"These people are freaks," Tony mutters. Natasha elbows him.
"We're meant to be blending in," she hisses. Tony raises an eyebrow.
"We are blending in," he says. "Look at us, dolled up to the nines in all our superhero gladrags. We fit right in."
"The disgusted stares you're aiming at everyone is sort of a giveaway," Clint points out. He reaches down to adjust his pants and Natasha slaps his wrist. He frowns. "Material this clingy has no give to it," he explains. Natasha sighs.
"It's a good thing these people don't know we're the real deal," she laments. "If they saw their idols adjusting their underwear, they'd lose all hope for a better future."
Steve scratches the back of his neck awkwardly.
"What is this, exactly?" he asks, gesturing at the building they're in, and, more specifically, the people in it. Clint beams.
"It's Comic Con!" he exclaims. Thor tosses his hair.
"Why do these Midgardians attempt to emulate me so?" he questions, watching a diminutive teenage girl dressed in a vague approximation of Thor's own outfit. Tony grins.
"They have no life," he begins. "And so they try and live ours. It's sad, really."
Bruce shoves him.
"They're not sad," he argues. "And they do have lives. It's just that they, er, like to dress up. As us."
Steve nods, slowly. He clearly doesn't understand. Tony sighs.
"Look," he says. "We're kind of a big deal. We're like the One Direction of the superhero world. Guys want to be us and girls want to do us." He pauses. "Actually, most girls want us to do each other, but that's irrelevant."
Steve opens his mouth to ask something else, undoubtedly something awkward, but is hushed by a look from Natasha.
"Imitation is the highest form of flattery," she says.
"Pretty sure that flattery is the highest form of flattery," Tony counters, and right on cue a gaggle of giggling adolescents approaches them. Four of them are dressed as Steve. Tony rolls his eyes.
Captain America #1 looks at the real Steve, her eyes full of excitement.
"Your costume," she says. "It's amazing. You must have spent ages on it!"
Steve is clearly at a loss for words. Tony decides to help him.
"I made it, actually," he interjects. Captain America #3 squeals.
"Your outfit is amazing too!" she tells Tony. Tony didn't think he'd ever get tired of hearing the word 'amazing', but he's pretty sure he's about to.
"Thanks," he says.
"Does it have any functionality?" Steve #3 continues. "Hey, Tracy, show him your helmet."
The girl dressed as Iron Man scurries forwards, her helmet tucked under her arm, and shows it to Tony. He notices she's wired a rudimentary telecommunications system into it. He has to admit, it's pretty impressive for a girl who doesn't look long out of diapers.
"It's clever," he manages to say. Iron Man – Tracy, Tony reminds himself – beams.
"Thanks," she says. "Yours looks really good too. Like, really good. Wow. Is it made of plastic or metal?"
Steve stifles a laugh. Bruce doesn't even bother to hide his. Tony raises an eyebrow and looks down at his suit. He decides to humour her.
"Polyfiber," he lies. Natasha touches his elbow to get his attention and he looks at her.
"We need to find out who's running this thing and leave," she says. Tracy squints.
"You're meant to be Black Widow, right?" she asks. Natasha nods. "You've got the hair down perfectly," Tracy continues. "But I'm not so sure about the boots."
Clint giggles. Captain America #4 claps her hands.
"And you're Hawkeye!" she cries. Clint looks startled. Captain America #4 laughs. "I mean you're dressed as him, silly," she says.
Clint nods and puffs his chest out proudly.
"Worked hard on my costume," he says. "Was up sewing all night."
Bruce snorts. Tracy looks at him and wrinkles her nose.
"Who are you supposed to be?" she asks, gesturing at his purple shirt and dark trousers. He looks like he's come straight from the office. Bruce flushes.
"Bruce Banner," he says quietly. "Pre-transformation," he adds upon seeing Captain America #4's confused look.
"Oh," says Tracy, unimpressed. She fumbles for something complimentary to say. "That's very clever."
"Thanks," he mutters.
All is going well until Thor makes his way to the front of the group.
"Friends!" he booms. "I have found the name of he who runs this sorry ship!"
The group of cosplayers look at Thor, then at each other, and back at Thor again.
"Oh," says Tracy.
"My," says Captain America #4.
"God," says Thor #2.
"You win," says Tracy. Thor furrows his brow.
"I am glad to have triumphed," he says slowly. "But I know not what my glorious victory entails."
Tony facepalms. He's pretty sure they're about a split second away from blowing cover.
He's proven right.
Thor #2, a petite girl who can't weigh more than 120lbs soaking wet, suddenly reaches out.
"Mjolnir!" she cries, and before Thor can react, she's grabbed the hammer from his hands.
Except, of course she hasn't. Mjolnir drops straight to the floor and so does Thor #2.
"Bloody Christ," says Thor #2, rubbing her sore wrist.
"I'm going to have a panic attack," says Tracy.
"I'm going to soil myself heartily," says Captain America #4, taking a camera from her shoulder bag and snapping pictures of the Avengers.
"I'm going to quit my job and move to Bangladesh," states Tony, rubbing the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger.
"I'll join you," whispers Clint.
"You're the real deal!" Tracy squeaks. "You're actually them!"
Tony manages a weak smile.
"Surprise," he says. Captain America #3 starts jumping up and down.
"I'm liveblogging this," she says. "It's going straight on Tumblr."
Tony thinks that his life is going straight down the drain. Captain America #1, with trembling hands, takes out an autograph book from her purse.
"Would you sign this?" she asks Steve, the autograph book balanced in her outstretched hands like some grotesque parody of a talisman. Steve offers a strained smile and acquiesces. Tony wonders why Steve's always the one people want autographs from. People hardly ever ask him. He rationalises that they're probably too starstruck. It's not every day that ordinary civilians get to meet bonafide billionaire celebrities with impeccable jawlines. He wonders why this is his life as he signs his name for Tracy; 'Tony Stark – give me a call about the headgear idea'.
When Tracy faints out of excitement, it's hard not to feel slightly responsible.
They never do find out exactly who organised Comic Con; it turns out Thor mistook the janitor for the overseer of all things, but they do give out more autographs than breaths of fresh air, and when they return to Stark Towers later that evening, they're more tired than they ever are after a mission.
Natasha flops onto the sofa, a bottle of vodka in one hand.
"If I wanted this kind of attention, I'd marry into the Kardashian family," she says. Steve looks at her strangely. Natasha just shakes her head.
"Sir, I'd like to take this opportunity to point out that you have thirty-six new followers on Tumblr," says JARVIS, scaring the living hell out of Steve.
Clint looks at Tony.
"You have Tumblr?" he asks. Tony shrugs.
"Keeping tabs on the enemy," he explains. Clint throws a tea-towel at him. "And where else would I get my naked pics of Natasha?"
The last thing Tony remembers before being knocked out by a very Russian left hook is the knowledge that being famous for something other than money and almost impossibly good looks is pretty great, actually.