Fic: Do You Dream, Daddy?
Part 12/?
Rating: NC-17

The night had barely begun to break towards day when Tom and Claire left their boys sleeping side by side in Katherine's guest bed. Neither said a word, hoping their gentle kisses to the boys' foreheads would speak enough to their love and pleadings for forgiveness. As if by some unspoken unanimous agreement, Miranda, Min and Katherine gave the sorrowful couple their privacy but each watched from a discrete distance as they departed. Moved by the sight, Min was suddenly inspired to check in on her newborn. Katherine slipped into the den and stared at the broken bindings still littering the floor where she'd foolishly attempted to imprison Hyde. Miranda stood at the bay window and watched the Jackmans' drive off in the van as the glow of dawn crested the horizon.

“Good luck,” she whispered. “You'll bloody well need it.” She headed into the kitchen with plans for a grand breakfast all to discover a brown paper wrapped package bundled crudely with twine sitting on the table. There was a handwritten note tucked beneath the twine with a message that read, “If you haven't heard news of us by this week's end, deliver this to the police.” She lifted it to feel the contents give within her hands. To her best guess, it felt like clothes and only ignited her investigative curiosity. Perhaps Katherine would have an idea what it might be.

Once again Claire found herself thankful for Tom's insistence in trading in the Audi for the much more spacious van. It had served its purpose well. The worn plumping company logo which adorned the sliding door added to its covertly value as they sat in the car park across from the Klein and Utterson Institute, doing their best impression of surveillance.

They'd sat in a sober silence for over an hour, each contemplating, brooding, regretting until a passing thought pulled a bewildering chuckle from Claire and drew Tom's attention from the Institute. With noticing his notice, she began to giggle.

“I'm sorry.” She covered her mouth in a half-hearted attempt to stop her laughing.

“Care to let me in on the joke?”

“It's nothing. I was just reminiscing, is all.” She dismissed it with a shrug. “The Institute's Christmas ball.”

“Christ.” Tom smiled instantly and shook his head with the fond memory.

“In celebration of your contract extension Peter treated us to a limo…”

“With full bar, as I remember.”

“We never made it to the party.”

“We barely made it out of the driveway,” Tom chuckled. “I couldn't keep my hands off you.”

“Just the way I like it.” She reached out and blanketed his hand with hers only to watch him slip it away to grasp the steering wheel. An awkward silence strained the moment even more as they both returned to staring out at the facility.

“We should go.” He glanced quickly to her, barely long enough to note her reaction.

Claire swallowed to coax the moisture back in her mouth that had evaporated with the terrifying suggestion and could only manage a nod in response. With a yank, Tom opened the van door and hopped out, wincing as his bad leg touched down on the pavement. After a deep breath, she followed his lead and slunk out of the seat. He hobbled around to join her on the passenger side, closing the door once she was clear. He took a moment to rest his injured leg and wait for the pain to subside. Claire turned to face the objective. The Institute building stood a short distance off, casting a long shadow that seemed to reach out ominously for them. She couldn't help being intimidated. More than that, she couldn't help being angry and used it to fuel a few determined steps toward the unknown. A gentle grip of her arm stopped her cold.

“Claire,” Tom shifted to block her path, his eyes locked to her questioning stare, “I need you to know that no matter what has or will happen, I love you.” His long face and cracking voice revealed the emotion he'd become so adept at hiding away. “Nothing will ever change that.”

Her hardened expression gave way as he reached out to weave his fingers with hers. She felt tears swell and with a blink, they streamed down to fall between them. He caressed the dampness from her cheek, leaned in and kissed her softly, his lips lingering on hers as if to commit her taste to memory.

“I love you,” she whispered and kissed him briefly before pulling away and giving his hand a gentle tug. “Now let's go get our lives back.” Tom's subtle smile gave her courage all the more.

Side by side, hand in hand, the Jackman's strode toward the Klein and Utterson Institute. Tom's steps were awkward at first, hampered by his injury. But as they crossed the car park, his stride grew surer and his pace hastened. Claire stole glimpses of him every other step, keeping watch for his facial features to reveal the invisible partner she expected to show at any moment but Tom's determined eyes remained. When they'd come within range a sophisticated network of security camera's locked in and tracked their approach. By the time the couple reached the main entrance, a full security detail of a dozen men was ready for them, evenly spaced just beyond the glass.

“I'll take the six on the left, you take the six on the right,” Claire gave his hand a squeeze and was reassured by the smile she'd coaxed from him. They stepped within the cylindrical entryway and stopped at the security door, eyeing the captive audience gathered within. Tom pressed his thumb to the print reader which elicited a beep. Apparently it wasn't the correct sort of beep and he tried again.

“It would seem they've revoked my access.” Tom smirked and slowly trained his eyes to Claire. Within the span of a blink, his mild greens had stained black and his smirk widened to a familiar devious smile. “Guess you'll have to say the magic words.” Hyde stared at Claire, brows peaked and waiting for her to respond. She was silent for a beat, puzzled and more than a little nervous until a playful voice in the back of her mind filled in the blanks for her.

“Open sesame,” she said questioningly, as if guessing at a trivia game, and was rewarded with a wink from her infectiously confident companion. Hyde placed a kiss to the back of her hand and guided her clear of the entryway and himself. She watched, intrigued as his hand returned to the fingerprint pad. A succession of electrical bolts danced along the contact point followed by an increasing display of sparks until the reader smoked and finally shorted out, dimming the lights within the building for a moment before returning. A second after, a loud metallic clang sounded and Hyde flashed a triumphant smile to Claire as he easily nudged the door open. After the pause of shock wore off, the security team quickly raised their weapons and took aim at the intruders.

“Daddies home,” Hyde crooned and held out his hand in invitation to Claire.

“And you've some explaining to do,” she added as she took his hand and joined him.

“Hold your fire,” barked a plain dressed woman who hurriedly positioned herself between the foremost security officer and the trespassers. “Lower your weapons!”

The soldier stood fast. “We have orders…”

“Yes you do and opening fire on invited guests is not one of them.” She challenged him with a stern look.

“With respect, ma'am, the Jackman's are invited guests. As for Mr. Hyde, we are under strict orders to ensure his cooperation before allowing you to proceed. He's done little to win our confidence.”

“I know the feeling.” Tom's smooth tone drew all eyes to him. “However, if you and your men can control their nervous impulses, Hyde has agreed to do likewise. We have an arrangement.”

A sharp hand gesture from the lead man initiated the team to lower their weapons and stand at ease though all were far from relaxed. “Very well. Hello Doctor, ma'am, pleasure to meet you both. There's a car waiting.” He motioned, directing their attention behind them. Claire glanced back her to see a Rolls-Royce roll to a halt at the curb. Tom's creased brow echoed her uncertainty.

“Is that a request or an order?” Claire asked curtly, crossing her arms before her.

“An invitation. As you can see, we've been expecting you.”

“You're not the only ones who've made arrangements,” the mystery woman added with a confident smile.

“I'm sure they have.” Tom carefully examined the faces before him, as if taking inventory or perhaps sizing up the enemy. He returned his gaze to the stranger. “Peter's replacement, I presume?”

“Not as such. Mr. Syme's position was retired along with him. I'm the newly appointed Deputy Director of…”

“Retired?” A hint of Hyde shone through in the sneer that curled Tom's lips intensified further by chaotically flickering lights. “Is that what they told you? Is that the official corporate statement on what happened, passed along like some Monday morning memo?”

The lead security officer took a few steps forward to break Tom's attention away from the visibly nervous young lady. “Doctor Jackman, if you please, we're to relocate you to the countryside manor straight away.”

“And what awaits us there exactly?”

“Answers,” he answered simply.

“Yes well, that's what we came for isn't it?”

Claire was as eager for his response as the audience surrounding them. When he remained silent, she gave his hand a subtle tug and said, “Shall we?”

The drive was quite comfortable if not downright indulgent with the roomy space and ample treats offered within the luxury car. Claire gave Tom a salacious wink and motioned to the bar, sending them both into a restrained giggle fit. Inappropriate as it seemed to the seriousness of their situation, the levity did wonders to relieve the tension. Much to their relief, they'd been given privacy as well, with only the driver in earshot but who was separated from them by dark tinted privacy glass. Even so, Claire knew it was only an illusion of privacy with the car more likely to be wired for sound than a movie theater. And the trio of conspicuous vans tailing them was not to go unnoticed, weaving wildly through traffic to keep pace yet at the same time attempt to be discrete. All of it was both ridiculous and frustrating and Claire felt the knots of a nervous stomach coming on. But the gentle smile Tom offered acted like a balm to calm her nerves. He opened his arms, inviting her to move in closer. Claire welcomed it and shuffled enough to settle comfortably against his chest, savoring the weight of his arm as he tucked it securely around her.

It was down to them, now, and the thought of it no longer worried her. Or perhaps the dull stretch of road was working its magic to relax her. Either way, soon after having found herself at home in her husband's embrace, her head fell to rest in that perfect nook along his neck, the one she swore was shaped especially for her. And by reflex he nuzzled in to her hair, finding his special place as well. They shut their eyes and gave into the hum of the road and the soothing duet of their breaths.

Tom and Claire arrived as would-be celebrities to the hauntingly memorable manor. An entourage of attractively suited staff lined the uppermost step of the cement stairs. They stood tall with chins up as the driver quickly hustled around to open the door for the Jackmans. He offered his hand to Claire who felt a tinge of guilt in refusing it. Tom started up the steps, his limp all but gone, and was met at the door by a stately gentleman with a genial smile.

“Doctor and Mrs. Jackman, so glad to see you've made it. You must be exhausted from that lengthy drive so I'll spare you the details for now. We've prepared a suite for you which I'm sure you'll find most suitable.”

“Suite? You expect us to stay here?” Claire shot a glance to Tom who tried to alleviate her concern with an unbothered look.

“Of course. We have much work to do and not an abundance of time in which to do it. But we'll get to that soon enough. Let's get you settle in first, shall we?” He stepped aside and invited them in with a wave. “Have you any bags? I can send someone to fetch them.”

“That won't be necessary.” Tom stepped through the door into an entrance hall occupied by another army of black uniformed soldiers standing at the ready and armed to the teeth. Claire charged in after him only to freeze midstride at the daunting display.

“Didn't we leave this party at the Institute?” Claire mumbled under her breath.

“Apparently they breed like bunnies,” Tom responded coolly. “A welcoming committee?” The pitch of Tom's voice lowered with each word. “You really shouldn't have.” Claire didn't have to check to know that was pure Hyde. The weapons aim quickly demonstrated she was right.

The attendant dismissed the concern with an indifferent shrug. “The security is only a precaution to ensure your stay here is a safe and pleasant one.”

“For all involved, I'm sure.” Claire added.

“Yes, well, you never know who might drop in unexpectedly.” He smiled and winked at Hyde as he passed them both. “Pay them no mind. I do. This way, please.”

As if taking the suggestion to heart and seemingly impervious to the blatant intimidation tactics, Hyde hooked his arm and waited for Claire. However Claire, still uneasy at the numbers scrutinizing them, took a moment to realize it was time to move on. She quickly gripped Hyde's arm and followed alongside as they stepped further inside. The small yet formidable militia of security fixed their sites on Hyde as he moved but shuffled out of the way, parting like the red sea when his proximity called for it. Claire's confidence grew the further they went as she gained new appreciation for Hyde's psychotic glare and the intensity in which he delivered it. It was no wonder they were giving him space. Clearly they knew to expect the unexpected.

The building had been transformed from the nightmare prison Claire remembered from before. Gone were the drab empty spaces lit by construction lighting, replaced with period furnishings that any museum curator would envy. Tapestries hung along freshly restored walls, rich colored oil paintings with intricately etched frames complimented the stained moldings arching high over every door, marking the many mysterious entryways that splintered off to unknown depths within the labyrinth of the house. Decorative banisters lined the edge of every floor and bordered the landing their gentlemen servant led them up. Hyde let up on his overly enthusiastic threat face as they got out of visual range of the armed men. Just as Claire had, he began to examine the house as they went but with long stares at seemingly unimportant items, a hanging light, a vent, even an irregular patch in the plaster of a wall. She shrugged it off, finding her attentions drifting on to the beautiful artwork that donned the long stretches of hallway. Their short trek came to an end outside large wooden double doors.

“Here we are.” The gentleman said as he punched in a code on the keypad alongside the latch. A pleasant ping sounded the release of the lock and he sent the doors swinging open with a pull. He continued on inside, adjusting the lights as he walked the perimeter of the exquisitely furnished room.

Memories flooded Claire's mind, a dimly lit room painted with auburn shadows, velvet fringed shades and dark stained wood, the essence of clove burning in the dry choke of smoke as an elderly face coalesced from the shadows at the foot of an unfamiliar bed. She pushed the nightmare from her mind, determined not to have it shake her like before. Not this time.

The accommodations were much like she'd remembered only with a clean, perfumed scent in the air flowing under the influence of a ceiling fan. The lighting had improved as well with crystalline accents that dangled from the many lamps, casting shimmers along the hard wood floors that seemed to dance with the breeze. The wooden paneling along the walls was a few shades lighter and the tall, pale framed paned glass windows allowed the sun to fill the space, brightening it to a welcoming mood.

“The lavatory is just through there…” he pointed briefly to a smaller set of open double doors leading into a heavily marbled bathroom. Claire could see the tail end of a claw footed tub at one edge and a separate shower a few steps away. She moved in for a closer inspection. An impressive two sink vanity stretched the length of one wall and a fully stocked wardrobe stood opposite it. “The name's Collins. Please give us a ring if there's anything at all you need.” He gestured to the phone atop the bedside table. “Dinner is served at eight. You should find all you need in the wardrobe there.”

“Is that it?” Claire asked, more than a little confused.

“I nearly forgot. I do apologize. Here you go.” He handed a slip of paper to Hyde and stepped outside. “Please make yourselves at home.” He shut the doors behind him, leaving Claire and Hyde alone.

“How does one make oneself at home when one doesn't have one exactly?” Hyde rambled as he took in the atmosphere of the room. “Niiiiice. A dark side could get used to this.”

“What did he give you?”

Hyde unfolded the slip of paper and shot her a look, “How'd he get your measurements?”

She snatched it from his hand and quickly read the series of numbers. “It's the code to the door you bloody id...” she went quiet when she noticed his Cheshire cat smile. “This isn't funny.”

“Yes it is. It's a bloody riot.”

“Enough of this. Where's Tom?”

“Fuck if I know. Would you take a look at this?” Hyde strutted around the room. “Quite an improvement from Poppin's shackle shack, I'd say.”

“Bring him back.”

“Oh Mummy, how you spoil me.” Hyde twirled playfully at the center of the room. “And looky over here.” He sprinted across the room in exaggerated strides only to twist round and take a shallow sliver of a seat at the very edge of the bed. “Call me crazy but is this a bed or an airstrip? Why don't you come in for a landing?” He spread his legs and leaned back to rest on his elbows in an absurd attempt at a seductive pose.

“Are you listening to me? Bring Tom back now!”

“Sorry love, didn't catch that. I was busy undressing you with my eyes. It would work sooo much better with the hands.” He waggled his brows and sprang off the bed to land a foot from her. His hands were making short work unbuttoning her blouse until she caught hold of them.

“Stop it. Bring Tom back.”

“Why, so you can get a good hand holding? He's bloody useless. I know what you want and how much you want it. Doesn't take a dim, dull Doctor to figure out that.”

“I said stop it.”

“Say it all you like, scream it even, or better yet moan it.” He pulled in close and dipped down for a kiss only to have Claire evade it with a slippery retreat.

“No. Tom now or I leave.” She put some space between them and folded her arms before her.

“You're no fun anymore.” Hyde pouted.

“Work now, play later.”

His eyes narrowed with skepticism. “I'll hold you to that.”

“I've no doubt you will.”

He stole a few paces towards her and said in a saintly tone, “A kiss to send me off?”

“How about a knee?”

“Choices, choices.” In seeing she wasn't about to give in he rolled his eyes and heaved a sigh. “No fun at all. The rooms bugged, by the way. Lightshade, fan, dresser, blinds.” He ticked them off like items on a grocery list. “Don't get me started on the rest of the house. Bloody CCTV peep show if you ask me. But the video camera above the bed should be filthy fun for later when I come to collect payment on your promise.”

“I didn't promise.”

“Yes you did,” he growled and with a flicker of a light and a blink to match, Tom was back, concern clear upon his face. “This isn't going to work.” He shook his head despondently and stepped backwards to take a fumbling seat on the edge of the bed.

Claire stepped up and knelt down before him, sitting back on her calves as she gave his knee an encouraging squeeze. “We'll make it work. He's cooperating.”

Tom scoffed at that. “Just barely.”

“No one has died yet. I'd say that's cause for celebration.” She was relieved to see Tom mirror her smile.

“What do you make of all this?” He made a sweeping gesture of the accommodations.

“No fair, I was going to ask you that. I'd say they want us alive, otherwise why go to this much trouble? But why here? Why not the Institute? What are we doing here, Tom?”

“As you said, we're trying to get our lives back.”

“Seems like ages now. I don't remember that life anymore.”

“I do, every moment of it.” His eyes stared through her, lost deep in thought remembering a better time and place. She wished she could somehow be there with him.

“Then remind me because it's all running and hiding to me now.” Claire reached for his hand only to watch it pull away and his shamed gaze with it. That was it, the final bloody straw. She'd had enough of evil Institutes, enough of stranger's homes, of imposing on friends and decoding scientific reports. She'd had enough of Hyde and his untimely unquenchable libido and now had more than enough of Tom and his ridiculous prohibition of intimacy.

“Is this how it's to be from now on?”

“Claire, please.”

“A long distance relationship even when we're inches apart.”

He raked his fingers through his peppered curls, a guilt ridden expression creasing his fatigued features as he spoke, “Let's not do this now.”

“Then when? I mean seriously, Tom, let's pencil it in. Just when would it be proper to schedule in a marital heart to heart, before us walking headlong into a trap or after the Institute dissects you like some school science experiment? Too late for the first, guess we'll just have to hold our breaths to see if it's the second.”

“We're here for answers, for hope. If I knew of any other way...” His soulful eyes pleaded for her to understand. “You know I need to do this.”

“Yes I damned well know WE need to do this but you don't need to do that.” She determinedly wrapped her hand over his, trapping him. “Stop running away from me.”

“I'm not running.”

“You never stopped running, Tom, never. Ever since that dreadful night in the bowels of this godforsaken fortress… no, even before that. Since that day on holiday at the beach, the day…”

“Hyde emerged,” he admitted finally.

“You told me you love me. You told me no matter what happens you love me.”

“You know I do.”

“No I don't,” she said softly. “I'm sorry but I don't, not anymore.”

Tom choked on a breath as he fought back his emotions, his gaze searching uselessly away from hers only to return, sorrowful and pleading. “He's here, Claire. Hyde is always here.”

“I don't care, damn it.” She brushed a tuft of hair back from his face and traced her fingertip along the rough stubble of his cheek. It was obvious he was fighting off the urge to retreat, eyes shut with fear. But Claire would not be deterred. Not this time. “Touch me.”

“You know I can't.”

“Yes you can.”

“They'll see,” he whispered, “…and so will he.”

“Let him see. Let them see every blushing kiss, every grope, every bloody fuck until the walls crumble. But at the very least let me see. Please Tom, you owe me that much.”

He stared with eyes shimmering near the point of tears, waging a battle within himself.

“This could very well be our last night together.” Claire stood up on her knees, closing in on him. “Show me that you still love me as much as I do you.” It was her final plea. She'd exhausted her heart and now it fell on Tom to decide. So there was nothing left to do but weep when his face sunk down to hide under his bowed head, fleeing from her once again. Her hands fell away from his and she prepared to climb back to her feet when he lunged forward, pressing his mouth to hers in a clumsy union. Claire froze as if to avoid spooking a timid creature. But Tom's lips were far from timid, claiming hers with wild suckles and nips, leaving no bit ignored. His hands clawed up the back of her head, holding her near, holding her precious. They'd kissed thousands of times in thousands of ways but none moved her so or meant so much as the one gracing her with desperate longing. And with every second they shared, the rift between them mended that much more. Soon the embrace turned soft, delicate as a breeze along her lips until there was only breath between them.

“Christ, I miss you,” he whispered.

“About bloody time,” she smiled.

A moment later, Tom and Claire were on their feet with hunger in their eyes and determined hands fumbling frantically to rid each other of their clothes. It was a thoughtless rampage of tearing fabrics, grating zippers and a hail of buttons dispatched viciously from stressed threads. Quickly, garments laid in ruins, scattered to the far reaches of the suite. But once their fingers found the heat of skin, the fray slowed to a sensual exploration and sweet rediscovery. Claire wondered at the forgotten feel of her husband as she combed her fingers through the dark curls shading his chest. Scarcer than she'd remembered but perhaps the touch of Hyde had tainted her memory. The gentle stroke of his broad hands along the silken flesh of her hip reminded her of the tenderness she loved, the selfless care she ached for. Tom moved in close, wrapping his arms around to hold her bare body against his.

“I missed you, too,” she said, savoring the intimate hug and the devoted warmth it offered.

Tom shuffled them toward the bed and guided her slowly to the mattress, careful to avoid crushing her beneath his thighs as he followed her down. Always one to play coy, Claire slinked backwards up the stretch of the bed, inviting Tom with a wink to pursue her. He did, crawling up after and over her until he pinned her naked form beneath him. He hovered above her bosom, dipping in to relish the taste of her nipples. The hot texture of his tongue worked each to eager peeks before moving on to kiss her with just as much enthusiasm, his ambitious tongue slipping through her lips to tangle with hers. But the splendid press of his ample erection to her intimate flesh distracted her from the kisses he lavished on her. She wanted more and attempted a reserved buck to encourage the promising pressure. The carnal grinding sent her body thrumming with need.

“I need you,” she demanded in a harsh whisper. Tom cracked a sly grin as he weighted his hips down against her, just as subtle as her continued bucking but so much more delicious with his joining in. Soon the awkward exchanges came together in a united tempo until they swayed with one another, passions building with the sensual cadence.

Suddenly Tom's body shuddered to a halt and his eyes went wide with panic. “No,” he gasped.

“Tom?” Confused, Claire tried to console him with a caress to his cheek but he was worryingly feverish to the touch.

“He's coming.” Tom's arms quaked tightly at her sides as his hands curled to fists, knuckles whitened by strain. “Hyde is coming.” His face tensed red, wrought with the struggle to cage the beast, eyes screwed tight, jaw clenched. Claire was losing him.

“Stay with me.” She trapped Tom's head between her hands and drew him in, as if to tether him to her.

His eyes shot open, brow's knit in a hopeless plea, “I'm sorry.”

“Don't do this.”

A blink cast his gaze into the blood webbed black pools she'd dread. Blurred at the limits of her vision, the boundaries of his face shifted.

“No. Please, just this once…”

The menacing red halo's paled to white as a devious smile twisted back his lips.

“No, you bastard, NO!” She lashed out with slaps and punches, determined but powerless in her disadvantaged position. It was enough to jostle his head aside with each blow until an uncharacteristic “Ow” sounded and she suspended her assault. When his face returned into sight, there was no clef, no dark pools, no menace.

“It's me, Claire.” She could see the rich hazel had returned to his eyes, the green flecks catching the light as if to reassure her. She caressed his cheek in disbelief.

“I thought I'd lost you.” She pressed a relieved kiss to his lips, welcoming him back.

“Not this time.” He kissed her back. “I've got too much to fight for.”

“Is he gone?”

“I think so.”

“All the way gone or peep show?”

“What do you think?” Tom grinned knowingly.

“Like I said, let him see.” She pulled him to her and kissed him hard and long, lifting her hips provocatively against his reactive groin.

Cautiously, Tom gave in to her seduction and began to sway with her. His arousal melted the tension from his face as his body worked up to a perfect massage along hers. Claire's eager flesh hummed with his agonizingly gentle and measured strokes, his teasing length giving only a taste of what was to come. Her mouth went dry with anticipation, quenched only by his kisses. Tom's hardness slicked wet with her excitement as his strokes hurried. She whimpered at the delicious friction but craved more, needed depth, to feel him dive inside and touch her as deeply, as profoundly as he once did. Claire's breath hitched when Tom finally sank deep within her and they fell still, eyes and bodies locked together at last.

It began as a slow and shallow dance, rocking gently to remember the feel of each other. Their breathing evened as they matched each other's motions, quickly building upon the rhythm and depth of each churn. This was home; Claire thought and lifted to meet his drives, each more powerful than the one preceding it. Tom grasped at the comforter, anchoring for the thrusts to follow. A moan escaped Claire's lips, encouraging Tom to hasten his drives, charging them both on towards release. Their bodies writhed in the throes of passion as nails bit into the linens and the aged wooden bed frame creaked achingly beneath them. Claire looked up to see Tom's eyes shut tightly, his face tensing in anticipation of his orgasm.

“Open your eyes,” Claire pleaded tenderly, cupping his glistening cheek. After a moment, he did as she asked, blinking the sweat from his brow as his thrusts slowed and body seized up. As it had every time before, at the very moment Tom's orgasm took him all flecks and hues distinguishing his eyes melded into an unmistakable black heralding Hyde. Claire realized if there was ever a moment the two were one it was at that instant when the unbound chaos of ecstasy overwhelmed both of them leaving neither in control. The final flood of shuddering thrust sent Claire spiraling into her release and she cried out. Tom pressed a kiss to her breathless lips, savoring the sight of her trapped within the tempest of her orgasm. She broke from the blissful storm to return his kiss, panting breaths she stole in-between his tender affections.

“I love you,” Tom whispered. “I'll always love you.”

“I will always love you.” She brushed her lips to his and kissed him softly.

They lingered there, basking in the aftermath of heightened nerves along fused flesh, of labored breaths and the onset of a heavenly exhaustion. Tom feathered a final kiss to her mouth as he slipped free from her. He rolled beside her and continuing on to the edge of the bed where he sprang to his feet with a graceful bounce.

“Looks like someone's finally in a good mood,” Claire teased.

“The best sort, actually. I feel like I could take on the world, after a bit of a lie down, of course.” His goofy grin was a sight to behold and one Claire welcomed back with a giggle.

“I believe we have reservations for world conquest at eight. In the meantime, a kip and a shower is just what the Doctor ordered.” Tom winced with the jest as did she but it was well worth the encore of his adorable smile.

Tom disappeared into the bathroom for a moment and returned with a velveteen towel in hand. He offered it to Claire who never failed to blush with such thoughtful gentlemanly gestures. She refused it with a shy shake of her head and dismissed herself to tidy up in the bathroom. Pausing at the door, Claire glanced back to see Tom already settling in for a well earned sleep. Perhaps there was hope after all or maybe it was just the foolish optimism afterglow brings on. Either way, for the first time in what seemed near forever, Claire and Tom were happy.

part 13...