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A Farewell to Arm

I haven't written much Avengers fic lately. Infinity Wars depresses me and my muses are still back in Winter Solider, though I do plan to finish my Thanos fic eventually. For now you’re getting this one and if you can’t tell by the tagging, most of this story is far from serious. While it technically has spoilers, what little plot I started with went completely off the rails.


Title: A Farewell to Arm
Fandom: Avengers Infinity War
(While there are technically spoilers, I mostly run away from canon as fast as possible)
Pairings: Steve/Bucky, one-sided Rocket/Bucky's metal arm
Ratings/Warnings: Serious crack, a bit of angst, and a lot of ridiculousness
Word Count: 7022
Disclaimer: If I owned this film, it would be weird
Summary: Five times Rocket tries to take Bucky’s arm and one time he gives it back


Rocket has no idea where he is. He thinks the pirate angel told him but all he heard was “Blah blah blah kill Thanos. Blah blah magic axe,” still incredibly distracted by the part where his new friend took on a star. To be honest, the raccoon pretty much tuned out most of God-Dude’s explanation and since the magic wormhole dropped them into the midst of a pitched battle, he hasn’t had a chance to ask the locals just what this place is called.

But wherever Rocket is, he’s pretty sure he loves it. He’s seen a lot of cool tech over the years – he lives on freaking spaceship – but something about the weapons here just makes him tingly. The front lines are using capes as shields of energy while warriors behind them shoot laser beams from spears and Rocket throws himself among them with a cry of glee.

No one looks twice at the raccoon despite the gun he’s holding – seriously, he loves this place – and even though he’s not sure what he’s fighting, bullets seem to make the creatures bleed. In Rocket’s experience, bullets usually solve most everything.

So he darts across the battlefield, adding to the carnage as One-Eye’s lightning fries their enemies. He loses sight of Groot after a particularly bright explosion and he’s blinking away the afterimages when he runs into the man. Just a silhouette at first but that’s enough to stop him from attacking – it’s not as though his foes are remotely humanoid – and Rocket turns away to snarl at the next wave of aliens. The two of them have been surrounded and the raccoon isn’t sure he has the bullets to kill these creatures fast enough.

Of course, he’s damn well gonna try it anyway. But before he can start shooting, something wraps around his collar and yanks him off his feet. Instinct makes him fire as he’s turned in a slow circle and when he’s set back down again, there’s a ring of corpses lying at his feet.

Bullets, man. They really are fantastic. His new pal seems to agree considering that tricked-out weapon and Rocket gives the man a toothy grin.

“How much for the gun?” the raccoon asks. That rifle looks damn fancy and he could always use another weapon for his private arsenal.

“It’s not for sale,” is the reply. Before Rocket can make a counteroffer, the guy resets his weapon and a flash of light glints brightly off his metal arm. That’s not armor like he thought, not with the way those plates are shifting. That is the most beautiful prosthesis the raccoon has ever seen.

“Okay, then how much for the arm?” Rocket says. The offer is completely serious – he’s never been more serious – but the man just shakes his head and walks off without a word.

“I’m gonna get that arm,” the raccoon mutters before throwing himself back into the fight. He sees Metal-Arm nearby, scything through their enemies with a mix of shots and robot-punching that makes his knees go weak. Gorgeous and a weapon, that arm is fucking perfect and he wants it desperately. Rocket won’t try to take it now since, you know, giant world-ending battle, but as soon as they beat Thanos, anything’s fair game.

Indeed, when the raccoon sees One-Eye’s axe slam into the titan a few minutes later, he figures that he’s good. A quick decapitation and he’ll be sitting pretty back in space, richer by one metal arm if he has a say in it.

He doesn’t see the Snap. Rocket is looking for his Cyborg-Badass when a sudden wave of pressure washes over him. It makes his fur stand up, which usually means trouble, but his target is right there and that pressure was probably just the titan’s death throes anyway.

So the raccoon trails Metal-Arm through the trees, hanging back when the man walks out into a clearing where several of their allies are standing around aimlessly. There’s no sign of Thanos even though there should be; this is where God-Angel should have left a headless corpse.

However, the raccoon is too focused on his prize to ask that question. He keeps his eyes on target as the human calls out a name and stumbles forward clumsily. But despite his focus, Rocket doesn’t realize what he’s seeing, the source of the black smoke that’s drifting through the air. His mind simply cannot process the possibility.

This should not be happening. People don’t just disappear.

Yet that’s exactly what’s happening when Cyborg-Soldier lifts up those shining fingers and reaches out toward Captain-Flag-Pants helplessly. Everyone stands frozen as the prosthesis Rocket wanted, the one he planned on stealing, dissolves before their eyes. Clothes and flesh soon follow until there’s nothing left but ashes and Mister-Patriotism looks like his heart is breaking at the sight.

The raccoon feels sorry for him but he doesn’t truly share the horror in his expression. Rocket is mostly just irritated that Metal-Arm-Guy didn’t leave his arm behind. So he’s about to disappear into the bushes when he hears Groot call his name and the whole world goes to shit.

---

Rocket forgets about the arm until his brand new team sorts out that mess with Thanos and he isn’t feeling quite so murderous. Although the odds were far from good, their plan succeeded somehow and he knows it won’t be long before he sees his friends again.

The raccoon waits in Wakanda’s palace with most of his new allies, a place he’ll definitely be robbing if he gets another chance. There’s treasure everywhere and he pockets a few trinkets while pacing back and forth.

Every few laps, he crosses paths with Captain-Flag-Pants and Rocket feels a shred of sympathy for the worn look on his face. Just like the rest of them, Impressive-Mustache-Hero has been running himself ragged since the Snap. However, that doesn’t stop the man from frowning when the raccoon swipes another knickknack, his disapproving look so potent that Rocket actually decides to put it back. It’s not like he needed a carved panther anyway and he’s seen Captain-Downer put his fist through solid walls.

Of course, the raccoon still isn’t happy about returning what he’s stolen but before he can grumble too much, the air around him starts to shimmer and he’s soon focused on more important things than a fight with Spandex-Hero over unattended goods.

Namely scolding his damn family for getting themselves disintegrated like a bunch of amateurs. The other Guardians endure his lecture with their usual lack of grace but he ignores their bitching about irrationality. Instead Rocket makes them promise not to fight another titan and he really doesn’t care that Thanos was the last. His whole crew is gonna promise and they damn well better mean it; the raccoon has earned the right to be protective after this.

At least he’s not the only one and his fervent, “Damn it, Groot. Don’t do that. You’re gonna be the death of me,” is echoed moments later by, “Damn it, Bucky. You can’t do that. I’m gonna have a heart attack.”

When the raccoon glances over, he sees Captain-Spandex hugging Metal-Arm-Guy, both holding on so tightly that he can hear their muscles creak. Or maybe it’s the gears since Metal-Arm-Guy is still a scruffy Cyborg and his beautiful prosthesis made it back unscathed, those shining metal plates just calling Rocket’s name.

“I am Groot?”

“Yeah, pal, I’m gonna get it,” he replies. “That arm is coming home with me.”

So the raccoon sticks close to One-Arm as the recrowned King of Wakanda stands up for a speech. The man doesn’t talk much, just thanks his allies for the rescue and then opens up the palace stores to celebrate their victory.

“I’m sure you must be hungry,” King Panther tells his audience and the sight of servants bringing trays of food is met with a loud cheer.

Rocket trails Scruffy-Bun-Man and his friend to a side table, filling his pockets with various delicacies along the way. He’s not trying to be subtle, but the men are too caught up in each other to pay him any notice. Honestly, no one needs to hug that tightly even if they died. So the raccoon waits about a minute before he gets impatient and climbs up on the table, planting himself in front of One-Arm with a pint of alcohol.

“How about a toast?” he asks. Moments later, knotted branches curl over his shoulders as Groot holds out two more glasses; the pair of them have run this scam before.

“I remember you,” Metal-Arm-Guy says with a faint grin. “You tried to buy my arm.”

“He what?” Flag-Pants demands, sounding completely outraged. Honestly, the man looks prepared to leap across the table and defend his buddy’s honor violently. However, before Captain-Overreaction can start an altercation, Scruffy-Cyborg smacks him on the arm.

“Relax, Stevie,” One-Arm laughs. “It’s not like he tried to steal it and I can defend my own damn honor anyway. Hell, if people would stop trying to destroy the universe every few months, I’d probably take the deal. Maybe then I’d have the cash to woo you properly.”

“If you ever change your mind, the offer is still open,” Rocket tells him, though he doesn’t plan to wait that long. “For now, I’d like to propose a toast to Thanos getting his ass kicked by yours truly and surrounding company.”

“I’ll drink to that,” Metal-Arm replies, taking both glasses from Groot’s branches. He shoves the first toward Mustache-Hero – sorry, Stevie – before raising up the second. “To destroying crazy titans and Steve’s dumb ass not getting himself killed while I was gone.”

“Come on, Bucky…” the other man groans. “I’m not that bad.”

“Yeah, pal, sure. Let’s not forget what happened last time,” Mister-Scruffy snorts. “Now, are you gonna drink or not? We’re celebrating here.”

“Not like it’s going to do anything,” Captain-Whinger grumbles, but he takes the pint from Bucky anyway. The trio clinks their glasses before knocking back their drinks and Rocket is pleased to discover that the stuff is actually good. He never knows what kind of booze he’ll get on these backwater planets but apparently the kingdom of Wakanda does its liquor right.

“Another!” the raccoon says the moment that he’s swallowed and Groot is right there waiting with a fresh supply. After the second toast, Metal-Arm seems happy to keep drinking and even Captain-Fancy-Pants is starting to relax. Which puts both men in Rocket’s clutches as per his master plan. The raccoon has never met anyone he couldn’t drink beneath the table – one of the more useful side effects from those damn scientists – and Groot is waiting to grab the arm as soon as Bucky passes out.

But two rounds turns to twenty and both men are going strong. Instead Rocket is the one who’s starting to sway a little and Groot seems rather worried when he picks up his next glass.

“Yes, I’m sure,” the raccoon snaps when the sapling asks, “I am Groot?” Rocket would glare him into silence if he could figure out which one was real but for now he just keeps drinking as Cyborg-Dude and Mustache-Hero match him pint for pint.

“Annooother,” the raccoon slurs, his head spinning wildly. He can’t remember what round he’s on but he refuses to give up. Rocket does not lose drinking contests and it’s not his fault that this table is really comfortable. He should take a nap here. He should definitely take a nap right now. So the raccoon curls up on the table and the last thing he sees before his eyes slip closed is that gorgeous metal arm lifting another glass.

---

Rocket doesn’t mean to stick around. He wanted his crew to return to space as soon as possible and waking up with a vicious hangover didn’t exactly change his mind. Of course, the hangover isn’t even the worst part; the worst part is Groot’s utter lack of sympathy. The sapling will not stop laughing and the raccoon has never been more grateful that the other Guardians still aren't fluent in his language. If he knew about it, fucking Star-Lord would never let him live this failure down.

Of course, seeing his competitors walking around all bright and cheery the next morning – Bucky’s arm still well-attached – just adds insult to injury. Rocket seriously wants to hate the guy and his stupid, unnatural, alcohol metabolizing, both him and Captain-Spandex, but the men are too damn nice.

Steve is happy to round up the rest of the Guardians and lead them to the kitchens, ignoring all the grumbling with a smile on his face. When everyone is finished eating, he goes off to be a hero – something about rebuilding efforts and Wakandan royalty – and One-Arm takes his place as tour guide to show the group around. He must have better things to do but he seems content to answer all their questions, even Drax’s complete non sequiturs.

It takes Rocket longer than it should to realize that Scruffy-Hair is using the tour as an excuse to check up on his allies. He blames the hangover and the fact that Metal-Arm-Guy does it subtly. Indeed, Bucky doesn’t outright ask about the missing; he simply introduces the Guardians to each group in turn and stands back while they gossip, most people more than happy to spread around good news. But the man never repeats a room. He’s never forced to backtrack and the raccoon can almost see him ticking boxes in his head.

“My friends!”

Rocket dodges out of the way as Pirate-Angel tries to hug him, letting Groot take the full force of the man’s embrace instead. The sapling grumbles the whole time but he doesn’t really struggle until Drax decides to join the greeting and wraps his arms around them both. Then the sapling protests until Lightning-Axe lets go and the rest of the Guardians greet the man in turn. Only Peter hangs back, too busy eyeing One-Eye’s biceps jealously. So really, business as usual, and damn that’s kind of nice.

“I’ll leave you in Thor’s capable hands,” Bucky says, watching the reunion with a grin. Then Mister-Scruffy slips off into the palace before Rocket can protest, but the arm…

Thankfully the raccoon hasn’t seen the last of him. Their paths cross frequently as the days stretch into weeks and somehow his crew just sticks around. There’s always someone new to talk to or something to rebuild and once King T’Challa offers to the pay for their assistance… well, then it’s a job, isn’t it? And while he may steal from his employers, he never breaks the letter of his word.

So the Guardians of the Galaxy are here for the foreseeable future and since that’s the case, there’s no reason to give up his private mission of appendage thievery. Besides, Rocket likes One-Arm. The man is sarcastic as hell, super twitchy, and sometimes talks like he’s from that planet obsessed with gangster movies but he’s also damn good company. He doesn’t look at Rocket weirdly and treats Groot like a kid brother despite the language barrier. Sure Bucky also spends too much time with Mustache-Hero but the blond seems to be relaxing; the raccoon actually heard him crack a joke last week.

Honestly, it’s been a while since Rocket found a job this entertaining, though he never forgets his final goal. How can he when that gorgeous prosthesis is always there in front of him, begging him to steal it silently?

But the raccoon can never seem to find his moment. Metal-Arm-Guy is too damn wary to sneak up on and tech like that is hardly going to snap off easily.

Maybe theft is the wrong answer. Rocket cases the man for days without finding a clear weakness – except perhaps his fondness for Steve Rogers. No one should look that smitten by a man in flag-themed pants.

However, that’s not exactly going to help him with his mission and Gangster-Accent still refuses to sell his metal arm. He dismisses every offer as a joke and eventually Rocket gets desperate enough to try another tactic. If he can’t buy the arm or steal it, then maybe he can win it and convincing Bucky to play poker isn’t difficult at all. There’s a bit of arguing as they work out which rules to follow – Nova Hold ‘em and Thirties-Era Five-Card Stud aren’t all that similar – but then Thor suggests Asgardian Mead Rummy and their mutual disgust at that game of luck helps to form a compromise.

Pirate-Angel joins them, along with two men with weird bird nicknames and the scary lady spy. Rocket doesn’t remember what their actual names are; he just knows he doesn’t want to piss that woman off. But a proper game should help Scruffy-Hair work up to betting his prosthesis and he shouldn’t need to cheat to get that far.

Indeed, the beginning of the night goes exactly as he planned. Thor drops out first; Lightning-Axe may have awesome muscles but his poker face is awful and he wanders off to other things once his pocket change runs out.

Bird-Man One and Two take longer. Neither is amazing but they’re both cautious players, winning just enough to keep from busting on one hand. Rocket is forced to chip away at their stacks of cash while trying to goad them into more reckless playing – a tactic that works much better on the Falcon than his laconic friend. Bird-Man-One seems inclined to impress the dangerous lady and with a bit of careful cheating, he loses his whole stake. He hangs around to watch until Scary-Russian-Spy-Woman decides to quit while she’s ahead and Bird-Man-the-Second has a string of awful cards. After that, the three of them decide to go get drinks together, leaving Rocket and Scruffy-Cyborg facing off.

The game soon becomes more serious. One-Arm has no obvious tells and while he doesn’t win on every trick, he wins enough to be a challenge. In fact, there are a few moments when the raccoon is forced to do some slight-of-hand just to keep from going bust.

However, Rocket is in this for the long game and eventually he gets Metal-Arm-Guy exactly where he wants him: his turn to raise, a perfect hand, and all their cash maxed out.

“I’ll raise you three thousand credits,” the raccoon says, tossing an IOU onto the pot.

“I may not know the exchange rate but I’m pretty sure I can’t afford that,” Bucky snorts, looking ready to throw his whole hand down.

“How about your arm, then?” Rocket asks with his most innocent smile. “Tech like that is worth a pretty penny and I’d be willing to accept a trade. Seems a shame to stop our game when it’s just getting fun.”

“You know what… Sure, why not?” Stone-Cold-Poker-Face agrees after a moment. He gives the raccoon a smile of his own – this one with far more teeth – and Rocket feels a shiver of unease as he shakes on their new deal. But there’s no way Gangster-Accent is gonna beat him so he shoves aside his misgivings and lays his Full House down. Sixes over queens should be enough to claim his prize at last.

“So you really weren’t bluffing,” One-Arm says, glancing at his cards.

“Nope. Read them and weep,” Rocket replies and he can’t hold back the triumphant grin that spreads across his face. “Now a deal’s a deal. Why don’t you show me just how that arm com-”

“Of course, I wasn’t bluffing either,” Mister-Scruffy interrupts as he sets down his own hand. “Deuces high. That pot is mine.”

The raccoon can only gape at the sight of four twos - twos! - laid out on the table, his hopes of getting that prosthesis disappearing in a flash.

“How did you…?” he starts. What are the damn odds?

Rocket is still reeling when Mustache-Hero wanders over, the man leaning easily on the back of Bucky’s chair.

“Have you cleaned him out yet?” Captain-Sunshine asks. “I’ve got a couple hours free for dinner before the meetings start back up.”

“You’ve got good timing, I just finished,” Scruffy-Cyborg answers. Neither man seems surprised by the game’s outcome and that trickle of misgiving turns into a full flood.

“You knew he’d win?”

“Well, yeah,” Spandex-Hero says with a loose shrug. “You should never play any game with Buck here; I learned that years ago. Still don’t know how he does it, but he used to clean out mobsters and leave them smiling. Damn handy guy to have around when we had trouble making rent.”

“You were cheating!” Rocket exclaims. He can’t believe he didn’t notice. No one should be that good.

“Unless this deck has seven aces, so were you,” Bucky snorts without a hint of remorse as he gathers up his winnings. “I’ll put your credits toward the rematch but for now I’ve got to go. Come on, Stevie. I’m taking you to dinner somewhere nice.”

Then Still-Has-His-Metal-Arm steers the blond out of the room, leaving the raccoon alone to wonder: How the hell did that go wrong?

---

After the complete and utter failure of Poker Night, Rocket decides to try another method. Going in blind isn’t clearly isn’t working and if he’s forced to steal instead of bargain, he really needs a crash course in how that damn arm works.

Thankfully, it’s not hard to find out who designed it. He bribes Groot into asking – the greedy little weasel holds out for a new game system – but he probably could have done the job himself. In fact, the raccoon is seriously annoyed at his bad bargain when Bucky simply shrugs.

“Who else?” Metal-Arm-Guy asks, pointing at Wakanda’s princess. “Shuri builds everything.”

Rocket really should have known. She and Peter once had a three-hour argument about putting new thrusters on his baby – he knows because Groot timed it – and he’s used plenty of Wakandan tech over the last few weeks. Honestly, Shuri’s inventions rival some of the stuff he’s seen in space and now that he thinks about it, the raccoon would probably be more surprised if someone else had made that Cyborg masterpiece.

Which means that Rocket has a new target for his schmoozing, one who is quite happy to talk about her work. Wakanda as a whole doesn’t seem to care much for state secrets. The country has offered its technology freely to help with the rebuilding, only the most dangerous items kept under lock and key. The raccoon isn’t sure whether these people are naive or just that confident, but as long as their choice works in his favor, he really doesn’t care.

It’s not like it’s a hardship to hang out in Shuri’s lab. There are so many guns that he’s pretty much in heaven and apparently the princess has been looking for someone small to test her knockback canceller.

So Rocket gets to work and quickly discovers that her tech isn’t all that great with shotguns. Pistols and small handguns, fine, but when he tries one of the big boys, he’s thrown head over tail. The raccoon picks himself up off the ground with a disgruntled huff, his scowl deepening when he hears Shuri giggle from the wings.

The princess is sitting on a nearby desk with a tablet in her hands. Judging from the angle, Rocket is pretty sure she taped that and he flips across the desk to grab the tablet with his claws.

“Hey! Be careful! That thing is locked to me!” Shuri protests, grabbing for it back. But Rocket just ignores her and taps at the screen, trying to delete the data before anyone can see. While he may be a sucker for brainy princesses, he doesn't need the hit to his badass reputation. It's bad enough that half the kids here seem to think that he's some kind of teddy bear.

However, Rocket has barely touched the tablet before a wave of electricity arcs across his skin. Shuri dives for her machine as it drops from nerveless fingers and she lets out a sigh of relief when she grabs it safe and sound.

“I told you to be careful,” she says. “Are you okay?”

“Just peachy, princess,” the raccoon replies once he can move again. “Takes more than that to hurt me.”

“Good. Though you better not have broken anything,” Shuri mutters, checking her equipment. “I really hate transferring my bookmarks and this tablet took me ages to set up properly.”

“Don't worry. If it can survive that massive zapping, it should survive most anything,” Rocket retorts, swinging a pen around his finger. “Seriously, what kind of wattage does that pull?”

“Nothing lethal,” the princess answers with a shrug. “I don't need to kill people just for being curious. Lock them out and shock them as a warning, frying the circuits on too many failed attempts. No one's ever managed to break through fast enough.”

“Not even Tony Stark?”

“Tony Stark can kiss my ass,” she snorts. “He's not completely useless, but he's still flash over substance. I prefer efficiency.”

“Very practical. And some fancy tech you got there,” the raccoon says with a whistle. “You put those locks on everything?”

“The dangerous stuff, sure. Don't need some young idiot blowing herself up,” Shuri tells him. “Of course, I prefer open source since the really clever people will get there without my help. But my brother has that whole serious king thing going on so I learned to compromise.”

“I'm sure he has his reasons. I mean that arm you built for Scr- Bucky is pretty damn impressive. Can you imagine the chaos if everyone could punch through cars one-handed?” Rocket asks. “Probably damn fun, though. If you're ever passing out prostheses, count me in.”

“Bucky's arm was a special case. The one he had when I first met him was a monstrosity,” she answers sharply and it only takes a few encouraging noises to set the princess off. Indeed, Shuri is proud of her work. Proud of her improvements to prosthetic science and the programs that she's started to spread availability. The princess isn’t passing out limbs like Bucky's, of course, but all of her prostheses follow the same general pattern and soon she’s pulling up a dozen different blueprints to aid comparison. The raccoon doesn't even need to fake his interest – he's honestly fascinated – which makes it that much easier to memorize the parts he needs.

Rocket leaves that day with a head full of instructions and a few tricks in his pockets. Not as many as he wanted, but the ones the princess offered and a couple extra that had no locks installed. As much as he likes Shuri, the raccoon couldn’t resist a teensy bit of thievery. What's yours is mine and what's mine is mine, as Rocket always says and these toys should be damn helpful on his heist.

Of course, before he actually gets there, fate decides to chuckle, and the perfect opportunity just falls into his lap. The raccoon is on his way out of the palace for a medical supply run when he sees Bucky in the hallway. Scruffy-Hair is conked out on a couch right in the camera’s blindspot, snoring like Groot's music and dead to the whole world.

The raccoon has seen him nap before – often in any open corner – but he's usually quite twitchy, snapping awake whenever anyone gets close. However, today Metal-Arm-Guy doesn't even stir when Rocket tip-toes forward, memorized schematics dancing through his head.

As soon as he’s in range, he taps at the metal plates, holding his breath when Bucky shifts beneath his paw. But Scruffy-Cyborg just keeps dreaming and so the raccoon exhales slowly before pressing his claws to the first catch.

There’s a soft click and he thinks, Hah, I’ve got this, seconds before a concussive wave throws him backwards through the air. Rocket lands on his feet just barely and then dives behind a table, fully expecting Bucky to wake up shooting after that.

Yet all he hears is snoring and when the raccoon takes a peek at Mister-Scruffy, he hasn’t even moved. One-Arm is still asleep despite the shattered vase right near him and when a few more careful steps bring no reaction, Rocket simply shrugs.

I guess I just keep going. Let’s try pattern number two.

His second attempt triggers an electric shock that sets his fur to smoking and the third nearly strangles him in a sticky metal net. On the fourth, he dodges acid, the merest splash of liquid eating a hole into the wall. Try number five leaves him ducking shrapnel and the sixth he can't remember when he wakes up on the floor with ringing ears.

By now the hallway looks like a war zone, scorch marks and chunks of metal painting every wall. Yet somehow Scruffy-Cyborg and his couch remain entirely unscathed and he still shows no signs of waking up.

That said, Rocket knows he’s pushing his luck at this point. Killer-Metal-Arm-Guy may be oblivious but this is Wakanda’s palace and someone is bound to notice the destruction soon enough. So the raccoon darts forward to tap out the last sequence, hoping against hope that the arm comes off this time.

The resulting explosion sends him flying toward the ceiling at full speed.

Rocket throws out his claws instinctively as he slams into the wood. The resulting collision carves deeps gouges in the ceiling and gives him a raging headache but at least his death grip stops him from falling down again.

He’s about to cut his losses and skedaddle when the sound of running footsteps stops him in his tracks. The raccoon stops moving, stops breathing, as Captain-Quite-a-Sprinter dashes through the doorway and skids to Bucky’s side.

“Are you all right?” he asks, looking around the hallway in confusion. Impressive-Mustache-Hero is clearly ready for a battle – not an unreasonable reaction given the situation – but thankfully his paranoia doesn’t extend to glancing up.

“Hey, Stevie. Are you finished with your meeting?” Metal-Arm-Guy asks, sitting up and stretching lazily. Apparently the sound of Captain-Flag-Pants woke him instantly.

“Not exactly,” the other man says, sounding a bit sheepish. “I ran out partway through when the alarms went off. Seriously, Buck, what happened? Security thought the palace was under an attack.”

Scruffy-Cyborg glances around the hallway and then shrugs, “No idea. I was sleeping.”

“You slept through all of this?” Steve asks, waving his arms incredulously.

“What can I say? You wore me out. You wanna wear me out again?” Bucky replies with a leer that makes Captain-Spandex blush. “But honestly, I don’t know what happened. It almost looks like all the fail-safes in my arm went off at once and I should probably get Shuri to check it just in case. Wouldn’t want to damage your pretty face by accident.”

“Sounds good to me. I better call T’Challa and tell him to stand down,” the blond says as the two of them start walking toward the door. But Rocket barely notices.

The raccoon’s focus is turned inward as he thinks, Fail-safes? Fail-safes! FAIL-SAFES! and if he could face-palm without falling, he’d be doing it right now.

---

The Guardians of the Galaxy are finally ready to leave Earth when Rocket decides to make one last attempt on Bucky’s arm. He may not be able to win, buy, or remove it on his own, but surely Gangster-Accent takes it off sometimes. The raccoon figures his best chance is to nab the arm while Bucky’s sleeping and then stash it on his ship until the morning. If he’s lucky, the Guardians will leave before Scruffy-Cyborg notices and even if they don’t, suspicion shouldn’t fall on him too hard. Rocket is great at deflecting suspicion no matter what Groot says and he’s sure that any investigation would leave him free and clear.

So he waits until midnight before collecting his equipment and sneaking out the door, telling the sapling to keep on sleeping when he asks, “I am Groot?”

Rocket makes his way to the palace gardens, whistling nonchalantly like he’s just getting air. After all, trying to sneak would be suspicious and he’s hardly the only person wandering these hallways; Wakanda is the current base for many superheroes and heroes do not sleep much – too full of tortured angsting for sweet dreams. Indeed, several familiar faces nod to the raccoon as he strolls into the gardens, holding the door open for Scary-Russian-Spy and her Bird-Man beau.

Rocket keeps up the act until he reaches his destination: the small jungle garden that Bucky’s window looks onto. He waits until he’s alone before darting off into the bushes, his ears pricked to listen for unwanted company.

This heist would not be possible without the fancy stealth device that he pulls from his coat pocket and he offers a mental thanks to Shuri’s so-so security. Of all the toys he borrowed, this one is his favorite and when he presses the start button, he disappears from view.

Indeed, no one is climbing up the outside of the palace. No one is sidling toward Scruffy-Cyborg’s bedroom window and no one nearly loses his grip when he hears a lusty groan.

The raccoon fixes his hold and then peeks over the windowsill, instantly regretting his curiosity. Because Quite-A-Six-Pack and Captain-No-Pants are both very, very naked and Rocket never wanted to see that much of either man.

He gapes in shock as Perfect-Prudish-Hero-Man lets out a stream of moans and curses, some particularly inventive phrases filed away for future use. The raccoon hasn’t spent much thought on Captain-Downer’s sex life but he would have guessed vanilla through and through. He would have bet that Captain-Patriotism was all wham-bam-and-thank-you-ma'am while bagpipes played his anthem, boring, straight, and missionary nine times out of ten.

I guess that shows what I know, Rocket thinks, cocking his head to the side as the show gets acrobatic. I didn't know that human men could even bend that way.

Of course, the raccoon is pretty sure that these guys aren't normal humans and Gangster-Accent’s kinkiness is much less of a shock. Metal-Arm has proved himself quite wicked once or twice.

Speaking of... He snaps his thoughts back to his mission. Rocket's not here to be a voyeur; he's here to be a thief. The fact that Bucky's having sex just means that he's distracted and with the way his friend is begging, Scruffy-Bangs probably wouldn't notice a platoon of Gerum Sea Worms crashing through the wall.

So Rocket perches on the windowsill and looks around the bedroom, searching for the place where Naked-Cyborg stashed his arm. The thing must be here somewhere; no way would Killer-Arm-Guy let his prosthesis out of sight. However, the raccoon just doesn't see it and he's trying to decide if he dares to search more physically when Super-Sexy-Hero-Couple switches their positions. The pair rolls over until Bucky is on top and Rocket can see exactly where his metal arm has been.

Oh, come on. That just isn’t sanitary, he thinks, covering his eyes.

The raccoon is pretty sure the princess didn't make that arm for fucking, no matter how much fine control she built into the tech. But man does Captain-What-Pants seem to like it. Judging by the begging, he likes it very, very much and Rocket gets the feeling that they’ve done this dance before.

He could wait, of course. Settle in for the long haul and hope that Super-Stamina-Cyborg actually takes his arm off when all is said and done. Once Bucky and his boy-toy have come and gone, the raccoon could probably steal it. He could take it and then clean it and then clean the thing some more, the need for epic scrubbing balanced by the value of his prize.

Nope, I'm out, Rocket thinks. He’s not giving up – the best thief in the universe does not give up on anything. The raccoon simply thinks that Gangster-Accent has earned a short reprieve.

So Rocket records one lust-filled moan of “Bucky!” to give Star-Lord a brand-new ringtone and then slips back through the window quietly. Once he reaches the ground, he deactivates his stealth mode and returns to casual whistling.

No one needs to know about this. He couldn’t sleep, he went for a walk, he went to bed; those are the only things that Rocket will admit to. Nothing else happened. No one climbed the palace. No one got an eyeful. He just had insomnia and once he gets a chance to regroup, he’ll still have that arm someday.

---

Roughly six months later, Rocket is lying on a beach in Gamma Quadrant when a flash of sun off metal nearly blinds him and he squints against the brightness to see Bucky standing there.

“Enjoying yourself?” Not-So-Scruffy-Cyborg asks with a wide grin. “I have to say, I approve this choice of honeymoon.”

“I'd hope so, since it's yours,” the raccoon retorts, leaning back in his lounge chair. He never thought the Guardians of the Galaxy would be invited to a wedding, let alone be hired to ferry the grooms to outer space. Still, he has to admit, the ceremony wasn't awful. A bit mushy for his tastes but short enough that Rocket didn’t drown in saccharine. “Anyway, what are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be off deflowering your husband or something?”

“A bit too late for that one,” Bucky snorts. “But don’t worry; we fully intend to christen our hotel room as soon as possible. I just wanted to give you a present first.”

“Shouldn’t I be giving you a present?” Rocket asks. In fact, he’s pretty sure the Guardians bought something; he has a vague memory of Groot demanding that he sign a paper card. “It is your wedding day.”

“What can I say? I’m feeling generous. And you gave me a space wedding so I’d call that pretty square,” Cleans-Up-Nice replies. He really does seem happy despite his iffy taste in men. However, the raccoon has to wonder if love made Bucky crazy when he taps out a sequence on his metal arm and then detaches the limb with a quick twist.

Sequence Three, Rocket notes automatically. He's still not sure what's going on here even as No-Longer-Metal-Arm-Guy holds out his prosthesis and says, “This is for you.”

“You're giving me your arm,” the raccoon says flatly. This has to be a trick. There's no way Cyborg-Husband would just give it to him. But Bucky simply shrugs.

“Well, yeah. I know you wanted it. You weren't exactly subtle,” he explains. “Of course, if you’ve changed your mind, I can always take it back.”

“I didn’t say that,” Rocket mutters, snatching the arm and clutching it tight against his chest. It’s heavier than he expected but there’s no damn way he’s letting go now. This arm is his, no question, but he wants to make sure that Mustache-Hero isn't going to break his face for this. “Won’t your husband miss it?”

“Nah, that won’t be an issue,” Bucky tells him. “Shuri made me a new arm as a wedding gift. One more suited for loving than for fighting if you know what I mean.”

The grin he gives to Rocket is somehow both smug and filthy and the raccoon can only groan, “I am so not interested in how you two bump uglies. I've seen enough of that. But I will take the present. Go debauch your boy-toy and leave me to my fun.”

Rocket tries to sound dismissive but Cleans-Up-Nice just laughs. “Sure thing, I'll get right on that. Try not to be too creepy with my arm.”

“I make no guarantees,” the raccoon replies, giving Bucky a salute with his Mai-Thai as he turns to walk away. However, One-Arm has only taken a few steps before a thunderous crack splits the air around them and the noise sends him diving into a defensive crouch.

“What the hell was that?”

“Look! Over there!” Rocket answers. He points out across the ocean where a flotilla of enormous ships has appeared on the horizon, draxi cruisers sailing through a portal in the sky.

“Oh come on,” Gangster-Accent groans as a series of explosions blooms upon the shoreline and the other guests start panicking.

“Well, shit,” the raccoon says. He tosses back his drink before throwing the empty glass aside. They may be under attack but that’s no excuse for wasting expensive alcohol. Then Rocket grabs the rifle from underneath his beach chair and with a heavy sigh, he holds out Bucky's arm. “I think you're gonna need this.”

“I think you're probably right,” Once-More-A-Metal-Arm-Guy replies as he snaps on his prosthesis. “Let's show these fuckers why they shouldn't have crashed my honeymoon.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Rocket agrees. “Go get Captain-Flag-Pants and then we'll kick some draxi ass. Just remember, that arm is a loan, not a present. I expect the damn thing back.”

“Assuming it still works then, you've got yourself a deal.”

With that, Bucky lifts the raccoon onto his shoulders and starts racing down the beach. His arm is whirring slightly as he prepares for battle and Rocket feels a smile spread across his face. It’s been too long since they fought side-by-side in battle and he’s looking forward to watching One-Man-Army scythe through his enemies. Indeed, as their friends and allies fall into step beside them, the raccoon just can't help thinking, This is going to be fun.


End