My first Sleepy Hollow fanfic. :) I have fallen head over heels in love with this show and episode 5 in particular was just awesome. And, as a confirmed whumpaholic, how could I not tag it?! :D
SPOILERS FOR EPISODE 1X05 – JOHN DOE
Abbie pulled the ambulance off the road and slammed it hastily into park before climbing out of her seat and slipping through into the back of the vehicle. Squeezing between the bulky containment units she peered through the thick plastic covering Crane's gurney. He'd been awake, if not entirely aware, when she and Irving had made their plans but he seemed to have drifted back to unconsciousness since; his eyes were closed, his skin grey, a sheen of sweat beading his forehead.
He stirred as she lifted up the plastic cover, his head lolling towards her, eyes blinking drowsily open.
"Lieutenant?" he mumbled.
She pushed the bulky plastic barrier aside and reached for his hand. His skin felt cool, clammy, and his grip was weak.
"It's me," she nodded. "Are you okay?"
She grimaced at the ridiculousness of her question but he smiled wearily, acknowledging her concern. "I have been better," he admitted, a little breathlessly.
Seemingly becoming conscious of his surroundings, he looked around in confusion, his brow furrowing as he asked, "Where...?"
His words tailed off as he saw the second containment unit, Thomas' small frame looking frail and lost beneath the thick plastic shell. "Is he...?"
"He's hanging on," she said, "but we need to hurry."
Understanding dawned in his eyes. "The colony..." he breathed. "You got us out."
She nodded quickly. "We're not there yet though," she warned. "We still have to make it on foot through the woods."
She paused for a moment, taking in his ashen pallor and the insidious spread of black veining, a terrifying spider web stark against his pale skin, creeping upwards from the open neck of his shirt and extending up his throat. "Are you up for this?" she asked, warily.
He licked dry lips and set his jaw, an expression of mulish determination she had come to know all too well. "I can do this," he insisted. "We must."
"Okay then." She squeezed past the dislodged plastic canopy and opened the rear doors, shoving the bulky plastic out onto the roadside. Moving quickly and carefully, she freed the canopy from Thomas' gurney and jettisoned that too. Thomas didn't stir; his eyes were closed, sweat-soaked hair plastered to his forehead.
A painful grunt drew her attention back to Crane. He was struggling to rise, a grimace on his face as he tried to push himself to a sitting position.
"Hey, hey, wait!" she warned, "Lemme deal with this."
The IV bag still lay across his chest, a coil of plastic tubing connecting it to the canula in his arm.
After a moment's hesitation, he did as she instructed, letting his shoulders drop back onto the gurney, clearly exhausted by his efforts.
He sucked in shaky breaths as she moved the IV bag to one side and, mentally thanking Corbin for the basic first aid training he'd insisted all his staff undergo, peeled aside the tape securing the canula and, pressing a wad of gauze over the site, smoothly and carefully slid the needle free. She taped the gauze in place.
"Okay, come on." She leaned forward to pull his arm around her shoulders and, with a grunt of effort, managed to ease him up to a sitting position. She straightened with a wince. He was heavier than his skinny frame would suggest.
Leaving him to catch his breath, she delved into the storage space where she'd hidden as the ambulance was loaded and retrieved two items. The small bag she slung over her shoulder, the second item she wordlessly held out to Crane.
He looked up at her offering, a small smile tugging at his lips as he raised his eyes to meet hers, taking his coat from her with a murmured, "Thank you, lieutenant."
It worried her to see how much effort it took for him to shrug his way into the coat but as he pulled the high collar close around his neck, his chin lifted and she saw a renewed strength in his gaze. A wry smile curved her lips as she reconsidered his insistent attachment to his 18th century attire. As old and worn, and anachronistic, as they may be, they were his comfort, a tangible connection to his past life, to a time that was forever lost to him. More than that, she realised, they were his armour, a shield of familiarity with which he girded himself against the chaos and confusion of the modern world.
With a wince of pain, he pushed himself to his feet. She didn't miss the momentary sway before he stepped across to Thomas' gurney. He looked down at the boy, his lips tightening at what he saw. His expression was grave as he lifted his gaze to hers. "We must make haste," he stated.
"Can he walk?" she asked. The hike to the colony was going to be difficult enough in Crane's condition. If they had to carry to boy too...
"We can but try."
With a gentle touch, Crane tried to rouse the boy. "Thomas?"
The boy stirred as Crane continued to speak. The words were gibberish to Abbie, but Thomas clearly understood, blinking slowly awake, eventually answering Crane's questions in a hoarse whisper. With a nod to Abbie, Crane carefully raised the boy to a sitting position and, slipping an arm around his waist, managed to get him on his feet.
They swayed and she instinctively stepped forward to help, only to freeze as Crane shrank back from her touch, pulling Thomas with him. "No!" he snapped.
She frowned, "I..."
"Don't touch him!" Crane clutched the boy to him, his expression fierce.
"He's contagious," he said. "I am already infected, he can do me no further harm. But if you were to be infected also..." He swallowed thickly. "We... we need you to get us to Roanoke, Lieutenant."
"Crane, I don't even know how to find the way..."
"I can guide us." With an effort, Crane straightened. Thomas clung to him weakly, his arms wrapped around Crane's waist, his gaze unfocused. "You... you lead the way."
He shuffled them backwards, gesturing with a sweep of his arm that Abbie should proceed them out of the ambulance. Her throat tightened as she stepped carefully past them, the ingrained chivalry of his gesture reminding her sharply of the elegance of Crane's impudent bow, the smug smile on his face, as he had discovered the hidden bridge to Roanoke only hours before. He had been confident, almost carefree, as he had extended his arm to her like a gentleman inviting a lady to dance. And now... and now he was...
They needed to hurry.
She scrambled out of the ambulance, backing away helplessly, able only to watch as Crane followed awkwardly, struggling to support Thomas as he climbed them both down from the vehicle.
She waited until they had steadied themselves before setting off ahead of them into the forest.
Their progress was slow. Crane and Thomas staggered as much as walked, Crane's tall frame hunched over awkwardly as he tried to support the much smaller child. She walked a little way ahead of them, relying on Crane's instructions for which way to turn, which path to follow.
She had no idea how he knew where they were going. The trees all looked the same to her. The compass app on her phone could guide her east, the direction they had taken the previous day, but she knew that without Crane's breathless instructions, she wouldn't have a hope of finding the way to the lost colony.
She tried to keep him talking, keep him focused, but the fear that gnawed at her stomach only intensified as they walked, unable to ignore the increasingly pinched look to Crane's face, the hitching of his breath, the tight press of his lips as he tried to stifle grunts of pain.
Thomas looked even worse. He seemed barely conscious now, leaning heavily against Crane, his staggering steps becoming more and more uncoordinated.
Crane's breath was becoming increasingly laboured, his conversation faltering, his shaky breaths the only accompaniment to the crackle of underbrush beneath their feet. His head was bowed, his attention focused inwards as he struggled with the pain.
Not far now. They could make it. They had to.
"Keep talking to me Crane," she ordered. "Keep your mind off the pain."