Author's note: Ah hah! Look what I found when I was dusting off my fiction folder. This little short story was written for FrostOnMaples, one of my fellow writers at The Beta Branch as part of a Secret Santa challenge. Granted...it was written before the season finale...
Disclaimer: Sleepy Hollow is not mine - it belongs to Washington Irving and the Fox network.
Sleepy Hollow, New York, early December…
Abby was beginning to think this hadn't been such a good idea after all.
"This…this travesty is utterly ridiculous," an indignant voice sputtered to Abby's right. "I don't believe that there was any historical record of Sinter Klaas traveling by sleigh, much less one pulled by a reindeer with a glowing nose. I weep for the children of this century, Leftenant. The commercialization of a holiday held in such esteem by so many people in the world is a complete shame."
Pulling a shopping cart from the line in the store entryway, she smiled at the greeter and led the way into the superstore. Christmas displays dotted the front section, along with posters and over-sized price tags advertising various holiday specials. Crane followed along like a nervous puppy, his eyes darting back and forth as he took in the colors and lights.
"Why must they begin hawking their Christmas wares so early?" the tall man complained. "I spied one of those displays when we passed the store not two months ago. It was not even Hallow's Eve yet, Leftenant! They must be either idiots, or drastically confused. Or are the twelve days of Christmas and the Advent not celebrated at the end of December anymore?"
Maybe the Christmas season wasn't the best time to try to introduce Crane to the concept of Wal-Mart. The shocked look in his eyes once he had walked into the front door had been entertainment enough, though she had had to pull him away from the sliding doors after he spent several minutes circling through the entrance and exit and waving his hands in front of the sensor.
"Why would you not use the same door?" Crane exclaimed in confusion. "Observe, Leftenant! They both open and close as I pass my hand in front of them. If they both perform the same exact function, would not one be sufficient? It makes no sense."
Abby had long ago learned to tune out Crane's scandalized ramblings. The man had been dragged kicking and screaming into the twenty-first century, and continued to fight every step of the way. At least trolling the man with debunked facts such as Thomas Jefferson's little affair seemed to quiet him down for a short time.
The officer chuckled, shaking her head as she pushed the shopping cart further down the aisle. She paused near a display of ornaments, examining the selection. Finding a variety pack with four different colors, she smiled and added it to the cart, letting it fall next to the three cans of cranberry sauce.
"At least they still have Dundee cake," he mumbled, opening a package and smelling the contents. He jerked back, giving it a distasteful glare. "This smells ghastly. I do not care what this label claims – it does not appear the same as my grandmother's recipe."
The officer roller her eyes. "That's just how they advertise it these days, Crane. A lot of people don't have time to bake their own, and the little comment about it being just like Granny's is supposed to make it look more appealing."
"More like appalling. This cake is soaked with alcohol."
"And we have to buy it now, since you've opened it!"
He gave her an indignant look. "But how are we supposed to ensure that the merchandise is fresh if we are not allowed to inspect it? I refuse to trust your beloved plastic with the preservation of anything I choose to eat."
"Again with the plastic?" Abby sighed, moving forward towards the housewares as she tossed the opened fruitcake into the basket. "Enough, already! Now, help me find a blender."
"What is a blender?" Crane asked hesitantly.
"It's a…blender. It chops things up and blends them together," she replied. "Jenny mentioned she likes those 'power shakes' for her workouts."
"Would this 'food processor' not be sufficient then?" he asked, scrutinizing an appliance on the shelf nearby. "It proclaims to do the same thing as that device you hold."
"It does…it just does it differently," Abby explained. "The blender is more for liquids and chopping it up really fine – oh, hell we may as well get one of each I guess."
"A mortar and pestle could do the job as well as any machine," the ancient soldier countered with a sniff of disdain. "And it is not made out of plastic. Two separate devices that perform the same function? This is as bad as the front door to this mercantile establishment."
"Lord save me from the establishment," she muttered with a chuckle.
He handed the device to her hesitantly, holding it out as if it was a filthy creature. "Your…processor, Leftenant."
"That's the display model."
"What is wrong with purchasing this one? It is even pre-assembled."
"Just hand me the one in the box, Crane. We need to finish up the shopping."
"Very well," he grumbled, handing her a box from below the display. "Such a waste of packaging material."
She rolled her eyes again, unsure why he was being so obstinate. It was possibly due to the holiday season; Christmas was a time for getting together with family, after all, and Ichabod Crane was currently without any. At least she had Jenny – their relationship was still in the process of rebuilding, but at least her sister was here, and not lost to time and old age.
Shaking her head, the officer added the box to the cart with the rest. They continued perusing the aisles, finding themselves near the Health and Beauty aisle. Making several selections, she pushed on until she heard a call from her erstwhile partner. He approached, handing her a package with a familiar look of confusion on his face.
Abby looked down, and then back up at Crane with a snicker.
"I have no idea what you find so amusing," the man scoffed. "Your list includes napkins, and this package clearly states they are for females."
"Um," she replied, trying to hide a laugh. "These are for women. They're just not for dinner. Yeah."
"Then what use are they?" he asked in confusion.
She beckoned him down, whispering in his ear. His eyes widened. Taking a deep breath, he nearly sputtered in righteous indignation. Again. "I assure you, Leftenant, that I had no intention of intruding on this…this…"
"It's alright, Crane – don't lose your head over it," Abby comforted, patting him on the shoulder. "Now, we need to get a turkey."
He let out a slight huff of annoyance. "I never did develop a fondness for turkey. Such a scraggly bird – they tend to be a bit gamey. Not like a good, fire-roasted goose."
"You didn't seem to have a problem with the turkey I brought you for Thanksgiving," she said, arching an eyebrow at him as they began to pass the clothing sections.
Crane shrugged. "I will admit, they have made advancements in agriculture that continue to surprise me. Although, I do not like the idea of this 'hormone' that your Internets claim is fed to modern livestock. It sounds rather unhealthy, even lewd."
"You and all the other guys in PETA," she commented dryly.
When he didn't reply, she paused. Turning back, she found him standing in front of a display in the baby clothing section. He stood stock still, holding a powder blue sailor suit, sized for a newborn. She gave him a sad smile, pulling the cart back until she reached him.
"I cannot help but wonder," Crane murmured. "What it would have been like to hold him. To hear his gurgles, his cries…to watch him grow."
Abby placed a hand on the tall man's arm gently. "I know, Crane. I know. We'll find out what happened to him, one way or another."
He nodded stiffly.
"Alright, then," the Lieutenant said, taking the outfit from him and placing it back on the rack. She prodded him forward, away from the painful reminders. "Time to pick the turkey. Now, you being the expert, and all, I figure you can find us a good bird."
Ichabod nodded primly, folding his hands behind his back as he walked beside her. "As I mentioned before, we celebrated Christmas with a large goose. Until my father amassed enough wealth for a larger home in the city, we traveled to my grandfather's estate in the country, where they held a feast for everyone. It was magnificent."
"Do tell," she urged with a smile.
"Along with the roast goose, we dined on ham, sausages, bread sauce," Crane continued wistfully, his eyes taking on a faraway look. "There were mince pies, cakes and pastries of every variety…potatoes seared and baked with herbs in the meat drippings. We all spent the eve together, telling tales and just basking in each other's presence."
"Mm-mmm," Abby replied happily. "That sounds very nice. A warm fire, stockings hung by the chimney, and all that."
"My grandfather would sit in his favorite chair in the parlor as the Yule log burned, telling us tales from his travels. He was a businessman, whose excursions carried him across Europe and into parts of Asia. It was due to his love of the German holiday traditions that we began decorating a tree each year as well. He also developed a love of ale, regretfully."
Finally, they approached the meat section. Crane spent several minutes, making a show of weighing each packaged turkey, examining it closely. The pickings were slim, as most of the holiday shoppers had cleared out the section as they tried to prepare for the festivities.
Finally, he sighed, and held up one of the meager birds. "This one will do."
Abby crossed the turkey off of the list as he placed it in the cart. "Okay – we just need some sweet potatoes, some pie crust, and a stop at the vegetable aisle and we'll be done."
He nodded numbly, staring at the rows of canned goods. "This place is a veritable fortress of preserved goods. You purchase the supplies for the cabin here, correct?"
"Yup," she replied. "Best prices in town."
"Good God, Leftenant!" he exclaimed, holding up a jar of pickles. "Three dollars for a jar of pickled vegetables? Outrageous."
Abby rubbed a temple lightly. They had had this conversation numerous times. She sighed as he continued to rant about the high prices as they proceeded.
He let out another outraged huff as he held up another package, shaking it at a bewildered store employee. "Madam, this is most definitely not a pudding!"
She groaned. This had definitely been a bad idea.