Part five:



The kiss was the sweetest the Hessian had recieved in a very, very long time. A part of him marvelled at the young man's audacity while another simply decided that it was time to take this conversation someplace else, preferably to the bed.

Breaking the kiss, he stood up. Ichabod looked up at him, a little worried that the Hessian might have been offended, but all his doubts disappeared when he was lifted up in strong arms and promptly carried to the bed.

Undressing Ichabod was easy enough, he only had a flannel nightshirt to be rid of; but Georg had more clothes and thus Ichabod took the shirt off of him while the soldier worked on his breeches and his socks.

Ichabod took every opportunity offered to run his hands over the other man's skin. His fingers traced the scars on Georg's chest and abdomen, felt the muscles underneath. It was like he could not get enough of this man.

Then the Hessian was completely undressed and began to return the favor. This was something he had not done in three and twenty years, but some things you never forget.

He began kissing a line along Ichabod's body, from just below the navel to just under the chin, while his hands caressed the sides of his lover's torso. Then he kissed Ichabod's nipples while the young man arched up for more.

Just as Ichabod was enjoying the attentions given to the more sensitive spots on his hips, his mind, which was rather puritanical, decided that it was time to fight for the virginity of its owner.

'Oh, no!', was the last thought that ran through Ichabod's head as he realized that he was going to pass out, again.

When Ichabod woke up again, he saw the Hessian watching him with an expression that was a mix of annoyance and tenderness. Quickly he recollected what had happened, and smiled a very embarrassed smile.

"I didn't mean to do that", he said. "It just happened. I'm sorry"

"Doesn't matter", Georg answered. "It's is part of who you are. If you didn't faint every now and then, I wouldn't recognize you." He smiled and kissed Ichabod. "Though it would be nice, very nice, if you stayed conscious now."

The love-making had been good, very good. Ichabod lay on his side facing the man who had taught him things about his own body that he had not known existed. And he had touched another man, even the secret parts of that man, parts he only had touched on his own body before. His hand still remembered the feel of skin stretched over hard flesh. Georg had done the same thing to him, and they had both enjoyed it. And Georg had promised more, for the next time.

Georg lay with his eyes closed. 'Did ghost need sleep too', Ichabod wondered. When the Hessian's face was this peaceful, it was hard to think that he could kill very efficiently, that he had been feared even among his own people. Now Ichabod saw only this face, framed by unruly black hair, a face with high cheekbones, thin lips, gaunt and strangely ageless.

"You're beautiful", Ichabod whispered before he snuggled closer. He felt strong arms reaching out to hold him even closer. The last thing he heard before the lord Morpheus claimed him was the whispered reply: "You are beautiful too."



Part six:



Ichabod was standing on a shore, looking out over strange waters. This was not the sea outside New York. He knew this in that strange way one knows things in dreams. This sea was the Baltic, wherever the Baltic was. He looked around to see where he was. A few miles away there was a village, or a small town, called St Radegunda. He knew this too.

He began walking to this village. Soon he encountered a girl, in an old-fashioned dress that might have been modern when his mother was young, who was taking her younger sisters and brother out for a walk along the shore. He approached them with a friendly smile. He introduced himself and the girl introduced herself and the kids.

"I'm Ermengarde Achenbach", the girl said, " and this is Georg, and Hildegarde and Ina, they are twins though they don't look much alike, and Karolina."

She pointed at each and one as she said their names, and the children curtsied and bowed politely. Georg was holding a toy horse in his hands.

"How old are you?"

"I'm eleven", Ermengarde replied in a bored tone, like one who has gotten that question way too many times. "Georg is seven and a half, the twins are six and Karolina is three years old."

"Where are your parents?"

"Mother is sick, so Father told me to take the kids out for a walk, because they are so noisy."

Ichabod bent down to look the boy in the face. The kid reminded him of someone, though he didn't figure out who. He began walking up to the grass above the shore, the boy following him, while Ermengarde played a game with the younger girls and Karolina was busy digging in the sand.

Ichabod sat down in the grass, and saw that the boy who had followed him, now was a ten-year-old. He was not surprised. This was as it should be in dreams.

"It was the last happy day of my life", the boy said, in an oddly mature way. "The next day Mother had died in childbirth, together with the child, a boy, who was christened to Lorentz. They managed to get that done before it was too late. A few months later Father too was gone. Died of sorrow, they said."

"Ermengarde, me and the kids were entrusted to a relative, and the next year Karolina drowned in a bucket. Then Ermengarde froze to death outside the house of our guardian the year after that. My older brothers, Albrecht and Claus, didn't realize what had been going on, until they went to visit me and found that both I and the twins was seriously malnourished, and this in a house where there always was plenty of food."

"I was ten by then, and my dearest toy, a wooden horse, had been destroyed by our guardian. When my brothers tried to figure out what had happened to us, I could not remember a thing. I *knew* things; like who I was, how old I was, the names of the members of my family and so on, but I could not remember what Mother had looked like, or how Ermengarde had died, or the stories she would tell us before she was killed."

The boy rose and ran down to the beach, and as he was running he turned into the sweet little boy the Hessian once had been. Ichabod watched as a big gray wave rose from the gray sea and swept everyone away. He screamed, not being able to do anything to save them, and then it was too late.

Too late...Too late to save Ermengarde and Karolina, too late to spare Georg the cruelty of other people, too late to stop the wheel of Fortune, or Fate.

Ichabod woke and found himself alone in the bed. He rose from the bed and walked to the fireplace. On the mantelpiece he saw a toy horse. The same horse that the boy Georg had been playing with in the dream.

How had it got there? It had been destroyed hadn't it?

He washed off the remnants of the night's passion with water from a bucket in a far end of the room. Then he dressed himself in the now dry clothes and packed up some of the food he had taken with him in the backpack. Chewing on a piece of meat, taking sips of lemonade from his flask, he sat down at the fireplace and waited for the Hessian.

Part 7


Hardenbrook was literally beside himself with eagerness this morning as he awaited his daily visit from the Hessian. There was some really interesting news to tell this time. And equally interesting was how the undead man would react to this piece of information. The ghosts of Sleepy Hollow had already started betting on the outcome of today's events.

The Hessian felt the anticipation coming off in thick waves from the ghosts as he approached the graveyard.

"Any interesting news, Herr Hardenbrook?"

"Oh yes!"

"Then don't just stand there, tell me."

"Well..." Hardenbrook began.

Ichabod turned as he heard that familiar sound of an unseen door opening and closing.He rose from the fireplace to embrace his lover but was stopped by the worried look on Georg's face.

"What is it?"

"Lady Katerina has started to arrange a search party to look for you today", Georg told him, "so I must get you back to your world quickly."

"Why?"

Ichabod thought for a moment and then rephrased the question. "Why do I have to be returned so fast?"

"Because otherwise they might dig up my bones in order to force me to return you."

"Then we'd better hurry!"

He put on his coat and repacked his backpack, as Georg called forth Daredevil. To his pride Ichabod only flinched a little at the unexpected, and sudden, appearance of the nightmare horse. From one moment to the next Ichabod found himself sitting in front of Georg on the horse's back, and then they crossed the borders between the worlds. To Ichabod it seemed like they were riding through one ornate gate and then another, more plain, and then they were in front of the Tree.

The passage between the worlds had been easier than Ichabod had expected, and he only suffered from a faint vertigo. It was still sunrise, and according to Georg, the search party had not entered the Woods.

"But the faster *they* get out the better".

"Where were we?", Ichabod asked.

"In the Nowhere", Georg answered.

"What is that?"

"It parts the worlds from each other, and one can go anywhere from there."

"Worlds?"

"Yes, my realm, your world, Horse's Heaven, Hell, even Faerie. And many, many more"

They rode down the old Indian path, in silence. Ichabod had a lot to think about. The world had at once become even more inexplicable. 'Faeries?'

Soon, too soon, they saw the search party, or at least a few members of it. Ichabod turned to kiss Georg, who held him close like he did not want to let go. Then Georg helped Ichabod down from the horse and handed him his backpack.

"I have to go back to New York tomorrow anyway," Ichabod said, "I've arranged for a coach, and already paid for it. Sometimes planing in advance can really..."

"Be rather useless," Georg said. "Will you come to visit the Hollow again?"

"Oh yes, I will. There's so much I want to find out."

"Like what really happened to lady van Tassel?"

"Yes. That's one of those things."

"I will tell you next time you visit me."

"Is this to make sure I'll return?" Ichabod smiled, and Georg smiled back, showing off his sharp fangs.

"Yes," he replied, and then he rode away.

As the young man watched, the horseman seemed to fade among the stark white snow and the black trunks of the empty trees.

Ichabod knew for sure that he was going to return. To the woods. To this one who was both a ghost, and a man. To this guardian spirit of the woods.

Slowly he turned around and walked down to the search party.

It had been somewhat of a commotion when Ichabod Crane appeared like out of thin air. Katerina had fussed around him and asked if he was alright, and the others had merely been a tad disappointed that it hadn't been more exciting than that.

The next morning, after breakfast, Ichabod started to pack his bags. The carriage to New York was due at noon outside the inn, so he didn't have to hurry much. Then it was two days down the river and then back to a job where he wasn't very appreciated. 'Wonder what they will say when I return without my fiancee.'

The servant girl Rosie came into his room and told him magistrate Schmidt wished to talk to him. And behind her was the person in question. A tall, well-built man with brown hair and an air of majesty around him so he did seem a bit out of place in the plain room that Ichabod inhabited at the Van Tassel manor. Ichabod recognized him from the party, and wondered what had happened now. As far as he knew he had not insulted anyone, nor had anyone been killed.

The magistrate walked into Ichabod's room and looked around a little. Ichabod showed with a wave of his hand where the magistrate could sit.

"I have heard that you are about to return to New York," the magistrate said, foregoing the usual introductions and additional niceties.

"Yes."

A moment of silence while Schmidt tried to figure out what to say next, he had heard a lot about this young fellow, including that broken engagement with Miss Van Tassel. Mr. Crane was a reliable person, with strong principles, and a tendency to faint at tense moments. And there was that whole scientifical' thingie too. But as a whole, this Mr. Crane seemed like a good bargain. As a constable he was bound to know the law, and the rest, like being authorized, was rather easy to fix for someone with contacts in the right places, which Mr. Schmidt thought he had.

And he was recommended by Miss Van Tassel, and the magistrate had also received a letter from the burgomaster of New York, begging, in carefully measured words, the magistrate to keep Mr. Crane away from New York.

"As you know, the former notary, Mr. Hardenbrook, passed away last year. We need a new notary, and I thought that you would be perfect for the post, Mr. Crane", said magistrate Schmidt.

**************


Authors note The Nowhere is taken from The Sandman, a comic written by the eminent author Mr. Neil Gaiman. The concept fascinated me so I used it without permission. No copyright infringement intended. A-K

*****************


Part 8

The Burgomaster was very pleased to receive the resignation note from constable Crane. "So in two weeks from now, you will start in a new position in Sleepy Hollow?"

"Yes, sir."

"And you are going to marry this miss Van Tassel?"

"No, sir. She and I broke our engagement."

"Indeed."

Now the old man was curious. Then what, or who, could make constable Crane to leave the police force for a position as a notary out in the middle of nowhere? He didn't voice his curiosity though, but dismissed the constable from his office. And as soon as the door had closed behind him, the stern old man danced a little jig. Finally he would be free of that obstinate whistle-blower, who always babbled on about justice, when it was the *law* that was the point.

And the days passed by. Masbath, who had moved to his relative the day after New Year's Day, did wonder the same as the Burgomaster. "But sir, a year ago you could not get out of there fast enough, and now I'm helping you pack down all your things because you are moving to Sleepy Hollow!"

Carefully the boy put down a glass jar with some sort of liquid that appeared rather poisonous, with small red lumps sloshing about in the yellowish fluid, into the straw-filled box. There were already plenty of other things in it, every single one of them carefully wrapped up in straw, and brown package paper, and rags.

Ichabod busied himself with the medicine box he held in his hands. This was something he did not care to discuss very much, but he did owe the boy some kind of explanation. Perhaps a heavily edited truth would suffice.

"I have met someone".

Masbath already knew the engagement between Ichabod and Katrina was over, so he asked the logical question: "Who?"

"Someone, whom you may not care too much for, but who is a person who I want be together with."

"Who is she?"

"Not 'she'. *He*."

The boy didn't ask any further questions about Ichabod's love-life, but chose instead to talk about the far more safe subject of where he would live in the village.

"Old Hardenbrook's house is still empty", Ichabod said. "I can live there, since he did not have any family who could make any claim to the house, and besides, the house belongs to Katrina now, because he had borrowed money, with the house as a security, and never got around to paying it back."

"It's going to be rather dusty there, I think".

"Well, nothing that I can't do anything about. The state of his office is what worries me the most really, because I must put all those papers in some semblance of order, into a system so I can find them when I need them."

"Not easy", Masbath agreed.

When Masbeth had left for the evening, Ichabod was alone in his apartment. With most of his belongings packed and some of the furniture that he could live without sold away, it was echoingly empty. He sat down, at the one table he had decided to keep, on one of the four chairs he had not sold, and sighed.

Only two days left until he, and his boxes, was leaving for Sleepy Hollow. A new chapter in his life was about to begin, and he was nervous as hell about it. He didn't have second thoughts, mostly because it felt right, like he was a piece in a puzzle that finally had found its right place. He just had so much to think about.

Hardenbrook's mess. Georg's past. The mess was one thing; all it needed was a system, as he had told Masbeth, but his lover's past was something else.

The dream, about the children and the gray wave, he still remembered vividly. Had Georg had a sister named Ermengarde? Was he really from a village named St. Radegunda? The village did exist; he had been to a cartographer and asked for maps over Germany. It lay in a small state wedged between Mecklenburg and Lübeck, named Altenstrand. For the other question, he simply would have to ask the Hessian directly. But would Georg answer?

And the days passed by.

Ichabod lay turning over and over in his bed. He could barely sleep. Tomorrow he would leave the town and move to Sleepy Hollow. His body wished that he was there already, and his mind agreed. His soul was there now, had never really left the little village.

The days in this place had been so long without anyone close. And he had come to really dislike the atmosphere at the police department. They had been laughing at him, when he told them that he was leaving, and then they had started to tease him about his luck with girls.

He had wanted to tell them that he had a lover, a man, who could take on any or all of them in a fight. But he couldn't, could he?

Pure luck that Masbeth was still taking to him after that little revelation. Oh, why was he thinking about that?

'Think of something else' the little voice suggested to him. He thought about Georg and remembered that one night that they had been together. The sight of his lover's body in the firelight. Pale skin, golden where the light hit. Leaning over the strange bed in the strange room. Ichabod could see the scars, and other things. He still blushed when thinking about it.

It had been so good. Why wasn't Georg over here instead of over there? Well...He could take the matter in his own hands.

Caressing his nipple with one hand, he led his other down a path from his chest, over his belly down to his groin. Here Georg had teased a little, not touching Ichabod's erection, but right now the young man had no patience for that, so he began stroking himself. As he moved his hand over his cock he thought about Georg doing exactly the same thing to him, and imagining his lover bent over him, pale skin flushed in desire, brought him far too soon over the edge.

Exhausted, and still not content he fell asleep, and dreamed good dreams of his lover.



Chapter 9



The welcome Ichabod received when he returned to the village was mixed. From Katerina it was warm and friendly, and sincere, but from the others, who still remembered the events of over a year ago, when the headless horseman had killed so many, the reception was a bit frostier.

And Georg didn't show up at all.

Ichabod wasn't too bothered by it though. He was too busy cleaning up the house, with the help of a servant girl sent by Katerina from the manor house. The whole first week was actually spent sorting out the mess made by over a decade of bohemian habits and one year of total neglect. Then the new notary threw out the furniture that was either broken, rotten or simply in the way of his habits.

The Hessian had prudently decided to stay away from his lover until the boy had settled down in his new surroundings. But he had extended his daily rounds to include a detour by the house, just to make sure everything was alright with Ichabod.

And he got all the news and gossip he needed from the ghosts of Sleepy Hollow. Apparently not everyone was too opposed against the new notary. The village lads, for example, had, as soon as the broken engagement had been public, become a lot friendlier in their attitude towards the stranger, now when he was no longer competing for Miss Katerina's attention, and her money.

Georg thought this was a good thing because it meant, at least, that he would not have to protect the young man from the bullies of the village. At least not now.

One evening in the middle of January, a couple of days after Ichabod had finished cleaning the house, one could find him sitting on the floor in the office trying to sort out all the documents stored in the room. He had gathered them in neat piles in alphabetical order, and now he was busy indexing them on small cards. Three cards for each document, so that he could find them either according to name, or date, or nature of the document. The documents themselves he would store in alphabetical order in specially made chest of drawers that he had ordered from the village carpenter. And the cards he would store in three boxes, also ordered from the carpenter.

"Aken, Jeremiah Van; a will, dated the 17th of October 1789", he said out loud to himself. "This must be the third will he has written, and the earliest one was put down on the 12th of June 1788. This is unusually often. I better put down a note about it on the cards, if something would happen to van Aken."

Right then somebody knocked on the door. Ichabod went up to open it. "Georg!"

It was indeed the Hessian who was standing there. They kissed, both having longed for each other. Ichabod put everything he felt in the kiss, as did Georg, and when they parted, they were both very red around the lips. Georg could feel Ichabod's desire, and knew the other man could feel his own, but for one reason or other, the younger man did not admit to it but separated himself from his lover and asked him to come inside.

"Please come in! I'm so sorry for the mess, but these files need sorting desperately," Ichabod said as an explanation.

Georg walked in, and looked around. The house was much cleaner now than before, with new paint on the walls and clean windows. He took of his coat, harness,and his boots out in the hallway, recalling how the maid at his father's house would yell if the children walked in with dirty shoes. Then he hung up the weapons next to the cloak. The belt with the sword in its scabbard, he brought with him into the room though.

"Can I help?", he asked when he saw the papers on the floor in the office.

"Yes," Ichabod nodded, "you can start on this pile reading out loud who it is and what it contains, and the date."

"All right." Georg hung up his belt on the chair and sat down, and began to read from the first file in the stack. "Jeremiah Van Aken, or should that be Aken, Jeremiah Van? A will dated on the 12th of July 1796".

"That would be the fourth will from his pen. And the latest one, as far as I can find."

"He must be changing his favors rather often."

"Either that, or he is really not certain of who is worthy of his money."

They sat, indexing documents for a while, and had gotten to 'Fletcher, James', when Georg decided they both could use a break.

"Do you know what", he said, "I do not think that we can finish off all these papers in one night, so why don't we take a break now?"

"Well", Ichabod said, "you do have a point there, and I have not received a proper 'welcome back' from you."

"You will get it if you put down that pen, and get over here."

Ichabod finished what he was writing and put down the pen. Then he walked over to Georg's side of the table. Georg motioned to him to take a seat in his lap.

He sat down, straddling Georg's legs, facing him. Georg pulled him closer. "That's better", Georg said.

"Is it?"

"Yes, I can see you properly now."

They kissed, and Ichabod wondered what Georg had in mind for the rest of the night. As an answer to that unvoiced question Georg unbuttoned Ichabod's trousers. Then he was asked to stand up so they could be completely pulled down. A bare-bottomed young man then took his place again in his lover's lap. They kissed some more, while Georg unbuttoned his own trousers.

Georg's caresses grew more and more intimate, and Ichabod in turn grew more and more excited. Then in a swift movement they had somehow moved from the chair to the table behind Ichabod, or more truthfully, Georg had lifted up Ichabod to lie on the table while he was standing between his legs.

"I am to have you now", Georg said in a whisper, "But you can say 'no', and I will stop."

"You, what are you going to do?"

"I am to pleasure you and me both."

Georg licked a finger and caressed a place Ichabod never thought of in *that* way. Soon Georg was inside and tickled a spot Ichabod had read about in the anatomy books once long ago, but there never had been one single line about that little bump's sensitivity to touch, or about the pleasure that surged through the young man in that moment. His mind was about as amazed as his body at this, and he complained a bit when the finger was removed. Then he felt something that seemed to be thicker than a finger at this opening. He realized what it was, but before he could say anything, Georg had already entered completely.

"We fit well together, you and I," Georg said as he began to move inside his lover.

Never had Ichabod thought that two people could be enjoying each other in this way, especially as they were both male, but soon he stopped thinking and just enjoyed the pleasure that had come after the initial pain.

And each time he thought he would come, Georg seemed to sense it and stopped his movements. Irritated Ichabod began to move his hips as to compensate for Georg's teasing, as he considered it to be.

And soon Georg could not hold back longer but increased his pace and brought both of them over the edge.

Exhausted they sank down on the floor, holding each other tight.

Georg felt Ichabod fall into a slumber, brought on by the intense moment. He lay down next to the boy, after he had checked on him for any blood. As there had been none to find, he decided that he didn't have to worry about Ichabod.