Okay, so I re-read this from the start and realised that there were one or two things I needed to change around.
So while attempting to honour SomethingIDontKnow's work, I have heavily edited and in places entirely rewritten Chapter 1 to fit my diabolical plans, because I'm a meanie with my own agenda. Therefore you may consider Chapters 1 to be almost-mine. (*Evil Cackle—"Cue the thunderclap, Igor!"—Dramatic Music*)
Chapters 2 and 3 are only lightly edited to reflect Chapter 1. Nothing earth-shattering, I promise.
Disclaimer: The original concept of the story wasn't mine, but I've redacted and reproduced parts of it. Future OCs (beyond Ch. 1) and plot development are all mine, though.
Warnings: Totally ignores the god-awful farce that was Iron Man 3. There. I've said it. I regret nothing except actually having watched it.
As for this story: Nothing too awful. Violence, swearing, minor gore and other things considered common to standard vampire activities.
Tony Stark was kidnapped by vampires on Halloween. Samhain. The Autumn Equinox. 31st October.
For once alone, he had been sitting at the breakfast bar in the Tower, fiddling with an extension for Butterfingers. JARVIS was on sleep mode and Hammer Horror re-runs played on the television.
Later he would find that extremely ironic, but when three people he had never seen before casually strolled into his kitchen—in his penthouse suite—which was at the top of his goddamn Tower—he was mostly just astonished and alarmed.
Why hadn't JARVIS notified him that he had guests?
But as he straightened up and opened his mouth to speak, one of the men looked him straight in the eye and said 'Relax'. Amazingly—unbelievably—he slumped down over the counter, narrowly avoiding impaling his face on a screwdriver. Unable to speak, he could only guess that someone had upgraded Obadiah Stane's sonic paralytic—because instead of a tight pain he felt as limp and pliant as a ragdoll.
As they got closer, he was shocked to see that the one who hefted him over his shoulder was a scrawny guy.
"… The symbolism is just to die for," one of the others murmured, just above a whisper.
The panic that had been roiling just beneath his detached analysis really kicked it up a notch as he was carried down several floors until they reached the service elevator outside the labs that took them the rest of the way. Surely JARVIS had called for help by now. Surely the Avengers were on their way to save him, right now.
Except they weren't, were they? Clint and Natasha were on a mission on the other side of the planet, Thor was home on Asgard, Bruce was currently away on a humanitarian trip, and Steve was God only knew where.
No one was coming anytime soon.
So Tony was abducted with no mess, no fuss and no hope.
If he was honest, he was a little impressed. Mostly though, he was pissed and scared.
Their getaway vehicle was a car from the Nineties so hideous that Tony refused to identify it before being bundled into the backseat. At least the kidnappers were gentle—they even refrained from blindfolding him until he was propped up against one of the men, while the other man and the woman sat in the front. The men were dressed similarly in shabby dark clothes, while the woman was wore a gown that looked vaguely medieval. And their faces… All of them were good-looking but sickly pale.
But when they put a bag over his head he broke the first rule of Abduction 101 by immediately panicking. "Nnnng!" he whined, struggling to break through the paralysis.
"Sshhh," said the woman cooed, patting the top of his head like he was a dog. That wasn't condescending at all.
"Nnn b-g," Tony slurred, the fingers of his left hand wrenching in a seizure-like twitch. "Pl-ss."
"It's just for a bit," her accent was strange, it seemed to be south-Jersey, but there was something wrong with it. As if a different accent sat underneath it, distorting the odd syllable. The bag was suddenly tugged up and he found he was staring into the woman's blue eyes. "But wouldn't this be better if you slept?"
He barely had time to open his mouth when his brain abruptly switched off. Like he had been put under anaesthetic.
Tony woke up on a bed with his hands cuffed behind his back. His shoulders were painfully stiff at the odd posture and he groaned, regretting trying to shift into a more comfortable position. The cuffs were wide and thick—maybe leather—and while not painfully tight, there was no way to escape them either.
His shoes and socks were gone, but they had left him his trousers and shirt. Thus arc reactor's light shone through the cotton to show him part of the room: small with peeling paint and windows that were boarded so well that he couldn't tell if it was daytime or not. The coarse sheets and creaky mattress only reaffirmed a growing suspicion that he had been kidnapped by people on a shoestring budget.
And so began what was possibly the worst part of being kidnapped: the wait.
With nothing better to do, he employed some of Bruce's breathing exercises and tried not to think about his last kidnapping.
So far, this was way better than Afghanistan.
Then the bare bulb clicked on over his head and his kidnappers came into the room, still looking like shabby art-house rejects. The men were now wearing dark shirts and ripped jeans while the woman was still in her velvet 'Morgan Le Fay' dress of utter tackiness. But one of the men helped him sit up, his grip gentle on Tony's upper arms.
"So who are you?" Tony asked, looking between them. "And what do you want? You know who I am, so there are a lot of options."
"These questions are not for us to answer," the woman replied cryptically.
"Take me to your leader then," Tony quipped.
"Yes, our master is the one who asked for you. He said no one else would do," the man who had helped Tony sit up said.
"Well, at least he's got impeccable taste." Tony retorted. "Am I going to meet him anytime soon?" He flexed his arms, testing his guard's hold on him. No luck there. It was like pushing against Thor.
"We'll wash you first. It's not fitting for a fresh mortal to arrive before the Master so unclean."
Fresh mortal? What the fuck was going on?
"Well okay, but can we do without the cuffs?" The man holding his arm gave him a hard look. "Seriously, I'm an adult, I can wash myself, and besides the reactor…" he shrugged meaningfully, "It needs special attention."
One of the men walked away, leaving the other two to lead Tony down a long hall, past several closed doors. The place was definitely old, reeking of mould, faded grandeur and mothballs. And all the windows were boarded up.
As they entered the small vintage bathroom—with a claw-foot tub, for Christ's sake—the one who had left reappeared. "The master permits it, provided you behave yourself."
Tony sighed, "Fine."
The woman laid out a set of clothes, black and shabby like the men's.
"Owen will stay with you, to make sure you behave. Wash and get dressed, he'll bring you down to the parlour," she said before leaving the room with the messenger.
"If you try to stall, I'll get you ready myself," the man named Owen growled.
Tony just smirked, "He speaks." Owen only jerked him around by the shoulder, working locks that Tony couldn't feel on his bonds. The cuffs came away and Tony's hands fell limply to his sides. While he worked blood back into his fingers, Owen turned the bath's taps.
Normally Tony was not shy about his body. He knew he looked good and he wasn't afraid to show it off—but at that moment, with a handsome and really strange man watching intently from across the room, he felt wary and self-conscious. Was this actually a ruse to get a look at the arc reactor? Or to torture him, maybe?
"Stay there," he said, pointing to the opposite corner of the room—he was not about to be dunked again. And so long as Owen kept his distance, he would acquiesce to a bath.
Owen scowled, but backed up to the door, leaning against it and crossing his arms over his chest.
Once assured that Owen wasn't going to rush him, Tony undressed and climbed into the tub without further protest, surprised that the water was actually warm. Despite the gaze boring into him, Tony kept the guy in his peripheral vision. He didn't want to be surprised—not like this. Repressing the fear, he made a show of carefully washing around the arc reactor—because what kind of moron would honestly design something like this and neglect to make sure it was waterproof? Clearly these people weren't engineers.
As soon as he had dried and pulled the loaned clothes on—faded black jeans and a too-big t-shirt—Owen put the cuffs back on him and dragged him roughly from the room and down a flight of stairs at the end of the hall.
The parlour kept up with the overarching theme of decayed grandeur, with high ceilings and wood panels. Even the damask furniture looked worn moth-eaten. The room was dim, illuminated only by gas lamps along the walls. On a chaise longue, one of a cluster of seats, a black haired man was, well, lounging. Altogether taller than the others, he was absolutely white, almost luminous in the weak yellow light. The impression was heightened by the red vest under his sharp black suit. He put Tony on edge immediately.
"Anthony Stark, it's good to meet you." The man had a strange, soft accent—caught halfway between New Jersey and British.
"I can't say the feeling's mutual," Tony shot back. "Who are you, and what do you want?"
Owen didn't seem to appreciate this retort. His grip on Tony's shoulder turned into a crushing vice and he forced genius to his knees beside the chaise longue. Tony swore softly, but refusing to groan or whimper.
"Owen," the man said with soft reproach, "there's no need for this violence. Anthony will understand very soon, and once he's seen the truth, he'll learn to keep his smart mouth in check." The certainty in the man's voice made Tony stifle a shiver. It reminded him of the Ten Rings—they knew that sooner or later Tony would do what they wanted.
"What makes you so sure?"
The man smiled. "Look into my eyes. Do you see any trace of a lie?" Tony didn't want to, fought it with every fibre of his being. That woman had made him sleep just by looking at him and making a suggestion. What could this man do with a look and a command?
They were coming. He just had to stay strong. Just until they came for him.
Owen tensed his fingers around Tony's shoulder again and he felt the joint shift under the pressure. Nails puncture his skin. That kind of strength was inhuman. Clenching his jaw, Tony screwed his eyes shut against the pain, still only sharp and finite.
There'd been worse. There would be worse. He could take it.
Then Owen squeezed Tony's shoulder with unimaginable force and the pain exploded across his consciousness, blurring the edges of the blackness to white. Five-finger-agony dug into his shoulder, manipulating crushed bone and pulped flesh—
His eyes flew open in shock as he screamed through clenched teeth.
The man reached out tipped Tony's face up. "My eyes, Anthony." They eyes were flat, blackish-brown, intense and so self-assured… And just like that, Tony's body was not his own. His limbs relaxed and the pain died down from a nuclear blast to a just-bearable heat. "That's quite enough, Owen. Leave us."
The man sat up, swinging his legs round so his feet touched the ground as Owen retreated to the hall. Leaning forward, the lunatic reached out and swiped a finger, catching a trickle of the blood on Tony's bare arm as it soaked through the t-shirt, running down his back and chest. Tony's eyes followed that alabaster digit as it was lifted to those thin lips, watching in horror as the man licked the blood of with a little sigh of pleasure. Tony was transfixed by the way the man's teeth seemed to lengthen.
A scream clawed its way up Tony's throat and was then trapped at the base of his tongue, choking him, because he wasn't in control of his own body anymore.
That fucking hypnosis bullshit!
A vampire?! Seriously?
The expression on his face must have been enough, because the man smiled again, and this time there were fangs—and by god they looked too real.
He was so fucked.
After that Owen and another of the lackeys took him back upstairs to a much nicer room. The wallpaper was barely peeling and there was a huge four-poster bed in the middle, with a black silk coverlet that he pushed down onto by the still humourless Owen and his silent buddy, utterly pliant because of that stupid mind trick they had pulled on him. The light was dim here as well, those same Victorian gas lamps lining the wall, but Tony could definitely see the man walking into the room.
"You've been chosen for a wonderful gift, Anthony," he said, shedding his suit jacket and kicking off his shoes.
They're coming. Soon, they'll be here soon.
No. No they won't.
Shut up, yes they will! God—why can't I move?!
The man smiled with his sharp teeth and lay down on his side next to Tony, propping himself up on one elbow. "We'll begin now," and he leaned over, brushing back a loose strand of Tony's hair. "You know, you taste like that whiskey you love so much. And you're all mine."
No, this can't—
There was a gentle kiss on his throat to the soft skin over his fluttering pulse. There was an instant of disbelief—
—suspended between that tender kiss—
—and the brutal slick slice of fangs into his flesh.
Tony thinks of Steve and prayed that he won't feel guilty about being too late. Prayed that Bruce would stay at the Tower that he once admitted felt like home. He prayed that Natasha would understand what to do with the instructions he'd asked JARVIS to relay in case something happened to him. That Clint would find the bow Tony made him and keep it, both because it was the best bow ever built and he secretly considered Tony a good friend. He prayed that Thor and Jane would stay together forever and that true love really would conquer all because damn it, that guy was practically the incarnation of Prince Charming.
It was cold and the man's hands on him were like stone. Lifeless and cruelly hard. He was panicking, but also tired. Tired in a way that had only touched him twice before. It was that inexorable exhaustion that was like a heavy blanket, a sort of involuntary restfulness. The kind of force that was terminal and inexorable.
A tongue like sandpaper rasped over the wounds and then there was a terrible drawing on the wounds in his neck.
Worst hickey ever.
And the arc reactor kept glowing, damnit, despite his pulse stuttering… slowing… roaring in his ears. He knew this part. He had been here before. This wasn't cardiac arrest. This was—
The hysterical panic went up another notch. He'd seen the movies. He knew what was coming and there was no way to stop it.
No one was going to save him. He certainly couldn't save himself.
He was going to die and then come back.
This cold horror was far heavier than the man pressing down on him. The roaring in his head had dulled to a deep bass hum as his skull throbbed. His breaths came in shallow wheezes now, his heart like a tiny bird fluttering in a cage as a huge hand descended for it, ready to snap bones and crush feathers.
Suddenly man pulled away with a gasp of his own. He was saying something, but Tony was beyond hearing anything except his own failing heart, vision darkening as he began to fall. But he was sure he saw the man open his mouth. Tony was too weak to recoil as the man's sharp, blood-stained teeth—his blood—snicked off the tip of his own tongue. It fell with a tiny wet sound onto Tony's chest, but he didn't see it as the man leaned over him again, dark crimson ichor dribbling down his chin.
Tony resolutely shut his eyes as the strong, slimy and liquid tongue caressed his lips, sliding under his lips and over his teeth, his gums before forcing itself against his own tongue—down, towards his throat.
The taste was foul—coppery and corroded, like burned hair and feathers—but he had to swallow or choke. And despite knowing that this was the end—the beginning?—he swallowed.
Once. Twice. That primal fear of drowning heightened after Afghanistan. The steady trickle of that foul blood burned his throat as the sick parody of a kiss went on. Was it a final insult, the pointless anaesthetic before death took him anyway? Was it his own blood, stripped of life, that he could gorge on or drown in?
Something ancient and black like tar crept down into him—Tony kept swallowing, wishing that it would just end.
Then the tongue withdrew and Tony opened his eyes cautiously as the man pressed his lips to Tony's in a brief ghastly bloody parody of a lover. But this was far from sexual.
This was about power.
This was rape.
Thoroughly violated, Tony didn't think about anything much as the man moved away, slashing open his wrists, but refrained from feeding. Tony barely felt it. Only that ancient force in his chest remained. His mind was slipping away, but an Ariadne thread connected him to the tar that was now spreading through him, draining away into the rest of his body as his own blood soaked into the mattress. His bowels may have voided themselves, but he no longer cared.
The man was gone. Tony thought he saw Owen and the woman helping him up off the bed… but that didn't matter.
Nothing really mattered anymore. Not even the pain.
Even time was irrelevant. He had no idea how long he lay there alone and so-so-cold, waiting to die. And yet he hovered on the brink, aware but also dreaming—nightmarish visions of Afghanistan and Manhattan seguing in and out of each other. Then there were car crashes and that field surgery by Yinsen—and he was utterly powerless through it all.
When the darkness finally closed in on him fully, Tony—half-mad from the trauma and wholly fed-up—welcomed it. Finally a break from the dreams and the cold and the sheer fucking hopelessness of everything.
Damn it. He thought. Damn it all.
And he really meant it.
He was awake… sort of. Conscious, anyway. That was a better description. His eyes were closed and he was not in so much pain. A dull ache hugged his heart and throat, raw and red at the edges as its spikes drove deeper into the base of his brain.
Everything pressed in on him. A million things needing his attention.
Scratchy sheets—sterilisation—sweat—detergent—bare arms—bare legs—no underwear—oh Christ no, not again—electric humming—footsteps.
He focused on that, the most immediate problem.
Something was moving in the room. The timbre of the breathing suggested… male. Rough, uneven breaths, like they were exhausted—join the club—and… yes, a woody scent of male deodorant or soap… no girl would choose that.
The man was pacing nearby—close to the bed. Boots squeaking on linoleum. The barest trace of a limp, just a tiny hitch, probably strained muscles.
A metallic tang clotted his throat and he just managed to moan—pathetic!—when he tried to speak.
Warm rough hands latched onto his arm. He knew that voice, could put a face to it.
Steve. Why was Steve here? Why had he come now, when it was too late?
"Tony! Talk to me!"
He cracked his eyes open and blinked furiously, pushing away the muzzy spots at the corners of his vision. Steve loomed over him, expression torn between horror, concern and joy.
He felt his own brows tug down and he swallowed several times. "Gimme some space, Cap'," he was shocked at the whispery rasp his voice had become.
Steve backed off, collapsing into the chair by the bed but taking Tony's arm with him. This should have mean untold agony for his twice-mangled shoulder, but he didn't feel a thing. No pain at all. Either that hypnosis was still in effect or—
—He looked around quickly.
Of course. So they did get there after all. Too damn late.
Tony closed his eyes again. He needed quiet and solitude. He needed JARVIS and about half his liquor cabinet—
—Oh. Back up one fanged fucking minute. Certainly JARVIS. And we'll see about the alcohol.
"Tony? Are you okay? Don't pass out! Stay with me, damn it!"
That made him look at Steve again.
"I'm awake, Rogers, stop screeching at me," he mumbled. "Is there any water around here?"
Steve leapt to his feet and fetched a plastic cup with a straw in it. Tony lifted his head off the brick in the pillowcase and took a few tiny sips. It was cool and refreshing, but the burning itch only tightened around his throat and chest… weird.
Steve was talking again. "They said you were dead." He said in a hushed tone as he pulled away, setting the cup down on a side table. "Everything says so."
That would explain the lack of equipment in the room.
"How are you… alive?"
"Oh get this bed up, will you?" Tony groaned, "I have an idea, but it's so awful and ridiculous that I'd prefer horrific hallucinogenic drugs, exotic toxins and someone telling me to never indulge in another apocalyptic house party ever again."
That startled a little laugh out of Steve as he played with the switches on the side of the bed until Tony was upright. He even moved some pillows around, helping to prop the billionaire up. While Tony squirmed around in his uncomfortable hospital clothes, Steve took out his phone and sent a quick text before looking at Tony seriously.
"Do you remember anything about what happened?" he asked in that serious, flat voice that was half-interrogative and half-guilt.
A nausea engulfed Tony's mind. "Some," he said after a long pause. "But I think the others need to hear it too." And yet he knew there was absolutely no way he was talking about this. Not to Steve, not to Bruce, certainly not to Pepper…
Oh hell, fake it till you make it.
"I need to get you to do something for me," he said slowly, picking his words carefully.
"Sure, whatever you need."
Far too trusting.
But loyal. Loyal is always good.
Loyal to whom?
"I need you—everyone—to not push me on this, okay?"
"No. I mean it. I'll talk when I'm good and ready. But right now I need to be alone." He thought of something. "After someone gets me some real clothes and a phone… or better yet, a Stark-Pad."
"You said 'whatever I need', right? So this is what I need. Glorious solitude. You are officially promoted to sentry duty. Keep everyone out until I say so." Tony said, softening the banishment with the approximation of a smirk and a wave of his hand.
Steve stood and, with a last assessing look at Tony, left the room.
Tony threw off the blankets and leapt from bed—feeling fine. Better than 'fine'. Great.
He looked down at his hands—familiar—and froze.
All the little scars from a life of mechanical tinkering and innovation had gone. The nails were no longer rough stubs but longer, diamond-shaped edges like… claws. And his skin whole, unmarked and a little pale, but not pasty—dead—white.
He peered down the front of his hospital gown and saw that at least the arc reactor was still there, functioning perfectly and a total traitor. It hadn't kept his heart going—couldn't have stopped the exsanguination—but fifty lifetimes?
Don't make me laugh.
He looked himself over—all the scars were gone—and then ran his tongue over his teeth. Sharp enamel raked at his sensitive taste-buds. Enlarged and very pointy canines, incisors and molars suddenly razor-edged, but still humanoid in shape.
He would have continued this clumsy self-inventory, when he heard voices outside.
"No, I don't care if he wants to sulk, he can brood afterwards! I just want to see for myself!" Clint said over Steve's protestations.
And if Clint was on his way, then that meant Natasha—who would be able to see immediately what was up.
Tony climbed back onto the bed and had just pulled the blanket over his legs when there was a knock at the door before it opened a crack and Steve poked his head around.
"Sorry, I can't stop them," he said, looking apologetic.
Tony shrugged. "I don't blame you, just don't expect any glowing references when you seek other door-guarding vacancies."
It did the trick. Steve's face lightened and he pushed the door open, allowing Natasha and Clint to push their way in. Both were still in mission-gear, still armed to the teeth. How long had it been since his rescue? Clint took up position on the windowsill, while Natasha stood at the end of the bed. Neither of them took their eyes off Tony.
"Bruce is just on his way, he went back to the Tower for his clothes and then had to get some for you," Steve added, slipping back into his chair.
"It's good to see you alive, Stark." Natasha said quietly, the tiny quirk of her lips conveying her true sentiments.
Let's see how long that lasts.
"Hmm," he was feeling distinctly non-committal about this whole thing. But the fact that he had already been declared medically dead meant he'd have to tell them a condensed PG-13 version of the truth. "Actually—"
He flinched so hard that the bed shook beneath him, but Pepper had already dropped her handbag and rushed over to him.
Not trusting himself, he held up his hands, fending her off. She drew up short, looking hurt and confused—
—and doesn't that just break your cold dead heart?—
—Can you smell that blood? Take it, it's so easy—
—Oh my fucking god, no! No. Shut. Up.
"Whoa, Pep'! Not now—! Really—just, not now, okay?" he struggled to keep back the urge to leap to his feet. He hated being the only prone one in the room. Luckily his mouth was still running damage control. "I'm so happy to see you, Pepper, truly, but I just… 'too much, too soon', you know?"
Her look of confusion shifted to compassionate understanding and he felt a knot of anxiety loosen slightly. She thought this was because of triggered memories of Afghanistan. Fine. Let her think that and she'll support the 'keep your distance' policy.
"I thought we'd lost you," she whispered, leaning over to give his hand a quick squeeze, "Don't ever do that to us again."
Not really possible, but okay I get your point.
Tony tipped his head at her. "Are you implying this was my idea?"
Pepper clicked her tongue and smiled. "You know what I mean."
There was tap-tap at the door and the group turned as one to see Bruce smiling at them and clutching a small bag in one hand. Thor—Thor? How the hell did he get here so quickly?— was right behind him, wearing full battle regalia.
"Thor thought he'd dropped in for a funeral," Bruce teased, dropping the bag at the foot of Tony's bed.
And cue further irony that they can't fathom.
"Well you know I hate to disappoint, but here we are." Tony smiled at everyone gathered around his bed. He could do this.
And no matter what their reaction, I will survive, damn it.
"Okay, so as I told Steve, I won't be pressured on this. There's some stuff that doesn't add up, and I have an idea of why it doesn't, but I don't know."
"Like the fact we can't find a pulse?" Clint cut in with no real heat in his voice. If anything, he sounded anxious.
"Yeah. That. And other things you may have seen while busting me out of the Haunted Mansion."
Everyone was watching him expectantly.
Now or never.
Can't it just be never?
And have Fury go all Buffy on you? He'll be able to sharpen the stakes through sheer willpower alone.
"Well I guess the simplest way to say it is I believe they were vampires. And now I'm one too."
Okay… it was very late—early? Early—when I finished this. So I am going to sleep. Any mistakes here are my own.