Fic: Do You Dream, Daddy?
"Fan out, staggered formation. Secure all exits. Disable civilian communications. And remember, this is an intel operation only. Keep your distance and no confrontations. Tag the subject, nothing else." Colonel Hart listened to the numerous radio confirmations as he readied his glock. With a nod, he sent his detachment exiting dutifully from the van. "Berners, no one is allowed back in until the subject has been properly dealt with, understood?"
"Wilkins, keep radio contact open. Hyde is a slippery fellow. Best be ready for anything."
Hart closed the van doors shut behind him and took in a deep breath of the crisp fall air. It seemed like only yesterday he was staring the beast down, eye to eye. With the blast of a bullet, he'd seen the humanity ripped from Hyde, reducing him to nothing more than a savage animal. And yet, the animal sought only one thing, reaching desperately for the salvation of his sons. Hart had granted him his final wish, reactivating the containment units and ensuring the safety of his family. In truth, he never imagined he'd survive long enough to meet Hyde again. Something told him it would be wise to avoid such a reunion but his curiosity wondered.
Ten minutes seemed like an eternity to Berners, listening to the volley of communications over the radio. His detachment was playing cat and mouse just outside while he was stuck babysitting the glorified operations stenographer.
"You ever meet this bloke?" Wilkins asked, flipping switches on the console before him.
"Who, Hyde?" Berners let out an impatient sigh.
"Yeah. What's he like? I hear he's some freak of nature or something."
"Never seen 'im. Never will at this rate."
"Northern quadrant secure," sounded a raspy voice over the intercom.
"Copy. Any sign of the subject?" Wilkins replied.
"Negative. Moving into eastern quadrant. Stand by."
Suddenly, a bang echoed within the van followed by another and another, rattling it like some child's toy. Berners and Wilkins grabbed wildly at any surface they could, trying to brace themselves until the quake ceased. More slams sounded as the metal shell of the vehicle began to give with each attack, marking the walls with fist sized welts.
"Little pigs, little pigs, let me come in," a voice sing-songed from outside.
Wilkins activated the coms port with a flip of a switch. "Subject is on the offensive. Mobile unit has been compromised. Awaiting orders."
"I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your van down," the voice called and the earthquake returned.
The radio buzzed with urgency. "Do not, repeat, do not confront subject. "
"Confront? He's coming through. He's bloody ripping through the metal!"
The sound of gunfire sent Hart running from the hotel. Hysterical voices shouted through the static of the radio, "Subject is down. Repeat, subject is down!"
"Down? Clarify 'down'," Hart barked in response. He spotted the mobile unit still stationary, across the street and down a block where he'd left it. With a gesture, the nearest men to him joined along in his charge toward the van.
"No other choice, sir. He attacked us. There were two shots fired. Both struck on target and felled the subject. Subject is believed terminated. Will confirm casualty."
Hart and his men crossed the street, closing in on the van. "Two shots? A unit emptied nearly a hundred rounds in their last encounter with Hyde and he survived. Do not confirm. Repeat, do not confirm! Remain inside…"
The men's screams could be heard in sickening stereo over the radio and ahead of them. Hart hastened his pace as best he could as he ordered, "Report! Wilkins, report your status!" There was no answer. The men surrounded the brutalized van and took aim, ready to empty their clips with his word.
"Stand by!" Hart cautiously approached the van. All the doors were intact and shut, though there was a puncture in one wall, large enough for someone to force their hand in. There was no sign of the men but there was certainly evidence of an attack. Blood stained the concave welts of the metal and a ruby puddle formed from drippings coming off the bumper. Hart could only hope it was Hyde's blood.
"Mr. Hyde, are you in there?" Hart shouted.
"Why Colonel Hart, is that you?" came an all too familiar voice from inside.
"Yes it is, Mr. Hyde. If you come on out, we'll…"
"But we're having such fun, Colonel. Won't you join us?"
"Are my men alive, Mr. Hyde?"
"Come in and find out." He could hear the smile in Hyde's tone.
"I'll come in if you free your hostages."
"Sir," one of the men objected but Hart interrupted with a stern glare.
"Hostages? I like that. It sounds so 'international incident', doesn't it? Would it be too late to demand a jet plane and a billion in unmarked bills?"
"Do we have an agreement, Mr. Hyde? My two men in trade for me."
A minute passed as the van rocked mysteriously from whatever internal happenings were unfolding.
"Mr. Hyde, I need an answer, please."
Hart heard the sound of the rear van door unlatching and he approached it, peeking warily within what little space Hyde allowed him. Berners lay unmoving on the floor while the sobs of Wilkins could be heard but the man himself remained unseen behind the other latched door.
"Won't you join us, Colonel Hart?" Hyde purred dangerously, also hidden behind the door.
"Release my men."
"Release my men."
"This is getting rather dull, Colonel Hart. Tell you what, I'll release one of them now and the other once you're inside."
There was some rustling, the sound of fabric tearing, of rubber skipping along metal, of sobs and fear. Suddenly the door swung open, startling Hart and slamming the weapon from his hand. He stumbled backwards as a large shape was thrust out like a heap of rubbish. It collided with two of the armed men and sent them crashing to the pavement. As other men rushed to take up the fallen men's positions, Hart felt a firm grip on his flak jacket and was heaved within the vehicle. Doors slammed shut behind Hart as he scrambled to take in the situation. He caught a glimpse of Wilkins bound in the passenger seat before the blur of a fist sent him into unconsciousness.
"Mrs. Jackman?" Min stood in disbelief of the woman standing at the open door but remained attentive to the cooing baby in her arms. "Oh darling, you have a visitor," she called behind her.
Hard footsteps sounded down the hall as the recognizable tone of Miranda Callender called back, "Then why didn't you just invite them…" Miranda went quiet upon seeing her guest.
Claire felt like she was intruding. "I'm sorry to bother you. Tom said… we had a…"
"I take it the Institute has struck again?" Miranda spared her the explanation. It was all the information she need know.
"We've nowhere else to go. Tom believes my family would be the first place they'd come looking. Our only other option, the only people he trusts, are you."
"I hardly think we're any safer of a safe house. Klein and Utterson's tentacles stretch out to every edge of this country, under every rock. Internationally as well, I'm afraid."
"We can't just send them packing," Min objected.
"Of course not." Miranda stared at Claire as if sizing her up. "Considering you're one of the generous benefactors of this home, you and your family are welcome to stay."
"Thank you." Claire sighed in relief.
"Under one condition," Miranda amended.
"Yes?" Claire waited for Miranda to continue and when she didn't, hesitating in front of the boys, Min gave a knowing smile and waved invitingly to Harry and Eddie.
"Come on boys, I'll bet we have some biscuits stashed away in the pantry. And you can't have those without some cocoa. Would you like some biscuits and cocoa?" Min's smile couldn't be denied and soon she was the leader in a parade to loot the goodies in the kitchen, leaving Miranda and Claire alone at the doorway.
"I'm sorry. I realize this is putting you in a…"
"Mrs. Jackman, allow me, please. As I said, you and your family are welcome to stay as long as is necessary. For all the interesting events we've been a part of, the outcome has been more than beneficial for us. But however much I've come to care for you and your family, Hyde cannot set one foot within these walls. Is that understood?"
"How did you know he'd returned?"
"It's become rather clear to me that you're appearances usually coincide with Hyde's. It's nothing personal, mind you. I'm sure Hyde has his charming side, but I have a family to look after just as you do yours. If I see any indication of the Institute or our troublesome boy, I'll have to ask you to leave. "
"I understand and thank you." Claire could see the fear hiding behind Miranda's confident façade. "If it's not imposing too much, may I ask… did he hurt you? Did Hyde hurt you?"
"That's the thing, isn't it… the curse of Hyde, you might say? He hurts everyone eventually."
"I believe Hyde saved my life… my families' lives."
"And spared mine, proving even monsters can have moments of grace. But intended or not, every life he touches suffers for it in some way." The concern in Miranda's eyes waned with her smile. "Now, enough of this. Let's see about getting you set up in our spare room. I'm sure Min's dying to show off her remodeling obsession to yet another willing victim."
"Sounds lovely," Claire responded with a smile and followed Miranda inside. She could only hope Miranda's premonition of Hyde would never see fruition.