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Title: "Strayvengers"
Author[livejournal.com profile] whogeek 
Fandom: The Avengers
Characters/Pairings: Phil Coulson, Clint Barton, Natasha Romanoff, Tony Stark, Steve Rodgers, Thor, Bruce Banner, mentions other minor characters.
Rating: PG
Word Count: 3038
Warnings: Fluff, some mentions of past animal abuse
Genre: Um, Really not sure how to classify this...
Summary: This is what happens when I read too many fics about how Clint convinced Natasha to join SHIELD. And also what happens when I try to figure out what kind of animals each of the Avengers would be.
Author's Note: I went and found pictures of each of the Strayvengers, so here they all are, in all their fuzzy glory.

Coulson doesn't ever intend to have pets. He's a busy man, and taking care of any animal is pretty much out of the question. So when he finds the mutt doing it's best to fend off a group of teens intent on trying to kick the small dog into submission Phil almost doesn't do anything to help. The dog obviously has one broken leg already, but it refuses to stay down. Something in Phil snaps and he takes down two of the kids, not hard enough to actually hurt them, but it sends the rest of them scattering. The dog bares it's teeth when Phil turns towards it and Phil sighs.

"Well, clearly that was a mistake." He turns to leave the alley, and is almost out when a desperate whine-yelp comes from behind him. Phil twists to see the dog limp towards him before leaning cautiously against Phil's leg. He sighs again and reaches down to gently pick the dog up, eliciting a whine and short flash of teeth when the injured leg is jostled. "Let's find someplace to get you fixed up, then I'll figure out what to do with you."

Phil carries the dog to an animal emergency hospital, fills out what little information he can, and waits while the dog goes into surgery. When the dog comes out he staggers towards Phil, tongue lolling and legs sliding out of control. His cast is bright purple, and the tech apologizes, as it is the only color left before they get a new stock in. The dog scrambles to Phil, who scoops him up. The dog sighs and relaxes against his chest, tail wagging lazily. Phil pays and carries his new… companion home, swinging by a Walmart to pick up a few necessities for the night.

The dog devours the bowl of food before trying to climb up onto the couch beside Phil. Even after several minutes of gently pushing the dog down the little terrier mutt keeps trying. Phil sighs and gives up, giving the dog a boost up onto the sofa, where he promptly climbs into Phil's lap and settles in with a sigh. He proves just as persistent when Phil heads for bed, setting up a racket until Phil boosts him onto the bed, where he sprawls out at the foot of the bed.

After that first night, Phil can't bring himself to get rid of the dog. He buys a collar (purple, just like the cast), names the dog Clint, and keeps him. Clint comes with him to work each day after the first day when he shredded everything he could reach and disappeared while Phil was at work. Clint only reappeared when Phil heads for bed, letting Phil set him on the bed and flopping across Phil's chest, rather than at the foot of the bed. The message is clear, and Clint stays with Phil as much as possible from then on.

Clint is the one who finds Phil's next companion, going after the pair of street dogs snarling and snapping after the angry, hissing ball of fur and fury. With Phil's help they chase the other dogs away, and Clint turns to the angry cat. Clint goes down on his belly, inching towards the reddish-orange, black and white calico, whining softly. The cat hisses, swipes at Clint, and disappears under a car.

"Come on, Clint. Just because I brought you home as a stray doesn't mean I'm going to be bringing home other strays."

Clint trots obediently beside Phil all the way home, and neither notice the tabby following them the whole way. The next morning Phil finds a dead rat on his doorstep. Clint noses at it, yips happily and starts wagging his tail. Phil stares at it for a moment, carries it inside and then out back to dispose of it. The next morning a dead bird is sitting in the exact same place, and Clint goes into ecstatic wiggles around Phil's legs.

The gifts keep coming, until one morning the tabby is sitting on the doorstep with the dead rat still in her jaws. She drops the rat, and walks primly in through the open door. Phil procures a sleek black collar, adds a cat-flap beside the door and names the cat Natasha. Clint and Natasha get along surprisingly well, spending much of their time together curled up or playing tag around the house.

Phil doesn't know what Natasha gets up to during the day, but the pigeon population around his house drops rather suddenly.

Natasha drags a live, squeaking, flailing ball of dark fur in one evening, jumps up onto the couch with Phil and Clint, and drops the ball of fur into Phil's lap. The ferret, because that's what it is, tries to make a quick escape but Natasha pins it with one paw until Phil can get a grip on it. There are small abrasions across the ferret's back and haunches, a shiny-bald burn on it's chest, and fur that should be soft and sleek is mangy and unkempt. The way the small creature flinches when Phil lifts one hand to stroke gently down the length of the ferret's back, and it leans into the touch after a short moment tells Phil that the ferret is used to rough treatment from humans.

Phil heads to the bathroom, setting the ferret in the bathtub where he can't get out easily. He rummages in the cabinets for a tube of antibiotic ointment and a brush, listening to the chittering of the ferret as it scurries around the tub. He drops his hand into the tub, letting the ferret come to him before picking him back up. Both Clint and Natasha have joined him and watch as he brushes out the scruffy fur, applying small dabs of antibiotic to the abrasions.

By the time he's done the ferret is making happy little noises and nudging against Phil's wrist.

Phil carries the ferret into his bedroom, finding and dragging a tall tote bin into the room and dropping an old shirt in, setting the ferret down in it as well. The ferret races around the bin for a bit, before shoving the shirt into a corner and burrowing into it. Natasha leans up over the top to peer down into the bin at the bundle of old shirt that hides the ferret. It isn't long before they all settle down to sleep, Natasha on top of the dresser, Clint at the foot of the bed, and the ferret in his shirt burrow.

The next day he does some asking around and finds out that the ferret belonged to an angry old drunk, formerly the drunk's son before the courts took the kid away. Tony, the ferret, managed to escape, and the drunk shouts that Phil can keep the tiny bastard, because what use does he have for a damned overgrown rat?

Phil gets a couple large cages, one for the bedroom and one for the living room, and Tony moves in. The burn on his chest heals, and the fur that grows in is sparse and a pure white. Tony chitters almost constantly, and has lots of fun with Clint. Occasionally, Natasha gets annoyed with Tony and carries him around, but she never really hurts the black ferret, and Phil gets used to her carrying him around as he squeaks and squeals his indignation.

Steve comes home with them after a visit to the mall where the local animal shelter has some retired military dogs up for adoption. Most people shy away from the large dogs, but one on the end draws Phil in. Clint bounds up to the crate where the dog is lying almost listlessly. The dog blinks, and thumps his tail against the floor of his crate.

One of the women working notices and walks over. "I see you've met Steve."


"Yeah, he's been in service for several years, but he hasn't been quite right since he was injured on duty and retired. This is the first time he's really reacted to anyone."

Phil glances down at where Clint and Steve are now nosing at each other through the bars of Steve's cage. "Is there something wrong with him?"

"Not that we can tell. I think he just needs something to do. Something to protect. I don't think he's ever been without something to do. Would you like to walk him?"

Phil nods, and the woman steps around to open Steve's cage, clipping a leash to the red, white and blue striped collar and handing it to Phil. The german shepherd steps carefully out of the cage and falls into place beside Phil.

They walk for a while, Clint ducking under Steve and through the other dog's legs until Steve nudges him over. Phil startles, but Steve just nudges at Clint, sending the terrier rolling again and again. Clint bounds to his feet each time and starts all over again.

By the time Phil returns to the area where the adoption group are set up he's decided that Steve is coming home with him. A larger animal takes a lot more money and work, but the way Steve is with Clint has his mind set. The woman who introduced him to Steve is happy to help him fill out his adoption papers, Phil pays, and Steve comes home. Natasha and Tony are initially very worried by Steve, but Clint curls up against Steve's side. Natasha is extremely wary, but Steve holds very still until she decides he's safe and curls up against both Steve and Clint. Tony takes the longest, but eventually settles between Steve's front legs.

Steve carefully lowers his head over the bundle of chattering ferret, tail swishing slowly back and forth against the floor. When Phil settles on the sofa, Clint glances back and forth between Steve and Phil, but eventually just settles further into the pile of fur the four of them have created.

Clint stays home occasionally after Steve arrives, and sometimes prefers to sleep on the floor with Steve, Natasha and Tony rather than on the foot of Phil's bed.

Thor appears in the neighborhood one day, and his booming bark draws both Clint and Steve's attention while Phil is walking them one day. Tony, in a tiny harness that clips to Steve's collar so he can safely ride on Steve's back makes worried clicking noises as he climbs up between Steve's ears. They don't actually encounter Thor until some of his neighbors approach him about the large dog they keep seeing and hearing around. Apparently his motley collection of pets have become fairly well known, and they think he's the best option for the problem beside calling animal control.

So Phil sets out into the neighborhood with Clint. He has no idea what kind of dog he's dealing with, and what to do if or when he finds it.

Twice they hear the deep booming bark of the other dog, but they can't quite pinpoint it, and by the time they return home exhausted it's getting dark.

Phil keeps trying, and their third night out they find the dog. He's huge, an almost pure white even in the darkening light of dusk. Clint sits down and watches the dog as it puts it's paws on the edge of a dumpster, stretching up to peer in over the edge. It's obvious that the dog was a pet, his fur is still sleek and mostly clean and he's clearly well fed for a dog his size.

The dog browses through several of the dumpsters before turning to the recycling bins, pawing at the tall containers and whining. Clint whines as well and then barks at the other dog. The larger dog startles and turns to face them. His ears flick, uncertain, and Clint lets out another whine-bark. The dog's ears cant forward and stay there, and he trots dutifully over. He nudges at Phil, snuffling at his pockets like he's looking for food.

"Let's get you home and see if we can't figure out where you belong." The dog follows easily behind him, and gobbles up all the food Phil puts down for him. Steve is wary of the larger dog, who proves to be cheerful and gentle, and Steve relaxes, which seems to be the signal for Natasha and Tony to come out of hiding and join the three dogs.

The next day Phil takes the enormous dog to the vet, who tells Phil that he's a kuvasz, finds that he's chipped, and goes to contact the family registered to the chip. Dr. Hill comes back with a scowl. "They moved. The contact information is outdated and there 's no forwarding information at all. It's like the entire family up and disappeared. I wish there was a way to make sure they never do this to another animal again. Thor here is lucky you found him. A lot of people would call the police, and I've seen some larger dogs get shot by police simply because they're large and intimidating."


Dr. Hill reaches out and scratches at the dog's ears. "That's the name he's registered under. Unfortunately, now I've got to send him to the shelter. His odds aren't that good. Most large dogs never get adopted from shelters. They're simply too big for most people's budgets. They eat a lot of food, and require a lot of effort, which is a drain on both finances and time."

Phil watches as Thor leans against Dr. Hill the longer she scratches his ears. He sighs. "Can you have adoption papers drawn up?"

Dr. Hill looks up in surprise, and Thor nearly manages to knock her over. He startles when she staggers back and turns to make sure she's ok. "What?"

"Adoption papers. I'll take him home with me."

"Are you sure? Large dogs aren't cheap, and I know you've already got four other animals."

"It's fine. I have the funds, and I'm just as capable of doing some of my work from home."

Dr. Hill nods. "I'll have Darcy work up the adoption papers." She heads out and shortly thereafter Phil and Thor head home. Steve and Clint meet them at the door, Tony chirruping excitedly from his cage. Thor settles in slowly, getting used to the other animals, but eventually he becomes a seamless part of the group, sprawling across the floor with the rest of them.

Phil doesn't look up at the sound of the cat flap opening and closing, used to Natasha coming and going at odd times. He does look up when the other animals leap up and thunder towards Natasha, something most of them don't do anymore. He wanders over when they don't immediately return to sprawl around the floor with the cat.

The five of them are clustered around a brown, lop-eared rabbit, sitting almost defiantly in the middle of the floor. Tony has moved closest, and is chattering away at the rabbit. The rabbit in turn is staring at Tony, nose twitching madly. Tony darts forward to touch the rabbit, and Steve gives a short warning bark, drawing Tony's attention as well as the rabbit's.

Natasha steps forward to nudge at the rabbit, and Phil isn't sure why she doesn't pick him up like she does with Tony. The kick the rabbit aims at her sends her jumping backwards. "Natasha, where did you find a rabbit?"

Natasha looks up at her name, then wanders over to wind around his legs, purring loudly. "What is it with you bringing strays home, huh? You're a cat, you're a hunter, yet you keep dragging strays in." Natasha simply ramps up the purring.

Phil reaches down and scoops up the rabbit, ignoring the way Tony's chatter ramps up as the new animal is taken away from him. The rabbit kicks madly until Phil gets a hand under his hind legs, settling down a little. "I wonder where you came from."

Phil deposits the rabbit in the bottom of Tony's living room cage, and the ferret darts inside to continue chattering at the new addition. He begins the process of asking around about a lost rabbit but unlike when he asked around about Tony's owner, no one steps forward or responds with any indication of knowledge of the creature. A quick trip to the vet and some brief paperwork later and Bruce officially joins the motley group.

Bruce spends most of his time in the cage in the family room, watching as Tony runs circles around him, chattering away. He's initially very wary of the dogs, but the first time he gets fed up with Clint nudging at him and kicks the terrier in the nose Clint stops, and Bruce grows more confident about dealing with the dogs. Bruce settles in well after that, but he still kicks hard whenever he gets picked up.

Phil looks around his home. Thor is sprawled on his back on the floor, tongue lolling out of his mouth and legs sticking up in the air. Steve is a few feet away, flopped on his side and half-watching Phil. Tony and Bruce are tucked up against his chest, Tony chattering away as per usual while Bruce just listens calmly. Clint has his head propped on Phil's thigh, and Natasha is stretched out across the back of the sofa.

He never would have seen himself with a pet, let alone the unusual group of six he now has. But now that he has them, this menagerie of animals that shouldn't work together at all, that should be, by all rights, tearing each other apart, now that he has them there's no way he'd ever give any of them up. Their toys are strewn across the floor, water bowls are scattered through his home, the bottom of the pantry is full of various pet foods, and the numbers for Dr. Hill and Dr. Foster are on a magnet on the fridge. So much has changed for Phil since he first brought Clint home. The menagerie makes it feel more like home than the place has ever felt, and not even the fur everywhere could convince him to give up any of his pets.

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