Word Count: 2,302
She stopped in the middle of fixing her hair, that feeling there again. She was being watched. She'd felt it for a few days now and couldn't shake it. West told her she was crazy, over-reacting, and thinking things because of the newspaper article. That wasn't it. She felt it, the weight of not just someone's eyes but their very soul bearing down on her. It was frightening and a little exhilarating to think that someone would look at her like that.
West didn't. She'd thought for a while now that if she weren't special or different he probably wouldn't be interested in her. She'd be just another cheerleader, another ditzy blonde. She liked having someone to be able to be honest with. And, who was she kidding, the kissing that came with a boyfriend was nice. It just didn't make her feel like she was in love.
And wasn't she supposed to feel that about the first guy she got seriously involved with? Wasn't she supposed to be head-over-heels by now, deliriously looking into a future that she knew couldn't exist realistically?
She walked to her window, the feeling grew stronger but no matter where she looked she saw nothing. So, either whoever was watching her was stealthy as all get-out or she was hallucinating. She wasn't sure which she preferred. Someone watching her could mean her father was right, The Company was after them after all - and it was her fault.
They would have just taken her by now, though. Wouldn't they have? They wouldn't lurk around, spying on her. Would they? They knew what she looked like and everything. Taking one final pass of the area she could see outside her window and finding nothing, she returned to getting ready.
"What's wrong with you tonight, Claire?" West asked as they were leaving the diner he'd taken her to before the movie.
"Nothing," she said with a shrug, unwilling to hear him tell her yet again no one was watching her. "It's nothing."
"Do you have that feeling again?"
"No, you're right, it's nothing."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, I'm sure," she said, hoping she sounded convincing. She was to the point now, she just wished whoever or whatever it was would do what they came to do and be done with it.
"Ready to go get scared?" he asked, taking her hand.
"Sure," she said. She'd never seen Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal or Red Dragon until recently. West was a fan of them all, and was anxious to see Hannibal Rising. Since there wasn't really anything out she wanted to see that badly she'd agreed to go.
She saw him for the first time while waiting in line with West for popcorn and drinks. He was nice looking, but this was California. There were plenty of good-looking guys around. No, it was his eyes. Not just the look in them, but that she thought for the minute or two their eyes met that the look was exclusively for her.
She'd never looked in someone's eyes and claimed to see passion. She always thought people who said that were stupid. Passion wasn't displayed that way. She'd seen desire in West's eyes when they got hot and heavy with their kissing, but passion was a physical, tangible thing. At least she'd thought so until that moment.
Eyes the pale blue of a cold winter's day should not have been able to portray what they did. Heat. And that very passion she thought couldn't be conveyed that way. It showed what she knew. She felt herself blush, and that allowed her to pull her gaze from his. She didn't really want to, though.
"Are you sure you're all right?" West asked, handing her a soda.
"Yup. Let's go find out why Hannibal became a killer."
He smiled then. "All right," sounding happy she seemed excited about the movie.
The second time she saw him was outside the bathrooms. She knew without a doubt he was waiting for her, though he didn't do or say anything to indicate that was true.
She saw him for the third time in the actual theatre. What were the odds of all the movies showing in the multiplex he'd be seeing the same movie she was? And alone. What was up with that? He was too nice looking not to have a date.
She couldn't help but stare as he took a seat a few rows in front of them, just far enough away for him to be in her line of vision without being obvious about it. Or that's what she thought he was doing anyway.
West leaned in. "It's rude to stare at another guy when you're on a date with your boyfriend," he whispered.
He nodded his head in the direction of the blond who seemed oblivious to Claire watching him. She knew that wasn't the case, though. "Especially when the guy looks nothing like the guy you're currently with."
"I don't know what you're talking about," she whispered, sounding defensive to her own ears.
"You were looking at him by the concessions, too."
She shrugged. "I'm not dead," she said simply.
"Do you know him or something?"
"No, I don't know," she said, because saying she didn't know him seemed wrong. She wasn't sure how she knew it, or why she even thought it, but she was pretty sure this man was behind the feeling she'd had the past few days. She didn't say that to West, though. He'd probably confront the guy and scare him off. Claire didn't want him scared off and she didn't want someone else finding out what he wanted with her. She wanted to do that herself.
"You aren't going to invite me in?"
"My dad will be…"
"Right," West said, sounding defeated. There was no easy way around who her father was, what he'd done during his time with The Company. Things had been complicated between them since he'd found out the man with the horn-rimmed glasses was none other than his girlfriend's father. How ironic he thought she was a plant when her father likely thought the same thing. Tonight was the first night they'd actually gone on a date since then.
He kissed her good night and she watched him walk down the street toward his house until he rounded the corner and she couldn't see him anymore.
She knew he was close by. He, whoever he was, had an energy to him that seemed to connect right to her. She didn't get the feeling that she was threatened or in danger. She waited a minute, wondering if he would finally show himself. When he didn't she shut the door and went inside.
"How was your date?"
"It was fine," she said, grabbing a glass of water. "I'm going to be up for a little while, see what's on HBO."
"Your boyfriend isn't coming back, is he?"
"No, Dad, he went home."
"All right. I don't like the idea of him skulking around."
"He's not skulking." At least West wasn't. Someone was, and she hoped when everyone else was asleep she could find out why.
Once she was sure everyone was asleep she went outside. She didn't have to walk far or long before she saw him. She'd been right, it was the guy from the movies. He closed the distance between them, which was good because she found herself rooted to the spot on her front lawn just then.
He was older than her, not by much, but he carried himself with a grace and presence that showed experience and wisdom. He kind of reminded her of one of those movie endings where the hero walks out from the fog-filled night larger than life, mission accomplished, bad guys defeated, the world - complete with girl - saved. Where that thought came from she didn't know.
The passion she'd seen earlier wasn't there right now. There was an emptiness in his pale blue eyes that made her sad. It was as if he knew too much, hurt too much. She saw a glimmer of hope in them, though, and knew for whatever reason the glimmer was directed at her.
She was his hope.
"Who are you?" she asked, voice hushed so she wouldn't wake anyone up.
"My name is Adam," he said simply, as if she should have already known.
His voice sounded somewhat regal. Great, just what she needed, someone following her who was full of himself. Even if he was cute enough to pull off being full of himself. She'd had her experience with the Brody's of the world and wasn't going there again.
"Why are you watching me?"
"How did you know?"
"I don't know, I just did. I felt you. So, why are you?"
"Peter told me about you."
"Wrong answer. Peter is dead."
"No, Miss Butler, he is not. I saw him in Montreal, very much alive and embarking on a return to New York City to be reunited with his family."
"Nathan didn't tell me."
"Perhaps they're getting reunited. Give it time, he spoke of you fondly."
"Yes, you saved his life."
"You mean he didn't explode because he could heal? I wondered about that."
"That, yes, but your healing powers helped him regain his memory."
She wondered if she could do that, too? Had the Haitian erased any of her memories in the past? Could she regain them? That was a thought for another time and place.
"Oh," she said. "Who are you?"
He smiled. "I already told you."
"You told me your name, that doesn't tell me who you are."
"You are the first like me I've crossed paths with."
"Like you? But Peter's special?"
"But you heal as I do."
"Really?" she asked. "I didn't know…"
"I suspected, I've been around long enough that I realized there had to be more than one like me. I've waited generations, though, to actually cross paths with one."
"I suppose now is the time to mention I saved Peter's brother's life as well."
This was too weird.
"My blood. Your blood, too, I imagine, has curative qualities to it."
"Oh," she said. "How do you know all of this stuff?"
He chuckled, but it sounded forced. A little bitter actually. "I've had years to experiment."
"You're not that old."
"You really have no idea?"
"What you can do. What you are."
"No, I don't. I know I regrow things."
"How did you find that out?"
"I cut off my toe."
"That's one way to go about it."
"How did you find out?"
"That I regenerate you mean?"
"I was shot in the chest with arrows."
"I'll bet that was weird."
"To say the least."
"So, why come find me? I barely know Peter. I mean, I know him, but I can't imagine him telling you anything that would send you here from Montreal."
"How wrong you are. Do you have any idea what it's like to watch the people you love, care for, consider family die. Repeatedly. Again and again. Over and over. It's like a nightmare that you can't wake up from. Soon, you decide to go it alone, because making friends and losing them is far too painful."
"What are you talking about?"
"We cannot die, Miss Butler. We're, for lack of a better word, immortal."
His lips curved up into a smile. This seemed genuine. "Yes, as you say, way."
"I cannot. I can tell you the things I've seen, experienced, partook in. Wars, battles, sieges. Some bloody, some more a battle of words or wits. I've seen electricity come into being. And believe it or not, there were people who did not think it would succeed. I've seen the Pony Express get outclassed by the telegraph system, which of course was replaced by the telephone. I know what it means to be able to get into an airplane and be in California from Montreal in a matter of hours."
"I've traveled the globe. I've traveled on ships before they had anything to power them beyond Mother Nature. I've fought hand-to-hand and on horseback. I saw the Industrial Revolution. Y2K wasn't the first new century I've welcomed in."
"So, I'm going to do that, too?"
"Yes, I believe so anyway."
"I'm going to look like this forever?"
"I believe you will continue to age, as I did, for a short while. But then, yes, your body will reach a point where it will stop. Your cells will constantly regenerate so that you appear a certain age indefinitely."
"Just how old are you?"
"I'm not sure you're ready for that bit of information yet."
"Oh, we'll have plenty of time for me to answer all of your questions."
"How do you figure?"
He turned then and walked away.
"Hey!" She went after him, grabbing onto his shirtsleeve. "Where are you going?"
"I think we're done for tonight."
"Done? You drop this information on me and walk away?"
"For now. I'll leave you to process the information I've given you. I'll be back," he glanced at her over his shoulder then. And he smiled. For the briefest of moments she saw the passion she'd seen earlier and knew without a doubt it was directed at her. "I guarantee that."
She grabbed onto his wrist tighter. "When?"
"Soon. I've laid a lot on you. Get some rest, you'll need it."
"That is so unfair!"
"I've learned that it's best to do things in stages."
"And this was stage one?"
"How many more stages are there?"
"Truthfully, I do not know. I will be sure to tell you when I'm done. Good night, Miss Butler."
Word Count: 3,333
It didn't take him long to find her again. She wasn't sure what she expected, but the next day wasn't it. Claire was in her room doing her homework after church, one of those blending-in things the Butler's did every Sunday.
"Claire," her dad called up.
"There's someone here to see you."
"Be right down."
Assuming it was West she took a minute to brush her hair and put some lip gloss on before making her way downstairs. As a last thought, she grabbed her sweater in case he wanted to go outside. Things were tense between West and her father, to say the least.
She stopped short when she saw Adam sitting on her mother's couch. Straight and proud, hands at his knees he sat taking in his surroundings. He didn't look uncomfortable exactly, but didn't appear to be enjoying himself either. She didn't know how long he'd been alive, but it was pretty clear he didn't exactly belong in this time and place.
Would she notice that if she didn't know? Did her father know? Suspect? He stood as soon as he saw her and she couldn't help but smile.
"Hi," she said.
"I wasn't expecting you," she said, glancing at her dad. He wasn't sitting in the living room, looking as if he was going to kill Adam. That was good. He was leaning in the doorway, watching them intently.
"You should introduce me to your friend."
"Uh, yeah, Dad this is Adam."
"Adam," her dad said, offering him his hand. Adam took it.
"Nice to meet you, sir."
"How did you two meet?"
"At the library," Claire said quickly. It was the only thing she could come up with that sounded both reasonable and believable.
Claire shrugged, read in his eyes that her dad didn't totally believe her. Smart man, considering she was lying through her teeth.
"I just wondered if you felt like a walk."
"Sure," she glanced at her dad. "Is that okay?"
"I suppose. Don't be gone long."
"I won't, I still have homework."
"I wasn't expecting you so soon," she said once they were outside.
"You find that something you've been searching for what seems like an eternity for, Miss Butler, you don't let it get away."
"You've been searching for me for an eternity?"
"Now that I know you exist, it does feel that way. I'd lost hope."
He chuckled, reaching for her. He wrapped some of her hair around one of his fingertips. "Claire… May I call you Claire?"
"Sure… Is there a reason you shouldn't?"
"Thank you, old habits are hard to break."
"I suppose they would be."
He touched her cheek then, hesitantly almost as if he didn't believe she was real.
"I've finally found my princess."
"I'm not a princess. And if you hadn't noticed I'm dating someone. You can't just walk up to someone and …"
"That boy you went to the film with? And I'm not just walking up to someone. I'm saying it to you."
"You can't do that!"
"I can and I did. You don't get it. I've spent centuries believing I was the only one, doomed to walk this earth alone. No boy is going to stand in my way of having that dream, the dream of no longer needing to walk alone, come true."
"I'm not the answer to your dreams. You're talking centuries. Centuries? Do you hear yourself. I'm just a girl. I'm still in high school, a cheerleader, who lies to her dad, and goes out on dates. With boys who don't lay this type of deep stuff on me. At least not when I've just met them."
"And what will you feel sixty years from now when he's old and dying? His mind so riddled with Alzheimer's that he no longer remembers you? Believes maybe you're a grandchild because you look the same as you do now? Or close to it. How will you explain to your grandchildren that they're growing older and dying but you're not? How will you survive watching everyone around you die again and again and again, leaving you constantly alone and starting over?"
"I don't know."
He drew her to him, pressing his forehead against hers. He felt normal, like anyone else. There was nothing about him physically that betrayed the fact he was years and years old. She rested her hand against his chest and felt his heart beat under her fingertips. Further proof that he was a living, breathing man.
"I've been doing it, but I assure you it's neither fun nor easy. I have found you; I will not let you go without a fight. And if you think I cannot win, you are quite wrong. If I set my mind to obtaining something, I succeed."
"I get that about you."
"Then we're clear."
"No, we're not so much with the being clear. I'm not something you can obtain."
"You have a heart I can win. And I have quite a few lifetimes to succeed at doing that."
"So, it really doesn't matter who I am, you just want me so you don't have to be alone anymore."
"It does matter. Once he'd gotten his memories back, Peter spoke highly of you and I knew I had to see for myself that you might be who I've been looking for."
"And if I was already married?"
"Then I would have to wait until that wasn't the case."
"I knew it!" West's voice startled Claire. She'd been so caught up in talking with someone who wasn't just special but like her she hadn't noticed him. Adam had answers to her questions. Adam apparently was not startled, because he turned his back to her as if protecting her.
"You're seeing this guy behind my back, aren't you? Why else would he show up at the same movie we did by himself?"
"No, West, it's not like that."
"He had his hand on you!"
"We were just talking."
"You said you didn't know him."
"You are calling her a liar as well as a cheat?" Adam glanced at her over his shoulder. "And you are willing to tolerate that?"
"Well, it does kind of look like I might be doing both."
He scoffed and turned his attention back to West. "She speaks the truth. We had not met before last evening and we were, in fact, just talking."
"Why should I believe you?"
"Do as you like, but to do otherwise is not only insulting to Miss Butler but to me as well. I have no reason to lie to you."
"You were about to kiss her."
"I cannot deny the thought crossed my mind."
Claire grabbed his wrist and stood on her tiptoes. "You're not helping," she whispered.
"I'm not here to help him keep you, Claire."
"Keep me?" Claire asked.
"Who is this guy, Claire?"
"He's like me."
"Like you?" His eyes widened. "And you think that means you're what? Entitled to Claire?"
"Something like that."
It was Claire's turn to step in front of Adam. The last thing any of them needed was a scene on the street where anyone could see them.
"It's more complicated than that, West."
"Well, explain it to me. I'm not dumb."
"I'm not saying you are. I'm still trying to understand it myself. He's still explaining things to me."
"Yeah, I can tell you exactly what he wants to explain to you."
"You don't need to be crude," Adam said from behind her. She felt him stiffen, as if he was getting ready to defend himself. Or maybe it was her he was getting ready to defend. She wasn't sure which would be more necessary for him. She wasn't sure why the idea of him defending her made her tingle down to her toes either. "I have not acted untoward in the least."
"Untoward? Who in the hell says that?"
"I kind of like the way he talks," Claire admitted.
"You do?" Adam asked.
"Yeah, it sounds all old-fashioned-like. It's kind of nice."
"Just kind of?"
She realized suddenly West was gone. He'd disappeared just like that, probably flew off somewhere. She should probably be more concerned then she was.
"I guess that takes care of the dating someone aspect of the problem," Adam said, sounding mighty pleased with himself.
"You can't possibly think…"
"You're like forever older than me." She regarded him. He started walking again, so she fell into step with him. "Just how much older than me are you?"
"It won't matter in the end. Eventually, you'll be in the same position but you won't have to do it alone. You won't feel the despair I have felt."
"Yes," he said, sounding sad then.
"You went through that?"
"I've watched my nieces and nephews children's children's children grow old and die. Eventually, you distance yourself, quit keeping track of who's related to you and who isn't."
"And you haven't met anyone else like you? Like us?"
"No. I've met people who can do things similar to what we do, but it's not the same."
"What do you want from me exactly?"
His eyes drifted to her mouth and she stepped away.
"You realize I'm only seventeen, right? I've said that? I'm still in high school?"
"If my dad found out who you really are…"
"You'd have to tell him."
"My dad is pretty resourceful."
"And you think your father would like the idea of you living your existence alone?"
"I think my father wouldn't want to think of me being alive any longer than I'm supposed to be."
"You're supposed to be alive for a very, very long time, Claire."
"How do I know you're telling the truth? You've offered me nothing."
"I have no tangible proof, Claire. I have my word as a gentleman, nothing more. I have my memories, facts that history books cannot reveal. You, however, would not know if I was being truthful because of the very fact they aren't found in the books you learn from."
"You still haven't told me what you want from me?"
"You interrupted me with a reminder of your age and the fact you have not yet reached the age of majority."
"I won't interrupt again."
"I want the princess promised to me."
"You were promised a princess?"
"Yes," he said.
"And you didn't get her?"
"No, as it turned out it was not me meant to gain the princess' favor but someone posing as me."
"It's a confusing tale, and I admit, time has dulled the memory some. But despite losing her, if she was ever mine to begin with, as time passed and I did not age, as I did not get sick and die like so many comrades-in-arms did," he shrugged and looked for a moment like he was relieving all of those deaths. "I began to hold onto hope that maybe a princess wasn't too farfetched for a man like me. Shouldn't I, if I'm to live forever, have someone to share that fate with?"
How could she disagree with that? "I'm sure it's been lonely. Do you make friends?"
"I make them, but I keep my distance."
"How," she stopped, realizing it was really none of her business.
He took her hand and squeezed it. "How what?"
"Nothing, it's nothing I should ask."
"There are no secrets I wish to keep from you, Claire. I don't think you get it. I will win you over."
"And, you're going to what? Stay in California until I give in?"
"If that's what it takes."
"That sounds a little crazy."
"You try living close to four hundred years with no one and then come tell me what crazy is."
"Did you just say four hundred years?"
"Yes," he said without blinking.
"I," she bit her lower lip. "Wow. And that's supposed to make me feel better? Talk about feeling stupid and inadequate. I'll never have the experience you have."
"No, but I have been incapacitated for three decades, there are things I'm sure you can teach me. Now back to your unasked question."
"How have you survived? Do you work?"
"Are you asking if I'm destitute?"
"That's one way of putting it."
"No, far from it. I've amassed a fair amount over the years. I do work from time to time, until I feel I need to move somewhere new."
"You do that often?"
"I did, yes. People grow suspicious after a while when you don't age."
"I guess they would. Where have you been the past thirty years?"
"In captivity. I was duped," he snorted. "I believed they had a cure for me, something that would take away my powers, allow me to grow old and finally die."
"You wanted it that badly?"
"I'd lived a long time, I was ready."
"What changed your mind?"
"Watching Peter get duped as I did, realizing I was not the only one, and not wanting to see him there thirty years from now believing the cure would be made available tomorrow. And then when he told me of you it all fell into place."
"Why not just have someone pierce your brain?"
"What?" He stopped walking and turned to face her.
"That will kill you."
"You know this how?"
"It's happened to me. Peter, too."
He reached for her other hand, brought them to his mouth, and kissed the back of each. "You died?"
"The examiner pulled the branch from my head and I came back."
"Amazing. I never."
"You're lucky. It's kind of freaky waking up on an autopsy table with your chest cut open."
"I can imagine it would be." He started walking again. "I have a question for you."
"That seems fair since I'm full of them for you."
"Peter indicated your last name was Bennet."
"But here you go by Butler?"
"We're in hiding. My father used to work for this place, The Company."
"I know them well, it's their hospitality I've been enjoying for thirty years."
"Oh," she said softly. "Well, then you know about them. He's gone against them, taken me with him when they want me."
"Yes, they are very interested in what we can do."
"Was it bad?"
He shrugged. "Define bad?"
"I suppose it's hard to compartmentalize when you've been through so much."
"So, this young man. He knows?"
"He can fly."
"Ah. And that holds appeal to you."
"Not having to lie every minute of every day appeals to me, yes."
"You have many minutes and many days ahead of you."
"So you say."
"You don't believe me?"
"I'm not sure what I believe."
"And yet, you're walking with me, allowing me to hold your hand. In times past we'd be as good as engaged."
"It's a good thing we're not in times past!" She glanced at him then. "Do you miss it?"
"Any of it?"
"Some of it. Times were simpler and yet they weren't. People died from the silliest things. It took forever to get places. Means of communication were limited. And the women were not as charming."
"You are going to make me compliment you?"
"If it'll work."
"It apparently does. As you."
"I find it hard to believe that in four hundred years you haven't met anyone charming until me. Considering, especially, I'm not trying at all to be charming."
"Perhaps I was ahead of my time, but I found most women I met quite dull. There were exceptions, of course, but then I felt guilty for thinking of tying them to me. And it's the fact that you are willing to speak your mind that holds a special charm for me."
"Any other questions?"
"Does my dad know?"
"About you? About my lifespan?"
"I do not know what your father knows. I am fairly certain he would have no knowledge of me."
"So, I only have to worry about him thinking that a man in his twenties is interested in me?"
"As opposed to one much older? Yes."
"He's been on this big kick lately about my dating."
"I don't know. He's been very against it for some reason."
"Perhaps, he's just being a father."
Claire shook her head. "I don't think so, there's more to it then that. He won't tell me, though, so I have no idea."
"You could try asking him."
"That would be too logical," she said with a laugh. "So, how does this work?"
"Us. You and me. You have this thing planned out in your head where we apparently end up together. How do we get to that point?"
"Our courtship you mean?"
"I believe it's already begun."
"You understand I'm not going to be coerced into doing things."
"Yeah, you know, that I'm not ready for."
"I'm not a monster, Claire."
"I didn't say you are, but you have this life plan in mind. I don't want you getting ahead of yourself or forgetting we're not at the end of it yet."
"Hopefully, there will never be an end."
"That sounds kind of…"
"I am sorry to be the bearer of such news, Claire, but the facts are what they are."
"So, thirty years, huh?"
"I've seen them used, but am clueless."
"I'm not sure what that is."
"That either. See, there are things you can show me."
"You're not just saying that to make me feel better?"
"One last question," she said, realizing they were back in front of her house.
"Why do I feel like I'm giving into this whole concept too easily?"
"I do not know. I suspect it's not going to be so easy all of the time."
"Is that your way of implying you think I'm going to be difficult?"
"Can I abstain from answering that question?"
"You said you had nothing to hide from me."
"My words come back to haunt me so soon!"
She smiled. "Sorry."
"Can I call on you again?"
"Sure. Is there a way or a place for me to get a hold of you?"
"Do you want to?"
"You never know when it might come in handy."
He gave her the name of a nice but not extravagant hotel. "I'm staying there for now, but it seems I should look for more permanent accommodations."
"Were you expecting me to leave with you?"
"The thought did cross my mind. A hundred years ago you'd be considered odd for being unmarried at your age."
"That's a scary thought and I'm very glad I wasn't around one hundred years ago."
"As am I, Claire."
"Thanks for the walk and for the answers."
"Stage two complete then, I guess. Should I say good bye to your father?"
"It's probably best you don't."
"If you say so, I don't need him thinking I'm rude since I plan on spending a good deal of time with his daughter."
"Yeah, well, I'll worry about making sure he doesn't think you're rude."
"You think that's the last thing I need to be worried about?"
"Something like that, yeah."
"I consider myself forewarned then and shall be on my best behavior."
"Do you drive?"
"It suddenly occurred to me."
"Yes, of course, cars have been around for quite some time. A little different today than what I'm accustomed to, but I adjusted."
"Curiosity means you're interested, Claire, and I am very relieved that is the case."
"And if I'd dismissed you?"
"As I said, I would have lifetimes to try and win you over. Eventually, I would succeed."
"You haven't succeeded yet."
"Oh, I realize that, Miss Butler," he said, giving a smirk. "I have my work cut out for me. Luckily, I am up for the task and do not give up easily."
Word Count: 1,029
Not surprisingly, West wasn't waiting for her the next morning where they usually met before going to school. She almost didn't go, expecting he was mad at her. Not that she could blame him. It really did look bad what he'd walked in on.
"HI," she said softly when she finally saw him at his locker in between classes. "You didn't show up this morning."
"I thought you might have had another way to get to school."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"You know what it means, Claire."
"No, I don't."
"I'm not the one doing anything wrong."
"I'm not either."
"You were with another guy, Claire," he said, slamming his locker shut.
"Oh, God, please don't lay this on me today. I was talking to a guy. That's all it was."
"Pretty closely. And not looking too upset about it either."
"He was telling me something private."
"I didn't see anyone standing near you to overhear him, Claire. You were in the middle of a sidewalk not a crowded restaurant. And if you just met him why does he need to tell you private things?"
"Things that might affect me."
"I can't say."
"Can't? Or won't?"
She shrugged. "Won't I guess? Until I know more."
"I don't get you. I find out that your dad is the person who abducted me. And you knew!"
"What was I supposed to say? Oh, by the way, the guy you were talking about. The one you remember. That's my dad. But, I still like you."
"It just makes me wonder what else you're hiding."
"I'm not hiding anything else!"
"That'd be a lot easier to believe if this guy didn't just suddenly appear, looking at you like that."
"And you were looking at him, too!"
"I swear I didn't know who he was."
"I'm beginning to think I was wrong about you, that you're no different than anyone else."
"West, please. I don't know what else you want me to say."
"I should have known when you were really into being a cheerleader. It was more than just a cover story to come out with me."
"That is so not fair! Just because I'm a cheerleader does not mean I'm like them."
"But you are. Using me until someone better came along. He has a better power, evidently what I can do is too boring for you. You need someone who can lop his arm off and regrow it to excite you."
"It's not that at all. I just had no idea there was anyone else like me out there. I should have I guess, because I know someone else like you."
"Well, now you have an idea and you can find out all you want about it."
"Are you breaking up with me? Because I was talking to another guy? That's crazy!"
"Then I guess I'm crazy. I've been willing to let you get used to accepting who and what you are. I've been patient while you admitted you wanted to see me. I can't keep waiting for you, Claire."
"Are you going to tell…"
"Your secret is safe, Claire. And if you decide you're ready, really ready you know where to find me. I just can't deal with you being so unsure all of the time."
"I don't get it. I really don't. All of this because I talked to someone else."
"That just topped it off for me. It was the whole reaction to what we did. You want to do things, want to cut loose but you do and you feel guilty."
"Well, yeah, because I don't want to get caught."
"And then you turn it around as if I somehow forced you to do something."
"Because I told you no to begin with." It was like talking to a brick wall! "If you recall I didn't want to go out with you! You told me to give you one date. I did, and I had fun. I admit that. But you seem like you don't care if I get caught sometimes."
"And, that's where we're different, because I figure they're going to catch me again at some point so I may as well enjoy myself while I'm free."
"And I'd rather be free for as long as possible. And if that means staying off the radar then that's what I have to do."
"Then it seems we have our decision. We're too different, Claire. Maybe your like-you guy can be discreet enough for you."
"Don't even deny it. Because in a couple of weeks when I see him hanging out at your house I don't want you to feel bad about it or like you have to hide something else from me."
"You are unbelievable!"
"So I'm told."
"Can we at least be friends?"
"Sure, why not. Just don't count on me to rescue you when he's hurt you."
She didn't think she had to worry about that. Somehow she imagined if Adam got his way and she got involved with him he would treat her very much like the princess he believed he was entitled to. Why did she think that? Because he wouldn't want to lose her and risk having to live alone any longer.
"Your silence tells me you're thinking about whether that's even possible. So, there it is. You want my blessing or something? Go out with him. Have a blast. Have dismemberment dates for all I care."
"I'm sorry, West."
"Don't be sorry, Claire. If you're going to break a guy's heart at least be honest about it. You're not sorry or you wouldn't be doing it."
"I'm not the one breaking up."
"I'm just doing it first. It's the right thing to do."
Tears formed in her eyes. This so wasn't the way she saw this going. She wasn't sure what she wanted or expected to happen. She wanted her normal life until she had to deal with the things Adam had told her coming true. He walked away then. She turned to face his locker, hiding her face so that no one would see she was crying. She would never live that down.
Word Count: 2,152
Luckily, she didn't have to lie to her father about where she was spending her time lately. She really, truly spent a good portion of the last few weeks at the library with Adam. He'd even checked a couple of times.
She wasn't a history buff, anything prior to the Civil War went way over her head. And the Civil War was really pushing it. But to page through encyclopedias and books and have pointed out to her that he was at this place or that when something happened. Well, it was kind of cool. And, okay, impressive. She imagined that was part of why he was doing it. The other part was that he seemed genuinely thrilled to finally be able to tell someone all he'd seen, done, and been through.
He was giving her a lot more credit than she probably deserved, assuming she wouldn't think he was crazy. The thing was, he seem perfectly sane. Not only that, but he knew far too many details to be making things up.
And, well, as much as she didn't want to think about it, what he had been telling her over the past couple of weeks made sense. If she healed, regenerated wouldn't her body stop her from aging?
He hadn't been so much with the talking of eternity and the future, which was a relief. She wasn't sure she could handle that repeatedly. She was still trying to process everything he'd told her to begin with, adding more would put her on overload. Although, there were things she wondered about sometimes. Was he not talking about it because she was a disappointment? That would be kind of depressing.
He had come to pick her up tonight, but her mom had invited him to stay for dinner. And so they stayed at the house. Her dad was at a conference - yeah right - so it was just her mom and Lyle. It wasn't so bad, even though she was sure he probably thought they were the insane ones. Mr. Muggles was, of course, right there at the table with them. But he'd seemed genuinely happy about her mother's invitation and to enjoy the meal.
And now he was sitting at the table, reading one of her mom's books while she did her homework. She regarded him, end of her pen between her lips. He was distracting like this at times. Through no fault of his own. He didn't do anything to interfere with her studying. She just allowed herself to think about him, everything he'd told her; and the fact he was nice to look at. Really, if she was to spend a bunch of time with someone she could do worse. And that was immensely shallow!
"Yes," he said dryly, eyes meeting hers.
"This has to be incredibly boring for you."
"I can read here just as easily as I can at my place."
"Yes, because my mother's choice in reading has to be right up your alley."
"This isn't too bad. A little flowery," he said, holding it up so she could see it.
"You're right, that isn't so bad," she admitted. She'd read it last summer, and it was pretty good. "I'm sorry my dad doesn't have anything to read."
"It's all right, I could watch television if I wanted to."
"And you want to do this for the rest of your life?"
"Do what exactly?" he asked, closing the book after marking his page.
"Live like this. I mean, you're talking forever. That's a long time. You're liable to get bored with me."
"Or you of me?" He moved then, taking the chair beside her instead of across from her.
"First of all, you won't eternally be in high school. Second, there is no rule or law that says we have to spend every waking moment together. Time apart would be called for once in a while and probably very necessary I imagine. This isn't fifty years we're talking about."
"But knowing that there is one person to return to will make those times alone seem…Less lonely."
"And during these times away from one another, we what? Live with other people? Get married? Have families? Establish roots? Go on as if we're normal until we can't fit in?"
"I don't think I was suggesting that much time apart, but those things you mention would be things we'd have to deal with as they come up." He placed his hand next to hers, close enough that the edge of his hand touched hers but nothing more. "And there is no reason for us to be stationary for very long. We can travel, see the world, live where we want to for as long as we want to, and when we're ready to move onto the next continent, country, state, city, or town - do so."
"You make it sound so simple."
"It is quite simple. And you forget that I've done this for a good long time."
"You realize people have problems staying married at all these days?"
"I've read that, yes. Those situations are quite different."
"Yeah, I guess so. I just can't get over it."
"Four hundred years of experience compared to my seventeen. I guess I worry that you're going to look at me one day like I'm a moron because I don't know what color the royal family of Tibet wore."
"You mean you don't know?"
She smiled. "No, I don't."
"Well then, you've really given me something to consider. To spend my time with someone who does not know such a commonplace fact is unfathomable."
He placed his hand over hers. He touched her like that sometimes, but hadn't tried anything else. Not even a kiss good night.
"You're being ridiculous."
"I am not. I'm being realistic. And another thing."
"You don't seem that in to me. Shouldn't that be there?"
"In to you?"
"Well, yeah, you haven't tried to kiss me or anything."
"I didn't realize you wanted me to."
"Well, that kind of goes with the whole dating thing."
He smiled then, taking her hand and bringing it to his mouth so he could kiss it. "It's been a while since I've done the dating thing. Not to mention we really haven't gone on a date. I did not want to scare you or lay any further expectations on you than I already have. I am, contrary to how I handled things initially, trying to go slow."
"So, you can tell me that you're here to claim me as yours forever and ever but you can't kiss me?"
"Do you like kissing, Claire?"
"Well, yeah," she said. "And what if, you know, you don't like me like that."
"I don't think that will be a problem." His eyes widened. "Perhaps you're afraid you won't like me like that?"
"Well, no…" she didn't really like admitting that. She was pretty confident that liking him that way wouldn't be a problem.
"I've laid a lot on you. I hadn't meant to really, not so quickly. I meant to get to know you and let you get to know me first. I saw you with that boy and then the way you looked at me."
"How did I look at you? West said something similar."
"As if you could really see me."
"Your eyes," she said softly.
"What about them?"
"They're very expressive."
"Eyes are wont to do that I've been told. They betray you even when you do your best to prevent them from doing so."
"Have yours betrayed you often?"
"Not for a good number of years, no. It's easy to do that when you allow yourself to feel nothing."
"That can't be easy either."
"You get to a point where you just prefer feeling numb to getting attached to things you know will go by the wayside." He released her hand, waving his in the air. "I had really hoped to avoid getting into conversations like this. At least for a while."
"It's a lot for you. As I said a moment ago, it wasn't my intention to bear my soul to you immediately upon meeting you. I guess feeling hope got to me. I don't want to burden you with talks of eternity or whether I'll find you dumb or grow tired of you."
"Aren't those things important?"
"As important as merely enjoying my time with you in the hopes that you will enjoy yours with me? No. I had hoped you'd come to me willingly, without knowing the facts. I don't have that luxury now, you know, so now I just have to hope that my charming personality makes you think it's worth your while."
"And if I said I need time?"
"I would be remiss in not granting you whatever you need. Is that your way of telling me you want me to leave?"
"I was just curious if you'd do it."
"If I must. I really am not here to force you into anything. I know it came out sounding as if I was."
"Yeah, it did."
"I hope in time you might see it from my perspective and realize why I was so forthcoming straightaway."
"It's hard to feel pressured when you say stuff like that."
"That's good to know, I'm trying not to pressure you. Anymore than I already have that is."
"I want to be what you need me to be."
"I only need you to be you, Claire, nothing else. I, on the other hand, need to aspire to be what you need. Considering I have little experience in this era I'm learning as I go."
"Except for the lack of kissing."
She blushed and lowered her eyes back to her book. "I didn't mean it like that."
"How did you mean it then?"
"You were just so matter of fact about everything and you haven't mentioned any of it since then. So, I just wondered."
"If, perhaps, it's all semantics to me and I don't find you attractive?"
"Four hundred years…"
"Ah, yes, there have been beautiful women in my time. Of all types."
"And mine is rather limited."
"And that bothers you?"
"Well, I can't help but let it a little, even though I'd never catch up with you."
"I've been trying to be more reserved, Claire, nothing more. It's that very experience, which you find overwhelming that makes me hold back on things like kissing you. You stated already that you are not ready for things. I do not want to appear to be the monster I claimed I am not in your eyes."
"In due time, when you haven't broached the subject I imagine we will cross the bridge of kissing and other common dating phenomenon." He drew his hand away then and returned to the seat across from her. "Speaking of dating, you have no school for a couple of days after tomorrow correct?"
"Right, tomorrow's Friday."
"Perhaps you'd like doing something beyond the library and dinner with your mother and brother."
"You mean like a date?"
"The thought had crossed my mind."
"I was beginning to wonder if you knew what a date was."
"I have an idea, yes. I was just waiting until it seemed like you were all right with that. And the former boyfriend wouldn't try and take my head off for being with you."
"He's seen you here."
"Oh, I know he has."
"And I don't think he'd succeed."
"No, but I'm not sure how you'd feel if I defended myself either."
She thought about that for a minute. West had no idea Adam had defended himself against worse people than him in the past.
"You're right, I'm not sure how I'd react. He doesn't mean anything bad, and I can't blame him for feeling hurt."
"I suppose you're right, I admit I haven't given him too much thought."
"Well, I see him every day."
"Understandable. I'm almost surprised he hasn't changed his mind."
She shrugged. It bothered her he hadn't changed his mind. Shouldn't he have some doubt about breaking up with her? If he really liked her he should, or so she thought.
"I have a game tomorrow night."
"You could come watch me cheer."
"In that outfit I've seen you wear?"
She tried not to smile. "Yes, that very one."
"I suppose that would be a nice way to spend an evening."
Now she did smile. "Then we could go out for pizza or something afterward."
"Just us? Or will there be others?"
"Well, I was thinking just us."
"If that's acceptable to you."
"I've spent time alone with you."
"Not like this."
"You said you wanted it to be a date."
"I'll let you decide then."
"You have no preference?"
"I'll take time with you which ever way I can get it, Claire."
Word Count: 2,679
"Hi," Claire said to the group by Adam on the bleachers after the game. She wasn't sure how or why Lyle and his friends decided to sit with Adam, but there they all were. Adam didn't look like he was having a terrible time, so her brother and his friends must have been behaving. Or at least not acting like immature idiots.
"I saw that screw-up by the way," Lyle said.
"Thanks a lot, Lyle."
"You're welcome a lot."
"Isn't it about curfew time for all of you?"
"Yeah, yeah. We're going." Lyle said, turning to wave at Adam.
"Obviously, you got to sit with my brother and his friends. I'm sorry. They can be annoying."
"He kind of sat with me. He's not so bad." He stood then, joining her on the floor. "Contrary to what he said, I did not notice you screw up."
"Thanks. Lyle's seen me practice the routines a million times, though."
"He's a lucky boy."
"He'd probably say different, because I make him watch me."
"Are you ready for pizza then?"
"Yes! Let me go change."
"You mean I don't get the pleasure of your company in that?"
"I suppose if you really want me to, but I brought nice clothes."
"You normally look nice."
"Thanks, but, you know, something that doesn't make me look like I'm in high school and way younger than you."
"Thank you," she said, relieved. She was glad he'd come since she'd asked, but she didn't want to be out in public with him looking like a kid.
She stopped and turned back to face him, a thought occurring to her. He arched a brow at her as she came back and stood close to him.
"When did you stop getting older?" she whispered.
"I don’t know I really didn't pay attention. There weren't mirrors available at every turn and I had other things on my mind at the time. Why do you ask?"
"Am I going to get to where I look older than you?"
He chuckled. "I do not know. I suppose it's possible, but doubtful. You've come into your abilities younger than I was, so I would imagine it will happen gradually but soon stop. I don't think I look much older than the day it first happened."
"So, I might look like this forever?"
"You could. Does that bother you?"
"Well, I don't like the idea of getting carded for the rest of my life. Or looking like I might be your sister or something."
"I don't look that much older than you."
"No, you don't. Just curious. I've never had anyone to ask these questions to before."
"I wish I could provide you with more concrete answers."
"Just knowing there are some answers is better than where I was a month ago."
"I'm glad I can provide something you need."
"I'll be right back."
"I eagerly await your return."
"Yeah right, but I'll pretend you really meant that while I'm gone."
He slid an arm around her waist, drawing her to him when they saw West in the restaurant. She didn't even know he really had any friends. One was a girl sitting next to him. Had he moved on already? Found someone else? She couldn't deny that bothered her.
"Would you rather we leave," he said softly.
"No, I'm not going to leave. You said you haven't had pizza in thirty years."
"It can wait until another time."
"I'm fine, Adam, really."
"Are you sure?"
"Because I have another idea."
"We can order the pizza and take it to go."
"I don't want to go home. Lyle will be there and his friends probably will be, too, and they'll want some. Or just be annoying."
He slid his hand along her jaw before letting it rest at her chin. "There is an alternative to your house."
He looked at her as if he couldn't believe she'd really asked that.
"Oh," she mouthed.
"Ah, she figured it out on her own."
"But we'd still be leaving."
"He'll never know we weren't planning to leave anyway after ordering the pizza."
She tugged on her lower lip. "I am curious about where you live. And what it looks like."
"Well, there you go."
"Do you have artifacts, paintings, and all sorts of really cool stuff?"
"No," he said with a soft laugh. "It's quite modern and rather basic to be honest. Decorating is not exactly my forte. I do have some things, however, you might enjoy but they are not in California."
"I could help you."
"At the time I came by it, I wasn't sure you were going to be talking to me let alone setting foot in my home."
"I suppose not."
"So, you want to do that then?"
"I can't avoid him for the rest of high school."
"No, but you can for tonight when we're out for the first time without a library book to be seen."
"Oh, I'm sure someone here has one."
"Cute, but that is not what I meant and you know it."
"If going back to my place bothers you we don't have to. I realize that it's not what you had in mind for tonight. And you have other friends here I assume," he said with a glance at the table of cheerleaders who were waving Claire over.
"No, it's fine. I guess we can sit with them while we wait for the pizza."
"Sounds splendid," he said. He didn't sound as though the idea was that splendid at all.
"Listen… This is who I am. I'm a cheerleader and I'm seventeen. I hang out with girls who are also cheerleaders and you might think are a little flighty. If you can't handle that, then maybe you should just leave and come back when you think I'm grown up enough."
"Claire, I'm sorry, it's just difficult to imagine being around so many of them all at once."
"Them. I AM one of them!"
"I know, but you are special where they are not."
"And if I wasn't special?"
"Would you have looked twice at me if I was just a blonde at the movie theatre that night?"
"Would I have looked twice? Of course, I would have to be blind not to appreciate your good looks and shapeliness. Would I be standing here with you now? Doubtful, but Claire, keep in mind I get frustrated with most anyone. The age doesn't matter."
"Oh," she said softly.
He lifted a hand to her face and grazed her lower lip with his thumb. "You do not frustrate me as much as others because I realize I've put a lot of pressure on you."
"Then order the pizza so we can converge with your friends while we wait."
"All right," she said, trying to ignore the relief she felt at the fact he wasn't going to walk away. "You're going to love this pizza. I promise it'll be worth sitting with my friends."
She reached up then and kissed him. It was brief. She hardly gave him time to process what she'd done, let alone respond, before she drew away.
"Was that for his benefit?"
She smiled, hoping the look in her eyes matched. "I'd forgotten he was even here." She hadn't really, but she hadn't kissed him for West's benefit. She didn't want to hurt him anymore than she already had. "Was I too forward?"
"I think I can forgive the forwardness."
"Why thank you I feel so privileged," she said before walking up to the counter to place the order.
"You were right. That was very good."
"I told you," she said. "And I have to admit, eating it here was better."
"Because my friends were flirting with you!"
"I didn't notice."
"Maybe you didn't, and if you didn't I really appreciate that, but I did."
He smirked, taking the plates into the kitchen. "And that's a problem?" he asked.
"Well, you were with me," she said, following him into the kitchen and leaning against the counter after she'd set their glasses on it. "Obviously a date. Or at least a date-like thing since you were at the game first. That's just rude."
"But it's acceptable for me to have to sit and watch your friend stare holes through me? And see your face visibly fall when you saw a girl was seated next to him."
"That's so different!"
"Yes, it is."
"You're agreeing with me?"
She found that hard to believe because he really didn't care for West at all, and had even gone so far as to suggest he wasn't trustworthy. He knew her secret so she was kind of stuck having to believe he was remotely trustworthy.
"Not in the way you might think. I realize we've just met and I rather blundered things initially. But I still have to watch you look at him, knowing you were fond of him." He moved in front of her, hands on the countertop on either side of her.
"Well, he was my boyfriend, but only for a little while. It's not like I was planning a wedding or anything."
"Well, that is good to know," he said softly. His eyes got that look again, fire and heat. It was such a contrast to what one would think they'd reveal. "And I've had to know that you did those things with him I said I wouldn't push you about."
"And then you go and kiss me…"
"Was that bad?"
"That depends, Claire."
"You opened the gate, are you ready for what's going to come charging out?"
She knew he was going to kiss her. A part of her screamed to push him away. She knew he'd step back. Another part yelled at that other part to keep quiet. And then she didn't have time to think of much of anything because it was too late. He was there, mouth on hers and she knew instantly the difference between someone like West and Adam. He wasn't shy or reserved, didn't hesitate in the least. She never felt as if the control had slipped from her hands, though.
Gradually, she slid her arms around his neck and he groaned softly, slipping his arms around her waist. He tugged her closer against him and she went, parting her lips with a soft sigh. He took advantage of her slip, grazed his tongue along her lips.
Her heart was beating erratically, too fast. It was making it difficult for her to breathe, so she had to break the kiss. It was an attempt to catch her breath and settle her body down. He wasn't stopping, though. His mouth found her jaw, neck, and ear.
"Adam," she whispered. This was exceeding her experience.
"Yes?" he murmured against her ear. It made it difficult for her to think when he did that. Perhaps that was the point?
"Have I gone too far?"
"No, I just," she took a deep breath, trying to clear her head.
He drew away then and if it was possible for his eyes to betray his emotions any more than they were a few minutes ago they were.
"I have done many things I am not proud of. One of them is the way I approached you. It has admittedly been quite some time since I've experienced the warmth of a woman. I, however, will not force you."
"I know that."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, I do." She frowned. "I thought you weren't going to kiss me."
"I said when you weren't expecting it or right after discussing it. I didn't want you questioning my sincerity or whether I kissed you merely because you brought it up."
"And besides, you kissed me first. I'm following your lead."
"So if I…"
"Don't even say it," he said with a soft laugh. "My imagination is already quite active I don't need you helping it along."
She put her hand at his chest and met his gaze. "And if I told you I wasn't ready for all of it, all of it?"
"I will not force you. I don’t know how many different ways I can possibly say it."
"No, I mean. Say I'm the type that believes in, you know, marriage or whatever."
"Then I would abide by your wishes on the subject."
"And since it's been quite some time, you'd wait for me?"
"Are you asking me if I'm going to go out and make love with other women?"
"Yeah, I guess I am."
"Are you going to make love with other men?"
"No! But you said you've been somewhere for thirty years."
"Well, it hasn't been quite that long…"
"I don't want to know," she said with a light laugh. "I really don't."
"If I did I would undo all of the steps forward we've taken. I realize you've not come to grips with all that I've divulged, what you - we - are, but I feel we've made progress. Especially when you kiss me as you just did."
"You kissed me!"
"Ah, my dear, only because you kissed me. And if that's your idea of not kissing me back then I cannot wait to experience you reciprocating."
"You kiss nice," she said, realizing that was beyond an understatement.
"The answer to your question is no."
"Like I'd know anyway."
She slid her arms around his neck again and smiled, drawing him toward her. "Kiss me again?" She apparently didn't have to ask twice.
They stayed like that for a while. It was late, real late when he pointed the time out to her.
"I should get you home."
"I don’t want to go."
"Please don't say that to me, Claire, or I will arrange for your wish to come true. I would have no qualms about taking you with me and going somewhere else."
"There are schools all over the world."
"I'm not ready for that."
"I know, but you need to understand I may one day take you literally."
"I will keep that in mind."
"Let's get you home then."
He didn't live too far. She wasn't sure where exactly he lived in relation to her house since they'd gone to his house from the pizza place. And she was still getting adjusted to her now town. His house was a little nicer, though. Too big for just him she'd thought and said so. He'd said years of living in a single room had made him crave the ability to choose from different rooms. It made sense in an odd way.
It was far too late for West to be out, but she caught a glimpse of him as Adam pulled his car in front of her house. She sighed a little, not sure what she was supposed to do. Was he expecting her to beg him to take her back or something? She wasn't like that. She wouldn't do that for any guy.
She wasn't surprised when Adam walked her to her door and gave her a kiss good night.
"I was thinking you could come inside for a while."
"It's still late."
"But I'm home now, and my mom won't be awake until Mr. Muggles needs to go out. And that's hours yet."
"What did you have in mind?"
"Some snuggling on the couch. Your kitchen is nice and all, but I think it might be kind of fun to kiss you somewhere more comfortable."
He winced and she could tell he'd apparently thought on that, too. But suggesting they move might have ruined the moment.
"Well, then, I guess I should come in."
She turned the TV on, found a decent movie on HBO. She'd seen it a few times, but Adam hadn't so they watched it. Well, they sort of watched it anyway, the intent was there even if Adam wouldn't be able to tell anyone what the movie was about the next day.
Word Count: 2,974
He woke up with the hardest erection he'd had in years. The reason for that iron-like erection was snuggled against him, head at his stiff arm. The movie she'd turned on was long over. Not that they'd watched any of it. If he wasn't mistaken he could see the first signs of daylight out the nearest window.
She'd changed from her cheerleading outfit into a more conservative skirt for their date, which was currently well above her knees. He was sure she would have changed out of it if she'd planned on falling asleep like this.
He took a moment to contemplate how exactly he'd gotten here, sleeping on a couch with her on top of him. He'd come to California when Peter had told him about her, the person he'd gotten the ability to heal from. Peter had neglected to tell Adam how old - or rather young - she was.
He'd come of the mindset to conquer. It was what he had been doing for over four centuries and did quite well. For some reason, however, upon seeing her, nothing had gone according to plan. At least not his plan. Perhaps someone out there had a different plan and the progress they were making was adhering to that one instead.
All he knew was that the time he'd spent with her over the past not quite a month had changed it somehow. His intentions. It had been a long time since he'd had to woo and court a young woman. Truthfully, he'd long ago given up hope that he'd actually succeed at wooing and courting anyone. He was far too bitter for anyone to not see that any attempt at being pleasant was merely an act, a mask he wore to hide the real him.
He'd come to find, though, that the chase was somewhat fun. Particularly when the long-run reward was so sweet. No longer alone. A woman by his side, able to heal as he could. He'd been foolish to approach her and be so bold, revealing all. He'd had no other choice though. He could tell right away that she was the type that would view his withholding information from her as being a violation of trust. He'd been betrayed himself and still remembered what that felt like.
Unable to resist, he grazed the palm of his hand along the back of her thigh. He never claimed he wasn't a cad. He'd been called far worse over the years. Few realized he behaved in such a manner to protect them. She stirred on top of him, arching into his hand as he slid it higher. What time did she claim that thing she called a dog would be up?
She pressed against him again, only this time she wiggled a little. Which was both pleasant and very painful. His mind knew she was just reacting automatically in her sleep. His body, on the other hand, was still of the mindset that she needed to be conquered. And the sooner the better. He knew that a joining between them would be the closest to magic he'd ever come.
"Adam?" she murmured, sounding as if she was still half-asleep.
"Were you expecting to be sleeping with someone else?"
She laughed then, propping herself up on his chest. "No, I just wasn't sure if it was real."
He grazed his fingertips along her inner thigh. "As real as you want it to be," he whispered. He was perhaps taking things too far. He'd indicated he wouldn't force her, but there wasn't anything wrong with a gentle push in the direction he wanted things to go. Was there?
She pressed her ass up against his arm, parting her legs ever so slightly and he took a deep breath, had to. She wiggled against him again and he groaned. That one was on purpose, and her flirtatious smile told him she knew that he knew that it was.
"That's not quite playing fair."
"Isn't it?" She leaned up and kissed him. She was certainly getting the hang of doing that with him. "You feel good."
He cleared his throat. "As do you."
"I do, huh?"
"Yes, but I'm sure you already know that."
She shrugged and kissed him again.
"I should probably be going before your mother comes down."
"It's still early. I haven't heard Mr. Muggles yet," she whispered.
"While I'm pleased you don't want me to go, if I'm discovered here with you, particularly like this, I get the feeling I will not be invited back."
She sighed heavily, rubbing her cheek against his jaw. "I know."
"I can pick you up later this morning and you could spend the day with me."
"However you'd like."
He chuckled softly, slid his hand slowly up the back of her thigh, along her ass to her lower back. "That's definitely a request I would be anxious to fulfill."
She rolled onto her side, dropping into the scant spot beside him on the couch. She slid her hand along his arm, almost a feather-light touch. His eyes drifted closed as she found his shoulder, neck, jaw, chin and lastly his mouth.
He took her finger into his mouth with a soft groan - he thought he heard her give one, too. The couch was small, but he'd had worse accommodations in his lifetime. He shifted them so she was beneath him, hands joined he held them above her head and kissed her hungrily. His whole body was starved for her and he knew if he didn't stop now he'd do something stupid. Her mother seemed to like him, that was important. And it was paramount he kept it that way.
He tore his mouth away from hers, heard her shallow breathing and felt her fingers clutch his. He kissed her chin and laughed lightly.
"What's so funny?"
"Nothing. I have to go, Claire."
"Understand, I don't want to."
"I'll come back in a few hours."
"You'll sleep with me then?"
"If that's what you want."
She giggled softly. "Someone kept me up too late."
"I'm sorry to be such a burden."
"It was a chore."
"I can tell," he said, eyes dropping to the front of her blouse and the visible evidence that she was enjoying this as much as he was.
"You're not supposed to look at me like that."
"You weren't supposed to notice."
"I notice everything about you, Claire. And I'd be worried, nay bothered, if you did not react to me."
"You would, huh?"
"Haven't had that happen very often?"
"You'd be surprised."
"Hmm," she said softly.
He brought one of her hands to his mouth and kissed it. "I'll come back around eleven?"
"Okay. Do you want me to walk you to the door?"
He stood from the couch. "Another time, I fear if you do now I'll never leave. We seem to kiss ourselves into distraction."
"Is that bad?"
"I could think of worse fates."
He leaned down and kissed her. "Get some rest. And if I haven't mentioned it before, I like you in a skirt."
"What does that mean?"
He shrugged. "Whatever you want it to mean."
They had been lucky. Mr. Muggles had woken up no more than five minutes after Adam left. Claire had just about had a heart attack, afraid her mom would find some evidence Claire hadn't been alone on the couch all night. The throw pillow smelled like him, but she doubted her mom gave much thought to what Adam smelled like. And maybe you just smelled what you wanted to smell.
"Where are you going, Claire?"
"Adam's picking me up."
"Will you be gone all day?"
"Your father's going to be home later, I know he'd like to see you. Try not to be too late."
"I'll try not to be."
Her mother gave her the once over. Claire wondered for a minute if she looked silly. Or like she was trying too hard.
"You look nice," her mother said.
"Have a good time, but be careful."
"Your father would be upset with me if I didn't say the last part. I trust you, Claire."
"Does that mean he doesn't?"
"Your father has a lot on his mind. He worries about you, all of us. And Adam is older than you."
"I know," she said with a soft sigh.
She grabbed her purse when she heard a car pull up in front of the house. "I'll see you later then."
"Let him come to the door, Claire."
"You shouldn't appear anxious. It's not flattering."
"So, I have to make him get out of the car?"
"Yes, and he should at least say hello to me."
Claire rolled her eyes, but set her purse down on the table and took a seat on the couch.
The doorbell rang a minute later. "Am I allowed to answer it?" Claire asked.
"What am I going to do with you?"
"I don't know, Mom," Claire said with a shake of her head. She would never understand her parents. She stood to answer the door and couldn't help but smile as Adam took in what she was wearing. She'd taken his skirt comment to heart, upping the ante a little though. She was quite sure he hadn't had a black leather skirt in mind.
"Hi," she said.
"Hello. I see our late night didn't prevent you from looking as pretty as usual."
"I guess not."
He looked behind Claire; she saw the change in him. It was subtle, but the flirtatiousness in his eyes went out as if he'd thrown a switch. "Mrs. Butler, how nice to see you again."
"Why thank you, Adam. I was just telling Claire I think her father will be home this evening. If you two didn't have plans for dinner you could join us here."
"And I told you, Mother, that we'll think about it. It's Saturday so I doubt it."
"Well, keep it in mind if you find yourself hungry and in the neighborhood."
"Okay," she said, grabbing her bag. "Ready?"
"Bye, Mom," she said before closing the door behind her. "That must drive you nuts."
"Having to play nice with my mother."
"Who says I'm playing? She seems like a nice enough woman who clearly cares for you, so we have that in common."
He opened the car door for her. She wasn't used to that type of thing, but he usually did it. It drove home the whole he'd been basically held a captive for the last thirty years. That he was far older than he seemed. That she'd get that way, too.
"So, do you still wish to spend the afternoon here," he asked once they were at his place.
"If you want to. I mean, if you don't…"
"I'm asking if you want to. Your wish is my command."
She laughed lightly. "In that case, I meant it. I'd like to spend the day with you here. Like that."
"There are certainly worse fates I could think of."
"Hmm. Are there?"
"A few. It's hard to think about many that might be worse."
"And to think, I wore this skirt just for you."
"I meant to mention you look quite incredible in that, but your mother distracted me."
"Mothers! You can say it now, though. Unless you changed your mind."
"No, no, I'm just wondering how you plan on sleeping in that."
"I slept in a skirt last night. On the couch, so it has to be more comfortable here."
"You had something other than my couch in mind?"
She undid her seatbelt. "Mm, well, there are no parents here. Unless there's something you're not telling me."
"No, no parents. No one but us."
She scrunched her nose. "Then I think that the couch would be too small."
"Small isn't necessarily bad. All the better to be forced closer to you."
She smiled then and got out of the car, he followed, opening the front door for her.
"I don't usually do this."
"I kind of guessed that," he said, locking the door behind them. "Why do you want to then?"
"Because it was nice."
"Puppies are nice, Claire."
"You felt nice. And I liked having you there when I woke up," she said, glancing at him over her shoulder.
"If I didn't know better I might think you're starting to like me."
"You're not so bad when you lay off the eternity stuff."
"I'm a full-on kind of guy."
She smiled then. "Yeah, I get that."
She slid her button-up sweater off, revealing the blood-red camisole top she had on underneath.
"You expect me to sleep with you wearing that?"
"Before you get the wrong idea. I'm still not ready for much, but I wanted to look nice for you. To wear something, you know, appealing."
"You succeeded, but you always look nice, Claire."
"Thank you," she said softly. "Because sometimes I wonder what you find appealing. Is it this? Or is there something, you know, from the past you like? I realize it wasn't too long ago that women were supposed to keep their legs covered and stuff. Maybe you like that?"
"There is certainly something to be said for the mystery in the type of attire that you speak of, but I've adjusted over the years to most of the fads quite easily."
"And I don't have a job, so I have to buy things with my parents' money so this is about as appealing as I can get."
He smiled then.
"Are you laughing at me?"
"No, I don't know why you seem to be apologizing to me."
She sighed softly and sat on the couch. "I don't know. I guess I can't help but think I'm not very worldly or experienced. You've got to find it frustrating."
"You've done nothing to frustrate me. At least not from that standpoint," he said, joining her on the couch.
"Yes, and how long are you going to put up with that?"
"There is nothing wrong with kissing, Claire. I certainly will not deny looking forward to when you're ready for more. I could have walked away. Do you understand that? There was nothing saying I had to approach you when I did. I knew you were young. I could have left and come back years from now."
"Why didn't you?"
He chuckled. "You don't want to know."
"Because the idea of anyone else touching you disturbed me and I was afraid I would hunt them all down despite my having left until you'd grown up some."
"I hate that term. Grown up. I'm not a kid."
"I didn't claim you were, but you still have things to experience."
"You haven't hunted West down."
"Because I'm quite confident it's nothing more than kissing you he'd done. And you did not know me, I did not know of your existence when you embarked upon a relationship with him. I could hardly fault him for that."
"You'd really hurt someone because of me?"
He slid an arm around her, drawing her to him. She settled against his chest, her eyes fluttering closed when he slid his hand along her hair. "That would depend on how involved they were. If someone hurts you, physically or mentally, I will not be held accountable for what I might do."
"People don't do that."
"I do that, Claire. You cannot compare me to what you know of others. There is no one else like me. I don't have many things; you are by no means a thing, but I will not allow harm to come to you. You've told me we are able to die, which gives me all the more reason to want to protect you at all costs."
They grew silent for a while. She was just enjoying sitting there with him like this. She didn't have to worry about her parents or Lyle here. And contrary to what most anyone would tell her, she didn't seem to have to worry about him being all pushy and with the pressure either.
"Do you think you'll ever love me?" she asked softly. She was too close to dozing off to edit her thoughts. It really wasn't a question she wanted to ask.
"I can say with sincerity, Claire, that you are a loveable person. I think that anyone in their right mind who spends time with you and does not allow their feelings to grow into that are fools. Or blind."
"So, that's a yes?" she murmured.
He chuckled softly and stood almost effortlessly, taking her into his arms. "Resoundingly, yes," he said, setting her on his bed.
She turned onto her side, facing him when he joined her on the bed, too. "Aren't you going to ask me?"
"I believe your presence here, not just today but my life the past month is answer enough."
"You think so?"
"If you did not deem me worthy of your time, you would not waste it with me."
"You didn't give me a whole lot of choice."
"Had you truly fought me I would have had to."
"So it's my fault?"
He smiled then, drawing a blanket around them. "That's one way of looking at it, I suppose. And paints me in a far more flattering light."
She smiled then as he slid an arm around her, gathering her to him.
"Did you want to be home in time for dinner with your family?"
"I think now that you've actually taken me out on a date."
"It wasn't much of a date, coming back here."
She shrugged. "Was still a date. I want to be with you."
"If you change your mind."
"I'll let you know."
Word Count: 2,459
There are spoilers through Truth & Consequences (2x10) in this part. I'm choosing to ignore the quest Peter & Adam were going on at the end of this episode. So, we're totally AU after Truth & Consequences.
"I was wondering when you were going to get around to calling and tell me you were all right."
"Yeah, sorry, I've kind of had my hands full."
"Your mother or brother could have, too."
"Things aren't so great around here right now. Please don't be angry with them, Claire. I'm calling now."
She smiled. "I'm glad you called."
"You may not be so glad after I've finished telling you what I need to tell you."
"I should apologize to you."
"I told someone about you."
"So, he found you."
"Yeah, a while ago. That's how I knew you were alive."
"Oh, right, I guess that makes sense." Silence. "There are a few things you should know."
She listened as Peter told her about the killings.
"And you think?"
"I know, Claire. I led him right to the last one. I swear to you I didn't know when I told him about you."
"I have to go."
"Claire, I'm sorry, if I'd known…"
"I have to go, Peter. I'm glad you're all right. Really."
"Are you all right?"
"No," she said softly.
"How involved have you gotten with him?"
"Wow, okay, I didn't see that coming," he said.
"I really have to go now, Peter, I'll talk to you soon okay? Say hi to your mom and brother for me," she said and disconnected.
How he'd known she'd be home from school now she didn't know, but Peter had managed to call when she was the only one at home. She grabbed the keys for the car she wasn't allowed to drive to school and scribbled a note to her parents. They'd freak if they came home and found the car gone after the other one was stolen.
She probably shouldn't have been driving when she was upset, but she didn't have much choice. It didn't take her long at all to get to his house. The fact she'd sped along the way helped. She could tell by the look on his face when he opened the door she'd surprised him. At least she wasn't the only one getting surprised today.
"Claire. I didn't realize you were coming by this afternoon."
"Is that a problem?"
"No, of course not, you're always welcome. I've told you that."
"So, you aren't busy killing someone at the moment?"
He laughed. "I'm sorry?" he said, realizing apparently that she was serious in her question. "What are you talking about?"
"Peter called me this afternoon."
"How is he?"
"He seems fine. Apologetic."
"Telling you about me."
"But why? If he hadn't told me about you…" His eyes widened. "Ah, I see. What is it he told you?"
"The Company, there were twelve founders or something and you've managed to kill them all since you convinced Peter to escape and take you with him."
"I saved Nathan's life."
"You could have told Peter my blood would have done the same."
"I didn't know about you at the time!"
"You still aren't denying you killed anyone."
"I told you I've done things I'm not exactly proud of but that I consider necessary."
"Killing twelve people was necessary?"
"They had me committed! They locked me up and threw away the key, afraid I was too powerful. Afraid of me."
"I'm not sure I can blame them."
"I was defending myself. As long as they were alive I knew they would hunt me down."
"So you hunted them down instead?"
"I value my freedom. I have not lied to you about that."
"You evidently left out quite a bit."
He backed her against the door.
"Would you care to try it, Claire? Would you? Being locked up like an animal because you're different? Because your power is such that it scares people. I'd outlive them, so of course I'd see that they were up to no good. Don't you see? Your father…"
"Don't you dare bring him into this."
"Your father was misled, brought into The Company and led around by the nose because I was locked up. There was no one there to be contradictory. No one there to keep them in check."
"And who's going to keep you in check."
He grabbed hold of her by the arms and drew her toward him. She tried to struggle, but he was bigger than she was and he had hundreds of years of experience doing this sort of thing.
She struggled against his grasp, but all that did was make him hold on tighter. "That is not my job."
"But it is. That is what you are for me, Claire. You don't have a vengeful or violent bone in your body and I need that."
"If you need me to stop you from killing people then we have problems."
He sighed, clearly frustrated. As if her confronting him with facts was an inconvenience.
"You have slept beside me, allowed me to kiss and touch you. Have I ever once given you the impression I was a monster? A violent man?"
"You're holding onto me right now like you are."
"Because I'm trying to get you to listen to me. I did what I had to do. While I am not proud of it, I will not apologize for it either. Do you realize that by keeping me locked up, having access to my blood they could prolong their own lives? And the life of anyone they needed to keep alive for whatever reason. And I assure you not all of them were good reasons. It isn't just your beloved Nathan who's alive, unblemished because of my blood. And they'd do the same to you if they got a hold of you. Use you to keep themselves alive. You would be a provider of life's elixir nothing more. You wouldn't even be Claire to them. Just a human cow, a supplier of blood."
"Come talk to me in four hundred years and let me know that you've done nothing questionable, nothing that was morally wrong but had to be done."
"Morally wrong! It's against the law."
"Whose law exactly? When you've lived as long as I have there are so many they all blend together."
"That's just ridiculous. You'd have to be a fool not to know it was wrong to kill people."
"One would think."
"We aren't laws onto ourselves, Adam."
"Answer me this, Claire," he said, the frustration leaving his voice. It had been replaced with something she didn't understand.
He kissed her then. Kissing was really too mild of a word. She'd never, ever experienced anything like it. And they'd certainly explored most facets of kissing the past month or so.
Plunder? Could you do that with a kiss? She didn't respond at first. She wasn't expecting him to kiss her for one. And, for two, she wasn't sure she should be kissing him just now. Or ever again. He'd killed people. Twelve of them. At least. He hadn't said it outright, but he'd admitted enough for her to know he had done it.
He didn't let up. In fact, he grew even more aggressive, pressing against her so the door at her back was almost painful. As wild as his kiss was she knew she wasn't in any real danger. At least not that kind of danger. And with that thought she knew that resisting him was just stupid. She couldn't put herself in his shoes, not yet. She had no idea how she'd react if someone locked her up. Her parents, her brother. Yeah, she'd probably do things she shouldn't.
He moaned when she swiped his tongue with hers, tightening his already vice grip-like hold on her. He released her when their tongues actually met. Thoughts of running weren't forefront in her mind now anyway, especially as his hands were busy working the small buttons on her cashmere sweater. He found the basic lacy white bra's front clasp and undid that too. She cried out as his hands found her breasts, stroking over each of the peaks with his thumbs before sliding his hands lower to her hips.
"I like it when you wear skirts," he murmured.
"So you've said."
"I’m not sure I like you wearing one this short to school."
"It's not that short."
He gathered the skirt up with his fists, it didn't take long. "Short enough" he murmured.
He slid a hand inside of her panties and she heard him curse softly when he grazed her clit with the pads of his fingers. She let out a surprised cry at her body's reaction. She let her head fall back against the door and groaned as he slid his hand lower, a fingertip pressing inside of her.
"I," she murmured. "Oh," she said with a soft hiss when he slid it further inside of her. A dozen thoughts were going through her head, stopping him wasn't one of them.
"Look at me, Claire," he whispered, thrusting his finger deep inside of her. She did. She didn't have any choice really. He kissed her, his other hand caressing her breast while she clutched his neck.
"I will defend myself and you to the best of my abilities. If that means taking another's life, breaking every law you hold dear, I will do it without batting an eyelash. Us or them," he slid his finger almost completely out of her. "I will choose us every time. I will choose you every time. Do you understand that?" She gasped, swallowing hard as he slid two fingers inside of her.
"You trust me, you know I had legitimate reasons, or you would not be here with me now. Not like this. And I will not allow anyone to take this away from me. From us."
She nodded, suddenly a little embarrassed by her reaction to him. She hadn't come here for this, but she wondered what had taken them so long to get to this point. She sought out his mouth, kissing him as she moved against his fingers. He alternated between deep penetration and barely grazing her lips.
He gathered her legs up and gave a groan when she was pressed against him. She felt how hard he was and knew this was her last chance to say no. Instead, she worked the zipper on his jeans, hands shaking ever so slightly. It wasn't every day she did this type of thing, and she suspected doing this with him meant there was no going back.
She took him into her hand, listening to his queues - some more coherent than others - as far as what to do. How to stroke him. How to make him even harder than he was. She met his gaze, saw that passion, that emotion she always had the feeling was directed solely at her and went stupidly mushy inside.
He slid inside of her then and she cried out, which made him stop for a second. She grazed his neck with her nails and bit his lower lip, drawing blood in both places as he slid deeper. Not that it mattered, he'd heal. The pain she felt was gone in a matter of seconds. She wondered briefly if it would be like that every time.
She'd never envisioned her first time being fully clothed with her back against a door. She certainly hadn't pictured it coming after finding out the guy in question had murdered people. She'd come here to argue and she wasn't sure what she'd hoped to gain out of the argument. For him to leave her alone? For him to do exactly what he'd done? Declare that he would stop at nothing to defend her or himself?
"Hold on," he murmured into their kiss and she did just that. He moved them then, walking with him still inside of her to the bedroom where he settled her on the edge of the bed. His bed was one of those four-poster deals and she always felt like the mattress was too high up when she slept with him.
Now though, with him standing at the edge of the bed in perfect position to still be inside of her she appreciated the bed's height. She wrapped her legs around his as he leaned toward her, chest to chest and gathered her hands in his. He drew them up and over her head.
He gave a muffled groan against her mouth, releasing one of her hands to reach between their bodies and stroke her clit. As his thrusts slowed, her orgasm built until she clamped her legs around his with all her might, riding it out. And then he did it again before pulling out of her. He brought his fingers to his lips and licked them. She watched, entranced as he did. His wicked smile told her he knew exactly what she was feeling just then.
"I guess I owe Peter my gratitude yet again."
"Evidently anger turns you on."
"Well, they say make-up sex is the best kind."
"Sweetheart, that wasn't make-up sex."
"No, but if you're quite done being upset with me I will gladly give you a taste of it."
"What was that then?"
"That was she's angry and I don't know how else to prove my point sex."
"And there's a difference?"
"I think I might need proof."
"Allow me to demonstrate then." He ran his hands along her upper body, sitting her up so he could remove the sweater and bra. "First I need you actually on the bed."
"I am on the bed. You're the one that's not."
He smiled. "I mean fully as I will be joining you."
"Oh," she said.
"See the key to make-up sex. So I've been told anyway, I've never actually experienced it myself. As really who could be upset with me enough to fight with me?"
"So the key?"
"I believe it's something along the lines of no stone unturned and incredibly long and slow."
"So I've been led to believe. Care to try it out?"
"Do we have to argue again first?"
"I don't think so."
"There are still things…"
He slid a finger to her lips. "I know, Claire, and we will talk I promise you. Let me enjoy what you've just given me and do my best to ensure you do not regret the path you've embarked us on."
"Just one question."
"That do anything thing. Does that include my family?"
"If you wish."
"I do," she reached for him then. "I don’t know what I'd do if something happened to my mom or dad or Lyle."
"Then how can I say no?"
Word Count: 3,688
"Claire, you're going to burn a hole in the carpet if you keep pacing like that."
Claire spared her mother a quick glance, really it was more of a glare before resuming her pacing. Adam would be there any minute and she was debating about running up to her room to hide. Or change clothes real quick and tell him she'd changed her mind. "I can't believe I let you talk me into this."
"I don't know what you're fretting about, Claire. It's a natural thing to do with your boyfriend."
"If he wasn't older than me I'd agree."
"Then why'd you ask him at all."
"You caught me at a weak moment. Remember our conversation? 'What girl doesn't want to go to prom?' you said."
"I didn't twist your arm."
"I believed you!"
"And he would have let you go with someone else your age?"
"No." That wouldn't have happened in this century. It was enough he didn't seem to understand why she had guys that were friends.
"Well then, I don't see where you had a choice."
"He has to think this is the most ridiculous thing he's been asked to do."
Sandra walked up to her and Claire stopped her pacing. Her mother placed her hands at Claire's shoulders and met her gaze.
"You look lovely, honey. And you're going to have a great time. I don't claim to know him well, but if he'd found out later you really wanted to go and you hadn't asked him to spare him a few hours of discomfort. Well, I think he might have been upset."
Claire rolled her eyes. Her mother was probably right, but obviously had no idea just how ridiculous and out of place Adam would probably feel tonight. It wasn't like he just had his own prom a few years ago or anything. He did fine around her friends, but she could usually tell when he'd had enough. He hadn't said one word when she'd told him how late the dance went, though.
"And he could have said no."
The thing was, she didn't think he'd say no to her about something like this. If she asked him to do something, he knew it meant she really wanted to do it with him.
The doorbell rang, signaling it was too late for her to reconsider. She hadn't even heard his car pull up out front as she usually did.
"You're sure I look all right?"
She'd spent weeks picking out her dress, going so far as asking Angela to send her something from New York to ensure no one else had a dress like hers. She'd heard many classmates talk about going to LA to pick out dresses so that wasn't an option. Angela had agreed under the condition that she be on the receiving end of pictures. That was a trade-off Claire was willing to do for an awesome prom dress.
"You look beautiful."
"Thank you," she said as Lyle went for the door.
"I'll get your boutonniere."
"Thanks, Mom," she said, taking a deep breath. She was beyond nervous. He'd never seen her dressed like this with her hair done and everything. She didn't usually look like a slob in front of him or anything, but this was formal stuff. Her first formal. And the look on Adam's face was worth a million pictures for Angela.
"I tried to envision what you might wear or look like. As pleasing as my imagination was they did not come close to the real thing. You really did go all out."
"So, did you," she said. She'd never noticed Nathan look this nice in his tuxedo when she was in New York. And really, he was the only guy she'd ever really seen in a tux before.
"I did not want to disappoint you."
He would cut off his arm rather than disappoint her. That sacrifice would be perhaps more noteworthy if he wouldn't grow a new one in its place. It was still overwhelming at times that she had someone so much in her corner. All of the time.
She'd convinced her mother to take pictures before Adam got there, promising to get one taken at school by the photographer there. That didn't stop her mother from taking a couple of them together, which Claire knew Adam avoided as much as he could. She supposed she'd have to think about that, too. Especially if she was going to look like this forever.
They were taking a walk outside when her cell phone rang. He didn't seem to be having too bad a time. She noticed he'd been somewhat relieved when she'd suggested going outside for a while, though. There were times she wasn't sure it was so much his being unfamiliar with people her age as his just being alone most of the time. Being around people didn't seem to be something he did a lot of normally.
"Don't you ever turn that thing off?"
"I thought I did!"
She almost didn't answer it, not recognizing the number. Except everyone knew she was at prom. So, she could only imagine someone really wanted to talk to her.
'Claire?' the voice said, barely above a whisper.
'Yes, I'm sorry for disturbing you. You need to get out of there. Now.'
'I don't know how, but they've found us. They're going to come after you first. Adam and I have already discussed this happening sooner or later, so he should be prepared with a plan in place. Don't come home or call me. Only answer calls from this number.'
"Who's phone is this?"
'The Haitian's. I'm having him erase my memories, but he'll have the phone.'
'Not all of them, just of where you are, Adam, the contact arrangements we made, and things like that.'
"All right. I'm sorry."
'You don't have anything to apologize for. If anyone does, I do for not hiding us better. I love you. And remember, no phone calls until you see this number again.'
"I won't forget. I love you, too," she said. She disconnected, her thumb remaining on the key as she stared at the phone.
"What was that about?"
"My dad says they've found us. You're supposed to take me somewhere safe."
"All right. Let's go then."
Her lips curled up into a smile. "Don't sound so upset at the prospect of leaving prom early."
"Were you having that good of a time?"
She shrugged. "It was nice and I was hoping for another dance at least."
"Fair enough, but it's not worth risking your life for. I'll get you somewhere safe."
"You mean not your house?"
"That's not exactly safe. Anyone could have seen us together. Your spurned boyfriend could have followed us."
"How did they find you then, Claire?"
"I don't believe he'd do that, Adam. I really don't. We haven't been best friends or anything, but he's been nicer to me lately."
"Maybe there's a reason for that."
"No," she said. Perhaps she was being naïve, but she just didn't believe West would betray her like that. Because bringing The Company here would risk exposing him to them again.
"Very well, if you say so. We still need to go. It's a good thing I planned for this."
"Of course. I'm like that youth organization I'm always prepared."
"The Boy Scouts?"
"Yeah, them," he said as they changed paths and walked in the direction of his car. He opened his trunk for a minute. She saw the duffel bag she'd given him earlier with a change of clothes and other things she'd need for after prom. And a second one.
"I thought you were bringing that to your house."
"You just told me to hold onto it so your parents didn't see you leaving tonight with a bag."
"Why do you have a bag?"
"Because my plan wasn't to bring you back to my house tonight."
"A hotel room."
He shrugged. "It seemed like something to do to make your night memorable. And I don't have a hot tub at my house."
"And the hotel room did?"
"We can't go there, Claire. If it was West, he knows my vehicle. That means they will, too."
"I know." She didn't have to be happy about it. That sounded totally fun!
"Some other time."
"Yeah, I've said similar, though not quite as libelous, things about them in the past."
He opened her door, stopping to kiss her. "I'm sorry your night has been ruined. I realize this was important to you."
"Thank you. Especially because I know you don't understand why it was important to me."
"You're welcome. Now, let's go."
"Where are we?"
"Outside of Vegas."
"As in Las Vegas?"
"I expected it to be brighter."
"We're a little ways away yet."
"What is this place?"
"A place I have."
"I spend time here once in a while. Vegas is a fun place if you're of the mind to enjoy it without letting it be at your expense. It's like a dream come true for a man with very few hang-ups or vices. And no one seems to notice you looked the same ten years ago. The house is paid for. There's no phone service or cable, but it has electricity and the basics."
"I did stock it with some essentials after your father spoke to me about this being inevitable. But there's no fresh food, it's all canned, boxed or frozen."
"We can't go anywhere dressed like this," he said. She must have made a face or something for him to respond that way. "We'll stand out. We shouldn't go shopping this late either. We'll wait until morning."
"I can't believe my father sent me with you."
"Your father knows I'll protect you."
"I didn't know that."
"We've only talked a couple of times. He wanted to be sure that I would take care of you in the event that something happened to your parents. He knew who I was it turns out from the first time he saw me."
"How? Why didn't you tell me?"
"I guess he'd seen me at some point. And he asked me not to, because he didn't want to worry you in case things never came to this."
"He never said a word to me."
"I think he realizes what our situation is and wasn't going to interfere with whatever may happen between us."
"I think you give him too much credit. He's my father. I mean, he's shipping me off with you. It's not like I'm going to stay at Angela's or something."
"And I told you before when you asked me what he'd do if he found out how old I really was. He wants you happy, Claire. And someone like West isn't going to make you happy. Maybe the first time around. Eventually, however, you'd tire of all of the mortal people around you dying."
"You know what I mean."
"How long do we stay here?"
"Until your father tells us otherwise. I assume he gave you some sort of way to communicate with him."
"No, told me to wait for a phone call."
"Then we wait."
"And if he doesn't call?"
He closed the garage door behind them, grabbing the bags and a few other things from the trunk. He set them by the door she assumed led to the house and walked to a workbench.
"Help me with this, won't you?"
"Sure," she said as he started unfolding a tarp, handing her a side of it. "You didn't answer my question."
"Okay. Why are we covering the car?"
"It stands out. The house is under no name The Company knows, but I won't take chances. They have operatives everywhere. Someone might spot the car in town. We'll use this one instead," he said.
She glanced at the other car. It looked really old and huge.
"Wow, that's huge."
He chuckled. "Oh, sweetheart, if only it wasn't my car you were talking about."
She blushed. "Well, I've never seen anyone but you, so I wouldn't know."
The car covered, he closed the distance between them and slid a hand to the nape of her neck. He drew her to him and kissed her. "Lucky for me, your knowledge base will not be expanded upon."
"Aren't you the confident one?"
"Is that your way of telling me there are bigger?"
"Am I not enough for you, Claire?"
"You know you are."
"It's still nice to hear."
"Men. I don't worry about my breasts being big enough for you."
"Some women, on the other hand, do and there are plastic surgeons around the world rich because of it. Your breasts are quite perfect the way they are."
"You're welcome. There is a slight difference, though, in that the size of them does not correlate to pleasure."
"Well, not directly. And it seems men have different tastes in that area, I've never heard a woman claim to prefer a man be small."
"So, I could have none at all and you'd be fine with that?"
He gave a soft laugh and kissed her again, deeper this time. Deep enough that she had to catch her breath because she hadn't been expecting it. She grabbed onto the lapels of his jacket and slid it off of him. She still wasn't real good at being assertive with him, usually following his lead more than anything. She just wasn't always sure what to do. Right now, though, she wanted his jacket off and so she went with that.
His hand moved to her breast. She wondered if him touching her would get to the point that it wasn't exciting. She hoped not, because she liked the feelings he gave her, the excitement of it all.
"I think, yes, I would be fine with that," he said softly once he'd broken the kiss. "I do have to wonder why all of the sudden do you feel the need to wear a dress whose skirt goes on forever."
"You're supposed to wear formals."
"And they don't make formals with shorter skirts."
"You always complain my skirts are too short."
"Yes, because you wear them to school and places without me along."
"Well, I couldn't very well ask Angela to buy me a dress with a short skirt."
"True enough." He led her to the door then, grabbing the bags. "Let's go inside and resume somewhere more comfortable. Grab the light switch, will you?"
"Sure," she said, doing just that after grabbing his tuxedo jacket from on top of the trunk.
"This isn't quite how I imagined you spending your first full night with me."
"And a hotel room was?"
"I didn't presume we'd stay all night."
"Then why do it?"
She followed through the house. It was dark so she had no idea what it looked like from the outside, other than they seemed to be in a more secluded area. That wasn't surprising. She supposed he valued his privacy and liked knowing he could come one place without worrying that someone would recognize he looked the same time and time again.
The inside was nice. It was pretty basic and she wondered when the last time he spent anytime here was. They weren't that far from Costa Verde so whatever arrangements or supplies he'd taken care of could have been done in a day.
"I don't know, trying to please you." He flipped a light switch. "And all right, perhaps trying to seduce you in a memorable way."
"You don't think you're memorable otherwise?"
"When you accumulate so very many memories, Claire, they all start to blend together. Apparently, this tradition was an important one to you, to your friends, some right of passage I don't claim to understand. I was trying to ensure it stood out for a long time."
"You're welcome." He set their things down and turned on a lamp near the bed. "Have you ever slept in the woods?"
"Well, you'll either sleep very well or awful."
"Either the peace and quiet will be a welcome reprieve from the incessant noise you're subjected to every day. On the other hand, it could drive you nuts that you hear and see nothing but starlight for miles. Tomorrow we'll go for a walk and I'll show you where you're safe going."
"There are parts of the property that are visible from the road. It was unavoidable despite the fact I've owned it long before the area became popular. You should stay away from those. They're marked, but you need to know what to look for."
"How did you keep the electricity and stuff current if you were not here for thirty years?"
"I have someone to take care of things for me because I do tend to wander."
"Are there other places?"
"Yes. Would you like to see them?"
"That's better than no I guess. Are you going to be all right in here?"
"Why wouldn't I be?"
"Well, we've never actually spent a night together."
"I've slept with you."
"Not like this."
"Don't you want to?"
"That's not what or why I'm asking. I'm giving you an out."
"Well, I don't want an out."
"If you change your mind…"
"Do you know how to shoot a gun?"
"I'm from Texas."
"That doesn't really answer my question."
"I can shoot a gun, yes."
"That's a matter of opinion. I guess I'd say no, I haven't done it often enough to be good."
"We'll change that."
"Do you think I'll need to use one?"
"I'd rather you know and find out you don't need the lessons than the other way around."
"Because if they get to you that means I'm down, one way or another, and it's you or them."
"I get it."
She sat on the bed and opened her purse. "I wish I knew where he was. What he was doing."
"He'll be fine, Claire. He'll take your mother and brother and get them somewhere safe."
"Are you sure?"
"Quite. Your father struck me as not just a competent man but one who succeeds at what he's set his mind to if he's determined enough. And the safety of his family is something he's determined enough about."
"You two have that in common I guess."
"I just don't like the idea of you two talking behind my back."
"It wasn't behind your back. It was two men sharing information, nothing more. You just happened to be the common denominator."
"It's like he's going to know, though."
"That we," she shrugged, pulling out the cell phone to see if she'd received any calls. She hadn't. "You know."
"And you don't think he suspected before now?"
"Well, no, not until tonight when you told me you two were making with the communicating. That means he knows you're like forever old. So, yeah, I guess he probably suspects, though he's never asked me or said anything. He'd think it was too soon."
"I think he'd think that even if we were married and had been for years. And you know I hadn't planned…"
"I know you didn't."
"On that note."
"Our sex life."
Her lips quivered into a smile. "Yes."
"Do I get the pleasure of undressing you now?"
"I've been wondering how long it would take for hours now."
"Yeah, I hadn't realized Angela was so stylish."
"Why did she get you a dress?"
"I couldn't find anything around here I liked."
She shrugged and he sat next to her then.
"Why not, Claire?"
"Something that wouldn't make me look stupid or outclassed by you."
"We're going to have to go out tomorrow, you know?"
"Because I only brought one change of clothes."
"Oh, yes, I had assumed essentials would need to be come by. However, please don't feel you need to wear clothes on my account."
"I don't think I was kidding. I would enjoy seeing you in one of my shirts."
"It'd be fun to wear this shirt," she said, running her hand along the front of his formal shirt.
"Then by all means," he said, reaching to undo the bowtie. "Get it off me."
"In a hurry?"
"I wouldn't want to deprive you of your fun."
"That's very nice of you."
"And the idea of you in this shirt and nothing else holds great appeal. Maybe the bowtie, but right at your neck"
"It seems most anything appeals to you."
"You're an appealing person."
"Thank you," she said, taking the bowtie from him as he worked the buttons on his shirt. "You are, too. Most of the time."
"That's better than none of the time."
She draped the bowtie around her neck. "I don't know how to do this."
"I do and I will. First things first."
"Getting you out of that dress."
"You were planning on helping me?"
"Helping you? I plan on doing it myself. And in that regard, your grandmother did me a favor."
"Well, removing it means I get to enjoy every inch of you."
"It's a nice dress, I'd hate for it to catch on anything."
"Is that so?"
"Yes, great care should be used."
"And that care would involve?"
He stood from the bed and knelt on the floor in front of her. He slid her shoes off, rubbing each foot in turn briefly. He reached under the dress, pushing the silky fabric up just enough so she was able to see her ankles.
"I was thinking of something like this," he said softly before kissing them.
"That will take…"
"Hours," he finished, cutting her off as he pushed the dress a little higher again.
When he kissed her again. Well, she wasn't really one to complain about hours being spent like this.
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."
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.
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 cum 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."
"Possibly. I doubt they give me much thought."
"You're stopping them from gobbling it all up."
He chuckled. "I am at that."
"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."
"Arizona? Florida? New Mexico?" She shrugged. "I really don't know. Why?"
"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?"
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 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…"
"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.
Word Count: 1,861
"I don't even want to know why you know how to make a fake ID."
"You will learn to appreciate my skill in due time."
"I guess so. You really think I look twenty-two?"
"You will when you put the clothes I bought for you on and get ready."
"I thought you don't like it when I wear so much make-up."
"I don't normally. You, however, want to see the inside of a casino."
He saw her give in. She never did without a fight and the fire never left her eyes even when she did. It intrigued him, and always made him wonder what it would be like to be on the losing end of an argument with her. It would be fun, he was quite sure of that. As would the making up afterward.
"All right, I'll be out in a minute."
He'd found her weakness - and won. She'd asked him every day since they'd arrived if they could go to a casino.
"I look forward to it."
"Yeah, entirely too much. That's what scares me."
"You were the one complaining we hadn't been to Vegas yet."
"I didn't think you'd take me so literally."
"Ask and ye shall receive," he said with a soft chuckle as she shut the door. He'd picked out her outfit for the night. It was easy to do when he had someone like Claire to work with. He doubted there was anything that could look bad on her. The outfit he'd chosen for tonight, however, he knew would look…
"I don't know what you had in mind when you bought this, but there isn't much here," she said, opening the door quickly.
… Fantastic. It was short and low cut and black and showed off the parts of her he was still working diligently on getting to know even better than his own.
He truly enjoyed when she got mad. Not that she was really angry at the moment.
"I can't help it! You didn't tell me you were into exhibitionism."
"You have parts that deserve to be shown off. Besides, they can look, my dear, just cannot touch. And they will be jealous of what I have and they can only dream of."
"Have? What you have?"
"Mm, who I have on my arm. Is that a more acceptable way to phrase for you?"
"Yes," she said, fidgeting again with the bodice of the dress.
"If you pull on it, Claire, you're going to stretch it out. And it won't fit nearly so well."
"Why on earth would you buy this for me?"
"Because, they'll be so busy looking AT you they won't pay too much attention to the ID claiming you're twenty-two."
"Oh," she said.
"And because you look, what's the popular term, hot?"
"Quite, though I prefer stunning."
"I don't know how to do these," she said, gesturing to the garter and stockings. "You know they make thigh-high stockings that stay up with elastic."
"Where is the fun in that? This way I not only get to put them on you, but later I get to remove them as well."
"And that's fun?"
He knelt in front of her, skimming her thighs with his fingertips before taking hold of each strap to fasten it to the top of the stockings. She was so soft to the touch, skin warm and smooth. And she was his. Finally. He kissed her thigh, sliding a hand up so his thumb could brush her clit.
She responded as she usually did - fast. And hard. He loved that about her. So eager, ready, welcoming, and loving. For him. Always for him. Only for him. He would do whatever was in his power to ensure it was always only for him. He wasn't sure how many there had been before her, but this one - Claire Bennet - was made for him.
He pushed the skirt up, pushing her panties aside so he could taste her properly. The scent of her arousal turned him on something fierce. She was so genuine in her response to him; nothing forced, nothing faked. She proved that by sliding her hands to his head, making fists in his hair. He didn't fool himself into believing it was all him, it was in her to begin with. He was just fortunate to be the one to unleash it.
He felt her begin to tremble as he brought her closer to orgasm. He shifted slightly, supporting her legs with his hands as he grew more frenzied in his need to taste her, to bring her to completion. Now.
He traced a path of kisses along her thigh, sliding his hands along the silky stockings as he drew away.
"I don't know about you, but that was fun for me."
"Uh yeah. You don't want…"
"I'm all right for the moment; don't get any ideas about feigning a headache later, though." He chuckled. "Now turn around so I can see you."
She did as he asked. She had the twirl down perfectly and he had to wonder how many times she'd done it in the past. And who the dresses she'd worn in the past had been donned for. The skirt was barely long enough to hide the tops of the stockings he had just finished attaching to the garter.
"You're going to make it tough for me to keep my hands off you, but it should do the trick."
"Why aren't you wearing something all cut to there and showing off your, well, you know?"
"Because I do not need to, and it wouldn't be nearly as flattering on me as it is on you."
"I shouldn't agree to this."
"You look nice!"
"I look like a slut."
"You do not! You look like a woman out for an evening with her gentleman friend." She quirked a brow at him. "Possibly with some illicit things in mind after the date, but you look presentable. Nothing improper is showing."
"I just feel…"
"That's the point!"
She walked to the bathroom, this time leaving the door open. He watched as she looked in the mirror, putting some last minute touches on her hair.
"It is nice," she murmured.
"I'm sorry. What was that?"
"You heard me," she smirked. "I know you did, so don't make me repeat it or I'll take it back and never let you buy me a dress again."
"I will try and make it up to you later."
"Try?" She turned to face him.
Of course he would. "Are you ready then?"
"I guess. If you really think I can get away with wearing this in public."
"Claire, please it is not that bad."
"It's just weird; I've never worn anything like it."
"Because you've never had anyone to buy anything like it before; now you do."
"Is this where I'm supposed to thank you?"
"You can thank me later."
"I can, huh?"
"I'm planning on it, yeah."
"Is it wrong that we're going out to have fun with my family missing?"
"You have your cell phone with you, right?"
"Well, then. It's not like we're out partying every night. You want to see a casino. Your wish is my command, or something like that. I don't think your father would begrudge you your curiosities being met."
"Maybe some of them."
"Perhaps some," he murmured.
"Now don't stare as if you don't belong here. That's a sure tip-off something's wrong."
"I won't," she said as he pulled up to let her off.
He found her after he'd parked the car. It had taken a little longer than he thought so she was further inside than he'd anticipated her being. Swept up with the crowd probably. She was easy to spot anyway. She was a few feet in front of him, back to him not aware he'd come in. So, he took a moment to observe her. If she was still uncomfortable in the dress she didn't let it show.
He wasn't the only man pausing a moment to watch her either. One even approached her, more probably would follow suit if he delayed joining her too long. He slowly made his way toward her, overhearing the last of the conversation.
"I'm waiting for someone, but thanks," she said, polite but to the point. He came up behind her then, sliding an arm around her waist. He knew the guy would get the hint.
"Hi," he whispered.
"Did I take too long?"
"No, I'd say you're right on time," she said, turning to face him.
"Good," he said, drawing her to him. "Ready to go see what all the excitement about gambling is?"
"You have the money I gave you?"
"Yes. I'm not a kid."
"I was just asking. It was possible during your tirade about my lack of good style knowledge or when I was helping you with your stockings that you forgot it."
"I never claimed you lacked good taste. I just wasn't sure you were being realistic in how I'd fill out this dress."
He slid a finger along her jaw, lower to her neck, over her collarbone and lower still to the top of her breast. He felt her heartbeat beneath his fingertip and smiled when it picked up a bit as he traced the curve of her breast and then the other with his fingertip. He brushed the back of his hand over her nipple, knowing she would still be a little sensitive from her recent orgasm. He could play with her in that fashion for hours and still garner a reaction out of her. She was just that responsive, which made for a lot of fun.
"Oh, I was quite confident you would fill it out. Very well in fact. You give me little credit if you think I have not used our time together well and memorized every inch of you."
"You shouldn't touch me like that here."
"Will see?" He drew her to him. "Sweetheart, this is Vegas. Pretty much anything goes. In fact, if you were up for some exhibitionism or even some good old fashioned voyeurism…"
Her eyes widened.
"I'm kidding!" He kissed her and then kissed her ear. "Unless, of course, that interests you, then the sky's the limit," he whispered.
"Un, no, not tonight."
"You'll let me know if you change your mind?"
"Which would you like better?"
"Watching or doing?"
"I'm in general a doer, but it would depend on what I was watching."
"You forget by this point in my life I've seen it all at least once so nothing surprises or insults me. You, on the other hand, I would enjoy seeing you watch a few of your firsts."
"I think the things you're talking about, pretty much anything would be my first."
"All the more reason to give me hope that curiosity will get the better of you and you'll give in. Until then - let's go with a lesser vice for the moment and gamble away some of my money."
"That's assuming we're going to lose."
Word Count: 1,402
They'd done quite well. Adam had really. Claire had gotten lucky a couple of times and then her luck had run out. Adam claimed it had merely transferred from her to him. As a reward for being his good luck charm, he had taken them somewhere special. When he'd driven them into the middle of nowhere she'd balked. Not because she was afraid of walking around in the dark. She just wasn't dressed for it tonight.
He'd solved that problem by carrying her the entire way from his car to their destination. A cave that led underground wasn't exactly her idea of somewhere special. That was before she'd seen the water.
And, oh man, was the hot spring heavenly. And it was so much roomier than his shower or tub, things they'd put to use a time or two. Floating on the water, in no way embarrassed about doing so stark naked she knew what she had to do. She decided now would be a good time to tell him. She'd been waiting, wanting to hear from her father first. And tell him before Adam.
"Adam," she said softly, moving with the water to the edge.
"I've decided when my dad calls…" she said, making her way to him.
"Go on," he said, realizing apparently she'd gotten momentarily distracted by seeing him naked and wet. Because he was hot normally, but add wet into the picture and her insides just turned to goo.
"I don't want to go back with him."
"To California? I'm sure if you tell him he'll take you wherever you want to go."
She smiled. "No, that's not what I meant."
He slid into the water, sliding his arms around her and switching them so her back was against the edge. She felt him hard against her, had seen moments ago that he'd been very happy about her swimming around naked.
"What did you mean then?" he asked, gathering her legs up so she'd slide them around him.
It took her a minute to respond as he slid inside of her. She watched his face. He was better at showing her the real him, but sex was the one time she thought she got closest to seeing the true him. And she always saw relief there. Relief that he'd actually found her and would no longer be required to go it alone.
She tried hard to imagine four hundred years but just couldn't. There were times she still wasn't sure she believed what he was saying was real. But she knew that if it'd taken him this long to find her it wasn't like she would be able to go out and find someone else like them. It helped that they had chemistry.
"I want to stay with you," she whispered. He picked that moment to slide all the way up and in, thrusting deep inside of her so the words came out sounding somewhat funny.
"Are you sure?"
"Positive. I'm ready."
"I can feel you're ready."
"Funny man. Not that way. I'm ready to be with you."
"Not that I'm complaining, but why now?"
She let her head fall back as he hit that one spot, thrusting against it so she half moaned and hitched her breath from the pleasure of it. His hands were strong, holding onto her tight. If she were a normal woman, she'd have bruises galore. Luckily, she wasn't normal and she'd come out of this unscathed, other than rubbery legs from good sex. The water of the hot springs would probably take care of that, though.
She lifted her head, finding his neck and kissed, sucked, and bit. Marking him. For all the good it did her. Just like her not bruising from his vice-like grip on her, the hickey would be gone in moments. But it turned her on to see it there for that fleeting moment. Especially when he tilted his head to the side, granting her better access. That meant he liked it, too.
"I can't go back to not living with you, being with you after this."
She watched him, his face a mask of passion and carefully maintained control as he timed his thrusts so her pleasure came first. She saw relief there. And happiness. And then his release took over soon after hers and she saw pure pleasure.
He set her down, rubbing her hips and thighs where his hands had been.
"I'm very glad to hear you say that. And if it makes you feel better, I think your father already knew that is what would happen."
"Knowing he is aware of who you are, yeah. They won't have to run so much then."
"And I have more and better resources available to me for flying under the radar. No one will know you're with me, unless Peter confesses telling me about you. And he would not do that to you."
"You don't think so?"
"I think he'd rather die than betray you, yes."
"That's good to know."
"You'd do the same for him."
"He saved my life. So, yes."
"Your loyalty is not misplaced nor does it make me jealous." She quirked a brow at him. "Not too jealous anyway."
"What do you think of my decision?"
"It pleases me, but you already knew that. It seems I have won over your body, now I shall have to focus on your heart."
"What makes you think you don't already have that?"
"I want to ensure you never regret your decision."
"Never? I imagine there will be days, weeks, months that I regret it a time or two."
His lips quivered into a smile. "Is that your way of saying you think I will drive you nuts?"
"Sometimes, but I'm sure the feeling is mutual."
"When did you make this decision?" he asked. She noticed he didn't argue with her. That was good. That meant he wasn't fooling himself into thinking that just because he'd found her and they were together that life would be problem-free from now on. Even her parents fought and she thought they had a near-perfect marriage.
"I think I knew the minute we left California. It's one thing to date you, spend time with you at your house knowing I have to go home. It's another to live with you."
"What?" he asked when she looked away.
"And I don't like being the reason you're alone any longer than you have to be. I try to think of what I'd be feeling if I were in your place. To be this close and yet so far away. Seeing this house, the equipment you have to make IDs, the money you have stashed away. It drove home just how alone you've been. That's not right."
"It is rather frustrating, but only because you are so close."
"I don't want to frustrate you anymore."
"If it is for me you are doing this, I assure you I can wait."
"No, I mean, that's part of it, but it's for me. I don't want to have to hide who I am anymore. I don't want my family to have to move because of me."
"When your father calls to tell you he is all right and you can come home, I won't hold it against you if you change your mind."
"I'd want to go see them, but I don't think I'll change my mind."
"All right. Well, just so you realize I would understand. Right now you're unsure if there is a viable option but me."
"You make it sound so romantic."
"Is there romance involved?"
"Of course there is."
"That is good to know."
She ran a fingertip up the length of his arm, tracing his collarbone and then up to his neck. "I especially liked you taking off the garter."
"And you thought they couldn't be fun."
"I stand corrected."
"Corrected enough to wear them again?"
"Maybe," she whispered, kissing him and reaching with her hand to stroke him. "If you ask nicely."
"I'll beg nicely. Will that do?"
"I thought it might," he murmured as she exposed his head and brushed her thumb over it.
"Did my decision make you happy?"
"Happy is putting it mildly. I'm not sure I can put it into words."
"Show me," she said, her voice husky.
And he did just that enough times that she was pretty sure she understood.
Word Count: 2,207
(I started and re-started this countless times, trying to pick a point in time that suited my vision for the story. I began with her mother's funeral and that was just too depressing for me, so I decided to skip ahead in time a bit and go with something more positive. Thank you to everyone who read this fic and offered their comments and I apologize for the long delay in getting this last part written and posted.)
Claire sat towards the back of the church on the right side, a friend of the groom's. It never failed to amaze her after all these years that the emails continued coming. Weddings, birth announcements, and deaths she was kept apprised of them all. She figured that eventually someone would disregard her brother's wishes and stop sending the emails. And yet, here she was watching Lyle's great grandson get married.
"He looks just like him," Adam said, leaning in to whisper.
"I know," Claire said, feeling the tears filling her eyes no matter how hard she tried to fight them. She didn't claim to know how genetics worked, though some would assume differently if they knew about her. So, she didn't understand how the groom could be the spitting image of her brother. Yet no one until now resembled him so closely.
The weddings were a far happier occasion than the funerals. She'd been to her share of those, too. Adam had tried to tell her, warn her. She hadn't been truly prepared, didn't completely understand. Burying her parents and her brother was one thing. Her parents going before her was a given. Her brother a possibility in a normal lifetime despite his being younger than her.
But having to attend the services for a couple of his children had been hard. And yet, here was proof that life was always going on, renewing itself.
Always they sent gifts; the cards simply signed as being from Adam and Claire. No return address was used, but always they seemed to know whom the gifts came from and emailed thanks were received.
She assumed one day the invitations would stop coming, but until that happened she came and enjoyed being a part of her family's life. Even if it was only at a distance. It was the only way it could be. Adam had tried to stop her, but she refused to listen to him. And he came with her, sat with her, and held her hand.
Later, they'd return home and he'd hold her in his arms while she cried. Tears of joy that Lyle's family - her family - was continuing on. Tears of sadness that they were within arm's reach and yet she couldn't touch or feel the closeness.
And she missed it so.
She had Peter, but it wasn't the same. She hadn't grown up with him. She was a Bennet.
He never said he told her so, never tried to forbid her from continuing her attempt to monitor Lyle's family. She wouldn't have listened anyway, and he knew that. For that she loved him.
She couldn't recall when love had become part of the equation. Not instantaneously. It had grown into it, though. She remembered things about her life before she'd known him, but she'd spent so much of her life with him that it almost seemed like a dream when she thought of herself in the past by herself. Or without him anyway.
It could have started when he'd moved to Alabama so she could attend her college of choice. Or again four years later so she could go to the medical school of her choice. It could have been the first time she'd told him she needed some space and he'd given it willingly.
She'd still had friends then. Normal ones that she didn't have to completely lie to. She'd studied to become a doctor and she and a few of the female friends she'd made had rented a house together on the Cape for a summer before moving on with their lives.
She'd stayed long past tourist season had ended, just enjoying the solitude. The others had to leave after a month, having jobs to get back to and school loans to pay back that required they get to work immediately. She didn't have loans or the urgency to start working right away. Right away was a different vantage point when you'd live forever.
She'd flirted with someone else for the first time in years that summer. She hadn't done anything about it other than harmless talking. She wasn't a cheater and that hadn't been the purpose of the summer. She'd asked Adam for space not a release on their commitment. But it was refreshing - and reassuring - to know that someone found her attractive simply for her.
It had been heavenly to be there for that short while alone. So welcome and necessary because when it got down to it until that summer she'd never been alone. Adam tried so hard not to be demanding, but there was little he could do to lessen his intensity. It just was part of who he was, and she loved him for it. She liked to think that his intensity was what made them work. It was their first separation but it certainly hadn't been their last. As he'd said so long ago, they needed time away once in a while. Even if it was one wanted to travel one place and the other wanted to go someplace that was else.
He'd come eventually. She knew he would. She'd made memories of her own in the big old house they'd rented for the summer. And together they'd made more until the weather got too bad for the drafty place. They'd gone back a few years ago to discover the drafty old place had been torn down. Claire had been sad about that, a sign that it wasn't just human life she'd outlive.
She didn’t have to work. He tried to tell her that several times, but it went against everything she'd been taught to not contribute something. And what would she do with forever if she didn't work? Being a doctor helped her save lives; she liked to think so anyway. He seemed to understand that and helped her keep her training and credentials current. The training was easy to keep current, there were always classes she could take. That was up to her. The credentials were his department.
Sooner or later another Bennet would be born and she'd have more information to tack onto her family tree. She kept track, passing along the information to the relatives who assumed Claire was dead.
"It never gets easier," she whispered.
"Not for someone like you, it wouldn't."
It wasn't an insult, rather his roundabout way of complimenting her. Despite his protests he liked that she clung so hard to this aspect of her humanity, kept track of her family. It was something he'd chosen not to do and by the time he'd met her and actually grown curious it was too late. Records centuries ago were not what they were when Claire had been born.
"Do you regret it?" he asked quietly as they shared a drink at the hotel bar, waiting for dinner to finish so they could join the celebration.
He arched an eyebrow, taking a sip of his beer.
"It occurs to me every time we attend one of these things."
"Yes, weddings. You didn't get one. Not like this."
She shrugged. "I had no friends but the few I'd made in college. My parents were in hiding. My brother couldn't come because he was in hiding even in college. What was the point?"
They didn't talk about her parents much. She'd seen them since leaving California only a handful of times. The Company was relentless in its pursuit of both Claire and her father. At times she wasn't sure who they wanted more. Her for her ability or her father for getting away from them and being able to stay gone. Of course, her family had gotten Adam's help eventually and been able to live out their lives after a while without looking over their shoulder every day.
It was only with Peter's invisibility and his willingness to go with her that she was able to see her father in the hospital before he died. All these years later she still wasn't sure how they'd gotten away with that, but somehow they had gone undetected and she'd been able to say goodbye. She hadn't gotten that chance with her mother. Her father had been gone for years by that time and Claire had felt relatively safe attending the funeral. She felt fairly certain by then The Company had bigger fish to fry than a special who'd escaped decades ago.
"So you don't?"
"Do I regret that I didn't get the wedding I dreamed of? Sure, but that doesn't mean I regret marrying you on the beach in Jamaica. I should ask you the same question. You married me for my benefit - and my father's - not yours," she said, glancing at his hand.
He wore his ring today. He didn't usually, which had bothered her once upon a time. Now it seemed so insignificant. The ring didn't signify what was in his heart or the sincerity behind his commitment to her. To them.
"Because I knew it was important to you and I wished to see you happy. So, you don't regret it?"
"No," she said softly. "I don't. I have no idea where I'd be if I hadn't given you a chance. Alone. And I've discovered as nice as it is to be alone once in a while, it's very nice to know I don't have to be that way. And coming to these things as you call them reassures me even more. I've grown rather fond of you, too, over the years. Don't let that go to your head or anything, though."
He leaned in and kissed her.
"That's good to know and I'll try not to. Thank you."
"Thank you," she said softly. "Now, let's go dance the night away."
"A woman after my own heart."
"You told me it was already spoken for."
His mouth lifted into a smile. "Alas for sometime now. This woman, relentless in her pursuit of me she was. She's a doctor, you know, so knew the intricacies of how the heart works and kept after me with her wiles. Eventually, I caved, and now I'm afraid it's too late to escape."
"Is that how it goes?"
"Something like that. I think my memory is foggy on the details," he said, grazing her lower lip with a fingertip. "As the roles may have been reversed," he said, sliding his hand from her mouth to his wallet. He left enough money on the bar to cover their drinks.
"You think you used your wiles on me?"
"Sweetheart, I know I used my wiles on you."
"Hmm," she said thoughtfully.
"Remind me later to show you just how much you've enjoyed those wiles over the years. I think there still might be a position or two we've yet to attempt."
"If you're not too tired from all the dancing I plan to do. I know your old age catches up to you sometimes."
He coughed softly, his eyes betraying his amusement. He gave a glance at the bartender as he pocketed his wallet. The bartender was looking at them rather strangely as people tended to do. They obviously had no way of knowing their situation or about their inside jokes.
He drew her to him then and kissed her breathless. The fact that he could still do that after all these years amazed and astounded her. She could always tell by the way his heart picked up that he felt the same way. Her eyes remained closed as he drew away and she let out a soft sound of protest.
"Age begets experience. Now, let's go dance at your nephew's wedding," he said, taking hold of her hand.
"That's what I meant."
"All these years and you still aren't used to it."
"I will in time, but there are so many years of there being solely me. Old habits die hard they say. Give me a couple hundred more years and I'll be used to it."
She wouldn't hold him to it, but she knew that as long as the invitations continued coming he would accompany her. And that was all that mattered to her, really.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com
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