It was Bruce who came up with a solution to Clint's PR problem; a solution that would forever be known to SHEILD as the "Furby defense". As Tony's sciencebro, he alone had known that Tony (prior to being cattified) had purchased half a dozen Furbys and replaced their circuitry with Startek in preparation for "the Most Epic Halloween Prank Ever!" The details to said prank had been lacking, but Bruce did know where the Stark-Ferbys (Furbystarks?) were being kept. He liberated one and presented it to Clint.
"You want me to what now?" the archer asked, nonplussed.
"Have JARVIS film you attacking this Furby. And allow me to post it online."
"You've got some weird kinks, man," Clint replied, and to himself he muttered, "It's always the quiet ones…"
Bruce rolled his eyes but smirked inwardly. If course he could have explained his plan plainly and upfront, but what fun would that be? His sciencebro was a cat – he had to entertain himself somehow. "Look. What is a Furby?"
"Really creepy and annoying. What are you getting at?"
"Correct. And Tony has souped this one up with his own person tech – what is it now?"
Clint inched backwards. "A time-bomb."
"Right. Even… demonic would you say?"
"Yeah. Get it away from me."
Bruce ignored Clint's request. "And what does a Furby look like? Is it… furry?"
"Yeah, so? Doc, what is – Oh!" Give the Hawk a cookie – he got it!
"I film myself trashing this thing, you post it online, and people will think this was what I was talking about the whole time – people can't bitch about me being cruel to animals if there's no animal!"
"Eureka," Bruce deadpanned.
The subsequent filming went even better than Bruce had expected. It turned out that as a cat Tony had apparently no memory of creating the Super!furby, and he was utterly terrified of it. The video started with the Furby cackling insanely and walking slowly forwards as the black and white kitten fled in horror. Clint then got to play the part of hero by putting an arrow through the screeching toy. But the Furby did not stop; it continued to move forwards, eerily reminiscent of a Terminator. Only it was a Furby. Which is much more terrifying, actually.
Off camera, Clint could be heard muttering, "What the Hell? Stark, what did you do to this thing?"
Loki to the rescue! The black kitten stalked into the frame, puffed up and hissing like a rattlesnake.
"Hey! Stay away from there!"
A second arrow then pierced the now sparking Furby and gave off a localized EMP. The Furby wailed as it died and Loki leaped at it, knocking it over. Go Loki!
"Get away from there!" Clint charged on screen and scooped Loki up in one hand. The video cut out a moment later.
Clint was pissed Loki had stolen his moment and spoiled the shoot, but Bruce declared it "Perfect!"
"What? Loki ruined it! Does Stark have any more Furbys?"
"No need – remember, no one outside SHEILD knows who these cats are. To the average viewer, it looks like you were concerned about either of the kittens getting hurt."
"Oh, I- OW!" Loki chose just that moment to sink his needle-like teeth into the skin between Clint's finger and thumb. The archer predictably lost his grip on the kitten, who (also predictably) fled the room. Really, Clint, you should know better by now.
But you don't.
"I'M GOING TO KILL YOU, YOU LITTLE FUCKER!" Clint shouted as he chased after the fleeing god-turned-cat.
Bruce smiled as he saved that little clip for his personal collection.
The video did indeed resolve Hawkeye's little PR nightmare, but presented it's own set of problems. Suddenly the Tower was flooded with even more mail, cooing over the Avenger's new cats (and apologizing to Hawkeye for thinking he could possibly be "evil, heartless, animal-abusing scum"). There were also gifts.
"JARVIS! WHAT HAS BEFALLEN MY BROTHER?"
"Loki has imbibed an herb known as 'catnip'. It was sent to the tower from one of his new admirers."
"YOU INFORMED ME THE GIFTS WERE SAFE! I WILL NOT STAND FOR THIS!"
"Do not be alarmed. Catnip is a recreational substance that affects approximately 50% of cats. It has been known to elicit a variety of responses, but lying on the floor and drooling as well as purring are commonly observed in affected animals. You brother's response is perfectly normal."
Tony zoomed through the room.
"Hyperactivity has also been observed. Mr. Stark's response is likewise perfectly normal." Well, of course – since when is Tony not hyperactive?
The next month passed along a similar vein. Loki harassed Clint; Clint retaliated. Tony learned not to chew on electrical cords; Natasha was amused by the irony. Thor doted over both of the kittens (but especially Loki); Steve indulged his childhood longing for pets. And Bruce had JARVIS film everything. EVERYTHING.
Including the morning when Steve left Loki and Tony asleep in the living room in order to get some chips (barbeque flavor – Steve was suitably impressed variety of snack foods available in the 21st century) and returned to find the engineer and the god back in their respective engineer and god forms, still asleep and curled around each other. And naked. Completely, totally naked.
Steve stared. Which was perfectly understandable – if you walked in on a naked God of Mischief cuddling an equally naked Tony Stark, wouldn't you stare? Of course you would.
Loki, eyes still closed, simply smiled. "Captain, did your mother not teach you that it is impolite to stare?"
"Hm?" Tony shifted sleepily. "That you, Loks?"
Loki released his hold and opened his eyes, "What do you mean, 'is it me'? If you have taken another to your bed, Stark, I swear-"
Tony chucked, "Relax, sugar buns, it was a joke. Oh, hey, Steve! Wait why are you in my bedroom? Wait, this isn't my bedroom…"
Steve's mouth opened and closed silently. Loki stretched languidly, then - maintaining eye contact with the gob-smacked super-solder - caressed Tony's naked ass, kissed him behind the ear, cooed, "Until we meet again, my sweet," and vanished in a puff of green smoke.
Tony frowned and sat up just as Loki disappeared. "Wait! Oh, of course! Leave just before shit's about to hit the fan!" Tony muttered towards the space Loki had previously occupied. Sheepishly, he turned to Steve. "So… Cap. I guess the cat's out of the bag, huh?"
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU'VE BEEN SLEEPING WITH LOKI?!"
Tony sighed and rolled his eyes, "Sex, Legolas, it means we've been having sex."
"FOR HOW LONG?!"
"I don't know, six months?"
"Maybe seven? Just after he got back from Asgard, anyway. Did you know they were dripping snake venom in his eyes? And before the whole Chitari thing, he tried to kill himself?"
Tony frowned. "Not good! The Chitari tortured him too; the portal thing was totally not his idea. The Chitari treated him like crap. Asgard treats him like crap. He keeps coming back here because we don't pull shit like that. And notice, since we've been fucking, his body count's at a big, fat zero. I told him that if he kills anybody this time around, I'm gone. My dick is literally protecting the Earth – respect it."
"NO! I WILL NEVER RESPECT YOUR DICK, YOU HEAR ME? NEVER!" and he stormed from the room.
The remaining Avengers shared awkward looks. "Well, I'd say he took it rather well," Bruce finally said. Natasha threw a wad of paper at him.
The next day, Doom vanished from SHIELD custody. The day after that, a gray spotted kitten was delivered to the tower in a steel, reinforced carrier. There was a note.
"Dearest Tony," it read in elegant script.
"I have kept my promise not to kill any of your kind. However, I could not allow Victor to go unpunished after the indignity he forced upon us. The spell I have placed on him will expire either at Rangarok or when he reaches the end of his natural lifespan – whichever comes first. Give Barton my regards,
"Ps: Tell Thor I still hate him."
Loki continued to keep his promise. He also continued to drop off various and sundry villains, rampaging aliens, and telemarketers on the Avengers' doorstep in kitten form. Some of them turned back after a month; some of them didn't. After several months of this – and many clandestine meetings between Tony and Loki - Loki abruptly announced he was moving in. That day. Tony and Thor were delighted. Steve and Natasha were wary, but could not deny that Loki as a tentative ally was by far preferable to Loki as an enemy. Bruce merely smiled.
That left Clint. They all expected him to be (understandably) upset, but instead he declared the announcement, "Awesome! I've got so much material man! If he's living here it will be revenge 24/7, and no pulling punches to keep the Humane Society off my ass!" And he retreated to his room, cackling. Loki looked amused.
He was less amused that night when Banner insisted he join them for movie night, only to find the night's selection was a two-hour highlight reel of his and Tony's kittenish escapades. Tony was by turns embarrassed and happy to join the rest of the Avengers in laughing themselves sick (Especially when it was Steve's turn to be embarrassed. The 'kitty nap time' sequence was especially saccharine – who knew Steve could sing?).
And then there was Banner - the Doctor was lounging casually on his end of the sofa watching Loki with an expression that is most often associated with the phrase, 'Problem, bro?'
Angry, but also subtly impressed by Banner's creativity (Really, it had nothing to do with being afraid of the Hulk. Really.), Loki merely crossed his arms and smirked. Challenge accepted.
The next day, the Avengers woke to find a new kitten in the tower and no Bruce. The mystery was solved fifteen minutes later when the tiny, brown tabby transformed into a 40 pound, green sphinx that Loki had a great deal of trouble peeling off his face. This time, Clint complied the highlight reel.