Teaching Responsibility

Disclaimer: I don't own anything from Guardians of the Galaxy, or the Marvel movies, and I'm not making any money from this fic

Summary: Written for this prompt: Baby Groot understands how he's supposed to be helping when the gang are at work, but often he decides to just dance around instead. When someone gets hurt because of his carelessness, Peter has a heart-to-heart with him. Written for the parent or guardian square in the Advent Holiday Bingo

Warning(s): Mild interspecies spanking; spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy Volumes 1 and 2; some mentions of violence

Author's Note: First story in the attempted blackout. Twenty-five stories in total

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"I am Groot."

Peter sighed and crouched down so he was closer to Groot. Of course, the only way he could be on eye level with the tiny alien was if he lay completely flat on his stomach. And he was trying to be serious right now. "I know you like dancing. And, hey, all of us like dancing sometimes...apart from Drax...but there's a time and a place for it."

"I am Groot."

Peter nodded. "Exactly, little buddy. In the middle of battle isn't a good time."

"I am Groot."

Peter blinked. "Okay, so how about not dancing to the music? If I thought it'd do any good, I'd tell Rocket to stop putting on playlists during battle," he muttered.

"I am Groot." He folded his tiny arms.

"Dancing isn't wrong," Peter agreed. "But do you remember what you were supposed to be doing instead of dancing?"

"I am Groot." His arms were still folded, but he hung his head.

"That's right." Peter nodded, wondering -not for the first time- exactly how Yondu had done it. And why was he the one left to scold Groot? Surely the tiny alien would listen better if, say, Gamora was the one talking to him. Of course... "You were supposed to be on lookout, little guy. Gamora got hurt because you wanted to dance."

"I am Groot." He sniffed and looked down, one foot pushing against the floor.

"I know you're sorry." Peter nodded.

"I am Groot," he said earnestly.

"Well, of course I know you didn't mean for it to happen." Peter pulled his eyes from the tiny alien long enough to glance towards the door, swallowing hard. "And Gamora will be fine," he added, pushing aside the stab of worry as he thought about how she hadn't even protested Mantis putting her to sleep. That had been scarier than her getting wounded in the first place. "She'll be fine," he muttered, as much as to himself as to Groot.

"I am Groot?"

Peter blinked, focusing his attention back on the tiny alien. "Am I going to...? You're asking me if I'm going to spank you? What even gave you that idea?"

"I am Groot." He cocked his head to one side.

"That..." Peter fought down his blush. "That was a private conversation. And it's not the same thing anyway," he muttered.

"I am Groot." There was an odd note of stubbornness in his voice. "I am Groot. I am Groot." A pause, then, "I am Groot?"

Peter flinched. "No, of course I care about you! But...I..." He waved his hands around in an exaggerated motion. "But we're two different species. It wouldn't even work."

Groot turned around and bent forward slightly. "I am Groot."

"Yeah. Yeah, okay. That's a...I mean...you have a bottom. Sure. But that's not what I meant." Peter raked his hands through his hair with a muttered, "Damn it."

Groot looked over his shoulder, eyes wide as if he might be about to start crying. Could a tree alien actually cry? "I am Groot?"

"Stop saying that!" Peter ordered. "Of course I care about you. I just don't feel right about spanking you."

Groot turned back round to face Peter and held up stubby wooden arms. "I am Groot."

"I'm probably going to give myself splinters," Peter muttered, wrapping his hands around the tiny waist and lifting Groot up. "I don't think you really need me to spank you. You just want to know what it's like." Shaking his head, he sat on the floor and raised one leg slightly, draping Groot over his knee. "Rocket should really teach you that curiosity isn't always a good thing."

"I am Groot."

"'Just get on with it'? Really?" Peter muttered. He gently patted the little alien's bottom.

After a few moments of this, Groot peered back over his shoulder. "I am Groot?"

"Of course that's all there is," Peter replied.

"I am Groot."

"I'm not lying!" Peter winced and stared at the back of Groot's head. But what if the little alien didn't believe him and asked one of the others? What if he asked Drax? Peter knew the big alien wouldn't harm Groot, but Drax didn't always know his own strength.

Peter set his jaw, bracing himself, and gave a firmer pat to the tiny alien's backside. Because of Groot's size, he wouldn't use a lot of strength.

It clearly had an effect, because Groot jumped. "I am Groot!" The exclamation sounded surprised.

"Well what did you think a spanking was?" Peter retorted. "Of course it hurts. That's the whole point. You get spanked for what you did wrong. And then you remember getting spanked, so you won't do it again next time."

"I am Groot."

"If you already know, why did you push me to spank you?"

Groot was quiet for a few moments and then, in an almost sheepish voice, replied, "I am Groot."

"I don't need to spank you to make us closer, little buddy," Peter replied, lifting the tiny alien and cuddling him against his shoulder. "Yeah, it can work...but I don't need to spank you to make you understand that there's a time and place for dancing. Right?"

"I am Groot." The tiny alien yawned and gripped tightly to Peter's jacket, closing his eyes.

"Yeah." Peter stood up carefully, cupping Groot's tiny head. "I love you too," he whispered, smiling as he noticed Groot had fallen asleep. Moving quietly, so as not to risk waking his tiny friend, he walked off in search of the rest of their friends.

The End