This is a little idea that occurred to me about how different medicine was back in Ichabod's time when there was no such thing as analgesia (other than alcohol!) and the only option was basically to grin and bear it. And that he wouldn't know that things are different today.
Author's Note: I'm not entirely sure if Corbin's office is still empty in the show or if Irving is now using it as his office but, for the purposes of this fic, let's imagine that it's still empty. :)
The first thing Abbie notices is that Crane is unusually quiet.
He opens the cabin door to her knock and greets her with a small nod and a murmured "Lieutenant" but he seems a little subdued, the lively sparkle missing from his eyes. He barely speaks for the whole of the ride to the precinct; no courteous enquiries as to her health, no discourses on the taxation of breakfast foodstuffs, giving only the most cursory answers to any questions. He seems to deliberately avoid her gaze as she eyes him suspiciously.
The second thing she notices is his posture.
He moves stiffly. And that's saying something because this is a guy who gives whole new meaning to the word stiff. Everything about him, from his bearing to his sensibilities, is the definition of stiff. But this is different. He holds himself carefully, moves slowly and deliberately. She notices it in the way he folds himself carefully into her squad car and the rigid way he holds himself as gets out at the precinct.
She waits until they've drunk the day's first coffee and she's checked her emails, Crane sitting stiffly in the chair beside her desk, idly fingering a pad of Post-It notes, before she confronts him.
"Hey. What's up with you?"
He looks up and, with a hint of his familiar asperity, asks, "I beg your pardon?"
Diversionary tactic. Nice try but she knows he's picked up enough of her vernacular by now to know exactly what she means. Still, she humours him and spells it out in a way that he can't pretend to be obtuse about.
"You. Something's wrong. What is it?"
He bristles slightly. "Nothing is wrong," he insists, his tone that of a man righteously offended.
Right. She's not stupid. And neither is he – not by a long way. She gives him a long look, one that quite clearly says. "Really? We're going to play this game right now?"
He returns her look coolly. "Really, lieutenant," he enunciates crisply, "I am fine."
He shifts in his seat and she sees the little grimace that he can't quite hide.
"I think I would like another coffee. Lieutenant?" The coffee cups on the desk have barely cooled but he rises stiffly from his seat, clearly aiming to escape this uncomfortable conversation. She's not letting it go that easily. She overtakes him and cuts him off by the simple expedient stepping in front of him to open the door to Corbin's empty office.
He looks down at her impatiently. "Miss Mills, I really must insist..."
"We are having this conversation, Crane," she informs him with a smile. "It's up to you whether we have it in there," she nods at the open doorway, "or out here."
He stares her down for a moment, as though gauging her determination, before his gaze slides sideways, his head tilting a little as he considers the open plan office with its multiple occupants, some of whose attention had already been caught by the drama playing out across the room.
He breathes out slowly and inclines his head in a sort of half bow. "As you wish, lieutenant." He stalks ahead of her into the office. She shuts the door and crosses her arms.
He looks at her, opens his mouth to speak, changes his mind and rolls his eyes in frustration.
"I... it's nothing."
Bingo. "Clearly it's something, or there wouldn't be an "it" to talk about," she reasons.
She looks him over, consideringly. His posture is as prim and proper as ever but the way he stands is slightly off-kilter, one shoulder slightly lower than the other. He's favouring his left side, she realises.
"So what is it? Your ribs?" Yesterday's encounter of the supernatural kind had been a little on the rough and tumble side and she herself had woken up this morning feeling stiff and achy... but if she remembers rightly, Crane had taken the brunt of the initial scuffling. Maybe their adversary had hit him harder than she'd realised...
"Lemme take a look."
She steps forward only for Crane to back away in horror. The expression of shock on his face is almost comical.
"Miss Mills! It would be most improper..."
"Oh please. It's not like I haven't already seen you shirtless" And you me, she can't help thinking and, from the sudden flush that spreads across his cheeks, she knows his thoughts have followed the same path. He swallows and looks away uncomfortably. Oooh yeah... photographic memory. She isn't too sure how she feels about the fact that the sight of her in her sports bra is burned indelibly into Crane's memory.
"That... that was entirely different..." he stutters, "and... and I cannot in good conscience..."
He refuses to meet her eyes. "..and I would not so lightly besmirch your reputation..."
"Why don't you let me worry about my reputation?"
He clutches his coat around him almost primly and backs up another step as she moves towards him.
"Miss Mills, please. I am quite alright and..."
"Don't be so ridiculous," she scolds. "Whatever you're hiding under there, it needs looking at. So you either let me do it, or I put you in the car and drive you to the hospital and let the nurses there do it."
She hadn't thought it possible but his face blanches even further at the thought.
"Okay then. So Nurse Abbie it is. Take off your coat."
He doesn't move so she holds out a hand, making it clear that she's not going to take no for an answer. He regards her for a long moment, his expression reluctant, before giving in with a long-suffering sigh.
He can't hide the grimace of pain as he shrugs the coat from his shoulders and tries to ease his arms carefully free. He holds onto the coat hesitantly so she reaches out and takes it from him, laying it on the desk.
"Show me." Her tone brooks no refusal.
He presses his lips together, gives her a glare that promises retribution, and reluctantly untucks his shirt from his pants. He looks over her head, refusing to meet her eye, as he lifts the left side of his shirt, exposing...
The left side of his chest is heavily bruised, purple mottling spreading across his ribs and around his flank, so dark in some places as to be almost black. That thing must have hit him a hell of a lot harder than she'd realised.
She leans in closer, lifting his shirt further out the way, and, as carefully as she can, runs her fingers over his ribcage, pressing gently. He winces, a hiss of pain escaping him, but she can't feel any untoward movement, any grating. It looks like it is just bruising.
She straightens, stepping back as he lowers his shirt. "Why on earth didn't you tell me?"
He doesn't look at her as he stiffly tucks his shirt back in. "There really was no need, Miss Mills. No bones are broken and the injury, though painful, is not life-threatening."
He reaches for his coat and struggles into it. He pulls the collars snug around his throat and seems to recover his equilibrium, meeting her gaze with renewed confidence. "I really am fine," he assures her. "It will heal in good time."
"Well, yeah, but it's going to hurt like hell..."
He bristles. "If you are suggesting that I will be unable to adequately discharge my duties in defending this town, not to say the world, from the impending apolocalypse..."
"...then you are mistaken, Lieutenant. I am perfectly able to endure a little discomfort..."
"...and indeed have done so on several occasions without it once affecting the performance of my duties."
She stifles a smile at his indignation.
"Never doubted it for a second," she assures him, raising her hand before he can speak again, "but... medicine has come a long way since your day and nowadays we have this great invention called painkillers."
"Pain-killers?" He gets that look on his face that she's come to recognise as his "I've no idea what you're talking about but I don't to look foolish by admitting it" look.
"Painkillers," she reiterates. "To kill the pain. Things have changed a lot, Crane. Modern medicine is as much about pain relief as it is about healing. In fact, anti-inflammatory painkillers can even help with the healing."
He gets that bewildered look again and she knows she's lost him with the anti-inflammatory thing.
"Come on," she says, opening the door. "I've got some Advil in my desk drawer."