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One Hundred Percent Stardust

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We have calcium in our bones, iron in our veins, carbon in our souls, and nitrogen in our brains. 93 percent stardust, with souls made of flames, we are all just stars that have people names - Nikita Gill

 

 

 

 

 

Usually when Erin heard Holtz’s laugh, it was a maniacal sound of cackling, rough edges — full teeth, hand gestures wild. At work, that was Holtzmann, and at play…that was also Holtz, as work and play were much the same for the engineer. However, when it came to quiet intimacy, her laugh was subdued, quiet, a tinkle of a giggle one that caught Erin’s heart up in it’s cadence and she got lost in the song.

 

They were on month two of Holtz’s back-to-the-drawing-board plan to be officially dating. By version three, she’d made the final draft and Erin had agreed to a formal date, which had blown her away. Now, some sixty days later, she was curled up with her head in Holtz’s lap, hiccuping a laugh into her stomach as Holtz’s chuckles reverberated through her. She felt fingers pulling through her hair and her giddy state quickly turned into a mixed one of pleasure. Giving a little moan as her scalp was teased, she squeezed her girlfriend’s middle. Sitting up, she met Holtz in a quick kiss. The blonde took her turn to cuddle up, nestling into her side, the movie they were watching on Erin’s sofa long forgotten.

 

Erin pecked the top of her head, along the part of her styled hair. Holtz put a hand on her thigh, rubbing the fabric of her jeans with her thumb. “I feel so happy when you’re happy, Erin.”

 

Securing her arm around Holz’s shoulders and keeping her at her side, the older ghostbuster responded, “It’s been a long time since…well, honestly, I’m not sure if I’ve ever been so happy. At least — consistently.”

 

There was a little squeak and Holtz was suddenly straddled across her, arms hooked around her neck in a hug. That powerful urge to laugh came back and Erin squished her again, bringing their bodies as close as she could. “You’re the frickin’ best,” Holtz agreed, kissing her cheek, then her lips, quick, and again, slowly.

 

Erin pulled back to look at Holtz’s face, so bright and full of life. She almost felt the need to wear the woman’s yellow glasses to avoid damage from staring too long. “Do you want to go get bubble tea then get comfy? You could sleep over again if you want,” She said with a blush.

 

“Hellz yeah,” Holtz summersaulted backwards, landing on her feet and gently tugging Erin up, who was once again in a state of giggles. The couple had spent the last few weekends staying with one another for the duration of the time. It had started with the realization it was one in the morning several months prior, where Holtz stood up and stretched, saying she should get headed home. Erin refused to let her leave at such an hour, and with rosy cheeks, insisted she simply spend the night, that she’d make breakfast in the morning. Though they hadn’t sealed the romantic deal with sex yet, they enjoyed simply sleeping with one another.


“Can we make french toast for breakfast tomorrow?”

 

“Of course,” Erin zipped up her boots and Holtz held out her waist-length black peacoat, which she slid into and buttoned to the neck. Holtz secured her leather jacket and the two took the stairs to step into the chilly late-fall air. Linking their fingers together, Erin led the way down the street at a breezy pace, enjoying the quiet briskness of the end-of-November evening.

 

“I used to dread Friday nights,” She confessed, breaking the silence. “I hadn’t taught a weekend graduate course in almost two years — I hated going home for the weekend before.”

 

“Well — I intend on filling every one of your Fridays from here on out,” Holtz winked in return. “The weekend never stopped me from leaving the lab. I really don’t know why I have an apartment.”

 

Erin tugged her a little closer and within two more blocks, they arrived at the Taiwanese-inspired shop. A few minutes later, Holtz was happily slurping orange jellies out of a green drink, jabbering something about the crowning achievement in the food industry of the twenty-first century. Erin stuck with the shop’s namesake, enjoying one of the original tea flavors with tapioca balls at the bottom.

 

“It’s a good thing I’m good at inventing things otherwise I’d be mad jealous of all these people that make the cool shit I love.”

 

They took the long way home, walking by the window displays that were just set up for St. Patrick's Day. “I’m just glad you’re not only getting paid for what you make, but people recognize it now. I didn’t know you before, but I’m so proud of how far you’ve come.”

 

A little thrown off by the compliment, Holtz’s cheeks flushed and she looped her arm around Erin’s elbow, leaning in as she tried not to chew on her straw so she could suck up the rest of the jellies. “Well, your new book is already on the Bestsellers list after three weeks, I’m proud of you, too, Erin. ‘Course I was a subscriber to the brilliance of the original edition myself, but this one is just as good.”

 

“And you were able to add components of the actualization to our theory in it, giving it more validity.” She pecked her girlfriend’s cheek as they entered her apartment complex upon rounding the block.

 

When back behind the locked door of Erin’s tidy home, Holtz backed the woman up slowly to the wall, kissing her lips, then her jaw and neck. “Hey,” Erin smirked, tucking a loose curl into her girlfriend’s do as she stepped back and tugged on Erin’s hand.

 

“C’mon, you said cozy!”

 

Sipping the remainder of her tea and depositing the empty cup to the trash, Erin followed the shorter scientist to her bedroom, where she had a drawer that had once contained slips and pantyhose replaced with a host of Holtz’s clothes for occasions such as the night. She loved that the stuffy, professional attire was gone and Holtz’s zany t-shirts were in their place.

 

Excusing herself to the bathroom that was attached to her room, Erin changed into a pair of flannel blue and maize sweatpants with a heather grey GWISE shirt from Princeton on top. Piling her hair into a ponytail as high as it would go, she brushed her teeth and washed her face before switching places with her girlfriend.

 

On the edge of the bed, she bit her lip excitedly, always thrilled when Holtz came out of the bathroom with her hair down. The top would still be big and curly, while underneath would be in natural, golden waves from the tight bun it was wound into all day.

 

Sure enough, blonde locks grazed past her shoulders as she stepped out of the bathroom and walked with a smile to stand between Erin’s legs, putting her hands on the woman’s shoulders and kissing the top of her head. She was in a pair of very short green shorts and a purple camisole, secretly wishing they were already intimate enough that she could just sleep naked like she did in her own apartment. Holtz ran like a radiator at night, always winding up rolling away from her girlfriend in sleep, legs sticking desperately out of the covers for cool relief. It didn’t stop her from wanting to sleep over though, or be as close to Erin as possible when drifting off.

 

Erin pushed herself back and up to the pillows, turning off the lamp at her beside, leaving the room slightly aglow from the fairy lights she kept on that ran underneath the lip of her tall dresser. After years of being traumatized in the dark, she found it easier to sleep with a light on. While embarrassingly confessing the reason to Holtz the first time she spent the night, the woman had merely curled around her and said, “I’ll keep you safe, too.”

 

Holtzmann once more tugged Erin’s body to hers as they cuddled under the blankets, pressing her lips to her cheeks, nose, neck, and finally her mouth. Erin moaned and slipped her tongue to slide against Holtz’s. The blonde held her a little tighter at the waist, her left thumb brushing the tiny sliver of skin sticking out between Erin’s top and her pajama pants. The centimeter of skin-on-skin contact rushed through Erin’s nerves and she sighed, breaking the kiss to bite her lip and glance at Holtz sheepishly.

 

“What’s that look for?” The engineer asked, her voice quiet and low and fuck it was hot.

 

“I, I…um…I…” She stuttered, embarrassed to ask for what it was she wanted. “Holtz—Jill, would you, um…want to…maybe…” The scientist didn’t rush her, merely put a gentle palm onto her cheek, eyes staying connected to Erin’s even as she looked away repeatedly to muster courage. She was fairly sure she knew what Erin was trying to ask, but didn’t want to put her out if she was wrong. “Do you want to do more than sleep tonight?”

 

Holtz watched Erin wince at her own phrasing and smiled brightly. “Are you asking if I want to have sex?”

 

Erin squeaked and nodded, a fluster of word vomit pouring out of her. “We don’t have to, I was just thinking, it’s been two months, and when you touch me like that…Maybe you want to, of course there’s no rush, we can wait —“

 

“The answer is one hundred percent yes,” Holtz interrupted the tirade of self-loathing. “It’s been one hundred percent yes since you walked through the lab door the day I met you.”

 

She watched Erin’s expression morph from embarrassed to awe-inspired in a half second’s time. “Really?”

 

Nodding, the younger woman reached her arms up, splaying them over Erin’s scapulas. “The first thing I told you was that you carry a lot of tension in your shoulders. I wanted to do anything I could to take some of that burden off of them…In my experience, mind-blowing sex often leads to total relaxation.”

 

Erin let out a tiny chuckle. “In my experience, being with you has made me relax significantly. It’s only when we’re testing new nuclear weapons or you’re setting lab fires that I feel a little tense.” Holtz’s rumble of a laugh went through her chest and to Erin’s, who shivered. “So, that’s a yes, then? We’re going to do this?”

 

“Oh, it’s a hell yes,” She responded. Her lips covered Erin’s again and her hands moved under her shirt, gripping bare skin and earning a pitch of a gasp.

 

Holtz smirked into the kiss and shimmied as she hooked a leg around Erin’s knee and twisted so she was halfway on top, pretty sure she’d have to control their first time as their Resident Lesbian™. Keeping their mouthes connected, Holtz trailed her blunt fingernails along her sides as she dragged them up and under her shirt, her own breath hitching into the kiss as Erin shivered and sighed.

 

“Baby girl, we’ve hardly just begun and I’ve already got you withering,” She teased, winking down at Erin after pulling away to squeeze her palms after lacing their fingers together.

 

Erin found her own sadistic smirk. “Who said that I’m the only one who’s going to be withering tonight? I fully intend on ensuring you come unhinged as well.”

 

Cackling, Holtz leaned down to burry her still-teased hair into Erin’s neck, kissing the vein there. “I’ve been unhinged for a long time, though I welcome any attempts to try to completely break the hinges holding my fleeting moments of sanity together.”

 

Blowing a raspberry kiss to Holtz’s cheek, knowing how much the scientist loved it when she was silly, she made her laugh even harder. “You’re so weird, Holtz.”

 

“Eh, it’s why you love me, Gilbert.” She tried not to panic as she dropped the l word, simply rubbed along Erin’s ribcage, kissing her jaw.

 

“There’s a little more to it than that,” Erin quietly mumbled into her hairline as she kissed her forehead. “But yeah, that’s a good bulk of it.”

 

Realizing Erin had essentially confirmed that yes, this was love — no, it wasn’t just casual dating anymore (and she, Erin, had initiated the sex tonight); Holtz propped herself up on an elbow with a renewed mission to ensure their first time would be sweet, memorable, and ultimately about proving she deserved this new pedestal in Erin’s mind. “Ready to be Holtzmann’ed?”

 

Erin pushed her shoulder so Holtz was on her back, brows raised at her formerly-demur professor was making the move to be so bold in bed. She straddled Holtz properly, wiggling her hips over the blonde’s, making her whimper already, though she’d claim later it was just at the unexpectedness of it all. “So freakin’ hot,” Holtz mumbled, tugging on Erin’s t-shirt, wanting to see her for the first time. Needing no further motivation, Erin pulled the article of clothing up and over her head, taken aback by the loud gasp that fell from her girlfriend’s lips when she did so.

 

“Please, like it’s the biggest rack you’ve ever —“

 

“Erin Gilbert!” Holtz sat up, shifting Erin a little so she was in her lap instead of on her hips, mouth hung open. “Oh my god!”

 

Cheeks flushed, Erin rolled her eyes. “I’m forty-three, Jill, I can hardly have the best body you’ve seen.”

 

“No, no — it’s not that,” Holtz shook her head, then took her own turn to blush. She put her hands on either side of Erin’s waist and drew forward, “Though I will dispute you, your body is amazing and your rack is great.” She winked and leaned forward, kissing the top of each breast two inches above the nipple, but pulled back quickly. She brought her index and middle finger to Erin’s ribs on the right, tracing a long stretch of curly ink that expansed from just below the swell of her breast all the way to the end of the bone, a poem that Holtz couldn’t quite read in the dim light from the LED strand across the room. “Erin Gilbert, Doctorate of Theoretical Particle Physics, graduate of the prestigious Universities of Michigan and Princeton, professor of Columbia, now world-renowned scientist…has a tattoo.”

 

With the redness extending from her face to her neck and chest, Erin mumbled, “Lots of people have tattoos, Holtz.”

 

“But you’re Erin! You wear tweed suits! You’re the most organized person I’ve ever met! You’re so clean and sparkly and you have a tattoo! A big one!” Looking like she was going to defend herself, Holtz pulled her face to her own, capturing her in a long kiss. “I frickin’ love it, Er! Just — unexpected, I mean…what does it say?”

 

Erin closed her eyes, now understanding Holtz’s reaction as one of pure excitement, not rejection as it had almost seemed at first. She ran her nails through Holtz’s hair with one hand, squeezed between her fingers with the other, repeating quietly and rhythmically from memory the words that had meant so much to her at one time, she’d stamped them forever on herself. “We have calcium in our bones, iron in our veins, carbon in our souls, and nitrogen in our brains. 93 percent stardust, with souls made of flames, we are all just stars that have people names.

 

Holtz’s mouth was hanging open again before she shook her head to physically clear the dust that was sprinkled into her brain at the potency of the words. Speechless — what diction could she provide that would appropriately follow that? — she kissed the flesh of the curly text, squeezing Erin tight around the middle as she did so. Erin let out a moan of appreciation. “I’m glad you like it,” She said quietly. “It’s my big one — my present to myself when I finished my doctorate.”

 

“Wait,” Holtz pulled away and shot a brow up with another disbelieving expression. “Your big one? Are you saying…there’s a smaller one?”

 

“Smaller ones,” Erin found the situation amusing now. “Four smaller ones.”

 

“Shut up,” Holtz starved out, glancing all over Erin’s front, hardly phased by her half-naked form, her focus consumed by more bits of ink marking the woman’s skin. “Where?”

 

Erin climbed off Holtz to turn around, holding her growing hair over her shoulder with her right hand so Holtz could see the back of the left side. “Is that…an alchemy symbol?”

 

Bobbing her head in acknowledgment, Erin explained, “It was my first one, which I got when I graduated UofM. I wanted something related to physics — but the Greek alphabet wouldn’t be terribly pretty on my skin, and I didn’t want anyone who might see it to think it was because of a sorority or some such nonsense. I decided to go more primitive, but still related to my field.”

 

Holtz traced the delicate lines of the inch wide and long tattoo. Four crosses came together like an X with a circle around the middle where their points met. “I’m afraid I’m not an expert at reading ancient science,” She admitted, not knowing what it meant.

 

“It’s the symbol to anneal.”

 

Kissing the mark, Holtz muttered, “Heating then cooling…relieving stress to toughen up. Appropriate, Gilbert.”

 

“Yeah,” The physicist sighed, “Probably should have gotten it somewhere more visible to myself so I could have been reminded of it more often. Took me almost twenty years to properly begin to hone that one.”

 

Holtz was about to argue but her eyes noticed a trace of black peaking out from the bottom right side of Erin’s pajama pants. “And what is this?” She asked, wanting to tug them off to examine the permanent artwork. Thankfully, Erin made it so she didn’t have to be a caveman undressing her woman in desperate speed. Once her pants met the floor, she noted that the lines formed a very simple constellation — eight stars total. Three at the bottom connected quite closely ascending to the right. Two more separated by a larger almost completely horizontal line were then added to one long dot in the middle, again, to the right, and then two more jutting off the top.

 

“Damn, Er — you’re such an exciting mystery to me. I don’t have a ton of constellation knowledge outside of my fifth grade trip to the planetarium. Didn’t really care about patterns, just the cool science behind ‘em. What is this one?”

 

Shivering at Holtz’s touch so low on her waist, which was a mere millimeter above her underwear line, she quietly explained, “The Lynx. Too far away and difficult to typically be visible with the naked eye. But if someone has the sight of the lynx, they can see it. I first heard of it in my astronomy class in graduate school, and was determined to find it. My professor had never seen it herself, and told me that if I found it, I would receive a bonus recommendation letter from her upon graduating. It was before the last year of my program when I finally did.”

 

Holtz was always enthralled by Erin’s storytelling, ever since she’d first come clean about her history with ghosts. The way her pitch altered and cadence stayed calm was tantalizing to her heightened senses.

 

“It was a remarkably clear night in Northern Michigan — I’d gone home for a few weeks I had off in the summer. My dad and I went to the family cottage for Fourth of July. I couldn’t sleep one night, well — most nights at the time, but…I looked up — and there it was, just staring down at me. I was so excited that I jumped into the lake in my pajamas. I decided I wanted to remember that moment forever.”

 

Bending down low, Holtz peppered kisses over each of the eight stars in the line, making Erin sigh contently.

 

“So, that’s two small ones?”

 

Turning back, Erin bit her lip, and Holtz immediately spotted ink on her upper left thigh — a second alchemic memory, much smaller than the first. It almost had the figure of a heart, but the engineer knew better. Narrow stems nearly met in the middle, but never quite touching.  Holtz once again dragged a nail along the shape and Erin knew to explain, “Um — I’m…not really proud of this one. It was kind of spiteful. But — a good reminder, nonetheless. It’s the symbol for Vitriol.”

 

“My favorite acid,” Holtz whispered in a gasp, “How could you have never told me?! I’ve been practically written on your skin this whole time!”

 

“It’s, um…not so much the chemical sense of the word. It’s the other meaning — criticism. My mom and I had a major blow out fight one day when I was about twenty-seven, I think. It was ugly, we both said things we shouldn’t have, but hers really stung me deep. I don’t want to think about them now, but I got this tattoo as a reminder that I had to spend my life proving her wrong. And I have, though I think I wasn’t going about it in the right way until recently.”

 

Holtz tilted her head, blue eyes sparkling with the reflection of the fairy lights. She put a hand on the side of Erin’s thigh, then ghosted her lips over the tattoo of Erin’s shame. Kissing her way up Erin’s leg, stomach, clavicle and neck, she pressed their foreheads together. “Where’s the last one?”

 

Erin smirked, “Oh, I’m sure you’ll see soon enough.”

 

Practically growling, Holtz leaned forward, about to tackle Erin to the mattress so she could start searching. The physicist seemed to have other plans, however, as she took Holtz’s tank top in her hands and shimmied it up and off, revealing nothing but pale skin. “How is it possible that I have five tattoos and you don’t have any?”

 

Shrugging, her girlfriend offered, “Never thought I could sit still that long. Plus — you know me, I’d get something totally absurd in a place where everyone could see.”

 

“True,” Erin giggled, pushing Holtz back so that she was on the pillows. Erin adjusted her position to be on top of her girlfriend’s hips. Holtz was whining a little, her hand coming up to stroke Erin’s poem.

 

“I’m so fucking turned on right now — it’s hardly even fathomable. Erin! You have tattoos! And they’re beautiful.”

 

Erin put a hand on either side of Holtz’s head, dipping herself down to tease her lips, keeping them just barely apart. “Are you going to gush over my ink all night or am I going to get to go down on you?”

 

“Holy shit!” Holtz closed the space between their mouths, kissing her long and hard. Erin moaned into her, taking one hand to thread in her hair. She swiped her tongue past the younger woman’s lips, which was greedily accepted as Holtz’s fingers trailed over the curves of ink on her ribcage and shoulder. Erin pulled away to start a series of long, sucking kisses along Holtz’s neck, making her tip her head back for better access. “Erin Gilbert you are a lynx. Between the tattoos and now trying to dominate me in my own field of expertise—“

 

“Jill?” Erin paused, sitting up and grazing a finger just below Holtz’s left breast, making her breath hitch. “Stop talking.”

 

“Yes ma’aam,” She responded, saluting with two fingers before closing her eyes and sighing contently as Erin’s mouth encased a nipple and let her hand wander across Holtz’s hip, squeezing against the bone.

 

Her tongue flickered against the overly-sensitive flesh and Holtz had a hard time remembering to breathe as she caught the sight of Erin sucking on her and promptly laid back. The vision of her gorgeous girlfriend and newfound tattoos while being teased mercilessly by her mouth was far too much.

 

“Erin,” She mumbled, drawing a hand to her hair as she gave attention to her other breast, massaging the damp one against her palm. “Fuck, Erin…”

 

Her hips were grinding upwards and she tried to raise a leg to better squeeze her thighs together. Instead, she wound up brushing against Erin’s underwear-covered center and bit her lip as she moaned out how badly she wanted to experience it, sans the last bit of her clothing.

 

Erin used her teeth to evoke the sound from her again, only at a higher pitch as she carefully clamped down around a nipple before popping off of it and kissing the underside of Holtz’s breast.

 

She licked up Holtz’s sternum, nipping at her collarbone and the blonde was almost in tears of desire. Daring to open her eyes, she saw Erin’s hair splaying more to the right, revealing the anneal tattoo once more and Holtz was done for.

 

“Erin,” She managed to say her name without crying, “Baby, I’m…I’ve…” She stuttered and Erin paused, sitting up and giving her full attention to her girlfriend. “I don’t think I’ve ever been this turned on before,” She choked out, taking one of Erin’s hands. “I’m so hot — you’re so fucking hot — your touch and the sight of you, fuck.” She brought Erin’s hand between her legs and the brunette laughed.

 

“Yeah, you’re a little turned on,” She said, feeling how wet she was through two layers. “How about I help you with that?”

 

Holtz whimpered as Erin scooted back and put her hands on either side of her girlfriend’s bottoms, sliding them down her legs and to the growing pile on the floor. She could see Holtz’s chest stuttering in need. “I kind of like having this power over you,” She teased, touching the inside of Holtz’s calf and tickling up to her knee.

 

“You’ve had this power over me,” Holtz admitted, eyes snapping shut, “Since the day you walked through the door.”

 

Erin’s lips tugged to a wider smile. Though she’d always wanted it, she never had much for power or control in her life. Knowing that she was in control of her destiny, and had the power to consent to a relationship of this magnitude was gratifying. Placing her hands on either side of Holtz’s waist, she leaned down to kiss just below her belly button, licking a line straight down and making her girlfriend stop breathing again. “Fuck,” She heard her whisper and Erin decided it was time to.

 

“Please tell me if there’s something you don’t like,” She made her promise.

 

Holtz dragged an arm over her eyes as Erin’s fingers glided down her sides and over her thighs — where she was already wet and hadn’t even been touched there yet. “I can guarantee there is nothing you could do to me right now that I wouldn’t like. Erin…please?”

 

Moving for just a moment so she could kiss her lips sweetly before diving in, Erin pulled Holtz’s arm away from her face, tucking it behind her head. “Ready?” Receiving a mute nod, she took two slow fingers and ran them along the damp folds between her girlfriend’s thighs. She shuddered in relief bringing her hips up in time with Erin’s torturously slow moving fingers.

 

With the way Erin was half-crouched, half-laying at her waist, all Holtz’s eyes could focus on (when she was able to keep them open for more than half a second) was the four-cross tattoo on the woman’s shoulder. Anneal - heat up, then cool down to relieve stress and make stronger.

 

Well, if that wasn’t just fucking visual poetry for the story that they would write together.

 

She bit her lip as Erin started to circle her fingers and speed up, Holtz holding herself back as long as she could (had she not tensed up, Erin’s first stroke would have done her in). Erin’s lips found her hip, biting the white skin while barely slipping her fingers inside Holtz, who was so overwhelmed and on fire by the magnitude of everything she’d discovered in the brief quarter hour they’d been going at it, that she came undone in a little cry as Erin barely curled into her.

 

Holtz felt Erin’s hair tickling her and realized the physicist was going to keep going — attempt to break laws of her own craft. She tugged her arm and the woman stopped right away, coming up to rest her head against Holtz’s heaving chest, rubbing her upper arm and kissing her shoulder. Holtz kept her eyes shut for another moment as she rode out the waves tossing her lower body back and forth. “Dr. Gilbert,” She finally spoke, eyes glazed over as she kissed above Erin’s ear. “It almost seems like that wasn’t your first time doing that.”

 

With a shit-eating grin that usually belonged to the younger woman, Erin shimmied against her body. “I’m full of surprises tonight.”

 

“Um, understatement of my life.” She let Erin kiss her in hot passion once more before slowing it down a little, biting her lower lip. “Speaking of surprises, I do believe I have one more tattoo to find.”

 

She kissed Erin’s cheek, then tucked an arm around her shoulders to gently roll her to the mattress as Holtz managed to find some coordination in her gelatin limbs to hover on top of her, eyes trailing down the woman’s arms and torso, looking at her sides carefully. With a playful pout, she pushed herself up to sit on her knees, inspecting Erin’s legs, then her feet. Erin snickered as she traced her pinky across the sole of one. “Not there.”

 

“Olly olly oxen free, Erin, where is it, baby girl?”

 

“You’ll find it,” She winked, a mega-watt seductive smile gracing her face. “I have full confidence that you’ll come across it very soon.”

 

Holtz blew air up across her face, letting a blonde curl fly up as she rolled her eyes. “Best get started then.” She rubbed her nose playfully above Erin’s belly button, her hair grazing the underside of her breasts. Erin placed a hand at the nape of Holtz’s hair, giving a little tug and making her moan into an open-mouthed kiss on her chest. “Woman,” She said with mock-agitation, “You’re trying to take me out. I will not be thwarted so easily.”

 

“Sorry,” Erin snickered, “I was just looking for something to hold onto.”

 

“Sure,” Holtz brought her head up to kiss near her mouth, then muttered into her ear, “You’re lucky we’re here and not in my apartment, I can’t handcuff you.”

 

In her continued display of self-confidence under the intense gaze of her girlfriend and now lover, Erin eyed her dresser with a wink. “You could do that here, too, you know.”

 

“Shut up!” She insisted, shaking her head, smile so bright the room was lit up twice what it was with the fairy lights. “You’re my favorite. I love you, Erin. God, it’s a good thing I didn’t know you were so hot…I mean, I knew you were hot, frickin’ look at you, but this…is so sexy and unexpected.”

 

“Are you gonna kiss me or what?” Erin teased, stroking her jawline.

 

“Oh, more than that,” She winked and brought her face down for a sweet, gentle kiss before putting her skills to work — the only ones more refined than her expertise in nuclear engineering.

 

Her lips fell to capture one of Erin’s breasts and finally, Holtz could feel the smugness falling off of her girlfriend in ripples. She fondled her other side, using her tongue to flicker across the top and swirl around a nipple, humming a little buzzing sensation, ready to drive Erin to the same heightened state she’d been in since taking off the older woman’s top. Ensuring to spend ample attention on each side, Holtz pinched sensitive skin between her teeth, hoping to leave little reminders of her love for the morning.

 

She pushed herself up a few inches with a flat palm on the mattress, using the other arm to slide under Erin’s spine and pull her towards her mouth. She noted the long expanse of Erin’s neck as she did so, feeling like a little vampiress, she let go of the nipple between her lips with a little smack, coming up to Erin’s neck and sucking greedily at her pulse point, keeping her held upright and impossibly close.

 

Erin felt like mush already and Holtz hard hardly even started. Draping lazy arms over the engineer’s shoulders, she opened her eyes to see Holtz staring at her body through thick, long eyelashes and dilated pupils, accentuating how primal the whole night was making her feel.

 

Though she was significantly quieter (pretty much always, and in bed was hardly an exception), Erin was starting to feel the heat that Holtz had been describing throughout their first time together. She brought her hips up to meet Holtz’s bare ones, trying to keep from moaning at the contact, winding up letting out a little squeak of a sound.

 

“Don’t keep quiet on my account, princess,” Holtz muttered against her neck, pulling away to see the start of a little bruise forming that Erin would probably chastise her for later. For now though, she kissed the wet spot and then her way back to her scientist’s breasts, running her hands over them in tandem after lowering her back to the pillows and pushing herself up so she was straddling Erin on her knees.

 

Recalling her mission once again she shuffled backwards on them, tucking her thumbs into the waistband of Erin’s black bikini-line underwear, pulling the damp garment away from her flesh, pouting when there was still no tiny tattoo visible along the bones of her hip or anywhere on her pelvis as she assumed it would be. “K-keep looking,” Erin encouraged her, reaching for one of Holtz’s hands and putting it on the inside of her thigh. Smirking, Holtz spread the woman’s legs apart, still coming up empty, but…not really as her senses heightened and she licked her lips subconsciously, making Erin wilt a bit.

 

“Mmm,” She let out a raspy rumble deep in her throat as she lowered herself to kiss Erin’s pubic bone and then pull away for just three tempting seconds before licking a slow line down Erin’s wet clit. Her girlfriend met the motion with a thrust of her hips and Holtz tried to avoid being too haughty as she moved her tongue vertically a few times before sucking on the tender spot and humming as Erin tried not to whine. She felt the brunette tensing.

 

Anneal, Erin, she thought to herself. Lifting one of the woman’s legs over her shoulder, she felt her mouth stop of it’s own accord in surprise. Erin let out the full sound now, though in protest as she sat up a little then realized why Holtz had briefly paused.

 

She’d found the fifth tattoo. An x, similar to her first alchemy tattoo, with ends that curled into themselves, and a circle in the middle, sat directly below her ass on the upmost part of her thigh. She didn’t know the meaning of this symbol either, but the location was hot as fuck. Giving a kiss then nip to it, feeling mission accomplished, Holtz resumed her work, holding onto her leg by curling one arm around it. Erin tried to relax, biting her lip — her cheek, anything to keep her grounded while her girlfriend worked her up below her waist. Though when she felt Holtz’s tongue dip at her entrance, she gasped and sat up, putting a gentle hand on Holtz’s shoulder to signify she wanted the blonde to keep going.

 

Holtz curled he well-trained tongue and slid it into her slowly, deliberately, then pulled out, licking a long line up her clit and back down again, repeating the process while trying to keep Erin from bucking against her.

 

Easing Erin’s leg down and off her, Holtz spread her thighs open just a bit more as her tongue stayed persistent on her clit, but switched to have two fingers inside her instead. Erin groaned at the new pressure, welcoming the change and the new pace as Holtz managed to multitask at flicking her mouth over her most sensitive place and pump in and out of her with her fingers. Again — this was her true calling, all the nuclear specialities be damned. Making Erin Gilbert unravel was going to be her next award-winning venture.

 

Erin was breathing heavier and her hands were moving all over like they did when she was dancing — her own hair, her sides, the sheets — a pillow, reaching for Holtz or pressing down against her eyes.

 

Managing to pick up the pace still, Holtz closed her eyes and moved her head in time with the stroke of her tongue, the dive of her fingers, and then Erin was done for.

 

She whimpered and though Holtz offered her a little relief from the now burning sensation sweeping across her nerves by lifting her tongue and using her mouth to kiss the inside of her thighs instead, she kept her fingers inside, enjoying the spasm if Erin’s walls around them.

 

Her orgasm lasted double the length of Holtz’s and she had almost a full minute to kiss and nurture her before Erin ripped her out and up, draping her sweaty body across her own, trying to catch her breath as she hooked an ankle around Holtz’s.

 

The engineer peppered kiss after kiss across any available space of skin she could reach without moving her body, her shoulders, upper arm, neck, and breasts all receiving tender attention as Erin seemed to find some motor function again. She nuzzled Holtz’s hair with her nose, bringing her hand to drag slowly up and down her back. Holtz kissed the space between her collar bones that dipped into a hollow spot one last time before wondering, “Tell me about that last one?”

 

“It’s to calcine, particularly gold. A restorative in a native tradition I learned about in a woman’s oppression class during my doctoral courses. I had to fill a humanities requirement, and it was probably one of the best classes I ever took. I attended a presentation from a local woman who described the holocaust of her people and how it would forever haunt her…” She closed her eyes and Holtz slid off of her body to lay down next to her so she could observe her as she spoke. “When it was over, everyone was leaving and I hung around, taking my time because I just didn't have the courage to ask what I wanted to.” Holtz ran a hand over Erin’s poem as she continued. “She wound up approaching me. She said she could sense I’d seen things that many in contemporary culture would rebuke. I asked if she’d ever been haunted by manifestations of ghosts of her people. She said yes, but a combination of calcined gold and other herbal properties had vanquished that haunting.”

 

Holtz kissed the tip of her nose then rolled her onto her stomach so she could look at the final tattoo one last time. It was really a beautiful symbol. She wasn’t going to ask about the placement of the tattoo, but thankfully Erin offered, “As nice as the story was, I was hammered after a symposium one night and I’d had that drawn out and saved to my BlackBerry…went to a twenty-four hour tattoo place and emailed it to the guy, and that’s where I evidently wanted it.”

 

Laughing, Holtz touched it one last time before turning Erin back. They both sat up and gave a long stare at one another in the fairy light until they leaned towards one another in a mutual hug and giggle. “That was great, Erin.” She kissed her cheek.

 

The brunette nodded against her shoulder. “I never knew sex could be so much fun — silly, but still so hot. Perfectly everything I love about you. After the last few really awful relationships and one-nighters I had, I decided I didn’t want to have sex again until I found someone who made me feel like I was made of 93% stardust,” She explained, gesturing to her poem. With a bright smile, she kissed Holtz’s lips and stated, “You made me feel like 100% stardust tonight.”

 

Holtz found herself actually blushing and tearing up as she now knew that phrase carried a lot of weight for Erin. Tucking Erin’s left side to her, she pulled the brilliant woman into her hold, tracing the cursive black ink with her pinky, swallowing the lump in her throat before daring to find words. “You’re my sun, and I’ll forever orbit you if you let me, and I’ll always make you feel like stardust so long as I can help it.”

 

Erin nuzzled her bare shoulder and Holtz kissed her temple. “You know, I never got tattoo, as I said, I couldn’t hold still that long and mine wouldn’t have nearly the symbolism like your do; but I did have the privilege of using my drafting skills to mark up some sweet outlines for the guys in our engineering fraternity and my excellent logo for our chapter for Affiliated was tattooed onto at least a dozen people while I was at MIT.”

 

Her girlfriend kissed her back. “I’d let you design one for me,” She said without hesitation.

 

“Yeah?” Holtz grinned wildly, feeling herself blushing all over again. “You’d let me draw something up and have it put on you for the rest of eternity? Even for your ghost self to have when you return to haunt Columbia for their wrongdoings against you?”

 

Erin pushed her shoulder playfully and stood up and out of her hold, taking her hand and leading her to the master bathroom so they could get cleaned up before falling asleep. “I would be honored to have a Holtz original on me forever. Provided you don’t say that I got ‘Holtzmann’ed’ after the artist finishes his work.”

 

Snickering, Holtz traced the anneal tattoo as Erin ran hot water for the shower and pulled two large, fluffy clean towels out of her cabinet. “No guarantees. Now I’m not going to be able to sleep for the next three days while I think of sweet designs for you.”

 

“No rush, Jill,” Erin said with a smile, plugging the drain and pouring her favorite coconut oil into the tub. “Like you said, it’s forever.”

 

“I’m going to make it perfect, I promise.” She winked and settled into the hot water as the basin started to fill, spreading her legs and making room for Erin to lean back against her. She traced the words of her poem that peaked above the water and kissed the nape of her neck. It was amazing — Erin clearly had an understanding about the marvels of the universe. She was a physicist, who believed the truth that they were all made of little bits of stars that had burst billions of year ago. Still, of all those little bits of stars, Erin had chosen her to collide with.

 

The physicist was having similar thoughts, leaning up just a little as Holtz dropped a lazy hand over her shoulder. If there ever was a soul made of flames…She knew, even in their brief time together, but it was solidified after the night’s events, that Holtz would ignite her own soul anytime she needed it.

Chapter Text

“And on days when the world is cruel and unjust to you, I hope you have someone that wraps you up in their arms, runs gentle fingers through your hair, and whispers words full of strength and kindness to you.” — Nikita Gill











“Erin! Your left!” She heard the deep, desperate, loud call from across the room. Dodging a flying specter of iron, she gasped as the wind was knocked out of her upon throwing herself to the floor at her right.

 

“I’m fine!” The ghostbuster managed to communicate as she struggled to live up to her namesake in the too-early hours of a Saturday morning. (None of them were the best conductors of the metaphysical at three am after being pulled from likely just two hours of sleep.) Knowing Holtzmann likely wasn’t going to accept the two syllables, she added, “Keep going, I’ll catch up!”

 

Though she knew it was with hesitant steps, Erin pushed herself onto her palms as Holtz retreated to the room they’d come from to try and follow one of seven ghosts haunting an old complex in Bushwick. The art and literature studio had once been home to a local witchdoctor who’d claimed to be trained in middle eastern healing techniques, who’d finally been caught and in-prisoned in the early twenties after multiple patient deaths. These patients were suddenly hellbent on avenging themselves, attempting to destroy the culture that had replaced the once drab facility.

 

Finally able to breathe normally, Erin held the barrel of her shotgun up and at eye level as the hair on the back of her neck stood up, indicating a ghost somewhere very nearby. A sudden screech had her whirling around and firing a perfect blast, obliterating the aspiration with no need for a trap. Whooping to herself, she slid the gun to the holster on the side of it’s pack. The downside to such a powerful weapon was it needed almost a full half hour to reboot after a single use (Holtz was working on it). Taking the end of her original weapon in hand, she stalked with haste to the room her girlfriend had disappeared into.

 

She heard a struggle and glanced around, spotting a wooden staircase leading to a basement. Charging with as much silence as she could given her gear and desire to swoop in and help, Erin was at Holtz’s side, aiding her in drawing a wicked looking female with long, stringy hair into a trap. Noting the sticky residue all over the floor and then Holtz’s chest (thankfully isolated to the coveralls), she frowned, willing herself to stay slime-free.

 

Erin could feel sweat trickling down her forehead as the two of them wrestled with the ghost, finally forcing it into the trap with a loud grunt from Holtz, who shouldered her gun and paused to put her hands on her knees, nodding her head when Erin asked if she was okay. Explaining she’d taken out one upstairs, Holtz considered, “Let’s figure out where the other two are, if they’ve been at it, we’re probably done.”

 

Radioing for their teammates, she heard an, “All clear on the South side, baby — just wrapped it up.”

 

“Awesome,” Holtz let Erin help her with the trap as they made their way upstairs to deal with the aftermath of a bust. An expert at technology and the actual battle, Holtz left the business end to the more interested ladies in the team. As Erin made way to talk to the owner of the little bookstore, Holtz unzipped her suit, letting it hang at her waist so she wasn’t getting slime all over everything. Abby and Patty had a second trap between them as they joined Erin in the follow-up.

Thankful for a moment alone after an exhausting bust, and clad in one of Erin’s WISC t-shirts in powder blue, she found an interesting looking shelf of books. Selecting several anthologies she knew her girlfriend would love to leaf through, she settled herself into a white, wicker chair in the corner of the front room.

 

It was almost twenty minutes later that Holtz’s reading was interrupted by Erin and the store owner. “Are you ready to head home?” She asked with a sweet smile.

 

Holtz nodded, about to hand the books to the manager, who shook her head. “If you’re interested, keep them. Anytime you’re looking for something new to read, stop in and I’ll hook you ladies up.”

 

Thanking her and receiving thanks in return for the service they’d done, Holtz tucked the three books, one hardcover and two paperback, under her arm. She slid into the passenger seat, indicating one of the very rare occasions she was too tired to drive. No one objected, though, and Patty contentedly took the driver’s place, getting them all back to the firehouse without whiplash.

 

They unloaded in likely record speed, all eager to get back to their beds and thankful it was a Saturday and they had given themselves weekends off, sans-busting emergencies.

 

Holtz tugged on the shiny athletic pants Erin had forced her to put on before leaving the house in her discombobulated two-am state, frowning at the way the synthetic material felt against her legs. Toeing on a pair of old boots that she wouldn’t bother to tie, Holtz held her books in her hands, zombie-like as she waited for Erin to step into her flannel pj bottoms and grab her keys before stepping into the crisp spring air and hailing the first cab that approached the street.

 

Silently settling in, they rode the short mile and a half to Erin’s apartment (though it was as good as theirs — Holtz’s lease had been up a month prior and given she could actually count the number of times she’d been home in a month on one hand, she’d officially moved herself to the upstairs barracks of the firehouse, unofficially into Erin’s home. Her clothes were there for the most part, and aside from her personal inventions and a box of affects from her formative years of life, Holtz didn’t require much else).

 

The brunette managed to open the door with a finesse that sleepy Holtz lacked when she was in such a state. Though she could stay awake for hours (days) working on an invention, once she started a REM cycle, her body desperately needed to finish it.

 

The black Adidas pants were on the floor the moment that Erin closed the door. Her shirt was pulled off by the time her favorite scientist could secure the lock, making her chuckle as she followed the tired engineer down the hall to bed, picking up the clothes as she went, followed by Holtz’s new books, which she set on the coffee table. Holtz clapped in a secret rhythm as she entered the bedroom, activating the fairy lights which she’d wired around the room’s ceiling so that no cords were dangling, underneath a layer of blue and purple tulle that she’d had Patty’s help in putting up one afternoon while Abby entertained Erin. The room’s ceiling was a glittering galaxy in the dark, and Erin adored it, especially the effort that went into the project.

 

Holtz was on top of the mattress, whining as she waited for Erin to finish up from where she’d stepped into the bathroom. After washing her face and neck as she’d felt too sweaty upon leaving the bust, Erin snuggled under the blankets, covering Holtz in the thinnest one that was under the comforter which only she used most nights, she mumbled when the light fabric hit her legs. “Love you, baby girl.”

 

Erin kissed the top of her head, “Thanks for saving my skin tonight. I love you, too.”

 

Holtz was probably already asleep as Erin managed to utter the words in return. Smiling, she pushed Holtz’s messy locks off her forehead and back, kissing her one last time before drifting off herself.

 

X

 

Erin knew Holtzmann was already awake when there was an arm loose on her waist; well, that and the fingers running just through the ends if her hair, trying to let her stay asleep. Stretching up and back she met Holtz in a sleepy gaze, receiving a kiss between her eyes. Moaning she rolled herself onto her belly and pushed off the mattress, scurrying to the bathroom to brush her teeth.

 

Returning to their cozy cocoon a few minutes later, she found Holtz propped up against the headboard, the ceiling lights off with sunlight pouring through the slits of her bedroom blinds. “Morning, sweetheart,” She said as she flopped ungracefully back to the bed. Dragging a hand over the top of Holtz’s bare thigh, she smirked finding goosebumps there before she’d even been touched. Noting her girlfriend wasn’t completely naked, she teased, “Were you actually a little chilly, Jilly?” Receiving a palm on her face pushing her playfully away, Erin laughed and nuzzled into the hand, kissing two splayed fingers. “Love you.”

 

Suddenly, Holtz was curled around her and kissing the back of her neck, hair swept into a messy bun, minty breath and t-shirt meaning she’d been up, for probably for a good hour already. Erin glanced at the time, her alarm only reading eight thirty; the bust had really messed up Holtz’s sleep cycle.

 

“Are you tired?” She asked, dragging a hand over the top of her scalp, trying to smooth the bumps of hair Holtz hadn’t bothered to brush before tying back.

 

“Mhm,” She grumbled, lips moving just slightly to go from kissing to sucking on Erin’s neck, making her sigh contently.

 

Erin dragged a hand up Holtz’s shirt, tracing her fingernails along her spine, earning a nip from her teeth against her sensitive skin. Wanting more of Holtz, she bent her head at the awkward angle, brushing their noses together until Holtz came up to match their lips in a long kiss. 

 

Prepared to shuck Holtz’s shirt and spend the morning fondling her and dragging her fingers in and out of her beautiful body, Erin paused the movement of her hands as a loud grumble passed through the room. Holtz pulled away with a sheepish expression, then giggled as her stomach growled again.

 

“Are you, ah, little hungry there, babe?”

 

She nodded and sat up, muttering an apology for her gut so rudely interrupting their lazy wakeup.

 

“What can I make for you?” Erin asked sweetly, massaging Holtz’s legs as she brought herself vertical as well.

 

As she squeezed the younger woman’s thighs, she sighed, eyes closing at the pressure. “Think it’s my turn to cook.”

 

“We can do it together,” The physicist responded, giving a final squeeze then a pat, taking her girlfriend’s hand and leading them to the small kitchen of the apartment. Holtz took out the eggs while Erin pressed start on the coffee machine and found a container of vegetables in the freezer which had been pre-cut and measured out in the exact quantity they liked. There was something magical about silent, mutual understanding of a lifetime couple passing through them as they apparently decided to make omelets.

 

Holtz cracked the eggs while Erin defrosted the vegetables, pouring a little olive oil into a frying pan, which sizzled when she took the tupperware from the microwave and dumped the veggies into it. Using a spatula, she moved them around, letting them brown up a little on each side before scraping them back to their previous home so Holtz could dump the now all-yellow mixture of eggs in. Putting a few slices of bread in the toaster, setting the preserves on the small kitchen island and taking out two plates and utensils, Erin came to stand back behind Holtz, wrapping the smaller woman in a hug as she checked the bottom side of the egg mixture, deciding it needed another minute before being flipped.

 

She leaned her weight back just sightly, turning a bit for a proper kiss to Erin’s lips, touching their foreheads together in a little moan. Wanting to make her giggle, she asked in a high pitched, nasaly voice, “Will you read one of the books I got last night with me this morning?”

 

Erin laughed as anticipated, pecking her temple before letting go and taking the toast out as it popped. Holtz flipped the egg with ease and the physicist responded, “I was going to suggest the same thing,” She winked, taking out two mugs and preparing their coffee the way they liked as Holtz sprinkled shredded cheese over half the egg and added the vegetables back to the pan.

 

Hardly two minutes later, they were seated as Holtz divided the omelet between their two plates and Erin spread the jam over the bread. Sharing a quick kiss before diving in, they ate against the quiet backdrop of the morning.

 

“I wanna go back to that store sometime,” The blonde said after a mouthful of egg. “When I’m trying not to light thousands of pages on fire fighting a stubborn spectral phantom into a box.”

 

“Melanie, the owner — she said that they opened in the fall, but business had just about quadrupled in the last two months as the weather has improved. I imagine the sudden onslaught of customers in their space brought out the aggression.”

 

Nodding at the probability, Holtz devoured the remainder of her breakfast, sighing contently as Erin finished at about half her speed. Taking the extra time to rinse off the dishes they’d cooked with and her own, she loaded them into the dishwasher and wiping down the counter.

 

After Erin tucked hers away and Holtz put on a pair of pants and topped off their coffee, the two were curled up in the perfectly comfortable, pillow-filled space of Erin’s bay window.

 

Holtz had her head tucked against the taller woman’s shoulder, their legs tangled together under a thin afghan. Erin opened the poetry book to where Holtz had (to her chagrin) dog-eared the page. Offering a sheepish look, the engineer squeezed her girlfriend’s arm, indicating she wanted her to read first.

 

The whimsical reading tone of Erin’s sent a shiver up Holtz’s spine as she started, her voice pure magic as she brought the words to life.

 

“…You are a thing both beautiful and terrible, and you deserve someone who treats you like the moon and can love the dark side of your soul, too…”

 

She read on, taking her turn long and slow, her cadence with poetry it’s own lullaby. Holtz found her lips pulling up and down at the same time and she nuzzled her forehead into Erin’s chest, receiving a long, slow kiss above her ear. “I think this book is nothing but truth. Good pick, Holtz.”

 

“It’s like a bible for lesbians who believe in science.”

 

Erin snorted and hit her playfully with the book spine before turning it over to Holtz, who cleared her throat and did her best to get through a page. She hated the way she sounded reading out loud, but Erin liked it and that was all that mattered.

 

“…And on days when the world is cruel and unjust to you, I hope you have someone that wraps you up in their arms, runs gentle fingers through your hair, and whispers words full of strength and kindness to you.” She shifted to rest her head between Erin’s breasts and her girlfriend’s chin rested atop her crown and arms did so as the wishful poem suggested.

After reading on, Holtz put the book face down on the padded space next to her, turning ever slightly so she could hook one arm around Erin’s waist. “You’re the frickin’ best. Perfect. Everything this author describes. I love you so much.”

 

Making a little noise of appreciation, Erin squeezed her torso. Of all the things she imagined dating Holtz would be like in the beginning, a hopeless romantic wasn’t one of them. She’d figured shameless flirt would be as good as it would get. The thought of being curled up under a blanket, stealing coffee-flavored kisses and reading poetry? Outlandish. But it was everything Erin had ever wanted in a relationship, and she loved that Holtz not only humored her stereotypically girly desires, but initiated them just as often. Though science was her true love, Erin enjoyed art; she and Abby had taken several studio drawing classes at UofM. Erin was not one to complain about the liberal arts requirements of literature and prose.

 

Her current girlfriend was more than happy to indulge this, and so many other aspects to conventional romance she wouldn’t’ve anticipated. She and Holtz spent their non-working evenings experimenting with recipes that Erin had pinned and never anticipating trying. Their date nights were cheesy movies, exploring the city’s wide parks, shopping at farmer’s markets, and visiting museums, galleries, or speakers; anything that had their brains firing a million miles a minute and give them something to talk about over dinner. Their nights were full of classic television shows, lazy soaks in the tub, or long — passionate, silly, unyielding sex.

 

“Your turn?” Holtz captured her from the daydreamed state and Erin picked up the book and flipped the page, taking a much longer turn.

 

“…You are unexplored, unusual, and frighteningly beautiful. And only few will understand how to love you, without breaking you, and making you dangerous…Shit, Jill.”

 

Giggling at the profanity falling from the lips of someone who’d just recited such eloquent poetry, Holtz turned to kiss them before resuming her position, turning the page to a longer poem.

 

“The universe wove you from a constellation, just so, every atom, every fibre in you comes from a different star. Together, you are bound by stardust although spectacularly created from the energy of the universe itself. And that, my darling, is the poetry of physics, the poetry of you.”

 

There was silence resounding as they both let the words sink into their souls. It was Erin who moved first, placing the book on the bench again, closing it this time. She pulled the blanket from their lap, then pulled Holtz up with her, taking her hand and leading her to the bedroom.

 

She moaned as she grabbed her girlfriend by the small of her back, bringing their bodies close, her free hand coming up to untwist her lover’s ponytail and grip the blonde tendrils that escaped, holding them tight as she pulled up in the way Holtz liked, moving her lips to her neck, just below her earlobe.

 

Holtz whined and had her hands on Erin’s shoulders, letting out a high pitch and a near whinny as her knees buckled at the sensation which Erin had long learned drove her fucking wild. Feeling a chemical surge in her brain, she found the ability to move from her stunned state.

 

She shivered and focused, tilting her head so Erin’s teeth had to lighten up from nibbling at her tender flesh. With a palm positioning her favorite scientist’s cheek, she licked a line along her bottom lip, trying to find entrance, winding up groaning again when Erin played dirty and won a not-even-started game of dominance between them.

 

Happy to let her, Holtz dropped her hand so her fingers curled around one of Erin’s nipples through her shirt, pinching and making her growl, her hips grinding against Holtz’s. Her body was electric and she was too charged not to act on all the energy, unable to take any until she released what she needed onto the woman she loved.

 

There was nothing kinkier than when Erin was topping, in Holtz’s mind (except of course, when Erin was doing something exceptionally kicking while topping). The confidence she radiated while fully in charge of her sexual desire was intoxicating, and Holtz wanted all of it. Four months of intense, consuming sex had not brought one dull moment between their intimacy.

 

Lips still connected, Holtz found the hand in her hair lightening up and gliding down past the other to squeeze her ass, prompting Holtz’s body to press tighter against her mouth. The action caused dual moans and the blonde finally had a moment to take charge as she slipped her tongue against Erin’s, grazing her teeth before pulling her bottom lip between her own, giving a little bite.

 

Sighing a growl, the taller woman used her height to take control back, tilting up so that Holtz would have to stand on her tip toes to reach her mouth.

 

Erin lightened her grip on her waist so that she could, with little grace, shove Holtz’s bottoms to the floor. The older of them backed her up so Holtz’s knees hit the mattress and she dutifully scooted back; only to find herself stopped when she tried to use her elbows to go up higher so her legs weren’t dangling off the edge —

 

Oh.

 

Her girlfriend dragged her hands, nails grazing, down Holtz’s thighs until they rested on her kneecaps, spreading her legs apart and kneeling on the floor.

 

Fuck.

 

In anticipation, Holtz stuttered a breath, wanting to engrain the picture of Erin in the position as her mind’s screensaver for any moments of inactivity later in life.

 

The hair pulling and subsequent neck sucking had her more than ready for Erin’s fingers which teased at her entrance while her tongue took a lap at her folds, making her pitch in a tone she almost never used.

 

“Erin,” She sighed her name, leaning back further on the bed, her hips rising as she felt her clit captive between Erin’s lips. “Ahh! Er, oh my god—!”

 

In that moment, there could have been a second big bang to shoot the universe into disorder and chaos, Erin’s mouth moving against her was sending stars into a rapid death and dust startling down on the earth, raining on Holtz in particular. Panting far too soon into the brief moment of stimulation, Holtz tried to sit up a little wanting to watch. She couldn’t look for more than a moment, as it was staring into that blinding star pouring light along her pale legs to see Erin, eyes closed, working her up in such a way.

 

A firm lick into a circle, then two fingers sliding inside her had Holtz twisting her shirt between her fingers, briefly considering the possibility of death by pleasure due to an extreme overproduction of dopamine.

 

“Baby — a little…yeah…” She didn’t even need to say faster, harder, as Erin complied with her request before it could be sent, drawing fingers in and out and with more pressure, curling up and back as her tongue, too, sped up it’s flicker.

 

With no conscious thoughts left, Holtz gasped as she started to come, orgasming beautifully around Erin’s fingers, unable to stand her tongue dancing any longer, but not willing to push her off as the physicist had perfected the science of dragging out Holtz’s pleasure for as long as humanly possible.

 

It was well over a full minute of raw biological reaction to Erin’s adoration to her before Holtz started to return from her journey through time and space. She sat up as Erin finally pulled her face away, resting her damp cheek over Holtz’s thigh, her expression both pleased with herself and pure beauty at how much she loved the woman whom she’d driven to the depths of her tolerance for heat.

 

Holtz looked like she’d been to the edge of the galaxy and back, her eyes mere slits, though pupils completely dilated. Her cheeks as fiery red as the beam of a proton gun, a trickle of sweat evident on her forehead and sticky, tangled hair standing up in all directions.

 

“I’m writing a goddamn poetry book about you,” Holtz said, the last word an unexpected sob as she curled her back to touch her forehead to Erin’s. She kissed her eyebrow, her temple, her cheek, and finally her lips. “I love you so much,” She whispered, letting Erin kiss the tears of the happiest she’d ever been away.

 

Erin couldn’t respond or she’d melt down herself. Staying on her knees, she wrapped her arms around Holtz’s waist, embracing her with everything she could convey. After a few minutes of indulging in the mystical titillation, Holtz sat up and pulled Erin gently at the upper arms, wanting her on the edge of the bed. Once they were seated beside one another, Holtz peeled Erin’s shirt off, humming as her fingers grazed the cursive writing of her tattoo.

 

Erin’s eyes grew heavy-lidded at the simple touch and Holtz giggled as she motioned for her to scoot up. Once Erin was laying at the head of the mattress, her girlfriend tugged her pajama pants and underwear off, laying her body parallel with the thin one of the scientist.

 

She kept her fingers dancing along her tattoo, tracing the words, pressing her lips over the phrase ninety-three percent stardust, recalling how Erin regularly reminded her that Holtz alone could bring that number to one hundred.

 

Kissing a breast, Holtz drew patterns of swirled star-linked universes all over Erin’s torso with the edge of her fingernails, imagining them adding new ink to her girlfriend’s collection. She’d spent the last four months trying to draft a design for one, with success still seeming far off in the future. As she listened to the splutter-like breath of the older woman, she wished for inspiration to come to her so that her mark on Erin’s body would be a permanent reminder of how much she loved her.

 

Sliding down, she kissed the constellation on Erin’s right hip, then draped herself over to the left side of her body, securing her mouth around the heart-like symbol on her thigh. She dragged her fingertips along the inside of the space as well, earning a breath of bliss as she crawled slowly along slick skin. Erin brought a palm to the back of Holtz’s head, prompting Holtz to pause in shocked awe of the dangerously blue gaze locked upon her.

 

The lusty look Erin gave her in want could have been weaponized. It certainly had the power to prompt her undoing. She wanted to take that look and put it in a locket and wear it around her neck.

 

Instead, she gave a little bite to Erin’s thigh before pausing to jump up and scramble to the top drawer of the tall white-oak dresser, putting a little blue object in her hand before returning to her girlfriend.

 

Erin’s expression had changed from anticipatory to a joyful eager as she observed Holtz straddle her thighs and turn the four-inch cylinder in her palms over and on, gliding it to her center where the buzzing sent Erin’s neck rolling and her head lulling against the pillows. She sighed and Holtz kept the vibrater in place, kissing her lips long and hard as she used her other hand to stroke Erin’s ribs, fondle a breast, and trace her tattoo in sequence.

 

Erin’s noises were little quips of appreciation as Holtz moved the small yet mighty machine up and down along her clit, making her thighs twitch and knees bend up and back as she relished the hum of the toy. Taking her free hand from pinching a nipple, Holtz leaned back and pressed the end of the vibrater into Erin’s entrance, carefully manipulating it so the other end was still grazing her swollen nub while the auburn haired woman let out a gasp.

 

Grinding herself along Erin’s thigh, she groaned while sliding the vibrater further inside and brought her lips down along her buzzing center, taking all of twenty seconds before her girlfriend came undone.

 

As Erin’s orgasm hit, Holtz hastily manipulated herself so she had the motion of the blue metallic against herself, groaning as she laid across Erin’s body and shared the vibration with her.

 

Seeing stars was a cliche they embodied every time they made love and as Erin’s hot lips found Holtz’s, they were produced again and again, sparkling over the two of them more brilliantly than the skies the poetry they shared could ever describe.

 

X

 

Erin hummed to herself as she carried a plate with Holtz-approved vegetables, child-inspired potatoes and chicken, along with a forty-eight ounce Monster up the stairs to the lab. The entire team had been banned from the second floor for the majority of the following Thursday when Holtz had positioned herself at her six foot wide drafting table at eight am, seven hours previous. As much as the engineer loved attention and walking her fellow ghostbusters through every nano thought or dance that came into her mind or body, drafting was different. While most of her inventions happened on the spot, larger ones had to be blueprinted and it required all of her concentration. There was also a lot of swearing and self-decrepitating talk that went into the process with the half-millimeter slip of a compass or miscalculating an angle on a protractor by a single degree. As go with the flow was her very blood, planning things out, even her own creations, was a struggle.

 

Stepping into the room, a loud “Mother fuck!” reverberated off the walls followed by clattering plastic. Erin winced, wondering if she should back out and pretend she hadn’t heard that. “Too late, baby cakes! I know you’re there, I can hear you caring.”

 

With a snort, Erin stepped into the generally well-organized lab, trying not to let her eyes betray her calm exterior at the sight of balled up paper, broken pencils, and a few drawing tools that had evidently betrayed her girlfriend over the course of the day, were strewn on the floor - counters, wherever they’d landed.

 

Holtz was at the inclined table in the corner of the south wall, head in her hands as she dropped her guard enough for Erin to approach. She was a true mess as well, having shed the outer layers of her outfit from the morning, which were in a heap under the desk. She was left in a pair of cropped linen, beige and blue striped pants and a grey t-shirt that she’d cut the sides up and tied together just at the bottom corners, featuring a realistic photo of the Nyan Cat. Her hair, usually parted over her left side, was all over her head on top, half pulled out of it’s bun underneath, which featured a charcoal pencil sticking out of it. She was a disaster. “Dr. Gilbert, I need a stiffer drink than that. But thank you. Sorry I’m an asshole right now.”

 

She cracked open the energy drink, downing almost half of it in four swift chugs. Her face softened when she saw what the physicist had brought her to eat — dino nuggets and smiley face tater tots — she looked up, the flare of frustration in her eyes replaced with tender graciousness. She tried to hide her smile as she took a poorly-shaped excuse for a Brachiosaurus between her thumb and forefinger, biting off it’s head with a screeching sound and dipping it in the little squirt of ketchup on the plate, giving a dramatic sob at the sight of the bleeding dinosaur. “My favorite sauropod!”

 

Erin patted her shoulder. “You’ve been up here alone too long. Eat up, okay? You’ll feel better.”

 

“Yes, ma’am,” She said, biting a happy potato in half. “Gimmie like…” Eyeing her watch, she sighed, “Two more hours? Drag me away kicking and screaming if I try to refuse.” Nodding to the ultra-late lunch she added, “Thank you, though. Seriously. God, love ya.” She lifted her glasses from the librarian-inspired chain around her neck, perching the tiny spectacles, the only prescription pair she owned for far-sightedness that she almost never wore, on the edge of her nose as she leaned back, observing her work again.

 

Excusing herself from the lab, Erin returned to the ground floor, blowing air so her bangs flew up a little as she sat back at her desk, the anticipatory gazes from her coworkers on her. Patty groaned, “It’s Vietnam up there, isn’t it?”

 

“Minus the Agent Orange, pretty much. I watched her start eating though, so maybe she’ll be less moody when I make her leave.”

 

Abby grunted from sorting through a pile of mail from where she sat on the edge of Kevin’s desk. “I hate drafting day. I’m glad she usually just…does. Imagine if this was all the time? Yikes. That lab would actually be more explosive if she spent more time planning and less time testing out nuclear equipment.”

 

Erin chuckled, tapping a pen on the corner of her journal, which was marked up to hell as she attempted to quantify data from a Stanford study into something useful for them, with little to prove for a day of intense mathematical equations and researching in their hefty collection of textbooks.

 

She adjusted the long, green tunic top over the skinny jeans she was learning to sport, letting out another dramatic sigh as she considered what an evening with a tense, frustrated Holtzmann was going to look like. Kevin spoke randomly, “Maybe Holtzmann should take an art class.”

 

At the declaration, the three women in the room burst out laughing, each of them having a different picture in mind of their crazy munitions expert in some sort of structured drawing course. Erin actually had tears coming out of her eyes as she considered it, a strong vision of Holtz drawing crude, nude models on massive canvases.

 

“Kevin, don’t ever let anyone tell you that you’re not a funny guy,” Abby said as she settled down, ruffling his hair and turning the Rubix cube on his desk a notch before strutting to Erin, pulling up a stool at her desk. “Where’we at, ghost girl?”

 

True to her word, Erin went upstairs to retrieve her girlfriend at exactly five o’clock, pleased to see the papers off the floor and Holtz finishing putting her drafting tools away. She had several long pieces of parchment rolled up in a neat row on her table, and at her grey blazer and army boots back on.

 

“Success?”

 

Holtz glanced up, offering Erin a shrug, though her tone was a little lighter. “Not to a satisfactory extent, darling. But — still, my sincerest apologies for my egregious behavior today.”

 

Erin observed as she tucked the last of the pencils into their color-coded jars before motioning for Holtz to sit on the stool, drawing pieces of her unruly locks back into place, rescuing her bun with the bobby pins. “Do you want to cook something tonight or go out to eat?”

 

“Takeout?” She suggested, her voice quiet as she leaned her face forward between Erin’s breasts muttering, “I just wanna eat something salty then have you hold me…” Her voice shifted into a squeaky one, “And tell me I’m pretty.”

 

Squeezing her shoulder Erin assured her, “So long as you don’t use that voice. C’mon, let’s get Chipotle.”

 

“Oh, god you are the woman of my dreams,” Holtz dramatically cried as she chased Erin down the stairs, pausing to kiss Patty and Abby’s cheeks goodbye and wave them off with a cheeky smile. The two women stared in disbelief that the same Holtzmann who’d been screaming and throwing things all day was leaving the firehouse.

 

“Careful,” Abby hissed to Patty so Erin could hear, “I think she’s a witch.”

 

“No, that’s not a spell,” The lanky one said sticking out her tongue, “It’s just my natural charm and seductive nature.”

 

As the other two burst out laughing, Erin tucked her bag over her shoulder, offering them her middle finger in goodbye.

 

Holtzmann had her phone out, watching a little car moving on the screen as they waited for Lyft. “I wanna watch the Munsters and take my pants off,” She said absently, staring with tired eyes at the app.

 

Erin put an arm around her shoulders, drawing her in to lean against her taller frame. “I think you need to try falling asleep early tonight.”

 

“Yes, mom,” Holtz blew a raspberry as a black Hyundai rolled up, a familiar pink sticker on the windshield. They crawled into the back seat, the driver confirming they were the band formerly known as the Conductors of the Metaphysical, asking a few non-invasive questions about their work that Erin didn't mind answering.

 

After an hour, they were sitting on the floor of the coffee table, eating — well, Holtz was a human shovel, Erin was eating, with the pre-determined Munsters playing on TV. As she finished, the engineer was essentially a zombie, kicking her pants off and laying across the couch with a blank look.

 

Erin moved around their living space, doing a load of laundry, getting the coffee pot ready for the morning, and spending a little time to herself in the spare office/workshop room, sending an email to her mom and puttering around the internet.

 

When she returned ninety minutes later to find Holtz in the same spot, she crouched down in front of her, obstructing the view of the television, earning a grunt. “Easy there, Herman,” She teased, running a hand through the curly side of Holtz’s hair. “How about heading to bed?”

 

Holtz closed her eyes, not wanting to make contact with Erin’s at the moment. “Too cranky to sleep.”

 

“Holtz,” Erin sighed, rubbing her back. “I’m sorry you couldn't get your ideas out on paper, but —“

 

“That’s just it!” She whined, rolling onto her back and flashing violent blue eyes open to stare up at the ceiling. “I should be better at this!”

 

“Whoa,” Erin blinked, turning around to power the TV off so she didn’t have to hear the laugh track in the background anymore. Adjusting so she was on her knees, she slipped a hand under the bottom of the engineer’s shirt, rubbing the skin over her belly with purpose. “Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re a genius; I don’t think there’s ever been more than a handful of people on Earth who can science the way you do.”

 

“Science isn’t a verb,” She mumbled.

 

Ignoring the comment, Erin explained herself, “Most people need a blueprint to bring anything to life. Most days, you do it with just instinct. That’s so much more impressive, Jill.”

 

At the mention of her first name, Holtz crinkled her nose and turned to stare at the woman beside her. “I really just want to draw something beautiful.”

 

Erin got a little lost in her train of thought as she realized whatever Holtz was bothered by probably wasn’t completely related to her drafting disaster. Dragging her hand up, she cupped a breast through the thin material of the sports bra Holtz had on, earning a pitched breath. “Everything you do has beauty in it, Holtz, whether or not you can see it. I love you and all your beautiful creations.”

 

“My poetry babe,” She responded quietly, then the engineer swallowed hard, giving a little shrug. “I think you’re right, maybe I should just sleep it off.”

 

Pulling her hand away and not revealing any sort of disappointment, Erin kissed her girlfriend’s eyebrow and shifted a little on her knees, still on the floor while Holtz rolled over to sit up. The blonde was about to sully off when she paused, leaning down to put hands on either of Erin’s shoulders. “I’m sorry. I hate getting stuck in my head like this. Thank you for trying to help, though.”

 

Smiling, Erin gave a single nod and patted Holtz’s hands as her eyes skated to the wall clock above the sofa. “I’m going to watch The Bachelorette before joining you,” She winked and Holtz rolled her eyes with a dramatic sigh — she just couldn’t break Erin of the awful reality show.

 

Shuffling across the beige runner that covered the wooden floorboard, Holtz maneuvered herself like the undead, brushing her teeth, unpinning her hair and stepping out of her clothes with no thought process. It wasn’t until she switched off the lamp on Erin’s nightstand side of the bed and clapped on the fairy lights that she sighed, realizing she had been an insufferable bitch all day and couldn’t even manage a good night kiss? Unacceptable.

 

Stepping back into the living room with just her underwear on, Holtzmann made Erin giggle as the older woman could only stare, dropping the remote. Her girlfriend crawled across the cushion to nuzzle her nose against Erin’s shoulder, then kissing the sweater-covered skin. “I love you.”

 

Erin ruffled her hair and gently cupped her chin, bringing it up for a long, sweet kiss. “I love you too. Tomorrow, you’ll create something as beautiful as you expect it to be, I just know it.”

 

X

 

Holtzmann let out a dramatic moan and squeak with a long stretch as she rolled to her side, huffing on top of all the other noise, before trying to pull Erin’s body to hers. Feeling around blindly, she frowned upon realizing she was in bed alone. With another protesting noise, she blinked an eye for the time, which forced it to open all the way to examine if it was accurate.

 

“Nine fifty? Fucking…what?” She sat up, fists rubbing along her face. “Erin?” She called, frowning deeper when there was no response. “Babe?”

 

About to yell dramatically until she received some attention, she noted a small piece of notebook paper that had been folded into a heart. Feeling a little swell of joy at the sight, Holtz opened it gingerly. “Good morning, sunshine — you slept through the three alarms it took me to pry myself out of bed. The smell of eggs and coffee, and my kisses couldn’t seem to convince you to get up either. I told the girls that you would be in late, or take the whole day off because you deserve it. Send me a message when you’re up and what your plan is.”

 

She rubbed her finger over the neat loops of Erin’s writing then pulled herself out from under the thin sheet to tug on a tank top and pad to the kitchen, sending her girlfriend a kissing emoji and a heart, followed by, ‘I think I’m actually going to play hooky today. Pick you up at 4?’ A minute later, she received a little rainbow emoji with the comment, ‘Congratulations on almost 12 hours of sleep. 4 sounds perfect. Have a good Holtzday.’

 

Glancing at the calendar on the freezer door, she noted it was actually Friday and by skipping work, Holtzmann would have her first three day weekend in…well, she wasn’t sure how long, but based on her four-year-old level tantrum the day before, it was probably much needed.

 

Opening the fridge, Holtz felt her heart swell a little at the sight of a plate of scrambled eggs and sausage patties wrapped up for her. Squeaking, she pulled off the plastic wrap and stuck it in the microwave for forty seconds, happily burning her tongue when she didn’t wait for it to cool or bother with a fork as she shoveled the eggy goodness into her mouth. Skipping coffee for a can of Rockstar, she loaded the plate into the dishwasher after demolishing the food, then washed her hands of the grease before taking her energy drink into the spare room.

 

Humming, then shaking her head, smiling at nothing, she let out a long whistle as she stood at Erin’s computer, typing in the password and pulling up Spotify. “Aww, yeah,” She giggled as a pop mashup from 2009 playlist greeted her.

 

Tossing herself onto the spinning stool at the small IKEA table Erin had to divide their two workstations in half, she bobbed her head to the music while opening a large portfolio of what her girlfriend thought were old draft concepts. Pulling out a dozen smooth, barely-opaque drawing papers, she stuck them up to the large magnetic whiteboard, using the radioactive symbol magnets along the top. Nearly a hundred ancient, tribal, and scientific symbols were sketched across them, each with explanations of their meaning in her rushed scrawl. Pulling a mason jar of expensive colored pencils down from a shelf behind her, she opened a spiral bound sketch book, flipping through the first twenty or so pages of primitive design ideas for the tattoo she’d promised her girlfriend months prior. Though she doubted Erin even remembered Holtz’s vow to create something for her, the scientist didn’t make false assurances to the people she loved.

 

Half her meltdown the day prior was inspired by the failure she was feeling in not having come up with a concept that she felt would celebrate Erin’s accomplishments enough to stain her skin forever. Though she was good at it (she knew), drafting was not her specialty and the inability to create gorgeous lines as easily as she could bend the laws of nature for a nuclear reactor was incredibly frustrating. After having been haunted by her existing tattoos during the intense sex with her girlfriend the Saturday before, Holtz vowed to herself she’d come up with something by the next week.

 

Clicking her tongue against the roof of her mouth, Holtz considered where she’d last paused in what was usually late night designing, taking a compass and stencil from a small toolbox and starting work on the intricate illustration she’d been floundering with.

 

Between spiraling a purple pencil through dark ink lines and shading with a light blue, she took sips of the guarana-laced beverage and tapped her pricey pencils against the surface of the table, singing various pieces of pop songs, taking intermediate breaks to shimmy her arms up and do half-dab moves from side to side.

 

After several small drawings she was somewhat pleased with, Holtz took a few victory spins around her stool before removing a thickly bound book on alchemy from Erin’s shelf, examining two of the symbols from her many posted ones in closer detail. Frowning and wishing she had her goggles with micro-magnifier, she shuffled to the bedroom, taking the tiny pair of spectacles she’d had on the day before to pull in as many intricate details from the complicated, old-world science.

 

“Use your muscle, carve it out, work it, hustle,” She sang to herself, then turned her attention back to the thick paper and used a magenta felt-tipped marker to plot out the next step in design. Taking her attention from drawing to research and back, she realized she didn’t quite have enough pieces of information to complete the last bit of her exquisite puzzle. Biting her lip, she made a few phone calls, then returned to her attempts at ancient science and modern art exploding into one epic mark for Erin.

 

Hours later, she tilted her head, smirking at the last illustration that she’d pulled together from a variety of her sources, nodding to herself before glancing at the time on the desktop, giving a little whirling noise as it was already a little after three in the afternoon. “Jinkies,” She mumbled, hastily taking down her inspiration pieces and stuffing them back in the portfolio, clearing the clutter from the surface of the table and sliding the book back onto the shelf.

 

Scurrying to the bedroom, she pulled on a pair of paisley corduroy pants with tan, maroon, and periwinkle marks covering them (where she’d even found such a monstrosity that only Holtzmann could wear without looking like a complete doofus, the world would never know). Buttoning a light blue top from the bottom to collar, rolling the sleeves, and sliding on a dark colored vest over it with a little neck tie. She toed on a pair of loafers, sped through her hair and tugged on thick-rimmed yellow glasses to make it look like she’d been pulled together and productive all day.

 

Locating her rainbow-animal-sunglasses-pizza-meme themed backpack, she stuffed in the sketchbook, two of the poetry books from the weekend prior, a cream shift dress with a navy blazer for Erin (neatly folded) with matching shoes, the blonde zipped it all up and took the wad of keys with their now-trademarked Ghostbuster symbol keychain on it, locking up the apartment and hailing a cab.

 

She arrived at Headquarters at almost exactly four o’clock, finding Patty and Abby doubled over in intense laughter while Erin stood flushed in the middle of the first floor. Almost wondering if she wanted to know what it was all about, the engineer approached her blushing girlfriend who brightened at the sight of her, running a little dramatically in her white Keds, wrapping herself up in Holtz’s hug. “Save me from the bullies, Holtz!”

 

“Holtzy! Don’t let her fool you, baby! She’s been a rude lil’ snippy thing all damn day. Abby just called her out on not gettin’ some of your crabby ass last night and now she all huffy. Make sure you take care’a your girl this weekend, you understand me? Ya’ll both better be in a better mood come Monday, so help all of us.”

 

Holtz couldn’t help her chuckle as she rubbed Erin’s shoulders and pulled her back, trying not to let heat crawl up her own cheeks as the physicist visibly checked her out. “I like your pants,” She murmured quietly, though not enough of a whisper to stop Abby’s comment.

 

“Bet you’d like ‘em better on your floor.”

 

“They clash with the rug, but that’s a great place for ‘em,” Holtz winked and Abby gave her a teasing scowl.

 

“How was Holtzmann’s Day Off?” Patty asked, coming closer to tease her friend.

 

“Productive.” She kissed the top of Erin’s head as her girlfriend still clung to her. “I think you’ll be highly impressed with the improvements to the sex dungeon, darling.” Abby yelled and Patty gave the couple a little shove while Erin giggled into Holtz’s vest. “They can dish it out, but they can’t take it, huh?” She kissed her again. “I brought you something to change into,” She said, releasing the woman and taking her backpack off, handing her a neat pile of clothes with a wink.

 

Erin wandered off to get dressed, Abby tugging Holtz’s arm and leading her to the drawing board full of some of her proposals to work on next week, hoping to get her gears turning over the weekend.

 

They were in deep conversation about the possibility of a miniature scale synchrotron when Erin stepped out from the changing room they used to gear up, making thoughts of anything but biological science drip from Holtz’s brain as she caught sight of leg, leg, and more leg.

 

“Damn, Holtzmann, where are you taking her?”

 

“A lady never reveals her secrets,” The blonde winked. Erin looped her arm around her shoulders, popping a kiss on her cheek. “Bust-pending, we’ll see you ladies on Monday,” The engineer stated to Patty and Abby, tugging her backpack over a shoulder to lead Erin to the street, walking them to the nearest subway station.

 

“We’re headed back to Bushwick. I’ve got some questions for the owner of the bookstore. And, I’ve got dinner reservations for us at a little Italian place.”

 

“Aww,” Erin grinned, grateful for a girlfriend who made real plans for them. “What were you really working on all day, hm?”

 

“You’ll see soon, my love.” She pecked her cheek as the train arrived and they settled to stand near the back. “I’ve been working on something for you and I hope you like it.”

 

“New toys?” She grinned, eyes sparkling wide.

 

“Not today — though what you and Abby have been theorizing will be tons of fun once I start the prototypes…I’ll show you in a little bit.”

 

She pulled her girlfriend to her side, kissing her temple, earning a cough from the man in front of them. Refusing to be put out, she planted her lips directly to Erin’s. The older woman wrapped herself against her, reciprocating and causing the man to stand and move.

 

“Sweet, now we can sit,” She grinned, taking the spot and pulling Erin into her lap. Despite the light pink hue on her cheeks, the physicist snuggled in as they rode the half hour to Brooklyn.

 

By five o’clock, they were outside of the bookstore they’d rescued a week prior, Holtz tugging Erin in excitedly. The bell rang as they entered, the owner popping her head up, her dark hair cropped to her earlobes. “Hello!” Melanie greeted them, eyes wide in surprise that the Ghostbusters had returned. “Dr. Gilbert — and…I’m sorry, we, didn’t really meet…?”

 

“Holtzmann,” The blonde said with a toothy smile, “I called earlier about —?”

 

“Yes!” The dark skinned woman popped up in excitement. “I pulled them out — this way, in the reading room…” She was a fluster of excitement and naïvety that Erin used to see in herself. “All my alchemic books - there’s probably more that are labeled as history instead of science, but —“

 

Holtz eyed the collection of eight thick texts before her. “This is perfect. Thanks, Mel.”

 

Erin jittered beside her in excitement. “We haven’t looked over any of this stuff since you first found out about my tattoos!” She smiled widely and Holtz could practically see he gears in her head molding into place. “Have you been working on one for me?”

 

“Yes, baby doll,” The engineer grinned, flipping to the index and pushing her glasses on top of her head. “There it is!” She said in a Romanian accent, turning to the page she was looking for, under precious gemstones. “Ha!” She scribbled down the symbol. “The internet didn’t betray me after all.”

 

Erin was already caught up in an older book, always impressed with the ancient sciences. Realizing she actually then had a minute to finish the first, official version of what she thought could be Erin’s next tattoo, Holtz slid the sketchbook from her bag, sneakily adding the final detail with a pricey artist’s pen.

 

Her girlfriend never noticed as her gaze was locked in the textbook and Holtz carefully sneaked her drawing away, reading over Erin’s shoulder for a good forty minutes before her watch beeped that it was going on six and their reservation for the place down the street was at six fifteen. “Would you like to take this to go?” She asked quietly, massaging Erin’s shoulder bone.

 

“Hmm?” She snapped her blue gaze up and Holtz was lost in it for a minute before noting there was a shred of panic. “Ohmygosh — I’m, I’m sorry — I didn’t mean to —“

 

Holtzmann cut her off with a kiss and nuzzled her cheek with her nose. “It’s what I brought us here for, angel love, no worries.”

 

With red cheeks, Erin let the engineer lead them to the counter, where they insisted on paying this time, each with a modest collection of two new books on the subject, which Holtz tucked into her backpack before taking her girlfriend to the bistro a block over.

 

After ten o’clock — an intimate dinner, a walk down the musical and artistic streets of one of Brooklyn’s hip districts, and a long cab ride later brought the couple home. Holtz carried her backpack into the living room, while Erin shed her blazer, draping it over the arm of the sofa as she unlaced her dressy boots, lining them under the coffee table while the blonde lost her necktie and vest, unbuttoning the first two holes of her periwinkle shirt.

 

Erin leaned over and kissed the then-revealed skin, hooking a hand around her waist. Holtz chuckled, thinking about the joke Patty had made about Erin’s sexual frustration that day. “I’m sorry I left you high and dry last night,” She said quietly, meeting her girlfriend’s lips. “I was a brat.”

 

“We all have grumpy days,” Erin responded, rubbing her hip and untucking her shirt in the same move so she could slide her hand along Holtz’s side. “So long as we can make up for it?”

 

Holtz purred and tugged at the tie in the front of the woman’s dress, loosening it up so she could slide it off in an easy move, bringing her mouth forward to kiss the tattoo along her ribs, bringing her lips low and back to get the one on her side, then shoulder, and thigh. “So sexy,” She said in a gravely tone, pupils dilating as she prepared to bring Erin’s almost-naked body to her own while her favorite redheaded scientist finished undoing the buttons of her shirt.

 

“Am I going to see my new one soon?” Erin questioned, lids low as she climbed into Holtz’s lap.

 

The blonde shrugged. “I finished it at the bookstore,” She winked and Erin pushed off with an excited gasp. “Do you want to see now or —“

 

“Now!” She waved her hands excitedly. “Please, I mean? Can I see?”

 

Nodding, Holtz held her up with a firm hand at her back so she could reach for her bag, removing the sacred doodles with a long sigh.

 

Erin was buzzing on top of her lap and Holtz was suddenly nervous. “Er - I…don’t feel obligated to say you like it if you don’t, okay? It’s just a sketch — first version….well, that’s not true, there’s like a hundred versions, but this is the one I like the best that I could imagine you actually having and liking, and there’s a lot of meaning, maybe too much, and —“

 

There were soft lips covering hers for a moment and Holtz felt her shoulders drop tension as Erin pulled back to kiss her nose, then her forehead. “I promise to be honest,” She said, lifting her hand, little pinky extended. Holtz chuckled and hooked hers around it in the sacred ritual that could not be broken. “But I know I’m going to love it.”

 

Holtz puttered her lips together and kissed their pinkies before shaking hers loose and opening the sketch book. She bit her lip then winced as she turned to the most recent page, taking the parchment paper from between it and the last one that had kept it from smudging. “I want you to look at it for a bit, then I’ll explain whatever you need me to.”

 

Erin settled back on her lap and with a wide, expectant smile, took the sketchbook and gasped with wide eyes as she took in the image before her. Holtz covered her eyes with her hands as they slid under her glasses, unable to watch her girlfriend’s emotional response to her work.

 

Meanwhile, they physicist was awestruck by the level of detail, thought, and clear expression of love that Holtzmann had poured into the design for her next tattoo. Without fully comprehending it all yet, she had essentially already inked it to her skin, wanting every bit of the visual information to be etched on her body forever.

 

The illustration was about four inches in diameter, a perfect circle that was reminiscent of an ancient alchemy transmutation circle. Inside the circle was a light hexagon, with a dark-lined triangle running through it and pointing up. At the points of the triangle were circles which contained other alchemy symbols, two she recognized, one she did not. The biggest difference from the standard circle and the one Holtz had illustrated, was the traditional transmutation triangles pointed down, with a small circle in the middle, not touching the sides. Holtz’s version, however, faced up, with the larger center circle touching the sides, which she knew to be an ancient sign for the paranormal.

 

A small arrow pointed to the outermost circle and in Holtz’s neatest handwriting was a poem which they’d recently shared from one of the anthologies they received at Melanie’s shop. She felt the lump in her throat growing as she read, “The universe wove you from a constellation, just so, every atom, every fiber in you, comes from a different star.”

 

The two alchemy points at the bottom of the triangle that she knew were intricate and simple at the same time. One stood for torrefaction, specifically of silver if she recalled correctly. A single line went horizontal, with a crescent moon on the left side, two vertical lines all leading to an arrow. Understanding Holtz’s reasoning behind it, she was fairly sure it meant that by heating up an ugly iron ore hot enough, one could produce the most extravagant, beautiful silver from it’s mass.

Swallowing thickly at the notion, her eyes darted to the other sign which she knew, to be the old writing of ‘purification’ in the sense of taking several broken pieces of various metals, then purifying them into one that was new and more powerful when combined. The diagonal arrow went up to the right, with a swirl around it.

 

On top of the intricate details of drawing, Holtz had added colorful shading to it that none of her previous tattoos held, but she was more than willing to take on the extra ink if she could find someone to do it in the majestic, watercolor-like style that Holtz had produced on the paper. Shades of blue, from darkest navy to lightest periwinkle were lined in the circles, while the triangle and hexagon were done in a variety of hues with magenta and purple being the most obvious ones. The whole image was a strange gradient that went from outside in and Erin wasn’t sure if anyone but Holtz wold be able to replicate it.

 

She didn’t realize she had started crying until Holtz had dared to look up from her flustered and embarrassed state at sharing her work. The engineer had wiped tears that Erin didn’t know she’d shed, and kissed her long and sweet before bringing their foreheads together. “You like it?”

 

“Holtz…I don’t even know what to say,” She said with a little shudder. “It’s gorgeous and so complex and beautiful — I…I want it on me now.”

 

“You’re not just saying it? You really like it?”

 

Erin open and closed her mouth, then reached in for another searing kiss. “Jill, I love it. It’s the most intimate thing anyone has ever done for me…you captured all the things I love in one image and the symbols…and the color..is just…” She was relatively speechless. “I love you, so much, Jill. This is…the deepest expression of that you feel the same and…” She paused, sniffing, “Damn, I…Thank you.”

 

With pink cheeks, Holtz nodded her welcome, taking the picture and pointing to the top symbol, “This one is the only one you might not know what it means?” Gesturing that she was correct, Erin encouraged her to explain the straight line down, with an almost curvy, lowercase-h going to the right. “It’s Lapislazuli…it’s a gem — the rarest, most sought after blue in all of history, even in our era, a quarter gram of it is like two grand…ancient scientists, the alchemists searched for years and years trying to find it…” She flushed again, leaning forward and kissing Erin’s neck. “But I feel like I find it every time you look at me with your pretty blue eyes…I don’t need to look all over the world or try to make it from some other element — because it’s…it’s home, Er.”

 

Erin let out a sigh of a moan and carefully put the sketchbook down, drawing Holtz deeper into her hold, clutching their bodies together, afraid to let go, scared that if she eased up on the most sentimentally beautiful woman she’d ever met, she’d disappear. “I love you, Jill.” She kissed her cheeks, her forehead, temples, nose…whatever her lips could secure to and convey through.

 

There was intense cuddling and kissing for a long beat of time; followed by Holtz merely holding Erin around her waist as the darker haired woman laid her head across her chest, looking with fondness at her future tattoo. “Where should I get it?”

 

“Hm?” Holtz frowned, “I don’t know. It’s really big — probably gonna hurt like shit.”

 

“Not really,” Erin shrugged. “Even this one,” She pointed to the poem on her ribs, “I mean, yeah — it hurts, but not like anything I really know how to describe. It’s a weird, nauseating feeling at first, but once you’re used to it…I almost like it actually.”

 

“Erin Gilbert!” Holtz gave a faux gasp, squeezing her hips. “I know you liked to be bitten — but to be a little masochist?”

 

“No!” She defended herself, wiggling her body closer, “Just…it’s…I…I, ugh, I don’t know.”

 

“Sorry, baby,” She kissed her neck again. “Just teasing…but maybe…” She placed her hands on Erin’s shoulders and pushed her up, looking at her front. “You could do it on this side…but it would look better centered…” She shifted them completely, crawling around Erin so she could look at her back. Touching just below her neck, she said, “This would be good, right between your shoulders.”

 

Erin nodded. “I was kind of thinking there, too.” She picked up the sketch book and leaned back into the sofa while Holtz stroked the inside of her thigh down to her knee and back up. She read the poem Holtz had written out loud. “You love me more than anyone ever has or will, Jill.”

 

Glancing up, Holtz saw the sparkle of tears in Erin’s eyes again as she became once more overwhelmed at the tattoo design, understanding just how deeply Holtz loved her based on the image. Nuzzling her cheek against Erin’s lap, she kissed her tattoo on Erin’s upper thigh. “I’m sorry if I overwhelmed you. I know — it’s a lot…it’s intense, but that’s…it’s how I feel about you. You’re my universe, and you’ve touched every star in it.”

 

“Holtz,” Erin frowned to keep from crying again, leaning to kiss the top of her head, stroking her styled hair and sighing her name once more, wishing she had some better way to thank her — sex hardly seemed like it could convey her appreciation, though as Holtz dipped a finger into her waist band and moved her lips where the fabric had been, Erin know, it would be more than enough.