Ichabod had not expected her to return that day – nor, perhaps, on any day. So he had no time to hide the detritus of his despair.

The sink clattered with dirty dishes; the counters were laden with hillocks of crumbs, from when even plates became too onerous. Every flat surface of the living room groaned under books and papers, with a liberal sprinkling of empty energy drink cans. The air carried a sour odor.

If the lieutenant noticed any of this, she gave no sign. “Gonna go to sleep. We’ll finish catching up tomorrow, yeah?”

“Of course,” he said, though he longed more than anything just to hear her talk, to stay by her side, to make sure she could not disappear again. But his pang of disappointment turned to panic as she started for her room.

“Lieutenant, a moment, if I may. There is some tidying which needs be done and—“

But it was too late. She’d already swung the door open. She stood on the threshold and took in the scene: Her bed, not made with its usual rigid corners, but tousled and thoroughly slept in.

“I can explain.”

A moment of silence. Then she shook her head. “No need. My mattress is better, right? Makes sense you would use it.”

Because this was the place where I could feel you most.

Because even now, you scent the sheets and I awoke happy, if only for a moment.

Because I love you.

But he could not place one more burden – even if that burden was love – upon her weary head. Not now. The time wasn’t right. It never was.

“Yes. Your tick is much … bouncier.” He cleared his throat. “Now, give me just a moment and I’ll have fresh sheets on.”

“No,” she said just a fraction too quickly. “It’s fine. We’ll take care of it tomorrow. I just really want some rest.”

He bowed – not some grandiose gesture, but small. Respectful. “Welcome home.”

Later that night, as he finished his frantic cleaning of the rest of the house, he walked by her bedroom. The door was just slivered open. And, cad that he was, he could not resist peeking inside.

She slept, illumined by the moon. Her cheek was nestled into the pillow, her hands tangled in the top sheet.

And she was smiling.

Touch Pt. 3

Part 1, Part 2

He promised to never let her go again but it was a promise he couldn’t keep. The moment his feet touched the ground on the other side, Jenny was clawing at his hands, pulling Abbie’s frail body from his arms. He understood of course. His desperation to save Abbie was not greater than Jenny’s. It was simply different. That didn’t stop a deep seated rage from building within him.

Mine. The word reverberated throughout his soul, primal and loud in its voracity. Logic was fighting a losing battle against his need, yearning and instinct to hold and protect her. He watched as Joe kneeled next to her, checking her responses and taking her vitals. He bit back a growl as Jenny’s arms wrapped around her waist and Joe’s hands felt for a pulse and her wrist and neck. Mine was on the tip of his tongue. He’d waited so long to touch her, to hold her, to feel her again. The inability for him to do so made his blood boil.

She was cold. She was tired. But most importantly, Abbie was overwhelmed. She could feel Jenny’s tears on her neck, searing her skin as if they were droplets of fire. Her sister’s arms came around her middle like a vice grip. Joe’s hands wandered and pressed into her flesh. She should have been happy to see them; she had been alone for so long. Abbie loved her sister immensely. Joe was like a brother to her, but all she could think was not you. Him.

She whispered comforting platitudes beneath Jenny’s sobs. She tried not to recoil at all of the sensations bombarding her at one time. The sun was too bright; the birds chirped too loudly and the attention was too much. It was all too much after months of solitude. Panic swelled within her chest. I can’t. I can’t! Please just go away! The words came out in a rush and she sought out the only person who would understand. One look was all it took. Everything subsided; the pain, the overload, the anxiety disappeared once she felt his arms cradle her to his chest.

The look of fear in her eyes set the beast loose. Damn the consequences and the animosity that he would endure from Jenny for taking her sister away. He could not stand by when it was clear she needed him. He needed to reach out to her; he needed to hold her, to keep her safe. He needed to be the one to make her whole again and only his touch could do that.

Back away. It’s too much for her! Let me get her home. Let her rest. With her head next to Ichabod’s chest, Abbie could feel the vibrations of his baritone voice beside her ear. The quick, rhythmic breaths he took in his anger pressed against her upper body creating a constant hum within her. It soothed the tatters of her soul being able to feel him; to be near him. She would deal with the fallout later. For the time being, there was nowhere else she would rather be. There was no one else.

How is Abbie handling this separation differently than her time in Purgatory?

“Well, she’s handling it the best way you can. There’s not a lot of answers. There’s just a profound loneliness, and a need to look inside herself. I’m not that familiar with the psychology of the writers’ room when they put together the Purgatory version of being separated. I know this one was, to some extent, much more threatening because of the isolation, the loneliness. Being where she’s at, there’s a sensory overload in absolute isolation. I think she starts to question what’s real at all. It doesn’t end with where she’s at; it reframes our own perceptions of time and space and reality. I don’t want to be that vague, but I have to be that vague in order for the audience to enjoy what we’re about to show everybody.” (via TV Insider)