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Thirst

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Thirst

They stumble out of the elevator into the penthouse, Tony staggering so badly that they careen right across the corridor and into the opposite wall. For a second, Steve is pressed right up against him, and Tony shakes uncontrollably with want, fingers digging into Steve's arm as he struggles with himself. Steve is not food, and if he can last long enough to reach the spare blood he keeps in the fridge, he'll be fine. It's not like the giant thing tearing up the city had actually managed to rip his arm off, although it'd given it a damn good try, and then Steve is at a safer distance, although he still has Tony's (good) arm around his shoulder and is steadying him around the waist.

"Are you sure you're-"

"I'm fine," Tony snaps, and isn't quick enough to mask the wince that follows, the quaver in his tone more than enough to reveal to Steve just how injured he is.

"Tony-"

"Just get me to the kitchen-" Tony grinds out, deliberately not looking at Steve's face.

Steve sighs and tugs him forward, Tony stumbling down the corridor. The light has a reddish tint, and it isn't until Tony blinks a couple times that he realises that one of his eyes is filled with blood.

He swallows, speaks before he can think better of it. "How bad?" he asks.

Steve glances at him sideways, and then looks away, muscle in his jaw twitching. "Bad," he says shortly.

There's nothing Tony can really say to that - when it comes down to it, if one of them is going to get their arm practically ripped off it's going to be him, because he can heal that sort of damage. If Steve - and Tony has to stop there, because he can't process that thought through to its logical conclusion. Just, no. It's always going to be him, and that's that.

They stagger into the kitchen, and Steve leans Tony up against the table.

"I'll get it," he says, and Tony is too tired to protest. He aches all over, not just from the fight (and fuck but his shoulder is hurting right now, flares of pain spiking down to his elbow almost every time he breathes) but from where his healing is kicking in, too. Normally he doesn't like the others having to deal with what he is, doesn't like them dealing with the blood, but it's Steve, and Tony just, can't deal with this right now. He needs to eat (he was already overdue, and man but Pepper is going to kick his ass when she finds out he went to a fight when he was starving), and then he needs to sleep for an entire day, and when he wakes up everything will be fine.

The fridge door shuts, and then Steve is back over next to him. Tony can feel his warmth through the air, can hear his pulse. It's almost calming, but mainly because Tony uses his enhanced senses to listen to Steve's heartbeat when he's trying to sleep.

"Tony," Steve says, and Tony can't smell any blood and Steve doesn't sound okay, and when had he closed his eyes anyway?

He forces his eyes open and tracks over to Steve. "Yeah," he says, and Steve - Steve looks really concerned. "What's wrong?" Tony asks, and maybe that was the wrong question because now Steve has that look that means that Tony is being really dumb, and has probably just risked his life in what Steve considers to be a really stupid way. Like tonight, but whatever, Steve still has two working arms and Tony will heal by tomorrow.

Tony can almost see the moment where Steve decides not to make an issue of previous moments and just concentrate on whatever is specifically bothering him right now. "There's no blood in the fridge," he says, and Tony does still, for one tiny moment aches forgotten.

"What?" he says, and then sags against the table as everything comes back full force.

"You have a backup supply, right?" Steve says, and Tony shakes his head slowly.

"I don't run out," he says. "It always gets restocked before I-" but they'd had that extra fight earlier this week, after which Tony had downed two whole bags, and then he'd eaten and "shit."

He squeezes his eyes closed, fingers clenching tight on the table. This is just- perfect. He lost a shitload of blood, had to all but re-attach his fucking arm, and now he's going to take an extra few days to regenerate just because he's out of - but more than that, and he swallows, wood starting to splinter under his grip. He was already overdue, and if he doesn't get blood pretty soon he's going to totally lose it.

"Tony," Steve says, low and urgent, "Tony-"

His hand comes down on Tony's wrist, and Tony is abruptly aware of the blood running through Steve's veins. He takes a sharp breath, and relaxes his fingers. Maybe he's already losing it.

"Yeah," he says, and opens his eyes.

"We have an alternative to you starving and going crazy," Steve says, and pulls his cowl back from his face. "You can-"

"No," Tony says immediately, because Steve is not an option. Steve is never an option. Not even if they were the last two people on Earth and Tony hadn't eaten in a month. "Not a chance."

"So I just watch you try not to scream in pain, and then I watch you go crazy from hunger?" Steve says. "I like my option better."

"No," Tony says again, and pulls out of Steve's grip, staggering backwards. He fetches up against the doorframe, both hands behind him for balance. "You can't make that decision for me."

"No," Steve allows, "but I can make that decision for me. You're my friend, and I'm going to do all I can to help."

"Not this," Tony says, soft, and the only reason it sounds pleading is because he's exhausted, obviously.

"I heal," Steve says, taking a slow step towards him. His heartbeat thunders in Tony's ears. "Not as fast as you, but I do heal. And you have my complete and full permission. I trust you."

Tony looks away. Steve might trust him, but Tony - Tony doesn't trust himself, especially not in the state he's in right now. He likes Steve, a little too much, and he's not really in his right mind right now and all his normal filters are down, and hell if Steve isn't the most delicious thing he's smelt in a long time. If Tony starts drinking from Steve, he doesn't think he's going to be able to stop.

"Tony," Steve says, and Tony snaps up his gaze because Steve is right there now, almost (but not quite) crowding him into the lintel. "Talk to me."

"I can't," Tony says, which is about as honest as he can really be right now. "I can't-"

"Why not?" Steve says, and he would pick now to be stubborn about things. "You would stop being on the verge of collapse, and I can heal. You won't hurt me."

"I could kill you," Tony says before his brain catches up to him, and watches Steve's eyes widen as he follows Tony's train of thought.

Steve just shakes his head. "No you won't," he says. "And anyway, I wouldn't let you." He sounds full of confidence, that Captain America assurance that everything is going to be fine, but Tony can't believe him.

"I can't," he whispers again, dropping his eyes away.

"You can," Steve says. He lifts a hand and then fingers are on Tony's chin, gently raising his head so he can look Tony in the eyes. "You will."

"No-" Tony says, and then Steve takes hold of his mail shirt and pulls it smoothly over his head. The shirt, his gloves tangled somewhere inside, thumps to the floor, but Tony can't move, his gaze drawn to the veins almost standing out in Steve's neck. Steve is so-

"No," Tony says again. "Steve, please-"

"I'm not going to let you hurt yourself on my behalf," Steve says. "Not again."

"I-" Tony says, because it's not that he hurts himself in place of Steve because he thinks it's fun or anything, it's because Steve is so much more important that he is, and so much more fragile - and then six foot two of Steve is pressing him back into the door frame. Steve is warm, and he smells, god, Tony can smell the blood in him, pulsing in his ears, and-

"Come on," Steve says. "You need this. Why are you fighting me so badly?"

"I'm not going to have any humanity left," Tony whispers into Steve's shoulder.

"You've got plenty left," Steve says, and lifts a hand to brush Tony's face, and then suddenly Tony is the one pressing Steve back against the wall next to the door, holding him there easily with his good hand and leaning in.

He shouldn't do this, it's going to fuck everything up, but his brain isn't the one driving at the moment and, god, Steve is everything he's ever wanted and not been able to have.

Steve's hand is still on the side of his face, and as he leans in fingers twine through his hair, gentle.

"Come on," Steve murmurs again, more of a rumble now that Tony is this close, and he sets his teeth against Steve's neck and bites.

It's, it's. It's the most delicious thing he's ever tasted, water after a day in the sun, a burger after three months in a cave, whisky curling smooth down his throat. He's never going to be able to get enough.

He presses Steve harder against the wall. In the back of his mind where he's still rational, he registers that Steve is still carding a gentle hand through his hair, seemingly totally relaxed about the fact that Tony is drinking away his life, and oh god, but he can't stop, needs more, needs-

Steve's hand in his hair gets a little stronger, urging, and Tony tears himself away, staggering backwards into the kitchen table (again), trickle of blood oozing from the wound on Steve's neck and dripping down to pool in the hollow above his collarbone. Tony follows the drop down with his eyes, breathing hard, and wipes a hand across his mouth, back of his hand staining red. He feels warm, Steve's blood already starting to work in him, most of his aches receeding slightly. One of them isn't, and wow he must be tired, because he spends a good five seconds trying to work out when he strained his groin muscle before he realises that he's hard, harder than he's been in a long time, and oh god he was right up against Steve that whole time, and-

Tony tears his eyes away from Steve's bare chest and drops them to the floor. The floor is much safer to look at, Steve's red boots at the top of his vision, and then they get closer, Steve walking forward.

"Tony-" he says, "Wh-"

"Normal reaction," Tony blurts out, "I'm so sorry but it'll never happen again and uh are you okay, did I hurt you-" anything to change the topic of conversation because this could get totally awkward, with Steve being Captain America and also kind of not interested at all in guys, Tony in particular, and wow he really needs to shut up now.

"Tony," Steve says, and he doesn't sound angry, more like, wry, maybe, and, "I kind of - liked it too."

"What?" Tony says, because that totally doesn't compute for him. He lifts his eyes to meet Steve's and along the way he passes Steve's crotch and oh. Oh.

The corner of Steve's mouth is hitched up, an almost-smile. "I didn't know," Steve says. "You never told me."

"Tell you what?" Tony says, because this is still kind of awkward, although given that Steve hasn't punched him yet he probably hasn't fucked everything up yet.

"How you felt about me," Steve says, and takes that last step, pressing Tony against the edge of the table. He puts his hands over Tony's, leaning in, and Tony realises with a start that Steve is going to kiss him, and also that he still has blood in his mouth.

"I have blood in my mouth," he says, which, wow, his brain really isn't functioning tonight.

"I don't care," Steve says, only inches away, and then he leans over a little more and then he's kissing Tony, gently as though Tony is going to bolt, which on reflection maybe he is, because Steve is kissing him and he should check whether Steve has been brainwashed or replaced with a robot double or just suffering mental illness from sudden blood loss or something, but Jesus, Steve is kissing him, and Tony, Tony-

He's waited so long for this, and he's so tired but somehow he gets an arm around Steve's waist and one up to his neck, palm resting over the marks, and Steve has one arm around his shoulders, keeping him upright, the other hand gentle on Tony's cheek.

"W-what are you doing?" Tony gasps when he can, Steve still covering his mouth with kisses, and he thinks his head is spinning, he's dizzy, can't get enough air.

"Kissing you," Steve says, like it should be obvious.

"But, you-" Tony says, and Steve rolls his eyes.

"Because I like you too," Steve informs him, and Tony would really think he'd been possessed or something but the look he gives Tony, the one when Tony is being dumb, it's so familiar and, and fond that Tony knows this is Steve, his Steve.

Tony can only stare for a moment, because nowhere in his calculations had he factored in that Steve would like him back, and he doesn't know what to do.

"Tony? You okay?" Steve says carefully, and Tony blinks back to Steve's face.

"Huh? Yeah. Yeah, I'm. Feeling a lot better, actually."

"That's not what I meant," Steve says, but he's smiling just a little now, and Tony does a mental shift, throwing his calculations out. He likes Steve, and Steve likes him; it would take an idiot (or possibly someone who has been thrown through several buildings and almost had their arm ripped off and is therefore really quite exhausted, or at least they were five minutes ago before Steve started kissing them) not to know where this is going.

"I know," Tony says, and what do you know, he can smile too. "I'm okay."

"Good," Steve says.

"Good," Tony echos. "Can we get back to kissing now?"

Steve laughs, and obeys.