|occhi_bella (occhi_bella) wrote in unknown_fandom,|
@ 2007-09-01 23:38:00
|Entry tags:||fan fiction, sleepy hollow (movie)|
Aftermath - Chapter 6
story_arc Set: 15-03
story_arc Theme: Eyes (10-03, #7)
Fandom: Sleepy Hollow (movie)
Character: Ichabod Crane
Warning: Non-explicit implications of rape and incest. Spoilers
Disclaimer: Sleepy Hollow and its characters do not belong to me. I make no money from this.
Link to Chapter 1
Summary: Ichabod departs for New York with Katrina and Young Masbath, but their journey is delayed by unexpected complications. Picks up at the part where the Hessian disappears into the Tree of the Dead for the last time with Lady Van Tassel.
Having retrieved his ledger, Ichabod returned to Stephen’s room and flipped to the page upon which he’d written information on the Jenner family. Katrina had moved her chair next to him and peered over his arm at his notes.
“Both Mark and Edna died on the 5th of February.” He spoke sotto voce.
“Edna was his second wife?”
“Yes. He is buried next to Sarah. Edna was buried…near to him, but her grave is not part of the family plot.”
“Abigail Jenner. Then she was never married,” Katrina mused, reading.
“Most likely she wasn’t. She is buried with her father’s surname…and there is no reference that she was the beloved wife of anyone. I should like to ask James McKinley about Emily, and maybe the other Jenners. But everyone here is so secretive and suspicious. I’m afraid questioning Mr. McKinley or anyone else will prove to be a futile exercise.”
He frowned fretfully and stared at the names and dates that he’d written.
“Ichabod!” she whispered, seizing his arm and pointing toward the bed with her free hand.
Ichabod raised his head with a start at her urgent tone.
Stephen had risen from the bed, his eyes open but unseeing, and he was moving slowly toward the door, trancelike. Katrina was about to lurch forward to stop him, but Ichabod stood up and laid a hand on her shoulder, holding her back.
“Wait.” He kept his voice low. “I would like to see where he goes and what he does. I shall follow him. As long as I’m with him, he won’t come to any harm and maybe I can discover what is truly happening to him.”
He set off after Stephen as he descended the stairs at the same slow pace, following him out the front door. As the boy wandered down the street, Ichabod stayed a few paces behind, not wishing to startle him. There was a chill in the air and neither of them were dressed warmly enough, he realized.
They reached the stream. Stephen sat down in the snow on the bank underneath the bridge that spanned it and remained still. Ichabod stopped a few feet away from him and watched. No wind blew tonight and despite the chill in the air, the night was quiet and still. Eerie.
Moments later he heard the same sobbing sounds that he’d heard earlier at this bridge. Ichabod crept closer and crouched down beside him.
“Stephen?” he whispered.
Tears streamed from his eyes and the sounds came from his mouth, but it didn’t sound like him. The voice was someone else’s. Ichabod was so startled that he nearly fell over.
Stephen suddenly turned his head to look at him for the first time. Ichabod’s heart froze as he took in the expression in his eyes. He was staring at a stranger. It was Stephen’s face, but there was something about the expression in his eyes; somehow the eyes peering back at him belonged to someone else.
Ichabod’s heart was in his throat. He was on the verge of addressing him as ‘Emily’ but he was too afraid that the boy would answer to that name and he couldn’t bring himself to do it. A moment later, and without any warning, Stephen leaped to his feet and hurled himself into the stream.
Without a second thought, Ichabod sprang into action, pulling off his boots and diving into the icy water after him. He dragged him onto the bank, quickly checking to make sure he was still breathing. Then, having made certain that he was, he hurriedly put his boots back on, scooped Stephen up in his arms and carried him back to the tavern.
Katrina gasped when she saw that the two of them were wet.
“I’ll explain after. I’m sorry, I should have never let him go out.”
“Did you discover nothing?”
“No, not nothing. Please bring dry clothing and a blanket for him.”
Ichabod set him down near the fire, then took the blanket that Katrina brought over. He stripped off Stephen’s wet clothing and wrapped him in the blanket.
“He jumped into the stream.”
Her eyes widened in shock. She quietly set a dry sleeping robe on the armchair for him. “I’m going to bring you some dry clothes now. And I’ll brew something warm for both of you to drink.”
When she left the room, Ichabod took the robe and wrapped it around Stephen, then rubbed his head with the blanket in an attempt to dry his hair.
“Well, at least you weren’t in there for more than a minute or so,” he muttered.
Stephen’s eyes had been closed since Ichabod pulled him from the water; but now they fluttered open slowly.
“Katrina is bringing you something warm to drink.”
Bewilderment etched itself across his face as he stared up at Ichabod. Without asking, Ichabod knew that Stephen remembered nothing and had no idea that he’d even risen out of bed.
The desk in the room was already strewn with small scraps of paper containing names written on them in Ichabod’s elegant handwriting. The names of each one of the Jenners, including Emily. James McKinley. Dr. Thompson. He hadn’t learned the names of the others yet, but that was one of the next tasks at hand. He was particularly interested in obtaining the name of that rude, suspicious old man, who no doubt held all the knowledge that he was seeking.
For now, he listed all possible scenarios and the facts that supported their truth in his ledger, including the points that Katrina had made and any connections he could think of to Stephen, for example that the room he was sleeping in had possibly been Emily’s.
The Jenners were a prominent family in town, he was certain of that. Three members of that family had died within a couple of weeks of each other, two of them on the same day. Could that have been a coincidence? He highly doubted it and scribbled a few questions at the bottom of the page of names.
How did the Jenners die? Was it natural causes? Illness? Murder?
If it was murder, was it possible that some angry, vengeful ghost had risen up to possess Stephen? Before he worked in Sleepy Hollow he would have considered it a preposterous notion. Now it frightened him to imagine that it could be true. He’d already seen the supernatural at work and could no longer deny its existence.
And now, after Stephen’s somnambulism the previous night and the incident at the stream, he knew for certain that something out of the ordinary was happening. It was as if someone else had occupied the boy’s body, peering at him through his eyes, causing him to do things that might have brought great harm to him. Somehow he had managed to keep himself together in order to look after Stephen and bring him home safely. But after Ichabod had finished recounting to Katrina what happened out there, he fainted into her arms. The thought of that look in Stephen’s eyes still made him shudder.
He was sleep-deprived and exhausted, and his eyes were stinging. The words he had written on the page seemed to swim in the dim candlelight. He rubbed his eyes with the backs of his hands and focused on the page again. Taking up his pen, he dipped it in the inkwell and jotted down James McKinley in his ledger. There was something about him that was important but when he tried to recall his train of thought regarding him, his mind was a blank and the letters were drifting out of focus. He wasn’t aware anymore if it was day or night.
The sound of his wife’s voice snapped Ichabod out of the daze he had unwittingly fallen into. For a moment, he sat there wondering when he’d stopped reading his notes. His pen was still in his hand, poised to write but no longer moving. Had he dozed off?
Her delicate hands came to rest on his shoulders and he raised his head with a start.
“Van Ripper has offered to watch over Stephen for awhile, to give us both a break. Come to bed, my love. You cannot keep going without sleep this way.”
“Somehow I have to make sense of this…” he began, then trailed off with a frustrated sigh. “Before Stephen runs off and really harms himself. I’m getting nowhere.”
“And you won’t until you get some rest and clear your mind.”
She came around to stand in front of him and took his hands in hers, coaxing him to stand up. He resigned himself to her care and stood, allowing her to lead him away from the desk.
“While you dress for bed I’ll make you a sleeping draught.”
He nodded absently and began to unbutton his vest. By the time he’d removed his shirt and pants she had returned with a cup.
The taste of the draught was familiar and he realized that it was the same thing she’d given him to drink the night the Horseman’s sword wounded him. He was about to ask her what she put in it but thought better of it.
Katrina took the empty cup from him and set it on the bedside table. Then she climbed into bed and slipped underneath the covers beside him, snuggling against him. He snaked his arms around her waist and held her close.
“You must try to relax, my love,” she whispered, kissing his cheek gently. “I can feel the tension in your body.”
“I’m sorry. It’s just very frustrating,” he sighed. “These crimes…In New York there is theft, murder, beatings…it’s horrific, but…But here and in Sleepy Hollow…in a way the crimes are more shocking. Macabre. They are so tangled up in webs of deceit and buried secrets and lies. And with the supernatural.” His voice wavered nervously as he added the last phrase. Although his ordeal in Sleepy Hollow had forced him to face the evidence of supernatural occurrences he still wasn’t comfortable with it.
“I suppose the nature of crimes would be very different in New York. There are thousands of people living there. In Sleepy Hollow we are a small society and everyone is connected to everyone. Here, too.”
“Yes, I suppose that has something to do with it.”
“You’ve hardly spoken to me about the city, other than the yellow fever epidemics. What is it like?”
“New York is a wonderful place in some ways. But it has its ugly side. There are so many who are sick and destitute, powerless and forgotten in their society. They are the ones who are likely to turn to crime in order to survive. And even if they don’t, they are the first to be accused. Theft, murder, beatings. It’s horrific. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it or to the way the justice system deals with them. Do you know that a constable is paid extra money for each defendant he brings into custody, for each witness he brings into custody and for each prisoner he dispatches to prison? I guess it was meant as an incentive for the men to take their job seriously. Instead they are encouraged to torment the people that they view as a blight on society and accuse them groundlessly.”
“What a burden you have taken on, attempting to change all of that by yourself.”
He sighed again. “Yes. But…I’m here now, with another task at hand. There will be enough time to fret about that when we return to New York.”
Katrina was speaking but suddenly her words were disjointed and incoherent as they floated into his consciousness. The drink was taking effect and Ichabod drifted off into a deep, dreamless sleep.
“I remember what it was now,” Ichabod murmured as he lay awake beside Katrina the following morning.
Thanks to Katrina’s sleeping draught he’d slept well and felt completely refreshed. He was heartened to see that she appeared more rested as well.
“James McKinley. The other night, when the people of the town met. We were in the kitchen eating supper.”
“He knew that.”
“Of course. I passed him when I was on my way to bring Stephen soup. I had to walk through the tavern to reach the stairs. He greeted me.”
“And he knew that I had stayed behind. That I could hear the conversation they were having. He wanted me to hear it.”
“Why didn’t he just ask for help if he wanted it?”
“Because he couldn’t. The others didn’t want an outsider involved. So, he asked me without…actually asking. I shall have to have a talk with Mr. McKinley today.”