Tears welled in her eyes as she watched Monty sleep, seeming unaware that anything out of the ordinary had happened tonight.
Claire knew that extraordinary things had happened, though. Nathan had come through for them. She'd had the feeling he would, but doubted herself toward the end there. He seemed so hesitant to embrace his power and the potential he could do with that.
It hadn't helped that that his mother had been encouraging him to do the opposite of what Claire was. Let Peter die!
Of course, others had died (whether tonight or earlier) or were seriously injured. Officer Parkman, she learned, would survive. Micah's father was questionable. No one seemed to know if Sylar was alive or dead. The bloody trail that led to the sewer grate had provided them nothing. Except for a sense of foreboding to those who'd survived and knew what had happened tonight.
And, of course, the fate of the older Petrelli boys duo, Nathan and Peter was up in the air. Literally, she thought with a wry smile.
She brushed a kiss against Monty's cheek, taking a deep breath to inhale his scent. He smelled like a child, all youthful and innocent. She wondered if she had any of those scents to her any longer. She doubted it at this point and didn't notice them on Lyle any more. Did they fade away? Give way to new ones?
She sighed softly, her mind was taking her places that were just stupid. She couldn't stay long anyway. If Heidi found her, she'd wonder why Claire was there. It would be difficult to explain, and now was not the time to anyway.
She went to the kitchen for a brownie and some milk before heading to her room. She wasn't sure why, but she was so totally hungry tonight. And the brownies had been made that night, she could tell by the chocolatey smell still in the kitchen. That and the fact there was a plate full of them on the counter, still warm to the touch. And sticking to the cling wrap covering them. Simon and Monty already had theirs. That left three on the plate: one for her, Peter, and Nathan. She left theirs, choking back a sob at the sight of the two remaining brownies. Would they ever be claimed?
She tried not to dwell on the fact she hadn't seen the Haitian since the day he'd dropped her at the Petrelli's. He'd been there a time or two. She woke and saw an impression on the bed next to her. She wasn't sure why he hadn't woken her. Knowing he'd come to her, even if she didn't see him, made her feel a little better. She wanted to see him, though. The fact that he didn't wake her made her wonder if he'd changed his mind.
There were so many things she wanted to ask and talk to him about. She didn't know if he had the answers, but just the idea of talking to someone who gave her credit would have been nice.
Peter listened, of course, but it wasn't the same. He listened as a proud owner of a new puppy, which probably had something to do with him just finding out she was his niece. He was the only one, until her father had shown up. It would have been nice to know that someone other than Peter didn't think she was crazy. Was she supposed to encourage Nathan to do what he'd done? Or had she gotten it wrong? It seemed wrong, somehow, to leave two young boys fatherless.
He could have survived. It was the only thing that enabled her to come back to this house tonight, the glimmer of hope that he'd gotten Peter safely away and flown off in the knick of time.
It should have been a surprise to see him in her room, lying on her bed. Nothing much surprised her anymore, though. And she was too glad to see him to care about much else.
"Did you bring enough for me?"
His eyes fell to her hand where she held the brownie, as of yet untouched.
"Oh, there's just the one," she said, moving toward the bed.
He smiled then, looking entirely too comfortable there. "Will you?"
"What do I get in return?"
"I'm not sure what the value is."
"They are good," she said, breaking off a piece. She joined him on the bed and fed it to him, her eyes drifting closed when he licked the excess chocolate from her fingertips.
"They are quite good."
She swallowed. She was supposed to think? To talk? After that? "Then you think they're valuable?"
"I can think of something that interests me more."
"You need me to tell you?"
"It's been a while since I've seen you; I'm not so good at telling what you're thinking anymore."
He smiled widely. "Is that right?" He drew her closer. "Any idea now?"
Her heart did more than skip a beat then. She had so many questions for him, things to tell him because she had no idea how much he actually knew. All she wanted right then, though, was him to kiss her. Not knowing for sure if he wanted to, she didn't want to be the one to do it first.
She didn't have to wait very long to find out he didn't need her prompting. And he, evidently, hadn't changed his mind about them.
She wasn't sure who started it or who was faster about it once they began, but they removed one another's tops. He rolled her onto her back and she groaned softly, her head hitting the pillow as he ran his hands along her waist, her stomach, and slowly higher.
This was the most aggressive he'd ever been with her. He'd said when it was over he'd come for her. She just hadn't expected it to be that very night. She was glad to see him, though, to know he was all right.
"Shh," he whispered, kissing her harder as he worked the front clasp of her bra. His thumb grazed the spot between her breasts. Somehow he managed to do it without touching anywhere else. There was a mark there she imagined from the clasp, there usually was at the end of the day.
She gripped his forearms tightly as his hand slid to her breast, fingertips grazing the underside. He'd never done this before, touched her without a shirt or something in the way. She'd wanted him to.
And now that he was? Well, the simplest explanation would be to say she panicked.
The more complex explanation? Her mind drifted to another time someone touched her this way. Hands too fast, too demanding and eager to do things her tipsy brain couldn't quite process. To take things they had no business wanting.
She pushed on his chest then, a soft cry escaping her mouth as she broke from his kiss. "Please," she whispered. He knew, thankfully, what she was asking him to do. And what not to do. He stopped, though judging by his breathing it wasn't easy.
"I am sorry. I am too needy, moving too fast. I didn't even let you clean up."
"No, it's not you," she said softly. Tears formed in her eyes. Why tonight of all times did her night with Brody have to haunt her? How many nights had she slept with him, touched him. God, she went down on him! And she was freaking out over him doing what she wanted him to do! Finally!
"Talk to me, Claire."
"It's just," she shook her head, wiping away her tears with her fingers. "No one's ever done that before, except…"
"I'd forgotten, I apologize and I should have taken my time." He grew silent, brushing a kiss along her jaw and another at her neck. He nipped the skin there and she groaned softly. He moved again, the dampness from tears taken away and replaced by something sweeter. Better. His lips. His kisses. His gentleness. His love. "My time here tonight is short and I haven't touched you in so long."
"You've been here, though."
"Yes, to sit and watch you sleep. It was not easy, leaving you here when I wanted you with me. You know now, though, why I had to."
"Yes," she whispered, reaching to touch his face. Exploring it really. She smiled then, drawing him to her and kissed him. They did just that for the longest time. She got used to him being with her again, on top of her for the first time without her shirt on and her bra undone. She'd assumed it would be easy, automatic, but that wasn't so.
She raised her knee, felt him hard against her, heard his muffled groan as her thigh brushed against him. He was holding back for her. He wouldn't push her. He wouldn't force her. He had proven that repeatedly over the past few months. He was not Brody. He was eager, yes, but for the right reasons.
She took hold of one of his hands then, lacing her fingers through it from behind before inching it toward her. She was expecting it this time. She bit his lower lip after she released his hand and the pads of his fingers grazed her nipple. He started to draw his hand away, but she shook her head. Releasing his lip, kissing where she'd bitten.
"You're fine," she whispered.
He didn't say more, neither did she. Somewhere in the back of her mind was the thought that maybe she shouldn't be doing this with Nathan and Peter God knew where. If anything, though, that made her want this more. She'd survived. She was alive. They'd stopped the city from exploding. He was able to be here with her, touching and kissing her because of what they'd done.
She peeled his shirt away, running her hands along him. She'd touched him so often the past few months she knew every bump, every crevice, every dip in his muscles by heart. It was like reading a book in Braille, she knew where she was on his body by touch alone.
She arched into him as he took a nipple in between his thumb and forefinger, rolling it to the point she whimpered and wiggled beneath him. Her feet went to his calves, bringing their bodies closer together. She felt him pressing against her, heard his groan when she moved. If they'd been bottomless he'd be inside her now. That thought sent a flood of arousal through her. She wanted him. Wanted more.
His mouth made a path from her lips, lower to join his hand. Her hands clutched his shoulders, hard enough to leave marks from her fingernails. His breath was warm against her skin and then his mouth was there, closing over a nipple. Teasing and sucking, he worried it with his tongue until she thought she'd faint from the feelings he brought out in her.
He seemed to know what he was doing better than she did, rubbing his body against hers so she was able to get off. He kissed her abdomen, circling her belly button with his tongue which caused her to giggle softly.
She placed her hands at his head. "You didn't…"
"No," he whispered.
"Why did you stop?"
He peered up at her, his eyes were so dark in the room without any lights on she could barely see the whites of them. He was waiting for her to come up with the answer on her own.
"Oh," she said, realizing dawning on her. Yeah, she supposed it would be a little uncomfortable wearing clothes after that. And what would he say if he ran into someone on the way out? "You could," she shrugged, running a finger along his ear. "You know, on me."
"You heard me, I know you did. Please don't make me say it again."
She looked up at the ceiling. "It was just a suggestion."
He kissed her stomach, pressing the side of his face against her and she sighed softly.
"But you're like that now," she said, brushing her leg against him again. This time she meant to and he knew it. "I'll close my eyes if you don't want me to, you know, help or watch you."
"Would you like to watch me?"
She swallowed. That was kind of a trick question. She'd enjoy watching him do anything. She nodded then, looking at him again. "Yes," she whispered.
She wanted to watch him, to see him lose control like he'd helped her do a moment ago. He didn't do or say anything for a while. She glanced at the clock by her bed, realized he'd been here an hour already. Hadn't he said something about not having a lot of time? She wasn't sure how much time he had, though.
He touched her then, a hand at her cheek.
"Next time, Claire, we will toy with that idea. I like it very much."
He kissed her. "There is plenty of time from now on. We don't need to rush anything."
"Then why did you…"
"I couldn’t help myself." He smiled then. "Are you complaining?"
"Well, no," she said, shaking her head. "I just feel kind of weird finishing and you didn't. I could do what I did that day in Mexico again."
He chuckled, drawing her to him as he lay on the bed beside her. "Having you in my arms again is pleasure enough for tonight, Claire."
"If you could get in here why didn't you stay?"
"I could not risk someone finding us. Sitting here for a short while could be explained. Sleeping with you could not."
"Do you still have my key?"
"Yes, I never used it, though. Things got pretty out of hand almost right away, there wasn't time for me to be uncomfortable here."
"Wants to take you away. I know," he said.
"You couldn't come with?"
"You would be starting fresh, a new identity."
"So, that means I couldn't already have a boyfriend in that new identity?"
He turned onto his side, hand resting at her hip as he regarded her. He smiled. "Is that what you want?"
"You mean do I want to be around the guy I love or never see him again? Uh, yeah, pretty easy answer."
"I am not sure how your father will feel."
"Do you think he wouldn't understand? We spent months together, just the two of us."
"He trusted me…"
"And so do I. What happened doesn't change that."
"You are not him. I betrayed his trust."
"Is that what you think you did?"
"Yes," he whispered.
She kissed him then, slowly, deepening it gradually. Her hand skimmed along his chest and collarbones, resting at his shoulders.
"No betrayal here. None. I'm old enough…"
"Yeah, well, I think if I am old enough to have the world's fate rest on my shoulders I can make a decision about my personal life."
"Then I suppose it will be done."
"You'll come with?"
"Yes," he said.
"Don't sound so excited at the idea."
"I just hope we are doing the right thing."
"Have you ever led with your heart before?"
"Then don't knock it until you try it."
He kissed her nose, brushing some hair away from her face. "All right, Claire. You win. I cannot resist your charm."
"Besides, we got through this save the world stuff. How much more difficult can things be?"
He chuckled. "I wish I had your view on things, but I'm jaded I fear and believe things can get more difficult."
"Do you think they will?"
"Only time will tell."
"Well then," she said, grazing her leg along his before draping it over him. "I say we'd best make the most of our downtime."
He smiled, pressing against her. "What did you have in mind?"
"Well, we're in New York and I don't have school until the fall. I could probably convince them to let me stay for a while longer."
"Be a tourist with me."
"I want to do all the stupid thing people do when they come here. Angela took me shopping at places I can't pronounce. Bought me clothes with price tags I couldn't count high enough to read. I want to see the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty, the Letterman show, Radio City Music Hall, the Metropolitan Museum of Art. You know? Normal people stuff. With you."
"I suppose you are deserving of some sort of reward for coming out of things unscathed."
"Yeah…" she murmured, kissing his jaw.
"You would agree."
"And if a time or two we end up at your apartment instead of doing normal people touristy stuff I won't complain."
"Is that right?"
"I'm not sure we can make the Letterman show, but the rest we can do."
"All right," she said, snuggling against him.
He drew her top sheet and the expensive raw silk duvet around her, draping an arm around her once she was tucked in. She should have found the expensive sheets and beautiful decorations homey and comforting, but she found the luxury did nothing for her. She found herself falling asleep easy for the first time since she'd been away from him and it was because he was here, she didn't need anything else.
"Don't leave yet?"
"I will stay as long as I can."
"I missed you," she whispered, not sure if she'd said it already but needing to again anyway.
"I missed you," he whispered.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com