***Part Nine***
Word Count: 2,712

It had been years, decades really, since he'd woken up from an actual night's sleep to someone beside him. It was most definitely something he could get used to. He knew at this juncture it was temporary. Soon her father would call and she would return to the safety net of her family. Adam would then go back to waiting for her to get to the point in life where she would feel more comfortable under his roof.

He rolled onto his side, regarding her while she still slept. She didn't usually sleep well when they were together. He wasn't sure if it was the unfamiliar situation of sleeping with someone or that she didn't fully trust him yet. Perhaps it was something else altogether. Today, though, she was sleeping well and it gave him a chance to observe her.

He still was not sure why he had approached her when and how he did. If he had been smart he would have walked away and returned when she was older, done with college or something. Except he realized now, he might not have been able to find her. He wouldn't put it past Claire's father to cut off contact even with the Petrelli's if he thought that would keep his family safe.

He'd appreciated her appearance upon first sight. He, of course, didn't have complete knowledge until recently but he was far from disappointed. He wasn't sure he could be considering her existence meant he didn't have to be alone.

He let the edge of the bowtie slide through his fingertips, still around her neck though it was now untied and rather disheveled looking. She'd been surprised his was a real bowtie. He couldn't imagine wearing one that clipped on or fastened so cheaply as some he'd been shown.

He was really more of a cravat man, but in his research of the phenomenon that was prom he'd found that wearing one could very possibly embarrass her. So, he'd gone with the bowtie. If he'd known they'd end up here together like this, he might have gone with the cravat, embarrassment be damned. The silk of the cravat would have been a far better tool to use against her skin then a bowtie. Alas, he was not psychic. He would save the cravat idea for another time.

Not that she didn't make a fetching sight straddling him with nothing but the bowtie on. It had been the first time she'd been on top of him. She was shy to a point and he understood that. There was a feeling of measuring up to his experience. He'd tried to coax her into taking the top once before but her reaction told him she was not ready. Why she was ready last night he did not know.

The side of his hand brushed over a nipple as he toyed with the end of the bowtie and she groaned softly. His body did what it was programmed to in such circumstances - react. How could he not? Whether she realized it or not, he would have been hard-pressed to handpick or design someone more appealing to him. She had a wit and tongue that matched his. He needed that. Her personality was admirable, he'd seen her perhaps downtrodden but never for very long and never without solidly valid reasons.

And best of all, she was receptive to him. She didn't shy away from his touch, even if she was not comfortable yet returning it with her own. She had yet to push him away, claim a headache, or to be uncomfortable with anything they'd done. That last part amazed him, considering each time was essentially her first and the discomfort that came with that. Not that they'd crossed into anything she'd consider odd or unsavory.

He leaned over and kissed the swell of her breast, working his way along the underside of it before finding her peak. He took it in between his teeth, circling it with his tongue as he bit her gently. His hand slid lower along her torso, splaying over her abdomen, tracing small circles along her skin there.

He brushed her breast with his cheek, about to pull away mindful of the fact he had not shaved yet until she groaned again. That was another thing he appreciated about her, some accompanying discomfort to her pleasure seemed to arouse her even more.

"Don't you sleep," she murmured sleepily, as he took her other nipple into his mouth. She made fists in the sheet beneath her, arching into his mouth. So, he knew she wasn't too put out by his attentions.

"Are you complaining?"

"Not at the moment," she whispered as he nipped at the underside of her breast. She let go of the sheet and reached for the bowtie, sliding it out from around her neck. "It's your turn to wear this."

"I didn't realize you wanted to see me in it."

She smiled then, reaching behind him to drape the bowtie around his own neck. "Why wouldn't I?"

"I don't know."

He shifted so that he could adjust the length and retie it. She reached for him then, placing her hand against his abdomen and sliding it lower. His hand shook ever so slightly when she stroked his tip with the pad of her thumb. She grew bolder, pushing the skin back so she could touch more of the head then taking hold of his shaft. She slid her hand lower to cup him, roll his sac with the palm of her hand before sliding it back up to where she was only touching his tip once again.

"You are certainly a fast learner."

She laughed softly, but he saw her cheeks bloom with the hint of color. "It's not that difficult to figure out."

"Ouch," he said, finishing with the bowtie.

"I'm sorry," she said as she pushed him so he was on his back. "Am I supposed to expound upon how complex the male anatomy is?"

"Yes, that would be helpful."

"It would?" she asked, kissing his chest and working her way lower. She found his inner thigh and bit him. It was his turn to give a pleasurable sound as she used her hand and slid his shaft against her cheek, chin, neck and shifting so even her breasts brushed against him.

"Tease," he murmured.

"I'm not sure that's helping your cause."

She pursed her lips and blew along the head and he couldn't help but groan. The cool puff of air felt too good not to react.

"Would please work?" he asked. She smiled almost coyly at him, as if she didn't know what she'd just done.

She kissed the tip, working lower to the base with closed mouth kisses the entire length of him. She kissed his sac and then there was her tongue, sliding a path from base to top, swirling the head.

"What exactly do you want me to do?"

"Pretty much what you're doing is just fine."

"So," she said, getting a look in her eye that he found incredibly arousing just then. "If I finally wanted to do this," she continued, taking him into her mouth. "You wouldn't want me to?"

"I don't think I uttered anything even close to that."

She giggled.

Her friends drove him mad with their giggling, hers didn't bother him. He wasn't sure what that meant, especially as her giggles sounded sexy to him, too.

"You sure?"

He cleared his throat. "Quite positive."

She not only didn't question him again, but she didn't speak for quite some time. He'd assumed like before she'd stop at kissing and licking him. She hadn't actually taken him into her mouth before. True to his word, he'd never pushed the subject. It didn't make it any less frustrating, but he understood this was new to her.

For a beginner she was quite adept. Perhaps there was some truth to her lack of complexity to the male anatomy statement of earlier. Whatever it was, he was glad to be on the receiving end of her attention.

He'd come with her on top of him again and following that had shown her the pleasure of showering together. While he made coffee she'd found some bagels in the freezer and promptly removed them. It would be a while before they thawed and nothing else seemed to appeal to her, so he suggested a tour of the house and property.

He'd bought it years ago. He'd received offers over the years for the land he owned. He didn't sell it and never would. Subdivisions full of cookie-cutter houses had been erected around him, leaving him feeling very much like a lone wolf out here. An area where years before there was nothing, which is what had attracted him to it. Now it was just a sprawling area of suburbanization and industrial progress.

"They must hate you."


"Land developers."

"Possibly. I doubt they give me much thought."

"You're stopping them from gobbling it all up."

He chuckled. "I am at that."

"I'm glad."

"Is that a compliment, Miss Bennet?"

"I think it is," she said with a smile.

The property really wasn't that vast, he could see the newly built houses from his yard where once upon a time there'd been nothing but arid desert and sand. His trees had been the only ones there. That was no longer the case. His, however, were larger as they'd had years to grow and make his property into the fortress of privacy he craved. It would, hopefully, protect Claire as well, yet allowing her to spend time outside so she did not come to feel like his prisoner. That was the last thing he wanted.

"You're missing a pool."

"If I lived here regularly perhaps, but at the time I came by the land they weren't the fad."

"I guess not."

"You'd like a pool?"


He smiled at her enthusiasm.

"You'd use it often?"

"Only every day I could."

"And where would you be living with access to a pool every day you could?"

"I don't know." She scrunched her nose a little and tossed her hair back. "I can't say California thrills me and I miss Texas, but I'm not sure I could go back there."

"Probably not."

"Arizona? Florida? New Mexico?" She shrugged. "I really don't know. Why?"

"Just curious."

"You're not like going to go out and buy a house with a pool are you?"

"Not tomorrow, no, but at some point I will have to make adjustments for your being a presence in my life."

"You're a planner, aren't you?"

"I have to be."

"I suppose. Will I get to be like that?"

"I do not know."

"I'm not now."

"You're also not just young but adjusting to what you've learned."

"What if my dad never calls back?"

"Then we adjust our plan or come up with a new one."

"I'd stay with you?"

"Unless there is someone you'd prefer to stay with."

"Wouldn't that just play right into your hand?"

"I'm sorry?"

She shrugged. "Nothing, you were quick to point out West, but you have something to gain by my family being out of the picture as well."

"Claire," he said, stopping by the back door to look at her. "Don't be ridiculous. I've done some underhanded and questionable things in my lifetime."

"Like kill people."

He sighed heavily. "I would actually lose more ridding you of your family than gain it."


"Because you would miss them, and despite the fact it's been years since I've had anyone to care about losing I do - however vaguely - remember what it feels like. And I would much rather you know their demise came about from old age than my hand or something underhanded."

"So, if I wanted to go stay with Peter or Nathan?"

"Then I'd take you to them. I'm not going to force you to stay by my side, Claire."

"But you think that's where I belong."

"When you're ready for that, yes, of course."

"Because you were promised a princess."

"No! Because we're alike, the same, why shouldn't we be together? Why shouldn't we watch the world go by in one another's company instead of alone? Why shouldn't I be able to take comfort in you, whatever form that it's in. And vice versa, of course."

He kissed her, she didn't kiss him back at first. She did eventually though. She always did. He'd thought the first time she'd held back he'd lost her for good. He couldn't blame Peter for telling her the truth about him, but he had certainly wished her uncle had chosen a better time to do it. Their relationship was too new and he'd been afraid he'd been stripped of the ultimate prize before even understanding just what it all meant.

"We can survive anything. We will survive anything. For all I know, it'll be up to us one day to ensure there is a human race."

Her eyes widened and he thought it was probably best to move onto another topic before she'd had too much time to focus on what he'd just said.

"So, if it's New York you wish to go to, then I will take you there. But you will not be rid of me."

"And if I want to stay with you?"

"I'm not sure what you're asking me? I would ensure you finish school and that your life is as normal as it can be."

He slid a fingertip to her chin, tilting her head so he could see her eyes.

"Your father will be fine, Claire. Your family will be unharmed and you will return to them soon."

"You don't know."

"No, I don't, but your father will not give up as long as he knows you're out here, looking for him. Counting on him. And in the event, slim though I feel it is, some harm does befall them, wherever you wish to go is where you'll go. My job is to keep you safe."

"Your job?"

"Your father asked it of me as well as the simple fact it's an innate part of me, so yes, it is my job. Wherever and whomever you feel safest with is up to you."

"Have you ever felt the need before?"

"To protect someone? To ensure they're safe?"


"Well, of course, but never has there been such a personal stake in it for me." He kissed her again and drew away. "Do you really think I'd be capable of that? Arranging to have your family disposed of, bring you here and make love to you so thoroughly?"

She looked away, and he thought maybe he wasn't out of the woods as far as losing her went quite yet.


"Thank you, that means more to me than you can possibly know or understand. I swore to you I would include your family in my protection. To think I'd betray that, betray a commitment I made to you…"

"I'm sorry."

"You are allowed to question things, Claire, to have doubts. As frustrating as it might be for me, I do understand it's natural. But please don't ever question my sincerity when I'm with you in that way."

"That'd be a lot easier if you hadn't been doing that for…"

"That's not fair. I did not know you existed or would exist. Even if I had, would you really expect me to stay celibate for hundreds of years?"

She rolled her eyes, but managed to give a, "no."

"Thank you. And I assure you I will do my best to call upon those experiences to ensure you never leave our bed dissatisfied."

"Just our bed?"

He chuckled then and took her into his arms, kissing her. "The couch, the table, the wall, the floor, the car. Wherever you deem it acceptable for me to have you."


"I'm not sure I would refuse you should you come up with an idea, no."


"The answer was acceptable."


"Was there really any doubt as to my response?"

There was that coy smile she was so good at giving that made him feel like she'd planned the whole thing to arrive at this end.

"Just checking."

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