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Is There a Law? (The Demon Machine remix)

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It’s early. It’s very fucking early because apparently even soldiers who are two centuries old think that waking up before dawn and banging on your partner’s door to wake them up at said really fucking early time is somehow logical. So maybe Abbie’s a little grumpy and maybe she snapped at Crane a little too quickly and maybe she was a little harsh when she smacked the car charger for her phone out of his curious hands, but. Really fucking early, and she’s been out of coffee for almost a week. Solution? Really fucking ridiculously expensive coffee from Starbucks.

She yanks on her seatbelt, pinching her finger in the process (of course) and throws the car into drive. He looks at her and opens his mouth with that look on his face like he’s ready to ask a question -- probably about how internal combustion engines work, again -- and she quiets him with a glare.

“Put your seatbelt on. We’re going to Starbucks,” she snaps, pulling out into the street with a tire squeal she viciously hopes wakes up the rest of the neighborhood. People should share her pain.

She’ll give him credit, he manages to hold it in for almost ten minutes, as they pass the two Starbucks closest to her house and continue on, breaking at least three traffic laws and speeding through a few amber lights.

“How do you know which one to go to?” Crane wonders, cautiously, from the passenger seat, fingers gripping the chest strap of his seatbelt bloodlessly.

(He’s ridden and broken violent horses, sailed in terrible Atlantic storms, been tossed about by demons, and once, memorably, fallen off the edge of a cliff. This thing Abbie calls “driving” is far more terrifying.)

“Drive-thru only, shit service, smells like the dumpster out back,” she answers, counting them off, the closest Starbucks to her house to the third one they’re just passing. He nods like he understands. It’s frustratingly cute.

Thankfully, Crane stays quiet for the last few minutes of the ride.

They walk through the door and Crane’s eyes go wide as he looks around the room. There’s already a line despite the early hour, so Abbie steers them both to the end of the line. The room is mostly quiet, which makes the hiss of the milk frother seem louder than usual. Crane jumps at the noise and crowds up against her back in alarm.

“What is that dreadful scream?” he whispers into her ear. “Does that man know there’s a demon inside that machine?”

He’s close enough to her now that his breath ghosting over her ear makes Abbie shiver and edge away. “That’s just the milk frother. It’s fine.” He looks at her blankly and she just sighs. “Don’t worry about it. What do you want? My treat.”

Crane shifts his attention to the boards, but immediately looks back at her with a frown on his face. “What’s a venti?”

“It’s just the size,” she says, edging them both forwards as the line moves.

He contemplates that for a second, looking back up at the boards, and then, “I don’t understand. Shouldn’t something that is tall be larger than whatever a venti is?”

He says it loud enough that Abbie catches the cashier looking at them and trying not to laugh. “Y’know what. Just pick out something from the pastry case and I’ll just order a drink for you.”

Crane is immediately captivated by the pastry case, muttering the names of each food item under his breath. She leaves him to it as she steps up to the register with a tired smile.

“Early morning?” the girl standing there says.

“Trust me, I didn’t choose this,” Abbie says, sending a glare over at where Crane is hunched over, practically licking the case.

“What’ll it be then?”

“Just a grande coffee for me, with room for milk,” Abbie answer. “Hey, Crane, what do you want to eat?”

Crane squints at the case. “I think I’d like a cinnamon chip scone.”

“Ok, one of those then,” says Abbie. “And for his drink…” She pauses to consider the options.

And maybe Abbie decides to fuck with him a little. Gets him the sweetest, fanciest, coldest iced coffee Starbucks can do. And then takes a photo of the look on his face when she hands it to him.

(Because cold coffee is something that belongs to the world of cold campfire ashes, hiding from the enemy in the frost covered hills of New York or Boston, when no one dares to talk about how badly they’re losing and how few supplies they have left to get them through the winter.

Cold coffee is not a choice.)

But Abbie, Abbie’s manipulative and grew up with a picky sister and a limited variety of foodstuffs. She knows how to con resistant eaters (or drinkers, in this case). So she readies the camera on her phone and waits for him to take the first sip. She captures the moment when his eyes widen and he goes in for his second taste, cheeks hollowing as he sucks harder on the straw and begins to smile. A salted caramel mocha frappuccino can win over the most hesitant heart.

“This is delicious,” Crane says happily. The barista smiles indulgently over at them as Abbie snaps one more picture of his grin before putting her phone down on the counter. “What did you say this was called?”

“It’s just a salted caramel mocha,” Abbie replies. The soothing scent of coffee in the air and Crane’s obvious joy is doing wonders for her earlier grumpy mood. Her coffee sits untouched on the counter as she watches him drink.

When he’s done (moments later and christ does he just not get brain freeze? fucker), she takes the empty cup from him and tosses it in the trash -- he has a tendency to take things outside and just...drop them in places -- he gives her a nod.

“Too sweet, I think. Perhaps tea, next time,” he says, giving her a slightly knowing grin. Abbie’s starting to like that look on him. It’s the look of someone who knows they’re being thrown in the deep end, but trusts her enough to not let them drown. She can’t wait to see his reaction to electric toothbrushes, or handheld electronics, or the wonders of fried everything.

She gives him a quick smile in return, then looks down to swirl some milk into her own cup of coffee. He fidgets next to her, reaching out to poke at the sugar packets, knocking some of them out of their tray in the process. Abbie rolls her eyes and bats his hand away from the counter before he can make more of a mess. It’s like traveling with a very tall four-year-old.

Abbie’s about to offer to buy him a proper tea before they head out into the chill when her phone vibrates on the countertop. She can’t answer is right away, hands full with her coffee preparation, and in the few moments where she tries to figure out where to put everything, Crane grabs her phone. He unlocks it quickly and holds it out to her with a grin, clearly pleased with his success. Like a puppy, waiting to be praised for performing a trick. Abbie revises her opinion. He’s a tall four year old who learns new things way too fast for her liking.

She grabs the phone from him, cursing under her breath when she reads the message on the screen.

“Not good news, then, I take it,” he says.

Abbie frowns. “You could say that. Come on, we need to go. Now.” She jams the lid onto her coffee (the coffee that will probably sit untouched in the car now, which is just typical) and pulls Crane out the door behind her to the car.

(She reminds him of Katrina sometimes, the playfulness in the face of the seriousness of their mission, the way she survives the worst moments, the way those moments only make her determined to fight harder. Katrina worked her magic in military hospitals because that was as close to the fighting as her gender and station would allow. Here and now, Abbie is his partner, his ally on this field of battle. He would see her live, and thrive, as his Katrina could not.

Katrina used to test her healing potions on him in the early days of the war, holding him close and guiding his hand as he drank every last drop, laughing as he cringed at the taste. Ichabod prefers the taste of this new coffee, but he misses the touch of loving fingers wrapped around his own.)

They’re in the car speeding away when she notices him staring back mournfully at the Starbucks. He opens his mouth and shifts to look at her, but then seems to think better of it and slumps back against his seat.

“What?” she asks bluntly.

He looks down at his hands. “I forgot my scone.”

Abbie sighs. He’s developing quite the sweet tooth. “We can go back later and I’ll buy you another.”

“That would be acceptable,” he says with a grin.

Abbie just shakes her head and pulls up the GPS. Maybe later she’ll introduce him to the wonders of chocolate cake and lingonberry sauce at IKEA.