Chapter Three: The Planning Stage, Part Two; Sleepover.

Thor's room, to my total lack of surprise, is completely identical to mine, in the copy-paste manner of plush hotels the Galaxy over. Bathroom in the same space, mini-bar, huge black rectangle of a primitive imaging screen, and sofa in the pointless little reception area between the door of the suite and the bed and bath rooms. Same traditional Wakandan rug, same art on the walls, fuck: it even smells the same. Or at least, it smelt how my room did before I set fire to it, trashed it in a fight, and festered in a corner for a few days. There are only two appreciable differences. Well, three if you count that fact it's not grimy, on fire, flooded, and covered in bullet holes and feathers. One, the number of guards at the door has increased significantly, presumably because I trashed the last suite and may or may not have bitten off an ear in the elevator from my floor to Thor's. I mean, I didn't get a good look at how attached it was, but I had a good go at removing it because no-one manhandles me. Two, the fucker has actually snuck a second bed in, a narrow single, presumably looted from a family room in the hotel, or falling that an actual Wakandan family: I mean, half you're relatives have just dusted and he's an actual god, who's gonna frickin' stop him? And by narrow I mean, unlike my previous bed, I can see one side from the other without using satellite imagery and a rough map showing where this planet's equator runs across it. What is it with hotels trying to prove how fancy they are with their giant beds and correspondingly tiny bottles? Compensating for tiny dick syndrome, the lot of them, I think, adjusting myself nervously.

I did not want to make the journey up here wearing only towels, because it makes me hyper aware that if I have to flee the room in the night, I have to do it naked, and embracement aside, that's severe a tactical disadvantage, which is why you always strip your prisoners when transporting high-risk bounties, boys and girls, assuming disabling their central nervous system or removing limbs is off the table. It saves so much trouble down the line. Speaking of trouble down the line/and-or stripping, the bed is wedged between Thor's king size, and the floor-to-ceiling window with a gap between the two of only inches, so it's basically one giant bed, and I hope that's not prophetic because the extra bed rammed in here and the scatter of empty beer bottles Thor's clearly got through makes this look like the set of a mid-price porno. Then again I lived nearly three years with Quill, and 'the set of a mind price porno' summed up his entire frickin' life, so who am I to judge? Maybe this is just how Terra always looks? A suspicion I get confirmed to my satisfaction the first time I get a look at your internet.

I glare around the room, panicking. Nope, it's two beds set up like a teen's sleepover. Or, given the lack of sleeping bags, drink flinched from the parental liquor cabinet or any girls, it's actually less a sleepover and more like the set up you'd have with two teenage male cousins sharing a room in the naive parental hope that they've not yet discovered masturbation or hard drugs. I mean, as far as I can tell from Quill's TV intercepts and horrifying personal stories, this is what a sleepover would look like: I didn't get a bed as a child, or, for that matter a room, bedding, much in the way of sleep, or any friends, so in between electrodes to the brain and bi-weekly vivisection, sleepovers were one trauma I was mercifully spared. Go me.

Oh gods, he's actually serious about this. Is he? Oh fuck, he's smiling. He is. I'm trapped with a strange man, on a strange planet, sharing a bedroom with him and there are actual guards stopping me from leaving the room. And this time I didn't even rob a bank first and get sentenced to hard time like an honest shmuck. What sort of unconstitutional extrajudicial bullshit is this?

I fluff my fur and hiss aggressively because because I'm in no mood to play sleepover with the Asgardian equivalent of a golden retriever, but given he's carrying me in the crook of his arm like a grocery bag, I can't actually make a break for the door. Besides, I'm starting to feel like I may have lost my privileges to a free room elsewhere in the hotel. The local jail, maybe, but not here. You think with Thanos removing half of their previous bookings they might have a vacancy, but apparently no. And also, apparently it's way, way too soon for jokes about it, seein' as one of the guards burst into tears when I mentioned it.

(…Wooden hand reaching out even as it crumbles, look of fear in his face….)

Okay, so maybe it is too soon… I shudder, then resume swearing my tits off and gnawing at Thor's biceps in the hope of escape. Thor, predictably, ignores my well-reasoned protests. I resolve to pee on his leg if given half a chance.

He doesn't give me the chance, depositing me on the bed almost in passing, as he does a full 360 sweep, looking for any potential weapons and then signalling for the Wakandan guards to remove them, one by one. Yeah, you better be afraid blondie: last cell mate I had who was as big as you I had to cut on him early to establish dominance. I think, nodding approvingly. It says something for my exhaustion and my unfamiliarity with the idea of him giving-a-crap about me, that I don't realise he's doing it to suicide-proof the room until he locks the windows and takes the key and conceals it under his cloak.

I glare at him, but he takes it while smiling faintly and pretending to not even notice.

"I'm not gonna top myself, idiot. I got unfinished business with the purple fucker."

"Oh, I believe you Sweet Rabbit, but it's just I've been wrong in my assessment of others before, so now I find it's better to take these precautions now, before someone's got a mistletoe dart though the eye, rather than later." He says, sitting on the edge of the bedside table, facing me, grinning a smile that doesn't quite reach his eyes. "And while I genuinely believe that a sober you would prioritise making other people suffer far, far above ending or decreasing your own suffering: you're far from well, malnourished, and I don't doubt you could easily, despite my best efforts, find yourself both strong liquor and weapons and do harm to yourself or others. Probably both. Definitely both."

"So" he says "Just as a, let's call this a courtesy rather than a precaution, I don't think you should be alone right now. It's not that I don't trust you…"

"Then what is it?" I glower.

"It's that I don't trust you." Says Thor, smiling flatly. I'm honestly flattered: it's the first thing he's said that isn't batshit insane. As I re-assess his intelligence he continues.

"In your current state, I don't trust you to take care of yourself. And given I'm the one who crashed into your spaceship, lured you and Tree away from your family: Gamora, the bald one, antennas and the tiny man with envy issues, and got you into this whole sorry saga or fighting Thanos; that makes getting you well again my responsibility. You fought for me, and took a wound in my service, albeit an emotional rather than physical one. My father made sure if a man shed his blood for Asgard, be he Lowy Thrall, or loyal sworn Huascarl, then as king he owed it to that man to see to his care the best he could. I have a duty of care. So here we are. Stuck here. On earth. Sharing this hotel room." Said Thor, while I glare at him and it slowly sinks in that I'll find a way to make him hate this every bit as much as I do.

"Yayyyy." He said, waving both hands with mock joviality.

Yep. I'm gonna stab him, I realise. I've spent enough time in prison with cellmates who wanted to either kill, steal from me, or violently deprive me of any and all innocence my body might have in theory ever had, but this, this crosses a line. This fucker is trying to help me. That's a threat that can't be borne.

Shank made out of a comb, I think. Beard that neat, he must have a facial hair comb somewhere in the room. Hell, Imagine if it got out that I needed help? From this dumb sack of shit? My remaining street cred would be in the gutter, and my rep only just recovered from after that time Quill put that holo of me dancing when very very drunk out on the outer net. You get help from someone, one, it means you're weak and everyone knows it, and two, it puts me in his debt. And by definition anyone who spends effort to put you in their debt is someone you most definitely do not want to be indebted too. I've worked for too many mobsters to fall for that shit.

I mean, it's not like he actually cares about me. Right? I mean... look at me. He just needs me to find his axe for him, and I want to then rob it off him. Simple explanation: Mutual self-interest, let's not stank up this sweet arrangement with a whole bunch of feelings or complications.

Wait, he actually said Yayyyy? Oh fuck, Thanos, snap me now, I think, as a settle cross-legged on the bed and glare.

"You better fucking fetch my stuff."


"My gun, my toolbelt, my power-pack. My clothes, once they dry."

Thor stands up and paces, rubbing his chin and part-grinning part grimacing in that way people do when they get outrageous demands they have to meet.

"Not the gun…. not now, not in the hotel. Yes to the clothes and pack… I'll see about the toolbelt."

Once you loot it of everything I need to make my escape. One you remove any sharp objects you feel nervous about me having. I think. Coward: so you want to stop me killing myself? Where's the challenge in stopping an unarmed guy from offing himself? Give him some grenades, then that's a fair fight.

This is why my career as ships councillor on the Milano didn't last long. That and me gaslighting Drax out of sheer boredom. The trick is to hide a toaster in their room on a timer, and then deny to them you can smell toast. Instant hilarity.

Thor waves the Guards away, telling them to fetch my stuff, and the door closes. Oh shit, I'm trapped, I think.

Thor sits on the bed near me. I scowl, and move into a corner as far as I could get from him. I still don't trust the fucker, simple as.

"You need rest, Rabbit. And food. What do you eat? I could summon one of the many and interesting Terran dishes: they don't have Grox here, or aurochs anymore, but they have this stuff called 'toasted French' that's really good…"

I glower, and cut in. "I'm fine." I hiss. "Just need some space, yanno?" I ask. He doesn't leave the room. Shit, that was too subtle a hint for the big fucker. "Some space alone." Too subtle. "Away from you." Still too subtle. "So fuck off." I add.

Thor, remarkably, does not fuck off. He just looks and me, and frowns.

"When was the last time you ate, Rabbit? And don't say on the flight to Nidavellir or I will be justifiably upset: Judging by your small size and high body temperature I'm guessing you have a very fast metabolism, you should not go even moderate periods without eating."

I glare. "Technically I ate that aspirin…"

Thor groans, and he pinches the bridge of his nose. "Rabbit, you were in that room for nearly a week, and you're telling me you didn't eat?"

"Well, I spewed up my booze a couple of times. That's kind of like eating in reverse…"

Thor stands. "I'm calling room service." He declares, like there will be no argument. I groan, and pitch in.

"Hey, hey hey hey! Roid-rage, you ever dealt with someone once their body has entered starvation mode? Actually properly? You can't just chuck them a sandwich, numb-nuts, ya gotta go slow and careful or you're gonna hurt them more. I'm stable right now, my body will have shut down most unnecessary systems to save energy, including my digestive tract. You give me food I'm gonna do nothing but spew violently from both ends, and given we're sharing a room, I doubt you want that any more than I do! And that's' the best case scenario, sometimes people can just… die. You gotta start slow. Rehydrate, get some glucose and vitamins in to start, then move up to very, very small amounts of easily digested food!"

He stares, head cocked on one side. I pre-empt his question, just as his lips move.

"I was in a war once."

"That's… that's not an answer Rabbit. I've been in war many times."

I glare. "You ever bin' on the losing side, pal?"

"Well, up until Thanos, no."

"Yeah well, things went about for me soldiering as they went for me in everything else. You go long enough without rations you learn a thing or to…" I shudder, trying to drive memories of the Toy War and Halfworld from my mind. "But yeah, if someone's not had a feed for a good long time, you'll be doing them no favours by just ordering them a pizza."

Thor nodes, and goes to the door and speaks to the guards, a turn an ear to follow him, and eavesdrop as discreetly as possible. I mean not that I care if he knows I'm listening in, I ain't no shrinking violet… but I'd like to keep exactly how good my senses are from him for just a while. You know… just in case.

"… Orange juice. Glucose tablets, or glucose-dextrose tablets, whatever you have. A multi-vitamin wouldn't hurt, something with iron, his lack of energy may indicate he's slightly anaemic…"

"He's also slightly sober!" I yell. "Beer would not go amiss!" Thor turns and glares, but does not answer me.

"Just blend it all and put in a glass, would you?" he says, before turning back to me and eyeing me appraisingly.

"You appear to be correct, the guards agree that 'refeeding syndrome' is indeed a thing, and it's made worse by alcohol abuse. They, too, recommend small sips of glycose, or fruit juices, and a mineral supplement. Do you have any allergies that I should know about?"

"Idiots. Cops. Sobriety. The usual. Oh, and it's not technically an allergy, but chocolate will kill me. Other than that I can eat basically anything."

Thor winces, which I hate. Yeah, I know not being able to eat chocolate sucks, I don't need reminding, but he waves the guard away and pulls the door closed.

"Apparently death from re-feeding syndrome occurs due to serum electrolyte imbalance, and it usually strikes within four to eight days…"

"For terrans, maybe. It happens faster with… with things like me." I say, thinking back "We called it the 48 hour drop: about two days after they started eating again, they'd get confused and develop an irregular heartbeat. Some would slip into a coma, some would just… die."

Thor looks to me, and sighs.

"You've had a hard time of it, haven't you Rabbit?"

I scowl. I'm in no mood for sympathy.

I'm about to say something brilliant and witty and no doubt totally cutting, I'm sure, when there's a knock at the door, and Thor opens it. Fuck me, those Wakkandan's move fast when you order room service, which makes me instantly suspect that Thor had got a whole bunch or food lined up before he dragged me out of my room. He's not a dumb as he looks, which is just as well because that would probably require specialised brain-reduction surgery. The trolley that comes in is so disgustingly neat and clean I want to burn it down in self-defence of my scruffy masculine pride: starched white table cover with embodied Wakandan design along the borders, traditional tribal ceramic with a fucking flower arrangement in it, and fucking Champagne flutes of a bright yellow liquid. I don't know what Champagne actually is, but I've watched enough Terran TV intercepts with Quill to know that those stupid long-steamed tall, narrow glasses are a high-status item, used to display how much richer you are than the other plebs. I eye the glasses with a mix of wary trepidation, and thoughtful planning: that long glass stem could make a really good shank.

That said, there is something very wrong with the drink.

"They made it wrong." I declare.

"I'm sorry?" asks Thor.

"They fucked up your order. Frickin' Terrans couldn't even get a simple request right. You asked for orange juice, that's clearly yellow." I say, cocking my head on one side. I can't actually see the colour orange, it looks brownish-grey to me, but Thor don't need to know that, and that glass is clearly yellow. I nod sagely. "They probably forgot to put the red-juice in." I guess. I don't want to sound stupid, so I go for the simplest possible explanation. "Yeah, cheapskates are trying to do you out of the red juice, that probably costs extra, if you want two primary colours. You should punch them." I advise, nodding wisely.

It's clearly good advice, as it makes Thor pause, confused, before he shakes his head and takes the trolley from the guard and the guards retreat into the corridor an close the door. Yeah, you better run you red-stealing bastards. I'm on to you!

Thor hands me the first glass, there are several, and I'm immediately tempted to stab him with it. I sniff at it suspiciously. It smells way, way to sweat, and I feel it turn my stomach at just the smell of it. Shit, it's been too long since I ate; something as simple as this shouldn't phase me, but the mere idea of having anything more than water makes my paws sweat and body shake. Oh man, I'm far gone, I realise, sniffing very, very cautiously. Unfamiliar fruit, sweet and slightly tart. They've added maybe a five gram glucose-dextrose tablet to it, and a vitamin B and mineral supplement, but I keep sniffing suspiciously, and the thing I'm searching for just isn't there.

"Hey what gives!" I protest, thrusting the glass back at Thor. "What's with the tranquilisers?!"

"I… Rabbit, there aren't any tranquilisers!"

"Exactly! What sort of shitty mom and pop planet is this were you don't even take the chance to tranquilise the dangerous potentially suicidal prisoner when you've got the chance? Am I a fucking joke to you? I'm crazy, pissed off and barely house-broken, and you don't dope me to oblivion when you get the chance? You fucking amateurs! I am so disappointed with you! This is basically prejudice, you know, I bet if Warmachine or one of the humanoids was in my state, you'd have drugged him until he could smell colours, you shmuck!"

"I… wait, How would you have reacted if it had been drugged?"

"I'd have stabbed you in the dick with the glass, but at least I'd have respected your integrity as I did it, you moron!" I yell.

"I… Rabbit, do you want to be tranquilised?"

"No, because I'm pretty sure if I did I'd either end up strapped to a dissection table or as a notch on someone's bedpost, but I at least expect that! The lack of drugging makes me think you've got something worse planned!"

"I… you are paranoid Rabbit!"

"That is true!"

"And distrustful and violent!"

"That is also true!" I snarl.

Thor throws up his hands in exasperation, then thrusts the juice back at me.

"Drink you're damn juice Rabbit!"

I thrust it back. "I don't want it! They stole all the red out of it!"

"That doesn't make any sense!"

"No, you don't make any sense!"

He hands me the juice, and then puts a small tablet on the bed next to it. The capsule looks hilariously out of place next to the hotel's mints, like a turd in a punchbowl. A fart at a funeral. A cyborg racoon and a thunder god sharing a hotel roo- oh wait.

"Fine," says Thor, nodding to the capsule "I was thinking about drugging you, but I decided not to go thought with it because you're my friend, even if you're a really, really bad friend!"

"You bet I am!" I say, standing up on the bed, so I can face him at an equal height, ears back and teeth bared.

"That's not something you boast about!" he says, raising his hands. "Just drink you're damn juice!"

"Or what?!" I yell.

"Or you'll starve to death and we'll never get our bloody vengeance!" he shouts.

I stare back, inches from his face, panting.

"Okay, that's a fair point." I growl. I look down: Thor has held the cup back up to me.

I take it in both paws, and, scowling, sit back down. I hesitate: this is the first step in getting well again. In choosing to live. In choosing to live without Groot.

I wince at the idea, fuck, I'm actually committing to vengeance over mourning?

Yes, I am, I realise.

I drink the damn drink.

It's not actually bad: I thought it would be sickly sweet, but it smells sweater than it is. It's got a good level of sourness to it. Like me, I guess.

I sip, and pause. It's not bad at all. I take some more.

I suddenly realise how damn thirsty, hungry and tired I am. I drain the fucker. Thor has to hold the glass, to stop me downing it in one.

"Whoa, whoa, easy Rabbit. Don't make yourself sick. Go slow."

"Bite me." I mutter, juice dripping down my chin, but he's got a point, I guess. I go slow, sipping gently for the rest of the glass, and most of the next two as well.

After that, I have to stop, feeling full and bloated, and sticky. My stomach has shrunk, and three cups of juice feels like draining an ocean.

I rub at my stomach. "Ugg, drank that too fast." I mutter, handing the glass back to Thor, distractedly. Shit, I realise, I didn't even try to make a shank out of that glass. Must be going soft in my old age.

Oh well, I think, scanning the bed, and pocketing what I need as Thor's back is turned, when he puts the glasses back on the trolley, and wheeles it back out. You spend as long as I have in prison, the question isn't "Could I make a weapon and or booze out of that?" but "How could I make a weapon and or booze out of that?" That, or you find someone bigger than you to cosy up to for protection, something I fully recommend: my relationship with Groot was basically father/son with me looking out for him, but I'm not going to deny that at times having the muscle on hand was useful when I came to the whole boring, mundane 'surviving without getting buttfucked, shanked or driven insane' side of things.

I hide the ingredients of the shank under my towels before Thor looks back, and I'm wondering what excuse I'll use to sneak away from him for a moment to make the weapon, when the door knocks, and thank the stars, it's exactly what I needed.

"Odinsson: the items you asked for." Says a Wakandan guard, walking in and, without even looking at me, placing my now dried clothes on the end of the bed. The fuckers pressed them, I notice. They fucking pressed them: the universe is not a big enough place to store the stick up your butt if you think you have time to press a racoon's undies, nerds. My gun isn't included, I note. Nor my tools or power-backpack, but it's a start.

"Okay, I'm full and tired." I declare, examining my underwear which has been starched and pressed so neatly I could practically cut myself on it, with a despairing shake of the head. "I wanna change back into my clothes and get some shut eye." I say, standing up and taking my stuff. I glare. "You mind? I'm changing here: I'd like some privacy!" I say, nodding to the door of the suite.

Thor glares, as I know he would. "I think not, sweet Rabbit, I can't trust you alone just yet…"

"So what, you're gonna ogle me as I change? One look at me naked wasn't enough for you, huh? Frickin pre-vert!"

"Why don't you change in the bathroom?" he asks, standing up. "And I'll just wait here, just on the other side of the door from you."

I smile, faintly. This was the plan: this way he don't suspect. I wanted to get in the bathroom alone, but if he suggests it, well, that's half his defences down already. I pick up my clothes, over ironed, and walk in wearing nothing but a towel. Hell, I've been to enough prisons, this is normal for me.

Once in there, I run scurry up the side of the marble, and run the taps to create a nose that will cover me as I work. Also, I need hot water for this: spit works okay for what I'm making, but it's faster with hot water.

"Hey, morons, can I get a toothbrush?" I ask, more to keep Thor distracted than anything. "You're removed the one from this room"


I snort. "Why not? You're the one who seems to care so damn much about my hygiene!"

"Because I strongly suspect you'll stab me with it." He says, not realising I'm melting hard-candy and gluing it to a comb as he speaks "But I'll see about getting you some of that mouthwash." He adds, as I try to gnaw the sugar into a sharp point.

"You do that." I mutter, mouth full, looking around as I work. Thank fuck for fancy hotels and their weird insistence on putting candy on the pillows. Not much else here I could use as a weapon. Can't even poop on the shank to make it infectious because I've not eaten in over a weak. Oh well, you make do with what you've got. I work on the shank for as long as I dare, hide it as Thor opens the door an inch to pass the mouthwash, and then take a handful of water and very slowly trickle it into the toilet bowl so it sounds like I'm peeing. That grabs be another few minutes to gnaw the candy/comb hybrid into a point, and start licking it sharp, like you can do with a candy-cane. After the fake peeing, I then have an excuse to wash my paws, buying me more time. I milk the entire process for close to twenty minutes, humming and switching on an off taps so it sounds like I'm washing. Not long enough to make a good candy shank from scratch, but these Wakandans were kind enough to leave me with an afro-comb with long plastic spikes as a starting chassis, so all I got to do is break off all but one or two spikes in line with the handle, and glue hard-candy to that and smooth it down into a decent point. I finish adjusting the grip to fit my paw, and tuck the shank into the back of my body-glove, near my shoulders, where I can draw it fast. I have no doubt it wouldn't hurt Thor, not really, and to be honest I have no intention of using it, but It makes me feel a lot better just to have it.

Holy shit, what the fuck does that even say about me?

I use the mouthwash for real, and flush the toilet to dispose of the comb teeth I broke off to make the shank, and any other evidence. I then check myself in the mirror.

Well, I look like crap, but then again, what did I expect?

Shuddering, I open the door. I'm tired, and feel weirdly full on my three and a bit glasses of juice, but I don't trust Thor not to do something while I sleep. I don't know what, exactly, but I don't trust him. I don't trust myself. I don't trust no one, not since The Snap.

Growling, I crawl up onto his bed, walk across it, deliberately dragging my foot scent-glands on his pillow because fuck him, and walk to my bed. I put my back to the window, ruck-up all the bedding into a nest there, and grab two pillows: one for my head, one to hold in front of me like a shield, between him and me. I hide the shank under that pillow, close to hand.

I scowl. The set up of the beds means he's between me and the rest of the room, a deliberate attempt on his part to stop me sneaking off in the night to, I don't know, hurt myself or something. But it also means I'm cornered, boxed in, and I don't like it. Not only does it remind me too much of prison, but it sets off earlier memories. Of the lab, of the little box that was my entire world for so much of my early life. Of the fuckers there and how their fucked me up for life with their experiments. I don't like being boxed in.

But it's not just that. Groot ain't here. Before, in the other hotel room, I didn't sleep so much as passed out. This… this will be the first time I've intentionally gone to bed without Groot nearby in about half of my adult life.

And it's terrifying.

I snarl, fluffing up, trying to look big. "Okay, muscles, let's get some ground rules established here. One, no touching, no moving, no intrusions. This? This is my bed: anything crosses over that divide from your bed to mine, I cut it off. Agreed?"

"Understood, Rabbit. I'll respect your space."

"Good. Two, I don't know if Asgardians work the same way as terrans, but having had a rude awakening from Quill that one time we all had to share a sleeping bag to avoid freezing solid, so a helpful warning: you get morning wood, and I'm cutting that off too."

"Seriously Rabbit? I-"

"Hey, I'm not being unreasonable." I state. "But it's just that I think of other people erections the same way I think about the fucking sun: I understand that scientifically speaking, they're necessary for the continuation of mammalian life, but I don't want to look directly at them and also want to keep them about one astronomical unit away from me at all times. Understood?"

"Three." I cut in, not letting him answer. "I… I ain't normal. Not at the best of times, which this ain't. So you stay here, that means you take whatever weird shit that entails: screaming, trashing, biting, snot, tears, fleas… you chose this, so you have no right to complain about it, and you never speak of this, understood. I… I don't cope well at existing, not even when I'm awake and in control, so don't expect a restful night if you choose to stay here."

Thor folds his arms, and nods.

I nod back. He goes to the bathroom, pees and washes: I can hear and smell him well enough to pinpoint his exact position, and then he comes back, and, thankfully fully clothed, takes the bed opposite from me, about as far from me as he can get and still be technically in the room, and turns off the light. I can still see him just fine, arms folded on top of the covers, staring right up. Mismatched eyes open.

I watch him for a long moment, studying him with my superior night vision and sense of smell and hearing, eyes narrowed curiously. Who is this man? And why is he pretending to care about me? What's his Endgame? He wants his axe back, sure, and he's just using me to get it, right? So… if that's the case, then it means in justified and in no way a dick for planning to rob it from him, right? I ain't the bad guy here, so, ergo, he must be. Logic, right?

He doesn't look much like the bad guy, I concede. Shit, he's even got tears in his eyes.

I duck down, afraid, faking sleep; if he's planning far enough ahead to fake tears in the pitch dark just in case I can see, he's clearly way smarter than I took him for.

We both lie there in the dark for a long time, pretending to be asleep because neither of us trusts the other, each with tears in our eyes. Oh gods, how I wish Groot was here…

(…Wooden hand reaching out even as it crumbles, look of fear in his face….)

I Dream.

I'm on the Benitar, and all my friends are there, even the ones who shouldn't be, who were never on the Benitar, who died or left me before I even met the Guardians of the Galaxy; Brock, Stella, Reynard, the whole squad from the Toy War, Lylla is sitting on my left, snuggling up to me; I can feel her warmth, smell clean otter fur. Quill is sitting opposite me, Gamora half on his lap, mirroring Lylla snuggling up to me. Drax is next to him, on his right, Mantis on his left. We're having a meal, a celebration, he pours wine, topping up my glass. Sweat and red. I know I can't see red… but in the dream I can, it a stronger colour than I ever imagined. It's the colour of a trapped soul.

I reach for the glass, and a tendril takes it, and hands it to me.

Groot is there, sitting behind me. He hands me my wine, and lays a hand on my shoulder. He's strange: both the old Groot who died to save me, and the new one born from the wreckage at the same time, and I feel a fierce, burning love for the both of them, and such relief.

For a second there I could have almost sworn that something bad had happened to him…

I Smile, and raise my glass in a toast.

"I…" I'm so happy I don't know what to say. Everyone in this room loves me, for who I am, even after they know what an awful shit I am. What do you even say to that?

"I… to family!" I say, raising my glass.

It turns to ash, and crumbles in my hands.

I stare at my paw stupidly for a moment, and I'm so shocked I don't even notice at first when Reynard sighs and fold up on the table, crumbling to dust, his glass rolling out unscathed. Sudden, random, uncalled for, no last words, just… gone.

It starts.

I turn to look. Bock, his striped face swells, his throat bloated, eyes bulging like he was when that nerve gas took him on Halfworld. He claws at his throat, but rather than blood, ash spills out, and he's gone in seconds. Stella's beautiful fur has crisped to a burnt grey, and she heaves, but instead of having her lungs popping out, like how she actually went when that fuel air bomb hit, she pukes up dust, right into the disintegrating celebratory meal, and then she she dusts too.

Lylla sighs, once, and then melts into my fur, gone.

Mantis giggles and dusts. Drax yells, defiantly, reaching out to her, but vanishes, crumbling before me, yelling. "No! no, we were meant to stop Thanos! We were meant to… this is on us! We-"

He's gone. The room dusts around me. The benitar is gone, and we're all just floating in space, opposite each other, just standing in a circle like a bunch of doomed idiots.

Gamora looks over, more sad than angry. "I warned you. I warned what father would do. We needed to stop him. Us. You. We needed to do better, Rocket, we needed you to be bet-" her face is breaking up, she's outlined with ash, and then she falls, suddenly, thought the floor, trailing ask like a comet through space. It's such a long drop, but I still see her hit, and break apart into ash.

Quill, my best friend looks over, more confused than sad or angry. "Oh, Man." He says, and then explodes into dust, covering me with it.

I'm screaming, I realise, screaming because I know what comes next.

I turn to Groot, grabbing at him, panicked. I just want to get a hold of him, one last time. Is that too much to ask? I just want to hold my son!

Clumps of him come of in my paws, dusting as I take them. He doesn't look pained, only sad, confused, and frightened. Oh gods, he's so frightened! No!

He holds out an arm to me, reaching out. I reach back, but just as I'm about to grab it, it snaps off, and falls to the ground before me, with a clang.

I look down. It's an axe. Stormbreaker.

I hear the footsteps behind me, slow and heavy, and I turn.

Thanos, walking over the stars as easy as he did the red dirt of Wakanda, glove glowing.

I panic, pushing Groot back, telling him to get behind me. I have to shield my son! I need to fight him, I need a gun, a bomb, a weapon, any weapon I-

The Avengers start attacking him, one at a time. Like they did that day. He walks on, beating them one at a time, drawing closer in slow motion, like a bad dream. He's approaching, but this time, its not Vison and Wanda, it's me.

He's coming for my son.

I never fought him when he did this for real; I was too busy keeping the fleas off the Avengers' backs, shooting outriders. I… I did nothing. And we all paid. My son paid.

Not this time.

I glower, and grab Stormbreaker, the one bit of my son I can touch without him crumbling. I'm standing on a circular platform of dust falling through space, and Thanos walks up calmly, down a narrow path of grey dust painted through the stars. Banner, Black Widow, some guy dressed as a cat, Warmachine, he brushes them all off. The one they call Cap is running at him. The last one, before he gets to his victim. The only one who even stalled him. I need to act now, I realise. Thor said wielding this weapon would kill me, crush mind and body. But I need to save my son!

I Grab Stormbreaker, and I lift.

It falls, taking me, Groot and the ground with it. I feel the air rush up through my fur. The pain wracks me. I can feel the weapon disintegrating me from the inside, like the Power Stone did back on Xandar. But I can't give up. I yell, swearing and sweating, terrified and hurt, and I try to lift the axe.

I can't. I can't make it budge an inch. I can't lift it! Why can't I lift it?

Thanos tosses Cap aside. Thor comes down out of the sky onto him, trying, but without the axe, without my help, he's not going to do it. He's not going to stop him. I have to lift the axe! I need to save my son I-

I can't lift it, straining though I am. I can't

I'm too weak.

Thanos's shadow falls over me. I see him reflected in Groots staring eyes.

I turn.

He looks down on me, a giant, a god, he could just step on me and crush every bone in my body without trying. Squash me like a bug. He raises a foot.

I snarl, and grab the axe. This is it, the bit were I finally fight to save my son all I need to do is lift.

But I don't. I can't. And I finally realise why:

I'm not worthy.

The foot comes down, besides me. Thanos has again spared me, for the worse of two fates: not death, but having to watch death. I let go of the axe and reach for my son, one last time.

Miles above me, Thanos snaps his fingers.

I wake screaming.

The world comes back. I'm nestled in the crook of Quill's arm. Not unusual: I often fall asleep in weird places on ship and he picks me up and puts me back in bed, so I wake up like this sometimes when he's moving me. He's a good guy like that-

Wait, Quill's dead.

I wake fully.

I have less than a second to deal with the growing horror and embarrassment. Here's the deal:

Thor is waking up, because I've just screamed and dug all four sets of claws into him. It's pretty clear from context what's happened: I've had a bad dream and subconsciously moved to somewhere warmer and safer in my sleep to try and get some contact comfort. Specifically, I've wiggled over to his bed and snuggled up to Thor's chest, hiding between his arm and his side. While both of us are asleep. And without either of us realising until this point. I guess that explains the dream of Lylla snuggled so close to me…

Oh boy, I'm going to have to handle this really carefully to avoid life-long embarrassment.

I decide to go in strong, and shank Thor in the thigh. No defence like a good offence.

Thor, understandably, screams and jolts back, falling off the bed. I take the opportunity to scurry back into a corner, and pretend that's where I've been the whole time.

"Ahhhhh! Rabbit, what the Hel!? By the Allfather's beard-!"

"Quit Trying to grope me!" I yell, trying to keep him off balance.

"I… what? You were groping me, Rabbit! You were curled up on my chest!"

"Liar, quit victim shaming, you pre-vert!" I snarl, wavering my shank in a defensive pattern in front of him.

"I'm not… I wasn't…. where the Hel did you get a knife from?"

This wasn't the question I expected, and it throws me off track.

"Oh, this Um…. They put mints on the pillow. I found a comb in the bathroom and melted all the mints to it and licked it sharp. Made a handle of toilet paper and Band-Aids from the bathroom shaving kit. Why, do you like it?"

"Given that you've stabbed me in the leg with it, no!" yelled Thor, sitting on the side of the bed, and checking himself for a lasting puncture wound. Unfortunately, with those tough Asgardian muscles, I've barely scratched him. I bare my teeth and brandish the broken shank a bit more, partly to stop him asking why I was spooning him, partly to discourage him trying to take the shiv off me.

He frowns, rubbing his thigh. "I did wonder where the mints had gone. Allfather! Why don't they use chocolates like other Terran hotels? Some form of confections that you can't weaponise?"

"Okay, one, I'd find a way, pal. And two. Chocolate on the pillow in a tropical country? It'd just melt onto the sheets!"

"This room has air-conditioning!" yells Thor, still pissed he's been woken by a shank to the knee, which is fair enough I guess.

I snarl "Force of Habit! In the tropics they keep their chocolate in refrigerators habitually, check out the mini bar!"

"I don't want to check out the mini bar, we already emptied the mini-bar: I just want you not to stab me in my sleep!" he yells.

"Then stay on your side of the bed!"

"I was!" he yells.

"Then stay in my side of the bed when I decide I want yours!"

"I… what?"

"Hey, I said I was weird! You gotta just roll with it! This is what you get!"

"I… Rabbit, If you need to talk… if you need a hug even I…"

I fluff up and hiss. "Fuck off, fuck off, fuck off! Less of that talk, that's how rumours start. I… I was having a moment. Must have gone to sleep funny on my leg, lost circulation and rolled over. Perfectly sensible explanation for how I ended up on your side of the bed. Beds, plural. Okay?"

He stares sullen, but after a moment nods.

"Okay, let's say that, if you need that, Rabbit."

I really, really do, but I don't want to say that, so I just snarl. Thor sighs, put upon.

He stares at me me for a good long time, I back up farther into the corner, wiggling my tail right into the glass of the window and bracing my feet against it, ready to spring. I know, deep down, that he's not about to attack me, but the guy is glaring at me for a long time, and the dude is, and I'll never repeat this in his hearing, fucking intimidating. I mean, not only is he an actual god, but when he's this close to you and just glaring, he's kind of intense. I brace, feeling that I've gone too far: stabbing him was a calculated risk to distract him from why I was curled up on his arm; if he realises how emotionally weak I am right now, he'll never trust me, and I'll never get that axe. I'd rather he think I'm crazy that thinks I'm weak: he needs crazy to get Stormbreaker, he has no use for weakness.

After a moment, Thor grunts, and walks to the door. I tense up, thinking he's about to call the guards and kick me out, thinking that I've screwed up my one chance of getting that last chunk of Groot back… but to my surprise, and resultantly my instant suspicion, he comes back in wheeling the room service trolley: he must have had it parked right outside the door, and hands me another glass of juice. I hesitate, glaring suspiciously, before I dart out and stanch it.

"Small sips, Rabbit. You're still in actual medical danger." He says, giving me space and sitting back on the edge of his bed. He glares at the bed and without any sign of effort picks it up. A king-size, tropical hardwood-frame bed, and he balances it on his hand like a pizza box. How strong is this guy? And holy shit, forget strength, how good is his balance if he can do that? This guy could pick up frickin' cars! He re-positions the bed: still close enough to mine to keep an eye on me, and in a position the keeps him between me and the exit, but far enough away that I can get to the bathroom without walking over him. A clear sign: he's giving me just a little of my own space, but only a little. He sits on the edge, facing me, and sighs.

"I would take the glass back from you, but given you managed to make a weapon out of the complementary candy, I see now trying to prevent you arming yourself is… well, as futile as trying to prevent me arming myself. Keep the glass, if you need more juice, take it from the trolley. I'll get you that toothbrush you asked for in the morning, too, and try to get you a good vibrinium hunting knife. They should have those here, if nowhere else."

I look at him, stunned, the effect only slightly ruined by the fact I have a juice moustache on my whiskers: It's a little warm, but still good. He notices, and smiles back grimly, rubbing at his leg.

"If you're going to stab me, I'd sooner not have bits of sugar breaking of and festering in the wound." He says, half joking.

I grunt, but I don't argue. Not when he's trying to give me cool stuff. He does, however, raise a hand.

"You, however, don't hide any more weapons from me, agreed? You wear that knife openly, where I can see it, and If you go to the privy or anywhere else I can't see you, you leave it where I can see it, or you give it to me. No more secrets, no more surprises: I arm you, so you can feel safe because you clearly need that for some reason, but you don't take that blade anywhere you might harm yourself without me seeing, nor do any other mischief. Do we have a deal?" he asks.

I snarl, but I don't argue, and after a moment I nod in the most sullen way I can manage. It's not the deal I wanted, but at least this way I'm armed and besides, I don't plan to hurt myself anyway. Other people, yes, but not me. I'm past that: I mean come on; I stopped trying to drink and starve myself to death … like…. nine hours ago, get over it.

He nods back, and regards me for a moment.

"Anything else you need, Rabbit? If I can, I will provide."

A thousand and one jokes and witty/smutty /rude come backs come to mind, but I hold them down, and consider. Is there anything I can milk out of him? Something to give me an edge? Failing that, is there genuinely anything else I need right now?

(…Wooden hand reaching out even as it crumbles, look of fear in his face….)

I shudder. "You still got that tranquiliser?" I ask, indecently fast.

Thor nods "It's still on the pillow, Rabbit." He says, gesturing to it with his head.

I look down at it, and bite my lip

"What shit is that, anyway? For all I know-"

Thor gets out a primitive communicator, and activates it, showing a flat, backlit image of a molecular diagram. The drug is, plus or minus a functional group, the same as the one sold on Nova worlds under the brand name soma lite. Less habit forming that it's big brother, and one that will not only not kill me, but will actually work to put me out. Like, super out, that dosage is calibrated for a Terran. It'll be safe, but I'd basically lose a day, and be groggy as shit after.

Then again, given the alternative…

I frown, and make a choice " Okay... Gods, I don't want to be sober anyhow. Just promise no weird shit while I'm out!"

Thor pinches his nose, and grimaces. When he speaks it's in that stupid condescending tone people use when they're trying to be understanding.

"Rabbit, I understand you've spent a long time in prison, and I'm flattered, but I do Not think of you in that way. I mean, not to boast, but the size difference alone... I'd kill you Rabbit! You'd be cleft in twain! I-"

"Well, that's one horrifying mental image that will never leave, Thor, thank you. I mean-"

"You're welcome." Says Thor, sincerely,

I glare "I meant, that's not what I was afraid of. It's... Hell, it's not you, it's doctors. I'm worried I pop this, in gonna wake up strapped to a table somewhere with my spleen in a jar. I've seen Terran movies with Quill, I know what they did to that poor Akira kid!"

Thor pats my arm, in a way I guess is meant to be a reassuring manner, but in fact just makes me want to stab him again. "Fret naught, Rabbit, I have been to Terra many times, and I'm sure there's no truth to that 'alien dissection', Area 51, trope they're famous for."

I blink, three times in rapid succession. "Wait, they're famous for what now?"

"Oh, you know: cutting up aliens, really gory stuff too all Ohhh! Ak! Arrggg! Blegh! But it's all fake. I mean that entire Roswell thing: I've been to New Mexico, Rabbit, and it was just fine... Sure Shield locked me in a cage, stole my hammer and I destroyed a small town, but that's water under a bridge that I've already burnt, as the Terran saying goes. I mean other than the Sakaaran's from the Battle of New Jorvik an maybe the odd Kree on ice, I'm pretty sure terrans don't even have that many dead aliens to cut up."

I'm left blinking nervously for some time. "Oh. Goody." I eventually say.

Thor sits back on his bed, and smiles, humourlessly. "Don't worry Rabbit, I'll look out for you. Its… it's the least I owe you after Nidavellir. You and Groot got me my axe, and in doing so saved my life. Rest: I'll watch over you. And besides, after what happened to Colonel Rhodes, even if they feel like a little late night vivisection I doubt they'd be coming back for you with any less than a full army, and they're a little shorthanded across Midguard right now."

I glare. "Was that a joke? A really, really dark joke?" I ask. Thor shrugs.

I grunt. "Well, I knew there was something about you I liked." I take the pill, knock it back with a slug of juice: the risk of vivisection is still somehow less scary to me than those dreams and besides, when Thor says he'll look out for me I…. Shoot, I kind of believe it. I don't trust him trust him, but I don't think he's the kind to steal kidneys. He seems an okay guy.

Which make me feel pretty bad about by plan to rob him., I guess.

Anyhow… I wonder how long these tranquilises take to kick i-

I do not dream. It's a godsend.

No, I literally mean that: Thor keeps sending out for more of those pills and telling people he's a god if they try to argue with him, and for about two days give-or-take all I do is sleep, drink juice, and piss. Stars! I'd forgotten just how exhausting mourning is. I'm groggy and confused, and really really sad all the time, but compared to before, this is custard. Not dreaming is the best. Not that this time is without its problems: between the tranquilisers and the antibiotics, I'm a drugged up zombie at first, and I act correspondingly stupid. At one point Thor just finds me sitting on the can, leaning over forwards, head between my paws, crying. I'd been there for some time because he was napping, and I have a trail of snot hanging out of my nose so long it almost touches the ground. Charming, I know. The Snot- icicle had two roots, one for each nostril, but they merged in to one big transparent gooey stalactite after about an inch: completely transparent, like something sci-fi and body horror, and droplets were running down it to drip on the floor and I couldn't work out if they were tears, or more snot. I was so medicated I could remember that I was sad, but not why, and I kept loosing focus and then getting surprised by the HR Geiger booger because I kept forgetting it was there when I closed my eyes to cry and then getting startled because when I opened them again and, whoa, what is that thing?!

Thor cleaned me up, agreed to cut the dosage way, way back, and got me to blow my nose into some wadded up toilet paper, and he completely misjudged both the volume of my snout and the force of my blowing, so that was a brief giggle as his arm got slimed, but mostly I didn't even notice him. He… he just enabled me to exist, which was good. It is, and I will never admit it to him, remarkably comforting just to have the sounds of other people around when you're going through shit like this. Just something other than the sound of your own breathing, even if it is just someone snoring in the next bed. If I wasn't riddled with self-hatred and crippling anxiety, I might even have asked him for a hug, but thank the stars I was too doped up to think of that.

So, I get a couple of day's bed rest. Thor… Thor does all the stuff I need to do to survive but am currently too fucked up to do: He cleans up after me, changes bandages, reminds me to take pills, fetches juice, and makes sure I don't get Area 51'd in my sleep, and we slowly cut back the dosage bit by bit so I could function.

Not that this time is without it's minor disasters, like the milk incident.

The time comes for me to move on from juice and to gradually work up to real food. Thor has some S.H.E.I.L.D disaster relief-kits from Cap's Quin-jet, a smart move as fetching them gives him an excuse to check out where the jet is stored, and what it's security is like. Good plan. So he gets the kit, and he's using the calorie-dense quote unquote "easily digestible" rations from it to plan my first post-snap meal. We settle on a shake and some grapes flinched from the Wakandans. Haute cuisine, I know, but I need to start small. The shake, I'd like to point out, is a vitamin and mineral fortified, protein enriched, super-high calorie canned milkshake: comes in three flavours, only one of which, the chocolate, will kill me. The Vanilla and Strawberry, as it turns out, will only make me wish I were dead. See, because the way we picked this involved Thor asking me if I was okay with milk.

Sure I say. Milk, why not? Blue stuff, fresh form the moisture farm. I mean, what going go wrong, right?

After all, it's only liquefied hyper-soya…

Fast forward half a day: I'm on the can, Clutching my gut and wishing for death, while shouting at Thor, who is sensibly hiding on the other side of the bathroom door.

"You said Milk! You utter bastard!"

"It was milk Rabbit! You never warned me you were highly lactose intolerant!"

"I'm intolerant to idiots! I'm an adult: what sort of ass-backwards mammal species retains lactose tolerance into adulthood! I thought you meant syth-milk! The blue stuff made on sweet little moisture farms out of soy and algae and, not…. oh god, what was that shit?!" I yell, groaning and clutching my stomach. It's a pity I've changed my name from Rocket, I think, because I just about manged to take off for a moment there if you catch my meaning. FML.

"It was Milk!" yells Thor. "You know… actual milk?"

"Actual milk? You mean breastmilk? Oh god, what is wrong with this planet? You gave me Terran breastmilk, you sick fuck?"

"No not Terran… well okay, technically every animal here is technically Terran, but not human breast milk, Rabbit, stop being disgusting!"

"Wait, wait wait wait, you said that like humans drink other species' milk?"

"Well, in a lot of their cultures, yes."

"Holy shit! Terrans are going round drinking other species' milk, and you're telling me not to be disguising? What the fuck did I just drink?"

"Cow milk."

"Cow?!" I yell. Humans are 100% disgusting, it's confirmed. Take off and nuke the entire site from Orbit, it's the only way to be sure.

"Cow? The big angry mobile manure factories? You're telling me that human's first response to seeing a bunch of cows in the wild was to say to themselves 'Yeah, cow-titties: out of the way calves, I gotta get me some of that!' Seriously? Seriously?!"

"More or less."

I groan. Frickin' humie idiots, always finding new ways to ruin my life.

What's worse is I can hear Quill's ghost laughing his ass of at this, and now that he's dead I can't punch him in the dick for it. I wonder if Ouija boards work both ways, so I can tell him to fuck off just by moving a little plastic toy around. Then again, maybe he'd prefer divining the future in animal entrails, in which case now would be the time, Quill, because I'm pretty sure I'm about to fart out my spleen.

Once the universe-destroying volcanic eruption is over and I'm merely feeling sick, gassy, bloated and miserable, I flush, wash up, and open the door to glare at Thor some more. The good news is we've now confirmed that my digestive system still works: the bad news is between the lactose and the antibiotics I feel like I've been cleaned out with an apple-corer, giant pipe cleaners, and a fucking barbed-wire Christmas tree. Go me.

Why do books never include this bit? I think as I wash my paw and glare at myself in the mirror, fur all mussed up from tears. In films and shit like that, whenever someone's in mourning they always have them moping around in stylish black and staring wistfully into the sunset while composing frickin' poems about how they long for their spirt to go out and touch their loss and yada yada yada, some crap like that. You never see the bit were someone is so fucked up by grief they forget to blow their own nose, do you? I run the taps. When the grief is so bad they get legitimately sick of it, in messy, non-Hollywood ways? I clean my face. Where they can't get out of bed, they stop bathing, and need to have a friend waiting on the other side of the bathroom door while they cry and poop at the same time? The bit were loss like this is, surprise surprise, hard fucking work? I mean, I guess it wouldn't sell as many movie tickets as the poems, because not everyone's a sick fuck like me, but still, I feel like I'm being singled out here: I just lost my son, and there's still some unrealistic standard of aesthetics I'm taught to aspire to? No. Fuck that, I think drying off and straitening my face-fur as best I can. I want to get well enough to get my revenge, doing it prettily can go fuck itself.

Which is just as well, I think looking at my reflection. I ain't exactly an oil-painting at the best of times, but right now I'm verging into pointillist. I.E., you'd need to be standing a good long way away from me to say that I look good right about now. I sigh, scowl, and get back to work.

Thor looks on sympathetically as I hold one paw to the bathroom door and one to my protesting guts.

"Are you okay Rabbit?"

"Peachy: I always wanted to know if my body could make the exact same set of noises as a disintegrating jet engine: pebble-dashing the toilet bowl was just an added bonus. And what's with the waded paper? Is that really what they wipe themselves with on this planet? It's dis-gust-ing. That's barely one step up from a handful of leaves! What happed to ultrasonic water jet bidets, or those three seashells?" I ask, pushing through into the main room of the suite. I do not bother to close the bathroom door behind me: given the situation I do not think I should be putting more obstacles between myself and the can the needs be until we've worked out exactly what I can and cannot eat on this stupid little planet.

Thor shrugs. "I always found their plumbing adequate, certainly compare to the tenth century: you should have seen them then Rabbit. I mean the smell alone… This is an improvement, trust me, although somewhat overcomplicated compared to Asgardian privies."

"Why, what do you guys do?" I ask. Thor just shrugs again.

"Just use the Bifrost to open a portal to a random set of co-ordinates in space time, and build a seat over it."

"Wow: remind me never to piss off an Asgardian plumber." I mutter, staggering into the suite and making it as far as the coffee table: there's a pillow laid out either side of it so Thor and I can sit opposite each other and he can glare at me while I eat, tell me I'm not eating enough, and make veiled threats about force feeding while I spit an glower and try to choke down solids on a stomach that has forgotten what they feel like. The grapes are still there on the table, as is the ever-present orange-juice. I scowl, but I sit down and eat because I know if I don't I'll be forced to. Thor sits opposite, cross-legged, like we're at a little girls tea-party and I'm the world ugliest teddy bear.

Second ugliest, I think, glancing over at him. "Schematics?" I ask, pulling over the water-bowl so I can dunk each grape in turn and check then over with my paws before eating them. Thor casually plucks a grape and tosses it his mouth without even glancing at it, because he's a crazy person with no standards.

He hands me a Shield-Issue data-slate, and boots it up, projecting the schematics of the quin-jet hanger over the table. It's at the absolute top of Panther Tower, in the secure Royal Compound. Not good. The on-site guards are just a pair of kings-guard, but the alarms and electronic countermeasures mean that one false move and the Border Tribe delegation and Dora-milage will be paying us a visit in seconds because their barracks are in the same goddam tower. Better and better. Oh; and the tower is on total lock down, apparently, Thor only being allowed to go up to fetch stuff from the jet with a dozen armed guards riding the elevator with him, no stops, and not even permitted to look in any other room of the building.

I grunt, and pick a grape seed out of my teeth. "Not good" I say, flicking it at Thor. "What're they so paranoid about? Surely the worst that could happen just happened. What are they concerned about now, aggressive Door to Door leafleting?"

"No…" he flinches, as I get him in the face. "No idea Rabbit." He says picking the seed out of his beard and glaring. "The official line is that the royal family is in mourning after the death of Ta'chala and not to be disturbed, but Corvus Glave smashed up the lab there when he attacked Vision, so it's possible they need to contain a breached high-security area before they'll let anyone in the tower and- stop that!"

"I asked for seedless grapes, this is what you get, dummy." I retort. I, cautiously, move onto the can of roasted nuts Thor salvaged from the minibar. Macadamia… pretty good but no Zarg nut. I glare at him as I crunch. "and Banner?"

"I've asked him if he'd consider putting together something for me, a gamma detector. He's said yes in theory, but he wants to know why, and I haven't told him yet. We'll also need parts."

I nod. "I made a list." I say, passing him my data slate. He glances over it, and his brow furrows.

"What?" I ask. "Words to long for you?"

He doesn't rise to the taunt, but just sighs as he runs own the list. "Banner may have some of these items, some of the rest we may be able to salvage from the destroyed Hulkbuster suit, but the rest…" he lets the sentence hang, like a noose.

"We can't get the parts?" I ask, horrified. "Don't tell me these hicks don't have the tech! I've seen adverts on Quill's old TV intercepts: the fuckers have spray on cheese, for fucks sakes, don't tell me they wasted their time inventing spray on cheese when they could have bin' making binary couplings and room temperature superconductors! What's wrong with these primitive chuckelfucks?!"

"Oh it gets worse, Rabbit. Two words: selfi-stick. Most of them don't even have a basic understanding of quantum entanglement, but they have a device to capture an image of yourself from slightly farther away so it's more flattering. No… it's not that they don't have the tech…. It's far far worse than that: it's that they might have the tech, but we'll only find out at the last minute."

"Why?" I ask.

Thor nods to the projected image of Panther tower, hanging over the table. "Remember what I said about how they're probably scrambling to secure Shuri's lab…"

I groan. "So the stuff we need may, or may not be, in the most heavily guarded part of the royal compound… and the second we snatch it," I say with a dread sense of Deja-vu "the entire place is going to go into lock down, so we definitely need to get that last."

"Or we could get it first and improvise." Says Thor, eating grapes with a mock jovialness I instantly hate.

"Well, thanks for that. Oh boy…. Okay, let's start planning our heist them and get Banner up to speed on what we need from him... can we trust him not to snitch?"

"Ummm, probably not: he is a bit of the class nerd. But you leave that to me, he owes me a couple of favours. You focus on getting well, and planning the build: you'll need to put together a gamma detector as soon as we have the parts, and some sort of weapon for yourself too. One not made from a toothbrush. Plan, rest, try to get back into something resembling fighting shape. Some exercise beyond looting the mini-bar would not go amiss."

"Yeah, I guess. If you can find food that won't poison me, I guess some protein shakes and dumbbells would be a good start…"

"You realise you can't drink dumbbells, right?" Thor asks. I genuinely can't tell if he's being sarcastic or not, so I flip him the bird.

"ha ha, roid-rage. Okay, I've never been what you'd call buff, but I wasn't always frickin' emaciated." I say glancing down at my own body. I hate it, but that's nothing new. The loose fur and fucking breadsticks where my arms used to be are, however. Metabolism as fat as mine, a week spent sick and not eating has melted way what little fat I once had like butter and seriously decreased my muscle mass: I can see the outline of bionics I wouldn't normally be able to. That's an issue. I grin, and sarcastically flex at Thor, showing off a bicep the approximate size and tone of the grape I'm eating.

"This way to the gun show." I say, sarcastically.

"Small arms fair, was it?" Thor replies, without missing a beat.

I grin. I'm really starting to like him, which is a pity considering I'm planning to rob him, but that's a problem for future Rabbit.

Thor stands. "I may as well get the parts I can, and speak to Banner. I'll be back in thirty or so. Is there anything you need?"

"Whiskey?" I ask, more in hope than expectation. Thor rolls his eyes, mutters some joke about me kindly refraining from burning the place down while he's out, and walks off towards the door. Well, good riddance. At last I can get some time alone to think and-

(Wooden hand reaching out, look of fear on his face, the axe that I can't lift, even to safe his life-)

-and the flashback hits so hard and fast it nearly floors me. I shudder, close my eyes, and hiss. What the fuck was that? There's a tightness in my chest that won't budge, and a chittering yowl building up. I force it down: I've got a lot of practice at internalising my feelings because if I didn't everyone would think I'm even more of a psycho that they already do, but this s a new one. My body starts to shudder, and I have to grab my thigh under the table to stop my foot spasming. My paws sweat, and I have a hot flush and constricted, difficult breathing. I panic, and access save memory files looking up the symptoms, convince it's septic shock, or food poisoning or an allergy. What the fuck was in those grapes? That idiotic Asgardian has poisoned me for sure and-

It's a panic attack: the symptoms all line up, and my bionics internal diagnostic confirms it. A panic attack. I'm having a panic attack.

At the thought of being left alone, without Thor, for half an hour.

Well… fuck.

Thor notices, and turns in the doorway, despite the fact I'm successfully keeping myself from making any overt noise. How good are this fucker's senses? I'm not sure. Stars, I don't what him to leave, I realise. Everyone always leaves me, and after Groot I'm not sure if I can take it again.

"Rabbit, Rabbit are you okay?" he says, hurrying over.

I think fast, and put a paw to my gut, and glare.

"No, trapped gas: I'm still worried I'm about to fart out a lung 'cause of these milk-drinking, lactose-loving savages." I say, my teeth rattling as I try to force the words out without screaming. "Can you grab me some anti-acids, and maybe some activated charcoal, and hurry back?" I ask, trying to keep the pleading out of my voice. "I'd take it as a kindness if you were back as soon as possible. Yanno, before I frickin explode."

Oh, great work you moron, I think to myself. Too insecure to say what the real problem is and grossing him out with that metal image at the same time? Nice one.

Thor, however, is either so dumb he falls for it, or so smart he reads thought the lines because after staring at me shivering and shaking for a long moment he nods, tells me that he can be back in five if he rushes, and he asks me if I'm okay before he leaves the room fully.

I tell him that I am.

I'm not.

No sooner than the door is closed, than I'm on all fours hyperventilating and clawing at the carpet. I try to ride this out without screaming, and fail. Gods know what the Wakandan guards must think of this, but I hold the yell in long enough that at least Thor won't hear it. The scream, sooner or later, gives way to crying. I manage to pull a blanket from the bed, and wrap myself up in it to ride this out.

I'm planning two separate heists in Wakanda, to travel to Sakaar, of all freaking places, and to then rob Thor, an actual fucking god, when I get there.

And I can't handle being left alone for the half hour it will take my intended victim to get the stuff I need to pull of the first stage of my plan.

Well… I think, as I scream into my little racoon-cocoon on the floor and plot grand larceny, this should be interesting to pull off.