Tony Stark does not want to babysit Carol Danvers’ cat.
Somehow, Tony Stark and his family end up babysitting Carol Danvers’ weird ass cat.
Tony has nothing against cats, personally. He never grew up with any kind of family pet, so he doesn’t have any opinions either way. He’s used to pet-like robots that make messes because they’ve got poorly programmed code from when he was sixteen and were barely scraping the surface of what JARVIS would one day become.
However, he’s heard…things about cat puke on furniture and dog hair on black dress pants, and frankly he’s never been brave enough to try owning one himself because of it. (Not to mention that before his daughter, he was rarely capable of taking care of himself, let alone something dependent upon him for care.)
But the fact is, he does have Morgan, now. And a house outside the city with plenty of room for a pet. And he’s officially retired himself from this whole Finding The Infinity Stones game. For his own good. For Morgan. For Pepper.
It’s because of this, he supposes, that Captain Carol Danvers comes to his front door from god-knows-where one day with a cat carrier, a litter box, a scratching post, and a case of canned cat food precariously stacked in her arms.
“I need a favor, Tony,” Danvers says, like they’re old pals, like she’s one of the original Avengers, and not like she just dropped out of the galaxy one day at Fury’s beck and call and decided to stay for a while. She’s wearing a scratched to hell pair of aviators and a leather jacket over her uniform, the absolute picture of casual confidence and getting people to do what you want them to do because you’re Busy and Cool and Important.
(He’s Tony Stark. He would know.)
“Blunt of you to skip the pleasantries, but I can’t say that I hate it,” Tony admits. He’s used to ass-kissing and bull. He can deal with a straightforward character like Danvers. Plus, she did save his life and all, that one time.
“Fury was taking care of Goose for me while I was gone, and without him…the closest thing I had to family are—“ she stops herself, but Tony can already tell. Dusted. Tony chokes down his discomfort, refusing to be sad about Peter this early in the damn morning. He hasn’t even had his first cup of coffee yet. Danvers seems to agree with the sentiment, molding her face back into its previous nonchalance. “I’m leaving the planet, but I’ll be back. Soon-ish.”
“You know pet hotels exist, right? They literally have apps made so someone else can care for your pet instead of your local retired superhero billionaire.”
“Goose is…” Danvers pauses, looking down at her fluffy, orange charge, the cat’s nose brushing against the bars of her cat carrier with a curious purr. “Special. She needs routine, familiar faces. A calm environment.”
“It won’t be calm if my wife murders me when she gets home.” Pepper isn’t exactly against pets either, but she’s certainly not advocating for their three-year-old’s pet requests. (Tony may be considering it, a little, because that’s his baby girl, and he would buy her a thousand puppies if given access to a local shelter and Pepper’s approval.)
“I saved your life,” Danvers reminds, smile bright and knowing. “She owed me one.”
“Owed?” Tony swallows. He didn’t even know that Danvers and his wife had ever spoken after that initial meeting. What the hell happened when he passed out after coming home? “As in—?”
“Her wet food is on order for the next few months. She likes to be petted, but if it’s too excessive, you’ll know. She might eat some stuff, so watch what you leave lying around. I hear Fury lost a lot of pens. Thanks!”
Of course, Morgan loses her little mind. “Kitty!” she says, over and over and over, running around the acclimating pet in happy circles.
Tony can tell the moment Goose steps out of her carrier that he and said cat won’t be the best of buds. The immediate turn in the other direction solidifies that.
Predictably though, because his daughter is arguably the best, Goose is immediately going to become his daughter’s new bestie.
“Daddy, Goosey!” She’s already giving the cat nicknames. Great.
“Yeah, baby. Gentle, though, okay?” he says, stopping what he can immediately tell is a bad idea about to form in his child’s head about picking up the cat like one of her stuffed animals and dancing it around with her. He doesn’t know what the hell Danvers meant by special, but he’s not risking some demented hell-cat ripping up his daughter’s face.
(A thought goes through his head—is that what happened to Fury? But he shakes it away. Impossible. Right?)
For a second he worries Goose will smack him for trying, but she seems to get the idea when Tony takes Morgan’s hand and presses it softly over Goose’s fur in a calming stroke. A ball of shed hair does come off in his face for his trouble, though, making him sneeze.
Goose has absolutely no qualms with Pepper.
Tony assumes this is simply because all members of the animal kingdom, from man to mosquito, know to respect Pepper Potts.
That’s really what it has to be—respect.
Where Morgan gets snuggles and excessive ear rubs, Pepper gets a leg rub and purr at the door before Goose bounds off outside, doing whatever it is that cat does before she comes in for the night.
God forbid if Tony doesn’t wake up at two AM and let Goose in every time she scratches at the door just because he refuses to make a cat door for an animal that is not staying that long.
(He doesn’t want to know how that cat makes such an odd and ungodly noise, but it seems to wake him and only him, and he swears Goose knows it.)
Speaking of not sleeping—that cat does not want him to be with his wife. Ever.
Part of the parent gig just means that’s an inevitability, most nights. Morgan demands Pepper’s attention as soon as she comes home from work, especially if Pepper goes away for a few days on a business trip.
Tony spends almost every day with Morgan—he wants Pepper to have that time that she misses when she can’t just work from home like he does running Stark Industries’ R&D Department.
It’s just—Goose sleeps with Morgan. Tony is fine with that—despite acting all aloof towards him, that cat is a cuddle monster. In fact, Goose and Tony can even both agree that Pepper’s chest is a very warm, soft place to put your head. Tony’s been fond of falling asleep to the sound of her heartbeat for a long time—he gets it.
Which is why the hour of the day, sometimes two, that he gets to be alone with Pepper, in their bed at night, often not even doing anything slightly M rated, he should get to enjoy it instead of playing Why The Hell Is The Cat Crying At Us for so long that Tony gets up to investigate the house with Goose and Pepper falls asleep without him.
Pepper just tells him to stop being jealous of a cat, and then she starts locking their bedroom door to keep out both Goose and her cries.
(One morning he wakes up with Goose settled on both his hip and Pepper’s from where they’re curled together despite their locked door, and it’s the biggest power move Tony’s ever seen in his life.)
Morgan and Goose’s favorite game to play is hide and seek.
Goose will run off around the property, and Morgan will run around the forest-encircled area of their yard screaming Goose’s name gleefully while turning over every rock and branch that the cat could or could not physically hide under or behind. Eventually Morgan calls “Olly olly oxenfree,” or Goose just appears out of seemingly nowhere to get caught, as if sensing the moment Morgan begins to get frustrated.
One time, while Tony is watching in amusement from the porch, Goose legitimately defies all conceivable laws of the universe. Tony doesn’t blink. He doesn’t turn his head. He’s intently watching where Morgan is kicking at a hollow stump.
Then Goose just—appears. Right behind Morgan’s back. And then the cat has the audacity to stare at him straight on until Morgan whirls around to carry Goose back into the house, singing “Found you, found you!” while his coffee spills into the dirt over the arm of the porch.
(He has FRIDAY play back the security cam footage, and he still has no idea what the hell is going on with that animal.)
Rhodey, who did not know the Stark family adopted a cat, offers to babysit his niece when he’s in town.
Tony gratefully accepts, and mentions nothing about Goose, kissing Morgan on the head on the way out of the door and ignoring Rhodey’s “Wait, why do you guys have a cat tree?” as he orders FRIDAY to keep the door shut behind them until they’re too far away from the house for Rhodey to bother chasing.
Sadly, instead of the chaos Tony slightly hoped for, Tony and Pepper come home to the adorable kitten-pile of Rhodey and Morgan bundled up on the couch while Goose absently paws a kernel of popcorn across the floor to the tune of Tangled’s main menu screen.
Danvers was right about that cat losing things. That must be what she meant, because eating them? That’s impossible. He’s a man of science, for christ’s sake.
One night, as he and Pepper are getting ready for a scheduled date, Tony cannot for the life of him find his left Armani leather sneaker. (Which, if a little pretentious, is comfortable, and he won’t apologize for it.) Pepper organizes their closet especially so that he doesn’t have this kind of stuff happen. Because back in the days of Boss and Assistant, he was absolutely prone to flinging his clothes off in random parts of his house and begging her to find That Single Exact Tie he swore he left in the couch cushion a month ago.
Then he does find it, laden with what he has to assume is a (normal?) amount of cat sputum, in the middle of the hallway between his bedroom and Morgan’s exactly one week later.
His 2mm screwdriver disappears from his work desk and appears on the front step in a few days time.
Pepper thankfully misses Goose’s obsession with Tony’s shoes, but does lose a diamond earring that cost only a fraction less than their entire house which later appears under Morgan’s bed.
Morgan is the only one shown any remorse for these actions.
“’s gross, Daddy,” Morgan says. He turns away from his screen, letting the holographic windows stay floating in air to look over at his daughter.
In her fist is a stuffed dog, dripping wet.
“Where’d you drop it this time, honey?” Tony says, because Morgan loves to play outside just as much as she loves the games he’s developed for her tablet. She’s rambunctious and energetic like he was as a kid, and finding a stuffed toy to last that journey with her is often a challenge.
“I didn’t!” Morgan replies, but this one is teary—toddler meltdown teary, uh-oh. “Goosey didn’t mean it, Daddy! She’s sorry!”
Tony hardly believes that, considering Goose has forced him to throw more dry-clean only clothes into the washer as a hail-mary to save them from drool damage than he’s comfortable with. However, when he looks to the floor, following Morgan’s gaze, he finds the orange cat with her ears down and tail between her legs, which is the most apology he’s ever seen out of the cat whose general setting is nonplussed at anything and anyone that isn’t Morgan or her food bowl.
“Don’t make Miss Carol take her away, she’ll be good!” Morgan is actually crying, clinging to him like she could force Goose’s good behavior through the sheer power of hugging him hard enough.
The now firmly cat-hating part of him wants to fling Goose into space, right into Carol’s arms. But his daughter’s crying, and cats have to be cats, right? It’s not Goose’s fault, actually, right? Plus, what is he, some kind of monster?
“Shh, Morgan, it’s okay. Goose is okay. You’re okay,” he soothes, watching warily as Goose closes the distance between where they sit and sets up shop near his legs. “She’s right here, she’s not going anywhere, okay?”
Despite all previous interactions with the animal telling Tony not to pick Goose up, his fatherly instincts win out, and he pulls the cat up onto his lap, forcing Morgan to see the cat up close.
Morgan hugs Goose to her chest, sad in that panicky child way of thinking one small sad thing that might happen is the end of your entire world right here, right now. She sniffles, cuddling herself and Goose against Tony’s chest.
Goose purrs, but seems to glare up at Tony as if to indicate it’s not for him.
“Something’s wrong with that cat, Tony,” Happy comments, watching Morgan run said cat around the living room with a jingly bell on a string.
“Don’t I know it,” Tony replies, leaning his chair on its back legs. He takes a long sip of his green smoothie and smiles when Happy gags. “But Morgan loves her, so.”
“No, seriously, she just…gives me a weird vibe.” Tony watches Happy watch Goose, who is currently getting her stomach throughly rubbed by his daughter.
“Oh, I’m sorry, did you get Peter’s spider-powers, now? Did you two experiment with osmosis when I wasn’t looking?”
Happy sighs. “Never mind.”
Tony got lazy.
He installed the stupid cat door, and it (mostly) shut Goose up. It’s been months anyway, and Danvers was dumb to give her cat to a house with a fiercely protective little girl, so he just…assumed they were kind of keeping him until further notice, after four months with no word.
So he installed the cat door, and then one night, FRIDAY set off the intruder alarms.
Tony hopped out of bed, RT in hand, thinking this is it, I was right, danger, danger, I should have never retired—
Except what he finds in his daughter’s bedroom is not a human, robot, or alien.
It’s a raccoon.
Which—that’s not super safe for his daughter, because you know, rabies, but he can probably get that thing out of here with only his gauntlets on as protection. This happens to normal, everyday idiots like him who live in the woods, surely.
At least, that’s what he prepared to do before Goose—his baby’s cat, who’s slept next to her every night—launches tentacles out of her face, engulfing the raccoon into her terrifying maw, letting out only a little prrrp of satisfaction before curling up next to Morgan as if nothing has happened.
“Tony,” Pepper says, tapping his arm in a frantic gesture of exactly what’s going on in his head, which is what the hell was that oh my god what the f—
“What do we do?”
“Uh,” he answers intelligently. “Well.”
Carol is no help at all.
“I’m happy she’s bonding with Morgan,” is Danvers’ response, which gives no input in deciding what to do with the alien cat that ate a raccoon last night in their daughter’s bedroom. “Tell the kid to keep her safe for me! I’ll come visit her soon!”
And then Danvers hangs up the holo-call.
“Visit, Tony,” Pepper, says, slightly dazed and tired from not actually sleeping much last night. “What did she mean, visit?”
“I think our daughter just co-adopted an alien, Pep.”