NOTES: This is written for heroes50 LJ community. Prompts will be listed with each part. This is NOT part of my ClaTian in Mexico series.
NOTES: I know there is some back and forth on Claire's age. For my purposes, she was 16 going on 17 at the start of the show and a junior in high school. Why? Because I was in the mood to write me some Claire/Haitian smut damn it ;-) And, alas, I started this with the intention of it being smut, pure PWP but a plot snuck in and it's turned into my first multi-part ClaTian piece. Yay.

Part One

Word Count: 3,663 This is written for heroes50 LJ community Prompt 44-Sacrifice

He paid the cover charge and stepped into the club. It was dark, crowded, and loud. The dark he could handle, but could do without the excessive amounts of people and noise. He had no idea why he was here beyond perverse curiosity and self-flagellation for coveting something he should not. Two years had not lessened his desire. He'd thought for sure out of sight would equate to out of mind. Not so.

She apparently had no idea he was in the house with her. She'd cut her trip with one of her boarding school friends out west short. He had no idea what had caused the sudden change. He knew only suddenly he faced two weeks alone with Claire Bennet.

He was lying to himself if he denied knowledge of his reasons for being here. Like a moth drawn to a flame, he found her in the crowded club. He would know her anywhere. He felt tethered to her in some way he did not understand. There was no other way for him to describe it. It helped that she was dressed to be noticed. Her grandmother would have a heart attack if she saw how the newest addition to the Petrelli clan was dressed tonight. Not to mention her father. Of course, no one but a select handful knew she was a Petrelli.

There was no doubt what she had on her mind tonight. Dancing and turning the head of every guy in the club. She could achieve that, too. Dressed in a sequined dress that barely covered her thighs and heels high enough to confuse a guy as to where exactly he was supposed to look, she was beautiful. And looked hotter than she had the right to look, particularly since she did not know he was there watching her.

She was out for enticing, making young men believe they had a chance at seduction. But only for tonight. There was no doubt the way she carried herself that she was only in it for the short-term. Whether she knew it or not, her dance card for the long-term was already spoken for.

She sashayed through the club with her friends with confidence. She had an air about her that while there when he'd first seen her hadn't been fully developed. She was appealing but still had a look of innocence about her he doubted would ever completely vanish.

She'd spent the last two years at an elite boarding school so that she could complete high school without raising questions from her biological father's constituents. The money Angela Petrelli had spent had paid off, for it wasn't just education that made the school coveted. Sure, it was responsible for creating many future leaders of the world - in various fields. Not everyone aspired to be a politician as Nathan Petrelli had after all.

It also made sure those women with more domestic aspirations would succeed in those endeavors as well. Future leaders needed wives, too, and there were still people who would pay to ensure their daughters were ideal candidates.

She exuded confidence, poise, and charisma. She appeared both collected and regal while still seeming like the girl he'd first seen and fallen for two years ago. Those things had all been there before just not to this degree. He wanted her then. He craved her as if she was his fix.

He should have left the city as soon as he'd discovered she had returned. A glutton for punishment, he'd stayed wanting her close but knowing he had no business being close to her. Yet. She had no idea the sacrifices he made for her. That he stayed away so that she could get her education, live a bit as a person her age should. That he had let her go for this long without saying a word about what she meant to him. He knew what he felt for her. He'd dreamt of her long before ever seeing her. He was aware also that she reciprocated. He had seen it when he looked into her mind the night he'd gone against her father's wishes and left her memories intact. He was hers. He was just biding his time until she was ready for him. He could have her no other way.

He'd never wanted anything for himself until her. Yet he had willingly remained at a distance not wanting to distract her. And he would be a distraction. She still had college, which meant he had no business being here now, watching her cavort around as if she was a free woman. Physically, of course, she still was. Mentally was an entirely different case. Four more years of this self-inflicted distance was going to be beyond merely difficult.

He stood by the bar careful to remain discreet and inconspicuous as he sipped on his non-alcoholic drink. He rarely drank, not liking to pollute his body. Nor did he care for the effect alcohol had on his mind. He'd learned long ago that his gift lay in his mind and it was to be treated accordingly not abused or wasted.

Time passed entirely too slowly for him. He was a calm person by nature, rarely getting excited or allowing stress to enter the equation of his carefully kept control. Tonight, though, he felt his blood boil every time he saw a dance partner's hand drift to the part of her thigh the dress she wore left bare. She always danced away, getting out from under the unwanted touch without doing a complete brushoff.

"She's very good," he whispered, glad there was no one nearby to overhear him talking to himself.

It was nearing closing time now. He'd accomplished absolutely nothing over the past few hours other than making himself miserable. Not seeing her for the past two years was painful, but it was a necessity. He'd made the choice to let her go, knowing she was not yet ready for what would happen between them. She still wasn't prepared for the inevitable. He wondered if her father knew that when he chose him to take her from the danger in Texas. It was a blessing for him she'd fled from his care.

Tonight was a fool's errand.

"Take my advice, buddy, standing here glowering is not going to get her into your bed for the night. I see you watching her all night. If you don't act, someone will. She's new, she's young. Guys who come here. That's their specialty," the bartender said, refreshing his drink. The Haitian's glare must have been warning enough because he backed away without further conversational attempts.

She had sat all but a couple of the slow ones out, which eased his mind somewhat. He was not sure why that was the case since it was probably not pining for him that made her do so. And yet, he could hope. He could hope that while he sacrificed making his life complete until she was ready she in turn set limits to the flirting she engaged in.

He counted four friends with her in addition to the one he'd heard at the house earlier. Six young girls out for a night in New York. They were all getting attention, which eased his mind somewhat. He hoped at the very least she and the one she came with made a pact not to leave without one another. She was still so innocent, another reason he stayed away.

He was no saint, but it was more a taint he felt from years of erasing and absorbing memories that made him feel like he had grown up far too quickly. He'd never gotten a chance for a formal education like college, which of course was the next step for Claire Bennet. She had the grades to warrant acceptance at any number of posh universities that made Angela and Nathan Petrelli burst at the seams with pride. He and Peter had remained quiet on the subject, neither seemed overly surprised at Claire's achievements.

The music the DJ played now reflected that it was the time of night that those involved in budding one-night stands were looking to close the deal. The fast-paced music that had been the norm for hours was replaced with slower songs that brought with it dancing close, a suggestion of intimacy. He didn't need to have been to a club like this before to understand how it worked. He'd had nothing but time in his silence to observe people for years.

There was one guy he'd seen her dance with more than once. The night was drawing to a close and the guy seemed to understand he had a potential in. Move now or go home alone for the night. Claire accepted his invitation and headed to the dance floor with her suitor.

The Haitian knew he had to act then. He set his glass down and let the sound of the bartender's low laugh meet with his retreating back. The song wasn't quite over when he made it to the dance floor. He placed one hand against the small of her back, causing her to stop dancing which was as he intended. Her eyes widened in recognition and surprise. She started to smile and then stopped herself, but not before he saw it.

"I believe she is already committed for the rest of tonight's dances."

"What?" The guy was very obviously sizing him up.

"You heard me. She is with me." His voice was calm, even. He knew the young man would see reason, or understand the glare in the Haitian's eyes indicated he meant business.

"I didn't see you earlier." His eyes darted to Claire. The Haitian could feel the tension in her back and he stroked a thumb along her spine.

"I didn't see him either," Claire said, turning her attention to him now.

"So, you are with this guy?"

"Well, he didn't tell me he'd be here, but yeah I'm with him," Claire replied. She didn't sound entirely too confident but it was hopefully answer enough to get the other guy out of there. Her gaze was on him, he could see the questions in her eyes. Now that he had touched her, he would never let her go again. It was as he'd feared, the reason he'd forced himself to stay away. Touch was the key to everything for him. She had to realize that. If she didn't, he would make sure she did soon.

"What the hell were you doing dancing with me then?"

Claire scoffed, and The Haitian was pleased to realize her thoughts had not been on leaving with him. "Uh, dancing? This is a dance club. Listen, I'm sorry if you got the wrong impression. I'm just out with some friends for a night of dancing. My first night home for the summer."

The Haitian broke in then. "Excuse us."

The guy looked confused, but the Haitian wanted her in his arms. Now that he had touched her, a light touch to her back was insufficient. Plus, he actually recognized the song. It was an oldie, one his mother might have listened to when she had been Claire's age. One thing about Otis Redding, he proved timeless. His songs were just as effective on young men and women today as they were forty years ago.

He heard the words "cock tease" uttered to their backs. If they were anywhere but a club where he'd have to deal with many minds he would take care of the guy's memories of the night. Her hand at his wrist giving him a barely perceptual squeeze drew his focus to her. That was all it took. He wondered if she knew she had a calming effect on him or if she was just guessing. Either way, it worked.

"Please don't," she whispered. He took her into his arms then. The song was an appropriate one. Otis Redding captured the feeling of wanting to have that particular someone in your arms in this song perfectly. It was a short but powerful song.

"I will not."

"Thank you. He didn't mean anything by it. He's just a dumb jock who thought I'd be easy."

"How anyone could underestimate you and mistake you for being easy is beyond me."

"You think so?"

"I know so. You are the most complicated woman I've ever met."

She scoffed. "Right."

"Are you calling me a liar?"

"Well, no, I just find that hard to believe. I'm sure you've met countless women."

He nodded in agreement as Otis sang words that reflected very closely to what he felt. His arms had yearned to hold her for what felt like an eternity. Now that she was here, in them, he realized his mind had not taken into consideration many things. How she felt against him, how she smelled, how she moved with him almost without effort. "You would not be wrong in that assessment. There has only been one you, however."

"He'll find someone else."

"He did not want someone else. He wanted you, and I could not allow that to happen."

"Why?"

"You know, you've known as I have."

"That's not what I was asking."

He noticed she did not argue with his assessment of their situation.

"Why are you here?"

"What kind of question is that?"

"I haven't seen you in almost two years. I thought you'd forgotten about me."

He scoffed, drawing her tighter as Otis Redding segued into something more modern but still conducive to holding her close.

"I was staying away on purpose, Claire."

"But why?"

He drew away then slightly. "Because I knew I'd stand in your way."

"My way of what?"

"I wanted you with me, even then. I would have made the offer of taking you with me. You deserved to finish school. To know if this is real."

"What is it?"

"I do not know."

"Don't you?"

"Don't you?" He smiled as she pouted at having her question thrown back at her.

"So, why are you here now? Has that changed?"

"Has what changed?"

"You don't want me with you anymore?"

"If it's possible, even more. My being here at the same time as you is an accident. You were supposed to be out west for the next two weeks."

"You knew that?"

"I've kept track of you, yes."

"Checked up on me, you mean?"

"I merely listened as your family spoke of you. It's amazing what you learn when you do not speak. People tend to think for some reason it means you cannot hear so they say things they might not otherwise in front of you."

"Jen's dad was a creep."

"A creep?"

"Yes, as in he tried to cop a feel. Lord knows how many other girls he's done that to."

"I'm glad that you returned to New York then, but had I known."

"You wouldn't be here, watching me." She snuggled a little closer. "Did you like watching me dance?"

"Like? Not at all."

She laughed. "I wish I'd known you were here."

"I'm glad you did not. You would have made it more difficult on me, I'm sure."

"Two years."

"Two necessary years."

"What have you done in that time?"

"What I always do. Go on assignments, find others like us, altar memories when necessary."

"Always alone?"

"Yes."

"So, if you hadn't thought I was going to dance with that guy and go home with him, would I know you're here?"

He smiled at that. "Probably not."

"Well, then," she said, pressing even closer if that was possible. She brushed against the front of his pants with her thigh and he groaned softly. "I'm glad you were following me."

"I was not following you. I was merely curious."

"You're staying at the house?"

"Yes."

"Were you going somewhere else tonight?"

"No, nothing planned. A cold shower might be in order."

"Why's that?" She sounded entirely too sure of herself just now. She knew exactly why he might be in need of a cold shower.

"You smell good," he said. Avoidance was a wonderful thing.

She laughed. "I do, huh."

She leaned up a little, making him realize for the first time just how high the heels she wore were. Normally, he towered over her, close to a foot taller than her. The shoes added a good three, maybe even four, inches to her height.

She brushed her lips against his neck. "You smell good, too," she whispered against his ear.

"Thank you."

"You're welcome. Thank you."

The song ended. He wasn't entirely sure what the name of it had been or who the artist was, but he doubted he'd ever forget it knowing that she kissed him for the first time during it. Even if it had been a kiss to his neck.

"Let's get out of here," she said then, stepping away from him. She clutched his hand, though, tugging him toward her and away from the dance floor.

"Where did you have in mind going?"

"Home."

"Your friend."

"She was going to take the subway home anyway. She lives the other direction."

"But she was at the house earlier."

"Sure, to get ready. Girls do that you know. Get together, do one another's hair."

"I had no idea."

"Now you do."

"I will be sure to remember that."

"I'll just say good night to them."

"We don't have to cut your night short."

"The place is about to close anyway. None of us have fake IDs, so there really isn't anywhere else to go."

"Ah," he said, understanding now why they'd stayed in the same club all night. He let her lead him to her table. He couldn't deny that he enjoyed watching her walk. The guy that had been his temporary competition had moved on as she'd guessed and was talking up someone else. He'd have to move fast.

He'd never given thought to the fact he might have a fetish or prefer any one part of Claire to another. But damn if her legs didn't look sexy as hell with the shoes she was wearing tonight. He closed his eyes briefly, allowing himself to picture what she'd feel like. To touch her legs and feet with his bare hands. Skin to skin. And then the image continued further, Claire beneath him, legs around him like a vice, wearing nothing but those shoes.

He muttered an expletive or two, trying to force the images away.

"What?"

"Nothing," he lied to her as they stopped at her table. He was so busy paying attention to her, he missed the entire conversation she had with her friends. He did catch one interesting snippet, though.

"Is this your guy?" He hadn't caught the girl's name.

"Yeah," she'd said.

"I can see why those guys at school had no chance."

She'd blushed prettily, even in the dark club he could see the extra color on her cheeks.

"Your friends knew of me?"

"Well, they knew there was someone back home. They thought I was a little weird, though."

"Why's that?"

"Because my guy never sent letters or flowers or candy on Valentine's Day."

"Oh," he said simply. He supposed those were things girls her age would stop and think about. "I'm sorry you missed out on those things."

She shrugged. "Really, I just liked knowing I wasn't there on display."

"How do you mean?"

"Well, it's a girls' school. You knew that, right?"

"Yes."

"Well, there was a boys' school not too far. We'd have dinners together, socials, dances, mixers. You know?"

"Okay."

"Well, really what those things were for was to try and make a match. Marry us off, get us engaged, or something. Like Nathan's wife. I don't know."

"And you didn't want that?"

"No," she said, sounding very certain in that opinion.

"And yet, you told them you had a guy back home instead of simply stating the truth."

"Because I didn't want them to think I was a freak or in to girls or something."

He chuckled. "They would think that?"

"Yes!"

"Well," he said, drawing her to him once they were outside of the club. The air was better out here. It was late May, so it was still cool enough for a jacket. She had none. It had been quite warm out when she'd left late in the afternoon. He slipped out of his jacket, offering it to her.

"Thank you," she said when he draped it over her shoulders.

"You're welcome." He didn't release her. He didn't want to. He brushed his knuckles along her collarbone. "Are you sure I'm your guy, Claire?"

"God, yes. You didn't know? You didn't see the way I looked at you."

He had. Her teary eyes had almost been his undoing more than once. "You were sixteen, going through many changes, losing your family, finding a new family."

"And you helped me. You did it on purpose, didn't you?"

"What?"

"Let me get away from you. You knew I'd come to New York, that I'd find not just Peter but Nathan and Angela as well. That's why you didn't erase my memories."

"Yes. I could not bring you here myself. I work for your grandmother, I could not betray her orders."

"But if I took it upon myself to run away and come here on my own."

He smiled then. "Yes."

"Smart man," she said with a smile.

"Sometimes."

"Not smart enough. You haven't kissed me yet."

"You want me to kiss you?"

Her arms went around his waist and she leaned into him. "If you couldn't tell by the way I was dancing with you."

"Well then," he whispered. She leaned closer. He'd forgotten for a moment they were still standing on the sidewalk near the club until someone bumped into them. The bump did him a favor, though. It pushed him into her and he had little choice but to kiss her when he was that close to her.

Lyrics to Otis Redding's These Arms Of Mine song referenced in this fic:
These arms of mine They are lonely, lonely and feeling blue These arms of mine They are yearning, yearning from wanting you

And if you would let them hold you Oh, how grateful I will be These arms of mine They are burning, burning from wanting you These arms of mine They are wanting, wanting to hold you

And if you would let them hold you Oh, how grateful I will be Come on, come on baby Just be my little woman, just be my lover, oh I need me somebody, somebody to treat me right, oh I need your woman's loving arms to hold me tight And I...I...I need...I need your...I need your tender lips

Part Two

Word Count: 6,450 This is written for heroes50 LJ community Prompt 18-Sex

She couldn't believe it was finally happening. She'd kissed guys before, but it had been going on two years since her last kiss. Well, the last kiss she returned. There'd been a guy or two who hadn't taken her already spoken for claim seriously. It was how she'd known she wasn't going to find someone else. She didn't want anyone else to kiss her. She closed her eyes and she saw him. He had a way of looking at her that was exciting despite being a little unnerving.

She'd seen the way some of the guys at school looked at her friends. None looked at their girlfriends the way her Haitian looked at her. He'd do anything for her, even go against the people he worked for. He looked at her like he was both intrigued and terribly frightened of her. She liked that! She didn't want him to mask his feelings for her. Neither did she want him thinking she was going to be a doormat or a pushover.

He saw her for being special, sure, but at the time everything started happening he'd treated her normally. He'd treated her had been special, sure, but different and she'd loved that. She didn't understand how his treatment was different until she'd been away from him for months. Months turned into two years and somewhere during that time, she'd figured it out. She'd fallen in love with him. She thought at first it was a crush. Crushes didn't last two years sight unseen. Crushes didn't invade her dreams as he had.

She'd woken up from dreams so vivid she was certain he'd been there. For all she knew he had been. If anyone could find a way past the security of an all girls' school, it would be him. She had smiled a time or two, imagining him doing just that.

Her suite mates had laughed at her more than a few times. Evidently, she'd called out his name in her sleep. That was how word had gotten around not just her school but also the boys' school that Claire Bennet was already spoken for.

She mewled into his kiss when he deepened it. It had taken him a minute or two, which was okay with her. For the first time in a long time, she liked kissing and welcomed it. She wanted it all, the whole experience from start to finish. Her arms slid to his neck, drawing him deeper into the kiss.

His lips parted as hers did, welcoming his tongue. She groaned as his tongue slid across her lower lip followed by a grazing of his teeth. The shoes she wore made it less awkward for him to kiss her. She hadn't realized how much taller he was until they were dancing. His arms around her made her feel safe, cared for. She liked it. She didn't feel dwarfed or suffocated.

"Oh," she cried out when his mouth found her jaw and nipped her there. She tilted her head, giving him better access. He chuckled as he kissed lower along her neck. She felt herself get warmer as he found her collarbone, dipping into the space between them with his tongue. He returned to her mouth then. This kiss was nothing like the first one. He was needy and hungry. For her.

"We should go home," she whispered. Home. That sounded so couple-like, intimate, as if they were together in every way. Sharing space. She liked the idea.

"I know," he replied, rubbing his cheek against hers. "I knew this would happen."

"What?"

"Once I had you I wouldn't be able to stop."

"Have I asked you to stop?"

"No, but here on the street."

"Oh," she said, realization dawning on her. "Well, if we had the limo…"

"No, don't even say it." He took a deep breath and she knew he was thinking about the possibilities as she was.

"Why not? We could call the driver…"

"No." He sounded gruff, but his low laugh let her know he wasn't offended. She'd never seen him on the verge of losing control. She kind of wondered what he might be like, and whether she'd find out tonight. She wanted to. Desperately.

"Well, then we'll take a cab instead of the subway and have some fun."

"Fun?"

She kissed his neck again, working the top button of his shirt open and kissing him there.

"Yeah. Haven't you ever seen Taxicab Confessions?"

"What?"

She laughed. "It's a TV show. The type my parents would have had a fit if they knew I'd seen."

"Oh. It takes place in a cab?"

"Yes." She saw he was processing just what might have been going on in these cabs.

"I'm not sure we wouldn't get arrested."

"I'll stop you if you go too far."

He coughed with a low laugh. "Is there a too far, Claire?"

She thought about that. She wanted it all. Everything. She dreamt of it, fantasized about it. It was always him in them. She couldn't even substitute the movie stars and singers others at school crushed on. She'd try and always his image would eventually replace whoever she'd started out picturing.

"In a cab? Yes."

"Elsewhere?"

She shook her head, letting her hair brush against his neck. "No, no limits. I've waited two years. It feels like forever."

"Me, too," he grazed her cheek with his hand before he turned and waved to a passing cab.

She thought for a minute the driver wasn't going to stop. He did, just down the block a bit and backed the cab up to meet up with them.

"Thank God."

"Are you feet bothering you?"

"No."

He glanced at her, clearly not believing her. "Well, okay, a little."

"We will take the shoes off in the cab. I will rub them for you."

His eyes clouded over and she realized he liked the idea of rubbing her feet almost as much as she did.

"But you will put them on for me again when we return home."

"Why?"

"Because I like you in them. I will not say more."

"You never told me you were a pervert."

"I am not!"

She laughed, kissing him. "I know, sorry, it was a joke. I'll wear them for you, and anything else you want."

"Anything?"

"Mm," she paused, nibbling on her lower lip as if she had to think about it. She didn't. "Unless it was something really out there. You know, involving chandeliers or something."

He smiled then. "I will bear that in mind," he said as he helped her into the cab before sliding in next to her. He gave the cabbie the block they were going to rather than the Petrelli address. She could have done it, but he was the type of person that was used to being in control so she let him.

"Why are your shoes still on?" They'd been riding for only a few minutes. It would be a while before they got to the house. The cab fare was going to be outrageous, but to be this close to him without dozens of other people around them was worth it. Besides, she had a credit card that she didn't have to pay for to put the fare on.

"What?"

"I know you heard me."

"I thought you were joking."

"Why on earth would I joke about something so appealing?"

"I don't know." She slid her shoes off, smiling a little when she saw the cabbie look in his rearview mirror. "Why would you?"

"You learn fast."

"Learn what?"

He smiled as he took a foot in his hands. "That to agree with me is the wisest choice."

She groaned softly as his thumb grazed the arch of her foot where it was the sorest. "If you weren't doing that right now I'd rethink this whole thing."

He chuckled then. It sounded nice. She tried to remember if she'd ever heard him laugh before tonight. All she knew was that she was the only person who knew he could talk. Angela might know, Claire wasn't sure. Her Haitian never talked to anyone when more than one person was around. Angela probably had no idea he talked to Claire.

She let her head rest against the window of the cab as he worked wonders on her foot. He knew exactly what to do, how much pressure to apply and when to ease up. She was in heaven. She'd had pedicures and massages, but there was something about this man doing it that made it perfect. She was getting turned on, too.

A time or two his hand ran the length of her leg, but he never went too far. She wanted him to, but he stopped just short, making her want to sink a little closer to him so she made him reach a little higher. Until this time.

"Oh God," she whispered, as his fingertips grazed her thigh just under the hem of her skirt. It was fire engine red and incredibly short. Nathan and Angela would probably kill her if they saw her in it. She'd taken advantage of being home alone and worn it. No one she knew was supposed to see her wearing it. She was glad he was the one who did, though.

His fingers were smooth as they slid along her skin, teasing and stroking her until her skin tingled and burned. And then they were gone, back to her foot. If it wasn't for the look in his eyes telling her touching her affected him, too, she might have believed it was another one of her dreams.

They continued that way all the way home. She never realized that legs and feet could be sexy, but it was cool knowing touching her was turning him on. He stopped only to switch from one foot to the other. Otherwise, he spent well over an hour touching her in every way possible that didn't cross the line of being improper.

And God did she want him to cross that line. Now. The cab couldn't pull up in front of the house fast enough. At least he was thinking when it turned into the neighborhood, requesting the cab drop them down the street a ways. No sense drawing attention to where they were ending up. That was all her father and grandmother would need. She could see the headlines. 'Petrelli houseguests get fresh in taxicab.'

"One good thing about being the illegitimate child, no one recognizes me. The driver probably has no idea which house we belong to." They were out of the cab now, waiting to approach the Petrelli grounds until the cab had driven away.

"You are not illegitimate. Do you really see yourself that way?"

"Well," she shrugged. "Yes and no."

"Your father thought you were dead. You would have been a fully recognized member of the family had the fact you were alive not been hidden from him."

"I know, but the fact remains he didn't know and I didn't come into his life until I was sixteen, almost done with high school, and at the same time he was running for Congress. My timing was kind of bad. I get that. I'm not upset or anything. I got a great education out of the deal. I miss my friends, my family, but I'm not complaining."

She pulled her keys out, handing them to him so he could unlock the door. "I can never find the right key. It'd take me an hour in the dark."

"You forgot to turn the security lights on when you left."

"So did you!"

"I did not plan on being out this late."

"Hmmph," she said with a pout.

His lips twitched with the hint of a smile and he leaned in to kiss her, managing to find the right key at the same time.

"I'd tell you not to pout, but I find it somewhat appealing on you. And it makes me want to kiss you even more to remove it."

"Well, then, I'll have to pout more often."

"Or I'll just have to kiss you frequently so you do not have reason to pout."

"There's that option, too," she said, feeling her heart start to race once he'd opened the front door. It was one thing to dream, to fantasize, but they were really here together. Alone. Unless she was seriously misjudging things, she was about to have sex. She didn't want to think about it too hard so she decided to act instead.

He'd barely gotten the key out of the lock when she kissed him again. Her arms went around his neck as she brought herself up against him. God, he felt good. She'd noticed it dancing with him at the club earlier. He was taller than her, but they weren't awkward together. They fit. She felt herself grow warm at the thought of more personal fitting they'd hopefully do soon. Like now.

Her tongue found his, eagerly meeting it as his arms went around her waist. She slid her hands from around his neck to the front of his shirt. She groaned softly as he slid a hand lower, cupping her butt. He drew away, letting out a noise that sounded like frustration as she worked the first button on his shirt.

"What?" Was she doing something wrong?

"Your dress is not very conducive to my touching you."

"Oh," she said not quite getting it. "Oh!" She understood now. She hadn't thought of that. She supposed sequins were not exactly ideal for letting hands wander. "Well, that could be fixed pretty easily if you were of the mind," she whispered, working a second button and kissing his throat where it had just become exposed.

"I think your room would be better suited to taking care of that."

"My room? Don't you have one?" She murmured in between kisses to his neck and collarbones.

"Yes, but I just assumed you'd want yours. Mine is just a guest room, I'm sure yours is much more comfortable."

"Taste good," she whispered, grazing her tongue along his collarbone. "Smell good. Feel good. Want to feel all of you, don't care about the room."

"Yours is closest."

She laughed then, finding his ear and tugging on it with her teeth. "Why didn't you say that then?"

They went up the stairs together, arm and arm. Neither spoke as they walked the length of the hallway leading to her room. They stopped occasionally to kiss, neither seemed willing to go very long without doing that. And, well, she wasn't sure what to say anyway. She'd never been in this situation before and she hadn't planned on it tonight.

She should probably stop. She should make him wait. Wasn't she being incredibly easy seeing him for the first time in two years and going to bed with him? She knew what her friends at school would say. There were a couple that weren't virgins. They'd tell her to wait. Oh, they might advise her to fool around but they'd tell her to stop short.

If he was any other guy, she'd agree with them. When she closed her eyes the past two years and pictured herself with this man, it was an always and forever kind of thing. He was by her side through kids and grandkids and weddings and funerals and everything. She saw that expectation reflected in his eyes when he looked at her. He wasn't out to seduce her and leave.

And he had said he'd stayed away for her benefit the last two years. As much as she hated to admit it, he was right. He would have been a distraction. She would have wanted to come to New York every chance she had. She would have balked at going to the school to begin with. He knew well that she was an independent thinker. And if there had been a chance for them, she would have done what she could to see it through.

College would be in America. They could work around that. And she was no longer a minor. Hell, she could vote for Nathan as president now.

Her hand on the doorknob to her room, he stopped her and kissed her. It was deep, intense, a little dark, almost as if he sensed where her thoughts had just been and didn't want her thinking about voting or Nathan right now.

He cupped her cheek, deepening the kiss as he pressed her flush against the door to her room. A few inches away from the destination, and that seemed to spark something in him. Determination.

"You realize if we do this, go in there, I won't go away again."

Her eyes shot open. He was expecting her to think? To talk?

He drew away, his face still within kissing distance. All she had to do was inch forward a bit, but his eyes told her he was being sincere with his question. She swallowed, nodding her head. "Yes."

"There will be no more dancing with strange boys at clubs."

"College girls dance!"

"No more touching you then."

She laughed then, cradling his head to her as he kissed her jaw. "That I can handle."

He kissed a path to her ear. "You will get letters and flowers and candy on Valentine's Day."

"That really isn't important to me."

"It is important to me. I did not do such things because I could not. It was not in me to give to you within the limits I knew were present."

"I understand."

"And you are ready for that? I can wait if I have to."

"I don't want to wait anymore. Even if I can't see you all of the time, I want to know you're there."

"I am always here for you, Claire."

She lifted his head from where he was kissing her ear to her mouth, slanting hers over his. She reached behind her with one hand, turning the doorknob and opening the door. She was ready for the next step.

He broke the kiss, nipping her chin. He cupped her bare shoulder with his hand, grazing the tank sleeve of her dress with the pad of his thumb. "I've been trying to figure out all evening where you end and the dress begins."

She smiled with a low laugh. "That's the point."

"It could be painted on."

"Mm, it comes off, I assure you."

"Show me," he murmured, finding a spot on her neck and focusing on it for the moment with his mouth. Her hands found purchase at his shoulders, tilting her head to the side so he could do more. Whatever he was doing was causing her body to ache. It was like the point he was licking and sucking on just now was hot-wired to everything else on her.

He knelt before her then, his eyes on her as he slid first one shoe off and then the other.

"Better?"

"Much," she whispered, watching him quite fascinated.

His hands began to work their magic on her legs again, while the spot on her neck he had been so focused on still tingled.

"I left a mark, I apologize if that bothers you," he said after she placed her hand against her neck.

"No. If I was at school I'd get in trouble and they'd send a letter home to Angela."

"You're no longer at that school."

"No, I'm not," she said with a smile. "So, that means I can do whatever I want."

He chuckled, kissing her knee. "I think it's what I want right now that you might need to be concerned with."

Her hands found the top of his head as he left a trail of kisses and light bites from her knee to the hem of her dress. "No concern here," she whispered. "Besides, it will be gone in a minute anyway."

"You will have it for as long as I'm near you."

He placed his fingertips at her hips, slowly and little by little working the hem of her dress up. He kissed, licked and nipped the newly exposed skin as he worked the hem ever higher. And, "Oh God," she murmured when he grazed her inner thigh with a kiss.

He slid the pad of his thumb along the front of her panties, barely brushing over her clit as he slid his thumb lower, between her legs. "You wore this dress, those shoes, and ensured even what is under your dress is eye catching yet you had no intention of going home with that boy?"

"No," she said breathlessly. "It just makes me feel better knowing I look good in everything I've got on."

"Good is an understatement, but I think I understand," he said as his thumb pushed aside her panties allowing him to see her bare and exposed. She was wet from being so turned on, he had to know that now if he didn't a second ago.

She didn't know what to say to that, and when he circled her nub with his tongue before sliding it lower she couldn't say anything anyway. His hands at either hip were the only thing keeping her standing up her knees felt so weak.

She whimpered when he drew away and he chuckled. She realized why when all he did was stop to peel her panties down and out of the way. His mouth went back where she wanted it as he slid the barely there panties down her legs. She didn't think she could step out of them just then so she didn't even try.

There was no way she could describe this. The girl talk she'd listened to failed drastically to do it justice. Or maybe it was just her. Him. Them. "Together," she whispered, clutching her hands to his head so he wouldn't stop. Not that he showed any sign of stopping.

Her head fell back against the door, her eyes drifted closed and she just let herself go. He seemed to recognize when she did that because she heard a muffled moan from between her legs. His tongue was licking, stroking, and thrusting making her hotter and wetter than she was to begin with. His mouth returned to her nub while he slid a finger in between her slick folds, teasing her. She wasn't sure what she wanted more, his tongue or his finger. She knew they'd both feel really good about now.

And then it happened. It wasn't slow and steady, didn't creep up on her. It was full-steam ahead, stars in her eyes, a fireworks explosion as her body found its release. She cried out, her knees giving out completely from the force of it.

He held her, helping her to sit on the floor without collapsing to it and she rested her head against his chest. She heard his heart then. It echoed hers, pounding in her ears letting her know he had enjoyed that as much as she had.

"Mm, that was," she said, looking up at him. "Nice."

"Nice?"

She smiled widely. "Mm, well, I figured I'd make you think I wasn't hugely impressed so you'd do it again. You know, want to improve on it."

"Ah, a ploy." He leaned toward her and kissed her. It was unexpectedly hot to taste herself on his lips, she parted hers wanting him to know that.

"You do not need ploys, Claire. I can assure you I have plans to more than make up for the time I missed with you."

"Oh," she said, not sure if it was his words that made her tingle all over or the after effects of a good orgasm. A little of both maybe. "Good."

"How does this come off anyway?"

"A zipper," she said, pointing at her side where said zipper was located.

His fingers found it and slowly, too slowly as far as she was concerned, worked it down.

He slid a hand inside the opening to her back. She groaned at his touch, no longer worried about stifling it or being too loud. He made her feel good. What was wrong about that? "No bra?"

"Mm, no. The dress is so…" his hand found the small of her back, fingers splayed out against the top of her butt. "I don't need one with it," she added finally.

"I'd say something very archaic, but will refrain."

She let out a soft giggle. More because she was proud of herself for guessing where his mind was going than anything. "You didn't know until just now, so no one else did either. I'll bet you were watching me more intently than anyone else was."

"Point taken."

He stood then, helping her to her feet. She kicked her panties off the rest of the way as he worked the dress up her torso, over her head and off.

"Thank God," she said softly.

"It's uncomfortable?"

"A little constricting, yeah."

"Then why wear it?"

She smiled, wondering why she wasn't embarrassed to be standing there in front of him naked when he'd yet to take a stitch of clothes off. She could fix that easily enough and reached for his shirt, working the buttons.

"Women do all sorts of things in the name of looking good. Discomfort sometimes is part of that."

"I don't understand it."

"Are you saying I didn't look good?" She kissed his chest then, parting the now unbuttoned shirt to find a nipple. It was his turn to groan and she smiled as her lips found one while her fingertips touched the other.

"I said no such thing."

She slid her free hand lower. Her inexperience showed as she struggled with the button on his pants, but he was quick to offer his help.

"Thank you," she whispered, kissing lower along his torso.

"You're more than welcome."

She laughed softly at that and then stepped away, dropping her hand in his. He looked puzzled for a moment until she tugged him toward the bed. It was a huge bed. One of the four-poster deals that people made such a big deal about. To Claire, a bed was a bed, but right now, she looked forward to having a big old bed to play around on with her man.

She sat on the edge of it while he cast aside his shirt and stepped out of everything else. She didn't shy away from looking. He'd seen her very up close and personal after all. Fair was fair. "My," she murmured. He was very nice to look at.

She offered him her hand then, which he took and stepped closer to her, nestling himself between her legs. Her eyes met his as she reached for his shaft. As soon as she touched him, though, she had to look, watch as she stroked him and he grew larger in her hand. She leaned forward, kissing the tip of him which caused him to make a noise somewhere between a hiss and a groan.

"Has anyone ever done this?" The question slipped out before she could censor her thoughts. Way to ruin a mood, but his soft chuckle told her he wasn't mad. And he made that sound again when she darted her tongue across his head. He tasted salty, and she realized she'd just gotten her first taste of him, pre or otherwise.

"No," he answered finally. She looked up at him, sliding her mouth onto his length. "Never. Even before I met you there was only you."

Well, that was flattering and a little frightening. What if she disappointed him? What if he decided a year from now she wasn't worth it?

"Don't think bad thoughts, Claire. I know myself well enough to know what I feel, what I'm doing."

She drew away from him, licking her lips. "Get out of my head."

"I like being in your head."

She scooted back on the bed then. "I think I'd rather have the real deal right now."

"Real deal?"

"Yeah, you in me for real, physical, sex."

"That is a request I can handle."

He joined her on the bed, she rolled onto her side, placing her hand at his chest before letting it trace a path lower.

"So, you've never?"

"Once. I was young, barely older than a boy. She was not. Young I mean."

"But you said never."

"To that portion of it, and I wouldn't call what happened with her anything more than fucking. Excuse my being crude, but there is a difference."

"There is?"

"You know there is. If that word has entered your mind once tonight we are on entirely different pages."

"It hasn't."

"She took advantage of me, I was vulnerable. I was alone, wanted something, she didn't want more than what it was. I couldn't speak, or so she thought, so I wouldn't tell anyone. And I was everything that would get her in trouble. Young, not white, poor. Even before your father found me I was poor. I knew then I wasn't made like that. Some people are. I am not one of them."

"So, barely older than a boy would be?"

"More than ten years ago."

"Just the once?"

"Yes," he said, his eyes growing wide as she rolled on top of him. She kissed him, nibbling on his lower lip as she continued to stroke him.

"You didn't love her?"

"No. For that I can definitely say only you."

"Then I say it doesn't count," she said, lowering herself over his length. She went slow, had to. She'd never done this before, and even if she had it would still hurt. She understood that.

"Claire," he whispered and she knew he'd seen the tears forming in her eyes as she lifted her hips and thrust herself down along his length. His hands gripped her hips as she felt the stinging, the tearing, knew it was normal, knew she wasn't experiencing anything hundreds if not thousands of women had.

She had taken him all the way inside of her now. She felt - full. She remained still, allowing herself to adjust to having him inside of her. She didn't want to sit still, though. Discomfort or not, now that he was in her she wanted to be moving. He said they weren't going to fuck, but she could definitely understand why that word was used even between couples who loved one another. She just wanted him in her.

"I'm all right," she whispered, leaning toward him to kiss him again.

"Are you sure? We can stop."

"No, I'm all right." She sat up, sliding off of his length a little and taking him back in, slowly working towards more. "You realize this will probably happen every time."

"What?" She saw in his eyes he truly hadn't thought of that. She had. The few girls at school who had talked candidly about their experiences had mentioned the pain of the first time.

"I heal."

"And as much as I'd like to, I cannot stay with you every minute of every day. I am sorry."

"It's okay. It's not so bad after the first couple of minutes."

"Not so bad," he said with a low chuckle, flipping them over so he was on top.

"I meant the pain," she said with a laugh. His deep thrust inside of her cut her laugh short, turning it into a groan. She thought her eyes might just roll into the back of her head. "Silly."

"Oh."

He chuckled then and she kissed him, stifling her own giggle that followed. Her arms went to his hips, her legs went around his calves as she arched into him. Definitely no more pain. His hands were everywhere. Skimming, touching, stroking, and even some pinching in places that made her body clench.

He found her neck with his mouth and she let her head fall back further into the pillow. He was marking her again. She could feel it now that she knew what it was he was doing. Hickeys were so high school, but the idea that they'd be on her only so long as he was with her was kind of fun. Arousing. Their little secret.

His mouth slid lower to her breasts, taking each in turn as she thrust against him. She sensed when he was close. She reached for his back, running her fingers along his spine wanting to feel all of him.

His playful nips at her breast turned a little more painful. Not in a bad way. She liked it, her body tightened when he did it and she couldn't help but groan. He wasn't trying to leave a hickey now. He came hard, crying out.

She expected him to stop, but he didn't, showing her how much - or little - she knew. He moved inside of her, sliding a hand between their bodies and then lower between her legs. She cried out as his fingers found her nub, already sensitive and stimulated from rubbing against him.

This one was different from her first one. This one did build, her body slowly creeping toward a release. Her hands at his back stilled, gripping him with her fingertips as she rode it with him still thrusting inside of her.

He stilled then, his arms went around and under her and he rested his cheek against a breast. "Let me know when I get too heavy."

"Never," she said, bringing a hand to his head. She ran her fingers over his scalp.

"Feels good."

"It's supposed to."

"I still wish there was a way for me not to hurt you."

"Well, you said as long as you're near me. Right? That's how it works?"

"Yes."

"So, we have the next two weeks to experiment and enjoy the non-regenerating thing. Then," she shrugged. "I don't know. What are you suggesting? We not do this again?"

"Not at all."

"Good, because this wasn't a one-night stand to me."

"Claire."

"What? We have the house to ourselves for the next two weeks. I go to college in the fall, but it's not an all girls college. Angela had one of those chosen but I put my foot down."

"As did Peter, Nathan, and I."

"Really?"

"Really. We all agreed that part of the college experience is being in a co-ed environment."

"You agreed with that?"

"For my own selfish reasons."

"What's that?"

"That means your guy can come visit you."

"It does, huh?"

"Yes. It would seem I have much to make up for. I was unavoidably neglectful."

"Neglect?" She was finding it difficult to think of one part of her he'd neglected tonight.

"Yes, lack of letters, flowers, and candy in heart shaped boxes."

"You're right."

"How can I make it up to you?"

"Oh, I think you're on the right track. Next up would be letting me fall asleep in your arms, waking up to you beside me."

"Gladly."

"What are your reasons?"

"You really want to know?"

"Yes."

"I will be coming with you."

"What?"

"I know you heard me."

"I did. I just. What do you mean?"

"I know you must live in a dorm your first year, I read the literature, but that doesn't mean you actually have to stay there."

She laughed then. "You're going to come live in a college town?"

"Why is that funny?"

"You don't see the humor in that? You? Mr. Serious? Mr. I Don't Talk To Anyone?"

"I talk to you."

"Yes."

"And you will be staying with me, dorm address or not. I hardly see why that's funny or I would need to talk with anyone else."

"Mm, college means parties, sports, you know."

"And I suppose you want to be a cheerleader there, too?"

"It could happen," she said with a smile. He slid beside her, drawing her to him. "What? It could."

"I cannot let you go again. That's all I know. If it means going to such lengths then so be it."

"You know, you could go, too."

"Go where?"

She tapped his chin with her fingertip before leaning in to kiss it. "Go to school."

"Why on earth would I want to do that?"

She shrugged. "Why not?"

He frowned. "It's something I had not thought about."

"Well, think about it. You don't have to make a decision today or anything. I was just saying. If you're going to be there anyway. Why not?"

"And how do you know I need such a thing?"

"Mm, my dad told me I think."

"Your father?"

"Yeah, I don't remember now exactly what he said, but," she shrugged, snuggling against him.

"And you're all right with that?"

"'With what?"

"My having limited education?"

"it's not like your dumb or anything. Why would I care?"

"Your family, the new one, they will likely care."

"Let them. I'm keeping my secret, they can keep out of my personal business."

"I'm your personal business."

"Yes, you are. You know."

"What?" He sounded both amused and intrigued.

"There's a way around that dorm thing."

"What's that?"

"If I was married."

"You're…"

"Don't tell me I'm too young or I need to experience things. You've told me all night this is real, that I know what this is between us."

"You are right. I apologize for sounding condescending. I was just not prepared for you to broach the subject. I'd hoped to do so myself under less questionable circumstances."

"Questionable?"

"Men will say a lot of things after good sex, Claire Bennet. I did not want you to doubt a proposal as being sincere in light of that."

"Good sex? Proposal?"

"Mm, yes and yes."

"My answer's yes, too," she whispered, kissing him. She let her hand run the length of his torso, finding that he wasn't completely soft at the moment. She giggled. "Already?"

"Perhaps your regenerative powers have rubbed off on me."

"Well, we'd best not let them go to waste then."

"Are you sure you're not too sore?"

She tugged him to her, and he went willingly on top of her. "You've heard that song save a horse, ride a cowboy?"

"You are no boy."

"Mm, no, I'm glad you noticed," she said with a wide smile. She kissed his nose. "I am from Texas and there's nothing saying it couldn't be a cowgirl instead."

He chuckled then. "How can I resist such a creative come-on?"

"You can't. That's the whole point. I don't want you to." He was thorough, attentive, checking to be sure she was ready for him. Of course she was. And then there he was, all big and hard at her slick entrance.

"I don't either."

"Then ride on."

The End