Author: Kat Lee
Fandoms: X-Men/Guardians of the Galaxy
Character/Pairing: The New Wolverine, formerly known as X-23, and assorted Guardians characters
Challenge/Prompt: I thought this was going to be for a beattheblackdog challenge entry, but I'd misread the prompt entirely.
Word Count: 1,534
Date Written: 4 October 2017
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Marvel Comics and Disney, not the author, and are used without permission.
She stands and looks out at the stars on another sleepless night. She’s heard it said many times before that standing and looking up at the stars is supposed to make a person feel small, but it’s never really had that impact on her. She doesn’t feel small or unimportant. The universe just feels like it’s too freaking big, and she needs a way to get through it faster. “Can’t this ship go any faster?” she mutters.
“Not if you want us there in one piece,” a voice that makes her want to growl says from behind her.
“It was a rhetorical question,” she snaps, remembering one of the few things she learned during her time spent with the original five X-Men’s younger counterparts. “You know, one you didn’t have to answer.”
She can hear his grin in his tone of voice as he answers, “I know, but I wanted to.” He seems to almost be reconsidering his position as he falls silent for a moment. When he speaks again, it’s with a softer voice, and Laura knows he’s trying to win her trust. Her knuckles itch to release her claws, and she has to fight down the savage growl rising within her. “I just wanted you to know we’re doing everything we can to reach them as swiftly as we can.”
She almost turns to him. She almost lets the tears that have been crying inside of her ever since Gabby was taken rise to her eyes. She almost drops her guard. Instead, she just snaps, “Well, we better get there soon,” and turns away from him and the universe.
She stalks through the ship’s corridors. She knows they’re not the only two awake. For a moment, she considers going to talk to Rocket -- they certainly seem to have more in common than she’ll ever share with the great Starlord --, but she doesn’t feel like talking to anyone. She just keeps walking through the seemingly endless corridors until she reaches her room. The door slides open for her, then slides shut again after she steps inside.
A tremble passes through her as she stalks on to her bed. She sinks down onto the cot, but she won’t sleep. She doesn’t really need sleep at all, but she hasn’t slept a wink since Gabby was taken. She can’t. All she can think about is the promises she made, the promises that might yet be broken.
“I am Groot.”
Her head snaps up. Her dark eyes widen in surprise at the sight of the tiny alien who’s followed her into bedroom. His mind is not much more than a child’s, not much more than Gabby’s after they first met. She can not allow herself to unleash her anger onto him.
“I am Groot,” he says again and strides toward her. “I am Groot.”
“Rocket keeps muttering something about translators. I wish you had one.”
“I am Groot.” He shoots a twig up at her bed, grabs a hold of it, and swings up toward her. He ends up sitting on her knee and looking up at her through his big, wide eyes. They, too, make her think of Gabby. Everything makes her think of Gabby these days, but there’s something about the way he looks at her, like she should have all the answers in the world when she, in fact, has none, that truly reminds her of Gabby’s expressions when the younger girl just stares into her eyes and waits for her to do the right thing.
Her head drops even further. How in the Hell did Logan do this for so many years?! She wasn’t his first surrogate daughter. He’d had a plethora of children over the years from what Remy and Jubilee had both told her, but none of them had been his except for that crazy dickhead Dakken. How had he not lost them along the way? How had he always managed to save them?
Laura blinks back tears as Groot places two tiny, twig-like hands on her knee. Leaning up, he looks even more intently at her. “I am Groot.”
She shakes her head. “Why does everybody expect me to have the answer?” Her voice cracks. Damn it, she’s not too far from crying now, and she really doesn’t want to let the tears start -- mainly because she doesn’t know if she’ll ever be able to stop them again.
Groot adds a little more pressure to his hands on her leg. “I am Groot. I am Groot!”
“What he’s trying to say,” a voice suddenly speaks inside Laura’s room, making her claws pop out instinctively and almost sending her springing into a full fighting stance, “is they’re your family.”
“Who let you in here?!” Laura growls.
“I did,” Rocket snaps in return. Pointing at Groot, he adds, “I was looking for him, but stupid me, it kinda looked like you need a friend.”
“What I need is for this fucking ship to go faster!”
“Laura . . . They’re your family. We’ll find a way to get to them and to save them.”
“We’re not even sure what we’re facing. I mean, we know it’s the Brood, but what if . . . What if they’ve already gotten to her?”
“Then we’ll unget them from her,” Rocket growls, his striped tail bushing behind him.
“Yeah. That makes a lotta sense.”
“You know what I mean! Whatever it takes, we’ll free her! She’s your family. We’re not gonna leave her behind, and we damn sure haven’t come this far just to give up because she has a little Brood infestation problem.”
“But . . . “
“You ever repeat a word of this,” Rocket growls, walking deeper into the room so that the door shuts behind him, “and I’ll shoot you in the mouth. Family’s never what we think it is. It’s not what we’re born with -- or what they’re born with, because both of us, Laura, were born without families. It’s what we find along the way. It’s the people we find who make these battles worth fighting -- I mean, other than the sheer fun of kicking ass.”
“Quill, Drax, Gamora . . . Hell, even Groot and I. We all fight. We fight others; we fight each other. We cuss each other. But when it all boils down to it, we’re a family, and we won’t give up on each other for anything. I can’t count the number of scraps Quill’s pulled me out of, or that I’ve yanked his ass out of. And Groot . . . He’s sacrificed himself more than once to save all of us. In fact, that’s why he is the way you seem him now. He was a big guy once; he gave it all up to save our asses.”
“We don’t always know how we’re going to pull off the rescue. Most of the time, it looks pretty damn impossible, but we never give up. We don’t give up, because as damn corny as it sounds, we love each other. We need each other. And we’ve got each other through thick and thin always, no matter what. We’ve fought through Hell and back for one another, and we’ll do it again and again no matter how many times it’s needed. We’ll always save each other.”
“And you’re gonna save Gabby. We’ll get there in time, Laura. You’ll see. I can’t explain it, and I know it looks pretty damn bleak right now, but we’ll do it. You’ll do it. You’ll save her, because you’re her family and that’s what families do.”
“I am Groot!” The little tree sapling springs from Laura’s lap, sails through the room, and lands in Rocket’s lifted hands. Rocket moves to sit him on top of his shoulder, but Groot grabs his furry cheek instead and hangs on tight, hugging him as best he can.
Rocket’s fur darkens, and for a moment, Laura wonders if he’s blushing. Then he turns away from her with a frustrated growl, and she knows he is. She can’t help the tiny smile that lifts her lips at the sight of Groot hugging Rocket so tightly and the raccoon fighter wanting to be anywhere but in that hug in front of her. “Remember,” he says as he stalks away through the door that’s opening again for him, “tell anybody about this, and I’ll shoot in the mouth. I know you’ve got a healing factor and all, but I’m betting that’s one place you don’t wanna get shot.”
She smiles. Though her face is still wet with tears, she’s stopped crying. She waits until the door’s almost shut behind him before calling one last time to him for the night, “Thanks, Rocket.” After he’s gone, she lays back on her cot though knowing she won’t sleep, closes her eyes, and thinks of Gabby. She remembers all the promises she’s made her -- all the times she’s sworn she’ll always be there for her -- and knows again that she’s going to do everything in her power to save her “little sister”. She won’t stop fighting to save her unless she dies in her attempts to do so, and if she does . . . well, at least they’ll go together like a family should. She smiles and has a little more patience with the flight.