Disclaimer: Everything belongs to Joss and Washington Irving.
AN: Hey guys, I know it’s been awhile, but I’m in Japan right now doing research that is taking up a huge amount of time. Anyway, today is a holiday in Japan, so I was on the metro reading The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and this crossover came to me.
AN2: The song is called ‘The Willow Tree’ by John Davis.
AN3: Illyria, can you believe it? I wrote something!!! And I miss you…
The Last Ride of Ichabod Crane
Once upon a time….
There was a quaint town in New England by the name of Sleepy Hollow. It was truly uncanny and eerie place. Many passers-by were loath to tarry long inside its peculiar boarders. The air was thick with promises of unnatural apparitions and the wood was oft on the brink of silence. Trees grew tall and twisted, thick scents of herbs and apples hung over the glen, the waters of brooks and rivers murmured a chilling melody. All of this culminated in a disconcerting aura that drove strangers away and was a source of amusement and story-telling for the inhabitants. Indeed, Sleepy Hollow was a place much secluded from an ever changing world, a haven against the chaotic squalls of a surging population.
When asked, not that he often was, why he had chosen such a place to ply this trade of pedagogy, Ichabod Crane cited just that reason. This was, by and large, such a falsehood that Ichabod always felt his utterance of these words should cause everyone to see clear through him. Yet none ever had, and he had to be contented with the fact that his lies were obviously too superior for such country peoples. Instead, it was the very nature of Sleepy Hollow that drew him in. For Ichabod Crane had such an obsession with witchcraft and mystical realms, that he, reveling in his flitting fears and throbbing misgivings, settled into life as the schoolmaster of Tarry Town. Tarry Town was only just large enough to boast a school house and was the closest civilization would come to the glen of Sleepy Hollow and its residents.
For Ichabod Crane, life was rather good. He performed his duties admirably, additionally advocating himself the leader of a choir group for the children he taught. Evenings gave him time to wander through the areas of Sleepy Hollow that set his spine to tingling; while visiting the families of Sleepy Hollow, he collected their tales of goblins and ghosts. This was how Ichabod came to hear the most famous legend of Sleepy Hollow, that of the Headless Horseman. The Horseman was said to have been a Hessian whose head was severed by a cannonball after the war was over. Furthermore, the Hessian would ride his great black horse to and fro throughout the woods of Sleepy Hollow, searching for his head or those who took it from him. This tale was, perchance, the beginning and the end of poor Ichabod Crane.
It was not too long before the lithe and winsome form of Katrina Van Tassel and her father’s fortune caught the attention of Ichabod. For a time, it was imagined that the heiress favored the schoolmaster, even above the attentions of a strong, handsome, country lad by the name of Abraham Van Brunt. Abraham was known was Brom Bones for his feats of strength and bravery that brought him much renown. The strapping young man’s only competition was the aged, to Brom Bones’ mind, lanky, schoolmaster.
One night, the father of Katrina held a party on his estate with his daughter’s many admirers in attendance. This was the night that would seal the fate of all involved. This was the night the legend of the Horseman would ride again. This was the night that Ichabod Crane would die.
There was a youth, a cruel youth,
Who lived beside the sea,
Six little maidens he drowned there
By the lonely willow tree.
As he walked o'er with Sally Brown,
As he walked o'er with she,
And evil thought came to him there,
By the lonely willow tree.
O turn you back to the water's side,
And face the willow tree,
Six little maidens I've drowned here,
And you the seventh shall be.
October 27, 1997….
Xander Harris was very unhappily dragging himself on a costume quest. He was unhappy for one very big reason: Snyder. The ugly man had roped all three members of the Scooby gang into corralling little kids for Halloween. As if that wasn’t enough, the principal had shanghaied them into wearing historical costumes! At this proclamation, Xander had attempted to reason with the sheriff… principal… too much Tombstone give Xander western-speak! So, on top of all this, he had after school detention for arguing with Snyder, which the girls had gotten out of my abandoning. Friends to the bitter end, right?
Finally out of prison, Xander had stopped by the library only to find that Buffy and Willow had gone costume hunting without him! Giles had told him that they were at Party Town looking for their historical outfits. This information sent Xander into a quiet tailspin, knowing that the girls had originally agreed to go to the new place Ethan’s, rumored to be super-cheap, because of his budget or lack of. Completely forgetting to ask Giles for a suggestion, Xander left the library in a daze of hurt, anger, and confusion. His destination, Ethan’s, for a costume that would show them exactly what he their desertion.
Of course, it was four days before Halloween, and by the time Xander walked into the shop, many costumes had already been sold. There were rows and rows of superhero and supervillain outfits that drew his attention. If he went as Picard, that was totally historical! Even if he was willing to piss Snyder off like that, Xander was sure he couldn’t afford it anyway. After sighing rather glumly, Xander turned around and came face-to-face with the owner of the shop.
Hurriedly back pedaling, Xander yelped, “Personal space! Personal Space!”
The shopkeeper tried to look apologetic as he spoke, “Quite rude of me, young man. Terribly sorry. I am Ethan. You are looking for a costume. I think we can come to a mutually beneficial arrangement.”
That sounded suspicious and dirty to Xander but the just wanted a freaking costume as he could go home, forget about showing up the girls. They had money and girly shopping trips and he didn’t. Whatever.
“Do you have any historical costumes?”
“Several. What era were you thinking of? I have several gladiator outfits, Victorian garb, or cowboy chaps, any of which could be adapted to several famous names… Spartacus, Sherlock Holmes, Doc Holliday….”
“Do any of them come from the cheap era?” Xander flatly replied.
Ethan’s reply was slightly snobbish, but he wasn’t in this for a monetary profit anyway. He was about to sell the boy a worn out fedora and whip when an altogether different idea came to mind.
“I have just the thing.”
And that was, perhaps, the beginning and the end of Xander Harris.
October 27, 1997…
Ichabod Crane knew he was dead. He had spent many years coming to understand this fact and what it meant. And the power it gave him. Even in his wildest dreams, Ichabod could not have understood what the true meaning of witchcraft. Death had given him the magic that he had sought in life.
Now he was going to use that power to influence one very important boy and one not so important man to help him achieve his
goal. All Ichabod needed was a Hellmouth…. and All Hallows Eve.
Take off, take off, your golden crown,
Take off your gown, cried he.
For though I am going to murder you
I would not spoil your finery.
October 31, 1997…
Alexander Harris had decided not to go to Buffy’s house that night. While he had forgiven the girls, he just didn’t feel up to playing the joker for them right now. It wouldn’t have suited his costume anyway. The whole outfit was darker and more somber than Xander had ever been before. Strangely, the dark suit and stark white cuffs coupled with his dark hair and brimmed hat fit his mood rather well. He felt different in the clothes, like a pseudo-Xander walking around in his place. Everything felt different, the air ripe with mischief, and his ears playing tricks on him.
He wanted to collect his kids and get this night over with. After tangling with Snyder and avoiding Buffy and Willow, he got his wish. Twelve costumed forms followed his stern instructions and off they went. It would have been a boring evening if not for the pall over the festivities.
Still, Xander was surprised when everything just…. went away.
A dusty, worn copy of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow fell to the ground as Ethan Rayne’s spell swept over the town.
October 31, 1997…
Ichabod Crane smiled in satisfaction as he stretched the arms of his borrowed form into the air. How he had missed the feeling of muscles pulling against each other! Glancing around, he gave the children-turned-monsters his best serious face and told them to be gone. Recognizing the threat of an 18th century schoolteacher, they fled in terror. Ichabod fiddled with his suit until it set to his liking, adjusting certain flaps and cuffs and bemoaning the terrible state of clothing in this new era. What he wouldn’t give for some good homespun cloth!
It was neither here nor there and Ichabod Crane was on a tight schedule. He had to find Brom Bones and have his vengeance before the night was through. Just the thought of that wretched urchin and his mulish manner was enough to enrage the man. And it was not a very wise idea to enrage a dead man, especially one who had studied dark arts as intently as Ichabod Crane had, both before and after his demise.
Inhaling slowly, Ichabod pulled the heady sent of magic, hellspawn, and the Hellmouth into his nose. It did remind him so much of Sleepy Hollow, so much of home! Death clouded his senses as he reached out and found the man he was searching for. North and east.
Larry the Pirate was having a rather bad night. His ship had disappeared and there was not a wench to be had! All he women he had come upon had shrugged his requests off as he was a gutless land-grubber. Swearing a blue streak and drinking whiskey from his hipflask, Larry stumbled down a deserted alley, not noticing the shadowed blur behind him.
It wasn’t until the heavy clop of a hoof on rock sounded in his ears that the pirate turned around. What he saw drained all the drink right out of him. A dark figure perched upon an equally dark horse, eldritch fire burning the eyes of the horse and the eyes of the head tied to the saddle. The man was steady upon the beast for he had no head. The apparition raised one hand and pointed directly at Larry. Upon the air, a demon’s voice rent the silence.
Larry the Pirate did what he did best and ran from the death he saw behind him. He turned through many alleys, climbed over obstacles but still the man pursued him. Casting a fearful look behind himself, Larry the Pirate never saw the low hanging wire line that took his head off.
Ichabod Crane looked at the headless man before him and waved a hand. The ghostly image of the horseman that had chased him the night he died faded away as if it had never been. Then he stopped to consider the headless form on the ground. Blood still flowed from the massive wound, ichorous and foreboding against the dirty cement. He had finally done it. He had gotten his revenge on Brom Bones. Of course, Ichabod knew this wasn’t the Brom Bones of Sleepy Hollow all those years ago, but it was his descendant. Brom Bones and Katrina Van Tassel’s descendent.
His mind went back to that night, so many years ago. Katrina had scorned his advances, taking him for a fool in front of the entire town. He had taken his borrowed horse and fled into the dark countryside. It wasn’t long before Ichabod heard the clatter of hoof beats behind him. His shadow companion had been no other than the Headless Horseman himself! So had begun his terrifying flight through the brush and trees, trying to out run his demon and make it to the haven of the bridge. The bridge that Brom Bones swore the Horseman could not cross. Ichabod had made it to the bridge, but his pursuer had thrown his flaming head, scaring him into falling off the bridge and drowning.
The only left of Ichabod Crane was his hat and haunted hymns echoing around the schoolhouse. Those things, and the laughter of Brom Bones as he thought of the joke that had cost his rival everything.
Ichabod Crane had returned, a ghost and a terror in his own right, to see justice done those who had wronged him. There was no Horseman! Only a wretched boy who had not been contented with Ichabod’s humiliation at Katrina’s hand, they were both to blame and he had gotten what he had come for!
His vengeance was sweet, and as the spell allowing him control of Alexander Harris faded, Ichabod Crane had no regrets.
Oh, turn around, you false young man,
Oh turn around, cried she,
For 'tis not meet that such a youth
A naked woman should you see.
He turned around, that false young man,
And faced the the willow tree,
And seizing him boldly in both her arms,
She threw him into the sea.
Lie there, lie there, you false young man,
Lie there, lie there, cried she,
Six little maidens you've drowned here,
Now keep them company!
He sank beneath the icy waves,
He sank down into the sea,
And no living thing wept a tear for him,
Save the lonely willow tree.
Until his ghostly form turned about and saw the headless figure sitting atop a dark horse, sword in hand.