Fic: Do You Dream, Daddy?
Part 6/?
Rating: PG-13, Sorry, no smut this time.

An eternity past in silence as Claire watched Tom get to his feet, sort out clothes from the discarded pile, and dress himself, all the while avoiding eye contact with her. She scrambled to clothe herself as well, waging an unspoken argument within her mind in preparation for the inquisition that was sure to come. But it never did. Instead, Tom retreated within himself which worried Claire more than anything else. He'd done this before when suffering through the birth of Hyde, back when she was a concerned and clueless wife. She was going to lose him again and it was all her fault.

“Tom, talk to me,” she pleaded, fumbling to fasten the buttons of her blouse.

“What would you have me say?” He stared at the center of the room, as if seeing the ghosts of what had once inhabited the eerie space.

“I don't know. Say anything. Whisper, cry, shout… just… please talk to me.”

“How are the boys?”

“They're safe. We all are thanks to… to Hyde.”

In hearing the name, Tom's gaze lifted to meet hers. His face was sallow with a pained expression.

“Were you followed?”

“I don't know. I don't think so.”

“Did he…” he swallowed down his disgust as his gaze fell to the floor. “Did he hurt you?”

Claire stepped towards him. “Tom, it wasn't like…”

“Did he hurt you?” He yelled, eyes wild with anger, fists clenched tightly with arms stiff at his sides. Claire stopped, swearing she saw a glimpse of Hyde, a blink of black in the green pools of Tom's eyes.

“No, he didn't. He wouldn't.”

“Right. He'd never hurt you,” Tom growled softly.

“Tom, are you okay? He'd been shot twice. Did he… are you hurt?”

“I'll live.” He turned and walked past her, heading toward the door.

“What are you doing?”

“Taking care of my family.”

“How?” When he didn't answer, Claire marched after him. “How, Tom?”

He whipped around, pinning her under his sharp glare. It was obvious he was restraining himself, biting back whatever harsh judgments he had for her. To her surprise, the anger waned, replaced by a sad sort of acceptance. He stepped up to her and tenderly caressed her cheek before taking her into his arms. She savored the embrace, relieved yet confused. But it ended too soon as he pulled away, placed a gentle kiss to her lips, turned around and continued toward the door.

“No.” Claire charged after him. “Not this time.” When he pulled on the door latch, Claire came up from behind him and slammed the door shut. “I won't lose you.”

“This isn't up for debate, Claire,” he said softly.

“You're right about that.” She nudged herself between him and the door.

“Claire please, this is difficult enough…”

“It bloody well should be. What is this? Is this your idea of some sort of punishment?”

“I could ask you the very same thing.” He countered with a wounded glance. “You've nothing to be punished for.”

“You're right about that.” She was unnerved by his apparent indifference but was determined to stand her ground nonetheless. “I miss you Tom. You hardly touch me, and when you do, it's nothing like how you used to. You might as well be monk with your ridiculous celibacy and I have no say in the matter. I'm your wife yet you treat me like some fragile possession you dare not touch.”

“Yes, well I believe my concerns have been more than proven valid in this instance.”

“I'm not trying to excuse what I did. I just want you to understand.”

“I don't want to understand. I want to kill him.” The fury returned to Tom's stare and with it a disheartening determination. “I want to make him suffer the way I've suffered. That's what he's brought me to, Claire. That is what Hyde has done to me.”

“We need to get through this together. You've said it before, we'll find a way.”

He shook his head, his doubt overriding his better judgment. “Hyde is a danger to you and the boys...”

“No, Tom. You want to believe he is but he helped us. He was there for us.”

“And I wasn't.” Tom concluded, obviously heartbroken.

“That's not true and you know it.” Claire reached out and cupped his cheek, reassuring him with a tender caress. “I need you. The boys need you. I just want my husband back.”

“I'm not so sure he can come back.” Tom drew her hand from him and backed away. “I did once. I thought… I hoped we could have what we had before. But now, everything's changed. He changed it.”

“No, not everything. Not us.”

“Hyde's chipped away at me, bit by bit… taking my life from me. He took my job, my friends, my time, even my identity, Claire. And now he's taking you and I don't know how to stop him.”

“I love you, Tom. Nothing… no one could ever change that.”

“As long as Hyde exists, I can't be the man you want.” He gently guided Claire away from the door. “I'm sorry but I have to do this.”

“Do what?”

“Deal with Hyde once and for all.”

Before Claire could object, he opened the door and took off down the hall with determined strides. Claire followed after him for a few steps before giving up the pursuit. It was clear he had his mind set. Damn Tom and his stubbornness.

“It was a bloody disaster,” the soldier explained, obviously shaken by his recollection. “We never stood a chance against that thing.”

“That ‘thing' as you call it, would be my boy. Show some respect or I'll see to it you're reassigned a station in the Antarctic,” Utterson snarled, punctuating the threat with a billow of smoke to the young man's face.

The soldier stiffened at attention. “Yes Ma'am. My sincerest apologies.”

“I'd anticipated Hyde's return but not so soon. He's far more resilient than I originally thought.” She sucked in and exhaled another thick cloud of smoke, contemplating her next move as she paced before the surviving soldiers of the doomed retrieval unit.

“We've recovered the remains of Colonel Hart. He was found…”

“I couldn't care less about your pitiful failure. I must admit to a bit of pride every time Hyde makes an example of you useless uniforms. So you see, my only concern is with my boys.”

“We have reason to believe the Jackman family fled to an associate's residence, one by the name of Callender.”

“As I expected. I trust your men have set up the surveillance I ordered?”

“Yes Ma'am. But there's been no evidence of Mr. Hyde or Doctor Jackman in the vicinity thus far.”

“Then he's hiding Hyde from them… from me. My clever, naughty boy. Did you send a unit to check out Tom's old haunts? He's nothing if not predictable.”

“They're on their way now. Both the abandoned Jackman residence and Doctor Jackman's former flat will be swept for possible clues on his whereabouts and possible destination.”

“Destination?” Utterson smiled, her sharp teeth warning of her dangerous cunning. “He'll be coming for me, in time. Once he accepts the truth of his impotence in controlling Hyde, he'll be forced to seek me out. I simply hope to reunite with my boys under my own conditions. I will not tolerate another fiasco as the last time.”

“So, how'd the hunt fare?” Miranda asked and sipped her tea as she sat across from Claire at a handsome wooden table.

“Did Mr. Sexy-Pants come home like you thought?” Min offered a cup to Claire to which she eagerly accepted. Her gracious host took a seat beside her at the table.

“I found him.” Claire sipped her tea sparingly, holding it like a security blanket for the questions to come.

“I can't tell, is that good or bad news?” Min asked.

“Both, actually.”

“You know, it might help us help you with your situation if you actually shared information about what's happened.” Miranda suggested.

“I know. I'm sorry. This is all such… I honestly don't know what to do.”

“Well, let me give it a go, eh? Our troubled boy's reappearance was a temporary one. Mr. Jackman is back, no doubt.”

“How could you know that?”

“To put it bluntly, if Hyde were still with us he'd be with us… literally. I don't believe for a second he'd fail to track you back here. And as persuasive as you may be, nothing, not even death, could keep him from you, if you remember.”

“Well then, if DoctorJackman managed to pull himself together, so to speak, where is he?” Min asked.

Miranda waited for an answer then prompted Claire with, “As impressive as my investigative skills may be, I believe that was your cue, Mrs. Jackman. Where is your husband?”

“Tom left,” she responded curtly.

“Would you mind expanding on ‘left'?”

“I don't know where, exactly. But I know he intends on getting rid of Mr. Hyde.”

Miranda smirked. “Of course because that worked out so well before. He doesn't learn, does he?”

“Well, he wasn't particularly in the mood to listen to reason when he… erm, returned.” Claire could feel her cheeks blushing with the recollection.

“Ooh, why is that? You can tell us, sweetie,” Min encouraged and slid a plate full of treats toward Claire. “We're all friends here.”

“I rather avoid getting into the details…”

“But details are good. I like details. Juicy, tasty details.”

“Let's just say Tom wasn't happy to see me there… with Hyde.”

“Ah ha. Mr. Sexy showed you what he hides in those pants of his, didn't he?” Min hooted. “Can't say I blame you, given his rather saucy scorecard. Though Tom chose to, didn't he? Pity that, getting caught and all. Hope it was worth it. So out with it, then. Is Hyde as much a beast in bed as he is otherwise?”

Miranda shook her head in disappointment. “Is the word restraint anywhere within your private vocabulary?”

“How dare you judge me!” Claire jumped into defensive mode.

“I was referring to Min, Mrs. Jackman,” she responded with a patient smile. “So, upon discovery of the family's black sheep and your extracurricular activities, Tom decided it was high time to squash the competition for good.”

“There is no competition. I love my husband.”

“Perhaps a plural's in order in this case, sweetie?” Min suggested.

“I don't know what he's going to do.” Claire shook her head with concern and felt impossibly helpless. “I can't chase after him all over the bloody continent but I'm worried he's going to do something drastic.”

“Unfortunately it would seem your husband does nothing but.” Miranda considered the situation for a moment. “I think perhaps it's time to consult an old friend.”

Min looked puzzled. “Really? What could Raphael do? He's just an interior designer. A bloody brilliant one, mind you. Worked wonders on the east wing...”

“Min dear, do shut it. This would be an old friend of Doctor Jackman's. One that will undoubtedly be anticipated and visited shortly by the very folks we rather keep distanced from the good doctor.”

“I suppose a road trip is in order.” Min smiled with newfound excitement.

“Not for you. You're playing nanny to the boys while Mrs. Jackman and I try to save Mr. Jackman from himself. Besides, we're surely under surveillance by now and it will be your job to keep up appearances. Think you can handle it, dear?” Miranda challenged Min.

“Of course, luv. But you owe me a proper holiday in the Bahama's after this one.” Min smirked confidently. “And our Mrs. Jackman owes me details once this mess blows over.” She gave Claire a wink which strangely put her at ease.

part 7...