"Are you coming in?" Pandora asks tersely, sidestepping to make room for Harmon but he's frozen in the door way, awestruck. "Harmon,"
"I've no time for pleasantries Harmon. What have you to say?"
"That much is clear and has been for sometime Harmon, do you have more to add of consequence?"
This new information still dazes him. He can't quite bring himself to expose his own treachery to her and the newly revived investigation. It becomes clear to him in that moment that allowing Nevins to be hauled in will not do him favours. Nevin's will talk. No matter what ties he had previously to Frank Irving, the FBI will see him in a cell, and Pandora too, pregnant and all if she is unable to convince them entirely that she had no idea whatsoever was going on. He has gone too far already, providing that sample for Irving, but if he can destroy anything left that might hint at that connection, there may be a chance to keep himself, and the mother of child, out of harms way.
"I must go." he states, eyes flashing, darting from side to side. "I must go, Pandora, but I will return." he turns on his heel and begins to depart. Pandora huffs in exasperation before he turns around. "But Beloved, I must tell you, I am happy. I love you"
She watches him leave, stony faced, leans on the door after she slams it shut and thumbs away a tear on her cheek. "I love you, Harmon Odesu." and She wishes it wasn't true.
Nevins might think he's smart than Harmon but not by much. The HO has had people inside the house before, running recon for him. It's what someone like him does, keeps spies, keeps information, trades it, screws, profits, he's a crook and dealer and takes lives if need be. He has all intent of burning everything incriminating left in this house, and with any luck, Nevins too--didn't Frank tell him to toss all his incriminating shit?---there's a movement in one of the rooms.
Cold bewilderment leaves Abbie standing in Crane's shirt, shocked, numb in his living room before she pulls herself together and begins hauling on her clothes.
It's not ending like this. No way in hell.
Separate rooms was quickly decided after Crane launched himself at Abraham in an angry assault.
"Put the files down." Harmon intones. In one hand a gun, in the other a lighter. The air has changed and now she understands why, the smell of gasoline.
"Who are you."
"You'll pay with your life for the answer," he warns.
Lori trembles with the papers in hand. Here are all of the answers she's wanted, needed, deserves, after having the love of her life wrenched away from her. In this file is her last, her only chance at justice for Ezra. Her hope. In these files is the destruction of a man she once called friend---whose love for her, stole from her, in equal measure.
But is it worth her own life in exchange?
"I will not ask again---"
"You want me HO not her." Nevins appears over Harmon's shoulder, his arms extended out to his sides invitingly. "Settle with me."
"Hold incriminating evidence on the manufacturing of a drug. Two, to be precise, that you helped me with. One that'll make us a mint if we got it on market. The other that'll stop all opponents in their tracks. Guarantees quiet work. Built off a fluke, really." his gaze finally drifts past the imposing gun wielding man and through to Lori. "I hadn't meant to kill him, Lor. You have to believe that."
Her lips tremble. "You've named it after him. This deadly poison, is that supposed to be an honour" she screams. "In loving memory of one of your best friends---a lethal pill"
"There was money on that fight. If he lost I----"
"You what, Nevins."
Harmon growls"This is of no consequence to me. Give me the files or we all burn."
"You're so damned good at that it's a wonder you didn't torch the place already." Nevins snaps angrily. "It's rare you find folk with a gift for arson, but you have it HO, you got it----"
"Oh ho. Don't want any more dirty laundry aired out?" He holds up a phone. "What makes you think I' haven't already called the feds."
Harmon whirls and points the barrel at Nevins, levelling it at his forehead. Nevins swallows. "Go ahead HO. Do it. It'll keep your nose clean right, no one will bother searching this place. Keep Pandora safe too, right?"
"Silence, Nevins." he grits out.
Paralyzed, folder still in hand Lori doesn't know what to do. There is only one doorway. No windows. She may very well witness a murder, have this evidence destroyed and on top of which die herself today.
"Do it, HO." he spits. "Shoot me. Do it!" he yells.
The gun clicks.
"There ya go. Hey Lor," he screws up his mouth. His eye go sad and tender, like the boy she knew in high school. Her dear friend. "Lorelei Mills" His voice is soft and sober. "I'm sorry, honestly. You just can't trust everyone. Ask Corbin."
That jolts her, she steps forward. "What do you mean---"
Harmon swings in her direction and Nevins springs into action, struggling for control of the gun.
"RUN!" he cries. "RUN LORI RUN.
"Heart hammering she darts across the room, diving out of the way of the two men struggling and careening from wall to wall. "RUN LORI. PLEASE" down the halls, down corridors, turning towards the entrance way she hears shots going off and then the whoosh crackle of wood going up in flames. When she looks over her shoulder, fire is licking down the hallway, chasing after her as she skips down the front steps, folder still in hand, tears in her eyes, smoke in her throat, gasping and tired and confused. She keeps running till she's at the base of the hill and looks back at the swiftly burning mansion, and her heart constricts.
He killed your husband. She reminds herself. He gave Ezra experimental drugs, let him die and didn't take any responsibility for it. He ruined your life.
But he saved you.
He saved your life.
Sirens blare in the distance, and she can't be found here, either way. Clutching the file to her chest, Lori makes a break for it.
Letting a man of her past go up in flames.
"let me see him."
"He's in interrogation right now."
Abbie grits her teeth and clenches her fists. "I said let me see him."
"I cannot let you in back----"
"Colburn" Luke nods as he comes striding down the hall. All sleek lines and neat hair like he didn't just take a big stick to the dolly house of Abbie's life. "What's going on here?" he makes deliberate eye contact with Colburn first before meeting eyes with her and when he does has the gall to look surprised.
"Let me see him Luke." She insists through tight lips. She takes quick steps forward but gets held off by Brooks, already anticipating that she intends to make not so friendly bodily contact with his superior. "You let me see him." she hisses, voice dripping venom but her eyes tinged with red.
"You need to calm down." he says evenly.
"I'll calm down when you let me back there,"
"Abbie. I mean it."
"Luke so help me"
"Calm down," he snaps, shooting a glance at Colburn who watches with interest. His eyes are anything but the kind caring she's grown accustomed to. Gone cold, authoritative. It makes her irrationally even more upset.
"Luke," she tries again. "Luke. It's me" How can you go distant on me?
She notes the tick in his jaw before he sweeps an arm down the hallway he just emerged from. "He's down there. Fifth door on your left."
"Sir---" Colburn pipes up, about to protest about her going unaccompanied but Luke waves him off and follows after her stopping just outside.
"Drug possession." he says, to answer the question he believes she wants to ask. But Abbie isn't concerned about that….the ransacking of the apartment that morning, the discovery of the substance was evidence enough for that. What Abbie wants to know is, how to get Crane out of here.
"They weren't his."
"In his apartment Abbie."
"You can't prove that and neither can I until this investigation is done. For now he's got information that's valuable to us. Depending on the answers I get," he shrugs and looks away.
A single, cold, clear thought enters her brain. "Then?" she presses. "Then what Morales?"
"If he's not an innocent as he makes out he's gotta go Abs. You know that----" he begins to turn away but she grabs his arm.
"Luke. It's not him, I know it isn't. Abraham might have been getting it from somewhere but it's not my man. Not Crane."
He meets her eyes when she says 'my man'. Feels a flash of jealousy for the possessiveness of it. He'd never been so lucky.
"If he's got nothing to hide you have nothing to worry about." He shrugs out of her grasp, swings open the door. "I'll be out here when you're done."
She remembers what he looked like when she first laid eyes on him. Sure she does. Slender nose, piercing gaze. Tousled brown and gold hair that caught the light.
She remembers his face above hers, mere hours ago. The perspiration on his skin, the bruised red of his lips and the dark hunger that lost to tender depth while he confessed his heart. While he moved, searching for the core of her, the heart of her body, and the moment when he struck true, key turned in the lock and she was open and welcome and he was home. That had been the look on his face. As if at last he had come home.
A bruised haggard face is what looks at her now and she chokes when she realizes he's in cuffs. "Crane?"
"Sweetness?" he calls, as if he's unsure she's real.
"Crane," she hunkers down in the seat opposite him hurriedly. The room is dimly lit, and a little odd in space. A table acts as barrier between them. It's too large, because she wants to be in his arms, or to cradle his head against her chest. It's too small, because she wants to run away from this change. This strange, dark reality. "Why they got you in cuffs?" she asks. "What happened to your face?"
He chuckles darkly. "I was unable to control my temper when they brought Abraham in. And, coincidentally, I was not agreeable to the officers who sought to restrain me."
"They hit you?"
"No, this 'shiner' here is thanks to Abraham's superb marksmanship. You can think him for this one." he clears his throat and she notices his lip is split.
"What's going on Crane. Tell me you don't have anything to do with this."
On the other side of the invisible wall, Luke furrows his brow and strokes his chin. Waiting and listening to see if he'll divulge anything to Abbie that he didn't tell them. Down the hall the sister is with Abraham. She showed up only a few moments before Abbie did. He had just finished showing her to Abraham's room when the elder Mills had barrelled in. He's got another agent listening in on the other pair.
He doesn't like it.
He thought he would, honestly. Thought he'd have felt a dark thrill for hauling in this man who managed to steal Abbie's heart when he had tried so earnestly to win and keep it before it all fell through. He thought he'd have been a smug self satisfied bastard and would have enjoyed a chance to ship Ichabod Crane out of town---hell, out of the country. But all he feels is queasy, and he shocks himself with hoping that perhaps Crane might be innocent after all.
After all. He still loves Abbie. Always will. Will always want what's best for her, and to be frank seeing her riled up like that just now damn near killed him inside. If…..if this guy gives her happiness…..gives her something he couldn't…..
Get your head in the game, he shakes himself. Do your job first. Can't let him off if there's grounds to press charges. Not if he's tied up in your biggest case.
If he's guilty he's guilty and you can't change that.
But he doesn't want to hurt Abbie either.
He watches her fidget and struggle with indecision of whether to reach for Crane's cuffed and cut up hands resting on the table. He turns away.
If he's clear you let him go. He takes a deep breath. One step at a time, Morales.
"Nevins" Abraham grunts wearily.
Jenny blinks thrice. Rapid, disbelieving, she thinks she must have misheard, blinks. "Excuse me?"
"Atticus Nevins. My Physician"
She struggles to stay present and not drift far and back away.
Jenny racing against Abbie when they were children, shrieking and pushing the other trying to win the race to the to Nevins' place, then about two blocks away.
The conversation that always dwindled abruptly when they barged in through the doors and Atticus Nevins would look over his shoulder, all faux surprise that they had arrived before pulling two lollipops out of a jar he kept, just for them.
"What're you girls doing here," Ezra would ask, his voice like the roll of thunder as they each clambered up onto a knee.
"Abbie said you could beat me in a race," She'd chime, grinning wickedly at her sister who has been stuck with cherry flavour while she sucked on lemon---Abbie's favourite. "I showed her."
"Yes you did," Nevins would reply, his face a close approximation to almost kindly as he began shooing them back out. "Your father is over here for therapy and treatment, and you two are distracting him."
Ezra would bite his lips together and then nod. "He's right. You girls head on back home, help your mother with dinner."
"Race you back home," Jenny would challenge, leaping to the floor and Abbie would viciously bite into her sucker and shrug.
"I don't wanna race."
"You're just scared I'll beat you again."
Another shrug. "It's too hot to run Jenny." sauntering over to the trash can by the back door, tossing the stick in. "Besides----"
And then she'd lick out the door. "Hey!" Jenny hollers after while the men fall in laughter. Atticus wipes a tear from his eye where he doubles over, poking his head out the door as she chases after Abbie, trying to make up ground.
"You get her girl! Don't let pint size out run you!"
"Run Abbie!" her father bellowed. "Run she's piping mad!"
And a grin would spread across her face as her legs pumped harder. Not looking back. Not wondering why Ezra got his treatments at Uncle Nevins house, and not at the office.
"He treated my father." she says, eyes narrowing.
"Didn't you know that?" she presses. "You said yourself my father was a mentor for you. Didn't you ever see him around?"
"Your father was my idol not the people who followed him."
Jenny slams the table.
She'd heard rumours, after. She'd heard her mother cuss and that Nevins jovial voice turned sly when he came around asking about being paid the debt Ezra had racked up in medical expenses.
And then suddenly he'd vanished from their lives. She hadn't missed him much.
Had forgotten him, entirely.
But don't you turn your back on the past too fast because it's jealous of your future. And when it catches up to you, it bites.
"He had you on shit" Jenny spits, looking away from him. "You're a damn fool not to put two and two together. Didn't you look him up? nothing?"
"I don't understand---"
Jenny runs a hand through her hair in frustration. " There was an investigation back then. Even though people were saying it was his match with you, they were trying to swing him for malpractice. I remember that. But he had enough money to give the right people a lick finger and the heat died off. He came to us trying to collect for my father's 'treatments' guess like he was giving you. Bled us damn dry and you're a punk not to notice it, Abraham. He played you. He played your ass and now Crane's catching your mess and you know what? You're lucky it wasn't your life. But it might damn well be your career now. Good job Abraham." she pushes back from the table, rises to her feet slowly.
"Ah" she raises a hand to silence him. "I got a lot to process right now."
"I'm being detained in a federal drug case."
"You stepped in that not me," she snaps at him before turning her back. "If you see me you see me." and pushes against the door.
Luke is still observing the conversation when there's a knock. "He dropped a name." the detective says. "Nevins?"
Luke nods. Feeling a slight relief. "Him too. Atticus Nevins, his doctor. Says the man was slipping him the drugs."
"What do we do with him?" he nods toward the window where they can see Abbie and Crane, both of them berating themselves for not trying to get to the bottom of Abraham's problem sooner. He curses. "Let him go."
"Are you certain---"
"Did I stutter?"
When the door swings open Abbie goes on the immediate defensive. She's not ready to go yet, not unless he's coming with her, and she is ready to argue and make demands even though she doesn't have a leg to stand on so she is, in a word, shocked, when they order Crane to stand, and unlock his cuffs. He rubs his wrists, distantly listening to what they're saying, but it's hard to pay attention to their voices when Abbie goes straight into his arms. He's too busy holding her and petting her hair and whispering "I'm alright, love, I'm alright."
"You're free to go Mr. Crane." Luke announces in the midst of their display.
Luke shakes his head. "Nah. Not him. From what you say and what he's admitted, I've got him on possession. He's staying down here with us. But you can get out of here. But don't leave town, Mr. Crane." Luke warns. "This is still an open investigation. But I don't have grounds to keep you here." he spins on his heel when he hears Abbie's small murmured.
He stiffens, but he doesn't look over his shoulder. "Help him stay out of trouble." he advises, and continues down the hall.
When Cam saw the curling smoke looming above in the distance as she crested the hill, she'd dialled 911. She lives, about two doors down in a much more modest quarters from the ostentatious old house that Dr. Atticus Nevins lives in. Crotchety smarmy man but who grunted a greeting to her on more than one occasion. As she's running toward the site she crosses a woman sprinting away but she doesn't have time for that. She can hear the sirens, but they're not here yet.
And Atticus Nevins car is still in the driveway.
Camila O is an alternative model, yes. But she was training to become a fire fighter before she changed lanes. She doesn't have the gear but the front door is still open. She vaults over the fallen beam in the foyer and runs down the hall, ducking low, pulling her shirt up over her face as she calls for him.
"Mr. Nevins!" the alarm inside continues to blare and she darts down the hall feeling sweat bead up on her skin. "Nevins!" she coughs, staggering against the wall, she hunts in her bag for her water, grabs for the towel she keeps in there when she's at the gym and douses it before holding up to her mouth so she can breathe. She takes a few breaths and continues struggling on. This was stupid Cam. She thinks belatedly. This same stupid hero instinct is why she left to begin with. Because she's reckless with her heroism. They'd expelled her for carelessness. Because they knew you'd get yourself killed in field and didn't want that liability. She curses as she draws closer and pokes her head into a room that is thick with smoke and flame. "Damn it." She looks for the opening, a sliver, and shucks her bag before she makes the bare leap through the flames, rolling onto the floor next to his unconscious and still body.
The flames are leaping higher and Cam tugs helplessly on his still form.
"Come on!" she urges, turning his head and then feels her hand is wet. When she withdraws it comes away with blood. For a room on fire, Cam suddenly feels very cold. Chilled to the core. She has a moment to peer around where her hand touched to see that his ear, what is left of it is bloody and torn. She drops her head to his chest, remembering herself and checks for a heartbeat.
Well at least you didn't come in here for nothing. She assures herself as she wrenches him up, damn heavy for man of his stature and flings him over a shoulder. She lets survival instincts and adrenaline take over as she begins hunting down the halls for a way out. She emerges just to the left of the doorway she just used but that hall way his blazing fiercely and that means her options are to go further, deeper into the house.
Which is stupid.
But if she can keep them away from suffocating, by them some time, it might be worth it. There's still smoke, the crackle whoosh of flames and another malicious roar as she hobbles along with him. She looks desperately for a window, a door----and catches her foot and staggers, both of them falling. She rolls over on her back, checking her ankle and then glimpses it. A handle. She glances around along enough to notice there's a rug that's been flung off of this portion of flooring. There's a cut out square here, too. Ahead of them, flames begin to lick towards her and unconscious Nevins.
And this is why you have no business trying to help anyone, she lectures as she grasps the handle, insanely hoping for--- "The hell." she mutters as it swings open and there's a stair well. "Question later" she reasons. She reaches around back for Nevins and latching him on to her as best she can begins down the stairs, struggling to turn around she grabs for the handle swinging the trapdoor---"Orion's going to get a kick out of that when I visit tomorrow"---she grunts as she continues down in the sterilized metallic corridor. It branches off in a number of directions but stays straight ahead, thinking that direction must take her furthest from the house. Nevins bobs on her shoulders and keeps chattering to him. "Stay awake Mr. Nevins. stay awake" she thinks she hears him groan and moves faster until she hits a stairwell at the end and gratefully begins to ascend. But when she pushes on the door overhead, a sliver of tile coming into view the door slams back down. She pushes harder with all her might and feels the opposing force on the other end. "Let us out!" she screams and then the door flies open and there's a gun pointed in her face. The room is too dark and she can't make out who's holding it save for an amber eyed gaze glaring down at her, and around his shoes, the tile, in its distinctive diagonal pattern feels vaguely familiar. She can make out, just barely the silver bolted feet of a bed somewhere in the background.
It's a mans voice. Rumbling dark and deadly.
"There was a fire," She breathes, shocked. "I was trying to---"
"He was meant to die. And now you will too."
The gun goes off and she shouts, hissing in pain from where it went in her shoulder. She loses her grip on Nevins and her balance on the stairs. Tumbling back down and smacking her head. Above the door slams shut with absolute finality. She whimpers with the pain.
"Oh my God." she grimaces trying to understand how her day took such a turn. She visited her brother, went to the gym, tried to rescue her neighbour and now she's been shot. "Oh my God"
"Back." the voice croaks.
"Back, and go left." he moans.
Cam takes a deep breath, removes her hand and feels her stomach threaten to revolt. That's her blood on her own hands. "Oh my God."
She gathers herself, now supremely weakened and struggles again to get Nevins up hobbling with him on her uninjured arm.
"Left" he insists when they backtrack to another branch of hallways. She takes his instruction and finds the other stair well.
"Please no psychos out there." she mutters, gasping in pain as she pushes and sighs relief when sunlights streams in. They emerge in an office. A clinic.
"Wrap," he mumbles, eyes half dazed. She glances around for gauze in the examination room they've found themselves in. Limps to the tap, shocked a fresh with the burning sensation she feels. She tries to clean her wound, wraps herself up and then turns to bandage Nevins still bleeding head. Her phone was in her bag, but the office has a phone which she hurriedly picks up and dials. Frantic, she tries to detail what's happened. In minutes she's assured that an ambulance is on the way. She slumps over, trying to breathe, keeping an eye on Nevins who's eyes have fluttered closed where he leans against the wall.
Cam blinks at him. "Excuse me?"
"I saved you."
"Stupid"he grumbles again. "Risking your life"
"Thank you would suffice." she grimaces. "Who did this to you? Why?"
"Mm mmm" Nevins declines.
At last she hears sirens outside the clinic, Nevins practice, she realizes when she looks back getting into the ambulance.
Frank bites his lips together, eyebrow raised in disbelief. The fire was finally out, nearly half an hour later from where it started. House doesn't and won't ever look the same. Frank had cursed when he'd heard it was Nevins place. It seemed too much a coincidence. Whoever had done this, he was sure he'd been in contact with them in the last 48 hours. And that was either Harmon Odesu or Lori Mills. "You trying to tell me someone clearly lit the place on fire and there's blood in there but you can't find a body? nothing?"
The fire fighter shakes his head and Frank curses again as he sees Morale's striding out of a car looking irritated with the world around.
"What happened here?"
"Nevins place." Frank says. "Torched. Looks like arson."
Frank shrugs. "Forensics are in there, there's blood but no body."
Luke pales. "Blood?"
"They haven't finished combing the place yet, where you coming from?"
"Interrogations of Ichabod Crane and Abraham Van Brunt." Frank raises a skeptic brow.
"And? Was Crane guilty?"
Luke glares and chews the inside of his cheek. "I let him go. I couldn't find a reason to hold him---but Van Brunt admitted to it. They both named Nevins to Mills"
"You did not use those girls for your case." Frank reprimands.
"It's the law Frank. I need to catch my man. Personal relationships or no"
"Yeah well looks like someone else done caught him."
Luke kicks gravel and runs a hand angrily through his hair. "Shit"
Nevins comes to with a doctor looming over him. "Doctor Lena Reyes. You're very lucky Mr. Nevins" she chimes.
"Say that again?" he calls.
The doctor frowns. "Your ear was badly damaged…..here" and turns over a chart for him to glance over. Well, looks like old lefties gonna retire early. He reaches up a hand experimentally to the side of his head but feels only the gauze.
"How'd I get here" his memory now is hazy, everything after the gun went off flame and fog and he half thinks he imagined a woman saving him.
"Young lady named Camila O. Brave, if foolish."
"Damn stupid." he snaps.
The doctor looks him over sternly. "That saved your life, Atticus Nevins. She's fine by the way. Extracted the bullet, no nerve damage. Police are going to be in soon for you to give a statement."
Police? "Fuck" Nevins hisses and the doctor peers at the intravenous, thinking Nevins is in need of more pain medication. Which isn't a bad idea, if he's too loopy they can't admit anything he says, yet anyway, before he gets his lies straight. He grimaces and howls.
"Scale of one to ten?" the doctor asks.
Just as she reaches for the drip foot falls round the corner.
"If you could hold off on that for a minute, Doctor, Agent Luke Morales, I have some questions for Doctor Nevins." a badge is flashed and Nevins groans.
Reyes glances between her patient and the man. "Go easy on him, Agent"
Luke nods his head respectfully and waits for Reyes to wander off, checking on other patients.
"I was coming up to visit you today you know." Luke confides. "But looks like you already had company, you gonna tell me what about?"
Harmon closes the passageway, locking it tight. Washes his hands, pockets the gloves he'd been wearing. He'll dispose of those later. He cringes at the sunlight as he strides outside from the tattoo parlour, trying to rattle the image of the young scared woman trying to claw her way out of the tunnels with Nevins on her shoulder. Before he'd pulled the trigger and slammed it down, hard.
He'll have to get someone down there to clean it up, discard of their bodies. Scrub evidence they'd been down there. But, right at this minute, he's got to concentrate on playing it cool. Laying low, for a bit. He'll have to take a moment, figure out where he can go in the meantime, if Pandora might consider going with him. But he walks out straighter.
Nevins and all his ill got ties to HO, gone up in flames.
And the innocent woman playing hero.
But Harmon hasn't gotten where he is being sympathetic.
"You're an idiot." Orion grumbles, eyes still closed, when they wheel his sister's bed in next to him, other side of the curtain.
"Shut up. I got shot today."
"Being an idiot." he reiterates.
"Orion." Cam groans, because she's in pain and he's annoying her.
"I couldn't let him burn up in there."
"Remember how theres this thing called the fire department? that you were training for but got kicked out of?"
"You're really lucky you're concussed or I'd let you have it."
"You're right handed."
"That's your good arm and you were shot in it. So----" Orion blinks his eyes open at the ceiling and sighs. "I'm glad you're okay sis. That's all."
Cam turns her head at the same time that Orion turns his. She traces the planes of his face, the sharp cheek bones they both have, the amber eyed gaze they get from their father, but the similarities end there. Her dark where he is pale, a vague brown gold tint to his skin when in the right light. Short spiky black hair where hers is curls and coils. But siblings, none the less. Some shared strain of DNA binds them. And she's grateful for that, for a brother who looks out for her when he's so bad at looking out for himself.
"You of all people are the last person who should warning me about being careful. You fight people for a living," she smiles.
"And you went from, wanting to fight fires, to rock climbing, to sky diving, to modelling, to alt modelling,to being a wounded hero so, I guess we got the dare devil reckless gene from our father."
Cam chuckles, wincing as she feels her shoulder throb from the soreness. "They're going to come in to interview me," she says. "Might even be on tv."
Orion gives a bark of laughter. "Well, that ought to help your modelling career, eh?"
"Am I intruding---Cam!" Katrina exclaims. She's visiting earlier today, she tries and fails to hide the bagged lunch she brought for Orion. "Cam what happened to you?"
"Long story." Cam groans and turns her head the other way, being deliberately inhospitable so the pair can visit together without trying to include her too. Truth be told, if she can catch a nap before the feds come up, she might be better off.
"Witch," Orion drawls affectionately, a smile tugging the corner of his mouth as Katrina draws near, pulling up a chair. She smiles back at him briefly before her gaze flits back over to the other bed.
"What happened to her?"
"Cam's a hero. That's all. I'm sure we'll all be hearing about it soon." he nods towards her hands. "So what you got there for me?"
Jenny didn't want to talk after they left the station. Saying she needed to clear her head, maybe see if Joe would be willing to go a few rounds, let off some steam. They'd be keeping Abraham. They let them see him for a brief moment before they left, although the reception Crane had given had been particularly frosty. Jenny and Crane are both cross with him, and rightfully so.
He's a grown man, who should have suspected, should have known better.
But this is also a competitive sport. And you're supposed to trust your doctor. He's supposed to be on your team. Your daddy trusted Nevins, after all. Abbie concludes sadly. She knows her father fought more than once before he died, ailing from recent injuries, but went in hopped up on pain killers---and maybe something else. Looking back on it, no doubt Nevin's had always been tweaking those reports and clearances before the matches. Only time anyone had ever suspected, ever hinted that Ezra had been doping was after he was already dead.
Abbie watches Jenny clamber in her truck, slamming the door and blazing down the road. She turns back to Crane, with his tight set jaw and bruised face, looking ramshackle having been so hurriedly stuffed back into his clothes. She touches his arm lightly. "Babe?"
"Hmm?" he glances down at her, giving her the barest smile, which could easily approximate a wince. "Sweetness?"
Crane barks a laugh, scrubbing a hand across his face. "I must admit I'm at a loss, love. Of all the things for that oaf to fall for, I never expected him to make such easy prey. To be such a damn bloody fool."
"He's damned us all now." He continues, growing agitated. "No doubt they'll want to deport him. And he was my only reason to be here, legally, in terms of employment until citizen ship went through---he's----he's fucked it all up."
Abbie stills because she's never heard Crane swear. Never seen him this frazzled and angry. "Baby---"
"How did I miss it?" he turns to her, eyes wide and searching. "I live with the man I'm his best friend, I…..love I approved Nevins. I….I did this to him!"
"Nonsense, Crane---"she interjects.
"I did, I invited that insidious, worm of a threat into our lives and, I'm his manager, Abbie. I'm supposed to look out for him, his best interests, and I didn't do that. I…I was so distracted, so caught up….."Before he finishes his thought he realizes he's almost said.
"Me." Abbie summarizes. "You were busy being caught up with me."
Tears begin to well up in her eyes. "Do you blame me? Is that it Crane? Well I never asked you to come after me but you did. I never asked you to want me but you did. You made me want you back. I never wanted, asked, to fall in love because I don't wanna lose people close to me the way I lost my father. So I didn't want any of that, but that's what I got, with you. And now I guess, serves me right, I should have known getting tangled up in, in, in all of this, shit---I'd have to lose you too."
Panic flits through his eyes. "Abbie, no, that's not" he reaches to grasp her hand but she flings him off.
"Leave me alone." She calls over her shoulder as she gets in the car. His heart crumples watching her struggle to maintain her facade as she turns the key.
"Abbie please," he begs.
She meets his gaze. "Time Out"
All of the confusion after the fire and the news breaks.
Breathless, Lori slams the door shut behind her. She stands there with the files clutched tight to her chest in utter and complete disbelief. It's true, she thinks. That niggling suspicion, that unease around Ezra, its here in these papers. Proof of a manufactured illegal substance that stole her future with the man she loved.
And yet she would never have explanations for it. The house went up and flame, and…..she feels the most impossible wave of sadness well up in her. It makes her stomach roil for the wrongness of it, but with all of this, her complicated, mottled past with the man, Nevins set her free. She'd heard the shots ring out, had seen, felt the heat of fire licking after her.
Nevins is gone. She starts to heave and gasp with injustice of it. What did she go to all of that trouble for? If, if he's dead, what good are any of these papers? Who will they throw in jail? The skeleton of his house? Whatever remains of his ill got doping fortune. It's never been about the money. It was about losing Ezra.
Losing a life she had dreamed of and planned.
Forcing herself to find strength after strength when he passed to keep afloat, keep living, keep turning with the world.
It was about holding someone accountable for it.
She can hear his voice, calling, ringing, urging her to get out, to run. He'd known she was making off with this things but he'd never for a second had tried to stop her. Kept insisting she get to safety. His hoarse struggling yell. She hears echoes of him now, when they were young. Holding the bus for her after school. "Run Lori! Run!" and his laughing smile when she'd finally mount the steps.
"Run Lori Run!" and then there was gun fire.
Her body won't stop shaking and trembling, overwhelmed and short circuiting with conflict. He was your friend. He robbed you. He saved you. It was all for nothing.
Lori staggers into the wall and slides down the floor, face with tears she wish she could turn off or understand. She's too busy being shaken up that when the door finally opens.
She can hardly find words.
"What are they gonna do with him?" Joe asks as Jenny jabs at him. She huffs and sends a few more punches before blowing strands out of her face.
"Don't know don't care."
Joe looks at her skeptically.
"I don't buy it?"
She throws a left hook but he dodges, skipping on his feet. He's lighter and alert now. He wins. "He should have known better"
"I know better." Joe says. "I know this, what I'm doing here? is the last thing my father wants for me. Look at how badly their lives turned out in it. But I'm still here, doing what I gotta do."
"You making excuses for him now? He near killed you the other day."
"Listen I didn't come here to listen to you try and take up sides with him, alright? Now shut up and fight."
Joe works his mouth and rolls his shoulders. "Alright Mills. Hit me."
"A fire!" Katrina gasps. She'd been escorted from the room not long after having lunch with Orion while authorities questioned Cam. Waiting and pacing out in the hall for what felt like eternity, before going inside and wearily Cam had explained the events of the day.
"She's a show off that's all." Orion grins as his sister groans in annoyance.
"That's incredible though Cam, honestly. I mean, I couldn't imagine----"
"Do what needs to get done." she cuts off, tired of the fussing from the police and the intrusive prodding of reporters and camera flashes. "This is totally going to be on the six o clock."
"Probably sooner. No such thing as bad publicity."
"Orion!" Katrina admonishes.
He winces and cracks a smile. "I'm just saying. Some good should come of saving someone's life. I think that's just fair." Katrina direly wants to argue with him but can find no just cause. Instead she reaches for her phone to dial her sister.
"Hello?" Pandora drawls, she threw up twice this morning, deciding not to open up the shop. She's just finished posting a notice on the website when her phone had rung. "Kat?"
"I'm at the hospital. You won't believe who's here."
"Turn on the tv."
"Turn on the----" Pandora grouses, turning in the apartment and feeling instantly woozy once more she heads for the couch and gropes among the cushions for the remote and surfs till she finds the new station. "Why, what's on----damn it" there's thundering at the door. To call it a knock is too polite. "Hold on," she says to her sister. "What--oh Harmon." she waves him in. Harmon shuffles in past her, gently moving her out of the way with a hand touching briefly, softly on her abdomen. He doesn't catch it but the gesture makes Pandora smile.
"Beloved, I think we should---"
"Hold on, Kat says I should watch the news," she points to the television and Harmon grunts as he turns toward the screen.
Impossible. He blinks. It's the outside of the hospital, a reporter.
"The home of Doctor Atticus Nevins was rescued by Camila Odesu when his home caught fire today. Investigators have reason to believe it was arson. No further details on the culprit or what they wanted as the home was so badly damaged. Both however did suffer gunshot wounds that were, thankfully, non life threatening."
Harmon blinks in disbelief. Nevins. Alive. The girl he shot. Alive.
"It's the girl you pierced Dora, she's Orion's sister, she's a hero." Katrina titters in Pandora's ear but Pandora's eyes have narrowed when they flash the young woman's face on the screen. Her gaze locks on the amber eyes. Hinges on the last name.
"Harmon," Pandora says quietly, curious. "She has your last name. Beloved?" she queries, turning towards the mass of man that has gone completely stock still.
"My father was infamous for stepping out on my mother. I have a sister, young girl, the dog told me about her just before he died."
He'd shot his sister.
Abbie helps her mother off the floor, unable to make sense of what's going on as she dips in and our of babbling and clamming up. She tries to take the papers away but Lori has a death grip on them. She's worn out from her day at the precinct and falling out with Crane. She should press more but can barely stand to think. Lori shuffles into the living room and Abbie puts on the kettle to make tea. She hears the television come on and take a small comfort in that at least. Letting the news pipe dismally through the quiet house. Until she hears her mothers quiet gasp.
"Oh my God."
"Mom? What is it?" she asks striding out of the kitchen and listening with confusion to the breaking news.
"He's alive," Lori mutters, after her breakdown in the hall she's unsure if she dare calls what she feels in that instant relief.
As if on cue the phone starts ringing and there's pounding at the door. The two Mills women turn to each other, torn. Abbie goes for the door, Lori reaches for the phone.
"Lori" August's voice. "Were you there? Are you safe?"
"Captain Irving?" Abbie backs away when the badge is flashed in her face, having a sever case of deja vu. The hours bleed into one another but she's pretty damn sure she started the day with a badge in her face and it had meant nothing good.
"Hey Abbie." Frank says, glancing over his shoulder. When Abbie pokes her head out she's relieved he hasn't brought a squad with him to turn their lives upside own. She can't think of a reason why they would, but she's not sold on the validity of logic in her life today. "Your mother home?" his eyes read an intention of kindness but his voice is tight and gaze flitting. "I need to talk to her." he grits out. "It's important. Now."
"She's on the phone, Captain."
Rattled Abbie leads the way to the living room and Lori looks up from where she whispers covertly on the phone. Her face falls at the sight of Frank.
"Lori?" He says slowly as he advances. "What have you done?"
"Damn house up in smoke and if they salvage security footage----"
"Frank it wasn't me--"
"You DAMN well think it's going to matter if it wasn't you if they find any TRACE of you at that crime scene Lori? You think it's going to matter then?"
"----There was someone else there!" Lori yells.
"Lor?" August calls from the receiver in her hand and Lori looks between the phone and Frank, torn. Abbie follows the raised voices, grinding to a halt. ""Captain? Mom?"
Frank's about to launch into another tirade but stops himself at the sound of Abbie's voice. He struggles to recapture some semblance of calm and cool. "Hey," he waves nervously. "You're still here."
"I live here," Abbie states, matter of fact as she side steps into the room with her mother. "Mom what's going on?"
Lori huffs. "August…..listen I need to straighten out some things here first, I'll fill you in later, alright?"
"Lori don't you hang up---" she does exactly that. Then sighs, and meets Abbie's eyes.
"It….it has to do with your father, Abbie."
"My father?" Abbie repeats, feeling as if she's been punched.
Mighty Ezra Mills is a spectre, a loved one gone to soon and his death swept under some fuzzy old rug of time with unavoidable dangerous foolish consequences for doping without regulation.
None of their family tragedy should have anything to do with Captain Frank Irving standing in their living room yelling at her mother about crime scenes and evidence---"What do you mean it's about daddy?" She asks, freshly assaulted with grief. After the day Abbie's had, how everything was upended once already, if life had been kind enough to give her a minute she'd have had a proper cry up in her room over the fall out with Crane. But guess she'll trade heartbroken tears for grieving confused ones. "What does daddy have to do with any of this?" she demands, eyes darting between them both. She watches as Frank's expression sobers, the tension relaxing, his face falling, and how her mother's brow crinkles and the corners of her mouth turn down. In the midst of demanding answers of the other, neglected that they would have the Mills Girls to answer to, when through. Abbie's fists are shaking. This is too much for today.
"Tell me what this has to do with my father!"
"Harmon," Pandora calls, more insistently than before. "Harmon who is this woman?" she demands.
"Dora?" Kat calls worriedly. "Dora what's wrong?"
"I'm trying to bloody well understand why this Camila woman shares a last name with the father of my unborn child!"
"She's my sister!" he roars suddenly, taking up a furious pace to and fro across the room, his mind whirling. Nevins alive, his sister shot---a witness, he clarifies to himself. The tunnels need cleaning up, asap. He stops dead, remembering the woman that had been there with Nevins. And not the only witness either.
Pandora gapes. "What?"
"Kat I'll have to call you back."
But she hangs up and Pandora cautiously approaches the man thundering up and down, amber eyes darting like a wild animal. She lays a hand on his arm and his march ceases, but his face is creased with thought. "What is it," she presses.
His gaze flicks to her.
"What is it, Harmon, you came here about to say something before this revelation broke. What is it?"
"I think Beloved, we….we should go away."
He watches her blink at him and narrow her eyes. "Just, away?" she queries. "Away to where, Harmon."
"A vacation." he entreats, scrabbling to regain his footing.
Sister or no it changes nothing about the fact that if Nevins survived he'll talk and THO may very well find himself hauled in to courts. "When was the last time we went?"
"We've never gone," she replies tersely. "Your work has never allowed."
"Circumstances change." He says smoothly, darkly. "You and I, Beloved, are changing, come, let us, go away, just us. Celebrate this new phase just us two, together."
"You're running from something," she counters accusingly.
"And if I am" he shoots back fiercely, fuse running short. "And if I am Pandora, mother of my child, then what will you do about it? Do you go with me or watch me walk away."
"You have made nothing but demands of me since entering my life to just, abide by your side in all that you do. How can you think it your right now, to guilt me? To give me ultimatums if I would follow you?" She reaches for his forearm and curls her fingers in. He winces, feeling her nails bite into his skin as her grip tightens. "I love you against everything in me that says you will bring destruction to my door step. I love you past the secrets you keep because your heart has always been transparent to me. And I will sooner face flames of hell before I watch you leave me, carrying your child, you lying, conniving, thief, of my time. But you are mine, Harmon Odesu." she growls with a possessiveness that makes his heart hammer. "My life and child are yours. Your life, and mess, mine. I go with you."
One day, somehow, when he has managed to outpace his darkest deeds and indiscretions, Harmon will give Pandora the quiet life she deserves, the settled, innocuous dream he'd been cooking in his mind for months now, one day, he would give her this.
But today they're on the move.
"I have no idea who did this."
Luke looks at Nevins skeptically. "None whatsoever? Someone torched your place for fun?"
Atticus manages his best approximation of a shrug. Admitting who did it would lead to a why and dig him in deeper trouble---nothing he probably couldn't worm out of, but he certainly doesn't want the head ache now. "Bored people do strange things, officer."
"Agent" Luke bites out angrily.
"My apologies, Agent."
"Listen Nevins," Luke growls. "Your house in flames is procedure and interesting, but that doesn't mean I don't have cause to take you in."
Atticus turns slightly, wincing with pain, enough to give Luke a look of amused interest. "Oh?" he queries. "And what would that be?"
Smirking Luke leans in over the bed rails. "Abraham Van Brunt had interesting things to say about the vitamins you've been giving him. And I've been hearing some interesting things about them back in the city," by the end his voice has trailed off into a knife edge threat. Atticus meets his gaze head on.
"No path runs smoothly, Agent. There are many, many forks, in this road."
The taunt in Nevin's voice makes Luke's skin crawl and it takes all of his restraint not to grab the man by the collar.
"You'll be seeing me again, Atticus Nevins."
He grins. "I look forward to it."
"Abbie, Abbie wait, come back!" Lori calls, bounding down the steps after her daughter. "Abbie, where are you going?"
"Some place to cool my head! I wake up this morning to Luke tearing Crane's home apart looking for illegal drugs and now you're saying they came from Nevins and it all goes back to my father? Now what?"
"I want justice for your father Abbie, and Corbin came back asking for it----"
"Corbin came back so many years later and let us grieve alone. I got pulled into this mess because of his son, trying to get prize money for his treatments and here I am hauled into a world I didn't want, don't want, that has only stolen things from me, and you're just, strolling right back into it too! What the hell did you go to Nevins place for? Let go of me" Abbie wrenches her hand away but Lori grabs her again, eyes hard and fierce.
"You watch your mouth with me." she snaps. "You remember who brought you into this world and I will take you out" she bites out and gives Abbie a hard shake. "I am not any happier to be here in all this than you are, but I will do it all baby, the absolute most, if it is in my power, to get justice for your father."
"I'm not about to stand around here and watch them take you away because you were the last person at that crooks house before it caught fire!" Abbie screams, tears beginning to blur her vision. "I'm not going to stand here and just watch this life continue to take from me, you can't ask me to do that mom, you can't, you can't, you can't---" her voice breaks, caving into sobs, the weight of the day crashing down upon her and Lori pulls her in roughly, her arms locking around her and a hand to her hair. "And I wont, baby, I won't. But I--I gotta do this for Ezra, I have to." In the house Frank meanders to the front door, hands clenching at his side nervously. Pondering if he dares make a call.
"The phone," Pandora calls as she blows wisps of hair out of her face. What am I doing, she thinks. What the hell am I actually doing. She darts a glance at the reason for her life's upheaval. His dark corded muscular arms. The tattoos she etched on his skin. Pursing her lips she thinks maybe it is time he got a tattoo to commemorate their relationship after all. In light of what she's willing to do right now, a show of devotion to her and the life she's nurturing seems just cause. She decides then, grasping for her sketches and kit that first chance she gets, Harmon is getting something he can't runaway from. That will follow him wherever he goes, and she hopes, that he will remember in whatever he does, a reminder of his woman and child that he has to be there for.
Harmon pauses, making a disgruntled sound and ignores it.
"Pandora I do not have the time!"
"What, is your trouble so polite it would call first rather than break down my front door? I have heard of precious few that are so courteous."
He cuts a glare at her as he storms across the room.
"It's me, HO."
"Don't play dumb with me now, You got a moment?"
"No I do not have a moment,"
"Let me rephrase. Get your ass down to that parlour, now." And hangs up.
Harmon lets out a roar of frustration.
Pandora's head snaps up. "Well?"
"If we our delayed, it will be your fault," he grouses, charging toward the front door.
"Where are you going!"
He whirls back on her, his eyes scanning her from head to toe. "Keep packing. Take your phone. Do not wait for me if you finish before I return. Get on the road. I will find you."
His hand lances out grabbing her and pulling her close, lips roughly crashing down on hers. "Hurry." and licks out the door.
When Abbie's breathing calms down Lori finally relinquishes her. "Okay?"
"No," Abbie retorts, still sniffling. "What does any of this mean now mom? You said Nevins survived the fire, but you have those files here and---"
"Sssh. I'll deal with it---"
"----We'll deal with it because you're my, mother," Abbie replies heatedly. Lori screws up her mouth before she laughs half heartedly. "You're stubborn as your father. Stalwart. True."
"Everything I am not," a new voice interrupts. Abbie freezes and turns out of her mothers arms.
It wasn't that long ago, maybe only an hour or two, at most, but it feels like an age. Lori raises a brow and steps back, colliding with Frank as he bolts down the steps behind her.
"Oh we're not done here, not by a long shot Lori, we need to sort out a story but I've got a lead I need to follow up on. I'll be in touch." he promises darkly, bounding toward his car.
Lori watches him go, frustrated and a little worried about what is unfurling around the Nevins fire and her having no warning if something is about to go south, but turns back to her daughter still standing stock still, facing a tall, impossibly handsome man.
Last time she saw this man he was picking up sweets at Mighty Fine. His blue eyed gaze is glued to Abbie, his chest heaves and he opens his mouth several time to speak before he doubles over, panting.
Abbie swallows. "Crane?"
Taking deep breaths he finally straightens. He changed, looks like. Maybe had a moment to ice his eye.
"I ran." he says, answering her unspoken question why he looks so worn out. "I couldn't be bothered with the machinations of turning a car around and down different streets searching for you, I parked and ran."
Abbie eyes him warily, "I told you I need a time out, Crane," She steps back until she backs into Lori. Lori's hands land on her shoulders.
It makes him, and everything he comes to mean to her so simple. Abbie nods weakly. "Yeah. This….this is him."
Lori gives her a squeeze and steps forward, hand extended. "Lori Mills. Abbie's mother, heard you were in trouble this morning Mr. Crane."
His eyes dart to her and he snatches up the extended hand, pressing a hurried kiss to it, and bowing his head in a show of respect. "Ichabod Crane, I'm in direly in love with your daughter."
Amused, Lori extracts her hand from his and glances sidelong at Abbie. "She seems to be of the impression you feel otherwise, Mr. Crane."
He clears his throat. "She might have told you my life……was visited with some intriguing turns of events this morning and I…..I……" he turns from Lori and towards Abbie instead, approaching slowly he reaches tentatively for her hands, waiting for Abbie to meet him half way. She chews her lip, avoiding his gaze until Lori coughs lightly.
"We're all in the middle of a mighty fine mess right now, if I'm being honest. Don't you cause my daughter any more trouble. Abbie, I'm going in, you alright out here?"
There's silence as Abbie finally places her hands in Cranes. She breathes deep and then looks up, meeting his eyes. "Yeah," she manages to her mother. Voice small. "Yeah, I'll be fine."
Nodding Lori grants Crane a smile. "Whatever went wrong today, fix that," she advises. "Abbie girl I'll be inside."
Lori's just barely turned around before she hears the man pouring out his heart on the sidewalk for her daughter to survey. She smiles to herself and continues inside.
"Abbie I, never….I could never mean, that…..watching you walk away Sweetness, you must belief nothing hurt me more---more than Abraham fist to my face this morning---nothing hurt me more than you walking away thinking that….that, my God that I regretted you? Blamed you for what's happened? No, no Abbie, none of that could ever be your fault, never----I would burn my life down itself to keep you in it, baby please believe me, I do not want a 'time out'. Our parting this morning was enough to break me. Please, I will….Abbie I will," She watches, eyes round as Crane sinks down so he is begging on his knees. Even then they are eye level and at any other time she'd have snickered that he's so tall kneeling makes them even but her heart is hammering too hard. "Abbie I will fight all, any, whatever odds to be with you, and whatever this mess is, whatever they decide with Abraham and my status here, I will, seek lawyers, and battle and fight, because Grace Abigail Mills I love you, and what we have, is special, and life altering, and I will Fight for it" he says fiercely, eyes burning into her soul.
What were they fighting about? Abbie wonders. What made her think in the midst of all that confusion, that rejecting this man that had given her so much laughter and joy in a short span was a good idea?
"I'm sorry I….I overreacted, earlier."
"You? Abbie I am sorry that even for a second, that I gave you any doubt. It's young and strong and frightening but I love you and want this. Please don't let my….stupid, frustrated ramblings drive us apart. I beg you."
Abbie replays the day. The raid. The visit to the station. Their fight. The discovery of Abrahams drugs. The revelation that it might be connected to her father. The fire that's made news. Her mother that might be questioned.
There is so much she is unsure of right now, in this instant of her life.
"But I'm sure of you," she says out loud, and watches momentary puzzlement cross his features.
A tentative, hopeful smile begins to form. "Sweetness?"
"I love you Ichabod Crane. Kiss me."
She needn't ask twice. It's soft, gentle, his lips moulding to hers. The longer they stand there the more they melt, hearts pouring into this reunion. His hand goes to her neck and her fingers thread in his hair, chasing after his lips when he pulls away, gets to his feet, and arms latching around her hoists her up in the air, her arms going around his neck. She squeals as he lifts her, spinning her around with his relief and joy and she laughs with him, smiling down before he goes still and she grips his face and kisses him again, hard. His arms tighten and her legs wrap around him, holding on for dear life. "Please, don't scare me like that again," he pleads.
She pulls away, their noses touching. "Don't let me go."
Their lips collide again, a soft sigh escaping her.
"Hey now it's high day and you're out in public." Lori calls from the front door.
They spring apart, faces flushing with guilty embarrassment. Abbie buries her face in his shoulder, her body shuddering with giggles while he chuckles beneath her.
"Mom!" Abbie calls, still not looking up.
They hear the sound of Lor's robust laugh at the door.
"Well go on, take that somewhere, not up in my house the walls are thin."
" A pleasure meeting you Ms. Mills!"
"Uh huh, go on! Go!"
Still clutching Crane Abbie leans up to wave at her mother as he begins marching down the street with her still in his arms. She doesn't care about the looks they get.
Abbie will relish this moment where nothing else matters but them together.
Katrina's phone rings and she exits out into the hall. "Dora! What happened."
"I need you to look after the shop."
Her brows furrow. "Why----"
"Harmon and I are…..going on a vacation. Spur of the moment. We need this, please Kat, do this for me."
"Oh….okay, alright, Dora. Are you sure you everything's fine?"
"Positive Kat. I'll call."
UH sorry guys I needed to get somethings rolling and explain some stuff, so bare with me.
Past and present flashbacks for Frank.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
They bang into the apartment and pause a moment, taking in the disarray it was left in after the raid. Crane sets Abbie down on her feet and her throat goes dry. The sweet relief and joy of being in Crane's arms rapidly fades, replaced with reality. A drug case. A house fire. Somehow it goes back to her father. And somehow it's come back to twine itself with her life and Cranes. Sensing her change in mood Crane gently rubs her shoulders. "Sweetness?"
"I just want to be with you," she whispers, tearful as the stress of the day resurfaces fresh. "I just….I just wish that was all I had to do, and could be, was with you. I….I don't want the fighting ring, or investigations, none of this other, bull, shit, but I can't, can I. It's us here, but then after,"
"We have demons to face," he agrees, murmuring into her hair. "But I am here to fight them with you, Abbie. And if all you want is us, that's what I'll give you. In whatever way I can. Amidst, in spite of everything else. I love you."
Abbie turns in his arms and looks up at him. "Can we never fight again," she asks, vulnerable and reaching to cling to him.
Crane quirks a brow. "I did hope to engage in some physical combat with you, if I'm being honest, Sweetness."
A fiery blush mantles her cheeks. "You're dying to get me in the ring again aren't you," she snickers, inching closer to him.
His voice is a low rumble in her ear. "Grace Abigail Mills I will take you, anytime, any, place,"
Frank was smart. Personable. People liked him, respected him. Sharp witted, could crack a joke, slick charm. But he hadn't minded standing in the background in the early years, when Ezra's career had taken off. They had all gone to school, sure, Ezra on an athletics scholarship before he'd let Corbin, with his own quick head for figures and promotions start managing him, taking him out to fights to get noticed, build buzz, launch the career that would see them all in bright lights and fancy cars---so the story went. Nevins was the physician. Lori, budding cook, abroad, for time while she'd studied in paris.
Ezra had thought no one knew, but Frank did.
Whenever payouts were coming up short and him and Nevins would ask Corbin what had happened Corbin would shrug and site the rowdy weekend prior that of course none of them could remember.
They worked hard then and partied well too, but not enough to account for the missing funds.
What August was squirrelling away to help Ezra put Lori through school, workshops, apprenticeships. Lori wouldn't boast it to no one. With them gone almost all the time touring for Ezra's fights, they didn't question where she was, and even less wondered how she was able to catch flights to meet them when she could.
Everyone figures Lori's just got a gift, which she does. Brilliant mind for chemistry, an excellent refined palette. A passion she pursued as broadly and as deeply as she had because Ezra believed in her, and by extension their closest family friend August Corbin.
They thought no one would figure them out. Corbin short changing him and Nevins, not to mention the bets and wagers and payouts they got, on the occasion Ezra threw a fight, helping him set up Lori to open up something five star.
The glitz and acclaim was never something Lori Mills would seek though---they were married by then, quiet neat service on a saturday morning---it would take Ezra's passing for her to finally get up the courage for it. And she'd settled for a bakery.
Had Frank a mind to be bitter, he could be, about the money he should have made then but didn't, because half the group was funnelling money into dreams for Lori and the future.
Oh, he knew after, when Lori was pregnant, the cuts in their pay was starting to go towards accounts for the girls. But Frank was looking to sidestep out of that by then anyway. He couldn't follow the other three around forever, while he hadn't minded being silent, a shadow in the background, he was getting troubled by what he was seeing in the shadows of that world and not being able to act somehow on it.
He was getting weary of secrets and the threat of brewing danger, knowing there were people circling Ezra now like he was a golden ticket, he wanted a life that didn't feel destined to mire him in shadows.
So he sidestepped completely into law enforcement. He kept in touch with the guys as much as he could, sure, but it grew strained. He talked with them, still knew, a little of the goings on, and Corbin was still slipping him a small cut if he could turn his head away from the mobsters that had shown up to Ezra's last fight.
"They bet big Frank. They bet big and ooh hoo boy---but we can't get the dough if they in jail Frank." August Corbin throwing an arm around him like the old friend that he is. Grinning that grin that used to get them all in and out of trouble with a smirk and laugh in school.
School been out a decade and change now.
"Can't get all that money if they locked up. Bail to pay, you know? Let's bypass all that. I know I heard you grumbling the other day Cynthia wants a new kitchen."
"August I don't appreciate you trying to bribe me---"
"Bribe, Frank, no. You bribe the cops."
Frank had raised his brows pointedly at him.
A robust comradely chuckle as August patted his chest. "That's your job, but that not who you are, Frank! You're one of us still, you know? Family"
"August I don't feel good about---"
"They can make trouble for you Franky." He'd shuddered, there was something distinctly unfriendly about the way Corbin had said it. "You're making a name for yourself you know, the way you keeping things clean and tidy---I know you've been thinking of going FBI, folks say you cut the head off a snake."
"What do you mean by it August----"
"I'm trying to save your neck and pay you off too, Frank." And Corbin's eyes had been earnest, tinged with a little fear. "Stay out their way and they won't get in yours."
"Let crime run free----I don't bend to threats August that's not what I got into this business for---"
Corbin had raised his hands, squeezing air, "I could shake you!" he'd hissed. "If I wasn't sure you could lay me out I could shake you Frank, I mean it, these are people who know you, they'll make trouble for you if they can, I don't want to see anything happen to you Frank and that's me speaking from the heart as your friend,"
"I can't, August, I….I can't…..this isn't me."
"It was you to help get your house, to help pay for the wedding, small wonder Cynthia questioned where the honeymoon money came from---"
"You're gonna get us all in shit," Frank had cursed. "Absolute shit, running things the way you are right now. Ezra know you here trying to shake me down? Nevins?"
"Oh I know you aren't bringing Nevvy into this---"
"---Ya'll real chummy lately. Eh? Nevvy, What's he calling you now, Gus?"
"Don't get like this Frank we all got too long a history among us to be getting like this keeping secrets and---"
"You mean the long time swindle you was running on me and Nevins for Mills?"
Corbin had looked at him, jaw dropped, shocked.
"You could have told us that part, August. Lori's always been family to us we wouldn't have put up a fight bout it, but you ran secrets on us then, and now you trying to run game on me now so that what…..you and Ezra and Nevvy can have a payday, and me with my application in for training and letting mobsters play in my hometown? That sound like fair trade to you August?"
"Nothing's fair, Frank," he'd grit out. "Nothing about life is ever fair."
"I ain't doin' it" Frank had hissed. "And if you want I'll pay you back for what you gave me before, thought that was just gifts from you, still being your friend, but you want me jeopardizing my life for it."
"I said, Corbin, I ain't damn well doing it. I ain't afraid of no gun toting goon. Kept your asses safe for years just little old me," he'd mocked. "Wish Ezra luck for me."
"To what do I owe this summons"
"You torch Nevins?"
He's met by heavy, stony, stoic silence and he meets the mans hard amber eyes. "HO I asked you a question and I better get a damn answer for it or I'm taking you in."
"I have helped you,"
"And I've helped you. Owed a debt to you for what you did for me but you expect me to keep paying that for my life? Nah, HO. It stops here. You tell me what I need to know or I cuff you."
"Did you think I came unarmed?"
A muscle in Frank's jaw ticks. "I'd invite you to go out with a bang, HO, and pull the trigger. But I feel like you already took someone up on the offer today, yeah? come straight with me damn it and let me see if I can help."
Frank refused the hush money, and aggravated, cross with Corbin trying to rope him into such a seedy deal, he'd gone after the crime boss, man named Walters, full force. Hauled him in. Locked him up.
Ezra won his match and got his due, and that was enough. Had been for Ezra when he'd finally caught up to him. Ezra was looking weary, then. Like he wanted out of the life himself. "I'm missing out on my girls, Frank." he said over a cold beer. "Missing out on….they growing up, they watching me fight and fight and fight, but, the house, the drugs---"
"Ah don't say those words to me Ezra." He'd laughed darkly. "I don't want no cause to make trouble for you."
Ezra had chuckled himself, taking another swig, swallowing and gone quiet for a moment in thought. "I need to get out of it Frank, you know, I got to, but, damn you know my biggest bill right now is Nevins?"
"Buddy ole pal?" Frank grunted.
Shaking his head Ezra sighed. "Buddy ole pal patches me up alright but he don't discount his friends. Specially if he thinks I win more with his…medicine,"
Frank chewed his lip, thinking, pondering. "You're not getting younger, Ez, and….well you know I love them, hate them too, because we're like family and family is complicated, I love them, Corbin and Nevins, in my way. We all grew up together. But listen to me when I tell you Ezra, watch them."
He'd met Ezra's gaze then, dead lock and centre. "My manager and my doc? Well hell who can I trust." He'd chuckled darkly.
"I don't know if this is still news to you but I think Nevins gonna die sweet on Lori. And you know Corbin got big dreams of seeing you all set up shop in mansions, he'll pull all the strings to make it happen, Ez, don't doubt it, I think Corbin's in your corner. But he'll go lengths to keep you up that might end up bringing you down. I don't want to see any of you in trouble, Ezra. All I can tell you, is watch them."
Frank, as it would turn out later had been watching when he should have been listening to Corbin's advice.
That gang didn't take having their leader thrown in easy. He'd thought back then he knew how deeply it ran, who the informants were, who ran drugs for them who fronted what---but he'd missed some. Enough, to kidnap his daughter.
It was a city wide known scandal. Macey was missing for two days with no leads. No threats. No bargains to be made. Only promises that she didn't have long. Promises she was going to get her throat slit because he couldn't stay out of their business. It was revenge, plain and simple.
He kept searching because he had to, but truth be told he didn't believe that she was alive on the third day. When there was finally a clue. A hint. A location.
Sleepy Hollow belonged to HO's crew, and no one else. This gang had been coming in fast and trying to shake up his territory and he disliked it. They had numbers sure, and they were sleek and wore suits and could pass in daylight like upstanding men, but Harmon liked his shadows, and the dark of night, his operatives too. They liked Sleepy Hollow being theirs.
It wasn't meant to be a favour to Frank, not really.
Meant to hit back at his rivals was all. Take the one thing they seemed to think gave them clout in town now. Their hostage, Frank's daughter, Macey Irving.
Back then Randall was a slippery ass snake. Back then, Randall Crenshaw, was still kicking and could slip between crowds. He'd been moonlighting with the other gang for months, watching them, gathering intel for HO and none of them had been any wiser. Finding where they were keeping Macey wasn't hard, wasn't quick, but wasn't hard. She'd been with HO's crew for the two days since, while the rival gang bluffed threats at Irving. HO had just been deciding in that time if there was something he could gain from keeping her, or giving her back.
Men like HO aren't suppose to have a conscience, and shouldn't be moved by tears. But he was. Her second night crying and shivering and shaking and begging to be let go. For the first time and only time it had tugged at him to be right, in some way. He had Randall wait in the car with Macey when Irving showed up. He'd come alone, as instructed.
"Give me my daughter."
"You will speak my name first,"
"I don't know it, and it's not worth knowing, give me back my baby girl---!"
"I didn't take Macey from you, it was Walter's men. I have rescued your daughter,"
"And held her hostage how long since?"
"Two days." HO had intoned. "Deciding what to do with her. I am choosing, to be kind to you, Captain."
"In exchange for what, look you show me that she's alright or I blow your head off."
"Randall," he called.
And Macey shakily got out of the car, approaching slowly, but warring with the excitement of seeing her father.
"You take your daughter, Frank and go. Under one condition."
"Name it," he'd answered desperately. "Name it, I just want to get her home."
"You tell no one, how you found her. You turn a blind eye to my business---"
"I'll lose my job if I---"
"Your job or your daughter?"
Frank had swallowed.
"We can have a partnership, Captain. You get your daughter. And I help you weed out other vermin so long as you leave mine alone."
"For how long? Damn it how long am I supposed to--"
"I can take care of the men who took her." HO promises. "But you must look the other way."
"How am I supposed to believe it wasn't you to begin with---"
"I loathe Walters. And I was quite pleased when you took him in. The fact of the matter is, I have your child safe and sound, and you can have her back. Do we have a deal, Captain?"
Frank had nodded tightly and then with a solid hand on her back HO had marched Macey forward until she was collapsing in Frank's arms. He held Macey so tight. She cried hard into his shoulder. He pet her hair and wept, even while feeling his stomach roil that he'd made a deal with someone on the other side of the law. The same sort of damn thing he'd been avoiding to begin with had come back to him now.
"Go home, Captain Irving. Remember, tell no one."
"I don't even know your goddamn name." Frank cursed, glaring up at him.
"Harmon Odesu." He'd replied. "I'll know, Frank. If you cross me."
And there they were, the humble fraught beginnings of their tentative alliance. HO was true to his word. He'd had to get creative with some of his cases when bodies started turning up, remnants of the gang that had taken Macey. And some loyal inmate had gladly taken on the job of slitting Walter's throat in his cell. HO's men were the only criminals running Sleepy Hollow again. He got Frank information on other cases, and Frank ignored his dealings.
Like when Augusts Corbin's house went up in flames for an insurance policy.
Macey slept in bed with and Cynthia for a month.
She still does, on occasion, if she has a nightmare. There's a scar on her arm from when one of the brutes had cut her, threatening to kill if her she didn't stop screaming. She tells people now she fell on glass once in a park.
"You shoot Nevins?" Frank demands. "You light his damn house on fire, I know that's got to be your handiwork"
HO's amber eyes glimmer and his lips twitch.
"This isn't funny HO. I've got an open investigation going on here, and if you don't talk an innocent is gonna get swung for your crime."
"You owe it to me." HO retorts. "After what I have done to aid you--"
"I'm grateful I got Macey to this day, and I've tried my best with you HO but this is an innocent, woman, she's got daughters, she's got…she's got a life, a family, and I can't see her tied up in--"
He's not prepared for Harmon to wrap a fist in his collar so fast, jerking him close. "What I have given you I can take away," he growls, nostrils flared. Frank's steely eyes bore into his.
"You threatening my family, HO?"
"Holding me here, to take me in for the assault of a man who certainly has earned it, is a threat, to my, family, Irving."
Frank inhales sharply, "What you telling me, just let someone else ---"
"I'm going to be a father," he hisses. "I am not going to jail, I cannot face a court, Irving. Not for what I have done, and be sure, if you push me, I will take you with me. Everything you have let slip through the cracks, I will dredge them up. I will see you stand trial with me."
"You let the fuck go of me." Frank spits and HO pitches him away where he staggers across the pavement. Frank doubles over, heaving, massaging his throat. "What do you suggest I do?"
"Whatever you have done in the past to absolve me, Irving, you are a smart man."
"If you shot Nevins you better believe that he will not hesitate to identify you."
"Let him. And then let the men come and find me, if they can. But I will take my leave now, and have what life I can."
"You can't outrun the law forever, HO. Take your sentence now, you'll still have the rest of your childs life---"
"That is a falsehood and you know it!" he roars, storming towards Frank. "That is if I even survive my sentence."
"There are witnesses," Frank threatens. "Someone is going to identify you."
"Then silence them, Frank. Or if you won't, then I will."
HO walks away.
Uh.....Frank just mentioned a witness, shouldn't have done that.....after all, There's only one person who saw HO at Nevins house when it caught fire....and now HO's just threatened to take them out his self. :(
Ichabbie next chap promise!
Plot things, love things.
Comments are love!
"Witch," Orion croaks. "Hey witch, what's wrong?"
Katrina startles, meeting Orion Angel's eyes as she gets off the phone. She fidgets in her lap. On the other side of the screen Cam continues to slumber, exhausted. "A call from my sister," she frowns, worrying her bottom lip between her teeth. "She's….she's going away"
His brows furrow. "A trip?"
Lifting a shoulder in a half shrug, Katrina nervously tousles her hair. "Spur of the moment thing, I've….I've never known Dora to be….spontaneous. She's left me the shop to run."
"And that's all it is?"
Out in the halls footsteps clop by, pages for Doctor this, and nurse to that. The rattling of stretchers. It should be simple, her sister taking off with her long time partner. But she can't shake the feeling that this feels like anything but, the hurried departure, abandoning her shop, this doesn't feel like Pandora, doesn't feel like her sister. She wants to blame Harmon if only she had a solid reason to do so. "Something doesn't feel, right." she curses at last. Flopping back in the chair she huffs, lightly tugging the curtain to glimpse Cam on the other side, blissful face, eyes shut. "Owning a parlour, that was Dora's dream. I just like,"
"Inflicting bodily harm on people but calling it art?" Orion grins wickedly and Katrina finds herself returning a cheshire grin of her own.
She's got delicate fine boned hands, yes, and nuanced, particular eye for detail. But yes, Katrina used to like to fight, when she was young and picked on for being different. Scrapped plenty. Finding art saved her. Pandora gave her all of the grounding she needed before Katrina could land herself in proper trouble, but boy had she ever once come close.
"Look Witch, doll, everyone needs a vacation. That's probably all it is. She'll be back. She's got to."
"You're probably right," she smiles weakly, straightening in her seat. "How long are they keeping Cam for?"
Orion shrugs. "Sooner than later hopefully. That goes for both of us."
"Does she have a job? A permanent one?" Katrina queries. To be frank the idea of running that shop entirely on her own makes her nervous and itch. Minding it for an hour, or day, is one thing, but who knows how long Pandora plans to be away.
"Why," he smirks. "You hiring?"
Katrina ducks her head. "Well….."
"Cam, she's always got something going, but nothing steady that I know of. When she wakes up I'll ask if she's interested. What would she do?"
Katrina smiles weakly. "Keep me company?"
"Stop, mercy Mills, I've still got a fight coming up,"
"So you should stay in shape," Jenny retorts, throwing fiery quick jabs. He catches the last one in her combination, spins her around and reels her in, holding her back against his chest. She thrashes and heaves, frustrated at being out manoeuvred. "Damn it. You're never gonna let me forget this now are you."
"Hah." Joe pants. "You mean the one time I bested Jennifer Mills? Never. Now." his tone changes, calm and serious. "I'm gonna let you go. We call this training session over, and you actually talk to me about Abe."
"I'm not promising I won't sucker you when you're not looking"
He barks a laugh. "Well you wouldn't be Jenny if you didn't" he releases her and dodges swiftly out of her way, already anticipating her swing at his head. He bounces back across the ring, throwing his arms up above his head in triumph. Roaring the sounds of an invisible crowd. "And the winner is, Joe, Corbin!"
Jenny scowls. "Stop show boating." she huffs, flopping over the ropes, flinging off her gloves. Doing the same Joe joins her, bumping her shoulder lightly with his.
"You really cared about him huh?"
"Care's a strong word." she grits out. "What we….it was way too young for that. Look I know Abbie's gone all in on this with you, to help your dad. And, you're family Joe. Always will be. But….I don't want this life, the jitters the injuries. Abbie has the stomach to whether it. She's like daddy in that. She's invested here, I'm….what happened to Abe just, reminds me all of the things I don't want. I hope things work out for him. But I don't want this world to matter to me anymore than it has to."
Joe nods quietly beside her, chewing his bottom lip. "You applied for that show didn't you."
Jenny ducks her head with a heavy shuddering sigh. Curses fluently. "Yes." She hadn't told Abbie, hadn't told the Van Tassel girls at the shop. It was just meant to be a lark. Televised competition show. Jenny's always liked a challenge. And contrary to what she says, Jenny does like a fight. Just not the make a living getting beaten up kind. Anyway, she didn't actually expect to hear back. And when she did get the call, she'd expected to be politely let down. She'd been sitting on the news for a little. They'd start shooting next month. They'd given her just that much time--courteous of them really---to get her life in order before she left for filming. She'd been wanting a way, a time, to tell Abbie.
But Joe came back with his sick daddy woes and Ichabod Crane swept into town and Abbie fell for him.
And then there was Abe, who, she's briefly thought about giving up this opportunity for.
Yeah, it was a stupid thing to think, after all what they had wasn't all that deep. Just a spark. A wickedness to him she'd kind of liked. Glimmers of Abbie's joy had made her hopeful for something herself but---reality is, he doesn't walk a path all that different from her father.
Abbie dared to find something worth fighting for, diving back headfirst into the remnants of the legacy Mighty Ezra Mills had left them. The Ring.
But Jennifer Mills, she thinks its time she veered hard left into her own path. "I got it," she laughs weakly. "I've known for a bit now."
Joe blinks hard, disbelieving and irritated. "And you didn't tell anyone?"
"You've all had a lot going on," she grumbles, leaning away from him.
"Look you happy for me or not" her eyes flicker over him, at once a little skittish and defensive. Joe clenches his jaw sighs.
"Course I am Jenny. Congrats."
"Thank you. Oh God," she whimpers. "Now I just gotta tell Mom and Abbie."
Being, Abe's ransacked bed. An odd bit of spitefulness that swept through Crane's system after he had crowded her against the wall. Ravenously kissing her lips before departing to jaw, and down the column of her throat, hands grasping at the fabric of her shirt, and then pulling had actually torn it in the back. Abbie had gasped in shock, pausing to look up at him.
"You seriously just ripped my shirt?"
"All of the trouble you are and not even my clothes are safe?" she taunts, reaching for his buttons, exerting her own force, had returned the favour, ripping it open down the front before gliding her palms over his chest.
"I apologize," he mumbles between the kisses he resumes raining down on her skin.
"Yeah well I don't." grinning wickedly before latching her arms around his neck and leaping up. He'd caught her securely, flashing a devilish smirk of his own before marching her down the hall and swung into the first open door.
It happens to be Abe's room. With everything in disarray, rumpled. He doesn't seem to care and neither does she. Their lives are a turmoil because of Abe's foolish blind trust, he's got them all tangled in a mess now. He's the source of a lot of woe, and presumably immensely more to come.
So yes they're gonna fuck on his bed.
He drops her on the mattress where she bounces once before Crane looms over her, helping discard the shirt he tore and nimbly unclasping her bra. The cold air can barely touch her before his hands begin to cup and mould, his mouth slanting over hers as he pushes her back and down, tweaking her nipple just enough for her to hiss but then detaches himself from their kiss to sooth her with his tongue. Her fingers tangle in his locks as she arches into him, moaning sweet low sounds as he sucks, feeling her heart beat race when he releases her and knots his own hand in her hair and pulls her head back, baring her throat. He latches on and sucks until he's left a mark there. Crane draws away to admire his handiwork and her eyes darken watching him. "You marking me Crane?" she asks. Without warning she rears up at him, feints a punch at his face before aiming for his ribs instead. He blocks ineffectively but it's just a distraction before she slams her body into his, knocking him over. Her lips seek his and when she finds them Abbie won't relent. His hands rove down to her backside, and she smirks against his lips. "You want it come get it," she taunts.
He flips them, and contorts her into a hold. She yelps in shock at his quickness. Disoriented for minute she struggles to free herself but realizes he's got her. Got her good. He was holding out on me, she thinks distantly, remembering that long ago bout in the ring.
"Beg," he commands now, voice low and tugs just slightly. "Beg me, Sweetness."
Abbie grits her teeth, biting back both a laugh and a grimace. This takes her back to their first match. That confrontation in that had devolved into a no holds barred hands on grappling that was already changing her mind about a man she was sure she could learn to hate.
She'd learned to love him instead.
"Please," she hears herself say and Crane's grip slackens noticeably, caught off guard by the vulnerability in her tone, her quick submission. He'd fully been expecting to spar. "Please, let me go, Crane," she says, "and make love to me."
Their eyes connect as his hands loosen and she straightens out her limbs, half naked and hair mussed, before him. She reaches for his hands, twining their fingers and drawing him close.
"Come here and do things to me, that only you can. I submit."
All of the playful fire evaporates out of the room and instead Crane reaches lifts her wrists hands to his mouth, dropping on each finger tip a kiss, and then moving to press his mouth against her wrists, draping them around his neck. His eyes never leave hers, and she doesn't move an inch while he reaches his hands down between them, undoing her jeans. He pauses a second, deliberating how to get them off. "Let go," he says softly and Abbie does, reluctantly releasing him and leaning back on her elbows, lifts her hips to Crane can help tug her pants down, and then reaches up for her panties. He fiddles with the flimsy lace of them "You don't mind, do you, Sweetness? I already ruined a shirt after all," he murmurs softly as he forces his thumbs through the sides and the fabric rips, the elastic emitting a light sting as the garment falls away, but his mouth is there to sooth her, soft reverent lips that touch the join of her hip.
"Maybe I should just forego clothes when I'm around you from now on," she says softly, teasing him. She shifts, reaching for the lacy tatters and dangles them pointedly before his eyes before dropping them on the floor. With a crooked grin he leans in for another kiss.
"I'll admit your wardrobe might last longer,"
Her hand caresses his face as their lips mould and tongues twine. Her head is swimming because it's so strong and powerful the amount of want, the amount of love, the amount of safe, she feels with him. She's his. He's hers. Brief their time has been this seems to be an undeniable fact now. "I love you," she whispers against his lips.
Crane chuckles, hands gliding down to her hips he pulls away. "Count the ways,"
Abbie's eyes flutter open, locking with his. His gaze is soft and adoring, warm.
"Your eyes. I see you, when I look in your eyes and I see myself……And I'm not sure if I've ever loved myself properly before you loved me." she licks her lips. "I didn't let myself be bare, before you. I didn't let myself be."
His hands continue to travel down, caressing her thighs.
"Your, your sweet tooth." her breath shudders. He's pushes her legs up, kissing inner thigh, tracing patterns with his fingers. He raises a brow at her words, amused. "Because you make this sound, when you like something and it's so….decadent…so…."
She watches him licking his lips as he gazes down between her legs.
"And it makes me a little jealous of the pastry, the chocolate, whatever, because I only want you make that sound when you're tasting, me,"
"Abbie you must know to me there is nothing sweeter, than you. Listen," he ducks his head down and Abbie jolts at the feeling of his tongue on her. It's a little hard for her to keep quiet, but she tries, if only to listen to the indulgent sounds Crane makes as he licks and sucks, making her breath shallow.
"Your, fingers," she whines, "because they--they--- do--that." she keens as one long digit pushes inside. She throws her head back.
When the air is full of nothing more than her soft whimpers Crane withdraws and looks up at her. "Keep, counting, Abbie," slowing the pumping of his finger long enough for her to get her bearings. She fumbles, hazy as she searches her brain for her next thought, and needing him to continue.
Crane halts entirely. "My ego?" he repeats dubiously.
Abbie's eyes twinkle and she reaches for his hand. "Keep, moving, and I'll tell you why."
"Sweetness, you overstep," he admonishes but resumes, adding another finger and lowering his head again.
"Your ego, because it's so easily bruised. You have so much pride. But you----" words will have to wait for after she crests this wave as pleasure fires through her body and she releases an ecstatic cry. He continues to lap at her mercilessly humming and groaning his enjoyment. She stares up at the ceiling, mind scattered, until he looms over her, blue eyes boring into hers.
"Carry on Treasure, finish your sentence," he smiles.
Abbie laughs breathlessly, lightly smacking his arm. "But you break down all of that pride for me. That facade. And you break me down with it. Even broken with you, when I give into us, this, I'm whole."
His eyes shine at her before leaning down to capture her lips in a searing kiss, her hands running through his hair. He's so warm and real and hers. When they finally break apart he leans his forehead against hers. "Can I have you," she asks. "Please, Ichabod."
He pecks her nose and swings off of her, swiftly discarding his pants and boxers before he returns. She looks down at his cock, the hard length of it, and reaches for him. He hisses as she applies just a little pressure, stroking him. "Can I have you," she pleads. He stills her hands and moves closer, nestling at her entrance. She asks once more, "Please,"
"Always, Abigail. Always." and thrusts in. "I love you."
"Count them," she urges as he begins to move.
"Your bravery, and strength of heart. How you make room to love me. Your eyes," he grunts as he thrusts faster. "I have the whole world looking into your eyes and Sweetness,"
"Yes," she arches her back. "Harder. Faster Crane, faster."
"Your everything," he shouts helplessly. "Everything thing about you I love, when you, spurn, me. Forgive me, Abbie I can't help but love, God you're tight.---"
"Faster baby, please."
Proclamations and declarations be damned he focuses on increasing the pace. The sounds of their bodies meeting, her panting and his, and then the harmony of their voices when they reach peak. He holds her after, kissing her fiercely again and again.
"I love everything about you. Every trial we might face. Its worth this."
She touches his face wonderingly, gives her mind over to day dreams of the future. Something far removed from the present and the quagmires of their realities. But why should she want this far away thing. Save it for when? When the dust settles? When Abe's released, when they sort out this mess with her mother---Abbie sees courtrooms in her near future. Witness stands and evidence and hearings and juries. More investigators. More coaching Joe. Roaring audiences. Gruelling nights at the gym. Her job. The anniversary show. The glitter glitz of her tail swishing to and fro and the in the meantime, what about….them. His status up in the air. That's a lot of things to wait on, to wait for to clear up before she can have the glimmer of happiness she just cooked up in her mind.
It's impulsive, it's brash. It's stupid.
But hell everyone else in their lives has been stupid at some point, it's about time she got a chance to try something crazy.
Love is good a cause as any.
"Abbie?" Crane calls, admiring her features and eyes gazing adoringly up at him. "Sweetness?"
"Marry me Crane,"
He blinks at her, speechless. "Abbie…..what?"
"I love you. Will you marry me."
Comments comments comments PLEASE :D
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Time is still and her heart hammers so loud she fears it'll pound right through her chest. She searches his eyes, his face. Doubt, poisonous, dreadful, quickly coiling in her belly.
Abbie licks her lips. "Ichabod?"
"Why," he asks, voice barely above a whisper. He's still holding himself above her, trying to decipher how they got here. In some ways, Ichabod Crane knew the moment he laid eyes on her, he would be forever changed, but, this, still, "Why?" he persists, vulnerable, helpless.
Her brow furrows. "What, what do you mean why, Crane I love you," she reaches up to stroke his face just as he rolls off of her. The cold hits more than her skin, deeper, in her heart, as she turns over in the bed and looks at him. The lean muscles in his back as he buries his face in his hands. "Crane….it's….it's okay, if you don't…." she swallows and blinks hard. "If you don't feel….if you don't want me like…."
"Would you shut up," he moans, defeated, swiping his cheeks angrily. "If I hear you try to push me away one more time Grace Abigail Mills I swear…..I'll…..I meant it when I said I want you. I'll always want you." his voice is rough with emotion.
"Then, then say yes, Ichabod," She sits up and reaches to touch his back, stroking him lightly before caressing his shoulder. When he doesn't pull away she draws nearer and latches on tight to him, leaning her head on his back she kisses his spine gently. "Say yes,"
"I want to," he answers tightly. "You don't know how much I want to."
"Then do it" she commands, tightening her grip.
She feels him inhale deeply and then release in a sigh. "I can only pray Sweetness, that…..that you want this truly of your own accord, not because of the events of today, not because…..you want to do me any favours with immigration…. I have so little to offer you---"
Abbie's voice is teary but fierce when she speaks. "Offer your heart." she whispers. "Offer your life, twined with mine. Offer me you, please, baby, fears or none, that doesn't change this. You're the one thing I'm sure of….I won't ask again. Will you marry me?"
When there is more silence, Abbie makes to draw away before he turns in her arms and cups her cheek. "I give you all of it," he says reverently, like a prayer. " I give you all of it, freely, yes, Abbie. Yes----"
Whatever else he planned to say, swallowed up in a deep heart felt kiss, that brings them impossibly closer, that takes them deeper in their love than they ever imagined they could be.
"Mr. Mills, has a nice ring to it," she teases when they break for air. His smile makes her heart open up like the heavens themselves.
"Yes," he agrees, kissing her softly again, uttering against her lips, "Yes it does."
"You gonna be okay in there, sure you don't need moral support?"
"I got this Joe. It's just Mom and Abbie." Jenny flaps her hand dismissively as she skips up the steps and unlocks the front door. "They'll miss me for a little bit is all," she says, kicking off her shoes and slinging her bag at the door. "Mom!" she hollers.
Abbie got home only about a hour or so before, bolted in the door face glowing and grinning and shining so bright Lori had shielded her eyes.
"Abbie girl turn that light out you trying to blind me?" she chortled. Abbie had only sauntered forward, still beaming and thrown her arms around her mother. "Well I guess he 'made up' to you proper then huh."
"Mom!" Abbie shrieks, squeezing tighter before she admits a little shakily and embarrassed, "Yeah."
"Well. That's all I need to know. Seems a nice fellow. You should bring him around more."
Abbie breathes deeply. "I'm glad to hear you say that, mom, because he will be around more, a lot more. Um…..do you still…..you still have daddy's last championship ring?"
Lori's brow creases at the strange turn. "Yes, why,"
"I asked him to marry me."
She must have misheard, Lori blinks and twiddles a finger in her ear. "Abbie?"
"I know what you're thinking, and I've already thought it, but…..I love him, I know that much, I feel it, even when I was angry, I don't think I've ever been that mad yet, he pushes my buttons, oh he can get on my nerves he gets under my skin, but I know it's…..it's because he means so much to me. It's because I care and he does too, he loves me, and I want this. We want, this."
Lori studies her daughters face. "Well. Tell me. What he say?"
Another blinding white grin. There are doubts and questions rearing their ugly heads in Lori's mind but she'll forget them for now. She's not entirely sure when last she saw Abbie this, shining happy.
"He said yes!"
"A job?" Cam queries. She's groggy still but she thinks her half brother's acquaintance just asked her to come work in the tattoo parlour. As soon as possible. "What would I do?"
"Just make appointments," Katrina says helpfully, breezily, not wanting to scare the woman off. In the neighbouring bed Orion chuckles lightly to himself. She glares at him.
"And you'd pay me."
"Little more than minimum? Look, my sisters going away, I'm going to need an extra hand there, it would really mean a lot if you could---"
As best as she can manage Cam shrugs and then winces in pain. She catches Katrina mirroring the expression in empathy and in that moment decides she sorta likes this one. Her brother has certainly done worse. His last partner had been an absolute jerk. Money hungry conniving self centred creep. Do anything, anyone, with no care to the detriment of others. At least she knows Katrina, a tad, and she works, which is a bonus. And she's been visiting Orion while he's been concussed until he's released. So that's good too. "Okay. I think I'm supposed to get out of here tomorrow? what time do you want me?"
"You'll do it?"
"Yeah sur----oomph" she's cut off by Katrina throwing her arms excitedly around her forgetting Cam's injury until she groans. "Sorry!"
Orion continues to laugh. "Look at you, steady job and everything. And it only took you getting shot for something to stick."
"Orion that's cruel." Katrina admonishes.
Cam sticks her tongue out at him.
"So what you want your father's ring for?" Lori asks. Upstairs, she rummages in her drawers.
Abbie inhales deeply. "Daddy was a champion, king of the ring……but Crane's king of my heart."
Lori pauses to side eye her daughter over her shoulder before turning back to the drawer, muttering to herself. "Never thought I'd see the day, when my daughter, My, stony stoic Grace Abigail Mills, waxing poetic like a hallmark card,"
Abbie rolls her eyes and sits down on the bed. "Well the day is here."
"Apparently so---ah. Here it is." Lori turns around with box in hand. "You might have to size it, your fellows got fingers like a willow branch."
It is a study in control that Abbie doesn't flush at mention of Crane's fingers. Her memory is very fresh from the way he'd made love to her after accepting her proposal.
Just then they hear the door and Jenny coming in downstairs.
"Up here!" Lori bellows back. It's a matter of minutes before Jenny is in the door way, but she pauses when she sees Lori holding the ring box to Abbie's outstretched hands. "Hey," she says slowly. She ticks her head, nodding at the box. "What…what're you doing with daddy's ring?"
Lori gives Abbie a look and steps back slightly. "Your sister is getting married."
Puzzlement wrinkles Jenny's brow. "He…..asked?" she's incredulous. She's not sure how a man gets up the gall to up end a woman's life that morning and then propose to her by evening. She's even more gutted that her sister allowed it.
"No, I did." Abbie says, smiling softly, but proudly, shoulders thrown back. "And he said yes."
It takes a second to register. Happy. She should feel happy. But something still feels off. "I'm….I'm happy for you," she says, though knows she doesn't sound it. "Really….I'm, I'm glad! But what does that have to do with dad's ring?"
She looks to Lori who meets her gaze head on. A mother knows her daughter, and Lori knows, this is about to irk Jennifer Mills. Finding no explanations she wants there Jenny looks to Abbie and is confronted with the same brand of bold faced audacity, but with more spark, add to it a creeping smile on Abbie's face and Jenny feels ready to scream.
"You wanna give him dad's ring." she grits out. "Him, him and Abraham, start the damn day off hauling us into the station, questioning, about what they know about an open drug investigation, and, further their connection to Atticus Nevins, remember him? old family friend doped dad to the grave he was their physician too---and you don't have any of the answers you need about this yet but you're going to marry him? WITH DADDY'S RING?!" she whirls accusingly on Lori. And you're sanctioning this?"
Lori stands. "She's a grown woman. I agree there are a number of questions that should be answered," she says meaningfully, glancing at Abbie. Abbie raises an eyebrow back, as if a reminder that Lori's in something of a mess too. In that moment they could decide to tell Jenny that it runs deeper than this. That there was a fire at Nevins and Lori was there, that Captain Frank Irving was by the house already and there are stolen files and a tie to ailing August Corbin. They could choose to anchor Jenny in this with them, but instead hold it back. "But it's her decision, at the end of the day. From what I've seen I do believe he loves her."
"Dad made his own decisions and he's dead." Jenny shoots back viciously, shaking her head in disbelief. "You know I thought this was going to be hard but it's not after all." She takes a deep breath and clenches her fists. "I sent in an audition tape for that competition show. I got selected. I'm leaving next week."
Abbie and Crane are getting married!
Cam's going to work at the tattoo parlour! (which is unknowingly the place she was escaping too before her other half brother gangster Harmon Odesu shot her whoops!)
And Jenny's leaving town! yay! ( I am petty) but she's not happy with Abbie....(guess I need to work through that huh)
But Hey! maybe this means sisters try to patch things up and Ichabbie get married before Jenny leaves?
How about it folks? all in favour of a quick ichabbie wedding amidst investigations and danger and chaos? say Aye!
Lori feels the floor tilt beneath her feet before Abbie and Jenny lunge to catch her.
If she's following this, one daughter just said she's getting married and the other just said she's leaving town, and now, she, feels, overwhelmed.
"Mom?" Jenny calls worriedly, her prior heat and anger quickly forgotten. "Mama---?
"Steady, steady," Abbie coaxes.
Glaring at each other, the girls ease Lori down onto the edge of the bed where she grips the mattress tightly, squeezing her eyes shut and waiting for the room to settle, for her stomach to calm down. She opens them warily, squinting around the room, and when everything proves still, takes a couple of deep breaths.
"Just, just give me a minute, will you? Ezra Mills your daughters down here trying to kill me," she groans and hears Abbie bite back a laugh. When she chances a glance at Jenny she can see her daughter tucking a smile away in the corner of her mouth. "Don't laugh," she chastises weakly, dissolving into a tired chuckle herself. "When did you apply for this show?"
Jenny backs away looking sheepish. "A while ago, I really didn't think I stood a chance, but……"
"I can't believe you didn't say anything Jenny."
"Like you would have heard anything anyway if it wasn't a starting bell."
"Did I lie?"
"I'm just helping Joe----"
"A responsibility that ain't got nothing to do with us, but go off---"
"I said what I said----"
"August is family-----"
"Look I was there helping you, there with you running around with Crane"
"You forget all the time you were spending with Abe?"
"Girls, girls, girls." Lori interjects, shooting each a stern glare. "Jenny, could you get me a cup of tea?"
Mouth twisting she swallows. "Sure," and backs out of the room.
Abbie plunks down beside her mother, feeling the mattress sink more under their weight. Lori reaches to clasp her hand.
"You trying to tell me that I'm about to lose two daughters in one day?" she asks, eyes shimmering.
"It's about time, frankly," her mouth reaches to smooth Abbie's creasing brow. "Been telling you girls, to, go on, do what's worth living for. But I guess I didn't wholly expect you two to listen to me."
"Sssh." Lori sighs heavily. "We've got a lot to sort through, saying bye to your sister, your wedding----"
"I……if Jenny would just be reasonable, I'd want her to be there."
Lori blinks rapidly, letting the words sink in. The room seems to be tilting again. "Abbie she leaves in a week," she says slowly, brows raised for pointed emphasis.
Abbie flashes a weak smile. "I never wanted a big wedding anyway?"
"You can have a seat there, Cam," Kat gestures to the stool behind the front desk as she switches on the lights and meanders toward her table. They released Cam two days ago, Orion's supposed to come out the week after. Cam is still sore, grumpy, and bandaged, but she was very fortunate it was such a clean injury. She hobbles around and hops up on the seat, settling herself in, toying with the knickknacks. Little plants and marbles. Healing stones and crystals, she guesses, acclimating to the atmosphere. Her gaze sweeps over the artwork laden walls and over the diagonal tiled floors---she winces glancing down at it, feeling a strange spike of panic and grips the edge of the table hard to steady herself. Deep breaths until she evens out.
"Camila?" Kat calls. "You alright?"
"Yeah, sure, just, didn't have breakfast this morning, that's all." she shrugs it off and reaches into one of the slots to withdraw what looks like an appointment book.
"No word from your sister?"
Katrina shrugs as she sets up her tools. "Called to say they've hit the road, no idea where they're going or for how long" she frowns. "Dora's not usually spontaneous, but…..Harmon, brings that out in her, I guess---that's her boyfriend."
Cam rolls her eyes. "There's always a guy out there to do something stupid for, isn't there," she jokes.
"Ahahaha" Kat laughs nervously, nudging the lunch she's packed to visit Orion later out of sight with her foot. "Sure is,"
The door swings open just then and Jenny saunters in, slinging off her bag and gets all the way through hanging up her jacket, using the washroom, laying out her kit, before she glances up at the front desk and her jaw drops in question.
"Hey," Cam waves shyly. "I'm filling in for Pandora while she's away."
"Dora and Harmon are taking some sort of spur of the moment holiday," Katrina huffs.
"Well guess that means I'm giving my notice to you then." Jenny sighs, rising with letter in hand.
"N-n-notice!" Kat grabs greedily for the paper, eyes scanning over it. "JenJen!" she shouts, scolding. "Jenny no! You can't leave!"
"I know it's not two weeks Kat, but I…..look there's been a lot going on, I know it's a crappy thing to do to you guys and I feel bad about it, but this is a chance, in a life time. And with Abbie getting married and all, it's time I found my own----"
"Married? Abbie's getting married?"
Jenny sighs, exasperated. She flops back in her seat, twirling around aimlessly, eyes tracking the ceiling. "She sure is. With Daddy's ring and everything. Think she's having Caroline design the dress.. You're invited, by the way."
Kat and Cam exchange glances over Jenny's seeming lack of enthusiasm. The air altogether feels heavy with layers of tension.
"You've got someone coming in for a leg piece in half an hour," Cam calls weakly and then rummages for a book to bury her nose in.
Jenny twirls her seat around to look the girl over proper. "Who are you?"
"Pandora pierced you, yeah?"
"Great. Well. Welcome."
Frank reviews reports meticulously, slowly, still working over first order of business in his head. HO is a loose canon now, a man who's suddenly got things to fight for. And Franks got his family too, he can understand it. But then there's Lori, and August, and Ezra and Nevins, and all of them a tangled up web of friendship and deceit and it's high time someone paid some dues around here, but committing to pursuing any of these answers, it'll see someone in lock up.
He hasn't heard from HO since they spoke. Frankly, he highly suspects the man has already bolted out of town. How far can he go and how far can he run---and part of Frank is hopeful that HO can get all the way out of Sleepy Hollow and never be heard from again. The man's a liability to him, everything he's worked for and achieved, that alliance is tenuous if not completely severed. No, HO's no good to him in this town anymore, getting the man caught will drag him through the mud. So he hopes he ran. He hopes HO has gone far away from here and that if there's anything to be found, that there'll be one hell of a chase to catch him.
Might give Frank sometime to pull a vanishing act of his own.
From what he's heard from Morales, Nevin's isn't being cooperative, which is to be expected, it ties up the case certainly. The one blessing about the fire is it torched all evidence, everything they could have gone on.
The downside is, also, of course, there goes anything that could have been used to find justice for Ezra.
"Ah hell." Frank groans, leaning his head in his palm, gone distracted. His phone buzzes, not for the first time today. Everyone needs him for something. And then there's the sharp rap of knuckles on his door. "Come in," he drawls.
"Got it Frank." Luke looms in the doorway with a cheshire grin.
He scrubs a hand across his face. "Morales? Got what?"
"That warrant for HO's shop. I don't care how big and bad he is, or how slick Nevin's thinks he is? They're not slipping by me. No way in hell."
A shiver rolls down Frank's spine. A flashing memory of the other night, the threatening, feral gleam in HO's eyes.
"So," Luke leers, triumphant. "You coming down with me to check the place out?"
"Me?" Frank touches own chest in shock. "No no no this is FBI work, Morales, I'm sure you've got this under control----"
"Nonsense Frank. Besides, I need you, you know things about this town, what it's become since I left that no one else does."
Frank cants his head out the window, feigning distraction but when his gaze ticks back to Morales he notices a steely edge creep into the mans gaze.
"I would appreciate, your help." he says, a smile cold with authority stretching his lips. An order.
An amused, bitter smile flits across Frank's face. "Just lemme grab my jacket Morales. Meet you in the parking lot."
Leaning on the window her hand drifts tentatively to her belly. Eyes squinting against the early morning sun. "Where is it we go, my heart."
"I only ask that you trust in me Pandora. Trust that I will keep you safe."
She sighs wearily.
His gaze ticks to where her hand rests and he smiles softly. "Both of you," he amends. "My Beloved and my child."
She doesn't answer, merely inhales slowly and lets it go.
"Married!" Danny barks in surprise before engulfing her in an embrace. "Abbie! That's, that's amazing! Isn't it Sophie?"
Sophie beams and saunters forward to give Abbie a squeeze of her own, rocking her form side to side and smacking a kiss on her cheek. "I'm happy for you" she smiles brightly, eyes dancing with joy.
"So you'll come right?" Abbie asks.
"Absolutely!" Danny crows. "I'll have the whole troupe there in their finest tails."
He ducks the blow she aims at his arm and swaggers away, cheering loudly as he enters the change rooms. "Hey gang! Guess who's getting married!"
"I've made a mistake," Abbie says in horror. "I've made a grave mistake."
Sophie nudges her playfully in the side. "I'll keep him in line, don't worry," she moves off casting another glance over her shoulder as she goes, gaze sweeping over Abbie from head to toe. "Crane's a lucky man," she winks.
"Lori? I've been wanting to talk to you, sort out what's going on with---"
"Not about that." She cuts him off. "That's gotta wait. I've…..I've got some...good...I've got good news."
Crane sits down in the cold sterile room where he had been mere days ago as they march Abraham out to sit across from him. He looks weary and sullen. Anger still roils inside of Crane for the way things have turned. Abrahams not supposed to be in here. Not supposed to have charges looming over his head and a second shot at his career squandered. The bitterness of it makes him bite his lips together hard. All of that, the blood and sweat and giving up everything to try to make a dream for them both come true, make something of themselves, and…..his best friend gets duped. Lands them in hot water.
But for all of that, the trial and trek brought him here, to Sleepy Hollow. It wasn't the life he had in mind, taking up as Abraham's manager. Not how he imagined things playing out, but he did find his future here after all.
It's bound up in a sweet, ferocious bundle of strong will and big heart and eyes that make him melt.
His future's bound up in Abbie Mills.
Whatever becomes of Abraham now, he can't predict, and, at the moment he can't afford to care. He just figures if this is where their paths diverge, that he at least ought to share this. These last confidences of friends.
"I'm getting married." He says evenly. "Thought you'd like to know."
Abraham's mind slows down, processing, before he lifts his head to meet eyes with Crane. There's still the fading hint of a bruise around his eye, I did that, he thinks sourly. He swallows and nods his head. "Congratulations. I'm happy for you…..both of you."
A tense minute passes before Crane rises to his feet, restless.
"Don't start pacing Ichabod," Abraham grouses. "You'll give me headache."
"Why---Abraham why didn't you say anything to me!" he roars. Abraham sits back, astonished by the passion of it. Crane's pace increases, ruffling his hair as he goes. "About Nevins, his 'vitamins' why did you just blindly go along and not tell me---I'm supposed to be your manager Abraham! Your---your coach! Your friend! and it didn't cross your mind to say, anything? I gave up everything for you! this whole dream of yours was yours never mine, I……something I supported because yes it got me back on my feet but you sabotaged us both and I'm….I'm so mad you did it. I don't know if I can forgive you for it---"
"I didn't ask you to."
"I've made my bed, Ichabod. And I'll….endure, whatever comes next. I'm glad not to be a stumbling block in your life anymore."
"There's nothing to be said or done now. I'm sorry I disappointed you. But there's nothing more to it now, Ichabod. Wipe your hands clean of me, if you want to, I don't blame you one bit----"
"That's not what I want," Crane grits, fists clenching. "You're…..you're supposed to be there, Abraham, don't you understand? Closest thing I have to kin these days, and you're…..you're supposed to bloody well be there for me, standing at my side, you're supposed to be best man, Abraham. Not here. You're not supposed to be here."
"Well I am." He cuts in, voice barely controlled, his eyes beginning to brim. "I am, Crane. So go, and get married."
Shaking, anger and hurt roiling inside him and compounded with an overwhelming sense of helpless ness, he turns his back on Abraham Van Brunt and storms out the door.
Cam sits up straighter when the pair of men stroll into the parlour. Jenny glances up only momentarily but on the opposite side of the shop Katrina's hand stills entirely.
"Do you have an appointment?" Cam pipes cheerily.
"In fact, we do,"
Before she can register what's happening, a badge is flashed in her face, papers brandished. Metal scrapes along tile as Kat pushes to her feet, demanding answers.
"Agent Luke Morales," he introduces himself. "And Captain Frank Irving. We have a warrant. Cooperate and there won't be any trouble----"
"A warrant for what" Kat demands, defensive.
Luke ignores her, nods to the agents and officers filing in behind him instead. "Leave no stone unturned. Turn the place inside out."
"I asked you a question,"
Luke whirls on the redhead, gaze sweeping over her. "You Pandora?"
"No, I'm her sister."
"Where is she?"
Kat stammers. "I-I--I don't, know, she, she's gone on a holiday with her boyfriend---"
"And she didn't tell you, where?" Luke advances, eyes piercing and calculating.
"No. It was spur of the moment----"
"I believe your sister is on the run."
Luke throws his arms casually up in the air. "Beats me," he looks around the shop and lets his gaze settle on her once more. "Probably whatever her boyfriend Harmon Odesu is hiding."
Cam tenses at the desk, her blood running cold.
Did he say Odesu?
Kat continues to shout in the background. "You can't just storm in here! Harmon does no business here---"
"Oh you're familiar? Fantastic, you can answer some questions---"
"Luke, what's going on---"
Luke pauses and whirls on Jenny. "Well I'm seeing a lot of you these days."
"Wish I wasn't. What's all this about. I work here, these girls aren't involved in anything to do with your investigation---"
"No offence Mills. But I'll decide who's involved and who isn't. While we're here, maybe give your friend some pointers on how to deal with interrogations." Luke rounds on the room, on the patrons warily shirking back on shirts and gathering bags to head out the door. "Nobody move." He booms. "Sit tight we'll get to everyone eventually."
Pandora dozes off, a trickle of drool escaping her mouth as they drive when a furious vibration starts buzzing in her bag. She's too far gone in exhaustion to do more than turn and mumble in her seat but it's prolonged ringing makes Harmon anxious. One eye on the road, one hand on the wheel he reaches to rummage around in the depths and glimpses the number. Just the sister. Yet a sinking feeling of dread falls over him. He swipes to dismiss the call and tucks it in his vest instead, keeping it close to monitor in case any more calls come through. He gazes at Pandora's sweet sleeping face and presses on the gas. They'll need someplace to sleep tonight at least, can't keep her on the road forever.
They're all ushered out of the parlour, harassed and harangued some hours later. Kat staggers as she leaves, glancing back over her shoulder at the shop that embodied the dreams her and Pandora had founded together. She pauses and meanders to the back of the building, towards the bushes that nest around the dumpster and throws up in them. Jenny and Cam watch her from a distance, at a loss for words, equally shaken.
Cam is queasy and wants direly to sit down. Jenny can only think she'll be glad to hop a plane and leave this all behind her.
Kat wipes her mouth, straightens and tossing her hair over her shoulder reaches to dial again.
"Dora!" she screams, frustrated as it goes to machine. "Pandora you conniving witch!" she rasps. "Pandora come back here so help me I will hunt you and that gangster boyfriend down myself, you've ruined everything!"