Animals Assemble

Disclaimer: If I owned Avengers, I'd be more than a hopeless fangirl. I half-own the idea for this chapter, though.

Chapter 1: Another Damn Collar

The tuxedo feline scratched at his neck with his front paws, desperately trying to pry the newest symbol of ownership off of his body. It was now halfway over his head, and while it was usually easiest to get off after that, this one seemed to resize itself to fit whatever part of his body it was attached to. He brought a hind paw up to claw at the infuriating piece of material, suppressing a sigh of relief when the blasted invention finally came off of his body entirely. He glared down at the collar, scoffing at the pattern his humans had chosen this time. It was a black and white checker pattern, and while it was better than some of the others- like the pink hearts or yellow stars- it was still disgusting for any cat to be caught wearing. He gingerly groomed each of his paws and gave his head a quick scrub to make sure all of his fur was back in place before looking back to the collar. He leaned down, quickly picked it up with his canines, and began walking towards the kitchen where the humans were.

He made no big show of his accomplishment – he didn't drop it at their feet or meow about it, didn't stare at them until they noticed or anything else to get their attention. He simply leapt gracefully onto the table and unhooked his fangs from the material, patiently waiting for the humans to notice on their own. He licked at his chest, smoothing down the patch of fluffy, white fur. When his fur was perfect, he gave a yawn and twitched his tail, scanning the activity in the room.

One human, a young girl around ten years old, sat on the counter a few feet away from the table the tuxedo was perched on. The girl was happily swinging her legs as her mother mixed something in one of the larger mixing bowls beside her. Another human, a twelve-year-old boy, was digging out various ingredients from the cupboard across the room from the mother and young girl. The feline eyed the bowl as soon as the mother moved out of his way and immediately recognized it as something the humans called "cookie dough." It was gooey and odd and apparently very sweet. He brought his hind paw up to scratch his jaw as the son poured a white, powdery substance into the mixing bowl. He half-expected that to get their attention before remembering that they could only hear his movements when he had the collar on, and since that was his entire point for sitting there, they couldn't hear him anymore. The first few collars didn't have anything on them except atrocious patterns, but for some reason that the tuxedo had yet to figure out, the newest attempt had a bell on it. A bell. A small, annoying, jingly bit attached to an ugly strip of cloth and plastic and they expected him to leave it around his neck? Not likely.

With an inaudible sigh, the cat flopped down on the table, stretching his front paws out and curling his hind paws in. Once comfortable, he nuzzled his nose into his front leg and continued waiting for the humans to look his way.

He didn't have to wait long. The young girl finally looked towards the cat when she heard the soft scratching of his half-retracted claws against the wood tabletop.

"Mom, look! Loki took his collar off again!" the young girl said urgently, grasping her mother's arm in order to get her attention. The mother looked at the girl before looking at the cat on the table, giving a tired sigh.

"So he did. And I thought for sure he'd like that one."

Loki internally scoffed. He was a dignified feline with confidence and a god complex, and they thought he would enjoy wearing broken stripes with a noisemaker attached? Please.

"Oh, well." the mother said, shrugging her shoulders. "We can try again another time."

Loki lifted his black-and-white head to stare at the women in what most would call astonishment. He had taken off every collar they had ever placed on him- the count was up to six now- and had broken his record for how long the collar lasted- with the numbers always decreasing- and they still wanted to buy him another one? He shook his head and stood, giving a small stretch before jumping off the table. Humans were strange.

A few days later, the tuxedo knew something was up with the young girl ran into the house smiling and holding a plastic bag that read "Pet Smart." He had seen the bag and the girl's expression at the same time before, so before anyone could realize he was in the living room- which is the first room you see after opening the front door- he ran to the other end of the house. He scrambled under the bed in the son's room in a desperate attempt to avoid his embarrassing fate. After about ten minutes, things seemed to calm down. The daughter was no longer calling for Loki and the feline couldn't hear any footsteps along the hallway where the son's room was.

Poor, naïve Loki. Just as he began to creep out from underneath the bed, the daughter turned on her heels and looked down at the floor. Her eyes lit up and she beamed a smile so bright it put the sun to shame. The feline gave an irritated sigh and stalked up to the girl, accepting his torture only because he knew it wouldn't last long. He'd crawl out of the new collar in a matter of hours and maybe then the humans would finally take the hint. The young girl giggled happily as she broke open the package that held the new symbol of ownership. Loki watched with curious eyes. This one looked different than all the others. He could have sworn it had a bow attached. He lifted his head in uncharacteristic obedience and allowed the questionable material to be fastened around his neck. Once the deed was done and the girl began gushing over how cute Loki looked, he sauntered off to the bathroom to sit in front of the full-body mirror. Just as he thought, there was a bow attached to the new collar. He had seen a similar, if not identical, accessory around the son's neck when he wore an all-black outfit for a school concert. It seemed to be very formal, handsome even. The tuxedo feline decided that he liked this new adornment. It didn't make noise, it didn't irritate his neck, and it wasn't atrociously patterned or colored. It was a solid forest green color, which accented his blue-green eyes rather well. He stared in the mirror in admiration for a few minutes, thinking that maybe the humans' symbol of ownership wasn't so bad after all.