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Blasphemy (where ships come to die and be born)

Chapter Text

"I don't want to talk about Katrina, Miss Mills,"

"Crane,"

"Miss Mills," he hissed as he downed the rest of his beer and slammed it down on the table. The fire crackled in the corner. An evening of drinking between the two witnesses had quickly evolved into a heated discussion, mainly because Abbie knew Crane was not addressing his issues with the very recent death of everyone he had once called family. That it had been at her hands and his. She wasn't even coping with it that well to be honest, sure, she'd been down to kill Henry for a while, but when it sinks in that you murdered your best friends son, that kind of changes the context, a bit. No matter how much self convincing she would do.

"Ichabod if not for yourself for me, okay? I need this. I need to talk about this,"

Crane looked at her, perplexed. "About what?"

"About how I murdered the son you once had faith in. About how you killed your wife to save my life. Call it survivors guilt or my conscious or whatever you damn well will, but I have not been at peace with this and I didn't even like them, nor harboured any illusions that they could be saved," she spat as she leaned over the table towards him. "I am your partner Crane but I have also brought you pain, however you may look at it, and it hurts," she stressed. "You lost so much just waking up in this century and you lost it all again, and I grieve for you, I feel what you must feel, and for you to act like it's nothing, well damn it Crane it's not human, and I know you're human, I need you to feel something Crane, have a reaction, something," she begged.

Crane looked away from her to stare into the fire. "It wounds me," he began. "That I have lost all I have known. Yes. It burns me, that my wife, for whom I pined for a year, so easily, without a second thought, betrayed me, it, it rends my soul," he emphasized, suddenly turning to look her in the eye. "That even after all I have put you through, Miss Mills, you are still so concerned for what I feel, or don't. And I am terrified that if I tell you what I do need, what I feel most of all as of late, you will think I am a monster,"

Abbie placed her hand on top of this. "Tell me Crane, tell me and we can work through it,"

"What I say next cannot be unsaid," he whispered, remembering that he had uttered something similar to Katrina. Abbie swallowed around the lump that had taken form in her throat.

"I'm a big girl Crane, I can take it," she assured him, nodding encouragingly.

"I want to be held," he said and Abbie almost laughed. That was what he was so worked up about?

But then he continued.

"I need, I need to be held, cherished, the way one holds a lover after a coupling, after being laid bare and sharing in each other and feeling as if you have seen them and been seen, that comfort, I need to be seen, Abbie," the weight of her name hung in the air between them. "I do not ask for anything from you. But you asked for my innermost feelings on the manner, and that is the meat of it,"

Abbie moved towards Crane, closing the space between them rapidly, brushed hair away from his face and pressed her lips to his, gently, softly, she pulled away and met his eyes. "I see you, Ichabod," she whispered, putting her weight on him so that he was forced to lean backwards and capturing his lips with hers again.

I see you.

Chapter Text

"Where's Crane?" Abraham sneered.

Abbie struggled against her bonds. "None of your damn business, bastard," she hissed.

"I'll find him, mark my words and when I do, you'll be sorry you weren't more co-operative,"

"He'll come for me," Abbie said, sure of herself.

"Oh he will, will he?"

"Always,"

"Always?" Abraham swaggered towards her and Abbie recoiled. "If you were to scream right now, he'd come running? loyal dog that he is?"

Abbie clamped her mouth shut.

Abraham turned his head to the side, surveying her. She squirmed under his gaze. "You know, I can see the appeal, you're a fine specimen of a woman, Abigail Mills,"

"You keep your compliments to yourself,"

"Oh? why? only Crane may mutter pretty sweet things to you?"

"He's married,"

"We've all seen what good Crane's word is when it comes to his heart," Abraham said with a snarl. "I mean, I'm here aren't I? spurned by my betrothed because Ichabod had the nerve to betray my friendship for his pursuit of Katrina, and now poor girl, fretting herself because she worries over his bond with you, I who was only ever true to those I loved, am the demon, and Ichabod, pretty, well read Ichabod, he gets all the heroics, all of the girls,"

"It's nothing but jealousy with you, maybe if you hadn't been so petty,"

"You know I like a woman with a sharp tongue," he cut her off. "long hair, nice complexion," he reached to stroke her face and Abbie bit at him. He smiled. "such spirit,"

"I'll show you spirit if you'd let me out of these bonds, you want a fight, fight me like a man,"

"You want to spar, Abigail? is that what you want?"

"Yes," she ground out.

"Meet in physical combat?"

"Are you deaf?"

"Shall I call that consent?"

"Yes, let me have a shot at you and let's see who survives,"

Instantly the bonds trapping Abbie fell away and she found herself falling off the wall and then crowded by Abraham, a hand to her waist, breathing on her neck, without preamble he pressed his lips to hers. His frame was massive and caged her in, but his kiss was slow, passionate, and terrifying. Abbie thrashed against him and stomped on his foot. "You, sick---" she heaved, wiping her mouth.

"I should have warned you, the way I treat women tends to be far more amorous than the way I treat my male adversaries," he whispered wickedly as he let her go. "Now if you've had a moment to collect yourself, let's see what you can do, witness,"

Abbie reached for her gun. "I'd call pistols at dawn, but you'll be dead by then,"

Chapter Text

Katrina watched Frank smiling at Jenny.

Cynthia watched Crane smiling at Abbie.

"I don't like it," they said in unison and then drank from their coffee. Here they were, both witches, both, for all intents and purposes estranged from their spouses, and both watching them seemingly fall in love with the Mills sisters. Which was a hard thing to watch considering that they rather liked the Mills girls. Cynthia trusted Abbie and Katrina found Jenny's unpredictability charming.

But on the matter of Abbie and Crane smiling over some shared conclusion they'd just reached. Or Jenny gently shoving Frank, and the smile he directed her way afterwards, that, on THAT matter, they took rather serious issue.

"Maybe it's nothing," Cynthia lied.

"Oh, I'm sure it's nothing," Katrina lied.

"I mean, I'm his wife," the said again. But deliberately playing dumb would not serve them for long.

They both knew that.

 

But Cynthia still went home and kissed Frank, ignored the long curling hair on his collar.

and Katrina ignored the fact that Ichabod's hands smelled like Abbie.

Ignorance was bliss enough, for now.

No matter how feigned it was.

Chapter Text

"Frank?" Cynthia called as she walked into the archives. "Frank, are you--" rustling behind the book shelves and Crane emerged. "Creeps Crane, you scared me,"

Crane, his nose still wedged in the book he just retrieved flicks his gaze up to her. "Oh, sorry, I did not mean to cause you undue stress,"

Cynthia spun about the room. "Is Frank, around?"

"Captain Irving and the Sisters Mills just departed, actually," Crane replied, setting the book on the table and clasping his hands behind his back. "Were they expecting you?"

"No, I just," Cynthia helplessly gestured to the lunch she'd packed for him. As far as Cynthia was concerned, her and Frank were still in a grey area, but she had thought with him being completely restored to his usual self they might have an honest go at trying again. Yes, she knew the divorce was finalized, and he was a free man to do as he pleased but, she kept remembering how relieved she had been to discover he was actually alive, and then the terror that his soul was compromised and well---suffice it to say her feelings about Frank Irving were very thoroughly muddled. She had hoped the surprise lunch she'd brought would have given her and Frank an opportunity to try and.....unmuddle it.

"Ah," Crane gestured for her to take a seat. "I'm sure had he known--"

Cynthia raised a hand and exhaled. "Stop. I should have called ahead. I don't know what I was thinking coming over here with this anyway,"

Crane sat down opposite her, tented his fingers and leaned across the table. "You were thinking, Ms. Irving, that you would try and salvage whatever remains of your relationship with your husband," He pushed back from the table and shot to his feet. "And a fine effort you are making too, I cannot say that mine nor Katrina's efforts had ever been so steadfast in repairing our bond,"

"You guys were different," Cynthia said, tracing circles in the wood. "You had other world ending things to think about, no time for date nights or picnics or therapy or heart to hearts. Frank and I, there's no reason that we couldn't have tried harder. That I could have tried harder, I kept trying to make him choose between us and his job, but, I didn't know......" she pushed the basket away from her. "You can help yourself, if you'd like,"

Crane quirked a brow at her and then flipped the cover on the basket, his face lighting up for a moment at the sight of the spread. "Why this is a proper feast, are you sure?"

Cynthia smirked at him. "Knock yourself out Crane. I suppose I should go," She rose to her feet, straightening out her dress and picking up her bag when Crane grabbed her arm. Shocked, she turned to meet his gaze. His blue eyes were concentrated and intent.

"There comes a time when we must release the things we hold dear, no matter how much we think ourselves the better for them in our lives," he took her hand in his and smiled softly. "It takes two, Cynthia, and when you find yourself dancing the dance on your own, perhaps it is time to find a new partner," he said meaningfully.

Cynthia smiled at him and nodded. "You have a way with words Crane, I'll give you that. Enjoy the food, " and with that she spun on her heel and left.

Crane watched her go, and then hungrily descended on the basket she'd left behind.

Chapter Text

The team had split up, contrary to their usual formation. Abbie and Irving went left, Jenny and Crane had taken the right. They moved along stealthily, Crane holding a torch aloft to light their way. He stopped abruptly and Jenny collided with his back. "Oof, watch it Ichabod," she grumbled and stood back to find him stroking the stones of the wall curiously.

"These stones, there's a pattern in the grooves, I believe these were not part of the original stonework," he murmured reverently. Evidently hunting for a loose brick.

"Secret passageway coming right up," Jenny lifted plunged her boot into the wall and was relieved to feel it crumble under the impact. Crane looked over at her, clearly impressed.

"Well done Miss Jenny, after you," he gestured her onwards and Jenny swaggered in confidently before a bat shaped creature lunged at her. Large leathery wings, venomous fangs, and screeching like nails on a blackboard. She raised her gun and fired twice, injuring it but it had brought company. Ichabod was already firing his own rifle, and the two of them fought back to back demolishing the creatures when one landed a blow to Crane's head and the other to Jenny's arm. One last shot and it scuttled away, all of it's comrades dead. But Crane had a gash on his forehead and Jenny's arm was throbbing from what she suspected might be a fracture.

"Shit," she hissed as she held her arm. Crane staggered over to her corner, crashing to his knees. His eyes had a dazed look to them but she could tell he was fighting off the desire to nod off from the wound.

"Miss Jenny?" he grasped wildly, patting the ground until he felt her foot, kept patting, up her legs, searching, hands, arms, face, patting her face to check for scratches, back down to arms, she hissed again with the pain and he stopped, his head cocked, listening. "Your arm?"

"Yes can't you see that's what I'm holding?"

Crane turned his head again, opened and closed his mouth like a gaping fish, then listened. It was then Jenny realized Crane was more than dazed. His eyes were clouded over entirely, and the wound on his head that should have been bleeding blood oozed silver goo. "Crane?" Jenny rasped reaching for him and pressing him against the wall. "Can you hear me?"

"Quite well," Crane answered, though his head was still turned in the opposite direction. "It is the use of my eyes that eludes me. But my hearing actually seems much improved." He opened his mouth again and closed it. "We're alone for now," he said.

Jenny's eye's became saucers. Echo Location. Crane was going batty, literally. "That damned thing did something to you, we need to get out of here and find a cure for whatever,"

"Sssh" Crane placed a finger to her lips. "Above us," Jenny couldn't hear anything but she dared not argue, especially with the way Crane's ears were rotating back and forth like an animal, sensing things she couldn't. a shiver ran down her spine.

"You're not well, Crane, we need to get out of here," She shot to her feet but Crane fumbled behind her, she took his hand and guided him, slowly, tentatively, Crane clicking intermittently and pulling her down another path. "This isn't the way we came," Jenny rasped.

"No but it's the way we need to go, Miss Jenny you must trust me,"

Jenny doubted that. The only thing she must do was stay black and die. But Crane had already led her off course and she couldn't ditch him now. Not with a good conscience that is. Unbelievably, they came to a stairwell that led up into an empty room. Jenny whooped with triumph, but Crane, blind to where they had emerged found he could only smile blithely. "Even handicapped as you are, you're still a marvel Crane," Jenny laughed and threw her good arm around him. Crane wrapped his arms around her in turn and suddenly Jenny could smell him. Earth. Musk. Warmth. Cinnamon? And then Jenny had a wicked, though highly inappropriate idea. She pulled away just enough, turned her head and kissed Ichabod Crane. Because, well, she'd always been curious. He tasted like dark roast coffee, topped with whipped cream, she ran one hand through his hair and heard him moan. She broke away and stifled a laugh.

"Miss Jenny?"

"Yeah Crane?"

"Did you....did you kiss me?" he asked, whirling around the room, trying to place her.

"Kiss you? eww Crane, we're on the job" Jenny smirked. Let him believe the whole thing a side effect from that Bat venom. Let him believe he'd imagined it. "Now come along blind billy bob, we need to find Abbie and Irving" Crane followed her voice and the two went hunting for the rest of Team Witness.

Chapter Text

Some days later after the bat incident Jenny drops by the cabin to pick up some of Abbie's things. Abbie is held up at work so Jenny offers to do the favour. All is well and normal. They had found a cure for Crane's curious bat venom affliction and Jenny had very purposefully led everyone to believe the whole ordeal had made Crane delusional. He had even bought it. So she was entirely unprepared for Ichabod to bring up that moment in the empty room as she made for the door.

"I am not entirely sure I believe it,"

"Believe what?"

"That I had so taken leave of my senses that I was imagining things, I recall being rather quite lucid. My impaired sight at the time not a factor in my cognitive process, I do believe I led us from the tunnels,"

Jenny sighed and turned to face Crane and felt her heart race. Crane wasn't wearing his coat, for starters, that was startling in itself, but just his shirt and trousers, shirt sleeves rolled up. His hair was down and the look in his eyes seemed a cross between irritation and downright outrage.

"You lied upon my person, casting everything I said in doubt" He stated, prowling towards her. "Discredited me, and I know it is not a falsehood, you kissed me!" he accused.

"This again Crane? come on,"

Crane growled and flung his arms in the air. Crane had perfect memory but he did NOT have a fantastical imagination. So he KNEW Jennifer Mills had lied when she'd said she hadn't kissed him while he was momentarily....compromised. And he knew this because he certainly had never had reason to fantasize before, once or twice he might have fleetingly imagined a kiss with Abbie, but ever since that bat ordeal in the Tunnels he found himself plagued with rethinking and reliving that kiss. And he was furious she was denying it. "The fact that you think you can deliberately pave over your actions greatly vexes me,"

"Heaven forbid some should, vex, Ichabod Crane," Jenny swallowed. He was deathly close now. And Jenny wasn't quite sure what to expect.

"I dislike having my character questioned. My sanity of all things,"

"what do you want me to do? go stand in the middle of town and yell 'I snogged Ichabod Crane and it was jolly good fun'?"

"Your impertinence," Crane harrumphed, closed his eyes and tried again. "I would like to prove to myself, I did not imagine it,"

"Exactly how----"

"you are going to kiss me, Miss Jenny, and if it bares any resemblance to what I am SURE I remember, it'll be proof enough to me that you are a fantastic liar,"

Jenny held her breath and almost laughed. That strange look in Crane's eyes suddenly made sense. He was not angry. Miffed, perhaps, but he was hungry, predatory, and Jenny decided she liked it. She hadn't thought much of when she'd kissed him, chalked it up to research, but then, this could just be her gathering, further data.....

"Well?" Jenny licked her lips. "You gonna prove your stupid point or no----" Crane cut her off, swallowing her words.

She twined her fingers in his hair, moaned, unashamed as she pulled him in closer. Gasped when she felt his hands roaming over her, surprised herself when she leapt and wrapped her legs around him.

If that experimental kiss had been research......Jenny would have enough.....'findings' to fill a book later.

Chapter Text

Frank cursed as he stumbled over another stone. "Exactly why did we pair off this way again?" he asked "The usual split has never failed us before,"

Abbie waved the torch ahead of her, not looking over her shoulder. "Crane and I agreed that while our bond is important, it can't hurt to strengthen our over all relationship as a team,"

Frank paused. "So what you're saying is, you and Crane have agreed to" and he put air quotes around it "See other people?"

Abbie sighed. "God, nothing like that. And what IS that supposed to mean?" Abbie asked, clearing away a cobweb and wiping her hand on her jeans. Frank hummed behind her.

"Oh you know, all of 'our bond' this and 'our bond' that and I like it when you spank me that goes on between you two,"

Abbie whirled on him and jabbed a finger in his chest. "I have never, ever, said that,"

"Out loud,"

"Oh my God, okay no, there is nothing going on between me and Crane, he's not my type. Besides, what about all of the giggling between you and Jenny, hmm?"

"Hey hey, I like fruit cake but I don't like it THAT nutty," Irving shrugged. "She's not really, my type either," he said, leaning into her. Abbie abruptly turned around, feeling her face flush and continued leading the way down the tunnel.

"So what is your type," she called over her shoulder.

"Small, firecracker like in spirit,"

"Short,"

"I prefer, fun-sized," He leered and Abbie smiled to herself.

"I think I heard something that way," she swung the torch to illuminate a new passage.

"Lead the way, Mills. While we're at it, what's your type?" He hustled a bit to keep close. These halls were creepy as all get out, and he didn't want to lose sight of her.

"Hmm," Abbie stalled, peering up at the ceiling. Were those foot prints? "Um, tall, dark, handsome, you know, the usual," she laughed.

"Not picky are you?"

"What does that mean?"

"Well, it's not hard to match that criteria, hell, I match it,"

"I might like them older." she conceded as they turned a corner.

"200 hundred years older or normal older?" he teased.

"Humph, normal, why do you---" suddenly Irving had her pressed against the wall, a finger to her lips.

"Did you hear that?" he whispered. Abbie shook her head wildly no, but her heart was racing a mile per minute. She did have a bad feeling about those tracks on the ceiling though. "Keep absolutely still," he warned and Abbie complied, listening, completely distracted with trying to discern if there was something prowling around down there with them that she screamed when she felt Irving's lips on her neck. He reeled away from her, chuckling.

"Are you out of your God damn mind?"

"What, Crane embraces you when there's a scare."

"A scare? more like if we survived something and he has never---wait, you didn't hear anything did you, you deliberately faked me out!"

Smirking at her Irving stepped in closer. " it wasn't so bad, was it?"

"Now is not the time for--get down!" she yelled and aimed at the creature hurtling towards them, it let out a piercing scream and fell to the floor, Irving whirled around, hand on his gun, ready for more.

"Was that it?"

"I think so," Abbie replied and then grabbed Irving by the front of his shirt, yanking him down to her level. "this is how it goes," she hissed. "You survive something, an attack for example," she nodded to the dead bat creature. "And then you seek physical comfort," she purred and locked her lips with his. His hands found her hips and Abbie pushed him against the wall.

"If I could put you in my pocket I would," Frank breathed between kisses. "Pull you out special for moments like these,"

Abbie gave a breathy laugh as she reached for the buttons on his shirt but stilled when she heard gun shots and yelling.

Irving rolled his eyes. "Ah hell, really? they decide to get into trouble now?"

Abbie pulled away, smoothed her hair and gave Frank a grin. "Duty Calls, let's roll" and took back off in the direction they had come, in hopes that they would find Jenny and Crane. Irving admired her form in motion for a moment before charging after her.

Chapter Text

"I would be loyal to you," Henry murmured as he placed a bouquet before her on the table. Abbie still couldn't quite understand how she had allowed herself to be talked into dinner with Henry, but there she was, at his house. He'd just put flowers on the table. A Truce, she reminded herself. She was there to hopefully establish some sort of truce, join together, repair the Crane family ties and all fight the good fight together. But she should have been suspicious of Katrina picking out that red dress with the bell sleeves and fit and flare bottom. Should have been suspicious of Jenny doing her hair and spraying it with perfume. Hell, she should have been suspicious of Crane escorting her to the door like a father does his daughter. But there she was, and instead of Abbie entreating Henry to turn away from evil and join good, she was listening to him make the most absurd and bizarre plea.

"As loyal as you are to your mother and father?" she asked, reaching for her glass of wine, she sniffed it, held it up to the light. Henry watched her examine the drink with a small bemused smile.

"If I had a mind to poison you, dear Abigail, do you think I would use such a tawdry device as the wine?"

"I think you would. Because you'd think that little speech would disarm me entirely and eliminate suspicion." she put the glass back down and leaned back in the surprisingly comfy chair. Henry was wearing a crisp collared shirt, vest and trousers. He smelled of warm musk. A pleasant scent, she hated to admit. And the table layout was nice too. But this, this whole, venture, well it felt like something out of a dream, or more accurately a nightmare.

"Surely you know how I care for you?"

Abbie gave a small, innocent smile, her eyes wide in disbelief. "I do believe you have cursed my existence on countless occasions Henry,"

"I hate you by necessity, not by want," He quipped, his eyes sparkling. "I could forgive your less desirable, honourable qualities, if you'd stand by my side, sweet Abigail,"

"If I didn't know any better I'd think you want me," she said seriously.

"Oh, but that's precisely right, Abbie. I have grown rather infatuated with you. One might say enamoured. Your strength, your dedication, your unwavering loyalty and care for your comrade in arms," He suddenly appeared at her side at the table, leaning in he whispered in her ear. "I have longed for that brand of devotion, and I have longed to give it,"

Abbie shivered, the words, the words themselves, didn't sound bad, but the mouth that spoke it. She glanced at Henry out the corner of her eye. How old was this man, sixty, sixty five? not to mention Crane's son. Not to mention part witch, wizard, whatever. Not to mention formerly a henchman of Moloch. No, that's one too many skeletons in Henry's closet that even if she were to....to what, consent to be....courted? by him? No she couldn't possibly consider--- But Henry had suddenly grasped her hand and pulled her to her feet, turning her towards him. Her hands were ensconced in his own, clutching them tightly to his chest. His grip was like iron. There was sweat gathering on her neck. The room felt too warm.

"Do you hear my thudding heart?" he continued. "It beats with vengeance, with dark wants, but, it beats too, because I am a living thing, no matter how cursed," his voice was gentle, a little tortured. "And all living things crave love, do they not? no matter how despised and rejected? Have you never wanted for love and not found it?" he asked.

Abbie thought on her childhood, the uncertainty of it. No. This was just Henry playing mind games again. She licked her lips and pretended not to notice that Henry's gaze had fixated on them.

"Join us, Henry" she said calmly, trying to sound like he wasn't completely rattling her nerve. "I want to believe you can rehabilitated as anyone else, show it to us now, fight beside us, not against us,"

"But it will still be father at your side, and I a sidekick," he spat and there was a bitterness in his eyes. "It will still be father choosing mother against your better judgement," he closed his eyes a moment and then opened them again, tugging her closer to him. "No, Abigail, don't you see? while that balance is upset no matter who fights at your side, there will always be division among you. Your bond will always conflict and threaten mother, and their marriage will always upset and undermine decisions that two Witnesses should make alone. But were Father and mother reconciled, and you and I one, no one would need compete with the counterpart for their voice to be heard. You no longer a threat to mother, her no longer one to you. The Witnesses could work together without there being the subtext of personal relationships in the way. The lines would be clear," he smiled then, proud of revealing this brilliant strategy.

Abbie let his words sink in. Crane was often beside himself between her and Katrina, it made a small, tiny, bit of sense. His hands were warm and soft around hers. She wondered if Henry was working magic on her. But no, that was her moving her own feet closer to him. He talked a good game, she'd give him that.

"Be mine, Abigail, and I will join you. Be mine, and I will be foresworn, to you, and you to me. Be mine, and know that you will be cherished, and that I would take up arms against hell itself in your name,"

She was trembling, not just from the weight of his words, but what it could mean, for all of them, for Team Witness, if they could all start working together. This had been part of her mission, to get him to switch sides, for good, but was bargaining with her heart something she had agreed to do? Is that what she had signed on for when she'd agreed to this?

No.

Yet, she didn't fight him off when he drew her into his arms, rubbing them gently, feeling how she trembled. When he pressed his nose to her hair, and she knew he had kissed her temple. Her stomach did not revolt against her to realize how solidly warm and cozy and comforting he was. Devil he was still. Could she truly trust anything he said?

"I'd give my word," he whispered, as if having read her mind. She inhaled deeply.

"What kind of word, can you give me, that I might give myself to secure our Team?"

Swiftly he drew back picked up the knife on the table and cut his wrist. "May my blood boil in my veins and I die an instant death the moment I betray you, or any member of Team Witness," then he sprinkled the salt from the shaker on the cut, and rubbed his wound, gritting his teeth against the pain and Abbie watched the skin as it knitted back together, and a script scrawled itself across his wrist. She took his hand in hers and read it.

"I swear Fealty to Abigail Mills and Team Witness, lest I die,"

She gasped and looked up at him but Henry had her in his arms by then. Her breathing was shallow as he tipped her chin up to him. He smiled at her. She tried not to notice the endearing lines on his face, the laughter lines around his eyes, the errant curl falling over his forehead. Not thinking, she brushed it away. She saw it then. The darkness melt from Henry's eyes, and something new kindle in them. That oath he made was real. He was bound now, to her and the Team. She sighed. She'd done her job on behalf of the cause. Abbie's eyes fluttered closed.

And Henry kissed her. Softly. Smoothly. With care. With tenderness. He kept one of her hands clasped in his. And his other arm locked around her waist. She wrapped an arm around his neck, and heard the soft moan he made as she pressed in closer. He was melting in her grasp, overcome by love. She was crumbling in his grasp, overwhelmed that a beast could be so touched and moved by kindness. She kept kissing him. He kept kissing her. Their hearts opened. An impossible nightmarish union in exchange for a chance to create a possible rescued world.

Abbie had done her job.

Now Henry would do his.

Love her faithfully.

Chapter Text

"She's a beauty, I gotta admit," Bram murmured as he knocked back his glass. Crane gave him a sideways glance and sipped slowly from his own beverage.

"Yes. The Leftenant is a striking woman,"

Bram leered. "Striking? No, no Crane, you're not giving her credit where its due. I mean, she's strong, loyal, extremely intelligent, patient, because God knows, only someone with supreme patience could entertain you when you go on a tangent,"

"As friends, comrades in arms, you tolerated me quite well," Crane quipped, draining his glass. The bell dinged over head and in strolled the Mills sisters, as if on cue. Abbie walked around Bram's stool warily. They were all still a bit uneasy about Bram being 'back' but knowing they had one less horseman to deal with was an immense comfort.

"Greetings, ladies" Bram called, too cheerily. He had been restored in better spirits than Crane had ever known him to be in. He was full over energy, exuberant, so excited about having his life back, so much so he seemed almost entirely oblivious to the uneasiness the gang felt around him. Jenny bobbed her head at him as she slid on a stool, Abbie gave him a weak smile and sat on the other side of her sister. Bram continued to smile in Abbie's direction until she felt his eyes burning holes in the side of her head. She met his gaze for a flicker of a second, saw the beaming grin on his face. He looked so, cheerful, it was disturbing.

"How are you this evening Miss Abigail?" he asked, his voice smooth as velvet.

Abbie choked on her drink. Surely Crane would object to Bram using her name, and no sooner had she thought it that Crane began spluttering in disbelief. Mutterings on propriety and respect when Bram cut him off with a wave of his hand. "If Miss Mills," he sneered, "Was offended, she'd say so. She has enough presence of mind to speak her mind on her own behalf. Does it trouble you if I use your name?" he asked, turning to her.

Abbie burst out laughing. "I've been telling Crane that for ages, no, it doesn't bother me, Abraham,"

"Bram," he corrected and she saw Crane visibly cringe.

"Nicknames for all," he grumbled. Bram nudged Ichabod.

"I'd say it's a step in the right direction, wouldn't you? Now, Abbie, or Abigail?"

"Abbie," she conceded, smirking behind her glass. Jenny watched the entire exchange with raised brows, and Crane looked on with his own brows deeply furrowed.

************************************
Two weeks later Crane glared down at the flowers on Abbie's desk.

"What," he asked, picking them up by the stems and regarding them with disgust. "Are these?"

Abbie looked up at him. "What are you talking about Crane? you've been leaving these for me everyday for the past two weeks," she picked up a little card note. "They've been really sweet actually, helping me through hard days at work, look, on this one you wrote 'When times are trying, You, Abbie, try harder, and will be victorious for it," she finished with a smile. "You've been a really great friend,"

Crane threw the flowers in the trash and Abbie exclaimed.

"Hey!"

"Did it not cross your mind, Leftenant, that I never address you as 'Abbie'? even in written correspondence? These have all been from Abraham" he spat.

Abbie's face flushed, she had thought it odd, perhaps on the first day, but by the tenth, she'd reasoned that maybe Crane was just beginning to relax a little. But now, unexpectedly, her heart warmed a little to think it was Abraham. Just a bit.

"Well, I should thank him then, it was....kind of him" she tried to hide her small smile. Crane gritted his teeth and left with a huff.

************************************

Crane stopped in his tracks outside of Abbie's home. "Abraham, I demand you tell me what you are doing here,"

Bram turned with a smile, carrying more of those damnable flowers, and it looked like a bottle of wine. "I came to visit Abbie, of course,"

"Yes, but why," Crane pressed. "Miss Mills is an honourable woman, I will not stand idly by while you---"

"While I what, court?" Bram jeered, and he had the pleasure of watching attempt and fail at wrestling his temper.

"She is not yours to court!" Crane retorted hotly.

"Oh? then whose?"

"Certainly not yours Abraham! I feel you are doing this out of some twisted sense of revenge for my marriage to Katrina and--"

"Must everything be about you? Perhaps I actually find her interesting. Do you think yourself the only man capable of acknowledging a beautiful and learned woman? or do they all belong to you and you alone?"

Crane stepped in closer to Abraham. "I'm warning you,"

Bram spread his arms wide. "You'd hit a man bearing flowers and wine?"

Just then the door swung open and Abbie appraised the two men on her doorstep. "Um, what are you doing here?"

Bram recovered before Crane did, much to Crane's chagrin. "I came by, bearing gifts, and thought well, that we might chat, out here,"

"With wine?"

"I am not opposed to wine on your door step, if I was not welcome inside," he smiled that bright smile that Abbie hated to admit was becoming sort of charming. She turned to Crane.

"And you? are you joining us for wine?"

Crane swore his first modern swear word before storming off.

***********************************

Crane berated Bram for days. When he left the liquor store, when he went to the florists, the chocolatiers, when he visited Abbie's home, when he visited her at work, when he barged in to the archives, THEIR PLACE is railed in his head and invited her to lunch. He crumpled up letters and notes that he was leaving HIS Miss Mills. He'd even found one at the Cabin!

Until one day, Bram got to the station before Crane did when Abbie got off work, and slipping her arm in Brams, Abbie pecked his cheek as Bram locked an arm around her and they marched off, their heads knitted together, headed for dinner, probably, laughing all the way.

Crane had never known he could be so furious.

And he couldn't believe he was thinking of killing Bram.

Again.

Chapter Text

"You're rather good at that," Crane interrupted, snapping a twig as he did so. Cynthia startled and the tree she had just set blooming shrivelled up in shock. "Shy things, aren't they" Crane mused, peering up at the curled up blossoms. They seemed to be aware of him, swaying gently in his direction.

"You're very adept at sneaking up at people, Crane," Cynthia muttered with a smile, cracking her neck and refocusing on her task.

"Military training," Crane quipped, as he walked around the tree, observing the changes Cynthia orchestrated, verdant green moss seeped up from the crags in the wood and once more the blooms began flourishing.

"Katrina had a knack for nature, once,"

Cynthia concentrated on changing the colour of the blooms from red to white, then purple. Crane watched with fascination. "She struggled with her power. Before she gave in to darkness," his eyes flashed in Cynthia's direction "It all seemed natural to her then. How soon would it be for you to turn on us, I wonder?"

With a wave of her arm all of the blooms fell, raining down around them. Cynthia turned to face Crane. "Pardon me?"

"The bell awoke all of witching kind, yourself included, evidently," Crane swept his arm towards the steady falling shower of blossoms. "You would have been part of her coven, had she succeeded, I must know if all witches are stronger when they turn to the evil in their hearts,"

Cynthia twiddled her fingers and made the flowers dance around them, several deliberately assembling themselves as a bouquet and floating towards Ichabod, who grasped them lightly. "Does this look like evil to you?" she asked, sparks flitting around, turning into butterflies. Crane watched, breathless. This was what magic should look like, other worldly, yes, supernatural, but extraordinary, beautiful even. So much of his encounters with magic had been laced with death and devilry and demonic intent he had forgotten magic could ever be benevolent, instead of malevolent.

"Does this look like the work of an inherently wicked heart?" she asked.

Crane suddenly felt ashamed of his quick accusations. "I apologize, Miss Irving, my failure to notice Katrina's....tendencies has greatly cost us and has taxed my mind as of late.....I fear I was quick to pass judgment. What you've managed just now, was quite lovely," he smiled. and when Cynthia smiled back something in his heart fluttered. Surely not, he reprimanded himself. But there he was nose deep in the flowers she had given him. He recalled with bitterness the amount of difficulty that simple act of beauty had taken Katrina, not long ago. Now he admired how effortless it was for Cynthia, how natural. She was not concealing her magic. She was embracing it and letting it flourish into the beautiful verdant, bountiful thing it was.

"What purpose will you have for it?" he asked.

Cynthia laughed, hearty and melodious. " Maybe I'll quit being a lawyer and go into flower arranging," Cynthia paused in her machinations and met Crane's gaze,she cocked her head to the side. "But I won't be using it for evil," she assured. "Not all witches tend towards that particular brand of madness. You know, you're shockingly handsome,"

"Do you think so?" Crane asked to quickly and then felt himself blush. But he had stepped closer to Cynthia, without even knowing it. She nodded at him.

"Lovely hair," she reached to stroked it, twirling a golden brown strand around her finger before turning it into a golden scarf that she wrapped gently around his neck. Crane laughed merrily at the trick, and stroked the new garment.

"A scarf made of my own hair, what an advancement," his eyes twinkled. Cynthia flushed at the praise.

"It suits you, brings out the blue in your---"

Crane suddenly held the edge of the scarf up to her cheek. "It brings out the gold, in your brown eyes, Miss Irving," the space between them was much less than it had been when they'd started out, but neither seemed eager to escape the thrall they were in.

Cynthia met Crane's steady gaze, clasped his hand to her cheek. " Go on," she breathed. "I'm not a dear Crane, I won't spook,"

Crane smiled gently, brushed her hair behind her ears and kissed her, gently, and then with more fervour. His arms coming up around her, crushing her body to his. Her body was soft and curvy in all of the right ways, her lips were full, she matched his pace, a slow burn. Flowers began raining down around them again.

It felt, in a word,

magical.

Chapter Text

"Crane!" Irving hollered as he lumbered into the Cabin, only to startle Katrina in the midst of her practice.

"Captain Irving" she exclaimed, moving to block Frank's view. Frank looked at her curiously.

"What you hiding there, red?"

"I assure you Captain Irving I don't...." but Frank had already side stepped her and was peering in the book she was looking at and surveying her ingredients.

"Why Mrs. Crane, this title says seduction spell. You planning on bewitching Crane?"

"You are mistaken," Katrina quipped, and swiftly flipped the book shut.

Frank chuckled. "No shame in it, desperate times call for desperate measures,"

"And what would you know of my desperation, Captain?"

"I know that rumour has it you two haven't been biblically joined since you returned. And that Crane doesn't spend enough time at home to, recapture the magic even if he was so inclined,"

"What makes you think he does not want it?" Katrina's face flushed with embarrassment.

Frank raised his brows. "Um, the spell you were just preparing to get him in the mood? might have been a tip off,"

Katrina huffed and tucked her hair behind her ear. "In time past, Ichabod needed little provocation to take me to bed--I apologize for my bold speech, Captain. It is unbecoming of me,"

"It's the year 2015, women talk about sex. They want it, they tell men how to do it. Leave your shame in the 18th century, it has no place here."

"Ichabod, won't, discuss....."

"You're not surprised, are you? Crane is very old world sensibility. You aren't. You could adapt to this world quicker if you'd stop shutting yourself down to meet Crane half way. Besides.....maybe his heart just isn't there anymore."

Katrina whirled on Frank chest heaving, "What makes you say such things?"

Frank casually saunters over to her. "The man spends a year trying to rescue you from Purgatory, you manage maybe what, two kisses, three? while in that limbo, he finally gets you back, you have one date," Frank holds up on finger. " Absence makes the heart grow fonder does it not? that's the saying right? Regardless of your betrayals, you should have had a passionate make up by now. Some angry groping. But nothing. That's why you're resorting to that spell, but Crane won't love you for it. He'd figure out, somehow, and he'd think it just another trick. You'd better find another way to quench your thirst,"

"And what would you suggest, Captain?" Katrina moved hesitantly closer to him.

"A new hairstyle? or a perfume? maybe just go for it, impulsiveness might catch him off guard and he might---" Katrina grabbed Frank's collar and crushed her mouth to his. She threw her arms around him and moulded herself to his body. She grabbed for his hands, guiding them as she backed him over the couch, they toppled over, tumbling on the floor until Katrina landed on top of him. Frank flailed in shock but his rationality skipped town quickly as he felt Katrina's urgent movements. She broke apart from him for just a moment and Frank looked up at the red headed woman straddling him. Her hair was mussed, her cheeks and the top of her bosom flushed. Her lips swollen and her eyes hungry. And Frank thought to himself, for the first time ever, because this word did NOT exist in his everyday vocabulary, that Katrina looked, ravishing. Frank felt his mouth go dry as Katrina smirked and rolled her hips against him. Frank groaned. This was bad news bears, and judging by the look on Katrina's face she knew it too, but it looked like this woman wanted trouble.....and if she kept.....moving.....like.....that....she was gonna get it.....

"Think this through," he ground out. "Do you really--"

"Yes," she whispered before kissing him again.

Frank pulled apart, his hands drifting towards her hips. "No but do you honestly--"

"Yes," she repeated insistently, pressing against him. She caught his mouth with hers and reached for the buttons on his shirt.

"What---brought---this---on?!"

Katrina leaned back and smirked evilly. "I believe you have inspired my own, women's movement, Captain. You said something about women giving directions?"

Frank gulped. "Yes"

Katrina whispered in his ear. "Well, if you'd be so kind as to oblige, I want you to........"

Frank had no idea what he'd just gotten himself into.

Chapter Text

"I want to understand more of your, bond, with my husband," Katrina said slowly. Abbie rifled through books in the archives. There was a tome Crane had asked her to locate while him and Irving investigated an artifact with Hawley.

"It's nothing special," Abbie said absently, reaching for another book on the shelf above her, huffed in annoyance when she realized she was too short. Katrina reached around her and elegantly retrieved it. She handed the book to Abbie.

"I disagree," she replied, locking eyes with the Lieutenant. Abbie tugged on the book but Katrina's grip remained firm.

"Listen," she tugged, "Crane and I have a mission, we have trust, communication, something you two lack," she pointed out, tugging the book out of the witches grasp. Katrina's eyes narrowed.

"Some would also say you have, chemistry,"

Abbie laughed, turning the book upside down to understand a diagram. "Who ever's saying that is mistaken. Nothing 'tween me and Crane but good old Apocalypse stopping."

Katrina leaned over her shoulder. "And that is all?" she asked, reaching around Abbie, she righted the book and set it down on the table.

Abbie, noticing Katrina's close proximity stepped back a pace. "Absolutely all," she assured, a little uneasy as the other woman advanced.

"I've seen the way he looks at you, and you at him,"

"Katrina--"

"The way he holds you, when he thinks you're in danger,"

"Crane loves you---"

Katrina's arm lashed out, grabbed Abbie by the arm and pulled her in close, too close. Abbie fought, but she strongly suspected Katrina was using magic to strengthen her hold.

"He looks at you as if he wishes he could taste your lips, do not deny it. I know the look of longing in my husbands eyes," She reeled Abbie in closer still and Abbie could feel her heart hammering.

Something strange was happening here, and she didn't like the unpredictability of the situation.

"I would be displeased, should he act on it. But I will satisfy his curiosity, and tell him how you taste, myself,"

Abbie opened her mouth to protest but that was a bad move as Katrina closed the very scant distance between them, twined a hand in Abbie's hair as the other fell to her waist. She pushed Abbie against the wall, her tongue exploring Abbie's mouth. Katrina moaned. She would tell Ichabod his Lieutenant tasted of honey, vanilla, and cinnamon. That Abbie had fought for half a beat before giving in.

She would tell Ichabod she hadn't at all felt inclined to stop.

And she wouldn't have had Abbie not suddenly remembered herself and pushed her away. Abbie's eyes were too bright, her face flushed, she heaved great gulping breaths of air.

"I have never--in all my life----I can't believe you just----ugh!" Abbie huffed, grabbed Katrina again and gave her one more rough kiss, then a slap, and then stormed out of the archives. Katrina touched her stung cheek with a smile. She could still hear Abbie cursing down the hall.

She would tell Ichabod that he wasn't the only one who had a special bond with Miss Mills.

Chapter Text

The Captain watches as the other man, his future self, scoops Abbie up in his arms. He finds this intimacy unsettling. He was sure Miss Mills would have mentioned if she and him were coupled in this future of hers, yet she did not, and there she was carrying on with this....modern version of him. Wearing his hair down and a ratty coat and being almost entirely everything that he, in his 1770 sensibilities is not.

Crane doesn't even realize they have company until Captain clears his throat, then he drops Abbie, who luckily lands on her feet and they both turn to take in past Crane staring back at them. Crane stands before Abbie, moving her protectively behind him but Abbie pushes him away and approaches the doppleganger.

"Crane?"

"yes?"

"I mean that Crane," she nods over. "Captain?"

He sweeps a bow. "Miss Mills"

"How?"

"It seems the spell has brought my past self forward."

"Shouldn't his presence here, cancel you out?" Abbie frets. "This is wrong, you can't have two of the same character in the same timeline,"

"I'm right here," Captain bristles. "This surely can't be me," he gestures to Crane who bristles at the statement.

"And what do you mean by that, Captain?"

Abbie watches the exchange, and finds it unsettling that for all intents and purposes, Crane is arguing with himself. And here she thought they would get along.

"You are over familiar!" Captain accuses, gesturing to Abbie. "You are not wed or in any way betrothed and carry on with such, flagrant affection."

"It's called a hug," Abbie reminds the captain. "We went over this, I gave you one, I told you it's more common here,"

"No no, that, 'hug' was near indecent. All of that hair petting and bunching of another's clothes between your hands. It's borderline passion. It's highly inappropriate."

Crane clears his throat. "I must say I'm not enjoying this. At all,"

"You think I am?" Abbie asks, feeling tired already. "Captain," she calls and past Crane comes over.

"You did not believe me fully, even then, but you must now. I....well, welcome. It might take me a few days to sort this out however, we're going to need a story for you."

"A story?" Captain queries.

"Well, unless we all want to go with Ichabod Crane has a long lost twin?"

*************************

A week later Abbie has found the spell that will send Captain back to his time. To die. Abbie shudders. Tonight is farewell. In the end, they had decided it best for Captain and Crane to alternate days outside, with Captain borrowing from Crane's wardrobe and quickly adapting to 2015. It was almost becoming disquietingly hard to distinguish between modern day Crane and the old one. She prepared dinner, setting her spell ingredients aside. They'd all eat together, and then say their farewells. She was just cleaning up the kitchen when she heard the door. "Who goes there?" she calls and Crane?Captain? comes through the door. Whichever one it is the way he greets her will tell. A bow at the waist does it. "Hey Captain,"

"Miss Mills" he answers cheerily.

"I made dinner, for your last night," she smiles. He strides into the kitchen, leaning over her shoulder he inhales deeply.

"Smells delicious," he looks at her. "The food smells good too," he smirks that smirk that no matter what the year is will always be fundamentally Crane. Abbie laughs with surprise.

"You adapted to casual flirting quicker than your counterpart, that's for sure,"

"I just like to maintain a sense of decorum," Crane answers coming in from the back door. And just like that Abbie is surrounded by some version of Ichabod Crane in her kitchen. She unwittingly backs up into the Captain who has also adapted even quicker to casual touching than Crane had and wraps an arm around her waist. Abbie looks down pointedly at it before looking up at Crane who is smiling a wicked smile at her.

"What's going on here, I prepared dinner for you two, before I send this one here," she jerks a thumb into Captain. "Back to his time and I feel like I'm being---ahem" Abbie turns her head as Crane suddenly crosses the room, standing too close, settling his own hands on her hips. "Ambushed," she wheezes. A Crane in front and one behind Abbie thinks she might hyperventilate. There's no room to hide feelings with these two, because they're both just as perceptive. If Captain doesn't feel her heart ramping up then Crane will see how her face has flushed. If Crane doesn't notice how her hair stands on end Captain will have realized that there's sweat beading up on her neck. "Um, it's a little, cozy here, don't you think?"

"Cozy?" Crane sidles closer. "I don't think so, do you, friend?"

"Not at all" Captain replies, taking a step forward with Abbie still locked between them they press in on either end. Abbie wants to scream. Or shrivel up and die.

"The food will get cold," she says weakly. Desperately wanting a reprieve from the close proximity of these two.

Crane and Captain exchange a look before abruptly stepping away from her, so suddenly she staggers and steadies herself before shaking herself out. She glares at the two of them. "I'm going to change," she says steadily. "And then we're going to have a nice dinner, and then we'll be sending your playmate," she addresses Crane and then narrows her eyes at Captain, "Home,"

"Very well, Miss Mills" they answer in unison, and the echoing timbres of Crane's voice is both beautiful and irritating.

*******************************

Abbie has only just finished rummaging through her dresser drawer, she's found a clean top, it's just a peasant blouse. Creamy yellow in colour, she slips it over her head and looks in the mirror and yelps. Because there are the Twins Crane in the reflection. She turns around. "What are you doing sneaking up on me?"
"Captain wished to observe," Crane explains nonchalantly.

"That's voyeurism, and it's kind of an offence,"

Crane shrugs. Abbie knits her brows together. These two are acting next level strange, and she wants to figure out why. But somehow they became friends in the past week and now they're in cahoots, and heaven only knows what they've got planned for her.

"That blouse is most fetching, Miss Mills," Captain nods. Crane agrees with him. She watches the identical heads of hair nod, wearing almost identical clothes and she shivers all over.

"Alright, dinner time," she slips past them, narrowly, but they both manage to each grab one of her hands in theirs. Arms swinging, they march back out to the kitchen where Crane and Captain have already laid out the food. And lit candles. And drawn the curtains. And.....put on soft music........Abbie's stomach drops. Is this a farewell dinner or a seduction?

They guide her to a seat at the table, put a napkin on her lap, push her in, pour her wine, and then take their spots at opposite ends of the table. They eat with gusto, and laugh, and Abbie, gradually joins in. But it's hard to enjoy her own meal when Crane and Captain keep looking at her like they'd rather devour her instead. They'd serve me up on a damn platter if they could, she thinks as she sips her wine. Before her glass is empty Captain refills it. When they pass the food around their hands linger too long, they smile too much, looking over their glasses at her as they drink, and making obscene sounds of pleasure with each bite. The whole meal feels profane and Abbie is sure she would be fire engine red if she weren't naturally chocolate brown in skin tone. She is beyond grateful when she sees they have cleared their plates and is itching to grab those spell ingredients. She's walked into something strange this evening, she knows it, and she wants to stop her life from becoming even more stranger than fiction than it already is. Crane quickly clears the table, entirely, leaving just their glasses and wine.

Abbie makes a beeline for the table with the supplies but Crane grabs her hand and steers her to the couch where Captain is already waiting. He seats her there, and Captain pulls her closer so that she is reclining against him, and Crane sweeps her legs up in his lap.

"what about the spell?" Abbie asks

Captain nuzzles behind her ear. "You have been so kind, and gracious, and the best companion to us both, in present and past, we wanted to thank you," He whispers and then kisses her neck. Abbie jolts and locks eyes with Crane who is looking on with a strange look of pride on his face. She'd kick him if she wasn't so utterly distracted by Captain kissing and nuzzling her neck.

Crane massages her feet while Captain carries on and Abbie groans for two separate or perhaps the same reason. Captain reaches of her hands, toying with her fingers. "I am so glad and grateful for all you have shown me, and the idea that I am going back to face my death, so life should continue as it should, well view this as a dying mans wish," and then all at once Crane drops her feet, Captain spins her around and plants his mouth on hers. Abbie is astonished that he feels like home. That this kiss is passionate and fervent and welcome, boy is it ever, and the Captain pins her against the couch. Abbie is overheating but a bit beyond trying to fight whatever these two have planned for her. She grudgingly admits that she loves the way she feels in past Captains arms. That this stoic and business like revolutionary Crane is all passion and tumult and urgency, she smiles inwardly to think he's going back to the past to die a happy man. When he moves away from her, her eyes wink open and see Crane looming over the two of them, his hand extended.

"Come, Abbie," he says, his voice husky.

"Where are we going?"

They pull her to her feet, leading her to her bedroom. Crane lifts his hand to her lips, her skin tingles but the moments she meets his eyes Crane's lips lock with hers. She's shocked that he kisses differently than his past self. Captain kisses with deep soldier like passion. Modern day Crane kisses like a romantic, gently, slowly, savouring. Both by all means enjoyable but completely unexpected. "Relax, and let us take care of you," she feels Captain pull her down onto the bed and Crane sinks down to join them.

Abbie isn't sure if this is real life.

or a fantastic dream.

But she'll take it.

Chapter Text

Abbie would call her sister right now if Jenny wasn't too busy playing devoted daughter/power slave or what have you to Pandora and her risen Egyptian God lover.

It has been half a year.

Six months.

Logically, the shard should have fried Jenny to death the very night that she wandered into that cave and called her new masters home to continue wreaking havoc on sleepy hollow. It should have ended her there, or the god, in all his power and might, should have smote her then and there---and Abbie wishes it now, straining, groaning and fresh from another battle, tears in her flesh and Crane muttering furiously to himself about ways to destroy a creature who's weapon is sound---he slams out the door suddenly, to the archives she presumes----Abbie wishes, and it kills her, but she wishes Jenny had died from the power overload like she was supposed to, instead of being caught here, facing down the impossible, fiery, terrifying, loyal thing that Jenny has become instead.

It tears her in two, every single time.

There has been a constant onslaught of attacks now from Pandora dearest. The god has visited upon them all of the comrades that he carried with him into the afterlife, and even Crane, infamous, I've crossed every single creature imaginable in the past in some convenient and unlikely way, Ichabod Crane, even HE is finding himself at odds now with the new enemies they face.

Nothing is easier.

Joe is a hardened man now, a sometimes pitiful creature, always pleading and begging the demon beauty that is her sister to return to him, please, open your eyes and see me Jenny and for a cruel brief moment Jenny lures him in, reaches for him, and the damn fool, every time.

Every.

Damn.

Time. Joe falls for it, he loses focus for that sliver of a second and it's the white twinkle in her eyes that always tells on her, Abbie always sees it first.

Joe in his delusions must take it for a sparkle of the woman underneath, but Abbie knows it for the cursed power crackling, humming, living still, against all odds inside of her sister.

There have been no explanations how Jenny has survived the shard this long. And they need no explanations for why Pandora keeps her with them. It is obvious. She thrives on the pain of pitting these two sisters against one another. On the utter heartbreak.

The sorrow, defeat, blood continues to act as a catalyst to unleash more fresh horrors. Abbie's own love for her sister has been turned into a weapon against her. And it cuts her to the core.

If she could hate Jenny, if she could forget the human she was and hate the thing, the DEVIL, the BEAST, the DEMON, the POWER that is not alive but merely an infection, turning her sister into it's wicked host---if she could reduce sibling, blood, to evil, abomination, wrong---if she could erase that love and hate----they might have a fighting chance. At the very least, Pandora might see it fit to dispatch Jenny once and for all, release her from the horrible bonds of their power.

They have tried spells. They have exhausted resources and hope fades with every try.

For the first month Jenny was always a mute, violent thing. An unwelcome, sickening, terrifying vision of glowing pulsing skin and too much speed and power. A woman possessed. And that was fine.

They'd seen that before. They could deal with that.

How sad is it--- Abbie winces, tears running down her face as she tries to clean her own wounds alone in her room,---how sad is it, that I can DEAL with that? that it qualifies as normal? she shakes her head, It hurts, it burns, her sisters attacks are always the worst. Cut the deepest. Past skin and bone and blood, deeper, deeper to her heart, where it hurts to beat, hurts to breathe, hurts to live.

Hurts to live in a world where her sister is her enemy. And she is coming alive in it.

Because that, truly, is the new horror of the thing. Jenny has regained consciousness IN that demon power. She is AWAKE and AWARE. It fuels her yes, but she knows them, remembers, can taunt them with memories and fool them into believing she has returned.

Everything burns.

Hurts.

Makes her sick.

She is alone.

Impossible, because, she has Crane, right? doting, loyal, our fates entwined Ichabod Crane---except when whatever terror made him flee for nine months without warning. And even after this long, even understanding it to a degree, even appreciating the chance it gave her to pursue her own dreams, that absence niggles at her and wittles away at her sense of security.

If Crane can disappear and Jenny could turn, so thoroughly, so completely, if Danny could......and she won't think about how she felt, so long ago now, back when she found out about Sophie. Sophie who is around much more now, and she feels as if she's competing for her job......if they......if they can....can leave.......abandon, keep secrets.......who, who does she have now?

Her door creaks. She looks up.

"Joe," she starts, straightening, wincing and cursing to herself, avoiding his gaze where she sits on the bed, trying to reach scratches, blisters? gaping wholes? who knows, on her back, because that last attack had been nothing but roaring noise and chalkboard screeches and then inexplicable pain, but whatever is back there, that she can't see, it burns and she can't reach them. She knows it. Joe knows it.

But she's feeling too vulnerable right now to outright acknowledge that her armour has dents and is about to very damning well fall off.

"I need to look at your back," he says.

"Tend to your own," she grunts, shifting, crying out in pain and hating herself.

"I didn't take that full on like you, got only my arms, but.....she did this to you. I....did that to her---"

"No---" Abbie throws her hand up.

It has been a running argument of Joe insisting that Jenny's transformation is his fault. That had he left Nevin's alone Jenny would never have come in contact with the stone and this wouldn't have happened. But blame gets them nowhere. Never has. They blame Pandora for many horrors but it doesn't make her shameful and teary eyed and guilty. She doesn't ask for a way to make it up to them. So Abbie does not let Joe blame himself for Jenny.

It won't make Jenny come running back into their arms.

Not without knives and fire at least.

"No Joe, we aren't doing that tonight,"

Joe clenches his jaw, draws nearer into the room. "Let me have this." he says. "Let me own it. I lead us here, I paved that path for her and...." he swallows hard and nods to her shirt, clinging to her back. "I need to look after you now, for what I've done. For my part. Let me. Do this."

Abbie shakes her head still but relents, turning away from him she whips the shirt off. She hears him hiss at the sight.

"That bad?"

"She branded you Abbie," he says, his voice broken.

She snorts. "Like a cow?"

"like property. Abbie....she's coming for you."

"I'll go to her if it comes to that. but can you please make it stop burning so much,"

Joe blinks back the tears welling in his eyes. That the woman he began to feel for could do this to her sister, his heart twists. A light dims. No, it snuffs out. Their Jenny isn't there anymore. Their Jenny wouldn't do this. He sweeps damp cloths and antiseptic over the markings and curlicues tracing and dancing across her back. He prays desperately that they will heal. That Abbie won't have to carry around the burden of this with her forever. That the branding itself isn't already some malignant thing working and coursing through her. Destined to take her away from him too.

"Don't cry Joe, please," she implores him, but Joe gives a hollow laugh because he can hear the soft broken emptiness in Abbie's voice, it's evident to him that she is crying too.

"Crane will find a way to remove it,"

"Crane can't solve everything,"

"Abbie you can't---"

"Can't what?" she snaps, whirling on him. "Can't stay ahead of my job? six months later and I am still trying to play catch up to the new star pupil. Can't...Can't keep my sister safe? Can't save the damn world can't get a break can't give up? I WANT to give up Joe. I am so damn tired it's not funny."

"Well you can't." he says firmly. "That's why you're Abbie Mills. Because you don't. You don't abandon people and you don't give up, you fight like hell and you won't stop now Abbie I won't let you."

"What am I fighting for huh? this world that gives me so much and then finds a creative way to take it back? What have I got? and don't say Crane." she shudders, long buried bitterness bubbling to the surface. "Don't say Crane when a nine month silence is so loud"

"I'm none of the people you need most Abbie but there's me. I might count a little?"

Her eyes lock with his a moment before she turns her back. "Are you done?"

"I'm gonna put some bandages on," he says, grabbing the gauze. "Arms up," she obeys as he begins passing the roll around her torso, fingers grazing her skin, scarred and unscarred. They are too close like this, her without her shirt on, both smelling his cologne and her hair. It's an absurd urge and she should fight it. But when was the last time she was held? properly?

Like she was cherished? Crane has held himself away consistently. His declarations are lovely, but the warm loving tenderness between them as friends, froze over.

Joe has a similar thought. A desperate thought. That he can't lose both sisters. He damned one but he cannot allow harm to another. He's finished wrapping her up and when he's done he helps Abbie pull her shirt back on who still hisses with pain, and then slides an arm around her waist, gently, careful of her wounds, and pulls her to his chest.

She should fight this but she doesn't.

His chin rests on her head. his hands rub her arms, his grip tightens just a bit beyond wise and she feels it, it stings just a bit but she'll allow it because. Because because because.

Because maybe sometimes Abbie just gets things.

Like Witness Duty and Ichabod Crane and Demons and failed romances and job trouble. Those things just come to her.

Maybe she gets this moment of comfort, just because.

*******************

It's a week after, when Crane volunteers himself on a sojourn for an artifact---someone had to become the bounty hunter of their group with Jenny gone---that the change is complete.

That they forge this new, dangerous, wrong, right, careful, just because, because, they're living and need to remember that, thing.

Joe is checking her wounds again. It's evening. He is gentle as he runs his fingers over the scars that are far less angry and darkened, but there nonetheless. He cannot shake the feeling that this means Abbie has been claimed. That Jenny means to come for Abbie either to finish her off or force her to join the darkness on the other side. He will not contemplate what that will mean. "I'm so sorry," he whispers, breath ghosting across her back. His fingers grip her shoulder and he presses his forehead against the back of her neck. "I'm so sorry Abbie, I.....if you could see this,"

"I don't want to," she says, voice steady, save for the barest tremor. She doesn't need the image of a demonic branding by her own sister burned into her brain. Doesn't need to go to sleep tracing those patterns and characters wondering what they mean and how soon before Jenny comes to collect.

And it is then, because he's sorry, because they are wounds he cannot heal, that his lips touch her shoulder. Abbie holds her breath. Another. He lingers this time. Another.

She snaps out of it, enough at least to say, "Joe,"

"Let me have this." he says softly, continuing to kiss her shoulders, fingers running down her arms and her breathing unexpectedly, traitorously ramps up. "Let me care, Abbie, please? let me take care of you with what I have,"

She turns in his arms to say no, this can't happen, this is not our fate---his lips are there before she can speak. Tender, soft, gentle. He sweeps back her hair and cradles her as she lays her down on the bed. Kissing her slowly and handling her with such care before something inside of him fragments and he deepens these kisses.

There is no sense or logic in this world. She thinks, finding how odd it is to know the taste of Joe Corbin's lips, to know that her skin tingles where his fingers skim her sides.

Part of her wonders if this is hollow. How much regret will there be after this.

Is this a thing she will settle for?

But he's making her feel things right now that aren't pain.

She'd forgotten there was something besides pain.

********************

He stays with her the whole time that Crane is away. No attacks, thankfully. He is in her bed every night. At her table every morning. Hands in her hair. Backs against walls. Lips crashing against one another again and again.

Somewhere somehow, in that short time, a light goes on in Joe again. Living stops hurting Abbie so much.

The night before Crane gets back, after, when they are twined together, in their nakedness, he kisses her neck until she swats him, telling him to stop, though her giggles aren't convincing.

In the morning when she rises Joe gasps at the image of her back facing him.

"What" Abbie asks, panicking, spinning in the mirror, forgetting the vow she made herself not to look on the horrible branding on her skin. And she sees it, she shudders looking at it, but there's something else too.

The lines are breaking.

As if whatever binding thing they are is beginning to unravel, to come undone.

There are gaps, great big sprawling ones in the design, as if it is receding.

When her eyes meet with Joes, she approaches him and sinks onto the bed beside him. They are silent while he holds her.

If they had any illusions about what was becoming between them, this much is clear.

The branding power that had tried to make Abbie property was vanishing.

No wicked power could claim Abbie.

Not with them laying claims to each other.

Chapter Text

In his youth, one wild night, Abraham Van Brunt and his comrades did something noble, or silly, both, probably, in hindsight when they decided it would be a wise decision to make deposits of themselves for a future generation.

Long story short, they donated to the Sleepy Hollow sperm bank. Well, really, he did. He was full of bravado then, easily persuaded, and his overwhelmingly supportive and jolly friends had convinced him, his lineage was worth passing on, even to an unknown woman. He was investing in the future, indirectly.

He would be giving some couple the joy of a family one day. And all he needed was to go into that room and----he can't quite remember now, exactly, what part of this argument had so appealed to him, but he'll say he was twenty five and stupid. That ought to suffice, right?

Besides, it was nearly.....ten years ago. If not more.
*******************
Ten years before

When another relationship fell through, Abbie had had enough of waiting around for Mr. Right. She told Jenny her plan, spent long hours, days, weeks, month, contemplating it, before she'd walked into the clinic. She'd pored over the files. Carefully perusing the family histories. "Oh, this ones British," Jenny had pointed out gleefully. "Pick him."

"Jenny," Abbie had admonished, shrugging her off.

"AND, a university graduate. And....clear family history.....and....british Abbie, how cute would that be, your kids are half brit?"

"You're impossible," she'd muttered, rolling her eyes. Although, Jenny's voice had persisted whilst she made her decision.

*******************

There's a racket at his front door. When Abraham answers, he's faced with two children. Perhaps, ten, or twelve years old. The girl bares an abnormality of the eyes, with one green and one brown. But otherwise, they're identical. Full mouth, straight nose. Golden brown skin tone, curling wavy dark hair. They beam up at him and Abraham is struck by an odd feeling of familiarity. There's something.....about their facial structure. But before he ponders it, he asks what these children want, what are they selling, what charity are they fundraising for.

The girls face splits into a smile, and the boy grins. Abraham is at a loss, he pokes his head further out the door and looks up the street where a woman, all business, with her short hair, pant suit and professional air locks up the car and comes marching towards them.

He's curious now, as she climbs the steps up to his door and she lifts her head.

Well well, Abraham thinks, taking her in. Those eyes alone seem to stoke a fire in him, but that doesn't yet explain the strangeness of this visit.

"Can I help you?"

"Sorry, I told them you wouldn't want to be bothered, you have no responsibility to them. But....after.....well, they got into some files of mine, and their aunt has a big mouth. They wouldn't rest until they tracked you down."

Abraham's curiosity descends into utter befuddlement. What on earth is she talking about? What could these children possibly want with him?

"This is Grace and Grayson," she announces, settling her hands on each of their heads, beaming at them proudly. "And, I'm Abbie Mills," she sticks her hand out for him to shake, which he does in a daze.

"Abraham Van Brunt," he replies. "I'm sorry, but, I don't know what---"

"We don't want your money or anything," Abbie is quick to cut in. "We're taken care of, have been for years. This is purely their curiosity. They've been this way ever since Jenny--my sister ran her mouth two years ago. They just want to know the other half of them, the other side of the story so to speak."

Cogs start turning in his head but he's still slow, or trying very hard, to avoid processing exactly what this Abbie woman is saying to him. "Other, half?"

Suddenly it dawns on Abbie that their intent has not been made clear. She sighs, shakes her head and gives a light laugh. "I'm sorry. Let's start again......They're.....this is your son and daughter, Mr. Van Brunt."

"My what?"

"You made a.....deposit, some years ago......they're eleven." she lets the words hang, gives him time to work it through. His mouth goes dry. Yes.....yes, that.....that sounds about right, he thinks passing his eyes over the young ones again, noting now that the familiarity he feels looking upon them is a similarity to his own facial structure. That the boy has his jaw and the girl a crinkle around her eyes when she smiles. He staggers.

"My....you.....how did you find me? You're their mother?"

Abbie smiles slowly. "Yeah, sorry to spring this on you. They're just two kids who.....want to know their father.....I tried to discourage them. I mean," she leans into him and he catches a whiff of her perfume. "I mean, I don't think most men mean for their donations to hunt them down years later, am I right? But....our father wasn't around.....I can...I can relate. So, here we are. Congratulations, Abraham," she leans back from him, eyes sparkling at him, but there's the barest hint of trepidation, as if she's bracing herself for disappointment on her children's behalf.

This day is not going at all how he had imagined, but he cannot tear his eyes away. He'll want a DNA test, of course, his brain says logically, to be absolutely sure. But....well, he can't stop mapping resemblances to himself now that she's said it. He locks eyes with her again and she steps back behind her children, hands resting solidly on the shoulders of these awestruck youth beaming up at him.

"You're a father,"

Chapter Text

He finds her, in a new town, small place. Kind people. But what he doesn't expect is for her to look at him blankly when he all but leaps over the fence of the house where she is outside, in skirt and apron---that should be the giveaway there---watering the flowers and plants on the porch. "Can I help you?" she asks, more amused than affronted by his enthusiasm.

"Abbie?" he approaches cautiously. She quirks a brow at him, sets the watering can down on the porch, dusts off her hands and cocks her head to the side. "Who you calling 'Abbie'? I'm Hope around here. Hell haven't been called Abbie since.....oh, '05"

"I beg your pardon?" Crane splutters.

Hope shrugs. "You know how many Abigail's there are running around this country? There's gotta be at a dozen Grace's and Abigail's in my family alone---got three cousins who sport the name....had. I had three. One of them passed some months ago, word travelled slowly out here though. I'm told I look just like her, don't know how it could be, but there it is. Family's not as tight knit as ought to be. You a friend of Donovans?"

"D--d---donovan?"

She nods over Crane's shoulder, mouth curling into a smirk. "Strapping young man behind you there," she laughs, going back to her watering. Crane turns over his shoulder then, absolutely befuddled by this strange new turn---how can it be that she doesn't recognize him? how can----and then he meets eyes with Donovan.

An unmistakable feeling of right that is so WRONG settles in his stomach. Donovan eyes him warily. He's a broad man. Robust. Square jaw, dark skinned, bright white straight teeth. He's a handsome man. Would make any woman trip over themselves to get closer to him. But it's his eyes. The little glint of a spark in them. That split second of recognition. Crane wants to vomit.

"Donovan Dove. I see you've met Hope."

"I'm sorry," Crane shuts his gaping mouth at last. "She's your....?"

"Sister." Hope answers, looking at them both funny. "You know him Donny?"

"Fraid I don't, but I'm guessing I will soon. Can I help you?"

"Crane," Ichabod manages at last. Disbelief making his throat run dry. HOW is this possible? Can it be that, the next witness summoned to duty is a man? But...what of his connection to Abbie---Hope? his draw to this woman is just as strong as his compatriot, but he cannot mistake the bond. The feeling of something locking into place. Nothing like the love and care he felt for Abbie, no--he's sure now that a good deal of that attachment had to do with Abbie herself. Abbie is singular and no beneficiary of their generational duty could replicate that. But he knows this feeling of recognition. Of sync. He sees it in Donovan's eyes. The way they sweep over him, assessing.

"Just Crane?" Donovan presses, raising a brow.

"Ichabod, Crane."

"You got business here? I keep telling Hope I've no interest in her bringing all her admirers through here."

"No suitor of mine" Hope laughs. "Looks to me you might be more his type,"

Crane snaps out of his whirling shock quick enough to exclaim "ABSOLUTELY NOT"

"Defensive aren't we?" she teases, and the smile, the mischief dancing in her eyes is so like the first, so like, ABBIE he aches, deeply in his core.

"Stop taunting the guy would you Dove? geez. You wanna join us for lunch?" Donovan invites. "You haven't lived till you've had the wife's potato salad"

Crane feels himself nod, accepting the invitation before he can make sense of what he's actually agreeing to. But his feet carry him over the threshold and he walks by Hope, who is watching him carefully, eyes still twinkling before she follows in behind him, skirt swishing and heels tapping---NOTHING like the Abbie he lost and yet something innately her too. He didn't pack any of the books. He has no resources whatsoever to explain these events to him. He can't make sense of it.

Because of all things, it seems that Donovan is the next in line for Witness Duty.

And this reincarnated version of the Abbie he loves---Hope Dove.....is not.

This time around, Abbie/Hope is not behooved to take on the cares of the world and procure salvation. She is not a divinely chosen warrior that will selflessly, wrecklessly sacrifice herself again and again.

This time, Ichabod Crane is going to have to protect her, truly, save her from the dark world that will show her too much blood and loss. And have her brother fight at his side instead.

But.....does that mean his connection to her is forfeit? Can he ever communicate to her the dept of their history and bond? And even so, how on earth would he ever explain this unprecedented turn?

Or.

Will telling her the truth doom her all over again?

As he is ushered to the table by a statuesque woman with ropes of braids falling down her back--her names Faye. And two daughters, come tripping down the stairs to join them. Twins. Crane balks at the sight of them. Twins but not identical. One bares a resemblance to Donovan, true, but the other has an undeniably similar face to that of Hope and Abbie before.

"You sit there Ichabod." Faye smiles, depositing him in the seat next to Hope. Donovan takes the head of the table and the girls plop down opposite Crane and Hope.

"My girls," Donovan introduces them. "Glory," he gestures to the one that looks like him, "And Phoenix Grace" My, Crane thinks, but the Mills line does like to give their daughters prophetic names.

Under the table Hope nudges him. "See what I mean? Grace's and Abbie's coming out your ears" she whispers out the corner of her mouth. He jolts just enough to glance at her. Their eyes lock then and he KNOWS she must feel, must sense SOMETHING, but just as quickly the moment vanishes.

"Is there a law?" he drawls and it earns him one of her classic smirks. There is something so wrong and right about everything happening in this moment. He'll need to call Jenny when he has time but until then, he's going to have to find a way to do his own research to explain this bizarre phenomenon, he wonders if Ezra has any pertinent information---

"So, Crane," Donovan interrupts his thoughts, temples his fingers and levels a steely gaze his way. It's unmistakably formidable and determined. "Might have jumped the gun inviting you in here so quick, my daughters and all. Promise you're not a serial killer? Cuz I'd just as soon gut you here at the table and Hope would make a rug."

"He's not kidding," she replies smoothly beside him.

"I assure you no, Master Dove, you see, I....I am a friend of the Mills family, back in the town of Sleepy Hollow,"

"What brings you by all the way out here?"

Beside him, Hope suddenly goes very still. "That's where she died, wasn't it Donovan---?"

"Hope," Donovan interjects, rising from the table and that is when Crane becomes aware that Hope is bent over, clutching her head between her hands. "Hope you alright?"

"My head, these damned headaches, they come on worse and worse every time."

Faye quickly sweeps around the table helping Hope to her feet. "We'll get you to lie down, come on, I'll put some lunch aside for you,"

"Just when things are getting interesting around here it always---argh" she groans, sauntering out of the dining room behind Faye. Donovan watches the women go, turns his gaze on his daughters, and with a quick nod the girls grab their plates and excuse themselves, leaving Ichabod and Donovan alone. Donovan works his mouth a moment before turning towards him.

"Alright Crane," he bites out through gritted teeth. "Time to start talking."

"I'm not quite sure how to begin---"

"We're gonna start with you explaining to me how my cousin dies mysteriously near six months ago and my long lost sister comes ambling out of the woodwork shortly after. You're gonna explain to me why I got dreams of horsemen. And why I'd bet my life that we've met before."

Chapter Text

Beep

Beep

Beep

Abbie No!!!!

His craggy eyes blink open and he casts his gaze around the room. 

A dream. He is not in the cave.

He has not just lost everything. 

The goddess the god, the box, her sacrifice, a horrific dream, nothing more. 

Or was it a premonition?

There is machinery all around him. And he's hooked up to it. "What--" he begins to move and then notes the IV and makes to remove it.

"It's supposed to be there, Mr. Crane." a nurse says. Woman with short pixie brown hair, smiling kindly at him while she fluffs his pillow and departs. 

"What's happened?"

"You've been in a coma."

"Coma?" the word guts him. Not so unlike his 200 year nap. "Nurse, how--how long," he swallows thickly. 

"Your flight went down six months ago. Glad to have you among us."

Six months

Six

On his return flight to Sleepy Hollow, it had crashed and he had been relegated to six months abed. Drifting and living that horrible dream life, courting that pale girl and keeping his distance from the one he loves, watching her, attempt to woo a man not worthy of her charms---watching her die. 

Listening to her declare that her life's purpose had been to serve him. It's the most egregious affront to his sensibilities he can feel himself grow hot with rage but remembers he dreamt it---he prays that's all it was.

In comparison to the years in which he slumbered this amount of time alarms him. 

For, during his extended reprieve from life--he had not been living rather in a suspended, rather well preserved death. 

No, in this life time, that half year is actually time lost, time he will not regain. 

It's terrifying. 

"Does...does anyone know?"

The nurse pulls a frown. "No one's been in to see you. Lucky you had ID on you when it crashed."

"Was it fatal?"

"Good deal of survivors, actually. You weren't alone."

"Good," he nods, then yawns, groggy and so incredibly weary. How could he have done nothing for a month only to awaken still so drained? 

"Most woke before you though. You rest, Mr. Crane."

"Nurse?"

"Hmm?"

"Are...are you certain no one has come for me?"

An angel with brown eyes?

"Not a soul."

He hadn't told Abbie he was coming back after all, so eager was he about returning with the tablets, renewing their mission. 

Yet you never bothered to tell her of your return. 

"Am I in Sleepy Hollow?"

"No, I'm afraid not."

He has been away nine months.....in a half space for another six.

My God, he thinks. What if the next Tribulation has already begun? 

Has Abbie been facing this hell, alone? 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

She did it because she was young.

For the money.
**************
Abbie is a beloved music and english teacher at Sleepy Hollow Elementary. She adores her kids but of course the same cannot be always said of the parents.

And everyone at some point or time has had the great pleasure of meeting Katrina Crane. On again off again she is, on the bottle on a pill, in rehab, out of rehab, always fiercely confrontational and now, in the midst of a custody battle---staunchly and direly professional. A facade so forced and fragile it could crack at a moments notice. She's a firestorm, to put it mildly, and this will be the first time since Abbie has returned to her hometown, that will have the honour of colliding with the woman on the first parent teacher night of the year.

Aurore has milk chocolate skin light eyes and brownish blackish bouncy wavy curls. This is Katrina's daughter. The child she'd had with the help of a donor and invitro with her husband.

Ichabod Crane, the soldier who returned from Iraq and never recovered from what he'd seen.

Just as folks know Katrina's troubled past, they know, and are still hearing about Cranes. The drinking, the rages. The women. He's been unable to hold a job. He wakes at night in a sweat. He sees dead bodies when he closes his eyes. He lives in terror and torment and misery that refuses to let him go and now his wife has had it, she's decided it's time for a divorce, and she wants their daughter.

Abbie is Aurore's favourite teacher, and she shouldn't admit it, but Abbie feels a special bond with the little girl herself. When tensions start running to high in the fraught Crane home, Aurore seeks out Abbie for comfort and solace, a mentor, a confidante, someone who makes her feel safe.

But these two parents are warring. Katrina wants Abbie's help to convince the judge Crane is unfit to be around their daughter.

Meanwhile he's pleaing with Abbie to help him get his act together.

But when Aurore runs away it's Abbie who takes her in.

And she starts wondering if maybe Aurore's rightful place is with her.

Chapter Text

Nine months

He left.

She did too.

Him chasing after himself, forgetting that his sense of self was all bound and gagged irrevocably tied planted and invested, in her.

She  found a heart that wanted hers, against all her better judgement she'd let a man named Daniel Reynolds, get too close. 

Voids are pesky things. They demand to be filled. And Danny was there, eager, to fill it. Fill her.

Nine months. 


 

It's not Abbie, who comes to get him released. 

But a man. Tall dark strapping man. 

"So you're Crane." he smiled.

Crane flummoxed. "And you are?"

"Abbie sent me. I'm dropping you off at  hotel, for the night. I'll cover it don't worry."

Crane is unable to wrap his head around this mans strangeness and hospitality. And so he's rude instead. "Who are you sir"

"Daniel Reynolds. You can call me Danny."

"Why would Miss Mills send you?"

Danny's skin flushes, happily, smugly, bashful. "I know you've got....a history, of some sort. And how you left, it's not cool man. I.....she's not ready to see you, just yet, not tonight anyway. Not in her condition. She's being very careful---"

"Condition?" Crane's stomach drops. "Is she ill? Dear God is Abbie sick?"

Danny blinks, glancing down at Crane's hands desperately clutching his jacket as he demands answers. 

"No. No, I.....I mean I knew things were strained, but she hasn't told you?"

"We have not been in contact." Crane admits sullenly, riddled with shame. 

"Oh."

"Please, if she's unwell, you must let me see her. I know she puts on a brave front but---"

"Abbie's not sick, Crane. She's pregnant. Due in three months. It's gonna be a girl." Danny gazes off dreamily. 

So he's late catching Crane as he faints. 

Chapter Text

Grace Abigail Mills-Reynolds, is happily married.

She loves her job. Loves her husband. Six months pregnant and expecting, twins. 

Ichabod Crane's new to the office. 

Critical eye detective that everyone says talks too much, but Danny's never talked enough anyway, so it works out that they're partnered. He hears Danny go on about his wife, but he hasn't had the pleasure of meeting her yet.


One day Ichabod Crane, sees a woman, a very pregnant woman, wrestling grocery bags into her car and ever the gentleman, he dashes over hurriedly to help. He realizes after that she's stunning. Captivating, glowing, with that soon to be mother light. He finds himself inappropriately attracted to her, even though she is obviously off the market. She gives him a smile----who knew teeth could be so white---and flustered by her he barely manages to say "It was nothing" before she gets in the car and drives away.


When Danny and Crane go out on a case----it goes wrong. 

And only one survives. 


Abbie properly meets Crane for the first time, at the grave site of her husband, may he rest in peace. Draped in black and a hand resting protectively on her belly as the tall man strides towards her, his face crumples as he draws near to offer his condolences. And then he realizes its her. From the grocery. 

But amidst her grief anger cannot stand the propriety and kindness. She'd heard him speak at the church. "You were his partner." She rasps, eyes red rimmed and brimming, her voice biting and horse. "You were supposed to protect him"

"Please Mrs. Reynolds."

"Get away from me" she growls.

"I'll find who did this to him." he vows as she turns and storms, as much as she can in her girth away. "I----I'll get him justice!"


 

"What the hell are you doing here." she asks when she opens the door. 

"This....this was his." he hands over a package that he'd found cleaning out the desk in the office. "I'm deeply sorry that I failed Daniel, and you."

"Mr...."

"Crane."

"Right. Mr. Crane. You remind me of the man I lost. Please don't come back here. Anything else you find of Danny's.....please send it in the mail."


She's heartbroken, gutted, wounded, by the loss, and now tasked with the future of her children who will never know their brave father.

He's wretched, haunted, and grieving his failure, and only hopes, only dreams there could be some way to make it up to the woman that his ineptitude helped widow. 

 

Is there anyway, that he can make amends with his fallen partners wife? 

How much is too much to try?

Would she ever let him? 

 

Pretty Widow. 

 

Chapter Text

He doesn't understand why she cries.

A small disagreement and suddenly there is a tide. Something crashing and weighing and greater than their petty squabble. "It's not you, Crane," she says tearfully. "I just...I don't know what it is."
****************
It's not a regular thing.

If he had to average maybe once a month or a little less than that. Out of 365 days of the year if she's assaulted by unfounded and uncontrollable tears only 12 of those days, that's not so bad, is it? It's just the human condition in whatever capacity that it functions, needing release, needing relief. Channeling the confused bundle of emotions and existence inside into the only pure straightforward thing it knows.

A wash of tears.

Salty ones he watches running down the side of her face wordlessly as she stares up at the ceiling. She feels a drop drip into her ear.

She hates when he catches her.

The inexplicable uncontrolled vulnerable weakness of it.

Among everything else, all of the plausible tangible issues she could trace back her trauma's and issues to, these onslaughts come on with an overbearing sense of everything and nothing. Fills her with sad/pain/void/numb but gives her no clear reason why.

It doesn't feel like latent ache for abandonement. Doesn't feel like, anger, when she was betrayed.

Just a storm of.....blue grey mottled hurt welling up, flipping a switch in her brain and crashing against the front of her skull, battering around to let me out let me out, and reddening her eyes with the struggle and fight to stop feeling these things she doesn't understand.

What reason does she have, she wonders after, when it subsides, to be, sad? Well and truly sad, like that? Look at what you've survived, she thinks. Look at what you have, now. A roof, love, a profession.
All the components that make you whole.

But it's that one thing, this one fracture, unplanned and unpleasant and intrusive, that makes her feel broken, in some way.

Like a wreck of a thing that has some sort of malfunction in her code.

How can he love me, how can anyone ever try to understand me when part of me is this----this unnameable part.

That can spring up at any moment.

Provoked, triggered.

Anxiety, maybe, a fear of losing, do deeply ingrained and far wedged inside her heart, of losing everything.

Or never having.

Sometimes she wonders if she's really feeling.How much is real, or just her wanting to be real and feel so bad she'll tell herself anything.
******************
She doesn't understand why she cries.

She doesn't always understand or believe that he'll stay.

But just like her own attacks of sadness, that come without warning, but still with a sort of predictability, not a matter of if, but when, so is he.

He loves her.

She loves him.

It doesn't make complete sense.

But 12 days out of the year she doesn't make sense.

So she'll take this.

She'll try, to remember and hold on, to this.

Chapter Text

Abbie Mills last touched a piano when she was nine. 

Before her father left, before her mother died. Before grief stole everything that she new, all inspiration all want, all dreams. 

Twenty some odd years later, Abbie's got a profession she loves in the FBI. Cases she closes, excels at, criminals she punishes and puts away. A work friend, who she trusts, but it ends there. 

Her life seems to be round the clock work, and she wishes she could have a break, just for a moment. 

Somewhere to escape to. 


 

Hot sweltering summer day at there's a garage sale on her block. Abbie doesn't keep much junk to resale to anyone else, she's very economical, but she goes out eagerly perusing to see what her neighbours are pawning off on each other. 

She admits she might be a touch, nosey. 

Someone's selling a grand. Old, decorative, ornamental thing. It's beautiful. It shrieks something terrible when she touches it. "Oh my," her neighbour apologizes. Yolanda. "Old girl needs a tuning. If you buy it, i'll pay for it to get done. I know a man."

"Oh, Yolanda, I haven't touched a piano in....." Abbie trails off and realizes she'd prefer not to give hints at her age. "A long while. Too long. It would just gather dust." 

"My husband used to play it before he passed, made beautiful music on it, but I was never any good. He tried to teach me though, bless him, and it brought us so much closer, and for a while after he was gone I still tinkered on it.....but I'm moving soon, you see, downsizing, and don't have room for it."

Abbie frowns both because she sympathizes with the story but also because she wonders if Yolanda missed where she said she's not interested. "I'm sorry to hear Yolanda but I really don't have any need----"

"Tell me you're not abandoning this gem, Miss Yolanda," 

A new voice. She's never heard this voice. 

Yolanda chuckles. "I'm not, Mr. Crane, I'm selling it. I was just telling Miss Mills here if she'd be kind enough to take it off my hands, I'd send you over to tune it. Pay you, course."

He turns on her. And Abbie looks up. 

She's looked up at people before, sure.

But it's rare that someone meets her gaze so head on. Locks eyes with her as if they're the same height. His eyes are a searing blue. The timbre of his voice warm, rich. "Ichabod Crane," he smiles warmly, extending his hand. "What do you say Miss Mills? help dear Yolanda part with this clunker? I'll have it singing for you in no time."

Abbie sputters. What part of she doesn't need a piano don't these two understand? But instead of a protest she says "Call me Abbie." 

"Abbie," he rumbles. 

She rumbles. 

Her heart rumbles. 

Her stomach, heaven her being rumbles. 

"It's massive," Abbie says weakly, gesturing to the piano. "I couldn't possibly move it I'm too small" It's a rare thing for Abbie to ever site her own height as a fault but she's doing it now "And I'm terribly rusty,"

"I'd teach you," he offers kindly. 

Abbie sputters again. "P-p-pardon?"

"You know Abbie I do believe I heard you muttering about needing a hobby when we chatted early this week getting the mail. Why not go back to the piano?"

"I've played for years." Crane says proudly, but not boastful. "Studied it in university, masters and all before I took the piano technician program. I'm certified, Miss Mills, to aid you in both."

Her mouth has gone dry. 

They're giving her nearly every reason why this should be a no brainer decision except "It's too expensive, I couldn't----"

"It's on me,"

Now that sounds like her boss. "Danny?"

"You need a distraction other than my wife, Mills," Danny laughs jovially. "If I could get Sophie to stay home long enough I might have a junior by this time next year." He turns to Yolanda and smiles brightly. "What's your price?"

Abbie's head is spinning and before she knows what's happening, Danny claps her on the shoulder, Yolanda is smiling broadly at her and Mr. Ichabod Crane is giving her the sort of smile and twinkling eyes that makes her feel as if she's falling. 

And now she is the owner of a piano. 

A beautiful, ornate, out of tune piano. 

And, she now has a handsome piano tuner and teacher in one go. 

"Let's get this settled in then, yes?" he queries, and Danny begins to help him get it set up to move. 

Abbie watches the two men move the piano and blinks. "What, what just happened?"

Yolanda chuckles behind her. "Something you, my dear, sorely need." 

"Which is?"

"A little music in your life."

Crane waves as they turn up her driveway. 

Her heart thumps. 

Oh there's music in her life alright. 

Her hearts already singing. 

Chapter Text

"And so, that's how I ended up with the piano," Abbie grumbles at Sophie the following two weeks later over coffee. Sophie's mouth quirks before she begins to chuckle. "It's not funny." Abbie protests. "Your husband entirely interfered with my life---"

"He's my husband, now when he buys you a piano? but Boss and friend when he sends you on wild cases? I must be missing something," Sophie continues, amused. 

"I'm just....annoyed, because the thing is so out of shape, sure it's pretty but my God Sophie it goes out of tune at the slightest change in temperature. Play it too long and it starts to whine, Mr. Crane has been over here nearly every day trying to keep it temperate. And the keys stick. And the pedal needs replacing. And something snapped in there the other day and nearly took his eyes out, Danny bought me a musical death trap." she huffs and then pauses, seeing Sophie's face scrunched tight. "It's not funny!" she insists. 

Sophie hiccups. "You've clearly never seen yourself on a rant, it's adorable."

"You know, if you weren't my best friend, my bosses wife, and the only chance I have right now at becoming an aunt---Danny blamed me for that too by the way, step up on the getting knocked up could you?---I would hurt you."

"If only I believed you though," Sophie coos as Abbie throws her arms up in frustration. 

"You're supposed to believe me in my hour of need,"

"Yes but, these piano woes," she gestures vaguely in the air, "Are a gross exaggeration."

"And how would you know?"

Sophie gives Abbie a look over the rim of her mug of coffee. "Because, I ran into your neighbour, Yolanda, the other day. And to hear her tell it" Sophie smirks. "There has been nothing but sweet music over here." 


 

He's met many fickle, and finicky instruments, and people in kind, over the years. But Grace Abigail Mills and her piano, may top them all. 

She hovers over him as he works, even while incessantly grumbling at the intrusiveness of her neighbour and the man who bought the piano for her. She hands him tools to tighten and tune. Listens on the opposite side of the room as he goes note by note, depressing and listening as the note bends and whines and wavers over the frequencies, until it locks into place. But he can't do it all in a day, because she complains the work is so tedious and time consuming it gives her headaches. 

So he takes a break. And she gets him a coffee, and nods toward the box of gourmet donuts on the counter---I sometimes indulge myself---she'd said testily, and he takes one and then munches it anxiously in this beautiful, short, unwelcoming creatures kitchen before she all but snaps he can sit down. They eat and drink in silence. And she thanks him. And he tells her he'll have to be back again tomorrow. She nods and he goes. 

Each day goes something like this. Fully tuned, impeccable shape by end of the week. To be honest, it was finished midweek.....but he deliberately left treble C twanging....hinged on the foolish hope that in her particular nature, she'd be so annoyed by it, she'd call him back. 

Because, on the second day he'd been there, she'd warmed to him quite well. She'd actually said hello at the door. Chatted to him while he worked, asked about his music tastes. Asked about him. And though it was distracting, and she had to know he wasn't as focused listenig to the tuning as he should be, she continued to talk to him anyway, and when that wasn't enough interrupted him with more coffee and freshly baked cookies. 

I like to bake she said, but I certainly don't want to eat it all. 

All in all, the second day had been civil. Pleasant. 

The third day the upper register was all sounding the same. She'd asked if he tuning didn't drive him absolutely mad. 

"I find Miss Mills---"

"Abbie," she corrects, weary already of reminding him. He smirks, there's a faint sort of pleasure from irking her in this manner. 

"Miss Mills," he insists willfully just to hear her exasperated sigh, but when he checks over his shoulder, he catches a glimpse of her amused smile. "I find that there is great reward in the fine details. And no matter how many pianos I tune, or students I teach, or even people I meet, learning all of their peculiar, particular, persnickety little quirks, makes my understanding of them in the end far richer, and I thought it was obvious by now, I relish a challenge."

There'd been heat in his voice at that and Abbie had felt herself flush. 

At the end of that day he'd been very pleased with the over all sound and had invited Abbie to have a seat, time for a remedial little refresher. 

It was a delight to them both, that she hadn't forgotten as much as she'd imagined. She was rippling through formula patterns with glee as Crane called out different keys, it was when he started to hit harmonic minors that her brain stalled out. "And that's where my knowledge taps out," she'd laughed, fingers warm and tingling. "Majors like the back of my hand, but those raise this lower that,"

"Seventh," he points out gently. 

"Hmm?"

"Harmonic minor, Miss Mills, you raise the seventh, ascending and descending, like this," Sitting down beside her, Abbie scooches down a little on the bench giving him some arm room, watching as long slender fingers dance and ripple, pausing for emphasis on the altered note so she could hear. "You try," he implores. 

She goes, note by note, with him softly coaxing "1,2,3, turn under, 1,2,3,ah there, 4 goes to G sharp," in her ear, "Now back, 4 stays on G sharp even on the way back down," taps her finger to show her where to place it. "There you go. Now left." 

A few tries before she deigns to try both hands. She casts a glance his way to gauge her success. 

His eye sparkle. "Excellent." 

She'd stopped then, feeling warm and left to grab herself a glass of water, calling if he would like one. 

"Yes thank you!" he'd called back, swiftly mucking with the keys before she returned. 

Sure enough she called him back the next day. 

And he gladly went. He solved the problem quickly, of course, and they began another lesson. 

Rhythms, notes, scales, arpeggiations, dynamics, articulations, "Legato, smoothly," he whispers. 

Sonatina. Minuet. 

A thrilled laugh. Abbie is pleased. She's beaming. Her brain is firing. This was her favourite piece back then, and she's just played it again perfectly. And ones more challenging. 

"I don't believe you haven't touched a piano since, Abbie, you catch on too quickly," he muses. 

A pause. 

"Abbie? Abbie what's the matter?"

"You called me Abbie."

"Y-y-yes," he stammers. "I thought you wanted me to?"

Her eyes twinkle in a way that is utterly distracting. "Let's learn a duet," she says, and then, "And yes, I want you--to! I want you to call me Abbie," she laughs nervously, cheeks heating. 

The room suddenly feels very warm. "Which one?"

"There's...." she trails off suddenly, gone shy. "You know, that popular one, by Yiruma,"

"River Flows in You."

"That one."

"I'll find a copy for four  hands. I think I've over worked you today." 

"Thanks for the tuning, and the lesson, what's your rate again?"

"Ahh, lessons are on me, Abbie. I enjoy them."

It was sheer luck the keys started to stick the following day. 

And in spite of her grumping to Sophie, Abbie had been secretly a little pleased every time the piano proved disagreeable. 

After all, she didn't know anyone else who could fix such a problem except Crane.


Yolanda had been hearing music and laughter through the open window all week, even interrupted by the tinkering and tuning and conversations that ebbed and flowed in place of melody. She'd been hearing cheerful greetings and hushed, fond sounding partings. 

She'd seen Mr. Crane going over with a bag of groceries the other day. She'd cocked her head to the side. "Cooking lessons and piano, Mr. Crane?"

His sheepish grin would have her chortling at the memory later. "Music making is a hungry business," he'd replied, all but pushing his way into the front door when it had opened, Abbie only momentarily waving over his shoulder before the door slammed closed. 

They made lunch that day after he'd had a look at the creaky pedal and they'd run through some technique. Sitting companionably close at the dining table, Abbie's face lighting up with a little mischief. "You didn't drive," she says. 

"No....."

She hops up from her seat and goes to the fridge withdrawing a bottle. "Wine?"

"It would be a pleasure." 

After, bellies warm and full and afternoon sun streaming in through the window they take a look at the score. She knows the tune well enough to pick through her part without much help while he plays the accompaniment in the bass. 

Its a close fit on the bench, thighs and arms touching, fingers glancing off one another. She'd got the melody so he follows where she leads, letting her take over. 

Sometimes she speeds up unexpectedly. Sometimes he crescendos without warning, but always, always, in harmony, in sync, they match and catch each other, never leaving the other behind. On the final note they hold the fermata, holding their breaths, and release at the same time, ringing song, dulling to silence and two people flushed with pride. 

"My trills need work," she says at last. 

"You need to keep your hand curved, like this," he reaches over, adjusting her hand, curving her fingers, "Try it now." He listens carefully, nods. "Now, think of it subdivided, those are thirty second notes," she tries again. "There, that's it, Abbie, good job,"

"Thank you, for the tuning, and lessons....."

She turns her head to look up at him, his gaze intent on her. He was sitting close to her that whole time and has somehow managed to press nearer. Her mouth goes dry. She licks her lips. His eyes track. He leans in. 

She leans.

dolce, sweetly. Sweetly, lips touch. At first. Then again. Each one more insistent, harder, hands grasping, pulling, the other closer. Hands tangle in his hair, ones that run down her back, pulling her flush. Legs tangling in the bench. Mouths that open, lips part, tongues twine. Scrambling for closer, more nearness. A leg not so artfully trying to fling itself over his lap. A rapid shift to straddle. The discordant crunch and clang of the keys as the bench scrapes back, her legs lock around waist. Pushed up against and practically sitting on the keys, a cloud of dissonance in the fumbling fray. Panting breaths, growing faster, more desperate. A muttered, harried word in the midst of the exchange. 

"Upstairs, to the left," she manages. 

He kicks the door shut behind them.


 

Yolanda had turned away from the passionate scene in the window and blinked furiously. "Well that's what I call a duet."


Abbie stares at Sophie. "I have no idea what you, or Yolanda are talking about."

"Mhmmm, Sure," Sophie smirks, setting her cup down. "Anyway, I've gotta get going. Danny made reservations for dinner. I'll see you later Abbie."

"Later Sophie."

After  her friend leaves Abbie shakes her head, laughing to herself as she ascends the stairs. She opens the door. He's still asleep in her bed. 

He's always like this when she's through with him. They've been like this everyday since. She creeps toward the bed and strokes his forehead. He smiles. "Abbie," he hums sleepily. 

"Crane" she sings back softly, nuzzling his nose. 

"We make beautiful music together."

She laughs softly. It's so quick and abrupt it's insane. But she can't deny it. "Yes we do." 

 

 

Chapter Text

He is king. And his will be done. Until his will is tested by the greatest of harbinger of malice and chaos the court has ever known. She stalks into the ball room, striking mute the multitude of guests. Her height is nothing to rival those of the present nobility but it is in her baring, her stature, the sweet almond shaped dark brown eyes that hide the ambitious craving of her heart. The brilliant red gold orange flashes of her gown that catches and plays with the light. She is a bird. A phoenix. She wears a mask with a pointed pretty beak, and great long feathers trail from her hair. She is a spectacle. She is other. 

Beside him. The queen stiffens. She dressed demurely, simply, as a raven. Red cascading hair falling over her shoulders. Black beaked and green eyed. She is more daring in appearance tonight than she ever is. The guise of a queen who has more stamina than she is given to. 

Everyone knows her, and gladly accepted her, and even had praised Ichabod, for taking her as his wife. To have some semblance of consistency in the ruling order had given the people comfort. 

Abraham had been his elder brother, and before he died, Katrina, had been his wife. They were happy for five years together but Katrina had never bore him children. Abraham died in a riding accident, and Ichabod, who had been pining after his brothers wife, and envying him in equal measure, had taken advantage of his change in fortune, and made her his bride. 

Another five years has passed since then, and she struggles still, to bear. They were successful once, a son, whom they were to name Henry, but she miscarried, and though he stood by her, his heart began to turn. 

King Ichabod has had many dalliances, and rumoured children who show up to plague his wife as new unassuming additions to the house hold. Even some of their mothers, she has had to endure as ladies in waiting. But they do not threaten the queen twice loved by kings. 

They do not dare to think they will rival her. Only that perhaps, one day, the son or daughter they bore will marry well, at his instruction, and some property allocated to them. 

In spite of Ichabod's reputation to wander, and Katrina's kind, though bland disposition, no one lays sights to claim king and land for their own. 

Except for tonight, this pretty bird, who defiantly, deliberately, separates herself from the rest, sashaying towards the dias where kind and queen sit and bowing low into a curtsy. 

Ichabod smiles appreciatively of the view. Her bodice is cut daringly low, a new fashion popular in France, and gives him a generous view of the heaving rich brown swells pressed tight. A dainty little gold chain, dangles from her neck. 

"Your majesty," she purrs. 

Beside him, he feels the queen fidget and straighten in her seat, pulling herself up to full height. "We welcome you....." she trails off. 

"Grace Abigail, from the House Mills. Descendent from Grace." 

That snaps Katrina's mouth shut. 

There had been rumours that the reason the queen had miscarried to begin with had been due to dabbling in magic. They had consulted the healer and nurse Grace to care for her after. She recalled the woman's assessing, though non judgemental gaze. 

Some of the murmurs had stopped then, though not all. 

"It is a pleasure to have you hear among us, at our summer costume ball, Grace,"

"I prefer, Abbie," she replies brazenly, turning her eyes to the king. Ichabod smiles at her, flashing her white even teeth. 

"So do I, pretty bird," his blue eyes glint and Abbie meets his gaze head on, refusing to play demure. Though her skin heats at his intense attention. 

"A Phoenix," she corrects again. "It symbolizes rebirth, renewal."

"A spark of change," Ichabod surmises. "Welcome, to our court, Phoenix, I do hope you will stay a while? our summer progression will begin soon."

"I thank you, your Majesty, in fact, I plan to make this my new home." 

When Abbie turns her beautiful shining smile on the queen, eyes flashing,  Katrina feels a withering in her gut. 

She means here. Katrina thinks. 

She's going to take him from me.

 

Chapter Text

Grace Abigail Mills and Ichabod Crane have carried on this illicit far too long. He's engaged, she's being courted, but still they seek one another out in the dead of night.

At first she suspected it was for secrecy. But one night when she's attacked and miraculously rescued, his true nature is revealed.

She is in love with vampire, against all of her good sense. Never mind their class differences, the race, but now a matter of species, the divide between them seems to grow only wider.

And yet their love grows deeper.

It's too much to bear, until he asks the impossible question, the one that has haunted her since she discovered the truth.

"Will you Turn?" he asks.

Her heart leaps into her throat. Does he understand what he's asking? that she die? for him? Become an affront to the natural order? Give up her life?

"Crane, you cannot ask me,"

"And yet, I do." he presses. "Turn, Abbie, and we will always be together, nothing can tear us apart, and because of our bond, I will always find you. We will have an eternity together, and I can always keep you safe."

"You're asking me to die." she whispers, hoarse with disbelief and heartache. "How can you ask me to shirk my mortality? for what---"

"For us!" he hisses fiercely, her hands grasped in his. She can see the glimmering point of his fangs and she swallows. His eyes flicker to the column of her throat and in his blue eyes turned red with a desire that teeters between ravenous hunger and deep want.

"It's easy for you!" she cries. "It's easy for you, you have nothing to lose! There's nothing you'll forfeit! Me, you're asking me to void my future----children---I want to be a mother---I cannot!"

"Abbie, please, I beg you!"

"I cannot! I can't! Please, Crane,"

"Turn, my love, let me, I promise I will be with you---"

"You said what you loved most about me was my thirst for life. If you loved me, Ichabod Crane, you would never ask me for such a thing."

She tears away from him and runs, scattering out into the night, him tearing desperately after her.
***************************************
2018

Abbie wakes up at midnight, starving.

She pads to her fridge and gets out a bag, tears it open with her teeth and chugs the bloody contents, not caring that it's messy, that it gets all over her chin. She has had enough years to stop caring about propriety, and to stop caring if she makes a mess.

She is a monster, like it or not. She has made her peace with it.

Now, she uses her new strength to cull down others of her kind.

Some would call her a traitor. For a vampire to turn hunter, but she cannot abide having other human lives stolen while she has means to prevent it.

No one's choice to live should be stolen from them, the way hers was.

And if she's asked outright, she wants revenge.

On the man who turned her against her will, who killed her in cold blood and then left her to fend for herself in this new too bright too sharp, bloody world.

He'd claimed he would always be by her side, but she supposes now that was under the condition she had obeyed him.

Instead he had done this to her, out of vengeful malice.

She hopes and prays one day to return him the favour.

These days Abbie is a vampire slayer.

Living for the chance to stake Ichabod Crane.

Chapter Text

Grace, Abigail, Mills.

Has known passion. Tumult.

Grievous heartache.

She has known the lips of the man she loves and how her body writhes beneath his. She will always remember his twinkling dark eyes and robust laugh. The planes of his chest, his skin beneath her questing fingers. The taste of him.
She loved the man, deeply.

But misfortune struck, and now her deep love, is laid in earth.

***********************

Second chance, finds her married, happy. More deeply in love than she thought possible. Where there once had been darkness in her life there is hope, there is beginnings and futures, and new life taking root in her belly.
But her past, who she was, has been, is gaining on her.
Threatening all of the peace and healing she has found.
And now.

***********************

Ichabod Crane's wife, Abigail Mills-Crane, is missing.

She didn't come home from work.

Her car was found abandoned on the side of the road.

There's a knock at the door and he frantically answers. That'll be the investigator. "Daniel Reynolds." a badge flashes in his face and Crane frets and worries and rattles his fears.
"Know anyone who had a grudge towards her, Mr. Crane," Danny drawls, as he picks up a picture on the mantel of the married couple, and his eyes narrow, lips pressed firm, and his hand curling into a tight, aggravated fist.

"No one," Crane pleads. "My Abbie was, was a well loved angel, she'd never hurt anyone, no one would ever have reason to harm her."

"Has it occurred to you, Mr. Crane, that maybe she ran away?"

A pause in which Crane contemplates the large withdrawal that had registered on the bank account that morning----she'd said she wanted to go shopping and the boutique she had in mind, infamously had a broken debit machine.

"None of her clothes missing? There was no sign of struggle at the car."

He refuses to process what Mr. Reynolds is saying.

Abbie wouldn't just up and leave him.

Not after everything they've been through.

"No. No. Abbie would never, thats not her, she wouldn't----"

"I think it's time you consider you don't know her as well as you think," Danny snaps. There's a dark glint and venom in his tone that makes Crane hesitate, perplexed.

"Mr. Reynolds----"

"I will keep you updated if I find anything." the man blusters back out the door.

Leaving behind a stunned and bewildered, Crane.
******************************************

But a week swiftly passes with no progress.

And Ichabod Crane decides, he's going to find out what happened to his wife, himself.

He only prays he's not too late.

He prays Abbie is the woman he thought she was.

But he might be better off without the truth.

 

One Heart, Twice Loved; The Impassioned Past of Abbie Mills.

Chapter Text

Not right in the head.

Was the first whisper.

Raving lunatic.

Bonafide insane. 

He thinks he's divine.

He think's he's chosen.

An Angel.

Asleep two hundred years. 

Such rampant and fevered imagination is dangerous. A disease to be quelled. Dealt with. Snuffed out. After all, that why they locked them in the Asylum. Waiting indeterminate days for treatments that will addle their brains, numb them, confine them to the regulated thought processes that the government approves. Where there is imagination, a lack of boundary, there lies disobedience. 

And it cannot, will not, be tolerated. 

And these two? They're down right disruptive. Declarations about Heaven and Hell and worlds end and witchcraft. They're the same brand of insanity, which might make them a perfect pair. 

They escape the Asylum together, so there's that. 

They go on the run, together, fugitives, hunted, branded dangerous. 

For their Fanciful Minds.

 


"How are you so sure----"

"Well I don't see you coming up with any ideas---"

"Just focus on the door, Ichabod Crane,"

"Do you always insist on full name? always? And a little louder please I don't think the Patrols could hear you!"

"The door"

It finally gives. 

A secluded forest cabin a long since abandoned refuge before Crane was caught and hauled in. He fumbles to flick on the lights and begins shirking out of the red jumpsuit. Red for brilliance. Red for brightness in a world that they are determined to make grey. Red for the blood that will spill if they're caught. 

They might have hoped to live mundane lives after a Scrubbing, numb, oblivious, just sheep in society. But such flagrant rebellion? Oh, without a doubt they will most certainly be killed. 

"I'm going to shower, do you want one? no? good" Crane grouses, blustering past down the hall a door slams and only seconds later Orion Angel hears the water begin to run. He meanders around the dark space, tinkering with the little dust gathering artifacts that lay strewn around. Leather bound journals, a map. His mouth twists bitterly. He had been taken directly from his own base, no doubt it's been desecrated. He has no hope of finding any of his creature comforts there. Nothing more, likely, than a pile of burned feathers long since turned to ash.

No one believed him when he said he was an Angel. 

The Patrols had wielded a torch at him when they'd found him, perhaps suspecting his wings were a costume and no more, had caught him on fire, railing on him about his straying from order and lunacy, oblivious to his real screams and cries of pain until it was too late. By the time they realized they'd done him bodily harm---he now bares too dark scorch marks on his shoulder blades where he feels nothing but intermittent pain for the past few months---they had him sealed in a padded and locked cell while he healed, away from other prisoners, loudly proclaiming his unstable mind. 

Perish the thought, that anyone would find out they'd harmed such an abomination. They'd have to acknowledge that Angels existed. That Orion wasn't a Fanciful after all. 

That they had been wrong. 

As he ponders this the water stops and he hears before he sees Crane ambling back out into the common area, a loose shirt hanging over breeches and hair still damp. "Your turn, I strongly recommend it," 

Orion sneers at him before making a use of shower, stripping down, and all is going well until exhaustion begins to set in and it aches him to reach to lather his back. And there is something about this moment, the pain he feels, the weariness, that breaks him. For the first time in this madness, he begins to sob, quietly in the shower. 

"Orion?" Crane knocks at the door, distressed. "Ori---oh Angel" he frowns when he hears the other man as he enters. "Is it your Marks? are they hurting you?"

A garbled reply that might approximate "Go away Crane." 

"Don't be ridiculous. If you need help,"

"I don't need you damning help"

"You do. Or else, you wouldn't have run with me. We're on our own out here now, and like it or not, that calls for us to rely on each other, Angel. So.....come on, draw the curtain, you haven't got anything that I haven't."

The room fills with steam, thick and cloudy and there is silence for a beat before the curtain shifts and Crane edges closer, business like and takes the proffered soap and rag and tentatively moves it over Orion's back. 

He's heard his comrade talk about the scars, but never seen them. 

Dark, neat, pitch black like a bruise that must go in, through, to his very soul. He tries to ignore the way Orion hisses while he helps him. Ignore the muscles that move in his back. 

He might have questioned the validity of Orion's claims before, but cruelty is cruelty all the same and this was barbaric, whatever their reasons. It aches him to imagine the agony of it. "Back's clean. Can you wash your hair? Need help with your feet?" 

"N-n-no, Ichabod," he shudders. "I'm ready to get out." 

"I'll grab you some clothes."

Without facing him Orion nods his head, bracing against the tile of the wall until he hears the door shut and turns off the tap. The Marks still burn but they hurt less. 

Crane had been so gentle with them.


 

"Tin soup for our feast, I'm afraid. Chicken noodle or chowder?"

"Noodle," Orion manages, easing himself down onto the couch. Crane looks up between the two cans in his hand and furrows his brow. 

"Are you alright?"

"The escape took a greater toll than I thought, that's all," he explains and then winces. Setting down the cans Crane comes over to sit next to him.  Orion avoids his gaze. 

"Angel."

"Thank you for bringing me." 

"Angel."

"You'd get further without me, Ichabod Crane, always complaining about my scars."

"Angel" Crane snaps. "I believe you. In what you say you are. What they did."

"It took seeing it to believe it, of course. They did not believe He had come back until they had seen his Wounds, either,"

Crane nods tightly, ashamed. "After all the time they spend drumming it into you that you're.....strange. You start to believe it. Start to think of it everyone else, too. But we both wanted to escape."

"We left behind so many."

"We will endeavor to go back for them, but for now.....we are what we are, and we must survive." He claps his hand on Orion's shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze and leaving it there until Orion turns his amber eyed gaze on him. 

"I believe you," Orion murmurs softly, really looking at Crane's face. The angular nose. The blue eyes. Old. Weary eyes. He thinks of the scar across Crane's chest that he has glimpsed once in yard at the Asylum.  

They don't seem to notice their faces drawing nearer, until their lips touch. 


Softly and gently at first. 

They pull each other closer on the couch. Orion's hand weaves into Crane's hair and tugs it slightly, tipping his head back so he can have more leverage and Crane's lips part eagerly for him. 

He has wondered what Crane tastes like, he'll admit, and now he knows. Their tongues glide and tease and push at each other. Orion deftly swings himself onto Crane's lap, straddling him, and he feels Crane's hands shift down to his ass, squeezing and holding on as he thrusts up, dormant, denied hunger building up fast between them. 

Crane's hands edge up the back of Orion's borrowed shirt, gently tracing his Marks and for the first time, they don't cause the man pain, but make him moan softly instead into Crane's mouth. 

"There," he whispers, feeling crane trace around them with one singular fingertip, the other counting the ridges of his spine. It feels so good. He can't remember the last time any sensation on his back felt good. "Yes," he pants and Crane obliges him, being gently, taking care with him, though his kisses grow more aggressive and passionate and Orion begins to ache. 

"Angel," Crane manages. 

"More, here. Everything."

He pulls back to look into the blue eyed gaze gone black. Crane latches onto his neck, tongue swirling on his skin, sucking a mark there. What will be the first of many. 


Orion bobs his head on the impressive thick length, savouring him, the way a growl catches in Crane's throat, his hips gently thrusting and a hand trailing through his hair. When he lets go, Orion swallows, rises to his feet and kisses him, deep, toppling him onto the couch and taking him in hand again to get him stir whispering hotly in Crane's ear what he wants. 

"I'll give it you," Crane promises, tugging Orion's lip with his teeth. "However you want."


He kisses along Orion's spine, between his shoulders, near the Marks, Crane leaves his own. The sensation of pleasure and near pain is so dizzying that Orion sees spots but doesn't want Crane to stop.  Grazes the dark scars with his teeth and Orion hisses with want. 

When he's inside, rocking into him slow, Orion closes his eyes. He pays attention to the heat, the fire, coiling deep inside of him. 

He thinks of the flames that took his wings. 

He thinks of the warmth of Crane's fingers and lips and cock, and his skin. All around him. All over him. 

"Harder," he groans and the thrusts grow deeper, but still slow. A tortuous and sweet until the speed quickens. 

Breath quickens. 

"Orion," Crane pants. 

"Ichabod," 

He hangs on.


 

They lay together, lips softly touching, tasting, exploring again. Wandering hands. 

Keeping each other safe and close.

Cherishing the other's body, their being. 

Their Fanciful Mind. 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

"You know baby girl. I've seen some things eh, I've seen some sick things but that----what in the hell you call that?"

"Echnida, the mother of monsters."

"I have a newfound fear of spiders, thanks for dragging me along on that one."

"You were the only person I could call, Derek." Abbie shoots him a smile over her shoulder and flops down on the couch. 

Derek furrows his brow in disbelief and begins counting on his fingers. "Sophie, Sam and Dean," he drifts off mumbling every single name he can think of, right down to Buffy the Vampire Slayer before exclaiming, "And somehow I'm the only one suited to deal with Supernatural Unsubs?!" 

Abbie chokes trying to stifle her laugh. "For what it's worth, you handled yourself really well out there." 

"For what it's worth? I didn't have choice. I got the impression she meant to eat me."

"I don't think those bodies were just dismembered for fun....." Abbie trails off, grimacing as her stomach lurches. Derek Morgan's brown complexion pales as he wrinkles his nose. 

"Gimme a drink Mills." he demands, waving absently in the air his eyes scrunched tight. "What you got for  booze cuz I need to forget tonight pronto." 

"You see murders like this, more pathological, more gruesome, all the time," 

"Ah--tonight you don't get to chastise me Abbie, I got a weak stomach at the prospect of that thing, eating people." 

Sighing, Abbie rises from the couch and saunters into the kitchen, shucking off jacket and haphazardly kicking off shoes as she goes. He settles on the couch, an arm draped over his eyes. He can hear the sound of water running and then glasses clinking before soft padding foot falls draw closer and the seat beside him sinks with her wait. "Here," She says, thrusting it under his nose. 

He takes a sniff and gasps. "Oooh. What is this?" He's not sure if he's excited to down the liquor or petrified. He's pretty damn sure he's singed his nose hairs. 

"You don't wanna know." She laughs. 

He accepts the glass and leans back, surveying her. " Maybe I do," he entreats, a small twinkle in his eye as he flashes her his signature charming smile.  "I wanna hear about," he shuffles around in the seat, crossing a leg over his knee to face her better, an arm draping over the couch, in reach to touch her shoulder. "Hear about all of your wildest adventures."

"Oh really?" she muses, sipping from her glass. "But you know, hardly anything compares to experiencing the real thing."

He shakes his head with a laugh. "Oh, Abbie Abbie Abbie Mills, you inviting me on another one of these spooky expeditions?"

"Only if you're up to it when it comes up,"

"Against all my better instincts, baby girl," he purrs warmly. "I think I might back you up anywhere. I'd follow where you lead."

She drains the last drop from her drink and sets the glass down on the table, studying him. Derek Morgan is the solid sort of earthy that makes her feel grounded, anchored. Comforted. Like she could sink deeper and deeper into safety with him. The crinkles around his eyes suggest world weariness, but she wears that same mark on her soul. This job takes from you. Demands from you. Makes you see too many facets of the world too fast, whether you're prepared for it or not. 

It makes you cherish people. Feeling. 

"Is that a promise, Derek Morgan," she leans into his touch as the hand on her shoulder slides up to her neck and caresses her cheek, then progresses to tangle in her hair, as he draws slowly nearer. 

"Look at me Abbie,"

Their eyes lock. She reaches back to touch his face, and smiles at him. 

When his lips touch hers, it's soft, warm and tentative until they find the angle that fits best. Then she moving closer into his embrace as his arms come up around her and his hand slides up her leg, squeezing her thigh. 

Her heart hammers and pounds at the feel of him. Strong corded muscle beneath her palms and she nips at him playfully to which he chuckles in return before she pushes him over on the couch so she can straddle him, 

They break apart and take each other in. On the threshold of something new and unexpected, but can't help but take solid form in their minds. Something, that they know they'll hold on to, and would be hell to break. 

"Follow me," she whispers softly, vulnerably, as their lips connect. 

And he goes where she tells him, late into the dark night. 

 

Chapter Text


Hidden Treasure Ranch, was not the first place on Abbie's possible vacation list. 

But.

It's new, and has rave reviews. It's also the most cost efficient and closest place she can go to escape a little while from her bustling life. And, She'll admit, she's always wanted to ride a horse. 


 

When the taxi drops her off she looks up at the welcoming blue sprawling ranch house. It has all the elements of country charm that one cold stomach. Complete with porch swing, stout fence, gravel drive and a red barn looming in the distance. It's idyllic. She takes a deep breath of the fresh air and begins lugging her bag to the house when she hears the chuff of a horse. 

"Howdy there," 

When she glances over her shoulder Abbie stops short, her jaw hanging slightly open. An honest to goodness cowboy just rode up behind her. It's the stunning beauty of the horse that captures her first, the glittering sweet dark eyes that look on her kindly as it ambles closer. It's the man she really takes in next. Blue plaid, worn in jeans. Tan cowboy boots, up to the knee. The hat that he tips in salute before he dismounts and removes it, revealing his blond windswept hair. His face has a jovial air to it, something like mischief and kindness rolled into one. Blue eyes find and hold hers as he scrubs a hand the neat beard that frames his mouth. "You been here long? Just meant to take Ruby here for a trot before it got dark. She spooks too easy for me," he grins, flashing a perfect white smile. "Nicholas Hawley, owner of Hidden Treasure Ranch. But call me Nick. And you are?" he extends his hand and she takes it. He shakes it solidly but lingers letting her go. 

"Grace Abigail---call me Abbie, Abbie Mills." 

"Call me a sweet talker if you want, but you've got the sweetest eyes I've seen around here since Ruby," he jokes. Abbie laughs. 

"Well I don't want to be upstaging a sweet girl like Ruby." 

"Ahhh, she don't mind," he cajoles, patting the horses flank he glances at Abbie's luggage. "You wait right here a second let me put her in the stables, I'll be back for those."

"Oh, No, Nick it's fine, my bag isn't that heavy----"

"Less about your bag and more about you finding your way around the place," he interjects. "I've been here six months and I still get turned around in there once a week. Just sit tight, you're on vacation aren't you? Relax and let Nicky take care of you."

When he grins, Abbie cannot help but grin back and admire him sauntering down the path as he leads Ruby away. 

He looks good in those jeans, she thinks.


 

"I'll apologize right now, you've come when my staff has just clocked off for the night. So the kitchen's closed, less you want to take a chance on me behind the stove." he sets her bag down in the beautiful guest room. Everything in here is blue, yellow and white. Embroidered pillows and a giant window and evening sunlight streaming in. It's perfect. 

"I can't tell if that's supposed to be an invitation or a warning."

His eyes twinkle when he smirks. " You seem like a betting woman, not sure if it matters either way." 

Folding her arms Abbie takes a seat on the edge of the bed and toes of her shoes. "Are you really country? Or is this part of your schtick."

He glances at her over his shoulder from where he's gazing out the window. "Grew up in the country, but lived a lot of life city side, and up to no good." he winks. "I use to.....trade in rare goods."

"Smuggled."

"I prefer pirate."

"You know....I'm FBI"

"I did say use to, Agent" 

"Hmmmph."

"I haven't heard your verdict on dinner Abbie, Abbie Mills." he teases and she rolls her eyes. 

"I'm too tired to head out. I offer myself up as sacrifice to your cooking."

"Well you don't have to make it sound so ominous, damn," he chuckles. "Take a bath, relax, I've got robes in there and slippers---designed them myself----there for you. Dinner should be ready, provided I don't burn the place down, in about, thirty minutes. Oh, and Abbie"

"Yes?"

He smiles. "Welcome." 


 

It's been two weeks of bantering with Nick Hawley and the other guests. Taking breakfast together, wandering into town to check out the locale---Nick insisted they all go to his favourite bar the other night where he got properly sauced and belted Lady Antebellum at the top of his lungs when it came on the radio. She's been horse back riding, and now there's a barn dance, her last night at the ranch. 

Hell if Abbie knows what to wear to a barn dance. She'd spent the afternoon gazing contemplatively in a shop window at a mannequin in red gingham. In the end, she couldn't bring herself to do it. She'd opted for casual white peasant dress she had in stead. And come cowgirl boots. She feels absurdly playful in them, and even places a matching hat on her own head of bouncy curls. She twirls---Lord Mills you never twirl---she chastises herself mildly, in the mirror before tipping her hat to the reflection and bounding down the steps. 

Nick is just hustling out the front when he sees her and stops short. "Abbie Mills," he murmurs reverently at the sight of her. 

"Don't wear out my name, Hawley."

"You look....you look beautiful, Abbie. I like you in a boots and a hat," he chuckles, adjusting the angle of her hat just so. Their eyes connect. 

"Let's go, Nick. You've been on and on about this 'shindig' all week, I wanna know what the excitement is all about," 

He offers his arm and she takes as they head out to the barn. 


Fun, is an understatement. 

Abbie has, a ball. 

There's line dancing. Square dancing. And after that a surprisingly diverse playlist that rifles through everything from hot 100 to the most vintage classic rock with of course some old and modern country staples thrown in. There's also an impressive amount of food that her and the other guests gorge themselves on. She's just taken a load off her feet when Holy by Florida Georgia Line comes on and she sees Nick a weaving path, headed straight for her as the crowd parts. 

"Your last night here, may I have this dance?"

The realization that she'll be leaving suddenly dawns on her and hits her like a ton of bricks. She likes it here. She....she likes him. It's been so brief, but this feels like something she wishes could last.

“Watch my feet, I need them to kick ass” she drawls, lips pulling into a smile as she places her hand in his. His fingers wrap sound hers, warm, rough and calloused, securely. His thumb brushes gently across her knuckles as he lifts her hand to his lips, tickling her with the scruff of his beard.

She feels a blush rising in her cheeks. He grins

“well there’s a sight. Them blossoms in your cheeks Mills or are you blushing for me”

“dance floor, Hawley,” she grits out. He lets out a robust laugh and leads her out. 

Abbie had suspected Nick was the type to show boat, so it didn't surprise her one bit when he goes straight to the heart of the floor and makes a show of swinging her abruptly close into his arms. 

But that doesn't mean that the air didn't still leave her lungs in a rush, suddenly pressed so close to him. He held on of her hands in his and draped the other around his neck while his free hand settled on her waist, curving a little to the small of her back. He presses her back gently. "This alright?"

Abbie nods wordlessly, gazing up into his eyes. He smiles back at her and draws her in just a little closer, where her head rests on his chest. She can feel the vibration of him singing in her ear. He's got a rough untrained edge to his voice but he doesn't give a damn. And besides it's endearing as hell that he knows all of the words. 

When the sun had left and the winter came
And the sky fall could only bring the rain
I sat in darkness, all broken hearted
I couldn't find a day I didn't feel alone
I never meant to cry, started losing hope
But somehow baby, you broke through and saved me

He's got moves, she thinks. As he pulls a way to give her a twirl and reels her back in just as smoothly. Though the steps aren't elaborate he manages to get them moving in a small circle and he gets freer with his movements, spinning her away again and crisscrossing their arms in front of her, her back pressed against as he sways, his lips brushing her ear as he sings. 

You're holy, holy, holy, holy
I'm high on loving you, high on loving you
You're holy, holy, holy, holy
I'm high on loving you, high on loving you

 

Theirs joy in his movements. He loses himself to the music, the song, and takes her with him. She is smiling so wide the whole time, and their dance dissolves into playful dodging and whining around the other until he catches her hands again. And he doesn't seem to miss a beat, even when he breaks to exclaim about her moves or her beauty, or laugh when he cuts her path off, catching her in his arms and sweeping her into a dip that makes her shriek holding on to her hat, --he picks right back up on the words. 

 

Let me lay you down, give me to ya
Get you singing babe, hallelujah
We'll be touching, we'll be touching heaven

 

 

When she's upright he pulls her in close again and his finger brush an errant curl from her cheek. "I'm gonna miss you, Mills." he says contemplatively. His brow knits for a moment, a frown flitting across his features. "More than I think I miss most of my guests."

 

"I'm gonna miss you too, Hawley. Believe me, I'm rather upset about it." she teases. 

 

"There's an insane part of me that wishes you could stay."

 

Abbie bites her lip. "Well ask me,"

You're holy, holy, holy, holy
I'm high on loving you, high on loving you
You're holy, holy, holy, holy
I'm high on loving you, high on loving you

 

"Ask you?"

 

"You got cotton in your ears Hawley?"

 

"Nope, cleaned them this morning. Alright Abbie. Will you stay?"

 

"Here? I can't. I've got a life to return to....but I do want to stay, with you." 

 

You're holy, holy, holy, holy
I'm high on loving you, high on loving you
You're holy, holy, holy, holy
I'm high on loving you, high on loving you

 

"We're of the same mind." he whispers and begins to lean in. 

 

She reaches up on her toes to touch her lips to his and feels fire light through her being. 

 

You're the healing hands where it used to hurt
You're my saving grace, you're my kind of church

You're holy

 

His lips are warm. His hands hold her close and secure and there's a reverence to his actions that feels like cherishing. Like she belongs. 

 

"How about we head back, Hawley." She purrs, tugging his collar. 

 

"Nah." he chuckles, drawing her in close in his arms, still swaying to the music. "You're not about to break my heart so early Mills. We're gonna finish out this song, and then two more. And I'm gonna 'court' you," he taunts. 

 

"You wouldn't dare."

 

"Flowers. Every day. Picnics. All of the cliches you can handle." 

 

"You're going to drive me insane."

 

He kisses her soundly. "You're in for it now Mills. Look what you've done."

 

She caresses his cheek. She laughs to herself. Look indeed. 

 

Chapter Text

Tick, tick, creak

tick, tick, tick, tick,

clomp clomp clomp

creak,

tick, tick, tick

whirrr!

"Uncle? Uncle what are you----"

wheeze

"Uncle Henry? Henry, are you mad! Stop----"

Whee!

Whirr!

Beep.

"HENRY!"

whirr

Beep. Beep. Beep. 

glug glug glug. 

mrrrrow.

"Henry,"

A bowed head, in the dark of the labs. Henry Parish, what was left of the world that new him, gone. 


 

"Morning" 

"Morning Ichabod!"

"Morning!"

"Hello, hello, hello!" he calls back, dutifully, cheerfully. 

Ten years out from the date his uncle died, Ichabod is a new and hopeful engineer at Pure Tech, lead by CEO Solomon Kent. They design everything one could think of imagine or hope for. They were Henry Parish's greatest rival. Would he balk, roll over in his digitized grave at the notion of Crane working for them? Very possible. But in many ways while a brilliant inventor, Henry was wistful and always longing for simpler times, times long lost. He hadn't wanted the mass change and production that was offered by Pure Tech. He couldn't appreciate their advancements to society.From the hover cars and portals, to the self driven cabbies----you could thank Pure Tech for it all. 

They were innovators, change makers.

Theirs were names that would be remembered. 

And Crane is going to be one of them. 

He has no family to sing his praises when he's dead and gone. He might as well strive for the infinite approval of strangers and their offspring for years to come. 


 

He lives alone in Frederick Manor. 

Sterile, high functioning facility. Labs down stairs. All of the computers and files. He settles in at a desk and boots up the main and exhales as the blue image projects onto the plate opposite the monitor. He's been meaning to figure out a way to shut it off so he's not always being watched while he works, but Henry had a knack for infallible code. "Yaaaah," the head bobs and yawns and Crane rolls his eyes. The absolute farce that the bloody old codger has any need for sleep anymore. 

"Hello, Henry,"

"Had a good day nephew?"

"Ahhh," Crane sighs. "As good as one could hope, I suppose."

"Well yes, working in the den of those blood sucking----"

"Just because you were content with your wealth doesn't mean people shouldn't want to profit Henry." 

"Profit, mass produce, and strip all the soul and meaning."

Crane kicks back in the chair thoughtfully. "Soul? Meaning? In computers and wires and files? It doesn't exist Henry. And just because you were vindictive enough to download yourself to a computer upon your death does not suddenly negate from the fact that you are merely a soul injected into tech---the tech itself? mere machinery."

"Oh, Ichabod." the hologram looks at him sadly. "I could prove it to you, you know. All it takes,is to mimic the brain."

"Even then it is just that, puppetry, mimicry."

"Don't be dense. We are born, and as we grow, we create new bonds, wants, and dreams, it is that, these goals and drives, that give us a soul, Ichabod. But you're too stubborn and besotted with this stifling vision of Tech for use, as opposed to tech for engagement with Solomon Kent to be bothered being taken seriously."

Crane arches a brow, lips pressed together. As sure as he is that his Uncle is merely trying to rile him, he takes the bait anyway. "Alright, old man. Show me then. How do I create a piece of technology with a soul?"

He sits back and watches as the monitor rifles through files before selecting one, opening it and the data begins unfurling on the screen. 

"Welcome to SoulCraft" Henry intones. 

 


 Two months of toiling, he depresses the button. Machinery beeps, whirrs and he looks on the table doubtfully. Henry is messing with him he's positive. He waits when the room goes quiet and stares at the form on the bed. 

It's an eternity before he thinks he sees a finger twitch. Blinking, sure he's imagined it, he strides forward to have a closer look. 

There it is again. A twitch. Two. 

Brown eyes blink open. 

He stumbles backwards, thrown off by the seeming, knowing in their gaze. 

As he backs up the android sits up on the table with mechanical movements, very deliberate pivots to face him still on the table. 

He stares at them, and they stare back. 

"Hello?" he calls, unsure, uneasy. 

"Hell-o" 

He gulps. "My name, is Ichabod Crane."

It tilts it's head to the side curiously. "That. Is. A. Long. Name. May, I. Call. You. Crane?" it tilts it's head the opposite way. 

"Sure. Sure Crane is fine." he agrees. "And you are?"

The android rises to its feet, approaching him stiffly and holds out their hand to shake. Tentatively he takes it, simultaneously in awe and terrified by how realistic the flesh feels, the press and curl of their mechanical fingers on his own. 

"My. Name.Is Grace.  Ab-i-gail. Mills. But. You. Can. Call. Me. Abb-ie" 

 

Chapter Text

 

"If anyone knows, why these two people, should not be joined, in Holy Matrimony, speak now, or forever hold their peace."

The church rustles unsurely, glances cast around as the tapping echo of heels seems to drawer nearer and nearer, gathering speed, stomping harder. 

Swallowing, Danny's hands clench tighter around his own, snapping his attention back to his face. Danny shoots him a bright reassuring smile. False in its hope and determination to ignore that persistent stride is headed right into their chapel.

"Baby," he rumbles softly, pleading, his thumbs swipe across the back of his hands and Crane nods, forcing a smile of his own. 

"Daniel," he replies warmly, inclining his head to the minister that he's waited long enough, there are no objections----

The door blasts open and the heads all turn. 

There's a strange air of relief in the room, the gratification of expectations being met. Of knowing your paranoia and trepidation are justified. His heart jackrabbits aggressively. "Get on with it," he grits out but before he can finish doesn't her voice ring through the room, strong and clear. He closes his eyes and breathes through his nose, praying for patience. Danny let's out a disbelieving laugh. 

"Of course. Of course. She'd have surprised me if she didn't pull a stunt." he hisses. 

They both turn on the dias towards her. 

She's as beautiful as either of them could stand. This is one of the reasons Crane has always bent to her. There are a thousand more, but he cannot help that seeing her makes his breath leave him. Danny's breathing increases, heightened awareness of the threat she poses to his happiness with the man he loves. Abbie Mills will always be a thorn in his side he's sure. Where there is joy to be found in his life Abbie Mills will destroy it. 

And he deserves it; he was stupid enough to think he could walk into her line of sight, into her path of destruction that both her and Ichabod Crane have paved through myriad lives and dare think he could tread the same road unscathed. 

"What do you want Abbie," Danny calls, tugging Crane closer. "We're trying to get married here"

Smirking, sashaying her hips, a deliberate, mesmerizing swagger that he knows catches Crane's eye---this malicious witch---he thinks as she saunters all the way up to the two of them, but studiously ignores Danny. She turns to Crane. He looks determinedly above her head into the distance until she reaches to straighten his jacket collar. His blue eyes flicker down to her and the secret, undeniably vengeful curl of her perfect lips. 

She's here to ruin him. Danny. Both. Majesty Mills doesn't play around. 

"You can't marry him, Danny."

"Yeah?" he growls. "And why not?"

Abbie pulls back, cocking her head sweetly to the side. "Because, he's been unfaithful to you. Crane," she beams, eyes glittering in a way so beautiful and deadly in one breath he's unsure if he's afraid of hypnotized. "Crane, lover, I'm pregnant."

The world warps and turns around him. Beside him Danny drops his hand and his voice creeps higher in incredulity. 

"I am DONE" he screams. 

Crane's mind whirls. In an instant he knows two things. This is both the worst thing and best thing that could happen to him.  

"How long!" Danny  demands. "When"

Abbie purrs. "Last month,"

Crane clenches his fists. “Does Sophie know”

Abbie bats her lashes, “Oh, she’s pregnant, too”

Crane is still processing in stunned shock when the slap comes, and all he sees is Danny's retreating back. "Daniel! Danny!" he calls, reaching for him. He makes to run after the man but Abbie places her hands on his chest smiling knowingly. 

"You can run from me, Ichabod Crane, but remember you'll always run back to me" 

He stares her down, and then bolts after Danny Reynolds. 

Chapter Text

"Paging Doctor Crane, paging doctor Crane."

Well this is new,

"Where was the patient----"

"Found in a cave---low blood pressure, there's a pulse but barely----"

"Any injuries----"

"None that we can see---"

"Name?"

"Grace Abigail Mills----"

Didn't quite plan for you to see me like this. 

Clanging, bustling, monitors beeping, needles jabbing, tests and scans, and slipping, already slipping, so far away, there's nothing to be done for her. Eye lids peeled back and then released and eyes that snap back shut. Heart beat slowing. Limbs, growing heavy. 

"We're losing her."

"What? No!"

"Get me the defibrillator!"

You're losing, me, 

Authoritative shouts. "Clear! Clear!"

There's nothing you can do,

One droning singular pitch.

A monitor that paints the story of her life.

A flat line.

"Clear!"

hands grasping. "She's gone, Doctor. She's gone."

All of the activity falls into a dead quiet. A life here and then gone, snuffed out. And no answers for what happened. Why was she there. No preexisting conditions. She should just be gone, she can't be but----already, the warmth fades from her finger tips. 

A visceral ache strikes him and he strides from the room, needing air, knowing already he will be haunted tonight by this moment in which he was unable to bring her back. 

That he failed at Saving Grace.