"Crane!"

Still no reply. Abbie keeps running.

"Crane! Crane!"

The forest is dark, but she no longer fears it. Abbie has the trees nearly memorized now; she's been in this God-forsaken place so often. She circles around to the place where she last saw her partner.

An hour ago.

"Crane!"

She stops running, standing still, panting, and listening. She ignores the pain in her shins and the stitch in her side. It's cold, but she's nearly soaked through with sweat.

And she cannot. Find. Crane.

"CRANE! Damn it…"

"Lieutenant!"

The reply is quiet, but it is definitely there. Abbie whirls around, trying to locate the direction of the call.

"Crane? Where are you?"

"Lieutenant!"

That way. She turns and starts walking. Quickly.

"Keep yelling!"

"Lieutenant!" It's closer now, and she begins jogging. "Miss Mills!" Just beyond those trees.

Finally, she sees him. He's dirty, but appears whole and unharmed. Not even limping. Without thinking, Abbie breaks into a run, heading straight for him, and jumps, wrapping her arms and legs around him.

Crane saw her running for him and, while he was prepared for a hug, he wasn't prepared for her to jump on him. She is small enough that he only staggers a little, catching her around her middle and holding on, hugging her back as fiercely as she is him.

"Oh, God…" she gasps, her voice fast and breathy as she takes his face in her hands, still clinging to him, "I couldn't find you…" she pauses, planting a solid kiss on his lips. "It's been over an hour…" she kisses him again, a little longer, "…and I was getting so worried that…"

"Lieutenanmph," he tries to interrupt, but his attempt is thwarted by her lips on his again.

"…something had happened to you," she finally finishes, and kisses him yet again. It is closed-mouthed but passionate, and slippery with tears. When Crane relaxes into the kiss and not only begins to respond but take control of it, she pulls back, eyes wide, cheeks aflame. "Oh! Oh my God! Crane, I'm so—"

"Shh," he hushes, holding fast as she attempts to release him from her vise-like hold. "It's quite all right. More than all right," he adds, shifting his grip so he is holding her under her bottom.

"I don't know what came over me," Abbie says, still rather embarrassed by her display.

"Not exactly how I imagined our first kiss to be, but it was most certainly memorable." He smiles and kisses her, intending to show her he feels the same way. "My one regret is that I am not in a better state to receive such affection."

Her embarrassment abating a little, she reaches up and swipes her thumb across his cheek, above his beard. "I don't mind a little dirt," she says. "Wait, you've imagined us having a first kiss?" she asks.

Crane begins walking, carrying her towards the car. "I've imagined many kisses," he admits.

"You have?"

"Oh, yes." He gives her a tiny half-smile. It is such a subtle expression, but it somehow drips with promise.

Abbie attempts to gather her scattered wits. "You can put me down, you know. I can walk," she says, not really wanting him to put her down.

"If I let you walk, I wouldn't have such easy access to these glorious lips about which I've imagined so many things," he replies, kissing her once more. "And you are remarkably light, Lieutenant."

She leans forward, resting her head on his shoulder. "What is going on?" she muses aloud. "We probably slipped back into purgatory without realizing it. You're going to sprout tentacles and swallow my head any minute now."

"I certainly hope not," he says. "It would be a shame if your exuberant kisses were to be filed away with the birthday cupcake as a memory that did not actually happen."

She nuzzles his neck and he makes a lovely purring noise in response as her car comes into view. "Exuberant, huh? I guess that's a good word for them."

They reach the car and Crane sets Abbie on her feet. "The demon has been vanquished?" he asks, remembering their original purpose for being out here.

"Well, yeah," she answers. "That's why I was so desperate to find you. It was trying to taunt me. Told me you were dead. I… I pretended not to believe it. I mean, it was a demon, right? They're not really known for their reliability."

"Indeed," he agrees, opening the driver's side door when she unlocks it.

When he sinks into the passenger seat, she continues.

"I told it to shut its foul mouth, did the thing," she waves her hands, vaguely indicating the procedure they were instructed to follow to vanquish said demon, "and stood there watching it turn into goo, just like Grace said it would in the journal." She starts the car and turns to look at him. "Then I had to find out if it was telling the truth or not."

"I may have been unconscious for a short time," he admits. "But I'm not entirely certain."

"Oh my God, and I totally jumped you! Is your head okay?" she asks, reaching up to investigate his head, brushing his hair from his forehead to look for bruises and running her fingers through his hair to gently prod.

"Miss Mills… Abbie… I am fine," he answers. He continues to let her check him over, possibly just so she will keep touching him. "And you may jump me any time you like," he adds, cocking an eyebrow at her.

She jerks her hand away, making a small noise of embarrassment. She still can't believe she did that. She hadn't even realized she felt that way about him until she found herself assaulting him with her lips. I was just so relieved. She puts the car in gear and begins driving towards the cabin. I… he can't… "You're not allowed to die," she simply says.

"Nor are you," he replies, reaching for her hand. He kisses her knuckles, palm, and pulse point, then holds it between his hands on his lap.

They make their way to the cabin, Abbie driving one-handed since Crane hasn't relinquished her hand.

"I do not know what I would do without you, Abbie," he says after a time, his thumb idly stroking her hand. "I… I must admit I am relieved you made 'the first move', as they say. I realize you did not intend for it to happen, but I'm very glad it did."

She peeks at him out of the corner of her eye. "You are?"

"Was that not quite apparent?"

She snorts a laugh. "Yeah, I guess it was. But… if I had you feeling some kinda way… why didn't you say anything? Why didn't you make a move?"

He sighs, lifting her hand to his lips again. "Truth of the matter is… I was afraid."

"Afraid? You?" she asks. "Weren't you the one who had the balls to ask for Abraham's blessing a short time after Katrina dumped him for you?"

He tenses slightly and doesn't answer right away. Just as Abbie opens her mouth to offer an apology and retraction, he somewhat peevishly says, "Yes, and that turned out so well for me, did it not? You will forgive me for being a trifle skittish when it comes to matters of the heart."

Abbie frowns, feeling terrible now. "You're right. I'm sorry," she apologizes and attempts to extract her hand from his.

He does not release her hand. In fact, he kisses it again. "I, too, am sorry. I should not have taken that tone with you." His voice is much gentler now.

"It's fine. I deserved it," she replies.

"You did not. Your question was valid, though not completely thought out," he says. "But please know I appreciate how direct you are. You are not afraid to speak your mind. It is a quality I appreciate and admire in you…" he pauses a moment before adding, "And it is also somewhat intimidating for a man of my upbringing."

Abbie turns left onto the highway leading to the cabin, thinking about how much Katrina kept from him and how deeply it hurt him. She promises herself – again – that she will never do that to him, no matter what the nature of their relationship. But she chooses to focus on the second part of his statement and replies, "You were very progressive for your time, Crane, come on…"

He shakes his head. "It seems one can remove the man from the 17th Century, but one cannot remove all of the 17th Century from the man." He smiles over at her.

"I wouldn't have it any other way," she replies, squeezing his hand. "I wouldn't have you any other way." She turns off of the highway onto the gravel drive, nearly invisible to those who do not know it is there.

"You may have me any way you wish," he says, kissing her hand once more. He realizes his unintentional double entendre a second too late. "I mean… oh dear… that whatever relationship you wish us to have is—"

"I got what you meant," she says, chuckling fondly at him. He really is adorable when he's flustered like this. She turns the car off.

"Would you like to come in?" he asks. "I… believe we have some things to discuss."

Abbie smiles, knowing he is not referring to tonight's demon-hunting adventure. "I was hoping," she answers.

Crane opens his door and hurries around to open her door. She's learned to wait when it is feasible to do so, knowing these seemingly simple acts are very important to him. He opens her door and offers his hand. "You never need an invitation, Abbie," he says. "You are always welcome here."

"I know," she replies. "But so much has happened tonight… with us… that I didn't want to overstep or assume anything."

He opens the door and allows her to walk in first. "I think we are well past that point," he assures her. "You are so fully ingrained into my life that you have never been merely a 'guest' in my home." He closes and locks the door, shrugs out of his coat, drapes it over the back of a chair, and turns to face her. "Not that this cabin truly belongs to me, mind, though I very much consider it home."

"Doesn't belong to me either," Abbie says, taking her coat off as well. "It's Joe's." She looks around, pauses for just a second, then sets her coat on top of Crane's. She turns to face him again and finds herself pulled into his arms. "Oh." She looks up at him, her head dropping back.

His hand cradles the back of her head, and he leans down to kiss her.

He takes his time, slowly, languidly kissing her, picking up right where they left off in the forest. His tongue teases her lips and she opens them, inviting him in, sliding her tongue against his, deeper and deeper until they are both breathless and mindless.

"Ichabod, I..." she whispers, her head spinning as her small hands come up to cradle his face.

xXx

An insistent sunbeam paints its rays across Abbie's sleeping face, prompting her to turn away from the unwelcome brightness. She burrows into the covers and encounters something soft but solid.

Mmm. Smells good. Feel safe. So comfortable.

Her eyes snap open. She is curled against Crane, wrapped in his embrace. He is still asleep, his face relaxed and free of care. He almost looks like a different man. Then, he scrunches, scowls, and opens his eyes.

Almost. Abbie smiles, mostly to herself.

Crane blinks a few times, then his eyes focus on her face and he returns her smile. "Good morning, Lieutenant," he says, pulling her closer, his large hands spreading across the bare skin of her back.

"Good morning, Captain," she answers, throwing her leg over his.

He leans his head down towards hers, softly kissing her. She feels desire flare in her belly again, and she arches against him, feeling his hardness pressing against her center. However, a simple realization makes her pause and pull back a little.

"We forgot to talk."

He stares down at her for just a second, then says, "We can talk later."

She only has enough time for a surprised, "Oh!" before he descends upon her again.