The first time Steve is spat at, it's like the world stops. The rest of the Avengers turn and look- even the Hulk, big green face twisting as he tries to work out why everyone's gone quiet- and Steve watches, as if in slow motion, the arc of the thing, falling short as he walks past.
Because it turns out that you can explain all you want about America-the-country and America-the-set-of ideals, but once you dress up in a flag, well, you start to be all that flag represents, for good or ill. Steve knew that once, and just occasionally the world likes to make sure he doesn't forget.
That's what he tells Tony, who sits opposite him later, not talking for once, just taking apart the toaster with a speed and precision that Steve should have expected but still surprises him.
"Bull." Tony replies, his eyes on the toaster's guts. "It hurts, deeply and personally, no matter how you try and dress it up and yeah, you do try." He frowns, holds up a piece to the light. "So you go out there and prove them wrong instead, because hey, screw you, I'm a super hero."
"But it doesn't matter what they think I am." Steve replies, returning a rogue screw to the table. "I know who I am, and that's enough."
"God, you're insufferable." Tony sighs, but grins as he says it. "And they say I'm the one with the ego."
And Steve smiles too, because the other thing is- there's only a few people whose opinions matter, in the end, and so far things are working out pretty good on that front.