Some guys, if you gave them a megaphone or a bullhorn, went a little crazy with the power. Tony honestly wouldn’t have guessed that “Thunderbolt” Ross counted among them, though. He’d always thought Ross had a finer appreciation for power than simply being really loud.
Tony eyed the security feeds, where Ross was pacing back and forth and yelling into his bullhorn. The security feed was blessedly silent, but it didn’t really matter; Ross’ demands changed only superficially from repetition to repetition, calling on Captain America to surrender, or for the other residents to throw him out.
Tony tugged uneasily on his too-large shirt. “This isn’t going to work.”
“Have a little faith, Tony, would you?” Steve stepped back and eyed Tony critically. “Stand up straight,” he chided. “Have a little respect for the uniform.”
Tony snorted. “Which do you want me to have? Respect, or faith?”
“Is it too much to ask for both?”
“Yes.” Tony yanked the cowl down over his head -- not even the real Captain America cowl, but a cheap costume shop knockoff. “How do I look?”
Steve snapped his heels together and saluted sharply, effect somewhat spoiled by the way he was fighting a smirk. “You look like Captain America,” he said.
Tony picked up the plastic shield. Crappy costume or not, having Steve look on so proudly was oddly bolstering. “Right. Let’s go do this.”
He made his way through the building, through the main lobby, and out onto the broad front lawn. Ross finally stopped yelling into his bullhorn as he walked across the space, and the crowd of press that had gathered practically held their collective breath.
Tony stopped while he was still maybe twenty feet from Ross and, knowing Steve was watching, struck a truly corny pose, shield in front of him and fist raised high. “I am Captain America!” he announced.
Ross scowled at him. “What are you playing at, Stark?”
“I’m not playing,” Tony said, standing up straight again. Steve was probably watching on the security feed, still, so Tony made sure to square his shoulders and straighten his spine. “I am Captain America.”
Behind him, he heard the door open, footsteps approaching. “I am Captain America,” Sam Wilson said from Tony’s left. His Captain America costume actually looked good on him, damn it.
“What kind of crackpot scheme is this?” Ross demanded.
Scott Lang materialized (well, un-shrank really quickly but the effect was the same) at Tony’s right. He was wearing an even crappier Captain America costume than Tony’s, and it had been horribly distorted by being stretched over Scott’s quantum-manipulation gear. “I am Captain America!” he said. He sounded ridiculously happy about it.
Ross was turning red, and even from this distance, Tony could see that vein in his forehead was starting to stand out. “I’ll have the lot of you arrested!” he threatened. “Even you, Stark! Don’t think I--” He broke off, staring past Tony in something like horror.
“I am Captain America,” called Pepper’s voice. Tony had helped her pick out the blue and white power suit that she was wearing in lieu of a crappy costume, accented with red Louboutins on her feet and diamond-crusted SSR-wing barrettes for her hair.
“I am Captain America.” And that was Natasha Romanov.
“I am Captain America.” Thor. Maria Hill.
“I am--” Wanda Maximoff. Rhodey. Hope Pym.
“--Captain--” Stephen Strange. Helen Cho. Bruce Banner. Bucky Barnes.
“--America!” Phil Coulson. Clint Barton. Peter Parker. Nick Fury. Sharon Carter.
Dozens of others. Everyone they’d been able to round up on such short notice, nearly the entire population of the compound -- superheroes and scientists, medics and mechanics, friends and family -- filled the lawn between Ross and the building, each proclaiming, “I am Captain America!”
Each and every one of them had been duly deputized by Steve Rogers himself, so that none of them were lying. They were Captain America.
“Arrest us, then,” Tony said, nonchalantly brushing a bit of lint off his costume sleeve. “If you dare.”
Tony had seen villains sprawled unconscious at his feet, locked behind bars, exploded into fragments, even sobbing with remorse. None of those victories had ever felt as sweet as watching Thunderbolt Ross nearly implode with rage, stomping in rage like a four-year-old throwing a tantrum and throwing his megaphone on the ground in disgust, and then drive away.
“He’ll be back,” Coulson said, coming up between Tony and Scott. Coulson’s costume was a near-perfect replica of one of Steve’s World War II uniforms. Because of course it was.
“Yeah,” Tony said, watching the dust of Ross’ car dwindle into the distance. “But Captain America will be ready for him.”