Well using a crossover cable, you need to have a static ip on both the laptop and the pc. The need to be in the same logical network with diffrent addresses.
For instance a subnet of 255.255.255.0
Laptop IP 192.168.0.20
PC IP 192.168.0.1
Info on setting static ip in windows here under Round 2 after the rest.
Now if your dealing with a nt <windows nt4/2k/xp> to 9x <windows 95/98/me> windows opreating systems can sometimes have issues with standard windows file sharing. With other operating systems can be easier or more difficult. In these cases seting up a ftp server like Filezilla may be easier.