Valentine's Day, Guardians Style
Roleplaying Log: Valentine's Day, Guardians Style
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Peter Quill and Kitty enjoy a quiet evening ou- eh, who're we kidding. Kitty's guest leaves unannounced so the rest of the Guardians do the responsible thing and interrupt date night.

Other Characters Referenced: Doug
IC Date: February 14, 2019
IC Location: Milano and Somewhere, Gotham City
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 21 Feb 2019 06:49
Rating & Warnings: PG-13
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

February 14th, also known as Valentine's Day.

For some, it's a day of red roses, romance, champagne and fancy dinners.

For others, it's a day to ignore entirely.

For Kitty and Peter Quill, it seems that it is a day for Mexican food. For a moment, Kitty worried he was steering her toward a Taco Bell, however - either that was a decoy or at the last moment Peter realized what a bad idea that was.

Now, though, they're seated at a nice table in the corner. Food is ordered, wine is on the table and Kitty is dressed up for the occasion. While she loves the Guardians, it's also nice to take a night away from explosions and goats and shoutings for battle. Especially with her worry over recent events and impending registration, a night off is exactly what she's needed.

***

The world may never know which it was or wasn't in the grand schemes of one Peter Quill. Clever fake out or sudden epiphany. He isn't going to tell. Possibly because he doesn't even know either. He mind works in strange ways after all.

Don't try to figure it out you'll hurt yourself.

However the Leader of the Guardians. The man known far and wide as Star-lord. Who strikes fear into the hearts of evil do'ers across the cosmos(mostly because they know the Guardians shoot first) seems…slightly out of his depth. Ok. Entirely out of his depth. If there was one thing that growing up with a bunch of Space Pirates didn't teach him its how to take someone on a nice date. I mean to a bar? Sure! Barfight? Great! Fight club? Yeah game on!

…decent Mexican restaurant in the middle of the city? …not so much.

He's trying though. Even…with some reluctance…got his favorite Ravager coat cleaned for the occasion. He looks mildly presentable. Just…awkward.

"…I feel naked without my guns." He mutters out loud as he peers at the menu. OH GOD WHAT DOES EL TACO MEAN?!

But at least Kitty looks happy. So that is on the plus side as he peers towards the woman with a smirk. "Well. Here is to a quiet night though. Right?"

***

Rocket knows when the real important part of this whole Valentines thing is. It's the day after, when all the candy goes on sale because apparently Terrans believe that heart-shaped, pink and red crap is instantly passé after the fourteenth, as though all the chocolate under the fancy wrappers instantly expire one day after.

So tonight is really no different from any other night, and Rocket currently spends it sprawled in his pilot's seat aboard the Milano, fiddling with one of his many devices, this one of which he has hooked up to some other gizmo or another, the first held between his feet and the other in hands as his clawed fingers delicately adjust knobs and switches as he eyeballs the readouts displayed just above it.

His ears perk first when the light comes on, a small blinky red light on one of the overheads, and he glances over before scowling as he reaches out to pull up a holoscreen bringing up various views of the Milano's interior. Movement in one particular window brings a toothy grin across his face.

"Hey, looks like we got a runner."

***

Aside from the usual humming the Milano tends to give off, the soft beep-boop-bipping and tapping of controls is out of sync with what the consoles display. In fact, it all comes from behind Rocket, with Groot parked in his claimed seat messing with his handheld video game and one leg hooked over the side as he slumps against the lower portion of the backrest. Non-Valentine-related snacks are everywhere, piled about the narrow floor space where they can easily be reached.

A gnarled thumb taps a button aggressively, but those brown tree eyes take a break from the screen to look up from his virtual achievements.

Red light blinking. Rocket saying they got a runner. This is good. Teen interest good.

"I am Groot." He shifts, leaning forward to get a better view of what's being broadcast. He squints, then snorts a low, dry laugh, sounding a little incredulous as he continues to watch. "I am Groot?"

***

"-feast of Lupercalia. From February thirteenth to February fifteenth-"

Gamora dangles temporarily upside-down, paused mid-set in her inverted crunches. "Lupercalia? Something to do with wolves?"

The computerized voice, emanating from the tablet near her head, provides: "Perhaps. The etymology for the month-name of 'February' has fascinating connections, as the festival was later known as 'Februa,' meaning 'Purifications' or 'Purgings'-"

"Romantic," Gamora mutters dryly, picking up where she left off.

"-after the 'februum,' an instrument for that purpose."

"Lupercalia, computer…?"

"From February thirteenth to February fifteenth, drunk, naked men would sacrifice a goat and a dog, then whip women with the hides of the slain animals-"

Gamora stops again. Her face crumples. "Why?"

"It was believed to make the women fertile."

Pause. Eventually: "Why?"

There's a glimpse of movement beyond the bay door. Golden eyes leap that way. A moment later the intercom in the cockpit spits out Gamora's voice: "Did one of you just leave? Rocket may not wish to disembark. These humans may decide his hide looks virile."

***

Out in front of the MIlano, as Gamora and Rocket and Groot are talking and pondering their escapee, there is a scuffle of sorts. More like, a commotion. Atli Wodendottir does valiantly struggle with a goat, A Space Goat, which is being menaced by a very small dog, which the goat seems to want to eat.

"Foolish goat, the small animals of this world are not for eating!"

Of course they might not hear any of this as Atli wrestles with the goat across the lawn, the dog barks and charges in to bite at them both, before suddenly deciding to charge at something out of view of the cockpit.

Just moments later, BATTLEMASTER GORAX, SHARK-MAN AND LEADER OF CLAN JAU-SUM runs by, flailing at the tiny dog that has latched upon his great big dorsal fin. The enormous, twelve foot tall shark man scrambles and stumbles, a small rumble shaking the ground as he falls over, the goat slips free of Atli's grasp, and gives sudden chase to the (now retreating) dog.

None of them come close to noticing the escaped prisoner.

"Hel's Bells."

This from the mildly discombobulated Girl of Thunder as she rises, squints at the Milano, and begins making her way towards the aft hatch. Meanwhile, the Battlemaster stays put, sitting on the grass and staring at the nearest tree as if he wishes to bite it in half.

Because he does.

"ROCKET? GROOT? VERILY, SOMEONE OPEN THE DOOR!"

***

"It's not like a fight will break out in the middle of this restaurant. And if it does, I'm sure you know a way to subdue someone with a fork." It's not the sort of ruckus a gun would make, but Kitty has no doubt Peter will think of something. And she puts an emphasis on 'subdue' as she knows his and their companion's general way of handling things are much more lethal than Kitty is comfortable.

"This'll be a nice night. And, yes, hopefully a quiet one. What with everything going on that'd be nice. First registration, now Doug and Hydra…it's all a bit much." Of course, this is not knowing what is going on inside - and out - of the Milano at this very moment.

Taking a big sip of her wine, she gives him a smirk back. "Well, believe me, you don't look naked. In typical Terran Valentine's Day celebration, that's for later."

***

"Uh…yeah…um…subdue." A pause. "You know, there is a member of my team that just showed back up after a bit of a vacation that has some seriously different definitions of that word than most people."

If they have no limbs they are totally subdued though.

"Anyway! Yeah. So…that can be some other days problem right? Tonight we can relax! That's what this is all for right? That and because it is nearly impossible to get Mexican food past Alpha Centuari."

Why they have it that far out he has no idea.

Of course whatever train of thought was about to come to mind was entirely derailed by that smirk. Peter can't help returning the expression. "We just got drinks, but its not too late to just ask for the check…"

***

"I dunno. I mean, Kitty just asked if we could keep some guy aboard. Didn't say how long," Rocket shrugs at Groot, still watching the screen as Doug makes for the exit. "And hey, if he don't care to be on board, who's stopping him?" He sets his energy scanners down and taps at a few buttons to leave the nearest exits unlocked.

"What the hell're you talkin' about Gammy?" The question she poses and the words to follow just make absolutely no sense to him, and it shows on his face as he turns towards the comm. "Nah, that was Kitty's prisoner. Friend? I didn't fully get the memo." Or he wasn't paying attention, both of which are entirely possible.

More movement on yet another perspective of the views outside of the Milano draw his eye then. "What the," he mouths, pulling one of the images up and enlarging it. He sees the strange trio and …dog? And sighs. And then thumbs to Groot. Go open the door for Atli, will ya. Or she'll figure that it's open. Either way.

***

Those are good points. He may be full of adolescent attitude, but he accepts this answer just fine, eyes lidded as he nods. Meanwhile, one hand frees itself from the handheld, groping around the ground level for something to satiate his snack stomach.

"I am Groot," Groot echoes (sort of), his reply simultaneous with Rocket's despite his expression showing a subtle hint of confusion at Gamora's quick tip. Because he doesn't know and probably doesn't care about the difference in the use of terms. Kitty knows the guy, that's that.

As he draws up a bag of popcorn, Groot meets the raccoonoid's gaze, pausing for a second before rolling his eyes. He groans, but he drags himself up and off of the seat, making a sauntering beeline for the hatch door. The last thing they need is more damage to the ship.

With a hiss, a clunk, and additional heavy creaking, the back opens up for the Asgardian. Groot frowns at her, his popcorn bag-laden hand still attached to the handle. "I am Groot."

***

Didn't say how long.

Gamora's crunches stop again. She twists her head to look toward the bay doors, and after a moment of internal debate sighs, reaching overhead to plant her palms on the floor and unhook her legs from over the bar she's been dangling from, righting herself with the usual gymnastic grace. She's sighing before she's even entirely upright, pulling her dark hair up into a tail behind her head with an impatience that suggests she's feeling inconvenienced. "D'ast. We should let Quill-human and this 'Kitty' know about his decision to leave."

Not, you know, 'chase after him,' which they could probably do with a reasonable expectation of success, because that sounds suspiciously like 'work.'

"Which means we should hurry, because the thought of interrupting Peter Quill at any of a number of traditions that I've learned are associated with this terran holiday makes me…" It's hard to interpret through the intercom the sound Gamora makes, somewhere at the back of her throat. After a beat, she finds her way to the finish of that sentence: "Makes me think we should hurry so that we don't."

She reaches out for her shirt and jacket, hanging up nearby, and pulls them on one after another, still threading her arms through the sleeves when she stalks out into the corridor and stops at the sight of Groot and Atli. She takes that in with a lack of expression, and then chirps the cockpit again: "Rocket. The rest of us are at the gangway and ready to go."

Which may be news to everyone else involved, but that's Gamora, for you.

***

"Yes, that was the whole point, Groot, but we were set upon by a maniacal beast of some great prowess."

As recompense she offers a solitary grocery bag, filled with yet more bags of popcorn.

"I fear the other bags of lost, and I have failed you on this quest."

And then, behind Groot, there is the sudden appearance of someone unfamiliar. Atli lifts her head a bit from where she had leaned in to speak to Groot, brow furrowed as she takes in the sight of the still dressing Gamora, one hand lifting up to pointedly rub at her chin before she leans in briefly to whisper to Groot, who is sometimes green, about Gamora, who is always green.

"Groot.. is that your mother?"

As per usual, Atli doesn't really wait for an answer, stepping inside as Gamora states that they're all ready to go and the.. ramp begins to close behind them? Her brow furrows, but her smile beams, confusion in her every word.

"Hello Green Woman with the…" Atli makes a circular motion over her own abs. "Muscles and whatnot! Would you like some popped corn?"

Proudly, Atli displays the bag. Outside, Battlemaster Gorax contemplates his life decisions and continues to sit on the grass, arms flopped to his side, legs sprawled, waiting for the Asgardian to fulfill her promise.

To Fix Everything.

***

"What new member?" Kitty's head tilts. She hasn't met Gamora yet. "She can't be any worse than Rocket with his bombs. Or Groot. Or Atli with her spears and goats." Yup, she hasn't met Gamora yet.

"I imagine if you do, it's pretty cold and soggy. I doubt tortillas hold up well in light years." Grinning, she nods. "Yeah. It's basically an excuse to buy cards and flowers and stuff. I've never really done much for Valentine's Day, to be honest. It's nice, though! Here we are, out to dinner, having some time to ourselves without chasing people down or worrying about our lives."

Laughing, Kitty shakes her head. "We've still got a bit! Hold your horses."

***

"Be freeee~" Rocket waves at the screen as their guest finally moves out of sight. He drops back into his seat, toeing the screen to minimize it. He picks up his scanner, nose wrinkling as he still hasn't found a match for the readouts he'd picked up some weeks ago in Gotham, but he sets it aside in a bin full of mixed components and weapons in varying stages of development.

Gamora's suggestion is reasonable enough, he supposes. "Fine," he says, as though even doing that duty is going to be a great pain. Oh wait, aren't they on a date? No, no, this'll be fun then. He's not sure what all Gamora's been learning about these Terran holidays when his own ideas are so much simpler.

Screens swept aside with a hand, Rocket pulls up an open communication with Peter. He'll have his comm on, right?

"Paging Peter Quill. We have a…eh, I hesitate to call it a 'situation' so much as an update on our prisoner. -or was it guest? I'm guessing guest, considering we fed him." There's a pause as he looks back as though to ask someone before realizing he's the only one up in the cockpit. "Anyway. Just lettin' you know- lessee here," he mutters more quietly as he diverts his attention to another monitor. "Okay people, you all set back there then? The shark guy ain't comin'? Good, I don't think there's room for him anyway. Here we go…"

With the ease of one who can probably fly the ship in his sleep, Rocket flicks switches and tugs on levers before grasping the flight yoke to ease the ship into the skies.

***

As the ship lifts off, somewhere below, there is the sound of a small dog yapping as it runs from an angry goat.

Then the sound of a angry goat smashing sidelong into a forlorn shark-man.

***

There they are, the beautiful bags of popcorn the tree has been waiting for. Groot receives what Atli offers with an aloof expression, nodding slowly as he examines the bag's contents. "I am Groot…"

A visible pause comes into play moments after Gamora reaches the gangway, his brow furrowing at the Asgardian's innocent question about their relation. One look Atli's way, then to Gamora, and then back at Atli. And there is just so much headshaking. So. Much of it. Enough to force him to try leaving the situation before any other strange implications are made. "I am Groot…!"

***

"…uhhhh…well…Gamora is sorta unique. I mean she kinda earned the title 'Most Dangerous Woman in the Galaxy'. Lives up to it. I mean. She's fine. It'll be fine. As long as no one pisses her off. Or comments about her looks. Or asks her to put away her sword…" A longer pause. "…no it'll be fine. We can talk about this later. Yeah. Tonight is supposed to be about us! Like you said."

…good save Peter. Good save.

"Anyway…when you get me all thinking about later its hard to slow my ro—"

Paging Peter Quill

There is a wince as the com system that he always has attached to the little piece of tech behind his ear goes off in said ear. His head tilts just slightly. "Rocket.." He half whispers. "…what are you?" A pause as he listens. "I'm kinda busy here you kno— wait. Are you doing what I think…"

He pauses, glancing back towards Kitty as he clears his throat. "…ah yeah. Sorry. Left the com on…"

***

If Quill were here, he'd probably try to intervene in the wake of that question from Atli, since Groot is a teenager and therefore allergic to everything even the slightest bit awkward, and Gamora is…Gamora. But Quill is not here, and so, as Groot makes a bid for escape and the ship heaves itself up into the air, Gamora meets Atli's cheerful smile with a slow narrowing of the eyes. Very luckily for all parties involved, it's not the I'm going to cut your head off kind of eye-narrowing; more the I can't tell if you're serious or not sort.

She's still wearing that look when Atli hoists the bag. Still wearing it when she reaches out, dips her hand into the bag, and retrieves a bag of popcorn, and then turns wordlessly to make her way toward the cockpit, trailing the sound of crinkling plastic as she works to open the bag, because she doesn't know what the flark 'popcorn' is, or that you need to heat it up before you attempt to eat it.

***

As Green Woman accepts the offer Atli beams at her the most oblivious smile in the known universe, she suddenly considers the mission a complete success. Despite Groot's rather RUDE parting suggestion, her brow furrowing at the Treenager's outrage.

"Verily if this is because I did not get cheese flavored popped corn, know that I did, and it was eaten by the Goat. Take it up with him, wherever he is."

Scowling in the wake of such Grootish admonishment, she whispers. "Fool of a Goat."

But then she remembers! Green Woman! And Rocket! And possibly others!

Atli rushes to the cockpit, practically bursting into the space next to Green Woman. "Yes, hello again! We met just a few moments before, I was the one who gave you this wonderful Midgardian food. I am Atli Wodendottir of Asgard, and Guardian of the Galaxy. You see, I design all of our plans, which have a perfect success rate so far."

Well, perfectly successful at least thirteen percent of the time, anyway.

"Ah Fair Rocket, I see we are flying! Where is the Lord of Stars, and the Prideful Kat? I have important news to share with all of you."

***

"I don't know what yer talkin' about," Rocket says as he makes sure all hatches are secure with the tap of his toe as he keeps his hands securely on the ship's flight controls. "Anyway, Gam's the one that suggested we tell you. You might wanna tell Kitty, maybe. Or is this a bad time?"

The sound of crinkling that undoubtedly belongs to some Terran food of the snack variety has him glancing over his shoulder for the source. "Hey, what is that? Popcorn?" His eyes shift past Gamora towards Atli when she comes rushing into the cockpit area. "I want popcorn!" How's that for a greeting? "Oh, we're off to meet up with 'em. Quill and Kitty went to dinner and didn't invite us. How'dya like that?"

***

"I am Groot!" Groot yells from somewhere in the back, possibly doing some unsafe popcorn popping in the mess area. Because avoiding these situations is better than being in the same room with everyone else. The social ones, not the combative confrontational ones. Those he likes.

But if they're all going to crash Quill and Kitty's date, that kind of falls into the latter category. So he will frump at the popping popcorn until then.

***

"That's cause its supposed to be just us, Rocket!" Quill tries to be quiet. "Are you flying here? What do ya…" There is a glance at Kitty then. "…I..er…so…gimmee just a second. Rocket is doing something stupid." Yes he left the mic open for that. "Of course this is a bad time! What do you not understand about private dinners!"

Peter is trying to be nice here. Apologetic smiles at Kitty and all but still. THIS IS WHAT HE HAS TO DEAL WITH ALL THE TIME.

***

"Your face is stupid!" Rocket retorts out of reflex.

***

"I'm taking you to a vet to get put down after this!" Is Peter's very mature reply.

***

"I don't even know what that means!" Rocket growls.

***

Rocket declares his interest in Gamora's Terran junk food, and gets a sidelong warning look for the trouble. She has it open now, but of course it's not popped, and-

"Get your own!"

-is probably not going to encourage the trigger-happy mammal to tell her she shouldn't try to eat it in its current form.

Then again, once she pops one of the kernels into her mouth, the sound of dried corn losing a fight with her teeth, and not the other way around, might suggest that it'll work out just fine in the end, anyway. This was not the purpose for which mad titan Thanos reinforced her body, but…it'll do.

As she chews things that were never meant to be chewed, she turns a contemplative eye in Atli's direction, more assessing in light of the new information she's offered. "I've encountered some of your people," she says, eventually, and then lets her expression twist around an openly baffled look. She should probably be paying attention to the threats of euthanasia happening in the background, but she ignores it with the finesse of someone accustomed to ignoring everyone involved. "Why did you allow Peter Quill to bring you to Earth? There's nothing here for an Asgardian."

***

crunchCRUNCHcruncCRUNCH.

Atli's brows lift, slowly prowess of Gamora dawns on her, simply from watching her destroy that unpopped corn with her impossible, Titan-enhanced teeth. Her eyes go wide, and she dare not interfere with Gamora's enjoyment of the corn in it's natural form. Still the comment about Quill bringing her to Midgard brings forth a scoff, but one that does not quell her ever-smiling disposition. "Actually I was already here. You see, my Grandfather was meant to Guard over the Guardians or.. something like that. But since he's a fool and easily tricked, unlike me, they were able to-" She makes a little motion with her hand, cutting it through the air. "-slip away. And then Rocket and Groot and I saved the whole galaxy from the Were-Bilgesnipe, which was deed enough to be given the honor of joining the Guardians. So you see, they are…"

Her gaze shifts then, looking over Rocket, and then back, nearer to Groot. She unfolds her own uncooked bag of popcorn, and there is a small zap shock of electricity that sends the contents of the bag popOppOPOPoPOPPoing until Atli can offer up the COOKED version of popcorn, in all it's artificial, buttery delight. "..my family. As far of Midgard goes, I will admit…" Her gaze turns wistful, looking out upon some distant memory. "I too once thought it a primitive wasteland of fools not worth saving. But then…"

Her gaze returns to Gamora.

"I discovered the Land of Vegas, and how very beautiful, and also bendy the people of this world are. Verily, did you know there are also Firebirds here, and Magnet people with abs of steel? And, also, apparently Green Women with a gaze so fierce as t-"

That's about when Rocket is yelling at Quill, which interrupts her important thought.

"Also, have you tried the Midgardian invention known as Pizza? There is nothing like it in all of the Ten Realms. Verily, tell her Rocket."

***

As Peter starts to talk over the coms, Kitty tilts her head.

"What's going on?" Her brows knit. "Is this about Doug?"

Immediately, the mood has shifted at this conversation. Putting her wine glass down, she looks at him as he excuses himself to talk more on the channel "They're coming here?" She's both confused and worried. "Why are you threatening to put down Rocket?"

There's less annoyance that the Guardians are coming to rain on their date and more a worry that something has happened to her friend.

***

"It mean's your a—" And that is when Kitty interrupts before Peter can hotly insist that Rocket is a pet which would then cause Rocket to crash the Milano into the restaurant. He looks up towards her. "What? Doug? Is that the guys name? No…of course…not…" Sideglance at nothing. "…why would it be about…him…"

A long pause.

"Can we go back to talking about after dinner plans, I liked that conversation a lot better than this—is Gamora eating unpopped popcorn? How the hell can she do that?"

***

"-anyway..!" Rocket resumes as though he'd not been arguing with Peter a few seconds ago. "Not like it's my fault the guy decided to ditch us when he did, so sorry for being responsible in wanting to notify you!"

He grumbles, glaring a little in Gamora's direction when she refuses to share- not that he'd expected her to so much as get him a bag of his own. …okay, yeah, that idea was a little unrealistic too, he'll admit. Watching the Most Dangerous Woman in the Galaxy chomp down casually on popcorn kernels he shakes his head and looks to Atli. And then there's a proper popcorn explosion courtesy of their resident Asgardian. Rocket leans back in the seat, relinquishing the flight yoke to be commandeered by his feet as he reaches out to try snatching bits of popcorn that fly in his direction.

"Oh yeah, pizza. We've already tried introducing it to her," he says as he munches. There's no chance they wouldn't, being it's practically a staple, and Groot's default for food choice, most of the time.

Oh, Quill's still talking to him.

"I dunno, I didn't think it was worth askin'. You can ask her yourself, we're aaaaalmost there," Rocket replies as he settles back into his seat and brings the ship around, not far now from the location marked on them map shown on the monitor.

***

Adding to that new popcorn Milano smell, Groot returns to where Atli and Gamora are still conversing — somewhere between the latter eating the hard kernels as they are and a few seconds into the former's instant jiffy-popping, currently stuffing his own face with his personal bag of (now-slightly burnt) popcorn. And he just stares for another handful of seconds, thinking how convenient lightning is when its power is lightly abused. "…I am Groot."

He then shoves his way past the two women of varying degrees of strength, somehow surviving the ordeal as he nonchalantly offers Rocket some more popcorn that isn't flying through the air. Because as fun as it can be denying Rocket of food, the raccoonoid alien is piloting the ship.

A pilot with a short temper doesn't play when it comes to food. It is not wise to do the thing.

"I am Groot." He slips in a nasally comment for the pizza discussion, basically praising its nutrient-packed goodness in a not-so-sarcastic way, honest to goodness believe him.

***

Gamora listens attentively to Atli as she describes the trajectory that landed her in amongst the motley crew of the Guardians — her brow lifts, then quirks uncertainly, at the words 'were' and 'bilgesnipe' said together that way — and the wonders, such as they are, of Earth.

She watches just as attentively as Atli converts the bag of unimpressive kernels into something else entirely, and this seems to hold her attention more reliably than talk of firebirds or magnet people. It's not personal. Space is full of weird shit.

Her eyes tick toward the puffy bag, then toward her own. She exchanges the two bags in silence, plucks one of the fluffy white things from her new bag, and puts it into her mouth, gaze angled down. Two thoughtful chews later she offers Atli a single nod and a quiet, confidential, "This is better," as though the Asgardian weren't in full possession of that fact already. "Pizza is…fine," she says, the hitch in that delivery destined to go unexplained as this is the moment the ship begins to do something other than travel in a straight line, which means They're Here. "And I am Gam-"

Groot elbows his re-adolescent way through them at that moment, earning the day's second narrow-eyed look from Gamora. "…Gamora."

***

"Ah but you see, you're much more than Gamora. Just as Rocket is much more than Rocket, Groot is more more than Groot, Kitty is much more than Kitty, and Quill is something. You see," The bag leaves her hand, and she barely notices as she goes on. "No greater collection of heroes have I ever known, except perhaps my Grandfather, from the far future. My grandfather here is a fool. Also there is my Uncle Loki, who is sometimes my Aunt Loki, and can traverse the universe via the butter-ways." A vacant look overtakes Atli, and clearly she has lost her train of thought, but then it returns. Almost.

"What I'm trying to say is, if you are family to them, than I am to you, Gamora Fierce-Eyes, and together we will have such grand adventures, and quite possibly, a lot of drinking and revels, and perhaps if the Fates are on our side, survive to do it all again."

Groot moves by, and the Asgardian reaches down to pop the unpopped bag of corn that Gamora had handed her, frowning somewhat at the Treeling. "Yes, Pizza is… "

Incredulous, Atli thinks to argue on behalf of all pizza everywhere, but instead, it seems they have arrived. And at a restaurant. Staring down at her popcorn and then smiling over at the rest of the Guardians, she proclaims. "Verily, taco night begins. What a wonderful idea you had, Rocket, bringing us here to devour this feast hall's contents."

And then she turns to disembark.

JUST MOMENTS LATER.

TapTapTap.

Atli waves at Quill and Kitty through the window, her smile ear to ear, a bag of popcorn scrunched in one hand. "Hello Lord of Stars! What a wonderful happenstance that you and Kat-Woman are here waiting for us! Prepare yourself for taco night! I've brought Green Woman!"

***

THUMP

That would be the sound of Peter Quill's face hitting the table as Atli's voice calls out. Ruining any chance he had of salvaging this date.

THIS IS WHY HE GOES INTO SPACE FOR DATES! IF HE TAKES THE SHIP THEY CAN'T REACH HIM!

Now though the leader of the Guardians speaks again. Voice muffled by the table. "Yes. Yes they totally lost that Doug guy. No Rocket didn't shoot him. Yes they are coming. And yes. I am going to need someone a lot stronger than wine."

***

As if to answer Quill's plea, Atli's Everflowing Asgardian Flask rattles against the window in an almost taunting cadence.

***

Peter's head hits the table and Kitty blinks for a few moments. Yes, this is about Doug. Yes, the Milano is on their way here. There's a lot of things she needs to digest in not a lot of time.

In fact, before she is done wit it, Atli is tapping against the window and calling to them.

"Yes, I think our after dinner plans before this was much more fun, however this is the situation that we now find ourselves in. You lost Doug? He was in the Milano!! How do you lose him???"

***

Rocket is a very responsible pilot who would never accidentally crash anything because he happened to be steering with his feet instead of his hands. He's very good at what he does. People just may be a little judgmental about him touching things with his feet. He wears boots! …sometimes.

The offering of popcorn is not met without gratitude, Rocket helping himself to a handful when Groot holds a bag out to him. "Thanks," he remembers to say, even if around a big mouthful of white fluff. "Heh, now check this out. Didn't make sense to just add an upgrade to a back-up ship, after all." He brings up another screen and flicks through a few menus before hitting a button marked 'STEALTH'. There's no change to the interior, but externally the Milano virtually vanishes, a faint ripple in the atmosphere noticeable only for those knowing to look right for it.

It doesn't take long for the ship to be brought to its destination, and naturally Atli's the first one out. Rocket sets the ship right on the roof, or at least right above it. He's really not sure how structurally sound the place is, at least when it comes to being able to support a space ship, so he keeps it hovering.

"No, we didn't lose him. He walked out on his own! And he didn't even say g'bye, tryin' to be all sneaky about it." Beat. "Also, we're here. In case you didn't know already," he continues over the comms.

***

Two whole eye-narrows from Gamora? Noice. (Groot is definitely not keeping track of how many times he gets the stink eye from every Guardian, nope, not at all. Although Rocket and Quill are pretty up there.)

NOW that they're all there at the restaurant, the teenage ent half-listens to the comm talk, his interest steadily dwindling as he sits back in his seat to eat more popcorn. "I am Groot," he adds, loud enough so that Star-Lord can hear him on the other end, possibly grinning because the situation is amusing to him.

Yes, he is still thinking about those tacos. Maybe he'll join Atli on the ground soon if he ever decides to move his scrawny tree butt again.

***

Stealth on a starship is a great idea. Keeping a low profile — check. Keeping from having it stolen or defaced, especially in light of the fact that they're staying in Gotham — check.

Gamora, on the other hand, has no such technology at present. She's superb at keeping a low profile…when she has to. Otherwise, she's bad at it almost in the directly inverse proportion to which she's required to be good at it professionally. Here on Earth, she has the distinct disadvantage of being green. At least she's very unlikely to be stolen or defaced.

She's also marching for the door to join Atli, just in case Peter and Kitty's Valentine's Day date needed one more person to kick it to ensure that it is, for absolute certain, completely dead.

"Yes. The human left of his own accord. If you wish to retrieve him, this is your best opportunity. You'll have to save the festive whipping of your mate with dog and goat hides until later." Her expression as she says the words is blithe, lid-eyed and unconcerned, glancing down and sidelong at the slim gadget on her wrist that is almost, but not quite, a watch. It's difficult to say whether that's a joke, or she just didn't get far enough along in the wikipedia article to know that nobody does that anymore.

***

All of this of course, does not phase Atli. Someone escaped from the Milano, so it must be Tuesday, or one of the other ridiculous days that are not Thursday, and as Atli enters alongside Gamora, eating her popcorn the whole way and generally drawing attention from the staff, other guests, and at least one off duty Police Officer, she furrows her brow at Gamora's mention of (apparent) Earthly mating rituals.

"Verily if you need to borrow the Goat's hide, know that he will be fine on the morrow, after burying his bones. I may also know where we might find a dog hide… "

Crunch.

"Hmph. But Gamora is right, there is no time to waste. It is fortunate we are all here, on the eve of Quill-whipping, before things have gone too far. You see, it's about the Shark-People of Clan Jau-Sum." Popcorn tumbles from her bag. It's really getting everywhere.

"Battlemaster Gorax asks us, brave Guardians, to stand for his people and repay the debt of their blood, spent saving this world from demonic invaders, and most importantly gremlins. Perhaps even the Man-Spider, who has no doubt regenerated and gone back to his menacing ways. In any case, we must hurry, for whatever foul malady plagues his people and keeps them imperiled, it is not likely to leave them alive for long. Probably some sort of super-troll, or perhaps some fool Titan or Giant or some such."

The doors open behind them all, and all at once the people of the restaurant begin to scream and run. Because if the Guardians were drawing attention, the arrival of a massive, two ton Shark-man riding a goat (which looks far too tiny for him), is the straw that broke the camel's back. For his part, Battlemaster Gorax does nothing but sit on the goat, just inside the restaurant.

From inside his battle harness, there is a yapping.

A little dog pokes it's head out.

YapYapYap.

Atli beams and indicates the goat and dog with both, as if suddenly proving she absolutely could help Kitty and Peter with their whipping game!

"As you can see, the Battlemaster is quite ready to go."

***

"Well apparently he didn't want to be in the Milano! So he left…at least according to Rocket. Snuck out. I mean you just asked to give him a bunk right? We weren't supposed to tie him up or anything." The pilot replies as he slowly pulls his face up from the table. A pause. "…were we?"

Did he miss a memo. He was pretty sure it was 'Treat as Friend' and not 'Truss up like Enemy' but he has been known to miss things before on occasions.

Thrusting his hand in the pocket of his jacket though he pulls out a second subtle little earpiece com for Kitty to offer it towards her. "You can ask Rocket himself!"

But then things go from bad to worse as Gammy strolls in the front door.

"Well yeah, we'll have to go now if you want to fin—wait whipping what?" He turns towards the imposing woman. "I didn't…whipping…what are you talking about? This is a date! Not a fight club!"

Now. Of course. This being Gotham this isn't the first strange group of characters they have seen. The people of Gotham are a hardened lot. Used to seeing the strange, the odd, and the deadly. Which is of course why the first reaction to Gamora isn't pearls clutching shock but…

"Oh my god! It's Poison Ivy! SOMEONE CALL BATMAN!"
"What?! You're blind! She doesn't have near enough foliage to be Poison Ivy."
"Alright smart guy, who is it then?"
"Maybe Killer Croc has a sister?"
"THAT IS COMPLEATLY RIDICULOUS!"
"OH YEAH?!"
"YEAH!!!"

…the argument in the corner of the restaurant is now getting heated as to the actual name of Gamora.

"Well. Right. So…" Peter desperately trying to maintain some kind of control in a situation rapidly becoming hopeless he looks between Gamora and Kitty. "Kitty Pryde. This is Gamora, member of the Guardians, and most dangerous woman in the galaxy. Gamora this is Kitty Pryde. My girlfriend not my mate. She's cool."

He would say more but then not only Atli but a Goat and a Sharkman are wondering towards the table. "Oh my god does anyone understand low profile?! ANYONE!" Oh my god he has a headache. "Lets just…get on the ship and then you can explain about space trolls or ice gremlins or whatever!"

…and in the corner…

"LOOK NOW ITS KING SHARK!"
"KING SHARK HAS A HAMERHEAD FACE YOU IDJIT!"
"I'VE SEEN IT BOTH WAYS!"

…and now there is a fistfight.

***

Lounging back in his seat within the sane confines of the Milano, Rocket listens to the ongoing playing out below. Even without visuals it was kind of entertaining, if only because he can just imagine Peter's face in reaction to things.

"Beats me," he says, agreeing in a roundabout way with Peter in regards to the confusion. It's…probably unsurprising when it comes to the Guardians.

Gamora's been doing some real deep research apparently. Rocket's sniggering response grows into full out guffawing once Peter makes his protests, and Atli's input certainly doesn't help matters. "FESTIVE WHIPPING!! AHAHAHAA!! Flarkin' insane, you Terrans and your traditi—ack!"

There's a thud cutting off his words, a suggestion that he must have laughed himself right out of his seat, a heavy pause, and then the laughter continues.

***

"I hate you, rabbit." Oh my god could this night get worse is the question on Quill's mind.

…wait. No one answer that.

***

During the abrupt pause, Groot looks up. Seeing that Rocket is missing, he doesn't seem alarmed; when the raccoonoid continues laughing, he sighs, glancing down at the furry Guardian. "I am Groot."

It's here he decides to go out of the ship, taking the long way down by extending his limbs. Once he resizes his height, he lumbers (hah) in, indifferent to the chaos, sidling over to see if Quill and Kitty has a real meal on the table to pick at.

***

"Snuck out?" Kitty sits up straighter. "And they didn't stop him?"

She shakes her head and starts to stand and then looks out at the window where Atli is and then tries to find where the Milano is.

"We was there for protection! I was hoping he'd stay there to make sure Hydra couldn't attack him there." The fact that they would try to invade the Milano is hilarious to her.

The introductions are met with a bit of a confused smile. "Nice to meet you Gamora." There's little on the table, yet. They haven't yet ordered.
"Where did he go?" Doug, that is.

***

Gamora is, if anything, nonplussed at the chatter that percolates up in her wake, turning a furrow-browed look over her shoulder that doesn't seem sure as to how she ought to respond. Is she being insulted? Unclear. What's a Killer Croc? Why are they talking about her foliage? What does a bat have to do with poison ivy?

It's a moment of strangeness underscored by the awareness that Atli Wodensdottir is holding forth at great length — as Asgardians do — about something to do with shark people, and demons, and spider people…

And Titans.

That, at least, is enough to get her attention back from the unfolding argument behind her, which is fortunate, in light of the exchange that follows.

('NO IT'S CONDIMENT KING AND WHAT CONDIMENT WOULD SHE EVEN BE? PICKLES?' 'Pickles aren't a condiment! It's relish.')

She opens her mouth as though to say something about that…

And then all hell breaks loose, figuratively speaking. People in the restaurant are screaming; there's a — a thing, of some kind, in the lobby; Rocket Raccoon is about to hernia himself laughing across the little bit of technology in her ear; Peter Quill has a girlfriend…

Nothing makes sense, anymore.

She's weathering this profusion of nonsense steadily enough, but by the time she's looking at Kitty directly, her expression is equal parts mild annoyance and incredulity, though Kitty is clearly not responsible for either. "And you, Kitty. We're not sure. If you board the Milano we can begin to look for him." There's a pause. "Now, would be good."

***

"Yes, let us go. I'll gather the goat and the shark and the dog and several dozen tacos and be right along.

And this was how the Guardians of the Galaxy utterly failed to find New Doug, failed to observe a whipping Ritual, and failed to do Guard anything, really.

But oh, what adventure awaits them on the morrow.

***

As the fight breaks out, the shark man comes in, and Atli starts raiding the kitchen viking style…Peter sighs and stands. Giving Kitty a smirk he just gives her a shrug. "Happy Valentines day?" A pause. "Guardians of the Galaxy style."

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