***Chapter Nine***
Word Count: 3,966

It was still dark out when he woke up. He noticed two things almost immediately. One was the air conditioner ran like it was supposed to, which meant the room was comfortable if not on the chilly side. Two was that Claire was sleeping as far away from him on the bed as she could get and still be in the same bed.

He had asked her about the sleeping arrangements. Right? He hadn't imagined asking her intentions since there were two beds in the room. He was pretty sure he had actually asked the question. No, he knew he had because that was when she'd drawn the covers away, seeming to invite him into the bed with her.

Was she scared of him? Scared of sleeping with him? Didn't really want to sleep with him after all, but didn't want to go to the other bed?

He got up to go to the bathroom, leaving the light on in there while he washed up and got a glass of water at the sink. He leaned against the counter then not sure what he was supposed to do. He didn't want her uncomfortable. Maybe the reality of sleeping with him didn't measure up to the image she'd had of it. He couldn't blame her, he supposed.

He still wasn't entirely sure what she saw in him. He didn't think he was a bad guy or anything, knew he was decent looking, and all of that stuff. Not being a bad guy and being decent looking seemed to be underachieving as far as Claire went.

Yet, here they were.

"Are you okay?" she murmured from the bed.

"Yeah," he said.

"Is your arm okay?"

"My arm?" he asked.

"Yes, is it bothering you or something? I have aspirin if you need some."

"No. I'm fine." The working air conditioning helped his arm feel a lot better actually. He felt like he sweat like crazy with the cast on some days. Most days.

"Okay," she said. "Why are you taking so long then?"

"Just thinking, I guess," he said.

"About?" she asked. She sat up in bed then he noticed. She brought her knees up, gathering them to her chest and putting her arms around them.

"I don't know. Are you sure you want me in that bed with you?"

"Yes, why?"

"I don't know. I woke up and you were practically at the edge of the bed. I just thought maybe it wasn't what you wanted after all."

"No," she said with a shrug. "I'm just not used to it I guess. I don't know. I'm afraid I'll hurt you."

He scoffed at that.

"Not in that way. Not intentionally. If I bump your arm or something."

"You're on the other side of my cast."

"I know, but I still worry," she said.

Valid concerns perhaps. He wasn't sure because he'd never slept next to someone with or without a broken arm to know how much bumping into someone may jostle them.

"You're also here without your parents' knowledge. On a lie more or less."

"I think my mom has an idea."

"Oh?" he asked.

"Yeah. She was surprised you weren't at my graduation party."

"Ah," he said, tossing the towel he used to dry his hand off with onto the counter. "I thought about going, but…"

"I know," she said. "I get it, but I think Mom knows something."

"Well, what can she say? She's not going to pull you out of school down here or anything." He thought on that for a minute. Her mom likely could do that if she put her mind to it. "Is she?"

"No," Claire said.

"Then there's not a whole lot to say. It doesn't matter what she thinks she knows. You'll have your dorm room. We're not living together yet."

"No, I know, and she'll figure it out anyway when she comes down here and sees you."

"Eventually, yes."

"She, uh, made me go see a doctor."

"Okay," John said. "Why?"

"For birth control."

"Oh," he said. "Really?" That surprised the hell out of him.

"Uh huh," she said.

"When was this?"

"In April. Right before I picked out my dress. After I told her we were going."

He supposed that was appropriate timing. Kids thought they were all discreet and stuff getting hotel rooms and what not, and most parents seemed to blow off any knowledge of what their kids were really up to that weekend. He supposed having an older brother her parents had been through it once before, and from the other perspective. It wasn't their daughter going to prom that night.

"Wow. So. April?" That was months ago now that she'd gone shopping for her dress. More than two anyway because it was a couple of weeks after the day of detention. He supposed, too, that was four months into things for them, but still kind of soon to be thinking they'd be having sex if her mom had any clue what kind of girl Claire was.

"Yeah. She wanted me protected for prom. I mean, she didn't say that outright, but that's what she was getting at."

He scoffed at that. "She didn't trust me to be prepared for that?"

"I think she wanted to be sure."

"No grandkids for her then? Or is it just the possibility of my being the father that has her cautious?"

"No! She just said she wanted to be sure I didn't have to worry."

"Huh," he said. He never knew moms did that sort of thing. "Okay."

"It just makes me think she knows you didn't just disappear on me."

"Well, I didn't."

"I know, but she knows me as much as I hate to admit it."

"So, we aren't fooling her is what you're saying?"

"I don't know. She hasn't said anything, but like I said she'll figure it out when she sees you."

He made his way to the bed then.

"Now you are really making me want to beat the shit out of Joe the next time I see him."

"Why?" she asked with a slight frown.

"You're here. You're telling me you're on some sort of birth control. I can't do anything about taking advantage of that."


"I really don't want our first time to be with me having such a severe handicap. Not being able to use an arm is a pretty big one."

"I know."

"So. What is it anyway?"

"The pill."

"I suppose that makes the most sense."

"Have you ever…"

"No," he said with a shake of his head as he joined her on the bed. "Never."

"No?" She moved closer to him, which he liked a lot.

"No! I'm not stupid."

"I know, but if you're at a party and drunk or something…"

"I've never been that drunk. It's not like I was getting laid every weekend or anything."

"That's a relief."

"Truthfully?" he asked, kissing the top of her head.

"Sure," she said.

"There's only been maybe five times."


"Well, I'd say two times, but they were a few hours apart so you may think…"

"I don't want to think about it at all."

"I just told you that I have less than a handful of experiences and you're mad?"

"I'm not mad. I'd just rather not think about it."

"Well, like I said that day of detention you want me to have a clue what I'm doing, don't you?"

She shrugged.

"Not that I'm a pro or anything, but. You know. I look forward to getting lots of practice with you."

"Me, too," she whispered. She kissed his chest then. "Why are you wearing your shirt?"

"I don't know."

"You don't have to."

"I wasn't sure you were ready for me to be half naked." He sat up a bit more then to do that. Thing about the stupid cast, getting a shirt on and off wasn't as easy as it was usually. She helped a little though.

"Well, I've seen the other half," she said, touching his shoulder. He shivered a bit. It wasn't that cold, but her touching him like this combined with the cooler air than he was used to certainly caused a reaction in him.

"Not really. It was dark in that room that night," he said with a soft chuckle.

"Okay. I tasted the other half."

He laughed then.

"Why are you laughing at me?"

"I don't know. I'm not. It's just that's the last thing I ever expected to come out of your pristine mouth, Princess."

"Why? I did?"

"Well, yeah. You did, surprised the fuck out of me, too, honestly."

"I surprised myself."



"You mean you didn't come in there with that in mind?"

"No," she said.

"What did you come in there for?" He'd never asked before because he was sort of afraid of the answer. He wasn't sure if she'd come in there to check up on him or what. He was pretty sure by that point she trusted him, but they'd never talked about it really. Her trusting him with things he did at parties because she had to know he went to rooms with people sometimes.

She shrugged, running a finger along his chest.

"I don't know. I was surprised to see you. I thought it would be fun to see you right in front of everybody for a change."

"Well, I'm not complaining and I thoroughly enjoyed myself."


"Well, yeah. I mean, I only stopped to be considerate. I promise you the next time I won't pull out of your mouth."


"It's so odd to be laying here talking to you like this."


He shrugged.

"I don't know. It just is. First of all, it's you I'm talking to about it. Second, we're laying in a bed together and …"

"You'd rather be doing than talking about it?"

"Well, yeah," he admitted. That didn't make him a jerk, did it? He hoped not.

"Me, too."


"Yes," she whispered.

"Why so quiet?"

She shrugged.

"It's okay to talk about it, you know that, right?"

"I know, it's just not a conversation I ever thought I'd be having."


"Well, no. Why would I?"

"Well, I don't know. I'd hope you'd talk about it with whoever you were planning on doing it with."

"Really? And you've talked to…"

"No, but they weren't you and I wasn't planning on spending the rest of my life with them. This is you we're talking about and I'd presume me or not whoever you were planning on doing that with you'd be thinking of a life with."

"Yes," she said.

"So, I'd hope you'd have some say. Talk about it. Tell me if you do or don't like something."

"I liked doing that."

"I am more grateful to hear that then words can adequately say."

She laughed then, kissing his chest. She shifted a bit, but didn't move away from him or draw her hand away from his stomach where she'd set it.

"Going back to sleep now?"

"I think so," she whispered with a yawn.

"Yeah. Sleep as late as you need to."

"What about you?"

"I still have a hard time sleeping past eight."

"Eight o'clock in the morning?"



"I wish I knew. I'd love to be a bum and sleep until whenever, but I guess I'm just not wired that way."

"You slept later than that on weekends."

"Not much later, Mom and Dad wouldn't let me even if I wanted to."

"I suppose."

It wasn't because they wouldn't let John sleep late or anything. They would wake up and go about their day, which was never quiet. No matter what they were doing with their morning. Sure, he stayed in his room on weekends as much as possible, but that was avoiding them. He wasn't sleeping.

"I'll buy you breakfast whenever we do get going."

"I like the sound of that."

"Me, too," he admitted. He was living pretty frugally. Pop-Tarts were his usual breakfast. He had cereal that he ate dry because he had no way to keep milk cool consistently. He kept bread and peanut butter in his room. He had a cooler that he kept stocked with pop and ice. The break room at work had a fridge and freezer so he kept some things there to heat up in the microwave there while he was at work. It was a fucking newsworthy event for him to get a hot, square meal so he looked forward to wherever she wanted to go.

She couldn't believe he was in bed with her sleeping. He seemed unsure she really wanted him here in bed with her. She did. Totally. It was just so unbelievably scary.

She acted all cool about driving down here and what her parents would do to her, but in truth she wasn't at all sure how they were going to react to her sudden decision to visit Tallahassee before August. Would they ground her? No. Would they pull her out of school? No. Would they be disappointed and make her last couple of months miserable? Possibly.

He was right. She'd been absolutely livid with him for a while after prom. Then she'd been even more mad at all of her friends' comments about him being absent from her graduation party. They all thought it was because of Joe and his friends that John was absent. She wanted to tell them, to explain, but couldn't. That had been frustrating. If prom and graduation weren't so close together she probably would have had time to process prom better, but that followed right after people talking about how he clearly couldn't handle being her boyfriend after all just left her mad. It took her a while to realize she was madder at them then at him. He hadn't done anything wrong. He hadn't even fought back until Joe's best friend, Jake, said some obscene things.

She'd gotten his messages, meant to call back but just wasn't sure what to say at first. He had a broken arm because of her friends. He couldn't get the job he'd been planning on getting when he got to Florida because some idiot she thought was her friend couldn't accept she actually had a boyfriend she liked. No one else knew him like she did because they didn't want to know him. Even his friends really, he admitted that freely.

She ran a fingertip along his side. She'd never seen him without a shirt on before. She couldn't really see now truthfully because it was pretty dark in here with the curtains closed. She knew what she felt, though. The scars weren't as bad as what she had pictured, which she wasn't sure was good or bad that she'd imagined worse.

She drew the covers away a bit, shifting a bit so she could kiss his chest and one of the marks she felt there.

"Hey," he said gruffly when she was on about the third or fourth scar.

She didn't stop, working her way lower along his stomach.

"Fuck," he murmured when she slid her hand into his shorts.

She'd wanted to do this again after that night, but there just wasn't any time or place to be alone again. Any party they went to together people watched them like hawks for some reason. As if she and John and what they did together was that interesting. Evidently it was.

She leaned up then, kissing him as she touched him. She hadn't touched him much that night. She didn't know what to do really, and still didn't. She wanted to learn, though. That was part of the reason why she hadn't stayed mad at him after prom. His fault or not was irrelevant. She knew there was no one else she wanted to do these things with. Bad reason to base being upset with him? Maybe, but she knew what she felt.

Until John she'd assumed she was asexual or that there was something very wrong with her. Both were pretty frightening in a world where everyone around her wanted into one another's pants. She'd had boyfriends before, but never anyone she wanted to hold hands with let alone kiss. Her friends would talk about things and Claire never understood those conversations. She did now, though.

Obviously she wasn't asexual and there was absolutely nothing wrong with her. She'd just been waiting for the right guy.

Her guy.

She could admit, freely, he was not at all what she imagined he'd be growing up and picturing who she'd fall in love with. She'd pictured someone more like her dad, she supposed. Really, though, was it any wonder she went and fell in love with someone not at all like her father? She didn't want to be like her parents any more than John wanted to be like his.

She mewled into the kiss as he parted his lips at the same time she did. She loved when that happened, proof that neither of them wanted to wait another second longer at the same exact moment. She slid her fingertips along his shaft not really sure there was a right or wrong way to do this. He'd tell her if she was doing it wrong, wouldn't he? He certainly wasn't kissing her as if he didn't like what she was doing.

He slid his hand along her back and hip before cupping her ass. She hadn't really thought about what sleeping with him would be like. Him here, next to her, able to give into her curiosities about him. Them. Together. And she was curious enough to want to know everything about him. Her mind just hadn't taken her that far even though they'd talked pretty freely about the fact neither wanted her to spend many nights at her dorm room.

She slid her hand out of his shorts and he groaned against their kiss. She laughed softly.

"It's not funny. I liked that. A lot."

"Me, too," she whispered.

"Then why are you stopping?"

She kissed him again, using her hand at the waist of his shorts to push them down a bit.

"You can do that, too," she murmured.

"Do what?" he asked.

She pressed herself against his hand at her ass. Evidently he knew what she meant and she didn't need to say it twice because he slid his hand to her shorts and mirrored what she was doing to his. She broke the kiss then, drawing away from him so she could slide out of the bed.

"Where are you going?" He didn't sound so tough or confident now.

She stepped out of her shorts before moving to remove his the rest of the way off.

"Claire," he whispered.


"Not that I'm complaining or to sound like an ungrateful asshole, but you do remember I have kind of a handicap right now, right?"

"I do," she whispered.

"Okay," he said, sounding cautious. "I mean, not that sleeping next to you like this will be bad or anything, but I wouldn't expect him to, you know, get soft any time soon."

"I'm not expecting him to."

"Okay," he said.

She almost wished the lights were on just then. Almost. She was pretty sure she wouldn't be doing this right now if the lights were on or if it was light out. She knew the sun would be coming up soon, but it wasn't yet so it was still dark in the room, allowing her to be bolder than she ever thought she would be.

She climbed back onto the bed, straddling him instead of lying next to him as she had been until a second ago. She found his shaft again, taking it into her hand and stroking him.

"You did say we could this way, right?"

"Yeah, sure," he whispered. "I mean, I assume it'll work."

"You don't know?"

He scoffed and she gave a soft moan as he slid a fingertip along her nub and lower between her folds.


"You don't need your arm this way?"

"I imagine not, no, not both of them anyway," he whispered, voice catching a bit as he slid his fingertip inside of her.

"You mean you've never…"

"No," he said quickly.

It was on the tip of her tongue to say 'really'. She refrained from asking, though. He wouldn't lie to her. There was no need. She knew he'd had sex before. What difference would it make what position he'd done?

She moved her hips a bit then, sliding his tip along her slit. They were both breathing pretty heavily when she finally worked the tip of him inside of her. He helped, too, but let her do the work after that.

"What are you doing?" she asked him when she heard him mumbling. He had to be talking to himself because she couldn't hear him well enough to understand him.

"Trying to distract myself."


"From coming too fast!"

"Can't you just enjoy?"

"I am! Too damned much. I want you to enjoy first, though, you know what I mean, Babe?"

"Oh," she said. She leaned down to kiss his neck and shoulder as he moved his fingers along her nub between their bodies. She didn't stop licking and sucking on the spot until a while after they'd both finished.

"That was nice," she whispered, kissing his ear.

"Uh, yeah," he said with a soft chuckle. "I definitely look forward to doing that when I have both hands."


"Uh huh. So I can touch more of you."

"You touched enough of me."

"That's good to know. Obviously, you did, too."

She laughed softly. "Obviously."

She rested her head against his shoulder then, rubbing a hand along his chest and arm. She stopped when she met the top of the cast and found his shoulder and side then.

"What are you doing?" she asked when he started to move.

"Just getting the blankets so you don't get cold."

"I'm not cold!"

"I can attest to how fucking hot you are, Claire, but I want you to stay that way."


"And I don't want you to move from where you are."

"I can't sleep like this."

"Why not?"

"I don't know," she said.

"Stay then until you fell that you have to move," he said. "I like you here."

"Me, too."

"You surprised me, Princess."

"Why? And was it a good surprise?"

"Very good, yes," he said with a laugh, kissing the top of her head. "As far as why," he shrugged. "I don't know, I didn't think you'd want to do that let alone the first time."


"I don't know! I just know that later when we do it again."

"We're doing it again?"

He scoffed. "Damn straight we are."

"And what about later?"

"I call the lights on."


"Leave the lights on later and then you'll know why."

"Okay," she said cautiously. She wasn't sure at all what she'd agreed to, but it couldn't be bad. She'd thought a moment ago she'd sort of like to have them on to see herself.

He laughed softly.

"Now you are laughing at me."

"No, just imagining what you're thinking. It's nothing bad. I can't touch you as I'd like and hopefully as you'd like. At least that way I could, you know, see you. That's supposed to be part of the fun of that position."

"It is, huh?"

"So I've heard."

"And you want to find out?"

"Well, yeah, sure, with you."

"That wasn't what I was asking."

"Well, I wasn't sure. Yes, I want to find out and have first-hand knowledge of these rumors."



"I said okay even before you explained."

"I know."

"So, yeah, okay."

"All right."

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