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A Game of Cat and Mouse by Prince-in-Disguise
A Game of Cat and Mouse
A bit of concept art I drew about my Rocket Raccoon-centric fanfiction, A Game of Cat and Mouse....

Please excuse the grainy lines - I actually drew them in Paint. This was meant to be nothing more than a doodle to help me gather my thoughts. But then I became attached to the drawing and ended up colouring it in Photoshop and even doing a background...! So I thought I might as well upload it, since I spent so much time on it.

Hmm, it came out sinister-looking, but I hope you like it! :D
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Obligatory Post-Credits Teaser

The dark-haired girl had a slightly deranged look in her eye, but that didn't bother her, because that's what she always looked like. Daddy said she was beautiful, and that was all that mattered. She was catching up with her distant cousin – distant as in “lives on another planet” not the “barely related” type of distant. She knew there was a good reason they only ever chatted via text, but when she asked Daddy about it, he told her that it wasn't important, so she'd dismissed it. Daddy loved her, and that was all that mattered.

For the past few weeks, Cousin Timmy had been quiet. That had unnerved her. He'd always sent her lovely stories about how they would become space pirates together and roam the universe, having adventures. She never bothered telling him that she could never leave Daddy's side. But she'd enjoyed the stories.

When they suddenly stopped coming, she began biting her nails again.

Now, after a whole month, Cousin Timmy was finally sending her new messages. She knew all the old ones by heart, having read them over and over and over. But suddenly, his stories were different. He apologized for his long silence – he said he was getting to know his father again. She was glad for him, his father had never really paid him much attention. Not at all like Daddy, who loved her no matter what. There was one thing about his new stories that made her frown; Cousin Timmy had made a new friend, someone called 'Rocket'.

MYRA: is rocket real or did you make him up?

TIMMY: He's real, but you'll never believe it – he's not like you and me, he's a talking raccoon! :D

MYRA: what is a raccoon? some sort of animal???

She did love animals. They made her sad, though. Her animals never lasted very long, no matter how hard she loved them...

TIMMY: Pretty much. Should I send you a photo? ;P

MYRA: yes

The picture popped up on her screen and her mouth fell open.

It was a photo of her cousin and a bunch of strangers standing in front of a tree with a face. There was an annoyingly pretty, green-skinned woman, a bare-chested man with tattoos, an overconfident man in a red leather coat... and the most adorable little creature she had ever seen, it was wearing clothes, but it was furry, with lively, intelligent eyes and a beautiful, ringed tail! He looked so soft! She wanted to cuddle the little thing so badly. She wanted to love him and hug him and squeeze him so tight!

She realized she'd forgotten to close her mouth and had to wipe her chin.

Cousin Timmy typed many, many messages after that, but she never even read them. She was too busy staring at the picture. After a while, her cousin gave up the conversation and signed off.

She continued to stare at the picture.

That night, she couldn't sleep. By morning, she knew what she had to do.

 “It's a talking raccoon, Daddy,” she whispered, her stare blank as she held up one of the many printed copies of the photo and pointing at the enlarged image of the cute little animal, “I want it, Daddy...”
How to Buy Happiness - Post-Credits Short
I made a short "post-credits" teaser for my Rocket-centric fanfic, How to Buy Happiness, the way they always put a little teaser after the credits in the Marvel movies. This is basically a prelude to the sequel, A Game of Cat and Mouse.

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

Chapter One: Guns
Previous Chapter: Epilogue
Next: A Game of Cat and Mouse...

The preview image was a commission done by :iconkareos:
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Epilogue

"Whoohoo!" Peter Quill, also known as Star-Lord, cheered loudly. "We sure showed them!"

"Throttle, Quill!" Rocket shouted, voice rising with urgency. "Now!?"

The raccoon's fur was standing on end and he was gripping the arms on his seat as though he was hanging on for dear life.

His claws had begun growing back quite nicely, Gamora thought to herself. It was a relief, really. No one wanted Rocket to think that they were taking advantage of his handicap in defending himself... Every stray gesture was a potential violation of the raccoon's personal space. They didn't want him to think they were reluctant to touch him either, though, because, for all that Rocket was wary of physical contact, he was even more susceptible to feeling rejected. So they came up with the secret agreement that, once per day, at irregular intervals, someone would offer or ask to pet Rocket, claiming that they needed stress relief or that Rocket looked in need of stress relief. Already, Peter was using his charm, as he called it, (or lame jokes, as anyone on the receiving end saw it) to waylay Rocket's suspicions with comments like: "C'mon, man, just let me scratch your ear for a bit – you're so stressed out, you've got dark circles under your eyes...!"

Secondly, and also the more tricky one, they agreed that every other day someone would "accidentally" brush Rocket's shoulder or gently bump into him. The trick was to make it look like an accident without actually startling the raccoon. Peter had already gotten his hand bitten once, but that was because of bad timing on his part – Rocket had been half-asleep that time. For the most part, their plan appeared to be working. At least, Rocket didn't seem to suspect anything.

"In a sec," Peter replied, making absurd placating motions at the raccoon with his hands, "I wanna see the looks on their faces when they see us make off with all their stuff!"

The Guardians of the Galaxy were preparing to make good their escape from an almost-completely-botched-but-saved-at-the-last-minute mission (how the legendary Star-Lord thought that translated into a full-fledged "Mission Accomplished!" Gamora would never be entirely sure). In other words, it was just about your average day on the Milano.

"Just before we left, I saw them retrieving a rather big weapon that looked like it was meant to obliterate a ship the size of this one or larger," Drax pointed out helpfully.

Of course, Peter would have noticed this himself if he hadn't been so preoccupied with the "booty", as he called it.

"It's a fair estimate that, if we can see them, they can shoot us," Gamora added, hoping to sway their reckless leader.

"I am Groot!"

"Throttle, ya frickin' moron, d'ya wanna get blown to space rubble!?" Rocket cursed, ears pulled back flat against his head.

"All right, all right already!" Peter gave in, blasting them off at the Milano's best getaway speed in time to the last few snatches of Cherry Bomb.

There was a collective sigh of relief as they got away with everything, including their paint job, intact.

"Peter, you are such a child sometimes," Gamora groaned.

And then the infuriating man grinned at her with a genuine child-like exuberance that not only proved her point, but also made it impossible for her to stay mad at him. She settled for rolling her eyes and giving her head a slight shake.

"I'm gonna check out our haul!" Peter announced, rubbing his hands together gleefully.

"Oh, go ahead," Gamora offered with a shrug, "I'll take over."

Peter hardly waited for her to fasten her seatbelt in the pilot's chair before bailing in the direction of the cargo hold.

"I got dibs on the 'lectronics!" Rocket cried, disappearing down the hatch after Peter, tail flouncing behind him energetically.

Gamora allowed herself to share a small smile with Groot and Drax. Both Peter and Rocket were like little kids when it came to loot.


Peter Quill was wearing a big, goofy grin as he raced the nimble raccoon to the cargo hold, where the trophies of the latest mission awaited their inspection. The lively little fuzzball outpaced the half-terran despite having much shorter legs. It had been weeks since Rocket's kidnapping and his recovery was really coming along. They were all very grateful that the raccoon's lungs had suffered no permanent damage despite repeated exposure to those poisonous chemicals. Short, high-speed sprints no longer left him weak and winded, and only after a really long hike would Rocket start to look a little bleak. Long before it came to that, though, someone would casually offer him a shoulder to perch on and the proud little guy would accept it without comment.

They never really talked about Rocket's ordeal since he woke up after the hospital. Aside from contacting the kid every once in a while, the raccoon, for one, seemed happy to forget the whole thing ever happened.

Since Rocket had already chosen a box to claim ownership over, Peter made his way to the stash of food supplies they'd pilfered. Stealing from ruthless mercenaries who were clearly on the wrong side of the law didn't count as violating their agreement with Nova, so, in keeping with Peter's "bit of both" policy, they took great pleasure in stopping the bad guys and then taking their stuff.

Guardians of the Galaxy needed to eat, too, after all.

Rummaging through a hodgepodge selection of canned fruit, preserved meat of dubious origin, some form of wild-smelling cheese and a couple of energy bars, Peter found something that he never expected to see again in his entire life – a vivid red can with curving, white script on its label. Peter stared, nostalgia kicking into overdrive as he rescued the still-cold can from the stash of alien food.

"Aww, man, I don't believe this! Look!" Peter exclaimed, thrusting the can under Rocket's nose to get his attention. "They actually had Coca Cola on them!"

"Whazzat, food?" the raccoon asked, whiskers twitching.

"Nope," Peter enthused with an eager smile, "it's a very special Earth drink!"

"How much alcohol's in it?" was predictably the next question from Rocket's lips.

"Come on, man, that's not really what makes it special..." Peter began.

"How much alcohol?" the annoyed raccoon asked flatly.

"Um... none? But—"

And with a muttered: "Meh, not interested, then," Rocket went back to scavenging in the box of parts he'd claimed as his share. So far he'd separated his loot of choice into three random-looking piles, all of which seemed to Peter like equally useless junk, but the raccoon kept up his meticulous sorting, so he obviously had some sort of method.

"I wonder if it still tastes the same..." Peter mused out loud, hoping to get at least some sort of reaction from the furtive little furball beside him.

After a few beats, he accepted that he was studiously being ignored. He pouted a little at being the only one in this corner of the galaxy who understood the significance of finding a drink from his home planet, a drink he'd last sampled when he was a kid, and finding it in the supply cache of an alien mercenary group of all places! Oh well, he wasn't about to let a grumpy, talking raccoon spoil it for him. Peter wrestled a moment with how to work the tab, only after a long moment of fumbling remembering that with Earth cans you had to lift, then pull. The can finally opened with a gratifying hissss... and suddenly Rocket was nowhere in sight.

The three piles of neatly sorted scraps lay abandoned on the metal floor of the cargo hold, but the raccoon was just gone.

"What the—? Rocket?" Peter called out. "Where'd you go, buddy?"

And then he heard it – soft, shuddering breaths that sounded slightly muffled, like they were being suppressed. He thought it was coming from behind a stack of crates. Instantly worried, Peter set down the soda can and checked his trusty blasters in their holsters at his hips. Though unlikely, someone might have boarded the ship while they were fighting the mercenaries. Whoever it was, if they harmed Rocket, there was going to be hell to pay...

Treading ever so carefully, Peter made his way to the suspicious stack of crates. He took a breath to steady his nerves, then went for it. Nothing could have prepared him for the sight that greeted his eyes when he turned that corner.

Peter swallowed a lump in his throat when he saw his best friend, Rocket Raccoon, the toughest, most stubborn badass in the history of badassery, sitting squeezed into the gap between two crates, his small hands clamped over his muzzle to smother the sound of the violent sobs that his furry little shoulders were already quaking with. His ears were drawn tight against his skull, his tail was puffed up to twice its normal size and runaway tears had made tracks in the fur under his eyes.

Peter slowly got down on his hands and knees.

"Rocket, hey..." he said softly.

The raccoon started, then tried to retreat further into his hiding place.

"What—the hell, Qui—Quill!?" Rocket screamed, glaring at the intruder, his dark eyes burning with anger and shame. "Lea—leave me alo—ne!"

Peter's initial reaction was to be defensive – he hadn't done anything, after all – but watching Rocket sit there trying to swallow those uncontrollable sobs was too damn painful and Peter deliberately forced his indignation aside. He wished for Drax to appear right then. The Destroyer seemed to hit it off pretty well with the unpredictable raccoon – he would know what to do... But Drax was not here and he was. Peter was not about to run off and leave his friend alone in such a distressed state, so fetching Drax was out of the question. It was up to him to calm the raccoon.

Knowing that Rocket did not take as well to physical comfort as most other people would, Peter settled for simply sitting down and stretching his hand out to the trembling raccoon squeezed between the crates.

Rocket eyed his hand suspiciously, pupils large and glittering. The small frame still shook with pent up sobs.

"I'm here for you, man," was all Peter said. He would leave the rest up to Rocket.

It took a full minute of long, loud breaths before the raccoon could make himself look up into Peter's eyes again. Finally, he spoke.

"I-I... I didn't mean to yell at ya..." he said, his voice barely above a whisper. "It's just—" Deep breath. "It's just—" Another deep breath. "It—it—..."

"It's fine," Peter shrugged, "I mean, I shouldn't have startled you."

"Shaddup, lemme fin—finish!" the raccoon hiccuped, somehow managing to seem incredibly ferocious and (sorry, Rocket) unbearably cute at the same time. "It was li—like I was back in the..." His ears flicked violently as he floundered for the words. "L-Like I was back—back there an—and—!"

Peter was ridiculously proud of himself for not flinching at the raccoon's unexpected movement when the little guy suddenly darted from his hiding place and tackled him, latching on tightly and pressing his wet, furry face into the stunned human's shirt. Uncertainly, Peter let his hand hover above the head of his trembling friend, who, at that moment, seemed smaller than ever before. Would it be all right to try and comfort him, or would it only make him lash out again? Peter didn't want to gamble with Rocket's trust. The raccoon must have sensed Peter holding his breath, for he tensed, as if bracing himself for something...

Rejection... Peter realized with a pang. Rocket thought he was going to be pushed away. That decided him – he lowered his hand and gently began to stroke the fur on the top of the raccoon's head.

That bust the dam wall wide open.

Rocket cried like Peter had never heard him cry before; harsh, ragged sobs ripping from the small animal in a painfully human-like way.

"I ha—hate it, I hate it!" Rocket sobbed brokenly into the material of Peter's shirt. "Th-They had no—right to—make me feel—so—so frickin' weak!"

It was shocking to see his friend like this, stripped of his usual bluster without being even a little drunk. It occurred to Peter that Rocket must have been keeping all of this bottled up inside for all those weeks since the kidnapping. Either he'd consciously been pretending to be fine all this time, or something had triggered a memory from Rocket's time as Brandt's prisoner, unexpectedly forcing him to deal with the demons lurking in his subconscious. But the team had been watching him closely. They would have seen through Rocket if he'd been pretending. The more he thought about it, the more Peter figured it must have been the latter. Rocket's reaction was too severe for anything else.

Sometimes it was good to let it all out and just cry. Peter was pretty sure it wasn't something Rocket did very often. He was too busy trying to prove to the world, and to himself, that he didn't hurt to deal with his own pain. Oh, blowing stuff up probably helped, too. Rocket was way too fond of making things explode for it to be healthy, but it was an outlet. As Peter sat there, caressing the soft fur on the top of Rocket's head, waiting for the wordless sobbing to run its course, his mind drifted to the soda can standing in the middle of the floor around the corner. He hoped nobody who came looking for them accidentally kicked it over before he had a chance to find out if the drink still tasted the same.

And that was when he realized just what had triggered Rocket's flashback. He was never opening a soda can near the raccoon again. Peter made a mental note to tell the team they had to try keeping any sudden hissing noises around the ship to a minimum if Rocket was nearby, to avoid any more invasive flashbacks that could send the raccoon into this state.

Except for a small hiccup every now and then, Rocket's warm, furry body grew still against his chest, the violent sobs having exhausted him. The raccoon let out a long, stuttering breath.

"You're not weak, Rocky," Peter said quietly, his hand lingering atop the raccoon's head, "in fact, you are the toughest, scariest son of a bitch I ever met, and I grew up with the Ravagers."

Rocket responded with a snort. He must have chuckled a bit. Peter couldn't be sure, but the slight tremors felt a little different from the erratic sobbing that had wracked the raccoon's body until a few moments ago.

There was a pause as Rocket seemed to gather his courage.

"Thanks, Quill..." he murmured hoarsely, eyes still closed. His words came out funny because his nose was blocked.

"Hey, what are friends for, right?" Peter replied with a winning smile.

"You know the drill," Rocket said without looking up, suddenly sounding like his old self again, "ya tell anyone about this, I flarkin' kill ya."

"Uh, yeah," the half-terran laughed nervously, "sure, no problem!"

"That said..." the raccoon sighed, curling up in Peter's lap, "isn't it 'bout time fer one'a you losers to come up with some excuse to ask to pet me, or sumsuch?"

"Nothing gets past you, does it?" Peter smiled ruefully.

When there was no reply, Star-Lord, legendary outlaw and leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy, resigned himself to his fate and began methodically petting the feisty little fur ball in his lap.

And Rocket slept and Rocket purred.
How to Buy Happiness - Chapter 11
Summary: Rocket is kidnapped by someone who thinks that money can buy everything!

This is the epilogue 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: Lost and Found
Next Chapter: Obligatory Post-Credits Teaser

The preview image was a commission done by :iconkareos:
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Lost and Found

At first, Peter wasn't sure who was shot. Rocket was covered in blood that was obviously not his – the colour was all wrong. It was more pinkish than red, but it definitely was blood. The kid was okay, there was nothing but a few pink droplets spattered across his cheek. A gurgling sound emitted from the billionaire, Septimus Brandt, and he dropped to his knees, staring at the hole in his chest.

"Father!" the boy cried.

"Sniper on the roof!" Gamora warned, and with a graceful twist of her lithe body, she was vaulting onto a chipped stone table, from which she swung herself up to the low roof and promptly neutralized the threat by decapitating the sniper before he could reload.

When Peter turned his gaze back on the business man, things looked dire. The bodyguards were gathering around the boy and his father, and the kid was using a piece of fabric he'd gotten from somewhere to try and stem the flow of blood. From what Peter could see, the man had lost a lot of blood. The boy clung to his father, eyes brimming, and looked up at the sky.

"Please!" the boy whispered, and it sounded almost like a prayer. "I'll give anything. Anything!"

Taking in the scene before him, it was very hard for Peter to feel hatred for the man who'd almost killed them all and Rocket, because what he saw now was no longer a bad man, gunned down in the name of justice, but a dying father, and a young son begging not to be left all alone in the world. With misty eyes, Peter stepped closer and placed a hand on the boy's shoulder.

"We need to get Father to the hospital," the kid said, a spark of hope in his eyes.

Peter nodded. He stood, placed his hands on his hips and glared at the surrounding bodyguards.

"Well, what are you waiting for!?" he exclaimed. "Get the man to a hospital!"

The bodyguards mobilized immediately. One of them found an old stretcher that had somehow endured the passage of time. There was nothing more he could do, so Peter sat down next to Rocket as he watched the black-clad men bustle around the boy and his father. The little raccoon was positively filthy, but Peter didn't mind as Rocket leaned on him for support.

"I'm sure your new friend will give us a ride to the hospital," Peter said, indicating the boy. He turned to look at Rocket, who was still shivering uncontrollably. "You know, you're gonna have to get checked out as well."

Rocket grunted sourly. He truly did hate hospitals.

The guards had the boy and the business man ready for transport, so Peter rose to his feet. Ponderous, creaking footsteps announced the arrival of their friendly tree giant. Groot bent down beside the raccoon with a tentative: "I am Groot?"

"S-Sure, just... gimme a sec..." Rocket mumbled, eyelids drooping, then promptly collapsed into the wooden man's arms, unconscious.

"I am Groot!" the talking tree panicked.

"Right," Peter guessed, "hospital!"


The boy, Timmy, sat next to his father's bed in the hospital room. Things had looked bleak. Father's blood had been all over his clothes instead of inside his body, where he needed it. When Sam, Star-Lord and Rocket's other friends brought Father in, Timmy had seen one of the doctors shaking his head before catching the boy's eye. Then he'd abruptly turned away to speak to his colleagues. They hadn't had much hope for Father to pull through as they worked on him.

But Timmy was an optimist.

The boy could feel the strength fading from his legs even as his father's breathing steadied and his heartbeat became stronger. A fair trade, in Timmy's opinion. He looked out the window – the moon had finally shrunk back down to it's normal size once more.

His optimism had saved the lives of two people he cared about tonight.

With a secret smile, the boy watched the astonished faces of the doctors gathered around the patient's bed as Father opened his eyes and spoke to them as though he had merely been sleeping.


When Rocket woke up, it was to the familiar, swaying motion of Groot's lumbering gait. His eyes felt glued together and the fur on one side of his face was sticky from drooling. He forced his grainy eyes open and winced at the splitting headache that had lodged itself inside the front of his skull. His whole body felt stiff and sore. Despite being cradled in the large wooden hands of his overgrown tree pal, Groot, he felt a sudden stab of panic.

Where am I?

His hands flew to his throat. He gasped in pure relief – no collar.

"I am Groot," a big, smiling face said above him.

"'Hi' yourself," Rocket croaked, draping the back of one hand over his eyes, "Must've passed out... The hell are we?"

"I am Groot."

"Flark it," he cursed without much enthusiasm.

He should have figured they would take him straight to the krutacking hospital. No way was he sitting still for some freaky, random doctors to stick needles in him, no matter what Star-Dork said! He clenched his hands into fists, and suddenly felt utterly defenceless as he rediscovered the blunt stubs at the ends of his fingers, all that remained of his claws. He would have to unlearn his instincts to use his claws first. Biting would have to come first, now.

His ears picked up the buzzing drone of a vending machine and Rocket sat up in Groot's hold so fast that his head spun. Blinking a couple of times to clear away the dizziness, he turned his attention to finding the food source. His stomach was a black hole threatening to swallow up his middle. His eyes located the bright lights of the machine sitting against the wall, its glass compartment chock full of colourful packets meant to draw the eye. His mouth watered at the thought of something to eat.

"Whoa, hold up," he said and Groot froze.

"I am Groot?" Groot frowned.

"'m starving," Rocket explained, pointing at the vending machine, "Just wanna get somethin' from there. Check if they got those mellowmushes."

Groot obliged by slamming a fist into the vending machine and pulling out a packet of sweets. He held the liberated snack out to Rocket innocently as the dying machine spat it's last couple of sparks before finally collapsing in on itself in a tinkling of broken glass. Quill, Gamora and Drax, who had been leading the way, turned around at the ruckus. Patients and staff alike popped their heads around doorways from all the way down the hall to see what the commotion was about. The raccoon grimaced, but there was nothing for it but to take the big guy's sincere offering and move on.

"Thanks, Groot," he said, wrestling a moment with the wrapping before ripping a hole in the packet with his teeth and spitting out the paper. "Now c'mon, let's move b'fore Star-Lord gets his knickers in a twist."

"No use crying over crushed vending machines," Quill remarked to no one in particular as Groot and Rocket caught up with the others.

Rocket's only reply was to upend the packet of sweets down his gullet. They weren't exactly the good stuff he'd found stashed in Timmy's room, but they were soft and fruity. Gamora looked like she was trying very hard to hide a smile behind her hand. Drax's face had "Isn't that stealing?" written all over it – not literally, of course.

And then something occurred to Rocket.

"So what happened to the kid's dad?" he asked, feeling slightly guilty that he only remembered to ask right then. He couldn't be expected to show remorse over the man, after everything, but he'd be sorry for the kid. Asshole or not, Timmy was obviously attached to his father.

"He will make a full recovery," Drax responded, eyeing the empty packet Rocket discarded casually over Groot's shoulder for a moment before bending down to pick it up and place it in a nearby waste basket. "The doctors are saying it's some manner of miracle."

"Weirder $#!& has happened tonight," Quill added with a shrug. "Besides, I'm kinda glad for the kid. It's... you know, tough to lose a parent."

Rocket didn't miss how Gamora placed a supportive hand on their self-appointed leader's shoulder.

"Any chance we could go by and visit the bastard? Y'know, rub his frickin' face in it?" Rocket ventured with his best savage grin.

"You, fur ball, are going for a check-up!" Quill said emphatically, seeing right through Rocket's ploy. "Your temperature is still off the charts and— did you just eat an entire packet of sugar gums in one gulp!?"

Flark, why couldn't Quill be slow and dim-witted when it counted?

"I was hungry!" Rocket countered, suddenly feeling defensive.

"Yeah, but, dude, you can't just swallow a packet of sweets whole!" Quill went on. "Especially when you're sick!"

"I just did," Rocket growled, arms crossed, "whaddaya gonna do about it?"

"The packet is in the recycling unit – I put it there myself," Drax supplied helpfully.

Gamora cleared her throat.

"Forget about that," she said simply, ushering them towards the doorway at the end of the hall, "we're here."

Rocket's hackles rose. The room smelled uncomfortably like medicine and sterilising chemicals and fear. There was no-one in there, but his heart thundered. They were really going to make him go through with this! Rocket turned with a pleading look to his so-called friends. He instantly regretted that sentiment – they were not doing this to hurt him, but because they cared about him.

Still, that didn't mean he had to like it.

"I think we should all go together," Drax offered, gently placing a big hand on Rocket's head. He had to reach up in order to touch the raccoon high up in the tree man's arms.

Rocket took a deep breath. The air coming down his windpipe felt like barbed wire to his sensitive throat. The beginnings of a migraine was sending its thick tendrils burrowing around inside his skull. His lungs felt too small for the amount of air he needed. He was sure that, if Groot hadn't been carrying him, he would not even have made it all the way down the hall from the vending machine to the doctor's office.

He needed this. He knew he did.

I'll just get the frickin' meds, then get the flark outta here... he thought. In and out. It won't be so bad. He wished he could have believed his own lies.

So that's how Rocket found himself sitting on the examination bed, kicking his legs back and forth nervously. His shivers were coming back, or maybe they were there the whole time and he only noticed them now that he was paying attention. The air inside the office seemed frigid, but Quill had taken off his jacket and tossed it casually over the arm of one of the waiting chairs.

"Relax, Rocket," Quill said, making himself at home in the chair, "it'll be fine."

"No, it won't be krutacking fine!" Rocket hissed, tail swishing. "Ya know how I feel 'bout some creepy gronad doctor pokin' me with their flarking instruments! Freaks me the hell out!"

"Trust me, it's not some creepy doctor," Quill replied with a stupid smirk just as a nurse with pearl white skin and pale pink hair stepped into the room. She had the biggest, roundest eyes Rocket had ever seen – brown on the outside, green on the inside – and a friendly smile graced her rosebud lips.

"I see what ya did there," Rocket deadpanned.

"Well... Rocket, is it?" she asked, adjusting her rectangular glasses. He nodded. "Let's take a look at you..."

Rocket froze up as she cupped a hand over his nose. She wore a serious expression as she checked his whiskers, then proceeded to peek inside each of his ears with an odd little tool, almost like a mini flashlight on a long handle. Apparently, she liked what she saw there, because she smiled slightly, a friendly quirk of her lips.

There was a tense moment when she asked him to turn his back and lift up his shirt so she could listen to his heart and lungs. He could practically feel her eyes roving over the ugly metal ports and scar tissue on his back, but she made no comment. Instead, she told him exactly what she was going to do and what she was listening for. He shuddered when she pressed the cold metal disk against his back. She must have asked him to breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out a hundred times over. He was relieved when she finally let him pull his shirt back down.

Were they done now? It occurred to him that he'd never in his life had such a gentle examination. He'd still be glad once it was over, though. But then she was getting more instruments from her kit. So she wasn't done yet, he despaired inwardly. Any minute now, it would stop being gentle. Any minute now, it was going to start hurting...

"I must say, you have a lovely coat, Rocket," she said upon looking up, her words laced in a tone that was on just the right side of almost-cooing.

Rocket caught himself feeling a little bashful. This might not be so terrible, after all, he thought.

As long as she doesn't try to pet me...


"Do you think he'll notice?" Peter whispered nervously and not at all quietly enough, in Gamora's opinion.

Luckily, Rocket was too busy chatting with the pretty nurse to pay attention to what the others were doing.

"The fact that your palms are all sweaty for that nurse," Gamora practically hissed, "or the fact that she's really a—" then dropped her voice to barely a half-whisper, "veterinarian in disguise?" She added a glare for good measure before continuing in a heated whisper: "Because if you talk any louder, he'll hear."

"I think Quill is referring to our deception," Drax confided softly.

"I am Groot," Groot added in what passed for a whisper with him – it came out as a low rumble.

"Do you think he'll be okay?" Peter asked soberly.

"He seems all right..." Gamora replied, her eyes travelling back to the raccoon sitting on the examination bed.

The group stood silently watching as Rocket made the nurse laugh with some or other rude joke. Either that, or he was bragging about being the last of his kind and how all the girls usually fell for that – in some ways, Rocket was more like Peter Quill than he would ever realize, Gamora mused thoughtfully.

"It is difficult to be certain," Drax spoke up suddenly. "For as long as I've known him, that one has used words to cover up pain and weakness. He is skilled at pretending."

"Arright, break it up, idiots!" Rocket announced as he hopped off the bed and marched on over.

"See, that wasn't so bad, was it?" Peter asked with an insolent grin.

"Let's stick a frickin' thermometer in your ear and see how ya like it!" Rocket shot back grumpily.

"Be glad it was in your ear and not up your—"

"Ahem!" their sweet veterinarian-turned-nurse coughed delicately, effectively distracting Peter from finishing that fateful sentence. "Mr Quill, Lady Gamora, I'd like to speak with you."

Rocket stared at Quill suspiciously for two more beats before shrugging.

"Well, I'm gonna go check on the kid," he declared, tucking his hands behind his head casually and heading for the door.

"I am Groot," the tree man asserted, following the raccoon. Gamora could only guess that Groot had volunteered to go with him.

"A fine idea," Drax said, smiling down at Rocket, "I, too, shall accompany you, small friend."

"If ya want," Rocket replied nonchalantly, then grinned at the nurse and waved. "See ya, Marli!"

"Bye, Rocket!" the nurse called back in a voice like honey.

Gamora watched the odd procession leave the office.

"And, Quill," Rocket piped up as his head suddenly popped back around the doorway, "don't go makin' an ass of yerself, she's married."

Gamora was hard-pressed to stifle a laugh, especially when she turned back and saw the look on Peter's face, which ranged somewhere between an incensed big brother and a kicked puppy. The laughter died in her throat when she caught sight of the veterinarian's expression, though.

All traces of honey forgotten, the woman wore a face like a thunderhead as she briskly went to close the office door and then rounded on them with a fierce: "Why didn't you bring him in sooner!?"

"Whoa, whoa, wait a second!" Peter spluttered, raising his hands defensively, but the veterinarian gave him no leeway.

"The poor little guy can barely breathe and he's running a horrendous fever!" she scolded, making Peter shrink back as she punctuated her every word with a jab of her forefinger to his chest. "I'll have to do a scan to be sure, but his lungs are under terrible strain. Did you rescue him from a fire? Do you have any idea the damage smoke inhalation can cause if it isn't treated in time!?"

"We would have brought him sooner, if we could," Gamora admitted, hoping to save Peter before the pink-haired beauty ripped him to shreds, "but we only got him back tonight." The woman shifted her fiery eyes to Gamora and Peter slumped gratefully and somewhat pathetically against the wall she had backed him into. "As we said before, he's very sensitive, so we didn't want to mention this in front of Rocket, but he was abducted. The kidnappers used some form of spray to keep him docile and we suspect that it has harmful side effects."

The veterinarian's hazel eyes went wide as she took in Gamora's words. She whirled around and whipped a hefty file out of her bag. She slammed the file down on the desk with trembling hands and flipped through the pages hastily. She stopped at a page with an illustration of a canister with a large red 'D' printed on its side.

"This!" she exclaimed, pointing at the picture. "It matches his symptoms perfectly, but..."

"But?" Gamora questioned, a knot of dread forming in her middle.

"A few months back, we had a series of animals come in, suffering these same symptoms," the doctor explained. "Someone was testing the chemicals on strays. The police even caught the perp doing the testing, but everything got covered up. I'm sure you've heard of Brandt Industries – the doze chemical was their product, but no one could connect it to them directly. There was never any solid evidence, anyway." She took a deep breath. "The point is... most of the animals that came in bore the same symptoms as Rocket and I managed to save one or two of them, but... most of them didn't survive. Judging from the severity of his symptoms, it's a miracle he's breathing at all."

"You've seen the marks on his back, Miss...?"

"Mrs Benster, if you please," she supplied curtly.

"Mrs Benster," Peter ploughed ahead, "Rocket was genetically and cybernetically enhanced by the ones who created him. He's, y'know, very secretive about it all, as you can imagine, but... they sorta built him to be stronger and smarter than a normal raccoon."

"I read Nova's file, too," Gamora spoke up, noting Peter's discomfort at discussing Rocket's history with a complete stranger. It had to be done, however, so she picked up where he left off. "He's known to be resistant to anaesthetics and certain other varieties of narcotics."

"That's about all we know," Peter pitched in, "but maybe Rocket built up a resistance to this 'doze chemical' or whatever. Maybe that's why he's not— Why he's still— You know, why he's okay."

"Rocket is by no means 'okay', Mr Quill," the veterinarian remarked icily. "I've taken care of his other injuries and I gave him medication that should make him feel better for the moment, but that was just a temporary measure. He isn't going to like it, but we'll have to keep him overnight to monitor his condition."

And with that, she stalked off, probably on her way to try and sweet-talk Rocket into staying at the hospital overnight. Gamora wished her luck.

"Yup, definitely married," Peter muttered under his breath, making Gamora roll her eyes.


Flanked by Drax and Groot, Rocket made his way down the hall. Walking between the muscle man and the sentient tree, they felt more like bodyguards to him than anything else. Despondently, Rocket wondered if they would ever let him out of their sight again. His despair deepened as he found that the thought of going anywhere by himself sent an involuntary shiver down his spine. He tried to recall the carefree feeling he'd had that day when he decided to leave Groot beside the fountain and head to the Munitions District on his own, but that feeling was beyond his grasp, possibly forever...

He was planning on passing by the vending machine Groot had murdered earlier in the hopes of finding another snack, or maybe something to drink. The medicine that unbelievably nice doctor had given him was soothing his headache and his body no longer trembled, but his throat felt terribly dry and sore. Maybe he'd get something with bubbles in it. He thought that might help.

Unfortunately, he never made it as far as the vending machine. He remembered saying something to Groot when he felt a sudden, painful spasm in his abdomen and half his sentence got stuck in his throat. It stayed there, not coming out.

"I am Groot?" the tree giant asked, brow creaking with concern.

But Rocket couldn't talk. His breath was caught in the back of his windpipe. In a desperate attempt to dislodge it, he began to cough. And once he started coughing, he didn't know how to stop. It felt like his chest was about to burst. His lungs and throat roared with heat and he was coughing so much that there wasn't any chance to breathe in between. He was on his knees, coughing. He needed air.

"I am Groot!?"

"C-Can't—breathe—...!" Rocket gasped between coughs.

"Nurse, we need assistance!" That was Drax.

Everything went black.

Rocket barely registered anything except that it was bitterly cold and his insides were a raging furnace of heat. His head was swimming as he was passed from hand to hand. He thought Quill was there with him. Or maybe he was wrapped in Quill's toasty leather jacket, he just couldn't tell.


Peter and the other Guardians of the Galaxy took turns watching over Rocket as he lay in the hospital bed, a myriad of tubes and wires keeping their smallest member stable. The doctors had done everything they could to clear up the raccoon's badly bruised little lungs. They said he would be all right. He would make it, but they worried that there might be permanent damage to his respiratory system. Rocket might walk away from this unscathed or he could suffer from asthma for the rest of his life. There was really no telling just yet.

Aside from his adoptive family, Rocket had other visitors, too. One of the Brandt bodyguards, the big one, called Sam #2, came by once, apologizing and shuffling his huge feet uncomfortably. Gamora didn't let him stay long, but he left a packet of marshmallows on the bedside table for Rocket.

The kid, Timmy, came by a couple of times, too, wheeling his chair up close to the bed and petting Rocket's limp little hand tenderly.

Pink-haired Florence Nightingale paid the raccoon a visit, too. Peter tried to tell himself that he wasn't jealous when the pretty veterinarian planted a kiss between Rocket's fluffy ears. Nope, not him, he was definitely not jealous. Not even a tiny bit! Lucky bastard...

The raccoon was asleep for most of it, but once every few hours, he would open his dark eyes wide, stare at the tubes around him in bewilderment, then locate one of his team mates sitting close by and let out a sigh of relief.

The best day was when all the tubes and things could finally come off. Peter was glad to see Rocket free of that forest of wires. The nurse removing them almost had a fit when Rocket spoke to her for the first time, but she quickly warmed up to the smart-mouthed little patient. Peter did not envy the nurses their task of cajoling the raccoon into eating a proper meal when all he wanted was junk food. In the end, they resorted to holding his packet of marshmallows hostage until Rocket sulkily agreed to comply with their demands and eat the "flarking tasteless hospital gruel".

Rocket still slept a lot. Peter wasn't sure if it was from the heavy dosages of medication he'd received during his time at the hospital, or the exhaustion of his ordeal finally catching up to him. When the Guardians finally got to take him home, it was with firm instructions to keep the raccoon warm at all times and to keep a close eye on him.


Meanwhile, Timmy had been glad to hear that Rocket was stable. Father had been discharged from the hospital just a day after being admitted. Every other day, he would take time off work to drive Timmy to the hospital so he could visit his sick raccoon friend. Knowing full well that he would not be welcome in Rocket's hospital room, Father sent Sam #2 along and waited for the boy in the car.

Timmy never told his father how his legs had been healed under the light of a gibbous moon that night, and Timmy never told his father just how the man had managed to survive what should have been a fatal gunshot wound. But Father suspected. Either way, they never talked about that night again. They talked about all kinds of other things, though, in the evenings over supper.

Timmy thought of himself as a very lucky boy. He may have lost the use of his legs once more, but thinking about what he'd gained in return made him smile.


Rocket Raccoon became aware of a pleasantly warm feeling all over his chest and belly. He also found that he was swaddled in blankets so tightly that he couldn't move. He wriggled a bit until his blanket cocoon loosened enough that he didn't feel quite so suffocatingly immobilized. He sighed and hugged the warm and squishy thing he found himself wrapped around, stretching the stiff muscles in his arms and legs. Bleary eyes – not crusted over, for a change – blinked open lazily and he saw that he was in someone else's bunk, wrapped in several layers of blankets and holding a hot water bottle.

He was appalled to find that he was naked.

"Arright, which one'a you perv'rts took my frickin' pants off!?" was what he planned on yelling. Instead, he gave voice to a hoarse, wordless groan that didn't sound nearly as impressive.

"Lie still, small one," Drax's deep voice spoke softly, "you're home."

"Home..." Rocket murmured, hugging the hot water bottle tightly as the big man sitting next to him gently stroked his fur.
How to Buy Happiness - Chapter 10
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: Friend
Next Chapter: Epilogue

The preview image was a commission done by :iconkareos:
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Friend

"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
Next Chapter: Lost and Found

The preview image was a commission done by :iconkareos:
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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

deviantID

Prince-in-Disguise
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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HolyTeapot Featured By Owner Edited Jan 22, 2016  New Deviant Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you for the favourite!
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Prince-in-Disguise Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You're welcome! :blowkiss:
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Pteryon Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2016  Student Digital Artist
Thank you for all the faves and comments!
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Prince-in-Disguise Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
No problem! I love your pictures! :blowkiss:
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dA-Droid Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2016
Random Quote of the day:
“Some feelings sink so deep into the heart that only loneliness can help you find them again. Some truths are so painful that only shame can help you live with them. Some things are so sad that only your soul can do the crying for them.” — Gregory David Roberts
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BrokenOpen Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2015
Hi there! Not sure if you remember me, but I wanted to say hi. It's been a long time. Do you have a Twitter account? I'm on there mostly now, building my Author Platform since I published my first novel last month, and would love to chat with you again.
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Prince-in-Disguise Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hi! I remember you! Both Gundam SEED fans, right? Your favourite was Stellar Loussier, if I remember correctly. :hug:

I don't have Twitter. I still mainly lurk around here and on Fanfiction.net. I'm very happy for you - writing and publishing a novel is a great accomplishment! :clap:
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BrokenOpen Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2016
That would be correct! And she still is my favourite from that series, haha. How have you been?
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Prince-in-Disguise Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Haha, that Stellar and Leviathan fanart I did for you was quite a memorable process. :D I think it was one of the biggest things I ever drew!

I still love drawing. My art has taken on a bit of a new direction as my interests changed. I've also started writing fanfiction after a six year long drought...! O_O It's a joy, though, now that I've finally found it again. :giggle:
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Omnivault Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks for the fave!
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