Bender took the stair two by two, Claire's weight in his arms as nothing. She clung to him and he backed through her doorway, kicking it shut behind him.

"I want you." She whispered close to his ear. He almost dropped her for a moment. He carried her over to the bed, gently setting her done on the edge. She looked up at him.

"John, can you take off your shirt?" He raised an eyebrow but did what she said. She gasped, partly from the fact that, he was perfectly toned but also because there were quite a few stark, faint, white lines across his torso; old scars. She didn't doubt that there would be more on his back. She sighed sadly but dismissed the thought before he could react. She ran a hand over his bare chest then looked up at him, her eyes twinkling playfully.

"No tattoos?" He smiled wryly.

"Just this one." He pointed to the cigar burn on his left forearm. She moved her hand to cover the burn.

"I'm sorry."

He shrugged in an offhand way though she saw something else in his eyes for a second that she couldn't make out.

"Why? You didn't do it."

"You know what I mean."

"Yeah I know." He moved his hands to her face. She looked up into his eyes, he was looking a her with, desire. She melted under them. He kissed her softly, at first then his hands moved to her waist and his kisses became hotter and more passionate, their tongues touched. He knelt in front of her, she put her arms around his neck. Butterflies fluttered in her chest and stomach, this was really it, she knew. All the way to the bed, he kept kissing her. He laid her down on the coverlet, both of their pulses were racing.

Clothes already began to litter the floor. Claire giggled despite herself. Though when it came to removing underwear, she stilled. Bender came back up to face her.

"Are you OK with this?" Claire bit her lip before nodding. He gently slipped off her undies with a quick swipe and a roguish grin. She smiled in return. His own joined hers on the floor and he lowered himself down next to her, running one hand over her her body, letting her get used to him touching her. He dipped his head down to meet hers and caught hold of her lips. As he kissed her, he moved his hands over her body, skilfully touching and caressing in all the right places. By the time he pulled back, she was already having trouble breathing. She raised a tentative hand to trace over his back and shoulders. He continued kissing her. When the time was right, he gently parted her legs...

Claire jumped at the bell. She had spent the first period in the bathroom hiding from Bender. Not that he would be there, she just didn't want to take any chances. She couldn't hide out there all day. Her teacher's would log her absences. She didn't want Vernon contacting her parents, either of them, again. Blackmail could only go so far. Bender would have to wait. As she walked to English, she remember the way it had felt. Skin on skin, feelings that she was sure she wasn't capable off. She didn't want to think about that, she didn't want to think about the fact that something inside had changed. She wasn't sure if she wanted that change. She wasn't ready to grow up or be ready to accept a side of herself that definitely wasn't juvenile. She slid into the back of class. Allison saw her but said nothing. She had her own concerns. Claire hid at the back of English to preoccupied with her own thoughts to pay any care to what was happening around her. So when Bender walked up to her at lunch the following day, she blundered right into him He caught her by the arms. She froze and smiled. He looked nonplussed.

"Are you all right? I didn't see you yesterday."" Claire laughed nervously.

"Why wouldn't I be? I'm just fine really." She backed up. "In fact I have to something that I have to do so." Claire practically ran away from him. Bender watched her go. He wouldn't deny that he felt a little hurt by her blunt avoidance. Guilt for every time he had cut down a girl he had slept with and consequently spurned the next time he saw them, sprung up. He must have hurt her in some way. He thought back to the morning after. He had woken up with her small body nestled against him, she was still asleep. He kissed her neck, rousing her slowly. He had never woken up with a woman before. He had always left before morning or even directly post- coitus. She had turned and smiled at him. Her lips briefly parted before she fell back asleep. E had had to extricate himself from her as he had heard her mother moving about. He had left a note for her, though so she had no reason to be angry with him. Surely, she must have got it.

Sally dodged into the school gates, she slung her bag over one shoulder. She couldn't face Brian; not today. Guilt had latched on to her like a particularly clingy monkey. Of course, she wasn't thinking of him for long when she saw a familiar slouching figure waiting for her as she turned the corner. At first she thought of avoiding him but seeing as they were on neutral ground, she hoped she could get rid of him then and there.

"Hi Kay."

"Sal," He showed no surprise at her approach. He sauntered up to her side and touched her hair. "It's longer than I remember."

"Yes, I let it grow." He slid an arm around her and steered her towards an exit. He had always been this way, ever since she could remember. Her well -trained nose detected the smell of beer on him. Her nerves began to ignite. This was not good. She could only hope that he hadn't had too many. He led her out to the beat up red soft top. "Let me drive." She went to walk around to the driver's seat."

"Sally, it's fine, I only had maybe two." There was a hint of caution in his voice which made her still.

"Maybe this isn't a good idea; Kay." She appealed to his sense of reason.

"I think that you should get in the car." She hesitated. "Sally, get in the car."

Knowing that she was most likely making a mistake big, she slid into the passenger seat. As he turned on the engine, hard rock hammered out of the radio. The pulled away, leaving her stomach behind. Brian watched bitterly as Sally drove away in the car of an attractive guy in his mid twenties.

Andy lay on his stomach on Allison's bed. He watched her as she fumbled with the pages of her booklet on her lap.

"I can't find the damn page." Andy leaned over and showed her the number on his booklet. She caught hold of his hand and smiled at him. Andy caught hold of hers and kissed it absently. Without looking up from his lines, he asked Allison a question.

"There's this party in a week or so. Johnson invited me."

"Oh?" Allison already didn't like the sound of it.

"I thought that maybe you might want to go with me."

"I'm not sure that's a great idea. They don't like me. I'm the reason you're this close to quitting the team."

"Yeah but I don't exactly love it."

"But you're good Andy, you could get a scholarship on it."

"I know. So the answer is no then?"

"I didn't say that."

"I don't want to drag you into something you would hate."

"Don't be like that. I'll go if you really want me too and I be as friendly as you want." She grimaced. "Just don't make me talk to any of those bitchy cheerleaders. Deal?"

"Deal." Andy smiled and kissed her. The scripts fell aside as they both got more involved in each other. Wuthering Heights would have to wait.

As the day was closing, Claire saw Bender coming around the corner. At the last moment she ran across the hall and dived into the ladies' toilets. It was too late. He had seen her. He followed her in slamming open the door.

"Don't think that petty social conventions are going to let you get away." The girls who occupied the small feminine space stared at him with a mixture of awe and exasperation. "Get out." They hesitated before running out a minute later. Claire had to admit that she found that a thrill went through her as he came toward her. She tried to speak and failed. He backed her into a door, his face very close to hers. Despite her fear, he saw the excitement he aroused in her. Who figured, Red for a dangerous guy, junkie? But he had. He had seen it in her. It was the reason she had been so drawn to him despite the fact he had verbally attacked her at every opportunity. He pressed her up against the sinks. She still held her books to her chest. She locked eyes with him. He wasn't having any of her bullshit.

"Bender. What are you doing in here?"

"You know exactly what I am doing here. Claire, what the fuck is your problem? Did I hurt you? I that why you're avoiding me?" He burrowed into her with his eyes. She looked down but there was nowhere for her eyes to hide. He caught hold of her jaw and turned her face to look at him.

"No." Her voice was very small. "No, you didn't hurt me"

"Then what? Claire?"

"I'm sca..." She clammed up again.

"Come again."

"I'm scared."

"Scared of what? Scared of me?"

"Yes and no. That was the first time I did anything like that. And you've done it loads of times and I just wasn't sure if it meant anywhere as much to you as it did to me. I didn't want to face you like that if that was true. I mean its fine if you don't because I understand. It was amazing." She trailed off because Bender was staring at her. At a loss for anything to say, he grasped her against the sink and pressed his lips onto hers. Her books fell to the floor. He lifted her up onto the counter between the sinks.

"You ain't seen nothing yet, Red?"He growled. He kissed her neck and pulled the fabric of her dress off her shoulder. She threw her head back as he moved lower down. She wrapped her legs around him as her dress rode up. She wanted Bender, all of him. Right then. And perhaps it would have happened had some Junior not walked in, coloured beetroot and ran back out again. They both laughed and Claire righted her dress. She hopped off the counter. She gathered her books and smiled at Bender, suddenly awkward. He slid an arms round her and they left the toilets. If anyone had been there they would have noticed that Claire was glowing. At least Bender wasn't going anywhere yet. They walked out into the near empty parking lot.

"Where are we going?"She smiled.

"To find somewhere more private."