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I Can Fix This

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"I can fix this, Quill; just you watch. I can fix this. We'll be out of here in no time."

Rocket is rambling. He doesn't mean to, it's just something he does when he's trying to find a solution to a problem that has no obvious answer in sight. He's rambling because it helps him feel like he still has some semblance of control even as the situation spirals further and further into the void. He's rambling because it helps him work and it helps him focus; if he says it out loud it has to be true, right? He's rambling because he's afraid if he doesn't, he'll suddenly realize how totally and utterly screwed they are.

The mission had gone to absolute hell within a matter of minutes, their arrival instantly alerting every guard and sentry on the ship. It should have been easy: get in, get the data strips the client had hired them to recover, and get out. It should have been a breeze. But then something had happened and the entire damn ship suddenly knew they were there and everything got loud and violent in a hurry.

Quill had been doing his best to buy him some time, keeping the guards and their guns away from Rocket while he worked to open the vault. The data strips were air and pressure sensitive so it would take a very steady and careful hand to remove them from the vault and secure them in a transportation case. Which would be much easier to accomplish if they weren't being shot at by every armed lackie on this ship.

"Need you to work a little faster, pal," Quill had said over his shoulder, dodging one blast and firing one of his own. "No rush or anything but we really need to get the hell out of here, like, now."

"I'm goin' as fast as I can, Quill," Rocket snapped back, paws flying over the controls and panels. "You breathin' down my neck ain't helpin' matters at all."

Another blast scorched the wall beside Peter's head and he hissed out a curse. He kept himself firmly planted between Rocket and the guards, knowing the other thief needed as much concentration and time as he could give him. Unfortunately, time was quickly running out and the guards were increasing their numbers.

"Rocket," Peter growled over one shoulder. "Anytime now."

"Give me a second," Rocket growled back because seriously, Quill was not helping.

"We don't have a second," Peter snapped, catching one guard in the jaw with his elbow and landing a solid punch into another one's stomach. They were too close, seconds away from being overrun entirely, and their window of opportunity was closing fast.

"Almost there," Rocket muttered, the final lock giving way beneath his fingers. "Got it!" He snatched the data strips from the vault and transferred them into the case, securing them tightly and slamming the case closed. "Let's go!"

Quill turned to him for a second, only a second to make sure he had them, and that was all it took. One of the guards got too close, there was a flash of metal that Quill didn't see, and then there was a knife buried deeply in his side.

For a split second, Peter appeared genuinely surprised by the assault. He froze, rigid, and the blade sank even deeper. The human staggered back a step, hissing in pain and gritting his teeth.

"Quill!" Rocket growled, launching himself at the offending guard and crushing his jaw with the heavy metal case in his hand. The guard tumbled backward, taking down a few others behind him, and it gave them just the right amount of time to run.

"Quill, come on!" Rocket yelled, tugging the back of the human's jacket to get him to run. He ignored the fact that blood was already beginning to streak the front of his clothes and the fact that Quill seemed more than a little unsteady on his feet. They needed to get out of there and fast or they'd be overrun before they knew it.

Their clean escaped quickly backfired when another wave of guards filled the other end of the corridor they were running through. They were trapped, blocked on either side with nowhere else to go. Rocket gripped the case tightly, reaching for his gun, but Peter had other ideas.

Before he knew what was happening, Peter grabbed him around the waist and threw one of the bombs Rocket had tucked inside his jacket a few days before. A newer invention of his, guaranteed to give you a clean and easy get away in a pinch. The only problem was you had to be far enough away from it to do so because the resulting blast was damn near crippling for anyone within a fifteen foot radius.

Peter solved this problem by throwing them both into a small, cramped transportation shaft that looked like it was being used as a trash lift for other levels of the ship. The bomb exploded, the guards toppled like dominoes, and the lift platform dropped a good twenty feet into the bowels of the ship before it came a screeching halt. There was a violent jerk, the crushing sound of metal grinding against metal, and then everything went still.

"You idiot!" Rocket raged, head popping up over the scattered bits of metal and debris that had accompanied their fall. "What the hell were you thinking?!"

Quill winced and pushed himself up on one elbow slowly. "I was thinking," he said between clenched teeth. "That I was saving our lives."

"Well good goin', genius," Rocket grumbled irritably, pulling himself out of the trash and debris cluttering the lift. "Thanks to you we're stuck in here until I can figure out how to pry these doors open from the inside."

"A simple 'thank you' would have sufficed," Quill mumbled back breathlessly and there was something about the way he was speaking that made Rocket turn around. The second he did, he cursed himself for being so stupid.

In all the panic and confusion, he'd completely forgotten that Peter had been injured in the melee. The knife was still deeply imbedded in Peter's side, the blade sunken in all the way to the hilt. Blood was covering the front of his shirt and streaking his jacket with shiny splotches of red. Peter's hands were covered in blood as well, possibly from either trying to remove the blade or stabilize it to prevent it from causing anymore damage. Their situation had been bad enough already but now it was significantly worse.

"Ah, jeez, Quill…" Rocket muttered, crouching down by the human's side and reaching out carefully.

"Don't touch it," Peter told him quickly, his voice clipped and tight with pain. He let out a shaky breath, sweat beginning to bead along his hairline. "I don't know how bad it is."

"Okay, okay, sorry," Rocket apologized and he actually meant it. It was partially his fault that Peter had taken a blade to the gut in the first place; Quill had been watching his back while he worked to recover the data strips and this was his reward for it. Not only that, Quill had very likely saved their lives back there and Rocket had repaid him by calling him an idiot and blaming their predicament on him. The bandit sighed; he really didn't do guilt.

He looked back over his shoulder to the crunched and crumpled doors behind them. "Well, one thing's for sure: we ain't goin' anywhere while these doors are wedged shut."

Quill grimaced again and tried to push himself up against the wall. "Think you can get them open?"

Rocket glanced back at him, taking in the pallor of his skin and the rapidly growing bloodstains on his clothes. Peter needed help and fast and the only way to do that was to get the doors open. The only problem was that with the amount of damage done to the lift and their placement in the ship, he had no idea how long it would actually take to get the doors open again. He needed to do it fast though; with a wound like that, bleeding like it was, he didn't really have a choice.

"Yeah, Quill, I can do it," Rocket told him, flashing a crooked, toothy grin. "I'll get us out of here in no time."

That had been well over twenty minutes ago and he was still no closer to getting the doors open than he had been when he first started. He's tried prying them open, reconfiguring the wires hooked into the wall panels, breaking them down with various heavy pieces of trash inside the lift. Hell, he even thought of using one of his bombs to blast the doors open but he's pretty sure it would kill both of them in the process. His list of options is growing thin and the doors still aren't budging. He rambles the entire time.

"I've been in worse scraps than this before, Quill," he says as he tries to wedge a flat piece of metal between the two doors and pry them open. "There was this shady bar in the Karagan Sector...real slummy kinda place. Beat this big, stupid Rongell and his buddies at a card game and they were convinced I was cheating. I mean, I was, of course I was, but this guy just had to make a big deal about it and pull out the big guns."

The metal bends and shudders between the doors but they refuse to move. Rocket continues talking. "So anyway, they had me surrounded, at least seven of 'em at that time, and all I had was my one little gun and...hey, hey, hey!" he snaps, turning around to face Quill. The human's eyes have slipped closed and he's slumped against the wall. Rocket abandons his sliver of metal and clears the space between them, slapping Peter across the face with one paw.

The human winces and opens his eyes. "The hell? What was that for?"

"Eyes open, ya lazy bum," Rocket growls, baring his teeth a bit as he speaks. "I'm lettin' you take it easy 'cuz you gotta knife stickin' outta you right now but that doesn't mean you get to take a nap. If I'm awake, you're awake. Got it?"

"Hard to sleep with all that talking," Peter mumbles back but he does make a concentrated effort to sit up straighter. "You're so noisy."

"You're damn right I'm noisy, pal," Rocket grumbles, glancing him up and down once more before turning back toward the doors. "And I'll be as noisy as it takes to makes sure you don't fall asleep again."

"No sleeping," Peter replies and Rocket pretends to ignore the way his words are beginning to slur. "Got it."

The bandit turns his attention back to the doors and forces himself to focus on the problem at hand. He doesn't let himself think about the way Peter's skin has grown paler since the last time he looked at him or that he's starting to sound a bit like a drunk when he speaks. He can smell his blood in the air, the coppery scent growing stronger and heavier as more time passes, and he forces himself to ignore it. He needs to figure out a way to fix these doors and get them open, he needs to figure out how to get them through this. He needs to figure out how to fix this because if he doesn't Quill is going to die and he can't let that happen.

"I ever tell you about that time I broke out of the solitary level of the Norran Prison ship with nothing but a screw and a piece of glass?" he asks idly, rummaging through the trash piles again for what feels like the hundredth time in search of something that might actually be useful for their escape.

"I'm sure you're about to," Quill mumbles back, pressing his shoulders against the wall a bit more to take some pressure off the wound in his side.

"Walk in the park, really," Rocket continues, giving up on the trash and going back to the piece of metal he'd had before. "Supposed to be one of the most secure and heavily guarded ships this side of the Andros Quadrant. I was outta there in less than a week."

He wiggles the metal a bit deeper in between the door and feels it catch on something on the other side. Thinking it might be just what they need to get out, he jams the metal in deeper and twists. There's a jolt and a shudder and the lift drops again, plummeting another fifteen feet into the shaft. It grinds to a halt and both Rocket and Peter are bounced off the walls violently. Trash tumbles all around them, more debris falling from the shaft above, and within seconds their already cramped space gets even worse.

"Quill!" Rocket growls, pulling a lumpy pile of something off the other Guardian. "Quill, you alright?"

Peter lets out a slow, painful groan, his hands covering the wound in his side tightly. The knife had somehow been dislodged in the second fall and now lay on the floor of the lift, the blade sharp and gleaming with his blood. His face is ashen, stark and sickening in contrast to the bright smear of blood staining his clothes. "Let's…" he starts with a gasp, eyes squeezed closed tightly. "Let's not do that again…"

Rocket frowns and pulls more trash away, giving them as much space as he can in such a small, cluttered area. "Ah, hell, Quill...I'm sorry," he says as he moves, careful not to jostle Peter and his wound as he removes the trash. The knife is out, no telling how much damage it caused when it was removed, and now Peter is bleeding like a sieve. They're running out of time, Peter is running out of time, and now he's just made matters worse. How could anything else go wrong? "I made a real mess of this. I thought I could get the doors open and-"

"Hey," Peter says, reaching out with one bloody hand and touching Rocket's ear. "It's not your fault, I know you're doing your best. If anyone can get us out of this, it'll be you." He offers a small, weak smile that looks an awful lot like a wince. "You got this."

Rocket stops his frenzied trash removal and feels his shoulders slump a little. Peter trusts him, Peter believes he can fix this. He can't let him down. "Yeah, you're right," he says, batting the human's hand away gently while still trying to maintain his gruff expression. "I'm awesome. Why wouldn't I be able to get us outta this?"

Peter smiles again and tries to sit up. It doesn't work so he settles with simply propping himself against a semi-comfortable pile of something in the corner. He presses his jacket and shirt against the wound, trying to put as much pressure on it as he can. He grits teeth tightly, the muscles in his jaw going rigid. "Come for the attitude, stay for the sass."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Rocket mumbles, taking a seat by one of Peter's outstretched legs and pulling out his communicator. "Real cute, Quill. Now shut up and try not to die."

He examines the communicator carefully, taking in the damage. It had been broken in the initial fall, partially crushed and cracked on one side. He'd given it up as useless but maybe he had been going at this the wrong way from the beginning. If he couldn't get these doors open from the inside, he knows Drax or Groot would probably be able to get them open from the outside. He could contact them, give them their location, no problem. He just needed to fix the communicator first.

He rummages through the trash again, this time looking for something viable he could use to repair the communicator. He finds a few wires and cords, strips of metal and pieces of plastic. It's not great, not by a long shot, but he's definitely worked with less before.

He strips the coating from some of the wires and works them into the busted communicator. The crunched metal is replaced with the scrap pieces and a few more wires are threaded in and connected. The communicator pops and crackles with static but nothing else comes through. It needs a charge, a jolt of electricity to get the circuits rerouted and working again.

He locates an exposed bundle of wires in the wall panels and starts peeling back the coating. All he needs is just enough of a connection to jumpstart the communicator and he should be set. He pulls the wires away from the wall and almost gets them connected. However, his claws get just a little too close to the frayed ends of the wire and his teeth snap shut involuntarily as a crack of electricity shoots through his body.

It's enough to knock him off his feet, the air smelling vaguely like ozone and singed fur for a second. There's a strange metallic taste in his mouth and his fur is standing completely on end but the communicator snaps to life in his paw.

"Shit, man, you okay?" Quill asks, jumping slightly with Rocket sits up with every single hair on his body sticking straight up due to the residual static electricity.

Rocket doesn't answer right away, focusing instead on the crackling communicator in his hand. The screen flickers and a connection is made, no matter how weak. "Hah!" he exclaims triumphantly, adjusting the frequency to get a better signal. "Hello? Anyone out there? Someone pick up!"

There's a thready, static-filled response on the other end. "I am Groot?"

"Groot, buddy, am I glad to hear you!" Rocket exclaims with relief. "Listen, I need you and the others to get down here quick. We're stuck in a trash chute about 40 feet down from the third deck. I need you to-"

The communicator crackles once, sparks slightly, starts smoking, and then dies completely. Rocket stares at it in disbelief and slaps his paw against the back of it.

"No, no, no!" he growls, reconnecting the wires and threading them into different circuits. He tries charging it again, replacing all the wires again and then replacing those wire with more wires but nothing works. The communicator is dead and they're back to square one.

Rocket lets out a frustrated growl and tosses the communicator into the trash along with everything else. He drags his paws over his face, claws catching on dirty fur and rumpled whiskers. He'd been so close, so stupidly close and now it was ruined.

"Hey," Peter says quietly, nudging him with his leg. Rocket turns to look at him, his stomach sinking at how grey he appears. "That hole in the chute up there," he says, nodding upward for emphasis. "Think you can get through that?"

Rocket follows his gaze and sees what he's talking about. About twenty feet above their heads is a small opening in the shaft, barely more than a crack in the metal walls. It's tiny and it's hard to see where exactly it leads but Rocket is pretty sure he could fit through it well enough if he tried. The problem was that if he did get through, he'd be leaving Peter alone and bleeding in this shaft. True, he could get out and possibly go find the others but he wasn't sure how long that would take and he knew that Peter didn't have that much time left. He could get out, save himself, and possibly try to get the others back here in time but he couldn't be sure it would be enough. Leaving now would mean leaving Peter to die alone, stuck in a trash chute and tossed out like garbage. He couldn't do that him, he couldn't leave him like this.

"No, I don't think I could fit through there," Rocket says slowly after a second, his ears tipping back a little. "I, uh...I hurt my leg when the lift fell the second time. I don't think I can climb up that high."

Peter smirks faintly and closes his eyes. "Liar…"

Rocket's tail bristles at the accusation and he bares his teeth. "Oh yeah? Prove me wrong, Quill. You think it's so easy then why don't you climb up there and-"

"Rocket," Quill cuts him off quietly, his voice soft. "Go. Seriously. Get out of here...go find the others. I'll be okay."

The bandit snorts and rolls his eyes. "Sure, now who's the liar?"

"Rocket, I'm serious-"

"So am I, Quill. Get that through your thick head. I ain't leavin' you here so just get over it," Rocket snaps and he doesn't mean to but he can't help it. He doesn't know what else to do, he's not sure how to get them out of here and, for the first time, he's not sure he can fix this. Gears and circuits and wires, sure, he can fix those all day long. But things like blood loss and internal injury and watching one of your friend die slowly right in front of you...he doesn't know how to fix that.

"No sense in both of us dying in here," Peter continues quietly, his words slurring together toward the end.

"Neither of us is dyin' in here, Quill," Rocket corrects him, looking back at the doors and studying them carefully. There has to be a way out of here, there just has to be. "And if you even think about dyin' then I'm gonna beat you over the head with that stupid Walkman of yours."

Peter lets out a soft, painful laugh which quickly turns in a soft, painful cough. "I'll let you have it...if you want…" he gasps out between clenched teeth. "Just gotta...promise to take care of it…"

Rocket freezes and turns back to him. "Oh no. No, no, no. You're not doin' that. You're not doin' the whole you-can-have-my-crap-when-I-die speech 'cuz I'm not havin' it, Quill. None of it, you hear me?"

"May not...have a choice, pal…" Peter mumbles and his eyes are beginning to slip closed and Rocket very calmly freaks the fuck out.

"Hey! No!" he snaps, hopping on Quill's chest and shaking him roughly. "What did I tell you about sleeping, huh? Eyes open, jackass!"

Peter's eyes are still fluttering and Rocket panics a little bit and slaps him. It has a semi-desired effect and Peter manages to squint his eyes open a little more. "There ya go," Rocket encourages, paws bracketing either side of his face. "There ya go. Open your eyes, Quill. Look at me. That's it. Keep lookin' right at me, alright?"

Peter does as he's told and tries to focus on him but his eyes are wandering and glassy as he struggles to remain conscious. He's lost too much blood, his injuries are too severe, he's going to die…

Rocket shakes his head, forcing the thoughts to the back of his mind. "I need you to do somethin' for me, Quill. I need you to not die on me down here, got it? Do. Not. Die." Peter's eyes begin to slip closed again and Rocket shakes him. "Hey!"

"'kay," he mumbles hazily, blinking slowly like it takes a greater amount of effort than he has. "Don't die...got it...'ll do my best…"

"I'm gonna need more than your best, Starlord," Rocket grumbles back, letting him go and going back to the doors with renewed fervor. He pulls and tugs and shoves at them but they still refuse to budge. He finds another scrap of metal and goes back to trying to wedge them apart, prying with all of his strength.

"How you doin' back there, Quill?" he asks after a second, straining hard against the metal. "Be honest with me. On a scale of 1 to Most Excruciating Pain I've Ever Felt In My life, how do feel?"

"Zero…" Peter mumbles drowsily, eyes half-lidded and unfocused.

"Zero?" Rocket repeats in confusion, looking back at him. "How can it be zero? I was expecting, like, thirty or somethin'."

Peter has just enough strength to shake his head. "Doesn't hurt...not really...not anymore…" His eyes do slide closed then and this time they don't open again.

"Quill!" Rocket snaps, abandoning the door once more and returning to the human's side. "What did I just tell you, genius?! Eyes open!" He shakes him again and pats his face but Peter's eyes stay closed. "Quill!" He shakes him again, more desperately this time, but it has the same results. Peter's head lolls a bit at the movement but otherwise he remains completely unresponsive.

Rocket jumps off of him and grabs the nearest heavy thing he can find, which happens to be the case containing the data strips, and begins banging it against the doors as hard as he can. "Hey! Can anybody hear me? We're in here!"

At this point, he could care less about the data strips and the kind of damage he's doing to them inside the case. He doesn't care if they're destroyed and worthless and if the client is pissed and if they don't get paid and if they never get paid again. He doesn't care if the banging attracts every guard on the ship, if they break down the doors and throw them all into prison for the rest of their lives. He doesn't care about any of this because Quill is dying, he's fucking dying, and at this point nothing else matters.

"Hey! Somebody open the doors! Anybody out there?!" Rocket shouts as loud as he can, slamming the case into the doors with every ounce of strength he possesses and it's still not enough. No one comes, no one answers his calls, the doors stay shut.

Cursing viciously, Rocket abandons the doors and rushes back to Peter's side, gripping his coat in both paws. "Come on, Quill. I really need you to open your eyes for me now, understand? I know it's probably nice and cozy down there in dreamland but I need you to wake up!"

He's getting desperate, the air inside the chute suddenly becoming thick and hard to breathe. His chest feels tight and he shakes Peter harder. "Quill, I swear if you don't open your eyes this second I'm going to crash that junky ship of yours into the biggest asteroid I can find! I mean it!" His threats fall on deaf ears; Peter doesn't rise to the bait and Rocket can't think of anything worse to threaten him with.

He swats Peter across the face again, frowning darkly when his paw makes contact with the human's flesh. Peter's skin is cool and clammy, like the beads of sweat that had broken out earlier had turned to ice water and dried on his face. He's disturbingly pale, the usual pink undertones of his skin fading into a dull, lifeless grey. The wound in his side is coated in layers of fresh and drying blood, his shirt and jacket equally saturated. His hands are streaked red, tiny streams of blood trickling out between his fingers and dropping to the floor below. There's a dark, tacky pool of the stuff forming just beneath him and Rocket feels like he's going to be sick.

"Come on, man, don't do this to me!" Rocket growls desperately, letting go of Peter's jacket and dropping down to press an ear to his chest. Peter is still breathing and he can hear his heartbeat (thank the stars for small miracles) but both are slow and uneven and fading fast. Peter is running out of time and Rocket is running out of ideas.

"Quill, come on, you can't die down here," Rocket mumbles nervously, sitting back up and taking the human's face between his paws again. He suppresses the shudder at the coolness of his skin and pats his cheek hard enough to sting. "What am I gonna tell the others, huh? What happens to the so called 'Guardians of the Galaxy' if you're dead? You're the first guy other than Groot that I don't want to shoot on a constant basis and what will we do if you're gone, huh?" Peter still doesn't move and cold, harsh dread is beginning to sink into the pit of Rocket's stomach.

"Quill, please…" he says quietly and so what if he voice cracks a little as he speaks, no else can hear it. "Please don't die. I'm beggin' you, here...and I don't beg, not ever. I'm willin' to do it now, though. Just...don't die, okay? I need you to hang on for just a little bit longer."

Peter breath hitches and falters just a little beneath him and Rocket's ears flatten in concern. He's going to lose him...he's going to die...  

Rocket shakes his head, gritting his teeth tightly and pushing off of Peter. "I'm not lettin' you die down here, Quill. You got that? You're not dyin' while I'm here."

He reaches up and grabs the bundle of wires he'd been using earlier to jumpstart the communicator. He has no idea of this will work but Peter's dying and he has to try something. He lifts up the edge of his shirt just enough to expose skin and holds the bundle of wires steady.

"Real sorry about this, Quill," he apologizes in advance before touching just the very tips of the wires to Peter's skin.

The effect is instant. Peter jerks sharply from jolt of electricity, his eyes snapping open and gasping in surprise. The surprise almost immediately fades to pain and he groans low in his throat, curling slightly on his side and covering the wound with bloody hands.

"Quill!" Rocket exclaims in relief, dropping the wires and rushing back to his side. He manages to turn him back into a semi-sitting position, paws hovering around his face. "Hey, it's okay. You're okay. Look at me, Quill. Look at me."

The human groans again, eyes squeezing closed tightly. He takes a shallow, shuddering breath before opening them again, his gaze slowly fixing on Rocket. "Rocket…?" he gasps, voice tight and strained with pain. "What the hell...was that…?"

"You're okay," Rocket tells him again, paw pressing flat against his chest. It's not a huge change but Peter's heartbeat seems marginally more stable and he's conscious now so there's that. "You're okay."

"Did you just...electrocute me…?" Peter asks, slumping back a little and trying to breathe normally.

"No, electrocuting you would be killing you," Rocket corrects with a small, crooked little grin. "I just kinda jumpstarted you."

Peter looks like he's torn between being pissed off and laughing at the absurdity of it all. "Please don't ever do that again…" he mutters, head tipping back a bit and eyes fluttering slightly.

Rocket's smile falls a little, his memories flickering back to Peter's fading and faltering heartbeat. "I hope I won't ever have to."

There's a noise from somewhere outside the shaft, a voice maybe, the sound of footsteps. Something vibrates against the doors that sounds suspiciously like a knock. "Rocket? Peter? Can you hear me?"

Rocket has never been so glad to hear another person's voice in all his life. "Gamora!" he calls back, running to the doors and pounding his fists against it to signal where they are. "We're in here!"

"Are you both alright?" she calls back and there's more movement on the outside, possibly the other members of their team arriving.

"No," Rocket shouts back, glancing back over his shoulder at Peter. The human's eyes have slipped closed and he's rapidly beginning to lose consciousness again. "Quill's hurt real bad! We need to get him outta here!"

He hears her mutter a curse outside before she responds. "Alright, get away from the doors."

Rocket does as she says, stepping back away from the doors and hovering close to his injured friend. There's a loud sound outside, twisting and groaning like metal being ripped apart. The doors shake and tremble, the walls of the chute shuddering around them. Trash and debris rains down from above, falling into the open compartment from the shift in movement. Rocket moves quickly, shielding Peter as best he can from the falling debris. "Hey! Careful out there!"

Thin, leafy vines work their way into the cracks of the shaft, climbing up the walls and encasing the crushed doors from inside. They contract and squeeze, constricting the metal and crushing it even further. There's a low, shuddering crunch and the doors are crushed completely to the inside and removed a second later, tossed across the room with one large, woody hand. Groot's face appears in the space where the doors had been, peering inside carefully.

"Boy, am I ever glad to see you guys," Rocket sighs in relief, grabbing two handfuls of Peter's jacket and dragging him as much as he can toward the newly made opening.

Drax steps forward and takes Peter from him, pulling him out of the shaft and cradling the bleeding, unconscious man in his large arms. He scans the other man's face worriedly, leaning over him and listening carefully. "He is still breathing," he announces and Rocket feels another little knot of anxiety release.

Groot reaches into the chute and offers him one branchy hand. Rocket accepts the invitation and quickly scales up the tree creature's arm. "What took you so long?" he grumbles irritably, flicking a solitary leaf poking out from the side of Groot's head. If his voice shakes a little when he speaks, Groot is kind enough not to mention it.

"I am Groot," he says with a smile and Rocket sags against him a bit.

"Yeah, I'm glad you're okay too, pal," Rocket mumbles, watching as Drax arranges Peter more carefully in his arms, keeping steady pressure on the wound as he does. Gamora is standing out in front of them, weapons draw and covering them as they gather together.

Rocket takes one last look back at the chute and the crushed doors and the pool of Peter's blood mingled in with the trash scattered around the floor of the lift. He feels his jaws clench a bit tighter. "Let's get outta here."

OOOOO

Peter wakes up to the sound of something being taken apart. It takes him a good minute and half of staring up at the ceiling to realize he'd back in the Milano. He frowns and tries to think back to how he got here, what had happened before. Everything feels fuzzy and far away, distant and out of reach like a fading dream. He tries to move and instantly regrets that decision when a sharp, painful tug against the skin in his side causes him to freeze. Cautious fingers brush over newly formed scar tissue, the skin still raw and tender despite the light touch. He lets out a measured, careful breath, the pain receding slowly.

"'Bout time you woke up," a voice mutters somewhere to his right and he turns his head to see Rocket sitting in the middle of the floor with what looks like half of the ship's communication gear spread out before him. He's working through each piece carefully, reinforcing and rewiring and repairing. "Thought you were going to sleep all day again."

Peter frowns again, still a little unsure of what was going on. His eyes land on one of the communicators on the floor and suddenly everything comes flooding back. The mission, getting stabbed, being stuck in that trash chute, Rocket badgering him endlessly while they were in there…

"You got us out," he says finally, his voice scratchy and rough from disuse.

Rocket stops his frenzied repairs and shrugs in what he's probably hoping is a nonchalant manner. "Well, technically Groot got us out but I helped him find us." He drops the communicator he'd been working on and points a tool in Peter's direction. "And you, ya big idiot," he growls, ears flattening a bit as he speaks. "The next time you decide to try your best to bleed to death while on a mission, do it around someone else, got it? I ain't goin' through that again."

Peter smirks faintly and nods, slumping back against the mattress. Everything is sore so he figure his best bet is to just lay still for the time being. "How long have I been out?" he asks after a second, Rocket's tinkering filling the void left by the lack of conversation.

He connects a few wires into the communicator and sets it to the side. "Let's see," he begins, picking up another communicator and flipping open the back of it. "About eighteen hours now. Goin' on nineteen."

Peter lets out a low whistle, which hurts but, then again, what doesn't hurt right now? "That bad, huh?"

"Yeah, that bad, ya moron," Rocket grouses as he continues working on the communicators. "You were damn near comatose when we got you back to the ship. A little while longer and…" he stops there, letting the end of the conversation fall off into the void.

Peter understands the unspoken consequence and nods slowly. He sits up just enough to look down at the wound in his side, taking in the rippled scar tissue and the swelling of newly healed flesh. The wound is long and jagged and, judging from the dull ache he feels all the way to his core, it was deep too. No wonder Rocket had been so worried. "Sorry about that."

"You should be," Rocket grumbles again, adding a new power source into the communicator. He goes silent for a moment, the tinkering quieting down as he stops moving. "You really freaked me out back there, Quill," he says quietly after a second, refusing to meet the human's eyes. His paws fidget over the communicator for a few more seconds before he goes back to working on it. "Don't do it again."

Peter smiles faintly and nods. "I won't."

"Good," Rocket replies with a nod of his own, scooting back just a bit so his back is resting against the edge of Peter's bed. The position is casual and relaxed enough to make it seem as though he's been there for quite some time now. He flashes a lopsided grin over one shoulder. "Told you I'd fix it."

Peter smirks and ruffles his ears lightly, ignoring the growls the bandit directs at him from the floor. "Never doubted you for a second, pal."