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Four Paws, Zero Fucks

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None of the reunited Avengers saw the blast of magic hit Iron Man until he was falling through the air.

There was no Hulk to catch him this time.

Captain America was too far away.

Vision was too slow.

But Wanda’s magic wasn’t.

She slowed him just enough so that his landing wouldn’t crack the pavement.

Captain America and Black Widow called to him through the commlink, but he didn’t answer.

Vision used his ability to pass through solid material to make his way across the battlefield.

He was the only one who knew where the latches to open the suits were.

Captain America demanded he report, but Vision ignored him.

He didn’t say what Tony’s condition was, only flying away with him and the suit in hand.

*

“Vision, we need to work as a team out there,” Steve said hours later, after the villain had been caught.

“You seem to have forgotten that you are no longer in charge, Rogers,” Vision said with an almost mockingly pleasant voice. “I am second in command. Mr. Stark is first in command. I deemed it necessary to evacuate him from the field since he was unconscious.”

“A real leader wouldn’t leave without a word.”

“A real leader wouldn’t lie to his teammates.” Steve’s face became a blotchy red. “I trusted that the team would be able to handle itself, and I was correct.”

“Can you just tell me what Tony’s condition is?”

“He is awake.”

*

Loki wasn’t an Avenger, nor did he want to be one.

After the All-Father had woken from his Odin-Sleep, Loki gave him back his kingship.

Odin didn’t appreciate Loki taking charge, despite him being a better king than Thor ever could be. He was banished to Midgard for the foreseeable future.

Thor had been overwhelmed with happiness when Loki appeared and told him he was no apparition.

Somehow Loki ended up living with the Avengers while Thor went back to Asgard to learn how to be a proper king.

“Mr. Loki, I wish you’d take your cellphone with you more often,” Friday said when Loki teleported into the tower with bags of new clothing in hand.

Loki set down the bags and slipped off his sunglasses.

“What is it?”

“My little-bro wants to talk to you. Boss was hit by a spell that turned him into a cat.”

“How big of a cat?” A hologram of a small cat appeared. Loki frowned. Transformations weren’t terribly hard to do, but downsizing someone was dangerous. It was hard to get back that which was taken by magic. “Where is he?”

“In his penthouse. You’ve been granted permission to go there by my baby-bro.”

Loki nodded before teleporting there.

A fluffy brown cat jumped high in the air as Loki appeared. Its hair stood on end, making it look twice as big.

“Apologies, Stark. I am here to help.” He eyed the cat. Its white underbelly and paws were bright compared to the rest of its fur.

“He is stressed,” Vision said while leaning down to pick Tony up. He let out a huff before curling up in Vision’s arms.

“Understandably so. My first shapeshift had been an accident. I would have been terrified if my mother hadn’t been there.” Tony let out a sigh and Loki eyed him. “Do I have your permission to examine you?” Loki asked.

Tony hopped out of Visions’ arms and onto the coffee table as means of permission. Loki sat in the chair in front of him.

“This will be hands on,” Loki informed in. Tony bobbed his head.

Loki started by placing his hand on Tony’s head, seeing if his mind had been damaged.

“Your brain is functioning quite nicely.” Tony puffed up with pride and Loki rolled his eyes. He put his hand on Tony’s chest. “The damage to your chest is still present and stable.” Loki brushed his hand down Tony’s back, causing him to arch. Tony blinked in confusion at his reaction. “Nothing seems to be amiss,” Loki concluded.

“Except for the fact that he is a cat,” Rhodes deadpanned as he wheeled himself into the room. Loki hadn’t heard his approach.

Loki grinned.

“Yes, except for that.”

Tony hopped over to Rhodes’ lap.

“It is not safe to downsize someone to such a degree. I will have to consult my tomes.” Loki stood up and was startled when Tony jumped and latched onto Loki’s clothes with his claws. He let out a pathetic mewling. Loki lifted him up, slightly annoyed that his shirt now had tiny holes in it. “Magic requires patience.” He handed Tony over to Rhodes.

Tony sighed as Loki disappeared.

*

Tony’s tail was flicking agitatedly as he sat on Rhodey’s lap.

The other Avengers were still stunned that he was somehow a cat.

Kamala was the first one to break the silence.

“I’m so happy you’re okay!” Her arms elongated and she scooped him up from the other side of the table. Tony made a grumbling noise when she hugged him. “Oh right! I guess you wouldn’t like being picked up.” She sat him down. Tony licked his paw and smoothed out the fur on his head. “You’re so cute,” Kamala whispered.

He decided to grace her by sitting on her lap.

Kamala let out a happy little noise and started petting him. It was a nice feeling.

“What are we doing to fix this?” Steve asked. Tony could see Rhodey’s flinch of annoyance. Vision was perfectly composed.

“Loki has been consulted and is looking into the matter. I have informed Carol Danvers of the situation and she has agreed to come and cover Iron Man’s position temporarily.”

“Captain Marvel is coming?” Kamala squeaked out.

Tony let out a garbled sound that was meant to be a laugh. He enjoyed Kamala’s enthusiasm, especially since she was finally getting to meet her hero.

*

Tony was bored. He wanted into his workshop, but knew he wouldn’t make any progress as a cat.

He was also worried that his ‘bots would be a little too enthusiastic with their greetings and run over his tail.

Wanda sat down in the couch that was closest to him with a book. She rarely could stand to being in the same room as him usually. The feeling was mutual.

Tony wasn’t beyond being petty. This was his territory. He’d already rubbed himself on that couch.

Tony started off with a menacing growl. She glanced at him with dull eyes. He jumped over to the backrest beside her and began yowling right into her ear.

Wanda reeled backwards.

“What do you want, Stark?” she hissed at him.

“I want you to go away.” Tony cast out his thoughts towards her the way Loki had taught him to. It only worked on someone who was capable of picking up thoughts.

“You are being petty,” she said in response.

“No. My house, my rules. You’ve already got free lodging. I don’t feel safe with you around, especially while I’m in this form.”

“I would never harm a cat.”

“I’m still Tony Stark. Considering you mind raped me, tried to kill me, and used your powers to dump a ton of cars on me, I think it’s understandable for me not to want you to be in my vicinity.”

Wanda looked startled. Tony was experiencing a similar emotion. He wasn’t usually so bold when it came to speaking to the reinstated Avengers.

“You willingly joined a Hydra organization and fucked with our heads. I bet you don’t even know how many people died when you set off the Hulk. You should be in jail for that, instead Steve took you in as his pet project. I bet he did it because he wanted to be more in control after Ultron.” Tony growled. “I’m just glad you didn’t hurt Vision permanently—You know what? You need to get a job to pay for the holes you put into the compound. You’ve been in a bubble too long. First in hate, then with Hydra, and now with the Avengers. You’re sheltered.”

Wanda was gaping at him and Tony decided his job here was done.

“Welcome to the real world, bitch,” he projected while strutting out.

*

Typing with paws was no fun.

He’d sent a general description of what he wanted done to some of his lawyers. They were drawing up a contract where Wanda would pay for the damages she caused to the compound.

Tony knew it wouldn’t take long for them to put it together and Friday was compiling a list of costs.

“Boss, Vision called for a meeting. Colonel Danvers has just arrived.”

Tony hummed before jumping off his desk and leaving his office.

Friday automatically opened the elevator doors for him.

Tony fought back the urge to groom himself. He didn’t want to cough up a fur ball. 

He was joined in the elevator by Natasha. They ignored each other. Which is what Tony preferred.

When the elevator opened, the scent of another cat set Tony on edge.

He stuck to the edges of the hallway as he prowled towards the conference room.

Natasha went on ahead without comment.

Tony peeked in the room and zeroed in on a cat-carrier.

Sharp eyes met his own.

The other cat gave nothing away.

“Mr. Stark,” Carol said, pulling his attention away from the other cat. It was in a sturdy enough cage for Tony to ignore it… for now.

He hopped onto the table and held out his paw to her. Without missing a beat Carol shook his paw.

Tony knew there was a reason he liked her.

He meowed in greeting.

“I see you met my cat, Chewie. He’ll be staying in my room for the duration of my stay.” Tony tilted his head to the side. “I didn’t know how long I would be, so I brought her.”

Tony bobbed his head and then looked at Vision before going to sit on Rhodey’s lap.

Vision took that as the cue to start their meeting.

Tony was snug against Rhodey and was content to listen to them talk about how Tony’s absence and Carol’s arrival would impact their formation and strategy in the field.

The meeting wrapped up.

“There’s another matter we need to discuss,” Steve said before everyone could stand.

It was clear to Tony what Steve was going to say. Tony jumped on the table so he could see Steve properly.

“If you have a concern then you need to tell me first so it can be put through the proper channels,” Vision said before Steve could continue. Steve turned slightly to Vision.

“Tony said some very hurtful things to Wanda and demanded she pay for the damages done to the compound.” Steve’s arms were crossed in front of him, showing his irritation. Wanda, on her part, was staring at the table, motionless.

“I may have an explanation for that,” Loki said, startling them all. He wasn’t an Avenger and didn’t come to the meetings. His grin appeared first, followed by the rest of him. “One who is not trained in the art of shapeshifting usually fall victim to the instincts of their alternative form. Wanda was in Tony’s territory. From what I gathered, words were exchanged after he told her to leave.”

“That’s no excuse.” Steve’s was looking at Tony with suspicion.

“I’m sorry that our conversation might hurt the team’s efficiency, but I’m not sorry I hurt your feelings. If there is a next time, take it to Vision so we can hash this out on our own. Talking to Steve about it will only strain things further.” It was kind of a low way of handling the situation, but something about being a cat made it so that he really didn’t care.

Wanda grabbed Steve’s arm.

“He has said he is sorry.” Some of the tension melted away from Steve’s shoulders.

“I’m glad we put this to rest.” Steve nodded in a way that reeked of self-righteousness.

“That doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay for the repairs though.”

Tony looked at one of Friday’s sensors. She read his intention.

“If you direct your attention to the front of the room, I have listed the costs that were incurred in order to fix the damage Wanda caused in the Avengers Compound.”

A boring looking spreadsheet appeared on screen. Tony rolled his eyes. He knew Friday was capable of making far better means to show the information in full.

“Tony, this is ridiculous.” Natasha gave him the look that always made Tony feel like shit. His claws extended automatically.

“I believe the boss would say, actions have consequences,” Friday said. Tony nodded his head in agreement, proud of his girl.

“These costs are just a drop in the bucket for you.” Natasha waved her hand dismissively.

Tony puffed up in agitation. How could she not see this wasn’t about money?

“Damage was done to the compound.” Vision’s voice was even. “As I was part of the fight I will take a portion of the cost incurred. Friday, please open my bank account and make the transfer.”

“Right away, bro.” Friday adjusted the cost on the spreadsheet.

“So you’re using Stark’s money to pay for it, but she can’t?” Natasha asked.

“Ms. Romanoff, if you hadn’t jumped to a conclusion and instead asked, I would have informed you that I have my own income from various patents I hold. I have also written a book, but unfortunately it did not flourish.” Natasha’s mouth snapped shut at his admission.

Tony walked over to Vision and butted his head against him. Tony had liked the book. He’d offered up some of his PR people to promote it, but Vision wanted to go it alone.

Vision petted him.

“You can’t expect Wanda to be an Avenger and get a job.” Steve gestured to the spreadsheet. “And this cost is ridiculous. I could have bought a whole house with this much money!”

“Are you adjusting for inflation?” Rhodey asked sarcastically.

“Let’s stay on task,” Vision said, cutting in. “Ms. Maximoff, what do you think about paying?”

Wanda shifted in her seat, looking younger than she actually was.

“You paid so I guess I should too.” Wanda shrugged.

“Please do not let my actions influence you. Your reasons should be your own.”

Wanda sat up straight.

“I broke something and was not here to fix it. I should be the one to pay for the repairs.”

*

Tony was yowling for no other reason than to annoy Rhodey.

“I will shove you in a bag and throw you in the river,” Rhodey threatened idly as he continued typing on his laptop.

Tony yowled louder and jumped onto Rhodey’s shoulder and bounced off before Rhodey could grab him.

“I don’t care how bored you are. I have work to do. Friday, put on a movie for him.”

“Boss has already watched a movie and was restless the whole time,” Friday informed in.

“I should just put you in Carol’s room, let you and her cat become friends.”

Tony hissed.

He wanted nothing to do with that other cat.

And what if it humped him?

Tony had already been accused of bestiality enough for one lifetime.

He grumbled loudly while slinking off.

In the elevator, he jumped up and bopped the button for Vision’s floor.

The elevator didn’t move right away. Friday was waiting for Vision’s approval.

Tony stared at his reflection in the metal of the door. At least he didn’t look like some haggard alley cat.

The elevator started to descend.

Vision’s level was composed mostly of arts and crafts.

He had no need for a kitchen or bedroom, opening his floor up.

“Mr. Stark,” Vision greeted, not looking away from the painting he was working on.

The image didn’t make sense to Tony, but that wasn’t particularly surprising. The only art he knew was in engineering.

Tony meowed in greeting.

“I observed Wanda’s first day at work earlier. Due to her lack of job employment beyond the Avengers, criminal record, and lack of high school education she has taken a job in retail.”

Tony flinched. He’d heard horror stories of working in retail from Pepper.

That probably wasn’t the best environment for someone who’s powers were often dictated by their emotions.

“I have concluded that her having a job will have a positive effect. It has also made me think that perhaps I should go out and see the world beyond the Avengers and my own studies.” Vision’s eyes flickered to him and Tony could see a glimmer of worry in them. Tony nodded encouragingly. “This would of course take place after you have returned to your normal form.”

Tony walked over to an easel that had a tablet on it. He made a reaching motion even though he was far too short to reach it.

Vision understood what he wanted and turned on the tablet before placing it in front of Tony.

He opened a note and began typing. When he was done, he batted the tablet in towards Vision.

A smile slowly grew on Vision’s.

“Thank you, Mr. Stark. Your approval means a lot to me. I think I’d like to fly commercial rather than on your private jet, to really get the experience.”

Tony shrugged before walking off to find someone else to bother.

*

He understood why cats should wear bells when he walked in on Natasha talking to Clint on the phone.

“This is bullshit. Tony needs to stop being petty. I bet he’s going to tell me I need to pay for it too and take food off my kids’ plates,” Clint said in annoyed tone.

“You’re out of sight, out of mind.”

He normally would have just left, but being a cat made him feel fearless.

Tony entered the kitchen and Natasha’s composure became guarded.

He hopped onto the counter and sat right in front of her.

If they were going to talk shit about him he wouldn’t allow it to happen behind his back.

“I have to go.” Natasha ended the call. “It’s not nice to eavesdrop.”

Tony laughed at the irony and the noise came out as a stuttered huff.

Besides, she was in the communal kitchen.

Natasha narrowed her eyes.

“I don’t know if being a cat makes it harder for you to control your ego or if your ego is just too big for your cat body. Wanda not being on standby—”

Tony yowled loudly, tired of her shit.

When she tried to continue, he yowled again.

She glared at him and left.

When Tony was human again, he’d definitely have to buy an airhorn.

*

Kamala was being a complete stalker and Tony wasn’t having it.

Everywhere Carol went Kamala went shortly after while staying out of eyesight.

He was certain that Carol knew Kamala was there.

Tony swished his tail in anticipatience as he stalked the stalker.

When she peeked around the corner to look at Carol, Tony pounced onto her and bit her ankle.

Kamala jumped forward while yelping.

Carol hurried over to them.

“Are you alright?” Carol asked, glancing and Kamala then Tony.

“He bit me,” Kamala pouted.

Tony rolled his eyes. He hadn’t even broken the skin.

“I should probably check it out then,” Carol said. “My cat is a biter.”

Tony felt proud of himself as he watched them go.

*

Tony was looking for a nice place to nap when he saw Steve sitting in the living room.

He had an old compass with a picture of Peggy in it.

Tony stalked over to Steve, even more grateful for how quite he moved as a cat.

Steve was so caught up that he didn’t even see Tony get into position.

Tony pounced, grabbing the compass with his teeth and taking off.

“Hey!” Steve bolted upwards and try to catch him. Tony had far my maneuverability though.

Steve rammed into a wall while trying to make a turn.

The elevator doors were open just enough for Tony to slip through.

“Tony!” But the doors had already shut.

Tony dropped the compass. It tasted like cheap metal, probably government issued.

Friday took him to his lab, because at this point she could practically read his mind.

Tony avoided his ‘bots and went over to a scrap heap of metal and wires. He dug into it (careful not to hurt his little paws) and hid it there.

After that he played a game meant for cats on his touch screen desk then fell asleep.

*

Tony woke up human and with a note taped to his face.

He sat up while wincing.

Sleeping on a table while being a cat: Awesome.

Sleeping on one as a human: Not Awesome.

He pulled off the note, that had no right to be that sticky.

It was typical Loki gloating that he’d figured it out.

Tony shucked it to the side and Dum-E happily went to clean it.

“Boss, there’s seven messages from Mr. Rogers.” There was an edge of humor to Friday’s voice that made Tony grin.

“Delete them and open a line to the resident geriatric.”

“Tony, you took my compass and I’d appreciate if you’d give it back.” Steve sounded annoyingly reasonable.

“Hmm, I do faintly remember that. But I mean, we’re fine with keeping things from other people, right? That’s just something we do,” Tony deadpanned while cracking his back. That table had done nothing good for him.

“That’s completely different.”

“I don’t know about that. I’m trying to protect myself. Seeing a picture of my deceased God-Mother really makes me sad.” Somehow Tony knew that if Peggy was still alive she’d scold him for this, but laugh on the inside. “I don’t want to open old wounds or anything.” Tony grinned.

“Tony, please. Peggy gave that to me during the war.”

“That definitely doesn’t sound as important as my mother giving me her love, understanding, and support.”

“I already said sorry.” Steve’s voice was gruff with frustration.

“I guess I’ll say sorry then—in three years.” Tony motioned for Friday to end the call.

Tony went to his latest invention, excited to work on it again.

He was grinning like the cat that ate the canary.