Title: A Day In The Life
Author: Hannah ‘Rainwoman’ Orlove (email@example.com)
Fandom: Sleepy Hollow
Disclaimer: I don’t own them. I have no money, just a few back issues of Green Lantern and X-Men. Please don’t sue. Notes: This takes place in 2019. The title comes from the song of the same name by The Beatles.
From the doorway, Christiaan watched Ichabod happily cook his contribution to the gathering taking place later that day. He was humming as he mixed the dough. After a few minutes Ichabod decided it was mixed well enough, and set it aside. He then began to cut up the chocolate blocks. He always used baking chocolate in his cookies and constantly complained that he never understood how people could stand what passed for sweets these days.
Once the chocolate had been cut and mixed in, Ichabod began to form the cookies. Sometimes they had definitive shapes like hearts and flowers, sometimes they were completely random, but now he used a cutter to make them into circles.
He knew the adults wouldn’t like them, but for twelve years Ichabod hadn’t brought food for them to the gatherings. He made them for the witch children instead.
Kevin Sirica was no longer the leader of all the Wild Children; there were now four separate communities spread out across the Northeastern United States, and he couldn’t oversee all of his people anymore. He did hold a gathering every year around the middle of summer for the leaders of the communities and whoever else could attend. Ichabod had yet to miss one.
Christiaan had gone once, ten years ago, at Ichabod’s insistence. He had only gone because of Ichabod, but after that trip, not even that would be enough to make him go back.
What he remembered of that day was the fear, the horror, the confusion he had inspired. He could remember seeing the feelings twist and shake and reform when people would approach him. Their taste had been of iron, like blood, or of salt, like tears.
He did not want to mar Ichabod’s time with the other witches. He had no love for them – he had granted them solace in his woods for a time and tolerated their presence in the Hollow, but did not want to be around them – but he appreciated what they gave to Ichabod, which was a place in the world.
He went to the front room to wait. There was little use for such directions inside the Tree, but this was always the first room anyone entered, so it earned itself the title. The wall facing the door to the rest of the ‘house’ was made of gnarled, angry, warped tree roots.
A bench flowed out of the wall at Christiaan’s will. He sat in it for a moment, then got up and had the bench flow back into the wall.
After a time, Ichabod came through the door opposite the wall of tree roots, carrying his cookies in a basket. He was wearing slacks and a plain blue shirt. His two rings sparkled a bit in the light.
“I’ll open the door now.” Christiaan’s warning was almost immediately followed by Ichabod turning to face the door he had come through, closing his eyes, and covering his ears. The door Christiaan had referred to was the portal from their home to the real world. Going through it was no problem – you simply walked, though if one ran was a bit easier to withstand the change in realities – it was seeing the roots twist and wind and unwrap from the inside that had caused more than one fainting fit.
When Ichabod turned back, he saw Christaan had summoned up Gunpowder as well, and was adjusting his reins. Even after many years of equestrian lessons, the only horse Ichabod felt comfortable on was Gunpowder. It was fortunate for him that Christiaan could summon up the ghost of any dead animal, not just his own steed.
“I’ll be back by sundown.” He gratefully accepted the help up onto the horse.
“Have a good time,” Christiaan said with hints of false cheer and disappointment.
Ichabod smiled, faintly, and leaned down to kiss the demon. “I will.” With that, he turned and left.
Christiaan stood at the door and watched him go, and closed the door when he couldn’t see him anymore. He turned and went back into the house.
As he walked, he absently twisted the ring on his left hand. He had exchanged an identical one with Ichabod fourteen years ago in New York’s City Hall, when the state government finally deemed they could marry.
It had been one of their happiest days together.
He stopped in the library and pulled out a book of poems. He leafed through it for a while before putting it back. He ran a finger along the spines of the books and stopped when he came to a copy of “Paradise Lost.” It had been a gift from one of the Wild Children.
He shook his head. He hated the fact that they would not leave him and his lover alone. For their first few years the Wild Children spent in America, they had seen Christiaan and Ichabod as near-deities. This was no longer the case. Ichabod was now accepted as a human, albeit a very powerful one. Christiaan was still the fearful demon he had always been to them.
The two men weren’t worshipped outright, nor were they seen as normal people who would bleed when cut. It was a vague middle ground, one that both were slightly uncomfortable with, but neither really knew how to change the situation. Ichabod knew he was helping by going to the gatherings. Christiaan simply didn’t care.
While they weren’t worshipped anymore, some vestiges of that philosophy still existed. The most obvious one was that the two men were constantly being given gifts. They had little use for most of them, and Ichabod would usually send them to a charity shelter. A few were kept. This book, for example, and some other items scattered throughout their home.
Their home could be called a house, and might even be mistaken for one if the inside was inspected, but there were too many oddities to it. The most obvious was that it had no windows.
The fixtures in the kitchen were extensions of the floor and walls. The refrigerator was a closet with a low temperature. Two people lived here, but there was barely enough food for one. The bathroom was almost entirely from the nineteenth century, the shower stall being the exception. There was only one door leading outside.
This house wasn’t made out of the Tree, nor was it made of stone or soil - though it had those smells about it, and neither man knew why. It was a part of a nothing land, a nowhere, a place not quite here or there. Christiaan could control part of it, and had molded that part into a home for himself and Ichabod. It had first consisted of a large room with nothing in it, though room is a misnomer, as it had had no ceilings, no walls, no floors, no definition. He had crafted this place out of the nothingness and honed the design over time. Their home had grown in detail and size over the years, as the longer a piece of it was ‘real’ and clearly a part of the home, the easier it was for Christiaan to maintain without thinking about it.
Ichabod had asked him about creating windows once - Could there be an impenetrable opening to the real world? Would one such as that serve as a window? Christiaan had said it would have been too difficult to maintain for long periods of time.
He sometimes wondered what would happen to the ‘real’ objects if he simply removed the home. Would they dissolve? Burn up? Disappear? Be sent back to the world?
Not that he wanted to try. Some of the objects in his home he treasured. The portraits in the hallway from Oscar’s Club, seven in all, were a few of them. Two had Ichabod in dresses; once he had almost not been allowed inside as he had looked so much like a woman. One had them as Wilde himself and Bosie, with Christiaan as the former and Ichabod as the latter. His personal favorite was the first, where they had been wearing their uniforms from the eighteenth century.
The portrait that he loved most was in their bedroom. They had been standing stiffly, holding hands and facing the camera. It was a dull grayscale and over a century old, taken in 1902 as an anniversary gift.
He stared around the library for a while, lost in his memories.
Ichabod was at the far end of the town now. Christiaan could still feel him, a bright light in his world.
He walked to the front room and out the door, for no other reason than to move. He didn’t call to Daredevil, as he wasn’t going to go on ‘patrol duty’; he simply wanted to walk around under the sky.
After a few minutes he found himself in Ichabod’s garden. The neat rows of the plants and herbs were healthier than any others growing in the Hollow. It was a mutually known secret that Christiaan made the soil in this part of the Hollow more fertile, though Ichabod had asked him time and again to leave it the way it was without his influence.
He stopped next to the roses; they were in full bloom and the scent felt like it was wrapping itself around him. They had been planted in 1917 and were still healthy. Ichabod sometimes called them “Katrina’s roses.”
Christiaan knew Ichabod treasured his memories of the little girl, and didn’t press his spouse about them. He often wondered how his spouse had managed to keep his friendship with the little girl so strong for so many years.
When he had been growing up in Marburg, there had been no time for making friends. The closest he had to them were his four sisters, and the youngest was six years his senior. He always knew his father blamed him for killing his mother in childbirth; Christiaan blamed his father for wanting a son so much he would risk the life of his wife for one.
When he had turned eighteen and joined the army, he had traded his virginity for companionship. He had not known if it was worth it at the time and could not say now.
Later, the other mercenaries had been something close to friends. Close, but never close enough. They had all been killers, and killers can never befriend another of their kind.
Christiaan smiled when he thought that Daredevil had been his best and only friend for many years. Their friendship still existed, after a fashion; when he called to his horse, he could see his joy - though muted; it was harder to read animals as their minds were so different from humans’ - from being with by his companion.
And then Ichabod…
Sometime in the three years of trying to get to know this curious boy who was and wasn’t afraid of him, they had become friends. Ichabod had been his first true human friend in all his existence.
His first true lover as well.
Christiaan looked up at the clouds passing through the sky. He remembered his eldest sister telling him that angels hid in clouds and played games in them.
He had never tried to stay in contact with his sisters, though he had wanted to. Before he had died, it might have been possible. But after his death he knew it couldn’t be so.
He never tried to learn if their children, his nephews and nieces, had borne children of their own and if he still had relatives living in Germany. He didn’t doubt it but did not want to see if it was true or not. It was a glimmering of hope that he wished to hold onto.
He clearly remembered his eldest sister’s face, down to the mole on her ear and the freckles on her chin.
Dust swirled up from the ground in a formless cloud before taking the shape of a young woman. She had a kind face; not pretty but far from unpleasant. It looked quite a bit like his own.
Three more women were formed out of the dust. Christiaan did this every so often to physically see his sisters, remind himself of the way they moved and looked. Sometimes he made them as they were when he was a child, and sometimes he made them as they were when he left, which he did now.
He made the simulacra move and walk, bow, dance. He spent a silent hour with his sisters before turning them back into the dust he had had sprung them from. He would always miss them, as Ichabod would always miss the little girl Katrina.
Christiaan walked onto a hiking path, cheered from seeing his sister’s faces but still melancholy over the meeting Ichabod was attending. His spouse was happy right now. Perhaps he had heard a joke or was teaching someone a spell.
Christiaan made his way to one of the main hiking trail hubs, waving to a tourist. He sat down and tilted his head back to feel the sun on his face.
He spent a few hours there, letting the people drift by him, probing their feelings, trying to cheer himself up. Sometimes this worked and sometimes it didn’t.
An hour away from sundown he got up, slightly cross that it didn’t work as well as it usually did.
He knew Ichabod hadn’t eaten anything at the gathering; these days, he never ate food unless he knew the person well or if he made it himself. He often complained that people weren’t eating food but had plastics instead.
Christiaan made his way to his home, took off his shoes, and began to cook some spaghetti. He could make all of five things - pancakes, rabbit, fish, potatoes, and noodles - but his skills in the kitchen were more than enough to fulfill what his culinary life demanded.
He opened the door when Ichabod was a few minutes away from the clearing; he hated to see how scared he got when the roots opened.
When Ichabod was in the house, the door closed, and Gunpowder sent back to the where he had been called from, Christiaan finally left the kitchen.
He kissed Ichabod on the cheek as a greeting. “Did you have a good time?”
“Yes. The community in the city-” For Ichabod, that could only mean New York, “- is doing well, all things considered. There’s talk of establishing one farther south.”
“That sounds good.” What else to say?
“It is.” Ichabod made his way to their bedroom. “There hasn’t been a large witch network in America since the first Europeans came over.” He took off his socks; his shoes were in the front room, never staining the carpets around the house. He ran his fingers through his hair. “How was your day?”
“I spent most of it watching people.”
“Did you see anyone you knew?” Some people came often and had gotten to recognize Christiaan, and some of the older citizens of the town had seen him on his midnight rides.
“Not today.” He hung up Ichabod’s shirt. “I made spaghetti, if you want some.”
“That would be wonderful right now.”
From the doorway, Christiaan watched Ichabod walk to the kitchen. His feelings were clear and pure now, simply joy and happiness. Nothing else was in them now.
He smiled, knowing that some of that clarity would be shared with him.