Title: In The Lions' Den
Author: Zath Chauvert
Summary: A small missing scene from the second episode: Tom's thoughts on Hyde killing the lion. NOW FIXED after I botched things by posting the wrong version of the file the first time around!
Rating: T, for canon child endangerment and animal abuse, but if you've seen the show and read the summary, then you should already be expecting those things, not needing a warning for them.
Feedback: Yes, please! Any and all feedback, positive or negative, would be greatly appreciated. Constructive criticism makes me happy, and I like to have mistakes and typos pointed out so that I have the option of fixing them. Really. Just hit the 'Review' button at the bottom of the page, or use the site's private message function.
Disclaimer: As much as I enjoy playing with them, these characters are not mine. They belong to Steven Moffat, the BBC, and various other people. Also, because this is a 'missing scene' and overlaps with scenes in episode 2, a few lines of dialogue have been copied from those scenes to help establish continuity. Obviously, those lines of dialogue aren't mine either. I am not trying to pretend that they are mine. No copyright infringement is intended. I'm just trying to spread the Jekyll love. And, of course, I did not write the song, "The Lions Sleeps Tonight," either.
Author's Note: Anything that looks «like this» is purely mental dialogue taking place inside Tom/Hyde's head. No one else can hear it. For example, if I felt like using this format to transcribe either of Hyde's 'phone calls' to Tom, then all of Hyde's lines would get the funky bracket treatment, while all of Tom's lines would be in normal quotation marks because he was saying everything out loud. Hopefully that makes sense. Now I just need to cross my fingers and pray that FFN doesn't decide to eat my punctuation either now or at some later date, as has occasionally happened in the past.
Second Author's Note, added because I did something stupid: Why is it that every time I post a story and take the time to check it, it's fine, but every time that I post a story and go running off to do something else without checking it, it always turns out that I did something stupid like posting the wrong version of the file? It would have been nice if someone would have said something. I don't expect people to read my mind about what paragraphs were missing, but someone could have mentioned the massive amounts of missing punctuation and the sentences that cut off in the middle and all that. Grr. Also, why is it that FFN eats asterisks out of html files but it leaves them alone in txt files? That's just annoyingly inconsistent. Anyway, here is the proper version of the story, instead of the incoherent, fragmented version that I had accidentally posted the first time around. This is what I get for using a file naming system that leaves me with a final html version whose name is identical to my oldest WIP txt version.
In The Lions' Den
By Zath Chauvert
"In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight..."
Eddie was cowering against a tree, no longer in mortal danger but still terrified, and rather than making any attempt to comfort the boy, Hyde was standing on top of the artificial hill and singing. He was singing, dancing, and to all appearances having the time of his life. Tom was awake and could feel every gyration of his hips, every word his mouth formed, and every movement of the blood-soaked shirt against his skin, but his mind refused to process that information in any sort of meaningful way. Instead, the portions of his brain that were still his own kept chasing themselves around in circles with a single thought.
Twenty bloody seconds.
Tom Jackman was not in denial. He wished that he could be, but he had watched it (and felt it!) happen blow by blow, so denial wasn't an option. He was in shock, but that was another matter entirely. A mere twenty seconds had passed between the moment that Hyde entered the enclosure and the moment that the dead lion exited it at speed. Twenty literally bloody seconds.
As far as Tom was concerned, he had every right in the world to be in shock right now. What sane person wouldn't be? Only the absurdity of what he had just witnessed kept him from descending even deeper into panic than he already was. It had been ludicrous, but it had happened, and Tom was never going to forget it as long as he lived.
It had started with fear, not fear for himself but for Eddie, fear that multiplied exponentially when confronted with the indifference of the men standing idly by on the other side of the fence. That fear had washed over him, nearly drowned him, and only Hyde's running commentary in the back of his brain had kept him from freezing up entirely. «At least they took the snotty one. That shows consideration.» Spurred on by his alter ego's mocking remarks and Eddie's cries, he had started climbing, consumed by the need to do something, anything, to save his son.
And yet, when Tom reached the top of the fence, he hesitated. It was only for a second, but every wasted second brought Eddie closer to death. Fear wasn't what locked Tom in place. His own safety didn't matter, only Eddie's. He was more than willing to sacrifice his health, his life to ensure his son's survival, but the problem was that he had no idea how to do that. What could one unarmed man do against a determined lion? Slowing it down wouldn't be enough. He needed to remove the threat completely. He needed to--
«Let me show you how it's done, Daddy,» Hyde whispered smugly into both ears at once.
It wasn't a suggestion. It was an order. By the time Tom realized he needed to resist, it was already too late. He had only the briefest of instants to fight the change before he was pushed aside, knocked out of control of his own body as if he didn't even exist, and he knew that this was the last time he would ever see Eddie alive. Everything went dark as Hyde surged to the surface, and Tom Jackman, sick at heart with the knowledge that he had failed, surrendered to unconsciousness.
However, unconsciousness refused to take him. Instead, Tom felt the change sweep through his body, seeming to turn every cell inside out all at once in a way that should have hurt but didn't, and the darkness only lasted for the fraction of a second needed to blink his eyes. And just like that, he was rendered a passive observer trapped in his own flesh and bone. He was awake and receiving input from all of his senses, but his body ignored any commands he tried to give it. He was just a passenger; Hyde was driving now. Tom could only watch helplessly from the mental sidelines as Hyde launched himself into the cage, landing neatly between Eddie and the lion. Thus began the infamous twenty seconds.
The lion roared, and Tom tried to ignore the oddly familiar popping sensation in his mouth when Hyde roared right back. Whatever it was that he had just done, Tom was pretty sure that the human jaw wasn't supposed to work like that. It was probably best not to dwell on that particular subject, especially when there were more important things to worry about, like the fact that the lion was lunging at them now, claws and fangs at the ready. Rather than dodging out of the way and leaving Eddie exposed, Hyde stepped forward to meet the big cat while it was still in midair. The lion tried to compensate for this unexpected response, but it was unable to do more than shred Hyde's jacket in passing as he darted between its front paws and landed a devastating uppercut to its head in a single impossibly fast motion. The force of the blow snapped the lion's jaw shut and knocked its head back hard enough that the whole body was forced to follow, causing the wounded animal to land in a heap even further away from Eddie than it had started.
"Had enough, Simba?" Hyde asked, as he shucked his ruined jacket. He didn't shout the question. He didn't sneer it. In fact, Hyde's tone was incongruously conversational for the middle of a fight to the death with an apex predator more than twice his size.
The lion, still struggling to get back onto its feet, roared in defiance. The sound of its voice was different from before, higher and not quite as forceful, but that probably had more to do with its obviously broken jaw than anything resembling a sudden onset of civility. Really, it was lucky that Hyde's punch hadn't taken its head clean off. As it was, in addition to the broken jaw and various bruises from its landing, the lion was at least concussed, judging by the its slightly drunken looking movements, and it probably had a massive case of whiplash, too. Even though the beast had been trying to kill Eddie mere moments ago, Tom was tempted to feel slightly sorry for its current state. Hyde, on the other hand, had no such sentiments.
Instead, he purred, "I was hoping you'd say that," and Tom could feel his face stretching into a grin as he threw himself at his prey. The lion, which had finally managed to stand once more, shifted to strike at him, but Hyde easily sidestepped and planted a bone-snapping kick in the vicinity of its shoulder blade, sending the animal back to the ground with a screeching howl. A second kick broke its lower spine, allowing Hyde to roll the lion onto its back without needing to worry about it trying to disembowel him with its hind legs. He straddled its chest and, still grinning, asked in the same conversational tone as before, "Ready to say, 'uncle,' yet?"
The lion made a guttural, sickly sound and feebly tried to swat at him with its last uninjured paw. Without even looking, Hyde caught it one-handed and twisted. Something crunched in the joint as it bent in a direction never intended by nature. The beast gave a final whine.
Hyde cocked his head to one side and pretended to think for a moment, before saying, "Close enough." Then, he calmly bent down and ripped out the lion's throat with his teeth. Tom wanted to gag as the arterial spray sent a hot gush of blood into his mouth and down his front, but Hyde reveled in the taste. It was salty and metallic, like any blood would be, but it was also strong, untamed, young, carnivorous, angry, and above all, surprised.
All of that took somewhere around twelve seconds, maybe fifteen, tops. The remaining few seconds were spent finding a piece of litter that had blown into the cage and writing a note with the lion's own blood, and Tom was still unable to do anything beyond sitting back and watching it happen. Tom tried asking who 'Benjamin' was, but Hyde ignored him. Instead, he pinned the note to the lion's arse with the broken bit of wood that he had been using as a pen. Next, he picked up one of the lion's hind legs and, in a grisly parody of the Olympic hammer throw, whirled around once, twice, and then released, sending the corpse sailing over the wall towards the muffled voices that Hyde (and therefore Tom) could hear arguing on the other side.
And just like that, it was over. Twenty seconds from start to finish. However, Hyde didn't seem to be done yet. After all, there were still other lions.
"So, how 'bout the rest of you lot?" Hyde said, glowering around the enclosure. "Anyone else want a shot at the title?"
As one, the remaining lions took a step backwards and then another just for good measure.
Those that were closest to Eddie shuffled a few steps to the side as well, as if to assure Hyde that they were no threat to the boy. Eddie didn't appear to be particularly reassured by the action, but the creature that wasn't exactly human nodded his approval and smiled.
"Smart kitties," he said.
And then the lions bowed. They actually bloody bowed, all of them, heads bent forward with one forepaw tucked under and everything. If he had had any control over his own body at that moment, Tom would have been staring in slack-jawed disbelief.
«Did they...? Did they really just...?»
«Yeah, but only because I told them to,» Hyde replied proudly. «They know who's boss now. 'The king is dead; long live the king' and all that. So,» he continued, his mental tone changing from smugness to anticipation, «let's get this party started!»
And with that, Hyde bounded up to his place on top of the hill and started singing, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," leaving a shell-shocked Tom Jackman to try to make sense of what he had just not quite participated in.
Had it really only been twenty seconds? It was madness, but it had happened. How could he possibly--
Suddenly, Tom's reverie was interrupted by the mental equivalent of five or six elbows to the ribs all at once.
«Pay attention, Daddy,» Hyde ordered without interrupting his song. «This is when the real fun begins.»
«What do you mean?»
Hyde didn't answer. He just kept singing.
Tom was about to ask him again when the groan of aging metal hinges sounded behind them, followed by a man calling out, "Mr. Hyyyyde!"
And Tom shook himself out of his stupor and started paying attention, not because Hyde told him to, but because a stranger's voice using a name that Tom had thought was known only to a select few was all he needed to remind him of where his priorities should be. Yes, he had just learned that Hyde was stronger and faster than he ever would have imagined, but Tom could find a way to deal with that, somehow, just as he had found ways to deal with everything else Hyde had thrown at him in the past months, so that particular revelation wasn't terribly important right now. What was important was the fact that someone had endangered his son. Tom wanted to know 'who' and 'why' and he had a feeling that Hyde, for whatever reason, was about to get him some answers.
«Exactly, Daddy. Here we go.»
And with that, Hyde finally turned around, giving Tom his first view of the man in charge of turning his quiet day at the zoo with his sons into a living hell.
"Ever killed anyone, Benjamin?"