It’s nearly seven o’clock on a quiet Tuesday evening, and she knows who’s calling before she bothers to look at the phone. Not because he’s the only one who calls, because he isn’t, but she knows it’s him nonetheless, it’s just a feeling.
“Crane.” She answers evenly.
“Good evening Miss Mills, I hope my call finds you well.” She can hear him smiling into the phone, and she naturally smiles back.
“It does” she replies honestly, and he immediately voices his pleasure in hearing her confirmation. After that he’s silent, and she knows what he’s thinking, exactly why he’s called, but she also knows that he won’t outright say it.
“Do you need anything,” she asks to break the silence, even though she's certain that he doesn’t. They’d gone grocery shopping the day before, and gotten him all the food and new personal effects he needed. Not to mention she’d dropped him off at the cabin just five hours before. He was calling because he missed her or maybe not her but the comfort of her presence, and she knew this because she missed his too. They worked constantly, so much so that she couldn’t clearly recall the last night they’d spent apart. Generally by quitting time, she only had enough energy to drive them to one location, either the cabin or her apartment, so they’d grown accustomed to being together. Growing up as she did, she got used to spending time on her own, and even though she always missed Jenny, that alone time was once a comfort to her. But now she sat on the couch and missed his presence in the reading chair just beside it. It felt too quiet because Jenny was out, and he wasn’t there making that humming noise he makes whenever he reads something interesting, or spouting off about historical inaccuracies in whatever program he happened to be viewing.
“There was a coupon in the sales paper for one dollar discount deducted from the brand of paper towel you prefer. I cut it out for you.” She heard him say on the other end of the line.
"You’re calling me about coupons Crane?” her voice alleging that she knew it was something more, even though she was the self-appointed coupon queen. He responded by reciting a phrase he’d heard her repeat often.
“A penny saved is a penny earned.” Abbie laughed out loud, and he felt a bit strange for how happy it made him.
“Okay.” She said a slight giggle still present in her voice.
“I could bring it to you.” He offered.
“Tonight?” she questioned a little surprised. Ichabod’s heart sped up, of course she didn’t want to see him, they had only parted company a few hours ago. She was a beautiful, intelligent, woman, perhaps she had plans for the evening. Say no, tell her you meant in the morrow. Say no, say no, say no!
“Yes.” He slapped his forehead with his hand, and held his breath awaiting her response. Abbie wound a stray thread from her shirt around her finger. “Crane, its already late it will take you an hour to get here by bus.” His heart sank a little. “Yes of course.” She was quiet for a moment on the other end of the line before speaking.
“I’ll come and get it.” She said quietly.
“Lieutenant, I could give it to you tomorrow if you have plans or a prior engagement that calls your attention this evening.” He couldn’t help feeling like such a bother. He had made a few friends in Sleepy Hollow, mainly from his involvement with a reenactment group, but still, Abbie was the only person that helped him to not feel so alone.
“I could be there in thirty.”
“Very well, I’ll see you then.” Ichabod hangs up the phone and hurries to put on a pot of coffee. Just hearing Abbie’s voice put him into a relaxed mood. That’s what he called her in his head, ‘Abbie’. He never said it out loud of course, that would have been entirely improper, but within his inner-world he never thought Lieutenant or Miss Mills. There she was always Abbie, and on some days, the ones when she said or did something that truly upended him, or when the light hit her face in just the right way….the days in which he was ashamed to admit that he forgot that he was married, if even for the briefest of moments, on those days he called her Grace. He sat reading for a while awaiting her arrival, and it didn’t feel like long before he heard the noise of her engine just outside. He stood and opened the door, even though she had a key, and even though it wasn’t locked.
“Evening.” She hummed stepping over the threshold. He noticed she carried a small bag of her personal effects she always brought when she stayed at the cabin. He smiled inside knowing that she would be there when he fell asleep, and still when he woke up.
“You’ll be sleeping over?” He asked already knowing the answer. She cocked her head to the side. He knew full well she was sleeping over.
“Right, I’ll prepare the bedroom for you.” He offered taking her bag. Abbie shook her head. “Nope we’re not going to do this tonight, I am going to sleep on the foldout bed” she pointed at the couch, “because you’re too long for it, end of story.” Ichabod tried to interject but Abbie raised her hand and repeated “end of story”. Ichabod knew that she wouldn’t bend on the subject, so for once he decided to drop it.
“Very well.” He agreed. Abbie walked over to the chess board and took a seat at the table.
“I get to be brown tonight.” Ichabod raised an eyebrow. “You were brown last time.” He took a seat opposite her.
“And I get to be brown again, so that means you’re cream.” She declared. “I can’t stay up too late tonight though, I have to leave early in the morning.”
“Oh” he said trying to mask his disappointment. “I believed you to have the day off.”
“I do,” she said moving one of her pawns, “but Jenny and I are meeting with the realtor in the morning, I finally decided on a house, so with any luck I’ll be moving into my very own home.” Abbie’s eyes sparkled as she spoke, Ichabod knew how important owning her own home was to her.
“Congratulation’s Miss Mills, the ownership of property is a signal of security, you should be very proud.” He commended, pushing his game piece along the board.
“Security” she laughed lightly. “I’m not sure if there is such a thing, but I am proud nonetheless. You’re welcome to come with us you know, in fact, I think you should.”
“To meet with the realtor, I would be honored to accompany you.” He admitted. Abbie looked across the table at him. “And into the home.” She said hesitantly. “You’re welcome to move in…with us.”
“Oh.” He sat quietly for a moment staring at her across the board. He was excited about the prospect of residing with his dearest friend, but the times that he came from were still very much a part of who he was. Even though they spent every night together anyhow, they were technically not living together.
“I am unsure of how it may be perceived, a man living alone with two unmarried women. Even now, the way in which we….our sleeping patterns” he decided upon, “I will not have your propriety questioned, nor Miss Jenny’s.”
“You know times have changed, we’re friends, no one is going to question my virtue, and even if they did, I’d tell them to go to hell.” She took his bishop with her rook. “Check.”
Ichabod looked down at the board quite surprised. Abbie reasoned that he must have been lost in thought because that was a move he would have seen coming seven plays away. He evaded her attack. He looked over at her trying to recall precisely when this bond between them was forged. When he first woke in the cave everything in this world was wholly foreign, and she was the first and only person he was drawn to. But soon her presence evoked a different sort of feeling in him, one that he had never experienced. At first it worried him that he felt this gravitational pull towards a woman who was not his wife. If he had to pinpoint one day, he probably first realized it the day she took him to a baseball game, and later that evening when she saved his life. There was this indescribable joy whenever she was present, a happiness so foreign that it almost felt like a feeling that belonged to someone else. He felt awkward because of it. Somewhere between then and now he had gone from not feeling like himself when she was around, to not feeling like himself when she wasn’t.
“In that case, I would be doubly honored.” His blue eyes fixed upon her. She flashed him a warm smile. “Great!” her smiled faded and was replaced with a look of complete satisfaction. “Check mate.” She declared.
“Miss Mills!” Ichabod exclaimed sitting forward.
“Here you are Lieutenant one cream two sugars, precisely the way you like it.” Ichabod said holding out a Styrofoam cup.” Abbie grabbed it and immediately took a sip of the sweet steamy liquid.
“Thanks Crane, you’re a life saver. I can’t believe Irving is making us come in for this after we were up all night. It’s not like we couldn’t be debriefed tomorrow or at least later this afternoon.”
”Oh,” Irving appeared in the now open doorway to his office, “you mean like later this afternoon after the mayor has read me a new one, or probably after the press has torn me to shreds, come in and take a seat.” Ichabod and Abbie strolled into the captain’s office closing the door behind them.
“Do you know the press thinks this was some sort of terror bombing—I have federal agents looking into this matter now, how do I explain this?” He shout whispered.
“It would be the least successful terror bombing in history, absolutely no one was hurt.” Abbie replied grimacing.
“Actually Miss Mills that isn’t entirely accurate, the world has been relieved of one rather obnoxious demon, Abbadon.” Ichabod corrected.
“Who?” Irving asked.
“Abbadon, the demon charged with setting forth an army of locust to dine on the flesh of mankind”. Abbie answered.
“And it took the destruction of the equivalent of five square city blocks to get rid of him?” Irving questioned sarcastically.
“Yes! Abbie and Ichabod answered in unison.
“It’s not like it was actual city blocks. We were in the woods in the middle of nowhere.” Abbie protested.
“Well tree’s fell and everyone heard.” He replied.
“May I be frank Captain, no pun intended?” Ichabod asked. Irving leaned back into his chair and threw his hands up. “Be my guest”
“What would you have us do sir? We were minutes if not mere seconds from him completing a ritual that would have led to the death of every man, woman, and child in a 60 mile radius by nightfall. I understand that it can be somewhat difficult to explain the explosion and correspondingly the obliteration of such a vast area, but do you not believe that it would have been aboundingly more difficult to explain the presence of the locusts?” Ichabod argued. Abbie took a sip of her coffee.
“Yeah what he said” she stated peeking over her cup. “Look Captain there was no other way, it had to happen.”
Irving leaned back in his chair mumbling under his breath. “Locust…….demons……had to happen. Fine, just…fine. I’ll figure something out to handle the press. So this particular situation is over now right, you got him?”
“Hmmm, yes and no.” Ichabod responded.
“What do you mean yes and no, which is it?” Irving asked sitting up in his chair.
“He means that we got the demon, but we still have to track down the witch that was controlling him.” Abbie answered.
“Oh that’s just perfect. Look just head home, get some rest and let me know when you have her, and please try not to burn down half of the city when you’re catching her. Just as Abbie and Ichabod reach for the door Irving calls to them.
“Wait a minute, what exactly did you guys use to cause that explosion anyway?” He asked. Abbie shrugged her shoulders and replied wryly “C4”.
“Where in the hell did you two get--forget I asked, I don’t even want to know.”
As soon as they’re out the door Ichabod tells Abbie that he has a few things he needs to take care of and he’d meet her at home. When she prods to see if it’s something she could help him with or somewhere she can take him he quickly shuts her down.
“OOOkay.” She crooned. “Do you need money for the bus fare or anything?” A couple police officers passing by them smile and nod, and they return in kind. He takes Abbie by the elbow and leads her out of the way of traffic.
“Miss Mills, I do not require any funds, nor transportation, you’ve already done so much for me. You worked the early shift yesterday and then worked again with me for the remainder of the night. I find myself fatigued so surely you must be exhausted. Please,” his hand slid from her elbow and clasped around her fingers, “go home and take rest, I will be there later this evening.”
She sighed, but what could she say he was a grown man. “Alright, you have your cell right?” He nodded and spoke his confirmation. “I do.”
“Well call me if you need anything.” She said eyeing him curiously.
“I will.” He promised.
“Ok, well I’m outta here.” She said moving away. They held to each other’s hand until their distance caused them to let go. “Until tonight” he called.
“K” She grinned throwing a hand up to wave, not bothering to turn around. It wasn’t until she closed in on the exit that she seen Luke glaring at Crane disapprovingly. It was then that she realized what that exchange must have looked like. Even though she knew it was innocent, she felt embarrassed by what people might think, this was her place of work after all. It was already hard enough for a woman in her position to be respected without adding anything to it. It was known that she had dated Luke even though they kept their relationship completely professional at work. Luke’s menacing glare was not lost on Ichabod who returned it with added venom, until he finally looked away. As soon as Abbie was out of sight Ichabod returned to Irving’s office. He understood that he was quite busy what with running a police force and all, but this simply couldn’t wait.
“Crane?” he asked more than said. “I thought I gave you the rest of the day off?”
“Yes, about that. It is difficult for me to ask this of you, as I am accustomed to making my own way. However the circumstance of having slept for the past two-hundred years has rendered me unable to complete such a task. Aside from the Lieutenant and Miss Jenny, you are my only friend, and it is my understanding that you have friends of elevated standing. Perhaps they would lend themselves to do a favor for you, which I pray that you in turn will do for me.”
Irving could tell it took a lot for Crane to come to him. “What do you need?” He asked curiously. Ichabod leaned forward pulling a folded piece of paper out of his back pocket and rose to hand it to the Captain. “There is a position over at the university for an Adjunct Professor of History. I have been searching on the World Wide Web for employment and this was posted only yesterday. I have no official papers, identification, or work history, but I was set to take on a professorship at Oxford before my joining the war.” He retook his seat taking notice of the degrees that sat on the wall behind Irving. “I can assure you that I am qualified for this position, I received my doctorate from Oxford though of course it was many, many years ago. Still I have been studying and reading everything to become up to date. Further the first courses that I would be teaching are European history and Humanities”
“—Crane,” Irving interrupted, “I believe you, I’ve worked with you, I know how intelligent you are. I just didn’t know that you had time to work, I mean outside of the work you’re already doing, you know, saving the world from destruction.”
“Miss Mills does it every day.” He replied placing his hands on his knees.
“You’re right, she does.” Irvin said shaking his head.
“Further Miss Jenny, is unable to maintain gainful employment due to the fact that her role in this war continually pulls her away. I am sure you are aware the Lieutenant recently purchased a home.”
“I am, I even got the dinner invitation to prove it.” He relayed.
“Well being a home owner I am certain you understand the myriad of unexpected expenses that can come with that responsibility. I need to work. I need to do more for her—to assist her, even if my wage is only such that it allows me to relieve her of the obligation of covering my financial expenses. If you can help me attain the proper documentation, I will remain forever in your debt.” Irving leaned back in his chair and pursed his lips in contemplation. He picked up his phone and dialed out.
“Hey it’s me, I need a favor.” Ichabod’s once worried eyes lit up as a look of sheer relief covered his face.