Tony gets this brilliant idea after he overhears Dad talking to someone about continuing the funding to look for Captain America. Dad has never forgot Cap, not after all these years, so if Tony can only make himself more like Captain America, then Dad will notice him.
Tony borrows a poster of Captain America from the room where Dad keeps all that stuff locked up. It's a duplicate, he'll never miss it. He tacks it up to the wall in his bedroom, opposite a big mirror. He doesn't have to hide it, no one ever comes into his room except for Jarvis, the maids, and Rhodey. He stands next to the poster and compares himself with Dad's hero. Well... even if he bleached his hair blond, his eyes are the wrong color. And he's resigned himself to never being that muscular or tall even after he talked the shoemaker into building lifts into all his shoes. Dad didn't notice that, either, just moved his eyes up a little higher to look past Tony.
So, ok, they say it's not what you look like, but what you are inside that counts. Tony's not sure this hypothesis is valid, but it's worth a try. He gathers all the information he can on Captain America's behavior and programs an algorithm to sort out the personality factors most in evidence, and then correlate them with Tony's known personality factors (he's had enough tests and talks with psychiatrists, psychologists and other psys to have a pretty good idea how he's classified).
If he can isolate the ways he's different from Captain America, he can learn to be like that. It takes weeks, because this is a lot harder to break down into logical bits than, say, the plan for a flying car, which Tony is going to make some day.
When the program finishes running, Tony prints it out and goes over the most significant factors. It seems to him after studying it that Captain America is basically a very boring person except for being very brave and loyal, which of course Tony already is, so he can't really see why Dad loves Captain America and doesn't even like Tony. Either his math is wrong, which it never is, or the data he fed into the algorithm is faulty.
Oh, of course, Captain America's real files are secret. The public records are all propaganda. Fine. Tony knows better than to cling to a disproved idea, no matter how much time has been invested in it. So, what's the closest to a primary data source that he can access? The answer comes to him the moment he thinks the question.
Mom has gone for a meeting or conference or seminar somewhere, and Dad is left with free time not taken up by arguing with her or making up afterwards so Tony knows he'll be in his study, drinking. Tony's not sure he's pleased that Dad hasn't been having parties or inviting women over lately. At least then he'd been able to tell himself that Dad wasn't ignoring him, he was just... busy. But sitting alone with a glass of whiskey isn't being busy. Tony makes sure Jarvis doesn't see him as he sneaks into the study with a glass of his own.
"Hi, Dad." Tony pours himself a drink and sits down on the arm of Dad's chair.
"Put that back," Dad says, but without any force behind it. He's looking unfocused and sad and Tony wants to hug him, but he knows he's not allowed. Men don't hug. Men don't kiss. Men don't cry. Men are always strong. The only thing they're allowed to do is get drunk.
"I like the taste," Tony lies and has a mouthful of whiskey. It feels good when it warms him, but it still tastes like medicine.
Dad shrugs. "It's not the good stuff." He knocks back the rest of his glass and holds it out for Tony to refill. "What do you want?"
Tony judges that Dad has reached the stage where he'll be honest, to a point, but not really remember anything later. "I was just wondering... you knew Captain America. What was he like?"
Dad looks into his glass for a long time, so long that Tony wonders if he mistimed it, and Dad's gone asleep with his eyes open. Then Dad shakes his head, gulps down his drink and leans back, eyes closed and head pressed into the soft leather of his armchair. "Cap was a god damn Boy Scout." And then he falls asleep with his mouth open.
Tony puts down his glass and goes back to his room to consider the new data.
"Rhodey!" Tony jumps out of the car even before the chauffeur brings it to a complete halt, dodging his bodyguard's grab at his arm. "Let's be Boy Scouts!"
Rhodey looks up from where he's playing catch with his dad on his front lawn, and Tony is not jealous, not a bit. "What?"
"Come on, it'll be fun!" Tony is bouncing up and down with excitement.
"Tony, we can't be Boy Scouts."
"Why not? Is it expensive? I can pay for both of us, I'll break the piggy bank."
"You have to be at least ten. Before that you could be a Cub Scout, Tony."
Tony frowns. "I'm sure that's not as good."
Rhodey looks at his dad and the bodyguard and chauffeur and sighs. "I'm a Cub Scout, Tony. It's fine. It's fun. You get to do things with other kids."
Tony pouts. "But I want to be a Boy Scout. I want to be a Boy Scout, NOW."
Rhodey grabs Tony's arm. "You're embarrassing me." After a moment he relents. "Look, I'll call my Troop Leader and have him look up the rules. But you've got to do stuff to earn it, you know? There's a whole bunch of things you have to do, and other stuff to memorize and promises you have to keep."
Rhodey's Troop Leader comes to Rhodey's house. He's very kind, and patient. Of course, the fact that Tony is Tony Stark, and Dad's paid for a new local Cub Scout den fixed up with all sorts of nice things might have had something to do with that. But Tony didn't know that until the Troop Leader thanked him for it and then ruined it by saying that not only could Tony not be a Boy Scout, he couldn't even be a Cub Scout.
"Why? I didn't do anything wrong. You let Rhodey be a Cub Scout!" Now that he can't have it, Cub Scout doesn't sound so bad.
"Because you don't fit the rules, Tony. Cub Scouts are for boys seven to ten years old, in grades first through fifth. You're the right age, but you've completed the equivalent of the eleventh grade."
Tony scowls. "All right, then make me a Boy Scout. That's what I wanted anyway."
The man shakes his head. "You're too young to be a Boy Scout, and you'd have to have earned the Arrow of Light Award in Cub Scouting first."
Rhodey's dad and Tony's chauffeur and bodyguard are all sitting around the dining room table with Tony and the Troop Leader and Rhodey. They all start talking at once. Tony is surprised to find that they're all on his side, even the Troop Leader. The Troop Leader starts making phone calls to some council or other. Rhodey's mom makes coffee and a Bisquick coffee cake with canned peaches, brown sugar, and cinnamon. It's like a party after a while, and everyone cheers when the Troop Leader gets the Council to make an exception allowing Tony to become a Cub Scout and join Rhodey's pack.
"Cub Scout?" Dad looks at Tony. "You'll be bored with that inside of a week."
Mom smiles at Tony. "It'll be good for you to get out and be around other children more. Howard, sign the papers."
Dad rolls his eyes, but he signs the permission papers. Mom signs them, too, and gives Tony the papers. Well, Tony is a little disappointed, but then it's only Cub Scouting, and he's just joined, so that's not going to impress Dad. He's going to earn a sash full of merit badges, and then Dad will see that Tony's something special.
He works really, really hard at it, memorizes all the rules and really, really believes in the Scout Oath and Scout Law. His chauffeur and bodyguard take him to all the meetings and outings and help him arrange all the extra stuff to earn his badges. They're really nice guys.
It takes more than six months of spending every minute when he's not doing his normal studies before he's satisfied with his merit badge collection. Among others he's got architecture, astronomy, aviation, chemistry, coin collecting, computers, drafting, electricity, electronics, engineering, fingerprinting, home repairs, metalwork, model design and building, orienteering, public speaking, reading, safety, salesmanship, scholarship, space exploration and wilderness survival.
He almost got the personal management badge, but he kept messing up, and gave up on it.
He's done eight of the nine steps necessary to earn his Arrow of Light. All he needs is to complete the Honesty Character Connection, and then, in his mind, he'll be a Boy Scout, even though he has to wait until he's eleven to move to a troop. Even Captain America wasn't a Boy Scout at Tony's age.
He polishes his shoes himself, and sews his badges on his sash by himself and makes sure his uniform is perfect. Jarvis helps by pressing creases really sharp in his shirt. Tony is almost a Boy Scout. All he has to do is repeat the Scout Oath before Mom and Dad and discuss the importance of promises and honesty and being trustworthy.
Tony goes into the living room. Mom and Dad are watching something on TV. It's nothing important. They look up as he comes into the room and stands at attention. "On my honor I will do my best, to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight."
Dad looks at him, really looks at him, and for a moment Tony is so happy. Then Dad starts laughing. Mom shouts at Dad, and Tony runs back into his room and locks the door while they yell at each other. Tony doesn't cry. He may not be a Boy Scout, but he doesn't cry at all as he takes a pair of scissors and cuts all his merit badges into tiny pieces. His hands hurt because the embroidered badges are hard to cut and the bits of thread get into his eyes and make him blink.
But he doesn't cry.