He closes his eyes as the vampire is wheeled out of the room. He feels like he’s going to throw up.
He’s not sure what part has been the most sickening: watching the naked vampire being paraded in front of them like an animal doing tricks, seeing him tortured as he lay broken and bleeding on the ground, or listening to Walsh’s smug voice as she lectured to them matter-of-factly about the suffering her fucking project had inflicted.
No, the worst part is the knowledge that he knows this vampire, had even fought briefly on the same side as him, after a fashion. He remembers the black duster and the cocksure swagger, the purring of the confident British baritone. But he sees the miserable wreck that has just been displayed before him, and he has to lean his scarred cheek against a cool wall and try to keep his continental breakfast from making a reappearance.
Only a vampire, he tries to tell himself. He’d try to kill you if he could. Hell, he has tried to kill you.
But it doesn’t work.
“Harris, come here please.” Great. Hasn’t he sat here like a good boy without saying a word, without jumping up and throttling that white-coated bitch? What does Shales want now?
Slowly, he walks over to where the other people are clustered. Shales looks almost genial and Maggie Walsh is beaming, a genuine miracle before him, ladies and gentlemen.
“Harris, Professor Walsh has agreed to let you spend some time examining the vampire privately. Perhaps you’d like to test the chip yourself.” He nods towards Xander’s hands, and Xander only then realizes that he’s still holding the control box. Jesus Christ, what if he’s activated it by accident? Quickly, he shoves the box into his breast pocket.
Walsh bares her teeth at him in something that is probably intended as a smile. He and the Professor know each other from his brief time in the Initiative. They hadn’t liked each other then, and time and distance have not made their hearts grow fonder. They’d been trying to ignore one another all afternoon. “Just give the men a little time to feed and repair it a bit, please, Mr. Harris.”
He nods curtly.
The general stands. “We’re going to Professor Walsh’s office to discuss some details of the project. If you wait here, the Professor will have one of her men come get you when the vampire’s ready.”
Another nod, and a moment later Xander is alone in the room.
He sits heavily on one of the chairs and tries to erase the last couple of hours from his brain. But his eyes keep straying to the trail of smeared blood that leads from the cage to the open area in front of him.