***Part Twenty-One***BR
Word Count: 1,383

Having the right manager and trainer worked. Not that Taylor didn't work hard because he did, but the right people on his side made paving the way into the ring for legitimate fights much easier. Being that Claire was in school, there were times she couldn't make a fight at all if scheduled on a weeknight or flew in separately for the ones on weekend. He liked the way she supported him and while he knew it bothered her to see him get beat on in a ring she never balked at touching him afterward. Oddly, he found he needed her to do just that, it'd never been a problem before her but now he needed that contact with her win or lose. She also didn't complain about sitting through footage from previous fights of not just his but upcoming opponents so he'd know what to watch for.

Mrs. Petrelli was even keener than Taylor gave her credit for. He hadn't stopped to consider she was being so pushy when she was for the simple fact that Claire being in school would limit access to her to some degree while Nathan made a run for the White House. Sure, she was the focus of attention here and there, but most of it was on the man trying to run. So, her being thousands of miles away from the thick of things in Iowa was perfect in a way. Nathan got the jump in his numbers from the story coming out; people caught glimpses of them together after all of these years. There were even some shots of both Noah and Nathan together, speaking volumes of no hard feelings by either side. Overall, Claire was for the most part left alone as she should be.

She had also been right about hangers on. Claire was fairly wise to it all, so while she wasn't rude to people she knew how it worked. Some just wanted to be friends with her legitimately even if their reasoning was off kilter a bit. Some, though. Well, tabloids would love to get dirt on the president's daughter doing something crazy at college. Fortunately, she never engaged in anything too outlandish, so there was little dirt to be gotten on her. She'd stopped acting in plays, which he knew bummed her out. She was still involved with the shows, but it was behind the scenes now so there wouldn't be the chance a picture of her would get snapped.

Eventually, Nathan won his bid, and with that came a whole set of new problems. Claire now had assigned and paid protection wherever she went. Taylor had been good enough before he won, but once he set foot in the White House it was a different story. Like it or not, a Bennet or not, she was now viewed as someone who's life could be endangered. Even though she couldn't get hurt (not that any but a select few knew that) she could still be used against Nathan to hurt him.

It didn't change her, though. None of it did, and for that Taylor fell in love with her even more. If that was possible. It was weird for him to think about being in love so deeply, an emotion he'd never fully experienced until Claire. Not in this form of it anyway. She didn't try to change him. Mrs. Petrelli was right, too, in that his wife would put him above anything else. She always did, but he didn't call on that quality in her too often until she was done with college.

Their efforts to have kids hadn't worked. Taylor wasn't too shook up about it, but he knew it made Claire feel defective. Especially since Buffy and Matty seemed to get pregnant so easily. Their second child was another boy, Benjamin Alexander. Benjamin was a no-brainer, Matty's dad. He assured Claire it really didn't have anything to do with the favor he did for them. Taylor had to be told that Alexander was Xander's full name. He'd never thought about it being short for anything. They were already trying for a girl, both maintaining three was all they were having all boys or not.

So, once Claire graduated they put into motion adoption proceedings. They'd still try, but it wasn't as if they could go to a fertility expert and ask questions or get tests. They both suspected what the problem was. If only The Company didn't have an interest in her, he'd love to be able to ask them questions. Monroe was no help as like Claire had said at one point, sperm coming out wasn't the same as an egg being released and attaching itself to her body. That seemed to be where the problem was, because there'd been a couple of times she thought she was pregnant.

He hated those moments and the look of hope in her eyes when she was late only to be followed a few days or weeks, one time a full month, later by the look of disappointment. And disgust. Assuring her that people without her special situation couldn't get pregnant didn't seem to help, so he'd quickly learned to shut up on the issue and just be supportive.

After her graduation, they'd returned to New York. He would have gone wherever she needed to go, but he was glad to be back home near his mother and friends. Claire wasn't too comfortable around any of them except Matty. He understood why. He'd grown up with them, so it was no big deal to him what they all did for livings. Claire, on the other hand, didn't have the exposure to that type of life so he knew it was instinct for her to want to stay away from criminals.

She hadn't started a job yet when the call came from their lawyer. Taylor knew she felt as though she was letting him down somehow not being able to have a baby, but he didn't feel that way. Once the baby they were adopting was born and he laid eyes on it he knew without a doubt that he'd love him and take care of him just the same as Matty did his boys. Hell, she only had to look at her own father to know the lengths someone will go to for their family, biological or otherwise.

He was certainly up for continuing to try and she knew that, but he was more than satisfied with where his life was now. All of it. His home. And it was his home now, no longer Teddy Deserve's. While in Iowa, they'd taken advantage of being away so extensively to remodel from the ground up. Some things stayed, a lot of it went. It was theirs, though, no shadow of his father remained. His family's home.

His mom certainly didn't seem to care how her grandson came to be a member of their family, neither did the Bennet's. The Petrelli's he wasn't so sure about how Mrs. Petrelli felt, but he knew it made no difference to Nathan. Odd to think how differently he would grow up from the way Taylor had. Instead of having people like Benny The Chains around, he was going to have presidents around him, though he imagined Matty's dad wouldn't stay out of his life completely. Especially since he and Mrs. Petrelli seemed to be spending time together. He didn't think it was romantic in nature, but weirder things had happened and she clearly wasn't averse to toeing the line of the law.

A reversal of roles completed the change in his life. Today, at this moment, it was Matty and Buffy standing as godparents to Thomas Noah Reese. He understood now why it was so important to Matty that Taylor be godfather to little Matty, knowing that someone besides him who'd gotten out would look out for his son eased his mind so much. He was bound and determined that Thomas would not have anywhere near the life he had. It'd paid off in the end for him. He'd met Claire out of the years of fighting but Matty was proof one didn't need to be a fighter to get the girl.

And that was a lesson Taylor planned to hand down.

~The End~