**Part One**
Word Count: 2,233

She didn't bother going in through the front door. She knew her grandmother wouldn't be in the frame of mind to talk to her, beyond yelling anyway. Claire was sure Angela Petrelli would twist this somehow into being Claire's fault. And Heidi and the boys. She wasn't even going to think about them right now She couldn't. Or she'd want to die, too.

So much death. How had her life come to this? To be about death? It started with knowing Sylar had killed Jackie in her place. That she had caused someone else, her friend, to die.

She'd known it was going to be bad. Apocalyptic stuff didn't come without a price. She knew that. At least Sylar was dead. That meant there would be no more deaths and they could start to heal. To move on. She also knew this was going to be her last night in the Petrelli mansion. Without Nathan or Peter here, there was no need for her to stay. She wouldn't stay even if she hadn't found her father again.

She went the opposite direction of her room. Anyone seeing her would realize she had a purpose. She wasn't sure exactly what her purpose was as she knocked on the closed door. She knew why he hadn't been there, why he'd stayed away.

Did he know? Had he known how it was going to end? He seemed to know so much. And he was the one person her father trusted, so that meant she could, too. And she needed that right now. Trust. Someone to count on. Someone to be there. Someone to take the tears and pain away.

He opened the door, his eyes widened in surprise for the briefest of moments when he saw who was standing at his door. He said nothing, merely stepped aside, and allowed her to come in. She didn't go far, merely stepped across the threshold, letting him close the door and then fell into his arms. He seemed to understand what she needed.

"Are you hurt?"

She laughed against his chest, still in shock. "Not physically."

"You've got blood."

"There was so much of it. Officer Parkman, my father's, Peter's. Sylar's. Another man I don't know."

"Let's get you cleaned up. You'll feel better once you don't have the evidence of the night on you."

"I'll never feel better."

"You say that now," he said, lifting her with ease and carrying her to his bathroom.

She should have protested, said something when he worked the buttons on her sweater. She just didn't have it in her, and really she didn't want to. She didn't mind him touching her, taking care of her. She knew, too, even in her current state that he wasn't just being nice. His hands even trembled a little when he'd moved from the sweater to her blouse, working those buttons, too.

If she dared to admit it to herself, she was trembling, too. And it wasn't entirely from sadness or being scared. She lifted her head then, regarding him. He was watching her intensely. He always did, as if he was waiting for or expecting something from her. Tonight was no different, but this was different. They were alone.

She leaned in then, just a little bit was all she needed, and kissed him. She surprised him. His startled groan as her mouth meshed with his told her that much.

He pushed the sweater over her shoulders and off, followed by her blouse, leaving her in just her bra. It was a front clasping one, and he didn't hesitate to work the fastening. She cried out, biting his lower lip less than gently when he touched her, flesh to flesh. Hand to breast. Death was all around her, covering her tonight, except here with him. He made her feel alive. Cupping her, stroking her, and causing her body to come to attention in expectation of more.

Together, urgent hands made riddance of the rest of their clothes. He knew what she needed, wanted, and apparently couldn't bring himself to ask the questions he probably should have. She knew what this was, why she was doing it, and even why it had to be him.

The water was past warm by now as he lifted her into the shower. She couldn't help but groan softly at their reflection in the mirror just then. Dark and light. So opposite and yet she knew he'd protect her at all costs. And that meant, for tonight anyway, protecting her against herself, her thoughts, her feelings of loss.

"Claire," he whispered when she reached for him, stroking him not that he needed her help in that area. Not at all.

"Shh," she murmured into the kiss. "I need this."

"To compensate for the loss you could not prevent and the fact you are alive, unharmed."

"Yes," she whispered, feeling fresh tears forming in her eyes. Hopefully, he wouldn't notice them or would just mistake them for beads of water from the shower.

Her arms went around his neck as his went around her waist, gathering her to him. She wrapped her legs around him, helped him sink further into her. She dug her nails into his back when she felt the pain. She'd expected it, just hadn't been entirely prepared for it.

He stopped and she whimpered softly against his neck. "Please," she whispered.

"Claire, I'm hurting you."

"No, I need this. I need you." She kissed him then as he pressed her back against the wall of the shower. She cried out when he was completely inside of her, not from pain this time. He just felt so good, so real. She had no idea why this was exactly what she needed. Proof despite the fact she couldn't die that she could still feel and be normal in something.

Her head fell back against the wall and he took quick advantage of the offering of her neck to him, sliding his mouth from it down to her breasts. If it was possible to become even more excited he just made it so. He nipped at a nipple, circling it with his tongue before moving to the other. This one he took between his teeth, sucking and biting just hard enough to bring her over the edge.

She'd never forget the moment he followed her over that edge. Not so much because of what they'd done and she hadn't ever before. She was sure that would be etched in her memory forever. That wasn't it, though. It was the look on his face, for the briefest moment he'd lost control. With her. In her. Because of her. His face reflected the passion and satisfaction she felt and her heart felt a great deal lighter.

He tended to her then. Cleaned her up, even washed her hair. She eyed the pile of clothes on the bathroom floor and felt the tears again.

"Burn them," she said softly. "I don't want to see them again. Ever."

"You can borrow one of my shirts," he said, fastening his towel around his waist once he'd dried off.

"Thank you."

"You can stay the night."

"I'm not sureā€¦"

He chuckled. "I won't deny once was not nearly enough, but you came here for a reason. I was glad to oblige that temporary need. You have others, more pressing, I'd like to see to as well."

"I don't want to be alone."

"Then don't be. No one knows you're here anyway."

"My dad does."

That gave him pause.

"It's a little late for second thoughts now."

"I just wasn't thinking."

"Well, that's okay. I mean, if you were all logical when I was in the middle of throwing myself at you I might get a little mad."

He chuckled then, taking a shirt out of the closet and offering it to her. "This should get you through until you feel like going up to get your things."

"What if I never want to? I don't want to face them."

"Well, you'll have to eventually. I only have so many shirts and that's all of my things that will fit you."

"I know, just let me mope for the night."

"Moping is welcome in this room."

"Thank you." Modest all of the sudden, she went back into the bathroom to slide the shirt on and button it. It was clean, freshly pressed but still smelled like him. She looked at herself in the mirror, tousling her hair. Even freshly showered and coming off a fresh orgasm she looked a mess. Her eyes looked sad, but she'd already cried too many tears tonight. There weren't anymore left for her to shed. She caught sight of him in the mirror as he leaned against the doorframe.

"You look nice in that."

"I bet you say that to all of the girls."

"I do not loan shirts to just anyone."

"So, it's an exclusive club."

He chuckled then. "One might say so." He stepped toward her then and she turned to face him. He brushed her cheek with the back of his hand. "Are you all right?"

"Yeah, thanks. Just a little numb."

"You seemed to be feeling all right a few minutes ago."

"Yes," she said with a blush. "You saw to that."

He dropped his hand from her cheek to down her arm, taking her hand. "Come to bed, Claire, let me make you feel more right."

"I didn't plan on this happening."

"I know."

"Just so you know, I don't expect."

He brought their joined hands to her mouth, placing a finger over her lips. "Let's not worry about such things. What's done is done, we cannot change it. Not that I would want to, other than being a bit more careful with you."

"I didn't need careful. I needed."

"Raw."

"Yes."

Her eyes fluttered closed as he rubbed her lower lip with the pad of his thumb. "That is only one thing that you needed. Let me see to the rest."

"I came to you, didn't I?"

"Yes."

"You don't need to ask me or convince me."

"All right," he said, leading her to the bed.

She'd never slept in someone's arms before. She'd fallen asleep in her parents' bed when she was little, but this was totally different. Never mind the fact that underneath his too big for her shirt she was completely naked and knew he was quite aware of that. The fact he was her first aside, there was something different and very intimate about sleeping with him.

He was still sleeping when she woke up, so she took the time to check him out. Despite getting naked with him the night before and having him inside of her, she really hadn't taken the time to do that.

"Like what you see?"

"Yes," she said, not ashamed to admit that.

He turned his head to look toward the window. "Good morning. You must have slept well."

"Yes, I guess stress and a good orgasm will do that to a girl."

"I'm sorry for the first and grateful the last is true."

She smiled, tracing a lazy path on his stomach with her fingertip.

"Your father will be here soon."

"Yes, probably. I don't know where he's taking me."

"You do not sound happy at the prospect of being reunited with your family."

"No, I am," she shrugged meeting his eyes. "I just won't see you."

"You will see me."

"Not like this."

He chuckled, running his fingers through her hair. "I suppose not. Though were you to wish it so, it could be arranged."

"Really?"

"Yes."

"You mean you'd want to again?"

"What gave you the impression I would feel otherwise?"

"I don't know. You knew what I needed and gave it to me."

"While I was unaware you had never given your enthusiasm for completing the act, I don't just randomly have sex with women in my shower. Particularly, when there are at least two people, possibly more, that would take my head off if they found me with her."

"Huh," she said softly, circling his nipple. "I think that's the most I've ever heard you say. And they wouldn't kill you."

He laughed. "You have no idea how protective people will be over what is theirs, those they've sworn to protect."

"And you've sworn to protect me?"

"Obviously not from me, but yes."

"I don't want protection from you."

"No?"

"No. In fact, I'd like very much if I could have you inside of me again without the urgency and the pain from last night."

He smiled, she saw a sparkle in his eyes. "There was nothing wrong with urgency."

"No, it was good. I'd just like to be able to compare and contrast."

"Understandable."

He rolled on top of her then. Her eyes widened when she realized he had been ready to fulfill her request. And had waited for her to bring it up.

"I would not want to take advantage."

"You're not."

He evidently didn't need her to say more than that because he proceeded to give her the full effects of sex without urgency. The pain from the losses last night was still there, but for the briefest moment she knew it would be okay. Last night had been good, this was even better leaving her to wonder how she'd go on as if it hadn't happened.