Author's Note: I love this show
Disclaimer: Sleepy Hollow and its characters belong to Washington Irving and FOX.
It disturbs him deeply to know with such certainty that this is it, this is his life, now, and there is no chance that things will ever return to what they once were. They think he's a lunatic. Maybe he is, maybe he has gone mad, and maybe he does belong in an asylum. Sometimes he believes he must.
But she doesn't think so, and so he must be sane.
He does not understand why he finds himself in this predicament and he hates this world. This country has grown to be foreign and everything he fought for has been turned to dust, long forgotten in the annals of time.
Nothing makes sense and he feels like a fool. His greatest pride, his cleverness, offers no real redemption here. These unnatural and metallic innovations put his wits to the test, endlessly causing him to fail and make a mockery of himself. He tries to adapt, he tries, but he feels like an ancient relic more suited for a museum than society. He longs desperately for the horse-drawn carriages, the candlelit nights, and the general sense of decency and politeness that men seem to have abandoned as they made their way out of the 18th century. Gone are the simpler times, but with them too the rituals and complexities of human interaction. Now, everyone is just so blunt.
But he finds solace in one thing: this world, this brave new world, allows her to flourish in ways his would not have. And that makes everything else worth it.
She is the strongest woman he has ever met. Stronger than Katrina, even, and stronger than himself. She manages to do what would have been strictly considered a man's job with far more competence than anyone else he has ever seen, which, given his experience in the Revolution, is high praise. In his time, her presence as she is today would have been unthinkable. He cringes at the mere contemplation of what would have become of her; she would have been burnt at the stake, like some sort of abomination.
But she is the opposite – she is perfection. She is the embodiment of both morality and fortitude, and its no wonder she was destined to walk this holy road with him.
However, she is not impervious to the emotional taxes their trials take; she looks terrified when she thinks he's not watching and, when she knows he is, she pretends that she doesn't struggle with the demons inside her every waking moment. She handles it all with remarkable grace. His affection for her is first borne out of sheer admiration.
She moves so quickly, with such determination, that she has no time to hold his hand through his difficult transition and he does not fault her. When he wakes violently in the night, tormented by nightmares of her death, his own death, and all the deaths to come, he finds comfort in the notes she scatters around his room. They instruct him, they guide him through this bizarre place, even if she is not there to do it in person. He knows she has nightmares, too, and he wishes he could fight them off. But she does not need him as much as he needs her.
The darkness is always there, sometimes in the periphery and sometimes right in front of them. It tears its way into their lives, growing closer by the second. They are the only ones who can see it. It threatens to consume them, but together they have prevailed thus far. They may be suffocating, choking under the weight of their apocalyptic burden, but at least they are not alone. Why they were entrusted with such a daunting task, he does not know.
But he thanks the god he now knows must be watching them for blessing him with this fate, with her. They would have been separated by centuries, but this fortuitous link has brought them together. It is nothing short of providential and it makes him trust that their goal is not utterly futile.
It is about one year into their auspicious journey when he thinks he loves her, two when he knows he must. But she is impossible to read and, though he is the one who knows her best, he fears she will always be an enigma. He thinks, sometimes, that she is an enigma even to herself. He wonders if his feelings towards her are coincidental or by design, but quickly decides that this, like every other aspect in which their lives are entwined, must be by design.
And it is this sacred knowledge that gives him the courage to confess to her the inner workings of his heart.
In the years leading up to this profession, however, he is plagued by guilt. It gnaws at his insides and pierces him right in the chest. He shouldn't love her. He is a married man, he is married to Katrina. Any romance between him and Abbie will only serve to further complicate an already complicated situation. Plus, he shouldn't love her.
How can he forget Katrina, his wife? At one time, he had loved her dearly. He had believed them to be soul mates and would have sacrificed anything on earth for her. But death and time has pulled them away from each other, and his heart is now firmly in the clutches of another, for whom the term 'soul mate' seems infinitely more apt. Is it wrong to break the sacred vow of matrimony?
Of course it is. That was why it is referred to as a 'sacred vow.' But death had already broken it, had it not? It nags him that perhaps this is just a technicality. Katrina still comes to him in his dreams, sometimes. She tells him she pities him, and that if Abbie is his only path to happiness before the End of Days he ought to pursue her. He believes this, that she wants the best for him, but he does not believe that it doesn't hurt her. An odd mixture of betrayal and longing shines in her jade-colored eyes when she looks at him in this misty dream world.
This wretched and crippling shame weighs on his conscience, and it has thwarted the intensification of his feelings for Abbie. But now, after these two years, his will has reached its breaking point. Every time he sees her, he fears he will lose his grip on his decorum. The proclamation is inevitable at this point and he must resolve to move past his misgivings.
And true enough, he is flooded with doubts and fears. But he has risked death for her innumerable times before; he would risk it again, should God smite him where he stood for his impertinence. At least he would take comfort in knowing he had given himself the opportunity for eternal happiness. How can something so pure be immoral? He has faith that it is not.
"Miss Mills?" Even after all these years, he rarely uses her first name. She's told him many times that he should loosen up, that he doesn't have to be so proper all the time, but he still cannot shed the Puritan manners that have so firmly woven themselves into the very fabric of his being.
"Yeah?" She barely looks up, like she doesn't have time for him. They are in the old library, their own private sanctuary, and somehow the timing seems ideal. This library has become hallowed ground for them – here, they are a little stronger, a little bolder. He dare not recall how many stolen glances and thrilling, accidental touches have transpired in this dimly lit room for fear of going red. It is only in this setting, which reminds him a bit of home, that he is able to push the boundaries of his propriety.
"Abbie." Her name is musical on his tongue and it sends shivers through her rigid spine, though she would never admit it. Damn that accent, she curses.
She stares at him dead in the eyes and sees him better than anyone else. "Yes?"
He knows from television, Abbie's anecdotes, and his own observations that the technicalities of courtship in this era have changed dramatically. His desperation has gotten the better of him, though, and he chooses – for perhaps the first time – to forsake his archaic sense of etiquette in favor of a more modern approach.
So, he doesn't say anything more – he merely pulls her face to his and kisses her directly on the mouth. This is not as simple as a task as it may seem, given their rather excessive height difference. One foot really is quite a significant measurement.
He hadn't thought it would take so little for her militant exterior to crumble, but the mercifully quick realization that his feelings are reciprocated is nothing short of divine. She kisses him back with a tenacity he has never known before, though he wouldn't have expected anything less. She does not seem surprised by his forwardness and is instead a peculiar tangle of melancholy, anger, and lust as she claws brazenly at his ratty blue coat. This coat, in many ways, is a reflection of him: damaged and grossly outdated, but still functional.
"Crane," she growls as she pulls back. Her hands are still on his shoulders and he's not sure if she's using them to steady him or herself.
"Yes?" he replies innocently enough. He tries to be cheeky, but somehow his hooded gray eyes don't comply with the rest of his demeanor.
She breaks into a grin and chastises, "What took you so long?" And then she kisses him again.
Author's Note: This is a one-shot, but I might add more drabbles as the season progresses. Let me know what you think!