He doesn't realize, at first, that he is anything other than just smart. He's lived his whole life fairly insulated, and people don't react well to his intelligence, his money, his attitude. He knows he's very particular about what he builds and what he buys, but every guy gets too into cars, right?
Tony stumbles back from the woman, mouth still tingling from whatever fancy bee crap was on her lips. He knows he's not drunk. He stumbles outside, manages to get to the car. He doesn't have a key, can't remember the code. He falls to his knees, leaning his head against the window. His vision is blurry, purple paint fading to black. He hears the lock click open.
When Tony wakes up, he's sleeping in the front seat of the Lamborghini in his own garage.
Things Tony does not know on the day he acquires a black acura: That he's not actually crazy and he really can talk to machines. That the acura is actually a repurposed diplomatic vehicle with bullet proof windows, specialized armor in the doors and quite a few other tricks. And that the reason the car is being used to haul around the Senator's least favorite person is because it was nearly totaled in a classified incident and was never repaired quite properly, but is far too expensive to get rid of.
What Tony does know is that he is hungover, he is pissed off about the meeting, and the car he's riding in is really, really miserable.
Tony would rather be photographed naked than be caught dead owning a car as subtle as this, but he really can't stand a machine in pain. It takes him nearly four hours to convince the government to let him buy it, and he's even more pissed off at the stupid thing once he owns it.
The hum of interesting-pleasure-new that slides off the Lambo when Tony parks the Acura next to it makes him think it might be worth it. At least, if he can get the engine back into shape.
Tony doesn't deal with all of his dad's stuff at once. When Howard first dies, Tony just doesn't know how. As he gets older and busier, he picks at it bit by bit. There's a lot of it, because Howard was something of a collector.
In one of the garages, Tony find a beat up Indian motorcycle, a model from what looks like the second world war. If he knows his dad, it's probably one of the bikes built for the war effort. This one looks like it's been through a war, at least, and Tony can't even guess why Howard left it in this condition, tucked away where he'd never accidentally look at it.
Whatever the reason, Tony has it brought back to his garage and given pride of place in the center of the room. As he starts working on it, first by stripping away the years of dust and under that, dirt and grease, he feels a slow stirring, a waking-up inside the cold metal.
Tony's never really understood why companies keep buying him cars when he can just pick out his own. But the the sporty little Lada with a custom black and red paint job sitting next to him in the garage is pretty nice. He might take it out for a spin before giving it back to the up and coming tech company he's planning on buying out.
He rubs a hand along the hood before returning to the schematics in front of him. After a few minutes, the car's engine turns on and a feeling of warm-summer, out-doors, drive-fast, get-away runs up the back of Tony's next. For a moment, he just nods along with the feeling.
"We'll go out later, I've got to finish this first."
A second later, realization hits, and he turns towards the car. Sure enough, the drivers seat is empty.
"This is not actually happening."
The headlights flash and Tony can feel eyes rolling.
"Ok. This is happening. I still have to finish this assessment first."
The car hums in agreement, and Tony goes back to the tablet.
Maybe he'll keep this car after all.
"Tony, did you steal a car?!"
Pepper's voice is moving into so-calm-someone-will-die territory.
Tony winces but doesn't remove his head from under the hummer's hood. He hears the click of her heels on the tile and waits until she's right next to him before looking at her.
"Pepper, I did not steal the car. I paid for it!"
"You had a screaming fight with a drunken frat boy on the middle of a college campus. It's on youtube! Tell me what's so important about this car that you made an ass of yourself the day before the board meeting."
Tony knows before he says it that this is the moment when it's all going to come apart.
"He was hurting him! The kid was hurting him!"
Pepper frowns for a moment, really looking at him.
"Who was he hurting, Tony?"
Tony turns back to the hummer, putting his hands on the engine. It's a wonder the thing is still running the way it's been treated.
"You couldn't hear the engine, Pep. He was hurting him."
Pepper stands next to him, looking down at the engine.
"Tony." She pauses. "Tony, what do you hear?"
Tony starts to explain. All of it.
At the end, when he can look at her again, he doesn't see so much as a hint of disbelief.
"I'll take care of it. You keep working on him."
He doesn't notice when she leaves the room.
Tony has never really gotten along well with humans. Pepper, Rhodey and Happy are the exceptions. For the most part, however, the only thing Tony really connects with are machines. He's never met a machine that he couldn't work his magic on, and more than a few that didn't exist before they came out of Tony's head. In fact, most of his friends are cars.
(Pepper says it's weird, but she doesn't actually try and change him.)
"Tony, man, you're going to love this show."
These days Tony finds most car shows kind of boring. Not all cars are as alive as his private collection, and it's more like going to a dog show than a convention. Still, there's always the chance that something will turn up.
A few hours later he's ditched the show for a booth babe with an incredibly impressive knowledge of combustion engines. They're wandering through the valet lot, making fun of the cars, when Tony sees one of the most absurd looking trucks he's ever laid eyes on. It's painted bright red with gold lightning decals and a whiplash suspension. It's absurd. It's not his style. It's over the top, even for him.
Blonde-who-knows-about-engines-and-probably-has-a-name is laughing at it, and he figures she's going to be significantly less interested in him once he tracks down the owner and buys it. Probably for the best, Pepper gets mad when he's sleeps with the new hires.
Tony pulls out his cell phone, patting the truck on the hood.