"Hey, your test results are in," Abbie says, brandishing a large envelope from the stack of mail in her hands.
"Excellent," Crane answers, taking the parcel. He hesitates a moment before opening it.
"Are you worried?"
"No. Yes. Some. Logic dictates that I am, as I have previously stated, in perfect health. I feel excellent. All my faculties function as they should. Some exceeding expectations, in fact," he pauses, raising a jaunty eyebrow at Abbie, who laughs. "Yet… often problems lie invisible, undetected, seemingly harmless." Like Detective Morales, he adds mentally. That issue is far from resolved.
"Which is why you had all these tests done, Baby," Abbie says, lifting up on tiptoe to kiss him. "Now, open the damn envelope."
"I think…" he hands it to Abbie. She sits on the couch and he joins her, sitting close by her side.
She smiles and opens the envelope, wondering if he's having her open it because he's worried about what it contains or because he's worried he won't be able to make sense out of the information inside. Perhaps both.
She opens the envelope and quickly scans the contents. "It's all here on the cover letter. You are, as you have previously stated, in perfect health," she says, pointing to the line stating No health concerns at this time.
He smiles broadly and wraps Abbie in a tight hug.
"All these pages to tell me I am fine?" he asks, motioning to the stack still clutched in Abbie's hand.
"Well, these are the details. Tells you what your levels are for everything they tested. Vitamins, minerals, cholesterol, sugar. Exciting shit."
"Ah," he says, nodding.
"Forgive me," he says, caught. "I do not have the slightest idea what you are saying," he admits.
"Bottom line is, you're fine," she says, choosing to forego trying to explain things like malnourishment, high cholesterol, and diabetes. "If there's a sudden change in something, anything, that's when you need to worry. Like if you suddenly feel sluggish and tired all the time. Or… your vision starts getting blurry. Stuff like that."
"Do you have any of these health concerns? As your fiancé, I should be aware," he points out.
"I have to watch my cholesterol a bit. Not because I eat badly… well, okay, yes, I do, sometimes, but that's not really my fault, it's the job's. My family has a history of cholesterol issues, so I need to watch it."
"What is 'cholesterol'? The word etymology suggests…"
"It's like a fat that can build up in your veins if you don't limit your intake of it," Abbie says, cutting him off before he launches into a detailed explanation of root words, their meanings, and how the true definition is something like "flatulent toadstool."
"Ah. And how does one 'watch' this?"
"I shouldn't have too much fatty food and should get plenty of exercise. You'll discover more details when you look it up on Wikipedia later," she says, with a knowing smile.
"Ah, reading my mind already, my love," he says, bending to kiss her. "While we are on the subject of food…"
"Yeah, I'm hungry, too," she says, starting to stand.
"Abbie?" he stops her, his long fingers closing softly around her wrist, his thumb stroking her soft skin.
"You're welcome," she says. "For what, exactly?"
He pulls her down onto his lap. "For looking after my health." He kisses her. "For looking after me." He kisses her again. "For patiently explaining things I do not understand," another kiss, "especially when I do not want to admit that I do not understand them." Again. "And for loving me despite all that."
"Oh," she answers, smiling. He really knows how to render a girl speechless. She gathers her wits and continues. "You are very welcome. And thank you for looking after me, even when I didn't think I needed looking after." She kisses him now. "And for being stubborn enough to knock down my walls." Another kiss. "And for loving me despite all that."
"My pleasure," he rumbles against her lips.
They kiss for a few pleasant minutes, but Abbie's empty stomach keeps her from pulling him down the hall to the bedroom.
"Crane," she says. "Supper."
"Yes," he agrees, giving her one more kiss and releasing her.
"Miss Mills, may I ask a question?" Crane asks, setting his fork down.
"You just did, but you can ask another," Abbie answers, smiling at his tendency to slip back into calling her "Miss Mills" or "Lieutenant" at random times. I've grown to really like the British pronunciation of "Lieutenant". Especially when he says it.
He smiles. "Quite. It is a… delicate question…"
"Baby…" she starts, about to continue with the standard you-know-you-can-ask-me-anything line, but he holds up his hand.
"Yes, I know. I am wondering about those condoms." As always, he pronounces the word with mild distaste.
He sighs, puzzled that she is not following his train of thought. She knew my mind before… perhaps she is intentionally waiting for me to ask. Interesting. "You had stated we could dispense with them if my health tests returned favorable."
"So… am I to presume you wish to bear me a child? I mean… I would be honored, but we are not yet married, and…"
"Oh… that," Abbie says, leaning back. "About that. Yeah, I've been meaning to explain. I'm protected against pregnancy. The condoms were more for the possible-18th-century-cooties. Anyway, condoms are also used to keep anything else that might be in your—"
Crane decides to bypass the word "cooties" for now. More important matters. "How, exactly, are you 'protected' against becoming with child?" he asks, curious.
"Medical science, my love. Nowadays, there are things a woman can do to prevent getting knocked up," she says, smirking at him as he mentally catalogs another new term. "Pills… um, devices. I have something inside me that stops me from getting pregnant." His eyes drop involuntarily to her stomach, and she smiles. "You can't see it, silly. I used to take the pill – birth control pills, they're called – but with a schedule like mine, I can't always take a pill at the same time every day, which is recommended in order for them to do their job. So, I have something called an IUD."
He gives her a look that clearly says You know how I feel about acronyms, Miss Mills.
"Intra-Uterine Device. It's a little something inside my uterus – um, my womb – that keeps me from getting pregnant."
"That must have been a horrifying procedure!" he exclaims.
"It was really nothing. Okay, so it wasn't the most comfortable experience when the doctor put it in, but now, I don't feel it at all."
"Hmm," he says.
"You can look it up after you research cholesterol," she suggests, knowing he's already making plans to do so.
"I shall," he confirms.
"Anyway, now isn't exactly prime time for us to have a kid. Maybe one day, though. Are you all done?" she asks, indicating his plate.
"Yes. So, when you would like to bear a child, you just…?"
"Go to the doctor and have the IUD removed. Simple."
They begin clearing the dishes and cleaning up. "Would you like to have a child with me, Abbie?" he asks quietly after a while, conscientiously drying dishes and putting them away.
Honestly, it is something Abbie has thought about recently. Since she agreed to marry him. "Yes," she answers. "Once all this apocalypse mess is done and dusted. I cannot bring a child into a world that might be ending. Not to mention the fact that it would put me out of commission for a while, which, I believe, would be counterproductive to our goals."
"I agree, but… after our seven years, you'll be 35. Surely that's too old to have a child."
"Ichabod, women have babies well into their 40s now."
His eyebrows shoot halfway up his forehead.
"I definitely don't want to wait that long, but 35 isn't bad at all. Hell, I think I read something somewhere about a woman having a baby at, like, 64 or something. Just, no."
"Once again, I agree," Crane answers, looking somewhat aghast. Another item to add to my list of Things to Research. He snaps out of it quickly and leads her to the living room, where they sit on the couch again. "Abbie…" He reaches for her hands, holding them gently in his.
"Yeah?" she asks, expecting another question about contraception or babies or modern medicine.
"Detective Morales has been following you."
Abbie sighs. "He has not," she says, dismissing his warnings. Again. "It's not a very big town. Station house is small. We're bound to cross paths."
"It is more than crossing paths, Abbie. Much more. I've seen him several times now. Lurking. Hovering. In places where he has no call to be."
Abbie exhales, rolling her eyes.
Crane feels his frustration rising, but keeps it in check. "I ask you again to please take care where he is concerned."
"You're totally overreacting." She attempts to withdraw her hands from his. He holds them tightly.
"Abbie, I am quite serious. Heed my words, I beg of you," he says.
"Luke isn't going to do anything, Crane," she says, letting her annoyance show. "He's all bark. Always has been." She successfully withdraws her hands from his and crosses her arms over her chest.
"Abbie, please, you fail to understand the consequences—"
"Crane," Abbie interrupts, her voice edged with warning, "I know Luke better than—"
"You must take precautions, Abbie!" Crane interrupts her in turn, reaching his hand to her shoulder.
She evades his grasp, scooting away just enough to make him drop his hand. "Look, I can take care of myself! I was doing just fine before you dropped into my life. Give it a rest!" she cuts him off sharply.
"Listen to me, Abigail!" he snaps, raising his voice as well. "I will not 'give it a rest'! This is more than harmless jealousy! This is obsession, and it is a dangerous one!"
Abbie watches him, wide-eyed, surprised at his tone. Then, she snaps out of her shock and fully releases her frustration. "Obsession on whose part, Crane? Yours or his?" she shoots back, standing. He can feel the tension and anger radiating from her small body. "You need to sort out your own jealousy before pointing fingers," she adds, stalking from the room.
A moment later, he hears the bedroom door slam.
Crane drops his head into his hands. I shouldn't have raised my voice. But, she wouldn't listen. She's so frustrating. Too stubborn for her own good.
I simply do not know what I would do should any harm befall her.
Am I jealous?
Of what would I be jealous? That Detective Morales had Miss Mills before I? That, had I not turned up and thrown her life into upheaval, they might have been able to reconcile?
He leans back on the couch, staring at the black television screen. To the former, yes. To the latter, no. They would not have reconciled. Miss Mills would have gone to that Quantico place and had the life she envisioned… she would have…
…what was that?
Crane stands. He just saw lights outside. They looked like headlights. He goes to the door and peeks out of the high window, cupping his hands around the sides of his face to block out the light from inside the house.
Could be a traveler turning around in the drive… no. The car is parking.
He reaches back and flips off the light switch so he can see more clearly.
I have seen that automobile. Just as he's about to put a name to the car, it pulls away. Slowly.
Instinctively, he waits, sitting in the dark near the curtains. He glances towards the hallway, thinking he really should go and speak with Abbie, to apologize for letting his frustration get the better of him.
But then he hears a car outside again.
This is a very quiet street. Cars do not drive on it without cause. He's learned his way around well enough to know their house sits on a street that doesn't connect anyplace important to anyplace else important. So, the only cars driven here belong to either residents or those visiting said residents.
This appears to be neither. And that is most definitely Detective Morales' car, circling the block a second time.
Crane sees the car park again, in front of the neighbors' house this time.
All right, clever dick, I will play your game. He slips his coat and boots on, casts one slightly regretful look towards the hallway, and steps outside, walking purposefully but casually.
Crane steps onto the sidewalk, endeavoring to appear as though he is out for an evening constitutional. Luckily, they're having a slight warm spell (for Sleepy Hollow in January, mid-30-degree temperatures is considered a "warm spell"), so it does not look too strange for a man to go for a stroll.
He passes the detective's car, paying it no heed. As soon as he is sure he is out of sight, he ducks behind a large tree, doubling back through the neighbor's back yard, hoping Mrs. Eggert won't mind his trespassing, especially under these circumstances.
Crouching in the bushes beside their house, he waits. He knows it's coming. He knows Luke is coming. He knows the jealousy-mad detective will not be able to resist the lure of Abbie, alone in her house.
I'm using the woman I love as bait, he realizes, faintly sickened by the thought. However, it is the only way to resolve this.
As predicted, Luke appears, skulking up the front walk to the door.
Good heavens, could he be more obvious?
"Good evening, Detective," Crane intercepts him before he reaches the porch.
"Crane, what the fuck?" Luke jumps, surprised. "I just saw you…"
"Walking away from the house? Yes, I am aware. What is your business here this evening?"
"I want to talk to Abbie."
"Miss Mills is not available at the moment," Crane answers curtly, feeling a little bit of a heel, knowing his Lieutenant would not appreciate him speaking for her in this manner.
"Oh, really?" Luke sneers. "What are you, her secretary?"
"No, you're not her secretary. From what I hear, you're her fiancé."
Crane is surprised Morales knows this, but maintains his composure, merely raising an eyebrow. "And I suppose you've come to talk her out of becoming my wife?"
"You're… not right for her. You don't love her the way I love her," Luke says, taking a step towards Crane.
Crane remains still, determined to remain calm and level-headed in the presence of Luke's apparent instability. "Yes, I suppose that is true. I do not love her the way you do. I love her the way a man is supposed to love a woman. With respect and admiration. Appreciating her for who she is, loving the less appealing aspects of her character as much as the wonderful ones. Cherishing her and making her feel like she is the most important person in the world."
"Not trying to control her or keep her on a… what is that infernal phrase I heard? Keep her on a short leash. That, Detective, is not love."
Luke steps closer to Crane again, threateningly, his fists clenched at his sides. "Look here, you skinny, pompous, British—"
Crane feels his control slipping a little as he stares disdainfully at the detective, clenching his hands behind his back. "Do you honestly expect Miss Mills to return to you? Do you honestly believe she will look on you favorably when all you've been doing is threatening her? Stalking her?"
"Oh, yes, I've seen you lurking in the corridors of the station house. Loitering outside of the ladies' like a… a common pervert. Hanging about Miss Mills' desk just after she's left it, leaning down to sniff her chair." Crane makes a disgusted face at this last example. He chose not to impart that particularly depraved detail to Abbie. Perhaps I should have.
"Hey, if you're spending all your time watching me, doesn't that make you the weirdo? I mean…"
"I am looking after the safety of the woman I love. Anything else you do with your time is of little concern to me. If you want to sniff someone else's chair, do feel free. Though, generally speaking, I would not recommend it."
"Look, Crane, I didn't come out here to talk to you. I want to see Abbie," Luke says, going back on the offensive.
"I am going to politely ask that you return to your automobile and leave," Crane says, his voice taking on a menacing edge. "I will only ask once."
"You can be as polite as you want, man, I'm not leaving until I talk to Abbie."
"That will not be happening, Detective. I shall not let you pass." He crosses his arms over his chest now, a sentinel, tall and proud.
"You think I can't get past you?" Luke growls. He is three inches shorter than Crane, but more muscular. He reaches out and shoves Crane's chest.
Crane hardly budges, only swaying just slightly, taking Luke by surprise for the second time this evening. Once again, his rival had clearly underestimated him.
"Do not lay your hands on me again, Detective," Crane says, his voice very low and stern.
"Oh, really? What are you going to do? Slap me with a crumpet?" He pokes Crane in the chest. "Pour tea over my head?" He pokes him again, harder. "Report me to the Queen?" He reaches out with his finger again. This time, Crane nabs it and twists, wrenching Luke's arm behind his back. "Aaurghh! Fuck!"
"I did tell you not to lay your hands on me again. I am aware you only applied a single finger, but my patience is growing thin," he growls in Luke's ear.
"You're breaking my finger!"
"I assure you I am not. But, I could if I just…"
"Still not broken. Return home, Detective. Make peace with the fact that Miss Mills is no longer yours. Accept this reality and move on with your life." Crane releases him, shoving him away as he does so. "I also recommend you seek counseling. Clearly, you have issues that need resolving."
"Fuck you, you British asshole," Luke spits, rubbing his sore finger, not convinced it isn't broken.
"Go now and I shan't report your behavior to Captain Irving," Crane answers, stepping towards Luke now.
Luke takes a step back.
"However, if you continue to menace Miss Mills, you will leave me no choice."
"Your word against mine, Douche."
"Interesting. Miss Mills used the same epithet to describe you not long ago," Crane muses. "Leave or I shall call the authorities," he threatens again, reaching into his coat pocket for a phone that isn't there, hoping Morales will not call his bluff.
"Fine. I'm going. Fucknut." He spits one final insult at Crane before stomping back to his car.
"Reduced to name-calling, like an undisciplined child," Crane mutters as he watches Luke drive away. He stands outside for at least another five minutes, to ensure he doesn't return.
Crane is removing his boots when the screaming starts.
One boot still on, he bolts for the bedroom, fearing the worst: Luke has somehow snuck around to the back of the house and climbed in through their bedroom window.
He throws the door open and finds Abbie twisting on the bed, in the throes of a nightmare. Another scream rips from her throat and straight into Crane's heart. He dives for the bed, wrapping her in his arms.
Abbie struggles, momentarily fighting him. He embraces her fully and securely, so she lands no blows and leaves no bruises this time.
"It's me. Ichabod. You're safe, Treasure, I have you," he soothes, whispering low in her ear as she calms and her body stills. He feathers soft kisses on her face, his hands stroke her back and hair. "Shh, Love…"
She slowly blinks her eyes open, staring up at him for what feels like an eternity. Then, something seems to snap inside her and she huddles against him, pushing herself further into his embrace, burying her face in his neck. He can feel her tears, warm and wet, against his skin.
"It's all right, I'm here," he whispers, kissing her hair, all the earlier frustration and anger dissolving away in the face of more important issues.
They lay quietly for another minute before Abbie finally speaks. "What happened?" she asks, looking up at him.
"You must have fallen asleep. I wasn't here," he explains, gently wiping her tear-stained cheeks with his thumb. "Clearly, you did not intend to fall asleep; you're still dressed."
"Why weren't you here?" she asks.
"I was… outside," he answers. Now is not the time.
"I was mad at you," she says, remembering. "I was mad at you because you were expressing your concern for me." She frowns. "Sorry."
"Forgiven, my love," he whispers, stroking her face. "However, you were right. I am jealous."
"I am jealous of any man who enjoyed your affections before me. I am greedy for your love, you see." He kisses her forehead.
"You were married," she points out.
"I did not say I was not a hypocrite," he adds, and she laughs. "But, I must tell you I was also correct."
"Are you not wondering why I was outside, Abbie?" he asks.
"A bit, yeah."
"You had an unwelcome visitor."
Abbie sits up. "What?"
"Detective Morales somehow learned of our betrothal, and decided the most logical plan was to come here and attempt to convince you not to marry me."
Abbie's eyes widen in disbelief, her mouth dropping open momentarily. "Shit," she breathes. Then she sighs, dropping her head. "I suppose you sent him packing," she says, lifting her head again and raising an eyebrow at him.
"Was I not correct to do so?" Crane inquires, angling his head up at her.
"No, you were correct. I just… hate you fighting my battles for me."
"We are partners, are we not? Not only partners, but lovers and friends. You would have done the same for me."
Damn. He's got me there. "Sorry. You're right, I would. What happened?"
He tells her everything. As expected, she looks ill when he tells her about Morales smelling her chair, declaring it "gross" and "twisted."
"You should have broken his finger. Would have given him a reminder," Abbie declares once he's finished his tale.
"It will be nicely bruised. He can tell people he got it caught in a door," Crane says.
"He certainly underestimated you," she says, lying back down again.
"Indeed. But if he knew the truth, that I was a soldier in the Revolutionary War, he might not have felt the same way."
"He would never believe the truth anyway," she says.
"Perhaps he would. His sanity is precarious at best, and both you and the captain seem to believe that particular quality is a prerequisite in understanding what we're dealing with."
Abbie snorts a laugh. "Maybe. Still don't think we need to let him into our Secret Club."
"Indeed not," he sighs.
"I'm so sorry, Ichabod. I shouldn't have dismissed your concerns. I'll keep my eyes wide open now."
"Thank you, Abbie. And be informed, my love. I'll continue to look after you as well."
"Understood," she says, snuggling against him, her stockinged feet brushing against his legs. "Why do you only have on one boot?"
A/N: "Clever dick" is a British phrase that roughly means "smartass." He's saying Luke is foolishly arrogant. Nothing to do with penises.