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We're Just Ghosts Inside Of My Bed

Chapter Text

“Erin, my lovely asset to modern physics, will you come give me a hand, please?”

They were currently at the firehouse, each of them minding their own business in regard of researching the paranormal. Since saving the world months ago and receiving the go-ahead from the mayor, the Ghostbusters had the opportunity to do their thing almost without limitations. Abby and Erin had taken to translating the existence of ghosts in the language of physics, Patty was mapping peculiar murders that have occurred in New York in the past years so that the team knew what they were dealing with when they got a call from a particular address. And Holtzmann was busy as ever designing and constructing new devices. They were however not only for busting ghosts, but also for detecting different types of ghosts, constricting the energy of the paranormal beings... She also installed some improvements on the hearse, their coffee machine and unbeknownst to them, to Erin's computer, which was otherwise about to fall apart from all the radiation around it.

Upon hearing the engineer's calling for her from upstairs, Erin looked up from her screen.

"What is it, Holtz?"

"You see, Erin my darling, you are very good at equations, correct?" Holtzmann was grinning at her from the top of the stairs, only her head visible from Erin's point of view

"What...?" Erin was momentarily distracted by the mischief in her eyes, forgetting for a while what she had said and beginning to wonder what she was up to instead "Uh- Yes! Equations! Yes, I guess I'm decent at-"

"Lovely!" the blonde clapped her hands, now stepping forward so that Erin could see her “Well I do have some I need to solve for this new machine thingy and, you see, instead of wasting half a day on them, I figured you could solve them for like five minutes with your brilliant mind and then I'm gonna of course return you the favour in any way you want, both literally and figuratively." She spoke very quickly without taking a breath and finished her speech with a wink.

"Oh, it's fine, we're friends, you don't have to do anything" she smiled at Holtzmann, who was now leaning casually against the wall.

"Whatever you wish, Dr Genius. Where would I be without your incredible talent?" she said, followed by another wink.

"Oh, I'm not-" Erin started, blushing, but upon seeing Abby's stern look and hearing her pointed warning "Erin...", she shut up and said instead- "Thanks, Holtz."

"No problemo" came from the lab on the second floor.

While walking up the stairs, Erin mentally slapped herself. She was never good at taking compliments, mostly due to her stern upbringing and almost blind drive for academical success. However, one would think she should have already learned how to respond to compliments, since she has received about a thousand of them in the few months while working with Holtzmann. Another thing coming frequently from Holtzmann's mouth and coincidentally another thing Erin was never good at handling was flirting. Constant, shameless flirting. To begin with, not many people had flirted with Erin, apart from that nerdy guy in college, who was apparently devoted to coming up with the world's worst and most out of place science puns. But Holtzmann's flirting was on a completely different level- it was actually witty and made Erin feel wanted and special which is why she didn't want it to cease. All that attention always left her flustered and she honestly had no idea what she was supposed to do in a situation like that- would it be appropriate for her to (try to) flirt back? After all they were friends first, then colleagues. On that note, Erin wasn't entirely sure if the flirting was entirely friendly or if there was another intention behind it... Which is something she didn't dare think of, so she pushed it in the back of her mind and usually simply blushed, smiled and thanked Holtzmann.

When she reached the lab, the blonde was dancing absent-mindedly to her usual 80's playlist. Upon seeing Erin standing awkwardly at the door, she moonwalked to her and flashed her with her signature grin.

"In case you're wondering whether that in my pocket is a whiteboard marker or I'm glad to see you, it's both." That elicited a laugh from the older woman and Holtzmann wriggled her eyebrows suggestively.

"So, captain, what are those equations you need my help with?" Erin tried (miserably) to impersonate a pirate, by covering one eye with her hand, and did the two-hand salute the other woman liked so much. The end result resembled a goofy penguin in tweed.

"Aye aye fair maiden, they’re on the whiteboard and if ye need anythin', be it mathematics-wise or a snack or something, do not hesitate to let yer captain know" Holtzmann said with a thick accent, swaying on the fire pole as if it were a pole on a ship. She tossed her colleague the marker and as Erin looked at the equations written on the board, Holtzmann said loudly "I ship it very much, young lass". Her own wittiness made her giggle, as per usual.

The young lass in question smiled but didn't look away because she was concentrating hard on the task ahead. She was halfway done when she heard Holtzmann mutter from the other end of the room "What a lovely ass-et to modern physics indeed, Erin" She turned just in time to see the blonde look up from where she had been staring intently, the point of focus being Erin's butt.

"Holtzmann!" Thankfully the latter had excellent reflexes from working in dangerous labs and expertly dodged the flying marker which was thrown in her direction.

"Nice try, Ez. Why don’t you use all that pent-up aggression in a different way than throwing things at your colleagues?" She smiled innocently and then winked "I have some suggestions".

"Holtz!" Although scandalized, Erin couldn't help but laugh a little. "You're distracting me and I'm not getting anything done!" She whined.

"Oh am I now?" Smirked the blonde, coming closer to her. "Well you distract me as well, Erin. With your cuteness"- she took a step forward towards her, and Erin respectively- a step backwards- "and your blushing"- Erin's back hit the board- "and your tiny-winy bowties". Their faces were now inches apart, which was totally unsettling for the brunette and apparently totally encouraging for the blonde, who took Erin's hand. Her touch was gentle and Erin closed her eyes because honestly it didn't feel entirely unpleasant- on the contrary-it felt nice and sent a warm sensation in her stomach and she didn't know what to do. What was Holtzmann doing?? Was she going to kiss her? It was ages since she was last kissed and although it would be horribly inappropriate since they were at work, she couldn't help but anticipate it, because well doesn't it feel just great to be kissed and, and… It was at this moment that she realized it had been far too long since she closed her eyes and being a physicist, she could calculate that if the blonde was indeed intending to kiss her, her mouth would have reached Erin's already... So she furtively opened her eyes to see Holtzmann grinning widely at her from where she was leaning on the worktable, almost a meter away from her. "Oh man, relax Erin, chill out, I was only giving you back the marker" she winked again and Erin looked down to discover that she did in fact hold the marker in her hand.

Out of embarrassment and frustration other than anything else, she got very angry. "Jillian! That was horribly rude and inappropriate! I would very much appreciate if you didn't invade my personal space like that!"

The dopey smile was erased from the engineer's face to be replaced with a frown "Erin, I was just-"

"And you know what?" Interrupted her Erin, her voice louder and higher than usual, "I'm straight. Like a hundred percent, unequivocally heterosexual. I like men and you are honestly stepping over certain boundaries so I would like you to please stop doing that thank you very much!" By the time Erin was finished she was out of breath and Holtzmann was looking at her like a sad puppy.

"Alright, Gilbert, I was just messing with you..." She turned around and went back to whatever she was tinkering with at the moment, leaving Erin staring at her back with regret and she felt miraculously even more embarrassed.

"Hey what was that about?" Abby stepped inside the lab, having heard her friend's not-so-subtle coming out as "a hundred percent, unequivocally heterosexual".

"Nothing, it was nothing" snapped Erin quickly.

"Right, okay" Abby said but knowing her all too well sent her a silent skeptical look. In response the other woman looked down at her feet. Now looking at Holtzmann's slumped shoulders Abby proclaimed loudly "anyway, lunch is here so why don't you guys come downstairs and chill a little?"

 ***

As they went downstairs (to discover Patty laughing at Kevin’s valiant attempts at opening the pizza boxes), Erin pointedly sat between the two of them.

“Hey Kevin, let me help you with that” she flashed him a smile and opened the boxes “I guess those big muscles can’t do petite tasks like that, huh? Those big, strong arms…” she drifted away, staring at said arms. Happily oblivious, Kevin took a bite out of a large slice when suddenly his face scrunched up “Ow does this have cheese? I hate cheese” A choir of “Oh, Kevin”s was heard and then Erin said “If you don’t mind I’ll take your slice… oops, thank you” She ran her fingers over the man’s hands, to which he responded with a confused frown, probably unable to process what was happening.

“Erin! No!”, “Oh man, that’s just so wrong”, “Excuse me ladies, I must go and vomit” Was the variety of reactions, the latter being followed by Holtzmann getting up and walking past them in the general direction of the door.

“Holtzy no, man, come back! She was NOT being serious” shouted Patty at the woman, but to no avail. After the door closed shut, she and Abby both turned to look at Erin sternly.

“What, it’s a perfectly fine slice of pizza” exclaimed the brunette defensively with her mouth full of semi-chewed pizza.

“Erin! What the hell is wrong with you?” scolded her Abby. “First you say those things to Holtzy, then you do… that” she shrugged her head in Kevin’s direction, who was currently trying out the other types of pizza they had ordered to see if they too had cheese in them. “My point is, she’s done nothing to offend you and the least you could do is not break-“

“Abby!” warned Patty.

“Wait what? Am I missing something here?” Erin looked from Abby to Patty who were exchanging a look.

“Look, Erin,” started Abby “just be nice to her, okay?”

“What am I supposed not to break? Abby, wait!” she got up and chased after her friend who was now hastily retracting to the kitchen with their plates.

“Nothing!”

“Break what?”

“Aw man,” said Patty finally, knowing how stubborn both women were, “she meant the equipment, you know, all that nuclear shit on the second floor that I swear I ain’t ever getting close to”

“Yeah ok” said Erin surrendering. She grabbed another piece of pizza and because she couldn’t stand the mortification any more said “If you’ll excuse me, I have an equation to finish”.

With this she went back to the engineer’s lab, wondering as she went, why on Earth would she (or anyone for that matter) ever attempt to break Holtzmann’s equipment.

Chapter Text

It was already getting dark and Abby, Erin and Patty were beginning to worry for Holtzmann. She had left hours ago and as Abby noted, the woman wasn’t one to just storm out of the room and stubbornly never come back (to which Erin had rolled her eyes, knowing full well that her friend was referencing a little habit Erin had when she was younger).

Kevin was just leaving when the front door suddenly opened and a disheveled Holtzmann appeared, wearing a disturbingly mad grin on her face, to which no one paid extra attention, since they were relieved that she was finally there. At the doorstep she and Kevin attempted to walk past each other but weirdly enough, she was too busy staring at his face to think and they collided and fell on the floor.

“Well aren’t you a big, strong, handsome man” exclaimed Holtzmann dreamily from where she was lying on his muscly chest. She ran her fingers across his face, then down his arms and rested them on his stomach. That was too much for the other women in the room, as Abby and Patty both gasped and exclaimed “What the fricking hell” and “Hell no!” Erin just looked at the pair on the floor disappointedly.

The exclamations startled Kevin, who jumped to his feet, pulling Holtzmann with him and with one last look at her left quickly.

“Bye bye Ken!” she yelled after him “See you tomorrow!” and kept staring at his retreating figure with a hazy smile playing on her lips. When he was no longer to be seen, she turned around and closed the door behind her. On her way to the couch she picked up a brown paper bag which had fallen from the collision with Kevin and set it on the coffee table in front of her. “Honestly, I don’t remember where that came from” She regarded the bag with a confused scowl and only then looked up to see the dumbfounded expressions on Abby and Patty’s faces and the hurt, disappointed and confused one on Erin’s.

“What was that, Holtzy?” demanded Abby

“Yeah baby, that was like, twice the number of words you had spoken to Kev before. And all in one go! What’s wrong with ya?” said Patty. Erin remained uncharacteristically silent (although both Abby and Patty knew she was itching to ask about Kevin’s abs) (She wasn’t).

“What do you mean? I don’t see what’s wrong” she answered while confusedly looking at them (though mysteriously avoiding Erin, who was looking at her feet anyway). “I’m going to go home now” she smiled finally “Good night girls!” and with that she jumped off the couch and left the firehouse.

“Man that was weird as hell. It’s like she did a complete one-eighty- one minute flir- ouch Abby- with Gilbert over there, and in the next one ogling our beefcake…” Patty shook her head “My cousin, Tasha, experienced the same and ya know what? The doctors found a meter long worm in her guts.”

The other women both winced at that. “Oh I don’t know, maybe it’s just her day… Why don’t we wait till tomorrow and see how she is then?” Abby suggested.

“Yeah, maybe you’re right… Aight, I don’t know about y’all, but Patty needs her beauty sleep, so see ya guys tomorrow!” and she took her coat and headed for the door.

“Yeah, yeah… Erin, are you coming?”

This snapped Erin out of her little trance “Oh… well” she threw one last glance at the brown paper bag on the coffee table and with a fake smile and a “Yeah, sure” she followed Abby out of the building.

On the side of the bag not facing the couch, with black marker was scribbled in a messy handwriting Thanks for the equations!  - Holtzy xx

***

The next day, when Patty arrived at 8:37, a bit later than their usual 8:30 beginning of the day, the first thing she did when she saw Abby and Erin lost in their work on their desks on the first floor, was to ask "Hey y'all, how's my girl Holtzy?" Erin looked away and Abby looked at her before answering “She's not here yet... For some reason"

"For real? But she's usually here at like five o'clock..." Patty said while settling on her own desk in the other end of the room. Even Kevin managed to arrive before Holtzmann, which was a first.

After a certain amount of time, the door finally opened and a certain blonde appeared. Something about her seemed... Different. "Good morning, girls!" She exclaimed, proceeding to hug Patty first, then Abby and mysteriously skipping Erin, greeting her with a timid "Hello, Gilbert". The latter's jaw dropped. As much as Erin knew she had offended Holtzmann, she couldn't help but feel horrible, left out and offended herself.

She felt even worse however, when she heard what Holtzmann said to Kevin when she reached his desk.

“Good morning, handsome!” Holtzmann said, leaning with her elbows on his desk “How are you today?”

“Uhh excellent, boss!” he replied, giving her a tight-lipped smile. He seemed afraid of her though. Abby mentally thanked the heavens for his stupidity because he could have sued them for sexual harassment four- five times already.

“Good, I’m glad you’re feeling well… Although I have some ideas how you might feel even better” she winked at him and drew her biceps together so that her breasts look bigger. Kevin didn’t seem to notice, as he was too busy playing solitaire on his computer. That didn’t seem to discourage her though “Alright, see you later, Kev” she said and with a wink went upstairs to her lab.

Meanwhile Erin was trying very, very hard not to let the tears which had formed in her eyes fall. If someone asked her why she was upset, she wouldn’t know what to say. Yes, she had shouted at Holtzmann that she was straight and yes, maybe that was an incredibly rude way of shutting her down, but was that enough to make the engineer lose all interest and liking in Erin and point her advances towards Kevin instead? Did that mean that Holtzmann regarded Erin and Kevin the same way? Honestly that thought offended Erin because whilst the man was really handsome and kinda sexy indeed, even she had to admit that he had the mental capacity of a teapot, whereas Erin thought she was intelligent and smart more than the average. Was Holtzmann attracted to him? Or was it just friendly flirting? Would she flirt with Abby like that tomorrow and with Patty the day after? Did that mean that she had never had a more specific interest for Erin exclusively?

Now, Erin was a scientist and she loved the method of induction. So in conclusion all the possible hypothetical answers to these questions made her feel bad. And she didn’t even know why exactly. All she knew was that seeing Holtzmann flirt with Kevin, imagining them together, made her sense a gnawing, uneasy sensation in her guts and a pang in her chest.

Rationally, she knew that was jealousy. Also rationally she knew that it wasn’t Kevin’s attention that she longed for, because as cute as he was, she couldn’t imagine spending more than 5 minutes alone in a room with him. That left only one possibility, rationally, which terrified her, so she pushed this aspect of the spectrum of emotions she was feeling in the back of her mind and concentrated on feeling confused and trying not to cry.

Abby, whilst not knowing what exactly was going on through her friend’s mind, knew that she was upset (and not just because she was focusing on one point on her computer screen while her knuckles were white).

“Do you wanna talk about it?” she asked Erin quietly.

“What? I’m fine, there’s nothing to talk about! How are you?” replied Erin with a less than convincing smile.

“I’m fine, thank yo- NO! I know you Er, and we both know that denial and pretending you’re fine won’t do you any good” Abby said, drawing nearer to her friend’s desk. “Maybe you’ll feel better if- hey, what’s that?” she had noticed the brown bag, which Erin had carefully tucked away when she arrived 10 minutes earlier than the others.

The first thing she had done when she closed the door of the firehouse behind her was to open the bag eagerly to discover a cup of green tea with mint (her favourite beverage) and a blueberry muffin (her favourite snack) from the deli down the street (her favourite place to sit and relax).

“It’s nothing!” she snapped the bag from Abby’s hands.

“Like hell it is” replied Abby, but she dropped it when she saw the miserable look on Erin’s face.

“Erin,” she started but was interrupted by a shout from upstairs

“Kev, would you please help me with those muscles of yours, cause I need to lift some very heavy and very unstable equipment”.

They looked at Kevin who looked around as if unsure if Holtzmann was talking at him. When he concluded that there wasn’t any other person named Kevin in the room, he reluctantly got up and shouted “Yes, boss!” and headed for the second floor.

Abby and Patty now turned to look at Erin, who had clenched her jaw and seemed ready to kill a man. She took a deep breath to steady herself and opened her mouth to say something but just then the phone rang. Erin sprang to her feet and practically ran to the reception desk:

“Ghostbusters! Hello…” she said with a shaky voice “Alright, we’ll be there soon!” she practically slammed the headphone.

“What is it Erin?”

“Oh you know… just a ghost”

 

On the way to the address Holtzmann surprised everyone by driving  normally, within the speed limit. She didn’t even turn on the siren.

In the backseat Erin stood with her forehead on the window, wondering if this day could get any weirder. 

Chapter Text

When they arrived, the ghostbusters were greeted by a man in a suit in his mid-thirties. If Erin wasn’t too busy moping around and looking at her feet, she would have probably thought the guy was cute.

“Hello ladies, thank you for coming…” he introduced them to the place, a huge bar, and began talking about how and when someone from the staff had seen a ghost, but Erin wasn’t listening. She was still contemplating her miserable existence when she felt someone poke her on the side.

“You okay there, Ghost Girl?” Patty asked her quietly

“Yeah, yeah” Erin replied hastily

“Alright, yo, let’s catch some ghosts man!”

And with that they set off.

***

The ghost was particularly cruel to the team. It managed to escape them 5 times, slimed all of them (not just Erin) and they had to chase it all around the place. They spent a total of 4 very exhausting hours running, climbing stairs, shouting playground insults at it (Patty and Abby), tripping in their own feet three times and falling down twice (Erin) and being uncharacteristically silent and serious (Holtzmann). After the ghost (a drunkard from the 1880’s) was successfully caught, the owner of the bar showed up from where he was hiding in the toilet.

“Thank you ladies, now let me offer you a drink to express my gratitude?” he smiled charmingly at them

“Oh, I don’t think that’ll be a good idea, after all, someone has to driv-“ Erin started

“Hell yeah, why not!” interrupted her Holtzmann. She clapped her hands enthusiastically and sat on one of the high chairs in front of the bar. “Come here often?” she asked the man with a raised brow and a teasing smirk. Meanwhile Erin glared at the pair and Abby and Patty silently shook their heads. They reluctantly took their seats, while the man (John was his name, or was it Josh- Erin hadn’t listened much) was making them drinks. He spoke with Holtzmann animatedly and she responded cheerfully to his not-so-subtle flirting. Patty was just considering she’d had enough of second-hand embarrassment and Erin’s anguish, when he asked the blonde for her number.

“Alright, that’s enough” she intervened “She gay dude, stop it lol”

As soon as the words left her mouth, Erin, Holtzmann and the man asked in unison “What?” Erin blushed for some reason and stared at Patty in disbelief. Was Holtzmann gay? Did that mean her flirting with Erin had been geniuine? The thought made her feel somehow… surprisingly nice.

Holtzmann on the other hand, seemingly unaware that the comment had been directed at her, looked at Erin with a bewildered expression and said “Abby never told me you were a… gay”. Jack laughed incredulously and said “Yeah, sure” while Erin was stammering “She wasn’t talking about- I’m not… You are…”

Abby was just trying really really hard not to laugh. Patty shook her head and let out an exasperated sigh. “Oh man… How did we get into this mess again?”

She had no time to receive an answer though as James was now giving them their drinks, which they had totally not ordered.

“Sex on the beach for the sexy lady here, you can take it to the bedroom anytime you want” he said with a fairly disgusting wink in Erin’s opinion. She was still trying to recover from the sudden need to ram her fist in his face when she heard “… and tap water for the uptight lady here.” He finished with a disgusting condescending smile in her direction.

“Uptight? You know what, I’ll show you uptight!” she suddenly leapt to her feet and took Abby’s glass first, downing it in one go, then doing the same with Patty and Holtzmann’s drinks. “You see? Not uptight at all! Abby, Patty, come on we’re leaving!”

Patty jumped from her chair immediately, tugging at Holtzmann to come with her.

“If there’s something strange in the neighborhood, call me” Holtzmann shouted over her shoulder. As Patty began to practically drag the blonde to the hearse, Abby stood up as well and patted the man on the arm sympathetically.

“You can send us the check per post” she said and after hearing an alarmed sounding Patty shout “Hell no, Gilbert, you ain’t driving in that state!” she uttered one last “Gotta go, bye!” and ran outside.

***

Back at the firehouse forty minutes later Erin was experiencing an existential crisis. She was lying on the couch while the first signs of a killer headache were making themselves known. In this state, her confused emotions were threatening to spill out.

Abby sat down at the foot of the couch. She left a glass of water on the table in front of her friend, for whom this was apparently the final straw. Dignified as she was, Erin burst in tears, sobbing loudly in the pillow.

“Shh, it’s okay Erin, it’s gonna be oka-“

“No! It’s not okay, it’s not gonna be okay, Abigail Yates don’t you dare lie to me!”

“I-”

“You know what? I fucked up! I failed at everything! Now Holtzmann hates me and there’s nothing I can do about it!” she trailed off “You know how I know something’s changed? She would have brought me the water…” Erin was now speaking very quietly and sobbing hard “… She would have brought me water…”

Abby and Patty looked at each other in despair from across the room.

“Hey, maybe you should talk to her, ask her what’s wrong…”

“Yeah, Holtzy ain’t the type to hold grudges, man, just apologize and you’ll see how she’ll be back to making the eyes atcha tomorrow”

“You sure?” Erin asked while wiping her eyes with the sleeves of her otherwise impeccable shirt

“Yes, Erin… Just go upstairs”

“Okay, okay, I’m going” she said loudly, swaying slightly as she made her way to the stairs “I am going” Apparently climbing the stairs turned out to be a difficult task in her drunken state, so she crouched and slowly reached the second floor on all fours.

“Knock-knock” Erin banged on the table nearest to the door due to the absence of a proper door.

“Who’s there?” asked Holtzman with her back to the door, stooped above whatever she was working on. Erin’s vision was too blurry to notice that the engineer was holding a hammer and was pointedly breaking a device she had built a couple weeks ago.

“It’s Errrin…” she slurred slightly

“Erin who?”

Erin winced “It’s me Holtz… Can we talk for a minute? Please?”

The blonde turned to face her. There was no smile on her face, no twinkle in her eye.

“You’re kinda hot when you’re serious like that” Erin giggled “oops I don’t know why I said that”

“What do you want, Gilbert?” Holtzmann said rather rudely

“Don’t you “Gilbert” me, Jillian” she stumbled towards where the engineer stood. She tried to be menacing, but due to her drunkenness, she looked more like a puppy

“Holtz, I’m sorry for everything I said, now, you don’t have to be so mean to me” she pouted as she made her way to the other woman “You were being so nice to me, now that you stopped I miss it. I’m sorry that I snapped at you, please be nice to me again, pleaaase?”

Holtzmann looked very confused “I-I don’t know what you're talking about”

“Oh come on Holtzy, let’s be frieends, best friends like we used to-“ she couldn’t finish because she tripped on a cable. (Un)fortunately for her, she fell right into Holtzmann’s arms. “Oh I really like your arms, you know” she giggled “And your smell… mmm I feel very warm like that hmm… you’re so close I could just kiss you now”

At that Holtzmann dropped her unceremoniously on the floor

“Ouch! What the hell, Holtzmann?” Erin demanded, suddenly sobered. She tried to get up, succeeding only on the third attempt. She stood face to face with the blonde, staring directly into her eyes… something was different, strange.

“What’s wrong with you, Jill?” she whispered

“Nothing, I don’t know what you’re talking about, Gilbert. Now would you mind, I have work to do”

Erin’s eyes teared up but she turned around and walked out in resignation nevertheless. She passed out on the couch and someone draped a blanket over her sleeping form. (In a state between sleeping and being awake, Erin wished to herself that this someone was Holtzmann).

Chapter Text

Erin woke up at five o’clock to an ache in both her head and her heart. As she thought about the events of the last 24 hours, her mind went straight to Holtzmann. She remembered being in her arms, looking at her face and saying- When she remembered what she had said, Erin groaned loudly. She said she could have kissed her. Why on Earth would she say something like this? The question bothered the physicist as much as it intrigued her. Without her consent, her mind showed her something she kept in the back of it, something she never wanted to think of because it scared her…  She imagined kissing Holtzmann, holding her in her arms, she imagined Holtz smiling widely at her like she would a couple of days ago…

In that moment, Erin realized two things:

1) She felt warmth in her chest and fluttering in her stomach

2) If Holtzmann were to hypothetically kiss her, Erin wouldn’t really feel bad or uncomfortable. On the contrary, she would feel… good. Just thinking about that made her feel warm and tingly. That sensation was somehow familiar. To think about it, Erin felt that way every time she went inside the engineer’s lab, which she had always attributed to the radiation but then again… It had been Holtzmann all along.

Erin had a crush on Holtzmann. Real crush, with feelings.

The revelation that she had feelings for a woman surprisingly didn’t startle Erin. It… was logical actually and explained a lot of things. From why she had rarely felt anything for most of the guys she had dated… to why she would often catch herself staring at that pretty maths teacher in college, who accidentally happened to be a woman. Besides they lived in the 21st century, like everyone was at least a tiny bit gay, right? And women were… pretty, Erin had always found.

Her thoughts drifted to Holtzmann again and she felt her lips stretch in a smile unintentionally. That woman was something spectacular… Amazingly smart- Erin grinned at the thought that they complete each other, being very good at theoretical and experimental physics respectively. The blonde was also very funny and her personality was absolute sunshine. Erin blushed, because her next thought was that Holtzmann was also not only very beautiful, but also really hot.

She felt so giddy reveling in this newfound information. “I have a crush on Holtzmann” she said out loud experimentally, then giggled. She felt so good, better than she had been in ages. She thought of telling Holtzmann and- and then reality caught up with her.

This is when she realized something else:

3) Holtzmann hasn’t been herself since that time Erin shouted at her. And that wasn’t typical for the blonde at all. Something was wrong… And Erin was determined to find out what it was.

***

 When Abby and Patty arrived some time later, they were greeted by a smiling Erin, working on her desk.

“Good morning, girls!” she greeted them cheerfully.

“Man, Erin, not you too!” groaned Patty

“Yeah about that…” she lowered her voice conspiratorially “Something weird’s going on with Holtzmann”

“No shit, Sherlock” said Patty

“No, I mean like, weird weird, you know?”

“Yeah, but she says nothing’s up, we all asked” sighed the historian

“Wait, do you mean like… paranormally weird?” elaborated Abby, interested all of a sudden.

“Yes! Like that! And I have a plan, don’t worry!” Just when Erin said that, the door opened and the blonde in question stepped in.

“Good morning, Holtzmann!” greeted her Erin with a shy smile as she made her way towards Holtzmann “Do you want coffee? I brought you some…” she trailed off, handing her the cup.

“Uh thanks Gilbert” she said with uncertainty

“You’re welcome” Erin beamed at her “You look uhh very uhh pretty today’ she finished and blushed, but maintained the eye contact.

“Thanks” In response Erin simply winked at her and bobbed her head, complete with shooting finger guns at her. Which was a sight to see, because it was nowhere near as smooth as Holtzmann’s winks- it was simply hilarious.

Holtzmann retreated hastily to her lab while Abby and Patty were trying to stifle their laughter.

“Is that your plan?” Abby asked in between giggles “Oh, Erin, this is gonna be so funny!”

“Yeah Erin, baby, me and Abz are gonna help ya in this case” Patty quipped.

“Laugh all you like” Erin replied with a smile “You’ll see”

***

Not fifteen minutes later, Erin found herself on the second floor once again.

“Hey” she said loudly, startling the engineer, who hastily hid what she was working on behind her back.

“Gilbert” Holtzmann nodded at the other woman

“Why do you keep calling me that?”  Erin pouted

“Uh… because that’s your name?” the blonde schrugged

“No, my name is Erin… with an E, for… everything you want”

“Alright” Holtzmann looked up just in time to see Erin stepping into her personal space. She leaned in and whispered in the engineer’s ear “and b-baby I can give you everything you want… Just ask” then she turned around and left the lab, not daring to look at Holtzmann’s expression.

 

“How did it go, Romeo?” Abby asked her when she came back looking a bit disheartened. Being rejected hurt so bad. She cringed when she thought that this is how Holtzmann had felt when Erin shouted at her.

“She didn’t react even when I said that…” she blushed “Nevermind… Do you guys think this might make her come back to normal?”

“I think you’re definitely on the right track” said Patty with a smile

“Really? What does that mean?” asked Erin impatiently. Did Holtzmann like her as well? Had she told Patty?

“It means, you’re gonna find out, baby”

***

“Lunch is here, Holtzy, come downstairs!” shouted Abby when their take-out arrived.

When Holtzmann climbed down the stairs, she saw that the only seat left for her was next to Erin and… furthest from Kevin. She lowered herself in the chair suspiciously, when Erin said:

“You know, y-your eyes are very beautiful, Holtz” She stammered (again) but she couldn’t help herself, as her heart started racing when her gaze met Holtzmann’s.

“Okay”

“Yeah” Erin looked down at her plate, flustered once again. Then she was forced to look up, because Holtzmann had said dreamily “Hey Kev, you look tastier than this Italian pasta”

In response she received an obnoxious growl and a “I hate cheese!”

“And you, Holtzmann” Erin intervened “are… hotter than the food was when it left the store!”  she said this a little more aggressively than she meant to. She tried to ignore the pain in her chest, caused by the raging jealousy, opting instead to stuff herself with as much spaghetti as possible. Besides,thus she didn’t have to bear Abby and Patty’s wide grins.

***

When they finished their lunch and had cleared the table, Holtzmann stalked towards an unsuspecting Kevin with an evil grin on her lips.

“What are you doing?” she asked him

“Uhh I’m waiting for the others to bring dessert”

“Oh Kevin, you’re sweet enough as it is”

He was saved the necessity to reply, as a distinct sound of breaking plates from the kitchen was heard.

“Erin, no!” they heard Abby say

“I’m… sorry?!… I guess” Erin still sounded angry though. After that, all the blonde and Kevin could her were Erin’s and Abby’s muffled voices.

“Soo, what are you doing tonight?” Holtzmann continued

“I’m going to visit my mother and Mike Hat” he smiled at her

“What about tomorrow night?”

“I uhh-“

“Kevin?” Abby’s voice called

“Yes, boss?”

“Will you come help me with something?”

“Alright, boss”

Soon his place was replaced by a red, panting and sweaty Erin.

“I’m available tonight. Just so. You know” she smiled sheepishly at Holtzmann. The blonde frowned at her and with a simple “I’ll keep that in mind” left Erin alone in their impromptu dining area. Her eyes burned a hole in the back of Kevin’s head, while he was trying to understand what Abby needed help with. (It was nothing)

***

Around five o’clock Patty assembled the Ghostbusters and announced:

“Y’all need a drink, ladies. It’s been like ages since we went out for a girl’s night out”

Abby and Erin gave it a thought and after a not so subtle glance towards Holtzmann, they both said at the same time:

“Alright!”

“Lez go” which was followed by a scandalized Erin gushing:

“Abby!”

“Where are we going, Patty” asked Abby while the other two were picking up their bags (Holtzmann was carrying a bag??)

“You’ll see, baby” Patty smirked and nodded her head at Erin.

***

Erin wanted to bring the hearse just in case but Holtzmann demanded that they wouldn’t need it. In the cab she went through a thousand scenarios how to end up close to Holtzmann. She thought that maybe a drink or two would help loosen the engineer a bit. Erin smiled when she imagined she might even find the courage to kiss her crush. She was so busy giggling mentally at her use of the word “crush” as if she were in high-school, that she didn’t notice that they had stopped in front of an old building with a crumbling façade.

“Did y’all know that the first HQ of the Russian mafia was located in this building?”

Erin didn’t hear what she said, because she was staring at the huge neon sign in front of them

“Patty,” she said, flustered for the 100th time this day “You brought us to a... stripper club??”

Chapter Text

After Erin’s desperate attempt to escape failed (due to Abby and Patty who withheld her from throwing herself back in the taxi), the four women now found themselves in a dimly lit booth somewhere in the middle of the club.

“Kay this is definitely a Tasha”

“Nooo, she seems more like a Dana to me”

Abby and Patty were enjoying themselves coming up with stories about the strippers.

“Hell no baby, hear me out: Tasha, short for Natasha, was born to a Russian mafia daddy who was killed two years ago so she be here busting her ass to pay for them tuition fees.”

“No, she is definitely not Russian”

“And may I ask how do you know that?”

“Uh, duh, she’s not blonde and blue-eyed”

“Nah, she’s Russian- look at her squats. Those are some fine-ass Slavic squats”

In the meantime, Erin was squirming in her seat, clutching her glass of rum and coke as if her life depended on it. She felt way too hot in her tweed blazer, her heart was racing, her hands were shaking and she was generally overwhelmed. This was too much for her. All those women with all these bodies… Erin honestly didn’t know where to look. The extent of her own insatiable need to stare truly scared her, but there was nothing she was willing to do about it at the moment.

The normal Holtzmann would comment on how Erin’s eyes were currently like doughnuts. The Holtzmann now slouching in the opposite corner of the booth said nothing. All night. She just sat there, with an unreadable expression on her face, sipping on a single glass of vodka since they arrived.

Patty, smug from winning an argument with Abby, asked loudly:

“Whatcha think about the girls, Holtzy?”

“Uhh I find them… gracious. Very. Refined.” She replied stiffly.

“What about you Erin? Hey Gilbert, stop drooling!” Patty joked.

That forced Erin out of her reverie. “What?”

“She said” joined in Abby “that you should stop being so goddamn gay for one second and pay attention to us” she finished with a smirk.

“Ohhh I’m not… I’m not-“

“Don’t worry dude, we’re cool” quipped Patty gently. Erin looked at her, took a deep breath and furtively said:

“I think I’m… bisexual”

“No shit Sherlock” Abby said, smiling warmly. Erin looked at her astonished.

“Wait, you knew?” she asked her

“I suspected it for a long time” Abby shrugged “Since that time in ninth grade when you didn’t stop talking about how much you wanted to befriend Jessica Young, remember that?” she chuckled, but Erin still looked shocked. To cheer her up, Patty raised her glass and said:

“Alright, a toast for our baby bi! May you have all the guys and gals you want! Cheers!”

“Cheeers!” Abby said with enthusiasm, while Erin clanked her glass to theirs with a very shy smile. Yes, she had had no doubt that they would accept her, but when it did happen, it made her feel so happy. This little moment of bliss was shattered when all three of them noticed Holtzmann was hesitating.

They lowered their glasses and looked at her expectantly.

“Alright man, spill it out” prodded her Patty

“There’s nothing to spill out. Everything’s fine” Holtzmann replied with the slightest hint of frustration in her voice.

“Do I have to slap you to come back to your senses?”

“Um no, Patty, I think… I think we can leave the slapping for Erin” snickered Abby

“Abby!” Erin said at first. Then she remembered her strategy, looked Holtzmann dead in the eye dramatically and bravely managed:

“But that’s not such a bad idea after all”

When she heard that, Holtzmann jumped from her seat, muttered about going to the toilet, took her bag and walked past three different shades of a judging look.

Erin leaned back and sighed.

“Erin, honey, don’t take it personally” said Abby gently “When we find out what’s wrong and fix it, you’ll see how happy she will be from your... flirting”

“Hell, you’ll both be very happy” Patty added

“Are you sure guys?” Erin asked. She dreaded that moment, as much as she anticipated it. But if her friends were so certain, then maybe there was some hope for the future… maybe-

Her inner monologue was interrupted by a shrill scream, followed by panicked shouting in a thick Russian accent “Ghost! There’s a fucking ghost in here!”

***

The three ghostbusters shared a look quickly. Abby and Patty were starting to regret that they didn’t listen to Erin when she said they should take the hearse. Just then Erin muttered “I got this guys”, reached into her purse and pulled out the small proton gun Holtzmann had given her a while ago.

She gripped it tightly and shouted as loud as she could over the screaming, panicking people around her:
“EVERYBODY SHUT UP AND LISTEN!”

That didn’t draw much attention to her though. So she was forced to do something… bigger. Without overthinking it, she grabbed the ghost-grenade she always carried around and through it right at the bar.

10

9

“Erin, NO!”

“Hell no!” Abby and Patty shouted at the same time

7

6

“The glass is gonna go everywhere!”

3

“Ooops, didn’t think it-”

BOOM! And the grenade went off with a medium-sized poof, which caused all the glasses and bottles to burst, which resulted in the poof becoming a large one. That successfully made everyone in the club freeze.

“We’re the ghostbusters, don’t worry everyone, you’re safe” Erin shouted now that everyone was looking at her. “Keep calm and exit the building, while we take care of the ghost” with that she jumped off the table she had climbed on.

“Seriously?” Patty shook her head

“Yeah, Erin’s always been a drama queen” said Abby merrily

“What? That’s not true” Erin started to defend herself, but then remembered there was a ghost in the building “Alright, you guys evacuate the people, and I’m gonna bust the ghost, alright? Oh and where is Holtz? I’ll look for her”

“Alright, good luck” Abby hit her shoulder lightly and spun on her heel to follow Patty.

Left alone, Erin looked around to locate the ghost. She caught a glimpse of blue near the toilets and headed that way. Halfway there she heard a scream coming from somewhere deeper in the club. It took her 5 min of frantically searching for the source when she found a hidden door. Without hesitation she stepped in. It led to a long dark corridor, which lead to a second door.

Now, Erin had never been to a stripper club before, so when she first caught a glimpse of the room, she nearly had a heart attack. The wallpapers were made of pictures of naked people in all sorts of different… configurations. In the middle of the room was a huge four-poster bed with pink sheets. Next to the bed stood a little table littered with… a lot of devices. Erin was so distracted trying to figure out the potential use of something (which looked suspiciously much like a tongue tearer), that she almost missed the girl sitting on the floor. Her back was against the wall and above her… a ghost was looming menacingly.

Getting over her initial shock, Erin quickly regained her composure.

“Hey!” she shouted “Leave her alone!”

The ghost turned to her. Erin might have been surprised to discover it was the ghost of what looked like an 80’s housewife, but she had no time to think it through. She pressed the trigger and the last thing she saw was a death glare, before the ghostly woman dissipated with a flash. Why would a middle-aged woman attack people? Had she been involved with the Russian mafia, thought Erin, was she-

She was reminded she wasn’t alone by a strangled sob.

“Oh, hey” the physicist turned to the shaken girl gently “It’s alright, it didn’t hurt you, it’s gonna be okay…”

“I’m not- I’m not upset because it was scary” said the girl after taking a breath “I’m upset because of the thi-things she said”

“What did she say?” prodded Erin gently

“She said that- that I’m a disgrace and a whore and- and that a girl like me is unworthy and that I should be ashamed of myself…” she trailed off.

“No, don’t cry” Erin hastily wrapped her arms around the girls almost naked body. (This made her feel 50% uncomfortable and 50% good about the physical closeness, which in turn made her feel 100% uncomfortable.) “That’s weird” she muttered mostly to herself “Ghosts usually never go for emotional attacks.”

“A physical one would have been better” the girl said bitterly

“Why is that?” Erin was honestly surprised

“I’ve been having… a lot of issues with myself, you know, for doing that. I know what others might think of me, and I kept telling myself that I don’t care. The truth is, I have no choice! And she- she hit me right in the feels, where it hurts the most you know?” She explained bitterly, while angrily wiping away her tears.

“Oh” Erin could just imagine how bad the girl must be feeling “Listen, what’s your name by the way?”

“Natasha”

“Listen, Natasha, you’re not doing anything wrong. Your body belongs to you, and you only, and you have the right to do what you want with it, the others can’t tell you anything. Everyone takes different paths in their lives and we determine for ourselves how to walk them, right?” Erin said with a warm smile.

Natasha shyly returned the smile and Erin’s maternal instinct suddenly kicked in.

“Hey listen, if you have, by chance, any interest in physics or maths, or want to study that or anything to do with that, give me a call. I’m a physics professor by the way. Or was. Anyway” when she remembered she wasn’t carrying with her anything, especially not business cards, she added awkwardly “or just call the ghostbusters and ask for me, Erin Gilbert. Okay?”

Natasha smiled and extended her hand. When Erin took it, the girl said “Thank you, Prof Gilbert. I’ll keep it in mind”

Erin had never expected that helping people get rid of ghosts would involve getting rid of people’s demons as well. But she swore in that moment, that Natasha’s smile was worth every liter of slime in Erin’s ghostbusting career, if it would mean truly making other people’s lives better.

***

A week had passed since the bust at the stripper club.

Supposedly, all ghosts in New York had taken a break from appearing and haunting people. Suspiciously, Holtzmann hadn’t produced a single new device. Surprisingly, Erin was persistent about flirting with Holtzmann. She went from corny pick-up lines to aggressive innuendos to sensual compliments really boldly, even if she would indeed blush absolutely every time she said anything.

And Holtzmann… was behaving like a completely different person. It felt like the ghostbusters now were just Erin, Abby and Patty. Out of a hundred sentences Holtzmann said, only one would be something they would expect to hear. Their biggest problem was that they didn’t know if something (Erin’s shouting) had triggered her to behave like this, if it had unlocked a mental illness or something similar. She could have an extremely weird coping mechanism, or just be possessed. Out of fear that they could handle things the wrong way and make it worse, they couldn’t do pretty much anything. They could only bear with Erin’s horrible flirting. Which was a truly desperate way to make Holtzmann’s supposed love for Erin anchor her and return her to them. But Erin didn’t for a second give up the hope that Holtzmann would come back to them and, more importantly, to her.

***

It was one week after the bust at the stripper club that they finally got a call, reporting that a couple of ghosts had attacked some people around an abandoned building at 162 W 10th street. In this hot day the ghostbusters lazily piled into the hearse and set off. They were all silent, each of them lost in their own thoughts. Erin was fidgeting with the radio.

And to commemorate the day, here is Halsey’s Ghost!” announced the radio host cheerfully. Abby, Erin and Patty shared a look and smiled. When the song reached its chorus however, Erin’s smile was wiped from her face.

“My ghost , where'd you go? I can't find you in the body sleeping next to me .
My ghost
, where'd you go? What happened to the soul that you used to be?

She looked at Holtzmann in the driver’s seat, who was infuriatingly pretty today and equally infuriatingly not herself. Erin was really starting to miss the woman she had recently realized she was in love with. She missed their interactions. She missed the jokes. She missed 80’s pop music, which did come as a surprise for her, since she hadn’t realized how much she associated it with the engineer until now. She did miss the flirting she used to receive as well. But above all, she missed Holtzmann’s smile, the dimples and the twinkle in her eyes.  God, how she missed that. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She wouldn’t let her sadness get in the way. Nope, she wouldn’t just sit and cry, she would use that energy (however negative it was) to think and figure out how to get Holtzmann back. And to come up with different pick-up lines every time. That proved to be quite the challenge for Erin, who had literally never done that so intensely.

But despite all of that, Erin was astonished to discover how happy love made her. She had never been so enamored before. She had become so optimistic she would have Holtzmann, and that hope seeped into every cell in her body. She enjoyed life so much more now. She enjoyed the sun’s tickle on her skin now, instead of finding it irritating. She loved the birds’ sweet symphonies now, which woke her up at 6, instead of waking up grumpy with bird homicide on her mind. She slept so peacefully now, instead of tossing in her bed till 2 o’clock. She had hope and a sense of purpose in her life now, instead of waking up only to go to work, come home, go to sleep and repeat, which pattern had been a dull and monotonous constant for her. She was happy now, happier than she had ever been.

And despite the uncertain variables (Would Holtzmann ever be her old self? Would she love Erin back?), Erin was happy because love is beautiful and she was so lucky and grateful to be in love.

***

It took them a while to reach the address, because there was a lot of commotion on the streets.

“What is going on?” asked Erin nervously

“Man aren’t you the most useless bisexual ever” Patty shook her head

“What? Why?” When Abby and Patty started laughing, Erin turned to glare at them from the passenger seat

“What’s the date?”

“The date is… 28th June. What is 28th June?”

The two women were laughing from the backseat again and Erin was starting to get really frustrated at them.

“On 28th of June 1969 the police arrested a lot of queer folks from a popular gay bar and a year later the Stonewall Riots took place” explained Patty

“So that was basically the first pride parade” added Abby

“It was violent, too” said Patty seriously “I wonder if we’re dealing with ghosts from those times.”

“We’re here” announced Holtzmann obnoxiously and got out of the car.

Erin looked at her and sighed. Abby put her hand on her shoulder and gently said “It’s gonna be okay, Er”

“I know” Erin said firmly and smiled.  

***

The building was once a storage and it was huge. It had one main room, which was vast, and around it and across it- scaffolds and stairs. Locating the ghosts was difficult in itself. Chasing them and catching them was even more difficult. The team had split in two- Abby and Patty in one part of the building and Erin and Holtzmann in the other. They ran around the place- on stairs and scaffolds and on the roof and in the basement.

They were already tired, their movements getting slower and more painstaking in the heat. Erin and Holtzmann were running on a bridge across the fifth floor. They had just successfully followed one of the three or four ghosts. Running ahead, Holtzmann could almost shoot her gun at the ghost, from that distance she would hit and-

And then suddenly she tripped on a rope, it tangled around her ankle and as she fell with a yelp, it held her hanging from 20 meters. In the precise moment, when the rope rebounded like a yo-yo, a bright blue ghost exited her limp body. Erin stared at it, her jaw fallen to the ground floor. Holtzmann was possessed? Yes, she thought, that explains a lot.

The ghost, another 40-something-year-old woman, cast a wicked grin at her and flew away.

“Holtzmann!” Erin shouted, her mind back to the present and the urgent problem, panicking immediately “NO! Holtzmann!” she threw her gun the side and rushed to hold the rope.

“Erin!” Holtzmann choked out weakly. “Erin, I-“

“Shh, wait, I’m gonna pull you up, I’m gonna find something, just… hold on” Erin tried really hard not to panic. She looked around and found a second rope.

“Hold this, Holtz!” she threw it at the blonde.

Erin pulled at the rope but it was so old that it tore quickly. She had no choice but to tug at the rope which held the engineer, but it rode over Holtzmann’s ankle and threatened to fasten itself on her shoe, which was hanging loosely on her foot. The old wood of which the bridge was made creaked menacingly.

“Erin, the bridge is gonna collapse” said Holtzmann quietly.

“Yes I know, thank you for pointing it out” Erin said, summoning all her remaining strength in her arms and pulling the blonde up by little.

Holtzmann was on the verge of passing out, what with getting over a ghost and her blood rushing to her head.

“Erin,” she said with difficulty “You gotta- you gotta save yourself. The bridge is breaking and you have to- you have to run, now. Please”

“I am never going to leave you, Holtz” Erin whispered softly. As she pulled again, the wood beneath her snapped.

“Holtz, if we die, I just want you to know, I love you and-“

“Erin! Run over here!” her confession was interrupted by Abby frantically shouting at her from one end of the bridge. Erin looked at her, now joined by a panting Patty, and quickly calculated the time it would take her to get to them. It would be enough, she concluded, and before she chickened out, looped the rope around her wrist and ran for it. The bridge began to collapse, with every step she took it fell lower and lower.

When she was two meters from Abby and Patty, Erin counted her blessings and leapt towards their outstretched arms, as the bridge tumbled to the ground. With one arm she held the rope with Holtzmann now dangling from it unconscious, Abby and Patty caught her other arm in the last second. Not without effort, they pulled her on the platform where they stood and after a while they pulled Holtzmann as well.

“Man, that was the most exhausting bust ever!” Abby and Patty stood panting, with their hands on their knees. Beside them Erin was sprawled on the floor, cradling Holtzmann in her arms. A beam had hit her on the head, so Erin was now wiping the blood from her forehead and cheek away gently with the sleeve of her overalls.

“So it was a ghost after all, huh?” asked Abby quietly. She and Patty had to lean on the wall so as not to fall, because the sight before them was so amazingly heart-warming.

“It seems so” replied Erin absent-mindedly, her focus on caressing Holtzmann’s face. “Oh and it was another middle-aged lady, like the one at the stripper club, and I think like the ones here. Is it just me, or is there a pattern here? What do you guys think?”

“Yeah, we might be onto something. Imma look that shit up” Patty said.

“What about the ghosts here?” Erin looked up to meet their gazes.

“Patty and I will handle it Erin, while you and your Juliet here have your moment” Abby motioned towards the pair with a bright smile.

“Abby!” Erin said, another blush colouring her face “This is serious, could you not for once-“

“Did I hear “girlfriend”? Didn’t know you had one, Ez” Holtzmann said suddenly. Her voice was still weak, her face was pale, but the warmth in her eyes was back and her lips were curled in a tiny smile.

“Holtzy!” Erin squeaked excitedly and placed a chaste kiss on her forehead “You’re back, I, I…” she trailed off, lost in her favourite pair of blue eyes in front of her.

Holtzmann reached out to put a strand of Erin’s hair behind her ear. Her hand lingered and stayed on her cheek.

“I’m back” she finished for her softly “And I’m here to stay”

Erin felt warmth spread in her whole body, gazing into those warm, loving eyes of the woman in her arms. She felt content in this moment, it was as if this was the first time they truly saw each other.

"How do you feel?" she asked tentatively.

"Like an old and beaten bag of potatoes, which has traveled through the Sahara on camel-back only to be dumped into the Nile" Holtzmann replied in true Holtzmann fashion.

"Wow that was... specific" Erin grinned "Wait, what does it mean?" she suddenly became self-conscious, her grin wiped to be replaced by a frown "I hope my presence here isn't metaphorically being dumped into-"

Her rambling was cut off by:

"Erin, it means I'm tired and want to go home and sleep for two days" the blonde said with a smile

"Oh" Erin blushed

"Hey, what about what Abby said earlier?" Holtzmann poked Erin's red cheek with her finger

"What did she say? I didn't hear her say anything" the physicist pretended she had no idea what she was talking about.

"Hmm she said something about Juliet." with her other hand she poked Erin in the ribs "Now, I don't believe Abby has forgotten that my name is Jillian, not Juliet. This is why I have to conclude that what she was referring to was in fact-"

She was interrupted by a nervous cough from the stairs.

“Uh guys, sorry to interrupt” they heard Abby’s nervous voice “Just wanted to let you know that we busted one of the ghosts. It seems like the others just flew away so we can technically leave now,-“

“Man, what are you doing? They were having a moment there!” Patty scolded her gruffly.

Erin brought her attention back to Holtzmann and when their eyes met, they both started giggling.

“It’s alright, guys!” Erin shouted at them, her voice light and cheerful, “We’re coming!”

"We're so having this conversation again, Ez, and this time Abby won't save you" the blonde told her cheekily.

Erin helped Holtzmann up and slowly they reached the exit of the building, where Abby and Patty were waiting by the Ecto-1.

“Heyy, Holtzy, welcome back, man!” Patty patted her shoulder gleefully.

“It’s good to see you back” added Abby and hugged her.

“Oh come on guys, it’s not like I left the country” Holtzmann joked

“Meh, it did feel kinda like that” joked Erin back “Oops, I forgot my gun, I’ll go get it” she said with a goofy smile “Be right back” and with one last squeeze of Holtzmann's shoulders she ran back into the building.

“So do you remember what happened while you were possessed?” Abby asked curiously when Erin was out of sight

“I remember-“ When Holtzmann thought back, she did remember, particularly all the things Erin had said and done. When she pondered over some of the more explicit flirts, a blush rose to her cheeks, signaling to Abby and Patty that she did indeed remember everything.

“Oh man, Erin will be so embarrassed” Patty said through laughter.

“I can just imagine her face” Abby joined Patty and started laughing as well

“You guys” Holtzmann said with a wild Cheshire-cat grin “I have an idea”.

Chapter Text

Erin was very happy. It seems nature was mirroring her mood, because the sun was shining through the window, but the heat was milder this day. There was even a slight wind, which was more than welcome for the citizens of New York. To celebrate the tolerable weather they had taken to the streets, the parks, and everyone in the city seemed happy.

To top off the joyous mood, Erin could hear the loud bassline of some 80’s rock song. And she could imagine vividly the blonde dancing ecstatically to it on the second floor. She could picture her dopey smile, her tongue poking through the corner of her mouth absent-mindedly, the sway of her hips moving in time with the beat…

Those nice hips, how badly Erin wanted to touch them right now. And also the rosy lips, how badly Erin wanted to see how sweet this smile tasted…

“Earth to Erin, come on, do you copy?” Erin’s reverie was rudely interrupted by the snap of Abby’s fingers, just two inches from her face. She turned to look at their owner’s face.

“Yes, sorry, I was just uh… distracted… what were you saying Abby?” she asked, trying (and failing) to not glance at the ceiling every now and then.

“I was saying that there’s now a huge pool of drool on your desk and that you should probably clean it at some point” Abby said, grinning widely, and pushed her glasses upwards. Erin’s face flushed red and she immediately looked at her desk. This whole thing was so embarrassing; she didn’t need to give the others another reason to mock her…

She stopped her train of thoughts when she noticed that there was in fact not a single drop of drool on her desk, or on her face or anywhere for that matter.

“Abby!” Erin was mad. How could she do this?

Apparently her expression had been funny, since Abby and Patty were now laughing loudly. Patty had gone as far as to wipe tears from her eyes.

“This is not funny!” Erin scowled at them, feeling humiliated.

“Oh it was funny, you should have seen your face” Abby stated, but then stopped laughing when she noticed how upset her friend looked.

“Erin…” she started softly, having quickly sobered up, “You know there is nothing to be ashamed about, right? We’re totally okay with your…” here she stopped, looking for the right word, “… feelings for Holtzy.”

“Yeah, it’s so cute, Gilbert” Patty added seriously, though her eyes were still twinkling with laughter.

“But also its so annoying Erin, like come on” Abby suddenly looked aggravated, “Stop daydreaming and go talk to her.”

“But she-”

“I’m sure she’ll make an exception for you” Patty said gently.

After regaining her consciousness, Holtzmann had been terrified to discover that most of her prototypes and some of her side-projects had been ruined by her possessed alter-ego. That had deeply saddened her. Then after dramatically crying out how her “babies” had been brutally murdered, she had locked herself in the second-floor lab and requested to be left alone. (She hadn’t actually locked herself due to the absence of an actual door.)

That left Erin cranky and frustrated. She wanted to ask Holtzmann where they were, had she acknowledged Erin’s drunken babblings, how she was feeling. She wanted so badly to just talk to Holtzmann. She had really missed her.

So she was also very anxious for the moment when they would actually have to discuss some “things”. But she respected her privacy and opted to spend her time carefully planning her words and actions.

“Yeah Erin, I’m sure if she could see you now, she would agree with us” continued Abby, “You look like a mess”.

“Thank you, Abby” she replied sarcastically, but it came out far more miserable than intended. Abby and Patty shared a look and then the latter spoke up:

“Hey Erin, she likes you, you like her, what can possibly go wrong, man? Just. Go. And. Talk. To. Her!” she accompanied every word with a clap, attempting to motivate her friend.

“I don’t know, what if she feels weirded out-”

“Nuh-huh, I’m having none of that” Patty cut her off, “Holtzy? Weirded out? Are you kidding me?”

“Yeah, besides, you know how she feels about you” added Abby.

“Oh yeah?” Erin looked her in the eyes tentatively. Seeing the doubt and vulnerability there made both her friends sigh exasperatedly.

“Erin Gilbert. You better listen to me carefully,” began Abby, placing her hands on Erin’s shoulders, “Holtzmann has liked you ever since you stumbled into in our lab almost a year ago, tweed costumes and all. We know that, because she’s been flirting with you ever since, and more importantly, you know that” her tone was even, but she had that steely determination on her face that Erin knew meant she would do anything to achieve her goal. “So you will go talk to her, right now, and you will sort out whatever stupid worries you have in your head.  And you will stop looking like someone replaced your whiteboard markers with permanent ones alright?” Abby shook her shoulders roughly and repeated “Alright?”

“Al… alright.” Erin stammered, picturing how unpleasant it would be to not be able to erase something she had written on a white board.

“You better, or else Imma lock you two in a closet till you have decided to marry or kill each other. Up to y’all” Patty threatened light-heartedly.

“Oh. I guess…” Erin rose from her chair, where she had been daydreaming about Holtzmann for the whole of three days.

“I guess I’ll go” she said a bit fearfully. Abby patted her shoulder and nudged her towards the stairs.

“Ya go, Gilbert” she heard Patty shout from somewhere behind her.

***

Clink. Clink-clink.                                                                                    

Clink. Clink-clink.

Holtzmann was tinkering with some scraps of metal to the beat of the song she was listening to. The room smelled of burnt wires, melted rubber and sweat. All across the floor various items and tools were scattered. Erin even saw something, which suspiciously looked like an unscrewed jar of Cesium, but decided not to ask. Instead she focused on the woman who was bouncing on her heels while welding something.

Erin couldn’t imagine a more beautiful combination.

“Hey” she said insecurely, unsure how exactly to proceed “um, do you come here often?” she blurted out the first thing that came to her mind.

Holtzmann turned to look at her and grinned. She didn’t seem to mind Erin’s presence, which encouraged her to continue, “So how’ve you been? What’s the situation here?”

“Like a small firework exploded in a stationary. And all the paper caught fire. And the ceiling crashed because of the shock wave. And the whole building collapsed.” Holtzmann declared in her usual breathless manner. Erin sighed, she really was back to normal.

Then she hugged her. It seemed like the natural thing to do. At first the blonde stiffened in her grasp but eventually let her own hands reach Erin’s back. She patted it awkwardly.

“Right, so what are you working on?” asked Erin when she withdrew, her cheeks just a shade redder.

“I’m fixing the prototype of a fancy proton lightsaber I had been working on” she stopped and then swallowed, looking small and vulnerable. Then she added quietly “I broke everything, Erin, and I apparently ruined the blueprints and calculations, so now I have to do everything from scratch, I-“

“Shh, Holtz, it wasn’t you, you know that. And we’ll fix this. If you need some help with the calculations, you know I’m always eager to help” she smiled softly at Holtzmann, praying that it would reassure her.

Maybe it did, because the frown on her pale face was replaced by the usual grin. Holtzmann reached out and poked Erin in the cheek.

“Aye aye, I appreciate it, ye fair lass” she said with her pirate voice and Erin burst out laughing. She felt her fears dissipate and just like that it was ok again.

Just as she was about to grace Holtzmann with a very exaggerated wink they were interrupted.

“Y’all, we got something big” Patty’s voice reached them from downstairs. They shared a look and raced for the stripper pole (the fireman’s pole as Patty would say). Both Erin and Holtzmann were eager to bust some ghost ass again.

***

“So I got a call from neighbors of that storage we were last at” Patty informed them in the car.

Holtzmann wiggled her eyebrows at Erin in the rear-view mirror. She replied with a wide smile. Abby just shook her head in mock disgust, while hiding her smirk.

“They have noticed a lot of ghosts gathering there, which made me think we’re up against some club or a group of the past, you know” Patty kept talking from the passenger seat, happily unaware of the wordless correspondence between her two colleagues.

“And I’m looking into it now, but I have some suspicions alright” she looked at her phone, furiously typing.

“How many ghosts are we talking about?” asked Abby.

“Didn’t say exactly, but judging by what the man told me, must be about 10 to 15 or something”.

“Ten to fifteen?” intervened Erin, “are they violent? Can we tackle so many?”

“You can tackle me all you want” replied Holtzmann instead, winking at her in the mirror. (She almost crashed the Ecto-1 into a street lamp.)

“Don’t know, I guess we’ll see” said Patty absent-mindedly.

“Alright” Erin squirmed in her seat, suddenly overwhelmed by a bad feeling about this.

Chapter Text

Stepping into the now familiar building left the Ghostbusters shivering from the unexpected cold that greeted them.  They exchanged a look, not knowing what lay ahead.

It turns out, they needn’t have wondered much. As soon as they made it to the open space, they saw the 10 to 15 ghosts in question, all gathered around what seemed like a throne. The ghost of a regal looking woman was sprawled on it.

“Welcome” she said coldly, causing a shiver to run down Erin’s spine. “We were waiting for you”.

The four women looked at each other again. What was going on?

“Come forth,” the one on the throne motioned for them to join her and her dead buddies. Upon closer inspection, the Ghostbusters noticed that they were all female ghosts.

“Well, we can’t come fifth when there’s only four of us” muttered Holtzmann under her breath. This encouraged the team and they made it slowly towards the gathering of ghosts.

“Unless one of us is pregnant… Erin why didn’t you tell me?” Holtzmann continued and dramatically gasped at Erin.

“What?” she looked at her wide-eyed, “Now’s not the best time, Holtz”

“I call dibs on naming it…” she mumbled, looking down at her feet as she walked. The stares those ghosts were sending their way were making her feel very uneasy.

“Samantha-Jerrika if it’s a girl… maybe Ivan for a boy…”

They had reached the circle the ghosts had made for them in front of the throne. Which was nothing more than crates stashed upon each other. Creative.

They had yet to be attacked, so the four women were compelled to at least listen to what the boss-ladyghost had to say to them.

“We are the Concerned for Society Women Association, or the CSWA” she began dramatically, expecting probably some recognition. Instead she received two questioning looks, one blank stare from Holtzmann and just one (1) dawning in Patty’s eyes. “Damn,” she said quietly. Her friends looked at her. She shook her head and turned to look at the woman on the throne, who was now floating above it.

“We have been active since 1972, fighting for the righteous values of society against those who aim to destroy them”.

Patty snorted and said, “One way to say it. Or, you’ve been bothering people from minorities for 4 decades” she turned to Erin, Abby and Holtzmann and explained to them “They were a bunch of Nazis, going after black people, then gay people… Something like the white-woman version of the Westboro Baptist Church. And you what,” now she was speaking to  the woman in charge, “you decided to come back from the dead to haunt modern-day gay folks? Ya nasty!”

“Correct. We are continuing with our purpose to cleanse the youth of their abominable habits. And you four have been an inconvenience. We can’t let that happen.”

As she said that a ghost dropped a crate right behind Erin, causing her to jump forward. Other two ghosts dropped a metal cage, trapping Abby, Holtzmann and Patty. They tried shooting at the ghosts but the cage was made to mess with their technology of ionization and the guns were useless inside it.

“We spent the time studying you and thanks to our little friend” she nodded at Holtzmann, who tensed up and glared at her, “and we discovered that this one”- she pointed at Erin- “is the most suitable for our cause. She will lead us in our second march against the heresy in our society!”

Erin was still very confused. Was this woman for real? (Well ghosts are real, but that is beside the question) And what did she mean by having Erin lead them? What were they going to do?

Before having the opportunity to ponder over these questions, she felt ropes being circled around her wrists and ankles. She found herself strapped to the crates. God, it was so uncomfortable.

Her head snapped up to see the chief Nazi leering at her. Then she glanced at her friends in the cage. They were all equally perplexed about what was going to happen to them. Abby and Patty looked worried, whereas Holtzmann’s face wore a huge frown. Erin knew this meant she was thinking.

One of the ghosts (who looked frighteningly much like her mother) came forward, carrying a metal contraption, the purpose of which Erin couldn’t deduce right away.

“What- what’s that?”

“Oh you see,” the woman in charge replied, “we need your body, but not your mind so… we need to only kill you a little bit, so that we can use you.”

Now that, coming from a ghost, looking like a suburban housewife called Megan, or Rachel, or Allison, wasn’t really threatening. Erin had faced much worse in terms of ghosts and in real life.

So she was surprised when the woman with the metal device produced two metal rods and touched Erin’s temples with them. Suddenly she was overwhelmed by a sharp, hot pain, which immediately made her feel like she didn’t have legs. And arms, consecutively. From somewhere far, far away she could hear Abby scream. It sounded like someone was rattling the bars of the cage. Then the voice of Megan (or Rachel, or Allison) said “Don’t worry, it will just fry her brain, nothing more serious”.

Erin forced herself to look towards her friends. If she was going to die, she wanted their faces to be the last thing she would see. First she saw Patty, who looked furious and like she probably could bend the metal of the cage just with the force of her fury. Erin would remember her for her fierceness, her unshakable faith in the value of the human life. Also her jokes and references. Patty might have always denied it, but she was a huge nerd, probably the biggest one of them. This is what made her belong to the team. However, she could balance their obsession with science with her very own passion for the humanitarian, thus reminding them that sometimes atoms and numbers weren’t everything in life.

Erin then proceeded to look at Abby. Abby, who was there for her when no one else was. Who was her backbone for so long. Abby, whose absence left a huge hole in her soul, one that she just couldn’t fill with the satisfaction of solving equations and developing theories. Abby, who understood her like no other human being ever did. She was the sister Erin never realized she had.

And finally, her eyes landed on Holtzmann. She was brilliant, from the unique way her mind came up with ideas and innuendos, to the way her body moved to the rhythm of her favourite songs. The world had tried to harden her but she was still very soft. She had a very pure soul, Erin thought. And an angelic face. She wanted to be able to reach out and touch it one last time before she went. Maybe this would be her only regret in life- not having kissed Holtzmann. Not having told her how amazing she was and how much she changed Erin’s life for the better.

With this thought Erin passed out from the pain. The last thing she saw before her eyes closed was Holtzmann’s piercing blue eyes telling her to hold on, that she loved her, that it was going to be alright.

***

What frightened Holtzmann the most was not that they had tied Erin and stuck metal rods to fry her brain and kill her. What frightened her the most was that look Erin got when she looked at them, when she looked at her. It was so hauntingly peaceful, as if she had given up.

But Holtzmann hadn’t.

She had taken out her pliers from her pocket and was trying not to alert the ghosts of her progress. She had torn through enough knots to allow them to push through the cage. Really, those ghosts had underestimated them and were now going to pay for it. Holtzmann was personally offended.

She stuck her hand in her pocket, grasping the handle of her nano proton gun. The contact with the cool metal calmed her a little bit and made her remember she wasn’t alone in this. She came from behind to where Abby and Patty were rattling their wall of the cage, shouting insults and threats at the Crazy Spectral Women Association.

“Square root of 36, 25…” she started, hoping they or at least Abby would get the hint. At 9 she did and discreetly elbowed Patty in the ribs.

“4, 1 and kaboom” Holtzmann shouted the last word and threw herself through the hole she had made. She whipped out her gun and started shooting at random at the ghosts. They managed to regroup however and started throwing crates at them. Holtzmann ducked and dodged and made her way towards the throne, where Erin now lay unconscious. Yeah, just unconscious.

At some point Abby and Patty had regained their footing. The ghosts concentrated on them, making it easier for Holtzmann to reach Erin.

Once she did, she dropped to her knees and took out the metal rods away from Erin’s head. For good measure she also kicked the device. Holtzmann discovered with a nasty shock that its technology was quite similar to her own design. She kicked it again (harder) and this time it keeled over. She would have laughed at how pathetic it flopped, if the situation wasn’t as dire.

Holtzmann scooped Erin in her arms and checked her pulse. It was there. She sighed with relief. Which was momentary, because she realized she didn’t know what to do. Suddenly the sound from the fight behind her was blocked and all Holtzmann could hear was her own erratic breathing. She didn’t know what to do, Erin could be dying, she didn’t know what to do…

A single gasp prevented her from having a full-on panic attack. Erin was coughing in her arms. Holtzmann gently lifted her head so that she could breathe more easily.

“Hey Romeo,” she said with a sad smile, “where’d you go?”

From somewhere far, far away they heard Abby shouting “keep her conscious, Holtz, I‘m calling 911!”

“Hey Erin” Holtzmann started gently, “I remember everything you said to me”

This got Erin’s attention and she strained to listen.

“And I gotta say, Gilbert, or should I say Erin with an “E”, you are everything I want. And I appreciate the compliments to my eyes or my physique”. Holtzmann heard sirens faintly in the distance.

“Erin, did you really think I was going to let you die? That any of us were?”

“Uhmm uhmm” Erin tried to speak but she couldn’t. However Holtzmann could see the answer in her eyes. So she cupped Erin’s cheeks, leaned down and did the only sensible thing she could think off- kiss the tip of Erin’s nose.  “I will never let you go, Erin” she whispered softly.

Erin lost consciousness again by the time the paramedics arrived.

***

“So we basically got played by a bunch of homophobes” Erin concluded finally.

They were sitting on a blanket in Central Park, chilling in the shade. Erin had made a full recovery, though apparently the waves they were trying to kill her with had left with an almost constant headache.

She shook her head. She couldn’t believe it.

“But why did they pick me?” asked Erin.

“Maybe because they sensed you were the gayest one of us” said Holtzmann, who had just returned with four ice-cream cones. She passed one to Patty and Abby each and then sat practically on Erin’s lap.

“Thank you” said Erin as she accepted the ice-cream. She held it with one hand and put the other one on Holtzmann’s waist. She hesitated slightly but then decided that oh well, life’s too short anyway. She leaned in and kissed her cheek softly. Holtzmann stopped licking her ice-cream and stared at her.

Erin felt her heart speeding up under the intensity of that gaze. Holtzmann smirked and moved her face closer to Erin’s.

The world suddenly disappeared for Erin. As if the sun wasn’t there to warm their backs, as if the birds weren’t chirping merrily. As if even Abby and Patty weren’t there. She closed her eyes and opened her mouth slightly in anticipation.

And sure enough, Holtzmann’s soft pink lips were on her own, pressing lightly. Erin felt her insides clench and warmth spread through her chest. She kissed Holtzmann back and her head got so light that not only did the constant headache evaporate, but also she felt as if she was floating through space. It was amazing.

Erin’s eyes were still half-closed when they separated.  So she almost missed Holtzmann licking half of her ice-cream off her cone. When she felt her warm tongue on her hand however, chasing after droplets of melting ice-cream, Erin opened her eyes fully and tried to glare at Holtzmann.

Her attempt probably sucked because Holtzmann just grinned at her and flicked Erin’s nose with her ice-cream. Seeing her so happy, so like herself, Erin couldn’t help but smile herself. Then she grabbed Holtzmann’s hand and brought it up to smear her face as a punishment.

It turns out that all it takes to be happy is having a dorky girlfriend and two loyal friends who pretend nothing’s happening. Also a cute receptionist and now an assistant (in the face of Natasha) who were playing with Mike Hat ten meters away from them also helped.

All in all, Erin thought, if all her time spent in reading and doing calculations, kissing ass and busting ghosts had culminated to this moment in her life, it was so worth it.