"This was a stupid idea," Rocket said, glaring across the smashed-open display case at Peter. "I shoulda known you'd manage to fuck this up somehow, even with gloves on." He looked down at the unassuming stone orb clasped between his paws, and then set it down carefully in the litter of glass. "For one thing, these things are one-time-use-only deals, so it's worthless now. You never do the research, or you'da known not to touch it with your bare hands -- which, granted, you were wearin' gloves because I'm with you, you need a fucking keeper -- but that doesn't mean you should say 'Hey, Rocket, catch!' and then throw the thing at me! You knew I wasn't wearin' gloves!"
"Well, if you'd told me why we shouldn't touch it with our bare hands, maybe I would have listened!" Peter snapped, sitting down heavily on his haunches amid a puddle of leather and cloth that had fit him perfectly not five minutes ago. When he'd been tall enough to wear it. "I didn't think it would do anything -- especially not this!" He gestured at himself, glaring back at Rocket with his muzzle curled into a snarl. "Why am I a raccoon now? I thought it was some kind of soul thingie."
"Yeah, it's a soul thingie -- a soul mate thingie, you moron."
"Wait, so this happened to me because you're my soul mate? Did the soul thingie make us soul mates, or were we already?"
"We were already soul mates, according to the stuff I read that you obviously didn't," Rocket gritted out through clenched teeth. It was bizarre to be on eye-level with Peter, to be able to look into the eyes of a being just like himself. "It changes the soul mate of the person who touched it into the perfect mate for 'em. Since I touched it -- because you're a childish dick, fucking throwing it at me -- you got changed to be like me. And it's permanent."
"Am I at least cute as a raccoon? Come on, I bet I'm hot, right? Did you at least get a hot raccoon soul mate?" Peter stood up, spreading his arms out before him and taking stock of his new self. He rubbed his forepaws together, seeming fascinated by the sensation, and then felt his ears, giggling a little. "I'm fuzzy! Admit it, I'm frickin' adorable now."
"You're a moron. I have a moron for a soul mate," Rocket said despairingly.
Peter Quill was adorable as a raccoon, because of course he was -- the Unity of Souls stone had crafted him especially for Rocket, how could he not be? Muscular and compact and covered with beautiful soft-looking ginger fur, red-brown eyes dancing and bright and a muzzle that seemed to smile wickedly even when his face was at rest. Rocket was drawn to him immediately -- not just to the novelty of someone like himself, but to the man inside, because no one in Peter Quill's orbit ever escaped falling in love with him just a little. And Rocket had just doomed him, trapped him, in a freakish body just like his own. How could Peter ever forgive him?
Peter sauntered over to Rocket, sizing him up, and Rocket felt a sense of forboding coming over him as Peter checked him out, comparing his new self to Rocket. Peter was now his equal in height and build, with a reddish-blond pelt and a dark-red bandit mask, with his ears, muzzle, and brows painted with white. He stood erect on his hind legs, as Rocket did, and when Peter turned around -- oh my fuck, he's chasing his tail, Rocket thought with horror -- Rocket saw that he had the same implants and scars on his back as Rocket did. As Peter spun back to face him, Rocket caught the gleam of the reinforcing struts on Peter's collarbones and hipbones, forcing his spine and limbs into a bipedal stance. He would be Rocket's equal in strength, endurance, and intelligence, as well, if he shared the same cybernetic and genetic enhancements.
"Check it out! I have an awesome tail! This is so cool!" Peter said joyously, turning in place with his head craned back over his shoulder as he tried to look at his own blonde-and-dark-red-striped tail.
Maybe not the intelligence, Rocket thought.
"So let me make sure that I am understanding this correctly," Gamora said, pinching the bridge of her nose. "Peter touched a Unity of Souls stone with his bare hands --"
"No, I was wearing gloves," Peter chirped. "But then I threw it to Rocket, so he touched it with his bare hands. I guess if I'd touched it with my bare hands, Rocket would have become human." Everyone in the room, Rocket included, shuddered briefly at this notion. "That would have been kind of fucked up," Peter said, less cheerfully. "But now I'm a raccoon, and it's awesome. I have a tail, guys!" he finished, perking up again.
"So you became a raccoon because Rocket is your soul mate?" Drax asked.
"Yes, because my life is garbage," Rocket said.
"Hey, do we really eat garbage or is that just, like, a metaphor for eating anything we can find?" Peter asked, pausing in his climb up to the top of the food storage unit.
Drax opened his mouth to ask, and Rocket cut him off. "Have you ever seen me eat actual garbage, Quill?"
"No, but I've seen you eat some really questionable shit."
"Iron stomach. Nothin's inedible when you're me."
"And me, now! That's kinda cool. Gross, but cool. Hey, why don't you climb stuff all the time, man, this is neat!" Peter made a nimble leap up to the ceiling supports and shimmied across, hanging by his hands and feet. "My feet are all grippy! Awesome, I'm like a furry Spider-Man!"
"Quill, you do know you're naked right now, right?" Rocket asked.
"I am? Oh, right, I am." Peter dropped to the floor and scurried into the stairwell doorway, peeking around the door frame with his furry little ears back in embarrassment. "Uh, Rocket, can I borrow some clothes?"
Rocket wished, as he had many times in his life, that there was a manual for being what he was. It would make life a lot simpler. For example, right this second, he could throw the manual at Peter, hopefully hitting him square in his gorgeous, fuzzy face, and be spared from having to have this discussion.
"So I have a bone for a dick?" Peter was asking, whiskers shivering with supressed hilarity.
"No, you have a bone in your dick. Can we stop talking about this?"
"You're saying I have a constant boner, right? I've got a perma-boner!" Peter was snorting, ten-year-old-telling-a-dirty-joke giggles bubbling out, clutching his belly and rolling over onto the bunk.
"I totally do! Hey, I hadn't really checked it out before I got dressed --" Peter was sitting up and unzipping his borrowed jumpsuit and Rocket jumped up from his seat on the bunk and headed for the door. "Wait, where's my dick? Whoa! It like, comes out of a sheath, that's so weird --" Rocket made his escape and slammed the door behind him. He heard faint, muffled, hysterical laughter from behind the sealing airlock that ended on a surprised, happy moan. "This is awesome!"
Gamora passed by in the corridor, and Rocket jumped away from Peter's door as if he'd been caught doing something filthy.
"Is he handling it all right?" Gamora asked, concern in her eyes. Rocket understood that she and Drax were worried about Peter, but he felt that their concern was woefully misplaced. He was the real victim here -- Peter seemed to be having the time of his life while simultaneously ruining Rocket's.
"Uh, he's fine." Gamora continued on down the hallway, and after a moment's thought, Rocket called after her, "If Quill offers to show you something, say no."
"Just say no," Rocket said firmly.
Peter's door was wrenched open and Peter himself stuck his fluffy red-blonde head out into the hallway. "Hey, Gamora, wanna see --"
"NO." Rocket and Gamora said, in unison.
Peter shrugged and shut the door. "Your loss."
"Come on, Rocket, please?"
"No, you're ridiculous, what you're asking is ridiculous, and you look ridiculous already, I am not helping you add fucking jet boots to this fucking get-up!"
Peter stood next to Rocket's workspace, where Rocket was already modifying Peter's guns for his new, much smaller hands. He was wearing a Ravager's coat, tailored for his new frame, and Rocket could see the earpiece of his newly-fabricated Star-Lord helmet clipped over one ear. He hadn't seen it in action yet, since Peter had just received the latest version, and he could only envision Peter's perkily-standing, furry ears poking out of the top of it. Adding goddamn jet boots to that image was not going to make it any less dumb.
Peter's ears were down and to the side in sadness, his tail drooping -- of course Peter had the coat tailored with a hole for his tail, because he was exceedingly vain about it and didn't want it to get crushed out of shape under the coat -- and his whiskers hung miserably down. Rocket wanted to hit something. Not only because seeing Peter looking like that made him feel stingingly guilty, but because he himself had never realized the awesome power of looking like a sad furry orphan, and had never exploited it for his own gain.
Peter was still looking at him, his dark red-brown eyes shining with something that looked suspiciously like tears. Rocket was so angry. Because Peter Quill was fucking killing him, here. He had been ignoring how this soul bond bullshit made him feel for a week now. It had been easy to keep Peter distracted -- all you had to do, when he started acting affectionate and/or expressed interest in trying out his new perma-boner with Rocket, was point out some new cool aspect of being whatever-they-were and he would take the bait and at least stop asking Rocket if he wanted to try making out. Just to see how it felt. Which the soul bond thought was an excellent idea, and prompted Rocket to imagine in deeply inappropriate detail. Frequently. And Peter making those eyes at him was pushing all the "make your soul mate happy again" buttons. Which led to inappropriately-detailed imaginings of ways to make his soul mate happy. Over and over.
And Peter was always hanging around him, fueling those imaginings. Rocket supposed that was for the best, since according to the information that he had attempted to pass on to Peter, who had been an immature dick and complained about homework assignments and who had obviously not read a goddamn thing -- Rocket and Peter would never be able to be apart, or risk sickness and even death. That would not be a problem, since Peter was stuck to his side at all times and insisted on sleeping in his and Groot's bunk with them, curled up in Groot's branches as close to Rocket as he would allow him to get.
Which was why it was not nearly so easy to keep himself distracted. He may not have known what he really was, but he knew how his body worked. He supposed that he would, in the wild, have had some kind of mammalian mating cycle. However, spending so much time ship-side, and so little time planet-side in natural light, disrupted whatever natural cycle of heats he might have had, and left him constantly, maddeningly horny. Adding a now-overwhelming attraction to Peter Quill, currently embodied in a form that the fucking soul stone thingie had crafted to be almost narcissistically attractive to Rocket, was more than Rocket could stand, especially when Peter's mere presence was an unending temptation.
There had never been anyone like him, anywhere he had ever been, and Peter was fascinating to watch, to be near. Peter was just like him, now, and the idea was weirdly hot. He'd always tried to keep his mind off of sex, because it just didn't seem to be an option for him. He was vaguely attracted to certain humans -- Peter having been one of them -- but there was something missing, something not right. He satisfied his constant low-grade hunger for mating with masturbation -- and wasn't that a waste of an hour or more, every single time? Now that Peter was like him, he wanted to explore that body so like his own, find out if Peter liked the same things he did. The idea of having sex with his mirror-image soul mate was profoundly erotic.
It was also deeply upsetting.
Rocket hated what he was, and hated that being what he was had changed Peter. He hadn't meant for it to happen, but it had, and now Peter was stuck like this. Like him. He kept waiting for Peter to finally show how much he hated his new body, his new self, and it kept not happening. He kept waiting for Peter to blow up at him, finally unleashing a week of pent-up anger and blame, and Peter kept doing things like making a game of dropping down on Gamora and Drax from the ceiling beams and calling it "combat training," or getting himself confined to his quarters for a day because he wouldn't stop making boner jokes, or asking Rocket to make him little tiny jet boots for his fucking stupid Star-Lord costume. He never seemed less than thrilled to wake up every day as his new furry self, and it ate away at Rocket's nerves, waiting for him to explode.
He sighed and put down the gun he'd been working on. "If I help you, and I can't believe I'm saying this, jeez, make little tiny jet boots for your fucking stupid costume, will you stop looking at me that way?"
Oh fuck, no, Peter had just twigged to the power of the sad look. Rocket knew it, because Peter kept that stupidly guilt-inducing look on his face, as if Rocket had destroyed his entire world, and said, "Maybe."
"What do you want, Quill?" Rocket snarled, infuriated that he was being manipulated like this but powerless to stop it. Because his life was garbage. And not even good garbage.
"Cuddle with me?" Peter asked sadly. His eyes twinkled and a predatory grin was peeking through the pathos.
"Why?" Rocket asked, just out of pure curiosity. He felt he deserved to know why he would be throwing all his promises to himself -- promises that he would not take advantage of Peter in this horrible new state he was in, a state that was entirely Rocket's own fault -- right out the airlock in about five minutes, if Peter kept looking at him like he was now. Because the look on Peter's new face was less "sad, hungry orphan in the snow" now and more "dirtily speculative leering."
"Because you're hot. And furry. And so am I, ditto. And I kind of want to know what all your fur feels like up against mine, as soon as possible."
Rocket gaped at him. "Doesn't any of this bother you? At all? Don't you hate me for doing this to you? I ruined your entire life! I made you a freak!" Rocket burst out, desperate for Peter to come clean with him, finally. At least now the waiting would be over, he would finally know just how much Peter hated him, and they could get on with being soul mates, locked together in hate for as long as they lived.
"What?" Peter asked, looking honestly confused. "Do you think I'm upset or something?"
"Why aren't you? You're a little animal freak now, like me. I wouldn't wish this on anybody," Rocket said.
Peter laughed, actually laughed, and cut a twirl in his fucking stupid Ravager coat. "Is that what's wrong with you? Look, I got an awesome tail and a cute could-be-boyfriend out of this. I'm okay, Rocket. If you think this is the weirdest or the worst thing that's ever happened to me, wow, are you wrong. I was raised by feral space pirates. I helped save the galaxy with disco-dancing. I don't know if you've been paying attention, but my life is generally ridiculous, and I'm okay with that. So what if I'm three feet tall and furry -- I'm still hot." Peter dropped his arms after completing another supermodel turn, smiling at Rocket fondly.
"I mean, I once dated a guy who was composed entirely of purple smoke and tentacles made of pure night and when he wasn't talking you could hear priests chanting in a dead language," Peter continued. "And he always spoke in italics. He took me home to meet his parents," Peter said, looking distracted and mildly disturbed for a moment, as if reviewing an upsetting memory that he had done his best to make peace with. "After that dinner, nothing else can ever be weird again. Turning into a raccoon is pretty normal for me, comparatively speaking."
He brightened, smiling at Rocket again, and this time it was the same warm, filthily-inviting come-on grin that the human Peter Quill had often worn, sitting just as easily on his new features. "Anyway, I was attracted to you before. When I was human. I never said anything because you always talked about how humies were disgusting, so I didn't think I had a chance."
Rocket gaped at him again. "Excuse me?"
"I was into you, man. I thought you'd shoot me if I asked if you were interested. I can't figure out why you keep turning me down, now -- I figured that if I looked like you, you wouldn't be turned off by me anymore. I like you, a lot, and I wish you liked me. In a romantical kind of way."
"I have no idea what's happening," Rocket said after a moment of bemused, confused silence, and stood up, grabbing Peter's hand and towing him along behind him to the stairs. "But I'm gonna operate on the assumption that this is actual reality, and that you meant all that."
"Does this mean we're gonna bone?" Peter said with a snickering laugh. Rocket realized now why his own snicker tended to make angry people even angrier, which had always confused him. It was a fucking annoying sound, to be honest.
"If I fuck you senseless will you shut up with the boner jokes?" Rocket asked grimly, dragging Peter into his own quarters.
"Probably not, but I'm willing to try if you are," Peter said, shrugging out of his Ravager coat and unzipping his jumpsuit with immodest haste. Before Rocket had even started getting undressed, he had an armful of warm, silky-furred, naked Peter rubbing up against him, taking charge of getting Rocket naked himself. Peter nuzzled his nose against Rocket's, and then licked his way between Rocket's lips, tangling their tongues together. He pulled back and grinned. "Okay, mouth kissing is not really possible, but french kissing just became an entirely new thing," he said.
"I still have no idea what's happening," Rocket said. "What's french kissing?"
"Fun," Peter said with a leer, and dived back in to slip his tongue into Rocket's mouth again, before thinking better of it. "Wait, how much experience have you actually had? Am I defiling a virgin here?"
"Do you remember, at the Kyln, when I said, 'Ain't no thing like me, 'cept me'?" Rocket asked, and Peter nodded. "There's my dating pool."
"Oh," Peter said. "But you said you were gonna fuck me senseless, I clearly remember that. I was very interested in that."
"I know how everything works in theory, Quill, okay?"
"Well, I can give you pointers on the fine art of fucking the shit out of me, if you give me some tips on how to handle one of these," Peter said, unzipping Rocket's jumpsuit all the way down and reaching in to grope his cock, pushed up out of its sheath and damp with pre-cum at the tip. Rocket almost jumped out of his pelt at the sensation of a small, rough, warm hand that was not his own, stroking up and down his shaft.
"I think you're doing just fine," Rocket choked out, grabbing Peter by the shoulders and pulling him back toward the bunk before his knees gave way on him. Peter took advantage of his unsteadiness to spill Rocket onto his back on the mattress in order to yank his jumpsuit all the way off, and then climbed up onto the bed and straddled his hips. Slotting both of their unsheathed cocks side by side, Peter leaned down over Rocket to show him some more of what he'd called french kissing, which Rocket was quickly becoming a fan of.
"Think we can figure it out as we go along?" Peter asked, nose to nose with Rocket. He rubbed his cheeks against Rocket's face firmly, following an instinctual need to mark and claim with his scent, and Rocket found it incredibly hot. He started thinking about all of the other unique-to-them-and-them-alone things they could and would do, and flipped Peter over on the bunk, pinning him underneath him and dragging their cocks together.
"Yeah, if you show me where this goes," Rocket said, punctuating his words with a grind. Peter's grin was happily feral as he began explaining what he wanted and needed Rocket to do.
"If you tell one more boner joke, I'm never gonna do the thing where I hook my dick under your pubic bone again," Rocket said smugly, feeling his fur drying stickily in clumps, happier than he'd ever been in his life. The soul bond was finally satisfied, and so were he and Peter.
"That's completely unfair," Peter said, trying to catch his breath again. Rocket had neglected to mention that coitus for his kind -- and Rocket hadn't known himself, because the only thing he'd ever fucked was his own hand -- was slow, intense, with lingering minutes-long thrusts and quick withdrawls, and lasted upwards of an hour. Peter was exhausted, in the best possible way, and honestly, he'd liked the "penis bone hook" thing enough to make him seriously consider excising the word boner from his vocabulary entirely. Except...
"If you were to be that mean to me, I might just forget how to wrap my tongue all the way around your dick -- what was it? -- four or five times."
Rocket was silent for a moment. "You're an asshole."
"Oh yeah, there was that thing with my tongue there, too, huh? It would be a shame if I never made you scream like a little girl again."
"Fine, keep telling boner jokes until Gamora stabs you in the face, whatever." Rocket was silent for a while longer, and then asked in a soft voice: "You think it's always gonna be like this? That we're really soul mates?"
"Yeah," Peter said. "I do."
And they lived happily ever after, charging into missions and bar brawls, each of them astride one of Groot's shoulders, blasting away with the biggest guns their small bodies could carry, and loved each other well.