Ichabod Crane stood naked before the mirror. He eyed his body critically, turning this way and that, noting the latest bruises, old scars and new wounds. He was still leanly muscular after these eleven months of regular meals, liberally supplemented with donut holes and impossibly sweet bananas. His hair was let loose from its queue and still damp from the shower. He'd asked for a boar brush but Miss Mills instead brought him a Shampoo with Detangling Conditioner. It was heavily scented with a poor imitation of verbena. Crane frowned at his reflection. Everything in this time was heavily scented. While the marvelously hot showers were an indulgence he allowed himself, he could not abide this ... this frippery. When next he thought of it, he would insist on the boar brush. He would not be made a dandy. There was work to do. There was no time for sweets and perfume.
He was not a Frenchman, for God's sake.
And, it seemed to Crane, that Miss Mills preferred him before she purchased all of these bathing lotions and Shampoos and deodorant sticks. It didn't take a cryptographer of his caliber to discern that. When they sat next to one another at the archive, she occasionally leaned into him, her nostrils flaring delicately, breathing deeply, inhaling – nay, savoring – his scent. It was profoundly intimate.
Something a lover might do.
His eyes dropped quickly to his manhood then flinched away. His face flushed a bit - a conditioned response brought about by the maddeningly oblique and exceedingly embarrassing conversation Crane had with his father when he was but a boy of thirteen. After they married, Katrina had wickedly offered him her sidesaddle and teased him about his lanky frame, insisting that the massive amounts of food he consumed went to feeding his member, while the rest of his body starved.
Indeed, when once Crane, the Lieutenant and Miss Jenny emerged from the tunnels soaked to the skin with demon blood, all of his particulars were clearly defined by his clinging, wet trousers. There was a long moment of silence. The Lieutenant had the decency to avert her eyes while he swiftly buttoned his coat but Miss Jenny openly gaped until her sister kicked her sharply on the shin. As they made their way back to the police automobile, Crane plainly heard Miss Jenny whisper, "It's always the tall, skinny ones."
It'd been four weeks since the last encounter with Moloch, the Horseman and various and sundry minions and demons. The thirteen weeks between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice was the period when evil was at its weakest. While there was no true rest for the wicked, Moloch and the Horseman retreated – for the time being. Lambs could be born and fields planted. Homes could be fortified and hearts could mend. Parrish went back to his flat in Hartford; Jenny off to "acquire" another rare object. Crane and Abbie orbited each other, 230 years of destiny their gravity. It was a time for them to be together, not as Witnesses but as two people helping each other through battle fatigue.
Crane lived half the time at Corbin's cabin and the other at Abbie's. Abbie lived half the time at her apartment and the other at Corbin's cabin. There was no design to this arrangement. It was simply that each slept where the other was. They discovered that when they spent more than a few hours apart, darkness began to creep in around the edges.
Some days, Crane would ride the "omnibus" into town, arriving near the end of Abbie's shift at the bus stop in front of the police station. Abbie always watched him, smiling a little as he stepped carefully to the sidewalk then turned to thank the "omnibus matron" with a small bow - every time. Other days, Abbie would pick up takeout food or purchase dinner fixings at the market then drive to the cabin. Crane would greet her on the porch with a "Lieutenant! What a pleasant surprise", genuinely surprised and happy, as if he had not seen her just that morning when he left her apartment.
Anyone watching would believe them lovers but their relationship was chaste. He slept on Abbie's fold out couch, she in the tiny loft in Corbin's cabin. They talked, they read, they hiked. They napped in the cool spring sunlight after picnics of egg salad sandwiches and beer. In those first weeks, proximity was comfort enough.
That was to change abruptly - almost by accident.
"My Dear Lieutenant. It is my hope that this … message finds you well. It is the first day of the fifth week of the Spring Equinox and I find myself wanting to engage in a bit of convivial activity. Due in no small part to your gracious ministrations, I feel well-rested, I daresay, even at peace. I have borrowed from the library a deeveedee of a film of which you made mention being a favorite of yours and "everyone in the entire world with a pulse." If you are disposed to join me, I shall pop corn – and duly drench it in butter, the way you insist on having it. You may want to purchase more of your M and M's, as the bushel you purchased last week is nearly spent. I remain respectfully yours, Ichabod Crane. Er, I mean, good bye."
Abbie clicked off her phone after listening to Crane's message. She smiled, ducking her head and fussing with the papers on her desk, unnecessarily shifting one small pile from one side to the other.
Yours. That was new.
It was probably Crane being his usual, almost obsessively polite self. Politeness was the fortress to which he retreated when all else failed - and he was not above wielding it like a weapon. Luke Morales had been on the receiving end of that on more than one occasion. Even with all that they'd been through and that they were, for all intents and purposes, roommates, she could count the number of times that Crane addressed her by her name.
Abbie did not press the issue. It was a measure of his esteem for her that Crane persisted in his formality. In fact, his good manners saved her dying from embarrassment.
Once, Abbie had to abandon her boots and jeans when a demon-animated vine seized her by the belt. Crane pulled her free and lifted her from the ground. Abbie reflexively wrapped her legs around his waist. Crane slipped behind a tree, holding her against his body. They remained thus for nearly an hour, still as statues, shielded from the idiot demon's eyes by a thatch of daemon's bane that grew thickly on the enormous oak. She could feel Crane – all of him - as he pressed her back against the tree. She felt his heart beating and his breath in her hair. She could smell the sweat on his skin. Because of how he held her, their hips were aligned. She could feel the length of him pressing against her mound.
And Crane was not exactly flaccid, his tumescence a side-effect of adrenaline.
He must've realized their position a split second after she did. His breath caught in his throat and he swallowed hard. They both shifted their hips minutely to try to remedy the situation, only to make it worse when the underside of his cock connected with her clitoris. Abbie was suffering her own adrenaline overload and pressure on that part of her body was the last thing she needed. A tiny flutter of pleasure rippled through her belly.
She took her lower lip between her teeth and bit down. This was not going to happen. They were being hunted by a demon that would drag them down a hole into Hell it found them. It couldn't see them as long as they remained still. To her utter disbelief, she was going to have an orgasm if she didn't move.
And what about Crane? There were only a few millimeters of linen, wool and red lace between them. He was certain to feel it.
Abbie was mortified. She could see the demon over Crane's shoulder, sniffing for them just a few feet away. That tiny flutter of pleasure began to grow. She almost laughed at the absurdity of it all. This was actually going to happen. All she could do was hang on. Crane didn't move but Abbie could feel a change in his body - a subtle softening of the muscles in his lower back, a deepening of his breathing.
Abbie squeezed Crane with her arms and legs. She pressed her mouth into his shoulder as her orgasm shuddered through her. She throbbed against him, doing her best not to move. She trembled in his arms, a soft gasp escaping her throat.
The demon jerked his head up, sniffing the air.
Crane turned his head slightly. "Shhh", he breathed very softly into Abbie's ear.
When they were clear of danger, Crane had simply wrapped his coat around her. He was quiet as they walked out of the woods and he gazed silently out of the window as they drove back to the cabin.
Abbie stayed in the car when they arrived at the cabin. She shifted into reverse.
Crane ducked his head into the car window. "Where are you going, Lieutenant?"
"I – um, I think I should -," Abbie stuttered. She couldn't look at him.
"And I suppose you will walk across the Car Port at your building, in front of your neighbors, wearing my coat and your … pants." He flapped a hand at the red thong she wore. "Such as they are."
Abbie folded her arms on top of the steering wheel and dropped her forehead on them. "Oh my God, Crane. I'm so sorry. I can't believe – "
"No apologies are necessary, Miss Mills."
"You must think I'm crazy."
"Quite the contrary."
Abbie turned her face to the side.
"Lieutenant, look at me," Crane said softly. He waited almost a full minute. Abbie finally looked up at him in that way that was starting to melt his heart a little each time she did it. "I have been a soldier in two armies," he said. "There's a reason it's called bloodlust. It is the "fire in the belly". It is how you know you are still alive. It is nothing of which to be ashamed." Crane opened the door and held out his hand. "Please. Come in with me."
Abbie got out of the car, flashing a bit of red lace. Crane stared politely over her head. Abbie stopped and looked up at him.
"Thanks, Crane", she said. "I hope I didn't embarrass you too much."
Crane regarded her from beneath his lashes. "I felt many emotions this night. Embarrassment is not among them." He made a fist and held it close to his chest. "Fist bump."
Abbie smiled and halfheartedly tapped his fist with hers. Crane rocked forward on his toes and folded his hands behind his back.
"I'm famished," he said.
"You're always famished."
"Let's gorge ourselves on Hot Dogs then get well and truly pissed until we fall unconscious in front of the fireplace."
"Sounds like a plan."
They turned and walked toward the house. After a few feet, Abbie chuckled. Crane looked at her curiously.
"What amuses you, Lieutenant?" he asked.
"The moment after I had to leave my jeans and boots behind, all I could think was I'm so, so glad that I didn't wear my granny pannies today."
Crane stared at her with wide eyes. "You wear your grandmother's pants?"
Summary: That night, hiding from the demon – from Crane's point of view.
Crane crashed through the underbrush, leaping over fallen logs, ducking under tree branches and tearing hanging vines from his path, a lesser demon only yards behind him. He wasn't as much running from the demon as he was searching for Abbie. They'd become separated in the dark. He cursed himself for not insisting that she keep hold of his hand.
Crane skidded to a halt and whipped around. The Lieutenant was behind them.
Unfortunately, the demon heard her cry as well. This beast was barely more than spellbound clay and of the type that Moloch occasionally released, seemingly for a lark. They were dumb and their vision was poor. They were easily destroyed with a bullet or good hard blow. But if you were caught off guard, they could be deadly.
The demon stopped and sniffed the air. Its ragged ears twitched.
Crane froze. The beast was between him and the Lieutenant. There was no way to get around it without being seen. If he could distract it, he might make -.
He could hear the panic in Abbie's voice. She was not one given to panic. Crane and the demon took a step forward at the same time. Abbie screamed. Crane's decision was made. He charged straight for the demon and drove his shoulder hard and low into its back. It shrieked and went tumbling head first into a fallen log. Crane vaulted over the beast with barely a break in his stride.
"Lieutenant," he shouted.
"Over here. I'm here," yelled Abbie.
Crane ran toward the sound of her voice. He searched frantically for her but she wasn't where he thought. He stopped and listened. The woods were silent.
"Lieutenant," he called softly.
He waited, mentally counting to ten. He opened his mouth to call for her again. There was a low growl about ten yards to his left. He stood still, searching with his eyes. He saw the beast, hunkered down and prepared to pounce at the slightest movement. He saw Abbie on the ground, her arms wrapped around a sapling trying to keep herself from being pulled into a hole by an animated vine – and her hands were slipping.
In one smooth motion, Crane knelt, picked up a stone and threw it behind him as hard as he could. The rock bounced off a tree and rolled back, ending at Crane's feet. The demon looked at the rock then looked at Crane.
"Well, that didn't work the way it should have," said Crane.
The beast pounced; Crane dove beneath it. The demon landed in the brush behind Crane. It snarled and hissed, tangled in what turned out to be a blackberry bramble. Craned rolled to his knees and grabbed Abbie's wrist just as she lost her grip on the sapling.
"Kick off your boots, Lieutenant," he shouted.
"What?" shrieked Abbie.
"It's either you or your trousers."
Abbie frantically toed off her boots and unbuckled her belt.
"Quick as you like, Miss Mills," said Crane, his voice calm.
"You try to unbutton your trousers with one hand while being pulled into a hole to Hell. Ahh. Son of a bitch." Abbie tore the button closure with one hard yank. "Got it," she yelled. "Now!"
Crane heaved backward. Abbie's jeans peeled off her legs and she went flying into Crane's arms. She wrapped herself around him. Over his shoulder, she saw the beast just as it freed itself from the bramble. It pounced.
"Heads up," cried Abbie.
Crane sank to one knee with Abbie in his arms. He shielded her with his body as the demon flew over their heads. Crane jumped up and started running. The beast regained his feet and pounded after them.
Crane looked around wildly for a place to hide and almost ran headlong into an enormous oak. The tree trunk was strung with thick mats of fat, prickly leaves. It was mistletoe. Also known as daemon's bane. Mistletoe was a bane for many dark things – especially the lesser demons. A brush against the leaves would be extremely irritating; few drops of a concentrated tincture could kill one. Crane stepped quickly behind the tree. He pressed Abbie against the trunk, pulling handfuls of mistletoe over them. The demon ran past, stopped and doubled back. If they remained immobile, the beast couldn't see them.
Abbie and Crane took quiet, shallow breaths, slowly regaining their calm. Over the months, they'd developed a sort of sign language of looks and facial expressions. After witnessing one silent conversation, Jenny was convinced that Abbie and Crane could read each other's minds.
Crane looked down at Abbie, asking a question with the raise of a brow.
"...are you okay..."
Abbie made a slight non-committal motion with her head.
She squeezed his shoulder.
"… am I…?..."
He gave a tiny negative shake of his head.
"...you're not too heavy..."
The demon paced in a circle around the tree. It could sense they were there but was wary of the mistletoe. They might be able to wait it out until the sun rose. Dawn was an hour away. The beast stared at the tree, snarling. Crane was confident that he could hold Abbie like this for far longer than the hour to dawn. He'd carried rucksacks that were heavier than she for miles over rough terrain. But there was another truth.
It felt good to hold a woman. It felt good to hold this woman.
That admission would have greatly troubled him only a few weeks ago. They'd been through much; been in every unimaginable situation. Even so, Crane had used good manners as a sort of shield and had endeavored to maintain a proper distance from the Lieutenant. His efforts were becoming increasingly futile. Indeed, here she was, in his arms – her legs around his waist, no less - wearing a tee-shirt, one sock and pants that seemed constructed of only elastics and bits of lace.
Propriety was an affectation at this point.
Of late, he could not claim that his thoughts of Miss Mills were entirely pure. She had a keen intellect, so sharp, in fact, that he wondered if she too possessed a memory like his own. She was stubborn and brave and generous. And she was so achingly beautiful. He could not rightly say that it was she who tempted him to madness. There was nothing in her actions or words that encouraged him to think anything other than that their bond was platonic. But there were days when Crane was nearly undone by mere sight of her. Alone in his bed, he cursed his eidetic memory. He would hear her voice in his head and the funny sounds she made when he did something to displease or exasperate her – hisses and mewls, like a kitten. He purposely left his French Fries unguarded in the hopes that she might pilfer one. The way she ate them was as erotic to him as a long, slow kiss. She always bit them in half, no matter how long or short. A flash of white teeth and the tip of her pink tongue and the French Fry would disappear into her lush mouth. It drove him to the edge of his sanity. The smell of leather and gun oil will forever conjure the vision of Abbie in the Archive standing in a dusty shaft of sunlight, removing her gun belt and jacket, stretching her arms over her head, back arched and eyes closed. He would close his own eyes and force himself to dream of his wife. That, too was becoming increasingly difficult.
At any moment, that demon might rip them away and drag them to Moloch but all Crane could think about was the Lieutenant.
Lieutenant. Miss Mills. Grace Abigail Mills.
He could feel her soft breasts under her brassier and the thin tee shirt she wore. She was petite but parts of her body were ... substantial. She smelled of sap and earth and woman. And if Crane didn't stop thinking about it, demon or no demon, parts of him were going to become … substantial. Well, more substantial than what terror and anger had already contributed. If he didn't make a slight adjustment, the Lieutenant was going to feel it. To his chagrin, she chose the same moment to shift in the same direction.
Crane felt his manhood settle neatly into the cleft of her sex. Rather like a Hot Dog in a bun. He flushed from hair to toes. He closed his eyes briefly, and held his breath.
God's wounds. He could feel her warmth through the layers of wool and linen.
While still an awful mystery, a woman's body was not uncharted territory for him. He was not a virgin when he married. And as with every subject that captured his interest, Crane had thoroughly researched, theorized and practiced until he was quite skilled – grudgingly allowing fair play to the French for their vast and varied scholarship on the matter. As a result, he knew where everything was and how everything worked. With a portion of patience, a woman could be coaxed to la petite mort with tongue and fingers and gentle pressure in the right location.
Apparently, he'd found the right location for Miss Mills.
He could sense the tension rising in her body. She squeezed him tightly with her thighs. He tried to shift their center of gravity. He slid his arm down in minute increments until it reached her lower back. He encircled her waist with his hands, his thumbs nearly meeting at her navel. Her skin was so smooth. He swallowed thickly, his cock hardening.
She pressed her mouth against his shoulder. She stiffened. He felt her throb against him. It took all the will he possessed within him to keep from grinding his hips into hers.
He let out his breath gently through pursed lips. The beast was but a few feet away.
Crane took a moment to appreciate the humor in their predicament. Bloody hell. It was almost a good thing the demon was there. Crane was genuinely unsure if he could have resisted were it not for their dreadful chaperone. He tried to think of something, anything that would cool his ardor.
The beast growled, as if to remind them that it was there. Crane hardly noticed. Abbie had reached her peak. She sank her teeth into him. It hurt but it was exactly what he needed to avert his own release. She shuddered and let out a soft gasp. Crane turned his head and pressed his lips to her ear.
"Shhh," he said.
Abbie went limp against his chest. Lust weakened his knees. Crane would've given anything to have watched her face as she came to her climax.
He laid his cheek on the top of her head and waited for the sunrise.
Summary: Back at the cabin after their night hiding from the demon, Crane finds himself teetering on the knife's edge of his self-control.
"I'll be a moment, Lieutenant. I must fetch more firewood."
"I'll put on the hotdogs."
Crane bowed deeply and with a flourish of his hand. "As you wish, my lady," he said.
"You are silly," Abbie laughed.
They smiled into each other's eyes. Abbie looked away first, startled by a squirrel rustling in the leaves. Crane watched her. There was a smudge of dirt on her chin and twigs in her hair. Her tiny hands clutched the lapels of his coat, holding it closed over her breasts. A scrape on the back of her wrist pained him more than it did her. She was so small.
Crane turned and strode swiftly to the woodpile. He paused and looked back in time to see the screen door close behind Abbie. He continued past the chopping block down to the lake shore. He stood at the water's edge with his fists clenched, taking long, careful breaths. His heart thumped hard in his chest.
He should have allowed Abbie to go home.
Since he was a young man, Crane had not had to do without the comforts of a woman for any extended period of time. He and his mates frequented some of the more shady taverns outside the circle of the stuffy Oxford clubs. He went to the taverns with the intent to only carouse with his companions, sing bawdy songs, eat fatty sausages and drunkenly parse the upstart German philosopher, Immanuel Kant.
But there were always women. They flocked to Crane, much to the good-natured incredulity of his friends. Tavern trollops and flower sellers, shop girls and milk maids. In spite of what Kant might think, Crane did not see the logic in not availing himself of their favors. They were vastly more interesting than the overly-powdered courtesans offered at his father's club. He had a strong appetite for sex, just as he did for food and rum and books. He was young and beautiful and male and had no cause at all for celibacy.
As he grew older, life and war intervened. He learned to temper his drives, though they were no less compelling.
Ten months, five days, nine hours and twenty-five minutes ago, he had made love to his wife. The following morning, he took the Hessian's head, died in triage then clawed his way from the dark dirt, alive and gasping, 232 years later. There was no Katrina. Even when she came to Crane in his dreams, Moloch would appear before he and Katrina could consummate a simple kiss.
Two hundred and thirty-two years had passed like a night's slumber. Ten months, five days and twenty-five minutes felt like forever to a man who was ... alive.
Ichabod stood on the lake shore until he felt he regained command of his thoughts - if not his body. There was an ominous pressure in his loins, as if all his blood had pooled there.
He needed relief, relief of the kind he could not get as long as Miss Mills was near.
The thought of taking himself in hand actually served to cool him somewhat. The act had become bitter and pathetic – and wholly unsatisfying. He only used it as a last resort when chopping wood, calisthenics and swimming laps in the frigid lake failed to dampen his urges. He'd drop into bed, exhausted, only to be wrenched from sleep by the sound of his own voice crying out. He'd lie there, trying to slow his galloping heart, his belly wet with his seed.
He turned from the lake and trudged back to the cabin, stopping to pick up an armload of fire wood. He entered the cabin and stacked the wood in the already-filled box by the hearth. He went into the kitchen and saw a package of Hot Dogs and a bottle of rum on the countertop.
"Lieutenant," he called.
"In here," answered Abbie.
"You failed to put the pot on to boil, Lieutenant," said Crane as he entered the bedroom.
"Damn," she said, rummaging in the rucksack of personal items that she kept at the cabin.
"May I help you with something?"
"I'm out of clean undies."
Abbie was dressed in one of Sherriff Corbin's massive jumpers and the ridiculous boots she called "uggs." Her small body was lost in yards of knitted wool – lending her shape a resemblance rather like that of Ben Franklin's. Crane was usually unfazed by this get up because, despite its unfeminine informality, she was properly covered and decency was preserved.
He'd never considered what she wore underneath.
"I beg your pardon?" said Crane, feeling his entire body go heavy and warm.
"Undies. Underwear. Pants."
Crane held up a hand. "I know what you mean."
"I'm going to do a load of laundry. I'm sure your pants and your trousers could use a wash."
"That's quite all right, Lieutenant. I'll manage."
"You might as well give them to me now because I'll just steal them while you shower."
"Shower? I wasn't going to -."
Abbie wrinkled her nose. "Yes you are," she said.
"Did you just insult me?"
"The truth is not an insult."
Crane dipped his head and gave himself a sniff. He arched a brow. "I yield," he said. It was for the best, really. A cold shower would not be out of order right now.
"Leave your clothes by the door. I'll put on the hotdogs."
"What?" said Abbie.
"This is rather ... domestic of you, Miss Mills. Doing the laundering and the cooking. A man could get used to this. Bring my slippers and pipe, my lady."
"Fuuuuck yoooou," said Abbie, aiming a punch at his arm.
Crane dodged her tiny fist and slipped past her into the bathroom. He quickly closed the door and leaned against it. He passed a hand over his face and pinched his lips in his palm. His teasing was a diversion. Abbie was covered from neck to knees in Cabin's jumper but the fact that she was naked underneath ran a hot stab of lust deep through Crane's belly. He could not be more aroused had she lain naked on the bed for him.
"Chop chop, Crane," Abbie called through the door.
Crane hastily shed his clothes and handed them out through a crack in the door. He turned the shower taps to cold and stepped into the freezing stream.
It took only a few moments for him to realize that a cold bath would not be enough. He stepped out of the bath, locked the door and stepped back in. He reluctantly held his shaft loosely in the circle of his fingers.
"Well, at the very least, I shall be quick," he murmured.
He bowed his head. He closed his eyes tightly and summoned the face of his wife.
Crane walked into the steamy kitchen wearing the pair of Corbin's sweatpants that Abbie left out for him. They hung off his long torso even with the drawstring tied tightly. His wet hair was tucked behind his ears. He was shirtless, his chest and back pebbled with gooseflesh. Abbie looked up from spearing a hotdog. She raised both brows.
"There's t-shirts in the top right drawer," she said, pointing towards the bedroom with the fork.
"Um hmm," grunted Crane.
She watched him pour rum into a coffee mug. He knocked it back in a large gulp.
"Aside from the fact that it is only half past seven in the morning, you should probably eat something first."
Crane poured another drink. This time he sipped it, staring out the window with a frown.
"What's wrong with your face?" asked Abbie.
"I'm just ... thinking."
Abbie slathered a hotdog with mustard, piled it with onions and pushed it into Crane's hand.
She watched as he absently devoured it in three bites. She made him another, this time putting it on a plate and setting it in front of him. Crane was prone to bouts of melancholy. She usually just left him alone to work it through. She knew it had to do with Katrina but she was not in the mood to hear about her.
Abbie squirted her hotdog with Sriracha and went into the sitting room, juggling her plate, coffee mug and the bottle of rum. She plopped down on the sofa. She nibbled her hotdog and sipped her rum. She waited for Crane. Food usually brought him around.
"Would you like another Hot Dog, Lieutenant," Craned called from the kitchen.
Abbie smiled. "Ah, there he is," she whispered. "No, thank you," she said loudly.
Crane wandered in and sat on the sofa. He poured himself more rum, slouched back against the cushions and balanced his mug on his flat belly, long legs stretched out before him, looking for all the world like a hipster boyfriend.
Abbie stared into the fire to keep her eyes off Crane's body. It was unlike him to knock about half-dressed - less than half-dressed, if she wanted to get technical. His pants were in the wash, along with his shirt and trousers. There was nothing between the worn thin fabric of those sweat pants and ... the rest of him. Abbie flushed, cleared her throat and took a long drink.
"We need to attend to that wound on your hand," said Crane.
"It's just a scrape," said Abbie.
"I'll get the medic kit."
"Don't worry. Look." Abbie extended her hand to Crane. "It's clean and dry already. I'll be fine."
Crane moved closer, took her hand in both of his and examined it carefully.
"You can kiss it better, if you're so concerned," teased Abbie.
Crane turned her hand over. He traced the lines in her palm with his fingertips. "So small," he murmured. "I thought you were a child in fancy dress when first I saw you."
Abbie watched his fingers glide over the sensitive skin on the inside of her wrist. "Fancy dress?" she whispered.
Crane's fingers stopped at the hollow of her elbow. He stared at it with great concentration. "Fancy dress. Masquerade. A costume."
"Ah," said Abbie.
Crane circled her wrist with his thumb and forefinger. "Like a kitten," he said quietly.
Abbie gently removed her hand from his. She hooked her fingers and growled. "Like a tiger."
"As you say," chuckled Crane.
"You laugh, Crane but I can kick your ass anytime I wanted."
"Are you challenging me to a bout of fisticuffs, Lieutenant?"
"You've seen me fight."
"You are rather hardier than you look – when you are pointing that ridiculously out-sized gun of yours."
She regarded him with narrowed eyes. "Think you could take me?"
Crane threw his head back and laughed.
"I'm serious," said Abbie.
"I'll give you your due but you are no match for me."
Abbie put her mug on a side table and stood. "Get up," she said.
Crane drank down his rum, grinning. Abbie kicked his ankle with her soft boot. Crane held up both hands in surrender.
"If you insist," he said. He stood and faced her. "It is an exercise in futility. I'm a trained -."
"Blah, blah, blah. Washington's prized soldier," said Abbie. "I've heard it all before."
"I'm far stronger than you."
"I can easily get free of you."
Crane looked down his nose at her, his blue eyes glittering beneath his lashes. "I think not," he said.
"Let's make this interesting," said Abbie.
"If I win, you have to give me something you really, really want. If you win, I have to give you something I really, really want."
"I'm not sure I understand the stake but I'll agree."
"I'll even let you pick how to hold me. Grab my wrists."
Crane captured her wrists and held her at arm's length. He grinned smugly, arching a brow.
"Get serious," said Abbie.
Crane drew her to him, standing close but careful to keep his lower half from touching her.
"Now, you can hold me like this," said Abbie, crossing her wrists at the small of her back. "Like you're trying to cuff me while I'm facing you. Or." She turned in his arms so they were back to front, with her arms folded across her breasts. "Like this. Whichever way you think is the best way to keep me your prisoner."
"I think – ahem – I believe this position will suffice," said Crane.
"Get a good grip."
Crane tightened his arms around her. He could feel the warmth and softness of her body beneath the sweater. He looked down at her bent head. Her hair had parted, revealing the back of her neck and the curve of her shoulder. It took all of his strength not to bend down and press his lips to the tender skin. Heat started to gather in his loins again, despite the fact that he'd had his release in the shower less than half the hour before. He was beginning to believe that this was a bad idea.
"You've got to really hold me. It's cheating if you let me win." She struggled a little, testing his grip.
He pulled her closer, holding her tight against his body. He would get this over quickly.
"I won't let you win, Lieutenant."
"You got me, Crane?"
"Proceed," he croaked, swallowing hard.
"Okay. Let me go."
Crane dropped his hands, confused. Abbie turned, looking up at him coyly.
"I win," she said.
"But you said -."
"I said I could get free of you and I did."
Crane's mouth dropped open. "You cheated," he exclaimed.
"I won. You owe me."
"This was to be a contest of strength."
"Really? I never said anything about strength."
Crane folded his hands behind his back and turned to the side, studying her from the corners of his eyes, the way he did when he was measuring a man with whom he might do battle.
"While I believe you were not entirely forthcoming," he said, finally. "I shall honor your terms."
"What are you going to give me?"
"Something I want, is it not?"
"Yes. You have to give me something you really, really want. Like if I'd lost, I'd have to buy that Bentley coupe I love and give it to you."
"Jenny and I usually limited it to candy bars."
"A rematch", said Crane.
""Chicken?" I believe is the correct taunt." Crane started circling her slowly, keeping his body sidelong, as if he were in a fencing match.
"No, I'm not chicken," snapped Abbie.
He bumped her gently with his shoulder.
"Not so clever now, are we?" he said.
"All right, smartass. Let's see who is "highly trained"," said Abbie. She shifted her weight forward and lowered her center of gravity. She held her arms loosely at her sides.
"Bust a move, ninja," she said.
Crane continued to circle her, watching her with hooded eyes. He did this for more than a minute until Abbie became impatient and took a swing at him. He stepped into her reach and wrapped his long arms around her. She struggled, beating at him as best she could with her arms pinned. She tried to stomp his foot but he simply lifted her off her feet. She squirmed and twisted and bucked. His arms were like iron bands around her.
"I could do this all day, Lieutenant," Crane said blandly.
Abbie suddenly stopped struggling and went limp. It took Crane a moment to realize that all he now held in his arms was Corbin's jumper. Abbie slipped up behind him and tapped him on the shoulder.
"I win again," she laughed.
Crane spun around. Abbie stood with one arm covering her breasts and her other hand covering her sex like a fig leaf.
"I guess I didn't think this through," said Abbie, her smile fading.
Crane looked down at the jumper in his hands. He hooked a finger in the collar and held it out to Abbie. She started to reach for it but couldn't without exposing her breasts.
"Crane, give me the sweater."
"You've backed yourself into a corner with your own strategy," said Crane, his eyes raking over her.
"Just give me the damn -."
"Do you yield?"
"Game over, Crane."
"Do. You. Yield?"
"Let's just call this one a draw."
"So we both win," said Crane. He made a big show of neatly folding the jumper.
"All right, all right. We both win."
Crane sat down and placed the jumper next to him on the couch.
Abbie started shaking her head. "Oh, no. No. You don't get to be in control of this."
"In control of what?" asked Crane, pouring rum into their mugs. "You said we both won. Now." He leaned back into the cushions. "Now, I'm giving you something I really wanted."
Crane pointed at her with a lift of his mug. "You. Naked."
She watched him curiously, her head cocked. He wasn't drunk. He seemed relaxed, almost languid. But Abbie could see his pulse beating rapidly in the hollow of his throat.
"It's not like you've never seen a naked women before, Crane."
Crane chuckled through his nose. "A truer thing has never been said."
"And if I do, what happens next?"
"That, I will leave to you."
She walked over and stood before him. "You know what? I'm going to call your bluff," she said.
"I never bluff," said Crane, setting his mug on the side table.
Abbie dropped her hands. She genuinely thought he would break, throw the jumper at her and run.
He reached out and ran his palm over her hip and rested his hand at the curve of her waist. His eyes traveled over her body – the cleft between her legs, her navel, first one breast then the other. She'd never been the focus of such intense attention.
"Crane, I –."
"You're beautiful, Abbie," he whispered.
Abbie should've stepped back but she was rooted to the spot by Crane's hand on her body.
"Crane, I have to tell you. I need to know. There was this show on TV about these people … doctors and nurses in a warzone. There was … death and blood and more death. They – some of them didn't even like each other but they … had sex because they were scared and isolated. And exhausted. What I'm trying to say is, shared trauma. It makes people think they're … closer than they truly are when in fact, they don't know each other at all and -."
Crane took her hand and brought her fingers to his lips. He looked up at her.
"Do you know me, Abbie?" he asked.
Abbie nodded. Crane stood and cupped her face in his hands.
"No matter what happens, it will be you and I. There are seven years of tribulations ahead of us. Seven years, Abbie. I shall, of course, leave how it pleases you to dispose this day but I ask, will faith alone sustain us? And if it is a sin -."
"Please tell me you're not about to give a St. Crispin's Day speech of sex."
Crane blinked, his earnest expression slowly giving way to a smile. He threw his head back and laughed then gathered her into his arms.
"Oh, my dear Lieutenant," he said, resting his cheek on the top of her head. "If this one embrace is all I have won from you today, so be it. Consider this, first: you and I no longer have the luxury of predicting cause and effect. "If, then" no longer applies. If this happens then that must follow is gone from us now – probably forever."
"You're saying the rules don't apply to us?"
"I believe we can safely say that there are no rules when fending off the Apocalypse."
Abbie wrapped her arms around his waist and buried her face in his chest. She made a small sound in her throat that sent a shiver through him. She pulled back and looked up at him. He bent and kissed the spot between her eyebrows, as he so longed to do from almost the moment he first saw her.
"Do we love each other, Crane?"
"Yes, we do."
Abbie rose to her toes. Crane lifted her the rest of the way. He kissed her gently. After a few moments, Abbie pulled back. She pressed a fingertip to his chin until he parted his lips. She brought her mouth to his and slipped her tongue inside. Crane moaned softly, the way he did when he tasted something he liked. He was tentative at first then Abbie drew her knees up and wrapped her legs around his waist. He thrust his tongue into her mouth and swirled it with his, finally ending the kiss by drawing her lower lip between his teeth and gently biting down. They leaned away from each other.
They spoke at the same time.
"Wow," said Abbie.
"Good God," said Crane.
He set her back on her feet. She steadied herself with her palms pressed against his chest.
"Do you know how much damage you could do to me, Ichabod Crane?"
"We'll go as slowly as you like." He rubbed his hands on her back in a circular motion.
"It's been so long since I've let anyone get this close. I think it would be the thing that would break me. I'd shatter into a million pieces."
"I won't hurt you, Abbie. I'll do whatever you need to not cause you discomfort."
"I am way out of my comfort zone."
"You are a tiny little thing. There is a flagon of olive oil in the cupboard. Perhaps that will ease --."
Abbie stepped back. "Olive oil? Wait. I don't think we're talking about the same thing here." She clapped a hand over her mouth and giggled through her fingers.
Crane frowned. Realization gathered in his face. "Oh I – I thought -. I would not harm you in any way, Abbie."
"I guess your ego is as big as the rest of you."
"Your suggestion that I have an exaggerated sense of my own importance is completely unfounded, Madame." Crane folded his hands behind his back, which only served to emphasize the reason he had so much swagger. "And take off those damn "uggs" lest my ego deflate."
Crane slowly untied the drawstring of the sweatpants. They slid down is slender hips. He picked them up and draped them over the arm of the couch. Abbie got a good look at his butt when he turned. Nice. She pulled off her boots.
They stood awkwardly facing each other until Crane stepped forward and scooped Abbie into his arms. He strode into the bedroom and sat her on the bed. He knelt before her. On his knees and with her sitting on the bed, they were finally the same height. He kissed her again, for a long time and with more force. He kissed his way down her neck, gathering her breasts in his hands. He pushed them together, suckling and nipping gently with his teeth, rubbing his lips and beard on her nipples. Abbie arched against his mouth, gasping, her fingers twined in his hair. Crane sat back on his heels. His hair was mussed and his lips were red and a little swollen. Abbie reached out and smoothed his hair.
"We don't have to do this. Do you want to stop?" she asked.
Crane responded by gripping the backs of her knees, pulling her to the edge of the bed and spreading her legs. He gazed at what he revealed. Abbie reckoned she was the first nude black woman he'd ever seen. She watched his eyes, trying to gage his reaction. What she saw was a little bit of curiosity and a whole lot of lust. She lay back on the bed and waited to see what he would do. He may not have ever been with a black woman but Abbie had never had a lover from the 18th century. She frankly wasn't sure what would happen next.
Crane leaned forward and licked Abbie's pussy in a long slow swipe, drawing her clit between his lips, sucking gently and flicking it with his tongue, a low moan rumbling in his chest. Abbie gasped and shivered.
"Oh, God," she breathed. He was as skilled as she knew he would be.
Crane continued stroking and flicking with his tongue and lips, eventually having to hold Abbie in place with his hands on her hips. He was relentless; bringing her to the edge and backing off multiple times until Abbie was nearly screaming. When he felt her begin to pulse against his mouth he lifted his head and watched.
He climbed onto the bed and pulled her into his arms. He curled himself around her, spooning her body and caressing her hair. He whispered endearments, running his hands over her body. He rolled her to her side and positioned himself behind her, draping her leg over his hip. He placed his cock at her hot opening, pushing gently. He retreated and pushed forward again until his length was inside her. He paused, wrestling with his control.
"Don't stop," whispered Abbie.
"I don't want to hurt you," he said, his breath jerking in his chest.
Crane stroked in and out of her as slowly as he could. He wanted to hold off his release as long as possible.
"Abbie," he moaned.
He slow strokes became long, strong thrusts, faster and faster, his hips snapping against hers. The sound, smell the, feel of Abbie became the whole of his universe. His body tensed and his scrotum tightened.
"Ah, God. Oh, Abbie. Oh," he cried.
His orgasm crashed through him. He went completely still as he emptied himself. He started pumping his hips again while his cock still throbbed inside her. His thrusts slowed then stopped. He held Abbie tightly with his arm around her waist, his face buried in her hair. He did not withdraw.
When he could speak again he said, "I love you, my beautiful, beautiful Lieutenant.
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
A/N: Okay, so this "story" is meandering a bit. I'm just letting my thoughts drift with what's happening in Sleepy Hollow while we wait for the fall.
You know, I'm happy to leave Katrina in Purgatory forever. Unfortunately, I also find that she is a necessary foil. It's a delicate balance to keep "infidelity" from being sordid. Crane and Katrina were brought together under unusual circumstances - the pretty Quaker nurse/witch/proven liar who had some influence over his defection to the Americans and who happened to be affianced to his best friend. Crane and Abbie were brought together by… well, God.
For me, it comes down to this: who is actually the other woman?
I have no beta. All my fubars are belong to me and I am absolutely open to critique (PM, please!:))
Abbie sat cross-legged at the foot of the bed and watched Crane sleep. He was a restless sleeper, kicking and mumbling, clenching and unclenching his fists. He was quiet now. He lay on his belly, using his folded arms as a pillow. He was so lean that she could see the outline of his ribs as they expanded with his breathing, but his shoulders were broad and the muscles in his back were long and prominent. He was deceptively heavy and much stronger than he looked – a fact he forgot in the throes of passion.
Abbie stretched her neck and rolled her shoulders, wincing at the various aches and tender spots throughout her body. The skin on her neck and breasts buzzed pleasantly with beard burn, as did the skin between her legs. Crane was a generous and inventive lover and to Abbie's utter astonishment, he required no recovery time at all.
But it wasn't just his expertise as a lover. It was him. His hands, his body, his mouth. It was Crane hot and throbbing inside her, stretching her to her limit, groaning her name.
Abbie shivered. This is a dream, she thought. I never get this lucky. She closed her eyes then opened them. He was still there.
Crane stirred and rolled unto his back. "Abbie," he whispered.
She waited to see if he would come awake but he didn't. She waited to hear him whisper another name. He didn't. She moved up the bed and laid her head on his chest. He sighed and wrapped his arms around her.
The slow, strong beat of his heart soothed her back to sleep.
"…And your purchase of an I Phone for my use is very much appreciated, though this woman Siri continually interrupts my text missives with foolish questions. I look forward to having you for supper this evening… that is, having you over to eat… er, ahem. Please bring food. I remain yours truly, Ichabod – good bye."
Abbie stood and shoved her phone into her back pocket, shrugged into her jacket, gazed around the squad room with feigned indifference then casually rushed toward the door.
"Mills," called Irving.
Abbie stopped. "Captain," she said, without turning around.
"Turn your phone back on."
She knew Irving wouldn't call. He wanted her phone on – just in case. In his own way, Irving was as tender protective toward Abbie as Corbin. He'd quietly rescheduled her work hours to day shift and removed her from the on-call rotation – which, in the Sleepy Hollow police Department, was as close to taking a vacation as one could get, without actually taking a vacation. If her colleagues felt like she was getting special treatment, Irving's answer was always, "She is."
"I'll be - ," Abbie began.
"I don't need to know," said Irving. "Wachowski! Are you bored? Do you have nothing better to do than listen in on other people's conversations? I'll find something for you to do. My vehicle needs to be washed. Matter of fact, after you wash it, rotate the tires on that motherfu -."
Abbie slipped out while the Captain dressed down the unfortunate Wachowski. She stopped at the market and bought a one pound bag of "M and M's". She picked up a few of Crane's favorites – bananas, canned peaches, steak, steak, bacon and steak. Market shopping with him was an adventure, to say the least. It was better that she went without him for now, rather than subject the other shoppers to his loud expositions on rousing the rabble to rebel against taxation and his withering dismissal of oatmeal as animal feed. He did like Cheerios and Abbie hoped he'd never read the ingredients.
She also bought brown eggs because white eggs completely freaked him out.
Discovering what he might like or dislike was interesting. It wasn't only that he was a man out of time, it was also that he was just…Crane. They enjoyed the same books but Abbie learned early to eliminate period pieces from Crane's film queue. His outraged gasps, clucks of disapproval and long treatises on the historical inaccuracies were more than she could bear. In fact, any movie where there was sword play was out, as was anything French.
A zombie movie went over like a fart in church.
She recalled their conversation when last she brought over a "deeveedee."
Abbie dropped her head back against the couch cushions with an exasperated sigh. "What is it now," she asked.
"Light sabers. It is still a saber and should be wielded as such. One would think - ,"
"Crane!" she yelled.
"A thousand apologies, Lieutenant." Crane inclined his head. "I shall "suspend my disbelief" – yet again."
Crane sat stock still and completely silent with his hands folded in his lap. A full minute went by.
"Dammit, Crane," said Abbie.
"I've said nothing."
And so on.
Abbie eventually procured a library card for Crane so that he could pick his own movies. She had to admit that he had refined tastes: Scorsese, Bergman, Kurosawa, Malick. He also quite liked science fiction - except Star Wars - and action adventure, sitting crossed-legged, two feet from the television like a child, talking to the screen as if the actors could hear him.
Abbie smiled as she loaded the groceries into her car. Crane was a difficult man. It was okay. She was no day at the beach herself.
Maybe that was why the sex was so good.
A/N: Abbie needs to reconcile the new turn in their relationship with the fact that Crane is married.
Abbie's eyes fluttered open. She lay still, checking to see if she were truly awake and that the past twenty-four hours were not a dream. She breathed in the scent of sex and Crane and the cup of peppermint tea gone cold on the night table.
Her muscles were stiff and she was agreeably sore in all the right places – post-coital pussy hangover, as Jenny would call it. Crane was literally wrapped around her, holding her to him with all four of his long limbs, like a kid cuddling a Teddy bear. His cock was hot against the small of her back. She stretched gently, careful not to wake him. She squinted in the morning light, trying to guess the time.
"It is one quarter of the hour past eight," mumbled Crane.
"You're awake," said Abbie.
Crane tightened his arms around her, shifting his hips as his erection grew. Abbie chuckled and gently pushed him away with her elbow. She sat up and swung her legs over the side of the bed. He trailed a finger down her spine and rubbed his hand on her flank. She looked over her shoulder at him. He looked like a Renaissance artist's model laying there amongst the crumpled white sheets in the golden morning light, his tousled hair framing his face.
"Come here," he murmured.
"Oh, no. I'm done. I can't go another round." Abbie slipped off the bed and out of his reach.
The only reason they'd stopped making love the night before was because she'd accidentally kneed him in the balls. It was his own fault. He shouldn't have been flipping her around like a rag doll.
Crane leaned back on the pillows and folded his arms under his head, watching her as she walked around to his side of the bed and picked up her phone from the night table.
"Besides, it looks like your soldier defected to the Redcoats," said Abbie, scrolling through her text messages.
Crane glanced down at his bright red erection. "Having had my chest sliced open, I believe I can endure a bit of chaffing."
"I'm happy for you but I need some recovery time from my sex injuries." She held up her phone. "It's Irving. He had an incident in Central Park of all places. Something to do with Macey."
Crane sat up, his body tense. "Was the child harmed?"
"I think he would've called if she was. He only sent a text asking us to come in."
The dark look passed from Crane's eyes but he was still angry. He got out of bed. He looked down at Abbie.
"An unpleasant reminder of the lengths to which Moloch will go to thwart our efforts," he said.
"I don't know, Crane. Moloch's been quiet lately. Henry says we shouldn't hear much more from him until after the Solstice. I think that demon yesterday was a last stone to throw at us before Moloch hibernates or whatever he does."
"Are you suggesting it was someone – some thing – else?"
Abbie shrugged. "I guess we'll find out."
Crane took a step back from her and squared his shoulders. "There's work to do," he said.
Abbie stopped him with a hand on his chest. "We need to talk," she said.
"We will," he said. He leaned down and kissed her lips. "I promise you."
He stepped around her and strode into the bathroom, closing the door behind him.
Crane was quiet during the drive to the office, gazing out of the window and answering questions in monosyllables. Throughout the day, Crane was his usual polite self, though from time to time, Abbie had caught him staring at her with a small frown.
She had not expected him to act like her lover, especially not at work. Morales had strutted around the squad room loudly alluding to the nature of their relationship, even though Abbie had asked him to be discreet. She got very angry and nearly broke it off because of it. But she wanted Crane to be different with her now- how, she did not know.
Technically, they were having an affair. Abbie winced at the thought. She'd wanted to talk about Katrina that morning but now, she wasn't so sure.
Crane spent a great deal of time talking quietly with Irving, even taking lunch with him, shut in Irving's office. He'd barely spoken to Abbie, coming out of the office only to hand her a list of items to research in the Archive then spending the rest of his time sitting across the table from her with his nose in a crumbling tome. By the end of the day, Abbie came to believe that she – they – had made a huge mistake. She'd had to change her panty shield twice, each time guiltily flushing it down the toilet as if destroying evidence.
Nevermind that Crane was married. It was goddamn Apocalypse Now. She and Crane was what stood between Revelations and the rest of humanity. Getting sexually involved with a co-worker was a bad idea but getting sexually involved with your fellow Crusader was a Very Bad Idea.
"Jesus, Mills. You always have the worst fucking timing," she mumbled to herself.
Abbie glanced around then ducked into the old wood-paneled telephone booth next to the restroom. She pulled her phone from her back pocket and called her sister.
"Hey," said Jenny, by way of greeting.
"Hey," said Abbie.
There was a long pause at the other end of the line.
"Oh. My. Fucking. Dog," chuckled Jenny.
Abbie closed the booth's folding door. "Shut up, Tink," she grumbled. She should've known that Jenny would guess the reason for her call.
"I totally called it. It was only a matter of time," Jenny crowed gleefully.
"I didn't plan it. It just happened."
"What? Crane left his dick out and you fell on it? Bullshit. You guys have been fucking since you first laid eyes on each other."
"No we haven't. Last night was the first time."
"Not literally, dummy. Do you have any idea what it's like being in a room with the two of you?"
"What do you mean?"
"Wake up, Abbs."
"Shit," sighed Abbie. "Can anyone tell?"
"Duh, yeah. You could cut the sexual tension with a knife. Why do you think Morales is being such big asshole? A bigger asshole, actually. I don't like him. He just needs to go fu-."
"Okay, okay. What happens now?"
"I'm asking you."
Jenny started to laugh. "Oh my God. I have to pull over," she guffawed. "You're asking me for relationship advice. Oh, man. I can't breathe!"
"I'm hanging up, now," said Abbie.
"Wait, wait, wait. I'm done. I'm done," said Jenny. She started giggling again.
"God damn it, Jenny."
"I'm done for real," Jenny snickered. She took a deep breath and blew it out in a whoosh. "Here's what I think," she said. "Talk to Crane. There is so much what the fuck going on now. Think about it. A headless horseman, for fuck's sake. I think God will give you a pass for taking comfort where you find it."
"Crane is married."
"To a woman who is sort of dead."
"Crane doesn't believe that. He thinks he can save her. And frankly, I couldn't live with myself if we didn't try."
"You need to get over that, noble one."
"I can't. He loves her. I don't want to spend the rest of my life wondering if we could've rescued her. And I don't want to be some consolation prize."
"Hmm," said Jenny. "My guess is that Crane won't be quite so gaga if he actually rescues ol' Witchy Witcherson. There's too much that's ... convenient about her. How she and Crane came to be together. Shit, everything about her screams "Don't trust me"."
"Well - ."
"Listen, Detective. If you had a suspect in the fishbowl who had a bunch of convenient alibis and gave you the old "I lied to protect my husband" crap, what would you think?"
"And if it didn't add up?"
"I'd throw her ass in jail."
"There you go."
"It doesn't matter what I think. It's Crane who believes it."
"Obviouslynot that much since you did the humpty dance."
Abbie sighed loudly.
"All right, all right," said Jenny. "How does it actually feel?"
"Like the very best thing that ever happened to me. And like I messed up the very best thing that ever happened to me."
"It's not like Crane had nothing to do with it. If you fucked up, he fucked up even worse, since he believes he's still married."
Abbie was quiet for a long time.
"I'm still here."
"Ultimately, you have to do what you think is right but you guys could have seven more years of this shit. Let go of the guilt. You see what you have now and you embrace what's in front of you."
"And if a year from now we somehow rescue Katrina?"
"Heartbreak is a part of life, sis. It's better to have loved and lost than to - ."
"Climb every moooountain/ford every streeeeeam -."
Abbie started laughing. "Stooooop! You are insane."
"Why yes. Yes, I am."
"I gotta go," said Abbie. "Thanks, Tinkerbell."
"You haven't called me Tinkerbell since we were in grammer school."
"I know, honey. I'll make it up to you."
"Save the world and we'll call it even."
They were silent for a long moment, content to just listen to each other breathe.
"So. How was it?" asked Jenny.
"Was I right about his -."
"Better than right."
"Do guys from the 18th century - ?"
"This one does. A lot. And well."
"Listen to you, Chocolate Thunder," chuckled Jenny. "Uh, oh. I gotta get back on the road. There's a state trooper coming up. I've got some er, cargo that isn't exactly illegal but I don't need the attention. Love you!"
"Drive carefully," said Abbie.
"I will. And just so you know, if it were me, witch wife or not, I would've been hittin' that every chance I got."
"Girl, he comes a lot. I've had to change my panty shield twice today and the day aint over yet."
"Oh my God! Oh my God! TMI! TMI," shrieked Jenny.
Abbie laughed and hung up on Jenny making gagging sounds. She sat in the phone booth for a few minutes, enjoying the solitude. Her sister told her to do what she thought was right. Abbie didn't know what was right, anymore.
"All my bridges burned/by my flaming heart," she whispered.
She exited the booth to curious stares. She walked slowly back to the Archive.
Abbie frowned and drummed her fingers on her knees. Crane was in Irving's office again. She pushed back from the massive old desk and headed toward a file cabinet. She decided that she was too tired to open a musty book or look at another old map. And she was starting to feel like she was waiting for Crane to tell her what to do next. She tried to conjure up some righteous indignation but all she came up with was resigned sadness.
She climbed the steep library staircase to the second level of the Archive. She stared out of one of the colossal round windows. The sunset was an angry slash of red wavering above the horizon. She didn't know Crane was there until she saw his hand grip the railing next to her.
Here it comes, thought Abbie. He was back to calling her "Lieutenant." She felt his courtly formality close between them like elevator doors. She rested her forehead against the cold glass. He stood so close that his breath feathered against her ear. He smelled of warm wool and coffee.
"Crane," she sighed.
"I owe you an apology," he said quietly.
"I'm sorry, too," she said.
"I failed to -. I beg your pardon? Why are you apologizing to me?"
She turned to face him. "Because I -." She stopped, confused. "Why are you apologizing to me?"
"You requested a turkey sandwich for luncheon and I neglected to bring it to you."
Abbie blinked up at him.
"It pains me that you went hungry due to my negligence." Crane placed his other hand on the rail, trapping her within the circle of his arms. He bent his head until he was inches from her face. "Allow me to make amends for my inexcusable transgression."
"I locked the door," he murmured, brushing her lips with his.
"That'll keep out all the people who never come down here."
Crane trailed his lips down the side of her neck. "Better and better," he said, nipping her lightly with his teeth.
"But everyone on the street can see us," said Abbie, pointing over her shoulder with her thumb.
Crane straightened and folded his hands behind his back but he didn't move away. "Far be it from me to besmirch your reputation."
Abbie looked up at him from beneath her raised brows.
Crane colored a little then grinned and shrugged with a tilt of his head. "I think you take my meaning, Lieutenant," he said.
"So, you're back to calling me Leff Tennant?"
"I find I rather like calling you Leff Tennant. While you have proved yourself more than capable, a female with rank is still a novel concept in my mind. It is also." Crane's eyes dropped to her mouth. "What is the word? Sexy?"
"Maybe," said Abbie. She stared down at her feet. "We need to talk," she whispered but then said nothing.
"Look at me, Abbie," Crane said softly. When she didn't comply, he held her face between his hands and gently lifted her bent head. He leaned down and pressed his forehead against hers.
"We are at war," he said, his voice thick with emotion. "And during a war, when you cross a bridge, you burn it behind you.
A/N: I don't know where to put this but I had to get it out of my head! I'll just leave it here.
"You name yourselves Witnesses?" Ancetif pointed a long, curved claw. "Washington's traitorous boy and a juvenile delinquent with license to carry a gun." It spat on the ground. "No matter to which End you swear your allegiance, you are nothing but glorified assassins. Your God will put you through Hell, murder those closest to you, tear you limb from limb then burn you to the ground. All with no guarantee you will ascend to the Heavens to grovel at His feet. It is what God does. Even Moses never set foot on the Land that was Promised him. His Sin was Pride." Ancetif laughed and flicked its tapered black tongue. "What is your Sin?"
"No," I said. "I will not do this." But even as I said it, the muscles in my abdomen constricted, pulling my testicles tight to my body. My cock throbbed once, hard. "Ah," I groaned, helplessly. I moved down her body until my head was between her thighs. I licked the quivering flesh. I heard a moan. I didn't know if it came from me or her. I gently sucked her clitoris into my mouth and flicked it with my tongue. I heard another moan. This time I was sure it came from me. Fingers gripped my hair. I moved back up and positioned my cock at the entrance of her pussy. Her small hands pressed lightly against my hips. My skin felt tender and bruised all over. I could not be touched. I held both of her wrists over her head. If either of us moved, I would come. She whimpered softly, averting her face in shame. "No," I said. "Look at me, Abbie. Only me. There are none here but us." She looked up at me, her brown eyes round and pleading. A tear rolled down her temple and wet her hair. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," I whispered. I tried to take her gently but I drove my cock into her and came after a mere half dozen hard thrusts, throwing my head back and grunting like an animal. I felt her womanhood contract around me as she shuddered and raked her nails down my back with her own release.
I came awake with a gasp. My heart pounded and my ears rang. I could not draw breath. I swung my legs over the side of the bed and bent forward. I flinched when a cold hand pressed against my bare back. The air rushed back into my lungs and white spots danced in the dark room.
"Don't touch me," I said. My belly was sticky with semen.
"Wake up, my love."
"I am awake," I snapped. I stood and moved away, her hand leaving a freezing imprint between my shoulders. I kept my back to her to conceal the evidence of my betrayal. I strode to the wash basin and splashed water on my face. I reached for a flannel to dry my face and to clean the come off my body.
"Who is Abigail?"
"What?" I whispered.
"You cried out her name in your sleep."
I turned to her. "Katrina, I -."
Her eyes widened.
"Ichabod," she gasped.
I snatched the flannel from its hook and scrubbed at my belly.
I looked up at my wife. Ancetif floated above our bed wearing my wife's nightgown. It stroked itself between the legs and gyrated its hips obscenely.
"No," I shouted.
My eyes flew open. Abbie leaned over me, staring at me with wide eyes.
I scrubbed my hands over my face. "Jesus Christ," I said through my fingers.
"You okay?" Abbie asked.
I nodded, pulling her into my arms. I bent my head and kissed the worried frown between her brows.
"I am now," I said.
"Would you like some coffee?"
She laid her head on my chest and stroked a thumb across my nipple. "It's supposed to rain all day. Let's stay in bed and make love."
"All of the day?"
"Yes. Except for grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup for lunch."
I tightened my arms around her small body. I buried my face in her hair.
"I'll never leave this room, Abbie, if that is what you wish."
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
A/N: You know how you love your boyfriend but he does something vaguely narcissistic or perhaps makes a comment that is slightly too insulting to be taken as a jest? You’re sort of pissed at him but really can’t articulate why. So you walk around with a frown on your face and don’t take his calls or just answer in curt text messages for a couple of days. Of course, he’s totally oblivious because he’s too busy standing in front of the open refrigerator in his underwear, scratching his ass and drinking from the milk carton.
That’s how I’m feeling about our Tom M. right now.
Putting this here because, lazy.
There were two sides to Ichabod Crane. There was Crane -- the sober and courtly scholar -- and there was Crane the Other -- the man who dodged bullets on the battlefield with a mere raise of a brow or who would unflinchingly take your head, should the situation require it. Crane would not let go of his donut hole tax outrage. Crane the Other, armed with rage and an ax, entered the cellar of a haunted house, emerged painted with blood then calmly, politely asked to be taken home. Both Cranes were supercilious, entitled and vain, and despite a brilliant mind, frustratingly naive.
Neither of the two sides of Crane could be called dishonorable -- but neither was above manipulating the truth.
Crane seemed unaware of the Other. He believed himself to be, in all things, if not moral, then rational and dispassionate, doing what might be unpleasant but what was definitely necessary. He apparently forgot tha,t before he was “Washington’s Prized Soldier”, he was a widely feared interrogator who sanctioned the torture and execution of apolitical colony farmers, whose only crime was fleeing their fields when the Regulars approached. He forgot that he persuaded a bored and indifferent Abraham to defect to the Americans with him then promptly relieved his purported best friend of his fiancée.
I did not fault Crane these things. My own life was shaped by darkness and denial and my personal arrogance. The views I held about loyalty and forgiveness were forever changed, due to a handful of sand tossed into my eyes by Ro’kenhronteys.
But I was still troubled by Crane’s stubborn blindness when it came to Katrina. There was betrayal coming, as sure and as deadly as the Apocalypse. Henry Parrish pointed out that Jesus would’ve been branded a fool and laughed out of Jerusalem were it not for Judas.
I agreed with my sister, however. The Wizard of Oz was bullshit. There is no such thing as a good witch. Katrina’s role would remain to be seen.
I sat in Corbin’s huge rocking chair on the cabin’s screened porch and watched Carne and Jenny play a game of one-on-one – or as Crane called it, “Basket Ball” – flailing their arms and committing egregious fouls against one another, doing more gleeful trash-talking than actually trying to put the ball through the hoop. Henry sat on the stump by the wood pile with his knees together and his toes turned inward. One of his socks had rouched lower than the other and I could see a pale, hairless band of skin below the neat cuff of his pants.
The breeze rattled the leaves in the trees and the sunlight scattered across the slight chop in the lake like bits of broken mirror. Jenny and Crane clomped around in the dirt – my sister in combat boots and Crane in his knee-highs – as Henry shyly refereed from his place on the stump. They’d soon come in to jostle around in the kitchen, arguing over which spice went best with what then finally settle down to eat, drink rum and trash-talk some more over a raucous game of dominoes, while Henry sat in a corner gazing wistfully at Jenny, his crossword puzzle book forgotten in his lap.
Corbin always assured me that I would have a family of my own someday. I had dismissed the thought with a roll of my eyes and a pang in my heart.
I leaned my head back and started the chair gently rocking. The worn leather padding still smelled faintly of my dear sheriff. I closed my eyes. I listened to the sounds of my family. I drifted into sleep.
Corbin laid a warm, callused hand on my cheek. “Hey, baby girl,” he said, tugging gently on my earlobe. “Wake up.”
I turned my lips into his palm. “I love you so much,” I murmured.
“I love you, too but you gotta wake up, honey.”
I opened my eyes and saw him kneeling on one knee before me. His thick hair was mussed and longer than he usually wore it. I reached out and ran a hand through the curls.
“You need a haircut, old man,” I said.
“Nah. You just forgot how handsome I am,” he said, grinning.
I slid out of the rocking chair into his arms. “Can I stay here with you?”
He hugged me tightly for a long moment then pulled back. He held my head between his big hands. His dark blue eyes roamed over my face and he stroked a thumb across my cheek. He glanced behind him then leaned forward and pressed his lips to my forehead.
“Not yet,” he said, against my skin.
He snapped his fingers close to my ear with a sound like a muffled gunshot.
My eyes flew open. Henry stood in the spot where Corbin had been. His smile was soft and a little sad.
“Dinner’s ready, Abigail,” he said.
I stood and stretched, yawning and rolling the stiffness from my neck. Movement at the tree line caught my eye. Ro’kenhronteys stood between two trees, staring at me with his head cocked.
“God damn it,” I said. “What is it now?”