After Steve gets turned, he keeps trailing off in the middle of sentences to zone in in on some exposed part of Tony’s skin, or inhaling long and hard when Tony’s close, or even leaning in and snuffling along Tony’s neck that one time at breakfast.
It’s very distracting, and Tony doesn’t know how he feels about it, because Steve doesn’t do this to anybody else.
If he was going around sniffing the rest of the team, Tony thinks he might be able to handle it. But since it’s always just Steve doing these things to Tony and then jerking away, his eyes wide and hazy and unhappy, and apologizing profusely before running off-
Well, Tony thinks they have a situation.
He corners Steve about it one day, when Steve’s pouring animal blood from a plastic baggie into a mug.
"What’s wrong, Tony," Steve asks, without turning around, and Tony scowls.
"How’d you know it was me?"
Steve shrugs his big shoulders, squirting the rest of the blood into the mug and turning around with it in his hand. “I used to be able to tell who it was from your breathing, but now it’s from your scent.”
"Yeah?" Tony pockets his hands, steps closer, trying to be casual about it. Scaring Steve off isn’t what he wants to happen here. "What does Tony Stark smell like?"
Steve’s lips quirk. “Uh, metal. And- you smell sweet. Kind of, kind of heavy? And hot.” A flush breaks out across his face, down his neck. “I mean- you’re not- you are, but it’s- it’s just a hot smell, you smell. Hot.”
"Hmm." Tony takes another step closer, until Steve’s smile falters further. His fingers tighten around the mug.
"Tony, what are you-"
"What’s with the thing you’ve been doing since you got vamped?"
Steve swallows. Tony sees his eyes tick down to Tony’s pulse-point on his neck. “What thing?”
"The thing," Tony says, gesturing between them. "Sniffing me and then running away with your tail between your legs. It’s insulting."
"Insulting," Steve echoes faintly. His eyebrows draw in. "Tony, I’m doing this so I don’t hurt you.”
"Why the hell are you worried about hurting me?"
Steve takes a breath, mouth open like he’s going to speak, but all he does is exhale angrily. He sets his mug down on the bench. “This isn’t- I’ve been told the cravings will calm down eventually, but until then, I can control it better when I’m not around you.”
Steve’s looking lost again, the look he wore for months after moving into the Tower, the look Tony really hasn’t missed and would do almost anything to get rid of. “Steve? You aren’t just talking about the usual vamp bloodlust, huh?”
"The council said it was a side effect," Steve says, looking like he’d rather be doing anything but saying this. "That it happens sometimes, especially with fledglings."
"Mind putting a name to ‘it’ before I start sounding like a broken record, Steve?"
"The- Imprint," Steve says, hunching into his shoulders, nearly muttering the word.
Imprint. Jesus. Tony read about it when he was checking what to be on the lookout for with Steve. “You’ve Imprinted.”
"I’m sorry," Steve says miserably, but Tony holds up a hand.
"Whoa, hey, no, not your fault, kid. Um." Tony drops the hand, because Steve had started looking at his wrist, the mapwork of veins. "So what, it’s like, you open your eyes first thing after getting vamped and, boom, Imprint?"
"What?" Steve frowns again. "Tony, no. I’m not a baby duck."
"You look like one right now, big sad eyes like that," Tony sighs. "Yeah, no, keep going."
"It’s- there have to be. Uh. Feelings. Deep- uh, deep feelings. And the person has to be compatible with- with your, your spirit, or something, your vampire-ness but also your person-ness, they weren’t all that clear when I asked."
"So obviously we’re compatible," Tony says, and Steve nods. "Okay, so what does the Imprint- what does it do?"
Another shrug. “So far, it just makes you smell really, really good.”
"I’ve noticed," Tony says, trying not to leer and failing a little. "Metal and sweetness heaviness and heat, huh? The vamp in you wants a taste?"
Steve shudders, actually shudders, a full-body shiver where he squeezes his eyes shut, but not before Tony catches the red growing around his irises. “Tony,” he says, helplessly, his voice catching on it. His fists clench, and he takes a step back.
Tony follows. “Would I have to turn?”
"What?" Steve’s eyes flutter open, and the red is fading back to familiar blue. "No. You wouldn’t have to do anything. But-"
"But, Tony, you don’t have to do anything,” Steve says, gaze tracking Tony’s as Tony steps in so he’s nearly pressing Steve to the wall. “I can handle this, it isn’t a big deal, one-way Imprints happen all the time.”
Tony makes a face. “Steve, you can smell arousal, all that jazz?”
Steve nods, that beautiful blush climbing his neck again.
"So you know about me totally wanting to jump your bones, right?"
"Yeah," Steve says, rasping it, and Tony has to fight off a grin at that.
"Unfortunately you can’t smell love, otherwise you’d smell that all over me." Tony continues, brushing their noses together. "Directed at you. Obviously. I don’t just go around reeking of it."
"You," Steve says, dazed. He blinks, the red filtering in and out. "You, Tony, really?"
"Really-really," Tony says, and Steve smiles.
"Good job," Tony says, and then, after meeting Steve’s eyes to check it’s okay, leans forward to steal a kiss. Then another one, and Steve is making a noise like a whine, and Tony bares his neck to him.
"I trust you."
Steve whines again, and his lips brush Tony’s neck, kissing it lightly before Tony feels Steve’s fangs grow against his skin. He braces himself and then the fangs break the skin.
There’s a flash of pain, and Tony gasps, but then the pain is being replaced by a strange, overwhelming heat that takes over Tony’s whole body, radiating out from where Steve is biting him.
Tony hears himself moan, and Steve is still making noises, little muffled sounds against Tony’s neck as he clutches at him, his fingers digging into Tony’s waist.
There’s a pulling sensation every time Steve takes in more blood, and it’s not unpleasant at all, in fact Tony now knows why so many victims just stand there and let their blood get sucked out of them until there isn’t enough to pump around their body. They should make this a drug, holy shit.
Steve pulls back, breathing hard against Tony’s neck, dragging his mouth over the bite mark, and Tony finds it’s completely numbed, the high leeching from his body the longer Steve’s no longer biting him.
"Did it- did it work," Steve croaks, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, looking stoned out of his mind. "Was that nice, I meant to make it not hurt but I’ve never done it before, I didn’t know if-"
Tony thinks he swears before he drags Steve in for a kiss.
Steve is moaning desperately, saying Tony’s name into his mouth, and his lips are clean but the inside of his mouth still tastes coppery. Tony can’t taste any of the metal or anything else Steve described, but judging by the way Steve sucks on Tony’s tongue, it tastes pretty good.
"We should put something on that," Steve says when he pulls back, nodding towards Tony’s neck, which is still bleeding sluggishly but is more healed than it should be.
"How about your mouth," Tony suggests, arms around Steve’s neck.
"I don’t want you getting lightheaded," Steve says. "And, uh, next time I’ll pick a less conspicuous spot."
Tony hums. “The insides of my thighs are inconspicuous.”
Steve jerks in his arms. Tony’s loving how responsive he is, he could definitely get used to this.
"There’s a major artery there," Steve chokes, and Tony shrugs and kisses his cheek.
"Sniff it out and avoid it."
"You trust me far too much."
"I trust you a perfectly smart amount."