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There but for the Grace of a Cat

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The last thing Tony expects when he goes off chasing an alien down after he has been summoned by a real life wizard, reunited with Bruce and then trying to rescue said wizard is to be stopped by Nick Fury of all people. Honestly does no one stay dead anymore? Even odder still is the cat he has cradled in his arms.

“Stark!” he calls as he runs towards him, black trench coat flapping in the wind behind him.

Tony stops and stares at him. What in the world? Then his brain reengages and he sends the kid his newest suit as he waits. “Kind of in a hurry here Nick.”

It’s a testament to Fury’s own rush that he doesn’t bother to glare at him at all. “I talked to Banner,” he says without pause when he reaches him, “you are going to need a powerful weapon on your side. Here.” He thrusts the cat into his arms.

Tony automatically adjusts his hold so he doesn’t drop the cat even as his brain sort of stutters again. Fury came all the way back from the dead to give him a cat . And - even more - call it a weapon . Is this some sort of crazy dream after all? Or did someone slip something into his coffee and he didn’t realize? “Ah, full offense meant here, but I don’t think this Thanos is going to die from the cuteness.”

“I don’t have time to explain. Trust me,” Fury insists.

Well that is the last thing Tony actually does, but Fury is right about one thing - they are short on time. Either he shoves the cat off or he humours the old pirate, but either way he needs to move. Now. “I assume the cat can survive a trip into space then?” Because why not at this point.

“Yes,” Fury nods seriously, “Her name is Goose. Take good care of her,” he orders.

Tony’s brain glitches for a third time today. The drug in coffee theory is growing stronger by the minute. “How the hell did you end up with Carol’s cat?” Well it was Carol’s CO, but same difference. Some might call it a stretch to assume, but how many tabby cats named Goose can there be in the world?

“How do you know Carol?” is Fury’s answering question.

About a million questions pop into Tony’s head at that, but damn now is not the time . The donut is getting farther and farther away every second. And he still has a wizard to save. “I have questions. You better be here when I get back or I’m hunting you down myself,” he says as he launches himself into the air and kicks it into gear. Time to rock and roll.

“Take care of my cat!” Fury yells after him.

Tony can barely hear him over the wind, already so far away from the ground. “Well Goose we’re going to have to wait a bit to have a real reunion. Sorry I don’t have any ice cream on me - we’ll have to get you some when we get back.”

Goose makes a noise of approval at the words ‘ice cream’ even as she is pressed against his chest at the speed they are going. Because she really does love ice cream.

But then he gets to the ship and finds the kid is still there and everything gets busy for a while.

:::

“You have a mighty weapon indeed,” one of the new guys - Drax, Tony is pretty sure his name is - agrees with a solemn nod.

“Oh yes,” another - the girl with too wide eyes and antennae - Mantis? - nods earnestly, “most fearsome.”

Tony looks at both of them as if they are nuts. Which they just might be in fact. The entire team of them. He glances over at the guy from Missouri and honestly he shouldn’t even be surprised anymore. He’s still half convinced this is all a drug dream.

But Missouri guy just nods too. “Oh yeah man. How did you get your hands on a Flerken? Those things are crazy dangerous.”

“This cute little kitty?” Peter - his Peter - asks as he pets Goose.

Goose, of course, is taking shameless advantage of it. She had abandoned Tony to be held by Peter as soon as he started cooing at her. He can hear her purring from here. Fickle thing. Of course that will all change again once ice cream is involved. Because seriously - ice cream .  And alright, she survived the trip so obviously she isn’t a normal cat. That doesn’t change the fact that he thinks all these people are nuts. The cat thing is only the candle on top of the cake.

Tony shrugs. “I told you - known the cat for years. She belonged to my friend’s CO. She let us play with her since she loved both me and Carol so much.” Tony especially. Carol would pet her occasionally, but Tony loved having that cat around.

“Are you sure she was human?” Strange asks.

Tony just stares at him, completely unimpressed. All this and that’s his contribution to this conversation? Yeah no. He doesn’t even bother answering verbally. He just continues to glare.

Strange holds up his hands in surrender.

“Are you sure her CO was human?” Missouri asks next. Because he refuses to call him Peter. They already have a Peter, they don’t need another. The fact that he uses nicknames anyways and instead of people’s real names is completely beside the point.

He shrugs because he’ll give him that. Dr Lawson looked human, but it's not like that means anything anymore. Just look at Thor and Loki. They looked human too, but they clearly weren’t. Looks can be deceiving is now a much more relevant phrase. “Maybe?” he says in answer, “I didn’t know her that well so it isn’t like I would be able to tell.”

“Well she must have been pretty bad ass to have a Flerken as a companion,” Missouri nods approvingly, “They can be picky you know.”

Tony feels a smile tugs at his lips as he glances over at Peter, who is still shamelessly cooing over Goose. Apparently it doesn’t matter if the cat in question is an alien or not, they still bring out that side of people.

Spoiled thing. Rhodey always complained that Tony was going to teach her bad manners, but that just shows what he knows. As if cats have manners to begin with. They act how they act and that’s it. Besides he has no room to talk when Tony knows what he was like around Dum-E at first. Talk about bad habits.

But as interesting as this all is they have bigger things to worry about. “Right, so about a plan,” he starts.

And really it’s impressive how quickly that particular conversation gets derailed. Doesn’t last long though before Mantis interrupts, asking, “Does your friend normally do that?”

They all turn to se Strange doing... something.

Frankly Tony has no idea, but he still gets the feeling that the answer is no. Then, as per typical of this day so far, it turns out that they only have one in fourteen million or so chances of winning. One. Tony is used to beating the odds, but even this is enough to make him nervous.

Then he finds out what the plan actually is...

:::

All told the first part of the plan actually goes well. Thanos arrives, monologues a bit and then is engaged in battle. That’s when things get a little wonky. He’s stronger than any of them expect, especially with those stones of his. If Tony didn’t think that they needed to win before he definitely knows they need to win now. He is almost too much with only four stones. With all six he really is going to be unbeatable.

One chance is right.

Still they manage to get him suitably in position so that Mantis can do her thing. It really does seem that this is going to work after all. That they are going to win. After six years of having the same nightmare haunting him it might finally be over. Done. Finished.

Then Missouri starts to lose his cool and Tony can see their chance visibly slipping away. He does his best to talk some sense into him. Not because he’s unsympathetic or heartless like so many people have accused him of being. No. It’s because there is a time and place and now is not the time.

Just when everything seems lost Goose makes her way out onto the battlefield, meowing. Hilariously enough everyone seems to freeze as she approaches. All eyes are on her, Thanos especially.

“No,” he whispers in horror.

Which is the exact moment Goose opens her mouth - and eats the gauntlet, hand and all. Then she licks her lips calmly as if nothing had happened at all.

Um... what ?

Then, diverging even farther from their plan, Drax gives a war cry, pulls two knives from - somewhere - and attacks Thanos. He tackles him to the ground, sliding in the dirt away from everyone’s grasp. It becomes pretty obvious pretty quickly just what he is trying to do. And it becomes even more obvious that he is not going to succeed before Thanos throws him off. Even down a hand he is strong. Then again most of that strength is likely coming from the pain and rage written all over his face.

None of the others can do much, too worried about hitting Drax to help him take Thanos out. What he needs is a bigger knife. Or a sword. A sword would work here too.

Quickly Tony throws an arm out to form a longer - sharper - knife out of his nano tech. Or a short sword, depending on your definition. He isn’t exactly worried about terminology right now. With a high whistle he throws it straight ahead. Drax catches it, turns and then beheads Thanos with one swift move.

“Now my family is avenged,” he says solemnly.

Silence. After the noise of the battle it is almost deafening. Tony’s heart pounds in his ears.

They did it. They actually did it. No one says a thing, each taking it in.

And then Goose comes over and eats the head too.

Well... alright then. He eyes Goose in concern. Honestly that can’t be good for her digestive system. He doesn’t want her getting sick from all of this. Either that or it is going to be one doozy of a hairball. And he’s not going to be the one to clean it up either.

He turns to Strange, feeling slightly hysterical about the whole situation.

Strange just shrugs however. “In one universe we almost won because of a rat,” he says.

A rat. Tony isn’t even going to ask. Clearly between the two a cat is a much better option, but still. Yeah no, he doesn’t want to know. He has officially reached his limit. When is he going to wake up from this dream again?

:::

He has to admit though that when they portal to Wakanda - and how handy is that really - everyone else’s expressions almost makes it worth it. The whole gang is there including his part of the group. Like the family reunion you never want to go to, but are dragged to anyways.

When they tell their story Bruce just kind of shrugs his shoulders, Vision looks intrigued and the others look as if they cannot believe their ears. Or their eyes. Tony is just waiting for them to accuse him of making it up, witnesses or no. The Wakandans on the other hand seem positively thrilled. Like way more than Tony had been expecting. The majority of their focus is on Goose. Clearly he is among cat people.

“Any chance I can get some ice cream?” he asks into the silence, “This good girl deserves a treat. And maybe something to settle her stomach.” Because Tony is still worried about that hairball.

T’Challa practically jumps at the chance. With a glance a group of very enthusiastic people break off, supposedly to do just that. He glances after them as if he wishes he could follow. Then he leans closer so that he can see Goose better. Shuri is openly smirking, but she looks no less interested.

This of course is when Rhodey finally puts two and two together and realizes just what cat Tony is holding. “Goose?!”

“Fury had her for some reason,” Tony nods, “Don’t worry honey bear I plan on taking you with me when we pull some answers out of him.”

Rhodey nods, satisfied with that. Good, he deserves it after all. He and Carol had been almost a thing when she disappeared without a trace. They will be getting some answers one way or another.

Before anyone can say anything else Thor arrives with a tree and a racoon. Why not? There’s obviously a story behind there because he is sans his hammer, but holding an axe and some short hair. He’s kind of afraid to ask at this point.

“Truly?” he asks when they tell him Thanos has been defeated, “who is the mighty hero that felled the great titan?”

Goose is the one who answers him naturally - by eating his axe.

:::

(“My... my axe. Stormbreaker-”

“Don’t worry Point Break, she’s a cat. She’ll cough it up sooner or later.”)