The screen over the lab’s electronic lock flashed a blinking red “DENIED” at him, and Steve frowned.
He tried his pass code again, with no better luck. Had Tony changed the codes again? They’d just updated them, so he didn’t think that he would have needed to for security reasons...unless he was trying to keep Steve out.
Well, he was going to have to do better than that.
Steve knocked, hard enough that Tony would be able to hear the sound at the bottom of the stairs, just in case he decided to mute the comms on him.
“Tony?” he called. “I know you’re down there.” He paused, but there was no response. “I just wanted to make sure you were all right.”
Steve only learned that something had happened when he’d seen it on the news. Of course, Tony hadn’t told him. Or asked for his help.
Steve was telling himself he was fine with that.
Tony may have come out of his fight physically unscathed, but he knew that left a lot to be desired when it came to this sort of thing. He’d seen the news report, and he knew how Tony’s fight will Mallen had ended. Steve was certain that Tony had spent the last few hours running through everything he could have done differently. It only made things worse that Maya Hansen had been arrested as well. She was Tony’s friend. He knew better than to assume Tony was handling this well.
It wasn’t abnormal for Tony to avoid talking about it. But usually after a fight like this he would have come looking for Steve by now, dragged him to the gym or to bed, depending on his mood, and reassured Steve that he was all right. Steve had given him his space, at first, but his worry was beginning to outweigh his patience.
“You know I could break the lock if I wanted to,” Steve tried. “But I’m not going to, because you’re going to let me inside. Please.”
There was another long pause, but Tony didn’t respond. Steve contemplated the door for a moment, and then tried the keypad again.
The screen flashed green, and the lock unlatched.
The stairwell was dark, and as far as Steve could tell, the lights were off in the lab as well. He flipped the switch at the top of the stairs, but that only lit the stairs; the light didn’t quite reach into the lab.
“Tony?” Steve called again. “Why are the lights out?”
Steve paused for a second at the bottom of the stairs, staring into the dim room. A prickle went up his spine, and Steve felt immediately wary and ridiculous for feeling so. He made his way to the switch on the wall, but when he flicked it, nothing happened.
“You should leave.” The voice came from behind him, and Steve jumped and spun around.
“Jesus,” he said. “What are you creeping around in the dark for—” he stopped, finally getting a good look at him, and he felt his stomach drop. “God, Tony. You look terrible. Are you sick?”
Steve reached out to press the back of his hand to his forehead, but Tony ducked out of his reach before he could.
“Your hands are shaking,” Steve said. “Tony.”
“Please leave, Steve,” Tony said, shrinking away. “I can’t—I’m not really feeling myself right now, and…”
“What happened,” Steve insisted. “Are you hurt?”
He stepped further into the lab, trying to get a good look at him in the poor lighting. Why was he avoiding him? Was it really so bad that he didn’t want Steve to see? It wouldn’t be the first time that Tony had hidden injuries from him, but that had been back before Steve had known that Tony was Iron Man. Back before they were together. Steve thought they were beyond this, but with the way Tony was acting, now he wasn’t so sure.
He reached out to place a hand on Tony elbow, pleading, “Tony—”
Steve jerked back, surprised, as he effortlessly ripped his arm from Steve’s grip. Tony’s eyes were red, not just bloodshot, but the irises glowing faintly crimson, and flashing unnaturally when he caught Steve’s gaze. They looked even more striking against the pale pallor of his skin.
Steve knew what this was. He’d encountered vampires before during the war.
Tony looked different. His black hair looked dull, disheveled, and a sheen of sweat settled on his brow—Steve hadn’t even known vampires could sweat. His eyes were bloodshot, and dark circles looked like bruises against his pale skin. He crossed his arms in front of his chest, defensively, trying to stop himself from shaking.
Or holding himself back from ripping Steve’s throat out with his teeth.
This was still Tony, even if he’d been...changed.
There was definitely something wrong, though. The vampires he’d encountered in the war had seemed suave, poised—they were lunatics, sure, but they had a sort of deadly grace to their movements that was nothing like Tony seemed to be now. He looked tired, sick—
“Have you been eating?” he asked, before he could think better of it.
Tony laughed, but it was mirthless, the sound ugly in his throat. “I haven’t attacked anyone, if that’s what you’re wondering,” he said.
“So you haven’t,” Steve said.
No wonder he looked ill. Steve wasn’t sure whether a vampire even could eat normal food, but he suspected it wouldn’t do much for them. Tony was starving himself.
“How did this happen,” Steve asked.
“I—you’ve seen the news?” Tony asked. Tony waited until Steve nodded, before hissing under his breath. “I was dying.” Tony said. “Broken ribs, bleeding internally—it wasn’t pretty. Maya knew I was done for. She could—smell it on me.” Steve sucked in a breath through his teeth, but Tony continued as though he hadn’t heard him, “So she thought, if his heart doesn’t need to beat, what’s it matter if it stops?”
“Maya turned you,” Steve said.
He knew how the story ended. Maya’s arrest had been all over the news. The story had said that she was the one responsible for unleashing that maniac in the first place, and—god, Tony had trusted her, and now this.
“Did she...did she ask you if—”
Tony made a face. “Don’t,” he said.
“Sorry, I just—you decided to just keep this to yourself?” Steve asked.
“It’s no one’s business,” Tony said.
“The hell it isn’t!” Steve said. “You should have told me. Someone. I can help you—”
“No,” Tony snapped. “I don’t need it. This is old hat.”
“What?” Steve asked. “Bloodthirst?”
“Needing a drink,” Tony said. “I’m not interested in going back down that road.”
“Tony,” Steve said incredulously, “It’s not the same thing.”
“It feels the same,” Tony said. “Same cravings, like an addict,” he snorted, derisively, “same withdrawal symptoms—”
Steve stepped forward, grabbing Tony’s hand and cutting him off mid-sentence. He couldn’t help but notice how unsettling Tony’s gaze was, tracking his movements lightning-quick, standing perfectly still. His hand was cold. Steve drew a breath and ignored the way Tony’s chest was still.
“It’s not the same,” Steve said. “This was done to you. You didn’t ask for it. And I don’t care how you’ve justified it to yourself—you don’t have to starve yourself as some sort of punishment.”
Tony said nothing, but he didn’t draw his hand away. Steve pressed on. “Let me help you,” he said.
“No,” Tony said, with all the resolve he could muster. “I can’t ask you to do this.”
“You don’t have to ask,” Steve said. “I’m volunteering.”
Tony’s eyes flicked to his throat. Steve swallowed.
“Steve,” he said, tone nearly begging. Steve finally saw the way he was clutching the desk so tightly the wood was starting to creak, staring fixedly at the wall. “Please, just go—”
Steve said, “You’re dead on your feet. You need to heal—”
“I could kill you,” Tony said.
“Tony, look at me.” It didn’t take any convincing, for Tony to drag his gaze over to Steve, and he didn’t comment that Tony’s gaze lingered on Steve’s neck for a moment too long before he forced eye contact. “I trust you.” He punctuated the phrase with the slightest incline of the head, baring the side of his throat, and Tony’s eyes snapped back at the movement.
Steve saw the instant Tony’s resolve snapped, and he cleared the space between them in one shaky step. He nearly threw himself on Steve, shoving him up against the glass wall separating the lab from the hall hard enough to rattle the door. Steve tensed involuntarily, expecting a bite, but instead Tony kissed him roughly, his hands resting loosely against his throat, his thumb brushing Steve’s pulse point.
Tony’s hips were braced against Steve’s, one knee slipped between Steve’s thighs, the pressure holding him down. He was strong, not just fast, and Steve felt heady excitement of being pinned.
Tony finally broke the kiss and leaned back. Steve watched Tony, gasping and undone, as he slid his hands beneath the hem of Steve’s shirt and tugged it over his head. Steve carded a shaky hand into Tony’s hair, urging him forward. Tony hesitated and looked at Steve, eyes filled with desire but still in stark clarity.
“Are you sure?” he asked. Steve nodded, moving his other hand between them to wrap around Tony’s own. Tony hovered over the spot on his neck, licking and sucking.
He gasped at the sting of the bite.
Steve tipped his head back, exposing more of his neck for Tony, and shuddered at the rush, warmth blooming across his skin. He threaded his fingers through Tony’s hair and pulled him closer, encouraging him to drink his fill.
Steve’s breath stuttered as Tony’s fingertips skimmed down his torso to his waist. His hands were cold against Steve’s bare skin. He scraped his nails down Steve’s abs, drawing a shudder from him, and then unbuttoned Steve’s jeans.
Steve squirmed, helping Tony drag them down his hips, breath caught in his throat as his squirming sharpened the sensation of the bite to hot pin-pricks; Tony growled in the back of his throat and planted his hands on Steve’s hips, forcing him to still.
He ground against him, the stiff fabric of his pants dragging against Steve’s boxers, not nearly enough friction to be satisfying. Steve pitched his hips forward, looking for more contact, and let out a breathy moan.
“Tony, please,” he said, the words sounding broken. “Please.”
He tugged at Tony’s belt, still struggling for words, but Tony got the memo and moved to free Steve from his own briefs. He hooked one thumb under his waistband, dragging the heel of his palm down his length through the fabric, sending delightful shivers down Steve’s spine, and then yanking it the rest of the way down his thighs. Steve could have sobbed, he was so relieved, because then Tony’s hands were on him, pumping his cock and flicking his thumb over the slit before letting him go to take off his own trousers.
Tony was already hard, the tip of his cock dripping, and Steve reached out to take him in hand. Tony grabbed his wrist to stop him, grinding their cocks together instead, slowly the friction almost too much. Tony took his time, going slow until they’d established a steady rhythm, rutting against one another, Tony’s fingernails digging into the flesh of Steve’s wrist where he pinned it against the wall. The rasp of Tony's beard against his neck made him flush, his nerves alight and oversensitive to the lightest touch.
Steve felt light headed, breath coming in short gasps as Tony rutted against him. A thin line of blood had slid past his lip to trail down Steve’s chest, a bright red smear of it stood out on the collar of Tony’s white shirt.
He was overly warm, could feel the blood singing in his veins, spilling red-hot against Tony’s tongue. He was close, thrusting against Tony’s cock desperately, until finally, blessedly, he came, spilling between them.
Tony pressed one palm against Steve’s abdomen, holding him steady when Steve’s knees felt watery. He panted against Tony’s neck, petting his hair with one hand, gripping his elbow with the other, grounding himself.
Tony laved the bite with his tongue, and if there was any pain Steve was numb to it. He shuddered.
Steve kissed him again, messily, tasting the coppery tang on Tony’s tongue. His bottom lip caught on one of Tony’s fangs, drawing blood. Tony made a noise and drew back, licking the smear of blood off his lips and then leaning down to press a kiss to Steve’s neck, just above the bite.
The two of them collapsed on the couch in the corner of the workshop in a tangled heap. Steve was light-headed, his limbs heavy. He let out of long sigh as Tony settled half on top of him, one arm curled over his hip.
“Tony,” Steve mumbled, “Promise me something.”
“Hmm,” Tony hummed, encouraging him. Steve could feel himself slipping; the idea of sleep sounded immeasurably enticing.
“Stop... punishing yourself,” he said softly.
He was asleep before he could hear his reply.
Steve woke to the unfamiliar sensation of a body pressed against him. Usually, they migrated apart during the night, Tony too light a sleeper and too uncomfortable with the heat to share bed space with Steve for too long. When he woke up with Tony still in the bed at all, there was usually only a single point of contact between them, a hand on his hip or a knee pressed against his own.
Tony had wrapped himself around Steve’s side during the night, curling up until his face pressed into Steve’s shoulder. He’d pinned one of Steve’s arms beneath him, but Steve shook the other free, and tentatively pressed down on the stretch of skin along his neck. Memories from last night came back in flashes. The skin was tender, but when he ran his fingers over it, the puncture wounds from last night were completely gone.
On his side, facing him, he was suddenly very aware of the way Tony’s scent was all around him, how close his body felt pressed against him—not warm, entirely, but comfortable. They fit together so easily, and Steve couldn’t resist raising a hand to brush Tony’s unruly hair back from his face.
It was a mistake.
Steve had barely brushed the tips of Tony’s bangs when his eyes snapped open, his eyes unnerving even in the faint daylight filtering into the workshop. His hand shot out to grab Steve’s wrist, almost too fast for Steve to see, and then froze there for a long moment.
When Steve made no move to pull away, he relaxed marginally, seeming to come back to himself, the color of his eyes fading back to their natural blue. Tony didn’t let go of Steve’s wrist, only let their joined hands drop between them. His fingers slid over the pulse point on Steve’s wrist, tracing faint lines on the skin.
They would have to move soon, Steve thought, with the light from the open window creeping closer as the sun rose. They would need to talk about this, decide what they were going to do, if there was any way to fix this. For now, though, they were comfortable, and that was enough. Steve leaned forward, his breath ghosting against Tony’s lips, and traced his thumb over the calluses on his palm, cold but still familiar.