"You're doing it again."
There was a moment of silence. The another. And another. And Bruce finally had to repeat himself for the third time, this time at a shout.
Tony jerked upright and whirled around, looking at Bruce with wild and confused eyes, huge in his pale face.
"Two straight days in the workshop," Bruce said, leaning over the bench so he could see what Tony was working on. Something about the armor, naturally; some kind of targeting system, perhaps? It wasn't Bruce's area, but that looked about right. "You're white a sheet. When was the last time you ate anything?"
"Forty-nine hours prior," JARVIS said, before Tony could muster up a convincing lie. "Master Stark has had some minor snacks, but no substantial meal since that time."
Tony somehow managed to glare at the air, JARVIS having no convenient face to glare at, before transferring his ire to Bruce.
"Did Pepper send you?" Tony said, looking away. His voice was very nearly a growl.
"No, I missed you at morning coffee. Once could be chance, twice is happenstance, and our lives are too strange to wait for some kind of conspiracy." Bruce raised an eyebrow as Tony deigned to look at him sideways.
"Yeah, ok, point conceded. Moving upstairs now." Tony pushed away from the table and stood. Or tried. He nearly collapsed on the floor, Bruce barely managing to intercept him on the way down. Tony clung to him, hanging his head as he tried to get his feet under himself again.
"Dr. Banner, I think it would be advisable for you to leave," JARVIS said suddenly.
"JARVIS, Tony needs help-."
"No," Tony said, his head still down. "Should go." His voice was low, with the grumbling, growly rasp of someone who'd had little rest.
"Your AI let me in, so how about you don't pretend that you're perfectly all right for once?" Bruce said, tightening his grip as he pulled Tony up. One arm was circling Tony's chest, and Bruce could feel the faint sensation of Tony breathing against him, stirring the hair of his arms. Aside from the arc reactor, Tony felt cool against him, his pale skin like marble.
"You smell fantastic," Tony whispered, so quiet that Bruce almost didn't catch it.
"Au natural cologne, which is to say, none. Come on," Bruce said, and managed to steer them both into a sofa and collapse against it. He would have jumped right up again, in search of something that wasn't coffee for Tony to drink or eat, if there hadn't been a sudden sharp sting on his arm.
Bruce pulled away from the pain automatically; it hadn't been enough to even register with the Hulk, but it had almost felt like-. Bruce stared at the tiny little wounds on his arm and looked over at Tony in disbelief. He had blood staining his lips.
Tony had bitten him.
"Dr. Banner, you should leave now," JARVIS repeated with more urgency in his tone. Tony nodded in silent agreement, his eyes so big and his skin so pale, the blood in bright contrast. His tongue darted out to lick the blood away, and Bruce could see the very tips of the sharp fangs descending from Tony's mouth. Like snake fangs, not human teeth, and Bruce had seen wounds from both enough to tell the difference.
Human with fangs, his brain registered automatically. Tony with fangs. Tony, who'd spent three months in a cave. Tony, who should have died from shrapnel wounds. Maybe he had died. Maybe he'd built the arc reactor into himself for reasons other than living. Because maybe he'd had to appear alive, warm, and he'd still been trapped in the cave and needed a power source, and damn if death was going to stop Tony Stark.
"Tony?" Bruce asked, covering the little wounds (already clotting) with his other hand. Fear wasn't an option, not with Tony, not with the one guy who trusted him and the Hulk implicitly. And Tony knew, with one look in Bruce's eyes, that he knew.
"I've got a supply, just got distracted by... you know, shiny objects. Dummy, go get me a drink out of the private stock," Tony said with tightly-controlled banter. Dummy rolled away and Tony’s eyes landed on Bruce’s arm again, drawn there seemingly irresistibly. “You’re so warm…”
“Why did you…?” Bruce asked, shifting his hand slightly, not quite sure if he was going to plunge into the deep end immediately.
“Warm, like I said. You’re so, so warm,” Tony said, sounding hungry. Hollow. Then he shook his head and mustered up a grin from somewhere, his whole face shifting back into the Tony Bruce knew. “Listen to me. ‘I vant to suck your blood,’” he said in a wildly overdone Dracula accent. “I oughta set an alarm so I don’t turn into Nosferatu after working too hard.”
“You did, sir,” JARVIS said, managing to sound miffed. “Several times.”
“A better alarm,” Tony amended. Dummy trundled back with a cool bag of blood, and Tony grabbed it with hands that only shook a little. “D’ya mind? Blood in a crystal goblet sounds all elegant and shit, but it’s a bitch to clean up, so I’m usually totally uncouth and drink straight from the carton.” He waggled the bag slightly and nodded at the door.
“But that’s cold too,” Bruce almost blurted out. He’d seen that look on people’s faces before, the stoic resignation of taking whatever they could get, of making do, because there was no way they were ever going to get what they truly needed. Bruce remembered being hungry, being cold, with no one to rely on except himself.
Tony started and then got his smile back. “Yeah, yeah, but a little time in the microwave fixes that problem. Seriously, I’ll be good. I’ll-.”
Steeling himself, Bruce took his hand away and Tony shut his mouth and stared at the small traces of drying blood. Again, Bruce could see the shape of the predator press itself against Tony’s skin, yearning after the warmth within him. He felt a moment of sickening kinship, that Tony had a monster inside him too.
“You want to do this?” Tony asked, the blood bag dangling from his fingers.
Bruce looked right at him and shook his head. “Not really.”
Tony jerked himself back upright and looked faintly murderous. “Ok, vampire 101, don’t fucking wave a bloody wound right under my mouth after I’ve had a two-day fast and then tell me no. I got this under control, but it’s seriously fucking uncool, Banner,” Tony nearly snarled. Bruce could see the size of his fangs as Tony curled his lip and gave himself second, third, and fourth thoughts.
Bruce kept his arm steady regardless as he answered. “I just found out five minutes ago that my best friend is a vampire.”
Tony lost a little of his murderous look. “Ok, fine-.”
“And my blood’s been a little bit of a sore spot for me for a few years,” Bruce added curtly, and Tony softened a bit.
“Ok. Ok.” Tony went to tighten his grip on the blood bag when Bruce flexed his arm slightly, breaking open the wounds. The bag dropped from Tony’s suddenly nerveless fingers, and Dummy scooped it up carefully.
“I know what it’s like to be cold and hungry,” Bruce said and lifted his arms slightly. He swallowed hard as he felt Tony’s cool breath against his skin. “And you shouldn’t have to, not if I can help.”
“This a pity-party, Banner?” Tony said a bit acidly, running his tongue over his fangs. His grip tightened possessively on Bruce’s arm. “’Cause I’m already in one.”
“No,” Bruce said simply. Both of them were beyond pity at this point, and they knew it. “The radiation won’t give you trouble?”
“I can eat radiation for breakfast,” Tony said confidently. His eyes flicked up to Bruce’s as he lowered his mouth to Bruce’s arm. “And I’m going to.”
Tony’s fangs penetrated with a sharp sting, but the pain faded almost immediately. Tony’s mouth closed against the wound, cool lips coming up to temperature fast as a drawing sensation began to tickle on Bruce’s nerves. The feeling spread through his blood, like a caress from inside his own skin. Maddeningly light, delicate, Bruce could feel his body arching into the invisible touch even as Tony added the counterpart of soft licks against his arm.
Bruce shivered all over as he felt himself get hard, and involuntarily fisted his free hand in Tony’s hair.
Tony pulled away immediately and looked up, licking Bruce’s blood from his lips. His hands, warm now instead of cool, were still possessively clamped around Bruce’s arm. “Ok?” Tony asked. And there may have been a tiny hint of a smirk on his face, because Bruce’s heart rate was going up and he knew he was flushed red, and Tony was pressed too closely against him to miss the erection tenting his pants.
“Don’t stop,” Bruce whispered, shivering again.
Tony bit again, with no pain this time, and Bruce’s hand flexed almost involuntarily as the caressing sensation increased. It curled around his limbs, his gut, even his cock, touching him everywhere in relentless little waves of sensation. Tony rubbed a thumb along the crook of his elbow, beating against the veins in time with Bruce’s heart.
“It feels good, Tony.” That spilled from Bruce without conscious thought, and Tony made a faint moaning noise in his throat that sent a jolt of pleasure from where they were connected. Bruce gasped and Tony’s thumb drummed relentlessly and suddenly Tony pulled away, licking his lips clean even as his fangs retracted. Bruce concentrated on breathing for long moments, and realized Tony had pulled away before they’d reached the old danger threshold of one hundred forty beats a minute.
“’S’all right?” Tony asked, his color looking healthy once again, his eyes no longer so lost.
Bruce nodded after a minute; the Hulk had only stirred there at the end, but barely enough to even get Bruce’s attention. And Bruce had been so focused on what Tony had been doing to him he’d scarcely noticed in the first place.
“That was…” Bruce trailed off and just shook his head, not able to quantify.
“Excellent,” Tony said, letting go of Bruce’s arm reluctantly. He actually leaned into Bruce, mouth briefly touching Bruce’s neck, causing another full-body shiver-spasm. Tony pulled back slightly but kept himself close, now so, so warm against Bruce.
“You’re warm,” Bruce said inanely.
“You noticed. Yeah, I got this awesome friend who let me bogart some body heat,” Tony said. The circle of the arc reactor was a bright point of heat against Bruce’s body.
“Sounds like a good guy,” Bruce said, finally letting one arm circle around Tony. Dangerous Tony, too fearless around the Hulk, with a secret hunger inside him, all under control. That was a story Bruce was all too familiar with. Tony’s eyes were warm too, now, amused and relieved.
“Yeah he is,” Tony said, slinging his own arm around Bruce and giving him a sideways glance. “He’s a keeper.”
Bruce let his own smile finally show, echoing Tony’s toothy one as he relaxed. Tony’s eyes dropped down to Bruce’s lap and trailed back up again languidly, making Bruce skip a breath or two as his body throbbed with remembered pleasure.
“It felt amazing,” Bruce said, heat rising in his face.
“Same here,” Tony said, sliding closer, eeling around until he was practically on Bruce’s lap. “You’re like,” he leaned in, brushing his lips against Bruce’s neck again to make him shiver, “drinking fire, or sunlight. And trust me, I don’t usually do that.”
“You can,” Bruce heard himself saying, rolling his hips slightly to press against Tony’s own hardness, relishing the heat between them. “You can do it again.”
Tony’s answer was a kiss, warm and promising and full of teeth.