Tony had been in MIT all of four weeks and so far he’d yet to be treated as something other than a fucking n00b, a rich over-privileged talentless hack, and/or some sort of lucky idiot.
The final straw came when he and this other guy, Rhodey something, in his programming 102 class get to talking about the latest article on AI’s before class and Tony’s actually enjoying himself a little bit because so far the Rhodey guy hadn’t made a single comment about Tony’s last name or his age, just some stuff (mostly wrong, but eh) about the article. Tony’s just making a throw away comment about how he could probably program a better AI in a less than a week when the prof walks in and overhears.
And suddenly, Tony’s being called out in front of the class while the prof proceeds to spend the entire first half of the lecture scolding Tony, telling him that he needed to learn respect for his betters—elders— and to keep his big arrogant mouth shut while the adults did real work.
Tony just keeps taking deep calm breaths the entire time he’s being humiliated in front of about 120 of his peers by an idiot professor that can barely tell the difference between C++ and Python. He doesn’t look anyone in the eye. He doesn’t say a single word. Just keeps breathing and forcing his hands to stay open and down instead of throttling the fucking bastard which is what he really desperately wants to do.
Finally the prof shakes his head and sighs that it was such a pity that even MIT was vulnerable to the lure of big money in an aside that everyone hears and waves at Tony to go sit back down.
He turns around and walks out the door instead.
Tony heads back to his dorm and just sits down on his queen sized bed with 1000 thread count sheets in a private single paid for by Daddy’s money, head in his hands and still breathing deep breaths. In and out. In and out. Again. Just keep breathing.
Two hours later, he’s finally feeling a bit calmer or at least not so homicidal anymore and then looks around and realizes he’d forgotten his backpack in the lecture hall. He hesitates because he doesn’t really think he can handle bumping into the idiot prof again and not attacking the man. But, he rationalizes to himself, Class was over almost an hour ago so surely everyone else was already gone.
So he takes a deep breath and heads back to the lecture hall. He’s found his backpack and is just reaching to push open the door when he hears loud voices from the hallway right outside.
“So how’s it having Stark’s boy in your class?”
“About as enjoyable as a stay in hell.”
Laughter. Tony freezes and bites his lips. It’s the very prof that he’d been hoping to avoid.
“The boy is a natural troublemaker, he’s got an over inflated opinion of himself and absolutely no respect for his elders. Did you know that I heard him claiming that he could build a better AI than the one by the Calmadge group in less than a week?”
“Really? He does seem to think rather highly of himself. Then again, I’ve heard that he is a bit a of a genius though. And besides, you know how kids are, always high spirits and all that.”
Tony gritted his teeth. Fifteen. Only about two or three years younger than his peers and he for one was definitely not a fucking kid.
“Maybe, but I personally don’t care much for big headed brats so I called him up and gave a little talking to.”
“Called him up? Wait, you mean in front of the class?!”
“Are you sure that was wise? No matter what you think of him, he’s still Stark’s son and you could get in a lot of trouble if he complains.”
The guy scoffs.
“Let him. It’s not as if anyone here thinks any differently. They’re just too enamored with the Stark fame and fortune to say it outloud.”
Tony’s heard enough. He shoves open the door and practically storms down the hallway, past the two surprised professors and out of the building.
He swipes angrily at his eyes once outside, muttering to himself that the sun’s way too bright today. This time when he finally gets back to his dorm, he drops his backpack on the floor and pulls out all the bottles of liquor that he’d been stashing and proceeds to get smashing drunk.
Most of the way through the third bottle, he finds himself in the robotics lab with an oversized robotic arm with cannibalized pieces of tech all around him and blurry lines of code swimming in front of his eyes. He blinks a few times and the lines of code clear up a bit as do the little numbers at the bottom of the computer screen proclaiming it to be 11:47am which means he’s already missed two classes.
He chugs the rest of the bottle and then grabs another and gets back to coding.
Some hours later, the scotch is all gone and his vision’s getting sort of iffy around the edges but the code is finally finished and installed and the robotic arm that he’d modified at some point was just waiting for activation.
With a slightly maniacal grin, Tony presses the key and a few seconds later the robotic arm that could whirs to life.
“Well, hello there,” he whispers to it, voice rough with scotch and exhaustion.
It swivels it’s head towards Tony and whirs, sounding almost happy and the thought of that makes Tony laugh. The laughter startles it and it wheels back, arm raised in a perfect impression of hackles being raised despite having no such things and something about it strikes Tony as being absolutely hysterical.
He slides onto the ground, rolling around howling with laughter as the robot rolls about in panicked circles around Tony, whirring and arm waving about like a dummy until it finally figures out there’s nothing to be scared of, that it was just Tony. Then wheels to a stop above Tony’s head and does this weird little movement with its arm like a puppy tilting its head.
Tony stares up at it and stretches up a hand towards it. After a moment of hesitation, it slowly grasps his hand with the claw at the end of its arm. Tony smiles and wraps his fingers around the cool metal.