The man on top of the building in front of him has a bow in his hand. A bow. Matt couldn't help but give an incredulous scoff at this realization. First ninjas and ancient secret organizations, and now archers crouching on rooftops. What could possibly come next?
As if on cue, a deep rumbling thunder rolled in from the west. Matt furrowed his brow. Just moments ago, there had been no hint in the air of a storm approaching, yet now he could feel the pressure change by the second. Matt could sense a shape moving within the storm, a vaguely human form flying through the clouds with no apparent outside aid.
Matt sighed as he realized that he had unintentionally ended up in the middle of an Avenger mission. He debated turning around to focus his efforts on something else, but he couldn't very well leave without investigating what was going on first. If the Avengers were active in Hell's Kitchen, then he needed to know why.
Matt kept his head down and stayed in the shadows as he closed in on the building in front of him; the house contained a person pacing across the ground floor, and someone hiding on the floor above in fear. The whole building seemed to be some sort of lab or research facility, with rows upon rows of desks, labs and storage rooms.
"Hey! You! Get out of here!"
Matt didn't turn around as he heard repulsor jets closing in, a sound he had become familiar with previously at an event hosted by Tony Stark. Sure enough, within seconds he was face to face with the billionaire in question, who was encased in his trademark armor.
"Did you hear me, horn-man? You have to get out of here, it's dangerous," the suit in front of him said in a metallic version of Stark's voice.
"I'm not going anywhere," Matt stated in the gruff tone he used to conceal his voice during his outings as Daredevil. He started walking towards the house again.
Stark extended a hand and placed it on his chest, effectively blocking his way forward towards the building. "Don't engage. We have reason to believe that a man inside, a criminal named David Marcus, might release dangerous chemicals in the building any minute."
Matt tensed up at this information. So the person on the ground floor was a known criminal and if the building was flooded with harmful chemicals while the person hiding on the second floor was still inside… "There's a civilian in there."
"No, there's not. I did a thermal scan of the whole building; the only person in there is the criminal," Stark said, keeping his hand on Matt's chest. Matt tilted his head and listened; the heartbeat on the second floor was still fast and scared, though the person hiding seemed to have avoided detection from the criminal so far. And apparently from the Avengers as well.
"There is still a civilian in there," Matt repeated, enunciating each word and taking a step back to get the hand off his chest. Stark lowered his hand but stood his ground, still blocking Matt's way to the building.
"Listen here bondage, let the professionals handle this," Stark said in a condescending tone and Matt narrowed his eyes in annoyance as the other continued talking. "We've been tracking this guy for a long time, and this is the perfect chance for us to finally figure out what his goal is. To do that we first have to see what he's after, capisce? Two birds with one stone and all that."
"By standing back and watching as he breaks the law?" Matt asked with raised eyebrows.
"Hey, watch it! That's my building he's broken into, you know. We're trying to make the best out of the situation here."
"Then it's also your employee currently hiding on the second floor. All alone. You're just going to abandon them?"
"There's no one in there. As I said, we scanned the whole building," Stark said and Matt could hear the increasing annoyance in his voice. "You know what? We don't have time for this, there's some highly volatile substances in there and—"
Matt took a step in Stark's direction and cut the other off. "And you're letting the criminal roam around freely?!"
"As I said," Stark said in a voice that clearly let Matt hear his gritted teeth even through the armor. "We have it under control. We're about to close down the building to make sure that there's no chance of toxins spreading outside."
"And inside?" Matt growled, trying to keep his rising anger under control.
"Well, that's Marcus's own responsibility, isn't it?"
"Not if they aren't alone in there."
"Are you even listening to me? We checked. They're alone."
"Yeah, sure," Matt said in an exasperated tone, taking a small step back. Stark nodded at Matt's apparent surrender before turning around to face the building in front of them while speaking to someone else through a comm in his suit. Matt checked again to make sure that Stark was still not paying attention before backing up further, into the shadows of a nearby building.
Matt slowly made his way down the length of the building, keeping as quiet as possible and sticking to the shadows while listening to where the Avengers were located, waiting for a window of opportunity. When it presented itself, Matt rounded a corner and took off down the street, going straight for a side door in the building.
He was halfway down the street when he heard Stark's voice talking into his comm, "Okay, let's seal this place up. Marcus shouldn't notice anything from inside, but be quick about it. We don't want anyone or anything to be able to exit the building."
Matt swore and broke into a run, no longer caring if he was seen as he sprinted down the narrow street. He was a couple of meters from the door when he heard Stark's voice again, this time sounding angry as he hissed into the comm, "Damnit! Someone stop Daredevil! He's gonna ruin the whole plan!"
Matt ignored the shouted answers and the pounding of footsteps behind him, knowing that they wouldn't reach him in time. He kicked open the door and entered the building, hearing the Avengers discussing what to do and blaming each other for letting him inside the building and compromising the mission. The conversation ended in an agreement to stand back and monitor what happened while hoping that Matt didn't alert Marcus. Matt couldn't care less about their mission; his focus was on saving the innocent civilian trapped in the house.
Having said so, he still tried to move as quietly as possible on the first floor of the building, keeping out of sight of Marcus, who was still pacing on the ground floor. He miraculously didn't seem to have heard the sound the door made as it connected with the wall when it swung open. Marcus seemed to be completely absorbed in a phone call as he paced across the floor.
"I'm telling you, I can't find it! I'm not a damn scientist! How am I supposed to know what it looks like?!"
Matt quickly took stock of the floor plan and started making his way towards the stairs as quickly and quietly as he could.
"There's a hundred boxes here! Be more specific! Someone's definitely called the cops by now!" Marcus screamed into his phone and kicked at a box. Matt winced as he heard glass rattle from inside it, but nothing seemed to break. Matt only hoped that the box didn't contain any of those highly volatile substances that Stark had been talking about.
When he arrived on the second floor, Matt immediately located the civilian hiding behind something reflective, making the sounds in the room bounce back from it wildly. A glass wall. Matt furrowed his brow in confusion at the strange choice of hiding spot, but he knew that panic meant people made strange decisions.
Matt crouched down and inched closer to where the person was hiding. He could sense that they were looking right at him and he did his best to smile reassuringly as he approached them. Matt didn't want to risk talking, since the man on the floor below could easily hear them, so he made a shushing gesture with one hand and placed the other on the person's shoulder and—
A loud scream ruptured the silence and Matt flinched back.
"Who's there?" The civilian's voice was loud and scared and Matt held his breath, listening, but the pacing and talking from downstairs had stopped.
Matt raised his hands in what he hoped was a calming manner and spoke in a firm but reassuring voice, "I'm here to help. You have to be quiet, or—"
"Who are you? What's going on?" The civilian interrupted him in an increasingly hysterical voice.
"I know you're here somewhere!" The sudden shout from downstairs made both Matt and the civilian freeze. In the relative silence that followed Matt could hear Marcus moving towards the stairs with heavy footsteps. He could also hear the thundering heartbeat of the person in front of him and their scared, fast, breaths.
"What's your name?" Matt asked in a rushed voice, trying to catch the person's attention and divert it from the sounds of Marcus moving around downstairs— no doubt looking for the source of the screaming.
The person in front of him gulped down a couple of breaths and breathed out a shaky, "What?"
Matt heard Marcus start to make his way up the stairs and kept his voice as calm as possible as he answered. "My name is Daredevil. What's yours?"
"It's— It's Ava," the woman said in a shaky voice, but Matt was pleased to find her breathing a bit more stable, if still too fast.
"Okay, Ava. You're going to be fine," Matt said to her as he rose to his feet, facing the stairs and the approaching footsteps, "Just stay where you are and keep quiet."
Ava didn't answer, but Matt could sense her pressing herself even tighter against the glass wall.
"Where are you?!" Marcus screamed as he took the last couple of steps and arrived on the second floor, stopping in front of where Matt now stood. "Who the fuck are you?"
Matt didn't answer, but he immediately took notice of the sound of a steady and strong heartbeat, the smell of sweat, and the telltale heat of anger.
No weapons and no armor, but physically strong and seriously pissed off.
Matt didn't have any time to think of a strategy before he had to duck out of the way of a powerful swing that displaced enough air that the arm seemed to stretch in front of him.
Matt blocked another blow aimed at his head and brought his knee up into Marcus' sternum in the same motion, knocking him back.
The brief window of time this created allowed him to listen to what was happening outside his immediate surroundings.
Captain America's clipped and authoritative tone came through easily now: "I see movement on the second floor. Daredevil's engaged the villain. Change of plan, folks — let's move in."
Matt felt relieved that the Avengers would arrive and ensure Ava's safety, even if they were the people that almost put her in danger in the first place.
A sudden movement brought his attention back to the man in front of him as Marcus crouched and picked up a rectangular object from the ground. A dropped binder?
Marcus pulled his arm back and aimed straight for Matt, who readied himself to deflect it, only to freeze in surprise as the object appeared to bloom out into countless parts as it soared through the air. It took him a precious second to realize that it was papers; fluttering free from the binder and spreading through the air.
The momentary distraction meant that Matt didn't notice Marcus moving until he seemingly materialized in the middle of the fluttering papers— delivering a swift punch to Matt's stomach which pushed the air out of his lungs and forced him to his knees.
Before he had the opportunity to draw breath, Marcus pushed him over and stomped down on Matt's thigh with enough force to make him grit his teeth to keep from crying out, no doubt leaving him with what would surely be a blooming bruise and a limp for the next couple of days.
Matt forced himself to suck in a small breath and grabbed Marcus' leg, twisting hard and managing to topple him to the ground. He gave a shout as he fell and Matt used the momentum to roll on top of him, pinning him to the ground.
He heard a low whistle behind him.
"Not bad, devil-man," Tony Stark said as he approached— Matt could sense Captain America and the archer from the roof, the man he guessed to be Hawkeye, entering behind him.
"You're late to the party," Matt growled.
"Nah, you seem to have it handled," Stark said even as he deployed some form of handcuffs from his suit that fastened themselves around Marcus' wrists before tightening, allowing Matt to release his hold and sit back on the ground. A sudden mechanical whirr was emitted from the location of Stark's face, and when he spoke again it was much louder and less mechanical. Stark must have raised his faceplate. "You okay?"
"Yes," Matt said shortly. "Focus on her instead," Matt said with a nod towards the woman still hidden behind the glass wall, huddled against it as if it could protect her.
"What are you—" Hawkeye said before stopping short and drawing a sharp breath. "Jesus. Guys, there's someone here."
"What? No there isn't. I scanned," Stark said in a tone that communicated as much annoyance as it did arrogance.
"Well, apparently you didn't scan well enough," Captain America said as he crouched in front of the civilian. "Hello, I'm Steve Rogers and I'm here to help. Are you hurt?"
The woman immediately started crying. "W-w-what i-is goi-going on?"
"Oh," Hawkeye breathed out as he crouched beside Steve. "You're blind."
It clicked for Matt. The scared shout when he placed a hand on her shoulder, the inability to grasp what was going on, and the choice to hide behind a glass wall. Matt cursed himself, how could he, of all people, not have realized that she was blind?
"Hey, it's okay now," Steve said in a calming voice. "You're safe. We're the Avengers and we won't let anything happen to you. Can you tell me what happened?"
The woman reached out a shaking hand and Steve covered it with two of his. "I- it was just an ordinary day at work. Suddenly everyone was screaming and the alarm was going off," the woman took a shuddering breath before she continued. "People were running everywhere and before I knew it I was alone."
Stark suddenly snapped his fingers and spoke up. "A glass wall! She was hiding behind a glass wall! That's why my thermal scan didn't pick up on her heat signature."
"But you said scanned the whole building?" Hawkeye asked.
"Well, my thermal scanners work well enough through ordinary walls, not so much for ones made of glass."
Matt could hear Steve continue talking to the scared woman as he got to his feet and tested his right leg. It hurt, but he could walk.
Matt sensed Steve lean towards Hawkeye and whisper, "He's hurt."
"Hey," Hawkeye said as Matt limped past where the group was standing. "Hey! We have great medical facilities at the tower, what do you say?"
"Is this some form of apology?" Matt muttered. "No thanks."
"It's not an apology!" Stark called after him. "You still ruined our plan, you know?"
"Whatever," Matt grumbled, not stopping. "Take care of the civilian."
He could hear Stark muttering something about how the respect for the Avengers should have increased after they fixed the Chitauri invasion, and decided to ignore him.
Hawkeye rose to his feet and approached him. "You were right. Sorry we didn't listen to you."
Matt stopped and angled his head to listen. The man in front of him was being sincere. Matt did his best to swallow down his anger as he replied, "It's okay. We all did what we thought was best."
"True," Hawkeye said with a shrug.
The smattering of rain outside reminded Matt of the sudden storm from before, and how it didn't seem to have fully arrived. "Where's your flying friend?"
"Who? …Thor?" Hawkeye asked and Matt nodded. "Well, he's… stealth operations aren't exactly his forte, so we sent him home."
"You put a god in timeout?" Matt asked incredulously.
"Well, that's one way to put it," Hawkeye said with a noticeable smile in his voice. "By the way, how did you know that she was in here?" he asked with a nod towards the woman who was currently being helped to her feet by Steve.
"Lucky guess," Matt said with a shrug.
Hawkeye's heartbeat told him that he didn't believe the excuse, but he didn't press Matt for any clarification. Matt gave a tiny wave and turned around again, limping home.
"You met the Avengers?" Foggy asked in an awed voice as they sat on Matt's couch later that night.
Matt shifted to make himself more comfortable, right leg elevated on a pillow in Foggy's lap. "Well. Yes. You don't have to sound so starstruck."
"But they're heroes!" Foggy exclaimed while throwing his hands up in the air.
Matt sent him a sour look. "They're celebrities."
"Are you jealous?" Foggy asked in a tone that let Matt hear the smirk in it.
"Absolutely not," Matt said as he crossed his arms. "They just aren't as perfect as you might think."
"Why would you say that? Let a man have his idols."
"They nearly sacrificed a civilian to further their investigation," Matt said in a clipped tone.
Foggy was quiet for several seconds before saying in a timid voice, "I'm sure they had a good reason."
"Well, they didn't do it knowingly, but they didn't trust me when I said there was a civilian. They told me to step down."
"You can be so whiny sometimes," Foggy said with a huff. "Besides, you can't really fault them for not blindly trusting every vigilante they come across."
"I guess not. But that doesn't excuse risking lives."
"I'll give you that," Foggy agreed as he reached over for his laptop, hitting play on the show they had been watching and sinking back against the backrest of the sofa, absentmindedly petting Matt's leg in his lap.