"Are you sure we can't stay a little longer?" Claire zipped up the last of her suitcases as she asked the question. She knew the answer.
"No, Claire. We have been given clearance to return and I must get you to safety."
"But I'm safe here."
"You're isolated here."
"I have you."
"As much as I enjoy the concept of having you to myself indefinitely, the world needs you. I cannot be selfish."
"Yeah, yeah. Save the cheerleader, save the world. So, okay, the world depends on me. I get that. I mean, I don't really, but let's just say I do. We're in the middle of nowhere and the weather is terrible. Why'd you pick today of all days to leave?"
"The weather will be this bad potentially for days. They're forecasting it to get worse."
"And we can't just wait for it to clear? I mean, we've been here for two months. What's another day or two?"
"It could be the difference between us getting there in time and not. We had the last two months because we could. My plan worked, you dropped off their radar entirely. They will, hopefully, no longer be looking for you at the obvious places. Things are moving fast. We have to move with them."
She frowned. Whoever decided she was the one the world depended on really should have picked someone else. She didn't like it. Not at all. Of course, she wouldn't have had the last two months if it had gone to someone else.
He stepped further into the room. She watched as he made a thorough check of everything. He'd already been through the others, saving this one for last. She doubted he'd come back here anytime soon. Then again, maybe he would now that he'd spent time here. It was a nice place. Remote and beautiful. For two months she was able to forget that the world might rest on her. She was able to just be Claire.
"Thank you," she said softly, causing him to turn and look at her.
"I know you brought me here to keep me safe. Because you had to. My dad told you to."
He stepped toward her then, touching the back of her hand. "I didn't have to bring you here. I could have taken you a number of less personal places, Claire. I could have taken you to where we'll be headed now and been rid of you."
"Well, I know, that's what I'm saying. Thank you. You gave me a chance to relax. Be Claire. Regroup. Isn't that the term adults use? There was no pressure here. I mean, sure I thought about it, but it was easy to distract myself with something else. And I needed that."
He smiled then. "Then you are welcome, Claire. I'm sorry our time has been cut short."
"We've had enough time. It's time for me to go back to the real world. I get it." She ran her fingertip along the zipper. "Will I see him?"
"See who? Your father?"
"Well, him, too, but no, Peter Petrelli."
"I do not know. To either."
He dropped his hand then and resumed his walk through of the room. He shut down then. She saw his face, the mask he used with everyone except her. She didn't understand it.
"Okay," she said.
She tried to figure out if she'd said something wrong while she carried her suitcases to the front door. It didn't seem like two months since they'd gotten here. The door was open and she could smell the dampness in the air. It would have been a perfect day to sit inside and watch the rain. Instead, they were going to be driving in it. Heading back to the United States. At least she guessed that was where they were going.
She'd dyed her hair again the night before. He'd insisted on it one last time because her roots started to show that she was obviously not a natural brunette.
"All set then?"
"Yes." He sounded different and he avoided looking her in the eye. They'd gotten way past that being here together. In fact, hearing him laugh and seeing him smile had gotten to be fairly common the past couple of weeks.
"Okay. What'd I do or say?"
"You've gone all grumpy and silent treatment on me."
"It's nothing, Claire, I'll take these to the car." He reached for her suitcases, but she stopped him placing her hand over his at the handle of one.
"It's not nothing. Listen. If we have to drive miles and miles in a car together I want to know what I did or said."
She felt his hand tense under hers. For a minute, she thought he was going to overpower her and take the suitcases to the car anyway.
"Of all the people in the world you could have asked about why do you care about Peter Petrelli?"
"Well, because he saved my life."
He turned to look at her then. He was looking for something. If she knew what she could tell him. She didn't know. She didn't understand.
"But why would you assume I was taking you to him?"
"I wasn't. I just," she shrugged. "I wondered, that's all. I mean, you're taking me somewhere and it's not home."
"I don't know anyone besides Peter that lives someplace other than home."
"Are you sure that's all?"
"I'm positive. I don't know what you're," she stopped talking and smiled then as it hit her. He was jealous! "You think I spent the last two months with you and I'd ask you about some other guy like that?"
"I do not know what to think. I am unfamiliar with such situations, Claire."
"Well, I wouldn't do that. I slept with you."
"Don't worry, I'm not going to tell anyone that, because I get that they'd think we did things we shouldn't have. Not that I didn't try."
"You are not ready for such steps."
"I know," she said with a pout. She hated that he was right. "It was Peter that told me about my saving the world. That's all. I didn't mean anything by it. But he's like me. I don't know anyone else like me."
"I'm like you."
"But you'd die."
"Very true. I cannot absorb powers like Peter Petrelli does."
"You're not going to answer me."
"No, I am not."
"But you understand why I asked about him?" She thought he did, but wanted to be sure.
"Good, because I don't know what else I can do or say."
"Nothing. We all have insecurities. I'm sure we'll encounter something in reverse."
"Hmm," she said softly. She hadn't really thought of it like that. Was she prone to jealousy? She had no idea, having no experience to base one on. "I guess you're right."
"I'll bring your bags to the car now," he said.
She let him go, a plan entering her mind as he made a dash to the car. There was no sense hurrying, no matter what speed he went he was going to get wet. She noticed the white shirt he wore clung to his chest as he returned to the house. It looked good on him. She suddenly understood the appeal wet T-shirt contests had for men. There was something about seeing the goods without completely unwrapping the package that made it sexy. Very sexy, she thought not bothering to hide she was checking him out.
"What's on your mind?"
Busted, she thought. That didn't mean she couldn't go ahead with what was on her mind. Watching him walk around in the rain had planted the seed even deeper.
He seemed surprised by her frankness. She wasn't sure why. Neither held anything back from one another. It was one of their unspoken rules.
She acted then, catching him off guard and pushing him up against the front door. Her arms went around his neck, and she kissed him as she pressed against him. Hard. The fact he'd been jealous made her want to prove he didn't need to worry about Peter Petrelli. Or anyone else.
Her shirt was getting wet, too, pressed up against him like this. She didn't care. Her hands began the familiar path along his chest, pulling the damp shirt from the waistband of his jeans. She loved the way he looked in jeans. He didn't wear them all the time, but this pair in particular looked awesome on him.
Before he could thoroughly realize what she was doing, she had worked the fly open. She cupped him through the front of his jeans. Whether his brain wanted it to or not, his body was doing just as she hoped it would. Reacting to her touch. She loved that she had that kind of power. That he hadn't thought of anyone before her like this. It made them equals in a way.
She broke the kiss briefly, taking his lower lip in between her teeth and nipping it. It was intentional, hoping to distract him long enough for her to move from the front of his jeans inside of them. She'd never done this before, gone beyond touching him with clothes in place. His soft groan and his body hardening at her touch told her he enjoyed it as much as she did.
"Claire," he whispered.
"Shh," she said, kissing him. She kissed his chin, his jaw and then made a path of kisses to his ear. "I want you to remember this place. Your time here with me."
"As if I could forget."
"I want to be sure."
His hands went to her hair and he pulled her head away from his ear. She whimpered softly, until she realized he'd made no effort to move her hand.
"I do not want you to do this merely to give me a memory of you, Claire. I will remember you, no matter what happens, until the day I die."
"I want to do this. God. Just let me touch you."
"That's all you want?"
"Yes! Did you think I wanted you to do me up against the door?"
His blank stare told her that maybe he'd thought of doing just that.
"You didn't?" She laughed then.
"It is not nice to laugh at a man's fantasies."
She grazed his tip with her thumb and he hissed. Until that moment, her hand had been relatively still, taking in the feel, shape, and texture of him. Now, she was ready to explore and touch him.
"You fantasize about me?"
He scoffed, as if the question was ridiculous. She started to slide her hand away when he didn't answer. He seemed to understand her threat. She could see the war waging inside of him. She was much better at reading his eyes now. If he didn't answer, she'd stop and he wouldn't have to worry that he'd tainted her somehow while her father trusted her with him. He didn't want her to stop, though.
"Yes." She barely heard him he spoke so soft.
"You sound surprised. I slept with you night after night. Felt your body pressed against mine. Of course I fantasized."
"Did you?" She swallowed, pausing from her train of thought to look at her hand stroking him. She slid her free hand to the waist of his jeans and started pushing on them, wanting them lower so she could watch. He seemed to know what she wanted and he helped her on the other side.
And there it was. She let out a startled cry at the sight of him. She'd only seen pictures before now. Well, she'd seen Lyle's. She'd given him baths a time or two or changed him for her mother. But Lyle had been a baby, a boy.
Her Haitian was anything but a boy.
"Oh my," she said simply, not knowing what else to say.
"We shouldn't," he said, starting to pull his jeans up again on the side he'd just pushed down for her.
"No, don't. I'm sorry, it's just, I've never."
"I know, Claire."
She stroked him them. She was curious, enjoyed watching him bob and twitch as she changed tactics or alternated between a firmer grip and a looser one. God, she was getting wet just watching herself give him a hand job!
She licked her lips then and looked up at him. For the first time that she could remember when she looked at him he didn't return her gaze. His eyes were on her hand. She imagined that was normal.
"Tell me what you thought about me when you did this."
His head fell back against the door, closing his eyes as he let out a sharp breath.
"Claire," he whispered. "I shouldn't tell you those things."
"Because they're private?"
"No!" His eyes were suddenly open. He stared at her for a long moment, searching her face. "They were quite vivid."
"I'm all for vivid right now."
"I'm asking you to tell me. I can handle it."
"I now know the meaning of the term wrapped around her little finger. I never understood it before now."
"That means you're going to tell me?"
He sighed heavily, though she could tell by the smile that was just barely visible that he was being sarcastic.
"I suppose, if I must."
"Yes, you must. I insist."
He let his head fall back against the door again, closing his eyes. She was tempted to ask him to open them, but she thought this was probably about all she was going to get. This time.
"Tell me," she whispered, squeezing his shaft enough to remind him what was at stake.
"Oh God. I, in the shower."
She smiled at the confession. She'd guessed that. There was no other place he'd have privacy.
"Okay," she said, prompting him to continue. "So, you're standing there in the shower."
"The first time you didn't know I was there, showering and you walked near me."
"I did?" She tried to remember, but couldn't. To think she had come that close to seeing him full monty and she didn't even know it.
"Yes. You were watching the sunset."
She knew exactly what he was talking about. There was a spot not far from the shower where she loved to go watch the sunset. It was the perfect spot. She could see the water and everything from there. A time or two she'd wondered if her father, mother, and Lyle were looking at the sunset, too. Her Haitian knew she liked to watch the sunset, which made her think maybe he'd timed his shower on purpose.
"You were holding something in your hand and it fell, the wind picked it up and blew it just out of your reach. You bent over to retrieve it. And I was gone."
"Really?" That was all it had taken.
"You have no idea how appealing a sight that was."
"I guess I don't. Go on," she said, her hand working a little harder. She wasn't sure what she was doing exactly, but he was getting breathy as he spoke so she figured she was on the right track.
"In my mind, you turned around and saw me. You waved. I waved back. And then there you were, in front of me, no clothes."
"And then what?" Her own voice sounded kind of breathy to her. He had to notice his story was working on her, too.
"Claire, I can't."
"I really want to hear it."
"You won't look at me in the same way again."
"Did I do this?" She posed the question as she slid her hand lower, cupping his balls in the palm of her hand and giving them a gentle squeeze.
"I don't. What was the question?"
She laughed then.
"Did I do this?" She leaned in to kiss his chest, circling each nipple with her tongue.
His hand made fists in her hair, dragging her head up so he could kiss her. His mouth clamped over hers, hot and needy. She echoed that need and poured it into the kiss. Murmurs and moans escaped their lips coupled with necessary breaths as she continued stroking him.
He drew away, his head falling back against the door with a thud. His grip on her hair tightened for a second as she moved. When he realized she wasn't pulling away he loosened his grip. She kissed along the length of his torso, rubbing her cheek against the soft hair by his belly button that led to the prize she was currently after.
He groaned. "Claire, you don't have to."
"I know," she whispered. She blew on the tip of his shaft and his body jerked. She smiled wickedly, loving the power that such knowledge of him gave her. "Did I do this?" she asked, taking his tip into her mouth.
"Oh God," he hissed, his hands at her hair tightening their grip again as he came in her mouth. She didn't take him into her mouth beyond the head, but she made sure she was thorough in paying attention to every inch of it. He tasted warm, a little strange but not bad. One of her friends told her she refused to swallow on her boyfriend because she hated the taste. Claire had wanted to find out for herself. And she was glad she hadn't listened to her friend.
Certain he was spent and she had thoroughly cleaned him off with her tongue she inched her way up along his torso again. She kissed him as she'd done on the way down. He hugged her to him, squeezing her so tightly she thought she might stop breathing. Her head was against his chest so she could hear his heartbeat, listen as it gradually decreased in speed. She smiled, kissing him where his heart was.
He was running his fingers through her hair, probably trying to come to grips with what they had just done. Same as she was. She still couldn't believe she'd actually done it! The idea had come to her so suddenly and he'd always maintained such a line he felt they shouldn't cross. She thought for sure he'd stop her. She was so glad he hadn't, though.
"I love you," she whispered.
His fingers in her hair stilled. His heart picked up again for a beat or two. He was silent for so long she wasn't sure what to do. How embarrassing? Get a guy off and then tell him you love him. Way to go Claire! Wasn't that when the guy was supposed to say that? Weak from having just had an orgasm. And then later he'd say he didn't mean it.
"I love you, too, Claire."
She looked at him, her arms around his waist, holding onto him for dear life. She'd put herself out there. They'd spent just about every moment of every day together for the last two months. She'd known for a while what she felt for him. When she woke up each morning snuggled against him, missing him if he wasn't there. She knew.
And now he was going to take her somewhere, God only knew where, and she wouldn't have that anymore. She had to at least tell him how she felt. Let him know that it wasn't just convenience or comfort she got from him.
"Yes. You sound so surprised. You think I'd have continued sleeping with you night after night if I did not?"
"Well," she said with a shrug, nibbling on her lower lip. "I don't know."
"I wanted to be there. I liked being there."
"And now we won't have that anymore. Will we?"
"I'm going to miss it."
"We'll find a way."
He cupped her cheek with the palm of his hand, grazing her mouth with his thumb. "I'm in you now. My essence. I would move heaven and earth if someone tried to separate us now."
She blushed. His essence. She hadn't thought about it like that. She supposed he was right. And, God, but her body totally tingled at the thought.
"I have one regret, however."
"What?" She steeled herself for whatever it was he was about to say.
"I did not reciprocate."
"Well, I'm a little more complicated. I mean, it's not as easy as unzipping and there I am."
He smiled then. "Yes, I'm aware of what the female anatomy looks like and how it works."
"You can make it up to me tonight."
She smiled. "Maybe," she said saucily. She just now noticed the rain was really getting heavy. "We'd better get moving."
"As if I'm the one to blame for the delay!"
"Hmm, well, you took longer than I thought."
He drew her to him then, mouth inches from hers. "I'm glad to know I surprised you in that way. And I will show you long, Claire, when the time is right. Long and slow, hard and fast, whatever you want. Know this. Nowhere in anything my mind has created about you has the word unsated entered into the equation."
If it was possible to blush deeper, she was sure she was the color of a tomato. "Oh my God," she whispered. Even her toes were tingling now! She swallowed. How did she respond to that? "I'll remember that."
He smiled then, kissing her. "I'll hold you to that."