Pleadin' with your eyes gonna make you some peace some day
You got mud on your face
You big disgrace
Somebody better put you back in your place
~ Queen, We Will Rock You
It's been hours since the world was saved and Ben is busy working with rescue workers; cleaning up and saving those that can be. He hasn't rested, hasn't allowed himself to rest and there is still so much work to do. So far he's been out here on his own; no other heroes have arrived but then a lot of them are far away right? He works deliberately and carefully, keeping his head down to avoid the stares of the people of Yancy Street. He can't ignore them but he can keep working. They leave him alone as they stare, seemingly unsure what to do, until an old woman marches right up to him and yells in his face, "MONSTER!" She spits at him and he just stands there exhausted and deserving it until a couple of kids from the Yancy Street Gang politely lead her away.
Ben takes a deep breath and gets back to work.
Reed and Susan are the first to arrive to help him. He knows they need to talk but the rescue and clean up effort takes all their attention. Later the rest of the Avengers show up and he can see in all their faces how tired they are, how much this fight took out of all of them.
The reporters and TV camera show up soon after and it isn't until the Yancy Street Gang forms a barrier between him and the TV vans that Ben is able to get back to work. He glaces over and sees the old woman who called him a monster being interviewed as well as a little girl who holds up a lost dog poster. Idly, he wonders where she found a copier to make them but when she comes up to him he sees that she drew each one by hand. "Have you seen Buster?" she asks him nervously and he leans in to get a good look at the border collie.
"Nah, but I'll keep my eyes open. When did he go missing?" He replies.
"Last night when the robots attacked."
Twilight comes and Ben still hasn't seen any sign of the dog and he fears the worst. All day he's seen the girl walking around with her flyer and asking anyone who would listen and his heart just broke ever time he saw her. He grunts as he carefully lifts a large slab of wall that's fallen on a subway entrance and almost drops it when he hears barking underneath. He lifts it the rest of the way and sees an excited Buster dance back and forth. "Come on boy," Ben says gesturing for the dog to join him as he looks around for the girl.
"Hello?" Calls a voice weak in pain and exhaustion.
"MEDIC!" Ben calls and races down the stairs to the dog and the woman Buster had been protecting and keeping warm. Her leg is broken pretty badly and she's pale. Kneeling Ben rests a careful hand on her shoulder to let her know it's going to be okay. Her eyelids flicker and she says, "Penny?"
The medics take her, Penny (the little girl with the flyers) and Buster away toward New York General and everyone goes back to work now that the excitement's calmed down. Ben makes it to an alleyway before he loses it, sobs breaking free. He doesn't hear the old woman come up.
"What are you doing?" she asks.
Startled he jumps and then glares. "Don't worry about it."
"You saved that child's mother and dog," she replies, ignoring his glare.
"What's it matter, I'm still a monster right?"
She laughs then. "What monster weeps for a little girl? Why do you weep anyway? The girl is safe, her dog is found and her mother is safe."
"I just...I spent all day convinced I had killed that girl's dog." He doesn't know why he's telling her this, likely because he hasn't really spoken with anyone all day. "Guess I'm just relived."
She nods. "I can see that. And no, you are not a monster. Not any more. As I said, a monster does not weep for a little girl. A monster does not work all day to fix what he has done. This morning maybe you were a monster but now you are a hero. It's like your Yancy Street boys have been telling any reporter who would listen, a man has a right to fix his mistakes and that is what you have done and will continue to do. Now come, I have food and then you can go back to fixing."