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Bedtime Ritual

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It may vary cosmetically, slight differences from place to place and situation to situation, but their nighttime routine really hasn't changed much since Rocket met Groot. It got a little more comfortable as they went along, and that was just fine.

The Milano hummed quietly, parked but ready to move under the dim light of a city Rocket remembered from a lifetime before. In his bunk, the raccoon's enhanced ears could even hear Star Lord muttering and gasping a bulkhead away.

"I am Groot?" The tree asked, his branch-arms snaking out from his pot with fine thorn-tipped tendrils most would take for wounding.

"Yeah, bedtime." Rocket paced toward him, tiny clawed fingers sliding over the pot that would soon be too small for the inhabitant that already stood half a head taller than his friend. "Can't wait till you're back in action, this bunk sucks." Without pause, he wrapped both arms around the pot and groaned with the effort of carrying it to his cot. "You... have put on a few pounds!"

"I am Groot!" The plant answered joyously, reaching out further with his tendrils as his pot was thrust to the center.

"I was thinking about that, gonna see if we can't go down to the planet in the morning and try to get you walking again by lunchtime."

Groot hummed happily, stroking his thorny fingers over Rocket's face and shoulders as the raccoon curled protectively around his pot. That... that gentle touch of thorns brushing through his fur and working loose the day's snarls and mats... had developed slowly over time from something fought relentlessly to a thing Rocket actually looked forward to as he dozed off.

He'd never admit it, but he missed it as the cutting regrew. "Watch it, those are pointy..." he bristled, wiggling out of his clothes to expose his hardware and then flipping his fluffy tail up to come next.

Before the plant, very few were allowed to see his implants and nobody - NOBODY - was gonna touch him without taking a shot to face. But as soon as Groot was satisfied with the softness of his tail, gentle vines slid down his sides. Working his way inward, Groot combed and stroked his fur, looping gentle circles around each port with a touch far lighter anyone would expect out of a tree.

A contented purr thrummed out of him, something else privy only to very close friends of which there was one, and like most nights Rocket drifted away to the soft brushing snuggled close against his friend. Soon enough he'd find himself once more secure among Groot's solid branches but until then, it would do.

"Night pal."

"We. Are. Groot."