Thirty minutes later he emerged from the tub, slightly wrinkly and almost relaxed.
So when he walked back into the main room and the first thing he saw was the damn vampire, its ass still up in the air, he only sighed unhappily. He walked over, intending to release it from this position, and that’s when he noticed that it was trembling minutely.
Well, maybe he could get it to do…something. Fetch him more beers, maybe.
He didn’t really know the signals all that well, so he had to think for a minute before tapping the creature’s ass four times. It seemed to sag with relief for a split second before it rose to its knees and turned to face him. Its hands never left the small of its back.
The key to detach the hood was the same as the key for the minibar. He fumbled with the lock for a moment, and the creature seemed to thrum beneath his hands, as if every muscle in its body was wound like a spring. He wondered how long it had been hooded, deaf, blind, unable to breathe or smell.
Finally, the lock clicked open and he slowly pulled the latex away from the tight metal collar. When he uncovered the mouth, he saw that the vampire was gagged, too, a metal ball jammed between its teeth. The ball had an indentation in the front, and he stuck his finger in it and removed the gag from the vampire’s mouth. As soon as it was gone, the vampire took a deep, whooping breath, its chest trembling as its lungs filled.
He rolled the hood up over the rest of the vampire’s face and finally off of its bald scalp. He tossed it aside and looked at the slave curiously.
Its eyes were squeezed closed against the glare of the room, but soon it was blinking them and then opening them completely. It stole a glance at him before casting its gaze submissively down at the floor.
Xander walked to the fridge and pulled out a beer. He opened it and took a long swig, still looking at the vampire. There was something….
Oh, no. Oh, fuck.
“Spike?!” he said.
It looked up at him, and maybe there was a tiny glimmer of recognition in those blue eyes before they went blank again.
He put the bottle down and came closer, then lifted its chin with his hand. It still managed to avoid eye contact, but he saw enough. Razor cheekbones. Small scar on the left brow.
“Spike?” he said again. And this time the vampire didn’t even look up. He just remained motionless, panting slightly, the skin of his face cold against Xander’s palm.
“Spike? Do you know who I am?”
“Master,” the vampire replied softly, flatly.
“No,” Xander said, and the vampire flinched slightly. “Do you know my name?”
The vampire flinched again and said, “No, Master.” It may have been fifteen years or so, but there was no mistaking the voice, the sultry baritone with the British inflection.
Xander let go of Spike’s chin and sat on the edge of the bed.
Half a lifetime ago, this vampire haunted his dreams. His nightmares. And only after a decade of denial and two failed marriages did he admit to himself that all the stalking he’d endured in his sleep hadn’t actually been scary at all; the part of those dreams that really frightened him was that he liked it. It didn’t take Sigmund Freud to realize that all the biting that happened in those dreams—sometimes Spike bit him, and sometimes he bit Spike—might symbolize a different kind of penetration.
All right, so he liked men. He’d accepted that some time ago, and he had a long string of very masculine one-night stands to prove it.
He still hated vampires.
Even now, even when they’d all been caught and chipped and trained and fuck knows what else, and turned into obedient slaves and playthings.
And none of that gave him a clue about what to do now.