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After the North

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“I'm not sure,” Abbie said, stepping back to look at the color on the wall one more time. They were standing in one of the smaller bedrooms in her new home, looking at several squares painted on the wall. This was going to be Crane's bedroom and he was trying to convince her that Lamp Room Gray was an ideal color. She was leaning toward Ammonite but could be sold on anything right now to get this project done. Only this room and then her room and they would be finished. She hoped this would be completed by the end of next weekend but that was only going to happen if he picked out the paint.

“I could try some samples of blue–”

“No,” she said, cutting him off. Gray was as close to blue as she was going to let him get. “Get the Lamp Room Gray. It will be masculine but not... blue.”

He turned to look at the paint one more time. “Then again, Gray Wool is rather pleasing to the eye, isn't it?”

“Just pick one!” she said, frustrated. She had the colors for her room all picked out and had hoped they would get started in there today. They were going to run out of daylight before he even decided on one shade of gray over another.

It was her first house. She had let him have a say on a few things, like the granite counters, but most of the big decisions had been hers. Including letting him move with her from the guest room in her apartment.

After their exploits in 1781, things were different. He had stood by her when she decided to go to Quantico. First they had flown together to the United Kingdom, visiting as many places from his past as they could. She left him to explore Scotland on his own as she came home to get started with her FBI training. He returned in time to help her get through the last few weeks of training and see her graduate. When she found out she was returning to Westchester County, they both breathed a heavy sigh of relief. They needed to be back in Sleepy Hollow. Evil would only be kept at bay for so long.

She watched him as he considered the wall a little longer, his shirtsleeves rolled up as he played with an unused paintbrush, his fingers stroking the bristles. She remembered those hands touching her...

One thing hadn't happened between them again since she had returned from the past. The reasons were many – he had to deal with his feelings about the loss of Katrina. She had to deal with her feelings about him having known so much about her the whole time they were together. Having those memories when she didn't.

It almost happened one night when they were visiting Oxford. They had too many pints in a pub and she thought for sure they would get over this strange roadblock, whatever it was. He looked at her with so much longing and desire that she thought she would ignite just from his stare, but instead of anything happening, he wished her a good night and they went to their separate rooms. And they still had separate rooms.

She was sure that one night, they would come together again. No matter how many centuries might have passed, she still wanted him. And she hoped he still wanted her, too.

“I'll go pick up a gallon of the Lamp Room Gray,” he said, setting the brush on the edge of an empty roller tray. He sat down on the edge of the bed to pull his boots on. Everything about seeing them together would lead the average person to think they were presently lovers. Their ease with each other. Their bond. The fact that they shared a house.

But yet he was spending Saturday afternoon buying paint while they could have been doing so many other things. It wasn't all his fault. Abbie was well aware that a tiny bit of her still held some resentment for the things that had happened after he came out of that cave. The way he had to try with Katrina and his son. The way he chose them over her nearly every single time. Logically she knew he had to but a part of her still hurt from it,

A part that didn't seem to want to heal as fast as she thought it would.

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^

“Here. That should be everything they need to get this finished.”

Abbie helped him fill out the remaining documents that needed to be completed and signed so he could get the archives designated as an historic landmark. This was his passion for now while she was often stuck at work for hours on end. That and getting his citizenship.

So far, all was quiet on the inevitable upcoming apocalypse front. The house was finished and she would come home to amazing meals and they would play video games or watch HGTV and then go their separate ways to their separate beds. Some of the cases she had been working on were so stressful and she considered dragging him to her room so they could both find some relief. She didn't. She'd wait for him like she knew he'd wait for her.

Instead, she would sit up late at night and look through Grace's journal. She would research what she could find on her destiny, trying to figure out how these women in the past felt she was going to be able to accomplish something she didn't feel was in her.

“I think I'm ready. Thank you, Lieutenant,” he said, neatly gathering the paperwork together to put in file folders so he'd be ready no matter what they might ask for when he got to the processing office.

“You're welcome, Captain,” she said without thinking, still half lost in her thoughts about her supposed future. With just the word captain, he stopped moving long enough for her to notice. Just the tick of a second. She hadn't called him that for a very long time. Not since that day she returned from 1781 and they discussed what had happened. They never mentioned it again, not even during their travels or hours spent together fixing up the house. “Crane, we can talk about it.”

His eyes met hers briefly before he focused on something else, avoiding her the best he could.

“I didn't think you wanted to discuss it,” he said. “I assumed you were upset by the deception I had to perpetuate for so long.”

“I couldn't have been too upset considering I walked a million miles around another country with you since then,” Abbie said and Crane worked his jaw back and forth, still pondering everything. She couldn't figure out why that restrained and mannered Captain Crane from so long ago could just act but this Crane, the one she considered her Crane for so long, was unable to move forward with this thing between them. It was definitely still between them whether he wanted to talk about it or not.

“A certain amount of time passed where we didn't discuss it again and no one acted on anything. I remained in Scotland and you went to the federal police and even more time passed. I just assumed that you and I, this 21st century version of us, would remain partners. Friends. Platonic,” he said, making that last word sound painful to just say.

“Hard to put that genie back in the bottle. It might have been 1781, Captain, but I remember it well. That was not platonic. And you remember it, too. All of it. You and that memory of yours,” Abbie said and his cheeks flushed scarlet.

“How could I forget?” he said, his voice barely above a whisper. “Abbie, how could I ever forget? Death didn't even drive you from my mind. I cursed this memory of mine for so long because...”

“Now what?” she asked.

“Now what indeed,” he said then sighed. “We will have to table this discussion until later. I need to get these documents to the court house today.”

“And I need to get to my job. The one that pays the bills,” Abbie said, pulling on the black blazer that had become an essential part of her FBI uniform the last few months.

“We can discuss this again. Tonight, over dinner. I'll send you a text message when I am through with whatever red tape they deem necessary to put in front of me today,” he said as she walked to the door. “Have a good day, Lieutenant.”

“You, too... Captain.”

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^

Abbie got his text a few hours later, asking for her to meet him at a hibachi restaurant that was near the archives. That was new but he did love Asian cuisine of all kinds. She went home after work to freshen up her makeup and to put on clothing that didn't scream cop when she walked in a room. She chose a black skirt and a soft purple blouse and put on heels. Not just boots with chunky heels but her favorite stiletto heels that added a few inches to her height. It was the first time in ages she had worn them and they made her legs look good.

She didn't know what she was expecting from this night out. This was definitely an odd situation. She took a deep breath and let it out. This was Crane. Everything was always an odd situation with Crane. That's what she loved about... them. About him.

Abbie certainly wouldn't deny that she wanted him again. He was right, they did go off on separate ways for a while. He had to find himself in Scotland and she had to make up for lost time at Quantico. But still. They were young. He was moderately attractive even if he still insisted on dressing like he did. It wasn't like it would be their first time. Just the first time they acted on anything in a few centuries.

Hell, she didn't even know if that was what this was about. It could just be one more platonic dinner where they come home to their separate rooms.

She arrived at the restaurant a few minutes late and didn't see Crane anywhere. Frustrated, she texted him that she was waiting at the door and was he even there yet? It was then that she saw him, striding toward her, dressed in an ensemble from this era. Her era. She was rendered speechless as he maneuvered around a few other people waiting for their tables. Several of the women stared at him as he passed. Some of the men did, too. The others were watching her.

“Lieutenant,” he said, reaching for her hand.

“What's this about?” she asked, motioning up and down with her free hand.

“I thought if we were going to bring our relationship out of the 18th century and into the 21st century, I should at least dress the part,” he said. He looked like a guy dressed for the prom. Still the same person but with something just a little... off. A little bit like a costume. The humor wasn't lost on her that this is what she considered a costume on Crane – a perfectly good outfit from this year.

It was going to take her a while to get used to him wearing trousers that fit properly and a coat that was cut in a modern fashion without buttons sewn on everywhere. She wanted to ask if he selected trousers with a button fly or had gone completely modern and decided on a zipper but then she thought maybe that question was too personal. She knew that was silly. They lived together. They had slept together. But still. She didn't ask.

“Just... wow. I didn't even recognize you,” Abbie said instead. He had cut his hair recently and although she missed his colonial locks, this look was a nice change. Not too short but not man bun length, either. He led her back to their table – rather, their grill – and helped her get seated.

“I have good news,” he said, looking rather pleased with himself as he took his own seat, adjusting his attire as he did so.

“Oh?”

“Everything has been approved for the historical society and the archives. We have finally met all their impossible requirements – thanks to you being an American citizen,” Crane said, raising an eyebrow.

“I know, I know. You were there at the beginning of this nation. You should be a citizen, too,” Abbie said.

“You were there, too. Briefly,” he said, a blush rising to his cheeks as he looked away from her.

“I was. Why don't we ever talk about it?” she asked. It was weird trying to carry on this conversation surrounded by people and a man performing tricks with a sharp knife and some grilled chicken pieces.

“So much happened. Katrina. Our short time together in England. You going to the academy. Your job. The house. The archives.”

“It's like we were both running from something,” Abbie said. “Like neither of us could just tell the other the truth.”

“Which is what?” he asked.

“Perhaps we should discuss that somewhere a little quieter,” Abbie asked. The noise of the people around them was humming in her ears and she didn't want to do this where others might overhear.

Crane apologized for his choice of restaurant, explaining that he thought it would be fun. She was having fun, enjoying being with him. Rolling her eyes as he ordered silly fruity drinks. Watching the chef expertly assemble their meals. Relaxing more than she had a in a long time.

“We will have to find somewhere quiet later. Right now, I'm going to finish my meal. I'm starving,” Abbie said, digging into her dinner.

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^

He was ebullient as he showed her his plans for the archives and the future historical society that would be housed there. She watched as he dashed about the room, explaining one thing and then the next, his eyes wide with excitement as he explained all his hopes and dreams for this building. He even discussed where they could still continue on with their Witness work, her on her future role fulfilling what her ancestors had assured her she would be and his research into all things demonic.

Finally, he came to a rest, sitting down at his preferred table. He motioned for her to sit across from him, where she would normally sit when they were discussing something. Usually they were discussing something supernatural, not themselves. Though, come to think of it, they were also a little supernatural.

“I apologize for getting carried away. We were going to use this time to talk,” he said. She considered her words carefully, almost convincing herself that it would be better to just say nothing at this point.

“After I returned from 1781, after everything, I was hurt,” she started.

“I couldn't tell you, Abbie,” he said, holding up a finger to stop her from going down this path again. But she didn't stop.

“I know that. Rationally, I know all of the reasons why. Sometimes, though, all the reasons why are never enough. You tried so hard with Katrina,” Abbie said, pausing to look at him.

“She was my wife. My wife I killed to save you. I loved her once, yes, but Abbie, I...”

“You what?”

“I love you,” he said, all the emphasis on the word 'you'. She didn't say it back even though she knew she felt the same way. She had known it for years, even before she took a trip back in time. It was hard for her to admit her feelings. Always had been. Crane didn't act like he needed her to say those words, though. Like he already knew. Of course he already knew. She swallowed hard and took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

“I love you, too,” she said. Saying those words wasn't as hard as she had expected it to be. He blinked at her a few times, putting his hand out across the table. She rested her hand on his.

“I'm so sorry I couldn't say anything all that time. It hurt so much. You have to believe me. You were all I had in this world. I had lost everything I was or had ever been but you didn't know what I had been yet. Now you know... and you fell for that man,” Crane said, giving her an awkward sideways glance.

“He is you. You are him. You are one in the same.”

“Are you certain?” he asked and she pondered the question for a while.

“Of course everything you have been through in this century has changed you but fundamentally, underneath it all, you are still that man. You are Captain Crane,” she said, holding his hand tightly.

“Why... him?”

“You know that the whole time I was with you... that you... I missed this you so much. I love both of you,” she said then laughed. He looked down and took a deep breath before looking at her again, his eyes aglow with emotion.

“Now what?” he asked. For a second she thought about pulling him across the table and kissing him immediately but instead fought that back and smiled. She didn't buy that new, glorious bed at home for nothing.

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^

She let him drive them home from the archives, fast and a little recklessly, as his hand held on to hers like he was never going to let go. Her favorite music moved seamlessly from her phone through the Bluetooth and she swore to God if 'At Last' came up next on the shuffle, she was going to lose her shit.

They barely made into the house and he pounced on her. Picking her up, he pressed her back against the front door as her legs wrapped around his hips. So much like their last time minus the cold stone wall and the damp smell of earth. Instead she was overwhelmed by the scent of him. Soap and clean linen and something so timeless. Something like home.

He kissed her hard and this was the kiss she had been waiting for. Judging from the soft moan that rose up from his chest and escaped his throat, he had been waiting for this, too. A long, long time. His tongue moved past her lips and sparks ignited down her body, settling between her thighs. The memory of the last time he was there... the pleasing ache she came back to this time with... she wanted that again. Was sure she'd go crazy waiting.

“Upstairs,” she said when she finally got the chance. She expected him to set her down so they could get up the stairs. He had other plans and his plans didn't include letting her go for a second. Abbie felt his knees wobble halfway up the flight of stairs and she was sure they were both going to tumble down but he made it to the top and then made it further to her bed. Only then did he set her down.

Abbie watched as he shed some of the clothes he had on, his modern cut coat falling on her bedroom floor behind him. Her fingers got restless and she had to help. She had to know.

His wool trousers were fastened together by a row of buttons. She smiled and he must have figured out what she was thinking.

“I'm not ready for zippers,” he said.

“They go faster,” she responded, her hand fumbling to get the buttons through the fabric. She could feel him, hard and ready and he moaned as he pushed against her hand.

“Sometimes... faster isn't better. Oh, God,” he muttered as she teasingly stroked him harder. His shirt followed the coat to the floor after a short struggle with the cuffs. He batted her hands away from his fly and unfastened the few remaining buttons himself. It wasn't long before he was naked before her and she went to take her blouse off. “Let me.”

She stood up and he took his damn sweet time undressing her. His eyes skimmed over every inch of her body, his tongue darting out ever so slightly as she slid her bra down and off. He worked the fastener on her skirt and had that off of her before falling to his knees and pressing his face to her warm skin. The room was dark except for the light coming in from the hallway but she didn't need more than that to know the exact expression on his face. It had been a while since she had seen it but it was there.

“It's been so long. I've waited so long and you are still as perfect as you were all those years ago,” he said, turning now so he could place soft kisses all over her.

“I try not to skip the gym too much. Try to not eat too many carbs. Try to avoid drinking a lot of wine and... oh hell yeah,” she said as he kissed further down, his mouth worshiping her through the tiny slip of fabric still left on her body. He slid her thong down her legs and she sat down on the mattress as he explored further, his tongue lapping and flicking out against her in such a perfect beat that she thought she might come after just a matter of seconds.

He moved them around so her legs were over his shoulders and... she still had those damn heels on... and he delved in, his fingers now joining his mouth as she fell back on her bed. This was certainly something that hadn't happened during her trip to 1781. This certainly wasn't her Captain Crane and his slow, proper manners. This was her Crane. The one that not only knew her body but knew... her. Was comfortable with her. Was her lover and her best friend.

She came and he didn't stop, even as she cried out. Didn't stop until she begged him to get on the bed with her. Abbie finally kicked off her shoes moved backwards across the bed. He followed like a starving cat running for a tasty bowl of cream.

Pulling him between her thighs, she reached between them and guided him into her body. He pushed in and stopped, his eyes locked on hers.

“All the times I've remembered you – all times I relived those few short days with you – and I couldn't tell you. When I had those memories and no one to share them with. The sound of you. The scent of you. Abbie, this means more than any of that. This is now. Us,” he said.

She knew without a doubt this was no longer only Captain Crane. This was also her Crane. The Crane shaped by her friendship all these years.

“Move. For god sakes stop talking and move,” she begged and he did. He moved above her, her legs wrapped high around him, and it was perfect. Abbie imagined all the perfect nights and days they were going to have together from now. No matter what, they still had each other. Not even death and time could keep them apart.

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^

The sun was barely peeking its yellow rays through the gap in the curtains when Abbie woke up with a start. She was alone. That was not what she was expecting. Her Crane was an early riser but after last night's activities, she expected to find him tucked sweetly beside her.

She got up, picking his shirt up off the floor, and padded off to the bathroom. After cleaning up a bit and sorting out her hair, she pulled on his shirt and went to find out where Crane got off to. She was rolling up his ridiculously long sleeves when she found him in the kitchen, digging through the refrigerator.

“There you are. I was surprised you were gone,” she said. He turned to her, a small notepad in his hand. He was wearing his favorite shirt and breeches, looking far more comfortable than he did in the clothes he had on last night.

“I was going to bring you breakfast fit for a queen except it looks like we need to go to the farmer's market first. All we have is a carton of milk, half a dozen eggs, a few slices of bread and... and whatever that is. It looks like an old dead duck,” he said, pointing at what had started its life as a bag of the Red Delicious apples she had meant to pack in her lunch. They were now sad, mushy lumps covered in plastic, rotting away.

“That would be what's left of four shitty apples. I just need coffee,” Abbie said, sitting down at the counter after tossing away what used to be fruit. “And toast. Toast is good.”

He set aside his grocery list and went about mixing up whatever ingredients they had on hand, making French toast despite what she said about just needing plain toast and coffee. Before she knew it, he had centered a plate of food in front of her followed by a cappuccino. When he turned her mug towards her, she smiled at the heart he had drawn in the foam.

“Thank you,” she said, inhaling the aroma of her coffee before taking a sip.

“My pleasure, Lieutenant,” he said before he went about straightening up the kitchen. When he was finished, he didn't sit beside her but leaned on the counter across from her, watching as she nibbled on her breakfast. “I like the look of that shirt on you. It fits your form better than mine. I think I'll just stick with my usual clothes if you don't mind.”

Captain Crane might be lost to history but a bit of him was always going to stick around. She was going to have to learn to live with this unusual dichotomy created by a few centuries of time and a wild biblical twist. Still, she did miss that other Crane sometimes.

“I'll tell you what. You can wear whatever you want as long as you get a replica of that uniform made – the one you had on when we first met. Down to the hat. Can you do that?” she asked.

“I always had a hunch it was that particular uniform you fell for. But the hat?” he asked, his eyebrow arched up playfully.

“Maybe I'll wear the hat,” she said. “Just the hat. You ready for that, Captain?”

“I'm ready for anything, Lieutenant. With you, anything.”

The End