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Secretive Santa

Chapter Text

Ichabod Crane, Special Consultant.

Abbie stares at the slip of paper she drew from the stocking Wendy is currently bringing around the department, having people pick names for the annual Sleepy Hollow Police Department Secret Santa.

How she managed to draw Crane’s name is beyond her, but she’s kind of glad she did. She can’t even fathom what could have happened if someone like Morales got him. She pockets the slip of paper and looks around for her lanky partner. As she watches him staring at his slip of paper with a raised eyebrow, she feels a wave of fondness for her eccentric partner, and is happier she got his name than she would readily admit to anyone.

xXx

Lieutenant Abbie Mills.

Crane’s heart does a little leap at seeing her name on the little slip of paper, and he says a silent prayer of thanks for his good fortune. He was hesitant to participate in the gift exchange, but Miss Mills encouraged it, saying he should get more involved in the department now that he was officially a member of it. He attempts to school his facial expression – the Lieutenant has told him repeatedly that he is far too easy to read – and begins thinking of gift ideas. Three gifts is the rule, one per day leading up to Christmas. As he wonders if he can enlist the help of Miss Jenny, he lifts his gaze from the paper to look in the direction of where he last saw his partner.

All he sees is her back as she casually saunters away. He wonders who will be the lucky recipient of her generosity, and feels an uncomfortable stab of jealousy over it.

“Crane?” Captain Irving’s voice snaps him back to reality and he carefully folds the paper with her name on it before turning around.

“Captain,” he replies, giving him a nod.

“You need any help with your gifts, just let me know. I know this is a new thing for you,” Irving says.

“Thank you, but how do you know I did not draw your name?” Crane asks.

“Because I didn’t put my name in,” Irving answers with a laugh. “I didn’t think it would be fair.”

“Ah. Understood,” Crane replies. “I… I do not think I will be requiring your assistance, but if I do, you shall be my first call.”

Irving nods once, then leans in closer and whispers, “Who did you get?”

“Ah, we are not to divulge this information,” Crane responds, gives a short, sharp bow, then turns on his heel to head for the archives and his unfinished research.

xXx

Wednesday the next week, Abbie walks into the office, carefully hiding her excitement over the Secret Santa exchange. It’s the first day, and she has just dropped off her gift to Crane.

Luckily, they agreed that for the three days of the gift exchange, she would not pick him up for work. Even if they didn’t have each other’s names, they still should not see the gifts.
It’s all very Top Secret.

Good fortune is also on Abbie’s side because she knows her partner’s schedule and habits. He is as regular as clockwork. She knows he refills his coffee at 9:30, and usually chats with a few people. If someone has brought in treats, he will linger even longer over a doughnut or cookie.

So at 9:25, she left her desk on the main level, grabbed the canvas bag in which she had his gift hidden, and made her way down to the archives, keeping to the shadows.

She slipped in, left the parcel on his desk, and hurried back up to her desk in the hopes that he would not see her empty chair.

However, when she returned, she found there was also a gift waiting for her. She stops and stares, wondering how? She sits and looks at the festive gift bag, all bright colors and smiling snowmen.

“Ah, Lieutenant, I see your Secretive Santa has struck,” Crane says, wandering over. He has a coffee cup in one hand and a doughnut with a large bite taken from it in the other.

“Secret Santa,” she corrects, looking at the gift bag but not delving in yet. “Did you get anything?” she innocently asks.

“Not yet, but the day is young,” he answers. “I am sure my mystery benefactor will strike in due course.” He perches on the edge of her desk and takes a bite of his doughnut.

“Oh I’m sure,” she absently answers, fingering the curled ribbons tied around the handles of the gift bag.

“Are you not going to open your gift?” he asks.

“I will,” she answers. “I like to savor the moment. I don’t get many nice surprises in my life, so I try to make the ones I do get last as long as possible.”

He smiles, but it is tinged with sadness. “I understand,” he says. He offers her a bite of his doughnut. She leans forward, takes a bite, then reaches up and brushes a crumb from his beard. “You are always a mess with these things.”

“At least I have learned to avoid the ones coated in the powdery white sugar,” he declares with a smile. “Will you be joining me in the archives?” he asks, standing.

“In a bit. Got some paperwork to finish here,” she says. “If I don’t get there this morning, we’ll have lunch and I’ll definitely be down there after that.”

“Excellent,” he replies. He lifts his cup in salute and says, “Until that time, Miss Mills.”

She laughs and waves him away.

Once he is out of sight, she opens her bag. Inside are two pairs of soft, fuzzy socks that look like ugly Christmas sweaters and a headband with reindeer antlers on.

She laughs again and puts on the headband.

xXx

“I knew it,” Crane declares aloud when he returns to his desk in the archives. He had been hoping his absence would bear fruit in the form of his Secret Santa gift.

He spent his walk back downstairs congratulating himself on his acting skills while talking to Miss Mills. She always claims she can “read him like a book” and has often expressed disbelief in his ability to have been a spy.

“Oh, my dear Abigail, you have no idea how much I keep hidden from you,” he had murmured to himself once he was safely away from where anyone could hear him. Then he stopped in the stairwell, sighed once, and made his way down.

Unlike his partner, Crane tears into his gift like a child on Christmas morn. It is a small box, cheerfully wrapped in paper covered with old-fashioned Father Christmases. He took just a moment to appreciate the beautiful paper and tidy wrapping job before ripping it open.

Inside, is a beautiful green scarf that is lightweight and softer than any material he’s ever felt before. He wraps it around his neck and finds that it is much warmer than its weight would suggest. He burrows his face into it, humming pleasurably.

It smells pleasant, too. Slightly familiar, but not enough to identify.

Just outside the door to the archives, Abbie smiles to herself and silently walks back up to her desk.

xXx

When Crane saw the mug, he knew it was the perfect one for his Lieutenant, even though the design was, in his opinion, crudely drawn.

But the plain white mug bearing the slogan “I do what I want” and a simple cartoon line drawing of a cat brandishing two middle fingers (ridiculous… cats do not have fingers, he had thought) just seemed to be the perfect fit for his strong-willed, independent partner.

Then he filled it with as many individually-wrapped Dove dark chocolates he could cram into the thing, because he knows it is her secret vice. She thinks it is a secret vice anyway. Crane knows about it, and so do Jenny and Joe.

He manages to slip the gift bag onto her desk before she arrives Thursday morning. He rose early that day and walked to the station, his boots crunching on the frost-covered ground.

He only wishes he could see her expression when she opens it.

xXx

Abbie was a little worried when her Amazon order didn’t arrive on Tuesday. But it was waiting for her on Wednesday when she got home, and she was grateful she decided to stop home first before making an emergency Target run.

She opened the box of assorted gourmet hot cocoas, and momentarily considered keeping them herself and going on that Target run anyway.

No. He will enjoy them far more than you will.

Salted caramel, dark chocolate, raspberry truffle, mint meltaway, peanut butter cup, and spicy Aztec.

She was especially looking forward to his reaction to that last one.

Smiling to herself, she takes the packets to her kitchen, where a basket filled with oatmeal scotchies – his latest favorite cookie – was waiting to be finished off with the cocoas. She made the cookies Monday night, humming to herself until she realized she was taking extra care to make certain they were perfect for him. Then she abruptly stopped. Then she started humming again anyway, unable to stop.

On Thursday, she deliberately waited until after lunch to deliver his gift. Just to make him sweat a bit.

When she opened her gift, which she loved far more than a reasonable amount, she had another moment of panic. Should I have gotten him a mug? But then she remembers his beloved “I ♥ Founding Fathers” mug that had belonged to Caroline and decided a new mug was not needed.

xXx

Crane,

Cynthia and Macey had these tickets but they’re both down with some kind of stomach bug and can’t go. I thought you might want to share them with your Secret Santa recipient. I know she will appreciate going.

Use this opportunity wisely, Captain America.
-F.I.

Crane reads the note for the fourth time, puzzling over it. He has no idea how the Captain figured out that he drew Miss Mills’ name, or how he knows that his feelings for his partner have grown into something that makes his heart pound when he merely thinks about her.

Captain Irving didn’t come right out and say either of these things, but Crane reads the messages between the lines, and knows that Irving knows he will do so.

He sighs and looks at the tickets again.

He slips one into a Christmas card he made, along with a note he typed and printed out because she knows what his handwriting looks like.

He takes a deep breath and seals the envelope, his mind already abuzz with planning.

xXx

“Miss Mills!” Crane exclaims the next morning, holding a book aloft and waving it at her when Abbie wanders into the archives. He is so excited he doesn’t even notice she is holding her new coffee cup.

“Hey, Crane,” she answers. She couldn’t resist the opportunity to see his reaction to his final gift and “casually” wandered down to the archives first thing.

“Look! Lord of the Rings! The entire series! In hardcover Lieutenant! Hardcover!” he exclaims, adorably giddy. “Including The Hobbit! And they have their own little box!”

“Pretty sweet gift,” she replies, smiling into her coffee as she takes a sip. “I wonder how your Secret Santa knew you’ve been wanting that set ever since you found out about them?” And knew about your disdain for paperback books, she mentally adds.

On the last day, the Secret Santas are allowed to reveal their identities in any way they choose. Abbie has chosen to go fishing.

“Miss Mills, did you help… no, it is intended to be a secret,” he murmurs, still distracted as he runs his long fingers over the embossed spines of the books. He slides The Return of the King out and looks at the back cover.

“Earth to Crane,” she prompts, coming over and perching on the edge of his desk, trying not to be mesmerized by those long fingers and the thoughts of what they could do if he were so inclined.

Distracting thoughts, these, and thoughts that come into her head far too often. Between his fingers, his voice, and the fact that he either does not wear underwear or the type he wears does nothing to support that with which God has gifted him, Abbie’s thoughts have lately been turning downright pornographic if left unattended.

The fact that he speaks to her in almost literal poetry with hearts in his damn blues eyes doesn’t help either.

“Hmm?” Crane looks up, looking startled and almost surprised that she’s there.

“You really like your books, hey?” she asks, setting her mug down and tracing the edge of the box with a finger.

“It is the only thing I wanted. I mentioned it to you a month—” He suddenly breaks off, gaping, his eyes wide. “Miss Mills!” he exclaims! “It is you! You are my Secretive Santa!”

As soon as the smile crosses her face, she finds herself swept up into a Crane-sized bear hug, her feet leaving the floor as he literally hoists her off of the edge of the desk. She yelps in surprise, then laughs and returns his hug, but her laughter soon dies out, his arms feeling strong and secure and just right around her.

When he tucks his head and whispers, “Thank you,” into her ear, she has to bite her lip and close her eyes in an attempt to suppress the shiver that runs through her.

She leans her head back and looks up at him. “You’re welcome, Ichabod,” she softly replies, willing her eyes to remain focused on his, even when his flit to her lips for a split second.

Then he seems to notice he is still holding her flush against him and quietly exclaims, “Oh!” and releases her.

“Everything you gifted me was perfect, Abbie,” he says. “Though that is not surprising, considering—” He breaks off, just short of saying “you are perfection itself” and finishes with, “Considering you know me so well.”

“You were surprisingly easy actually,” she replies. “But I’m glad you liked everything.” She picks up her mug again and asks, “Are there any cookies left?”

He sheepishly grins and answers, “A few. And the cocoa? Splendid.”

“Which ones have you tried?” she asks.

“Just the mint one. It was most excellent. I will admit I feel a bit of trepidation about the spicy Aztec flavor,” he responds.

“I’m really curious about that one actually,” she says.

His eyebrow barely twitches and he says, “Perhaps I will share some with you when I summon the courage to try it.”

“I’mma hold you to that,” she says with a sly smile. “We doing lunch?”

“Alas, I cannot. I have a meeting with Dr. Farzan at the university. He finally returned my call, so I should be able to get the information we need about that scroll,” he answers. It isn’t a complete lie, but neither is it the complete truth. He has other Errands as well.

“Gotta brush up on your ancient Persian, Crane,” she teases, knowing how it irritates him to come across something he doesn’t know.

He raises his index finger and says, “I’ll have you know that I… Miss Mills? Lieutenant?” he stammers as he watches her walk away, hearing her musical chuckle float after her.
Once she is gone, he sighs and smiles. He walks over to where his coat is hanging and retrieves the green scarf from inside his sleeve where he had tucked it. He presses it to his face and inhales, his eyes closed, as he searches for the original scent of it, now slightly buried under his own.

Yes. That was the familiar smell on the scarf. It was her. He closes his eyes and summons the recent memory of holding her in his arms with his face tucked into her neck. Such bliss.

When he finally returns to his desk, his phone sitting there catches his eye. He’s been contemplating making this call since Irving gave him the tickets, but he wasn’t sure if he should. He picks it up and looks at the photo on his Lock Screen. It’s a selfie of himself and Miss Mills. She is smiling and looks ethereal. His home screen is yet another, one she wasn’t fully prepared for yet she still manages to look beautiful.

“Sod it all,” he says, then brings up Jenny’s contact info.

“Hey, Crane,” a sleepy-sounding voice greets him.

“Oh, apologies, Miss Jenny. I hadn’t taken note of the time,” he says.

“It’s fine… I needed to get up anyway. What’s up?” she asks.

“I… I require your assistance.”

“Got something you need me to track down?”

“No. This is a… personal matter. I was wondering if you would help me with something.”

xXx

Abbie stares at the envelope on her desk, frowning. She had been secretly hoping that her Secret Santa was Crane, but since this envelope appeared while she was down talking to him, it can’t be from him.

Unless he bent the rules and had an accomplice, but he wouldn’t do that. Would he?

She opens the envelope and finds a beautiful card that appears to be handmade, and inside it is a note and a single ticket.

The ticket is for a seat to The Nutcracker that night, in the City.

“Holy…” she whispers, noting that the seats are quite good.

She opens the note.

I hope you are available. A car will arrive to pick you up at 6:30.

“Okaayy,” she says, furrowing her brow. “I guess I’ll find out who you are then?”

“Mills, you okay?” Morales asks as he walks past. “You’re talking to yourself.”

“I talk to myself a lot,” Abbie retorts.

He shrugs and asks, “What you got there?”

Nutcracker ticket,” she answers, showing it to him, carefully watching his face. This had better not be from you. I do not have the energy or the time to deal with your ass again.

“Just one? Weird,” he says. “Kind of presumptuous, too, if you ask me.”

“I didn’t. Did you find out who your Secret Santa is?” she asks.

“Oh, I didn’t do it this year,” he replies, shrugging again. Someone calls his name and he gives her a wave before he walks away.

“Oh thank God,” she says, sitting down and tucking the ticket back into the card. She places the envelope in her bottom desk drawer with her other personal items and decides she should probably start doing some actual work.

At least that will distract her from trying to figure out who the hell her Secret Santa is.

xXx

“Jenny, you’re not helping,” Abbie sighs, staring at her reflection in the mirror. “And for the last time, this is too much.” She tugs at the long skirt, then reaches behind her and pulls the zipper down.

“No it isn’t,” Jenny insists, re-zipping the dress. “You’re going to the ballet in the City. You’re supposed to dress like this.”

“But I don’t even know who I’m going with. If I’m going with anybody,” she protests but does not unzip the dress again.

“Just trust me,” Jenny says, hoping Abbie doesn’t immediately latch on to the confidence in her voice.

She does. “What do you know?” she demands, turning and glaring at her younger sister.

“Enough to be able to tell you to trust me,” Jenny retorts. “Now put on Mom’s necklace and do your makeup. It’s almost 6:30.”

“But—”

“And fix your boobs.”

Abbie looks down at her chest. “What—”

“I am not answering any more questions! Go.” Jenny smiles as Abbie complies and walks into the bathroom, grumbling. Jenny had been more than agreeable to helping Crane with his plan, especially since she and Joe have had long-standing bets on when the two of them would finally stop dancing around one another.

Jenny leaves before 6:30, to give them some privacy. Crane didn’t ask her to do so – he didn’t even ask her to go over to Abbie’s house – but she decided to be considerate, even though she really wants to see her sister’s face when she finds out her Secret Santa is Crane.

Abbie anxiously waits by the front door, wondering what sort of vehicle will be coming. The note did not specify anything other than the time.

When a sleek limousine pulls to a stop in front of her house, her jaw drops.

“No,” she says aloud. Not willing to wait any longer, she slings her coat over her arm and walks out in time to see the driver step out and open the back door.

She slows her steps, watching. There is no way she is going into that limo without knowing who is inside. She may be excited, but she’s not stupid.

When a suspiciously familiar gangly form unfurls himself from the back seat, she stops cold.

“No,” she says again. “No fucking way.”

Crane smiles, obviously enjoying her shock, and extends a hand in invitation. He is standing tall and straight as a toy soldier, dressed in a suit that manages to look both modern and antique at the same time, much like the man himself. “Miss Mills,” he greets.

“You bastard,” Abbie says, but she can’t seem to keep the smile off of her face. She starts walking again. “You absolute piece of shit.”

“Ah, your words are meant to sting, but your face warms my heart,” he replies, still smiling. When she is close enough, she wrenches her face into what might pass for a glare and makes a great show of hesitating before placing her hand in his.

“We have an audience,” she says, noting some of the neighbors are peeking out, the limo having caught their attention.

Crane merely shrugs. “You would be doing the same and so would I,” he says. “Shall we? Traffic may be an issue.”

Abbie nods and lets him assist her into the back of the limo. When he joins her inside and they start moving, she turns towards him.

“Okay. Explain.”

“You may thank Captain Irving for the tickets,” he says. “Mrs. Irving and Miss Macey were intending to go, but they are both under the weather.”

“Oh yeah. Frank told me. They think it’s food poisoning,” she says. “Never fun.”

“Indeed not,” he agrees.

“What about this?” she asks, extending her arms to indicate their luxurious transportation.

“Ah. Well. The driver is a member of the reenactment group. He agreed to drive us in exchange for my assistance with restoring a few antique firearms he has,” he explains.

Abbie nods, then her brow furrows. “Wait. How did Frank know who you had for Secret Santa?”

“I assure you I did not tell him!” Crane insists. “But you know our ever-astute Captain.”

“Was he also the one who slipped the card with the ticket on my desk while I was down talking to you this morning?”

“Yes.”

“That’s cheating!” she exclaims. “And so is enlisting Jenny’s help!”

“I did not want you to be worried. I simply asked Miss Jenny to reassure you that all would be well,” he explains. “It was for your own peace of mind, I promise you,” he adds, taking her hand in his.

“She was a pain in the ass,” Abbie says with a laugh. “She picked out this dress.”

“You look breathtaking,” Crane quietly says, looking down at her hand in his. “I have never seen you looking more beautiful. And considering you always look… sublime, no matter how you are attired, to see you thus,” he risks a look up, “dressed in an elegant gown, hair and makeup artfully arranged and applied just so…” he trails off, slightly shaking his head. “I find myself at a loss for words.”

“Wow, Crane,” she replies, her voice an awed hush. “I… I didn’t know you felt that way.”

He gathers her small hand between both of his. “Miss Mills… Abbie… I…” he stammers, then lifts her hand to his lips, where he kisses her knuckles.

She blinks a few times, wondering if he is trying to say what she thinks he is trying to say. She is so overwhelmed she can’t even find the headspace to be amused at the fact that her talkative partner has been rendered speechless.

When he turns her hand and slowly, carefully, kisses the inside of her wrist, she’s pretty sure he is trying to say what she thinks he is trying to say. That would have been a pretty bold move in his day, and the thrill that runs through her from it makes her understand exactly why.

She looks at him, up into his bright blue eyes. They always tell her everything she needs to know about how he is feeling and what he is thinking, and tonight, even in the darkness of the limousine, is no exception.

He looks like he is ready to burst out of his skin if she doesn’t give him some sort of clue as to how she is feeling. Either that or he is about to vomit.

She scoots closer.

His lips part slightly.

She reaches up and cups his cheek with her free hand.

He leans his face into her palm.

“Ichabod,” she says, her thumb gently stroking his beard.

“Abbie,” he whispers. “I…” His voice falters again.

Her thumb traces his lower lip

His eyes close and a low groan escapes him.

Then he swoops down and kisses her.

She immediately melts against him. Then she pulls herself closer still, moving her other hand to his face when he releases it to wrap his arms around her.

He pulls back a little, just enough to give his tongue room to slip forward, easily coaxing her lips apart for him. Her hands move, one around his neck, careful not to muss his tidy ponytail, the other down to his chest, where she slides it inside his coat.

They finally separate when the car jostles over a pothole, and regard one another for a moment.

“So does this mean you feel the same?” he asks. His eyes are glassy and dilated and his lips are very red, due to Abbie’s lipstick.

She smiles and reaches into his inside coat pocket for the handkerchief she knows to be there. Carefully wiping his lips, then hers, she coyly says, “That depends. You haven’t actually told me how you feel.”

“I am… quite smitten with you. Beyond smitten,” he says, finally able to speak. He knows in his heart that he loves her with everything he is, but he knows his partner and doesn’t want to scare her away.

“Smitten. That’s… cute,” she says, idly toying with his tie. “Are you sure that’s the right word?” she asks, leaning up to kiss him once more.

“Temptress,” he croaks when they separate. He closes his eyes and leans his forehead against hers. “I love you, Grace Abigail Mills. I am sorry if it is too much too soon, but do remember that you pressed the issue, so if—”

Her lips on his stop his words. “Shut up,” she murmurs against his mouth, very nearly climbing into his lap now.

He hauls her the rest of the way and leans back so she is basically lying on top of him. Even though she’s above him, he manages to gain control of the kiss, pouring himself into her.

“Damn, Crane,” she gasps, lifting her head. “If I had known you could kiss like that, I would have kissed you months ago.”
He raises an eyebrow at her. “Months?”

“Months,” she confirms, then leans back down for more, enticingly pressing her body against him. She doesn’t remember the last time she was this turned on from just kissing. His large, warm hand rubbing up and down her back only encourages her. When he boldly curls his fingers into her tantalizing backside, she moans.

The sound combined with another bounce of the car brings him back to reality. “I think we must stop before I decide to show you how good I am at other things,” he murmurs into her neck. He shifts and re-positions them so she is tucked against his side.

Abbie considers suggesting they skip the ballet and have him tell the driver to find a hotel, but thinks better of it. Frank was nice enough to give them the tickets, and since the Nutcracker is younger than Crane is, it wouldn’t be fair to deprive him of this opportunity.

She turns her head and kisses his neck. “Someone has confidence in himself,” she comments, choosing to tease him instead.

“You doubt my words?” he asks, his fingers tracing lazy patterns on any exposed skin he can find.

She half shrugs. “You were scandalized at the fact that I was wearing trousers when we first met,” she reminds him. “And then there was your first summer in the 21st century. 'So much exposed skin!'" she mimics. "Not to mention—”

“You have made your point,” he interjects. “However, I would remind you that I come from a time where we kept our private lives private. That does not mean we spent all our time behind closed doors reading the bible and doing needlework.”

“Sometimes you would churn butter, right?” she asks, grinning.

He snorts. “You are impossible,” he says, but the words come out as a fond sigh.

“If either of us is impossible, it’s you,” she points out. "But I love you anyway," she finally, quietly admits.

His gasp lets her know he heard her quiet confession. That and his answering kiss, which can only be described as euphoric. "Happy Christmas, Abbie," he says, fondly gazing down into her wide brown eyes.

"Merry Christmas, Ichabod," she replies.

Chapter Text

They decide to walk to the hotel to stretch their legs after sitting for so long. Crane especially needed to move his, as the legroom in the seats was not exactly sufficient for his long limbs.

Abbie slipped her hand into his, loving how her small one was nearly engulfed by his. Large and warm, it was a familiar and comforting feeling, but still felt new and exciting.

They passed a Walgreens on the way and decided to stop in and buy a few essentials: toothbrushes, toothpaste, a silk scarf for Abbie, and condoms.

They walk into the hotel with their meager luggage and check in with a minimum of fuss. Abbie notices Crane looking around and assessing their surroundings, and she knows he is trying to figure out how much she spent on their room.

Being that he still doesn’t fully have a grasp on modern prices, she’s not too worried about it.

“Come on,” she says, grabbing his free hand and pulling him towards the elevator.

Their room is on the 21st floor, and she immediately goes to the window and pulls the curtains open. She is looking out at the view when she feels him come up behind her.

“Beautiful view,” she says.

“You wish to stand here and gaze at the city all night?” he asks, bending down to murmur it against the top of her head as he wraps his arm around her middle.

She leans back against him. “God, no,” she answers, chuckling. She is about to turn around, but he stops her.

“Close the curtains, Miss Mills,” he softly orders.

Slightly amused, she reaches for them, and as she does so, feels the zipper at her back being opened. The soft pressure of his lips kissing his way down her spine as he lowers the zipper sends a delicious shiver through her.

“Are you cold?” he asks, replacing his lips with his hands. He slides them up her back and eases her dress from her shoulders.

“No,” she answers, turning around as she pulls her arms from the sleeves. The garment hangs around her hips while she reaches up and begins to undo the tie around his neck. It’s knotted in some sort of old-fashioned manner, but she figures it out pretty quickly and has it off and draped over the back of a chair in no time.

He shrugs out of his suit jacket as she begins unbuttoning his shirt. She leans forward and presses kisses to his chest as the shirt opens, mimicking what he did to her back.

He inhales sharply when she briefly deviates to bestow a few gentle kisses to the large scar over his pectoral muscle, and she can just sense his fingers twitching as he struggles to maintain his composure.

“Abbie,” he croaks, his hands briefly settling on her shoulders before sliding down her arms and back up again.

“Did I hurt you?” she asks, suddenly alarmed, kicking herself for not thinking about the fact that his scar might be a painful area for him.

“Heavens, no,” he answers, his fingertips coming up to chase the tension out of her face. He bends down to kiss her and says, “Just the opposite, in fact. I hadn’t realized how remarkably sensitive it is.”

“Oh,” she dumbly replies. He takes her hand and places it over the scar. She can feel his heart pounding under her fingers, strong and slightly faster than normal.

“For you,” he whispers, seemingly reading her thoughts. “Since I have been in this time, it has beat for you.”

Abbie blinks, processing his words. What about Katrina? is the obvious question pounding its way through. “But…” The protest escapes her lips before she can stop it.

Crane smiles and shakes his head just slightly. “I did not fully realize – or was not able to admit it to myself – until some months after Katrina’s betrayal and subsequent death. And I never would have…”

“I know,” she says, closing her eyes and nodding. She knows he would never have cheated on his wife. And she would have rejected him anyway, for just that reason, regardless of how she truly felt. “I know,” she repeats.

“Of course you do,” he replies. He tugs the opened shirt off, almost like he has just remembered what they were doing amid their conversation, and guides her hands to his belt. “And it is one of the many reasons why I love you.”

“You’ll have to tell me the others sometime,” she says with a smile, unbuckling his belt.

His hands fall to her waist, thumbs briefly, lightly stroking her skin there before pushing her dress over her hips until it falls to the floor.

Crane had already removed his shoes, so he kneels down and lifts one of Abbie’s small feet in his large hands. He removes one shoe, then the other, carefully setting them aside before sitting back on his heels to gaze up at her.

“Beautiful. You are truly beautiful, Miss Mills,” he says, his expression almost worshipful as he looks at her. His fingers dally at the edges of her thigh-high stockings, dancing over the edges of them before slowly, painstakingly drawing them down her legs, one at a time. Once they are set aside, he leans forward and kisses her stomach before standing again.

“You look pretty good there, too, Crane,” she says, running her hands up and down his chest. They settle at his waist and she opens his trousers. She makes a quiet sound of surprise when they fall, but recovers quickly and arches an eyebrow at him.

His own brow quirks up in response. “I have yet to find an acceptable style of undergarment, so I have been simply going without,” he says. He doesn’t seem embarrassed or ashamed in the least.

Her eyes boldly travel downward, taking all of him in. All of him. “Damn, man, I’m not surprised,” she says. The myth about tall, lanky men with large hands and feet definitely holds true for Ichabod Crane. She reaches out and drags a single finger down his length and he shudders.

“Abbie,” he grunts, catching her hand in his. He lifts and kisses it, then releases it to pull her closer, determined to regain his composure and take control of the evening. He slides his hands around her back, his fingers questing for the clasp of her bra.

“You might need some—oh, I guess not,” she says, impressed that he was able to unclasp it so easily.

“I assure you, the garments of my time were much more complicated than this,” he says, his fingers trailing down her arms as he guides her bra off. He tosses it aside. “Magnificent,” he reverently whispers, dropping to his knees before her. “Simply magnificent.”

He leans forward and kisses her stomach, then reaches for her panties. Her fingers slide into his hair, threading through the long, silken strands, as he makes a career out of removing the last piece of clothing she had on.

“Bed,” she says. It comes out as a breathy gasp because he is already busying himself, holding her foot as he kisses his way up her leg.

He has her scooped into his arms and onto the bed before she fully realizes what has happened. She squeaks in surprise, then flops back onto the pillows when he picks up where he left off, his lips soft and wet, his beard prickly-soft against her skin.

“Get up here,” she says, reaching down to tug his hair.

“All in good time, Lieutenant,” he answers, briefly contemplating the carefully-groomed patch of hair at the apex of her thighs before lightly touching, then kissing it once. He moves to her belly button next, dipping his tongue in, then dragging it up her stomach until he reaches her breasts.

“You are trying to kill me,” she groans when he bestows teasing kisses and licks on her breasts, lavishing attention everywhere except her nipples.

He chuckles lasciviously, and she whimpers, realizing he has only just begun to torture her. Then he finally gives in and sucks a hard nipple into his mouth. She gasps and curls her fingers into his hair.

With her other hand, she gropes for the box of condoms, but is unable to locate them. “Crane,” she gasps. “Ichabod,” she repeats, louder.

He lifts his head. “Hmm?”

“Where are the condoms?”

“Oh yes.” He darts away and returns a second later with the box, which he lightly, almost carelessly, tosses onto the bed beside her.

She picks it up and begins opening it, but the swirling of his skilled tongue around her nipple distracts her, so she fumbles with it a bit. She eventually gets one packet out and separated from the others, but before she can open it, Crane’s fingers find their way between her thighs.

“Oh shit,” she gasps.

“So wet for me,” he murmurs, kissing his way back up to her lips.

She slides her free hand down and wraps her fingers around his cock, gasping again when she discovers they don’t reach all the way around. When she strokes him, his fingers stumble and his body jerks in response.

“Abbie… your touch is everything I crave,” he whispers between kisses. “You have no idea how I have fantasized about how it would feel to touch you… kiss you… have you touch me… make love to you…”

“Crane,” she says, nudging him with her chin so he lifts his head. “Shut up and show me.”

“With pleasure,” he rumbles, his voice nearly a growl. He plucks the condom from her fingers, sits back on his heels, and rolls it over his length.

Abbie watches him, biting her lower lip as she imagines how it’s going to feel to have that sheathed within her. She wants it, but she’s just a little intimidated as well, since it has been a while and he’s pretty big.

As he begins descending over her, she reaches up and puts her hand on his chest. He gives her a questioning look, but when she flips them a second later, his expression turns devilish.

“Attempting to regain the upper hand?” he asks.

“Bold of you to assume I ever lost it,” she says, straddling him. She runs one hand up her stomach and over her breasts, drawing his gaze, distracting him just long enough. When she takes him in her other hand and begins lowering herself down, he swears.

“Fuck…”

“Dirty boy,” she says, attempting to sound calm or even stern. Instead it comes out as a breathy sigh, as his girth and length are stretching her in ways she hasn’t been stretched in too long. Possibly ever.

“You have no idea,” he grunts his reply, his long fingers digging into her hips as he adjusts to the feeling of finally being here with her, inside her.

“Mmm, that sounds promising,” she responds. She begins moving over him, sliding up and down on his thick shaft. She finds his hands and guides them to her breasts.

He lightly squeezes, then flicks his thumbs over her nipples, teasing them into hard pebbles. His lips are parted and his eyes are full of desire as he gazes up at her.

Abbie drops forward, catching those parted lips with her own. Crane groans and hungrily kisses her back, his hands moving from her breasts to her ass, caressing and squeezing the firm, round globes he has so long admired.

“Oh shit,” she gasps. She can feel the sensations building, starting where they are joined and spreading. Every place he touches feels deliciously oversensitive and she wants more. “Oh fuck…”

“Come for me,” he murmurs, his voice little more than a soft rumble against her lips. Then he thrusts his hips up, hard, to meet her as she sinks down, and she cries out. He does it again, and again, until she is gasping.

Her fingernails dig into his shoulders as she falls apart over him, crying out as she orgasms harder than she ever has.

He gives her a moment’s respite, then flips them over, still managing to stay joined. Close to the edge himself, he drives into her, his hips making a slapping sound as they snap against the backs of her thighs.

A few seconds later he surges into her, stilling as he comes. “Oh, Abbie, my own,” he sighs as he slumps over her, careful not to crush her.

She wraps her arms around his torso and squeezes him, holding him tightly, pressing him against her. She wishes she had the words to express the somewhat unexpected torrent of feelings she is experiencing, but all she can manage is, “Yeah. Always.”

“This is the best Christmas gift I could have ever hoped to receive,” he says once she loosens her grasp on him. He kisses her once more and then gently rolls away to clean himself up a bit.

Abbie briefly leaves the bed to deal with her hair, and when she returns, Crane tucks her in beside him, pillowing her head on his shoulder and tucking the blankets around her.

“Can I ask you something?” she asks after a few minutes.

“Of course. You may ask me anything at any time,” he answers, idly dragging his fingers up and down her side.

“You really seemed to know what to do with that condom…”

“That is not a question.”

“Crane.”

He chuckles, then gives her a small squeeze. “First of all, such things did exist in my time,” he informs. “They weren’t as… sophisticated as your modern ones, but they were effective. Mostly.”

“Mostly?” she asks. “Don’t tell me you got yourself into some trouble back in the day.”

“I most certainly did not,” he answers. “But I know of several people who were not quite so fortunate.”

“Mmmkay,” she replies, deciding to file that away under Later. “You said ‘first of all.’ Did you have a second point?”

“Of course. Secondly, it is not exactly a difficult concept,” he smugly says.

“Not like ancient Persian then,” she teases, looking up at him.

“I will master it,” he insists, and she feels him stiffen as he bristles with irritation. “Dr. Farzan assured me—”

“Crane,” Abbie interjects, moving up to kiss his lips. “I’m just giving you shit. Settle down.”

“Settle down?” he repeats, raising an eyebrow at her while his hands begin moving into more interesting locations. “Are you certain that is what you want, Lieutenant?”

“God, it’s hot when you call me ‘Lieutenant’ in bed,” she gasps. Then she yelps when she suddenly finds herself on her back, pinned beneath him.

“Is it now?” he asks, looking positively sinister as he grins down at her. He lowers his head and kisses her deeply and with such ardor that it makes her head spin.

“Mmm, I’m so glad you were my Secretive Santa,” she says, smiling and gazing up at him with hooded eyes.

He softly nuzzles her nose and says, “Secret Santa,” before claiming her lips with his once more.