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Canis Familiaris

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Steve sees the puppy in the debris and reaches over to pluck him out from between smashed concrete chunks and steel rebars. He's got no idea how the creature survived, or if dogs are even allowed in his S.H.I.E.L.D.-issued apartment, but he picks him up because it would be unkind to just leave him there. The puppy gives a soft bark, wiggling in his gloved arms and Steve is reminded strongly of the puppy he and Bucky had spent long afternoons playing with one summer.

Iron Man flies down to land next to him as he traverses over the destruction. Tony flips the faceplate up and stares at Steve cradling the puppy in one arm. “That might be the ugliest dog I've ever seen.” He greets, taking a step back when Steve glares. “Okay Cap, you're right. I've seen uglier somewhere.”

Thor bounds over, smiling at the trio. “Who is this?”

“What is this, you mean.” Tony corrects, metal-gloved hand reaching over to scratch the puppy's ears. Steve knew he wouldn't be able to stop himself and smiles. “It's a puppy, Thor. Steve's taking in strays now.”

“You mean other than yourself?” Clint laughs not unkindly over the earbud comms. Steve instinctively looks up and spots the marksman climbing down the fire escape from his roof perch.

“Shut it, Barton.” Tony growls. Thor lifts a hand and tentatively pats the animal's head. “Lightly Thor, lightly. Delicate skull, it's a growing animal. Like a baby.” The pressure lessens on Steve's arms.

“Does it have a name?” Thor questions. Steve shakes his head. Thor grins. “We shall name him then!” The puppy gives a bark. They've reached the cluster of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents by this point, Bruce wearing his own skin and wriggling into pants.

He looks up at the three men as they come closer. Steve hugs the puppy tighter when Bruce quickly spins around, taking deep visible breaths. “Keep that mongrel away from me,” he calls to them. Tony slips an arm around Steve's waist and steers him away, Thor following.

“Poptart?” Thor's voice rumbles, catching the attention of both Steve and Tony. They share a look and Steve sighs when Tony tilts his head in the direction of the Norse god.

“We don't have any here, Thor. You're gonna have to wait until we reach HQ.” Steve replies, adjusting the warm bundle of fur in his arms so his paws are on his shoulder. Tony's arm tightens around his waist.

“No, it can be a name!” Thor beams, patting the puppy's back. Steve grins helplessly at Tony. “It is a fine name, befitting only the best things on Midgard!”

“Clearly I have much to teach you,” Tony comments dryly.

“I don't know, I kinda like it.” Clint's voice comes from the other side of Steve. “Both are small and squishy, they're always better warm-” He's cut off by Natasha's hand over his mouth. Steve is reminded that he thought the sniper was a sociopath when they first met.

“Ignore him.” She glares at her partner and he nods to whatever her look is telling him. Fury is right behind her and his single eye stares at the puppy in Steve's arms. Tony's suit whirs behind him and back into the suitcase.

“Absolutely not, Captain.” His tone brooks no argument and Steve is saddened.

He moves to set the puppy down and Tony steps in, talking hurriedly. “Oh, come on Nick. You can't deny the public their opportunity to give homes to more rescue animals. You and I both know that as soon as the media catches wind of Captain America rescuing a poor defenseless animal, your budget will be raised because everyone loves the idea of our national superhero and America's beloved pet. Who doesn't love a cute puppy?” He tilts the head of the puppy towards Fury, who glares harder. Steve is pretty sure he knows exactly what look Tony has on his face – it's the same one that Tony uses to get Steve to let him try something that Tony probably shouldn't be doing in the first place.

“I'm more a cat person,” Coulson idly interjects. “You aren't required to clean up after them near as much after a little training.” Tony snorts.

“No one asked you,” he retorts, earning a sharp elbow from Steve. “Hey, I'm on your side here!”

“Well if you promise to clean up after it, take it for its shots and walk it every day,” Fury's tone is one of wry amusement as he stares at the two men. “Keep it away from Dr. Banner, and probably Agent Barton as well.” The other Avengers around them are quiet as the words sink in.

“Yes sir, absolutely.” Steve promises, scratching the puppy's neck. Someone behind him stifles a sigh but Steve's smile doesn't diminish as the puppy starts licking his fingers.