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Tony is fine with being touched and handed things until after Stane’s final betrayal. Pepper hands him the papers in the garage, and he takes them. Everheart hands him photographs at the Benefit, and he takes them. Stane himself hands Tony the pizza box, and he takes it, but after this? After this, Tony won’t accept anything from someone he doesn’t know, or only knows casually and he shies away from touch unless he initiates it.

Here, Stane takes away not only the device that is keeping Tony alive but he destroys Tony’s trust. He takes something that was always fragile and wary and rips it to shreds. Tony has known him since he was a child. There are years and years of trust and faith and yes, love between them. Stane was Tony’s family, his surrogate father. He knew every single one of Tony Stark’s issues and cracks and he manipulated them perfectly. He has Tony paralyzed and unable to do anything. Tony wasn’t there to save his parents from the car crash, he couldn’t save Yinsen and now he can’t move and he can’t save Pepper.

This man who stood by Tony at his parent’s funeral with his hand on Tony’s arm, who hugged him close when he was returned from Afghanistan, who put an arm around his shoulders and pulled in him when he was telling him how they were a team now, this man has his hands all over Tony, is looking at him with more than business speculation in his eyes and there is nothing Tony can do about it. He can’t move, he can’t scream, all he can do is sit there and take it. The silence in that room, so oppressive and sharp, broken only by the crackle of the fire and the distant roll of waves, the soft press of Stane’s fingers on Tony’s cheek, the intimacy of his breath ghosting over Tony’s lips as he leaned in to pull the life from his chest, these things, like the blood and pain of the desert where strange men held him down, forcing his body to comply, these are things that Tony will never forget.

So yeah, Tony has intimacy issues. Deep seated, long standing and soul scarring issues and nothing and no-one, not Steve, not Pepper, not $300 an hour therapists who have summer homes in the Hamptons are going to completely erase that.

It is a part of him that makes him the man he is.


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