Ichabod makes a choked noise of disapproval as he watches Abbie pop an Oreo straight into her mouth. She raises an eyebrow.
“You didn’t follow the instructions,” he protests, holding up the package he had been studying so intently. Abbie is confused for a moment until she remembers: twist, lick, dunk.
She sighs and swallows the cookie. “You don’t actually have to do that. Just eat one, Crane.”
“I’m afraid I disagree.” He stands up straighter, puffed up with righteousness. Over cookies, for god’s sake. “If these are as delicious as you’ve told me, then I want to experience it as the manufacturers intended.”
“Fine. Get yourself a glass.” She gets a carton of milk from the fridge and fills up his glass, then perches on the edge of the counter to watch. He fumbles with the wrappings until he successfully removes a cookie, and then attempts the twist. The top cookie snaps in two, one half dropping onto the counter. Abbie’s not sure she’s ever seen him so disappointed. “It’s fine, just-- stick it back together,” she says.
“Not so fast, Miss Mills. I am yet to lick it,” Ichabod reminds her. He does so with great gusto, and proceeds to snap the bottom cookie in half as well. A sizeable chunk of Oreo slips from his fingers and lands in the glass of milk with a plop. Abbie doesn’t even try to hold back her laugh.
“I’m sorry,” she says when he frowns at her, clearly frustrated. She hops down and walks around the kitchen island to him, and takes the rest of the Oreo from him, dropping it into the glass too. Handing him a spoon, she tells him, “Just scoop it out. I promise it’ll still taste good.”
He gazes apprehensively at the mushy, milk-soaked pile of cookie on his spoon, takes a deep breath, and puts it in his mouth. Soon enough, he makes a noise of deep approval, and Abbie asks, “Worth it?” as she reaches up to swipe some of the milk from his chin without really thinking.
He stares down at her, eyes sparkling, and smiles so widely Abbie can see the dark chocolate stains on his teeth. “Definitely.”
Abbie pulls into her drive just after six, and notices with a little disappointment that she’s just missed the cookie-pushing girl scouts, who are walking down the sidewalk with-- wait, an empty cart?
“Oh, my god,” she groans, head dropping onto the steering wheel for a moment, before making her way inside. “Crane?” she calls out, shutting the door behind her. “Please don’t tell me you just did what I think--”
And oh boy, he did. Ichabod shuffles back into the hall and grins widely, clutching literally dozens of brightly coloured boxes. He shifts his grip slightly and a couple of the boxes tumble to the floor. “Oh dear,” he says, and crouches to pick them back up, causing another three boxes to slip from his grasp.
“No, stop, I’ll get them, just--” Abbie sighs heavily. “Go put those on the counter, okay?”
Ichabod nods sheepishly and hurries into the other room, Abbie following closely behind. “Miss Mills,” he starts once he’s carefully stacked the boxes in the kitchen. “I feel as though I’ve done something to disappoint you. Do you not enjoy these biscuits?”
Abbie stares at him blankly. “Are you really not seeing the problem here?”
“I--” His gaze darts between her face and the enormous pile of cookies, and it’d be kind of endearing how puzzled he looks if Abbie hadn’t just worked a ten hour shift with no breaks. “Is it the quantity? Did I purchase too many? Now that I think of it, those young women did seem somewhat taken aback when I placed my order.”
Abbie rolls her eyes, then walks over to examine the pile. There must be, what, forty, fifty boxes? “Did you spend all of the money I left you?”
No answer. Ichabod looks down.
“Crane, that was for--”
“Food, you said! That is, if I remember correctly.”
Abbie practically growls her exasperation. “This isn’t exactly what I had in mind. We’ve got enough of these to survive a goddamn zombie apocalypse.”
Ichabod grins sheepishly. “I’m not entirely familiar with the term ‘zombie’, but as for an apocalypse, I am relieved that my purchases may be of great use to us if the dreaded day does arrive.”
“Yeah, let’s hope not, okay? And I don’t want to talk about that tonight. Let’s just--” she waves at the boxes, “--have some cookies, okay?”
His face brightens immediately, and Abbie can’t help but smile as she reaches for a box of Peanut Butter Patties.
Ichabod is determined to prove his responsibility to Abbie, so as a test, she allows him to do the grocery shopping one evening when she takes a nap. She trusts him to manage, as she wrote a ridiculously specific list (‘Milk, cows milk, 2% fat, red and white carton, second shelf, x2’) and gave him cash instead of handing over her debit card.
She wakes up from a dreamless sleep around an hour later to the sound of Ichabod struggling with her front door and noisily making his way down the hall. It sounds like he drops a bag on his way to the kitchen and she crosses her fingers, hoping it wasn’t the milk.
Abbie throws on a hoodie over her tank and goes to investigate. When Ichabod notices her, he stops unpacking the groceries and steps back, clasping his hands together kind of nervously. “How did I go?” he asks.
Abbie rummages through the bags, nodding her approval, until she feigns a gasp. “Crane, you bought the wrong brand of toilet paper,” she says, appropriately scandalised.
His eyes widen. “I failed to locate the brand you had written-- is it so important? I can go back and ask--” And then he notices that she’s laughing, and huffs, embarrassed. “You shouldn’t tease me. I tried very hard to follow your list.”
“I know, I’m sorry. You did good,” she says, and then notices a brown and silver pack at the bottom of one of the bags. “What’s this?” she asks. “You bought Hershey’s Kisses?”
Ichabod nods eagerly and retrieves them from the bag. “I was very careful to add the prices as I went, and there was some room in the budget. Do you like them?” He holds them out to her. “They’re for you.”
And she’s not sure why she’s so taken by the gesture, but Abbie can’t help but blush a little. “Yeah, I do, actually. Thanks, Crane.”
“Not at all,” he says, and-- did he just bow to her? God.
After a quick dinner of grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches, Ichabod suggests watching some television, something he’s endlessly fascinated by. Abbie had a pretty hard time explaining special effects to him the night before after he was startled by the dragons when they’d come across a Harry Potter movie being broadcast. Tonight, she decides to stick with sitcoms, even though Ichabod probably won’t understand a single joke.
Regardless, he is entertained, and when she offers him a chocolate, his eyes almost bulge out of his head at the taste. “Chocolate in this day and age is simply divine,” he gushes, and reaches for another, forgetting his perfect manners in his cocoa-induced stupor.
Soon enough, it reaches the point where he's sneaking more of the chocolates from the bag than she's eating, so she just moves them from her lap to his with a pointed stare.
"I couldn't," he argues. "They were a gift."
"Didn't seem to stop you stealing them." His face falls, and before he starts apologising profusely with those puppy dog eyes, she nudges his shoulder. "I don't care, Crane. I've been eating these my whole life. Knock yourself out."
He pauses. "I'm going to assume you don't mean that literally."
"You're right, I don't," she chuckles. "You're getting better at this. Now be quiet, and let's just watch."
Looking pretty pleased with himself, Ichabod pops another Kiss into his mouth and settles back against the sofa. Abbie smiles and lets her head come to rest on his shoulder, telling herself it’s only because she’s tired and there’s absolutely nothing weird about the way he slowly, shyly, shifts his arm until it’s wrapped around her waist.
Once Ichabod discovers cupcakes, Abbie has to start going to the gym more.
There’s a quaint little cupcake bakery in town, and their new routine is to try a new flavour every day when Abbie gets home from work. They’d started with vanilla, after which Ichabod had declared, “It would be impossible for any other cupcake to taste as sweet and delightful as this.” He’d said some similar after trying choc-peppermint, and simply closed his eyes and moaned after cookies & cream.
After returning to her desk after turning in a particularly gruelling pile of paperwork to Irving, Abbie is surprised to find a neat little red box on her desk, embellished with a white ribbon and a little note reading ‘Lt. Mills, this is the most delicious of all. Have a lovely afternoon.’ She opens the box and takes out a perfect little red velvet cupcake.
Irving dumps a fresh pile of paperwork on her desk minutes later, but even that can’t wipe the goofy smile off her face.
The first trick-or-treater to come to their door-- her door, she tells herself-- is dressed as a witch. “And are you one of the good witches, or the evil witches?” Ichabod asks, and the little girl replies with a toothy grin, “Good!”
He’s so charmed that he literally offers their entire box of candy to the girl. Her mother looks a little stunned, and Abbie has to step in. “Woah, Crane, you gotta save some for the other kids.”
“There’ll be more?” he asks, surprised.
“Oh yeah,” she mutters, scooping a handful of candy from the box and dropping it into the young witch’s basket.
After giving Ichabod clearer instructions, Abbie goes back to flicking between the Halloween specials on TV. She checks on him an hour later to find him quizzing a bemused eight year old on their knowledge of werewolves, and ushers the kid away, adding a curt “Stop freaking them out, that’s their job,” to Ichabod.
He’s so enthralled by the celebrations that he doesn’t leave the door for a moment. By ten that night, she hears an odd groan of discomfort from the hall, and goes to check on him again. Ichabod is slumped against the wall clutching his stomach.
“How many did you eat?” she asks, hoisting his lanky frame back to a standing position.
“I’m not entirely sure,” he answers with a wince.
Abbie sighs, exasperated, and switches off the hall lights, leading him to his room-- the spare room, she corrects herself again. “You’ll just have to sleep it off,” she advises, and he nods his understanding before slumping onto the bed. Abbie just smiles, shakes her head, and goes back to catch the end of The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Abbie gets called out to a neighbourhood dispute one evening just before she’s about to go home, so it’s around 10pm before she lets herself in the front door and finds that the whole house smells like--
“Miss Mills, you’re home!” Ichabod calls out. “I baked pudding! I believe it is known as ‘sticky date’.”
Abbie drops her bag and walks into the kitchen, amazed that her house is not only still standing but filled with the scent of what is probably the best looking pudding she’s ever seen. Ichabod is gently stirring the toffee sauce on the stove, and he looks up at her, beaming with pride.
She sits down at the table, where he’s set placemats and spoons that-- “Oh my god, did you polish these?”
Ichabod just blushes in response as he pours the sauce into a white ceramic jug Abbie didn’t even knew she owned. He carries it over with two servings of the steaming pudding and sets them down with a flourish. “Enjoy,” he says, looking into her eyes, and then pauses, “...Abbie.”
She looks down, his gaze a little too intense to cope with right now. Instead, she pours some sauce onto the pudding and lifts a spoonful to her mouth, far too aware of his eyes on her, anxiously awaiting her response.
And it’s so goddamn delicious that Abbie really can’t hold back the noise of pleasure that she makes, and Ichabod gets this look in his eyes, and then she licks some of the sauce from her lips and all of a sudden he’s kissing her.
It’s soft and hesitant-- so Ichabod-- and she can’t stop herself from reaching out and tangling her fingers in his hair. He pulls back, staring at her in wonder, and then laughs. “It really is delicious,” he says. “I can taste it on your lips.”
Abbie gestures to his pudding. “Go on, taste it properly,” she says quietly. “Before it gets cold.”
“No,” he replies, shaking his head and shifting his seat closer to hers. “I’ll put it in the magic box later.” He smiles mischievously, knowing that the microwave’s new nickname makes her giggle every time, and she doesn’t disappoint. Cupping her face in his hands, he leans in and kisses her deeply, and she decides this is sweeter than all the pudding in the world.