

With a renewed sense of purpose, Rocket Raccoon used his free hand to explore the strap holding down his wrist. His usually nimble fingers felt thick and ungainly without the long nails he was so used to, but if he was patient, he'd be able to undo the bindings.

He froze as the lock on the door jiggled. Were they bringing Timmy back? Now that Rocket thought about it, he'd lost track of the kid when that pair of clippers came into view.

The door opened to admit the fat man in the hooded cloak, the one who'd shot the net at him from behind. The one with the grabby hands. With a wicked grin, Rocket noted that the man's forearms were bandaged almost from the elbow down.

A low growl rose in his throat as the man with the hands came closer and he had to resist the urge to reach for the grenade.

"There now," the fat man said with an ugly smile as he reached to pet Rocket's head, "aren't you precious?"

"Don't touch me, jackass!" Rocket snarled, automatically lashing out with a claw.

The man chuckled as the raccoon's paw bounced off his hand harmlessly.

"You're quite adorable now that you're not using my arm for a scratching post," he said slowly, admiring Rocket like he was some kind of trophy.

"Lea'me alone, or I'll krutacking kill ya!" Rocket screeched acidly.

"Here, I know!" The man's unpleasant smile grew wider as his eyes lit up suddenly. "I had a pet cat when I was a boy... She always loved it when I did this..."

Rocket tensed as the pudgy hand began stroking the fur on his head, then went rigid as the fingers travelled up in the direction of his ears. He tried very hard to hold back an involuntary shiver as the fingers reached that certain spot behind his ear… Rocket hated losing control. He hated it. He was not just some mindless animal, acting solely on instincts. So he was mortified when those instincts told him to lean into the gentle strokes like they were a good thing.

Rocket shied away from the touch.

Stop it! he tried to say. I don't want it! Don't you frickin' touch me!

But no sound came out.

Rocket was about to loose another growl, but quickly strangled it in the back of his throat when he realized that that low vibration just might come out as something else entirely.

The spell was broken when the hand moved away from his ears to stroke his muzzle. The sentient part of his brain finally won out over instinct and he bit down on the man's hand with a vengeance. He bit down so hard, he thought he could hear bones cracking. The man howled. Flesh tore as he ripped his hand away from Rocket's maw.

There was silence except for the man's agonized panting and groaning as he tried to master the pain. When he looked up, there was murder in his eyes. Rocket threw caution to the wind and gave him a red smile.

"U-Ungrateful little beast!" the fat man spat. "I was going to keep you, give you a life of luxury!"

"Whoa, whoa, lemme stop ya right there, flaaknard," Rocket interjected angrily, "coz you got me all wrong! I ain't some stray lookin' for a frickin' place to stay! All you losers who think they can just buy me or keep me, yer all flarking bonkers! I got a home, I got a family—"

Rocket's hackles rose as an evil laugh cut off his tirade.

"See, that's where you're wrong, little monster," the man giggled harshly, "I already have a long list of buyers lined up, among them the Kree Secret Science Division! Even some obscure place off in the Keystone Quadrant wants you." Rocket was hard-pressed to hold back a shudder. "You see, I can do whatever I want with your mangy hide! Too bad they all seem to want you in full working order, or I could have sold you in little pieces! Either way, you'll never see your precious family again!"

Rocket's ears pricked up as an alarm suddenly blared off in the distance.

"What could possibly—" the fat man started, but was interrupted by the sound of the radio in his pocket spitting static.

"Master Gibbous!" the radio squealed.

He grabbed the device with his good hand and barked into it. "What's going on!?"

"Sir, we've got intruders!" the voice on the other end responded.

"Intruders? Who in the name of the Moons would know where to find us!?" the man raged at the radio in his hand.

"I don't know how they found us, sir," came the urgent reply, "but it's Star-Lord and his team! Star-Lord has turned on us!"

Star-Lord? Rocket felt his little heart beat faster. There was only one guy in the galaxy who was dorky enough to call himself that on purpose!

His family had come.

They'd come to take him home.
How to Buy Happiness - Chapter 7
Summary: Rocket is kidnapped by someone who thinks that money can buy everything!

This is the next chapter of my Rocket-centric fanfic. I've had it on FFnet for some time now, but while I'm gathering more inspiration to continue its sequel, A Game of Cat and Mouse, I thought I would upload my story here on DeviantArt, too.

A great big hug to anyone who takes the time to read! Tight Hug Comments are always appreciated! Heart

Chapter One: Guns
Previous Chapter: Dramatic Rescue Gone Wrong
Next Chapter: Family

The preview image was a commission done by :iconkareos:

Dramatic Rescue Gone Wrong

"H-How did you uninvited people get into my luxurious abode?" the panicked pink man all but squealed.

Gamora had cheerfully (what passed for cheerful with her, anyway) volunteered to interrogate Mr Brandt, who was tied up in several vines provided by Groot. Drax was guarding the door. Peter couldn't help a little smirk forming on his lips. The sweating business man was scared spitless and he deserved it. Peter never did have much respect for people who picked on those smaller and (sorry, Rocket) weaker than themselves.

"We'll be asking the questions, Brandt," the green-skinned assassin assured him flatly. "You took our colleague and we want him back."


"Yeah, you know, furry, got a big mouth, resembles an earth raccoon and carries around a big ass gun? He's kinda hard to miss," Peter elaborated scornfully, "but I'm sure you remember him, since you tried to buy him from us shortly before you went and kidnapped him!"

"I-I—" Brandt began.

Their little interrogation was interrupted prematurely by the blaring of the radio in Peter's jacket. Those crazy moon troopers had given him one so they could keep in touch during the mission. What could they possibly want now? Puzzled, Peter fished the noisy piece of equipment out of his pocket.

"This is Moon Clan to Star-Lord! Come in, Star-Lord!" the radio screeched through bouts of static. "We're meeting with heavy resistance on our end – repeat: heavy resistance!"

Peter was so thrilled that they actually remembered his name this time that he almost forgot to answer.

"This is Star-Lord," he responded into the radio, feeling very official. "I hear you, Moon Clan. What's your situation?"

"Any chance you could wrap up your business and provide us with backup?" the man on the other end sounded positively spooked. "W-We're being massacred, here!"

A stifled gasp drew the eyes of everyone in the room to the business man Groot was still holding down.

"D-Did he just say 'Moon Clan'!?" Brandt gasped, suddenly so pale there was hardly any pink left in his face. The man had been paralyzed by fear a moment ago, but now he started struggling like a madman. "You're not Moon Clan too, are you, kind sir? Please, you have to listen to me! They're after my son!"

"Your son?" Gamora frowned.

"They're after my boy! They're targeting him to get to me!" Brandt cried. It was shocking to hear the man go two whole sentences without a single unnecessary adjective. "They've sent me so many threats already! He's— He's only a boy… gods know what they'll do to him!"

"We're just here for Rocket," their green assassin interrupted sternly, but Peter could see the hesitation in her eyes.

"Look, you can have your little monster back, just save my son!" Brandt wailed. "Please!"

"I am Groot?" the tree man asked, sounding deeply troubled.

Peter grimaced. Everything was turning upside down and inside out. The whole thing left a bitter taste in his mouth. We're supposed to be the good guys, dammit… he thought sullenly. They couldn't just let those freaky moon dudes kidnap a little boy. On the other hand, Brandt had proven to be a very slippery bastard.

What if he was lying? What if they trusted him on this and they never saw Rocket again? What were the odds of this ugly slime ball actually having a son in the first place?

"Star-Lord, are you there? Get over here, now!" a desperate cry crackled over the radio, followed by a scream that reminded Peter of a horror movie, and what sounded very much like the man's death rattle. Whatever these guys were facing, it sounded like it was down right scary…

And that was when they heard it, a sound both terrible and beautiful: the sound of gun-fire combined with wild laughter and a very familiar voice shouting obscenities at the oncoming enemies. Peter felt his heart leap into his throat.

"I don't believe it!" he exclaimed, a reckless grin spreading on his face. "It's Rocket! Rocket is fighting off the kidnappers!"

Rocket Raccoon was having a blast. It felt like ages since he'd last had a chance to just cut loose and blow stuff up.

"Come at me, ya worthless flaaknards!" he cackled, shooting a few more suckers who dared to move too close to the gaping doorway.

A good old firefight did wonders for stress relief, and considering the amount of stress he'd built up during the past not-too-sure-how-many days, Rocket really needed the outlet.

Using the overturned bed as cover, he was able to take pot shots at the goons bottle-necking in the doorway. His only concern was that he couldn't make out if Timmy was all right. The boy was lying on the far side of the wheelchair with his back to Rocket, unmoving. The raccoon thought about calling out to him, but that would just attract needless attention to the kid.

As much as Rocket enjoyed the way things were going right now, he realized that he needed to switch strategies soon – it was only a matter of time before these morons would get smart. While the single doorway was useful for funneling enemies into his sights, Rocket was cornered without an escape route.

He needed a plan of attack.

Rocket ran his eyes over the bodies near the upturned wheelchair, where he'd gunned the bastards down for trying to grab Timmy. One of them had a decent-looking supply of grenades – real grenades – clipped to a belt about the waist. Well, that clod wasn't going to need them anymore, so Rocket was sure he wouldn't mind if someone who actually had a use for explosives at the moment wanted to borrow them. Keeping an eye on the door, which had gone unnervingly quiet, he broke cover and made a dash for the wheelchair. He slid in behind it just in time as a shower of gunshots rained down on his trail. That at least meant he still had their attention. As long as they were concentrating on trying to shoot him, they weren't working on some other way to drive him out.

Rocket was in the process of slipping the dead man's grenade belt over his shoulder when a sudden feeling of vertigo assaulted his senses, followed by a violent spasm in his abdomen. He doubled over involuntarily, clutching his sides as the cramp persisted.

What – the – hell?

That was the only thought he had room for in his head until his muscles finally relaxed and the pain passed.

Thought I was getting better…! he despaired inwardly. Gotta finish this quickly.

Breathing hard, he righted himself and tried to get his bearings. He looked up just in time to see an unwelcome, grenade-shaped object sailing through the open doorway in his direction. Oh, they would pick now to suddenly get smart.

Rocket Raccoon would later admit that what he did next, he had done purely out of instinct and that it probably should not have worked. He would then suppose that the universe had chosen that moment to feel a little apologetic towards him after all it had already put him through. Without thinking, he took the great big gun in both hands and swung it like a thick and unwieldy golf club, whacking the advancing grenade back in the direction it had come from.

There was a hollow sort of 'clong!' as the thing flew harmlessly away from Rocket, bounced twice and rolled out the open doorway. A chorus of surprised shouts erupted from the unsuspecting enemies outside and the grenade burst into a cloud of thick black smog.

Of course, they wanted Timmy alive – probably as a hostage or something – so they wouldn't just toss a regular bomb into the room. Even so, Rocket was a little surprised to be alive.

He didn't waste time thanking his lucky stars just yet, though. He unclipped a grenade – the lethal kind – from the borrowed belt, armed it and hurled it into the smoke-filled hallway. A very satisfying 'BLAM!' punctuated its landing.

The next step, he thought as his feral grin dissipated, was to get Timmy to safety.

The boy, Timmy, pushed himself up on his elbows, wondering why everything smelled of smoke and fire. He was a little frightened, though he wouldn't admit it out loud – space pirates were not afraid of anything, after all. He bit his lip and tried to think like a Ravager. And then Rocket's furry little face filled his vision. The raccoon looked very serious and slightly concerned.

"C'mon, kiddo, up and at 'em, we gotta move!" he said, an urgent light in his eyes.

"Okay, but, where are we going?" Timmy asked and, upon looking up, was startled by the amount of inert bad guys strewn all over his bedroom floor.

Rocket was balancing one of Timmy's self-built guns, the one the raccoon seemed to have taken a liking to, over his shoulder almost casually. The weapon looked enormous in the hands of the little raccoon – it was longer than he was tall! But somehow, despite the comical proportions, Timmy found the sight of Rocket holding the large weapon so confidently oddly reassuring.

"Well, they obviously knew where to find you…" Rocket shrugged, grunting a little as he wrestled Timmy's heavy wheelchair back into an upright position, "so now we're gonna go somewhere they won't think of looking."

"All right, that makes sense," Timmy agreed.

He started dragging himself over to the desk in order to pull himself up on it. Rocket seemed to understand what he was doing and pushed the wheelchair closer for him. It took some effort, but finally, Timmy was back in his seat. Panting, he sat there staring at the pair of useless, cold and numb legs dangling from the front of the wheelchair. He didn't like the feelings of weakness and helplessness that began piling up inside him, so he looked away.

His eyes met Rocket's. They were bright, alive, honest eyes.

Most people became uncomfortable or flustered around Timmy because of his disability and those who did manage to look him in they eye always seemed to look on with pity. It was funny how a small, talking animal could look him directly in the eyes without being troubled, when most grownups could not. Timmy caught himself wishing for the hundredth time that Father could just smile at him like he would at any normal person.

At least Rocket treated him the same way Timmy suspected the raccoon treated just about everybody else – complete and utter irreverence – and that was awesome.

"Thanks, Rocket," he blurted out suddenly.

"F'r what, this?" snorted the raccoon, gleefully indicating the fallen enemies all around them. He grinned savagely. "All in a day's work, kid – these losers had it coming!"

The little guy looked so darn proud of himself that Timmy decided not to explain what he'd really meant.

"Now let's g—" Rocket began, but cut off with a little gasp and clutched his side. "Ow… Flark it!"

Slowly, the raccoon moved his paw away from his side and held it up for inspection. For a long moment, he simply stood staring at it. Timmy squinted. Was that the red sheen of wet blood?

"Huh. Bastards got me…" he said like it was nothing, swaying just a little.

"Rocket, you're hurt…!" Timmy cried. "Let me see."

He reached out a hand to help the unsteady raccoon catch his balance and was rewarded with the most vicious snarl he'd ever seen on Rocket's face. Tail stiff and ears flat, there was a panicked look in his slightly disoriented eyes.

He watched as Rocket blinked once, and then Timmy could literally see him slowly, purposefully pulling himself together by sheer force of will.

"A-Are you all right?" Timmy ventured.

"M'fine," Rocket grunted. "Just… Warn first if yer gonna go grabbing my shoulder like that." Frowning, he turned away. "Don't like it when people get all grabby around me."

That last part came out under his breath. Timmy did not think he'd been meant to hear. Again, he found himself wondering what terrible things the world had done to Rocket to make him so distrustful.

"We should treat your wound," Timmy said decisively, but Rocket waved away the offer.

"Nah, s'just a scratch," he insisted, "besides, gotta get you outta harms way, first."

"Well, if you're tired, maybe I could give you a ride—"

"I can walk!" Rocket shouted, suddenly angry. Something of the surprise Timmy felt must have shown on his face, because Rocket sighed and continued in a milder tone. "I'm fine. I can walk, okay? Quit worryin'."

Even so, Timmy resolved to keep a close eye on the little guy.

"So, do you have a hiding place in mind? Where should we go?" he asked, just to have something to say.

"Out!" declared Rocket as he started walking.

"Out, you mean out into the hallway?" Timmy asked, following.

"No, doofus, I mean outside, in the frickin' garden!" Rocket countered.

"I'm… er… not sure if you're being sarcastic or not," he admitted. "I… don't really go outside. Ever… It isn't safe to go outside, so…"

Rocket turned and stared at him, a very peculiar look on his furry little face.

"You need to get out more, kid," was all he said, though. "Now let's get moving!"

He couldn't help but notice that despite Rocket's wavering steps, the raccoon's grip on the handle of the gun never faltered.

As they neared what was left of the door leading into the hall, Rocket stopped and spun around again so abruptly that Timmy nearly bumped into him from behind. The raccoon looked agitated and he was scratching at his head the way he did when he was about to say something he wasn't really sure he wanted to say.

"Um… Might wanna look away, Timmy," Rocket muttered, scratching half-heartedly at a spot behind one fluffy ear, an awkward expression on his face. "I er… kinda made a mess out there. Ya know, since yer just a kid and all…"

They passed a smoking crater that Timmy carefully avoided looking at. Not because he was afraid of what he might see, but because Rocket asked him to. Instead, he concentrated on the ringed tail swishing from side to side as the raccoon fell into step with him beside the wheelchair.

They hadn't gone very far when one of Father's Security and Maintenance force guys – Luke, Timmy thought his name was – spotted them coming down the hallway. Timmy always did the best he could to try and remember the names of all the staff, because he found it cold and impersonal the way Father referred to them simply by numbers. Well, that, and he secretly liked making up pirate nicknames for everyone like they were members of his crew – this guy would have been Long Man Luke, for his extraordinary height. If anyone ever found out, Timmy would reason that it was just a game to make people's names easier to remember.

Upon seeing the tall man, Rocket tensed up, ears flattening. He shouldered the massive weapon and aimed it at the approaching guard.

"Master Timmy, you're safe!" Luke exclaimed, a wide smile forming on his face.

He stopped a few feet away, his smile slipping a bit when his eyes fell on the angry gun-toting raccoon at Timmy's side giving him the evil eye and training a very recently tested prototype on him. He stared down at Rocket with a carefully blank face. Rocket, on the other hand, glared up at him with canines bared and growled menacingly. Timmy knew trouble brewing when he saw it.

"It's all right, Rocket," he said, eyeing Luke and Rocket in turn. "We're on the same side here."

He gave Luke a pointed frown. The man scowled at the raccoon a moment longer before shrugging, his smile returning.

"How sweet, you gave it a name. Well… as long as you keep your… animal… under control," Luke said disdainfully, "there's probably no harm in letting it roam."

Timmy thought there was something unusual about the way Luke was emphasizing certain words, but he supposed the man was just on edge because of the terrorist attack. On top of that, Timmy had his hands full placating Rocket, who thought the man's tone and comment offensive and didn't hesitate to express his displeasure, loudly.

It took a few moments of arguing back and forth before they could finally begin moving again, Rocket and Luke watching one another like strange cats all the way.

"Hold on…" Timmy said slowly, an uneasy feeling settling over him. "This isn't the way to the safe room… Where are we going…?"

"Not to worry, Master Timmy, I am taking you to a safe place…" Luke said, smile still in place.

"Not to worry, Master Timmy, I am taking you to a safe place…"

Rocket Raccoon harboured a healthy mistrust of people in general.

This mistrust was what saved his life tonight. He'd been watching the man's hands, which were decidedly twitchy for someone who just wanted to help. And as the bastard spoke, he reached into his jacket. Rocket's whiskers twitched, and a split second later he was diving out of the way, and a good thing, too. He barely registered the resounding gunshot, but he was all too aware of the sizable crack in the tile floor where he had last been standing.

Trying to stay off his injured side, he rolled and came up aiming straight for the enemy's chest.

He was unprepared, however, for the creep coming up from behind.

"Rocket, look out!" Timmy cried.

The boy's warning came mere moments too late. Rocket gasped as he was tackled – hard – by something that had him rolling across the floor in a tangled heap. Winded from the force that had sent him skidding, reeling from the impact when the far wall stopped his wild slide, Rocket was confronted with the horrifying realization that the thing that had tackled him was a net, hair fine yet strong as steel. His immediate reaction was to start struggling, to break free, but this only made the tangle worse, drew the thing tighter around him. His mind screamed at him to stop moving and think of a way to escape, but panic had him by the throat and he couldn't move and he had to but he couldn't…!

Squeezing his eyes shut, he tried to block out the fact that he was pinned down, surrounded by enemies, helpless… C'mon, Rocket! Gotta think of a way outta this! His claws closed around a grenade attached to the belt he still wore.

But even as he felt the reassuring round shape of the bomb against his pads, he knew it would do him no good. He would have chanced it if it were just him he had to worry about, but there was no way to utilize the grenade without hurting Timmy in the process. He gazed wistfully at the gun that had been knocked just a little too far out of reach from where he'd landed. If only…

The click of expensive shoes echoed down the hall.

"Now I see why you called Code Animal Control," a voice remarked from just outside his field of vision.

A fat man in a hooded cloak stepped into view. Rocket cringed as a pudgy hand came down to fondle his fur. He couldn't even move his head enough to bite the jackass!

"Such a puny thing…" the newcomer in the hood said, smiling condescendingly down at the raccoon caught in the net. Rocket bared his teeth. "This fluffy little thing was what had my men so hysterical? Honestly, they made it sound like they were fighting off a pack of werewolves!"

"F-Flark you!" Rocket ground out, trying hard to move enough to be able to snap his teeth at the fingers touching him, anything to get the man to take his hand away and leave him alone.

"Oh, how cute," the fat man chuckled, eyebrows climbing as he kept stroking Rocket's head, "it even swears…"

"Please, Mister, don't hurt him!" Rocket could hear Timmy plead, bless his innocent heart. The boy had yet to learn that people who were bigger and had more power than you would do just as they pleased and did not care how much you begged. "Rocket was just trying to protect me! Please!"

"That's one dangerous critter, sir," Brandt's traitorous bodyguard replied, completely ignoring the son of his former employer. "Here, you'll need this!"

"No!" Timmy pleaded. "I-I'll do anything you say, I promise!"

Dread filled Rocket from head to tail when a very familiar bottle of spray changed hands above his head.

Wait-wait, no, not that…!

"The boy seems to be attached to the little beast," the fat man smiled cruelly, shaking up the aerosol. "We'll take it with us. Maybe it'll fetch a pretty price on the black market. At the very least it will make for a nice souvenir."
How to Buy Happiness - Chapter 6
Summary: Rocket is kidnapped by someone who thinks that money can buy everything!

This is the next chapter of my Rocket-centric fanfic. I've had it on FFnet for some time now, but while I'm gathering more inspiration to continue its sequel, A Game of Cat and Mouse, I thought I would upload my story here on DeviantArt, too.

A great big hug to anyone who takes the time to read! Tight Hug Comments are always appreciated! Heart

Chapter One: Guns
Previous Chapter: Out of the Frying Pan
Next Chapter: Hurt

The preview image was a commission done by :iconkareos:

Out of the Frying Pan

"You cross me, we kill you all…"

The arrow twirled lazily through the air to the sound of hypnotic whistling. Then it zipped across empty space, straight towards him. And then it slowed down to drift forward sluggishly, before abruptly picking up speed again and darting at him once more.

His eyes shot open. The sinister blue face looming over him had Rocket gripping the sheets frantically, biting back a startled cry. He let out a long, shaky breath, realizing that it was not, in fact, Yondu, head of the Ravagers, staring down at him, but a hideously life-like wanted poster.

As Rocket's bleary eyes wandered from the distressingly accurate poster of Yondu Udonta in all his glory, he felt his heart rate pick up. The room was dim except for the lights emitting from the various Ravager wanted posters (old and new) lining the walls and a computer screen that was so huge that Rocket almost mistook it for a window, bathing the room in an alien bluish glow. Dark shapes set on the wall between each poster had the familiar, comforting silhouettes of guns of all shapes and sizes.

He found himself lying in a bed that was more or less humie-sized, which meant he had practically an ocean of bedding around him. Warm. Familiar-smelling… He noticed that he was still clinging to the sleeve of someone's old Ravager coat, wrapped around him under the blankets.

Where the hell am I?

This strange room certainly wasn't part of the Milano, and Rocket was sure, because he was probably the only member of the crew who could truthfully say that he'd seen every last crevice of the ship.

His throat was raw. Every time he swallowed, it was like forcing down handfuls of broken glass. His ankle and elbow throbbed in time to his heartbeat. There was an uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach, like something really bad had happened, or was about to happen. He wasn't sure why everything hurt, just that it did.

Was it that stunt they'd pulled with the infinity stone? Because it was either that or he really let himself go at the bar last night. Leave it to a bunch of crazy jackasses to hold hands with one of the super-powered cosmic fragments left over from creating the frickin' universe.

Did we win?

Well, he was alive, so obviously… Then he started remembering other things, things that had happened after the battle for Xandar – Nova giving them a new ship, Groot growing back, him making friends with Drax of all people… Lots of other weird things Rocket never thought could happen…

Then how'd I end up here?

And then it was as if someone opened the flood gates and the memories he'd subconsciously been hiding from himself came crashing through. The trap, the cage, the collar…

As it all came rushing back, his hand shot up only to find that that awful collar was still on him. Hot on the heels of this horrible discovery was the shocking realization that he was in no way restrained. Whiskers quivering, his fight or flight instincts kicked in.

Rocket Raccoon bolted.

He made it off the bed and as far as three short bounds before his legs gave way. He landed gracelessly on his belly, limbs spread out awkwardly on all sides. Chagrined, he imaged that, lying there, he probably resembled an exotic throw rug. He tried to push himself up on trembling arms, but the stubborn appendages kept sliding out from under him, his muscles like water.

"Flark it!" he cursed, fighting down an angry sob.

Here he was presented with the best chance at escape he'd had in hours – no cage, no bars, no thugs with KO spray or laser zip ties, not to mention surrounded by artillery of all varieties practically within his reach, and he was unable to move a d'ast whisker.

No use in giving up and lying on the floor in a puddle of self pity, though. Feeling sorry for himself would only slow him down. Rocket had learned early on that if he didn't help himself, no one did. He glared up at the grinning faces of the wanted Ravagers, set his jaw grimly and tried again. This time, he managed to make it halfway to his knees before smacking his chin on the floor again.

Rocket groaned. It was a frustratingly pathetic sound.

Ghostly fingers of frigid air crept over him as he lay out in the open, his small frame beginning to shiver anew. The bitter cold had a hold on him again. He was too late to stop a small whimper from escaping as his body convulsed and he was dry retching and shuddering in turns. When the sick feeling finally subsided, he tried to curl in on himself, but even for that, his strength failed him.

Something was not right! Had they drugged him? Was that why they hadn't even bothered to restrain him? Put him in a room filled with weapons, even? He tried to calm himself. It was getting increasingly difficult to breathe. When had his teeth begun chattering?

"You shouldn't be out of bed!" a voice exclaimed from far off.

And suddenly he was… flying? Floating? No, picked up – someone was carrying him. He supposed he should probably make an effort to feel undignified, but he was wrapped in warmth and found that he didn't really care about that right now.

Just let me go home…

Timmy carefully placed the limp creature – something called a "raccoon" that came from some backwater planet named "Terra", according to his research – back on his bed and pulled the covers over the shivering body. That the poor thing was still alive was a miracle in itself. A normal raccoon (or anything smaller than a horse, for that matter) would probably have died after more than two doses of the potent sleep-inducing chemicals his father and the staff had so liberally been using on this one.

But this was clearly no normal raccoon.

"'s this the part where you 'nterrogate me an' I tell ya I'm 'nocent?" it murmured incoherently.

The talking, for one thing, was completely abnormal for raccoons. As was the metal implants, the stunning level of intelligence and also the quirky personality traits.

"I think you watch too many cop shows," Timmy chuckled half to himself.

The very idea of a talking animal watching a television series was absurd enough.

"Quill's fault, n' mine…" the raccoon replied drowsily.

The very idea of having a conversation (however incoherent) with a talking animal about watching too many of said television shows, was beyond ridiculous.

However unreal the situation seemed, though, he was not about to let this marvellous creature die because his father did not know how to handle animals. Normally, Father despised them – that was why Timmy never had a pet before, aside from an unfortunate goldfish named Bubbles. He could not fathom what had inspired Father to get him a talking raccoon for his eleventh birthday, but it was this poor animal's bad luck that he was in Father's way when that inspiration struck.

Having looked up the harmful side effects of the doze chemicals, Timmy had gone out to collect the necessary supplies. He steered himself over to the box he'd nearly dropped upon finding the shuddering raccoon out of bed and sprawled on his bedroom floor.

The first concern was dehydration.

"Here, you need to drink some water," Timmy suggested, holding the half full glass of water out to the listless creature.

To his surprise, the raccoon immediately raised its paws to grasp the glass. Belatedly, Timmy thought he should have brought a smaller glass – the normal-sized one looked more like a small bucket in the hands of the animal. Gripping the glass, the raccoon eyed him up and down suspiciously for about ten awkward seconds before burying its snout in the glass. The pink tongue lapped up the clear liquid eagerly.

A coughing fit shook the small furry body and Timmy's hand shot out to steady the glass. The raccoon, still coughing violently, flinched away from the sudden movement and he instantly felt sorry for startling it.

The poor thing was going to like him even less for what he had to do next, he thought guiltily as he put the glass aside and reached for the next item in the box.

"N-No, no, no…!" the raccoon gasped in alarm as its wide eyes locked on to the syringe.

"This won't hurt very much, I promise," Timmy coaxed, inching closer slowly. "It's just a vitamin shot. I take them all the time."

In truth, it was probably a heavily watered-down version of the shot Timmy took every day. If it was too strong, the injection could do more harm than good, so he had ordered a diluted shot, along with some immunity boosters he'd had the vet deliver. But the squirming raccoon edged away from him, chest heaving, eyes becoming unfocused, as though it was not really seeing him anymore.

"P-Please, not that!" it cried hoarsely, struggling desperately to get up, to run, managing only to tangle itself in the bedding. "Get it 'way from me!"

"C'mon, please? You're sick, it'll help you get better," Timmy pleaded, taking one of the furry arms in his hand.

"No!" the raccoon wailed at the top of its lungs, clawing weakly at his hands, snapping with its teeth.

Wincing, Timmy thought he should have worn gloves. When he didn't let go, the frantic animal went limp, barely moving except for trembling slightly and shaking its head. Ever so gently, Timmy held the nozzle of the syringe to the raccoon's arm and pressed the inject button.

The low hissing sound of the syringe mechanism discharging made the creature recoil. Then it slumped back onto Timmy's pillow, eyes closed. The haunted look on the unconscious animal's face made him feel terrible. He checked the creature's pulse, which was stable, if a bit elevated. Its breathing, though laboured, appeared normal.

"…nna go home…" the raccoon moaned in its sleep.

He would put the rest of the treatment off and give his patient time to rest, Timmy decided as he stroked the furry head and the silky ears thoughtfully.

The legendary outlaw called Star-Lord eased the blasters holstered at his hips and ground his teeth. He could literally see the lights of the mansion blinking in the distance and he imagined that if he narrowed his eyes he might be able to see Rocket through one of those windows.

"I can smell your impatience—" Gamora whispered and frowned when she was cut off.

"I smell nothing!" an indignant voice interrupted.

"Not now, Drax!" Peter sighed. "You were saying?"

The green assassin, sitting cross-legged on the ground where she was sharpening her sword across her lap, nodded gratefully.

"I'm saying you should calm yourself. We can't afford to do anything rash," Gamora replied patiently.

Groot hummed his agreement. But he was a tree – the very embodiment of patience! And Peter Quill was a man with hot blood, used to diving into situations before forming even part of a plan.

The four of them were squatting a little off to one side of the rest of the expedition. The group of fanatics was dressed identically in tight-fitting black clothing covered in white armour. Their helms and breast plates were adorned with the symbol of a moon, painted in glow-in-the-dark yellow paint. If Peter didn't know any better, he would have said that these zany, moon-worshipping Storm Troopers were chanting some sort of prayer. They were just about as crazy as a bag full of cats.

Peter raised his eyes to the sky. The planet's first moon had already come and gone and the second was halfway up. He was itching to do something, anything. He knew Gamora was right – he couldn't risk jeopardizing the mission by going off on his own, but he just couldn't shake the feeling that Rocket was in peril and the little guy needed them, like, right now.

Rocket was inside a cavern.

It was a wide cavern, with tantalizing winds whistling down the tunnel, blowing into his face and down his throat. The air smelled crisp and clear.

He could feel the cool winds extinguishing the poisonous fire inside his lungs.

When Rocket opened his eyes to find a tube clipped onto the inside of his nose and some sort of breather mask covering his muzzle, hooked up to some big machine sitting on the bedside table, his first instinct was to panic. His paws shot up to rip the thing off his face when a hand stopped him.

"It's okay," the kid from earlier assured him, "This is called a nebulizer. It helps you breathe easier. It's designed for people with asthma problems, but it'll help clear up your airway so you won't cough so much."

Rocket narrowed his eyes at the stranger, but inhaled carefully, testing his lungs. His throat was still a little raw, but the lancing pain he'd been experiencing with every breath had all but disappeared. For a long moment, he closed his eyes and simply basked in the relief of being able to breathe properly.

Then his nose twitched. There was an irresistible smell wafting from somewhere beyond his view. Was that… ham and cheese and… pickles?

"Whazzat smell?" he murmured. "'m hungry…"

"Your appetite is returning," the boy enthused. "That's a good sign! Here, let me unhook you."

The kid was surprisingly gentle in removing the mask and the tube. Rocket lay watching him as he switched off the machine and disappeared behind it for a moment, returning with a bowl of thick-looking porridge.

Rocket made a face.

"Don't hold out on me, kid," he said with a sneaky grin, pushing aside the porridge, "I can smell that sammich yer hiding!"

Timmy could only stare as the small creature sitting on his bed wolfed down the sandwich he'd meant to be his own midnight snack. That the raccoon was ravenous was an understatement. Despairingly, he wondered if Father had even remembered to feed the poor thing. Watching it devour the sandwich, hardly pausing to chew, Timmy seriously doubted it.

"Careful," Timmy warned, "if you eat too fast you could make yourself sick…"

"Rocket," the raccoon muttered between bites.

"Rocket…?" Timmy asked, blinking.

"It's my name, dumbass!"

"You do have a name!" Timmy gasped before he could stop himself.

"'course I got a name!" Rocket the raccoon shouted, outraged. "You got one, doncha?"

"It's Timmy," he responded.

"What is?" the raccoon asked obnoxiously, eyes glinting mischievously.

"My name… 'dumbass'!" Timmy replied without missing a beat, testing the nasty word on his tongue – saying it out loud felt oddly liberating, actually.

Rocket stared at him in openmouthed silence, one ear twitching slightly.

"Okay, I walked right into that one," he admitted, shrugging. "You I like."

"Pleased to meet you, Rocket!" Timmy laughed.

"All right, Timmy, if we're gonna be pals, there's a coupla things ya gotta do for me first," Rocket began. He ticked the items off on his fingers. "One, get me some clothes, 'coz where I come from it ain't proper for someone to walk around butt naked. Two, get this frickin' collar off me and three, ya gotta let me contact my friends."

"I think I can do that," the boy said with a smile.

Samuel Kotze was doing his rounds.

He couldn't help but feel guilty about how the other Sams had been treating the kitty. He felt guilty, because it had been his idea to get the little critter for young master Brandt in the first place, and now they were mistreating the poor creature he helped capture.

Anyone could see that it hated being kept in a cage. It needed more space.

On the bright side, Sam had noticed the young master Brandt coming and going from his room a lot for this time of night, fetching food and water and other things. He had faith that the boy would take better care of the animal than his colleagues had. Master Timmy was such a nice boy.

He was about to report in that everything was secure for the night when he saw Sam #4 take the garden route. How strange… Thinking that that was usually Sam #9's area, Sam decided to follow #4 and confront him. If there had been a change of shifts, surely he would have known about it…

Rocket was sitting in the middle of the huge bed, the old Ravager jacket wrapped around him like a cloak (because that was better than going naked), surrounded by the insides of one of the most extraordinary guns he'd seen all week. He was still a little out of breath from clambering up the wall to retrieve it, regrettably ripping Yondu a couple of new ones on his way up, but Rocket could feel his strength returning slowly but surely.

And since he was still feeling a bit peckish, he'd followed his nose to a packet of puffy white sweets that seemed fluffy on the outside, but once he licked them, became formidably sticky. Anyway, they were pleasant. It was what he would imagine eating clouds would be like. After the first two, Rocket started stuffing them into his mouth without licking them first.

He heard the hum of the wheelchair's engine before the kid opened the door.

"What are you doing!?" the boy cried, aghast, probably at seeing his prized display gun arrayed in pieces all around the raccoon on his bed.

"'s it look like I'm doing?" Rocket shrugged nonchalantly. "I'm recalibrating this baby."

"Just please put it back the way you found it when you're done," the boy, Timmy, grimaced, wheeling himself closer. "I see you found the marshmallows. Help yourself."

"'anks," Rocket mumbled around another 'marshmallow'. He would have to remember the name – maybe Quill would know where they could find more. "Where'd ya get this, by the way? Order it off some weapons dealer?"

"The parts, yeah," Timmy replied, reaching for a marshmallow. Rocket resisted the selfish urge to swat his hand away. "I built that one myself."

"Hmm, not bad," Rocket grunted, impressed. He quickly revised his opinion of the rich kid for the second time since meeting him and reassembled the weapon with a new-found respect. "Now, how 'bout some clothes, huh?"

"About that…" the kid began, looking embarrassed. "I wasn't sure what would fit, so I just kind of… brought everything."

"Let's see 'em!" Rocket demanded, crossing his arms.

And so, Timmy proceeded to pack out his entire kindergarten and pre-kindergarten wardrobe on the bed for the raccoon to inspect. After going through every last item, Rocket finally settled on a pair of black sweatpants with orange racer-stripes and an orange hoodie with black sleeves that had a monster truck printed on the front. They cut a hole in the pants for his tail and he was all set.

"That's better…" the raccoon sighed, relieved to finally be decently clothed. "Why'd you keep all this stuff, anyway?"

"Father is very sentimental," Timmy replied, shrugging. "He's the one who kept all my old clothes. Oh, that reminds me – I still wanted to apologize on behalf of my father for treating you so badly."

"Wait, that asshole's your dad?" Rocket gaped. It made sense and probably should have occurred to him sooner – the dark hair, the pale pink complexion, everything fit. "Man, it's you I feel sorry for…"

"He… has his better moments," Timmy responded defensively. "Still, I can't blame you for feeling that way. Anyway, someday I'm going to run away from home and become a Ravager!"

Rocket stared. Well, this was still a kid he was dealing with, after all – silly, childish dreams were part of the package.

"Look, kid…" he said, scratching the back of his head and staring at the wheelchair the boy was sitting in, "I hate to be a gronad, but… to be a Ravager… well.. ya kinda need legs for that."

"Nope!" Timmy disagreed optimistically. "I could be the medic or the tech expert, maybe even the weapons expert! I don't need to leave the ship for that."

Well, the kid wasn't letting anyone dampen his spirits, that was for sure. Misguided as the boy probably was, Rocket couldn't fault his determination. After all, what would have become of Rocket, or any of the other Guardians of the Galaxy, if they'd decided that their flaws were too great to overcome and just gave up? Wasn't Star-Lord's band of misfits proof of Timmy's point, exactly?

"Guess yer right," Rocket conceded. "Next, ya gotta get this nasty collar offa me."

"Okay, this will be a bit tricky," Timmy admitted. "That thing requires a keycard, and Father still has the original with him."

"Wait, the original?" Rocket asked, frowning. "Meaning…?"

"I made a copy," Timmy said brightly, like it was nothing.

"Yer not bad, kiddo," Rocket remarked.

Timmy beamed at the compliment.

"I'll need to recode the copy for it to work," the boy said, turning to his state of the art computer. "It'll take about a minute."

Unable to sleep, Septimus Brandt was up checking the stock market when he noticed that Sam #2 had failed to report in. He scanned the security cameras, but could not see anything out of the ordinary. He hoped Sam #2 was not sleeping on the job like earlier today. Just to make sure, Brandt pressed a pink finger to the communications console. Strangely, he was greeted with nothing but static.

It was then that the door to his office burst open and four thugs stormed in. Brandt gasped when the lithe, green-skinned female pressed a cold blade to his throat.

"W-What is the meaning of this?" he spluttered, proud of how his voice only shook a little bit.

"I AM GROOT!" the tallest one announced loudly, sounding quite menacing.

"Show's over, Brandt," the man with the glowing red eyes declared dramatically, "now what did you do with my buddy, Rocket!?"

"Make sure you give us a good answer," a low voice agreed from a heavily muscled shadow in the doorway, "or I shall pull your living heart from your chest."

"Okay, it's all set!" Timmy said, disconnecting the keycard from his computer.

Rocket, who was sitting on the bed, finishing the last of the marshmallows, grinned at the boy. He could not wait to have the horrible device removed. Logically, he knew the collar could not start constricting by itself, but the sooner the thing was off, the better.

"You know, Timmy, for a rich kid, yer actually—"

An explosion shook the room. The door simply disintegrated. Blinking rapidly, Rocket picked himself up from where the blast had deposited him behind the bed. He shook his head, ears ringing.

"Hurry, grab the kid!" an unfamiliar voice barked.

"Wait, what are you doing?" Timmy cried. "No!"

There was a crash as the boy's wheelchair was turned over.

"Oh… You really shouldn'a done that…" Rocket bristled, claws closing around the beautiful killing machine that had landed on the floor next to him.

With a ferocious battle cry, the trigger-happy raccoon launched himself over the bed that was obstructing his line of sight and opened fire on the armoured men who were trying to kidnap his new friend.
How to Buy Happiness - Chapter 5
Summary: Rocket is kidnapped by someone who thinks that money can buy everything!

This is the next chapter of my Rocket-centric fanfic. I've had it on FFnet for some time now, but while I'm gathering more inspiration to continue its sequel, A Game of Cat and Mouse, I thought I would upload my story here on DeviantArt, too.

A great big hug to anyone who takes the time to read! Tight Hug Comments are always appreciated! Heart

Chapter One: Guns
Previous Chapter: Rebellion
Next Chapter: Dramatic Rescue Gone Wrong

The preview image was a commission done by :iconkareos:
Calling all Rocket Raccoon fans and fanfiction-lovers - I have written a Rocket-centric fanfic and entered it into a fanfiction competition.

The story is called "How to Buy Happiness" and is about Rocket getting kidnapped by someone who thinks there is nothing in the world money can't buy. It would be so wonderful if more people could read my story. For those of you who have already read it, please vote for my story on Inkitt. I would really love the support! :blowkiss:

Here is the link! How to Buy Happiness
  • Mood: Eager
  • Listening to: Awesome Mix Vol 1
  • Reading: Comic books
  • Watching: Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Playing: Marvel Heroes 2015
  • Eating: Pizza
  • Drinking: Coffee


The One Princess
Artist | Hobbyist | Digital Art
South Africa

Favourite Character: Rocket Raccoon
Personal Quote: If it's not broken, don't try to fix it...

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RyanWolfeGirl94 Featured By Owner 5 days ago  New Deviant
Hey glad to meet you here as another Ryan Wolfe /Jon Togo fan ;)
Prince-in-Disguise Featured By Owner 5 days ago  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Heheh, nice to meet you! :D
RyanWolfeGirl94 Featured By Owner 5 days ago  New Deviant
Thanks :D
Prince-in-Disguise Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
:tighthug: Aww, thanks for sharing! :squee: I love these!!!
Prince-in-Disguise Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Aww, thanks so much for sharing! :D
(1 Reply)
CharmedSerenity Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
You're welcome. ^^
Kevin-McCoy-Art Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2015
Thanks for the :+fav:
Prince-in-Disguise Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
No problem! :D
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