***Part Thirteen***
Word Count: 1,171

"What are you doing?" he asked lazily.

"Just looking at your hands."

"Why?"

"Where have you and my dad been?"

"What does that have to do with my hands?"

He winced a little as she grazed his knuckles with the tip of her finger. And then she did something that surprised him. She brought his hand to her mouth and kissed each knuckle. She didn't stop with a simple kiss, though, and he grew a little unsettled when he felt her tongue graze the first cut. None were deep or bad, just the result of getting his hands dirty when they visited the last name on their list.

He'd refrained from getting physically involved until then, knowing what he'd had in mind for Claire. Knowing how close he had come to not finding her, which would have meant never seeing her. And that had upset him more than he cared to admit aloud, even to himself.

"Just wondering how your hands got all beat up."

"Not all of our work is pleasant," he said by way of an explanation.

She circled one of the cuts with her tongue and he hissed, not from pain. Quite the opposite. And he wasn't sure she was trying to illicit that response in him through her actions.

"Claire," he murmured. Not at all sure what it said that he got aroused by what she was doing.

"Mm hmm," she said, her lips around a knuckle.

"You shouldn't be doing that?"

"Why?" she asked in between one knuckle and the next.

"It's notů"

"Safe? Neither is kissing you or taking you in my mouth without a condom but you don't stop me from doing those things."

"That's different."

"Why?"

"They're cuts. Blood. Infection."

"I can't get infections. Remember?"

"Just last night you were upset."

"I'm not upset anymore."

He would have been able to tell that was the case even if she hadn't said so by her pressing against him in a way that let him know without question he wasn't the only one responding to what she was doing.

She slid to her knees, straddling his waist taking hold of his other hand to repeat what she'd done to the other one. And, thankfully, she didn't stop there. When finished with his hand she switched her attention to his chest, neck, and jaw.

Her hands still joined with his tightened their grip as she moved herself over his length. Her mouth found his as she started taking him inside of her, probably to stop him from saying anything. He knew after some bad nights she felt the need to have sex, as if assuring herself she was okay with where their relationship was. It bothered him that she felt the need to press herself in such a fashion, but he admittedly never grew tired of her taking the initiative as she was now.

She was slow and careful at first, eventually that changed and she released his hands, letting him place his at her hips. Hers slid against his chest and arms as they both moved to the end they wanted. He always felt relief upon completion, understandably. But there was something else there, too, concern for her that she was pushing herself to this end for his sake more than hers.

She kissed his chest before settling against him, head positioned over his heart so she could hear exactly how she affected him.

"Is my dad okay?" she whispered.

"He is fine," he said with a chuckle.

"What's so funny?"

"Certainly you don't have in mind repeating that process for him."

She shook her head with a laugh. "No."

"That is very good to know."

"I'm sure you were worried."

"Very."

"I'm sorry if I worried you last night."

"You have nothing to be sorry for," he said smoothing down her hair with his hands. "I am sorry I was not here when you needed me."

"Coming here worked okay. I just hate being alone sometimes."

"You can go home to your mother."

"She's not you."

"No, but I imagine she'd be as happy as I am to offer you the comfort you need during those times."

"I guess she would."

"You know she would."

She was quiet for a while, he wondered if she'd drifted back to sleep. Her hand moved along his chest lazily so he knew she was still somewhat awake.

"Who did you get into a fight with?"

"Nobody important."

"Someone like us?"

"No," he said truthfully.

"I thought you dealt with special people like us."

"We do, but sometimes there are people who find out things who need to be dealt with, too."

"I see."

"I'm fine, Claire."

"I've just never seen you come home hurt before."

"It doesn't happen often, but not everyone is complacent and agreeable."

She moved, shifting on top of him again and sliding her hands along his face where there were some other scrapes and bruises.

"I don't like it," she admitted.

"I don't care for it particularly myself, and I assure you it doesn't happen often. It very likely will not happen again for a long time."

"All right," she said, seeming to find solace in that. She reached for his hands then, lacing her fingers through his. "Not that I mind kissing your owies to make them better."

"I will keep that in mind," he said as she brought a hand to her mouth again.

"Mm, yes," she said and grew still, eyes wide.

"What's wrong?"

"I, your hand."

"What?" he asked. He drew it away from her mouth to look at it for himself, saw what she reacted to. His hand was healed. The worst of the scrapes was still evident but barely, the others were gone. He drew back his other hand and looked at that one, too. This was the first one she'd attended to and there was nothing there. No visible trace left that he'd literally minutes ago had very much looked as though he'd beat someone up with his fists.

"Did you know I could do that?"

"No," he said.

"I did do it, didn't I?"

"I would think so, yes. There is no other possible way."

She gave a soft laugh and scooted up along his torso.

"What?" he asked.

And then he realized what she was doing. She cupped his face and did the same thing there she'd done to his hands. His eyes fell closed and he gave a soft groan because whether she intended to make it suggestive or not it was very much that.

She drew back, grazing the spots with her fingertips.

"They're gone," she whispered, causing him to open his eyes and look at her. Was she upset? No, she didn't appear to be that. She looked more awestruck and surprised, perhaps a little scared.

"Thank you," he said, not entirely certain what the proper response was given the circumstance.

Her eyes fell closed then and she shook her head, sliding off of and away from him.

"What am I?"

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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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