**Part Nine**
Word Count: 3,215

She closed the door, letting out a sigh as she fell to the floor as soon as she was inside. She had stopped being so tired for a while there. The past week or so she was back to being completely exhausted. That wasn't good. She was taking classes and working. She couldn't afford to be tired.

When her dad commented on how tired she looked, she knew she was in trouble. He'd been in that afternoon for his usual slice of pie and cup of coffee. He hadn't been in for over three weeks, not quite as long as The Haitian had been gone. She took her father's visit to mean that both were back, so she wasn't entirely surprised when he appeared before her.

She swallowed with a bit of effort at the sight of him. He was imposing normally, but currently he wore only a pair of drawstring warm-up pants. His bare feet, stomach and chest made for a very appetizing stroll up the length of his body to his face. God, he was nice to look at. And why his feet? She'd never thought of feet as being sexy before.

He'd just gotten out of the shower. How did she know that if he had pants on and no hair to be damp? She could smell him. He used a bath gel that smelled heavenly on him; something one of Angela's people had bought for him. They'd chosen well. He left a bottle here - for her. She would never admit how often she opened it just to smell it. To have that scent wrap around her, because for a little while after she'd closed the tube she could pretend he was there. It brought her comfort in a weird way.

He hadn't lied about being gone so much. She knew that, had known it wouldn't be easy. He wouldn't talk about it, but she knew he and her dad were involved in something. And they were doing it together. She missed him nevertheless. Both of them, because when one was gone she was deprived of the other, too.

"Are you all right?"

She laughed, letting her head fall back against the door. "No," she said simply. There was no sense lying about it.

"Do you need a doctor?"

"No, there's nothing a doctor can fix, not for a couple of months yet anyway."

"I do not understand."

"I can't do this anymore. I'm a wreck."

"While you look tired, you are not a wreck."

"That's easy for you to say! I had to put on a larger shirt for work today."

Smartly, he said nothing. His lips quivered into the hint of a smile, though.

"I saw that! You are so not laughing at me?!"

"No, I would not think to do such a thing to a woman in your state."

Her glare would have been reason enough for him to answer that way.

"I'm not in a state. I'm pregnant and I'm really, really tired of being that way."


"What? I am! I'm taking summer school so that I can catch up on the semester I missed. Okay, I get why that's important. Stay normal and all that. I'm hot and miserable. My hair is growing like crazy but looks like crap. I can't drink enough water and the air conditioner doesn't keep the apartment cool enough at night. The only thing good I can say about all of this is that my nails look great."

"Is that your way of telling me I've been relegated to the couch?"

"No," she said, fighting the smile his question brought out of her. "It's not. Did I mention I had to wear a larger shirt for work today?"

"You did mention that, yes. You do not look as pregnant as you are."

She glared at him.

"Was that the wrong thing to say? You're seven months along, surely you are to look pregnant by now. At least somewhat."

"So you say!"

Then he did one of those things that should have upset her even more; he sat on the floor next to her. Why should it have upset her when he was clearly trying to comfort her? Well, because it was so easy for him to do! She'd struggle to get up or have to ask for his help.

It didn't make her upset or angry and she wanted to be mad. The hormones, or whatever was ruling her right now, wanted to yell, scream, and throw a fit. He wasn't making it easy for her to do.

"I am sorry I do not have the correct words to console you. You look quite beautiful to me."

"I look like a freak! You should see the way people on campus look at me."

"Mm, at least you're going to school. You should tell them that."

"As if they actually say anything to my face."

"Oh," he said simply.

"And Monica, she's so nice about it; says she wants to baby sit."

"Of course she's nice and is making such an offer. She likes you, Claire. Anyone watching the two of you together can tell that she genuinely cares for you. And the feeling is mutual."

"Yeah, she's nice." Monica was more than nice. Claire knew that she and Sally were "secretly" putting a baby shower together for Claire. Only thing was, Claire had no one to invite. Was she supposed to rent a family, too?

"You do not have to work. That is you being stubborn. Perhaps if you stopped you wouldn't be quite so tired."

"That wouldn't look right. I had to work to survive before I found out I was pregnant but now that I'm about to have a baby I don't need to."

"I am here now."

She sighed softly. "I know."

He slid an arm behind her back, drawing her to him. She went willingly as he pulled her onto his lap. He cradled her face in his hands. "I am sorry I cannot do more for you, but I am home now. And if you're agile enough to sit on my lap like this, you are not that big."

"I had to wear a larger shirt!"

"So you've said." He slid a hand to her abdomen and stroked it with his thumb. "I like you like this."

"You do?"

"Yes. If it were another's baby perhaps not, but I doubt that would stop me from finding you attractive."

"Thank you."

"You are welcome."

"How long are you home for?"

"A while."

"How long's a while."

"Mm, until the fall, perhaps longer."

"Oh. Why perhaps?"

"Perhaps you'll tire of me and wish to be rid of me."

"I doubt that."

"I know I've been gone a lot lately."

"You could say that."

"And it isn't as if you planned on a relationship with me."

"Neither did you."

"I'm probably more prepared for one than you are."

"Oh really, Mr. Don't Talk To Anyone?"

"Playing the role of a mute and using it to my advantage to garner information is not indicative that I was unready for a commitment."

"We're committed?"

He chuckled softly. "I'm not sure how much more committed we could be to this point. Are you planning on seeing others?"


"Well, then."

She was quiet, thinking that over. Was he with her because of the baby? Was that the only reason? If she hadn't been pregnant where would they be? He had come to her, though, not knowing she was pregnant. And by the way she'd surprised him with that bit of information, he hadn't entertained the thought that she might be.

"So, I can drive you to school if you like."

"You know I like it when you do."

"Yes," he said. "Though you've never explained why. You are able to drive yourself."

"I don't drive here. I take the bus or walk. I already told you that. It'd be easier for me to leave and get away if no one knows what kind of car I drive. Only one person knows, and hopefully by the time he'd hear them knocking on his door I'd be long gone."

"I see."

"I like it when you drive me not just because it beats walking or taking the bus, but people see me with you."

"And this is good?"

"Well, yeah, before I started showing I just liked it. It's silly to you, I'm sure, but I don't get anything normal and that was normal to me."

"And now that you're showing?"

"I think some hope you're a lie to cover up the fact that I'm easy."

"They obviously do not know you very well."

"Right, because I didn't just randomly show up at your room one night and throw myself at you. That's what got me in this situation to begin with."

"You needed someone. That need manifested itself into sexual energy because it was me, us. That's not being easy. You wouldn't have done those things with anyone else."

He shifted her slightly on his lap, settling his arms at her back and rubbed a spot or two he knew bothered her most.

"I'm here until the baby is born."

She groaned softly, reacting to his touch more than his words. "Really?"

"Yes, and I've heard a rumor that your birthday is approaching, too."

"You did?"


"I wonder who would have passed on information like that to you."

"Someone wanting to ensure I do not upset a pregnant woman."

Her lips quivered into a smile.

"Hmm, he must be a pretty good man to do that."

"He is, yes. He hasn't even come close to shooting me yet."

"This is good news."

"It is," he said, working the buttons on her blouse. "I have better news."

"What's that?"

"I missed you and I'm home for months."

"That's the better news?"

"I was hoping you might be interested in showing me how excited you are at the prospect."

"Mm, excited?"

He slid the blouse over her shoulders and off, palming her breasts. He looked entranced just then, enthralled with her. By her. He slid his hands to her back, working the clasp there, letting the bra fall in a pile with the blouse.

"You are not excited?"

"I'm getting there."

"Me, too," he whispered. She met him half way, mouth finding his. The smell of him, that shower gel freshly used and all over him was just the right touch. She groaned softly as his hand slid to her thigh, pushing the hem of her rather conservative skirt up until it was less than conservative.

Her hands slid along his shoulders, collarbone, chest, and arms, taking in the feel of him once again. She shifted a little so he could enter her with a finger. She was ready for him.

His mouth went to her neck, sucking and licking there before drifting lower to her breasts as his fingers worked their magic inside of her. She clutched his head with her hands, moving against his fingers as he kept bringing her closer only stopping just short of letting her finish.

"You were tired…"

"Not that tired."

"I thought not," he murmured against her nipple before returning his attention to it. He was entirely too confident, but as his thumb grazed her clit at just the right time she didn't quite care. As long as he kept doing that.

She discovered he hadn't put anything on under the warm-up pants when she reached inside the waistband. She let out a soft groan when she had her hand around his shaft, her thumb coming away damp when she stroked it over his tip.

They managed to get the pants down enough without either of them having to move that she could slide him into her. He hadn't gotten her panties off, but they were easy enough to push to the side so he could be in her. Her hands gripped his shoulders tightly as she sank onto him. It had been almost a month and the whole healing thing made him a very tight fit after so long.

He muttered something in his native tongue, his head falling back against the door with a thump. She always wondered what he was saying when he did that. It always seemed to be during sex, and she forgot to ask him later. She liked it, though. It was kind of a turn-on that he had to resort to his first language when they were together like this. The extent of her knowledge when it came to his language was bčl for beautiful, he'd said it so often she'd finally asked.

One arm went around her, the other to the floor to steady him as he went to his feet taking her with him. Somehow, he managed to kick the warm-up pants off without tipping over.

"Where are we going?" she asked.

"I thought the bed. I need…"

"I know," she said, kissing him. It had been so long that there was a sense of urgency to having him inside of her. She knew he felt the same way. Recreating their first time together, the neediness of it, was always exciting to both of them.

"Did you have something other in mind?"

She bit her lower lip.

"Don't be coy now, Claire. Please," he said, sounding desperate just then.

The bed was a good idea, certainly comfortable. But it was all the way in the other room and she wanted to feel his need for her now. Here. He shook his head, taking a step toward the bedroom. He'd keep going if she didn't stop him, not that he'd complain.

"The table," she whispered. His eyes widened briefly, but she knew he wasn't offended or thought she was strange.

He carried her easily the short distance to the table, setting her down with more care than was necessary considering. He raised one of her legs, kissing her thigh as he slid an arm under it. He repeated the process with the other one.

"You are sure?"

"Positive. You won't hurt me."

"This I know," he said as he bent over her, driving his next thrust in deep enough that she cried out. "Are you all right," he said, pulling back.

"God, yes, that was a good sound."

"You are sure?"

"More than."

She knew he wouldn't ask again. He had that look in his eyes, he was that close to losing control. He managed to hang onto it far longer than she could. She admired that about him, but she didn't regret allowing him to let go completely either. And she knew if she ever told him to stop or be gentler he would.

They did end up in bed eventually, moving to the not-so-urgent, slow aspect of lovemaking that they were quite good at, too. She was dozing, snuggled against him, aware enough to feel the rise and fall of his chest as he breathed. Otherwise, she was pretty out of it. Exhaustion from being pregnant and a couple of orgasms added up to a very tired Claire.

"You're really here until after the baby?"

"Your father was more than happy to oblige my request."

"He was, huh?"


"Will you be able to show him pictures?"

"Yes," he said simply. "And maybe some time I can be at the diner when he comes in."

"That'd be nice."

"I am sorry it has to be this way."

"Me, too. You, like, talk to him? Really talk to him?"

"Yes," he said softly, running his fingers through his hair.

"Do you tell him I love him?"


"Thank you."

"You are welcome. He misses you."

"Me, too."

"I hope I am a suitable substitute?"

She chuckled, kissing his chest. "Most of the time."

"Only most?"

"There are just times a girl needs her dad. And, well, this is his grandchild."

"He will know it as best as he can, Claire. You would do our child no good captured by The Company."

"I know that."

"Just making sure." He slid lower on the bed, his hand grazing along her thigh. "Did I mention my thought of ordering Chinese?"

"No, you failed to mention that."

"Are you hungry?"


"Why didn't you say so?"

"Because I hadn't thought about it until you mentioned food. You've kept me occupied with other things I needed."

"Such as?"


He kissed her, lingering long enough to leave her breathless. "I'm glad I sated one need, let's see about the other. Besides, I need to talk to you about this birthday of yours."

"You do?"

"Yes. I have no idea what you would like."

"Well, I don't know. I've never had a guy offer to buy me presents before."

"No one?"

"Other than my dad and Lyle, and I'm pretty sure that's my mom or dad buying something just saying it's from Lyle."

"Hmm, I will need to think on this then."

"You realize you're my first boyfriend? So, the whole gift-giving thing is so out of my realm of knowledge."

"I had my suspicions. While I'm surprised given as pretty as you are I cannot deny that pleases me."

"It would," she said with a smirk.

"You're going to leave me to figure out what you might like by myself, aren't you?"

"Yeah, kind of."

"That is not very nice."

She giggled softly, kissing his chest. "I can show you very nice if you need to be reminded about how much I can be."

"We need to get food ordered, then you can remind me."

"I don't want to get dressed again."

"Then do not."

"Well, I have to."


"Because," she shrugged. "I don't know. I just do."

"I'll get the food. We can eat it in here."


"I've seen you without your clothes on."

"Yeah, but not eating!"

"And this bothers you?"

"Well, it's just," she frowned. "I mean, my parents." She shook her head. "I so don't want to go there."

"Then put one of my shirts on. It's big enough that it should cover you."


"You're being very silly."

"I am not! I just, it's too weird. Nakedness is not for sitting around eating Chinese food."

He rolled on top of her, kissing her belly before nipping the underside of one of her breasts. "It is if you have plans that don't require clothes after you're done eating."

She skimmed his leg with her foot, arching against him as he slid lower on the bed. He took her with him, so her feet and legs hung off the edge of the bed. She wasn't that big that him being on top of her was too uncomfortable, but he didn't like to take chances. This was how he knew just how to be with her on the table earlier.

"Yeah, well, you can just take your shirt off me. Or not, like my having a shirt on has ever stopped you."

"You're not wearing a shirt now."

"You noticed?"

"I'm not sure I noticed anything but for quite some time now."

"Thank you," she said with a blush, sliding her feet to the back of his thighs to draw him to her. He took the hint, sliding inside of her.

"I think I should be thanking you."

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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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