Summary: Rocket has been looking to Thor for guidance, but ever since they reached New Asgard, he hasn’t found any.
Notes: Broke my vow to not write any fanfiction until the novel was finished, then forgot to post the promise-breaker here. Hoo boy has it been a long time since I wrote any fanfiction, guess it was fair enough to cheat so I could get this out. It’s a one-shot, missing scene type of thing. Enjoy.
It was quiet on the shoreline, in spite of the waves constantly lapping against the rocks, the boats creaking at the nearby dock, and the seabirds crying out over nothing. Or maybe it wasn’t nothing. Half of them were gone, too, and who was to say that the survivors didn’t miss their flockmates?
But the grief of the human and Asgardian survivors made little sound, even for Rocket’s sensitive ears. Most were probably in shock, a stillness freshly renewed by the discovery that the state of the world -- of all the worlds -- was permanent. Rocket had seen the empty Gauntlet, had watched hope die with Thanos.
Everyone had been asking each other, What do we do now? Finally, there was an answer: It doesn’t matter.
Rocket walked out to the end of the narrow wooden dock, shifting the basket he held to one hand so he could wrap another loop of his scarf around his neck, a ward against the sudden stabs of wind. He had cut the red cloth from a piece of the pointlessly long one that Quill used to wear, and it still smelled like him. When the scent faded, he could cut another, but eventually it would be gone altogether.
Thor was sitting at the edge, elbows on his knees, gazing out. It was the same pose he had been holding there for hours, and he had spent the day before in the same place doing the same thing, and the day before that. The word was that he had gone into one of the huts to sleep, once or twice, but Rocket hadn’t witnessed that himself. He had been busy helping the Asgardians set up their new home, learning what he could about Terra, and sharing whatever information about the rest of the universe that he thought the poor fools could use.
“You want food?” Rocket asked the god’s turned back, knowing that he had heard him approach even if he hadn’t chosen to acknowledge it.
Thor inclined his head with a soft smile. “Thank you, Rabbit.”
Someday, Rocket might just have to tell him that Rabbit wasn’t his name. But not today. He sat down, setting the basket between them, and began doling out lunch. It was mostly smoked fish, with some crusty bread baked fresh that day, and it was good, and there was plenty. There would always be plenty, from now on.
“The people of this land once worshipped my family,” Thor remarked after he had taken a few bites. “Their beliefs have changed, but they welcomed us nonetheless.”
“Yeah?” Rocket tossed a crumb into the water and watched as a fish surfaced to claim it. “Far as I can tell, they woulda skinned my family and made ‘em into hats.” He shrugged. “But they welcomed me too.”
Of course. It wasn’t even about gratitude; it was just an inevitability. They had homes to fill, work to be done, no reason to reject anyone.
But Rocket hadn’t been seeking a home here. He had simply been following Thor, faithful to the mighty friend who carried a part of Groot, certain that if there was any future for any of them, it would be with him. Four and a half years of being a Guardian of the Galaxy had rendered Rocket incapable of living for himself alone. He needed to give a shit, and he needed someone to do it with him.
Since arriving at New Asgard, he had waited for Thor to tell him that they had a new purpose and it was time to move on. Yesterday he had even asked him, point blank, what he was going to do now.
Thor’s answer had been just as direct: “It doesn’t matter.”
The fish was gone from the basket, and Rocket busied himself grooming his face and hands while Thor did nothing at all. In another hour or so, there would be a sunset to watch, and Thor would watch it without needing to move an inch. Rocket could have watched it too, but he had promised the Valkyrie chick that he would report to her after lunch. There was nothing to report, and she would want to know it.
“Thor,” said Rocket with a quaver in his voice, “I can’t stay here.”
For once, Thor turned toward him to respond. “There will always be a place for you in my house, Rabbit, but they will give you one of your own if you wish it. Perhaps Korg and I are not the roommates you would choose.”
Rocket shook his head. “I gotta...I gotta call Nebula, have her pick me up. She ain’t doin’ much either, but...” But she’s trying, he almost said, but that was a truth that he didn’t want to explore with the god who wasn’t trying at all.
“So be it,” Thor answered, with no hint of anger or bitterness or even surprise. “I will miss you.”
“I already miss you,” Rocket countered, knowing that any argument he put up was already defeated, but needing to stir up some kind of emotion before he left. “Feels like nobody’s seen you since Wakanda.”
One blue eye and one brown fake looked down on him with boundless pity. “I’m sorry.”
Rocket swallowed a lump in his throat. “Look, you gonna be okay or not? ‘Cause I can’t just -- ah, shit, man, don’t answer that. I gotta go. You get it, right?”
“Yes. I get it.” Thor laid a hand on his head, heavy and comforting, and Rocket knew he would never be able to make himself slip out from under that last gentle touch.
Thor must have known it too, for he left it there only a minute. Rocket was released. It was time to find a purpose.