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Promises, promises

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When Kevin calls up to the second floor lab to tell them that there is a man with a goat on his face asking for Holtzmann, Erin makes what she thinks is actually a very reasonable assumption and dives for her proton pack. The next second, she is trying to cover the reaction, turn it into just curiousity about something left out on the counter next to the equipment drawer though because she seems to be only one thinking like that. Holtzmann fist-pumps, before spinning around to Abby, hand outstretched. "Pay up!" she demands with grin.

Abby rolls her eyes. "You don't know it's him, it could be anyone with a goat." She looks over at Erin, who's still torn between feigned nochalence and honest confusion. "It could be a ghost!"

Erin gives up on the nonchalence as a lost cause and asks "OK, what the hell are you two talking about?" Which is when Tony Stark walks into the room.

"Told ya! Pay up!" Holtz crows and shoots a finger gun each at Abby and Stark.

"Holtzmann," Stark says drily. "Nice lab." Abby makes a face and starts rummaging in her bag. Erin tries desparately to think of something to say but she's finding it hard to get over the fact that Tony Stark is standing right in front of her. Physics-redefining Tony Stark, real life Avenger, subject of many of Erin's teenage fantasies, is standing right in front of her.

"All mine and barely radioactive," Holtz says with a grin. "Might need to reinforce the floor though, if you're gonna give us a big one." She cocks a quizzical eyebrow.

Stark makes a face. "About that," he starts.

"Oh no, a bet's a bet," Abby cuts him off. "Ghosts are real, we proved it."

"Good work on that, by the way," Stark says, "I had money on Holtz becoming a super-villain, or at least blowing up a significant portion of Manhattan, so you know, this was definitely an improvement on that, but how about I just give you a research grant instead. Or maybe a completely non-radioactive lab?"

"Where'd the fun in that be?" Holtz snorts. "Arc reactor, baby, hand it over."

Erin can't help making an audible gasp at the thought because amazing as the idea that she is actually in the same room as Tony Stark is, the idea of being in the same lab as an arc reactor is a hundred times more exciting. She hasn't thought about its mysterious physics in years but with what they're starting to learn about spectral energy, there could be whole new theories about the connections with arc reactor tech just waiting to be discovered.

Stark sighs. "Look, it isn't that I don't trust you,"

"It's just that you don't trust us," Erin interjects. "I'm Dr Gilbert, by the way. Big fan of your work." She folds her arms across her chest and tries to look stern.

"This is a technology people kill for," Stark says wearily. "I'm not keeping it to myself to annoy the scientific community."

Holtz sticks out her tongue at him. "Pussy. 'S fine; I'm nearly there anyway. Wouldn't want you to spoiler the ending. We'll take the grant money though." She spits on her hand and sticks it out toward Stark, a shit eating grin on her face, and Erin has to give the guy points for immediately replicating the gesture, even if it is with a slightly horrified look on his face. After all, that might have just been a reaction to what Holtz'd said.

"So, good to see you again, Holtzmann, sidekicks," he says and turns to head back out of the door. "Stay safe and have fun. Don't open any dimensional portals or any shit like that."

"No promises," Holtzmann yells at his retreating back as he makes his exit. She finger guns him in the back, letting the pretent recoil push her into the chair and skating it across the lab, blowing away imaginary gunsmoke as the door shuts behind him.

"I can't believe you did that!" Abby exclaims, her voice rising almost to a shriek. "We don't need a grant! Think what we could have done with that reactor!"

"Chill," Holtz says, "it'll be good back up for when the Mayor gets pissed off with us." She gives a one shouldered shrug. "Plus, y'know, spoilers."

Abby glares at her for about 30 seconds and then seems to recognise that it is having no effect at all. "Fine," she snaps. "I need soup now. I'm going to order in." She stomps off down the stairs, but she doesn't slam the door, so Erin guesses she's not too mortally offended.

Erin watches Holtz poking away at some upgrade to the ghostpuncher and wonders how to ask all the questions thronging in her head. "I interned at Stark Industries for, like, six months after my PHD," Holtz volunteers, not looking up from her work. "But they got kinda pissy about H&S regs, plus they really wanted controllable explosions so I jacked it in to go work with Abby."

Erin swallows. There is one thing everyone knows, or at least used to know, about being a female intern at Stark Industries. "So, you," she starts.

Holtz barks out a laugh. "Not my type," she says with a grin and Erin can't quite resist the temptation to smile right back.