***Part Three***
Word Count: 2,609

Claire was quiet as they rode to his house. She just couldn't believe it was Sylar. It had to be someone else. They'd all been very careful. That was the reason she picked a place like Wheelsy. Who'd look for her here? She hadn't intended on meeting someone like Bill, someone she thought she could like.

"You can sleep in Kylie's room for the night if you want."

She glanced at the stairs then at him and shook her head. "I'd feel better if I was with you."

"All right. I won't ask again, just trying to be a gentleman about it."

"Um," she started, eyes darting around. It seemed different here tonight for some reason. Maybe because the reason she was here was. "I need to make a phone call."

"Cordless phone's in the kitchen," he said. "Help yourself."

"I've got my cell," she said, showing him the small flip phone in her palm.

"Ah. All right. That'll give me time to make sure I have no socks under the bed or anything."

She laughed a little and waited until he was up the stairs to walk toward the kitchen, using speed dial to call Peter. Funny, talking to both Nathan and Peter in the same day. It was rare she talked to either of them. They'd come to her graduation, but she suspected that was more her mother's idea than theirs. Her father couldn't be there, so Nathan was kind of the next best thing.

'Hey there, how's my favorite cheerleader,' Peter said, picking up after a couple of rings. There was a lot of background noise, so she couldn't hear him real well.

"I'm not a cheerleader anymore."

"But you'll always be my cheerleader.'

"I guess. Where are you?"

'At a Yankees game.'

That's right. She'd forgotten that Nathan had said they were doing something. "Oh, well, if it's a bad time…"

'No, hang on,' he said. She could tell by the noise that he was walking somewhere. 'Okay, I'm out in the hall now. Nathan told me you had a date tonight. You're back a little early, aren't you?'

"Well, no, it's not done yet exactly."

'Then why are you calling me? Did he do something? Did he hurt you?'

"Uh, Peter? Remember who you're talking to."

'All right, rhetorical question, but if I need to come down there…'

"No, it's nothing about my date. He's the sheriff."


"My date."

'Oh! You mean your boss? Didn't you say you're working at the sheriff's office?'

"Yes," she said slowly.

'Claire, don't date your boss.'

"Too late. Can I tell you what's going on now?"

'Yeah, go ahead.'

"I've been getting flowers."

'What's wrong with that?'

"Nothing at first. It was a bouquet sent anonymously to me at work. No card. I called the florist and they'd been purchased in person with cash. The clerk couldn't remember anything about the man to describe him. Innocent enough, I've gone out with a few guys since moving here. Bill thought of one in particular…"


"The sheriff."

'Your date?'

"Yes. Can I go on now?"

'Yeah, just making sure I've got it straight.'

"Anyway, he thought of one in particular who he'd never seen dance with anyone before. So, I kind of went with that, assuming it was Jimmy, too, because it did kind of make sense."

'Okay. I still don't see the problem with some flowers.'

"I got home later that day and there was a rose on my porch. Bill came to pick me up today and there was another rose on my porch. I ignored it. I mean, no harm, right? It's just a couple of roses. I was able to think that until we got back to the house and I went upstairs to change."

'And just why are you changing? This is your first date with the guy, isn't it?'

"Ease up, will you? I wore a dress on the date and thought jeans would be more comfortable. So I changed. It's a good thing, too, because I found a rose on my bed."

'On your bed?'


'Get out of there now.'

"Already done that. Good thing about having an in with the sheriff, he brought me to his place."

'You sure it's not a ploy for him to get you into bed with him?'

"No, because he told me I could take Kylie's room."

'Who's Kylie?'

"Sorry," she said, forgetting he didn't know all these things. She took a minute to explain Kylie's situation.

'I still don't like it.'

"Peter, I'm not calling to get advice on my love life and whether I sleep with the guy. I want to know. Do you think? I mean." She took a deep breath. "Is it Sylar?"

'I don't know. No one's heard from him in a while.'

"We were so careful this time, Peter. If I came all the way down here for nothing…"

'It wasn't for nothing. You're safe not just from Sylar down there, Claire, but from The Company and anyone like them.'

"Then why aren't you in hiding?"

'Because I have more in my arsenal than you do to get away from them.'

"I know," she said, feeling the tears starting to come. She couldn't help it and certainly couldn't stop them once they started. She'd been running for seven years now, hiding, using a name that wasn't hers, always glancing over her shoulder, and she'd lost her dad which hurt the most. And now she was cut off from everyone she loved and cared for. She knew it was for the best, but it didn't mean it didn't get to her sometimes.

'Claire, do you trust this guy?'

"Yes," she said with a sniffle.

'Then hang up with me because there's nothing I can do from you from New York. Let him handle this one. If I could give you a hug I would, but my arms just aren't that long.'

"I know," she said with another sniffle. "I thought I was done being scared."

'I don't think any of us will ever be completely fear-free, Claire, but you should be safe there.'

"Okay." She sniffled, finding a napkin and blotting her face with it.

'Let this guy do his job. If you like him and trust him then I have to trust your judgment. Just don't do anything stupid when you're emotional.'

"I won't."

'Good. Be careful.'

"I will. Thanks. Say hi to everyone."

'I will. Good night, Claire, and if you need anything else just call.'

"I will."



'Why'd you call me and not Nathan or your mom?'

"I don't want to worry Mom if I don't have to. And I just can't talk to Nathan about this type of stuff."

'Just curious. Good night.'

"Night," she said, disconnecting.

She slid the phone into her pocket and walked to the stairs. She found his room easily enough, it was the only door on the floor that was slightly ajar instead of wide open. She knocked lightly, Lucky at her side. She scolded him when he tried to push the door open with the muzzle of his nose.

"You don't need to knock."

"Wasn't sure if the closed door was a warning for me to stay away."

"Naw, just out of habit." She pushed the door open, Lucky followed when she went in. "Hey, didn't the phone call go well?"

She didn't say anything, just walked to him and into his arms. He seemed to understand and gave her exactly what she needed. He hugged her. And she cried. And cried. She didn't think she had that much crying in her.

Eventually, he picked her up and carried her to the bed. He'd already pulled back the covers. And if she wasn't mistaken by the smell of dryer sheets, had changed them while she talked to Peter. He didn't even scold Lucky for joining them on the bed as he drew his quilt around her.

Vaguely, she was aware that his bedding was obviously male. No flowers or patterns, just plain solid colored sheets and quilt. She snuggled against him, eventually the crying fit gave way to less urgent sobs. He didn't ask any questions, didn't say anything. He just held her, letting her cry it out, which was exactly what she needed.

Somewhere along the line, his touch grew a little bolder, a little less comforting. She accepted it, tilting her head back to kiss him. She was hungry, greedy even and rolled onto her back, drawing him with her. He was big enough that if he hadn't wanted to come she couldn't have forced him.

She touched his chest, sliding her hands out to clutch both sides and then his back as he nestled himself exactly where she wanted him - between her legs. She took and took as much as he was willing to give.

Her breath caught when he slid his hand under her shirt. Slowly, it made a path up and she arched into him when he finally cupped her breast with his hand. Warm and rough, his were hands used to do many things and he wasn't afraid to let her feel that.

Their tongues danced intimately, which only served to turn her on more. Warning bells were going off in her head. This was bad, but she could only think of how good everything he was doing felt and how much she needed that right now.

He broke the kiss, lowering his mouth to her neck. He kissed her there, sucking hard enough to leave a mark. She'd have to explain away why there was no mark there later, but for right now she just enjoyed what he was doing.

He slid further along her, darting his tongue along her collarbone, dipping it into the indentation there. And then he was at the swell of her breast, kissing the top of each one before tugging the top down a bit.

He glanced up at her then. He was looking for or asking her something. She slid her hands to his head, encouraging it back to where it was a moment ago. He took the hint and she gave a soft mewling sound as his mouth closed over her nipple. Planning on staying in for the rest of the night she hadn't bothered putting a bra on so he didn't have to fight with anything but her top. And that didn't seem to pose too much of a problem for him.

Her hands ran through his hair as he showered both breasts with attention. Like at her neck, he sucked in a spot or two hard enough to leave a mark. She wasn’t sure how she'd explain to him why there weren't any. She'd gotten away with the explanation in college that she just didn't bruise that easily, but Bill didn't strike her as the type to fall for that line. Especially because he seemed to know exactly what to do to leave those marks. The few guys in college who'd tried hadn't seemed to know what they were doing.

A hand slid low along her stomach, a fingertip sliding inside the waist of her jeans. She groaned softly when he moved the fingertip, relieved when he didn't stop. Instead, he slid his hand between her legs through her jeans. He groaned when she pressed against his hand then.

He slid his hand up again, working the button at the top of her jeans followed by the zipper. They were tight enough he couldn't do much more than simply get his hand inside. His fingertips barely brushed over her clit. He could move, he supposed, and give himself better access but he was really enjoying being on top of her at the moment.

So, he did the best he could with the cramped accommodations. It'd been a long time, years, since he'd had to bring a girl off this way. Judging by her soft sounds that were slowly becoming not so soft he still knew what he was doing. Assuming the girls then had been sincere, he was young and inexperienced enough not to know the difference.

"Bill," she whispered. "Please." He watched her face, her nipples harden as he blew on each of them, and her hips roll as if to encourage his hand further. All he'd have to do to give her what she wanted was peel the offending jeans away. It was so simple and maybe he'd get the hard-on he'd been working on for a while now taken care of in the process.

"Kylie's room might be safer for you," he whispered, kissing the swell of her breast before looking at her. He was the stupidest man alive, he decided there and then. He had a willing woman, turned on pretty well and he was pushing her away. He knew what he wanted to do, and keeping her safe from him just then wasn't it.

"I'm safe with you," she whispered, biting her lip and giving a sound of pleasure that made himself harden even more. He couldn't wait to see how she'd come when he was really trying.

He chuckled with a shake of his head. "Don't be so sure of that, Claire."

"Do you want me to go to Kylie's room?"

"Hell, no, but I'm not so sure what I want you to do would be agreeable to you right now. Not to mention, you're upset and scared, I'd feel as though I was taking advantage."

"You haven't done anything to take advantage of me."

"My mind has."

She laughed then. "Are you going to arrest yourself for your thoughts, Sheriff?"

"It wouldn't stop me from having them."

"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have…"

"No, I did it and I take responsibility for it. You wanted comfort and I went a little too far."

She leaned in and kissed him. "You didn't, really. It felt good." She laughed again. "Nicer than good."

"That's good to know. It's been a while so I was afraid I'd be rusty."

"I guess not, but then it's not like I have many to compare you to."

"I really don't need to hear that right now."

He moved so he could lay beside her, fixing her top before drawing her to him. He left her jeans the way they were though.

"Why not?"

"That's kind of a turn on."

"I thought looking at dirt turned guys on."

"Some guys probably, yeah."

"You're not one of them?"

"I like to think I can control myself."

He tapped her on the nose then, groaning when she tilted her head up to capture his finger in between her lips.

"Get some sleep, Claire. We'll need to fill out some paperwork in the morning."


"Yes, you know the drill by now."

"I," she stared at him with wide eyes. "I can't, Bill."

"Well, of course you can."

"No, I really can't. I don't want to fill out a report, at least not until we find out who's doing this."

"Claire, someone broke into your house…"

"So, you have to put something on paper as proof that it happened?"

"You're really scared," he said after a minute or two of silence.

"Yes." It was hard for her to admit.

"Something tells me there's more to it than flowers on your bed."

"A little."

"Care to talk about it?"

"I can't," she said simply.

"All right. I'm not going to force you not that I could mind you. And though it goes against what I've been trained we'll put off the paperwork for now. If it goes any further, though, like things start going missing…"

"I understand."

"Did you look to see if anything was missing?"

"Well, no, but I didn't notice anything."

He was quiet then.

"What?" she asked.

"Check your drawers and things like it."


He cleared his throat. "If you've got a secret admirer, they may have taken something of a more personal nature."

"Oh," she said, eyes widening at that. "I hadn't thought of that."

"That's why they pay me the big bucks," he said with a drawl. He did that sometimes, his drawl became more pronounced. She wasn't sure if it was intentional or not.

"I guess. Wheelsy's lucky to have you."

"Go to sleep, Claire, I'll protect you."

"Is there anything I can do for you?"

"Like what?"

She stared at him for a minute. "You know, you did things to me…"

"That's not why I did them. I shouldn't have done them, but I couldn't resist. And I won't deny I enjoyed doing them immensely and if the time comes more happens I'm sure I'll enjoy that, too."

"Thank you."

"I'll see you in the morning, maybe even make you some breakfast."

"That sounds good," she said, realizing now that she was tired. Exhausted was more like it. Funny, just a few minutes ago she felt like she could have climbed Mt. Everest. She'd slept with a guy before, a boyfriend in college who had his own apartment. It was only the one time, because she realized that he was a creep shortly after that night.

She'd forgotten how nice it was. She turned onto her other side, facing away from him. Lucky was there, trying to take up as little space as he could manage. Claire draped her arm around the dog much the same way Bill had his around her.

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