***Part Five***
Word Count: 5,761

He bumped into her two nights later. He was coming back from a night at the gym; she was coming back from being out with the non-boyfriend. He had gotten the night off from the senator who said he had some things to do from his home office anyway. Evidently, the senator wasn't going to begrudge Taylor doing these sparring side jobs from time to time as this was the second one now Taylor had been able to do since working for him.

It wasn't about needing extra money, but ever since Matty had planted the seed in his mind he'd tasted it. Something Taylor Reese could do on his own without the help of Benny Chains, his father, or anyone else. If he made it to an actual bout somewhere down the road, it would be through his own effort. His own blood, sweat, and tears will have gotten him there. And that's what Taylor wanted more than anything. He didn't care if he wasn't the next Ali or Tyson, he just wanted to know that whatever he achieved he did it on his own.

Tonight's sparring session had gone well, better than the last one for sure. He'd left that one thinking that he wouldn't be asked back. He hadn't performed awful but he just hadn't delivered his A game, worried in the back of his head that the senator would get offended if he showed up for work the next day battered and bruised.

Tonight he had delivered and then some. He'd exposed some weaknesses of his opponent and with a bout coming up in ten days time he needed those pointed out to him. Taylor hoped that sometime in the next week, he'd be called again to spar. He doubted it would happen, the same dude being asked twice was unlikely. It could happen, though because the fighter's manager seemed to think Taylor had given them some things to work on. Perhaps they'd like to see Taylor again to find out if they'd worked those kinks out.

He grimaced when he realized Claire had spotted him as he was going around the house to his apartment. As fitting for someone who spent the night punching and being punched his face was a mess. He held his own well enough, knocking his opponent down (but not out) twice. However, he still looked like he'd been hit in the face a few times.

He hadn't talked to her since that night outside the house when he'd broken up her conversation with Monroe, so he hadn't counted on her following him. She certainly hadn't before now and she'd seen him come and go from his place more than once. He guessed her coming this way meant she'd seen the condition he was in. Other than that night, she hadn't said more than five words to him any other time. He hadn't tried to initiate conversation either because kissing the boss' daughter was far from the way he wanted to lose this job. She certainly hadn't come to see him.

"Are you all right?"

"Uh, yeah," he said, unlocking the door that led to his apartment. He had to admit, he'd purposely been slow about finding his keys. Wondering what she wanted. He was curious about her, this feeling he had that he knew her. And, well, he kind of liked knowing he'd been the reason her date was cut short.

He didn't care what she or the senator said, you go out three or four nights in a row with the same guy, you're on the path to being more than friends. He pushed the door open, pocketing his keys.

"You're not, you're hurt," she said after he flipped the light switch.

"You go to college to learn to be that observant?"

She frowned, worrying her lower lip. "You don't have to be nasty to me. I came to see if you were all right."

"And I said I am."

"Well, you didn't really say that and you don't like fine."

"It's what I do."

"You get beat up?" She glanced behind him then, toward the other door of the apartment that led to the main part of the house. "Is Nathan okay? Did something happen to him?"

"He's fine. I had the night off. He was staying in and I had the opportunity to make some cash and get in some ring time."

"Ring time?"

"Yeah, boxing."

"You're a boxer."

"Trying to be one, yeah."

She tilted her head a little regarding him.

"Did you win?"

He walked toward the kitchen, tossing his keys on the counter there. He needed some ice and imagined she was going to follow him in. It was in a roundabout way her house so he couldn't really stop her.

"It was just sparring."

"With another fighter?"

As he expected she followed, closing the door behind her.

"Yes, that's usually what sparring is. You and another guy in the ring, beating on one another so you or the other guy can get ready for the upcoming bout scheduled."

"So, did you win?"

"It's not really like that, but no I wouldn't say I won. I got some licks in for sure."

"Does the other guy look worse than you?"

He tried to smile at that, but the split on his lip wouldn't let him do it too easily. And, of course, that led to the cut bleeding again. He wore headgear for most of the night, but it didn't cover every inch of his face and blows still landed even with it on all night.

"Yeah, I guess he did. I knocked him off his feet a couple of times."

"You're supposed to do that, right?"

"Yes," he said. "People think sparring's a breeze, but it's not, you really do have to fight as the opponent they're going to be facing would fight them. I mean, you don't go all out to try and beat the shit out of them or anything, but it's nothing to sneeze at either."

She laid a towel out on the counter and put some ice on it before folding it up and making it into a makeshift ice pack. He tried to ignore the good feeling it gave him to have someone do something for him. He'd never had that. Well, beside his mom, but when he was a kid making his name out in the streets getting his boo boos kissed by his mommy wasn't at all appealing to him. So, he'd foregone such niceties. And had a good number of scars and blemishes to prove it.

"So, bouncer, bodyguard, boxer. You stick with the B jobs, I guess."

He was quiet for a minute, regarding her. He wondered if she had any idea what she'd just said. That he finally had the answer to the question that had been plaguing him for a while now.

"Yeah, I guess," he said, taking the towel from her. He let his hand rest over hers just a little longer than was necessary. In part because he just wanted to, but also to see what her reaction would be. She didn't pull it away as if burnt so that was good. She didn't seem to really react, though, so that could potentially be bad. "Thanks."

"You're welcome," she said simply before walking to his bathroom.

"Make yourself at home," he called out with a shake of his head as he set the ice pack over the worst of the bruising.

She came back with some ointment, which he supposed a few of his cuts would probably require. He hated the headgear so tended to take it off after a while so there were some outright cuts aside from his lip.

"You know your way around my place."

"I helped stock it when Nathan said someone would be living here."

"You did? You mean he didn't have servants go out and do it?"

"Well, he would have, but I wanted to do it. I had nothing better to do and I didn't mind. I figured I'd probably stock it from a real person's standpoint better than they would."

"Yeah, you did all right."

"So, are you going to let me put this on you or are you going to be all tough guy?"

"Baby, I am a tough guy. That's what your old man's counting on anyway."

She smiled. "Yeah, yeah. Sit," she said, gesturing to his couch. She dragged the coffee table over so she could sit on it and apply the ointment to the worst of the cuts. There weren't many, most of it was superficial scrapes and bruising.

He was piecing things together now. She was a puzzle because if it weren't for that slip she made a minute ago he really wasn't sure he'd remember. Not that she wasn't memorable, but she didn't really seem like the same girl. One thing had him curious, though. At least something he could ask her about.

"Why do you call him by his name?"


"Yeah. He's your dad, right?"

"How did you know that?"

"I've been putting the pieces together. Hadn't gotten confirmation of that bit of information until now, but things I've overheard. So, why don't you call him Dad?"

"Because I'm adopted and he's not my dad."

"But you're living here."

"It's a long story, but yes. I am for now anyway."

"Since the election?"

"Yeah. Why?"

He stared at her then, watching her intently as she focused on his face. He wondered what other clubs she'd gone to after the night at his. Maybe it was a game to her. Some women got into that. She didn't seem like that type, though. She seemed, for lack of a better word, like a pretty good girl. The type he'd be tempted to bring home to meet his mother if he was involved with her in such a way.

"You haven't always been going out with this guy I've seen you with the last few days?"

"Adam? No. I go out with friends sometimes."

"To clubs?"

"Uh, yeah," she said, as if that was a ridiculous question. He imagined it probably was. That's what girls like her did with their time and their cash that seemingly had no end.

He grabbed her wrist then, drawing it away from his face and causing her to drop the tube of ointment.

"I'm not done yet."

"I think you are. With that anyway," he said, tossing the towel full of ice onto the coffee table before drawing her to him. She gave a sound as she stumbled, landing on his lap as he'd intended. His mouth captured hers. He blocked out the pain that pierced through him with the pressure to his lip. He was not giving her room to escape.

This time.

He felt when the wrist he held captive went limp, indication she was no longer fighting him. He deepened the kiss then, parting his lips so his tongue could join in on the fun. He hadn't kissed her that night. Not like this. She hadn't been looking for that. This wasn't about what she was looking for tonight, though.

She hesitated for longer than he expected, but her arms were around his neck now drawing herself deeper into the kiss. Into him, definitely working at settling his curiosity as to how well she kissed. He slid his hands to her ass, squeezing as she shifted on his lap. Now that he had his hands on her, on the parts and in the way he'd touched before he knew for sure she was the girl from that night.

She was wearing a skirt tonight, too. His hands slid to her hips, fisting the silky material as he tugged it up so just her panties stood as a barrier to having her bare to him. She stilled a little and he thought maybe he'd gone too far. How he could go too far with someone he'd already had sex with he wasn't sure.

She dropped a hand from around his neck to his chest, whimpering softly into the kiss because she couldn't get the T-shirt he wore up. Very far anyway. High enough she could touch his abs, which while not as bad as his face were a little sore, too.

He took her hand, sliding it lower to the front of his jeans. She cupped him and he did the same, resting his fingertips at her clit. Silently, he implored her to work his jeans open, wanting her hand on his shaft skin to skin. She hadn't touched him much that night either, he remembered, as he worked them open himself now.

"We shouldn't be doing this," she whispered. She wasn't pulling away or stopping herself from sliding her hand lower along his body.

"Why?" There was no doubt in his mind they should be doing exactly this.

She gave a haggard laugh. "I don't know, but there's a reason."

"Just go with what your body's telling you."

He worked a hand into her panties, brushing over her clit on his way to her labia. He slid a fingertip inside of her just enough to know she was wet. "It likes what we're doing."

"Well, yeah," she said, putting her lips over his again. She pressed into his finger, against his hand, which only served to coat more than his fingertip with her wetness. Not that he was complaining.

"Finally," he murmured as she reached into his jeans. He shifted a little so she could take hold of him better. And so he could reach for his wallet in his back pocket. He opened it, finding the foil packet he was very glad he had in there just then. He had some in his room, but wasn't sure he wanted to wait that long to be inside of her again.

Now that he knew where he recognized her from, he remembered that night pretty clearly. She'd fit around him so tight and while he'd been quick about entering her (she certainly hadn't complained at the time) he couldn't help but think she'd been a virgin until that night. Why she'd chosen him he had no idea. He'd asked around the club when he got back to the storeroom to find her gone, but no one knew anything about her. He hadn't exactly flaunted taking her back there with him, so it stood to reason not many saw them together to know who he was even talking about.

He tore open the packet, breaking their kiss. "Slide them down," he said gruffly. She didn't ask what he meant and did exactly what he wanted. He sprang free from the confines of his jeans and boxers. He rolled the condom over the tip and glanced at her.

"You want to help?"

"I don't know…"

He took her hand then, showing her how to leave a little space between the tip and the condom before rolling it down.

"Gentle," he murmured. He'd never had one tear, but knew that it could happen.

The condom in place he started thrusting against her through her panties. Teasing. Prolonging. Because if she felt the way he remembered, he wasn't sure how long he'd last even with a condom. One thing he did know, he wasn't going to walk away from her this time for anything. If the apartment caught on fire it could burn down around them, he had to see this to completion this time.

He reached for her panties then, realizing it would take her removing herself from his lap to get them off. He didn't like that idea at all.

"Fuck it, I'll buy you a new pair," he said, using his strength to tear each side so they were easily removed without her moving an inch.

Hands at his shoulders she positioned herself over him. And then with a little help she was sliding his length into her. Slowly. And, holy shit, she was watching him slide into her, watching her body take him into her where it belonged.

She bounced a little, sliding the head in a little deeper and then out to the point he thought he was going to fall out. He didn't want that to happen at all. He took control then, hands at her hips he pushed up and into her. They both cried out at the same time, probably for the same reason, as he broke through that barrier. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he knew that wasn't possible. He had no doubt he'd been as deep as he could that night. He knew he didn't have the wrong girl.

Her mouth fusing over his not taking the cut there into account at all brought him out of his thoughts. The kiss and the fact that she was moving with him, pushing with him when he thrust up, taking him in deeper, harder. And that was just the way he liked it. Not that he minded being gentle with a woman, but he liked knowing a woman could take him this way because there were times no holds barred, down and dirty, and maybe a little rough sex was totally called for.

And, man, did he expect she could take whatever he could give her. And enjoy it. He slid a hand between their bodies, lower to her clit, touching her there knowing he wasn't going to last too long. She was too tight, too enthusiastic despite the fact he had to be hurting her to some degree.

Her nails biting into the nape of his neck told him so. He didn't care if she drew blood as long as she kept riding him as she was just now. He didn't need to be without a condom to know how wet she was. He could hear it as he pistoned into her, could see the one time he slid all of the way out of her how slick the condom was, and the way his body slid back into hers after that like a knife cutting through warm butter.

She wasn't someone who came quietly or tamely he discovered. It was more than her body shuddering as she let go, more than her clenching around him as she rode the orgasm. He suspected it was only their mouths being busy kissing that her groans didn't get any louder.

He grew almost frantic in his thrusts, knowing he had gone beyond the point of holding back his own climax. He captured her tongue with his teeth, releasing it to do the same to her lower lip, worrying it with his teeth and soothing it with his tongue as he came. It hadn't been that long, but he felt like a geyser exploded.


Yeah, he was definitely spent. Judging by the way she was resting against him, he didn't think she was ready to run a marathon either.

"How did you figure it out?" she whispered when they'd finally gotten their wits back.

"You mentioned my being a bouncer."

"Maybe Nathan…"

"Did he? You telling me I got it wrong?"

"No," she said, ducking her head a little.

"What's with the shyness? We may not have had clothes off, but I've been inside you. Twice now."

"I was going through a bit of a rebellious streak. I never thought I'd see you again."

"Rebellious streak?"

"Yes, I got some news," she shrugged. "You know. I didn't like what I heard so I went off to try and make believe it wasn't true."

"And tonight?"

"I'm not sure. Not a rebellious streak."

"I guess that's something."

She kissed his chin, his jaw. "You worried I'm going to disappear again?"

"Ha! I know how to find you now."

"You do at that," she drew away a little then. "And you're all right with that?"

"I'm sorry, what?"

She shrugged. "You don't strike me as the type to see a girl on an every day basis."

He gave a low chuckle. He wasn't, but not because he was completely averse to the idea. No one worth seeing every day had come into his life. And, he had to admit, he hadn't much thought about it until Matty settled down. It wasn't just the job that made Matty look as though he had his shit together. He had a wife, the potential for a family, a home. Something none of them had really had as kids.

"What make you say that?"

"I don't know, just the way it seems."

"I suppose you're right. I haven't had a steady honey since high school I suppose. That's not to say you can't come on down whenever you want to."

"So I have to come to you?"

"Can't very well go to you. I don't think the senator would take too well to my prowling through his house with your bedroom as my destination."

"Hmm, you might be right."

"Might be, yes."

"Doesn't mean you couldn't let me know you want me."

"Honey," he said, "I don't think that would be a problem. Looking like I do tonight should tell you that."

"Oh God, you're hurt, your mouth," she said, grazing the split in his lip with her thumb. She even took the time to kiss it and even though he hadn't looked at it since leaving the gym he knew it was no small cut either.

"It's okay, I wasn't complaining. Just saying."

"I'm sorry, though, I should have…"

"Seems to me I initiated so the fault lays with me not you." He ran his hands along her thighs, up to her hips. "I've got to hit the bathroom for a minute."

"Okay," she said as he settled her on the couch next to him. He glanced over his shoulder once he stood and headed towards his bedroom, not at all surprised - or unhappy - to see she was watching him.

He came back, having removed his T-shirt while he was up. He was somewhat disappointed she'd fixed her skirt. The panties were a lost cause.

"You all right," he asked.

"Yeah, fine," she said. "Not sure what I'll think in the morning, but I'm fine."

"No, I meant," he gestured to her skirt. "Did I hurt you?"

"Oh, no. I mean, a little, but I liked it. I could have stopped you somewhat if I'd wanted to."

"If you think so."

She smiled a little. "I meant I could have not been so adamant in taking you in me so deeply."

"How is it you feel like that again?"

"Like what?"

"You can't lose your virginity twice."

"Mm," she said, biting her lower lip. "Yeah, I can I guess, and probably a third time. And fourth."


"Hard to explain, not sure I even can. It's just how my body works."

"So, was I really your first?"

"Yes," she said with a nod. "I meant what I said earlier. I'd gotten some news I wasn't willing to digest, so I went out and did some crazy things. That night was one of them, but I'd never had sex before that night or since."

"Not even with your boyfriend?"

"He's not my boyfriend! Do you think I'd have sex with you if he was?"

"He's into you."

"I realize that, but we're not dating."

"No friends with benefits?"

"No! Why don't you believe me?"

"Just making sure. He doesn't strike me as the type to sit idly by while someone else taps his honey pot."

"I'm not his honey pot," she said through gritted teeth.

"That's fine. Just wondering if I have to worry about him coming after me."

She laughed a little. "No. He knows who you are."

"He does?"

"Yes, he told me you'd remember within a month."

"Guess I proved him wrong."

"My own fault, I guess. I wasn't thinking I shouldn't know you were a bouncer."

"I'm glad you let that slip. It was killing me. I knew I knew you, but couldn't piece together where from."

"Now you know."

"Small world."

"I guess so. I wasn't at all happy to see you that first day here at the house. I thought somehow you'd tracked me down."

"I won't deny I asked around about you, but no one at the club knew you. Or if they did, no one copped to it anyway."

"No, they wouldn't have. I think I'd gone there one or two nights before that one and never since then. It's why I chose you."

"I'm sorry?"

She shrugged. "I saw the way you were with girls, so I didn't think you'd mind giving me what I had in mind."

He picked the towel off the coffee table, glad it had a glass covering over the wood or it'd be ruined now with the melted ice all over the place. He set it back down, not feeling like going into the kitchen just now. He wasn't sure how he felt about what she'd just said. He had a reputation, a persona he presented to people. She'd fallen for it evidently. Not to say he lived like a monk or anything, but he'd outgrown living like Chris a few years ago. Sure, casual sex was good for fulfilling the basic need everyone experienced. He just didn't need to do that every night.

"So, if I hadn't had to leave in the middle I still would never have seen you again?"

"Mm, probably not. I don't know. What would the odds be?"

"I don’t know," he murmured, picking at the residue from the tape he'd had on over his gloves earlier.

"You really look a mess," she said.

"I know, I got a look at myself in the bathroom mirror," he took a seat next to her. He was glad she moved closer to him. He wasn't going to initiate the contact, not knowing what she wanted from him. She was right, he supposed, the odds their paths crossing again were pretty slim. And yet who just casually gave away their virginity as she had? With no desire for anything? Man, he'd taken one girl's virginity in high school and he thought she was going to have the china patterns picked out the next week.

"And you want to do this?"

"Hell, yeah. I'd like to do more than sparring. Make a career of it, you know? I've got lots of fights under my belt, not many in an actual ring. A friend of mine is a sports agent out in LA, so I've already got that lined up for when I actually enter a real ring and not just a sparring one."



She shrugged. "I don't know. Can't say I've known anyone who wanted to be a boxer let alone boxed."

"Honey," he said, draping an arm around her. "I suspect you grew up quite a bit differently than I did. My neighborhood you enhanced your strengths and hid your weaknesses as best you could. My strength was, well, my fists, my strength. That's all I did for years, pump iron, make myself bigger and badder so that I would be useful to my old man."

"And it didn't work?"

"Nah, he used me when he needed to and ignored me the rest of the time. He never forgave my mom for being Jewish."

"I'm sorry."

He shrugged. "It's all right. My mom deserved better, but I guess you can't control who you fall in love with."

"I've heard that's true."

"You've never been?"

"In love?"


"Not that I can say, no."

"Why not?"

She shrugged. "It's hard to explain. I was a cheerleader so hung with the popular crowd, but I was just never into dating. And then my life sort of got intense and now here I am. School takes up so much of my time. I can't screw up. I know my dad and Nathan would be disappointed if I blew the opportunity of going to school here."

"And you've stayed popular?"

"Well, back home I blamed it on my parents," she said with a light laugh. "Told anyone who asked me that they had to get past my parents."

"Are your parents tough?"

"My dad is. I mean, he's not really. If the guy met him and said the right things I think Dad would have been fine. You know? But the problem was with me. I just really wasn't interested. I was changing."


"Yeah, kind of hard to explain, but goes along with what you asked me about being a virgin twice."

"Oh." As if he understood what in the hell she was talking about, but he imagined he really wasn't supposed to.

"I went out with this one guy and he got all in my face, like I owed him sex for him taking me out."

"I hope someone clobbered him good."

"I did. Well, sort of. I ran his car into a wall."

"You walked out unhurt?"

"Pretty much."

"And him?"

"Not so much."

He gave a low laugh. He could dig a chick who wouldn't just roll over and die, someone who'd fight back if they were wronged. "That's all right."

"So, no not much experience with love. You?"

"Sure, I mean, the high school type of love. I'm not married, never have been or anything, so I guess I haven't found the real thing yet."

"Hmm. I sometimes wonder if it even exists."

"I thought that, too. But my friend, the sports agent I mentioned, Matty. Well, he seems to have found it."

"Good for him."

"Yeah, I think so, too. Now anyway. I didn't at first and I wasn't too nice to her either because of it. They met one weekend in Vegas and eloped."

"The same weekend?"

"The same night!"

"No way."

"That's exactly how I felt. And Matty, he's Benny's son, which you would think makes him street smart and wise to those types of things by default. He's not like that, though. All his life he just wanted to be legit. Since we were kids, that's all he talked about. And don't get me started on his experience with women. Hell, our friend Chris and I were shocked this chick even talked to him let alone went back to his room with him. Things like that just didn't happen to Matty."

"And is he?"



"Oh, yeah, it wasn't easy. He tried like hell around here and was pretty much blacklisted because of who his old man was. Companies thought it was Benny's less obvious way of trying to muscle in. Some things went down and it finally made him get out of here. He moved out to LA, got a job, and is doing all right."

"And the marriage?"

"Going on two years now and unless he's lying to me, things seem to be going well."

"That's nice to hear," she said. "My parents aren't doing so well. Either of them. My mom and dad and Nathan and Heidi."

"I wondered why she wasn't here."

"I don't know where she is. I don't know if the Petrelli's have another house she's using somewhere or if she's out from under Nathan's thumb."

"His thumb?"

"Well, you know what I mean. Maybe she's making a go of it without him."

"I don't think so. I hear things you know, standing around as I do. She's getting money from him for sure."

"Oh, I'm sure she is. She's got the heirs to the Petrelli name with her."

"And you aren't a Petrelli?"

"By blood I am, but not in name or any other way. He's my father and he's helping my family out, so I try to show him respect and everything, but I'm not a Petrelli."

"Makes sense. At least he's helping you out."

"Yeah, he didn't even know about me until a few months ago. Thought I'd died in a fire when I was baby."

"Wow. I imagine he was shocked."

"To say the least. Funny, I was all about meeting my mom and yet I have nothing to do with her and here I am living with my father."

"Life is funny at times."

He grew silent, running his fingers through her hair. Now that he was sitting here doing basically nothing he was getting sore. And tired.

"Listen. I need to crash."

"Oh, sure, I wasn't even thinking. Of course you're tired."

"Well, no, it's more I need to take some Ibuprofen for the swelling and pain and this close to bedtime I take the nighttime stuff."

"Okay," she said, standing.

"You don't have to go. You could stay. I'm not kicking you out, I just don't want to pass out on you and I have to get up in the morning."

"I can't. He'd know."

"How? He doesn't go looking in your room first thing in the morning, does he?"

"No, I suppose not. I'd know, and this," she pointed at him. "As far as I can tell is sex, which is fine, but I don't want to get it confused with something else."

"Point taken," he said with a nod, standing too.

She picked up the towel and brought it to the kitchen, which he would have done in the morning. He walked to the bathroom, opened the medicine cabinet and found the pills he needed for sleeping. He took three, two was never enough, and put the bottle away.

He walked to where she stood by the door that led from here into the house. He took a detour to the kitchen, pawing through his drawer of miscellaneous stuff he hadn't found homes for yet.

"Here," he said, dropping the spare key into her hand. "You change your mind, never let it be said I didn't make it so you couldn't get back in here."

"Thanks," she said, closing her hand around it.

He leaned in, sliding his hands to her hips and drawing her to him for a good night kiss.

"Good night, Claire."

"Good night, Taylor. I hope you're all right in the morning."

"I'll be fine, nothing I haven't experienced before."

And he got his rocks off in there, too, not a bad night if he didn't say so himself. He closed the door then, locking it before making his way to his bed. Would have been a lot nicer having her in it with him, but he wasn't counting out that possibility entirely just yet. Maybe not tonight, but he'd have plenty of time to work on her living in the same house as they were.

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