"Sir, there is an individual outside, demanding your audience," FRIDAY's smooth voice intones from the ceiling.
"Yeah? Tell them to go to hell," Tony snapped, irritated that his work had been interrupted. It was probably just another idiot reporter trying to get an interview with the Iron Man. Stupid paparazzi never lays off. Sometimes Tony just wants to move to Alaska and set up a home in the middle of nowhere and amass an army of huskies and become the ultimate sled dog racing champion.
"He is very persistent. He says, and I quote, 'If you don't let me in right now I'm going to break a window and drag Iron Man out kicking and screaming by the ear, renowned superhero or otherwise,' "
Tony groaned. "Dispatch a few guys to kick him out, I guess. Just make sure he doesn't bother me anymore."
Blessed silence in the lab. For a few moments, anyway. FRIDAY spoke again: "Sir, when our guards attempted to escort him off the premises, the individual incapacitated them and moved into the building. He is currently interrogating the workers in the lobby, requesting your location. I suggest you take some action; the employees are fearing a threat to their safety."
Tony rolled his eyes. He slipped on a gauntlet and had FRIDAY take him to where the intruder was. He was woefully unprepared for the sight that greeted him.
The employees were cowering. A man in an bright red-and-blue spandex suit with web patterns along it and a spider emblem on his chest (Tony was pretty sure colors that level of eye-searing were against the laws of fashion - in other words, it was exactly like something he'd design) was standing in the center of ten security guards, each of which were pointing a gun at him, but hesitating to shoot. The man's arms were crossed, his foot was tapping the floor impatiently. He looked impressively nonchalant for someone facing the prospect of possible death.
But it was the state of the other five guards on the ground that told Tony who the stranger was.
They were wrapped up in a floss-like white substance. It didn't look extremely strong, but the guards were trapped on the ground and struggling like they were in chains.
Which meant that this had to be Spider-Man, one of the many enhanced vigilantes in New York. The street-level heroes all had certain area in the state to look after, and if Tony remembered correctly, Spider-Man was responsible for Queens, so what he was doing here Tony had no idea.
He was one of the more well-known supers out on the streets - he'd made a name for himself when he had taken down the Vulture, the leader of some illegal alien weapons trafficking ring. He was on Tony's list of people to go to in case the Avengers ever needed backup.
That did not mean he had a right to storm into his Tower like he owned it and threaten his employees.
He cleared his throat and Spider-Man whipped around. Tony waved a hand and the guards backed off.
"Uh... Mr. Iron Man! Tony Stark, sir! Oh my god it's Tony Stark. Um. So. I need to... talk to you? Yeah. I need to talk to you. It's very important. So, uh, if you could help me out, I'd really appreciate it?"
Huh. Spider-Man was stammering. He also sounded a lot younger than in the videos.
Tony found it kind of adorable. But he wouldn't say that to anyone. Instead, he lifted an eyebrow and leveled an unimpressed look at the vigilante.
Spider-Man was very intimidated. It was very obvious. He kept wringing his hands and glancing between Tony and the ceiling.
"Okay, kid. I'm just going to ignore all... this for right now -" he gestured at the mess around them "- and ask you: what's so important you felt the need to break into one of the most secure buildings in the world and threaten to drag a billionaire superhero out by his ear?"
"Right. Sorry about that, by the way. So long story short, one of my friends was bleeding out in a dumpster but he kinda has this thing against hospitals, so usually his nurse friend patches him up, but this time the wounds were too serious, and he doesn't have a healing factor, so my other friend is dragging him here now, so I was maybe thinking you could fix him so he doesn't, you know, die? Cause I do like him a lot, and he likes me too, even if he pretends not to."
Tony blinked. "So your friend was dying and you want me to fix him?"
"Yeah," Spider-Man said nervously. "And, like, maybe not tell anyone his identity either? He's kinda serious about that - it's why we don't go to hospitals. Well, one of the reasons. But it's better for one person to know his identity than for him to be dead, right?"
"You literally could have just told FRIDAY that was what you were here for. I thought you were trying to plant a bomb or something. I'll help your friend."
Spider-Man was in the middle of thanking Tony profusely when the doors were loudly slammed open. A figure in red spandex was dragging another figure in red spandex, except this one was limp and bleeding and passed out.
Tony cleverly deduced that these were Spider-Man's friends. He wasn't called a genius for nothing, after all. He could be the next Sherlock Holmes.
He, being the observant individual that he was, also noticed the katanas and the devil horns. Which meant that these were Daredevil and Deadpool. And that, by extension, meant that those two were friends with Spider-Man.
The friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, who rescued cats from trees and gave directions to old ladies and stuttered when he met Tony Stark, hung out with the Devil of Hell's Kitchen and the Merc with a Mouth.
Yeah, okay. That was fine.
"Spidey, sweetheart! I brought the package!" Deadpool chirped, lifting Daredevil bridal style and shaking him. Spider-Man swatted him.
"Yeah, okay," Tony sighed, resigned. "Follow me, we'll bring him to the med bay."
The entire elevator ride up, Spider-Man thanked Tony fervently and repeatedly, Deadpool hummed while swinging Daredevil around carelessly, a pool of blood slowly grew on the elevator's floor, and Tony began to feel the hint of a migraine.
When they reached the med bay, Deadpool dumped his buddy onto one of the beds without prompting while Spider-Man explored, ooh-ing and ah-ing at everything. He was even amazed by the cotton swabs. He seemed to assume that if it was in here, then it was, by default, better than everything out there.
He led the remaining two spandex-clad menaces into a waiting room, gestured for them to sit down, and raised an eyebrow expectantly. "Now, I kind of feel like you owe me an explanation, here. Daredevil usually isn't beaten that badly by normal men with guns, right?"
"He does when he's drunk," Spider-Man offered, like that explained anything. He rushed to explain. "So, DD was with Jess, drinking themselves senseless, right? Wallowing miserably in depression and self-pity, you know? We all have those days. So he got drunk, like crazy drunk, stupid drunk, like, drunk enough that it was messing up all his senses. Then they decided it would be a good idea to go out intoxicated out of their minds, and DD put on his suit. And there was this one guy that he'd put in jail who just escaped, and he had a gun, and -"
"Wait." Tony lifted a hand. "So, I'm assuming he has insanely enhanced senses, since he's blind but somehow doesn't let it show."
Two red spandex heads snapped up in perfect unison. "You know?" Deadpool asked sharply.
"I'm Tony Stark." He gestured for them to continue.
"Oh. Okay, fair." Spider-Man said. "Yeah, his super-hearing was all jacked up. And the criminal didn't know he was Daredevil until he saw him literally changing with the window open like an idiot. Matt was the attorney that defended the girl the dude tried to rape. I'm assuming you know about his day job, anyway."
"Yeah," Tony scoffed. "He's a lawyer. That there is like, the height of irony."
"So since Daredevil was the one who caught him in the first place, he got even more angry, and shot Matt. when I got there, both DP and DD were lying on the floor bleeding out. I asked what they were doing, and Wade told me Matt had been shot three times, so he shot himself three times so Matt wouldn't feel lonely, and crawled into the dumpster with him. And I freaked out and this was the only thing I could think of."
"I'm not even going to try to understand Deadpool. Anyway, you're saying Daredevil almost died because he got drunk?"
"He's a cute drunk," Deadpool offered. "Gets all giggly and spews nonsense and becomes much more agreeable, you know?"
When Bruce came back to confirm that Daredevil would, indeed, live, Spider-Man nearly fainted, then proceeded to gush about Bruce's work on gamma radiation with the enthusiasm of a five-year-old. Deadpool said he wanted to get smashed by the Hulk.
Bruce ignored Deadpool, took a selfie with Spider-Man and patted his head, then gave them the reports.
"Three bullet wounds, one to the chest and two to the abdomen. He's lucky he had the armor, or he would have died. A severe concussion, presumably from hitting his head on the wall, Three fractured ribs and serious internal bleeding. The three bullet wounds, obviously. Signs of intoxication. Finally, a major case of body odor, but that might just be from sitting in a dumpster. We're pretty sure he'll live."
At that, Deadpool whooped and picked Spider-Man up and spun him around enthusiastically. Spider-Man halfheartedly slapped at his shoulder to no avail.
"He's going to have to stay here for a bit, though. With the technology we have at hand, I'd say, three weeks, a month tops," Banner said. "Good thing you got him here when you did. It's not easy to cure a shot to the chest."
"Bye, thank you, Mr. Dr. Banner sir!" Spidey called as Deadpool grabbed his hand and cheerfully skipped him out of the room.
Bruce waited until he was sure they were out of range of even Spider-Man's enhanced hearing, before hissing to Tony, "Daredevil is a blind lawyer?"
Spider-Man and Deadpool showed up often over the next month, sometimes accompanied by other friends. Tony recognized a few of them - were all the vigilantes of New York friends? Did they have some sort of secret club or something?
He asked the two of them the next time he saw them. Spider-Man huffed and said he wasn't a vigilante, he just helped out whenever the cops couldn't get there fast enough. Tony pointed out that this was exactly what a vigilante was.
"Still not completely true, though," Deadpool informed him. He pointed at Spidey. "Vigilante." He pointed at the still-unconscious Daredevil. "Vigilante." He jabbed a thumb at his own chest. "Mercenary."
Spidey sighed and assured Tony that Deadpool was getting much better at killing the bad people only.
Tony noticed that they never actually answered the question.
When Daredevil was finally deemed fit to be released, Deadpool picked him up and sprinted out the building. Tony thought that was the end of it.
Daredevil and Spidey returned, and Spidey was carrying another bleeding unconscious figure in his arms and asked Tony to help him. Tony recognized this man.
He was going to have to play nurse for the Punisher.
Spidey insisted that Frank was his friend, and he only hurt the bad guys, so it was fine, Mr. Stark, please help him, don't let him die, please?
Daredevil insisted that he and Frank were by no means friends, and were, in fact, mortal enemies, and the only reason he was asking Stark to save him was so he could kill the man himself.
And so Tony treated this one too. He really should have expected what came next.
It was like the floodgates had opened.
Vigilantes would show up dragging other vigilantes with wounds too serious for Claire, the nurse friend that they all seemed to share, to deal with. Bruce begrudgingly accepted his new role as the Vigilante Caretaker of New York. He met Claire and they immediately became friends, and now they meet up every other Wednesday for drinks to complain about their idiot friends.
The staff and the other Avengers got used to it as well, but it was still hilarious to watch the visitors' faces when a bleeding and battered-up hero shows up out of nowhere and flops onto the floor like a dying fish.
As payment for the help Tony provided, they offered him information and backup whenever he needed it. It was like superhero health insurance.
Spider-Man came around the most. He seemed like the friendliest and least insane out of the group. Tony suspected he used his half-dead friends as an excuse to come along and admire the technology in the Tower.
He was, surprisingly, fine with it. He quite liked the kid, and he quickly became Tony's favorite vigilante. Tony made some upgrades to his suit and he started coming around even when there was no near-death situation.
Tony also siphoned off a section of the medical floor just for the vigilantes. There were almost always one or two people occupying those beds.
As long as they didn't bother him too much, Tony was fine with it.
One night, he was lying in bed, mind wandering, when a realization suddenly struck him and he sat up straight, shaking Pepper, who was lying beside him.
"Oh my god, Pepper," he whispered. "I'm running a vigilante gas station."