***Part Two***
Word Count: 2,413

Taylor wasn't sure how it happened. He'd gone to Benny's house intent on saying no to whatever Matty's father had up his sleeve to reel Taylor into the game. The man was difficult to say no to, he'd gotten Chris to come back after what happened in Montana. Taylor was determined to stay out. He'd worked too hard to do anything else.

That wasn't what Benny had wanted, though. Or at least as far as Taylor could tell it wasn't. He supposed there was a taint to the silver lining that was the job Benny helped him get, but he couldn't see it. He'd looked pretty damned hard before picking up the phone to call the senator Benny referred him to.

He'd given notice to the club with the senator's assurance that they could work around his schedule until the two weeks were up. Taylor wasn't in a position to walk away from jobs with bad references. He didn't have a whole lot to spare. His resume was ready for a little boost, and this gig would give him one. Big time. However, should something fall through, the relationship not work out, he wanted to be able to slide back into his old position if need be. A whiff of the senator being corrupt would send Taylor packing immediately.

He hoped that wouldn't be necessary.

He was bodyguard to a senator now. One that wasn't on the take. He'd been suspicious of that at first. That Nathan Petrelli was one of Benny's greased palms. Benny assured him that even though Daniel Linderman was dead, the Petrelli's were off-limits to any other families. He wasn't sure if that meant the Petrelli's had at one time been on the take. It really didn't matter, so long as the senator was clean.

So, here he was, starting his first day - night actually - as the man paid to take a bullet for someone he barely knew. He'd agreed to stay at the Petrelli's house. The apartment in the house was smaller than what Taylor was used to now that he'd been living in his father's house. The senator didn't know that and Taylor would never say anything. Of course, compared to the apartment he'd had up until Teddy's death this place was luxurious.

He'd had his own apartment, which he ended his lease after Teddy died since it was a month-to-month deal anyway. The house provided more than adequate amounts of space for anything he could possibly want or need to do. Even better, he had no payments on the house. He didn't actually like living there. It wasn't his house, always as a child he'd felt like he was on the wrong side of things. A visitor to his father's house, catching glimpses of what he should have had but Teddy never saw fit to give him because his mother was a Jew. Eventually, he'd change things, make it his house. He was in no hurry, though.

He'd sent a car over earlier with the stuff he'd need. He hadn't sent everything, but the stuff he used every day was here. He'd see what else he needed as he went along because he wasn't sure how well suited he was going to be for this type of work. He liked being able to come home after work, have a beer, watch some TV, maybe entertain a woman.

Judging by this place, though, having his own space wasn't going to be an issue. It wasn't as impressive as Matty's dad's house or Teddy's house. But it was nothing to sneeze at either. And he doubted he'd be bothered, tucked in a portion of the house he was sure no one who mattered walked around in.


Claire was on her way upstairs to change for her night out when she heard the doorbell.

"Got it," she called out, saving someone else the effort since she was already by the door.

She opened it, staring for a moment certain that she was seeing a ghost. Perhaps she should have let someone else get it after all. This was so not good. How had he found her? And why now? Here? He couldn't have confronted her at school or something?

"Oh God," she whispered. Suddenly, she felt ill, violently so. As if everything she'd eaten for lunch was going to come back up.

"Uh, not quite. I'm looking for Senator Petrelli."

He didn't hide the fact that he was checking her out. She did the same in return, as he hadn't been in such nice clothes the last time she'd seen him. He'd liked what he'd seen once before. So had she for that matter. She wondered briefly if he did today, too, because she once again thought he was pretty hot. Then she chastised herself for thinking like that. He'd asked for Nathan, which made no sense at all. What was he going to do? Tell on her to Nathan months after the fact?

"You're here to see Nathan?" she asked, confused.

She noticed his arched eyebrow at her question. He probably wondered why he had her so flustered.

"Yes, he in? Or did I get the time wrong? He's expecting me."

"No, no, he's here," she said. "Come in."

What she wanted to do was slam the door in his face. Why was he here to see Nathan? It couldn't be a coincidence. Could it? Was he going to try to blackmail Nathan or something? She didn't think Nathan would take this guy's word over hers, but she imagined if it meant a scandal he just might.

"You all right?" he asked.

"Uh, yeah, sorry. I'll get him. Who are you?"

He chuckled. "Obviously, you're not part of his staff."

"No," she said. "Not hardly. And you are?" she asked again.

"Just tell him it's Taylor."

"All right," she said. "Have a seat," she added, pointing to the living room. "I'll get him."


She turned quickly, unable to get out of the foyer fast enough. She paused at the door to Nathan's office, collecting herself. He'd be full of questions if he saw how flustered she was. Their relationship wasn't the closest, but he was intuitive at times when she wished he wasn't. Like just seeing the last guy on earth she ever thought she'd run into again. And her house of all places.

"Nathan," she said, knocking on the door. She opened it when she heard him tell her to come in. "Taylor is here."

"Oh right. I'll be out in a minute."

"Okay," she said, pausing at the door before leaving again. "Who is he?"

"I hired him."

"You did what?" she asked.

"He comes highly recommended."

"What did you hire him for?"

"Protection, Claire. I have to take the threats seriously even if there aren't many. And, unlike you, I'm not invulnerable."

"Oh," she said. "Okay, that makes sense I guess."

"Are you all right?"

"Yeah, fine, it's just been a long day. You know?"

"All right. You could stay home and get some rest. Or maybe you need something to eat? I'm sure Carla would make you a plate."

"No, I'm fine. I'll be in my room."

"Okay," he said. "So, you are going out tonight?"

"Yeah, I was on my way up to get changed when he rang the bell."

"Oh, well, it wouldn't kill you to stay home and rest if you aren't feeling well."

As if. She wished she could feel sick. Obviously, Nathan was distracted for him not to realize that Claire didn't have the luxury of not feeling well. No sick days from school for her! One of her friends just last week made the suggestion they all feign being sick and spend the day shopping while their parents were off doing whatever. Claire couldn't join in because she had no way of faking Nathan out.

"Yeah, thanks, I don't think I'll change my plans, though."

"All right. I'll be right out, just finishing something up here."

She made her way back to the living room, barely stepping into the room.

"Nathan will be with you in a minute."

"Thanks," he said.

He'd stood when she opened the doors. Not for her benefit, surely. He was trying to impress Senator Petrelli. Nathan had hired him! That meant she'd see him, and while he didn't seem to recognize her today she imagined that could change. She fled up the stairs to her room as fast as her legs would carry her. She so didn't want to be around him when - if - he remembered her.


Three Months Ago

Adam dropped the bombshell on her that her ability encompassed so much more than just being able to heal.

She wouldn't age.

She wouldn't die.

She could heal others with her blood.

She'd been on a bit of a self-destructive binge since the news. She experimented with all sorts of things like drinking excessively (only to discover she couldn't get drunk for more than a few minutes), trying to see if anything she did to herself would alter her somehow (it never did). She'd gone to a hospital's burn unit - with Peter's help - to see just what her blood would do.

Tonight, she experimented with casual sex. Oh, she'd made him wear a condom just because that's what you did when you picked up a guy in a bar. He didn't know she couldn't catch or carry any diseases.

Her legs were wrapped around the waist of a guy she didn't know. He was cute and receptive. Others had been, too, but they were drunk. He was not. Plus, well, he was hot.

Him thrusting deeply into her again and again caused the wall to mark up her back terribly. Of course, there'd be no evidence of that when they were done. The bar's storeroom was fairly dark. Not perhaps the usual place someone would choose for their first time. Claire wasn't out for romance or flowers. She wanted something real, something to prove she was as human as the next girl. She wanted to feel what any other girl would just once.

And he was giving her that. She felt everything. Things he was doing to her. The way his body felt under her hands and around her legs as he squeezed them around his waist. Maybe she was feeling too much.

She felt amazing. It was the most she'd felt since coming to grips with the fact that Adam might just know what he was talking about. She didn't want to believe him, but he was like her so had to know. And she'd hold onto this feeling for tomorrow morning when she woke up wondering what she'd done.

His hands at her hips were gripping her hard enough to leave bruises. Still she cried out, begged him for more. Harder. Deeper. Whatever he could give her she wanted. That's why she'd chosen him. She knew he would push her limits and not try to make this into something it wasn't.

A knock made him pause and she whimpered, biting onto his shoulder to muffle any sound. She was disappointed that the pleasantly painful assault on her body stopped. Even if it was only for a minute, and that was all he stopped for.

Another knock, followed by, 'Reese,' a voice on the other side of the door said.

"Shit man, I'm kinda busy in here, what?" he said, not bothering to stop thrusting into her. He was a big guy, strong and seemed to get off on the fact that she could take him not just all the way inside of her but as hard as he was able to give.

'You're needed out here, man.'

"No one else can handle it?"

'Uh, no. Not anymore.'

"You can't give me a few more minutes?"

"I waited as long as I could."

"Fuck me," he said, sliding his hands from her hips to her waist. Steadying her, he eased himself out of her. She felt an emptiness after that. She wasn't sure if that was normal or just because he was - from what she could tell anyway- a large guy in all respects.

"I'll be back as soon as I can to finish this. No one will bother you in here."

"Okay," she'd said, having no intentions of waiting for him. Picking him up, inviting him to take her here had been spontaneous. Waiting for him, being here when he got back would take that away from her.

She'd left, going out a backdoor not caring if she set off a fire alarm and hadn't looked back.

That had been her first - and last - experiment with not just casual sex but sex in general. She'd woken up the next morning feeling all sorts of things. Dirty and excited were among those feelings, yet her body felt no different than it had the night before. She suspected were she to go out that night it would be her first time all over again.

Adam must have suspected what she'd been doing. Not the sex necessarily, but in a general sense. He'd taken her aside not too long after that night and talked to her. He made her realize she couldn't draw any more attention to herself than she would naturally. He'd told her The Company would be more than interested in keeping her locked up since he'd escaped. And he didn't want her locked up anymore than she or her fathers did.

She'd stopped experimenting - or being wild as Nathan called it - from that point forward and had been living a pretty straight and narrow life since. School, friends, movies, the occasional club (avoiding the one where she'd seen him), and talking on the phone. She didn't want to get caught. She didn't want to stand out if she could avoid it.

And now he was here, in her house, and would be from the way it appeared every day. Thank God he didn't seem to recognize her. There was that. The last thing she needed was him telling Nathan what she'd done.

She let her head fall into her hands, walking to her bed and dropping onto it bonelessly.

What if he did remember? What if he was just being cool about it to see if she remembered? To see if she'd say something first?

"Oh God," she said for the second time that day.

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