Fic: Do You Dream, Daddy?
Katherine woke to the extraordinary scent of a food cooking. Not just food, but a full-on breakfast beckoning her. It had been so long since she'd enjoyed a proper home cooked meal that the zesty aroma of sausage sent her mouth watering. She threw on her robe and headed down the hall with childlike anticipation until she paused at the closed door of the den. Perhaps glancing in on her uninvited guest would be wise, she thought, to confirm he remained safely tucked away in his makeshift cell. But the sizzle of eggs and her rumbling stomach quickly diverted her attentions and she hurried on to join her other more sociable guests chattering away. She could always visit with him later.
Much to Katherine's surprise, she came through the door to see the table was set for her. Claire was busying herself at the stove, keeping a watchful eye on the eggs as she browned the sausage to perfection. Miranda had finished her breakfast and was fiddling with her mobile, likely checking in on Min and the Jackman boys as well as her newborn son. She welcomed Katherine with an infectiously confident smile.
“I trust you slept well, Ms. Reimer?” Miranda took a sip of her coffee.
“Yes. And how'd you two manage?”
Claire glanced back in recognition of Katherine's presence but continued her preparations.
“Very well, thank you,” Miranda responded with a curious glance to Claire. “A touch spoiled, actually. Not used to having a bed all to myself.”
“And you Mrs. Jackman?”
“Fine,” Claire said.
“And how about Mr. Hyde, I trust he…”
“No worries. I've restricted him to the den for the moment.”
Katherine detected a confrontational air in Claire's response and decided not to press the matter. “Well, I must say I'd never thought the kitchen to be fully functional until now.”
“I went to the market just down the way.” She shifted the skillet on the burner. “Hope you don't mind my scavenging for the plates and such.”
“Not at all. It's a welcome treat. Thank you.” Katherine took a seat across from Miranda who gestured to a French press steaming with fresh coffee. Katherine accepted, nudging her empty cup across the table.
“I needed something to do to take my mind off things. There's nothing to clean here so I settled for comfort food.” She served up a generous plateful and placed it before Katherine then continued on around the table, taking up the remaining plates except for one. That's when Katherine realized there was an extra setting. She glanced up to Miranda who simply grinned and sipped her coffee.
“Perhaps someone should check in on the good Doctor. I'm sure he has quite the appetite after last night's festivities,” Miranda suggested.
“I'll get him.” Claire said quickly and started off.
Katherine jumped to her feet. “I have another set of restraints. I'll go and fetch them.”
“No.” Claire immediately shied away from her demanding tone to adopt a gentler one. “I wanted to discuss that with you.”
“I understand your apprehension with Hyde.”
“'Apprehension' is putting it mildly but do go on.”
“I've made it clear that such aggression is unacceptable.”
“And you think that's enough, do you? Telling Hyde to behave?”
“He listens to me.”
“I'm sure he wants you to believe that.”
“I'll take full responsibility for him. What more would you have me do?”
“I thought the suggestion of restraints seemed clear enough.”
“Don't you get it? He's holding Tom prisoner. I need to have him trust me to get Tom back and he won't trust me unless I can give him reason to. A simple gesture of letting him join us for a civilized breakfast free from physical restraints just might help things along.” Though Claire's tone was even, her eyes pleaded for cooperation or, at the very least, understanding.
Katherine had to admit that what she proposed was reasonable enough. “Food smells fantastic,” she smiled and headed back to her seat. Along the way, she took up the stun gun and placed it beside her plate at the table. Claire looked to Miranda for an objection. She gave none. Instead, she sipped her coffee and offered a polite grin.
Just as he'd said, Hyde was waiting for Claire when she returned. He stood still as a statue at the window, his back to her as he looked out. She entered the room quietly, as if not to disturb him, turned around and closed the door behind her. When she looked back, Hyde was inches before her, smiling in welcome. Though her heart drummed in her chest, Claire worked to avoid visibly reacting to his startling proximity. Unfortunately a knowing glance to her chest revealed he was doing more than mentally undressing her. She could hide nothing from him.
“Are you hungry?”
“Always.” His smile retreated, unsettling her even more.
“I've made breakfast.”
The only response was his dark, merciless stare and it sent a shudder through her.
“You're free to join us if you like.”
“What, no breakfast in bed? Forgot, I haven't got a bed, do I?”
“There's eggs and sausage… coffee…” she drifted off, lost in his gaze for a long moment before snapping out of it. “What?”
“Why are we here?”
“Tom believed Katherine could help…”
“Why are we
here?” He wrapped his hand around hers, slipping his thumb beneath her folded fingers. “This doesn't concern them, shouldn't concern them.” He began to massage along her palm, seducing her with the simplest touch as he drew her hand to his lips for a kiss.
Claire swallowed to clear her throat and pulled her hand away. “Too late, they're concerned.”
“We don't need them. We need us, together, working things out starting with you out of your clothes.” His hand returned, tracing a leisurely path up her arm and blazing a trail of heat as it went.
“We can't do this alone.”
“We can't do it any other way. They're in our way.”
Something clicked in Claire's mind, a glimpse of her boys, the dejection in Tom's eyes the last time she saw him, the fear on Katherine's face with every mention of Hyde, all pouring forth like a cold shower. She yanked her arm free and took a step back. “So you have it all sorted, do you? What's Mr. Hyde's master plan, then? Come on, I'm listening. Here's your chance to wow me.” She crossed her arms before her in hope of closing off further seduction.
He wasn't amused, jaw clenching, brow furrowed, lips spreading as if ready to speak or snarl or worse. His hand curled to a fist as it fell rejected to his side. To Claire's surprise, Hyde didn't answer and instead, backed away in defeat. It was an encouraging sign to Claire that she was getting to him as much as he was her.
“That's what I thought. There's food in the kitchen if you want it. If you don't, you can stay here and mope about for all I care.”
“Do I what?” Claire huffed.
“Care?” And damn it if there wasn't a little twinkle in his eyes, hopeful and much too persuasive.
“I have dishes to do.” With an about face, Claire marched out of the room.
A hint of a smile returned to Hyde's face.
The day was uneventful for the most part. Hyde stubbornly remained in the room, reminding Claire of when Harry or Eddie would wage a sit-in as a sort of passive resistance protest for punishment they felt was unfair. Only the boys would give up in a matter of hours whereas Hyde had managed most the day. She'd checked in on him, announcing the meals as they came and went but he was steadfast in his rebellion which only served to reinforce her resolve. She needed Tom and Hyde was going to understand that, even if it meant going hungry by his own pigheadedness. But by the time the long shadows of dusk were stretching over the landscape, the persistent guilt had begun to sway her.
Katherine and Miranda seemed pleased with the arrangement, neither asking how Hyde was doing or showing any interest. Claire wasn't sure how to interpret that, perhaps their own brand of defiance to her wishes or sparing her from constant reminders. In any case, each busied themselves with self appointed tasks. After a brief conversation with Min over her mobile, Miranda took it upon herself to search for wire taps and inspect the overall security of the Reimer estate. It appeared clean with her initial investigation but she warned it would take more sophisticated equipment than keen eyesight to uncover a professional's handiwork. Unaccustomed to having guests, Katherine put it upon herself to make their stay as comfortable as possible. She unpacked some linens and an inflatable mattress she used for camping only once. As she rolled it out, the stale scent of age revealed she hadn't enjoyed such activities for quite some time. Miranda insisted on trying out the mattress, using a rather transparent excuse that Min was curious about the comfort level and had considered investing in such outdoor gear. But when Katherine offered up the couch as an alternative there was obvious relief in Miranda's eyes. In truth, Claire was apprehensive in accepting the bed. With her proclamation of responsibility over Hyde, she knew that would require constant supervision which in turn meant he'd share the room and the bed bringing on a whole new level of temptation. One she wasn't so sure she could stave off.
Claire passed the time reading Katherine's meticulous documentation about assisting Tom and Hyde. It was all there, from the peculiar job interview to their strained goodbye, a step by step account of what she'd dealt with on a daily basis living under the same roof with a stranger… two, depending on how you counted. Claire let her eyes wander from the page to take in the nearly empty house around her. This was what Katherine had given up, what she walked away from. It was humbling. But the reason for Katherine's dedication was clear in her words, carefully chosen methodological terms to mask her emotions but Claire could see them clear as day. Damn Tom for doing this to her and damn him for putting them both through such agony. At least Katherine had the professional experience to make sense of it all. But what sense was there in a real life Jekyll and Hyde? Claire began to wonder what else Tom may have told Katherine. How much of the bizarre tale had he offered as payment for her help? Did she know the truth about Claire and how she came to be? And in that revelation, who would be considered more the monster of the piece? If she ever had the chance to see Tom again, she'd be sure to ask.
The mood of the three women changed as the evening matured and conversation thinned to awkward silences. They'd done everything but discuss the problem at hand and none seemed anxious to take the first step. Dismissing themselves with the conventional pleasantries, each retired to their chosen rooms. Claire took her time approaching the den where Hyde had staged his revolt, time she used for an inner pep talk to craft her game plan. She opened the door to find him yet again gazing out the window, this time at the moon. He had to be bored to tears.
“Katherine's offered up the guest room to us tonight. There's a proper bed so we can get some much needed rest.”
He didn't move or even acknowledge her presence.
“Are you asking me to come with you?”
“I've told them I'd keep an eye on you. That would be a bit hard with you staying here.”
“I'll take that as a yes.”
He turned and dutifully followed her to the guest room, glancing briefly at the rooms they passed. The house was quiet; as if it and everyone in it held their breath waiting to see what would happen next. The guest room was a modest space with a queen size bed, a small bedside table with a brass lamp atop it. Claire couldn't imagine fitting anything else there. And when Hyde entered and shut the door behind him, it was entirely too intimate, almost suffocating in its lack of volume.
Claire focused her mind elsewhere and motioned to the bed. “Tom usually sleeps on the…”
“I'm not Tom.”
“No, you're not. Sorry, old habits and all that.” Off to a smashing start, she thought. “Which side do you favor?”
“Is under you an option?”
“Right, I was hoping we could avoid having this talk but you being… well, you, I really should have known better. Nothing is going to happen between us, okay? We're going to lie down and share this bed like two restrained and sensible adults without any groping, without sex or any behaviors thereof. Got that?”
“Perhaps a demonstration to clarify things.”
“Please, let's just go to bed. It's been a trying day for the both of us.”
Hyde began to unbutton his shirt and Claire found herself watching for at least three buttons before comprehending what she was doing.
“No, clothes on.”
“I sleep in the nude.”He grinned mischievously.
“Not here. Not now.”
Hyde stopped undressing and watched as Claire instinctively walked around to claim her side of the bed. She slipped her shoes and socks off and slid beneath the sheets. The inviting give of the mattress beneath her was promising, instantly working loose the tension in her body. Hyde remained standing at the foot of the bed, staring with an unreadable look on his long face.
“Are you coming?” She drew back the sheets and gestured to the open space beside her.
Hyde smiled and followed her example, removing his shoes and socks before joining her beneath the sheets. She fluffed the pillows a bit and settled in with her hands folded over her stomach. Hyde lay stiff beside her, arms at his sides, staring up at the ceiling.
“If you say so.”
She glanced over to see him pouting and couldn't help but be amused.
Minutes turned to hours which felt more like days as Claire tried to make the best of things. She rolled onto one side, facing away from her bed buddy in hopes to erase him from her mind. Unfortunately her legs just couldn't find a comfortable position and her feet kept sneaking over into enemy territory where she would hastily correct the problem. Was that what he was now, an enemy? Until she saw Tom that was exactly what he was. She continued to roll over onto her stomach which immediately alerted her to the stiffness of the pillow. She tried repositioning onto her back again only to see the irritating ceiling mocking her once again. Whatever was going on wasn't working. She stole a peek at Hyde who'd barely budged a perceivable inch from his initial position. She could see eyes wide open and glistening through the darkness as he suffered the same ill rest.
“Are you asleep?” It was silly, of course, she could see he wasn't but what else could she say?
“Yes.” He said sharply, obviously annoyed.
“Same here.” After a moment, she began to shimmy towards him. “Alright then, lift your arm.”
Curiosity arched his brows as Hyde followed her command and watched her tuck herself perfectly along his body, settling in with her head on his shoulder. “Don't you get any ideas. This is just to help us get some sleep.”
“Yes, ma'am.” He grinned.
Claire went stiff for a moment as she felt his arm shift but once it curled around her, holding her tenderly as his hand came to rest on her waist, she felt the tension melt away. And like magic, they both drifted off to sleep.
Miranda and Katherine made an effort to avoid gossiping about the goings on in the guest room by feigning interest in their much less scandalous morning routines. The coffee was made as was the tea. Toast was being prepared as Miranda browsed the remaining selection of ingredients Claire had acquired from the shop. It was all so very polite when a knock sounded, instantly distressing both.
“Expecting someone?” Miranda asked.
“No,” Katherine responded, already on her feet.
“Damn. Not the answer I was hoping for.” Miranda hurried light-footed down the hall to the front door and snuck a peek through the peephole. She quickly unlatched the lock and pulled back the door.
“Hello,” a cheery voice greeted her.
“Min? What on earth are you doing here?”
“Nice to see you too, sweetie.” With arms full of her newborn son, she clumsily shuffled her way passed Miranda and directed the Jackman boys to do the same with a nod. They filed through, both calling out for their mom as they made their way inside. In no time, Claire came around the corner and upon spotting her boys, hurried forward to take them into her arms.
“What's happened? Are you alright?” She asked, quickly assessing them with a motherly inspection.
“They're fine, Mrs. Jackman. Change of plan, is all,” Min responded.
Miranda met Min's gaze with a stern glare. “I thought I told you to…”
“A delivery came to the house. Something you all need to see.” She caught sight of Katherine and gave a little wave, trying her best not to disturb the slumbering baby cradled in her arms. “Hello Ms. Reimer? Surviving then?”
“Barely just, thanks.” Katherine grinned.
“It's not safe here,” Miranda insisted, gripping Min's arm and stopping her advance. “Hence my specific request for you to remain elsewhere.”
“The same goes for back home. You'll soon see if you give me a chance. Besides, Doctor Jackman needs to see this as well since it concerns him.”
“My ears are burning,” a low voice came from down the hall.
“Uncle Billy!” Harry and Eddie nearly bowled Claire down with their excitement to get at Hyde. He knelt down, welcoming them with open arms.
“There are my little monsters. Up to no good, I hope.” He stood, supporting each with an arm. Katherine watched in disbelief as the boys delighted in his company, talking over each other to tell of their adventures on the road. Claire got to her feet and watched the reunion with a cautious eye until Hyde noticed her looking on. He gave a wink and carried them off into the house, leaving her to her imagination.
Katherine came up beside Claire. “Should I be concerned?”
“Only for the cleanly state of your house,” Claire smiled and followed after them.
“What is so important that you needed to disregard my direct orders to stay away?” Miranda frowned.
“Oh, well let me just pull it out of my arse. It's in the bloody car, isn't it? Lady with a baby here. For someone who considers herself a professional investigator you're not very wise.”
“I'll go fetch your things from the car while you chat up Mr. Hyde then, shall I?”
“I suppose you want a medal or something for being right, then? Good on you. Guess you're not as incompetent as you think I am.”
“I don't think you're incompetent, love. I thought we agreed that you would… sod it. Just get inside, will you?”
Min leaned in and gave a peck of a kiss to Miranda's cheek and continued within the house. Miranda shook her head and stepped outside to gather the mysterious delivery from the car.
Katherine took to washing dishes, deciding it best to observe rather than participate until she knew more of what was going on. All the while, she kept a watchful eye on her guests, one in particular who was strangely quiet.
Min repositioned within her chair, doing her best to coax her rebellious infant to feed from a freshly warmed bottle. “There's no return address.”
“No need for any. It's obviously from Klein and Utterson.” Miranda suggested and handed off another page to Claire who replaced hers, adding the old one to her reviewed pile.
Harry and Eddie sat beside one another at the table, opposite from their mother, and dismantling Hyde's portion of breakfast as he stood watch behind them. Hyde observed Min's motherly persistence for a moment then looked to the boys as if working things out.
“What's the paper say, Mommy?” Eddie asked, his face glistening with greasy drippings of breakfast.
“It looks like some sort of research file.” Claire responded absently. She glanced up and noticed her son's state of mess. “Eddie, please use your…” She went quiet with disbelief as a napkin came into view, dangling from Hyde's hand reaching over from behind the boy. Eddie stared nervously up at Hyde before accepting the napkin and quickly wiping his face clean. Hyde smiled proudly and looked to Claire for approval. She couldn't help but grin.
Katherine was more than a little surprised by the exchange.
“Medical records, mostly. Exam results, shorthand notes, Latin to me, I'm afraid. I can barely make sense of it.” Miranda shrugged. “Katherine, what do you make of this?” She stood up and swapped posts with Katherine. Hyde's gaze followed Katherine as she took a seat which didn't go unnoticed by her.
Trying to mask her uneasiness, Katherine focused in on the task at hand, skimming briefly over a few pages. “Nothing particularly odd here. As you said, blood tests for metabolic health, basic scans. All look to be normal and within average range. I believe they're Doctor Jackman's results as opposed to Mr. Hyde's.” She looked up to see him staring at her, unyielding, and escaped back within the pages. She thumbed through some more until she came upon a secured envelope. It contained sheets thick with data and equations, nearly alien to her except for the occasional phrase. “I believe these refer to brain functioning and genetic mapping, neither of which I can boast any knowledge of, I'm afraid.”
“Lucky for us I know a brainy sort of guy who can help us. I'll just ask his secretary for an appointment.” Claire's comment finally drew Hyde's eyes from Katherine. He cocked his head aside, locking in on her instead.
“Look, there's a note here specifically addressing Doctor Jackman.” Katherine handed off the sheet to Claire who read through it silently before reading it aloud.
“This goes well beyond you, Tom. You only know half the story and it could get your family killed. We have the answers you need. I'll be waiting.” Her gaze returned to Hyde, waiting for something, anything of a reaction.
“An invitation? How thoughtful in a completely devious sort of way,” Miranda said, finishing up with the last dish. She tossed the towel aside and joined the others at the table.
“It has to be a trap,” Min said, relieved to see her tiny one suckling eagerly on the formula.
“Most certainly, bait you with just enough to whet your appetite but leave you dangling on the line luring you in. Oldest trick in the book, really.”
“I thought ‘trap' covered it well enough,” Min teased.
“Of course you can't go. That would be exactly what they want,” Katherine agreed.
Hyde's eyes never left Claire, his face expressionless and his body inhumanly still.
“And that would be a not-so-subtle hint for a reply,” Miranda prompted. “Any time now.”
“Well, what are you going to do?” Katherine asked, her eyes darting between husband and wife.
“Playtime.” Hyde flashed a broad smile and took the boys by their hands, towing them along as he exited out the back door. The ladies sat in silence, all looking to Claire who was fighting off a smile. A moment later, the boy's laughter could be heard coming from the garden. Claire got to her feet and walked to the window, looking on as Harry and Eddie tackled Hyde from either side, wrestling him to the ground. He managed to buck one off, sending Harry tumbling a short distance from him as Eddie prepared for another attack. The boy leapt up and belly flopped on top of Hyde who expelled a hearty grunt that spilled into a chuckle, encouraging the boys further.
“So crisis forfeited on account of playtime,” Miranda shook her head. “You really do have your hands full, Mrs. Jackman.”