Tony Stark had flash, Steve would give him that. When SHIELD informed them that several alien fleets were massing over Earth with their gun ports open, Tony looked thoughtful for a minute, uncharacteristically silent while the others debated what to do. Then he stood up and said, "I got this one."
Three minutes later, Iron Man left Earth's atmosphere.
"Tony, what are you doing?" Steve asked over the comm SHIELD opened with him.
"It's cool," Tony said. "I spaceproofed it. I could probably get to the moon in this thing if I had some snacks. Whoa," he added, as the fleets came into view. "Okay, they look a lot bigger from up here."
"That wasn't what I meant," Steve replied.
"Cap, as much as I'm loving this conversation, I need this bandwidth for something else right now," Tony said, and the comm cut out. A split second later, Tony's face appeared on every screen in the room.
"Sir, he's broadcasting on all channels," one of the SHIELD techs called.
"What exactly does that mean?" Steve asked.
"All channels. All radio and television frequencies, in all countries. He's commandeered several Stark telecom satellites. As far as I can tell, only emergency services channels are unaffected."
"Well, the satellites do belong to him," Natasha said quietly, a small smile on her face. On the screen, Tony glanced down briefly, then back up, and that cocky-asshole grin appeared. The view cut to an external camera mounted on Tony's helmet.
"HEY!" they heard Tony yell. "ALIEN SPACEMONKEYS! OVER HERE!"
The ships seemed unimpressed, but Tony wasn't fazed either. "So there's a lot of you and just one tiny puny me, and I'm pretty sure you probably don't speak English, but let's see if you can try this phrase on for size: four weeks ago the Chitauri tried to invade Earth."
That, Steve saw, got their attention. There was subtle movement amongst the fleet of ships drifting over Earth. The word Chitauri, probably.
"And as you can see," Tony added, "That was quite an interesting moment in the history of the planet."
The view switched again, from Tony's helmet camera to clips of the fight in and over Manhattan. Tony had been recording the whole time, and the news had gotten quite a bit of it too; Steve watched himself go hand-to-hand with a Chitauri, Hulk punch one of the flying monster ships in the face, Thor blow out every window in a building with his hammer. There was the portal through which they'd attacked, and there was Natasha, zooming along on the back of the flying fighter, a look of fierce concentration on her face. Steve hadn't seen that clip of Hawkeye shooting things without looking at them, before now.
"I think you should be aware that six of us -- " the clips stopped briefly for profile photos of the Avengers, probably taken from SHIELD archives, to appear -- "six of us stopped the invasion."
Then came a second clip Steve hadn't seen before: outer space, yes, but different stars in the sky, different ships, and the white edge of a missile being hurled towards one of them. Tony hadn't let this footage out to SHIELD or the media. It was the bombing of the Centauri mothership.
"Holy..." Clint breathed, next to him.
"So to conclude the lecture," Tony was saying, and it cut back to his helmetcam. Several of the smaller ships had already departed. "There are six of us."
Six little lines appeared on the screen in glowing green.
"Down there?" Tony asked, and lines began to fill and fill and fill the screen, hundreds and then thousands and even more, "Down on Earth, there's six billion of us."
Steve could see the moment when the lines suddenly made sense to the other ships; one by one their gun ports slid closed, and they began to drift away.
"Tell your friends!" Tony called after them cheerfully. "You fuck with Earth, you fuck with six billion badasses!"
When Tony landed, the Iron Man suit was bright silver, the paint stripped off during the heat of re-entry.
"Tony," Steve said, as Tony pried himself carefully out of the too-hot-to-touch armor. "That was amazing."
"Yes, it was, thanks," Tony said absently, and then paused. "Wait, what?"
"I said, that was amazing," Steve repeated.
"Oh. Uh. Okay," Tony said awkwardly, clearly startled by the praise. "Thank you. I am so glad that worked and they didn't just incinerate me."
"Was that a possibility?"
"We need to show you more science fiction films," Tony muttered, carefully pulling his foot out of one of the boots. "See, I figure we can ride on our beat the Chitauri reputation for like, at least seven to ten years before someone comes along who won't buy the bragging. Besides," he shrugged, stretching now that he was fully free of Iron Man, "you start running, they never let you stop."
"What?" Steve asked, head jerking up from where he'd been studying the discarded chestplate. Tony looked at him, amused.
"You start running, they never let you stop," he repeated. "It's something Dad used to say."
"Oh," Steve said, remembering a lifetime ago, in a car on the way to the lab, saying the same thing to Peggy. "Sure. Sounds like him."
"Hey, right, you knew him. Shoulda listened closer, Capsicle. Come on, lunch is on me when we save the world."