***Part Ten***
Word Count: 4,497

She heard the door shut and stiffened, realizing her dad was about to say something he didn't want anyone else to hear.

"You sure about this, Claire?"

"Positive, Dad, I have to try," she said, turning to face him. He hugged her then and she clutched him tightly. No matter how confident she might sound to him she was kind of scared, but once she'd made up her mind she didn't want to change it. She'd known back in May when she was invited to live here that she would do it.

"You'll forgive me if I don't feel ready yet, but it's not like you're so far from home."

"I know. I can still come home for dinner."

"And bring your laundry, too, I imagine?"

"Probably," she said with a smile. "And you've seen it. You met Miss Wilkins."

"Yes, I just wish she did more than maintain the house."

"Dad, we're adults!"

"That doesn't mean parents don't worry. Especially yours."

"I know."

He smoothed back some of her hair. "I am happy that you feel comfortable doing this. Please don't think otherwise."

"I know."

He kissed her then, hugging her tightly. "I love you, Claire-bear. Be careful."

"I am. I will be."

"And be sure to tell us when your first game is."

She blushed. "I will."

"Moving into a sorority house, becoming a cheerleader, a boyfriend, pretty soon I won't even know who you are anymore."


"Okay, I'm getting ahead of myself."

"Just a little."

"We'll see you for dinner on Sunday then."

"I'll be there."

He left then and she was by herself for the first time that day. She didn't have a lot of stuff. She'd seen some of her sorority sisters with carloads of stuff. She could always go home and get more if she needed something or found she'd forgotten something.

This was right. She needed to do this. That didn't mean she wasn't scared to death. Briefly, she wondered if her dad was still downstairs. If she went down and asked him to take her home, he would do it in a heartbeat. He'd be disappointed, though, and so would she.

She turned her iPod on and set about unpacking her clothes and things. She'd waited until the last possible minute to move in, so she was one of the last to get there. She wasn't surprised when someone knocked on her door. She'd made quite a few friends last year and the few that were close enough during the summer had helped her celebrate turning nineteen.

None of them had realized how special that birthday was to her. They'd never know, but the fact she had friends to do something with meant a lot to her. Her parents had taken her and Lyle out to dinner on the actual day of her birthday. She understood why they'd needed to do that, so she hadn't even bothered to make plans for that night.

There were times she felt so out of it. People would talk about a particular movie, book, TV show, or band and she was clueless. And she shouldn't have been from the looks she got at times. Thanks to the Internet, though, she was able to fill in a lot of the blanks. Her brother helped, too.

Oddly, they were friends now. She wasn't sure why, but the bickering she remembered them doing constantly wasn't there anymore. Either she'd imagined it was ever there to begin with or they'd changed. She liked to believe it was that they'd changed. In fact, she'd mentioned to Lyle coming to stay with her one weekend. He seemed excited at the idea, as she knew he would. What guy his age wouldn't want to stay in a house full of college girls?

"Come in," she said, closing a dresser drawer that was now full.

"You did decide to move in!"

Claire smiled at Maggie, their chapter President. She'd been one of the people who tried to convince her that she was missing out on part of the point of college by living at home. She'd also been instrumental in Claire making the cheerleading squad with no prior experience. She knew her getting on the squad made her unpopular with a few girls on campus.

"I did. Thanks for inviting me."

"We wanted you here. Are you excited?"


"Good. A few of us were going to watch some movies. You're welcome to come down. There's nothing really going on here tonight. I think the Theta boys might be having a party."

"I'll probably stick around here tonight anyway, but thanks."

"Okay. Anything you need, you know where to find me."

"I do, thanks."

"Want this open or shut?"

"Open is fine," Claire said, going back to her stuff.

The rest of her time passed uneventfully. She did go down and watch some movies. It was sort of weird, sitting with people that weren't her parents and Lyle. And to think it would be this way every day.

She moved from the room when her cell phone rang, smiling a little when she saw who it was by the caller ID.


"Are you all settled?"

"A little. I still have some things to put away and pictures to put up and stuff."

"Did I catch you at a bad time?"

"No, I was watching a movie."

"I can call you back later."

"No, it wasn't really anything that interesting anyway. When did you get back?"

"A couple of hours ago."


"Is that your way of saying you wish I'd called earlier?"


"I had a few things to do before I returned home and some more pressing phone calls to make when I got here."

"More pressing, huh?"

"I wanted them out of the way so I was free to speak with you as long as I cared to. Better?"


He chuckled softly.

"How is your room?"

"It's fine. Nothing exciting. I'll put some posters up and stuff, it'll be good."

"Good. And your father?"

"Handled it surprisingly well."

"This is not easy for him."

"I know."

"I do not think you do, but I'm glad you realize it might be anyway."


"When do classes start?"

"Day after tomorrow."

"And your practices?"

"They started last week actually."



"I did not realize."

"There are games right away."

"I suppose there are. Do you have to wake up early tomorrow morning?"

"No earlier than usual."

"Would you like to have dinner with me?"


"That was the general idea, yes."

"I'd love to."

"I will be there in a little while then."

"All right. See you then."

He hung up without saying good-bye. They rarely said good-bye, she wasn't sure why.

"That your man?"

"Yeah, he's coming to take me to dinner."

"Good for you."

She watched a little more of the movie before going upstairs to get ready. That was going to be an adjustment for her, having to share a bathroom with several other people. He was in her room when she got back from the bathroom. She must have watched more of the movie downstairs than she realized.

"Letting yourself in already?"

"One of your housemates apparently remembered me and pointed me to which room was yours."

"You are rather memorable."

"To you."

"Uh no. Tall, dark, handsome, mysterious."

"You think I'm handsome?"

"Uh yeah." She frowned. Did she not say it? Maybe not, or at least not very often. "You were a little scary the night I met you."


"You don't scare me anymore though."


"Well, sometimes, but not in the same way."

"That's good to know. That it's not in the same way I mean."

"So, this is it," she said, gesturing to her room. "I have my own phone and computer line, which will be nice. Mom and Dad gave me a laptop," she said, gesturing to it on the counter. "Nothing too glamorous or anything, but I've been told the food's better than the dorms."

"I imagine it would be."

"I ate at the union a couple of times last year, it wasn't that bad. But it wasn't Mom's either."

"Do you cook?"

"A little. I helped my mom sometimes before," she slid her eyes away from his. "I haven't so much since moving to California. I don’t know why."

"I am sorry."

"For what?"

"I hate to bring up topics that make you recall your experiences."

"It's okay. I have to, you know. I can't shove them to the back of my mind and lock them away. I wish I could sometimes."

"You have not asked me again to remove your memories."

"No, because I need them. They're a part of who I am, I get that. And I'm going to do something with them."


"Well, for starters, I'm going to start volunteering at a woman's shelter a couple of times a week."

"Do you have time for that?"

"I'll make time."

"You're very brave," he said, taking her into his arms. She went willingly, allowed herself to take comfort in his embrace and the warmth of him. Things had been sort of strained between them since that day at the beach. It was her fault, she'd overreacted and now was more unsure than before.

"No, I'm not really," she whispered. "You know what scares me?"


"That we'll, that I won't," she sighed softly. "That I won't be able to…"

He drew away a little, placing his hands on either side of her face. He kissed her lightly, hovering over her mouth with his. "What is on your mind, Claire?"

"What if I can't, erm. I'm not sure I'll know what to do with you."

"Do with me?"

"Oh God, let's just forget it, okay. Please? It's not important."

His eyes widened and he lowered his mouth to hers. Her heart stood still for a minute as he made this kiss matter. Her arms went around his neck, pulling herself up to her tiptoes so he didn't have to stoop over so much. She gave a soft groan as his hand at the small of her back slid lower, cupping her ass.

"You do not have to do anything with me. Ever."

"Well, that wouldn't be very exciting for you," she whispered as he found her neck. She loved when he did this. She wasn't sure why. Something he could do that made her feel normal for the little while the hickey was there. She felt him growing hard. If she were daring, she'd slide a leg around him, drawing closer against him.

"You are very exciting for me, Claire."

"Thank you," she whispered as he gave a soft bite over the spot before drawing away. Except he didn't completely draw away as he usually did. Instead, his mouth traveled lower along her neck to where it met her shoulder. Her eyes closed tightly as his tongue slid along her collarbone. Her eyes flew open when she felt the back of his hand brush over her breast.

"Exciting you is very exciting to me," he whispered, drawing away.

He made no effort to touch her further or manhandle her in any way. So, what did that touch mean? Was it any different from when he brushed his hand across her cheek, jaw, hand, or arm? She sure didn't react the same as with those other touches. And he'd never done that before.

"I am sorry, I should not have…"

She stood on her tiptoes again, drawing him to her to cut off his apology with a kiss. He was always so careful of her. She loved that about him and appreciated it, but there were times he apologized too much. This was one of them. She hadn't stopped him. She hadn't thought he was going to hurt her. His touching her there had merely surprised her.

For the first time in all the times they kissed she opened her mouth first, sought his tongue out before he did. Always, until now, she'd waited for him. He apparently found that exciting, too, as he groaned softly into her mouth.

And then she did something she'd longed to do for a while now, but was too scared to. Especially after the way he'd reacted to her being bold at the beach. She slid her arms from around his neck. She felt the ridge of his collarbone and let her hands drift lower to his chest, lower still to his stomach. She'd never seen him without a shirt before that day and it had been hard for her not to reach out and touch him.

She'd touched men before, but it was never like this. It was always at their command, following the instructions and directions they set for how they wanted to be touched. The element of fear that if she did not do things the right way she'd be punished always present. Here, with him, she was open to touch and explore to her hearts content.

And that made her heart pound like crazy.

He'd worn his shirt untucked tonight. She was thankful because it made it easy for her to reach under the shirt and touch him without thinking too hard about what she was doing. Hand to stomach. Skin to skin. Her hand trembled as she skimmed his pecs with her fingertips.

"Claire," he murmured, but it sounded very forced. "I invited you to dinner…"

"It can wait. Or we can order pizza later."

"Your housemates…"

"Saw you come up here, right?"

"A few of them."

"They'll leave us alone."

"We could go back to my place."

"No. You'll change your mind along the way."

"I did not come here…"

"If you tell me one more time this wasn't your intent I'm going to turn around and not talk to you again for a very long time."

His lips curved up into a smile, but his eyes fell closed as she found one of his nipples with the pads of her fingers.

"I am practiced at the art of not speaking."

"I won't see you either."

"That is a more viable threat."

She reached for his shirt to pull it off, but he stilled her hands.

"Can you at least allow me to do this my way?"

She winced, trying to pull her hands from his grasp. It was instinctive, she didn't mean to. She knew that wasn't what he meant. He released them, cupping her cheek and she saw the sadness in his eyes when he realized what he'd said.

"You have not revealed to me all that was a part of your duties nor do I truly care to know. I like to hold onto the idea that my imagination is worse and don't want to find out I'm wrong. I am fairly certain that no one ever took the time to please and attend to you."

Her eyes widened a little and she shook her head. Of course they hadn't. Some thought that they were pleasing her, but she had never once experienced it. Some of the girls did. She never understood that. She'd grown numb to her life, even realized after a while she was probably never going to get out of it. But that understanding never paved the way to enjoyment by her.

"I thought not, and that is what I'm asking you to allow me to do. For now," he said, ushering her to the bed. The bed she'd just made a few hours ago with the new sheets her mom had washed and folded before Claire packed them into a basket last night. "This time. I want to show you what it should be like not what you've learned it to be like."


He kissed her, the barest brush of his lips over hers before he drew away. He placed more delicate kisses along her jaw and neck to her ear as she adjusted on the bed. "I have dreamt of pleasing you, Claire. I have spent more hours then I care to admit hard and longing for you with the thought of showing you what we can be like. I want to feel you as I please you without your feeling obligated to return the favor."

"It wouldn't be…"

"Shh," he whispered. He'd distracted her, evidently that was his plan because she didn't even realize he'd reached under her shirt. One hand rested against her stomach. It wasn't staying there, though.

"Breathe," he whispered. "And tell me if you need me to stop. For any reason."

"I don't, you're fine," she whispered with a deep exhale of breath just as he'd instructed her to do. She wasn't on the verge of panicking anymore. That was good. And who in their right mind would say no to someone offering to please them?

"Why are you in such a hurry?"

"A hurry? It's been…"

"There are many people your age who have not."

"They're not me," she whispered. "I need to know."

She reached for him, placing her hands around his face. She kissed him, deepening it before sliding her mouth to his ear. "You need to know, too. I won't waste any more of your time if I'm too damaged."

"You are not. The fact you're lying here with me should tell you as much."

"It doesn't," she whispered. "Just please."

"I should say no."

"But you won't. Not this time, not tonight. I need this."

His hand slid a little higher and she forced herself to take a deep breath again.

"Could you take off your shirt," she asked. "So I can at least look at you?"

He stood then and drew his shirt off.

"And lock the door," she said as an afterthought. He walked to the door and did just that.

"You will not get in trouble?"

"No," she replied as he turned off the light. And then he was on his way back to the bed. Back to her. She'd taken the opportunity while his back was to her to slide her shirt off and she saw his eyes travel along the spans of her skin. Her breasts were still covered by a bra, but it was a lacy sheer thing so it didn't really hide much as far as what he could see.

"When you set your mind to something you get right down to it, don't you?"

"It just seemed like the shirt was kind of in the way. And only fair since I asked you to take yours off." She glanced down at herself. "Do you want me to put it back on?"

He laughed then, sliding his hand over his mouth. She could almost see him mentally counting to ten.

"Is that a no?"


"Okay," she said with a smile.

He really didn't have to worry about scaring her. He was everything she knew he would be. Gentle, kind, attentive. And he hadn't even really done anything yet other than slide her pants off and remove her bra. She'd never been completely naked in front of a man before. Always there was something to remind her of what she was. Sometimes it was clothes of some sort. Most of the time it was something simple like a collar, stockings, cuffs…

"Stay with me," he murmured, breaking up her thoughts. He kissed her as if sensing where her mind was going. Could he do that? She didn't know how deep or powerful his ability was. For all she knew he could read her mind.

"I'm here," she whispered.

"Stay right here," he whispered in return, sliding lower.

He took his time, paying attention to her neck. Repeatedly leaving a mark. She couldn't help but giggle.

"What do you find amusing?" he whispered, nipping the one he'd just finished giving her.

"Am I going to look like a leper when you're done?"

"For a while, yes." He found her collarbone and kissed it. "And not just there either."

"Why do you like them so much?"

"I do not know. I just like the way they look on your skin, knowing they'll be gone as soon as I wish them away. A temporary blemish. And you like them."

"You're not temporary, though."

"I am here as long as you want me."

"Don't make promises you can't keep."

"I would not and am not."

He surprised her then, taking a peak of her breast into his mouth. She gave a soft cry, startled. Not just by what he was doing but by how it made her feel. He kissed and sucked and nipped and kissed some more, stroking the other one so its peak was just as hard as the one in his mouth. She arched off the bed as much as she could, pressing her breast further into his mouth. And then repeated the process when he switched to the other one.

She lost track of how many songs played when he finally continued lower. Not that she was in a hurry to have this end. His hands slid to her hips, thumbs stroking her thighs before he slid them in between her legs. He grazed her labia with the sides of his hands, stopping only when he'd grazed her clit.

And then, "oh god," she murmured. His mouth was there with his tongue and his lips and his fingers doing things that she had no idea would feel like this. He didn't hurry in the least. He coaxed her body to the end result he was going for.

She'd never had an orgasm before, realized now she'd never come close. She didn't know what to do, but once she closed her eyes and just let herself give into what he was doing it happened. And he kept going to the point she was so sensitive it almost hurt. A nice kind of hurt for a change.

He wasn't done yet it seemed as he continued on down her legs. He was just as thorough in his attention to them and her feet as he had been everywhere else.

His eyes met hers when he slid back up between her legs. He had to be hard but he hadn't tried a thing to push or speed things along to get to the point of where he'd be inside of her. Tears welled up in her eyes at that thought. And he frowned.

"What is wrong?"

"Nothing. It's - you're - perfect."

"Have you had enough?"

"No," she whispered.

"Are you…"

"Yes, please."

He stood from the bed then and began to remove his pants. She knelt on the bed and placed her hands over his.

"Can I?"

"Of course," he whispered.

Her eyes never left his face as she worked the button and zipper on his pants, sliding them down over his hips and lower until he could step out of them. Only then did she look at him. She moved her head but he stopped her.

"No," he whispered gruffly.

"I want to," she whispered in return.

He said nothing more, merely moved his hands from her shoulders. She touched him. She'd never willingly touched a man's cock before. She never took the time to look at one, to notice the difference in texture and appearance, the fullness of the sac at the base. Or really enjoy what it felt like. There had been no enjoyment in it for her before now. He murmured something, once again pulling her from her thoughts as if he knew.

She stroked him, making a fist with her hand, and working it along his length.

"Is that wrong?"

"No, not at all, later you can do that all you want. Normally, I wouldn't worry about finishing with you doing that but I'm not so sure that wouldn't happen tonight. I have been waiting too long."

"Oh," she said then, knowing she was blushing.

She laid back on the bed then and he moved on top of her.


"Don't, please, not again."

He placed a hand between her legs, sliding a finger inside of her and she couldn't help but push against it. Her eyes fell closed, her body reacting very easily knowing how good what he'd done before felt.

"Just ensuring you are still ready," he murmured. He didn't stop, though. He seemed to enjoy watching her move against him and let her do just that until she'd come again.

And then he was there. She knew instantly that it was no longer his finger pressing against her opening. She watched as he slid inside of her. He was as careful as he had been with everything else up until now. That didn't stop her from feeling a prick of pain. She stifled her soft cry by biting onto his shoulder, which caused him to murmur something that sounded like he might have liked it.

It was her turn to suck and bite and lick. His skin was too dark for her to leave much of a mark, but it would be there when she was done. She was sure of that. And his would not disappear. That thought turned her on for some reason and she gave a gentle bite at his neck as her body tensed around him.

It was over too soon. Too soon because she wanted it to go on forever, but she knew that wasn't possible. Not soon enough because she wanted nothing more than to have him next to her afterward. She was looking forward to that almost more than the actual act of having sex with him.

"I hurt you," he whispered afterward.

"Only a little."

"I do not understand."


"How it is possible you were still intact."

"They didn't want me for that I guess." She scrunched her nose as he slid a hand to her back, prompting her onto her side so they were pressed together. "You'd have to ask them to find out why. I got the impression that wasn't even an option with me for some reason. And besides I think I'll heal anyway."

His eyes widened, apparently not having thought of that. She hadn't really either until now.

"You mean to say you never, that was never done to you before tonight?"


"Why didn't you tell me?"

"Was it important?"

"I would have been…"

"More gentle? More careful? More loving? I don't think you could have been. You were perfect. Really."

"And you are all right?"

"Yes," she said sincerely. She was all right. She'd done it.

He kissed her. "You were all right the whole time?"

"There were moments, but it wasn't you. It was me. I've never known…"

"I understand. You will know only that from now on."

"Are you staying?"

"I probably shouldn't the whole night your first one here, but I will stay for a while. And if I fall asleep with you in my arms and a while turns into the morning then so be it."

"That sounds nice."

"Yes, it does."

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The non-illustrated icon is courtesy of lay-of-luthien @ LJ. She's got some nice work, and did this and 4 others very quickly! The illustrated icon is courtesy of: julietbunny who gave me this in addition to some other great goodies for the Heroes_Holidays Spring Hiatus project.

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