Fic: Do You Dream, Daddy?
Claire didn't know why it had taken her so long to realize that Hyde was a child. Not physically, in which he was often times more than a man; extraordinary. It was his personality that revealed his juvenile nature through brutish manners, insatiable appetites, endless curiosity, reckless rebellion and cravings for attention -- good, bad and otherwise. But Claire saw it most in his interactions with the boys. Only then did she see Hyde's innocence.
She stood at the kitchen window, sipping tea and watching them play for hours as they roughhoused out in the garden. It was surprisingly sweet how well Hyde got on with Harry and Eddie and he seemed to relish in their games and limitless imaginations. Trees became forts being scaled by marauding legions and stretches of grass transformed into battlegrounds. Hyde fashioned himself the villain, thwarted at every turn by the heroic pair. But when Harry suffered an accidental plummet off a slippery limb, Hyde was there with his inhuman speed and strength to save the day. Only moments later he returned to a role of villainy, surrendering his advantage to the boys who always got the best of him in the end. There was something inexplicable between them from the very first time she laid eyes on him, holding the boys hands, Harry and Eddie standing absurdly obedient on either side of him at the doorway. He connected with the boys on their level, a level Tom appeared to have outgrown or pulled away from. Perhaps the emergence of Hyde was the cause of his emotional departure in the first place.
Footsteps approached from behind Claire, breaking her attention away from the endearing scene outside. The pleasant scent of familiar perfume announced Katherine as she joined Claire at the window.
“He's rather good with them, isn't he?” Katherine watched.
“Yes.” Claire hoped Katherine witnessing this rare side of Hyde might amend her justifiably cynical opinion of him.
“Good with you as well?” Katherine didn't bother looking at Claire when she spoke which made the passive accusation sting all the more.
Claire bowed her head, guilt forcing her gaze away from her boys. “Tom's told you, hasn't he?”
“Only what he deemed necessary for me to help.”
Claire knew that was a polite excuse for prying but she couldn't blame Tom for needing someone to confide in. “I didn't mean for it to happen.”
“Sounds familiar.” Katherine smiled for only a moment before her eyes went wide with concern. “Not that anything happened. I mean, nothing happened.”
“I don't want to know what's happened between you and Tom. In my mind, you're nothing more than the other woman and likely ever will be.”
“I won't lie to you and deny that I care for Tom. I do. If I didn't care, I would have accepted the generous bribe Klein and Utterson offered when I first came to work for him. Instead, I nearly lost my life, lost a career, friendships, and now I'm losing my house.”
“And how about your heart?” Claire returned the favor with the lack of eye contact.
“It scarcely matters since yours is the only one he's ever cared about. You can trust him, I assure you. And though you may not believe it now, you can trust me as well.”
“The last person I trusted locked my husband in a wired up coffin that nearly killed him. That same man was someone Tom considered to be his closest friend and mentor. He deceived us both so forgive me if I don't dive right in with the trusting.”
“I'd expect no less, Mrs. Jackman.”
They both returned their gazes out the window just in time to see Eddie and Harry trapping Hyde's legs in a hug, each standing on a foot as he lugged them around the garden, trying halfheartedly to shake them off.
“Call me Claire.” She smiled.
“I'd like that.”
By midday the boys were all tuckered out and moping about the kitchen, waiting impatiently for lunch. Min prepared a feast for them, most of which was commandeered by a very hungry Hyde sitting between the boys at the table. Claire was relieved to see he'd ceded his hunger strike but not all that thrilled at sacrificing the boys meals for it. Harry and Eddie didn't help matters, taking turns offering up forkfuls of food to the smirking charmer. It didn't take long for them to distinguish his preference for meat as he refused any attempts to feed him otherwise.
“You're a bad influence,” Claire scolded from across the table.
“Hope so,” Hyde said with a toothy grin, still working on a bite of Harry's stir-fry.
“I wasn't talking to you.” She smirked.
“Mommy, can we go out and play now?” Eddie asked, already showing the fidgetiness of refreshed energies.
“Not until you finish your plates.” She cut off the boy's chorus of whines, “You started this, now you have to finish it. Not until you clean your plates.”
“Mrs. Jackman, we really should discuss strategy. What is our next move, exactly?” Miranda asked and gestured to the Klein & Utterson file stacked neatly on the counter.
“I haven't had a chance to consult with a certain someone about that.” She shot a look to Hyde who pushed back from the table and strolled over to the window.
“Perhaps you should have that chat now?” Katherine suggested, receiving a sideways glare from Hyde.
“Mommy, is this good enough?” Harry pleaded, displaying his nearly empty plate.
“A chat? I think that's a fantastic idea. Don't you dear?” Claire asked derisively.
“Look, mommy.” Harry urged.
Hyde fortified his protest with a steely gaze.
“Can we play now, Mommy?”
“Please mommy, can we go out and play?” Eddie joined in.
“Ask your father.” It was an automatic parental response, something Claire used often to momentarily placate a restless pair and divert attention from her. But this time the words sent the room into deathly silent as all eyes shifted to Hyde. Claire immediately hated herself for saying it and waited with bated breath to see what would come from her slip of the tongue.
“Where is daddy?” Harry asked, his innocence stabbing sharply within Claire's stomach. She glared at the man holding him hostage.
“Well? Go on, then. Tell them where their daddy is,” she dared, arms crossed before her.
Hyde's eyes narrowed to a cutting glare.
“Off you go boys, its playtime. Give Mommy and Uncle Billy a bit of alone time?” He crossed his arms, mimicking her pose as the boys raced off to untidy yet another room. “That goes for the rest of you girls as well. Time for the adults to have a heart to heart.”
Katherine, Min and Miranda exchanged apprehensive looks before all three followed after the boys.
“I'll keep an eye on them, don't you worry,” Min offered and Claire mouthed unspoken thanks in response. “And the boys as well.” She gave a wink before closing the door behind her, leaving Claire and Hyde alone.
His head bowed forward, disciplining her with a cross look. “Tsk, tsk, Mrs. Jackman, that's cheating.”
“Takes one to know one.” She challenged him with an equally determined stare. “I need to see Tom.”
“What's to see?”
Claire took up the file and held it out to Hyde. “Can you read this?”
Hyde quickly adopted an indignant expression. “Yes.”
“Do you understand it?” It was a gamble. There was no way of knowing what of Tom's knowledge Hyde had leeched and retained from the Institute's experimentation. So she feigned certainty and waited as he refused to give any answer but an obstinate pout. “Unless you can miraculously decipher this research technobabble, we need Tom.” She slapped the file loudly upon the table.
“Let him out.”
“Let him go.”
“I'm ordering you to let me see Tom!”
“Ordering?” He chuckled. “You're damn sexy when you're bossy, Mrs. Jackman. Too bad it doesn't work that way.”
“Make it work that way.”
“Now who won't take ‘no' for an answer?” His pompous smirk taunted her to play her next card.
“You can't keep him trapped, you know? No matter how hard you try to control him, he'll come back, just as you do.”
“He had his chance, fucked it up. Fucked me for fucking you. Speaking of which, what'd you say we have another go?” He waggled his brows.
“No. See, two can play that game.” She dared in return. “The boys and I are in danger, or don't you care about that anymore.”
“I won't ever let anything happen to you.”
“You're doing a bang up job with that. At least with Tom we had a life. Now, we hardly have a family.”
“That's not my fault.”
“It sure as hell is. If you hadn't come back the Institute wouldn't be after us.”
“If I hadn't come back, you'd be looking to the nearest kitchen appliance to get some satisfaction and Daddy would be six feet under.”
“You sick bastard!”
Hyde stormed towards her and stopped stiffly, as if restraining himself from any further action. Then he withdrew, retracting his fists to his sides as his head bowed low, face adopting a predatory glower. “I will kill every last one of them or die trying. The least you can do is show a little appreciation.” The words were spit out through gnarling lips.
“Appreciation? You want appreciation
? For what, exactly, forcing us apart, holding my husband prisoner, keeping the boys from their father or making our lives an ongoing miserable hell?”
“I did it for you! All of it, for you!”
“If you want to do something for me, give me back my husband!”
“NO!” Hyde's roar rumbled through Claire's entire body. Then, as if flipping a switch, he suddenly fell unsettlingly calm. “Oh, and by the way, fuck you and your husband.”
“What do you want?” She asked desperately, knowing full well she was losing him and quite possibly her husband forever. “What will it take?”
He refused to answer and only stared.
“I'll make you a deal.” She couldn't believe what he'd reduced her to. “Give me Tom and I'll give you anything you want.”
“Anything I want?” His eyes narrowed, plotting. “Oh, imagine the possibilities.”
“I'm afraid I can.”
“Afraid you will,” he purred through a dangerous smirk. “Trouble is, dearest, I don't trust you.”
“Fine then, trust this.”
Claire marched across the room, her long strides quickly closing the space between them. He encouraged her advance with a toothy smile borne of anticipation. Once within his reach, she cocked her arm back and slapped her hand to his groin. His eyes went wide as she groped him roughly through his jeans.
“This is what you want, isn't it?” She hissed angrily. “I can give you this and more.”
He was instantly hard, snarling his approval as he leaned in for a kiss. She drew back, denying him except for her relentless pawing.
“Give me Tom and you got it.”
“You drive a hard bargain, Mrs. Jackman,” he snarled.
“Growing harder by the minute.” She taunted him with brush of her lips. “What do you say Billy, fancy a fuck?”
Fingers raked up into her hair and locked her head immobile with an ungentle twist. His mouth crushed hers, ravenous in its pursuit. Claire fought to win back control, repositioning her hands to his chest and trying in vain to pry herself away. All too soon, she felt her anger tainted by the lust he always awoke in her. Sensing her acquiescence, his determined tongue was quick to break through the uncommitted defense of her lips. The sultry, textured flesh snaked along her teeth, further eroding her resolve. His hand claimed her breast and began kneading through the silken fabric until he'd teased her nipple to an eager peak. Claire gasped as he whipped them both around and pushed her flush to the wall. He pressed his body to hers, stripping away any chance of escape. And the sad truth was she wanted an escape, the escape of his flesh invading hers, of giving into the temptation no matter the cost.
Without reason or warning, his hands retreated, leaving her starving for more. His once dominant tongue withdrew as urgency gave way to tenderness and then to submission. His lips turned gentle along hers, relenting in their conquest until they fell still and then, oddly slack. She opened her eyes to see Tom staring back with a pained expression.
“Christ,” her voice squeaked with embarrassment. “That bastard.”
He blushed with the realization of his arousal. “Sorry to interrupt.” He backed away, nervously biting at his bottom lip as he worked to assess or perhaps ignore the situation.
“I didn't mean you, Tom. Hyde was… I demanded to see you. He refused. I had to compromise.”
“This is you compromising?” Disapproval arched his brow, immediately sending Claire into the defensive.
“I did what I had to do to get you back and it worked.” Claire brushed the crinkled fabric flat along her breasts. “Better than you can say for your absurd potions, Doctor Jekyll.”
“It didn't work,” Tom mumbled disappointedly under his breath and glanced down to see the shackle gone.
“No, it didn't work. What were you thinking?”
“I suppose I wasn't.” His head lifted to reveal a grave expression. “He's not safe, Claire. I'm not safe to be with as long as I can't control him.”
“It's when you try to control him that he becomes dangerous.”
“Don't believe it, not for a moment. He can't be trusted. He's a bloody monster.”
“Aren't we all when the situation calls for it?”
Tom went to shift his stance and cried out, recoiling in pain. Claire reached out to steady him.
“What is it?”
“My leg, I think it's broken.” He carefully favored the other leg as he hobbled over to the table and lowered himself into a chair. Claire knelt beside him and drew back the fabric to see a bruise forming before her eyes.
“Oh my God? Where did it come from?” She carefully felt along the purplish band of flesh above his ankle. Tom hissed in pain and she stopped her inspection. Claire let out a frustrated sigh. “The shackle, damn it. I see what Katherine means about underestimating Hyde. He must've fractured his leg busting through the shackle. An inconvenience for him, sure, but an immobilizing injury for you.”
“He doesn't intend to let me drive.” Tom let out a frustrated sigh and ran his fingers through his mussed hair.
“That sounds like Hyde talking.”
“You're not helping.”
“I didn't know you're letting me.”
“Help.” She offered a hopeful smile.
“Like I have any choice in the matter.”
His discomfited grin held promise as his gaze met hers, still insecure and shying away. His mouth fell open as if to speak but the words refused to come. There was too much left unspoken between them but perhaps that was best. All she needed was to know she hadn't lost him, that he forgave her as she did him and that they would get through it together. If words failed them both, she'd tell him the only other way she could.
She reached out, her hand hanging near his face begging consent to go further. His hand lifted to blanket hers and she cupped his cheek. Though a simple touch, the connection was far more affecting than either anticipated and they paused to take it in. Tom's hooded eyes shut as she caressed along the prickled bend of his jaw. She leaned in and chanced a kiss. It was chaste and unrequited at first but the tender urging of her lips and delicate persuasion of her fingers enticed Tom to return her affection. He drew his hand slowly up her bare arm, tucking it under her hair to massage the base of her neck. Claire suckled along his plump bottom lip, working to deepen the kiss. But as her passions intensified, so did Tom's caution. He grudgingly pulled away, denying himself once again. Or was he denying her?
“You need me, Claire?”
“Of course I need you, Tom. I love you.” She dipped in to continue the kiss only to see a modest smile curl his lips, confusing her.
“I was referring to your wily negotiations with Junior. You demanded him to let me…”
“Oh right, yes.” Claire retreated, blushing feverishly. “Min received a delivery, some files from Klein & Utterson, research and medical reports. Katherine did her best to interpret them.”
“I would assume it to be a stroke of luck if it weren't for our tendency toward the contrary.”
“There's a note specifically for you. “ Claire refocused her energies on the file, strangely frustrated by getting exactly what she intended. She shuffled through the pages until she came upon the bothersome invitation and handed it to Tom. He looked it over, his eyes retracing the words again and again before he took up the rest of the pages. Claire stood by and watched as he scanned though the sheets with ease and leafed quickly through the file, absorbing the data at an alarming speed.
“You can't actually understand all that so fast?” She asked.
“It's only genetics. Can't you?”
That wasn't Tom. That was Hyde. Claire stared at the man before her, noting the grey flecks peppered throughout his hair, the absence of the clef in his chin, the lack of distinct point to the ears and the green eyes travelling the pages with a studious curiosity. It looked like Tom but something was off.
“He's still here, isn't he?” She asked warily.
“What?” Tom asked distractedly as he backtracked a few pages.
“Hyde, he's still here with you?”
Tom paused in contemplation for a moment before responding with a curt. “Yes.”
“Still doesn't trust us.”
“Feeling's mutual.” He finished his review and set the file upon the table as he let out a weighty sigh.
“What are we going to do?”
“I'm going,” he concluded.
“Then I'm going too.”
“The boys need you.”
“Need us. From here on in, I'm your shadow.”
“I already have one too many.”
“This is one of those not up for debate moments.”
“Claire, be reasonable.”
“You read the message, Tom. This goes beyond you and we need to know how. I wish it weren't so but we've all been involved from the very beginning. The Institute kidnapped the boys and me before. What's to keep them from doing it again?”
“Me.” He held such sincerity in his eyes that Claire wished his determination alone could make it so but she knew better.
“You can't do this alone. We need Hyde. You know that and so does he.”
Tom stared intensely at the file, tensing his jaw in simmering anger. “He's the very reason we're in this.”
“And he may very well be the only way out. There's no way of knowing unless we go, together.”
“And what if this is just another trap?”
“Don't you see, we're already in the trap, Tom. It's about getting out now.”
He looked at her with a cool, staid gaze. “They will never stop.”
“Neither will Hyde, apparently. So what are *we*
all going to do?” She spoke deliberately, being clear whatever happened would involve all three of them.
“Stop them.” Tom tore a small piece from one of the pages and wrote out a long number.
“We'll start by dismantling Klein & Utterson one brick at a time."