The Avengers always knew when they hadn't seen Loki for a few weeks, in general he was planning something big, and they hadn't seen him for three months now.
“I'm predicting end of the world apocalypse stuff,” Tony said. “You know, old testament style hell on earth, raising of the dead.”
“Stark,” Thor said, “My brother would not raise the dead.”
“Are you sure about that?”
“I cannot foresee him performing the same prank twice,” Thor replied, and Tony was left speechless.
The call finally came in, a few days later, that Loki had been spotted entering an abandoned warehouse by the river, and the avengers prepared to confront him.
“So we're agreed then?” Tony asked as he, Clint, Steve, Natasha, and Thor stood outside the dilapidated building. “We all rush in and Thor, you split his head open with your hammer?”
They all nodded and with a wry smile Thor said, “I will consider the head splitting.”
They entered the building as stealthily as someone accompanied by a man in an iron suit can, checking the corners of each room, behind doors and under tables. The building was a wreck. Hardly any windows remained; everywhere was filled with dirt and scrap metal. They heard a laugh echo through the empty structure, and saw light shining from behind a half closed door.
Clint and Natasha took point, silently communicating with hand gestures as they crept towards the source of the sound, and pushed the door open.
Loki was laid on his stomach, his knees bent and his feet idly tapping the air as he giggled again. It took him a moment to register the presence of the people watching him, and a startled look crossed his face.
“What are you doing here?” he snapped. “I have not given you cause to invade my quarters.”
Clint and Natasha edged into the room, moving to the side to allow the others to enter.
“This is certainly some lair you have here Loki. I imagined you would have something a little more extravagant,” Tony said, and then he noticed the surprised look on Clint and Natasha's faces.
Loki was holding a small stick with a leather cord that ran from the tip to a small bundle of green feathers. On the floor in front of him, idly batting at the feathers, was a tiny black kitten with white paws and beautiful green eyes.
“Loki! You did not tell me you were with child again,” Thor boomed, pushing past Tony, and scooping up the little black bundle of fur in his arms. He cooed at it, “Hello little pumpkin, I am your uncle Thor.”
Tony flipped his visor up as The Avengers looked at each other and Clint shrugged his shoulders, shaking his head. Loki climbed to his feet and smiled at his brother, gently rubbing the tiny kittens chest.
“Thor…” Steve finally said. “I don't know if you've noticed, but it's a cat.”
“My brother has birthed many different and wondrous creatures Captain,” Thor replied, placing a hand on Loki’s shoulder and beaming with pride. “Each one is beautiful in it's own way.”
Loki smiled, looking almost coy, as he bent one knee and tilted his foot.
“Sorry Thor, but you are mistaken. I found her tied up in a burlap sack in a river,” Loki said. “You Midgardians can be so cruel. All her litter-mates were dead.”
“No!” Thor cried. “Who could do such an evil thing to such a helpless creature?”
“It happens quite often, sadly,” Natasha said, moving closer, and giving the kitten a tickle under the chin.
“What is her name?” Thor asked.
“She is called Mittens,” Loki said, proudly.
“That is a fine name brother.”
“Apparently they are some form of impractical glove,” Loki said and pointed at her little white feet. “The Midgardians on the internet said her markings resembled them.”
“Wait, w-w-w-wait,” Tony said, and then asked, “You know how to use the Internet?”
“Of course,” Loki replied, looking slightly offended. “It is a simple thing to navigate.”
“We're all dead,” Tony said, throwing his hands up in the air.
“Yes, and I thought it was rather rude of you not to follow me back on twitter, Stark,” Loki said, and Tony's mouth dropped open.
Thor placed the kitten on the floor and picked up the feathery stick. He and Loki both climbed down next to it, and Thor held the feather so it was dangling in front of the kitten. The kitten coiled like a small spring and leapt for the feather, missing it the first time and then repeating the action till it finally caught it. Thor and Loki smiled at each other widely.
“Awwww,” Natasha said, climbing to the floor too. “She's so cute!”
“OK, ya know what?” Stark said. “I'm going home before this crazy cat lady sickness spreads any further.”
“You go ahead, I think I'm gonna stay too,” Steve said, lowering himself to kneel on the floor.
Clint accompanied Tony back to the mansion and they set about finding Loki’s twitter account. It didn't take long. Loki had made half a dozen replies to Tony, most of which questioned his virility, and at least one sexually explicit message that sounded like it was written while drunk.
Among the various rantings, threats, boasts, and a vicious argument with Rihanna, they found Loki’s twitpic account.
“Wait,” Clint said, “Do we really want to know what a mad Norse god posts pictures of on the Internet?”
“Absolutely,” Stark replied.
The first few photos were innocuous blurry pictures of the kitten in various poses, each one as adorable as the next. Pictures of her sleeping, pictures of her with milk round her mouth, and then one of her with 42 comments about what he should name her.
The next photo was a picture of a newspaper, reporting the time Loki had turned the White House a particularly fetching shade of bright pink, and underneath it the description said “OMG I AM FAMOUS LOL!” The next was a self-taken picture of Loki in front of the 'Cerise House', with his thumb up, grinning madly.
Each prank he had carried out for the last 6 months was similarly documented with a photo of a newspaper or a picture of a TV news report. They were rather surprised to find a picture of a report about a strange smell that appeared in New York for days that couldn't be explained, and underneath it said “NO1 KNOWS IT WAS ME! SHHH! OMG THOR, STOP EATING CABBAGE LOL!”
“Oh my god,” they said in unison, as Clint flicked to the next photo.
It was taken reflected in a mirror; Loki with his tunic pulled up to reveal his slightly curved stomach.
“NOT LONG NOW!!! >..<” the description underneath read.
“You don't really think he gave birth to a kitten do you?” Clint asked. “I mean, where the hell would it come out of?”
“OK… that's a mental image that will scar me for life,” Tony said, closing his eyes, and then adding, “Loki’s a troll, he'll say anything to get a rise out of people.”
Clint moved the pointer and hit the Follow button.
“You're following him?”
“I thought there might be some useful information on here,” Clint replied, “And I like cats.”
A month later The Avengers received a report that Loki was holding people hostage, and were given a downtown address with no further details. They were rather surprised when the arrived to discover half of the cities police department surrounding a Veterinarians office.
Clint and Natasha took rooftop vantage points; both with high-powered weapons aimed at the windows, while Iron Man, Thor and Captain America took their positions in the street.
“We've received calls from people in the building,” The police chief told them. “There are at least fifteen hostages, from what we can tell.”
“Thank you officer,” Steve said.
“What is this place, Captain?” Thor asked.
“It's like a hospital for animals.”
Thor grabbed his arm and said, “You do not think Mittens is ill, do you?”
“I'm sure she just fine.”
“Come out of the building, Loki,” Iron Man shouted. “We have you surrounded.”
Loki appeared before them in a flash of green smoke wearing his full armor and his horned helmet. He held the kitten in the crook of his arm, laid on her back, sucking on his finger.
“Let the hostages go,” Steve said. “They haven't done anything wrong.”
“My dear captain, I would if I could, but I am not holding anyone hostage.”
“We know about the people you have inside.”
“Yes, there are people inside, but I have no idea why they think I am holding them hostage. I merely arrived for the appointment I booked for my princesses vaccinations.”
“You had an appointment?” Steve asked, sceptically.
“Yes. The people were most unhelpful. Some of them were making a terrible screaming sound and woke Mittens. One man even attacked me.”
“Did you hurt him?”
“No, he is inside, but I suggest someone removes him from the birdcage before he transforms back into his real body. It could get rather messy.”
“So let me guess," Tony asked, raising his visor. "You teleported into the veterinarians dressed like this, and then wondered why everyone was freaking out?”
“You expect a prince to walk the streets?” Loki asked haughtily. “Besides, I have acquired new boots, do you like them?”
Loki stuck his foot out proudly and Tony realised they were nice boots. He made a mental note to get Thor to ask him where he bought them later.
After the people were evacuated from the building Steve took Loki, and Mittens, back inside.
“If you hurt her, I will eviscerate you,” Loki snarled at the vet, who was preparing the vaccination.
“That's really not going to help,” Steve said.
They watched as the nervous vet attempted to control his shaking hands and injected the kitten in the scruff of her neck, without so much as a mewl.
Clint, Steve, Thor and Tony were sat in the kitchen of the Avengers mansion when Loki appeared out of nowhere, holding Mittens.
“Good afternoon,” he said, nonchalantly, as if he did this all the time, and Tony and Clint weren't scattering from their chairs to look for the nearest available weapon.
“I require, what I believe is referred to, as a sitter,” Loki said. “I have important business to attend to and it is no place for Mittens.”
“You think we're going to just mind your cat while you go off and do whatever evil super villains do?” Tony asked.
“Come, come gentlemen. There is no need for insults,” Loki said. “I am not evil, I am merely misunderstood.”
“In the same way that Dr Doom is misunderstood, I suppose?” Tony asked.
“Oh no, he really is evil incarnate,” Loki said. “He once forced me to watch a transmission about young blonde lady who carries a small dog in a bag, in her quest for a new best friend. It was practically torture.”
They stood around in uncomfortable silence for a moment before Thor said, “You smell different brother. Are you going somewhere special?”
“Yes… um...” Loki stammered.
“Oh my god!” Tony exclaimed. “Are you going on a date?”
“I believe that is what is called on Midgard,” Loki said, recovering his composure, “And Mr Wilson seems like a fine, upstanding young man. Will you take care of Mittens?”
“Yes,” Steve said. “We'll look after her.”
“Yeah,” Tony said, “But if you're back after midnight, it's an extra five bucks.”
“Now you be good my little princess,” Loki cooed, holding the kitten before him. “Please feel free to use any helmet you find as a litter tray.”
“I will ensure she is cared for well brother,” Thor said, holding out his hands
Loki hesitated and then pushed her into Tony Stark's arms and said, “No, you take her. It's about time she got to know her father.”
Loki vanished and everyone stood looking at Tony in disbelief.
“You didn't?” Clint asked.
“Of course I didn't,” Tony replied, “Or at least… I don't think I did.”
“Oh dear,” Thor said, hurriedly leaving the room, his shoulders shaking from trying to hold his laughter in.
“He was joking right?” Tony said, as Clint ran out after Thor. “Right guys? Guys?”
No one answered, and 2 weeks later Tony Stark received a legal document stating he was being sued for Child support for “Mittens Lokidottir, princess of Asgard” accompanied by a 99.9% positive paternity test.