The riots swell down the Hudson Valley like the fog rolling in across the Catskills, blanketing the riverbanks in a smoky haze that burns the back of her throat all the way from Poughkeepsie to Harlem. She settles into a cramped one-room apartment on 145th Street in anticipation of the inevitable fallout. Jenny's done trying to outrun the demons, whether corporeal or merely her own. In the meantime, she continues amassing her eclectic arsenal of assorted weaponry and hunts down the oldest, dustiest tomes in every antique bookstore in the five boroughs. It's only a matter of time.
Trouble finally finds her on a Sunday morning, when anyone with two brain cells to rub together ought to be in church praying for deliverance. Jenny has long since given her own soul up for a lost cause. She's working on a close examination of a copy of illustrations from the Caedmon Manuscript when there's a knock on her door. The buzzer in this building hasn't worked since probably the 1970s, but still, Jenny's kind of impressed that her visitor managed to bypass the new gate installed across the lobby door. She considers doing nothing, but Abbie will just break down her door -- she did used to be a cop, after all -- and then Jenny will have to get a new one installed on the sly or waste precious hours explaining the situation to the super and lose her security deposit, and that's just a pain in the ass.
She still grabs her sidearm before answering it. Better safe than sorry.
Jenny flicks the deadbolt with a satisfying clunk, then undoes the chain and the regular lock and steps back away. That's all the concession she's willing to make. After a moment, the door is pushed open. Jenny greets her sister for the first time in nearly three years with revolver in hand, but she keeps the safety on. Family is family, after all.
"Thought I told you," Jenny says, "the next time you darken my door, the world had better actually be ending."
"Have you looked out a window lately?" Abbie's voice is rough with weariness. "It is."
After a moment's consideration, Jenny lowers her weapon. "Yeah. Figures. Seven years' bad luck, right?"
That's what Crane had told them right at the beginning. Seven years of trials and tribulations, or some shit like that. Time's just about up. And the intervening six years and eleven months have drawn sharp lines across Abbie's face, honed her smooth skin and gentle curves down to pure sinew and muscle and bone. She's got a thin new scar that runs from just beneath her left earlobe diagonally down to her collarbone, and her eyes are fever-bright with exhaustion and too much caffeine. And she seems to be here alone. No sign of Snarky McEnglishman. Too bad, Jenny could use the eye candy.
"Up in Tarrytown, with a fresh batch of recruits," Abbie says. "Put that damn thing away, will you? And don't you have a couch or something?"
"There are a couple of stools in the kitchenette," Jenny says grudgingly. "Be my guest."
But Abbie doesn't take advantage, just leans against the wall, arms folded across her chest. Her gaze roams across the small room, taking in the bare walls, the piles of crumbling books in every corner, the weapons strewn across the cheap Ikea table. She doesn't look as supremely uncomfortable as she usually does around Jenny -- probably too tired to give a shit. She also doesn't say anything else.
"So how'd you find me?" Jenny finally asks, just to break the silence.
Abbie shakes her head as if to wake herself up. She focuses back on Jenny. "You left a trail for me to follow. On purpose. Jenny, if you'd really wanted to stay hidden, you know I'd never have been able to track you."
It's true. Jenny knew she'd be putting herself back on the radar by returning to New York state. She came back here anyway. The omens, the riots, the strange reports on the news -- she knew the seven years of prophecy were almost up. Could've tried to ride out the End of Days on a mountain in Tibet or something if she'd wanted. But that felt too much like cowardice.
"Where've you been, anyway?" Abbie asks, genuinely curious. Maybe even a little concerned. "I kept on the lookout for any sign of you, you know, but it's like you fell off the face of the earth."
Jenny shrugs. "Here and there. Spent a while bouncing between archaeological digs, mostly in northern Africa and the Middle East. Another stretch down in South America. Been doing a lot of reading. A bit of fighting." Her lips twist. She's not sure if it's a smile or a grimace. "Guerilla warfare felt like child's play after some of the shit we dealt with in Sleepy Hollow."
Abbie just nods, eyes shadowed.
"It wasn't about you," Jenny says all at once, because she has to. "Why I ran -- it wasn't to get away from you. Well, not you, specifically. From all of that, maybe. But I needed to be alone for a while."
"For three years?"
This time, it is a smile, if a bitter one. "I had a lot of my own shit to sort through, after -- well. After."
After finally meeting a good man of her own, and loving him, and losing him. After the good witch's betrayal, and the fire and pain that followed it. This time, it had been Jenny pushing Abbie away, when she knew Abbie only wanted to console her, but she couldn't bear to look at her sister with her big sad eyes and compassion and pity. And Crane was even worse, his grief as sharp and all-consuming as her own. The two of them together would've razed the world down around them, and Abbie along with it. So Jenny had run, as far and as fast as she could, but she'd never stopped looking back. Never really left any of them behind. How could she? They were the only ties she had left to the land of the living. They'd never let her go.
"You left him all alone up there, huh?" Jenny says, desperate to change the subject.
Abbie blinks, then catches on. "Crane? No. Luke and Hayley are helping him train the new kids. But I gotta get back as soon as we're done here. Frank and the coven are cooking up something special at the epicenter."
"Frank?" Jenny echoes mockingly. "You and Captain Irving are on a first name basis now? How chummy."
Abbie shrugs. "He hasn't been my boss in a good long while." She hesitates, then meets Jenny's eyes. "He said to tell you he's sorry, you know. About the way shit went down with Katrina, and with Jeremiah."
Jenny stiffens at his name. She hasn't spoken it aloud since they buried what was left of the body. "It's been three years."
"I know, but even so--"
"Three years," Jenny plows on over her loudly. "And I still hear Jeremiah's voice in my ear every goddamn day. I wake up in the mornings and I think I still feel his breath on my neck. Like the sheets are still warm with his sweat. Like maybe he's just slipped out of bed to make breakfast or something. And then I have to remember it all over again. Every. Fucking. Day."
"I'm sorry," Abbie says quietly. She reaches out like she wants to clasp Jenny's hand, but stops herself halfway when Jenny flinches. She tucks her hands in her pockets instead. "We never should have released Katrina from the space between worlds. We didn't know what she'd bring with her."
"You should've known," Jenny snaps, forcing the words out through her tight, tight throat. They've been bottled up for three long years. "You and your covens and that stupid fucking time-traveling soldier -- you have no fucking clue what kinds of forces you're messing with. And it's everyone else around you who ends up paying the price."
She knows it's unfair, but she can't help herself. She's tried blaming herself, but self-loathing has never been one of her flaws, and her only fault was in loving Jeremiah in the first place. She ought to blame Katrina -- does blame her -- but Katrina's dead, too, and left Jenny no target for her wrath. Abbie is here. Abbie had been there. Abbie's the only person she trusts to bear the weight of Jenny's fury without being crushed by it.
"Crane paid," Abbie says, eyes flashing, and of course she takes offense only on Crane's behalf, not her own. "He's paid a thousand times over. Katrina was his wife, Jenny. I'm sorry for your loss, and god knows Jeremiah was a good man and I miss him, too, but don't you dare tell me Crane's not paying for it every single day. And don't sit up there on your high horse and pretend you don't have as much to atone for as the rest of us sinners, because sister, your hands have just as much blood on them as mine or Frank's or Crane's."
Jenny gives her the barest of nods, her head held high on a stiff neck. She knows she's got just as much to answer for on Judgement Day as anyone else. She never pretended otherwise.
"And if I'm still meant to be groveling for shit I did to you when I was thirteen and terrified," Abbie adds, quieter now but no less intense, "then I really am sorry, because we don't have any more time to waste hashing over ancient history and if that's what you want from me, I'm done here. I've got an apocalypse to prevent, and you can either fight with me or hide here in your makeshift bunker while the devil rains fire down upon all the lands, but either way I'm walking out of here in five minutes so it's really up to you."
In this moment, Abbie is furious and exhausted and glorious, and Jenny's chest feels so tight and wretched with love for her sister that it's a wonder she doesn't burst from it. Back in those in-between years of familial truce, after Corbin's death and before Katrina's betrayal, between breaking out of a mental institution and abandoning Sleepy Hollow in the wake of Jeremiah's murder, Jenny used to watch Crane watch Abbie sometimes and wonder what he saw in her. He stared at her with such indescribable wonder, such keen attention, and Jenny never quite knew what to make of the look in his eyes. Abbie seemed just the same as she'd always been -- prickly, smart, and stubborn to a fault. But maybe now Jenny's catching a glimpse of the Lieutenant Mills that Crane has been seeing all along.
"Why do you even want me with you?" Jenny hears herself asking. Just for a moment, she's a child again, lost in the woods. She hasn't been back home in so very long. Not like there's much of a home left to go back to -- if CNN is to be believed, most of the town of Sleepy Hollow has been all but burnt to the ground. "What could I possibly have left to offer?"
"The Caedmon Manuscript, for starters," Abbie says, nodding to the open text on the table, so matter-of-fact that it startles a laugh out of Jenny. Abbie gives her a wry half-smile. "Seriously, though, Jen, you are right about one thing. We don't really know what we're dealing with here. We're trying to put together some kind of army and even after all these years, we've only had glimpses of the horror that's yet to come. And you've been fighting this shit forever, and you've done your research. We need you. I need you. Ichabod--"
Something visibly catches in Abbie's throat, and she presses her hand to her mouth, blinking rapidly.
"Abbie?" Jenny takes an unconscious step forward, though she keeps her own hands to herself. "What's that damn fool Brit up to now?"
"He thinks I haven't figured it out for myself yet, but I have," Abbie says in a low tone, fiercely. "Katrina's magic tied him to the Horseman right from the start. Whether she meant it for good or for ill -- and I do think she was trying to do the right thing, then, for whatever that's worth -- we never severed the link completely. God, Jenny, he's going to try something very stupid, I just know it, that noble, self-sacrificing idiot. You've got to help me, Jenny. There's got to be another way."
Abbie's the older sister by a little more than a year, but they've always faced the world as equals, ignoring the negligible age difference. Abbie taught Jenny how to ride a bike. Jenny taught Abbie how to walk gracefully in high heels. Abbie used to sing her to sleep at night when their foster parents were having another epic shouting match, and Jenny shoplifted Mars bars and cheap makeup to tuck into Abbie's backpack at night. She still doesn't know how Abbie learned to pick a lock, and Abbie never figured out how Jenny learned to shoot a gun. Abbie was on first name basis with the local dealers while Jenny did time in various mental wards. They've both made mistakes, lots of 'em. But they're the Mills sisters. Nothing's ever gonna change that. Not even three years apart while Jenny ran and fought and mourned and lived in a mental prison of her own making.
Not even the goddamn apocalypse.
It only took three years, but Jenny's finally ready to get back in the game. And this time she's playing for keeps. She's lost too much already; she'll be damned if she's gonna lose Abbie, too. And losing Crane means losing Abbie. So there it is.
"Then we'll find it," Jenny tells her sister in a tone that brooks no argument. "Just give me a minute to pack my gear."
Abbie takes in a shaky breath, then lets it out again. She offers Jenny a tight little smile. It's a start. "Thanks."
Jenny shrugs it off, moving briskly through the room. Life she's led, she's always ready to leave at a moment's notice. All her essentials are in a duffel bag in the bedroom's sorry excuse for a closet, and the weapons and books should fit into another couple of bags. If Abbie wants the reading material, she can damn well help carry them.
"Hey," Jenny says, sticking her head out of the bedroom. "So are you and Crane sleeping together yet or what?"
"None of your damn business," Abbie shoots back. Uh-huh. Totally screwing.
"You know," she murmurs to herself, jamming the manuscript into a backpack with a grin, "this second coming shit could get real interesting."
She's done looking back. Time to look forward -- and to make sure they've all got a future to look forward to.