Tony Stark does not have a problem.
No matter how many times his annoying friends send him passive-aggressive emails with Animal Hoarders episode links in the subject line, it isn’t true. He does not have a problem. Jane and Pepper can just shut the fuck up and let him live his life with his thirteen cats, dammit.
It’s not like he lives in a tiny apartment with his thirteen cats. That would be horrible. He has a house- a nice house, not really big or anything, but big enough for thirteen cats and one smallish man. He makes a pretty penny so the food and litter and vet bills don’t really sting. And besides, with thirteen cats, there is always one willing to cuddle with him. Usually Nightcrawler, the little Russian Blue he adopted- number three, back when he was just starting out.
He also hadn't meant to adopt thirteen cats, but it just sort of happened. First he found Shadowcat as a little tawny kitten abandoned on the side of the road, and then he had to adopt Colossus from the Humane Society to keep her company, and then Nightcrawler from a lady who couldn’t take care of him anymore, and then things just kind of escalated.
Tony deletes another email from Pepper (with a link to an article about the signs that someone you love may be an animal hoarder, thank you), shoves Rogue out of the way with his foot, and heads out the door.
Like a responsible cat owner, he keeps his kitties inside as much as possible. Wolverine does not like this plan and always tries to escape whenever Tony goes to work. The little shit.
“Gotcha,” Tony says as he manages to shut the door with Wolverine inside without breaking the poor thing’s nose. Again.
“Cats giving you trouble again?” Tall, Blond, and Gorgeous asks from next door.
Tall, Blond, and Gorgeous has a name, of course. Steven Rogers. He lives next door and he always leaves for work at 8:17, not that Tony is counting or anything but it's nice to talk to an actual human being in person every so often and Steve is really nice so yeah maybe he does time his leaving for work to run into him, what’s wrong with that?
Tony grins at him, locking the door. “Wolverine doesn’t believe that he should be an inside cat.”
“How many do you have, again?” Steve asks.
Abort, abort, abort. Tony’s grin turns plastic. “Eh, a few,” he says with a laugh. He has been pointedly avoiding this subject with Steve for a good few months now. For all his bluster about thirteen cats not being a problem, Pepper, he is fully aware that thirteen cats is a lot of cats and Steve is very pretty and he doesn’t want to scare the guy off.
Steve nods. “It’s just- can I be honest with you?”
“Sure,” Tony says.
“I have this bet,” he says, “With my friend, Bucky. He’s, uh, visited a few times and he’s started calling you the Cat Guy, because whenever he visits your cats are meowing and yowling and stuff, and anyway, he bet me that you have more than fifteen cats, and-“
Tony laughs. “I don’t have more than fifteen.”
“Oh,” Steve says, “Good, good. I win the bet then, yay!”
There is something not right in how he said that, Tony thinks. “That wasn’t what your bet was about, was it?” Tony asks. Steve flushes and looks at his feet. “You were supposed to find out how many I have exactly, weren’t you?”
“And if they all have names,” Steve mumbles.
Color rises in Tony’s cheeks but hey, he might as well go for broke. “Of course they all have names. And there are, um, thirteen.”
Steve chokes. “Thirteen?”
“Thirteen,” Tony says. “I could start listing names, if you want, but-“
“It’s just that I’m allergic,” Steve says. “To cats, I mean.”
Without thinking, Tony replies, “Magneto’s a hairless and I’m pretty sure Iceman is hypoallergenic.”
Steve cackles before shoving a hand over his mouth and fighting to control his laughter. “I’m sorry,” he says once he’s somewhat composed himself. “I’m sorry. It’s just… you named your cats Magneto and Iceman?”
“Look,” Tony says, “There are thirteen of them and I named most of them while either drunk or sleep deprived or both, so some of them have weird names and some of them came to me with weird names and I’m not sorry.”
“That explains Wolverine,” Steve says solemnly.
Tony sighs. “Now you know, I’m the crazy cat person.” Phoenix choses this precise moment to yowl at the top of her little gingery lungs. Tony stops and sighs, looking up at the sky and waiting for her to finish. Sure enough, her cries cut off a little later and Tony knows better than to relax because yep, now Cyclops and Wolverine are fighting, fuck dammit, he’s going to have to lock Wolverine in the closet again. “I’m sorry, I need to break up a catfight.”
“Need a hand?” Steve asks.
Tony lifts an eyebrow. “You’re allergic.”
“Right,” Steve says, looking actually concerned. “Sorry, I, uh- I forgot.”
There’s a clatter like Wolverine threw Cyclops into the blinds again, but to be honest they haven’t seriously maimed each other yet and there’s still something in Steve’s face that Tony doesn’t understand. “You forgot?”
An idea lights in Tony’s mind. “Was there ever a bet between you and your friend about my cats? Or were you just curious for your own sake?”
Steve looks horribly uncomfortable and Tony feels guilty for a split-second but then Steve says, “Okay, fine, you caught me. He did actually bet me about the names, but, uh, the number... I just- I, uh, I kind of like you, so I thought if you didn’t have that many cats I’d go for it but you have, uh, thirteen, so-“
“I could go over to your house,” Tony blurts out before he can stop himself. “I have some clothes with no cat hair on them, they’re my work clothes, because Pepper says cat hair on a business suit is unprofessional, so all I could wear would be business suits but I could still come over, a cat-free environment.”
“And you have, uh, Magneto and Iceman who are hypoallergenic,” Steve adds.
Tony nods. “Yeah.”
There’s a loud yowl from inside and Tony can’t tell who it is, but he blames Wolverine because that cat is just a little bit of the devil. “I, um, should probably go deal with that,” Tony says, pointing at his house and the screaming felines. “So, um, later?”
“Tonight?” Steve asks.
A grin splits Tony’s face. “Yeah. Uh. Tonight. No cat hair.”
“My house,” Steve adds.
“Sounds great,” Tony says.
“Perfect,” Steve replies.
“Love it,” Tony says. Loud yowls and an echoing bang sound from inside his house
“You should probably go deal with your cats,” Steve says.
“Yes, I should,” Tony says.
“So, tonight.” Steve says.
“Tonight. Bye,” Tony says.
“Bye,” Steve says.
As Tony wades through a sea of cat fur to separate Cyclops and Wolverine again while Mystique twines around his ankles, he thinks about tonight and Steve and smiles.