Well...this is another unexpected fic. Enjoy!

Spoilers: Not really. Just for Avengers. But, if you're in Avengers fanfiction, I'm going to go ahead an assume you know what happens.

Also, minor reference to my other fic PopTarts. Check it out if you havent (yes, I'm THAT shameless.)

I refer to this "rule book" : shieldrecruitsurvivaltips . tumblr . com HIGHLY recommend you check it out! My tumblr is writergirl28 . tumblr . com. You know, in case you're interested.

Disclaimer: Yeah. I wish I owned it. But I don't.

Clint Barton never owned a pet.

Yes, he lived with a circus for the better part of his adolescent life, but you can't technically count elephants and lions as 'pets,' especially considering the fact that most of the time they were treated better than him.

A pet held a sense of normality; of a life he never had a chance to have. He knew his career path didn't hold much in terms of white picket fence, wife in the front yard holding a baby on one hip and an apple pie in the other, but would it be so damn hard for him to have an animal waiting for him when he got home from getting his shit blown to kingdom come?


(Rumor had it that there was some unwritten rule book that said no pets were allowed on the Helicarrier. Rumor had it that said rulebook also painted a picture of him being a masterful troublemaker. When he confronted Coulson, he received an eye roll of neither confirmation nor denial.)

Which is why, on the first solo mission since 'The New York Event' (not to be confused with 'The New Mexico Incident') he didn't mind bringing something home with him as a souvenir.

The plan was to drop his gear on the jet he would be taking to Avengers Tower that night. Natasha's birthday was that night, and he would be damned if Thor could make it all the way back from freakin' Asgard and he missed it for the first time since they became partners.

It all would have worked out perfectly, had Fury not been so damn insistent on having a debriefing right after he landed.

So he sulked into the conference room, set his quiver and bow on the chair beside him, and calmly and carefully tried to explain to Fury why the fact that it was not, in fact, his fault which lead to the leveling of a minor terrorist outlet in the middle of nowhere.

The debrief was going faster than he ever could have hoped. One glance at his watch as he was wrapping up told him he would be landing on the roof of the tower just in time to join in Stark's (more than likely) drunken rendition of the birthday song.

And then it all went to hell.

His quiver began to wiggle in the chair. Fury spared it a glare with his good eye before going back over the timeline. Then it happened again. This time, the glare was directed at him.

He offered a sheepish grin back and placed the quiver and the bow on the floor. Fury, seemingly satisfied, continued with his rambling. He managed to get in a few "yeps" "uh-huhs" and "of courses" before the quiver started rolling across the floor straight into the wall. A soft cry cut through the tense silence.


"Yes, sir?"

"What's in your quiver? And don't get cute."

He didn't get the chance. The little black kitten he picked up moments before the jet lifted squirmed her way out of the quiver and made her way over to Clint before he could play innocent. She wiggled her tiny butt, tempted to make the jump from the floor to his lap. Knowing it wouldn't be possible, he sighed and scooped her up.


"Yes, sir?"

"What did I tell you about strays?"

"You remind me every time I go on a mission, sir."

"Then how do explain this?"

"In my defense, I do not believe she is capable of causing me any bodily harm." At that moment, the kitten decided to give a small nibble on the inside of his thumb. Fury, the bastard, gave a smug grin as he cried out.

Turns out Natasha's birthday didn't go exactly as planned. While he was off in god knows where, the rest of the team had been sent to do a little recruiting.

(Because according to SHIELD, having a giant green rage monster might not always win the wars.)

Natasha was the only one at the tower when he got back. He found her sitting in his room, wearing his sweatshirt, sitting on his bed.

God bless.

"How'd it go?" She flipped a page in her magazine.

He dropped his stuff at the door, taking careful consideration with his knapsack. "I got blown up again. You?"

"I dealt with Johnny Storm again."

He winced. "Ok, you might have had it worse." She raised an eyebrow.

"He's gotten mistaken for Steve ever since the invasion. His ego is now immeasurable."

"Everybody else?"

"Jane took a tumble down some stairs in the lab. Thor pledged me his most sincere apologies and promised me another box of PopTarts as he left to go see her. Bruce and Stark are currently at Xavier's."

He let out a laugh. "You're comparing Logan and Stark's hair in your head right now aren't you?" She asked. He nodded. "Pepper promised to take a photo of them together if they didn't kill each other first."


"Visiting Peggy in Florida." He gave a sad smile. Coulson managed to track down the now elderly Peggy who was settled comfortably in a retirement home. Rogers sometimes stopped down to visit, even though the Alzheimer's had taken over and she no longer remembered him. Even Stark wouldn't make jokes about his trips, only offering to foot the bill.

To lighten the mood, he rolled so that his head ended up in her lap. She lifted her magazine and gave him an amused look. "Happy birthday."

She gave a small smile. "Thank you." Her gaze shifted to the door. "Why is your bag moving?"

"Shit," he jumped up and opened it. "I may have taken a stowaway home with me." The tiny cat jumped into his palm (holy crap she was small) and rode safety over to where Natasha sat. "I hope you don't mind." He looked to Natasha's face and was floored. She looked so…soft.

"May I?" She asked, holding out her hand. He carefully passed her over.

"Careful, she's a biter," he warned. The entire flight over his tiny co-pilot nibbled on his fingers. His words fell on deaf ears, however. Natasha was too busy coddling the creature, alternating between Russian and English comforting words. It was then Clint remembered he wasn't the only one who skipped childhood.

And that he forgot to get Natasha a birthday present.

It looked like he was going to have to share his first pet.

The kitten wasn't just shared with Natasha. She was shared with the whole damn tower.

Natasha named the kitten Danielle. For a while he didn't understand, (and didn't ask), but it wasn't until a few weeks later when Fury handed him a file with the details of Coulson's death that he learned his handler's middle name. Daniel.

Danielle adjusted easily to life with the Avengers. Stark originally threw a fit, citing there was dangerous lab equipment begging to be knocked over by her, and didn't pets shed, and wasn't Rogers allergic to pets or have asthma or something?

("Maybe eighty years ago, Tony," Clint replied as he allowed Danielle onto the table to finish the rest of the milk in his cereal bowl.)

Stark eventually got over it. It may have had something to do with Pepper's love of all creatures, but no one could prove it. However it wasn't an uncommon sight to see the cat nestled up on a desk in the lab as Stark and Banner poured over something or the other.

(They both knew better to try experimenting on the cat.)

Thor, who was originally taken aback at her presence to the point that he called Mjolnir from three floors down to defend himself, got along rather well with the cat. He allowed her to sit in his lap and took a rather entertaining amount of pleasure in moving a shoestring in front of her and getting her to chase it.

"A mighty warrior she shall be!" he declared.

Three days later the first mouse showed up dead in the lab, throat slashed open. Stark, while turning pale, said she took after her two 'parents' before ordering Dummy to dispose of the body.

(Natasha gave her three treats that day. Four more mice were found the next day.)

Banner got along fine with her. It was the Other Guy who fell in love with her. During the various experiments he and Stark attempted to find a way to sedate the other guy, it just took Danielle stretching after her afternoon nap and the Hulk saying "pretty kitty" before he de-hulked while Stark watched disbelieving in the corner, his suit halfway on.

Rogers didn't arrive home from Florida until a month after Danielle had officially become a resident of the tower. Hill told them Peggy passed away while Rogers had his first dance with her.

(Pepper cried. Jane moved into the tower. Clint held Natasha a little closer that night.)

For a few days, Rogers kept mostly to himself, sitting in the living room and sketching. Danielle just came and sat by him, purring as she leaned against his side. Somehow, that offered more comfort than any of them could have offered, and in a week, Rogers lead the charge into the middle of Ubecka-wherever-the-fuck-they-were-ustan.

Several months later, when reporters got sick of their calls getting rerouted to JARVIS and the council officially embraced the Avengers, a very-much-alive Phil Coulson showed up at the front door of the main room, a pink collar in hand, Danielle rubbing against his pant leg.

"So," he said to the dumbstruck Avengers, "I hear this is a home for strays now?"

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