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The Hand That Feeds You

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Tony wondered what it felt like to be born. 

 

What it would be like, to experience the sights and sounds and sensations of the world for the first time, without any context for them, without language to process what light and noise and feelings even were… To be totally unaware that you are separate from all of that. To have no comprehension of where any love or bond to your mother came from, or what it was… If you were even able to comprehend it at all…

Was there some wordless, innate understanding that you existed now? Was there any understanding of joy, or sadness - any recognition that these feelings separated you from the void?

 

Apparently, these were the sorts of philosophical musings that slipped through his mind when he was completely free, and comfortable, and… limitless…

Ponderings on the meaning of life, and the nature of death, and the definitions of reality… All without being afraid of the questions, or confused by the definitions, or frustrated by the lack of answers. 

Not separate from the universe, exactly, just… more aware of it all. Seeing it all as though from a distance, even as he felt more connected to it than ever. Like he wasn’t drowning in it anymore…

 

Tony hadn’t even realized that he was drowning in reality, until he wasn’t.  

Until he was lying against his Sovereign's chest, perfectly at peace, at rest in his own body for the first time ever…

It wasn’t like being born, he’d decided… Because he was aware of the void that he’d been rescued from, and he did have language - inadequate though it was - to try and explain these feelings. Because he understood Steve as more than a shapeless feeling of love and safety…

But still, there was a reason Tony’s mind had drifted onto this topic. A recognition that this was like a rebirth…

 

It was late the following afternoon, but the two of them were still cocooned together in their bed, Tony molded against Steve’s body, Steve’s hand resting protectively on the back of his neck… 

Tony couldn’t remember the last time he’d been this still. 

He couldn’t remember the last time he was allowed to be this still - he couldn’t remember another time in his adult life when there had been no task on the horizon, no threat to worry about… And he knew that none of his previous priorities and responsibilities had disappeared, that time hadn’t really slowed down or made a little space for them…

But he was different now.

Everything felt different now.

He moved through time differently, thought differently, experienced differently…

 

Better.

Like it always should have been.

 

A warm feeling caressed up the back of Tony’s neck, under his skin - a reaction to the subtlest pressure under Steve’s fingers. 

Tony tilted his head up just enough to let Steve trace his fingertips over the mark on his throat, hissing softly as that now-familiar pleasure fizzed up under his touch…

Tony loved it when he did that. 

Tony loved that he had that mark now… He already knew, he was going to spend weeks, months, grinning stupidly at that mark, and running his fingers over it just like this-

It wouldn’t feel the same as when Steve did it… but he’d still shiver every time… 

 

Tony let himself melt into the sensation, waiting until it had dissolved through his shoulders before he smiled and pressed another kiss to Steve’s chest…

He could feel the way that Steve tensed into it… Different to the way he’d softened under it before…

Tony could taste that heat that was building in Steve’s blood- 

He knew.

 

A burst of excitement broke out in Tony’s chest - a bubbling, giddy feeling that made him want to curl his toes.

He was so immediately thrilled to experience this, to know it so well-

So overwhelmed by the thought of what he was about to do - by the idea that this was the first time of thousands…

So ready for this. Like there was some equal, complimentary need in him… 

 

Tony had to take a moment to swallow down his elation before he could say it.

“Are you hungry, baby?” He whispered, through a dreamy smile. 

He felt Steve’s arms tense tighter around him. He heard the same buzz of excitement in Steve’s grin. 

“Yeah?” Steve purred, already guiding Tony onto his side so that he could shuffle down the bed and face him. Tony’s heart clenched as their eyes met, the memory of the night before flashing through his body as well as his mind-

The purity of that feeling, as Steve sank his teeth into his throat - the bright, perfect pleasure of it. 

The intensity of that release, the bliss of complete and total surrender.

The indescribable power and purpose of it, the rightness of it.

The love he felt in that moment, uncomplicated and uncompromised and unlike anything he’d ever felt…

 

And now, this wonderful feeling of knowing exactly what Steve needed.

The joy of being this. 

 

This time, Tony melted against the sheets as soon as Steve guided him onto his back, his head tilting up at once. Steve dropped his head to kiss Tony’s throat very softly, sending a ripple of tingles through Tony’s shoulders… 

And just beneath that, the first throbbing of a dull ache, gathering under Steve’s teeth…

Like there was too much blood now, or it was pumping too hard, too close to the surface… Too much to be left like this…

As though Tony’s body had changed already.

As though he needed Steve to feed from him now, every bit as much as Steve did…

 

Tony liked that idea very much. 

 

And then he felt the electric sensation at the very edge of Steve’s teeth, followed by the teasing flicker of his tongue. Tony’s breath didn’t catch, this time. He didn’t tense into the excitement of it, the way he had last night. Now, his only instinct was to relax into position, simmering in the simple joy of waiting. 

 

Until at last Steve bit down into his neck. 

 

The release of it was just as intense, that dull ache dissolving in the hot flood of pleasure as Steve drew a long, slow mouthful of his blood. Tony could swear he felt it being tugged through his body, dragging this feeling through every inch of him. It pulled tighter and tighter, tingling sharply under his muscles - until Steve swallowed another mouthful, breaking him all over again. That heat coiled, grinding though his hips and up along his back as Steve sucked against his throat, Tony’s skin pulsing under Steve’s lips. 

 

And then the swell of dizziness as Steve pulled his teeth free, the sudden rush of light and space in his head, the thrill of free falling with none of the fear-

The tender caress of Steve healing the wound. The most intimate kiss imaginable. 

 

Oh, God, Tony was so happy. So endlessly, fathomlessly happy…

And Steve was happy - Tony could feel it. A different kind of contentment and gratification, beating beneath his own, feeding into it…

His Sovereign - full, and satisfied, and safe, and cared for, because of him.

 

Eventually, Steve lifted his head, smiling down at Tony with such affection and joy that it took Tony’s breath away. His lips were stained a deeper red, even fuller than they usually were, and Tony knew that he’d be able to taste the coppery flavor of his own blood when he kissed them…

“You’re so beautiful,” Tony murmured, too quietly for Steve to have heard it, but Tony knew he knew…

“My Tony, my beautiful, perfect consort,” Steve whispered, awed, as he leant down to kiss Tony’s neck again, slow and deep and full of affection…

The pleasure of it flowed through Tony’s softened muscles, shivering through the parts of him that used to be closed off. He let it collect in his hips, writhing into the sensation…

“Closer,” he purred, arcing up into Steve as much as his watery limbs would let him, grinning into the tender pleasure that it sparked. 

He felt Steve smile against his throat. 

 

Without another word, Tony parted his thighs, letting Steve settle between his legs. Steve deliberately ground against him as he covered Tony’s lips in a possessive kiss, forcing Tony to moan into his mouth. Tony’s cock throbbed hard, pressing against Steve’s stomach, igniting two separate frissons of sensitivity - the physical thrill that he could feel, and the excitement that Steve could feel… It echoed through him, an ever-increasing feedback loop, even before Steve slid a firm hand down over the curve of his hips… Another surge of dizziness flooded through him as Tony finally threw his head back to gasp for air - and Steve didn’t miss a beat. He simply carried on pressing those hot, slow kisses to Tony’s jaw and neck as he caressed his palm over the curve of Tony’s ass, opening him up…

 

And Tony knew that he was ready for this; still wet from when Steve fucked him that morning, as relaxed and open as he’d ever been in his life-

He liked that they could both take that for granted - that Steve knew everything he was feeling, as well as he did…

That Steve could follow that natural impulse and push inside him now, slow and firm…

“Oh, Fuck, Steve…” Tony gasped, as that roll of pleasure pushed up through him, cresting and crashing into something more compulsive as Steve began to move inside him.

“My Tony…” Steve growled - and God, Tony was never going to get used to that, in the best possible way. 

“Yours,” he promised, rocking into that friction. He managed to throw his arms heavily over Steve’s back, indulging in the perfect shape of Steve’s beautiful body, and the thrill of knowing it was his

That gritty, feral growl was his.

Those beautiful lips were his-

 

That spike of desperation as Steve thrust into him harder, the rush of pleasure that followed, was his.

 

Tony’s breathing broke down into a pleading murmur, catching every time Steve pushed into him, the pitch pulling tighter as Steve picked up the pace-

And then Steve hit Tony’s prostate, and tugged that needy whimper into a guttural groan. 

Tony’s body tried to tighten into it, creating a compulsive sort of conflict - a strange, intimate feeling that shuddered through him, as that tension trickled through his weakened muscles, like electricity. 

It flashed hotter as Steve thrust into him again, gathering down through the small of his back and up through his thighs, an edge of frustration finally sharpening-

And then Steve dropped his head again, sucking another bruising kiss to Tony’s throat - right over that raised mark-

 

“Oh, Steve-” Tony keened, as that pressure broke-

And again, as Steve felt it-

And again, as Tony felt him feel it-

And again, as Steve moaned against his throat, and came inside him-

 

Oh, God, that feeling kept echoing, cresting again and again, until there was nothing but that feeling-

 

And then that heady, heavy bliss that settled over him, submerged and saturated him, until he felt like he was floating in it…

Someone whispered, I love you, I love you - and Tony didn’t even know if it was him. If he could even hear it out loud, or just in his head-

And it didn’t matter. He knew it was real.

 

It took a few moments for any semblance of reality to reform - and even then, it was a distant, shimmering reality that ended at the edge of the bed. 

When Tony’s vision cleared, there was only Steve, flushed and glowing and utterly flawless, gazing down on him with such affection…

“I love you,” Tony definitely managed to say it out loud this time, albeit whilst panting for breath. And Steve smiled - that beautiful, dazzling smile that was for Tony alone - and whispered back,

“I love you.”

 

Tony gasped as Steve pulled out of him, pulling his arms tighter across Steve’s back in a bid to hold onto that closeness. Steve snaked one arm under Tony and pulled him into his chest, bringing Tony with him as he rolled onto his back again. And for a while Tony was content to stay there, basking in the warmth of Steve’s adoration, revelling in the strength and softness of him… Tony didn’t bother to catalog any of his own reactions. He didn’t need to find or name the pulsing pleasure of the afterglow, or the fizzing excitement in his mind, or that strangely present emptiness in his stomach…

Until Steve named it for him.

 

“Are you hungry baby?” Steve whispered into his hair. And Tony grinned - because, yes, as it turned out, he was. 

But he didn’t have to answer - at least, not in words. He knew that Steve already knew-

That Steve would take care of him now. 

And, for maybe the first time in his life, Tony had absolutely no reservations about that. No nagging guilt or feeling of inadequacy, no lingering vulnerability, no irrational questions about what it meant-

He knew that Steve was supposed to take care of him now-

He knew that there were no judgements or caveats-

He knew that he didn’t have to do anything to earn this or deserve it or repay it-

It just was.

 

Tony even smiled as he opened his arms, letting Steve shuffle away from him and climb out of the bed. He watched, happily mesmerized, as Steve stood up, taking the opportunity to run his eyes over the curve of Steve’s back before he carelessly tossed a bathrobe over his shoulders. And then Tony relaxed back into the bed with a dreamy sigh, and breathed in the smell of Steve, and waited for the warm, comfortable thoughts to float into his mind again…

 

We should go to Germany…

 

There was the briefest flicker of a thoughtful frown. A vague curiosity about where the idea had come from.

…But it was right.

And it was separate from the idea that they still had to work out ‘what was going on’ - who knew about them, and why, and what they wanted from either of them…

Of course, Tony knew those considerations were still important, that they’d have to think about all that at some point and make a plan of action. But it seemed like a secondary concern, now. Something he could think about when the really important things were out of the way…

Now, Tony understood that Steve needed to know if there were other vampires. He knew what it would mean for Steve to be able to talk to them, to see that culture first-hand. 

In fact, now, Tony had a far more present interest in it for himself. A genuine curiosity, a feeling of potential connection… Something he felt compelled to look into…

He remembered that there were things he’d wanted to work out first. He remembered a whole list of reasons why it might be dangerous to go to the Rossinhol Estate, and a longer list of contingencies that he’d wanted to consider…

Did any of them really matter?

 

He was brought out of his musings when Steve walked back into the room, holding Tony’s favorite coffee mug and a plate of French toast. Tony grinned as he sat up, as much at the idea that Steve had remembered his favorite comfort foods as at the thought of eating it… Although, that thought wasn’t far behind, now that he’d realized how hungry he was. 

And then Steve set the plate down on the bedside table, and sat on the edge of the bed, and brushed the hair away from Tony’s face…

And Tony simply carried on the conversation in his head. Just expecting Steve to know what he was talking about. 

 

“We couldn’t tell anyone, if we went to that Rossinhol place,” he said, thoughtfully.

“In case SHIELD found out,” Steve agreed immediately - like he’d been listening to every word.

“Well, in case anyone found out, I suppose,” Tony mused, reaching out to take the mug. “I mean, seeing as we don’t know who’s watching us, or what they want - probably better to keep as much to ourselves as possible, right?” 

Steve nodded, fair point. 

And then there was a little frisson of thought behind his eyes.

“Are you sure you’re okay with not telling people about all this?” He asked, carefully. “I mean, Rhodey and Pepper and… the rest of the team… I don’t want to make you keep secrets from the people you care about.”

“Well, of course I want to tell everyone as soon as I can,” Tony smiled. “I mean, I want to tell everyone, just because I’m excited and happy and I want to… And we will, as soon as we can. But this isn’t about anyone else. This is about us. And this is important, and it’s important that we do it right - and I don’t think I owe anyone an explanation about my personal life before we’re both ready.”

 

Steve smiled at him, relieved and appreciative and warm…

But still, Tony could feel something beneath it.

“You’re thinking about Bucky,” he guessed. Steve sighed and dropped his eyes.

“I would have liked to have told him about you,” he nodded, sadly. “About all this… It’s things like this… I don’t know, sometimes I find myself thinking as though he’s still alive. Like there’s this weird gap… Like it doesn’t quite feel real that he’s never going to meet you, or something.”

Tony put his mug down again and shuffled closer to Steve. He knew there was nothing he could say to that - he knew it better now than he ever had. He could feel the loss that Steve lived with, and the trauma it fed into. He understood the hurt and guilt that meaningless pleasantries did nothing to ease…

And that was a painful revelation, of course.

But there was also the revelation that at least Tony could do something about it now. Not that he could ever make it better - he knew, nothing would ever erase that heartbreak, or fill the space it had left… But at least Tony could help to carry that burden now. He could provide a different kind of purpose and comfort. He could do more for Steve than any mere human would’ve been capable of…

He could place a tender hand on Steve’s thigh and know that it communicated all the love and care he felt - and that mattered.

 

“It’s probably a trap, you know,” Steve sighed.

“Well, everything’s probably a trap,” Tony countered, and Steve laughed. “And hey, if someone is setting this whole thing up to trap us, then we really should go and see what’s going on… And, to be honest with you, I think they’d regret bringing us there more than we’d regret going. I’m… Never going to be scared of anything, when I’m with you.”

Steve broke into a different smile then - one that Tony could feel in his chest. 

Tony was glad that Steve was proud of him in that way - that Steve was proud of himself, for protecting Tony. 

…And, now that he thought of it, he was excited to think of ‘the consort effect’ and what it meant in real life. Up until last night, Tony had only ever had an academic understanding of it - and, for weeks, it had been as unnerving as it was compelling.

Now that Tony wasn’t running from it - now that he understood it on a basic, physical level - he was free to really think about it…

The idea that Steve could command such terror from anyone who threatened him… That Steve would feel such a feral, protective instinct towards him… Was incredible, really, wasn’t it? 

“And I know we can prepare for all of that,” Tony carried on, over the lightness in his chest. “We can find out as much as possible about the place first, and plan all our back up plans, and everything…”

 

But a malicious trap wasn’t the worst-case scenario, and Tony knew it. Far more disappointing than that would’ve been…

“You know it might not be what we want it to be,” Tony finished, softly. And Steve nodded immediately - because, obviously, if Tony had been thinking about this then Steve knew it already.

“I know… there might be no one there, or they might not really be vampires, or they might all be awful people with awful customs that I want nothing to do with…” He agreed, sadly. “But… I’d still want to know. And anyway, it’s not like any of this is really the point anymore. I mean, sure, it might be nice to actually learn something, or…. Whatever. But it’s not like I’m clinging to this one chance to find meaning. I have that already.”

He put a hand over the top of Tony’s, squeezing gently, sending a warm caress all the way along Tony’s arm…

 

“So… I’ll start looking into it, then,” Tony decided, with a grin. “I’ll find out what this place is, and what we’d need to do to get an invitation, and… everything else. First priority.”

“No,” Steve corrected, in a playful tone of voice that was none-the-less entirely sincere, “the first priority is that you let me take care of you.”

And with that, he handed Tony his plate. Tony smiled.

 

“Yes, Sovereign,” he agreed.