To Lull One to Repose
"Casper" meets "Sleepy Hollow"--in the form of a bedtime story! One shot.
Disclaimer: I own nothing. The title comes from a line at the beginning of the original tale by Washington Irving.
Author's Note: This is set after my fics "Little By Little" and "Debunked", so while not completely necessary, you may want to read those first, as this one contains a few more than obvious spoilers.
Ichabod Crane: Casper
Baltus Van Tassel: Dr Harvey
Headless Horseman: Uh…himself
In previous years, the night before Halloween at Whipstaff was spent by preparing for the children who would come asking for sweets. This year, however, was fraught with excitement for both adults and child occupants alike. Yes, five years ago Casper and Kat welcomed a daughter, Adela, and two years after that, a son whom they called Conrad.
The McFaddens were looking forward to a night out alone and nothing was going to get in their way. Casper pulled on his coat, Kat grabbed her handbag, and the two were almost out the door. "Now, behave for Grandpa, please," Kat gently told her children. She turned to her father, who was standing with the little ones in front of him. "Are you sure you'll be OK?" she asked tentatively. This was the first time she and Casper had left the kids alone. "Oh, we'll be fine. You two chipmunks have fun!" replied Dr Harvey jovially. With quick kisses to the children and reassuring them they would be back soon, the couple left the house and made their way to the car, which sped away off into town. Turning to his young grandchildren, he shepherded them into his study. In recent years the room had been turned into a sort of playroom as Casper's original one was up in the attic and thus the children were somewhat afraid of going all the way up there.
Once the children were occupied with toys and enjoying their playtime, Dr Harvey settled into his latest obsession, romance novels. Just as he was about to read if the Viking warrior would conquer the maiden, the phone rang. "Hello? Yes, I remember…I--Ohhh, God. OK, I'll be there." He hung up the phone. How could he have forgotten his appointment with Mrs Schmidt? The widow had asked him to come weeks ago and the doctor was in desperate need of money. But what to do about the children? He heard a ruckus going on upstairs and smiled.
"We are NOT babysitters!" shouted Stretch angrily. Dr Harvey had left after handing over his charges and a strict set of rules, mainly to ensure the children's safety and bedtime was to be kept. Stretch glanced at the clock--it was 8, so they had half an hour to kill. The McFadden children, already dressed for bed, sat patiently on the floor of The Trio's bedroom, staring up at Stinkie and Fatso. "What're we supposed at do with 'em?" wondered Stinkie aloud. "Let's play dress up!" suggested Fatso excitedly, grabbing a princess costume out of thin air. "No! Put that away, you idiot!" exclaimed Stretch. "Now let's see…when we's was little, what did we do for fun?" he questioned. "Uh…fart?" suggested Stinkie enthusiastically. "Eat until we puked?" chimed Fatso. "NO!" yelled Stretch. He eyed the bookcase. "We read bedtime stories." He thumbed through several volumes, most of which weren't very suitable for kids. Finally, he found just what he was looking for. "OK, let's go to bed," said Stretch, ushering the kids out of the room and walking them down the corridor to their bedroom, his brothers following behind them.
The group arrived at the bedroom and helped the kids into bed. Adela and Conrad snuggled under the covers together as brothers and sisters are apt to do, with Adela's arm around her little brother's shoulders as a sign of protection. She had never been sure of what to make of her uncles, but she definitely knew they weren't "normal". For one, she hardly ever saw them as they were always busy scaring or something; she didn't quite understand. Second, they were ghosts, whatever that meant. She recalled a few weeks ago at school when she proudly informed her teacher her uncles were ghosts and her parents shocked faces upon the teacher sending her condolences about the deaths in the family.
Stretch turned on the night table lamp, the only source of light in the room, besides the ceiling lamp, which had been off. "Now, this is the story of Sleepy Hollow," said Stretch, flipping to the first page. Stinkie sat at the foot of the bed and Fatso pulled up a sleeping bag. "Aw, good. This is about sleeping!" shouted Fatso. Ignoring his brother's display of stupidity, he started to read. "Once upon a time, there was a young man called Ichabod Crane. He was handsome and tall, but shy and very smart." Adela thought that sounded a lot like her Daddy and her imagination went to work.
"Sleepy Hollow, New York
Ichabod Crane alighted from the carriage after arriving from Connecticut. The little town of Sleepy Hollow was jus that…sleepy. Ichabod was a handsome blue-eyed blonde young man set to teach at the local school. He was lonely and shy, with ill-fitting clothes. As the days passed, he became known as a likeable sort amongst his students and their families, becoming infatuated with one in particular--Katrina van Tassel. Katrina was young and beautiful, the only child of Baltus van Tassel, a wealthy farmer. He soon decided to marry this girl, but there was one problem. She was already involved with a man called Brom, a handsome, rugged jerk," read Stretch.
"Booo!" interjected Stinkie jeeringly. Stretch didn't even look up but continued reading.
"Now, Ichabod had heard ghost stories of a Headless Horseman, a sort of man who goes around chopping off people's heads."
The children's eyes grew wide. They didn't understand much of the story, but knew decapitated heads weren't a good thing.
"Ichabod tried not to think about these stories, no matter how superstitious he was, and looked forward to a party he had been invited to attend at the van Tassel estate. He was amazed at the feast and spent the evening listening to the men tell ghost stories, which made him uncomfortable. However, he decided to propose to Katrina but apparently that didn't go so well, because he left rather dejected. Ichabod, seated comfortably in his horse's saddle, was lost in his thoughts during the ride home. The night seemed to be pressing in on him and the steady clip-clop of his horse's hooves soon seemed to double, as did Ichabod's heartbeat."
"This was getting exciting," thought Adela.
"The sound magnified and continued as he and his horse entered the covered bridge back into town. Suddenly, the double clip-clop stopped. Ichabod turned his head around slowly and gasped. It was the Headless--"
Suddenly, the ceiling light flickered on and the children screamed. Casper and Kat were standing in the doorway. Kat was livid. "What do you think you're doing? This is not suitable material for a bedtime story!" she shrieked. Stinkie seemed to evaporate, Fatso swooped out of the room as quickly as his lumpy ectoplasm could allow, and left Stretch to Kat's mercy. "Well, why not? I read it to Casper when he was a kid," he retorted, placing the book on the table facedown. Both turned to look at Casper, who held up both his hands, palms facing outward, in a surrendering gesture and backed out of the room. Well, he tried to--Dr Harvey was in his way.
"What's going on here? Where were you, Dad?" Kat asked, exasperated. "I had a patient to attend to so I left them with responsi--" But he was staring at the bed. All eyes turned to follow Dr Harvey's gaze to the bed and saw that the children were fast asleep. Casper sighed in relief. Kat glared at Stretch. "Just don't let it happen again," she warned. "Wouldn't dream of it, bonebag," he replied sarcastically. They heard Dr Harvey's steps retreat down the corridor. Stretch disappeared.
Kat turned off the lamp and closed the door slightly, joining Casper in the corridor. Stretch popped up beside the couple. "Look," he began. "Never mind," Kat mumbled quietly, rubbing her temples with her fingers. She started off towards her and Casper's bedroom, leaving Casper and his ghostly uncle alone. "Did you really read--" he started. "No," said Stretch. "That was just a cover up. I didn't know what else to do. It's almost Halloween, so I thought it'd be a nice touch." Casper shrugged. "Well, I appreciate the effort," he replied. A silence settled between the two. "Have a nice date?" Stretch inquired of his nephew. Casper sighed. "Yeah, I guess. She's pregnant again." Stretch's long jaw dropped with a look that would put Ichabod Crane to shame.