Fic: Do You Dream, Daddy?
"Breathe, Tom. You have to breathe," Claire urged quietly, mentally begging the boys to remain asleep. Tom's mouth fell open as he gasped for shallow breathes, staring glossy-eyed up at her. Her hands pressed firmly to his chest, willing the pooling red to stop. "The bleeding won't stop."
"Mommy?" Harry called out into the dim room.
"Oh God," Claire winced. Everything was unraveling and her with it. She couldn't let the boys see their father like this. Tom did his best to hide his discomfort, nodding to her in an unspoken plea of support. "Mommy's here, baby. Go back to sleep."
"What's wrong, Mommy?" Harry slipped from beneath the sheets and stepped closer.
"Nothing's wrong, sweetie. Go back to sleep." Claire shifted forward to block his view of the horror unfolding just feet away.
"But I don't want to go back to sleep."
"Are you crying, Mommy?" Eddie asked, joining Harry at the bedside.
Tom tried to speak but found no breath to carry his words. Every intake was stopped short by a stabbing pain within his chest. Tears welled in Claire's eyes, mercifully hidden from the boys by her dark veil of hair.
"Mommy just needs time alone with Daddy."
"What's wrong with Daddy?" Eddie shifted forward to get a better look at the situation.
"Nothing's wrong, baby. Go on outside and play." Claire suggested.
"But the sun isn't out yet," Harry objected.
"And we're not dressed for outside," Eddie added.
"Go outside and play, now!" Her voice cracked under the strain.
Eddie pouted. "But we'll miss Uncle…."
"B-Boys… do as you're told." Tom forced out what little breath he could. Claire clasped down on the gush of blood that came with the strain. With heavy footsteps accompanied by disappointed grumbles, the boys grabbed their coats and worked their way out of the hotel room.
Once the door closed, Claire ripped open Tom's shirt, sending the buttons showering to the carpet. "The bleeding won't stop. I can't make it stop. We need to get help."
"Can't." He shook his head, feeling it swim with fever. "They'll find… find us."
"You're bleeding, Tom. You can barely breathe. We need to do something." She glanced across to room and spotted a phone directory sitting on a small dresser. "I'll phone for…."
"No!" Tom grasped her wrist only to feel it slip through, sickly lubricated by his blood. She stared down at the punctures and felt a chill run through her.
"These look like bullet wounds." Realization sent a wave of nausea through her. "They look like… oh no!"
"No. He's… gone." The gasps were useless. Whatever air Tom took in hissed from the punctures that riddled his chest.
"My God, it won't stop. Tom, you're bleeding to death."
"No hospitals... promise me."
"I can't just let you die."
Her heart sank as his eyes rolled to white and his head slumped lifeless against the pillow.
"Tom! Tom, stay with me." She shook him but got no response. "Tom, answer me!" She shook him again, watching his head jostle limply from side to side with her urging. "Damn it, Tom!"
"Claire," he whispered, barely more than a breath.
"Claire?" It was softer. He was fading before her eyes.
"Tom." She sobbed, glancing uncertain at the phone.
"I'm here." She leaned in, soothing him with tender stroke along his dampened cheek. "I'm right here. Don't you dare leave me!"
"My Claire, I would never leave you." A hand hooked behind her neck and drew her to him. His mouth locked hers in a kiss, possessive and powerful and all too familiar. She pushed against him, managing to pry her lips from his only when her finger slipped within one of the chest wounds. He whimpered as she retreated across the room.
"Such the tease, Mrs. Jackman. No wonder Tommy Boy's trousers have gone all tight." He licked his lips, savoring her lingering flavor.
"It can't be."
"Come see for yourself." Hyde invited her with a grin and threw back the bed sheets.
"But you're dead."
"It's only a flesh wound." His coolness broke for a moment as he strained to haul himself upright in the bed. The hint of discomfort waned as his shirt fell open, revealing the seeping wounds beneath.
"I saw you die."
"I saw you naked. Think I got the better end of the deal."
Claire worked up as much courage as she could muster. "Where's Tom?" She demanded.
"You know what they say, an eye for an eye, a death for a death." Hyde lugged his legs over the side of the bed and slowly pushed off the mattress. Only an instant of pain peeked through his mask of good-humored menace. "Miss me, miss's?"
"Tom's not dead."
His brow arched with curiosity as he took a step towards her. "How can you be so sure?"
Claire stood her ground. "You need him."
"Like a gunshot. Wait, already have some." He took another step, stalking her with a dangerous grin curling his lips.
"I need him."
"Not anymore." He waggled his brows and with a pounce, closed the gap between them. Claire's defiance intrigued him. "You haven't answered my question."
"What have you done to him?"
With a frustrated roll of his eyes, Hyde began to pace about the room. "I haven't done a thing to dear old Tom. Those soldier boys from the Institute had their way with me and Tom just happened to be caught in the crossfire." He paused beside the empty bed and took in the scent with an abrupt huff. "Speaking of boys, where are those little monsters of mine?" He pivoted fast, pinning Claire with a sharp glare.
"You aren't their father."
"I will be soon."
Claire bit back whatever explicative's she had ready to fly and instead offered gently, "Please."
Hyde responded with a small smile and said, "Please what?"
"Please don't kill him."
"Much as I'd like to rid myself of your worse half and mine, I'm simply the stand-in until the curtain comes down. And I don't think there'll be any encores this time."
"I don't understand."
"I'm not killing him," Hyde spoke slowly, his impatience building.
"Then where is he? Why is he gone?"
"Don't know. Don't care." With demanding strides, he crossed the room to her again, stopping so close she could feel his breath breaking against her lips. "Answer me," he growled. "Did you miss me?"
"What if I did?"
"That's not an answer."
"It's the only one I'm giving until he comes back."
"He can't come back." Their dark gazes locked in a battle of wills. Claire was the first to look away, distracted by the bloodied chest nearly touching her bosom with every breath. At first glance, it looked as if the wounds were mending.
"You've stopped bleeding." Her fascination got the best of her and she reached out, gently drawing her fingers along the shallow craters miraculously healing on his blood stained torso.
Hyde purred, welcoming her touch. "Now we're getting somewhere. Check a bit lower, maybe you'll get lucky. I know I will."
"Is he in pain?"
"Quite a lot, actually. Good times."
"Are you?" She asked tenderly, gaze lifting from his chest to his intense stare.
"Why Mrs. Jackman, is this concern or just demented curiosity? Either way, I like it."
"I did miss you," she admitted as a blush washed over her pale features.
Hyde claimed the last inch of her personal space as he leaned in, black eyes wide with intent, nose brushing hers as if to dare her to look away. She didn't flinch, even as his lips stole the briefest taste of hers. And surprisingly, with that fleeting connection, Hyde withdrew with a wink, backtracking a few steps. Claire discretely let out the breath she'd been holding back and cursed the fire welling deep within neglected curves of her body.
"Tired old Tom has gone on holiday." Hyde explained. "Too knackered to keep pace with the K&U… always one step behind."
"But we haven't seen any sign of Klein & Utterson since the day you…" she paused, unable and unwilling to finish the thought.
"The day I died." Hyde concluded with a proud grin.
"I was never given the chance to thank you for that." Claire moved in towards him. "Thank you for saving the boys."
"Think nothing of it, I did. Think very little of them, actually. " Hyde shrugged it off easily.
"I don't believe you. I know you care for them." It was Claire's turn to pursue Hyde as she closed the space between them.
" *You* care for them. That's all that mattered." His once imposing gaze had somehow softened and all confidence had melted away. The confession he'd made to her during the escape from the Institute echoed fresh in her memory. "I notice you. You make me weak."
"And Tom… Tom matters to me. That's why you spared him, too."
"No, that was for you. It was all for you."
"You spared him then, absorbing all the damage from the wounds? Why are you sharing the damage now?"
"I'm not sharing the damage, love. I'm taking it." His confidence returned with a blazing smile.
"Then he'll return?" She could barely contain the relief.
"Yes, when I'm good and ready to let him. He's a right mess, sweetheart. A breakdown shy of a mental ward. Best let junior run the show until pops grows a pair."
It was amazing what trust his boastful confidence inspired in her, especially considering he was an admitted psychopath. "You told me before that I'd never been safer." Her hand cupped his cheek and he nuzzled into it like a kitten delighting in the attention. "Is that true now?"
"Oh yes." He turned to place a gentle kiss to her palm. "You might even say I'd die for you," he smirked, "… again."
A sudden wrestling at the hotel room door interrupted the moment as Harry and Eddie came rushing in, breathless.
"The vans, Mommy. The black vans are coming," Harry shouted.
"It's the bad men. They're coming down the road," Eddie added.
"Oh no, they've found us." Claire felt panic rise within her.
"They never lost you." Hyde blanketed her hand with his and lifted it from his face. He slipped the wedding band from her finger and put it to his ear, listening intently for a moment. "They've been tracking you all along." He tossed it aside like so much rubbish. His wedding band followed, both settling beside each other on the red stained carpet.
"Uncle Billy!" Eddie smiled and ran up to wrap his arms around Hyde's leg. Harry followed, claiming the other leg for himself and together, they pinned Hyde to his spot.
"Hello boys. Miss me?" A grin crept along Hyde's lips as he rested a hand on each boy's head. "Afraid we'll have to save the hugs and kisses for later, lads. Time to pack up the kiddies and run along, dear," he directed Claire as he stepped through the improvised human trap.
"But they'll see us. They'll follow us," Claire warned.
Hyde's grin deepened to an ominous sneer. "Ah, but while Daddy's away, I'll finally get to play."