Jensen wakes up to the sound of the shower running, a gravelly scrawl almost like rain. He always liked the rain. He doesn't have time to indulge in reminiscences and fantasies; if Jeff's in the shower, he's already overslept.
He doesn't know what to make of Jeff. He's held mastery over Jensen's contract for more than two weeks now and the most strenuous thing Jensen's had to do is cut vegetables for a dinner that Jeff went on to cook. Jensen wears his collar, sleeps in his bed. When they have company, he's allowed to kneel, but not serve. Jeff has other servants for the housework and he prefers to serve his guests from his own hands, old-fashioned courtesy that Jensen's only heard of and never seen.
Jensen has no purpose here. And he's seen before what happens to bond-slaves who outlive their purpose.
Even with Jeff gone, the bed is seductively warm. Jensen's tired from hours spent next to Jeff, tense and waiting for Jeff to turn to him, touch him.
But Jeff hasn't fucked him. Jensen doesn't know what to make of that either.
He knows Jeff's not indifferent. He's seen Jeff look at him when he disrobes. He's felt the tension in the bed before Jeff finally surrenders into slackness and sleep. Jensen's nearly thirty and pretty—he knows how to tell when someone's interested in him. Jeff's interested. He's just not…doing anything about it.
Jensen crawls out of the bed. It's hardly light out yet, cold blue-gray predawn creeping in from under the half-drawn blinds. Jensen doesn't need the light anyway. Two weeks is like a lifetime for Jensen to memorize the layout of the room and, unlike Master Crowe, Jeff kept his private chambers orderly and clean. The chill on the room, too, is hardly a consideration, for all he can feel his naked skin prickle up in goose bumps.
Heat hits him in a cloud when he opens the bathroom door, the drifting steam fragrant. Jeff has some of the richest soaps and body oils Jensen's ever seen. He thinks Jeff's obvious and abundant wealth must have something to do with them, because they're made on the estate in a stinking little brick cottage on the mountain side. Jeff makes Jensen use them too, though it's not like Jensen was inclined to argue. He's always kept himself clean when his masters will let him and Jeff's sunken pool of a tub is a luxury Jensen would give a lot more than his ass to have regular access to.
As his ears had informed him, Jeff is in the shower, greyhound-lean shape visible through the steam. Jensen opens the stall door, tugs the soapy sponge from Jeff's unresisting fingers and steps inside, daring to say—in his mildest, blandest voice, "I wish you'd woken me."
He doesn't wait for Jeff to give him permission, sudsing up the sponge and scrubbing it across Jeff's skin just hard enough to bring the blood to the surface but not so hard it would hurt. He'd been trained by Lord Cruise, who'd been something of a neat-freak as well as a complete sadist. His technique is impeccable.
"You need your rest." Jeff has soap on his face and shampoo in his hair; he blinks at Jensen through suds dripping in his eyes. Even so, in them, Jensen sees the bald awareness of what condition he'd been in when Jeff had bought his contract.
"I'm fine." The heat in Jensen's chest has nothing to do with the hot water coursing down his back but it's nothing he can show on his face.
"Jensen." Jeff's fingers close over Jensen's wrist, halting his ministrations. Jensen's heart picks up speed, smooth as a sports car shifting gears. Jeff bullies Jensen backward a step, putting his back to the much cooler travertine but it's only for Jeff to angle his face in the spray, rinsing the soap from his hair and skin.
A moment later, he pulls back and Jensen's left with crisscrossing currents of sickened relief and equally sick worry. Jeff scrapes away the excess water with one big hand and pushes his hair back before regarding Jensen again, red-eyed and serious. "Look. The law requires me to employ so many slaves for my economic bracket. Society requires me to have some pretty body slave to keep up appearances." Jensen wants to bristle at being dismissed as no more than that, but Jeff is his master and his pride has no place here. Jeff could call him a woman and his ass a cunt and Jensen could and would accept it. "…But I don't need slaves to wash my ass or cook my food and I don't need slaves to get laid, okay? I'm not going to sell your contract. So if you could just…" Jeff sighs. "Chill out, okay? Please."
"Yes, sir." The words come automatically through the confusion of his mind and the tightness of his throat but when Jensen looks down, he sees Jeff is hard, flushed and pink through the fading scrim of bubbled soap. Jensen's fingers twitch in automatic response, too, but otherwise he doesn't move. He doesn't understand.
Jensen's face must be less a blank than he wants it to be, because Jeff sighs heavily again and stabs a finger toward the bedroom. "Go…make the bed, or something, all right? And you can tell Sam that I'll take my breakfast in the sun room." Jeff's look is almost pleading and though he's not like any master Jensen's ever had, Jensen knows how to serve. "Yes, sir," he says again, dipping his head and groping for the shower door.
"It's Jeff!" Jeff says as Jensen closes the stall behind himself.
"Jeff," Jensen repeats obediently. He looks around and there are no towels other than the thick, fluffy ones Jeff uses himself. It kills Jensen's soul a little bit to use the same linen as his master, but Jeff's told Jensen to use them before and the alternative is a messy drip all the way to his clothes—completely unacceptable. Jensen towels himself dry quickly, resolving to take the towel down to the laundry himself so it doesn't get mixed up.
He wonders what Jeff's going to do about his hard-on.
It wouldn't have taken Jensen long to take care of it for him; he's good at that. And whether Jeff has lovers or not—though Jensen hasn't seen him show any special favor to any of his guests so far—it's got nothing at all to do with whether Jeff makes use of him. Jensen is trained. Well trained, dammit. And none of those hypothetical lovers are here.
And Jensen is.
Jensen takes a moment to realize he's listening at the closed bathroom door to try and hear whether Jeff's jerking himself off and catches himself in scandalized horror. He's going to ruin me, Jensen thinks, irritated, forcing himself away from the door. He's going to ruin me and then throw me away. He doesn't for one second believe Jeff's blithe promise about not selling his contract. I'll show him. I'll show him with his stupid, liberal guilt. He's not going to break me with these stupid games. I'm a good slave. I'm the perfect slave. I'll be the best fucking slave he's ever had. And when he sells me, he'll see—I won't feel a thing.