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The Padding of little feet

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“Brother? What have you got there?”

“I am unsure.”

Thor frowned as he observed the strange sight of Loki draped across the couch on his stomach, arm dangling off the edge as he toyed with whatever held attention on the floor. Whilst it wasn’t unusual for Loki not to pay his full attention to Thor, it was a different matter entirely for Loki to be distracted.

Thor stepped further into the room and came up behind the couch, bracing his hands on the white leather as he peered over his brother to the floor, where a soot coloured creature tumbled and pranced around his brother’s slender wiggling fingers.

“It is a delightful Midgardian beast, is it not?” Loki hummed, green eyes content and amused as smooth pads, framed by tufty, cloud-soft fur, batted at his fingers, needle like claws thoughtlessly hooking onto pale skin.

Without care for the scratch, Loki flipped the small creature onto its back and scratched its belly as tabby legs kicked and teeth nipped at his fingertips, its little tail lashing in delight.

“It is rather adorable,” Thor agreed as Loki scooped the critter up by its scruff and cupped the fluffy thing in his palm, holding it up to Thor for closer inspection. Thor studied the small dark face and little pink nose, the twitching triangular ears - one a warm ginger and the other black – and its dual-coloured eyes, blue and green staring up at him with its head slightly askew.

“Where did you find him, brother?” Thor enquired as an inquisitive paw patted his nose, before it rubbed itself forcefully against his chin with a sound rumbling through its slight body.

At this Loki frowned, “She,” he corrected blithely, before his lips pressed into a thin line. “I found her sitting in a bin. The way these Midgardians treat their…pets…is simply deplorable.”

“Brother, you know better than to condemn all for what could be the act of but a few, you see often enough the way humans love their pets, like those joyously loyal beasts that lead humans about on a rope.”

“Dogs, Thor, they’re called dogs,”

“Verily.”

Loki shook his head as he thoughtlessly dragged his fingers along the supple spine that arched and bent and twisted beneath his palm as the creature wiggled in utmost pleasure. Even Thor extended a large hand to tickle their new companion with surprising gentleness beneath her chin.

The quiet pampering of the Midgard critter was disrupted when Tony, sauntering passed on his way out, stopped mid-step, and tilted his head so his sunglasses slipped precariously down his nose.

“What is that scraggly beast doing here?”

“Who knows, however reason dictates you must be here for some reason,” Loki responded with a smirk.

Tony huffed at the slight, whole body heaving for added effect, and pushed his shades back up his nose. “Well make sure Scabbers is gone before I get back. I hate those little rats,” he added, wrinkling his nose as he made his leave. Although when his departure was escorted by Thor’s vigorous; “Scabbers! A fine title indeed for our new charge!” Tony knew the little flea-bag was staying.

It was to the immense confusion of the Assembled Avengers later that they were introduced to their new pet rat, only to be presented with a kitten. Albeit a very adorable one with big eyes and the most heart-wrenching little ’mew’ they’d ever heard. Despite the accusations from everyone, Steve resolutely denies any unmanly cooing.

All attempts to try and correct Thor and Loki regarding the kitten were abandoned in favour of jaunting around the room trailing lengths of yarn while their new addition frolicked after them, – also occasionally skidding across the laminated kitchen floor because Tony was a dick like that. -

Despite the species confusion, the name Scabbers stuck.