He always figured there'd be nothing he wouldn't do for knowledge. When being the smartest kid in the class was all he had, Tony had promised himself that he'd never let that advantage slip away. Having Stabe lie to him for so long only confirmed it. Tony was always going to make sure he knew more than the other guy.
Knowledge is power isn't the Stark family motto (it's something else about honour or integrity or industry, some meaningless words cooked up by a grandfather Tony never knew), but it could well have been. A certain kind of knowledge- chemicals and gears, steel bolts and burning metal. And more, too- Equations, numbers and, lately, secrets.
And when that knowledge gets out of hand- when it's found by the wrong people, when they demand things from him he cannot, will not give- that's when it's the most powerful of all.There's nothing Tony won't do to stop that happening.
But as he sits on the edge of the bed, the vial of Extremis heavy and strangely cold in his hand, Tony wonders if this isn't a step too far, even for him.