Fic: Do You Dream, Daddy?
It’d been five minutes since Miller entered the room and he had yet to be noticed. The dim space was thick with smoke, fresh from a cigarette pinched between the lean fingers of the Mistress of the manor as well as the stale smoke that permeated the aged books and paintings lining walls. For a recently renovated house, the library appeared strangely old and well used; a perfect facade for the scientific command center rooted beneath.
Utterson slowly spun her tall backed chair around to fix a steely gaze on Miller. It surprised him that a soldier of his caliber could be bothered by something as simple as a look but she never failed to run a chill up his spine.
“How did this happen?” She asked evenly and casually sipped her wine.
“I’d say the bullet to the head was the culprit.” Miller shifted uneasily on his feet as Utterson measured his response with an unreadable expression. She took in a long drag of her cigarette, sending a billow of smoke stretching out in his direction.
“Spare me the wit. How did he let it happen?”
“I’m unsure sure he let anything happen, Mum. He was shot. It happens.”
“A considerable deal to Hyde, it would seem.”
Miller chose his words carefully. “Perhaps we underestimated Callender.”
“Or overestimated Hyde.” Her eyes narrowed.
“First time jitters, Mum. He has the tools; he simply needs the training to hone his skills. Painful lesson to learn, though.” It was obvious from Utterson's lack of reaction she had her doubts. He did as well but wasn’t about to admit to his men’s careless supervision. “But we secured the boys, Mrs. Jackman and Hyde. I’d say we came out ahead even if it didn’t quite go to plan.”
Miller hoped he wouldn't have to provide the details. Having heard the tale was enough of a trial than having to tell it. “Dead, after quite a show apparently.”
“Hm, my boy is quite unpredictable. One of his many strengths. Let’s hope the bullet didn’t rip him into a bloody useless vegetable.” She dismissed him with a wave as a servant appeared from the shadows to refresh her glass. “I trust you won’t err like this again if given another chance?”
“That's good. Hyde isn't the only one prone to unpredictability. Leave.”
“Yes Mum.” He bowed politely and left with impatient strides, eagerly awaiting some fresh air, a shower and a whiskey.
The Italian restaurant was quiet with only a small daytime clientele spread out amongst the intimate dining area. Min scanned the faces with a suspicious eye before attending to the cooing infant in her arms. “Are you sure this is safe coming back here like this? We did just barely escape a suburban assault lead by deranged lunatics just down the street.”
“I don’t think Hyde is as deranged as he would lead us and others to believe.” Miranda couldn’t help but join Min in her makeshift security watch.
“I was referring to the evil corporation cloning dead people and ruining lives of innocent families. They could be tracking us, following us, surveilling us.”
“The one persistent fault of the Institute and its constituents is overconfidence. It’s unlikely they planned for failure so dining here, returning to the scene of their crime, would fall outside their realm of expectation.”
Miranda browsed through the digital pictures she’d snapped with her mobile, each telling a mysterious tale hopefully worth investigating when handed over to police. Of course the reliability of the authorities would be the next problem. After all, they’d been compromised before when they released Jackman into the Institute’s custody after interrogating him for the incident at the Syme house. The Institute had always been proven resourceful. That fact alone made Miranda second guess her decision to return.
“Well you certainly made the day of that auto’s dealer, trading down to a used Beetle. I’m going to miss my lovely tangerine lady.” Gavin began to fuss, pawing out toward Miranda and quickly frustrating Min in her attempt to keep watch.
“I’ll get you another and bill Jackman if we all manage to survive this.” Miranda discarded her mobile and reached out to swoop up Gavin into her arms as Min searched her bag for something. After a moment, Min returned her attention to both of them only to drift off again, her eyes widening as they stared beyond Miranda, her mouth hung open in stunned silence.
“What on earth’s gotten into you?” Miranda turned around to see a rather disheveled Katherine crossing the lobby of the restaurant and heading toward their table. A smile curled along her lips with the sight.
“As I was saying, Hyde’s madness may be in question.”
“Oh he’s a bloody lunatic, alright.” Katherine assured her and quickly found herself trapped within the embrace of Min’s relief with arms as strong as a vice.
“My God. We thought you were dead.” Min gave her a squeeze.
“I believe that was the idea.” Katherine winced and patted Min’s back as if to reassure her otherwise. Once released from the hug, she took a seat beside her at the table.
“So Hyde didn't kill you?” Min asked absently, winning disbelieving looks from both Katherine and Miranda. “I mean, of course he didn't kill you.”
“Oh he certainly did and made quite a game of it for the benefit of his armed escorts.”
“So how did he... or you manage to...” she waggled a pacifier from her fingers, encouraging Katherine to fill in the blanks.
“Let's just say I'll be needing a new wardrobe and chiropractic adjustments for quite some time.” Katherine rubbed at the back of her neck, cringing at the soreness knotted there. “I didn’t know a spine could make such a noise.”
“You look like hell.” Miranda didn’t bother to ask before sliding Min’s wine glass over to Katherine and filled it with a liberal amount of merlot. Min wouldn’t indulge as long as she was breastfeeding and Katherine certainly looked like she could use a drink.
“Being murdered tends to do that to a person.” She gulped down the glass and let out a pained sigh. “I just barely managed to get out before the house went up.”
Min shook her head as she reclaimed Gavin and offered him the pacifier. He was instantly soothed and took to staring at Katherine with curiosity. “I'm so sorry. You must have lost everything.”
“Not everything.” She pulled an envelope from the torn fabric of her jeans.
“I see we weren’t the only ones Jackman left a surprise for.” Miranda reached down to retrieve a paper wrapped bundle and set it on the table.
“Do you know what it is?” Katherine asked.
“Not a clue. How about yours?”
“A going away present from Peter Syme to Tom.” Katherine’s serious expression seemed to lift with a subtle smile. “I’m glad to see you three made it out. And the boys?”
“Taken.” Miranda hoped to dull her disappointment with a sip of wine.
“Just before Miranda shot Hyde,” Min added.
“Shot?” Katherine’s eyes went wide with alarm.
“In the head, but he practically ordered her to.”
Katherine pondered for a moment as she stared down at the mysterious package. “He knew he needed to be forced out of commission to avoid having to kill you.”
“That was rather nice of him,” Min said with a glint of guilt in her tone.
“While it would be a refreshing change to consider his actions towards us as altruistic in nature, I’d have to assume it was to keep these in play,” she gestured to the items upon the table.
“It would seem we are to be insurance.” Miranda sighed.
“And perhaps now is the time to cash in,” Katherine suggested. Their conversation was interrupted by the server delivering two large plates brimming with cheesy pasta drowning in marinara sauce.
“Would you bring us another plate, please,” Miranda asked and refreshed Katherine’s glass with another hearty serving of wine.
“So where do we begin? The police?”
“With a story like ours, we’d be better off with Most Haunted.” Min sighed.
“I was thinking about something in between?” Miranda grinned.
He could still smell it, almost taste it, the organic tang of blood, her blood. Her life pulsed out, bleeding over him as she lay in his arms, eyes pleading.
“Mr. Hyde,” a mild voice called from beyond the darkness. “Mr. Hyde can you hear me?”
“Go. Please... go...” Her voice was faint, sputtering breaths barely carrying her words.
“Mr. Hyde, please respond if you can hear me.”
“I love you.” She faded into nothing, leaving him alone in the dark.
“Claire?” Hyde didn’t recognize the sound of his own voice, so dry and desperate. The only response was the electric hum of lab equipment. He open his eyes a sliver to find a blinding cold blue light above and the familiar, deafening noise of science invading his senses. A coppery aftertaste of blood washed along his tongue with every sore swallow, churning sick in his stomach. The air was confused with antiseptics and cleaning agents, curry take away and cheap cologne. After a few blinks, this hazy vision cleared enough to see he had familiar company.
“Who do we have here?” He was parched, reflected in his faint, raspy voice. “Well if it isn’t Mr. Basically.”
“Doctor Gilligan, actually.” The doctor took up a water bottle with a straw and offered it to Hyde who ignored it, keeping intensely focused on the young man. Hyde realized that he was not only naked and strapped to an upright medical table but that he couldn’t move enough to even test the security of the restraints. An IV line from his arm was tangled in with a mesh of electrodes fastened along the bare skin of his arms, legs and chest. He could hear the robotic echo of his heartbeat and mind in the dull tones of the machines surrounding him, recording him.
“My Daddy’s a doctor,” he spoke slowly, struggling with every word. “Does that make me one too?”
“How are you feeling?”
“Nostalgic. Seems like old times but with much less clothes.” He gave a wink. “You’re idea?” He followed through with a smirk. It hurt but Gilligan’s discomfort made it well worth it.
“I’m here to help you.”
“Not quite like old times, then.”
“You’ve suffered severe head trauma, Mr. Hyde.”
“I thought I felt a breeze.” He closed his eyes, assessing the damage for himself and the score wasn't all too pretty.
“You’ve lost quite a lot of blood but your vitals are strong so I’ll get you patched up in no time.”
“I have my doubts considering the bang up job you did on that lack of thumb.”
“I have some routine tests to run. You should try and get some rest, Mr. Hyde.” He was doing quite well in trying to be reassuring, even though the nervous twitch of his thumb-less hand gave away his uneasiness around the very man who’d had the pleasure of removing it.
There was something familiar in the air, a delicate, distinctive perfume lingering amongst the sterile stench of medicinal chemicals. Hyde took in a deep breath and dissected it carefully. His pulse hastened with recognition and his eyes went wide, fixed on Gilligan. “I can smell her on you.”
“W-what?” Gilligan gulped, unable to meet Hyde’s gaze.
“My Claire,” his voice intensified to a growl as he stared down the intimidated Doctor. “You’ve been with her.”
“Yes I have. I mean, I’m assisting with her medical care as well as yours.”
“Lucky for you.”
Gilligan swallowed hard. “W-why’s that?”
Hyde defied the numbness, lifting himself from the table to move in as close to the Doctor as the restraints would allow. His head thundered as a trickle of warmth escaped the bandaged wound to dampen his cheek. “It’s the only thing keeping you alive now.”
Gilligan inspected the restraints before apprehensively reaching out in hopes to help guide his patient back to rest against the table. He found Hyde immovable even in his greatly weakened condition.
“This offer stands for as long as she lives. If she dies, you’ll join her. Do we have an understanding Doctor Gilligan?”
“Y-yes, we do, Mr. Hyde.” He gave his patient another gentle nudge but Hyde remained. His patient’s insolence gave Gilligan a strange flush of frustration fueled courage. “I give you my word I’ll do everything in my power to help Mrs. Jackman as well as you. You can threaten me all you like when you’re better but for now, you must rest.” With another gentle coaxing, Hyde finally sank back against the table.
“How is she?” He asked softly, his expression unveiling concern that couldn’t be masked behind by not-so-idle threats.
“She's strong, stubborn, like someone else I know.” Gilligan turned his back for a moment to prepare a syringe.
“Keep her that way.”
“I promise.” The Doctor returned and punctured the thin film of the IV line with a syringe. “Time to sleep, Mr. Hyde.” Moments later, Hyde slipped away into the fluttering anarchy of light and dark but he could feel he wasn’t alone this time.
He was buried alive, trapped in a pit of shadows. Mind swimming in a fog of confusion, of pain and terror. He remembered the sound of the gun shot, the scent of powder burning his nose, the molten sting of flesh and the burrowing of the bullet. His gut ached still but not from the wound, from hers. She needed him. They needed him. He had to get out.
“Mr. Hyde?” A nervous voice called from beyond the dark. “Doctor Jackman, can you hear me?”
He clawed out at the void but the shadows caved in to fill whatever space he won. He was suffocating, being smothered by the determined darkness.
“Doctor, I can see you’re there, trying to come through.”
Something was keeping him buried. Not this time. Not ever again. He willed himself towards freedom.
“Tom, please listen to me. You must not wake!”
“Claire?” Tom gasped, arching off the table to strain the restraints across his chest, arms and legs.
“She’s stable. She’s strong,” urged an anxious voice nearly drowned out by a digital uproar of beeps and alarms coming from every direction. A flood of pain coursed through Tom, head pounding with an agony he’d never suffered before, nerves screaming, muscles knotted to the point of tearing. He’d have cried out if his voice had let him.
“My boys?” He winced, unable to open his eyes for fear they’d be driven out of his skull by the throbbing pressure building behind them.
“They’re safe. You’re family is safe.”
Hands pushed against his shoulders, holding him against the cold metal table beneath.
“You need to listen to me, Tom. Hyde has suffered massive head trauma of the frontal lobe. If you stay here you will die.”
“Must get them out.” Tom opened his eyes just enough to make out the blur of white discs peppering his body. The digital alarms escalated to a feverish pitch.
“No, that’s not what I mean. You’re in no condition to help them. Hyde hasn’t been able to heal properly and with your reemergence, has left you to deal with something that should kill any normal man.”
“I’m not a normal man,” he seethed through clenched teeth, challenging the hazy figure attempting to restrain him.
“At the moment you are and will be a rather dead one if left without Hyde’s abilities. Every second you remain will undo what little he’s been able to mend. Only Hyde can manage with such injuries. You must let him.”
“I need to see them.” His muscles began to give, one by one succumbing to paralysis which spread along his body and he knew would reach his heart soon enough.
“You need to sleep. Be reasonable and see this for what it is. You’re no good to your family dead. Please for their sake and yours, go back to sleep and let Hyde do what he can.”
“He won’t let me out.”
“Then I’ll get you out, once he’s healed properly. I promise.”
Tom could barely make out the stranger’s face before him. “Who are you?”
He closed his eyes and let sleep take him as the strangers final words did little to assured him, “A friend.”
to be continued...