The familiar yowling of an alley cat outside his bedroom window woke Peter from a deep sleep. Rubbing his eyes, he tried to focus on his alarm clock. The numbers looked different, yet familiar. With a few slow blinks, Peter realized that he wasn't in his bedroom at home. He was at the new Avengers compound outside the city. This realization made him more concerned for the cat outside. While stray cats were common in the city and could take care of themselves well enough, he assumed there were more things out here that might eat a house cat.
Loki scowled where he stood, disguised as a cat. The silver and black fur on his chest formed his name in Asgardian. He hoped that Thor hadn’t managed to completely forget how to read during his time on Midgard. Thor had promised to return to New Asgard to oversee some of the construction, but had yet to make an appearance. As much as Loki wanted to stay as far away from the Avengers as possible, he wanted to screw this up less. Their people were scared and growing restless. While they seemed to have some trust in him, he knew better than to think he could ever be as dear to their hearts as Thor. So, here he found himself, yowling at the window he was only about sixty percent sure was Thor’s.
Peter stood up from his bed with a deep yawn, not bothering to put on a shirt or socks before padding over to the window and climbing down the wall. His feet hit the wet grass silently. Loki felt his heart stop when a young boy landed a few feet away from him. This was definitely not the right window. He prepared to turn back into himself, but paused when the boy spoke. His voice was soft and not cruel. For a moment, Loki was sure he had somehow come to the wrong place. The giant ‘A’ on the side of the building, however, dispelled that illusion. He wondered, then, why there would be a child here. As little as he thought of the Avengers, he would have thought that even they would be opposed to the use of child soldiers.
"Hey, kitty," Peter whispered. "Come on, it's too cold out here for a pretty thing like you."
A soft purr built up in Loki’s chest at being called pretty. He tried to roll his eyes at his own absurdity, but wasn’t sure that his current feline anatomy would allow it. Instead, he padded over to the boy, letting out an embarrassing mewl at his feet. He justified it to himself by thinking that this would be an easier way to get inside the building. Peter shushed him quietly, scratching behind his ears. Loki couldn’t remember the last time another person had willingly touched him. It made him shudder and press closer, searching for more. If anyone asked, he knew he would blame it on keeping character, but he also knew it would be a lie. He could have run off into the woods and disappeared. He could have turned back into himself and stabbed the boy. Instead, he stood up on his hind legs, pawing at the sweatpants Peter was wearing. Peter scooped the cat up into his arms, hugging its shivering body close. His fur felt like velvet under Peter's fingers. He wondered if Aunt May would let him keep a cat; Or if he could hide a cat in his room without her knowing. Loki nuzzled his face into the side of Peter's neck, purring so hard that it vibrated all of his small body.
"Hey pretty kitty," Peter crooned. "It's okay, I'm gonna take care of you."
Peter scaled the wall back to his room with one hand, holding the cat against his chest. Loki’s paws curled, gripping Peter’s chest without extending his claws for fear of hurting him. The silver of his fur practically shone in the moonlight that was peeking through the window. Sitting down on his bed, Peter relaxed his arms to let the cat go. To Peter’s surprise, though, he stayed cuddled up against him.
"What a good kitty,” Peter hummed. “Someone must be missing you, huh?”
Loki stilled, letting the boy’s words sink in. He knew there was no one missing him. He had left New Asgard a week ago and surely no one had even noticed, except maybe to thank Odin’s ghost that he was no longer lurking in the shadows. A hand trailed down Loki’s back, making his small body tremble. Peter, thinking that the cat was shivering from his time out in the cold, held him close. He fell back to lay on his bed, pulling the blankets up over himself and Loki. Deep purring vibrated Peter’s chest, drowning out a lot of the usual noise that overstimulated him and prevented him from really sleeping. Loki, for his part, stayed curled up in a ball on Peter’s chest, his head tucked under Peter’s chin, until they had both drifted to sleep.
Loki woke before the boy that had carried him into the building did. Standing up on his chest, Loki took the opportunity to study his face as he slept. Light freckles dotted his cheeks and the ridge of his nose. If he were Asgardian, Loki would guess that he couldn’t be older than a hundred. He still hadn’t grasped the human lifespan, but could reason that he would be considered young, even by their standards, compared to how he remembered Stark and the others looking. Idly, his paws kneaded into the boy’s chest without claws. Peter’s eyes opened when he felt someone touching him, tensing for a brief moment before he realized it was only the cat he had brought in the night before. He smiled, bringing a hand up to stroke down the soft fur.
“Hey, sweet boy,” Peter yawned. “You must be starving, huh? Let’s go see if we can find you something to eat.”
Loki meowed a response, hopping off of Peter’s lap as he sat up. Peter gave his ears a quick scratch before standing up and walking out of his bedroom. Unsure what he was supposed to do, Loki trotted along at Peter’s heels. His eyes scanned the doorways they passed, trying to find his brother, though most of them seemed to be closed.
“Morning sleeping beauty,” Stark’s voice called when they entered the kitchen. Loki felt his body tense at the mere sound of it.
Peter yawned. “It’s not even that late, Mr. Stark. It’s like, eight. Everyone else is still sleeping.
“You aren’t everyone else. You’re usually the only one up before I am.” Tony cocked an eyebrow at Peter. “So who were you sneaking out to see last night, hm?”
Peter’s eyes went wide. “Who was I- What?”
“Come on, kid. Spill. Friday knows all. She tattled. So come on, who’s the girl?”
Loki pawed at Peter’s sweatpants, unsure what his plan was going to be if Stark decided to kick him. All he knew was that he wanted to be off of the ground. Peter’s eyes flicked down at him, pausing for a moment before scooping him up. Loki crawled further up onto Peter’s shoulder, putting himself at eye level with Stark so that he could keep his eyes on him.
“He’s a boy,” Peter shrugged with the shoulder that Loki wasn’t occupying.
Tony blinked several times. “A cat. You climbed out of your window at three in the morning. For a cat.”
“In my defense,” Peter reached up with the arm closest to Loki and scratched under his chin. “He’s a very pretty cat. And so friendly. He came right up to me and slept in bed with me all night.”
“Don’t cats eat spiders?” Tony asked, reaching out like he meant to pet Loki.
Loki crouched on Peter’s shoulder, letting out a visceral hiss and swatting at Stark’s hand. It was going to be embarrassing enough to explain to Thor that he had had to spend the night cuddling with the boy, he did not plan on debasing himself further by allowing Stark to treat him like some common house pet.
“Alright, geez.” Tony pulled his hand away. “Guess it’s already decided you’re its person. If it pees on anything worth more than $100, it’s outta here though. And next time Pepper asks why I don’t get a cat, you’re gonna vouch for me that even friendly cats hate me.” Walking away, he spoke to the AI: “Friday, get a litter box and some cat food out here for Peter’s emotional support cat.”
“Right away, boss,” the AI chirped back.
“I’ll be in the garage. Keep Garfield out of the lab.”
Peter turned his face into the cat’s fur. “You just stick with me, okay?”
Loki pressed his nose against Peter’s forehead in what he hoped the boy would interpret to mean: ‘They can pry you from my cold, dead claws.’ The sound of a door opening down the hall caused both of them to turn their heads. From the hall, Thor stumbled into the kitchen, starting to pour himself a cup of coffee before turning to look at Peter and the cat.
“Peter, why is my brother sitting on your shoulder,” Thor’s voice was still slurred from being half asleep.