“Loki. Lokes. Lo-Lo. Loooo-kiiiiii. Loki. Loke.”
Loki turned the page of his current novel.
“Snowflake. Frosty. Rudolf. Tall, Dark, and Handsome. Your Highness. Severus.”
“Must you persist in your willful ignorance, Stark!?” Loki yelled, throwing down his book, “I’ve told you countless times: I. Am. Not. A. Wizard!”
Tony grinned, “Hello, beautiful. How are you today?”
Loki’s eyebrow twitched; Tony’s grin did likewise.
“What do you want, Anthony?”
Tony’s smile turned a little bit embarrassed. He hesitated before mumbling, eyes slightly to the left of Loki’s, “Iwaswoneringificouldbeacatagain. Yaknow, justonceinawhile. I mean... it was kinda fun and I’m bored and it was... nice. So. Yeah. Please?”
The previously twitching brow rose in question.
“Or not. Nevermind. I’ll just, uh, work on... something.” Tony rose from his chair, hastening to make a quick retreat.
“Yes, dear?” he turned to receive a face full of sparkling green dust.
Hacking and coughing, he sputtered, “What the fuck, Loki?!”
“Happy early Birthday, love.” Loki smiled and returned to his book.
Tony stared for a few moments, still spewing dust out of his lungs and wiping away green tears, before shrugging and leaving for his workshop. He would never understand that beautiful, theatrical, adorable and weird as hell little shit.
Disembarking the elevator, he hacked his way over to a stool. This crap was endless. Loki better not have given him a disease or something for shits and grins. He paused for a moment: he wouldn’t do that? ...Right?
Looking up to Dum-E’s friendly beeps, Tony smiled, reaching out to take the offered paper towel and pat the bot in thanks. He would express his gratitude aloud if he wasn’t busy coughing up a lung. Fucking Loki.
“Sir? Sir. Sir!”
“Mmmm wha- yes?” Tony mumbled absentmindedly, attention not straying from the screen before him.
“You are long past due for a meal, sir.”
“Five more minutes?” the genius whined.
Exasperated, JARVIS responded, “I have given you ‘five more minutes’ five times already. Need I ask the Captain for assistance?”
“Not the puppy dog eyes, J. C’mon. Threatening your own creator, how very low.”
“I do what I must. I could inform Mr Laufeyson instead, if you would prefer.”
“Alright, alright. I’ll go find some food, god. The man already blew fairy dust at me today. I’m still sneezing green stuff.” Tony grumbled, shutting off the surrounding screens with a wave and walking to the elevator. “What is with him and green anyway?”
“Speaking of green and food. Green eggs and ham? What is that? Are they alien eggs? Was the pig a Martian? And why would anyone want to eat a green food that isn’t supposed to be green? That’s just asking to be poisoned. Green ham? No thank you.”
The doors opened and the man walked out towards the common kitchen.
“Hey, J, do we have any ham? God I love ham. Best fucking meat on this planet. Have to raid Steve’s Secret Stash of Ham.”
“The ham is communal, Tony,” the man himself answered from the kitchen island, tone weary as if he had said those same words many times (because he had), “As is everything else in here. I don’t care how many labels you put on everything, this is the communal fridge. Just because you put a sticker on it with your name does not make it yours. And please quit hiding the blueberries. Other people want to eat those, too, you know.”
Tony stuck his tongue out before reaching towards the coveted meat, conveniently located next to the other man’s near finished plate.
“Ah-ah-ah!” Steve teased, moving the deli bag just out of reach, “What’s the magic word?”
“Gimme, you little shit.”
Steve laughed and did as asked.
“You were a lot more polite as a cat.”
“Only ‘cause you couldn’t understand me, Spangles.”
Steve huffed a laugh, popped the last bit of sandwich into his mouth, and stood to rinse off his plate. As he walked past the inventor, he stopped to ruffle his hair, “You’re a lion at heart, Tony. A really tiny, adorable little baby lion.”
Tony pushed his head up into his friend's hand, retort forgotten. Steve grinned and scratched his hair.
“Shut up.” Tony closed his eyes.
“I’m not saying anything,” Steve said through a smile, continuing to run his fingers through his friend’s hair.
“Mmmm,” Tony replied.
The two quietly enjoyed the moment.
“...Did you forget an anniversary or something?”
“‘Cause you’re kinda a kitten right now, Tones.”
Furry little eyes blinked open to stare at a larger than life Steve Rogers.
They stared at each other for a minute, Steve’s skritches never ceasing. They both gave a shrug before Tony closed his eyes again and purred.
After a bit, Steve asked, “Well, do you wanna hang out with me in the gym for a while?”
Tony gave an excited mew in answer before pausing and staring longingly back at the ham. He looked back and forth between the two options a few times before he came up with an agreeable solution like the genius he was. Sticking his head into the deli bag, Tony pulled out a full slice of the yummy deliciousness. He then walked to the edge of the table where he looked expectantly up at the Captain. Having long since worked out a compromise between ‘I am going to ride on your shoulder’ and ‘Please quit hurting me,’ Steve held his arm out. Daintily, with his prize trailing along between his four appendages, Tony walked up the Steve-ramp to his Steve-perch. There he lay his lunch down and mewed. Onward, steed!
As Steve made his way to the elevator (after returning the ham to the fridge, of course), he began to hear the lovely sounds of mastication just inches from his left ear. Not knowing whether to cringe or laugh, he looked up at a nearby camera and shared an amused and resigned look with JARVIS. JARVIS blinked back a laugh with the tiny light located on the camera, something that never ceased to make the Captain smile.
Natasha and Clint looked over from their respective locations when the ‘ding’ of the elevator announced company, both in the gymnastics section of the gym, Natasha standing on her hands on the balancing beam and Clint swinging on the staggered bars. When they saw just whose furry little butt had come to visit, Clint whooped and Natasha smiled.
Tony called out a greeting to them in return, ignoring Steve’s flinch from the sound so close to his ear. Once the man stopped by Natasha’s beam, Tony gave him a lick on the cheek (Steve scrunched up his nose, but was smiling) and jumped down.
“Hello, kiska,” she greeted him as he wound his way around her arms. Bending her elbows, she lowered herself to place a kiss upon his head. Tony purred and butted his head into the act.
“Where’s my kiss, Tony?” Clint called out with a grin.
“Mreh mrew mrah mraow,” Tony grumbled back.
“What was that?” Clint teased.
“I think he said something about you having Phil for that.” Nat stated calmly.
“You’re still mad about that? Honestly, I thought you knew, Tones.” Clint said, giving an exaggerated pout.
“Mreht.” Tony stuck his tail up in the air and turned his rear to the archer.
Clint looked at his best friend expectantly. Nat laughed, “Yeah, I’m pretty sure that one was ‘whatever’.”
Tony purred his appreciation and rubbed against her arms. See, this is why you’re my favorite. Natasha smiled.
“Hey!” Steve called from where he had been wrapping his fists.
Tony rolled his round, golden eyes. Don’t be jelly, Steve, he called in kitty-speak. You’re still my favorite, too.
Clint looked between them, somehow now perched on top of one of the swinging bars, “Am I the only non cat whisperer here?”
Natasha snorted and Steve gave a chuckle.
“It’s not because he’s a cat,” Natasha began.
“It’s because he’s Tony,” Steve finished.
Tony gave an indignant mew, not entirely sure what they were implying but wanting to maintain the mysterious and complicated reputation he refused to acknowledge had been lost among the Avengers years ago.
JARVIS played static through the speakers, laughing with Natasha and Steve.
Tony glared up at the nearest camera, but then he smiled to himself. JARVIS had known him inside and out for years, the second person ever to do so, the first being his namesake. For the longest time, JARVIS was the only one. It was a little bit terrifying still, even after these last few years, to think of the other Avengers becoming so close, but still it warmed his heart. It had taken a few decades, but he had finally found a family. Jarvis would be so proud.
Shaking himself out of bittersweet thoughts, he joined the present again. Steve had begun punching his bag and Clint was launching himself from pole to pole, but Natasha gazed at him with a small, knowing smile on her face.
Yeah, Tony thought, they’d all found a family.
He walked over and gave her a kitty kiss on the forehead. Her smile grew.
Alright, enough with the mushy stuff, he mewed. Back to work, Romanov.
Natasha’s smile only grew wider, but she resumed her activity, balancing and flipping and walking along the narrow beam.
As he ran along the beam himself, weaving through her limbs and trying to trip her up (increasing the difficulty level, he would claim. It did nothing, she was too good) he let the moment take him.
This was why he so longed to be a kitten sometimes. Life had taught him to wear so many masks and overthink every little bit of happiness that came his way for fear it would be violently ripped away from him or was just a cruel trick in the first place. Sometimes, his brilliant mind was a heavy burden.
As a kitten, though, he had a kind of focus he never could have in his two-legged form: a limited number of things on his mind at any given time. It also provided him with the freedom, one he’d been denied most of his life, to express his emotions honestly with those he cared about, something he was working on but was still so very hard to do as a human.
He’d have to give Loki some extra special loving when he had opposable thumbs again.