The atmosphere of the firehouse was usually calm and quiet, or as calm and quiet as any place with Jillian Holtzmann could be, but right now was not one of those times. Smoke drifted out of the open doorway, as people bustled about. Fires were becoming an everyday thing as of late, so much so that the Ghostbusters found themselves on a first name basis with the many firemen and women who regularly came to their calls.
Erin stood on the sidewalk opposite the building talking to the Chief and joking about how often they were called to put out fires at an old firehouse. Across the street, she watched as one of the older firemen once again scolded her girlfriend over an experiment gone wrong. She couldn’t make out what they were saying, but Holtzmann was gesticulating wildly and the fireman talking to her was shaking his head. All around them, the others were clutching their sides, doubled over in laughter.
Once the air had cleared, literally, the girls returned to their lives. They gathered around the kitchen table and just enjoyed each other’s company. Holtz rambled on and on, using increasingly ridiculous words to explain her newest invention, the one that had blown up only hours before, to abby, who just nodded her head like she understood. Erin, the far more theoretical of the two, tried her best to keep up, but kept getting lost in the specifics. Patty simply chuckled behind her large book detailing haunted places around New York.
It was a rather relaxing evening; until the phone rang.
Abby walked over and picked it up cheerfully greeting whoever was on the other end, “Ghostbusters. You call us- we bust ‘em.
Several seconds passed and Erin glanced up only to see Abby’s brow furrowed in a concerning manner.
“Of course we do,” she said, her voice raising in pitch, “No, no, no the cat is inside the bag.” She paused, letting the other person speak.
Erin’s full attention was on Abby now, along with Patty and Holtz’s. A cat and bag reference meant that Abby could only be talking to one person- the mayor. The one sided conversation they were hearing was rather unnerving, especially coupled by the fact that Abby’s usually boisterous personality seemed to have shrunken considerably. In fact, now she looked akin to a dog who had just been scolded.
“Yes sir. No sir. Sir, she is an integral part of the team sir. They both are,” Abby paused, obviously getting upset by something. “With all do respect, everyone is a valuable asset to our team. We wouldn’t function without either of them.” Abby paused. “Yes sir. I understand.” She paused again. “If you think that’s best, I’ll let the others know. Thank you sir. Goodbye.” She hung up the phone and sighed, rubbing at her temples and brow.
For a moment, the firehouse was silent. No one dared to ask, until Holtz, of course.
“So?” she asked, a clear sense of worry in her typically confident voice.
Abby chewed on her lip. “The mayor is worried that we’re not using our - uh, his - money wisely,” she began, taking time to think about her words. “Especially since we’ve had to call the fire department again.”
Hotly visibly shrunk in size, making Patty puff out her chest. “So what?” she asked, getting straight to the point in typical Patty Tolan fashion. “Is he cutting our funding?”
Abby shook her head. “No, not right away. He’s sending in an auditing team tomorrow,” Abby explained. She took another deep breath. “Patty, Holtz, there is something you should know. The mayor specifically mentioned each of you. He doesn’t seem to grasp the importance of Patty, and he’s worried about the accidents that have been happening as of late.”
Holtz look at the ground. Abby sighed. She hope they got a call while the auditors were here, because even though the team knew they were all useful, it would be nice to be able to show that to other people too.
All four ghostbusters were up early the next day; each cleaning their own areas when a knock on the door startled them. For a moment, no one moved. They all looked at each other and nodded.
Abby stood up, flattened out her flannel, took a deep breath and opened the door. A man and a woman stood on the stoop, each with a clipboard in their hand. The man was in his late 60’s, with silver hair and a stiff black suit. The woman, on the other hand, looked to be closer to their age, maybe even a little younger. She had short dirty-blonde hair with an asymmetrical cut not unlike Holtz’s, and she too was in a suit, only with a vest instead of a jacket. The sleeves of her shirt were rolled up to her elbows, in a business casual manner.
They looked around with critical eyes, examining everything. The man stuck out his hand. “I’m Jebidah Allen, and this is my partner Al-“
She jumped in, clearly uncomfortable with the older man introducing her. “I’m Allie Hawkins,” she said, with far too much of her attention on Holtz for Erin’s comfort.
Abby took them on a tour, and Erin tugged Holtz away. She walked over to her desk and sat against the light wood. “I don’t like the way she looks at you.”
Hotly grinned. “I am a fine specimen, but I’m taken,” she said, shrugging.
The chatted for a moment before Holtz really looked at Erin. “I feel bad,” she finally said, letting her feelings out.
“Baby, it’s not your fault,” Erin cooed, rubbing the other woman’s arms.
“Yes it is,” Holtz insisted, trying to turn away from Erin, who was not having it. “I don’t try to blow up the lab, it just… happens.”
Erin pulled her in close. “I know, baby,” she said, reaching towards Holtz for a kiss.
Before their lips touched though, someone behind them cleared their throat. Holtzmann spun around to see the auditors staring at them.
A wicked grin spread across her face before she pulled Erin off the desk and into her in one motion. “Hey mister, she’s my sister.”
Erin’s face grew bright red, as she swatted Holtzy’s arm. The younger auditor stifled a laugh, obviously catching the thinly-veiled reference.
Luckily for Erin, the phone rang and she was saved anymore embarrassment. She quickly walked over to Kevin’s desk to answer it. (They had given Kevin the day off, there was just too much to worry about without the added stress of the auditors judging their adorable yet unintelligent secretary).
As Erin hung up and explained the situation a small wave of relief washed over them. At least now, the auditors could asses how they worked as a team, when it truly mattered.
Patty brought over a couple of extra suits while Holtz ran to give them some equipment. “I’ve got a proton pistol here, not too powerful, but should work in a pinch and panic button,” she said, holding out the two devices.
“What does the panic button do?” Allie asked while buttoning up her tan jumpsuit.
“Well, you panic, you push the button, and we all come running,” Holtz replied.
Jeb took the button while Allie opted for the more hands-on method. In truth, they were simply using the equipment she’d made for Kevin, on the days he insisted on coming with them. Soon, though, they were all piled into the Ecto-1, headed towards an abandoned hospital.
On the way there, Allie looked over to the team. “Why do you drive around in a hearse?”
In the driver’s seat, Holtz looked up into the rear-view mirrors so she could lock eyes with the younger guest. “I like the irony,” she said with another mischievous grin.
Jeb clicked his tongue, no doubt thinking about money that could be saved by using a more gas efficient vehicle, leading Erin and Abby to launch into a list of reasons just why the Ecto-1 was perfect for their needs.
When they had him thoroughly convinced, Patty started to explain the history of the building they were headed to. “It was a bad place, y’all,” she said, shaking her head. “Like its an abandoned hospital now, but before that it was a state asylum, and there were all kinds of creeps and crazies living there, and I’m not talking about the patients.”
“Yikes,” Holtz joked.
“Don’t laugh too hard, Holtzy. Our biggest threat is Dr. Redford, he was known for torturing and experimenting on women who were admitted for homosexual tendencies,” Patty told the group. Hotlz paled a bit. “One of his patients finally got fed up and stabbed him in the neck with a scalpel.”
Patty continued to explain the unusual and terrible things that happened in the asylum, and how ghosts had been sighted in the renovated hospital as well while the team geared up. Most of the activity was supposedly happening on the 5th floor, with some more minor appearances on the 3rd, meaning the group would have to split up.
Erin took charge as the defacto leader. “Patty, you and Holtz take Jeb and Allie to the 3rd floor, Abby and I will take the 5th.”
Jeb stepped forward. “Excuse me, how are we supposed to observe you if we’re on different floors?”
“With all do respect, sir. What we do is dangerous, and we all know you’re not here to inspect Abby and I. The more dangerous activity is on the 5th floor, but you two are civilians. Let us handle those and enjoy your time with Patty and Holtz,” Erin said, before turning to go over the plan with her team.
The first hour was fairly uneventful, for Patty and Holtz at least. On the 5th floor, however, Abby and Erin were having a hard time, if the noises coming from their comm units was any indication. From the panel on her watch, Holtz could see that they had both captured several ghosts a piece.
Patty was pacing the floor in front of her, obviously having a hard time leaving the other two members of their team by themselves, especially with how quiet their floor was turing out to be. “Man,” she finally said, “We should go help them.”
A muffled “ow” from Erin over the comm units made Holtz want to jump into action, to be sure, but the occasional spikes coming from the PKE monitor on her watch kept her in place. She tapped the face of the small device, “No-can-do, Pattycake. There is some seriously negative juju down here that requires our attention.”
A loud burst from the comm units cut her off, before they fell silent. Not even Holtz’s shouts of protest kept Patty from racing up the stairs, leaving the engineer with two auditors. Or, two auditors, and one very angry ghost.
It turned the corner after Patty left, blocking the three of them in the room. It had obviously been waiting for Patty to leave, but now that she was gone, he stretched over the three of them in all of his after-glory. He stood at nearly seven feet tall and had a long white robe around him, a chunk of exposed flesh on one side of his throat. Holtz immediate recognized him as the one Patty had specifically warned them about, Dr. Redford.
“Get behind me,” Holtz whispered through gritted teeth, trying to keep the ghost’s attention on her, as she pulled out her proton wand. She shot at him once, but the doctor was simply too powerful. He raised his hand and with just a flick of his wrist, Holtz was flipping though the air. She landed hard against a broken wooden desk. One of the legs pierced her stomach and she howled in pain. From her position, face down on the floor with a wooden post sticking out of her and no air in her lungs, Holtzmann couldn’t stop the deranged Doctor from heading straight towards Allie.
The small blonde had enough sense in her head at least to pull out the small proton pistol and fire all six shots at the advancing specter. Unfortunately for her, and Holtz, Allie was a terrible shot, only hitting the ghost’s shoulder. Next to her, Jeb was frantically pulling the panic button from the front of his jumpsuit. He managed to hit the button at the same time that Allie landed her one shot. The ghost recoiled, raising his hands to his ears and shrieking out in pain.
The microburst of high-frequency sound the panic button released coupled with the one shot gave Holtzmann enough time to pull herself off of the pile of wood and stand back in front of the two auditors. She yelled out in pain at the movement a dropped a small black device about the size of her palm onto the ground. “Step back!” she yelled, using one hand to staunch the bleeding as best she could as she hit the control panel strapped to her arm with the other. Long rods extended from the tiny black device and small bolts of electricity jumped between them. Hotlz took a step back and collapsed. Allie caught her, and lowered her to the ground. Holtz was starting to grow pale as a small pool of blood was forming underneath her.
“What is that?” Jeb screamed at her, pointing in the general direction of the ghost.
Holtzmann winced and sat up as best she could. “That,” she said, looking straight at him. “Is a Class 4 malevolent apparition with a penchant for torturing queer ladies.” She paused and pointed to her newest invention. “And the only thing standing between it and a not-so-fun time for Allie and I is a miniature Faraday cage shield that had a minor short last evening during the initial testing. That short led to a small fire which led to you two being here,” she explained, not bothering to hide the frustration in her voice. She never meant to start fires; never meant to hurt anyone. In fact, everything she made was so that she could keep her family safe. Just like right now.
Jeb looked at her - really looked at her for the first time since they had arrived at the firehouse, and grew worried. “Are you okay?” he asked.
Holtz just grimaced. They sat in silence for a few moments, as Allie put pressure against Holtz's wound. The negatively charged ions that created the barrier did their job repelling the ghost’s negatively charged form. Jeb called an ambulance, but warned them to not come in until someone gave them an all clear. He was getting off the phone when the other three Ghostbusters burst through the door behind Dr. Redford.
With three proton guns trained on him, he didn’t last very long at all. As soon as he was safely secured inside a containment unit Holtz dropped the barrier, and Erin rushed forward.
She was obviously worried about all of the blood, but it had slowed down a little at least. In any case, Holtz didn’t want to talk; she pulled Erin into a deep kiss.
Behind them, Jeb’s cheek grew red as he mumbled out a very confused, “Sisters?”
All five women responded, “They’re close,” before laughing.
Erin stayed with Holtz as the paramedics put her on a gurney and loaded her into the ambulance, leaving Patty and Abby behind to talk to their guests, who thanked them profusely before taking a taxi back to their office.
A few days later, after Holtz had been released on strict orders to take it easy, Jennifer, the mayor’s secretary came to visit them.
“You all made quite an impression on the auditors,” she said, surveying the firehouse.
Holtzmann shrugged. No one else acknowledged the woman’s statement.
“Look, the mayor is sorry to have doubted you. He offers a formal apology, off the record of course, and is expanding your budget. Apparently, Jebidah Allen thinks you need an extra pair of hands, Dr. Holtzmann,” she said, handing Holtz a large file. “These schools are willing to let you train one of their graduate students.”
Hotly looked through the files, grinning as she saw Dr. Gorin’s school among the list. “Today for you, tomorrow for me,” she whispered to herself, grinning.
A month had passed since Holtz had been approved for a grad student, but she hadn’t exactly had time to find one. Getting better had been too much of a priority. But now, school was quickly approaching - if the cooler weather was any indication. A small thunderstorm was raging when a knock on the door distracted Patty from her book. On the door step was a small person with asymmetrical red hair that was plastered to their face. “Hi, I’m looking for the Ghostbusters. I’m Lafontaine.”