Tony smiled. “Come on; Muffins is waiting!” Grabbing Clint’s hand, he dragged him out the door to the car, Clint laughing the whole way.
There will be an epilogue, hopefully within a day or two.
Chapter two can be found here:
Clint had always been an early riser. He’d never really had the option to be anything else, given his job. Still, on his days off, he liked to sleep in, and could sleep as late as 11, if given the chance.
Today was not to be one of those days.
He was awakened promptly at 8 a.m. (he could hear the chimes of the Grandfather clock in the other room), as if Tony had waited for the exact hour to toll before coming to wake him. But it wasn’t so much the timing that bothered him as it was the manner in which he was awakened.
The thing that woke Clint Barton, that wrenched him abruptly from his peaceful slumber, was the shock of the full weight of Tony’s wiry but by no means lightweight frame heaving itself atop that of the sleeping man’s.
Clint woke with a start, eyes snapping open, mind immediately racing, body tense and on guard. An awakening such as that could only mean one thing: danger. Something was pinning his weight down and as he struggled to get free, his searching gaze settled on……Tony. It was Tony that was weighing him down, straddling his chest, grinning down at him and looking for all the world like a five year old on Christmas morning.
Clint wasn’t responding fast enough for Tony’s liking. He tried again. “CLIIIIIINT!”
“OH MY GOD, WHAT?” It was clear now that nothing was truly wrong, but even so, SOMETHING had Tony riled up. And loud. Incredibly loud.
Tony wasn’t at all deterred by Clint’s response. He simply grinned, bouncing in Clint’s lap. “Time to get up.”
“What? No. Why? Tony, it’s my day off.” Clint tried to tug at the covers, to pull them up over his head, but Tony had quite a firm grip on them, yanking them away. Clint groaned. “Tonyyy!”
“Come on! Get up! Gotta go get a cat!”
“……you…..” Clint looked at Tony. “…..now? This early?”
“It’s 8 o’clock; it’s not THAT early.”
Clint shook his head, smiling. Something about wanting to go first thing in the morning like this was extremely dorky, and very cute. Then a thought hit. “……have you been waiting for the clock to hit 8 so you could wake me up to go cat-hunting?”
Tony sat silently in Clint’s lap, brown eyes meeting blue. “…….maybe.” Clint was struggling not to smile. That was RIDICULOUSLY adorable. Tony saw the smile and his eyes narrowed. “Shut up.”
“I didn’t say anything!”
“No, but you were thinking it.”
“So?” Clint pushed himself up onto his elbows so he was eye-level with Tony. “What time did you actually get up?”
“OH MY GOD.”
“Shut up!” Tony cut in.
“No. You’re a five year old and I love you.”
“I’m not five. Brat.” He gave another little bounce in Clint’s lap. “Now come on! We gotta go find Muffins!”
Clint laughed, pulling Tony into a kiss. “Okay, okay, I’m coming.”
It didn’t take them long to get up and fed. The shower took a bit longer. As eager as he was to get to the shelter, Tony didn’t seem able to stop himself from kissing Clint. He was clearly beyond ridiculously happy. What should’ve been a ten minute shower turned into nearly an hour long affair full of wet, sloppy kisses.
By the time they were finished, the hot water was nearly gone. Clint wrapped Tony in towels…the man caught cold so easily….and earned another kiss for his efforts. He laughed into Tony’s mouth. “We’re never gonna get anywhere today if you don’t stop that.”
“Mm. Well, we’re gonna have to find a way to do both. Cuz we’re getting a cat. And I’m gonna kiss you. There’s no either-or about the situation.” He headed down the hall to get dressed, leaving Clint shaking his head in amusement.
It would never cease to amaze Clint how fast Tony managed to get dressed and still look as good as he did. No matter how much time he took, Clint could somehow still end up with odd socks, or a plaid red shirt and a pink undershirt.
Clint caught Tony at the door and gave his brown hair another towel-down. “You can’t go outside with your hair like that; you’ll get sick.”
“But the cats…”
“The cats’ll still be there if we take two more minutes to make sure you don’t freeze. And I’m sure Muffins will appreciate it if his future daddy doesn’t die of pneumonia right after he’s adopted.”
Tony’s face lit up when Clint used the name ‘Muffins’. “Okay.” He let Clint finish tousling his hair dry.
Clint put a warm ski cap on Tony’s head and gave him a kiss. “Thank you.”
Tony smiled. “You’re welcome. Now come on; Muffins is waiting!” Grabbing Clint’s hand, he dragged him out the door to the car, Clint laughing the whole way.
They hopped into the Audi and peeled out down the road at Tony’s usual obnoxiously high speed. “Jarvis, could you please upload the music I downloaded last night?”
Clint looked at Tony in confusion. “You downloaded music?”
Tony was looking extremely pleased with himself. “Yup.”
“What was…” But Clint didn’t get to finish the question. ‘Our House’ began playing. As soon as the first chords wafted through the speakers, Tony’s brows shot up. He turned to Clint.
“…..this? This is the song you were talking about?”
The music continued playing as the two men sat and listened. “…..what category of music does this even fall into?”
“No. There is nothing ‘rock’ about this. Is this even a man singing? Is it supposed to be a man? His voice is higher than Pepper’s!” Tony looked at the man beside him. “Seriously, Clint? You listen to this? Seriously?”
“Hey. I can’t control the radio all the time! And they were playing it a lot. Besides….it’s not THAT bad.” Tony just cocked a brow at Clint. Clint flushed. “….shut up.”
Tony laughed. “Admit it. This song is REALLY gay.”
“No.” A chorus began, the man singing ‘la la, la la la la la’. “……..oh my God.”
“Wait…..that’s really what they say there? I just thought I forget the words!”
Tony burst out laughing. “Oh my God I love you so much.”
“Of course you do. I’m awesome.” Clint started tapping his fingers on his knee in time with the song, softly singing. “La la, la la la la….”
Tony just smiled and shook his head as Clint continued to sing along.
“I’ll light the fire….you place the flowers in the vahs….” He stopped. “Tony, what’s a ‘vahs’?”
Tony just looked at Clint. “A vahs?” Clint nodded. “It’s a vase.”
“…..really?” Another nod. “Well that’s dumb. Why don’t they just say vase?”
“It’s just a fancy way of saying it.”
“That’s dumb,” Clint repeated. Tony suppressed a smile.
It wasn’t a long drive to the shelter. When they arrived, Tony nearly got tangled in his seatbelt in his haste to remove it, making Clint laugh. Tony was too happy to care, simply saying “oh, shut up” good-naturedly and grabbing Clint’s hand. “Come on.”
The building seemed huge on the inside…..far larger than it had looked outside. Clint was reminded of the BBC show Tony had been begging him to watch. They hadn’t found time yet, and all Clint really knew about it still was that it had to do with a man who travelled space in a blue box. “This is the TARDIS,” Tony had told him. “It’s bigger on the inside.” Tony refused to explain much further than that. Apparently he thought it was more entertaining that way.
Clint was stirred from his thoughts by Tony tugging on his hand. “Sorry.” He squeezed Tony’s hand. “Let’s find a cat.”
One of the shelter workers lead them to the room the cats were kept in, and Clint’s eyes widened. There were more than he could count. He had no idea how they were going to choose just one.
Clint glanced at Tony. The man was looking back at him with huge, imploring brown eyes. “No, we can’t take them all home with us.”
Immediately those eyes grew impossibly larger, and sadder, and Tony’s lower lip jutted in a sad little pout. “No, Tony.”
“But….look at them all!”
“Tony, where would we keep all these cats?”
Tony was silent. He obviously knew Clint was right, but Clint could see it was killing Tony to see all these cats without homes. “….yea.” He gave Clint’s hand a squeeze. “Let’s find Muffins.”
They spent an hour in that room, interacting with all of the cats. Tony was insistent upon talking to each one of them, as though he was waiting for one to respond to him, to answer back in actual words. Clint was finding it extremely difficult not to laugh. Then Tony let out a little “ow!”
“He bit me.”
Immediately, the attendant was at their side, obviously not wanting to find herself in any trouble with Tony Stark for having one of the cats attack him. He waved her way. “It’s fine. Just a nip.” He cautiously poked a finger inside the bars again. “Hey there, buddy. Ow!” He burst out laughing.
“Did he bite you again?”
“Maybe you should keep your hand out of the cage.” Clint moved closer. Tony shook his head.
“Nah. He’s not really biting. It’s just a nip. Look. He’s purring.”
It was true. The cat didn’t seem upset at all. He was rolling on his side, nuzzling his cheek against the bars of the cage. Tony gently stroked a fingertip along the cat’s head, down his cheek, lightly scratching his jawline. The cat leaned into the touch, purring.
Clint didn’t have to look twice to know that Tony was completely smitten. He smiled. “Is this Muffins?”
Tony looked at Clint, smiling. “Yea. I think so.”
Clint looked around for the attendant. “Ma’am, can you open the cage? We’d like to see this one.”
The instant the door opened, the cat came forward. Tony lifted the cat into his arms, and immediately, the cat put both his paws around Tony’s neck, as though he were giving a hug. Clint knew that was it; that had sealed the deal. There was no way Tony was giving up this cat now.
He was right. Tony looked at Clint, his eyes huge and full of incredulous happiness. “Yea. This is him. This is Muffins.”
Clint grinned. “I thought it might be. Here.” He reached into Tony’s pants pocket. “Give me your wallet. I’ll go take care of stuff so you can stay with him.”
Tony looked so happy and grateful. “You’re the best.”
“I know.” Clint gave Tony a kiss. As he did, Muffins leaned in, nuzzling against Clint’s cheek. Clint stared at the cat with wide, surprised eyes, then at Tony. Tony’s look mirrored his own, then Tony’s face broke into a grin.
“See? Best cat ever.”
“I think I have to agree with you.” Clint gave Tony another kiss, getting another nuzzle from Muffins in the process, and headed to the counter.
It didn’t take long to get the paperwork settled, and they were on their way home with Muffins in a carrier. Tony had only bought about twenty cat toys and four containers of treats before Clint had managed to drag him out the door.
“You’re gonna spoil the hell out of this cat.”
“Oh, like you’re not?”
“I’m not the one who bought out half the place. You know, it’s a shelter, not a pet shop. They have a limited number of toys and other supplies.”
“Yea. And Muffins needs a lot.”
Clint suppressed a laugh, shaking his head. “Yeah? What about a bed?”
Tony nearly slammed on the brakes. “Oh, shit! We don’t have a bed for him!”
“Tony, chill. It’s fine. It’s not like it would kill him to not have one right away. But you can just have Jarvis order one. There’s a PetSmart not too far from the house.”
Clint shook his head yet again. “You are completely ridiculous.”
Once home, they let Muffins out right away. The cat certainly wasn’t shy; he practically pranced out of his carrier (“pranced” was really the only word for the way he moved). He looked around the room, then up at Clint and Tony, and gave an inquisitive meow.
“Yeah,” Clint smiled, crouching down beside the cat. “This is your home now.”
Purring, Muffins moved to his side, nuzzling against his knee. Clint began petting him. He really was a gorgeous cat. All black, with a splotch of white on his chest. Clint cocked his head, examining it. Come to think of it, it was almost shaped like…..
“Hey, Tony. The cat matches your underwear.”
“What?” Tony sounded as though he thought Clint were completely insane.
Clint gestured to the white splotch on Muffins’ chest. “His white spot. It’s shaped like a bow-tie. So now you don’t just have tuxedo undies, you have a tuxedo cat. A reverse tuxedo, but tuxedo nonetheless.”
Tony burst into laughter. “Oh my God. I didn’t even realize that.”
Clint rose to his feet, taking Muffins with him. The cat purred happily in his arms. Tony leaned in, giving Clint a kiss. Clint smiled. “You happy?”
“So happy. More than I can say.”
“Good.” Clint stroked Tony’s cheek. “We’re on the same page, then.”
“Yea?” God, Tony really did look so ridiculously happy.
“Yeah.” Clint gave Tony another kiss. “Now….I think we better order a bed for Muffins. And a litterbox.”
Tony got that same vaguely panicked look on his face that he’d gotten in the car when he realized they didn’t have a bed. “Aw, shit.”
Tony punched Clint’s shoulder. “Don’t be an ass.”
“Hey, don’t hit me. I’ve got Muffins in my arms.”
“Muffins would understand.” Tony leaned in close. “Is daddy being an ass? Yes he is. Yes he is, isn’t he?”
“……are you talking baby-talk to the cat?”
“So?” Tony straightened up to look at Clint. “He’s our baby, isn’t he?”
Clint just smiled. “Yeah. He is.”
If it was possible, Clint’s agreement made Tony look even happier. “Okay. Well, let’s go finish getting him set up.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
PetSmart had come through for them and within an hour of calling in the order, they had promptly delivered a litterbox and litter, even more toys, several scratching posts, one of those scratching post cat towers, and of course the cat bed. Still, despite all of this, Clint and Tony had barely gotten in bed before Muffins jumped up beside them, somehow managing to wriggle his way between them and curling up to sleep.
They both looked at the cat in surprise, amazed he would sleep on their bed on his first night in the house. Then, Clint smiled at Tony, confirming what Tony had said earlier that day.
“Best cat ever.”