At first Cocky didn’t believe Rocket at all. His hand still clutched the knife, all his muscles ready to spring.
But Rocket just kept drinking his beer and both his hands were in Cocky’s field of vision. The huge gun Rocket had brought in was under the table, but the raccoonish mercenary would have a knife embedded in his face long before he could even reach for it. For a couple of seconds Cocky actually considered a preemptive strike, but then he remembered Groot. Even if he managed to take Rocket out, Groot would be a problem. And Rocket seemed sincere enough.
A heavy knot untied inside Cocky and he let the knife go. He reached for his beer with a trembling hand and emptied it.
“Can’t blame you for being paranoid,” Rocket said, sympathetically. “But for what it’s worth, not a lot of people would even consider hunting you down for the reward. For starters, it’d be a tough job, and even if successful, it would make a lot of people angry. Besides,” he shrugged, “no one likes the Khail. They’re jerks and they have no honor. General opinion is that they would probably kill the merc so they wouldn’t have to pay the reward.”
“That is true, but you never know,” Cocky said hoarsely, trying to put his racing heart at ease. “In any case, thank you for not considering it an option. I’d have to kill you or die in the process. No offense.”
Rocket shrugged. “Cornering a desperate man is never wise. I had something else in mind. Something you can actually help me with.”
Cocky raised his ears. “And what would that be?”
“Word on the street is that your last job landed you a sweet bonus. If what I’m hearing is true, they gave you a Gun. Well, one for each of your team. If I’m not mistaken, that means at least three of them. One for your girl, one for your pilot, and one for you.”
Cocky considered lying, but then immediately discarded it. Rocket seemed to know too much, anyway. “There ARE three of us. And yes, we got some Guns.”
Rocket’s eyes sparkled. “Oh, man. I’ve heard a lot about them. Is it true you can blow up a small planetoid with it?”
“There is a reason they’re illegal, Rocket,” Cocky said, dancing around the question.
“I know, I know. Listen, Cocky. I need to borrow yours. For a job. I’d return it, of course, I have no intention to steal it. I know it’s a lot to ask, but do me a solid on this. I give you my word.” Rocket’s enthusiasm was off the charts. “Your team still has two additional Guns, and there’s not a lot of jobs you can land while in this can, anyway. You’ll barely miss it.”
“Eeeeh…” Cocky smiled apologetically. “I don’t actually have it, Rocket.”
“I… uh, I gave it away. To someone. On Earth.”
Rocket blinked. Amazingly enough, he seemed offended.
“You had a Gun. You gave it away.”
“She must have been amazingly hot.”
For a second, Cocky had no idea what Rocket was talking about. Finally, he said. “She who? No, I gave it to a guy named Max.”
Rocket just raised his eyebrow and Cocky felt all the blood rushing to his face. “No, no no no. It wasn’t like that. I actually hated the guy.” Oh gods, Cocky did not want to talk about Max at all.
“You gave your Gun to a guy you hated,” Rocket stated, deadpan.
“It’s a very complicated story, okay?? But you only need to know this. I probably saved Earth by doing so.”
“Yeah. Okay.” At least, apparently, Rocket was not interested in hearing that story. “But you’re going to let me borrow another one of your Guns, right? Look, I wouldn’t ask if I wasn’t desperate.”
Rocked did sound desperate. Suddenly Cocky was angry. He didn’t really know if Rocket had scared him about the bounty on his head as a way to leverage or even vaguely threaten him. In any case, he had suddenly felt terrified and vulnerable, and that was a very good way to make him furious. His voice got cold.
“But they’re not MY Guns, man. You’d have to ask them.”
“Oh, c’mon.” Rocket seemed annoyed. “You’re the captain of this ship and leader of your team. You can simply give them the order…”
Cocky smiled. “I’m not Captain OR the leader. Desiree is. You know, the woman you so crudely tried to hit on a while ago. Good luck with THAT.”
Rocket’s tone got louder and that did an amazing job making Cocky even angrier than before.
“Are you telling me that after commanding entire FLEETS you’re here in this sorry bucket taking orders from a chick???”
Cocky had to remind himself to let go of the empty beer bottle before it shattered into a million pieces.
“It’s a very welcome change of pace,” he said, softly. “And she’s very good at what she does. Last I looked, her team got three Guns and your team has none.”
Rocket snarled and Cocky knew he had made a mistake